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04-21

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4

Prospectus Feature: TIDES Report: Gender and Race in MLB
by
Kate Morrison

04-14

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2

Prospectus Feature: Graveman Comes to Grip With His Destiny
by
David Brown

04-14

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0

Prospectus Feature: Taylor Motter's Flow
by
Daniel Rathman

04-13

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3

Prospectus Feature: Lew Fonseca and the Myth of Democratic Baseball
by
Mary Craig

04-05

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1

Prospectus Feature: Estimating Release Point Using Gameday's New Start_Speed
by
Dan Brooks and Alan M. Nathan

04-03

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13

Prospectus Feature: Pre-Season Staff Predictions
by
BP Staff

03-27

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1

Prospectus Feature: Christian Bethancourt and Fun
by
Meg Rowley and Patrick Dubuque

03-09

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23

Prospectus Feature: DRA 2017: The Convergence
by
Jonathan Judge

03-01

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8

Prospectus Feature: The Marketing of Baseball
by
Kate Morrison

02-20

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3

Prospectus Feature: Arbitration Clash
by
Jarrett Seidler

02-07

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12

Prospectus Feature: Using the PFM and BP's Fantasy Tools
by
Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre

01-30

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17

Prospectus Feature: Choose Your Own Adventure: Padres Rotation
by
Patrick Dubuque, Ben Carsley, Craig Goldstein and Bret Sayre

01-27

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0

Prospectus Feature: Modeling Tunnels: The Path Forward
by
Jonathan Judge

01-26

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5

Prospectus Feature: Unlocking Kyle Hendricks
by
Jeff Long, Jonathan Judge and Harry Pavlidis

01-25

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3

Prospectus Feature: Two Ways to Tunnel
by
Jeff Long, Jonathan Judge and Harry Pavlidis

01-24

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17

Prospectus Feature: Introducing Pitch Tunnels
by
Jeff Long, Jonathan Judge and Harry Pavlidis

01-23

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17

Prospectus Feature: Command and Control
by
Jeff Long, Jonathan Judge and Harry Pavlidis

01-09

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0

Prospectus Feature: Passed Balls and Wild Pitches (Again)
by
Jonathan Judge

12-23

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3

Prospectus Feature: The 2016 All Out-of-Position Team
by
Andrew Mearns

12-19

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9

Prospectus Feature: Rule 5 Review
by
BP Prospect Staff

12-07

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1

Prospectus Feature: Narrative Nothings
by
Trevor Strunk

11-22

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4

Prospectus Feature: MLB's Ongoing Search for Front Office Diversity
by
Russell A. Carleton and Kate Morrison

11-14

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10

Prospectus Feature: The Cy Young and the Unfair Advantage of Defense
by
Jonathan Judge

10-28

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5

Prospectus Feature: Dominican Winter League Q&A
by
Grant Jones

10-13

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9

Prospectus Feature: Tal's Hill, the Performative Quirk
by
Emma Baccellieri

10-12

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0

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Peoria Javelinas
by
Steve Givarz, Brendan Gawlowski and Wilson Karaman

10-12

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2

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Glendale Desert Dogs
by
Steve Givarz, Mauricio Rubio and Jarrett Seidler

10-11

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2

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Surprise Saguaros
by
Steve Givarz, Kate Morrison, Jarrett Seidler and Wilson Karaman

10-11

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0

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Salt River Rafters
by
Brendan Gawlowski, Steve Givarz, Mark Anderson and Wilson Karaman

10-10

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1

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Glendale Desert Dogs
by
Wilson Karaman, Steve Givarz and Mauricio Rubio

10-10

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0

Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Scottsdale Scorpions
by
Jarrett Seidler, Wilson Karaman and Steve Givarz

10-06

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12

Prospectus Feature: Imagining a Position-Less Baseball
by
Emma Baccellieri

09-27

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1

Prospectus Feature: The Joy of Adrian Beltre
by
Kate Morrison

09-26

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7

Prospectus Feature: The Comp-less Mike Trout
by
Henry Druschel

09-26

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7

Prospectus Feature: The Song of Jose Fernandez
by
Mauricio Rubio

09-21

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4

Prospectus Feature: The Six Archetypes of Famous Baseball Men LinkedIn Profiles
by
Emma Baccellieri

09-18

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0

Prospectus Feature: Baseball's Peek-A-Boo
by
Trevor Strunk

09-16

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10

Prospectus Feature: A Brief, Modern History of Reliever Name Foreshadowing
by
Ben Carsley

09-15

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18

Prospectus Feature: The Active Player Hall of Fame Draft
by
Brendan Gawlowski and Meg Rowley

09-15

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3

Prospectus Feature: The Best Pitcher Nobody Cares About
by
Bryan Grosnick

09-12

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16

Prospectus Feature: Two Visions of October
by
Henry Druschel

09-09

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0

Prospectus Feature: Burning Up The Track In September, Part 2
by
Rob Mains

09-08

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5

Prospectus Feature: The Giants Are Making History!
by
Rob Mains

09-04

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5

Prospectus Feature: The September Slumber
by
Trevor Strunk

09-02

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1

Prospectus Feature: That Old Story About Teams Never Trading Prospects Anymore
by
Julien Assouline

09-01

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2

Prospectus Feature: Burning Up the Track in September
by
Rob Mains

08-29

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5

Prospectus Feature: Baseball Player Human
by
Trevor Strunk

08-29

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0

Prospectus Feature: Coleman/Hamilton, Part 2: Why We're Missing Out On It
by
Rob Mains

08-26

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6

Prospectus Feature: Coleman/Hamilton, Pt. 1: What We're Missing Out On
by
Rob Mains

08-22

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9

Prospectus Feature: Something Not Worth Forfeiting
by
Henry Druschel

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The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport's annual report card shows that MLB continues to struggle with racial and gender diversity.

This week, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released their 2017 report card for Major League Baseball’s hiring and employment practices regarding racial and gender diversity. When grading MLB, TIDES looks at a variety of positions at the league level, the team level, and the organization itself, including the makeup of on-field or field-related staff as well as executives.

Their findings were not surprising to anyone who has been following the recent news cycles around hiring within Major League Baseball. While the league itself (specifically, the commissioner’s office, MLB Advanced Mecia, and MLB Network) scored the highest in both racial and gender diversity, the gender diversity number specifically dropped from 2016. On a team level, the gender diversity situation was even worse, with senior team administration receiving a D+ and professional administration a C-.

If we break these numbers down further, and look at how many of the women filling 27 percent of the “team senior administration” and 28.1 percent of the “team professional administration” roles are in positions that are—while incredibly important to the health of the team as a business—not related to the product on the field, the world is even bleaker. TIDES provides a breakdown of every woman and person of color in these senior roles, and the list of women only has six out of 82 women in roles that could be considered to have an impact on-field (athletic trainers, coaches, or scouts), and two of these are general “vice president” positions, with two others being “general partner” roles[1].

When we look at the 28 percent of women employed in “professional administration roles,” we have to take into account that TIDES includes specialists, technicians, analysts, engineers, and programmers alongside “assistant managers, coordinators, supervisors, and administrators in business operations such as marketing, promotions, publications, and various other departments.” When restricted to, again, roles that directly impact the product on the field, that 28 percent is almost certainly much lower.

While MLB overall scored a B for racially diverse hiring practices in 2017, this again represented a falling off from their score in 2016—somehow, in a single year, the league lost 8.5 points off their TIDES-given score. People of color fill 44.3 percent of coaching roles, but as we know, only three current MLB managers are men of color. The league office employs the next-highest level of people of color in all positions, at 28.1 percent, with the teams falling off steeply from that—only 11.7 percent of vice president or equivalent positions.

What does this all mean?

Read the full article...

Kendall from Alex City had better baseball connections when he was a kid than he realized, and lessons learned half a lifetime ago are fueling his success for the A's.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kendall Graveman struggled at first to remember the name of the man who taught him the grip for his best pitch, a sinking fastball. It’s kind of a funny story, learning to grip what has become one of the most effective pitches in the majors, from a man who today coaches the hitters for a junior-college softball team, who also in part learned about the importance of finger strength from conversations with a national-champion arm wrestler. It all sounds so over the top, but it's true: You just never know how wisdom will get passed along between generations.

About the coach’s name. After being given a moment to think, does Graveman remember?

“I do ...” Graveman said, his face grimacing as the mental wheels turned. “I don’t. It was at Central Alabama Community College. Heck, he may still be there. It’s a junior college in my hometown.

“We didn’t have a lot of connections in Alexander City.”

Read the full article...

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April 14, 2017 6:00 am

Prospectus Feature: Taylor Motter's Flow

0

Daniel Rathman

Taking notice of a 27-year-old rookie who's suddenly crushing the ball.

A 17th-round pick by the Rays in 2011, Taylor Motter made some 2,000 plate appearances in the minors before the majors came calling last year. By the time his summer stint in The Show was over, the 27-year-old had two small-time claims to fame. He was the only major-league alumnus of Coastal Carolina University when the Chanticleers made their College World Series run:

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Baseball is entwined with American history, but it can also be the source of propaganda.

Baseball has a storied and deliberate history of being connected to American politics, from its roots in the Civil War to presidents throwing Opening Day first pitches to the widespread belief during World War II that baseball made America more peaceful than Europe. Though it is correct that these connections have in some ways produced an American baseball synonymous with American politics, these efforts have perpetuated the dangerous belief that the mere existence of American democracy safeguards people from suffering and persecution.

These issues were on full display in a 1951 Lew Fonseca short film titled The Democracy of Baseball. The film was packaged as a celebration of the game on behalf of the National League’s 75th anniversary and the American League’s 50th. The 17-minute film was shown to baseball writers, boy scouts, and young baseball players, among many others, as a means of educating them on the sport’s history. However, the heavy-handed American democratic and militaristic ties to the sport on display in the film present a superficial account of the game that, in service of specific political goals, omits the real, full nature of baseball’s American-ness.

Read the full article...

Summarizing the history of the start_speed parameter, including a cautionary note to new pitch-tracking researchers, and describing a method for estimating release point (extension) by taking advantage of Gameday's parameter switch.

According to Dave Cameron and recently confirmed in a blog post by Tom Tango, MLB has changed the meaning of start_speed, a pitch-by-pitch parameter in the MLB Components Data ("Gameday") Files. This brief post summarizes the history of the start_speed parameter, includes a cautionary note to new pitch-tracking researchers, and describes a method for estimating release point (extension) by taking advantage of Gameday’s parameter switch.

The parameter start_speed has, for the better part of 10 years, coded for the velocity at a fixed distance 50 feet from home plate. Although 50 feet is much too close to home plate to actually be a realistic guess at a pitcher release point, this distance was initially chosen to reasonably match the velocities reported by scout’s radar guns. Several websites (including BP and BrooksBaseball.net) quickly realized that 55 feet was actually a better estimate for pitcher release point, and so have used that as convention for much of the PITCHf/x era. Due to technical limitations of the PITCHf/x system, it was not possible to record the actual release point of the pitch, which limited the ability of the system to determine the actual speed at release.

Trackman Doppler Radar, which serves as the pitch tracking hardware for the new MLB Statcast system, has the advantage of being able to measure the actual release point of the ball—and the speed at that point—with excellent fidelity.

Read the full article...

BP's writing and editing staff look into their collective crystal ball to predict the 2017 season.

PECOTA is Baseball Prospectus' projection system and it's a damn good one, but we also have a staff full of real, live humans who like to predict things too.

Below you'll find predicted divisional standings, the major player awards for each league (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year), and World Series winners, neatly summarized as a collective and detailed by each individual's ballot. "Points" for awards are given on a 5-3-1 system for first, second, and third place.

Shall we?

American League Standings

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There are two sides to every two-way player.

In one of the more pressing baseball debates of today, Meg Rowley and Patrick Dubuque present a point-counterpoint on Christian Bethancourt and fun.

Meg:

I hold what I imagine to be a minority opinion: I suspect that Christian Bethancourt being a so-so two-way player will be less fun than him being a mediocre position player who occasionally pitches. Not that it won’t be cool that he’s trying; just less fun.

Position players pitching is perfect. It’s the rare baseball moment when every possible outcome is good. We’ve removed stakes, and absent the potential to alter how the game ends, it can only change how the game feels. It’s like staring at one of those Magic Eye 3D posters: amid what was chaos, an image of healing comes into focus, sketched out in pitcher form.

Imagine our guy fails; that’s easy, we assumed he would. We’re granted permission to enjoy his failure, to find notes of humor and self-awareness because what he’s really doing is performing a service. This is an act of care disguised as embarrassment. There is no winning in these moments, which also means there is no losing. The losing has already been done. Position players pitched 22.1 innings in 2016; they allowed 14 earned runs. Some of those were probably the result of indifferent defense, but I couldn’t be bothered to investigate which ones. Who cares?

Two different teams threw Erik Kratz out there. We’re working with different standards of success. We look on these performances and revel in the fact that they contain all the components of throwing a baseball. Our guy got the ball to the catcher’s mitt (when he doesn’t it’s funnier), and got his outs (exect when they don’t and smile knowingly), and if he gave up a few runs along the way (he often will), well, that’s part of pitching, too. Only his job isn’t to pitch, so we don’t have to be mad about it.

Read the full article...

What if you could have a metric that accurately describes what a pitcher did while also reliably forecasting the skills that pitcher would bring to the future?

Two years ago, I wrote the first DRA essay, focusing on the challenge of modeling descriptive versus predictive player performance. At the time, my prognosis for threading that needle was rather grim:

What is it, exactly, that you want to know? For example:

(1) Do you care primarily about a pitcher’s past performance?

(2) Are you more worried about how many runs the pitcher will allow going forward?

(3) Or do you want to know how truly talented the pitcher is, divorced from his results this year or next?

The reader’s likely response is: “I’d like one metric that excels at all three!” Sadly, when it comes to composite pitcher metrics, this might not be possible.

Read the full article...

Baseball is trying to reach a bigger, younger audience, but its marketing has yet to reach the 21st century.

For an industry with no direct competitors, a brighter inside future than ever, and a very owner-and-league-friendly system of dispensing with profits, Major League Baseball sure seems convinced that they’re dying. And for a company publicly despairing, they don’t seem to have any understanding of what little things they could do to make life easier on themselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their seeming inability to move their marketing efforts into the 21st century.

No matter what kind of organization you run, from a small start-up to a multinational telecom[1], the fundamentals of the game are the same: How do you communicate your message to the people you want to reach? How do you determine who you want to communicate with? What image of yourself do you want to communicate?

These three questions are what it all boils down to. It is extremely easy to get lost in the day-to-day of marketing, in the buzz of new ideas and what’s “hot” at the moment. It’s more difficult to refine down to the fundamentals.

Read the full article...

After beating Dellin Betances in arbitration the Yankees added to the drama by going public with criticism of the star reliever.

The arbitration process sucks. It sucks for the team. It sucks for the player. The player, his agent, and key front office personnel go into a room where their lawyers and contractors argue why the player is worse or better than he initially appears. At the end of the day, three professional arbitrators who don’t necessarily have intimate knowledge of MLB player value decide between the player’s submitted salary number and the team's submitted salary number.

These decisions are almost always fitted on a player’s service time, past salary, and the closest comps based on antiquated box score-level stats like wins, saves, batting average, home runs, and RBI, as those stats are generally what the arbitrators understand. The process has been around long enough that there are almost always comparables. Because of this, groups like the Pace Law baseball arbitration team are able to project arbitration awards with stunning accuracy without even being in the room, and an annual national law school arbitration competition occurs with MLB’s system as the model. Often, this is all about a couple hundred-thousand dollars, a pittance in the overall budget of MLB teams.

The Yankees reached arbitration settlements with six of the players they tendered. The seventh was Dellin Betances, one of the best relievers in baseball, entering arbitration for the first time. The Yankees offered $3 million and Betances countered at $5 million. The Yankees are a "file-and-trial" team, which means once the arbitration numbers are officially exchanged they will no longer negotiate a one-year deal.

Economist Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors went a step beyond looking at cases individually and fitted a statistical model to project arbitration salaries across the league, since the comparables are so stable. Swartz’s model for relievers is pretty clear: saves get paid and holds don’t. Swartz also found that the arbitration panel hews so closely to past precedents that a player is unlikely to get more than $1 million beyond the previously highest-paid player for his role and service time, no matter how much better he was than that past comparable. Swartz’s model is generally well-regarded and projected Betances’ median arbitration award at $3.4 million for 2017, far closer to the team filing than the player filing. It’s no surprise that the Yankees won the case, no matter how unfairly light that $3 million number may seem at first glance.

I suspect nothing further would’ve happened here except perhaps a generic disappointment quote from Betances, but then Yankees president Randy Levine went to the media. You certainly wouldn’t be reading about it here on BP—across town, Wilmer Flores’ arbitration victory over the Mets floated through the papers as a couple of sentences in a pre-spring training slice of life story, garnering no major regional or national attention.

Why Levine chose to go after Betances in the media after winning is a question only Levine himself can answer. Arbitration proceedings are often rancorous. It often puts the team in a position where it has to trash its own player for financial advantage, pointing out things like how slow he is to the plate. Occasionally these things boil over; Jerry Blevins’ arbitration win over the Nationals in 2015 was reportedly a factor in his trade a few weeks later to the Mets. This proceeding was apparently particularly bad, but again, the Yankees won.

Read the full article...

A primer on how the Player Forecast Manager and PECOTA projections can guide you before, during, and after drafts and auctions this spring.

Before the Auction

The advice below is designed primarily for mono league, auction formats. However, the same principles apply for mixed league formats as well.

For fantasy players, the unveiling of PECOTA means the simultaneous unveiling of the PFM, our Player Forecast Manager. One of the most versatile valuation tools in the industry, the PFM allows you to customize valuation based on your league’s format. This is particularly useful if you are not playing in a “standard” 5x5 Roto format, as most “expert” commentary (including mine) focuses almost entirely on 5x5, Rotisserie valuations.

Read the full article...

The stories behind the Padres' starters of 2017.

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