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Chat: Clay Davenport

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday April 27, 2010 1:00 PM ET chat session with Clay Davenport.

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Tune in to talk to and ask your questions of one of BP's co-founders, lead statistician Clay Davenport.

Clay Davenport:

dianagramr (NYC): So Clay, how is the full-time BP gig working out for you so far?

Clay Davenport: Welcome, everybody, to today's Baseball Prospectus chat. I'm Clay davenport, and I'll be taking your questions for the next ??? however long I keep getting questions.

Its going mostly well. I'm still getting used to some parts of it (like just now, when a cat I never heard coming leapt into my lap). I do enjoy the commute.

workermonkey (CT): how much would it take to develop a fielder postioning app for an iphone/ipad that would tell you the best odds for fielder placement depending on hitter and pitch selection?

Clay Davenport: Coincidentally enough, getting all of the materials together to write such apps has been one of my projects since leaving NOAA. I haven't really gotten far along the path yet, but the opening steps have been taken. The key materials for any fielding placement scenario is going to be a strong knowledge (database) of where the hitter hits the ball, where the pitcher yields hits, and how those two interact to produce a final set. I doubt that the strat-o-matic solution of 50% derivation from the hitter card and 50% from the pitcher card is the right way to handle it. In most analyses, the hitter has rather more control of the outcome than the pitcher.

Matt (Chicago): Has anything youve seen from Tyler Colvin, thus far, changed your statistical outlook on him for this season or for his career, going forward?

Clay Davenport: Not especially. It is hard to seem him continuing to hit .375 with isolated power of .519 on balls in play, even if he's played for a full-time platoon advantage. He's still within his first 100 PA, and major league pitchers often seem to go through an extended "show me you can this" phase before developing a more detailed book. If he can through May with numbers like this I'll start to believe there's a real component to the changes.

Neil (NJ): I would love to hear any thoughts you may have on the Howard extension.

Clay Davenport: My thoughts mostly echo Matt Swartz in today's piece, perhaps a touch more pessimistic. His strikeout rate is among the highest ever, so there's very little room to allow for a slowing bat. But Stargell more or less had the same traits, and produced some monster seasons in his early 30s, and I don't think the slow bat usually becomes the problem until more like 35. In the early 30s I'd say the loss of footspeed is the bigger deal and the increasing injury risk... granted he's been excellent in that category to date.

andrew (Toronto): How well does Ubaldo Jimenez match up with Mr. Strasburg?

Clay Davenport: The first thing to note is that jimenez is five years older, and was nowhere near as good (when he was 21) as Strasburg is now. Strasburg looks to throw 2-3mph harder (reaching, say, 100 rather than 98, whi9ch is still plenty fast) and already has control that Ubaldo did not develop until the last year or so. Jimenez was a highly regarded prospect and has done the right things since, hitting the most optimistic points on his curve. His advantage over Strasburg is that we know he can throw 200 innings and come back for more - we don't know that about Stephen yet.

Kevin (Dallas): When will the Rangers begin to admit their mistake and promote Derek Holland to replace Rich Harden in the rotation? Harden is a bullpen killer with his 4.1 inning outings.

Clay Davenport: Both Holland and Brandon McCarthy are carving up the PCL, giving Texas some options to change up the rotation. Harden (17 ip in 4 starts) and Feldman (7.50ish r/g) are the subpar candidates to date. Harden's history and stuff make him a strong candidate for the Kerry Wood treatment and a permanent shift to the bullpen. I doubt they would make such a move without a DL trip for Harden, , which would be the excuse for the transition. Shouldn't have to wait too long for that.

Matt (Chicago): When do the wheels come off the Carlos Silva Express? What types of numbers does he end up with?

Clay Davenport: Silva is 8 hits below expectation in only 26 innings, a ridiculous rate; his other numbers are within his recent history spreads, albeit on the good side of the average rate. He's hardly faced a powerhouse set of opponents so far...let the wheels fly the first time he faces St Louis or Milwaukee, rather than Houston.

achaik (W-S, NC): If you were the Rays, would you put Hellickson in your pen now, like the Rangers have with Feliz?

Clay Davenport: No, I'd keep him for a starter. Their profile isn't the same - Feliz has a better FB, Hellcikson better control and breaking pitches, and Feliz' stuff is a beettr fit for the bullpen. That said, he is running out of having anything to prove in the minors. Keep him stretched out, definitely go to him if a spot start or two is needed (someone will strain an oblique/twist an ankle/hang a nail eventually), and worry about getting him some relief time in the second half if nothing changes.

AutomatedTeller (boston, ma): Who do you think is more valuable, Rasmus or Andrew McCutcheon?

Clay Davenport: I lean Rasmus; his power upside has always been higher than McCutcheon's, and the development (or not) of power is one of the key limits to a player's growth. McCutcheon has some advantages of his own (speed, strikeouts), and he's no slouch of a player. The other advantage would be that I trust the Cardinal organziation to help a player reach his peak level a lot more than I trust the Pirates, as unquantifiable as that may be right now.

AutomatedTeller (Boston, MA): Up here in Boston, we are worried about Beckett, Lester and Lackey. Also, Beltre, but the big 3 starters are supposed to be the core of the team. Are we hosed? or is this just another slow start by all three of them?

Clay Davenport: Of those three, Beckett is the one whose peripherals look farthest from expectations and recent history, but it could all be normal variation - there doesn't seem to be any alariming drops in speed, for instance. One element of concern when multiple pitchers on a team go south at once is the defense, and Boston's CF (with an ill/injured Cameron, Ellsbury, and assorted non-CFs) is a big problem. Fenway is one of the more unique parks in the majors, and having multiple changes in the defense isn't helpful - none of the new guys have figured it out yet, by the looks of things.

Hank (Chicago): OK Carlos Silva is not this good, but is Jack Z really a "genius" for the Bradley-Silva deal? I say no...

Clay Davenport: And I agree with you. He's ahead at the first or second mile of a marathon.

andrew (Toronto): That said, who would you rather have right now? Strasburg or Jimenez?

Clay Davenport: One year contract is definitely Jimenez. Anything that goes beyond the current season, I'll take Strasburg. Kind of like trying to choose between the filet mignon and the prime rib.

mike (chicago): Is it fair to say that the brewers are going to be a pythag outlier? The difference between that lineup against the cubs this weekend and the pirates before and after is astounding. 20,1,1,2,17. Ouch.

Clay Davenport: Surprisingly not; the Brewers are right on target with their Pythag wins (5.9 expected, 6 actual) and their runs scored (69 actual, 70 expected). Their Pirate opponents, though, between that 20-run outing and other Craig Morton starts, have given up a lot of runs in their losses and are a league-leading 3.1 games ahead of the Pythag record.

m1rch00 (Silver Spring, MD): How long does it take to get a useful measurement of park effects in a new stadium like Target Field?

Clay Davenport: There's no simple answer to that. One variable is how the weather changes during the season - is there a particular time of year when the wind patterns can shift dramatically (unknown to me for Target Field), what are the temperature variations (Target Field should have the widest expected variation between April/October and mid-summer; Denver is probably the top contender, and their park factor is dominated by something other than temperature.) The Yankees' new park played differently as the season progressed last year, becoming less offense-crazy. So far, based on runs, Target is running almost perfectly average.

Will (Mactaquac): When you consider the Jays lineup on Sunday, do you cry, too, or is it just me?

Clay Davenport: If you cried for the Jays lineup Sunday, what did you do for the Berkman-less Astro lineups? They are still hitting below replacement level as a team, with a TrueAverage of .219.

mikeduin (Seattle): Everything I read about Grady Sizemore in the offseason predicted a return to his previous level of excellence this season -- is it time to get concerned or is his early season slump nothing to worry about?

Clay Davenport: And everyone else did, too. His K/BB rate is well off his history, there's little power showing, the BABIp actually dropped between 2007-08 and has never recovered. I am worried that he's not the player he was, and that the injuries have taken a toll that isn't going to heal. That would be a very sad thing, for baseball in general, not just Indian fans.

Will (Mactaquac): Clay, that makes me want the Jays in the NL Central more so than engendering any sort of sympathy for Texans. Who would win a fictional 3-game series between these two "behemoths"?

Clay Davenport: Some sort of floating divisional alignments would certainly benefit teams like the Jays. Another possibility that I half-heard in our Baltimore event - and I may be reading into Andy McPhail's words more than I should - would be to have revenue from the salary tax shared more strongly within the division of the team(s) paying the tax, not spread evenly over all teams.

I think Toronto would clobber them.

ericj (sf): Can the Giants realisticly win 90? A run saved is worth more than a run scored correct?

Clay Davenport: A run saved is worth more than a run scored, but not really by enough to worry about in a typical season. The way they're playing right now, they have at least a 25% chance of making it to 90.

David (NJ): Will David Wright bounce back to previous levels?

Clay Davenport: Wright's "decline" last year was almost entirely the result of his home games, where he went from having a .350ish TAv in 2008-08 to .295 in 2009. I don't think his home numbers are ever going to be that favorable again, so probably not.

Clay Davenport: Thanks everybody for the questions, but its time to wrap things up. David Laurila will be in this space tomorrow, and Shawn Hoffman goes on Thursday, so keep a lookout right here.


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