All-Joy Team: Leaderboards and You

What you’re reading when you’re reading these words is Carson Cistulli’s most recent submission to the All-Joy Team. If you’re unfamiliar with the project, then you’ll want to read the introductory posts (yes, plural!) some time before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

In the meantime, you’ll be fine knowing that this is an attempt to compile a 25-man roster of current players most capable of providing joy to the sabermetrically inclined.

After reaching some pretty frenzied heights in our most recent episode of All-Joy Team — i.e. the hit show that everyone’s talking about — today we take a more conservative, but no less legitimate tact.

For each of the five players below (1B, CF/LF, SP, RPx2), I’ve used leaderboards to some end. Of course, as a new season unfolds, this sort of search will produce different results, will identify new players as All-Joy worthy. Is that a problem? maybe you’re asking. To which I reply: absolutely not. Like with the seasons — that, or NBC’s late-night programming — change is the rule and not the exception for the All-Joy Team.


1B, Brian Myrow, Pittsburgh (1,3)

One Method:

1. Go to the CHONE projections here at FanGraphs.
2. Sort all hitters by wOBA.
3. Find the first player to’ve recorded exactly zero MLB plate appearances last year.
4. Ta-da!


1. Go to BP’s Minor League Equivalent Average page.
2. Painstakingly, copy and paste the Peak Translation hitting leaders for each league into your off-brand spreadsheet program.
3. Sort by EqA.
4. Find the first hitter over 27.
5. Hint: It’s also the only hitter over 27.
6. Ta-da!

The player upon whom you’ll settle in either case is Brian Myrow.

True Fact: If you confront Sean Smith about Myrow’s optimistic CHONE projection, he will stab you in the eye.


LF/CF*, Chris Heisey, Cincinnati (1,4)

The Method:

1. Go to the CHONE projections here at FanGraphs.
2. Sort all hitters by WAR.
3. Find the first player to’ve recorded exactly zero MLB plate appearances last year.
4. If he’s also a former 18th round draft pick, that’s even better.
5. Ta-da!

True Fact: Heisey is currently towards the bottom of a pretty crowded outfield depth chart in Cincinnati. His fate is also largely, tragically in the hands of Dusty Baker. Translation: Pray for him.

Note: Exact position TBD.


SP, Billy Buckner, Arizona (2,4)

The Method:

1. Go to the Pitcher Leaderboards for 2009 here at FanGraphs.
2. Set the Min IP to 50 and sort by name.
3. Export both the Advanced and Basic pages to CSV.
4. Attempt to open both documents by means of your off-brand spreadsheet program.
5. Wait like eleventy minutes for said documents to open.
6. Copy the data from the Basic stats over into the Advanced one.
7. Subtract xFIP from ERA for all players.
8. Sort by difference.
9. Find the first pitcher with an xFIP under 4.00.
10. Also, he can’t have won a Cy Young before.
11. Ta-da!

Quick Quiz: Can you guess the former Cy Young-er just above Buckner in ERA-xFIP?

True Fact: Billy Buckner once played for the Royals but escaped by means of an elaborate, Shawshank Redemption-type plan.


RP, Brandon League, Toronto (2,4,5)
RP, Kevin Jepsen, LA Angels (2,4)

The Method:

1. Actually, it’s identical to the Buckner method until Step 9. You just find the first relief pitcher instead.
2. Actually, Jepsen and League have basically the same difference (around 1.40).
3. Ta-da?

True Facts: League’s splitter was the toughest pitch to hit in 2009. Also, he was hand-picked by Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, who is never wrong. Kevin Jepsen, for his part, throws what I’m prepared to call a “dazzling” cut fastball. Also, he made Jeter look silly in last year’s ALCS.

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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While guessing at your ERA – xFIP question, I came up with another question, perhaps a bit on the silly side.

For the last eight MLB seasons (2002-2009), which pitcher or pitchers have the most seasons of double-digit wins/losses in the same year. In other words, who are the “decision horses” (that aren’t good enough to avoid double-digit losses every year, that is)?

The leader in the clubhouse from my research so far has 6 of 8…


It has to be someone from the AL (since pinch-hitting for the pitcher would prevent them from completing a lot of games), someone who pitches for a competitive enough team to get double-digit wins, and pitches enough innings to work deep into games.

The only two that came to mind were Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle.

suicide squeeze
suicide squeeze

Looks like Javier Vazquez did it 7 of the last 8 years.


Nice call on Vazquez for 7/8 (and actually 8/9 going back to 2001). My 6/8 was indeed Mark Buehrle.

What’s kind of amazing is that Vazquez is only 101-96 since 2002, playing for generally quality teams (2 in MON, 1 in NYA, 1 in ARI, 3 in CHA, 1 in ATL). Also kind of amazing that the guy gets moved so often — something about him is decidedly anti-clutch, as his numbers paint the picture of a pitcher that should be far more successful than he’s actually been.

On the flip side, check out Javier Vazquez’s HR allowed by year… he’s been around since 1998 and has given up 20+ HR every single season, even in the few he didn’t pitch 200 innings. The guy’s a horse, but he does seem to give up some seriously untimely homers.


I looked a little longer….

Livan Hernandez, rubber-inning-eater-extraordinaire, is also 7/8, and (if I may make up rules as I go) actually takes the lead with 9 of the last 10.

In fact, if he had had one more win last year, he’d have made it the last ten years in a row!

Would you have thought Livan Hernandez and Javier Vazquez had even remotely similar career ERAs and W/L records? I sure wouldn’t.

Livan: 156-151, 4.45 ERA
Vazquez:142-139, 4.19 ERA