The Sports Pages: Fun with WAR, Sweet Lou and Raburn, too


“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records man’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

– Earl Warren

Fangraphs came out with a new toy that will provide countless hours of fun for any baseball fan. With the introduction of their WAR Grid, Fangraphs allows the reader to compare position players from any team, at any position, in any era, in anyway they choose.

Kurt was quick to jump on the new toy and give it a ride, beating me to this post by mere hours. Bless You Boys has a breakdown of the Top-25 Tigers by WAR of all-time. The first thing that jumped out to me? How freaking good was Lou Whitaker? I mean I always knew he was Hall-worthy, but to see that he’s got the fourth highest WAR of any Tigers player ever… I didn’t realize he was that good.

Want further proof? With the election of Roberto Alomar this year, the Hall of Fame will house 18 second basemen. Whitaker’s career WAR of 74 ranks him eighth all-time at the position. He accumulated more WAR than 10 current Hall members (including Alomar) and more than probable Hall members Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent. Tell me again how it was that Whitaker fell off the ballot after only one year? Mike McClary at the Daily Fungo wondered the same thing. More links after the jump.

Sticking with Fangraphs one more time here, Matt Klaassen loves the Ryan Raburn deal for the Tigers and brings up some hard questions about a team’s ability to control a player well past his prime. In a case like Raburn’s, he won’t reach his free agency years until after his 32nd birthday.

Because a club can keep a player in the minor league for up to six years without repercussions and then control his rights for six major league seasons, late bloomers like Raburn don’t have a chance to get their first huge payday until they are already in the downslope of their careers. Now, the $3.4 million Raburn will earn over the next two years is nothing to scoff at, but when you see guys with similar abilities making three times that much, it shows you how arcane the system can be at times.

Speaking of Raburn, Samara at Roar of the Tigers was quite happy about the signing. She explain (with another great illustration) here. My favorite part? Her opening paragraph, where she introduces Dave Dombrowski this way:

"He’s a smooth talker, a tough negotiator, a man who drives a hard bargain with a big pizza purse. He also hates arbitration. And Dave Dombrowski, GMPres of Many Striped Shirts, gets to avoid another possible arb hearing, because he has signed Ryan Raburn to a two-year deal."

Last week, Austin of the DTS Blog put together a 25-man roster of Tigers prospects. He had some obvious choices included, but the interesting thing to me were two glaring omissions. Austin left LHPs Andy Oliver and Daniel Schlereth off the list. I had assumed he did this because he was attempting to avoid players with any big league experience, but then he included Danny Worth. Now I’m confused.

I mean, if his roster was to be comprised of minor leaguers only then fine, but he didn’t specify that anywhere. If that was the case, however, it would have been just as easy to include Cale Iorg over Worth. I also found it interesting that Austin selected Fernando Martinez over Nick Castellanos at third, though his reasoning is sound, and that Ryan Strieby isn’t even part of the team. To each his own, I guess. Ovreall, the piece was good and it was informative, I’m just a bit unclear as to what criteria he used is all.

In an odd story, Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times tells us about a game in which two Royals (Frank White and Al Cowens) were plunked by Texas pitcher Ed Farmer. That’s not unusual in and of itself, but both players suffered broken bones thanks to these bean balls. The story gets really intriguing a year later when Cowens, then of the Tigers faced Farmer (then a White Sox) again for the first time. After hitting a routine groundball, Cowens went not to first base, but straight to the mound to confront the man who had broken his jaw. A good read for any baseball fan.

While I was glancing over my site (something I should really do more often), I noticed I’ve been slacking on the poll section. Time for an update. Let’s see where you all stand on this one.

Finally, a bit of Network news. Fansided has openings for writers for many different teams right now. We need lead writers on our Rays, Orioles, and White Sox sites and need contributing staff for most other clubs as well. Interested parties should follow this link to fill out the blogger application. If you do this, you’ll get a personal response from me! So that’s fun, huh? Tell your friends.

That’s all I got this week kiddies, enjoy the links!

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