How bad will things get for your team when two starters go down?
The problem is, people get hurt. People get hurt, you’re going to expose your lack of depth. There just is no depth. There is no number six. If Joe Blanton pitches an inning this year it will be just a catastrophe for the Angels and I don’t know—Shoemaker? Is that number six? Even in my ideal world I’m trying to figure out who is number six. —Matt Welch, author of the Angels chapter in this year’s annual, on Effectively Wild.
Why it's problematic to point out that a player isn't as good as he once was.
Brandon Phillips is declining. Around 13 years ago, his lung capacity began decreasing, and in another couple decades it will be half what it was when he was 20. He's losing neurons in his brain—up to 10,000 per day. Around the age of 30, his major organs began to lose function, and his muscles began to lose mass. His maximum attainable heart rate is dropping by a beat per year, and his capacity to pump blood is shrinking, too. The first symptoms of mild-moderate cognitive impairment often start around this time, slowing his brain's processing speed and affecting memory and attention.
Is it time to bring back the Herb Washington-style dedicated pinch-sprinter?
We all have radical ideas that we’d like to see implemented: the all-reliever pitching staff, the perfectly optimized lineup, the corner outfielders swapping based on batter handedness, etc. Until somebody puts them into play, they’re just ideas. What Charlie Finley did, then, was a favor to us all: He took one of those ideas and put it in play. And when it failed, we got to move on. We never had to talk about it again. For once, a crazy idea tried, tested, and settled.
What the terms of Mike Trout's rumored extension tell us about Mike Trout.
Back in the summer of 2012, when it became clear that Mike Trout was doing something we had never seen from a player his age, the word of the day was “adjustments.” Yes, Trout was accomplishing amazing things, and there was little doubt that he would be a phenomenal player, probably a Hall of Famer. But his legacy—would he be a Hall of Famer like Willie Mays, or a Hall of Famer like Andre Dawson?—would come down to adjustments.
The biggest gaps between 2013 and 2014 pitcher projections.
It’s a feeling we’ve brought up a lot this winter: Pitchers seem like they are capable of changing our minds much more quickly than hitters can. A bump in velocity (like Ubaldo Jimenez) or a move to the bullpen (Will Smith) or a return after years away (Scott Kazmir) can radically reshape how we assess a pitcher's future.
Which suggests we should be open to radically different projections for a pitcher from year to year, and yet! There’s a case to be made that this unpredictability should actually make a projection system even more conservative when evaluating pitchers. As quickly as a pitcher can change our minds about him, he can unchange our minds, lose the velocity or move back to the rotation or undergo a surgery that fixes him. So, when in doubt, regress.
The biggest gaps between 2013 and 2014 hitter projections.
At the back of the BP Annual, on page 562, among the PECOTA leaderboards, there’s one table for WARP Declines and another for WARP Improvements. The guys on these lists are a hodgepodge of stories, but mostly these players are on the list because PECOTA hasn’t changed its mind on them. Colby Rasmus had a good year last year? PECOTA acknowledges it, but it hasn’t changed its mind about Rasmus. Decline. Dan Uggla was terrible last year? PECOTA adjusts downward some but basically hasn’t changed its mind about Uggla. Improve. The WARP decline/improvements tables are essentially regression leaderboards. These are guys who did something unexpected but, in PECOTA’s estimation, didn’t really change.
Which player is most likely to experience a run of sustained sub-replacement seasons?
The year was 2007, and America’s outlook had never been brighter. A young Arkansas governor named Bill J. Clinton had just been elected president with promises of universal hearth care for everybody’s hearths. An inventor named Steve Jobs was tinkering in his garage on a machine that would one day be called the Splash-Proof Thermapen Thermometer. And a shortstop in Seattle named Yuniesky Betancourt was doing amazing things that we would never see again: Topping replacement level.