I try to stay out of arguments about All-Star selections and the Hall of Fame. I don’t have strong opinions about whether All-Star picks should be made based on first half stats, or larger career of work. In fact, I mostly agree with Ken Arneson that these sorts of things are celebrations, not measurements. I think All Star selections should be made of good players whom fans will be interested to see, and also someone from the Astros. There’s no such thing as a 100% statistical case for an all-star selection.
That brings me to this. Keith Olbermann said something obnoxious, which inspired many people to be obnoxious right back to him. Here are the offending words:
One could stretch a point and say Tim Lincecum deserved a trip to Phoenix based on his Cy Young yields and post-season work last year and goofy popularity, but it’s still stretching a point. But Ryan Vogelsong? Helluva story, but not an All-Star. Not even close. Desperate homerism, pathetic, embarrassing. He was an All-Star, and you guys sent him back to AAA in the spring?
Wow! You’d think from that he not only thinks that Ryan Vogelsong is not an All-Star, but that he’s actually been pretty terrible. Olbermann was then spoken to rudely by Giants fans on the internet (and after he was so polite, too).
Anyway, Olbermann’s follow up post is something of a mess. But, then again Mr. Olbermann’s preferred venue is that of cable news, and here in the baseball nerd world we have a much higher standard of discourse. Here’s what Olbermann gets right:
- Ryan Vogelsong has not pitched that many innings, and has only been good for a half season.
- Tommy Hanson is very good, and is deserving of an all-star game appearance.
- If Ryan Vogelsong were to give up five runs in his next five innings, he would qualify for the ERA title, but his ERA would rise to 2.52.
- There is a table of statistics which I believe to be completely free of factual error.
What he gets wrong is, well, pretty much everything. Here are the highlights:
- Kevin Correia has a lot of wins, but that’s mostly due to run support.
- Vogelsong’s imaginary 5 run, 5 inning start would make him into a “shinier version of Jeff Karstens”.
- There are other not very famous pitchers like Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Kennedy and Shaun Marcum that Vogelsong compares to.
Anyway, this is all pretty silly. Kevin Correia is a fine pitcher, but his biggest contribution to his win loss record came on the day when he signed a contract with a team that was already employing Andrew McCutchen. Most of the pitchers that Olbermann compares Vogelsong to are good. Jordan Zimmermann is good. Ian Kennedy is good. Shaun Marcum is really good. Even Jeff Karstens – Olbermann’s epitome of mediocrity – is having a good season. Vogelsong has been much better. There’s about as much distance between Roy Halladay and Ryan Vogelsong as there is between Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Karstens.
Is there an argument for each and every one of those pitchers to go instead of Vogelsong? Yup. I would have picked Hanson over Vogelsong too. But is it “desperate homerism, pathetic, embarrassing”? Nope. Just picking one good half season (and a good story) over a bunch of other good half seasons. In other words, that’s just Olbermann being a jerk.
Here’s the non-jerk version. Ryan Vogelsong and Tommy Hanson have been about as good, but Hanson has pitched more innings. I believe that makes Hanson the better pitcher. He’s also an exciting, emerging star, and therefore someone that fans would enjoy seeing in the All Star game, despite Vogelsong’s interesting career arc.
How hard was that, really?