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Fantastic piece. I noticed that all of the recent gifs above involve Hosmer swinging at pitches on the outer half of the plate, and I'm wondering two things. (1) Does Hosmer also fall over the plate now when he takes a cut at one on the inner half? And (2) have opposing pitchers simply stopped pitching him on the inner half in recognition of Hosmer's struggles with pitches away?
"Sweet 'stache, bro."
(For the other three of you out there who saw "Safe Men.")
Interesting. And I guess all I can add to that is that two wrongs don't make a right. And it's also probably generally true that the stats community has been quicker to acknowledge the ability of the two to peacefully co-exist.
"So there are things we can’t measure, and there are things we measure incorrectly."
Nice to see you finally admit that Bryce Harper breaks PECOTA.
All kidding aside, I was troubled by this whole article and its lack of nuance. Feels like something that would have been written 10 years ago, back when there actually was a "stats vs. scouts" debate being waged. On top of that, the scientific history lessons -- not to mention the drawn-out citation to the official rulebook in order to illustrate that the team who scores more runs than it allows is the one that wins -- add nothing to this now-mostly-resolved debate (Hawk strawmen aside), and are either incredibly condescending (to the extent you are failing to acknowledge the intellectual capacity of your audience) or an exercise in shouting into an echo chamber (to the extent you are not).
Thank you for saying "by baseball standards." Takes the edge off a bit.
"I'd say strong to... quite strong."
"Alright, I'll taste the soup. Where's the spoon?"
Good points all. And I know that an 8-week (~50 game) suspension would be unheard of for what could be considered -- at some level of abstraction, at least -- an ordinary, run of the mill mound-charging.
Go ahead and minus me, I probably deserve it, but I'm not nearly finished on this.
If C.Q. doesn't get a lengthy suspension, then I don't see how the Dodgers can stand for it without retribution. Quentin is a well-known "leaner" (as Mitch Williams called it) who gets hit on a per-plate-appearance basis more than any other active hitter (and it's not particularly close, check it out: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/HBP_top_ten.shtml... once every 20 plate appearances last year!). And this isn't bad luck. The guy gets hit in the same damn place most of the time (the hands that he refuses to move out of the way) and by all manner of pitchers. And on top of that, he's got 50 lbs. on Greinke and is well aware of the damage he can cause someone just on a straight F=ma basis.
Greinke didn't throw at him. Greinke said "stop." Greinke lowered his non-pitching shoulder in self-defense. Greinke got hurt. Quentin must pay.
Understand that I am a peace, love and understanding kind of guy. Kind that votes for Howard Dean and watches a lot of Aaron Sorkin. And if *I'm* saying this, just imagine how the entire Dodgers clubhouse feels right now.
In your ear, pal.
And what MFBabyFeets (can't believe I just typed that) said.
You've also made a convincing argument for universal pre-K.
And to be clear, there is a certain degree of specificity to the magic word about one's mother. But you know what I mean.
Jorge Soler told Cubs management that the players on the opposing team had insulted his family in some way. Not sure if he was referring to the magic word about one's mother, or something more specific. But in any case, it sounds like they said more than Zack Greinke did (i.e., "stop").
The regrettable "latin temper" comments that have been made in various circles aside (and I'm not sure that labeling him "The Angry" is helping that, funny though it was), I think it's worth remembering that this is a player who signed a $30 million dollar contract and yet is playing in A-ball amongst folks who will never sniff even 1/30 of that. So the standard bonus baby resentment and treatment appears to be happening. Of course he needs to handle that better. And reminding himself of his account balance might help him do that. But not everyone is equally skilled at turning the other cheek. And we shouldn't necessarily take from this incident that Soler is going to be a provocateur at the major league level (like Carlos Quentin apparently is).
Yes, I'm still seething about the Greinke thing. CQ just single-handedly destroyed both of my NL-only fantasy teams.
I know I'm just about the only one reading this now, but last night I found some references to Lou Gehrig's off-sesaon barnstorming basketball team (in, among other things, an old Syracuse newspaper which has been archived online for posterity). Looks like the game my grandfather went to (and worked as a locker room attendant at) must have happened sometime in January 1928. Neat! Also of note, Gehrig and his teammates were apparently a bunch of "rough and tumble" hackers.
http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2017/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal%201928/Syracuse%20NY%20Journal%201928%20-%200107.pdf (see the article in the middle, called "Gehrig Has Star Team")
http://www.saltcitycagers.com/1927-28_Season_Articles.html (see the entry for 1/22/28, "Hanson Leads Mates To Victory Over Gehrig")
That's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure if it completely holds up. Looking at Bubba's draft in particular (2011), the top 3 picks were college pitchers, and 13 of the top 20 picks were college players. Also, scouting at the high school level has seemingly improved (and year-round travel team play for high school kids has become popularized and its competition level has increased) to the point where it might no longer be as accurate to think of the line between college and high school as so neat a division between "polished" and "raw." You can sometimes still get a raw college player like George Springer. And as shown by most of the rest of the high school kids that went in the top 20 in Bubba's draft, polished high schoolers exist, too. That group included Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Jose Fernandez. All studs, all (except Bradley, perhaps) with extraordinary polish for their ages to go along with their raw tools. (I left out Brandon Nimmo, the raw kid from the baseball factory that is Wyoming, because, really, is there any way to explain anything the Mets do?) Albert Almora is another great example from the top of the 2012 draft. So it might just be that Dayton Moore was a little behind the curve, and that he learned his lesson when he tapped Kyle Zimmer the following year. (In fairness, it might also be that 2011 was an extraordinary year for polished high school kids.)
I'd like to nominate another pitch: the one Zack Greinke threw to Carlos Quentin last night. In retrospect (and I recognize how inappropriate a sentiment this is, but it captures my anger), I only wish he had thrown it higher and tighter. Quentin broke the man's collarbone in the brawl that ensued and that CQ unnecessarily instigated.
According to the San Diego Tribune, Quentin claimed he would not have charged the mound if it weren't for what Greinke said to him right after the pitch. Of course, he did not elaborate on what Greinke said. And he also probably did not realize that the game cameras caught that angle completely, and revealed that all Zack said was a single word, in response to Quentin's initial, unwarranted stare-down. That word was "stop." Didn't need the great Evan Brunell's lip reading skills to decipher that one (nor for Matt Kemp's repeated "that was fertilizer," for that matter).
I know it won't happen, but I agree with Don Mattingly's suggestion that Quentin should not be allowed to play again until Greinke is healed. Alternatively, my advice for him is the same as the advice that Shoeless Joe gave to Moonlight Graham: "watch out for in your ear."
Oh, and Cage's review of the pitch has to be Santoro again from Snake Eyes: "I guess they don't call you the executioner for nothing! And you sign my kid's autograph!"
I just tried to figure out how to determine whether Ben and you got question 32 correct without first factoring in whether Ben and you got question 32 correct. And then my brain exploded.
Thanks, Mike! Could not find your email on the "contact us" page, so I sent it to the Professor instead. I hope I have all the facts right on that McGwire story, it's a bit hazy after all these years. But one thing I'm sure of is that there was no fan interference on that one he hit in Milwaukee!
Ha. I like how Randy Newman has a BP player card.
Great anecdote about "The Natural," and I echo your sentiment about the lights-exploding scene ("when I first realized that baseball was the sh*t") entirely. Randy Newman may also deserve a hat tip for that.
My top 3 in-person baseball memories (I recognize nobody's necessarily going to care about any of these, but y'all have got my wheels turning now, and I want to jot them down before I get too old to remember them as clearly):
(3) April 27, 1982
My earliest baseball memory is from the age of 4, watching Reggie Jackson hit three out in Game 6 of the '77 World Series from the comfort of my living room in rural upstate New York. I never saw my childhood hero play in a Yankee uniform in person, but I was lucky enough to attend his first game back at Yankee Stadium after joining the Angels. I remember chanting "Reg-gie!" before every at-bat with the rest of his still devoted fans, and especially before his last one, when he homered off of Ron Guidry, causing us all to break into an even more pointed chant of "Steinbrenner Sucks!" The game ended due to rain after the bottom of that inning, which might be why it seemed perfectly logical to me, a few years later, that the skies opened up every time Roy Hobbs went deep.
(2) October 6, 1993
I hate Curt Schilling. Always have, really. (I was at the bloody sock game, and am still convinced it was ketchup.) But as a college student in Philadelphia, being subjected to endless Phillies hype on sports radio, I found myself a bit sucked into the team and its fortunes during its 1993 playoff run. Plus, my older brother was (somehow) a lifelong Phils fan from the Mike Schmidt days. So as a gift to him and myself, I had scored us tickets to the first game of the NLCS against the Braves at Veterans' Stadium, the first playoff game either of us had ever been to. Even though the seats were nosebleed (read: uppermost row of the upper deck in RF at the Vet, probably closer to the nearby Holiday Inn than we were to home plate), and even though something in the back of my mind still didn't like this Schilling guy (a premonition that he would one day play for the Red Sox, perhaps), for a few hours that day I became a phull-phledged Phanatic. Schilling struck out the first five Braves in a row, and the crowd grew louder after each one. The game went to extras, with the Phillies winning it in dramatic fashion. (Retrosheet says Kim Batiste drove in John Kruk with a double to win it in the 10th. I'll take their word for it.) When we arrived back to my apartment in West Philly, my brother and I learned that our maternal grandfather (who was probably more responsible than anyone else for our shared love of the game) had just died of a heart attack. We stayed up the rest of the night, drank beers and talked baseball, including our memories of the stories our grandpa used to tell us, his favorite being how he "once saw Lou Gehrig take a shower." (Not quite as odd as it sounds. As a teenager, he was working in the locker room of the Armory in Oswego, NY when Gehrig's barnstorming *basketball* team, of all things, came through town one off-season. That one must have been in *his* top 3.)
(1) September 25, 1998
After taking the bar exam in July '98, and before moving to NYC to start work, I decided to attend the final 45 games of the St. Louis Cardinals season in person. I had no connection to the city or the team. But Mark McGwire looked like he was going to do it, and damn it, I was going to be there when it happened. So I rented an apartment for two months within walking distance of Busch, flew to the away games in HOU and FLA, and drove to the rest of the away series in MIL, CIN, CHI, PIT, and NYM. (I think this is now referred to as #want.) This story begins five days earlier, when I had stood less than ten feet away from where Big Mac's actual 66th home run (the one that was incorrectly ruled a ground-rule double) touched down in the LF bleachers in Milwaukee. While the botched call seemed important at the time (Sammy Sosa then trailed McGwire by only two home runs), it took on even greater significance over the next few days, when McGwire's bat went silent and Sosa hit two out to draw even at 65. On this day, the Cards hosted the Expos for the first game of their season-ending three-game series, and as I sat in the left field bleachers in the third inning, I heard a slowly building roar from a section of the stands closer to the foul pole that was populated by a large contingent of Cubs fans. Sosa had just hit number 66 and was now in the lead. (Chicago was on the road that day and for the remainder of the season, so these fans had apparently made the trip down Route 66 to root against Big Mac in person while listening to the radio call of Sosa's at-bats.) I was a fan of Slammin' Sammy's as well (awfully hard not to be), but in my mind, this threatened to completely de-legitimize my entire trip. I was invested in this thing. It had to be Big Mac! Maybe half an hour later, McGwire came to the plate, and sent a moon shot down the LF line, into that very same section of gloating Cubs fans. (Again, the parallels to "The Natural" are unavoidable. "You get that, Max? Don't ever look back, Max! Ever!") From my vantage point I was sure the thing was fair, and for an instant, McGwire seemed to think so, too. Alas, it was foul, the realization of which let the air completely out of the packed stadium. But on the very next pitch (maybe I'm romanticizing this, but it was surely in the same at-bat), he launched his 66th into the cheap seats to tie things up again. For me, the drama of that half-hour stretch and of that at-bat eclipsed that of his final four homers over the next two days, and even that of his fateful number 62. I know we're "not here to talk about the past." But that's a part of mine that will stay with me for the rest of my days.
OK, I've gone on far too long. Not sure where else I could have gotten away with posting this. Thanks for indulging me, and thanks even more to your podcast for causing me to re-remember all of these things.
Winner! Or adamantium, maybe.
Just plain outstanding. I laughed, I cried. And I vividly remember that "breaking into his home" Taveras answer as being the reason why I plucked him in a keeper league. So I'll gladly take care of any Hosmer-related beer debt you may have.
Wow. They don't even a name for that sombrero!
Very good point. But you're assuming Loria cares what he gets in return other than payroll relief!
Had read the same thing about Polanco. In fairness, this article is about prospects that the BP prospect team folks "can't wait to put their eyes on," not ones they've already put their eyes on (though it appears that the Professor has already had a couple of looks at Hawkins).
So Chris, get ready to be wowed by some weight gain. I am curious, though, as to why you think it won't cause Polanco to lose speed. Is this based on Hudson Belinsky's observations last fall about his freakishly athletic (yet presumably more filled-out) 60-year-old father?
Great stuff. We could have a lot of fun with photos of pitchers for that bottom right hand corner box.
Also, I totally agree with your and Sam's speculation on today's podcast that -- the readiness Fernandez exhibited in this first start aside -- his early promotion is essentially a costless way for Loria & Co. to create something they can point to as supposed proof that they're not all about the bottom line. It's costless because -- if the past is prologue, at least -- they'll be trading him away before his final arbitration year (let alone his first free agent year) anyway, and thus won't be footing the bill for having started the clock now instead of 2014. (And of course, like one or both of you suggested, whether it's Eovaldi's and Alvarez's return from the DL or something else, they may still find a reason to demote him for just long enough to prevent him from obtaining Super 2 status.)
And as for the Marlins' past history of delaying call-ups for service time considerations, I think Giancarlo Stanton is a very fair precedent to cite. I'm not sure that Miguel Cabrera belongs in the same category, though. If I recall correctly, Miggy was not only just 20 at the time of his promotion, but he somewhat unexpectedly skipped over AAA, and had less than a half-season of at-bats at AA, when the call came. On top of that, he had almost exclusively played 3B (and before that, SS) in the minors, yet was plugged in at LF due to the presence of Mike Lowell at third (and, I suppose, due to the presence of a replacement-level Todd Hollandsworth in left). I know he was a highly touted prospect going into that year. I just don't recall having the impression at the time that his call-up was, in any sense, delayed.
Finally, though Loria & Co. might have intended this as an olive branch to the Marlins faithful, it's not a very significant one. It seems as though we have reached a point where gaming a prospect's service time is not even something that draws the ire of a team's fan base. Rather, it's often appreciated as a smart business move that will allow the team to rely that much less on overpaying free agents (e.g., oh, I don't know... Heath Bell?) as a means of improving the big league club. So, as much as Marlins fans are enjoying an early look at Fernandez, they must also be disenchanted with what is yet another example of flawed front office decision-making (again, the only defense to which is to admit an even more disenchanting reality: that they'll be trading the kid away before any of this matters).
I don't see how anyone (let alone a scout or F.O.T.) who has actually seen Joe Mauer play baseball could say that he's a good, but not great, ballplayer. His power dip is a park effect. He is a generational talent.
If do right... no can defense.
Yes. Yes I do.
Where's the one for whether or not Bryce Harper will beat his PECOTA? Kidding! Love this, great idea.
So do the folks running the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Ocean's Eleven" franchises.
Wow, you drove? Sorry for calling into question your spring training travel #want with the crack about Lakeland!
Lakeland was too far inland for you, eh? Seriously, this is now really the only palatable way to do Florida for spring training, the Clearwater-Dunedin-Tampa circuit, with the drive down to Bradenton being totally worth it (the Pirates have a great facility). I tried to sneak in a couple Cards games while in Miami for round 2 of the WBC this year, and the drive up to Jupiter and back was horrendous. Tampa (or Arizona) is the way to go.
Enjoyed the deep dive, and was most intrigued by your lukewarm take on Alen Hanson. What do you see that leads you to think he'll struggle against quality pitching? Is the pitch recognition lagging? Does he have a hitch? Is it a physicality thing?
Great stuff, guys. Count me among the Puig believers. But just for sake of completeness, I thought I'd share these excerpts from a Keith Law chat on March 21:
"Thoughts on Puig joining the crowded Dodger OF?"
"The overrating of Puig based on a few weeks of spring training is one of this year's best non-story storylines."
"I know you are not that high on Puig. Other writers I have seen are comparing him to Bo Jackson and calling him a 5-tool impact player. What is it that you don't like about Puig?"
"A five-tool player would have above-average or, preferably, plus tools in all five categories: hit, power, speed, glove, arm. The term is insanely overused in the media, usually about as accurately as it was used in 'Trouble with the Curve.' Puig has plus power. He might end up a plus hitter, although he's not that right now; it's a pretty quiet setup and swing, which is a positive, but I don't think his plate discipline is ready yet. He's an average runner down the line, I haven't seen him play a good corner OF, and I've seen him go from having arm strength to bouncing a throw to the cutoff man. That's not a five-tool guy and it sure as hell ain't Bo Jackson. An optimistic forecast might have him a 30-homer guy in a few years with a high average but just moderate OBPs, while playing adequate defense in left. That's a good player, but not a superstar. Also: When you hear a player compared to Bo Jackson, just stop listening."
Kind of funny that you followed up a comment about what an all-star team the Dodgers have assembled with a quote from Mark Ellis.
Matt Adams for Slade Heathcott, who says no? Wait, wait... I know this one.
Great stuff, Mike. Really happy to have BP fantasy content geared towards the single-league auction format, especially when it's this good.
You did not mention -- though this is discussed in The Book -- that there is a tradeoff between having your best hitter get more PA, and having your best hitter bat with more "ducks on the pond" in the PA that he does get. Even in the AL, the 3-hitter has more RBI opportunities than the 2-hitter, though sometimes a lineup is so stacked as to have a high OBP guy in the 9-hole, and this difference is minimal. But in the National League, the pitcher bats 9th, making this difference even greater. (The Book actually recommends the LaRussa strategy of batting the pitcher 8th to combat this, but if that advice isn't going to be followed, that should be factored in.) I'm not suggesting that the benefit of more PA doesn't outweigh this, but it is still a significant counterweight, and when you're talking about 15 PA over a season, that counterweight doesn't need to be all that heavy to cancel out most of the benefit. And I haven't read it in awhile, but I believe The Book makes three other points that are relevant here: (i) there really is a statistical case to be made for alternating hitters by handedness (which, as you acknowledge, is part of Davey's stated justification); (ii) the 4-hole is probably the best spot for a power-and-OBP guy like Harper, since that spot has the benefit of both leading off more innings, and batting less with 2 outs, than the 3-hole does; and, most importantly, (iii) the difference between an optimized lineup and a non-optimized (but not silly) one is probably only about one win per season in any event. So it's perhaps a bit of an overstatement to say that this will absolutely change Washington's bottom line.
Not too shabby.
It seems like the actual platoon partner for Stubbs in your proposal is McGuiness, since Swisher and Santana will be playing nearly every day anyway. So it would be useful to know what McGuiness's stats were vs. RHP at AA last year. But MiLB.com player pages only list a player's splits for his most recent team, and since McGuiness played in the AFL, that's all that's shown for him. (For what it's worth, as it's a small sample size in a hitter's league, he torched righties in Arizona, so you may be onto something there.) Does anyone know where we can find minor league splits now that MinorLeagueSplits.com is defunct? Surprising that nobody has stepped in and filled that void.
I know you guys have lives to lead. But I really would like to know whether (and why) PECOTA is using age 20 seasons as comparisons to age 19 ones. And if it isn't doing that, then why would it predict regression for Harper when (by my best count) only ten 19-year-olds in MLB history have had 1.0 or more oWAR in a season (Harper had 3.4), and 8 of those 10 improved significantly the next year? (h/t to Joe Sheehan for leading me to that tidbit, as he covered Harper in a recent edition of his great newsletter.)
Did PECOTA really ding him for his minor league performance in 147 PA at AA at age 18, when playing at that level at that age was itself practically unprecedented? And even after such a precocious (nearly) full season of AB in the show in 2012 that was completely in line with the big numbers he had put up at high-A during the first half of 2011 (.318/.423/.554, good for a .324 TAv)?
In fact, Harper's 3.4 oWAR as a 19-year-old has only one precedent in major league history, with Mel Ott equaling that mark (and he then put up a 6.7 oWAR the following year). The only other 19-year-old seasons even in the ballpark of that oWAR belonged to Tony Conigliaro (2.8), Griffey Jr. (2.6), Cobb (2.3), and Cesar Cedeno (2.3). Griffey and Cobb took huge leaps the following year (to 4.9 and 6.2 oWAR, respectively), and Conigliaro improved his oWAR as well (to 3.4), though his TAv remained steady at .299. Cedeno is the exception, as he dipped to 1.8 oWAR the following year. As for the remaining five on that list of ten, the only other regression was by Edgar Renteria (from 2.1 to 1.1), with the other four all drastically improving their oWAR in the next season, led by Mickey Mantle (who went from 1.3 to 6.2), then Sherry Magee (1.5 to 4.1), George Davis (1.7 to 2.9), and Buddy Lewis (1.3 to 3.0).
But since oWAR is effectively a counting stat, and we were talking about TAv, here's that stat for the aforementioned player-seasons, or at least the five for whom BP has computed it (unfortunately this leaves out Cobb, Ott, Magee, Davis, and Lewis, all of whom improved):
Conigliaro - .299 to .299
Mantle - .297 to .347
Cedeno - .293 to .275
Griffey - .281 to .302
Renteria - .257 to .237
I don't know what the weighted average of this is. But it isn't a decline. (Assuming equal weight, it's an average of a 6 point increase.) And that's even without counting the five oWAR increasers for whom we don't have TAv's.
Again, I hesitate to rest my case on ten measly player-seasons, because it's arguably not enough data to give us much confidence in predicting anything about what Harper will do. At most perhaps the utter lack of truly comparable seasons -- really, Mel Ott and that's it -- should signal that we have something special here, something incapable of quantifying by resort to historical comps. Nonetheless, Sheehan is predicting Harper for MVP. And I think that outcome is less improbable than his TAv declining at all, let alone by 17 points.
My NL-only league dropped the 13th team, but added a 10th P to each active roster (which was previously the standard 14-hitter (2 C), 9-pitcher format used by the expert leagues). AL-only stayed at 12 teams, but added a 2nd U spot. A lot of number crunching led to the decision, and while we may have preserved the depth of both leagues as closely as possible, I suppose the downside is that we no longer conform to the expert leagues' rosters, which makes auction prep a bit more difficult for folks who used to just walk into the auctions with a print out of the Tout or LABR results.
These are great. Speaking of Mussina, how about that game at Fenway when he was one out away from a perfecto, and Carl Everett pinch hit and basically stood on top of the plate (something he always did, but in this setting it almost seemed like it was intentionally done to force a HBP or BB), and then sawed one off into left center for a seeing-eye single to spoil it.
The clip I most want to see from that game is not that at-bat (a lousy bootlegged version of which is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLh73UJbpI), but the post-game interview with Mussina on the field right afterwards (he was really sore, and in no mood for questions).
"Noone I think is in my tree. I mean it must be high or low." Overall, I think there should be more arguments in these threads about whether you chose the right Beatles lyric.
Nick Faleris FTW. (I've always wanted to say that when it was context-appropriate.)
Sweet nectar of life.
Ooh, one more thing. Harmonic means are great and all, but I guess I'd be curious to see how many of those 39 seasons of <100 PA you mentioned involved September cups of coffee, when it's well known (or at least generally assumed) that the quality of competition decreases, both because these same young guys are given a chance to play, and because playoff teams often give their regulars extra rest. Also, players with that few PA in their first season necessarily will not have made it a "second time through the league," that inevitable adjustment period that will instead be saved for the following season (after which the player either successfully adjusts, or flames out because he fails to do so). Harper, on the other hand, has 597 PA under his belt now. And even just looking at his month to month stats, you can see that he clearly made it to that second time (corresponding with his summer swoon) and indeed, to that possibly very telling third time (corresponding with his monster fall).
Also, isn't it analytically unsound to use the .290 TAv cutoff in the first place? Let's say there are 500 age-19 seasons out there of 100 PA or more, but 490 of them are ones where the player had <.290 TAv. Wouldn't it still be more meaningful to look at all of those seasons, to see whether there is a general trend (as I'm betting there is) of overwhelming improvement in players from their age 19 to age 20 seasons? The only basis for excluding them is the assumption that those lower than average TAv seasons would be expected to go up the next year simply due to regression to the mean. But this is tantamount to assuming your conclusion (that Harper's higher than average TAv will regress downward). In other words, rather than look at all available data to see whether there is something to the notion that improvement at the MLB level from age 19 to age 20 can be expected for reasons other than regression, your cutoff seems to disregard most of it.
"non-set head" = "non-stathead"
So you're using Vada Pinson's 20 and 21-year-old seasons, rather than his 19 and 20-year-old ones, for what reason exactly? Granted, he only had 110 PA at 19. But Pinson's improvement from age 19 to age 20 was enormous.
Ken Griffey Jr. also improved dramatically from age 19 to age 20. You apparently ruled that out with your TAv cutoff, but he improved from a .281 TAv to .302. That said, from age 20 to 21 he (unlike the rest of the top 5 you listed) went way up again, to .331.
Alex Rodriguez, same deal. He went from a .230 TAv at age 19 (in 149 PA) to a .335 TAv at age 20 (in 677 PA). Your chosen cutoff ignores this one as well. And again, because you're choosing to look at age 20 to age 21 seasons (for a reason that still eludes me), you instead use A-Rod as a data point in favor of the argument that Harper will regress, since at age 21 A-Rod dipped to a .284 TAv.
Same deal with Kaline. I already talked about his massive improvement from age 19 to age 20. Your exercise chooses to ignore that because his 19-year-old season wasn't good enough, and instead looks to the difference between Kaline's age 20 and age 21 seasons.
Frank Robinson did not play in the majors at age 19. Again, this highlights my point. Maybe that one year doesn't seem like much, but I think even non-set head scouts will tell you that at such a young age, it makes a world of difference, including from a straight physical maturity standpoint (I say this as a guy who was 5'11' when I graduated high school, and 6'3" after my junior year of college).
Here's my point distilled to its essence. Comparing exceptional (>.290 TAv) 20-year-old seasons to Harper's 19-year-old one merely because we don't have enough (or indeed, any?) exceptional 19-year-old seasons to compare it to is tautological. Because the fact that we don't have enough (any?) such 19-year-old seasons to use is itself a very valuable piece information. The kind which suggests that we're dealing with a historically unprecedented player here.
Also, it should be patently obvious by now that I own Harper in my fantasy league.
Colin, I had meant to address this in my first post, but I also don't think that your Rookie of the Year based argument -- that there is, on average, a 10 point drop-off in EqA (OK, I'll humor you guys, let's call it TaV) for Rookies of the Year in the following year -- is a sound one. To me, it ignores the very point I'm making about how unusual Harper is, and why the "sophomore slump" cliche ought not reflexively be applied to him. Indeed, it is the same reason why expecting regression to the mean for a 19-year-old or 20-year-old who performed better than league average makes so much less sense than expecting such regression from an already-established player in his mid-20's.
Let's even put aside for a moment the wisdom of a casual comparison between Bryce Harper and players like Chris Coghlan and Geovany Soto (i.e., we all know that not all RoYs are built alike, and it has not required 20/20 hindsight for us to know this). Here are the ages of all of RoY hitters since 2000, and their TaVs listed for (i) their RoY season; (ii) the following season; and (iii) their career thus far (which is a bit of a tangent from what we're currently discussing, but added for everyone's edification).
2012: Bryce Harper (19) - .291
2012: Mike Trout (20) - .357
2010: Buster Posey (23) - .298 - .271 - .318
2009: Chris Coghlan (24) - .292 - .265 - .263
2008: Geovany Soto (25) - .286 - .233 - .265
2008: Evan Longoria (22) - .296 - .293 - .308
2007: Ryan Braun (23) - .324 - .291 - .316
2007: Dustin Pedroia (23) - .281 - .297 - .287
2006: Hanley Ramirez (22) - .278 - .311 - .297
2005: Ryan Howard (25) - .311 - .343 - .306
2004: Jason Bay (25) - .301 - .320 - .292
2004: Bobby Crosby (24) - .261 - .280 - .241
2003: Angel Berroa (25) - .267 - .246 - .233
2002: Eric Hinske (24) - .286 - .261 - .262
2001: Albert Pujols (21) - .329 - .323 - .340
2001: Ichiro Suzuki (27)* - .303 - .293 - .284
2000: Rafael Furcal (22) - .280 - .247 - .266
1999: Carlos Beltran (22) - .266 - .223 - .293
1998: Ben Grieve (22) - .289 - .276 - .275
1997: Nomar Garciaparra (23) - .290 - .309 - .296
1997: Scott Rolen (22) - .292 - .307 - .293
1996: Derek Jeter (22) - .282 - .279 - .290
1996: Todd Hollandsworth (23) - .278 - .232 - .258
1995: Mary Cordova (25) - .279 - .279 - .266
1994: Bob Hamelin (26) - .327 - .214 - .277
1994: Raul Mondesi (23) - .279 - .296 - .282
1993: Tim Salmon (24) - .323 - .314 - .306
1993: Mike Piazza (24) - .325 - .304 - .314
We don't yet know how Harper and Trout performed in the following year, of course. And there are also good reasons to exclude Furcal and Posey from the next-year part of the analysis, since both suffered (and played through) injuries in their sophomore seasons (one has to be curious as to whether the same was true for Beltran).
The TaV of the only 27-year-old Rookie of the Year, Ichiro, declined by 10 points the following season, and his career TaV is 19 points lower than his RoY one.
The TaV of the only 26-year-old RoY, Bob Hamelin, declined by 113 points the following season, and his career TaV was 50 points lower than his RoY one.
The TaVs of the five 25-year-old RoYs declined on average by approximately 5 points in the following season, and they had/have career TaVs which on average are 16-17 points lower than their RoY ones.
For the five 24-year-old RoYs, their next season TaVs declined by 12-13 points, and their career TaVs were about 20 points lower than their RoY ones.
For the six 23-year-old RoYs, their next-season TaVs (excluding Posey's) declined by approximately 3 points (thanks largely to marginal RoY winner Todd Hollandsworth), but their career TaVs (including Posey) have been 1 point higher than their RoY ones.
For the seven 22-year-old RoYs, their next season TaVs (excluding Furcal's) declined by only 2 points (and this is dragged down significantly by Beltran's flukishly bad and possibly injury-hampered sophomore year), and their career TaVs (including Furcal) have been 3-4 points higher than their RoY ones.
At age 21, there is only Albert Pujols. While his TaV declined 6 points the next season (to a still supernatural .323), he largely repeated his monster rookie year performance, and over his career he has been 11 points higher than that mark.
At age 20, there is only Mike Trout.
At age 19, there is only Bryce Harper.
That's 20 years of RoY hitters in both leagues, and the only guy even close to being as young as Trout and Harper is Pujols (who some have suggested might not even have been 21 at the time!). These guys break the model, and well they should. That's all I'm saying.
Further to that, however, I was also struck by your comment that "it's not like the comps are what's driving the idea that Harper will regress." This suggests that PECOTA is no longer primarily a comparables-based model (and in fairness, perhaps it never was, and I just never truly understood it). But if it were... *if it were*... I think we'd get a much different projection for these two wunderkinds. For instance – and with the caveat that, as I said before, this may be too small a sample to be anything more than anecdotal – if you look at Harper's top five comparable player-seasons by similarity score on Baseball Reference, every one of those five (four of whom are Hall-of-Famers) performed better in their age 20 seasons, some by large amounts. In order:
George Davis went from .264/.336/.375 in his 19-year-old season (over 583 PA) to .289/.354/.409 (over 627 PA) the next year.
Mel Ott went from a stellar .322/.397/.524 in his 19-year-old season (over 500 PA) to an even more stellar .328/.449/.635 (over 675 PA) the next year.
Al Kaline went from .276/.305/.347 as a 19-year-old (over 535 PA) to .340/.421/.546 (over 681 PA) in his MVP-runner-up 20-year-old season.
Ty Cobb (yes, Ty freaking Cobb!) went from .316/.355/.394 (over 394 PA) at age 19 to .350/.380/.468 (over 642 PA) at age 20.
Buddy Lewis (yes, Buddy freaking Lewis! okay, that didn't work as well) showed the most modest improvement, but still went from .291/.347/.399 (over 657 PA) at age 19 to .314/.367/.425 (over 733 PA) at age 20.
So it was more than a bit surprising to see PECOTA project Harper to decline by double digits in all three triple-slash stats this year, including a whopping 35 point decline in SLG. Even just looking at Harper's improvement over the course of last season, that just sounds wildly wrong.
Lastly, I want to underscore again that I'm not at all saying that PECOTA sucks. Much like democracy, it's the worst method of predicting future performance except for all others which have been tried. And more importantly, I appreciate that there is even a forum like BP in which somebody might actually read all of the above with interest. Even if you disagree with me, this is a hell of a lot of fun to discuss.
That's just it, these anomalies don't at all mean that PECOTA sucks. Sell it for what it actually is, which -- for 99.9% of players (for whom hundreds of comparable player-seasons are available) -- is something pretty great. If you embrace that it is a comparables-based model, it seems intuitive why it wouldn't work as well for freaks like Harper or Moyer -- or, for that matter, Trout -- who have few or no true comparables, either because of age or performance extremes (or in Trout's case, both).
As Nate himself said, "[w]hat does PECOTA do in situations like these? well, it does the best it can. ... Of course there are a few players -- like [Barry Bonds in 2004] -- for whom finding appropriate comparables is impossible. In those cases, PECOTA makes like a drunken frat boy and lowers its standards. In the case of Bonds, for example, it's willing to bed pretty much any 40-year-old with some power and some plate discipline. That isn't an ideal solution...."
If Nate's willing to say that, it's not clear to me why those of us who didn't invent the thing wouldn't be. Of course Nate and other brilliant folks at BP have worked to improve PECOTA since he wrote the above article. But unless the model has shifted away from being primarily a comparables-based one, this particular anomaly doesn't seem like one that can be addressed. And again, that does not mean it sucks. It means wow, Bryce Harper is special... so special that he breaks PECOTA... and let's all appreciate that.
Ben, first off, really great job on MLB Network yesterday. I know we all look forward to seeing more appearances from you in the future. Would be especially fun to see you square off against the likeable, but sabermetrically-disinclined Mitch Williams in a segment or two.
I have to admit that I, too, did not find Colin's justifications for PECOTA's conservative Harper projection to be particularly convincing. I know that regression to the mean is an important component of PECOTA. But it's not supposed to be the lead dog -- we've got Marcel for that. The foundation of PECOTA's modeling technique really is the comparables/similarity scores. And Harper's is a classic case of a player who breaks the system -- and *should* break the system -- because he has such a small set of true comparables that they are almost rendered anecdotal. That is, pointing to A-Rod's or Mel Ott's or Ty Cobb's 19-and-20-year-old seasons doesn't do us much good, because PECOTA works best when it has 1,000 similar seasons to look to, rather than a handful. PECOTA shouldn't work well for a 45-year-old Jamie Moyer either.
It's similar to when Jeremy Hellickson and Ichiro Suzuki defy BABIP-based projections for ERA and Batting Average. The bad projections merely show how extraordinary those players are, and serve as exceptions that prove the general rule of the method. In other words (and I'm doing my best to channel Nate here), part of the utility of PECOTA is in knowing when it doesn't work particularly well, and why. I think we ought to make that point with reference to Harper's 2013 projection, rather than search for reasons to stand behind it.
I'm not so sure that the scatterplot reveals only a weak correlation, given the nature of what you were plotting. That is, intuitively, at least, an owner is capable of spending either too little *or* too much on pitching, and an ideal "sweet spot" range is what you're looking for on a scatterplot like this. This would be demonstrated by a pyramid-like shape, with the top finishers all bunched closer to that sweet spot, and lower finishers further out in *either* direction. And it looks to me like that's exactly what you've shown: that spending 30%, give or take, on your pitching is the best way to go. And not because it guarantees that you'll finish in the money (it appears that many spent about 30 and still finished poorly), but because straying too far from 30 guarantees that you won't.
Profar a better hit tool than Taveras? Blasphemy.
"Izturii." Well done, Ben.
From the title I thought we'd be reading about H.S. juniors and college sophs. But good stuff nonetheless.
Totally thought you were going to link to Mordecai Brown's player page there.
Here's my $0.02 on a ballot rule change. Rather than simply increasinf the max number allowed a ballot, why not make it so that once a particular BBWAA member votes for a player, two things happen: (1) that vote becomes "locked in" and counts for all remaining years that the player is HoF eligible and that BBWAA member is entitled to vote; and (2) the member need not count that vote against his 10 (or change it to 5, or 3?) max ballot in future voting years. A player should never get squeezed off of a writer's ballot simply because other players become HoF eligible who that writer deems even more hallworthy. If you're over the bar, you're over the bar.
Interesting stuff, Colin. To challenge the "AL pitcher in the DH era" contention even more, it's worth noting how many of Morris' direct contemporaries in the AL were simply better than he was for reasonably sustained periods, even if their careers were not quite Hall-worthy. Just for instance, Ron Guidry (1977-85), Dave Stieb (1981-90), Bret Saberhagen (1984-91), Frank Viola (1984-92), Jimmy Key (1985-94), Teddy Higuera (1985-90), Dave Stewart (1987-92), Mark Langston (1987-92), and Bob Welch (1988-92) all out-pitched Morris for periods of five to ten seasons. I am sure there are others I'm forgetting.
Andy Stankiewicz played four games at 3B for the Yanks in 1993. Just sayin'. Missed a perfectly good opportunity to say "Stankiewicz."
How did I miss that Bam Bam article the first time around? Hilarious stuff, Sam.
Dang it. I got myself worked up over nothing, then. Thanks for the insight, Ben, I did not know that rule.
Ben, I've been thinking lately about the Yankees' options with A-Rod, and in particular, how it is they can unyoke themselves from the burden of his contract and its implications on the luxury (or "competitive balance") tax for the team in the next several years. Having just perused the luxury tax provisions of the CBA, there does seem to be an idea worth exploring, though I don't think it will be considered.
We know that if A-Rod is simply released, his entire salary still counts against the Yanks' cap for luxury tax purposes, pursuant to Art. XXIII(C)(2)(d). So that option is out. Similarly, pursuant to Art. XXIII(C)(2)(b)(iii), we know that if A-Rod is traded to another team, any cash considerations provided by the Yanks in the trade (which would of course have to be substantial) would count towards the tax as well. The CBA does provide that the cash is counted in the year it is paid, so a lump sum payment in the first year may or may not provide a marginal benefit to the Yanks (depending on what its luxury tax rates are going to be in 2013 vs. future years), but probably not enough to make much of a difference.
But a third option exists, and may be the most promising. Pursuant to Art. XXIII(C)(2)(f), the Yanks could outright A-Rod to the minor leagues, and his salary would cease to count against their cap for luxury tax purposes. The CBA does provide that this exclusion will not apply to "the Salary of any Player whose Contract has been assigned outright to a Minor League club for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the intention of the Parties" to the CBA, i.e., for the purpose of defeating or circumventing the luxury tax. And that seems, at first blush, to put an end to this idea.
But my thought is this. Wouldn't it be an interesting legal challenge for the Yankees to make, that their outrighting of A-Rod was not done "for the purpose of defeating or circumventing" the luxury tax, but rather, was a legitimate baseball decision? Indeed, might it be in the Yankees' best interests to acquire (within the bounds of a certain amount of salary) sufficient talent this off-season, both at 3B and at DH (as well as any other position A-Rod could credibly play) to bolster the merit of such an argument? Even absent big ticket moves, let's say they merely re-sign Eric Chavez and retain Eduardo Nunez. If A-Rod hits below the Mendoza Line for a month or two upon his return next summer, wouldn't it be a defensible baseball decision to hand the starting job to some combination of those two players, and to send Rodriguez down? I know this will never happen, but if it did, it seems that a credible argument could be made along these lines.
"Fastball eyes" also another great add to the lexicon. A quick google reveals that it's only been used twice before, both times by the Professor himself (in describing Tigers 3B Francisco Martinez and Rangers SS Luis Marte). Love it.
Hey, if it's sufficient statistical info for Joe Girardi, it's sufficient for the rest of us!
Come to think of it, I've never seen Sam Miller and Carson Cistulli in the same room.
Which is to say, great stuff. Loved the dip 'ems digression. But personally, I kinda like that Ibanez headline.
Perhaps he falls somewhere between talent evaluator and observer, but Gibson's definitely a personal cheeseball of Callis. I remember him saying he would have taken him with the third pick of the '09 draft, and he's still a believer.
Russell, this was entertaining, but I have to ask: did you consult Dean Chambers for this piece? :-)
Not sure I agree that the limited PT is due to poor management, and in fact the reverse may be true. Jaso's line against LHP this year (40 PA) is .121/.205/.121. Over his entire career against lefties (138 PA), he's at .168/.294/.230. That's a relatively small sample, of course, and he was not useless against same-siders coming up through the minors. But with a lefty masher like Jesus Montero available to catch (.328/.377/.515 this year, .354/.405/.532 for his career), maybe Jaso's being used exactly the right way, as part of an effective platoon. I understand the argument that SEA lacks other credible DH options, and thus both Jaso and Montero should be in the lineup vs. LHP. But those other options have to be able to hit better than .168 (indeed, even mega-bust Justin Smoak manages to hit lefties at a .187 clip).
I am not sure what track record you are referring to with Manny Ramirez, but his actual one does not match up with your characterization. The fact that Manny bounced around to a handful of teams after his age 36 season, and showed only sporadic glimpses of his former Manny-ness in each of those stints, is consistent with the decline phase of just about every formerly great player. From 1994 to 2008, however -- a 15-year run -- he was consistently excellent (offensively, at least). The amount of work that goes into being able to produce like that at the plate is extraordinary, even for the most gifted athlete. And the popular "he doesn't hustle" meme was, in my view, a racially tinged interpretation of his defensive shortcomings (while his arm in RF was, at one time, highly thought of, he was never known for his range or his tracking skills) and occasional space cadet moments.
To be clear, you may well be right that Hanley's performance dip in Miami can be tied to a refusal to play hard (whether due to having already obtained a lucrative multi-year deal, or to being on the outs with Ozzie, or both). But I say we leave Man Ram out of this.
First of all, hilarious stuff as usual.
Secondly, I wonder if the 6th-inning-or-later limitation you imposed may be too restrictive, particularly given the expanded roster (allowing for a better bat to be subbed in for Hamilton after deploying him in an early inning where a highly leveraged Dave Roberts-like situation presents itself), and the fact that in your model, Slidin' Billy wasn't used at all in half the games.
I believe the Phillies restricted Cole Hamels from throwing his change up as he was coming up through the minors, and they kept Gavin Floyd from throwing his curve ball as well, with the goal of forcing them to further refine their other off-speed pitches. Years later, of course, their go-to pitches are still their go-to pitches. Hamels' change is devastating, perhaps the best in the game, and Floyd's yakker is, I think, still considered very good as yakkers go. So perhaps no damage done.
That said, it may also be hard to cite the developmental strategy with those two as having been "a success," since neither Hamels nor Floyd ever really developed another knockout off-speed pitch. Hamels' curve is good but more of a show-me, and Floyd has developed a hard slider/cutter that isn't exactly a head-turner. Maybe these examples aren't enough to support or condemn the strategy, but they are data points, at least, and that's a start.
"Too high? What does that mean, too high?"
This is the single funniest thing I have ever read on this site. Admittedly, I read it after three Sweet Actions... but it is damn funny. Keep it up, Sam. (Btw, I think you're way off on the A's trades... Bailey for Reddick was a huge win... the jury is still out on the Gio trade, I know he's looked good this year, but Ollie Perez looked good for a year or two as well... I think that's a good comp actually. Once hitters learn to recognize and lay off the junk, he's going to be in trouble.)
Good stuff, Ben. The NL actually had co-MVPs in 1979, Stargell (who of course led the Pirates to a World Series win) and Hernandez (who led the league in batting average). So at least they only gave Pops *half* an MVP award for that season of his. Tidbit: the 39-year-old Stargell led all 1B in fielding percentage that year, but of course Hernandez won the gold glove (managers didn't know what Range Factor was back then, but they still had eyes).
Joey Gallo? Joey Gallo's dead. I'm Joey *Callo*...
I'd love it if you were on to something here, but I believe some of the most compelling research on Jete's defensive inadequacy has used as a barometer the fielding metrics of other NYY shortstops.
Great article, Jason. Having recently been through what you're going through, I can not only sympathize, but also assure you that it gets better. And as a recovering perfectionist, this one hit home:
"... but their gifts create a ceiling that even extreme accomplishment can’t satisfy."
Truth. Lastly, after requesting the heads of Perez, Banuelos, and Rasmus, I expected you to go for the low hanging fruit of a Freddy Garcia reference (even if he didn't quite fit the bill). Kudos for your self-restraint.
Right on! And best outtakes ever:
"OK, be impolite... fine! I just have something to say to you, my friend. Yeah, thanks for backin' me up. Real f***in' funny. Yeah, 'oh, no problem, no, I can talk to Burt.' Talk to him now, he hasn't even heard our stuff. Thanks, FRIEND."
The heat will rock you.
"Let me explain to him in simple arithmetic, one, two, three... because you don't f***in' get it, Burt! You give us the tapes. We get the record contract. We come back and give you your f***in' money. Have you heard the tapes? Have you even *heard* them? We are guaranteed a record deal. Our stuff is that good!"
Outstanding stuff, Ben. One thing that came out of this for me is that Venters, with the way he finishes (falling off the mound a bit and swinging his left leg around so that he ends up facing the third base side), does not leave himself in a particularly good fielding position. Seems correctable.
Ha! Is so (in my other league). Nice to see one of my fantasy rivals come out of the BP woodwork, albeit still somewhat anonymously (Sammy? That's my guess, due to a disproportionate number of posts about the Mets and Cory Spangenberg).
A bit off topic, and maybe also a bit premature, but can we all give KG a huge pat on the back for his bold ranking of Oscar Taveras in this year's top 101? Three more hits (one a HR) yesterday, with a SB thrown in for good measure. Now with a ridiculous triple slash of .347/.385/.694 as a 19 y/o in AA. Extreme violence, indeed. Also, #freedylanbundy.
I had no idea that Francisco Liriano threw a shuuto. If only he knew where it was going.
MLB official rules contain no definition for a checked swing, it's a judgment call for the ump. Seems from this photo that Ryan's bat crossed the front of home plate, regardless of whether it ever went past parallel with it or whether he broke his wrists, and that's an oft-used standard. So it's a more than defensible call. Plus, Ryan deserved no benefit of the doubt after obnoxiously taking his time getting into the box on those last few pitches (if you watch the replay, you'll see the ump clap his hands twice on the first of the two 3-2 pitches while Ryan grabs dirt and adjusts his batting gloves).
Ben, speaking as one of the old guard who consistently bemoans any kind of change at BP, I just want to say that you really seem to embody the spirit of the founding fathers and I feel the franchise is in very good hands with you at the helm. Keep up the great work!
Yes. Yes he can. And will. :-) I guess if he struggles out of the gate I may have egg on my face for suggesting he needn't bother.
Thanks for this, so helpful!
I understand the "what's the rush?" mentality that goes with sending Bundy to Delmarva. But honestly, isn't he almost wasting his time there? Is this maybe even just a business decision, a favor to your low-A affiliate to let them generate some buzz and take in some gate for a few starts before you bump the kid up to Frederick?
Sh*t still doesn't rhyme
Limericks are way more fun
Not just counting words
There once was a Sox in Pawtucket
Whose glove was great, and he could chuck it
But Bobby V., it appears,
thinks Aviles "strikes fear,"
So as for the defense, well...
In all seriousness, glad to see this piece make a return, after KG tried it with his org prospect rankings a while back. I just, ya know... never liked haiku.
You just made me think about Erubiel Durazo and Terrmel Sledge for the first time in awhile, and for that I thank you.
Understood. I think both players would make fine candidates for the All "Frustate Us With Your Unfulfilled Potential" Team. Brandon Wood, Matt Anderson, Ollie Perez, and the Brothers Drew can come along, too.
Respectfully, Bradley, you gotta be able to do better than those two. Daniel Cabrera's ERA in 2006 was 4.74, his FIP not a whole lot better. He was never good. Corey Patterson's 2006 was, offensively, exactly as valuable as his 2003 and 2004, with the higher WARP owing itself to a difference either in defensive performance or in how what most acknowledge to be imperfect barometers measured that defensive performance.
How about Gregg Jefferies, 1993? Esteban Loaiza, 2003?
Robotey and anyone else intersted, both LABR auction results can be found at this link.
(there's a toggle at the top left that switches btw the AL and NL spreadsheets...)
Kind of disappointed to see a collective $32 left on the table at the NL LABR this year. Not the kind of draft management one expects to see in an experts league.
Ahhh... the plot thickens. So maybe he's really 16? Whatever other unconfirmed rumors you've heard, I applaud you for your editorial discretion, or journalistic integrity, or whatever they're calling that these days.
Isn't a likely explanation for this that Beras originally claimed to be born in 1995 instead of 1994 for the same reason that any player who has ever lied about their age (except Adrian Beltre) does -- younger is better; but that when the new CBA was agreed to and the international spending cap was reported publicly, it became apparent to him that he would gain more financially by telling the truth? Perhaps I'm missing something, or I've got the timeline on this wrong, but I think that's it.
I also think the MLB rule you cite won't come into play here. No matter how embarrassing it may be, there is no way it could be argued that Beras misrepresented his age to Texas at the time of his signing. Proof that Texas was told his correct age lies in the fact that they signed him now, instead of after July 2, right?
Finally, agree wholeheartedly that he was after the best deal. There's no reason to think that he didn't tell *each* of his serious suitors his real age once it became in his interest to do so. That he didn't announce it publicly, or inform MLB directly, suggests that he realized there might still be reason to keep mum on the subject. Namely, if it appeared from his negotiations with Texas and any other serious suitors that he was not going to receive a deal of more than $2.9 million anyway, then why admit to the lie?
Sweet. Thanks, KG! Great list, btw...
Reposting my question about the top 101 prospects in the book vs. online. Manny Machado is #6 and Dylan Bundy is #8 in the book (at least the iTunes version of it), but they are flipped in the list posted on the site on Monday. Which is right? And is this the only change?
Hey KG, great job with this as always. I apologize if this has been addressed in one of the comments above (didn't read 'em all), but I bought the iPad ebook version of BP2012 and the top 101 list in the book has Manny Machado at #6 and Dylan Bundy at #8, whereas now those two are swapped (which makes more sense since you had Bundy as #1 on your Orioles list). Was this an oversight in editing the list for the book, and the only one? Or not a mistake at all and does it merely reflect a tweak to your thinking on things since the book went to print (I'd imagine over a month ago)? If the latter, are there other changes? (haven't noticed any others yet)
Come on, fellas... what about "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings"?!
Brian Downing is Superman. Dale Murphy is John Boy.
Rob Neyer saying that he suspects Edgar more than Jeter is not low value evidence, it is not evidence at all. It's the steroid discussion equivalent of hearsay. This being said, I agree with Rob's point later in the comments that comparing the performance changes of players at the two positions during somewhat imprecise date ranges isn't especially enlightening to a discussion about two specific players, nor is citing how the average PED user (or at least the avg one who was *caught*) stacks up size wise to the average player. Still, what Rob should be citing (if he can) is the specific differences in performance and changes in body mass for Edgar and Jeter over their playing careers, and whether and to what degree they may fall out of line with normal "career arc" expectations. The problem there is that Edgar's career arc looks like a normal one, with a peak in the middle that he both ramped up to and down from. It seems hardly fair to hold it against him that those peak seasons happened to fall during the so-called steroid era. Jeter, on the other hand, has had a fairly similar (and normal) arc, and a non-steroid era peak only because his career started 8 years later than E-Mart's. Right off the bat that makes the comparison a somewhat unfair one. The same could be said for Bagwell, whose arc looks perfectly normal. Whereas Rafael Palmeiro's arc, and Bonds' and Clemens' of course, are far more suspicious.
Great work guys. I think the A's may have done pretty well here, and not just because of A.J. Cole. Norris' .210 AVG last year could be attributed, at least in part, to his .254 BABIP. With his power and patience, and potential to at least scratch out a .250-.260 AVG, he could be a Napoli-lite sort of steal. And Peacock, while never a scout's darling, could pleasantly surprise, too... would not bet against the A's scouting, which apparently decided that his leap forward in 2011 was less fluke and more a real step forward as a result of finally commanding his off-speed stuff.
"If I did do the list, it'd be a damn good list, I can tell you that much right now."
"How many Rocky movies?"
"1 through 3."
"Not 4 and 5?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Dana. This is the 10 best movies of *all time.*"
Fair enough. But you liked Darjeeling? "That's inappropriate! That's inexcusable! That I don't forgive!"
Bottle Rocket was outstanding, but I agree with Chad. (If you're going to rip on one of Wes's flicks, why not The Darjeeling Limited?) And P.T. Anderson has yet to make a stinker. Boogie Nights was obviously a step up from Hard Eight, but I don't get the dig on Magnolia. Yes it was melodramatic and sprawling, but it was also smart and ambitious and everything that a movie should be.
But then, this is from a dude who doesn't respect the Beatles. We love you, KG. And we'll still love you even when it's no longer sufficiently indie hipster to do so. :-)
I might rather take a flyer on Vladimir Guerrero (or Manny Ramirez) than Luke Scott. Especially since I have some concern that Scott may have been born in Kenya.
I don't know, but it's the one that says "Bad Mother F***er" on it.
Good stuff, Jay. In fairness, I think the attendance rankings to a large extent really have been about the old stadium -- not merely because it's a lousy park in which to see a game, but because it's over 15 miles outside of downtown Miami. The new stadium isn't repeating either of these mistakes, and one would think that this really will actually have a positive effect at the gate. All this is to say that I can actually see this Pujols thing happening, as well as a real run at Cespedes, who would create a great deal of excitement for Miami's large Cuban-American population (the new park is located in the "Little Havana" section of town, after all).
Looks great, Ben & Co. This is slightly off topic, but could you please please please make the 2012 annual available online or as a download? Alternatively, I think the single best thing you could do with the player cards on the site is to include the most current annual's comment reasonably simultaneous with publication of the annual itself. I know you want us to both buy the book and subscribe to the site... but remember, we are junkies, we'll do that anyway!
This seems like a good time to plug Joe's truly excellent newsletter, which you can subscribe to at http://joesheehanbaseball.blogspot.com
I know that Boggs and Barfield beat him out in WARP, but I was surprised to see no mention of Don Mattingly in the Clemens 1986 blurb, particularly given how much emphasis was placed on Clemens vs. Mattingly at the time (indeed, the debate spawned a great article in the following year's Baseball Abstract). More importantly, Mattingly had a very strong case on the merits. He had a higher VORP than Barfield (indeed, Boggs barely edged him, 69.3 to 63.2), and his WARP, while only good for 6th best in the league (behind Boggs, Barfield, Rickey Henderson, Gary Gaetti, and Cal Ripken), was still a full two wins higher than the Rocket. Also, for whatever it's worth, any metric that rates Gaetti's 1986 higher than Donnie Baseball's (or more specifically, any defensive metric that rates Mattingly as a below average first baseman in any year before his back went out on him) might be in need of some tweaking. I'm the first Yankee fan to bemoan Derek Jeter's fielding prowess (or lack thereof), but the Hit Man... he earned those gold gloves.
There's a Joey Gathright joke in here somewhere...
This. I'm in a keeper league (with 3-man minor league rosters) where Sano was drafted in the spring of 2010. (#TheLegend is still available, however...)
Great stuff, Mike.
Loved all of this, but the Incubus lyric was where I busted a gut.
Been curious all season about Manny B's low IP/start. At this point do we have some more clarity (and I should say "do you" because I have none) whether it has been about: (1) low pitch count limits b/c "I got blisters on my fingers!" (could not resist that reference since I know how much you love the Beatles); (2) low pitch count limits b/c of excessive caution mandated by Yankees brass; (3) inefficient outings due to Manny not yet possessing a true putaway pitch, or due to his lack of a complete understanding of how to utilize one that he does possess; or (4) inefficient outings because of command/control issues? Or some combo of all of the above?
Let's do some first game projections like we did with Teheran. Keeping with my tendency towards irrational exuberance, I'll say: 3-for-5, 2B, 3 R, 2 SB.
Cole, Rendon, Bauer, Bundy, Starling, Hultzen, Barnes, A.Bradley, Springer, Gray. There's your top 10 picks in order. Mark it down. (May want to use a pencil.)
It's very simple. You don't write an article accusing someone of being a hypocrite without a lick of proof that this is so. The logical fallacy of tagging Sabean for failing to say what he said this time when something similar happened last time is self-evident. As is the illogic of tagging him with responsibility for comments of other people affiliated with the Giants. (Should we assume that everyone on the Orioles is a crazy birther wingnut simply because Luke Scott is?) There's no defending what Sabean actually said, but berating him for what he never said is equally indefensible.
Think of it this way. What was the chance that Larry was going to look back through the history of the Giants during Sabean's tenure as GM and *not* find examples of collisions at the plate as to which Sabean didn't make a comment on the record? Zero. In fact, you could have picked *any* team and *any* GM over that same time period, and found the same thing. This should have been a sign to Larry that his reasoning was inherently flawed, and that the shots he wished to take at Sabean were as cheap as the ones Sabean took at Cousins. It's a hatchet job, and it is not fit for BP.
That this garnered negative ratings is a frigging joke. The article is so beneath even the most basic of journalistic standards that anyone who defends it, IMO, is a Kool-Aid drinker of the worst kind. Probably also a Tater Trot Time fan. Not wishing to be negative, but what happened to my BP?
To be clear, if this were a court of law, the "evidence" presented against Mr. Sabean would be so inadequate to sustain a charge of hypocrisy that a judge would have to enter a directed verdict dismissing the case. It's embarrassing to read on this site, and even more embarrassing to see it given credence, not only by various commenters, but by high profile baseball writers such as Neyer. To you all: Know Better!
Hear, Hear! This is a very well thought out comment. Agree 100% with each sentiment. But the article itself, I'm sorry, it's just bollocks.
This is like crack. Thanks for the weekend present, KG! Bundy to O's does make crazy sense, especially since his big bro is already in Baltimore's system. But given the talent (*and* polish) of the kid, we all may be underestimating the likelihood that he goes even higher (at least 3rd, and maybe a dark horse for 1st). And about Bubba Starling to KC, if the UCLA pitchers, Bundy, and Rendon are off the board, I could see it happening, for three reasons: (1) the system is so loaded (incl. with pitching) at the upper levels that maybe they can afford to go HS with this pick; (2) don't underestimate the Mauer Effect -- yes, the buzz is a product of the fans & local media, but these things still matter from a butts-in-seats perspective; and (3) losing Lamb to TJ within a week of the draft -- who knows what psychological effect this may have on the KC brass on Monday (TINSTAAPP, after all), and you can't see them taking any other *hitter* over Starling, can you?
Once again, thanks for all your hard work this week.
I clicked on a link to this article expecting to find some contradictory quotes from Sabean relating to past collision-at-the-plate incidents, similar to what the "Daily Show" so often does with politicians. No such luck. Sabean's comments regarding Cousins were ridiculous, of course, but you've scarcely proven that they were hypocritical.
Any GM who loses his best and most popular position player for several months due to injury from a rough (albeit legal) play at the plate might be expected to express his frustration on the record, if only because he's probably been asked for comment by umpteen reporters every day for the last week. That he didn't also go on record with similar comments when, in a game not involving the Giants, a catcher takes a hit from one of his farmhands on a play at the plate (but apparently suffers no serious injury) proves nothing.
This article detracts from the real issue to be discussed just as much as Sabean's ill-advised comments do.
Exactly. This is what the more advanced metrics, like WPA and LI, attempt to do, using (I think) Markov chain-based analysis of changes to "game states," of which there are only 27 (from nobody on two outs, all the way to bases juiced nobody out).
WPA and LI attempt to go further, by accounting for the score as well, and what that means about how each event affects the ultimate outcome of each particular game. Which I think is fascinating. But to me, this might also run the risk of trying to capture "clutchness" in a statistic, a noble but maybe misguided goal. A better way, in my view, would be to focus solely on the expected runs in an inning from those "game states" (and the changes which result to expected runs following each batter faced), rather than on the probability of winning that particular game (and the changes which result in that probability following each batter faced). It's sort of a corollary to the Pythagorean formula, in that we should be more interested in runs scored and allowed (and the Wins and Losses that can be inferred from the same) than in actual wins and losses.
I don't know if any of what I just wrote made sense, but it makes sense in my head. Has to count for something.
Not correct, actually. You're correct that the issue is collectively bargained, but this isn't what the current CBA says.
Check out Article VI(F)(12), which describes the "Criteria" for salary arbitrators to follow:
"The criteria will be the quality of the Player's contribution to the Club during the past season (including but not limited to his overall performance, special qualities of leadership and public appeal), the length and consistency of his career contribution, the record of the Player's past compensation, comparative baseball salaries..., the existence of any physical or mental defects on the part of the Player, and the recent performance record of the Club including but not limited to its league standing and attendance as an indication of public acceptance.... Any evidence may be submitted which is relevant to the above criteria, and the arbitration panel shall assign such weight to the evidence as shall appear appropriate under the circumstances."
The only meaningful limit to the presentation of evidence is time. One hour per side, plus a half hour each for rebuttal. So it *is* a matter of educating the arbitrators, but one must do so rather quickly. :-)
Possible explanation for rise in the podcast rankings: the post Jose Altuve interview bump. Can work in both directions, can't it?
John, I know it's not your focus, but I'm a little surprised that the Bard portion of this article does not make mention of the work that's been done with the WPA (win probability added) and LI (leverage index) statistics, at Fangraphs and elsewhere. Even if our understanding of how to properly credit a reliever for the leverage of the situations in which he is inserted remains imperfect, these stats have undeniably made an important contribution to the discussion. Indeed, I think they point the way to paydirt much more so than "Hold"-related stats (any stat that is derivative of the save stat is probably not progress), or even WHIP and FRA (both of which remain useful, of course, but neither of which reflects how the context in which a pitcher is used may affect the value of his performance). It may be out there already, but "paydirt" -- to me -- would be a stat which adjusts not just for game state context, but also for quality of opposing batters faced.
Syndesmosis. Sounds like a Yiddish way of dismissing the merits of an Andrew Bird song.
And btw, I fully acknowledge that I'm giving Miranda a little too much credit there, and that he's not all that much of a road block. But how can you Wally Pipp the guy when he's sporting a close to .900 OPS?
I'm not asking the "when will X be promoted" question, I promise, but... do you know if the D-Backs have a plan for all of their first basemen? Goldschmidt needs a new challenge, obviously, and the case could be made that, despite his being a little behind development-wise for his age (24), he ought to bypass Reno altogether. Brandon Allen, who's just a year older, isn't crushing AAA, but he's doing reasonably well. And it's hard to make the case that Juan Miranda (just 28 himself) should be sitting in favor of either of these prospects. Can either Goldschmidt or Allen, let alone both of them, fit into the big league club's future? Can Allen hack it defensively in LF, e.g.? If not, wouldn't a trade of one of them, or at least Miranda, make sense? Granted, one of the most 1B-desperate clubs (Dodgers) happens to be within their own division, but the A's, Blue Jays, Nats, and Pirates could all use a guy right now. What's the hold up?
I think they're stretching Boggs out to start.
KG, at first I thought it had something to do with recovery from a minor injury, but I now suspect that the Yankees are limiting the innings/pitches(?) of Banuelos the way they are in the hope that they can avoid shutting him down this fall (upon hitting some magic IP number) so that he can pitch some meaningful stretch run and playoff innings. (He only threw 90 innings between the minors and the AFL last season, so they'll probably only let him throw 140-150 this year.) Anything to this, or is there more to this story? E.g., have any of his short starts been due to inefficiency with his pitches? (I'm at an information disadvantage there, since the milb.com box scores for Eastern League games don't include pitch counts.) Many thanks for all your great work.
Is it me or does anybody else feel a string of oh-fers coming on for Ackley, now that he's once again raised our hopes a bit? Prospects will break your heart, indeed.
Busted a gut at tilt-a-whirl tangent. Glad you're okay.
Pitchability sounds a lot like obscenity, Supreme Court style.
Tired of trot times.
I am well aware that I'm not being forced to read these. And in fact, I would go so far as to say that I am religious about not reading them. They're clogging up the "Blogs" section of the BP front page, is all. I do actually read some of the other posts from that section (e.g., KG's minor league updates, and as I mentioned, Larry's Wezen-Ball stuff), but it's harder to get to them when over a third of the posts listed on the front page are about trot times, and another third are posts with links to other sites' content (the "Paper Trail" series).
Yeah it's a couple of extra mouse clicks, no skin off my back, I guess. Just having a hard time understanding the value added of this series, even solely based on the "fun" quotient. That is, it hardly seems "fun" to read how Justin Upton took 0.42 seconds longer than Lyle Overbay to round the bases (leaving aside the fact that stopwatch reaction time error means that the precision of all of these times is an illusion to begin with). And on the non-fun side, since it neither helps us better understand player value or better predict future player performance, it just seems a bit out of place on this site.
This comment, as my first, was not "necessary." But it's my opinion, and I stated it respectfully, as constructive criticism to an author whose work I otherwise genuinely enjoy. I appreciate that not everyone agrees. And by all means, readers of BP, if you love you your trot times, continue to speak up and let Larry know, and I'll stand even further corrected.
(Btw, I just measured how much extra time it takes me to click through to the main blogs page. 0.73 seconds. I'll try to provide an update on how long it takes me tomorrow, and each day for the rest of the season. It'll be "fun"!)
Larry, speaking of things that don't need to be broken down and dissected...
I mean this very respectfully, I really do. And I've enjoyed your "Wezen-ball" articles, so let this not be taken as an indictment of you as a writer. But you must have better things than this to do with your time. Maybe tracking how far the homers went, or in what directions, or, I don't know, any other piece of information that may have some predictive or even merely descriptive relevance regarding actual player performance. Sorry to be so blunt. I'm sure I'll get a bunch of "minuses" from the faithful herd, but so be it. Tired of trot times.
Oh, wait... this wasn't the Charlie Morton line prediction thread? My bad. :-)
Alright, I'll play the role of irrationally exuberant guy. This is in no way influenced by the fact that I own J.T. in my NL-only keeper league:
7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.
He's also going to plunk Victorino in the 1st. And when he retires to the clubhouse, he will enjoy a cold, refreshing Mexican Coke.
Frightening to think he did what he did in JuCo with something less than 20/20!
I enjoyed the article very much, Tommy. But remember that the Super 2 rule will likely be eliminated, or at the very least, altered, in the next CBA, as neither side is completely happy with the current rule. How that affects this callup is unknown, and as yet unknowable. Plus, by waiting until June, you're likely only talking about a savings of between $2 and 4 million (the difference between the major league minimum and Hosmer's first arbitration award, assuming he doesn't put up two MVP-level years right out of the box a la Tim Lincecum). Not chump change, of course, but perhaps it will be somewhat offset by increased gate and merch sales (I'm a Yankee fan and even *I* want a Hosmer jersey) during May/June, during a time when there is still hope in K.C. for contention (sic transit gloria, after all... a month from now, they could be at the bottom of the division again). Also, maybe with the fountain of prospects coming up, the Royals brass have decided they need to choose their battles. E.g., they're still keeping Moustakas and Montgomery down until they're safely not Super 2's this year, and they may do the same with Lamb and Myers next year. In addition, they may plan to shuffle Ka'aihue and Hosmer back and forth depending on the hot hand over the next few months, and this could at least conceivably result in *both* of them avoiding Super 2 status (this assumes that Ka'aihue is still in the club's future plans, which I think you've rightly pointed out he should be).
Finally, I have to quibble with you on your DMV analogy, as I've never left the DMV in a "tantric" (euphoric?) state of relief. Instead, almost always a demoralized one in which I've lost just that much more faith in humanity. YMMV.
I think his Don Mattingly comment was similarly terse:
"100% ballplayer, 0% bullsh*t."
It's actually the top 17 percent of players service time wise of all those with more than 2 but less than 3 years of service. Since demotions of some called up players in the same year or subsequent ones are inevitable, it's actually impossible to know with precision how long you need to wait, though you're right, June 1st has historically been safe. As for the nondescript relief pitcher thing, there have been prominent super 2'ers in recent years, including Tim Lincecum and Ryan Howard. Hosmer (!), as well as Brandon Belt if he continues to rake and force a quick recall, are likely to join that list.
Nice! And this is to say nothing of Jordan Swagerty and Forrest Snow.
I hope that Michael Goodnight doesn't ever make the pros, because I dread the Jon Sterling call of his first three-pitch strikeout against the Yanks.
Aroldis Chapman's heater should have its own classification. Let's call it "bacon burger dog."
So, about Scott Sizemore... do you think he deserves another shot?
A little bit of Patton Oswalt being channeled here as well. Hope that's understood as the compliment it was intended to be.
Just between you and I, and I ain't no kind of grammarian, but I don't hardly know what a "solecism" be. Irregardless, I do know what "centers around" means. That's got to count for something, don't it?
Amazingly, I was just scrolling down to make a Hunter S. Thompson-themed comment, and what do you know, several have already beaten me to the punch. Really loved this article.
Agreed, Vickrey +1 is great. And we've just switched over to allowing $0 bids in my leagues as well, which is a godsend for us spend-happy FAAB bidders. Again, I can't tell you how happy I am to see some articles on here with at least some of their focus on extremely deep leagues, ones in which a guy like Alexi Ogando goes for mid-teens at the initial auction, or in which a $6 bid on Wes Helms isn't necessarily insane. :-)
Been waiting years for BP's fantasy coverage to catch up to its quant stuff. That day has come! Thanks for this, Jason.
Question for you, out of curiosity: does Tout Wars continue to use a straight "blind bidding" format, or have they modified it so that the winning bidder pays only the amount of the second highest bid plus $1 (which arguably reflects more accurately what the result would be in a live auction)? I think this was Ron's idea originally, and I've been lobbying for that change in my own leagues for a while, but we've not yet made the leap. And so we still end up with crazy results like this past week, when Fuld went for $45 in my AL-only (*before* he went off last night!) despite the next highest bid having been $16.
Again, that's not right. In roulette, when you bet on either black or red, the $10 you win includes the $5 you put down. It's a 2-1 payout, and nearly 2-1 odds. That is, very nearly half of the spaces on the wheel are black, and very nearly half of them are red. The one space that is neither black nor red is the green double-zero, and it's this one space which creates the house's statistical advantage.
Dude. That's a 7-5 odds you just described. Just go to a racetrack, okay? 2-5 odds do not exist at the racetrack.
I'm not sure that anything I've written in this thread has even required "logic," so I'm not sure how it could have been "flat-out wrong" logic. It's just, you know... having lived in the world and observed actual real world things. Better use of one's time, perhaps, than criticizing folks who choose to communicate with others with some degree of social intelligence.
I also don't think I've ever been accused of being a rabid supporter of Kevin, though I do happen to be a big fan.
Good Lord, man, I cannot believe you persist with this criticism. Especially when you are simply wrong. He's not expressing the odds as a mathematician, but rather, as a racing book. Please, for the love of all things holy, get yourself down to your local OTB. The fella behind the window can explain how horse race odds are expressed for you. 2-1 means 50% chance to win. 1-1 means 100%. Think of it this way, when you place, say, a 1 dollar bet on a 2-1 shot, you have to pay that 1 dollar for a little ticket. When you win, you turn that ticket in, and you get 2 bucks back. The first buck is the buck you paid, and the second one is your winnings. This is why racehorse odds NEVER get down to 1-1. Who would bet on a horse where the best you can do is win your money back?
Sadly, I think it's likely that the above explanation is not going to sink in for you. But I do hope you stop unfairly criticizing Kevin.
I have never been so relieved to hear that one of my fantasy keepers has a sore lat. That "89-91 mph" report from KG had me kicking dirt over here.
This comment baffles me. Have you guys ever been to the racetrack?
(1) Scheppers doesn't belong in the same sentence as Banuelos, let alone the others you listed him with. Just an odd "one of these things is not like the others" moment there.
(2) Similarly, Melky was never, ever, a hyped prospect. There was a brief time when it was popular to ask the question of why, with his excellent performance at such a young age in the high minors, he *wasn't* being hyped more. But that's the extent of it.
(3) Yankee hype machine comments are, at best, a little dated, and at worst, completely inapplicable to the present reality. You mentioned Jesus yourself, but many top Yankee prospects have panned out in recent years, whether for New York or another team, certainly no fewer than those of the average team. In particular, health permitting, Arodys Vizcaino is going to be a beast. I think Kevin can speak to this better than me, but I would assume he was only down on some of the off-season top 100 lists (in the 90's on BA, I believe, and KG's got him right at 50) because of the health question mark raised by the partial ligament tear last year. He seems to have answered the health question this spring, and that answer happens to have 3 digits. So there's that.
(4) Finally, Banuelos *is* getting named along with these other high end SP prospects, as another has already commented. And it's clearly not only Yankees brass who are "hyping" him right now, so your inherent skepticism would not seem justified. For that matter, and yes this is pure anecdote, but... having watched Manny pitch in person twice last week, and having been blown away, both by the stuff and the poise, I can't understand how anybody who has ever seen him pitch would make a comment like this.
So, you know... there's a lot of things that you say in your post that are just plain wrong, all of which would be fine, except that the confidence with which you're saying them sort of compounds things and might have rubbed some the wrong way. I'm really not a big proponent of the minusing, but since you don't seem to recognize why it happened in this case, I felt I had to chime in.
I know prospecting is no exact science, and that the difference between, say... #'s 12 and 27, often isn't nearly as much as it appears to be. Also, Kevin, you are my favorite prospect guru. I cannot be clear enough on this point. [Disclaimer intended to reduce number of negative ratings on this comment by the extreme BP Kool-Aiders among us... you know who you are.] But...
In the immortal words of the referee from "Karate Champ," I think you, and I, and every one of us, really, has to say the following to Keith Law right now:
But the season, she's young, and the juries on lots of these prospects, they's still out.
So, you know... still time to sweep the leg, KG. (Leg of (John) Lamb, perhaps?)
Related, yet sort of totally unfair, question: if you had to re-rank today, would you push Manny up at all, and if so, by how much? And has any other prospect raised his stock higher through spring training action than he has? (E.g., Arodys Vizcaino?)
Don't call people names.
Thanks for the 4th Grade English lesson, Chachi. I was bein' ironical. And KG knows I love him.
This sh*t doesn't rhyme
Less clever than it appears
Next year: limericks
Can't wait 'til we get to Tim Pyznarski!
KG, do you know if Zach Britton and Drake Britton are brothers, or perhaps cousins? I've never read a write-up of either which mentions any relation. But they look almost like twins to me. Both Texas HS'ers, albeit from different parts of the state. Both built similarly, and both LHPs. Maybe it's the ears, I don't know.
Catchers are different. The amount of defensive responsibility Wieters has to assume at that position could alone explain the lag thus far in his offensive performance. He may never live up to the lofty expectations, but writing him off now strikes me as an over-correction. Steve, you should work for Moody's!
I've got some noms for these. On the optimistic end, John Lamb, Kyle Drabek, Chris Carter, and Stetson Allie. On the pessimistic side of things, Dustin Ackley, Dee Gordon, the aforementioned Jonathan Singleton, and the presently unaccounted for Travis d'Arnaud.
You are correct, sir:
I'm walking down the avenue-hoo-hoo hoo hoo... and I'm looking at the garbage cans hoo-hoo hoo hoo-hoo... I'm laughing at the people I see... Something like that. I'm playing with the lyrics. It's not set in stone.
Hey KG, did Maya's adjustments in the winter league lead to better velocity, or just a better way to get around his lack of same?
Thank you for this! I've heard and seen a lot of glowing reviews of this book, and bought it on that basis, but my reaction was the same as yours. In fact, I had to put it down after reading the chapter on repeat champions, as it was so poorly reasoned and yet so authoritatively worded. Bad combo. I found some of the chapters regarding non-baseball findings more plausible (esp. the "never punt" one). But then again, I don't know any other sport as well as I know baseball, so now I'm doubting those conclusions, too. I think I'm going to let the dust settle before I finish this thing.
Not sure if this was on purpose, but your repeated use of R.A. Dickey's last name in this article, often times for comedic effect, was appreciated.
"Dickey is quite small..."
"I want to find this year's Dickey, not pay for last year's Dickey..."
Kind of cool that Stoneburner (pretty darn close to "Wormburner") throws a sinker.
George Foreman would be proud.
FIP is 4.04. Almost 8 K/9, close to 3:1 K/BB... for you old schoolers, he went 18-8 last year. He might not be Halladay or Strasburg, but that's a heck of an asset.
With "Past-a-diving" Jeter manning short? I'd say that's pretty impressive.
Aha... now that sounds more right. Still, how awesome is Montero that at 21, he's already being used as an ultra-optimistic comp for a top flight prospect? Can't wait for this guy.
Fantastic. And I love that you worked in the bit about the baseball cards, because for me and I'm sure for many, that (along with Strat) was the meta-obsession that preceded the fantasy baseball and/or statistical analysis thing. Even w/r/t my favorite player of all time, Don Mattingly, my most endearing memories of him are not the batting title, or the MVP, or the 8 games in a row with the HR, or his last hurrah in the '95 ALDS, but those baseball cards. They might always be my most prized possessions, no matter what the price guide says they're worth. On my death bed, I may even whisper "'84 Donruss" a la Citizen Kane.
Thanks for this article, Craig.
Great stuff. And what an embarrassment of catching riches. But had to laugh at the Sanchez comment re a "young Montero." Montero's only a year older!
I am overwhelmed by my love for this article.
Rather than pile on today's other "fantasy" article (which was somewhat offensive, but more importantly, just plain bad), I thought I'd post here to say thanks, Bill, for what I thought was an outstanding piece. I can tell that you know your roto, and you know not only the usefulness of the advanced metrics for roto, but the limits to their application as well. Good stuff.
Have it at Foley's, and then tell us all we can't come. :-) Kidding. But for NYC you should see about the Housing Works bookstore, a great charity to support and a nice space to boot.
Forgot about B-Wags. And Thome and Manny and Pudge. Seriously, we're going to need to start electing some guys or this going to get out of hand.
Oh, and Chipper might be in that class, too. Or else he heads the next one, which could also include Mo, Posada, Vladi, Maggs, Andruw Jones, Berkman, who knows...
Griffey Jr. and Hoffman are in Pettitte's class. Junior's a lock, of course, and Hoffman should get in eventually. But honestly, there's going to be such a bottleneck of hallworthy candidates (some PED-tarnished, some not) becoming eligible in the next few years, I'd say it's not going to matter who's in your particular class for the several years after that, not until that backlog is dealt with. Edmonds has a decent case. I've always rooted for the guy. And this catch is still the best one I've ever seen:
Seems as likely as not that this deal is just a way for Edmonds to retire in a Cards uniform, and to do so during spring training. But if he does make the team, LaRussa is sure to use him almost exclusively against RHP, and I would imagine that PECOTA would have some trouble accounting for that change in usage. I'd expect somewhat better triple slash stats, in somewhat fewer AB.
Be Sure To Drink Your... Ovaltine?! What a crock! Seriously, thanks for the cryptogram, was great fun.
Kind of baffled by your argument. First, I don't think comparing their hit totals is that instructive. Why are you ignoring walks? Despite the shorter career (Raffy had over 50% more PA), Mac had more walks than Raffy, who admittedly was no slouch in that department (McGwire was pitched around constantly during the latter half of his career). And does the 96 point advantage in career OPS (34 pts over Bagwell, even) mean nothing? It seems to me that Palmeiro got John's vote where McGwire didn't purely because of the 3,000 hits. Not knocking the guy, 3K is a heck of an accomplishment. I just think they both should be in.
Konerko bats righty.
NW Ark's new catch phrase, along the lines of Spahn and Sain...
"Lamb, Montgomery, Duffy, Dwyer, and pray for a normally scheduled off day..."
Lamb over Hosmer! Cool.
All good points.
Good stuff, Christina. Wanted to add my thoughts on Kearns, though.
Thames manhandles lefties, and Grandy has righted the ship against southpaws himself over the last couple months, so there's no way he sits. Gardner isn't useless against same siders, and his speed and defense are really why he's in the lineup. But agreed on Berkman, of course. I think the problem, from Girardi's perspective, is that -- whatever his current production might be -- Berk is an "all star" (much in the way that Chad Qualls is a "closer"), and Girardi is... well... not much older than him, and wasn't an "all star" himself in his playing days. Simply put, I think it is difficult/awkward for Girardi to treat a guy with Berkman's track record as a bench bat, even if he may now be a "has been," whereas it's much easier for him to do so with a "never was" like Kearns. That said, there's a difference between a reason and an excuse, and this seems more like the latter. Just as Berkman must know that these are the times to put personal pride aside, Girardi should understand that now is not the time to worry about hurt feelings.
I thought they opened up Belt's stance, rather than closed it.
Piliere hung a Josh Beckett comp on Betances. Though it's hard to watch him pitch and not see a younger, taller Ubaldo.
Kevin, I'd be interested to hear your current take on Freeman vs. Carter, as perhaps the two best 1B prospects remaining in the minors right now not named Hosmer. Despite roughly similar physical dimensions, it seems like their profiles and skill sets could not be more different. Carter is low contact (last year's AA line is starting to look a bit BABIP-fueled), high walk rate, prodigious power, and atrocious afield. Freeman is high contact (for a 1B, at least), low walk rate, middling (though emerging) pop, and a plus defender. Carter's a RHB, and Freeman a LHB. They have mostly played and will continue to play on opposite coasts in opposite leagues. Carter is a Jacob guy, whereas Freeman is strictly Team Edward. Seriously, don't differences like these make it difficult to compare the two?
Sickels says Freeman has now passed Carter as a prospect, and BA seems to agree (they were in a relative dead heat before this season, but Freeman made BA's mid-season top 25 and Carter missed the cut). You had Carter -- but not Freeman -- on a short list of candidates for the last spot on your mid-season top 11 remaining list, and a fairly wide gap between the two in the preseason (I recognize the rankings aren't an exact science, but there must be some daylight between 11 and 51).
Both your and BA's mid-season takes were before Freeman's red hot August, and before Carter's O-for-MLB cup of coffee (though Carter had a nice July/Aug in AAA in his own right). So I can only assume that Freeman will be comfortably ahead of Carter on BA's prospect list next spring. Would you give Freeman the edge over Carter now, too, given A/R/L, and Freddie's emerging power (May-Aug ISOs of .175, .193, .216, and .241)? Or is there no wrong answer here, in that Carter, as evidenced by his growth throughout the season at AAA, still has a shot to be an impact power bat in the show?
If you really have backed off your non-tendering stance, I don't see how this article leaves any distance between your (newfound) position on the matter and Jay's original one. Everyone agrees that Papelbon isn't worth what he'll make in arbitration next year. But Jay is absolutely right that there must be some team out there that would give at least some value for one year of (semi-)control over him, such that exploring a trade for whatever value he might return -- in addition to clearing his likely $8-10 million arb award from the balance sheet -- is far preferable to doing just the latter.
Jay's idea of putting Bard in the closer role *now* in order to lessen Pap's award next year is also an inspired (and sinister) one, however there's a limit on how much of a paycut he could receive at arbitration (I believe a 20% cut from his current $9.35 MM, meaning $7.5 MM is the low end of what he'll get... still more than he's worth, IMO).
Frankly, it is surprising that your initial recommendation was what it was, given your simultaneous acknowledgment of the fact that overpaying him for one more year will allow Boston to reap the benefits of the compensation picks in the 2012 draft (assuming those picks, over MLBPA's objections, remain a feature of the new CBA). The picks are easily worth whatever they'll overpay Papelbon, and nothing says they have to leave him in a high leverage role in 2011 (though admittedly, if they don't, they'll risk him losing type A status).
Finally, not sure where you came up with $12 MM as the likely arbitration award. I believe $10 MM still stands as the highest award ever (Ryan Howard '06, as well as Alfonso Soriano '06 and Francisco Rodriguez '08, both in losing efforts). Lincecum, before he settled this past off-season, sought only $13 MM, and this was after back-to-back Cy Youngs (though his may be a different case given his much lower prior year salary). I just don't see Papelbon filing at $12 MM, not after the season he is having. I know K-Rod asked for something similar in his last arb year (and the Angels foolishly filed at $10 MM, so that even when they won that case, they lost it). But K-Rod does a lot of things he shouldn't do.
Oh I see what happened there.
... as capable of missing bats as it is of inducing ground balls?
Excited to see Britton in the show. Where do you think he slots in among Teheran, Perez, Chapman, Lamb, Montgomery, Pineda, Matzek, and (insert guy I'm sure I'm almost certainly forgetting) on next year's list?
Kevin, do you think there is any chance of a September cup of coffee for Tim Collins, even though he's not yet on the 40-man? And, inspired by his scoreless 3-inning appearance on Sunday, I have to ask: is there any chance that the Royals would be willing to take a closer look at whether Collins could handle a starter's workload?
This is way too authoritatively worded, particularly since it is also wrong. Let's assume Montero really was made available for Lee. First, this was in season, and in a potential trade for the best pitcher in the league. We are a week from the trading deadline, Montero is knocking on the MLB door, is under team control for the next several years, and the Yanks seldom part with prospects in the off season given their deep pockets for FA signings. So you are basically saying Montero will be traded in the next week. Because if not, he's in camp with the Yanks next spring, and stands some chance (maybe even >50%) of breaking camp with the big club. Second, the Lee rumor was before Montero snapped out of his early season semi-funk and exploded for what so far has been a monster July. So there is some chance that he has become untouchable again. Third, do you recall how many Phil Hughes trade rumors we endured before he made his MLB debut? Do you know how good Cashman looks now for having held onto the kid? There is some chance he has learned his lesson. All of this does not add up to your almost certainty, it substracts from it. A lot.
Jeter hit that ball to Byrd. Andrus pinch ran.
"Bavasi superfund site..."
My bad, read this too quick. So "Capt. Kirk" is the nickname. That works too.
So was "Kirk nickname" meant to be a placeholder for you, so you could think one up before filing? Anyway, I vote "Newbie," or "The Whiffing Dutchman."
Great stuff as always. Loving these "33-pack" versions of the 10-pack...
I think you've mentioned it before, but how concerned should we be about Moose's extreme home/road splits? Hard to wave away these video game numbers, but is that maybe at least reason to temper enthusiasm?
Somewhere Jim Callis is weeping softly to himself.
Considering age/level/performance, maybe we should be even more excited about Pineda than Arodys. Heck, you said he was only a maybe for the top 50 just a month ago. So if he's not yet in the top 11 remaining (and it seems reasonable for him still not to be -- that's some stiff competition above), then whatever number he is, he's that number with a *bullet*, no?
Great stuff! As for that league wide memo you mentioned, I'm afraid it was sent around several weeks ago, instructing teams *not* to call their top prospects up until their lack of super two eligibility was assured. This seems to be getting worse each year. Strasburg and Santana in particular were ready on opening day.
Do you think there is any realistic chance that this issue is dealt with in the new CBA? If not, what are the impediments to it being addressed? I assume the owners would not unilaterally agree to allow arbitration to any player with, say, 2.00001 or more years of service time, and that the players would not agree to require a full 3 years, as both would be straight giveaways to the other side. And changing the "top 17% of 2-plussers" cutoff to some other percentage doesn't really fix the problem, it just moves it to a different date.
If only they would agree to eliminate major league service time as the relevant clock, instead making players eligible for arbitration after four (or five) years of service in the minors *or* majors, and eligible for free agency after eight (or nine) years of such service. This way, owners would no longer be incentivized to keep players down on the farm solely to retain control over them. They'd instead be motivated to make sure all of their best players at any given time were actually on their major league rosters, since their clocks are ticking either way.
The owners would never agree to this, of course, even though it's in the best interests of the game, and perhaps even in their own financial interests (as earlier promotions of hyped prospects might lead to increased ticket sales). But delays like CLE's with Santana and WAS's with Strasburg really ought to cause more people to clamor for scrapping baseball's antitrust exemption. Instead, the concept of teams being allowed to retain *any* exclusive rights to a newly drafted player for *any* period of time is treated as accepted wisdom, and seldom challenged for what it is -- a restraint of trade, plain and simple.
Free Mark Trumbo!
On Ackley, sure seems to be a link to his coming out of the slump and his sudden uptick in BB totals, no? He's on a tear in that department, with the OBP almost up to .400 already. To me, this gives credence to the theory that: (a) he was being pitched to very carefully, either due to his hype or his lack of much supporting cast, Peguero excluded, but then he's never hit ahead of Peguero; and (b) it took a bit of time for him to realize and adjust to this. Hopefully the power comes next. That or moving him to the 2 spot again (with Peguero 3rd) so we can see what he's capable of when opposing pitchers are forced to challenge him in the zone.
Wood's real breakout was in A-ball, but also at a notorious hitter's haven in the Cal league, so your point holds.
Ooo... Ackley... yard work. Weak contact, schmeak schmontact!
The problem with assuming some sort of regression to a more "normal" BABIP for Ackley is that "normal" means normal for a big league (or in this case, AA) player that has already established some baseline level of ability to hit major league (or in this case, AA) pitching. For instance, I am quite sure that my BABIP against AA pitchers would start out obscenely low, and yet not stand any chance of regressing up to .280 over the course of 600 AB, or, well... ever. The difference between Figgins/Span on the one hand and Ackley on the other is that the former two have established that baseline whereas Ackley is still TBD. Ack did hit about .300 in the AFL last year, and this would seem to be some demonstration of an ability to hit this level of pitching (I would guess the average quality of AFL pitching is AA level, though that may change from year to year). But at this point, 100 AB into this gad awful slump, I'm now getting more curious about who exactly served up his AFL hits and who gave him AFL fits.
That being said, I'd still say chances are better than 50/50 (maybe even 80/20) that what we have here is a league full of pitchers refusing to pitch (or at least pitching very carefully) to the bonus baby, and the bonus baby -- anxious to prove his worthiness -- being way less patient than he ought to be. Word gets around about the lack of patience, and lather, rinse, repeat. This may be manifesting itself only partly in Ackley's (somewhat higher than expected) K rate, since his (reputedly) excellent contact ability may mean that, rather than striking out when swinging at these bad pitches, he's instead making weak contact on them. Rolling over outside breaking stuff with grounders to second, popping up high fastballs, etc., where other hitters might simply whiff.
I say this with no training as a scout, and literally no observation of a single one of Ackley's ABs this year. I did, however, stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Or hit a load of doubles, yes.
600 AB, 150 H, 72 BB, 50 2B, 5 3B, 40 HR gets him:
600 AB, 165 H, 69 BB, 50 2B, 5 3B, 45 HR gets him:
Point taken that to call either one of these lines his downside is a bit optimistic. But his upside may be even better.
This is the beauty of a deep single league format rotisserie style league. You can't churn and burn when the best thing on the waiver wire is John Hester.
Hey, what do you know. 2-for-3 today with a triple and a walk. Rumors of his demise, indeed.
Thank you, Kevin, for not piling on Dustin Ackley after yet another 0-for-5. They moved him to the 3-hole last night, as if leading off was the source of the problem. I'm hopeful that he's just pressing a bit, and hitting some "at 'em" balls (the K rate isn't alarming). But do you think the M's need to seriously entertain the idea of sending him down to High Desert? If he can't hit in that bandbox, then we'd know something really is wrong.
Kevin, thanks for the updates. I had read from more than one source (maybe even from you) that Carlos Santana's power was not expected to fully return for up to a year following the hamate bone surgery he had in December. And indeed, I thought Pedro Alvarez's timetable on that front (a similar surgery in the spring of '08, reduced power in his final season at Vandy, and arguably not a true return to form until 2H '09, coinciding roughly with his promotion to Altoona) might be instructive on what we could expect from Santana this season and even early next (decent AVG, but only a shell of his former and expected future self pop-wise). I know we're talking one game here, and some less than stellar relievers (one coming in unexpectedly after an ejection, and one on mop-up duty), but is it possible that the power came back early?
I have to agree with this. Bill James said that baseball statistics, or at least the best ones, are distinct from those of other sports because and to the extent they have "acquired the power of language." I assume it is this concept (and BP's ever-growing desire to expand its horizons to reach a broader audience) that led ESPN to recommend (and BP to embrace) a change of the name of this stat from EqA to TAv. Somewhat ironically, however, I think the change ignores that -- for the narrower audience of long time BP subscribers, at least -- EqA had *already* acquired the power of language. I'm sure in a few years TAv will acquire a similar power for many, though I'm at a loss for why anyone would think that it has greater potential to do so than EqA. And more to the point, I'm a bit frustrated by the fact that BP would make this change without recognizing that, for that narrower audience, this is akin to telling us that the word "pickle" has been stricken from the English language, and we now have to call pickles... I don't know... fermented cucumbers. I'm'na say pickle, if that's alright.
I don't like to do it, trust me. But "eligibility" is based on the depth charts? Why? How about basing it on what fantasy leagues base eligibility on? I mean... c'mon. You don't have to have played in leagues for very long to know that most ones that are worth their salt determine initial position eligibility based on games played in MLB the prior season (typically either a 1-game, 5-game, or 20-game threshold). Such that Gordon Beckham, e.g., is eligible *only* at 3B in pretty much every fantasy league that has... you know... rules. And Kevin Youkilis qualifies at 3B under any such standard (having played, I believe, over 60 games there last season). The latest edition of the PFM addresses this issue (with a customizable "minimum games played" position eligibility input), so I'm not sure why you would choose to ignore it.
I know you have taken a fair amount of heat over the past couple years for your articles, from a substantive/analytical perspective as well as from an organizational/presentational one. I have tried not to add to the chorus, given that -- while you rarely issue a mea culpa -- you at least try to be responsive to complaints in the name of improving your work product. But it has been hard to stay quiet, because a site like BP should be a leader on something as quant-intensive as fantasy baseball, and right now it just isn't. With that said, congratulations on your new role, and good luck with the new additions and the planned improvements to BP's fantasy coverage. I'm hoping for the best.
No one said it except you.
"[F]or players with multiple position eligibility, I included them in the list for each position."
Moreover, Beckham has *only* 3B eligibility in many leagues, or indeed, all which base initial roster eligibility (as they should) on a player's games played by position in the prior season. Beckham did not play a game in MLB at another position last season.
What Jivas said.
Btw, I know it was off topic, and you'll get there when you get there, but any thoughts on Bumgarner? I'm hopeful that it was just a tired arm, but that doesn't quite make sense given how his innings were limited, and how the decreased velo and K/9 was apparent for at Connecticut as well.
Gotcha. Makes sense. And I think part of my reaction was based on me not giving Wade Davis enough credit for likely making the back end of your top 20. I guess his having been on the prospect radar for several years now, combined with what seems to be a lack of true front-of-rotation upside, have caused me to discount him a bit. But he deserves his due, and his success in the upper minors and MLB probably does warrant him ranking ahead of a guy like Colome who's yet to see full-season ball at 21, no matter how electric Colome's stuff, nor how high his ceiling.
I also agree with sungods7n's point, that you couldn't have controlled the momentum which likely brought other prospect hounds around on Colome over the few months that have passed since you first alluded to this (and I assume BA is talking to some of the same or similar scouts as you). Though perhaps that augers for going ahead and touting the guy as soon as you know you want to. You'll get more credit that way! And blame, too, but that's the nature of the beast. And anyway, whoever said that the waiting is the best part obviously never heard that Tom Petty song.
I see you've answered my question already. Note to self: shorter comments. Thanks again, Kevin.
Thanks for the great list, Kevin. What an embarrassment of riches for the Rays.
The Neftali comp (as well as the highest-ceiling-in-the-system tag) referenced in his comment ought to be clear enough indication, I suppose. But I'm still not sure whether Colome is the pick you've been teasing us with all these months. Yes?
I ask because BA's got A.C. at #7, albeit listing him (incorrectly) as a southpaw, so the pick doesn't seem too out of nowhere. And that difference in rankings might account not only for a difference in enthusiasm for Colome, but also BA's greater optimism about Beckham and Brignac (which in my opinion is warranted only re the former). Then again, if they can't bother to get his handedness right, they're not exactly screaming his name from the mountain tops.
But that's why I'm confused, as you don't seem to be making too much of your #4 (and 5-star) ranking either. Anyway, like some others, I had my money on it being Martin Perez (who, as a side note, goes by "Martin" to everyone except Merryl Streep, who for some reason gets away with calling him "Marty"). And I was pretty damn sure it wouldn't be a Blue Jay. So if Colome's the guy, I'm glad the wait is over. Now I can focus on obsessing over where you'll come out on Bumgarner (I know he'll be second fiddle to Posey... but any hope that his velocity will return? or were those gun readings from '08 inflated to begin with?).
I'm curious whether the Bunning anomaly could be explained by his emergence as a politician. He was first elected to Congress in 1986, meaning he was just getting sworn in as the 1987 hall vote was happening. True, the dip didn't happen until '89, but perhaps he didn't do or say anything too polarizing until his second year in office. It may be cynical to suggest that some subset of voters would switch their vote on him for a non-baseball reason like that. But this is the BBWAA we're talking about.
I think my David Lee Roth comp (one of those hovering in the 30's) would rate far higher had I only picked a better band/singer. Maybe Led Zeppelin without Plant? Yes, that's it. BP without Joe is like the Coverdale/Page project. You buy the album because you have to -- that's how much you like Zeppelin -- but it's not even the same thing.
Joe, it has been a pleasure reading you for these many years. To borrow a phrase that you (or perhaps Nate) made popular, you've been the most entertaining and important writer for this site and the sabermetric community over the last decade, "and it's not particularly close." As a fellow fan of the Yankees, Donnie Baseball, James' Abstracts, Tout Wars, college hoops, Hold 'Em, food that's bad for me, and popping off first and asking questions later, I also consider you a kindred spirit. Best of luck wherever you land. And here's hoping your solo work reaches heights greater than "Just A Gigolo" and campy Beach Boys covers. I know it will.
Joe Sheehan is BP. Kevin, you've been a fantastic addition to the site (just as Jay and Nate have/had been before you). And of course Chris, Rany, Gary, Clay, et al., all deserve ample credit for their contributions over the years as well. But it was Joe's writing that brought me here, and that filled the huge void left for me during the late 90's and early 00's when Bill James wasn't publishing much of anything. That Joe filled that void with pieces written in the classic James style (terse, witty, intellectually honest, at times brash, but ultimately always well-reasoned) is what made me a devoted follower of the annual book, and eventually, this website. For the last several years, the annuals have suffered noticeably from Joe's absence, and now I believe the website will as well. I'm sorry, it's just a fact. You can still call it Van Halen if you want -- and, well, Eddie is still here -- but you done lost your lead singer.
I agree wholeheartedly. I always had the sense that Edgar could have played a reasonable 3B, and certainly a passable 1B if necessary, but that the decision was made by his managers (particularly during the Tino years) that it would be best to take advantage of the DH rule and ensure that one of their very best offensive weapons would not be compromised by the fatigue and risk of injury that come with playing the field.
People also forget that Edgar not only got a late start to his career, but an *undeservedly* late one.
He posted the following lines at AAA Calgary:
Age 24 (1987): .329/.434/.473 (438 AB)
Age 25 (1988): .363/.467/.517 (331 AB)
Age 26 (1989): .345/.457/.522 (113 AB)
But he was "blocked" at 3B by Jim Presley, who -- despite being just a year older, posted the following MLB lines in those years:
Obviously we'd need to MLE Edgar's lines for a true comparison, but I still don't think it would be close. The only way this could have been justified would be if Presley were a gold glove caliber at 3B, and/or Edgar were literally unplayable there. And their career statistics (imperfect indicators though they may be) suggest that neither was the case (Presley had a lifetime fielding pct. of .949 and RF/9 of 2.70 in 911 G, while Edgar had a fielding pct. of .946 and RF/9 of 2.66 in 563 G). That is just criminal.
Alvin Davis was a more legitimate obstacle at 1B during these years. And I suppose Ken Phelps at DH in '87 and the first half of '88 (before he was traded to the Yankees) was defensible as well. But Steve Balboni and Jeff Leonard proceeded to soak up the rest of those DH at-bats in 1988-89. So we're talking about three years of Edgar's prime which were lost to poor roster management. This, too, should be kept in mind when making arguments based on his career line.
Btw, given the contrasting treatment I suggest between players whose declines can be attributed to factors beyond their control and those whose declines were their own fault, perhaps Doc Gooden is not the best example for me to cite. :-)
To be clear, in my mind the Puckett/Koufax argument is not about what the player "might have done." It's simply an acknowledgment that in some cases, a player's career line might not be the best reflection of his importance to the history of the sport. Where a peak is so impressive (and in response to another's comment above, I think park and era adjustments show just how impressive Mattingly's 1984-1987 was), I think the reason why it was or was not sustained over the remainder of a player's career seems just as important as whether it was sustained -- I'm not saying ignore the latter, I'm saying if you consider the latter, how can the former not be part of the discussion?
The Kerry Wood example above is a bit of a straw man. Had the first five years of Kerry Wood's career looked like that of Dwight Gooden (that is, not merely flashes of dominance and impressive K totals while never having more than 14 W's or lower than a 3.20 ERA in a season; but rather, utter dominance over an entire league for a 3-4 year stretch -- and yes, I'm probably overstating Gooden's case here), then we'd be talking about a completely different career, and my answer would be yes, that deserves at least some Hall consideration.
Perhaps what this really comes down to is what nearly all HOF candidacy arguments come down to: a fundamental difference in our philosophies about what the Hall of Fame should be. I am in complete agreement that it should not be the "Hall of Very Good." But for just this reason, I think that where a player is widely recognized -- for even as short as a few years -- as one of a handful of the very best, if not *the* best, players in the entire game, then that is an accomplishment which deserves to be remembered, and yes, honored. If this period is followed by many years of decline/mediocrity, it is fair for that to affect one's overall view of the player. However, if we're going to consider it, then we should not do so in a vaccum. We ought to consider as well *why* the player fell from the ranks of the league's best players, and whether it was something over which he had control. Bad work habits/conditioning? Off-field problems? Prior great stats proven to be steroid-fueled illusion? Failure to adjust to the league's adjustment to him? In each case, the player bears some responsibility for his own decline, and it seems fair to charge him with similar responsibility for the effect this ultimately has on his career line. But Mattingly's fluke back injury, to me, is much more similar to Puckett's glaucoma or Koufax's arm falling off.
For this reason, I'll take a Mattingly, or even a Doc Gooden, for my Hall of Fame over Rafael Palmeiro or Robin Ventura any day of the week. Yet I don't begrudge others for seeing it the opposite way. Since there's never been any established criteria for enshrinement, ultimately both opinions are unimpeachable.
A very fair point. Though I'd like to see those triple slash stats adjusted for era and ballpark. According to baseball-reference, Mattingly's career OPS+ is 127, and Belle's is 143. Still an edge for Joey, but much closer than meets the eye. I would argue that clear edge in fielding value closes the gap on this difference.
But Belle's accomplishments are still impressive (and perhaps hall-worthy) both from a JAWS perspective as well as the more traditional measures on which HOF voters often rely. Belle had 5 all-star appearances and 5 top 10 MVP finishes, whereas Mattingly had 6 and 4, respectively. And I believe JAWS has them in what is roughly a dead heat, with Mattingly having had the slightly longer career, but Belle the slightly better peak.
Then you've got the issue of "intangibles," which I think we all agree ought not be the primary basis for inclusion on a HOF ballot, but which I also think it is hard to simply wave away in extreme cases. A comparison of Mattingly and Belle seems just such a case. I mean, it's got to be at least somewhat relevant that Mattingly was his team captain, a clubhouse leader, generally viewed as a stand-up guy with few if any off-field problems (his recent marital troubles to the contrary). As Bill James described him: "100 percent ballplayer, zero percent bullsh*t." Whereas Belle was... well... not any of those things. Misunderstood and mistreated by both fans and media, perhaps, but he has to own *some* of that.
In any event, these "intangibles" should arguably only be a consideration in close cases. They shouldn't keep Bonds out (leaving aside the steroids issue), nor should they allow Rizzuto in. But Belle and Mattingly are both close cases, and for me, the intangibles may tip the balance in opposite directions for them. As James has predicted, Mattingly will likely get in on a vets ballot many years from now, in part no doubt to his reputation and relationship with the types of folks who comprise the vet committee (yet another intangible). Belle will not be so lucky.
1. Count me as another who cannot fathom how Raines was left off of a HOF ballot which includes 8 players. Indeed, Raines may have a better case than all those on John's ballot except Blyleven and Big Mac. Taking the clearly HOF-worthy Alomar as an example, Raines had roughly the same OPS over his career, had just 120 less hits (with 300 more walks), and stole nearly twice as many bases at a significantly better (and historically high) success rate. The difference in defensive value that might have existed between the two simply does not close that gap. And as I said, Alomar himself is a no brainer for the Hall. Again, that's how bad the Raines omission is.
2. Count me also among the big tenters. While I agree with others that such biased measures as gold glove and all-star game appearance tallies ought not be the foundation for any proper Hall case, I have no quibbles with any of the names on John's ballot, save for Dave Parker (which is utter nonsense, I'm sorry John, though even you seem to acknowledge this). I'd add Trammell, too. Dawson is fairly borderline with that OBP, but a reasonable case can be made for him, at least.
3. On a related note, I am a lifelong Yankee fan (one whose favorite player is the guy I'm about to defend), so excuse me all if this comes off as irrational as a vote for Dave Parker. But... I still think that objectively speaking, Don Mattingly should be enshrined. Not on his career totals, perhaps, but rather on the Koufax/Puckett argument. It is not often enough mentioned that Mattingly's descent from a four-year peak when he was the consensus best player in the game -- as voted by his *fellow players*, mind you -- to the few years that followed when he was just "very good," to the next several years of decline, to out of baseball in his early 30's, stemmed directly from a severe back injury in 1988 from which he never fully recovered. That he faded away rather than burned out (as both Koufax and Puckett did, playing to peak or near peak level until their last games) does not speak to any difference between the ultimate debilitating nature of their respective injuries, but only to how quickly these injuries manifested. Koufax is in another class, I'll admit. But compare Mattingly to Puckett. That's his best Hall case, and it's one I'll argue until he gives his induction speech.
4. All the comments which take BP to task for having John write for the site when he'a submitting a HOF ballot which looks like this seem to miss the point of why John is here in the first place. He is a baseball *reporter*. Not an analyst, not a statistician, not the inventor of a scarily accurate prediction model, and most of all, not Jay Jaffe. A reporter. And I for one feel that his reporting has been an invaluable addition to this site. Straight ahead baseball reporting is something that was rarely found here in the past, and John's been doing it and doing it quite well (at Baseball America and elsewhere) for close to 30 years. Joe Sheehan has made the argument before (as have others) that the voting for both the HOF and end-of-season awards is fundamentally flawed based on who is doing the voting (reporters, who -- as a breed -- don't tend to appreciate that the plural of "anecdote" is not "data"). And John's ballot is perhaps another data point for that argument. But it's not a reason to criticize either this site or the wonderful reporting job he's been doing for it.
Good stuff, as always, Joe. And I'm very much in agreement with your general take on the corporation-as-owner issue. But I actually don't hate this deal for the Braves.
As you said, they had six solid SPs (Vazquez, along with Hudson, Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Kenshin Kawakami), and Vazquez represented the best candidate of the six to be dealt considering both marketability and inherent value. Hanson (along with Jason Heyward) is the franchise, Jurrjens is himself a pre-arb untouchable coming off of a monster year, Kawakami and Hudson are locked up on relatively cheap deals ($7.5 and $9 million per, respectively), and as you noted, Lowe was simply too expensive to be moved (the Braves certainly tried to do so). Vazquez was priced somewhat below market, but was under control for just one more year. A move had to be made, and given the crickets on Lowe, it had to be Vazquez.
So the question becomes whether the return was enough. First the name we know. While Melky Cabrera is entering into his arb years, I would think that he may actually be the type of player who might not do as well in arbitration as he would deserve to based on his real life baseball value. That is, a significant part of his value is in his fielding ability (incl. his ability to play center), and even with advancements in metrics to measure fielding, I'm guessing that arbitration awards still don't fully account for this value. Whereas on the hitting side, Melky doesn't pile up big counting stats in the "money" categories (HR, RBI, SB). Given that Melky settled for $1.4 million last year, and had a better year all around in '09 (but not drastically so), $4 million might be right. But that seems a relative bargain for an average-to-plus defensive outfielder who can spell the defensively-stretched Nate McLouth in center, and whose bat (and modest power/speed combo, combined with the ability to switch hit with a minimal platoon split) can at least play in left. It's fair to say that there's not much more room (if any) for projection on Melky, and that he is what he is right now. But what that is is a 25-year-old who at least held his own while playing nearly half of his games in baseball's toughest division. At minimum, the Braves could do far worse as a placeholder/insurance policy for Heyward, the ghost of Jordan Schafer, et al.
What's more, your article did not even mention the best player in this deal on the Braves side of the ledger, Arodys Vizcaino, the Yanks' #2 prospect according to Kevin (#3 at Baseball America). Sure, TNSTAAPP (TM), and even if he does pan out, Vizcaino is at least a couple years away. But that's exactly who you should be looking for when you have an already over-crowded rotation locked up for the next few years. He may lack the ceiling or polish of a Kyle Drabek, and perhaps this doesn't quite represent the bounty the Jays exacted for Halladay (who, like Vazquez, was locked up for only one more year). But Vazquez isn't quite Halladay.
I suppose if anything could be criticized here it could be the Braves' lack of foresight last off-season in signing both Lowe and Kawakami, moves which helped to create their rotation logjam in the first place. But I think that criticism is much easier in hindsight. Hudson's successful return from TJ, Jurrjens' emergence, and the translation of Hanson's and Kawakami's prior success to the show -- none of these things were sure bets.
I hate the Braves. I hate the welcoming of corporate ownership groups into the game to the exclusion of crazy rich guys (and the antitrust exemption which permits it). But I don't hate this deal.
I posted a comment to this effect in John's "On the Beat" column of today as well, but two words: Bill James. He is as forward-thinking about the game today as he was in the 80's. And he's a company man now, too, so you don't even have an excuse to leave him out of the discussion.
I vote an enthusiastic yes on Nate as well. Especially if it gives him something to do other than call progressives "batsh*t crazy" for refusing on principle to support a health care bill which -- while improving access and affordability for many -- mandates coverage without doing anything to increase competition among insurers, a massive giveaway to the private health insurance industry.
Sorry, I know it's a baseball site. But since you're touting Nate's non-baseball gravitas and raw intelligence (both of which are undeniable and appreciated), I feel the need to point out how even a genius can have a bad idea now and then. Sort of like your $34 bid on B.J. Upton. :-) (And I say this as the genius who went to $39 on him.)
I don't think that's correct, siegeljs. Not to get all Doubleday-Cartwright about it, but I'm fairly sure it was Dan Okrent who brought James' work to a national audience during his time at Sports Illustrated.
And of course, Michael Lewis's discussion of James (and Billy Beane's admiration of him) in "Moneyball" brought his work to a whole new generation of fans.
If George Will has written extensively on Bill James, I have not seen it. Of course, I've tended to avoid his work given his political leanings, global warming denials, etc. And I tend to agree with tmangell that his place at this table is not well deserved. Costas, yes. But Gammons, or heck, Doris Kearns Goodwin, should have Will's seat.
And now that we've mentioned James, it would have been nice to see him invited to this summit on behalf of the Sox. If ever there was someone with a lot of well-formed (and well-reasoned) opinions on how to fix various aspects of the game, it's him. E.g., I believe in his New Historical Abstract, he proposed addressing the pace issue in a number of ways, including limiting pickoff attempts, eliminating the batter's ability to call time out once he enters the box, and preventing managers from making a second pitching change in a single inning unless a run has scored.
But then I guess that would defeat the purpose of this meeting: to create the illusion of being open to new ideas without actually having to confront any. After all, the only "new idea" mentioned above is LaRussa's proposal to eliminate the DH. And that's not an idea, per se, but rather a reactionary stance towards what had once been a new idea.
Just watched tape of this guy at the '09 WBC. He was sitting 94-95 mph, mixing in a few 97's. He had an extra gear that took him to 98-100 a few times, but in that gear, he seemed to have no ability to control the thing. Still, even if the reports of 102 are a bit exaggerated, and even if the 100 mph version is just a waste pitch to get a hitter out of his shoes on occasion (both the Unit and Pedro benefited from their reputations of wildness for years after they were no longer deserved), there's something special here. And my god, he's a lefty, too. Don't sleep on this one, Cashman! Hideki Irabu he ain't...
I think he was trying to say that Chapman would be at the very top of the top 11 for 20+ teams (and likely in the top 3 for all of the others).
I had the same reactions as you, Joe. I say this as a Yankee fan, but even if they were intent on moving Max Scherzer due to health concerns, why does Arizona get the Yankees involved in this thing at all? Couldn't they have ponied up an A-Jax level prospect to DET in order to score Curtis Granderson as well? If not Brandon Allen (due to their otherwise gaping hole at 1B), then say, A.J. Pollock (for whom Austin Jackson may be a very good comp)? Do they still have that much faith in Chris Young in center, or the Eric Byrnes/Gerardo Parra combo in left, for that matter? Granderson would represent a significant upgrade offensively at either position, and a big defensive one in LF to boot.
A real head scratcher. And Cashman finally atones for that famous head scratcher 3-way deal of yesteryear, when Oakland ended up with Ted Lilly and prospects, Detroit (the real winner of that deal, apologies to Michael Lewis) netted Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman, and the Yanks got... ahem... Jeff Weaver. (This time the Tigers are the A's, the Yanks are the Tigers, and the D-Backs are the Yanks.)
Gammons for commish. Who's with me...
And the foot's not even there for most pitchers, to be honest. If you watch a pitcher like Lincecum's delivery in slo-mo, you'll see that by the time the ball leaves his hand, his right (push off) foot has actually been dragged two feet forward of the rubber, maybe more.
(starting at 0:35... warning: unless you're Trevor Hoffman, you may want to mute your sound)
So there's really two reasons why a long stride is good. The first is that you're creating more momentum to transfer to the ball in the form of increased actual velocity. And the second is that you're shortening the distance between your release and the batter, and thus increasing perceived velocity.
Good stuff, Joe. Not sure if it's possible with whatever data you're working from, but to clear some things up for everyone it would be really useful if you could run the same analysis for pitches of a specific starting velocity (e.g., all 93 mph fastballs). As I alluded to above, the standard deviation on something like that ought to be extremely small (and indeed, explained almost entirely by ballpark differences in air density). And this would show that the differences in the numbers you cite above are largely due to the differences in starting velocities of the types of pitches (velocity is part of the drag equation, after all). Differences in spin create different "Magnus Force" results, and as a result affect the path of thrown balls, but I wouldn't think these factors would have much of an effect on drag during such a short flight.
Btw, I'm no physicist. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Agree with ScottyB. This is pretty elementary physics. "Drag" or wind resistance obviously reduces the velocity of a moving object. The variables which most effect how *much* it does so are the shape/size and weight of the object in motion. Since these things are *not* actually variable here (it's the same round ball, measuring the same 9 1/4 inches around, and weighing the same 5 1/8 ounces, on every pitch), what you get is a not so enlightening new tool from Fox. Every 93 mph fastball will give you a "FoxTrax Plus" reading of about 86 at the plate. Every 79 mph change will shake out at about 74. Who cares what you're calling it, it's the same pitch it always was. Every 93 mph fastball throughout baseball history was crossing the plate at about 86. Big whoop.
Btw, does anyone else find it funny that the name Fox chose for this is a recycled one from one of their more famously bad TV sports ideas? Namely, the "FoxTrax" glowing hockey puck from the mid '90's?
This all being said, I think we can all agree that the work Eric has been doing for BP on velocity has been fantastic.
Another great piece, Eric. This shows why "fastball up and in, off-speed down and away" is so often preached by pitching coaches. I'm sure many do so simply because it's been proven a more effective strategy than the reverse, but don't actually realize *why* this is the case. If, as they say, pitching is all about upsetting the hitter's timing, then increasing the separation in perceived velocities of your pitches by location can only advance that goal.
In addition, and though it may have been intuitively obvious to some, you've provided a great illustration of the value of learning to hit to the opposite field. Letting the ball "get deeper" buys you time, and effectively makes the pitch slower (though you may sacrifice on the bat speed you're able to generate given the shorter time/distance between the start of your swing and contact with the ball). This helps explain the higher contact rates (and lower HR rates) of hitters like Tony Gwynn and Derek Jeter.
I cannot say enough good things about this series. Well done.
Great stuff, Eric. Glad to see some follow up on this issue after KG's post from the other week re velocity. And I'd love to see how this data shakes out on a pitcher like Tim Lincecum. Presumably his long stride compensates for his diminutive height and results in what might even be a closer (to home)-than-average release point, which -- when added to his already well above average radar gun readings -- goes far to explain his dominance.
Here's a couple more quotes.
"[W]e have the data to prove or disprove the assertion [that 'velocity means more or less everything']."
"[W]hen it comes right down to it, there is no evidence that we've found anything to replace the radar gun reading as an indicator for future big-league success."
Except those two are actually from the article.
Nice post, Kevin. But I'm thinking that we shouldn't necessarily assume that the frequency/likelihood of making the majors with a certain fastball grade correlates with performance once there. That is, while major league GMs have, over the past decade, become much better at identifying and rostering the best available talent, we're not all the way there yet, are we? I mean, Littlefield and Bowden don't have jobs anymore, but still.
So I think an even more interesting way to look at this would be to examine the actual 2009 results of the pitchers in each of these groups, and see if a trend emerges which justifies the bias for rostering harder throwers. While I think in general you're likely to find a strong correlation in support of your theory, I also think -- based on the groups of five "20's" and seven "80's" you identified -- that you might find some anomalies at the extremes. That is, at the top end of the scale there may be a slight dip in performance, in that the group (exclusive as it is) may include a disproportionate number of arms who are in the bigs merely because they can light up the radar gun, even though they have no idea where the pitch is going (read: Lindstrom). Whereas a 60 or a 65 heater is very good, but not so good that you can coast to the show on it without developing your control, command, and secondary offerings. Similarly, at the low end of the scale you may be more likely to find only those pitchers with true mastery of control, command, and secondary offerings.
And deception and extreme height, too, yes. But I think something like deception should be analyzed as an almost perfect substitute for velocity, or perhaps simply as a component of it. That is, the *reason* velocity is important is that it gives the hitter less time to read and react to the pitch. And deception is important for the very same reason. All that matters is that the hitter has X.X seconds to see and swing. It doesn't matter if he has this amount of time because the ball is on its way faster (Neftali), stays hidden longer (Ziegler), or is released from closer to the plate (Chris Young, Danny Almonte, Jennie Finch). All accomplish the same result. In fact, one might even argue that accomplishing it through deception is superior to doing so through sheer oomph, since all things -- read/react time for the hitter included -- being equal, harder contact (and with it, presumably a higher HR rate and BABIP) will be generated off of a 99 mph fastball thrown without deception than off of an 87 mph one thrown with it.
In any event, definitely food for thought. Though I'm worried that the more you talk about this, the more you are taking away my secret weapon for drafting pitchers in my fantasy leagues. First stop is PECOTA, but the second is fangraphs for the velo data!
An argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of whatever the other person is saying.
I wanted to stop reading at "me either" (after all the comments about grammatical errors last week, you'd have thought we could get further than one sentence into the article this week without one). But I labored through it.
As to the predictions of Crawford's demise, and this is echoing Christina's comment: isn't every player with more K than HR going to have a BABIP that exceeds his overall batting average? And don't speed demons (see, e.g., Ichiro) tend to have higher than average BABIPs due to their ability to leg out infield hits?
I was also suprised that the discussion of Ludwick's "breakout" in '08 made no mention of his numbers in the minors from 2003-2007, numbers which were largely in line with -- and thus to some extent could have foretold -- his '08 performance. I think BP readers who are also fantasy players will agree that a key to success is to "anticipate what's coming." But for that not to be accompanied by something like a discussion of the (albeit imperfectly) predictive value of MLE's, but rather a vague reference to LaRussa's tendency to play all of his players, and a derogatory reference to "waiting to read fantasy analysis"? You're auditioning to *write* such analysis (at least this week)!
Brittany, I agree that nobody should be judging you based on your appearance. I may have missed the comments criticizing your past experience with MLB.com (I saw only the comment that your writing may be better suited for that site), but if they were made, they too would have been out of line. In addition, I think your passion for the game is apparent.
Unfortunately, however, I agree with much of the criticism of your substantive analysis, as well as your writing. As to the latter, even in the above comment of yours, you use the word "reoccurring" (which is not a word), rather than "recurring." I'm nitpicking, no doubt. But the fact remains that you instantly lose credibility when you do that. It's the equivalent of an obvious wrong note right at the top of the song. And in the case of your article this week... for me, dog... for you, for me, for you... you were pitchy throughout.
Some of the more glaring errors which haven't been mentioned yet, I don't think: "slap-style hitting similar to... Ichiro" implies that Ichiro *is* a style of hitting, not that he *has* such a style (it should have read "similar to that of... Ichiro"); "year-to-year" should not have contained the hyphens since it was not used as an adjective; "G/F" does not "assess... home run hitters," but rather, a "lower than average G/F" is generally "characteristic" of them; Ortiz is not a hitter "that thrives" but one "who thrives"; and it's a distinction "between" Ortiz and Teixeira, not one "from" them. There are several more examples, but I'm feeling petty enough for having mentioned these. And this is without even touching upon the flaws in your substantive analysis -- suffice it to say that the comment above about the importance of understanding the difference between correlation and causation is, in my opinion, spot on.
Good luck next week, but please do not mistake "spell check" for proofreading. And to the extent you are able given your assignments, try to stay within your comfort zone. There's no shame in this. Will excels when writing about such things as Conor Jackson's Coccidioidomycosis (which, incidentally, would be a really lousy name for an alternative rock band), but knows to steer clear of the heavy stat stuff. Kevin is a prospect guru, but eschews giving fantasy advice in his chats (albeit out of apparent disdain for the hobby). So there should be room at BP for a storyteller or "beat writer" type who focuses on exactly that, and who is cognizant of and appreciates sabermetric theories, even if s/he isn't necessarily able to expound them.
Love me some Markov chain. It may not be considered the "basics" of BP insomuch as it does not introduce a reader to (or explain the methodology behind) a BP-created statistic or process such as VORP, WARP, or PECOTA. Still, the "24 States" really *ought* to be the foundation for some of the most thought-provoking baseball analysis that is yet to come from BP (recognizing that Joe and others at BP have delved into this area a bit already).
I thought Tim did an excellent job of crystallizing the two ways in which this data can be useful: performance measurement, and strategy analysis. And as intriguing as the latter application is, the former is even more exciting in its potential for changing how we evaluate players. I've long thought that the fairest way to value a player's offensive contribution to his team over the course of a season is to determine his total expected-runs-added based on the changes to "state" all of his plate appearances (and base-running actions) caused. Along the same lines, perhaps the fairest way to compare the contributions of two different players over a season is to consider their expected-runs-added totals in the context of their actual opportunities (since, e.g., a hitter leading off an inning always has a greater ability to increase the expected runs for that inning than does a hitter batting with two outs).
Alternatively, a modified version of Tango's "Run Frequency Matrix" could help us assign credit more accurately to hitters for runs scored and RBI (by giving more credit to, say, the batter who drives a runner in from first with two outs than to the batter who drives one in from third with no outs). A possible way to assign this credit is to ask: what is the probability that this runner will score from where he put himself on the bases (via his own walk, HBP or hit, plus SBs if any), given the number of outs there are (or more properly, the number of outs there *were* when he got to where he did on his own)? Whatever that percentage is, that's the percentage of the run that he should get credit for (Runs Deserved). The guy driving him in gets the rest of the credit (1 - Runs Deserved) as an RBI Deserved (or, when there are intervening batters between the batter scoring the run and the batter driving him in, they are assigned partial credit for the RBI as well, as their contributions warrant). To make the stats correspond in raw terms to traditional R and RBI, we would simply double the numbers (since nearly every run also results in an RBI). Fielding can even be evaluated with this data more precisely, as the cost of an error can be quantified based on exactly how it changed the state. A bobble by a third baseman fielding a bunt with two outs and nobody on costs his team 0.228 expected runs (the difference between what happened -- guy on first with two out (0.228) -- and what should have happened -- end of inning (0.00)), whereas a throwing error into the OF by that same third baseman on a would-be double play with nobody out and a guy on first might cost his team 1.909 expected runs (or the difference between runners on second and third and no outs (2.017) and nobody on with two outs (0.108)).
Anyway, I digress. Awful title, solid job with the rest, it really did read as a nice opening chapter to a book that I'd love to read about Markov analysis in baseball. Maybe I'm being hypercritical of the others, but this was the only entry this week which I considered to be truly BP worthy, and the only one for which I voted.
Dave, I wasn't at all suggesting that you trade Adrian Gonzalez for any of those guys (and indeed, none of them would be available for him). What I meant was, there is a short list of players who -- taking into consideration their established level of talent, age and contract status -- you should simply not trade. Not even for lots of prospects. And Gonzalez is one of them (maybe #7 or 8 on the list, but one of them nonetheless).
I don't see the Glenn Davis deal as particularly analogous. Davis was not locked up cheaply in the same way, at least not for as long (he was to become eligible for free agency after the '91 season). But more to the point, it is easy to cherry-pick a deal which worked out for the prospect-acquiring team in retrospect (one of the most notoriously bad trades of all time, no less) and use it as justification for making a future deal for prospects. The fact is, there's no shortage of examples over the course of baseball history of teams getting bamboozled in an "established star-for-prospects" trade -- but on *either* side of such a trade. For every Glenn Davis to the Orioles for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley (who, btw, nobody could have reasonably thought in 1990, as a 24-year-old singles hitter with a .254/.302/.325 line in over 700 major league PA's, would become what he became), there's a Schilling to the Red Sox for Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, and waiver bait. Perhaps a study should be done of all such deals, or perhaps one already has been and I'm not aware of it. Anecdotally speaking, though, it would seem that making out well on one of these trades has less to do with whether you're trading the star or the prospects than it does with whether or not your name is Dave Littlefield (or, apparently, whether you're dealing away a guy named Schilling).
In short, the rationale for a team which trades its established star away for prospects (and this is factoring out the "Littlefield Effect") is nearly always cost control. With A-Gonz you've already got that. Add to that cost certainty the certainty you have about what kind of MLB talent he is (a special one), and in my mind you can only trade that away for players who are similarly cheap (which only prospects ever are) and similarly sure things (which prospects very rarely are). That basically leaves the guys on the list I mentioned above. And they're not for sale.
You may say that there are some prospects (e.g., Wieters) that are indeed sure things. But to the extent this is true, then they're not for sale either. And it is rarely true. I say this as a self-avowed prospect hound who believes in the predictive powers of MLE's. Yet while MLE's are highly predictive on the aggregate, once you're talking about Player X, who's never faced that ungodly breaking stuff that they throw in the show, suddenly we're talking about a single roll of the dice, and I think there's generally much less certainty involved.
All submitted with the utmost respect that is deserved by those with a "(2)" or a "(17)" after their user names. Keep up the great work, both of you. That I can even have this conversation with folks who are interested in having it is what makes this site so special.
Joe, you are a gentleman and a scholar, and I agree with you 98% of the time. But, respectfully, I think you are dead wrong on this one. A-Gonz is a park-adjusted monster, and because of his home park is the most under-appreciated elite hitting talent in the game. They've got him for $13.25 million over the next three years *combined*. His age 27-29 years, no less. Why on earth do you trade that away?
Sure they have no chance of winning a pennant over that horizon. But they still need to sell tickets, and to put somebody on the cover of the program. Peavy's contract is significantly more expensive than this (while still reasonable to a contender), so dealing him is logical. But there are only about a half dozen contracts in the game -- Longoria, Sizemore, Braun, Hanley, Pujols, maybe Greinke and Markakis (and perhaps I'm overlooking a couple others) -- for which I would trade three years of Adrian Gonzalez at $4 million and change.
Right on, Joe. I assume you also agree that it is ridiculous that all-star voting has already begun. Is it me or did they push that way up in the schedule this year?
Jody Mac, do me a favor: bring back Harry Kalas. Swing, and a long drive. RIP.
Kevin, your "sausages" post on Unfiltered alluded to a possible Matt LaPorta injury in Saturday's game. And I see from the boxes that he didn't play on Sunday. What did he do, tweak a hammy?
Have to say that Gourriel is the most exciting idea. And that's high praise from Clay, considering the non-MLB-affiliated rest of the world also includes Yu Darvish.
Kevin, relative upsides aside, do you see Freeman taking significantly longer to get to Atlanta than Heyward? With an easier position to field, a bat that seems a touch more advanced than his teammate\'s, and a walk rate that\'s almost as good, it would seem a fair bet that Freddie moves up on a similar timetable (with an eye towards a cup of coffee by 2010). Yet you say he\'s a \"long way\" from being ready. What\'s the scoop? Is the bat that slow?