Torre Finally Loves Matt Kemp, Maybe Because Last Year, He Was Better Than Jeter

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Torre Finally Loves Matt Kemp, Maybe Because Last Year, He Was Better Than Jeter
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Matt Kemp: No Yankee, not even Jeter, had a better season for Torre.

Today, former manager and MLB executive Joe Torre identified his former outfielder, Matt Kemp, “The best player in the game at this point.”

This was a generous thing for Torre to do given that, as he admits in the linked interview, he and Kemp didn’t always get along; Kemp’s rise to near-MVP status would seem to be directly linked to having gotten out from under old Joe.

Torre may feel that way because, by the standards of Baseball-Reference wins above replacement (WAR), Kemp’s 2011, which was worth an even 10 wins, would have been, by a very slight margin, the best season Torre ever managed.

In his 1997 book, The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, Bill James created career All-Star teams for several prominent managers. Torre was not among them, and for good reason—his career’s second act had just begun, and it was too soon to think of him as a future Hall of Famer. He was close as a hitter and not yet there as a manager. Now that the jowly one’s career has wrapped, I decided to pick up where James left off and make a best-of for Torre’s 30-year career.

I kept the statistics simple so as not to overwhelm you; normally, I wouldn’t make a big deal of hitter runs or RBIs or pitcher won-lost records, but in this case, they somehow seemed to be called for.

Pos

Player

G

R

HR

RBI

BB

AVG/OBP/SLG

WAR

C

Jorge Posada, 2003

142

83

30

101

93

.281/.405/.518

6.1

1B

Tino Martinez, 1997

158

96

44

96

75

.296/.371/.577

5.2

2B

Robinson Cano, 2007

160

93

19

97

38

.306/.353/.488

5.6

3B

Alex Rodriguez, 2007

158

143

54

156

95

.314/.422/.645

9.9

SS

Derek Jeter, 1999

158

134

24

102

91

.349/.438/.552

8.0

LF

Bernie Williams, 1998

128

101

26

97

74

.339/.422/.575

6.1

CF

Dale Murphy, 1983

162

131

36

121

90

.302/.393/.540

7.2

RF

Paul O’Neill, 1998

152

95

24

116

57

.317/.372/.510

6.0

DH

Jason Giambi, 2002

155

120

41

122

109

.314/.435/.598

7.3


Note that I pushed Bernie Baseball to left field so he wouldn’t be bumped by Dale Murphy. Torre never had a really strong left fielder (Hideki Matsui’s 2007 was probably the closest), so this seemed like a reasonable solution.

Now the pitchers:

Pitcher

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

WAR

SP Andy Pettitte, 1997

18-7

0

240.1

233

65

166

2.88

7.6

SP David Cone, 1997

12-6

0

195.0

155

86

222

2.82

6.7

SP Mike Mussina, 2001

17-11

0

228.2

202

42

214

3.15

6.5

SP Bob Tewksbury, 1992

16-5

0

233.0

217

20

91

2.16

6.0

SP Craig Swan, 1978

9-6

0

207.1

164

58

125

2.43

5.7

RP Mariano Rivera, 1996

8-3

5

107.2

73

34

130

2.09

5.4


Note that Mariano shows up in his set-up man incarnation here; 107.2 great innings, even if they’re eighth innings, are more valuable than 80 great innings, even if they’re ninth innings.  

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