JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS
James did a study this week on Bryce Harper's majestic season. He came up with a method to evaluate "flukiness" in a baseball career. You remember Brady Anderson having that 50-homer season at age 32?
Turns out that Jacoby Ellsbury had the flukiest season of any player who ever lived. Remember 2011, when Ellsbury hit .321/.371/.556 with 39 steals, 119 runs scored, 32 homers, 105 RBI? And he had 1.8 WAR on defense in center field!
That added up to 9.4 Wins Above Replacement, which is the same WAR as Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz got this year if you add them together. [Jacoby Ellsbury 2011 and two average players] cancel out the triumvirate of [Seager, Cruz AND Cano in 2016], which was of course a collection of seasons we don't expect them to ever repeat.
That was ballin' by Ellsbury in 2011, and we all thought, that's how good this guy is. Oddly, Jacoby Ellsbury's OPS+ was 84 the very next year, and his career OPS+ is 104.
CARRYING THINGS TOO FAR
Might be hard to remember now! :- ) but when the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz, most folks were VERY concerned that 2014 had been fluky. Glad it warn't.
Requisite M's-relevant application follows. Question: Going into 2017, which Mariners are risks for 2016 "flukiness"? Absolutely none of the position players, though Nelson Cruz is going to get old one of these seasons.
In fact, it's hard to remember anybody becoming a Mariner and having a fluky good year since Russell Branyan.
FLYING OFF THE HANDLE with the Stats AOL Crew
James' list had Darin Erstad's 2000, in which the kid hit .355 (!) with 25 homers and 100 RBI; I think he was playing CF at that time, and was in a line of Angels players like Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson, and them. Dr. D remembers pleasant arguments with Inside Pitch about the 1995-2005 Angels, and remembers Erstad's crash pleasantly.
DODGING RESPONSIBILITY in Orkland
Carlos Pena's 2007. He had 46 homers, 121 RBI, with 103 walks, and a 172 OPS+ for Tampa Bay. My chief memory of Carlos Pena was Billy Beane dealing for him as a rookie* and predicting* he'd replace Jason Giambi. Glad THAT didn't work out.
There were 14 players in history who won Most Valuable Player awards with seasons that turned out later to rate quite flukish. Roger Maris' 1961, Maury Wills 1962 stolen base rampage, Kevin Mitchell 1989 with the 192 OPS+ ... I guess 192 is fluky if your career OPS+ is 142? That's a little weird ... the M's aquired him and in 1992 he had his one weak year in a 6-year stretch of --- > 192, 150, 141 ... 118 M's ... 160, 185.
Back to Harper ... James says it would be almost unprecedented for a 22-year-old to have a monster season by luck or fluke. But he does hedge on Bryce Harper by comparing Reggie in 1969, which was a part of the Ball Four novel. Reggie absolutely destroyed the league that year, but never got back to that level. He was a Hall of Famer, a legit cleanup hitter, but in 1969 he looked like he could become the best player ever.
PUSHING OUR LUCK ...
... on the Cruz and Cano successes. Free agency this winter? You want a player who is young, who had a big year, who didn't have just one big year, and is cheap. Go get 'im. Or, pay up for Encarnacion Inc.
Here is a list of free agents this winter. If you want to toke the dealer again, gimme a name and the amount you'd pay. Edwin Encarnacion is age 33-34 and a DH/1B already. The Jays wanted to go with a 1- or maybe 2-year extension, a la the M's and Iwakuma, but MLB Trade Rumors expects "at least a four-year deal" this winter.