A look back at what the stats said was in store for Aroldis Chapman when he emigrated from Cuba.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
We're still trying to figure out whether Aroldis Chapman can handle a rotation spot or is better suited for the bullpen, but at least we know more about him than we did when we wrote the piece reprinted below, which was originally published on August 13, 2009.
...Unfortunately, the way the game is played has forced him to be that way.
There is no doubt in my mind that on Wednesday night Scott Cousins was guilty of a dirty play. When the Marlins’ outfielder was trying to score from third on fly ball, he made no attempt to reach home plate. As he neared home, he launched himself into Buster Posey’s upper body, apparently having made the decision that his best chance of scoring was to ensure that Posey was forcibly separated from the baseball, and that he himself would be able to find the plate in the confusion that followed.
He was probably correct about that decision, even though, in this case, Posey had already dropped the ball before any contact occurred. Posey was acting the way catchers are currently taught—receive the ball, and then drop to your knees across the front of the plate to block the runner’s access to the plate, while making the tag for the out. In any number of games on similar plays, the catcher does make a clean catch, the runner slides, the catcher’s shin guards hit the ground ahead of the runner’s foot, cutting off his path to the plate, the tag comes does down, and the out is recorded. Cousins’ play, like many before him, is an accepted part of the game today—and an evolutionary adaptation to the behavior of the catcher. It is what you have to do to beat the catcher’s strategy. As I said before, I have no doubt that it was a dirty play, but baseball has accepted this particular pattern of dirt, and I can’t fathom how any punishment or retribution would be justified in the face of this organizational pattern.
Clay takes the field to get acquainted with the rules and regulations of your great-great-grandaddy's baseball.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Revisit Clay's account of a trip back in time to baseball's formative years, which originally ran on October 26, 2006.
A look at the variance in ground-ball rates between pitchers in the majors and minors.
The idea behind SIERA, as opposed to say FIP, is that the key factors in a pitcher's profile are his walk rate, strikeout rate, and ground-ball rate. Those factors become the prime shapers of other statistics—hits, home runs, and ultimately runs—that go into a pitcher's value.
I received a couple of notes yesterday expressing some confusion with the Depth Charts. The depth charts and PFM are forecasting statistics for the remainder of the season only, not for the total stat line. When it says 13 HR for Kelly Johnson, that means 13 _more_ HR, not 13 total. Unfortunately there was a serious mistake in the last update for the pitchers - the innings were forecast for the remainder of the season, but the rest of their stat line didn't get the memo, so it showed 162 games worth of runs, walks, and strikeouts. That has been fixed.
Around the divisions, looking at changes in the depth charts since Saturday's update:
As Kevin notes elsewhere, Davis was regarded as a bust after a dreadful 2008 season. A first-round pick in 2007, Davis hit for a true average of just .246 in his pro debut season – and that is without translating. The Tav for the league is always .260, so he was a below average hitter for his league, even though he was a 21-year-old, college-seasoned hitter playing in short-season A ball. Translated, his TAv was just .168.
We do have one occasionally significant change to the data (besides players changing teams, like Julio Lugo). Something in the last week got out of whack on the pitcher's games pitched and games started, as a result of which a bunch of pitchers were listed as "Swing" pitchers even though we were projecting them to be full-time starters. I'm not sure how it got that way, but it has been corrected.
A look at some of the spring roster battles are shaping up and how it affects playing time.
At this stage of spring, we don't think enough games have played to really understand how players compare to each other, but that doesn't matter, because teams are starting to make decisions based on what they've seen (and, of course, on what they already know). That obliges us to at least try and follow their thinking by looking at the spring stats and seeing how players are doing, particularly in cases where position decisions are on the line. It doesn't matter what Derek Jeter, Nick Markakis, or Albert Pujols are doing in the exhibition games because they'll start regardless. I'm looking for cases where the performance (or injuries, or visa problems) of the player merits at least a thought of changing the depth-chart projection. Not everybody mentioned gets changed
Taking a Spring Training tour around the first half of the league.
We're deep enough into spring that we're starting to take the results of the exhibition games into account--although we're still at a stage where a player can raise his TAv 40 points with a single good game. Still, there are players who have moved up or down their team's depth charts. Good thing, or the biggest change in the depth chart would probably be the 5% switch of Hernan Iribarren from the Brewers to the Rangers.
Most of these moves are still quite small--guys moving up and down by 5s and 10s in percentage terms. The big moves will come in the final week, as teams lock in on certain players and release others. Everything today is still "inclinations" and "seems to have a leg up", not "has won".