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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 15, 2008 10:58 AM

Protection racket?

Posted by Geoff Baker

oakk0709 002.jpg

Now that we've remembered what home runs are supposed to look like, with a Canadian once again establishing athletic dominance last night in the made-for-relevision Home Run Derby (in the final round, anyhow -- Josh Hamilton did the rest), we turn our attention back to Mariners DH Jose Vidro -- a guy who hasn't gone deep since John McLaren was still managing this team for GM Bill Bavasi.

This blog post last week, and this story I later wrote for the paper, about Mariners manager Jim Riggleman keeping Vidro in the clean-up role as "protection" for Raul Ibanez, earned him nationwide scorn and derision. And why not? Vidro has the fifth lowest on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) out of 200 major leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances. By the way, catcher Kenji Johjima is the worst on that list at .549 compared to Vidro's .571. But both are beyond horrible.

So naturally, there was much hooting and hollering when Riggleman stated his line about Vidro "protecting" No. 3 hitter Ibanez.

Believe me, it was tough to hold off on ripping Riggleman for that. But I did want to do some legwork first. Some actual research to see whether this claim could possibly have merit.

Being that 100 percent of my day is taken up actually covering the team and traveling from place to place, I don't always have time to sit down for an exhaustive crunching of numbers. It was going to take at least a couple of hours, time I did not have writing on-deadline in Oakland. The next day, Richie Sexson was released, then there were all kinds of tight flight plans to meet getting in and out of Kansas City. But I know Riggleman has been around the game a while and -- like his predecessor -- is not an idiot. So, I vowed that the moment I had a day off, I'd crunch the numbers to see what in the heck he's thinking. I owed him that much, given how he'd been getting mocked for days. It was admittedly going to be a small sample size, since Vidro has only had 42 at-bats as a cleanup hitter. His stat line in that spot is the worst Vidro has hit at any spot in the order, with a .167 average, .222 on-base percentage and .214 slugging percentage for a laughable .436 OPS.

Sounds about right. But wait, this is supposed to be about Ibanez, right?

Ibanez has not had the greatest of seasons relative to his recent performances. He's hitting .273 overall with a .338 OPB and .438 in slugging for an OPS of .776. Against right handed pitching, he's at only .264 with a .763 OPS. Remember, Vidro bats cleanup when the opposing starter is right handed.

So, how has Ibanez done with Vidro "protecting" him in the clean-up spot? Hold on a minute. Go and find a chair because you're about to get floored.

With Vidro "protecting" him, Ibanez is hitting .311 with a .378 OBP and a .467 slugging percentage for an OPS of .845.

No, I am not making that up. In fact, take away Vidro's clean-up hitter games and Ibanez's overall line drops to .260/.327/.421 for an overall OPS of .748.

So, with Vidro "protecting" Ibanez, his OPS jumps nearly 100 points.

And no, the walk rate is pretty much the same as when Vidro isn't behind him. So that's not what's driven up Ibanez's OBP.

Call it a small sample size. You'd be right. Say that Vidro is an awful hitter this year. You'd be right. Say he has nothing to do with Ibanez's better stats when he is "protected" and you might be right too. But we won't know that for a bit. At least, until the numbers have a chance to "regress to the mean" and we see how things play out over the long haul. But for now, when Riggleman says he sees something working for Ibanez with Vidro hitting behind him, well, tough as that is for a lot of us to swallow, the raw data bears that out.

Will it last? Who knows? Tough to justify using two players to boost one guy's OPS, even by 100 points or so. As his own hitter, Vidro has been empty and awful. But for now, Riggleman might not be as nuts as many people around the country suspect.

ADDITIONAL NOTE (1:28 P.M.): Many of you have written in to point out, correctly, that it does the team little good to have Ibanez hit better if there's to be a black hole negating that improvment in sticking with Vidro as a No. 4 hitter. I agree with this line of thinking and pretty much stated that in the final graph of the initial post.

So, let's try to see what else might be factoring into Riggleman's decisions.

There have actually been only 11 games in which Vidro has hit cleanup behind Ibanez. One of those was in the McLaren regime, on the day of his infamous tirade.

In the first five games that Riggleman tried this experiment, Vidro actually went 5-for-19 (.263), while Ibanez went 9-for-21 (.429). Looked good to that point.

The next two games is where Vidro began sliding, going 0-for-7, while Ibanez went 1-for-8. It was at that point that Riggleman explained his "protection" theory to me and why he was trying it out. Makes a little more sense. Of course, in three games since then, Vidro has gone only 2-for-12, Ibanez 2-for-13, so the numbers aren't as enticing as they were at the beginning.

But as a cleanup hitter this year, in a larger 171-at-bat sample size, Beltre has just a .687 OPS. Not exactly lights-out either, and his strikeout rate is much higher than Vidro's. As a No. 5 hitter, Beltre has a .932 OPS in 115 at-bats. So, there was some rationale for trying to bat Beltre fifth instead of fourth.

Ibanez as a clean-up man has a .638 OPS in 110 at-bats. Hardly your answer there either.

Is Vidro the answer right now? Not if his OPS stays below .500. Is it likely to? Based on recent history, probably. And that won't work. He's got to hit better. But I can see where, based on the early returns (and on the day he spoke to me) Riggleman thought he had grounds to try something new and that -- based on a small sample size, which is all this terrible offense has to go on these days -- that plan might be working.

For Nick in pdx, not me making the argument. It's Riggleman. If you're embarrassed, go someplace else. Or better yet, come up with a constructive solution. Other than telling everyone how much smarter you are than everyone else. If you think Beltre is better as a clean-up man, say so. Or, maybe it's Ibanez? Do you have any thoughts to share? Put yourself out there. Explain to us why Riggleman is doing this. Is it because he's dumb? Knows less than you? Doesn't know baseball? We're all dying to know your take on things.

For Seth Cotner, Ibanez's numbers with everyone else batting behind him are: .260 average, .327 OBP, .421 SLG and .748 OPS. If you want to go person by person, I haven't got time today, but I suspect all would be less than with Vidro.

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Posted by BrianL

11:10 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Could there be something to it? Maybe.

Am I willing to wait and find out? Not really.

Posted by GeoW

11:12 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Geoff - I was expecting some Mariners personnel news, in particular Vidro being released. Is there an official, or unofficial, blackout about personnel moves before and during the All Star Game?

Posted by The Centerfield Bum

11:29 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Hey, I don't think anyone wants to see Vidro hitting 4th in the lineup, including the manager.

The problem is, what 220 something hitter on that roster do you have hit 4th?

Does Riggleman really have any good options?

The M's simply don't have a clean up hitter.

Despite his aweful all around stats, Vidro is 4th on the team in RBI's at 38. The leaders are Ibanez (55), Lopez (48) and Beltre (46).

The top 3-guys in the M's lineup carry the offense. If those guys don't produce, then the team has a very difficult time scoring any runs.

Posted by cesame

11:30 AM, Jul 15, 2008

It's a bad idea to bat Vidro 4th. That's all that really needs to be said.

Posted by Adam

11:32 AM, Jul 15, 2008


But if we are to ignore sample size, aren't you missing a big point, Geoff? Vidro's OPS in the cleanup spot drops by a larger amount than Ibanez's increases.

So it makes the offense worse to have Vidro hitting cleanup, right?

Posted by Earinc

11:32 AM, Jul 15, 2008

None of this excuses that Vidro has no business in and of his own skill set to be a major league cleanup hitter.

Posted by seapilot

11:34 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Let's add a step though. If you have a bad #4 with an OPS of say .650 and Ibanez has his "non-Vidro-protection" OPS of .748 the averaged #3 & #4 ops comes to .699. With Vidro's OPS of .436 and Ibanez's "Vidro-protection" OPS of .845 the averaged OPS comes to .640. So overall, even "IF" there is a positive effect on Ibanez's OPS, the overall effect on the lineup is still negative.

Not good logic "Ibanez hits better, but then we have a dead out right after him."

Posted by stew 80

11:36 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Rigglemans logic is rediculous because it would only help if ibanez hit homeruns. If ibanez got on base because of the protection vidro wouldnt do anything except maybe hit into a double play.

Posted by Adam

11:36 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Vidro has no business getting regular ABs in a ML lineup, especially for a team witht the second-worst record in baseball.

Mariners = Idiots

Posted by Chris from Bothell

11:45 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Correlation does not imply causation.

Thanks for making a good faith effort to actually investigate this bit, rather than dismissing out of hand or piling on in the laugh-fest. I mean that. It's just good journalism, and good on you for doing so.

But no. I don't buy it.

I think your talent for finding controversial / outrageous positions, to stir up the blogosphere and drive site traffic, is in evidence once again.

Posted by TACBatboy03

11:46 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Even if I give Riggleman kudos for making Ibanez a productive hitter, that does not excuse Vidro's poor performance. I'm not sure even a Josh Hamilton-esque performance from Ibanez is enough to warrant a .167 cleanup hitter. What message are you sending to the young guys about performance related to job security? Also statistically speaking, correlation does not prove relation. I like Riggleman's theory, but Sammy Sosa / Mark Grace is a completely different scenerio that Ibanez / Vidro.

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

11:47 AM, Jul 15, 2008

Just think what a good hitter would do for Raul and the team.

I mean it's nice to know that Riggie wasn't talking out his bum but Vidro should be benched or released shouldn't he?
He's not performing, right?

I really hope they make changes.

Posted by Chuck

11:51 AM, Jul 15, 2008

I just hope Vidro is not around long enough to proe or disprove your figures--or rigglemans decision.

Posted by scrapiron

12:08 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Everyone knows that the cleanup hitter is all about SLG.

AL Leaders: Cleanup SLG (Thru Jul. 13, 2008)
1 Vladimir Guerrero LAA .664 ( 71/107 )
2 Milton Bradley Tex .630 ( 160/254 )
3 Alex Rodriguez NYY .584 ( 146/250 )
4 Jermaine Dye CWS .547 ( 93/170 )
5 Frank Thomas Oak .523 ( 45/86 )
6 Manny Ramirez Bos .523 ( 170/325 )
7 Justin Morneau Min .512 ( 187/365 )
8 Aubrey Huff Bal .505 ( 92/182 )
9 Magglio Ordonez Det .490 ( 147/300 )
10 Jose Guillen KC .461 ( 146/317 )
11 Vernon Wells Tor .437 ( 94/215 )
12 Scott Rolen Tor .421 ( 40/95 )
13 Paul Konerko CWS .419 ( 70/167 )
14 Carlos Pena TB .409 ( 83/203 )
15 Garret Anderson LAA .407 ( 57/140 )
16 B.J. Upton TB .378 ( 28/74 )
17 Adrian Beltre Sea .357 ( 61/171 )
18 Victor Martinez Cle .348 ( 55/158 )
19 Raul Ibanez Sea .336 ( 37/110 )

Jose Vidro? Yeah, his .214 SLG doesn't make the list.

So Ibanez doesn't need "protecting" in the lineup. He needs to be the cleanup hitter against right handers, and Beltre needs to be the cleanup hitter against left handers.

Posted by jim

12:11 PM, Jul 15, 2008

What would be so bad about signing Bonds for the rest of the year to be the DH? Are the owners colluding again, or would the guy be more trouble than he is worth?

Posted by Thomas

12:12 PM, Jul 15, 2008

you also have to consider the net effect, Geoff. Vidro in the 4th spot ultimately weakens the offensive potential of the team...even if, by chance, ibanez boosts his OPS by 100 points. it's not rocket science, but you want more-or-less your best hitters to hit the most often. Best case scenario, Vidro bats 9th.

Posted by Mint Husky

12:26 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Two Things:

1) We all know that Josh Hamilton established the athletic dominance last night, even if it does make you feel better to point out that the person who actually won was a Canadian.

2) "Regress to the mean" means the numbers move back to their historical average despite currently being higher. You imply that we can draw conclusions when the numbers regress to the mean, but the problem is we already know what those conclusions are if indeed that happens. If Ibanez's numbers "regress to the mean" then we know Vidro protecting him in the line up is BS. Which we already know as we're all already just waiting for that regression to occur. Even you.

Posted by AC

12:36 PM, Jul 15, 2008

The funniest part of the whole saga was just a few days ago when the lineup went Ibanez-Beltre-Vidro. It was late in the game, Ibanez was pitched to, with Beltre as protection, then Beltre was intentionally walked with Vidro as "protection." The whole statement fell apart on two levels (Ibanez needs Vidro and Vidro prevents IBB). I guess Vidro's magic bat-wand only works behind Ibanez.

Posted by downonstrikes

12:45 PM, Jul 15, 2008

I don't care how Mr. Riggleman, or is that Wiggleworm, spins the Vidro line, the payoff is that the guy should not be in the cleanup position. For that matter he should no longer be in the major leagues with such declining fortunes. Can't hit, can't play a position, and protecting Raul is a lame joke.

All of us in the Happy Kingdom of Marinerdom are pretty fed up with such management ploys. What all this boils down to is that we have no trade worthy potential and we have no young players to promote. This team is in a state of disarray and a state of denial. The Front Office is inept at best and deceptive and cagey at the least.

Doesn't this year's record stand on its own? No manager worth a grain of salt would tolerate such hopelessness and lower themselves to be a wishy washy mouth peice for the bosses. Mr. Riggleman must be worth less than a grain, I guess.

Posted by Big Papi

Posted by Rubin

12:58 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Imagine how much better Ibanez would be with Clement protecting him. Now imagine how much better Clement would be protecting Ibanez. Amazing.

Posted by David Gee

1:01 PM, Jul 15, 2008

You've got to be kidding me. Having Vidro hitting behind him does not make Ibanez better. You know why his OPS is better with Vidro behind him? Because a) he's going against right-handed pitching, and b) he just is. That logic is just stupid and it amazes one that Mariner fans are smarter about certain things than the Mariner manager. And I will not argue about this. Oh yeah, and don't forget that batting Vidro before Beltre will take at bats away from him over the course of a season. Put Beltre behind Ibanez. Period. Then we can get maximum production out of the three and four spots.

Posted by dickey butternutz

1:05 PM, Jul 15, 2008

so the plan is to have Ibanez hit better with Vidro behind him, and then have Vidro continue to suck with Ibanez on base...

seriously, how is that of any true benefit to anyone?? all that does is leave Ibanez stranded at 1st or 2nd base after Vidro chokes again.

typical hair-brained strategy by this club.

Posted by vamooseVidro

1:08 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Hey, it worked for byebyeSexon....

Posted by Lance

1:15 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Thanks, Geoff, for the research.

Although a bigger sample size is in order, it appears to imply that teams would rather face, after Raul, the free-swinging Beltre who'll swing at just about anything than the more discipled Vidro, and pitch to.Raul accordingly.

I suspect Vidro will be here the rest of the year. So some of you (such as GeoW) who are counting the seconds until his release had better find a more productive use of your time, if you can.

Posted by pbk13

1:16 PM, Jul 15, 2008

When Vidro bats fourth, and you combine Vidro's and Ibanez OPS, your get .640... so in other words you negate Ibanez' increase by batting Vidro fourth. Protection my ass. I wonder how many runs the mighty Vidro has knocked in as our cleanup guy. I'm betting its close to zero.

Who should be batting fourth? How about Beltre, Reed or Clement...

Posted by dickey

1:26 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Vidro's stats as a #4 hitter this season are almost comically bad:

.167 BA, .222 OBP, .214 slugging, .436 OPS, with 3 RBIs in 42 ABs.

as I said before, this is great that it apparently helps Raul, but what does it matter when Dead Weight Vidro comes up and hits yet another groundout to the SS?

Posted by smith

1:34 PM, Jul 15, 2008

WAIT ! maybe Riggleman is a genius? I mean we are supposedly trying to trade Ibanez. Even if the FO won't come right out and say it, Ibanez is one of our most coveted players. So by Riggleman getting Ibanez' production up, he is improving Raul's trade value. He's a genius afterall...
He doesn't care about wins, he is just trying to improve Ibanez' trade value.

Posted by scottM

1:40 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Haiku #14 (better than an Ichiro All-Star inspiration speech):

Vidro as Clean-up
listen to the rumor bird:
moot, moot, moot, moot, moot

Posted by ayala_terrace

1:43 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Listen to Chris from Bothell. This analysis is interesting, and is sufficient to warrant a more thorough statistical analysis, but it is not conclusive. It has only two variables: Ibanez OPS vs. 'Vidro "Protecting"'.

If someone has the data and a regression tool, how about running this:

Player OPS vs.
- Vidro 'protecting' (batting in next position) [T/F]
- pitcher BA against
- game resulted in Win [T/F]
- runners in scoring position [T/F]

If you run that and Vidro comes up statistically significant, then I'll buy it.

Posted by NB

1:56 PM, Jul 15, 2008

You know who hits what with who where is really beside the point.

Jose Vidro is a horrible hitter who hurts this team every single game he is allowed on the field. Whether he hits cleanup, leadoff or in the nine spot. He needs to be released yesterday. He is the greatest eyesore left from the poor roster construction of the Bavasi era. Releasing Richie before Vidro would be akin to executing all those guilty of second degree manslaughter while we allow the first degree murderers to roam the streets free. He is a boil that must be lanced.

Make. Him. Go. Away.

Posted by dickey butternutz

1:59 PM, Jul 15, 2008

How about we make this a true calculation and we run the standard deviation of Raul's stats with Oompa Loompa behind him as compared to someone else behind him?
or we could run a covariance to see how often the two players work with each other on stats, versus how often they work away from each other.

or we could just see that Vidro is more or less an automatic out at this point, and make the easy determination that he is of no value to anyone except for the M's opposition each time he is on the field or at the plate...

Posted by scrapiron

2:18 PM, Jul 15, 2008

So Vidro is the DH on this team because there is no one else that can do it? How about Tacoma?

Current Tacoma OPS leaders (min. 150 ABs)
Prentice Redman .950
Victor Diaz .868
Wladimir Balentien .860

But scrap, those are AAA numbers! Okay, so let's look at the 2007 Major League Equivalent (MLE) stats:
2007 MLE OPS
Victor Diaz .775
Wladimir Balentien .757
Prentice Redman .561

Victor Diaz is 27 years old and ready for the call.

Posted by Floyd Waterson

2:40 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Most analyses of the question of whether "protecting" a hitter works by putting a good hitter behind him have shown this to be a myth. For example, see this from the Hardball Times:

Vidro isn't a good hitter and even if he was most studies shows it wouldn't matter in terms of Ibanez's production. So, all you're doing by batting Vidro clean up is putting a bad hitter fourth in the line up.

Posted by Nick in pdx

2:54 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Worst use of statistics to try to make a baseball-related argument. EVER.

Stop trying, just stop. Please. I'm embarassed for you.

Posted by Seth Cotner

2:57 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Chris at 11:45, great point...

Butterflies migrate to Florida during hurricane season, does that mean they cause hurricanes? No.

Ice cream sales go up during the summer at the beach, so do shark attacks, does this mean if you buy ice cream you are more like to get attacked by a shark? No.

Geoff, to truely vet this out, I would suggest looking at Ibanez's stats with everyone else batting behing him.

On a side note, Vidro is horrible. Maybe the hypothesis should be that pitchers just throw fastballs down the middle to Ibanez becuase they know Vidro is an automatic out... is this the definition of 'protection'?

Posted by Idaho Invader

3:03 PM, Jul 15, 2008

All this garbage at the dish from the team that our owner proudly proclaimed didn't need Barry Bonds, lol

Posted by Mr. X

3:44 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Major League equivalent. I've heard it all now.

Nothing like posting made-up stats to negate a good argument. Posting numbers that represent things that never happened is hilarious.

Posted by Edgar FM

4:19 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Put a REAL clean-up hitter in the line-up behind Ibanez and see what happens to his number. Its a ridiculous claim to say that pitcher are thinking "Oh I better pitch to Iabnez cause Vidro might hit a single if I don't".

Its a small sample size data and the line-ups are still unacceptable. There is a reason line-ups have been standardized...because they work that way. You best 5 hitters hit first so that hey get as many AB's as possible throughout the course of a game. Your less talented players hit 6-9, so that they are less likely to come up in late in the game during a crucial situation. You can Riggleman is not a idiot, but he sure makes himself look like one with his line-up construction.

Posted by JP

4:21 PM, Jul 15, 2008

I beleive that this is a minor issue. Maybe i am wrong here but didn't Vidro have an error the other day that cost us two runs? His poor performance at the plate is bad but his fielding may be worse. Platooning him and Cairo at first is a joke. The reason why Vidro came here was just to DH and occasionally fill in at second to give guys days off. His legs are shot and watching him trying to dig out a play at first is like watching a fat kid trying to do a pull up. Painful. You can't tell me that we would be losing anything in this deal if we just cut him and called up Lahair from AAA. Heck even the rook Raben would do a better job at first and at the plate. At some point we have to throw out the roto-statistical analysis and look at a situation for what it really is. A turd in any shape or color is still a heaping steaming turd.

Posted by BWare

4:36 PM, Jul 15, 2008


While your analysis is valid and your point is well taken, it defies the intuitive basis for which your analysis is built upon. Protection implies that, from the pitcher's standpoint, the batter being "protected" poses lesser run production risk with the bases empty than the "protector" does with the "protected" on first base.

Given the available data, it's not a hard stretch for me to assert that your analysis is conincidental rather than predicated.

What would be a more telling analysis is the relative number of balls out of the strike zone thrown to Ibanez - with and without Vidro's "protection". My guess is that the differences would be statistically insignificant.

Your analysis, ironically, is evidence of the time-honored axiom "statistics don't lie...people do...". No offiense intended at all - the numbers are the numbers - but viewing your numbers in isolation of its intuitive basis makes for a very gullible reception. As such, I can't go there with you on the numbers.

Posted by Adam

4:41 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Nothing like posting made-up stats to negate a good argument. Posting numbers that represent things that never happened is hilarious.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what we call a STRAW MAN.

Posted by Tom2000

4:44 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Geoff, you're missing the obvious cause and effect here.

Of course Ibanez' performance goes up when Vidro bats behind him. The opposition wants Ibanez on first because they know that Vidro will then be sure to GIDP. :-)

Posted by NewFan

4:49 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Maybe the pitchers just feel a sense of relief when it is two out with Raul coming to the plate - as they know that as long as he doesn't hit a homer - they will get Vidro out next. So the pitcher doesn't go as hard at Raul - hence his average increases, and then get Vidro out, hence team productivity drops.

Posted by 11Records

5:12 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Speaking of Raul - It's looking like Hideki Matsui is done for the season.

With Wlad finally heating up in Tacoma I say pull the trigger on move of Raul to the Yankees. And, hopefully Wlad can do an adequate job in LF for the next few months.

Hell - it took Adam Jones a few months to start getting his feet under him in the major leagues. Balentien and Clement should get that kind of opportunity to play the rest of the season.

Posted by ob

5:27 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Please don't try to justify this. To say I guy who doesn't hit is making a guy hit better is the same as saying that a shortstop is making a 2nd baseman better. While they might be next to each other there really is no connection to how one is performing couple with the other.

Posted by scrapiron

5:28 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Major League Equivalency (Bill James): A formula that converts a player's minor or foreign league statistics into a comparable performance in the major leagues. These are not projections, but conversions of current performance. Contains adjustments for the level of play in individual leagues and teams, and the player's age as compared to that level. Works best with Triple-A stats, not quite as well with Double-A stats, and hardly at all with the lower levels. Foreign conversions are still a work in process. James' formula only addressed batting. Our research has devised conversion formulas for pitchers, however, their best use comes when looking at BPI's, not traditional stats.

Posted by WTF?

5:35 PM, Jul 15, 2008


You can put as many spins on it as you want to, you can use all the smoke and mirrors the world but the bottom line is that:



Vidro is a very shitty player! He can't hit, he can't run, he can't field. WTF can Vidro do??? WTF does Vidro do???

there really isn't much else to say. Let's end of this stupid discussion already and move on.

Posted by John the fisherman

5:57 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Amen to that WTF! Kind of says it all.

Posted by James

7:13 PM, Jul 15, 2008

It's not protection. It's called anticipation!

The pitchers can't wait to get to Vidro.

Why battle through a ten to twelve pitch at bat with Ibanez. Just feed him something to hit, low enough that he won't park it in the bull pen, and you can get Vidro to ground into a double play inside of three pitches.

Posted by Faceplant

7:14 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Did Yankee fans really boo Redsox players even at the all-star game?

What a bunch of classless asses. M's fans even cheered Arod when he played in the ASG at Safeco.

Posted by Dan

7:21 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Lincon and armstron have to go before this can have any sort of chance at rebuilding.
Speculateing about this or that is just a waste of time untill then.I know this site needs traffic,but all that B.s. is really invain.nobody listen`s to all you people anyway.
Oh yea.Quit all ready on even thinking ichiro or Jojihima will be traded.They mean to much in revanue to the asian market.

Posted by James

7:22 PM, Jul 15, 2008

It's not protection. It's called anticipation!

The pitchers can't wait to get to Vidro.

Why battle through a ten to twelve pitch at bat with Ibanez. Just feed him something to hit, low enough that he won't park it in the bull pen, and you can get Vidro to ground into a double play inside of three pitches.

Posted by Blair

7:54 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Interesting article today on Ichiro firing up the all-star team every year with a profanity laden speech. It's obviously a bit of a joke but does he ever do anything like that for his own team?

Posted by Faceplant

8:17 PM, Jul 15, 2008

What an embarrasment. I would be embarrassed to be a Yankee's fan right now. Papelbon didn't say anything that horrible, and certainly didn't deserve that. What a joke.

Posted by Faceplant

8:33 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Why the eff do you chant let's go Yankees at the all-star game? Yankee fans are good Yankee fans. They are terrible, terrible, baseball fans.

Posted by Faceplant

9:33 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Hey, cool, Sherrill is coming in.

Go George!

Posted by Faceplant

9:37 PM, Jul 15, 2008

There you go George!

Posted by bob

9:44 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Nice to see George Sherill and Carlos Guillen in crucial roles in the mid-summer classic.

Posted by Faceplant

9:49 PM, Jul 15, 2008

This just in... Joe Buck is an idiot.

"Aaron Cook has been fantastic!"

Cooks line? 3.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 3 BB, and only 1 K. That's not fantastic, that's called getting really lucky.

Posted by JoDo

10:17 PM, Jul 15, 2008

Your observation is interesting on the surface, but I think the question of causation v. correlation is a fair one, and one you needn't get defensive about. In particular, if you (or Riggleman) believe that Vidro effectively protects Raul, then it seems to me that you (or he) must believe either:

(a) that the presence of Vidro in the on deck circle is sufficient to induce even the most hardened MLB pitcher to throw meatballs to Raul. In this case, one would predict that other M's who batted in front of Jose (or Pepe) would similarly benefit from Vidro's daunting presence. Is this ttrue?

(b) that the presence of a truly mediocre hitter like Vidro in the on deck circle inspires Raul to hit the ball better. If this is the case, one would predict that any number of mediocre M's hitters behind Raul would elicit a similar response. Is this true?

(c) that something magic happens when Vidro bats behind Raul that has nothing to do with the effect of Vidro on the pitcher or the hitter. In that case, we should all go home and stop thinking about baseball because it's all magic anyways. This seems unlikely since teams with good pitching, hitting, and fielding seem to finish on top more often than not.

So.... I don't value the analysis in your post unless the point was to show that Riggleman's thinking is simplistic, in which case your words failed you.

However, the question is an interesting one -- does protection in a batting order really exist? Probably folks more knowledgeable than me have already looked at this question. Regardless, obvious cases to look at (in my mind anyway) are at whether whoever has batted behind Barry, ARod, or Pujols has benefited from their respective presences. If an effect isn't there, where would you look for it?

I don't know how to access the data necessary to address this. If you decide that it is actually worth discussing seriously, that's great, but could you throw out a link to the appropriate database so that others can give it a look?

Though I obviously think you're wrong here, keep up the good work.

Posted by Bill

10:48 PM, Jul 15, 2008

I caught the end of the all-star game tonight and it was great seeing the teams actually get people on base and make things much different from an M's game.

Posted by Fred Brack

1:25 AM, Jul 16, 2008

From your post: " . . . data bears . . ."

FYI: Like "media," the word "data" is plural.

Posted by 7hourlinedrive

2:11 AM, Jul 16, 2008

This topic is hilarious. Not because Vidro hits behind Raul in the cleanup spot, but because people here are UP IN ARMS because Geoff asked RIggleman and Riggleman provided an answer, and (WOW!) Riggleman was right! OK, small sample size (11 games), but that's all we're dealing with here.

You people, you "fans" who claim to be Mariners fans but waste no time trashing its players, its coaches, its management, want so badly to hit Riggleman with the idiot stick, that you just can't fathom the fact he could be RIGHT... so you'll spend all your energy disproving it or explaining it away, with the whole "correlation doesn't prove causation" argument. You've been proven wrong, at least for the moment, and that so badly discombobulates you. You people still don't deserve the M's when they get better. You've abandoned them.

Yankees fans aren't very bright. If they enjoyed insulting him in this exhibition game, they get the his wrath and his focused performance through their team's remaining meetings with the Sox, beginning the weekend after next.

I was excited to see George Sherrill perform in the spotlight even though he's no longer a Mariner.

And if Adam believes "Mariners=idiots," maybe he should send them his resume. Between he and Dave from U.S.S. Mariner, they surely know how to run a Major League front office.

Posted by Jim H

5:16 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Why not give Victor Diaz a shot at the DH. He might only hit .240 (like he did last year at Texas), but he did hit some monster HR's at Safeco last year. Still upside to Vidro.

Posted by Ry

7:40 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Move Lopez to cleanup and move Reed up to second in the order. Lopez hits for average and extra bases, rarely strikes out, and is probably having the best season of any Mariner at the plate. In other words, he actually IS one of the most feared hitters on the team. Reed on the other hand, gives you about .270 and some speed at the top in case Ichiro doesn't reach base.

Posted by downonstrikes

8:00 AM, Jul 16, 2008

To 7hourlinedrive: How do you affect change in a listless organization unless you demand change and point out the flaws of certain players to management?

We are all fans here, caring enough about the team to spend time thinking and writing about them. If the FO or GM listened and actually tried to improve the team it would take the fire right out of our comments. Unfortunately, they are stuck in a mud rut and go with the losers we have now and the losinig mindset prevailant for many months.

The culture of this team needs modification and calling out players and management is the highest form of fan allegiance when they are sucking so badly.

Posted by the big E

8:55 AM, Jul 16, 2008

your point being it's slim pickings for a cleanup hitter???

Posted by Seth Cotner

8:56 AM, Jul 16, 2008


Yes, I was looking for an individual break down person by person. I think to prove the 'protection' hypothesis true, you have to disprove that anyone else has helped provide 'protection'.

For example, if Vidro behind him shows a .311 avg, and each individual player shows much lower, then the arguement of causation my be more relevant. However, if there are a bunch of players that show high results / low results (ie the range is high with high variation) it would prove that it may be correlated, but random. That is the problem with using average (ie the mean), you dont see the range of the sample.

Just a thought to help slamdunk your arguement...

Posted by drake

9:06 AM, Jul 16, 2008

So, if Raul hits better with a cardboard cutout batting behind him, should we sign the display to a three-year deal and call him our cleanup hitter?

Posted by scrapiron

9:14 AM, Jul 16, 2008

I notice that Prospect Insider has pulled from their website the rumor that Jose Vidro was going to be released after the all star break. Does that mean that the Mariners changed their mind? Maybe Riggleman talked them out of it, citing Geoff's analysis.

Posted by twinsfan

9:35 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Nothing like posting made-up stats to negate a good argument.

Ignorance does not make something "made up."

Posted by Ryan

10:01 AM, Jul 16, 2008

11 records,

If we trade Ibanez to the Yankees, what do we get in return??

Posted by Ryan

10:05 AM, Jul 16, 2008

" Victor Diaz is 27 and ready for the call."

Ummm... if I remember correctly( someone can correct me if I'm wrong). He was a once highly touted Mets prospect who for what ever reason never made it, traded to Texas I believe, didn't make it there either. I believe he also played for the Brewers with the same results. There's a reason he's 27 and still in AAA.

Posted by Ryan

10:09 AM, Jul 16, 2008

Victor Diaz:

446 career AB's with 24 HR. That's not too shabby. Only 32 walks and 135 K's. A .256 career avg. Maybe it's the 32 walks or the 135 K's keeping him from succeeding up here.

Posted by Nick in pdx

11:15 AM, Jul 16, 2008

"Explain to us why Riggleman is doing this."

Riggleman probably believes Vidro is a legit #4 hitter. I have no idea. Maybe he's just a masochist.

Maybe he believes that Vidro can "protect" Ibanez. Maybe he's just saying that because he knows he's got to say something, so he regurgitates the easiest baseball adage he can think of for the situation. Think that one bus scene from Bull Durham: gotta work on your post-game quotes.

But these things are irrelevant, if you want to go about trying to "prove" that Vidro batting 4th is really beneficial to Ibanez in the 3 hole. For that angle, you start with the simple fact is that, as someone else pointed out but which shouldn't need to be said, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. What you do not do, is look at this one small sample of Ibanez's season and attribute the cause to Vidro batting 4th. I could probably just as easily show that there's something about the weather at gametime over that dozen-game stretch and call that the cause of Ibanez's good hitting. It would mean just as little.

Posted by Brian

12:33 PM, Jul 16, 2008

I want to say "Two words: BARRY BONDS."

But that's about two and a half months past due.

Posted by B_A_

2:04 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Geoff...I appreciate your analysis and hardwork with this blog. Coming up with the stats was interesting--especially to see if there is a correlation there...However, the bottom line is, in order to "protect" a hitter, the guy hitting after him has to be feared! Does anybody get scared to face Vidro? If they do, they should check to see if wearing a cup is really necessary. Hitting Edgar Martinez behind Jr. is protection...hitting Vidro behind Ibanez, is like Ibanez saying to Vidro in a war, "cover me with your sling-shot...I'm going in!"

Posted by Der Dawgvater

5:43 PM, Jul 16, 2008

Ibanez' improved stats with Vidro batting cleanup are great and all, but the modest improvement Ibanez makes is countered by the truly abysmal stats Vidro puts up in the 4-hole, right?

We saw what happened when the Vidros of the team were scattered through the lineup batting 2, 4, 6 and 8 vs Duschsherer, nearly a no-hitter.

I can't believe that an amazing baseball mind would really honestly be able to convince themselves that Ibanez's #'s with Vidro behind him are enough to counter the fact that Vidro is in the lineup at all, and batting 4th no less.

True, we don't have a real obvious candidate for cleanup. In all reality, Ibanez would be 7th and Beltre 8th on most decent teams. Even though we have no options, anyone is better than Vidro. Heck, members of the forum are rooting for Bloomy to start over Vidro. We have sunk so, so low...

Posted by RustyJohn

10:07 PM, Jul 17, 2008

Nick in pdx's last comments reminded me of Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men".

"My answer is, 'I don't have the first damn clue'. Maybe he was an early riser and liked to pack in the morning, maybe he didn't have any friends. I'm an educated man, but I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about the travel habits of one William Santiago. Now, are these really the questions I was called here to answer? Phone calls and footlockers? Please tell me you've got something more. Please tell me their lawyer hasn't pinned their hopes on a phone bill."

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