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June 12, 2003

From The Mailbag

Stats, Roster Shuffling, and Padres Injuries

by Baseball Prospectus

DRAFT COMPENSATION

In today's UTK article (June 4th), you mentioned that the Mets, because they were in the lower half of the standings last year, were not subject to losing their first round pick this year even though they signed FAs this past off-season? What exactly is the rule here? And where can I find this?

--YM

In the CBA at Article XX, Section C, Paragraph 4, Subparagraph D, on page 69:

(d) The Regular Draft Choice of the signing Club described in subparagraph (c) above shall be assigned as follows. If the signing Club is among the first half of selecting Clubs, then the choice to be assigned for the highest ranking free agent Player signed by such Club shall be its second choice, with choices in the next following rounds to be assigned as compensation for the signing of the other Players in descending order of ranking. If the signing Club is among the second half of selecting Clubs, then such compensation shall begin with the Club's first choice.

--Doug Pappas

PONDERING PUDGE

I had a quick question on a stat and was wondering if you could help. I know EqBA, EqOBP and EqSLG are adjusted for park. Here's what I don't get...I was looking at Pudge's numbers the last few years and his EqBA, OBP and SLG are higher than his non-adjusted numbers. How is that possible when he played half his games in the second-best hitter's park in the game?

--JS

The equivalent stats that BP uses include both a park adjustment, and a league adjustment. In particular, the stats are adjusted to an "ideal" major league which has a EqBA/EqOBP/EqSLG of .270/.340/.440. Those figures were quite close to actual MLB numbers for several years during the 90s. They're a bit higher than actuals for 2001 and 2002 since offense has declined a little bit, but BP has used those standards for a number of years so we decided to stick with them for the time being. Long story short, I-Rod's numbers were adjusted downward for his park, but they were adjusted back *upward* for the league environment. In this case it looks like the upward adjustment was of a slightly greater magnitude.

--Nate Silver

THE CATCHER ARMS RACE

Of course, there are other harder-to-quantify benefits of a catcher with a good arm/reputation, namely giving more freedom to the pitching staff to keep their full complement of pitches, avoid the slide-step, devote all their concentration on the batter, etc.

--MN

These are all good points, but if the possible effects you mention were significant, you'd have expected them to show up in Keith Woolner's study on catchers' handling of pitching staffs Since Keith found no measurable pitching-enhancing ability among major league catchers, I don't expect strong-armed catchers are making their pitchers better, at least not by much.

--Michael Wolverton

PADRES INJURIES

I have a question concerning the Padres in general. Listening to one of the local talk radio sports guys who's been on in the SoCal area for many years I was getting irritated with him for taking the Pads front office to task for the bad play of the team and, in his eyes, an apparent lack of talent in the organization. Resisting the temptation to call up and call him an idiot for ignoring the excessive injury totals the Pads have suffered to what should be a very talented squad I began to realize that as a franchise they seem to be suffering from a very high rate of injuries to the front line talent. I would like to ask you what you know about the medical staff of the Padres and how good or bad is the franchise's attention to such matters. Are they merely suffering from really bad luck or are many of these injuries preventable?

--Cris Whetstone

Most of the Pads' injury problems seem to be bad luck, but luck means we just may not be looking hard enough. Luck should even out over time and the Pads have been down for a while. Looking through my super-secret stole-'em-from-Bud's-safe files, the Pads have been above average (bad) in dollars lost to the DL (in between LA and ATL, teams that can afford to lose more). In DL days, they were again above average, but only slightly, almost tied with St Louis. These are five-year averages, so I'd think luck is ruled out...might be time to look at their conditioning, medical staff, and injury patterns. It becomes a question then of what can be prevented: Was Nevin's injury an 'accident' or was it a product of playing him out of position? Was Burroughs quick-fixed rather than doing the right thing but losing some time? Answers I don't have, but worth asking the right questions.

--Will Carroll

ROSTER SHUFFLING

What's the difference between calling a guy up from the minors and purchasing his contract from a minor league affiliate? In some TAs a player is called up, while other times a player's contract is purchased.

--Matthew Knight

Basically, the difference is between putting a guy on the active roster who's already on the 40-man roster on the one hand, and simultaneously adding someone to both the active and the 40-man rosters on the other. If you're "only" recalling a player from a minor league affiliate, he's already on the 40-man. If you're purchasing his contract, then technically he's being bought from the minor league affiliate and being added to the 40-man as well as the active roster. Hope that helps, but if you have other questions, I'd suggest looking up Rob Neyer's nifty little transactions primer, which outlines most of the basics extremely well.

--Chris Kahrl

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH

Like you, I wondered why the Tigers would possibly want Alex Sanchez. Then I vaguely remembered that the Brewers have absolutely owned the Padres over the past couple of years (taking five of six from the Padres in both '02 and '03). Alan Trammell, of course, experienced those whippings as a Padres coach last year. Wonder if the image of a slashing, dashing Alex Sanchez was burned in his brain one night last summer?

I checked the stats, and sure enough, Sanchez rips the Padres. In 2002, Sanchez was a super-charged version of himself: 9 for 21, five runs, a triple, three walks, three of four stealing bases, .429/.480/.524 (AVG/OBP/SLG). And if Trammell had called one of his old buddies before running upstairs to urge for a Sanchez trade, he'd hear Bruce Bochy list off this year's stats vs. San Diego: 6 for 14, six steals in seven tries, .429/.429/.429. There's probably a cool name for this sort of "distortion by proximity," and I'm sure Trammell's not the first victim (assuming, of course, that he had anything to do with this trade). It is interesting, though.

--CG
Related Content:  Year Of The Injury

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