Tag Archives: Ryan Howard

Modern Sports Photography and the Excellence of So Many Photogs

Final out of the 2010 NLCS, Ryan Howard stands at home after watching strike 3.

This is an excellent shot, not for any other reason than what’s in it. It encapsulates the agony and ecstasy in sports in one single glance. It is one of hundreds of thousands of shots taken that night and if we call it the best shot of the season, it is one of tens of millions of shots.

Taking 1000 photos a night and publishing <20 isn't uncommon, and digital photography has a lot to do with making that easier and cheaper to do than it was 50, 20, heck even 10 years ago. Photogs can take 10 shots per pitch and have memory cards that can hold thousands and thousands of photos as raw jpgs. They have lenses that can zoom in on the facial expression of the right fielder.

The rest of it depends on where the photog chooses to take these shots. Most photogs are barricaded into one small seat next to the dugouts for the entire game, so it becomes a luck of the draw type thing. Every photog in that stadium had shots of Howard standing at home plate like that, one just had such a good angle he got in Howard's huge mug with Wilson/Posey celebrating like that.

Zooms on most of these cameras are so extreme, you can get detailed shots of faces. On top of that, these are basically the best of the best photos and they're not from one specific photog.

Neil Leifer is basically the father of modern sports photography and he started with rapid fire cameras and telephoto lenses (obv. with film). He'd take a roll of film and rapid fire about 15 shots for one moment. He'd check out the negatives like so:

Then he'd look at them with a magnifying glass. From that he'd circle the best ones and those would get developed/run in the paper:
Yogi Berra, 1960 World Series
(This is my all-time favorite photo; Yogi Berra hitting a home run against the Pirates in the 1960 World Series.)

It’s a similar process today, except you can see the full photo almost immediately. I think some photogs even have uploaders on their cameras that send their photos to a remote computer. There’s a race to see who can get their photos up the fastest.

Leifer did a lot to expand boundaries of sports photography, but now there’s a lot of rules of what a photog is allowed to do in a ballpark. It’s kind of sad, but necessary when so many people want a piece of the pie.

Also photogs really love taking low-angle shots. I don’t know why, but when you look at spring training photos this February/March, count how many are non-game-action low-angle shots.

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Should This Umpire be Fired?

Umpire Scott Barry sardonically mimics Ryan Howard before ejecting him.

I say yes.

(A little backstory, this was from last night’s game when Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard received a second check-swing strike from the third base umpire Scott Barry. Howard put his hands on his hips and this umpire responded by mimicking Howard sardonically. Howard got mad and was ejected from the game seconds later.

Howard’s also known as one of the nicest, funniest guys in the game, so it makes it even weirder.)

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Filed under MLB, MLB history

UPDATE: NL and AL All-Star Team Total WARs (now with B-R and Fangraphs!)

I was just having some fun with WAR numbers (Baseball-References’) and decided to add everything up. The results are pretty interesting.  You’re uh … you’re gonna wanna read to the bottom.




NATIONAL LEAGUE STARTING LINE-UP
Player            WAR
Hanley Ramirez:   2.3
Martin Prado:     2.2
Albert Pujols:    3.4
Ryan Howard:      1.3
Ryan Braun:       1.8
David Wright:     3.9
Andre Ethier:     1.2
Corey Hart:       2.5
Yadier Molina:    0.8

Ubaldo Jimenez:   4.7

AMERICAN LEAGUE STARTING LINE-UP
Player            WAR
Ichiro Suzuki:    2.2
Derek Jeter:      1.1
Miguel Cabrera:   3.7
Josh Hamilton:    2.9
Vladimir Guerrero 1.0
Evan Longoria:    3.9
Joe Mauer:        2.1
Robinson Cano:    4.6
Carl Crawford:    3.4

David Price:      3.1

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Filed under All-Star Game, MLB, Wins Above Replacement

When Self-Righteous Indignation and Uninformed Dissent Meet

Got this via The Fightins, who got it via Phillies tweeter @LONG_DRIVE, who created it. A sabermetric-following baseball fan and a non-sabermetric-following baseball fan get into an argument around Ryan Howard.

I’m guessing the non-saber guy was just trolling, it’s kind of ridiculous, but it’s still fun. Without further ado [LSFW for language]:

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Perhaps the Biggest Anti-Snub to the All-Star Game?

Blah blah blah, I don’t care for the All-Star Game, but I do believe the players should receive some kind of honor for the season they’re having. And heck, if it’s going to matter, the leagues might as well have the best teams possible.

With that in mind, the National League’s starting catcher is literally the worst starting catcher in baseball. On offense, anyway. Cardinals fans stuffed the ballot to put the worst offensive catcher in baseball not only on the All-Star roster, but to have him start.

The great irony of this is the starting outfield for the NL is Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward and Andre Ethier. While I admit I don’t know much about Heyward’s defense, Ethier and Braun are both awful and the outfield noteably lacks a centerfielder. Huh, if only St. Louis fans had voted for a centerfielder deserving of starting at the All-Star Game ….

You can argue that Molina is the best defensive catcher in baseball, and you’d have a good point. Only problem is catcher defense is still being figured out and it’s unknown how many runs saved Molina is worth–and it’d have to be a lot–to balance out his atrocious offense.

Miguel Olivo, Geovany Soto, Nick Hundley and Carlos Ruiz all stand out as snubs. Colby Rasmus is probably the biggest outfield snub. Joey Votto and Rafael Furcal were the biggest infield snubs. The whole NL is hilarious, with Ryan Howard and Omar Infante on the roster. Chances the NL wins this? It’ll be a big upset if they do, that’s for sure.

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Is Ryan Howard the pre-eminent power hitter of our generation?

lmbo, no.

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Financial Considerations: Baseball Money and Spending

Part I — the Overview

Before we start, I’m gonna give a shout out to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.  The people who run it have been an amazing resource over the past two years in baseball contracts.

Baseball is a business.  It always has been and always will be.  Players are commodities and they come with price tags.  You can talk about intangibles and whatever else, but a player is–or rather, should be–valued for what he can produce on the field and baseball is lucky to have such large sample sizes from which to pull.  So let’s talk about baseball and the root of all evil.

First and foremost, let’s start with the hilarious.

The Phillies have $130 million already dedicated to the 2011 season.  Yes.  That’s right.  The year after next year, they’ll be paying at least $130 million, and probably more, in payroll.  That’s regardless of whether or not they have a greater than or worse than .500 record in 2010.  That’s after losing right fielder Jayson Werth to free agency and ditching Jamie Moyer’s contract. That’s not including the four or five arbitration hearings they’ll have to deal with, including starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.  And the kicker: this is more than the Yankees owe to the 2011 season ($116 mil).

Here’s a small breakdown of where that money’s going:

  • Ryan Howard — $20 mil
  • Roy Halladay — $20 mil
  • Chase Utley — $15 mil
  • Raul Ibanez — $12 mil
  • Brad Lidge — $12 mil
  • Jimmy Rollins — $8.5 mil
  • Cole Hamels — $9.5 mil
  • Joe Blanton — $8.5 mil
  • Shane Victorino — $7.5 mil
  • Placido Polanco — $5.5 mil

Some elements of good spending and some elements of bad (very bad).

Halladay at $20 million is pricey, but worth it.  Utley at $15 million is very good.  Victorino at $7.5 million is good.  Hamels, of course, is signed through his arbitration years, and $9.5 million is a steal. It would be revisionist history to say Jimmy Rollins’ $8.5 million (a team option which was accepted in Dec. ’09) was good at the time, so we’ll mark it zero. Because of those contracts and the addition of Howard, a cheap Jayson Werth,

But, of course, there’s some serious problems in there. Howard getting paid $20 mil is ridiculous and about $5-10 million overpriced.  Howard was rewarded handsomely before the 2008 season in his arbitration case, getting $10 million–a little less than what he’s worth.  He put up a  .251/.339/.543 slash line in 2008 and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro rewarded him with a 3-year, $54 million contract.*

*If you need evidence on the over-valuation of home runs and RBIs, Howard is your perfect guy.  Low on-base percentage–mostly because of a low batting average–and some decent slugging helped hugely by his dingers, but he hasn’t put up a line like his 2006 year since that year. The $20 mil per annum contracts should be reserved for the best hitters in the game–your Hanleys and Pujolses.  These guys are the best at patience, hitting for average and hitting for power.  Howard has decent patience and great power, but no average.  Imagine throwing $20 million at Adam Dunn.  Can you?

And then we have the absolute garbage.  The Lidge contract may be one of the funniest of all-time.  It astonishes me that Amaro felt a reliever, even one that had as good (albeit lucky) season as Lidge in 2008, was worth more than his left-fielder.  And as for that left fielder, the Raul Ibanez deal–three years, $30 million–was labeled one of the worst of the off-season.  An aging slugger with terrible defense and type A free agent, Amaro lost four draft picks (failing to offer Burrell arbitration lost him two, signing Ibanez lost him two more; and note: this team was built on draft picks) for only a slightly smaller benefit.  In 2011, his contract will most definitely hurt the team. And then Blanton and Polanco both signed three-year deals this year, both hugely overvalued–and Polanco will be playing a position he hasn’t played in years.  These are all contracts that shouldn’t have been even offered.

And now to digress a bit back to our point, we can’t criticize without seeing what other options were out there and understanding market value for the players.

For one, Adrian Beltre, who is a very, very big upgrade over Polanco in defense and a mild downgrade in offense, received a one year, $9 mil contract to play for Boston this year.* This looks especially terrible when you see Polanco’s three-year slash stats have trended downward and last year he was at .285/.331/.396.

*You can make an argument that this is one thing “big market” clubs have on “little market” clubs, or whatever you want to call them.  Teams with more money to spend can throw more per annum at a player while a team with less money can counter with more years, which ends up crippling the team in the long run.  I’ll get more into that in a later piece.

Pretty obvious that Amaro misspent his money here and cost his team financial flexibility in 2011 and 2012 by not adding a replacement player–whom they already have in Greg Dobbs.  Furthermore, who else was bidding for Polanco’s services?  Why was a three-year offer even offered?  I’ll get more into that in the free agency post.

Market value is a tough thing to figure out.  It’s fickle, intangible and sometimes set arbitrarily by whomever signs the first contract.

And here’s where you, the general manager of a baseball team, have to set your goals.

Where do you start?  Where’s the best place to invest your money?  Where do you draw the line on free agents? On draft picks? When do you go over market value for a player?  What do you have planned in case everything falls apart? How does your team go from basement dweller to a World Series apperance?

This is the start of a new series about baseball finances, divided into several parts.  I’ll be discussing free agency, the rule IV and V drafts, dollar and year values of players and how to best utilize money in different budgets.  Stay tuned.

When do you go over market value?

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