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A question : Players called up have to be on the 40-man roster... does that not mean they have to be DFA'd to be removed from the 40-man during the off-season, when the 60-day DL'd players are returned to the roster? Would that not mean they would risk losing some of these players?
DJ Stewart... home runs in both ends of a doubleheader. And a triple.
McPhail is slow to trade, willing to wait things out, and there's no urgency in this case. He is also a canny trader so...
Orioles back-to-back outfield assists (both against players trying for doubles) by Jones and Snider followed by a full-extension catch by <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45435">Adam Jones</a></span> on consecutive plays in the 2nd inning deserve mention. First time I have ever seen three outstanding (highlight reel) defensive plays in succession. Jones added a diving catch a few innings later.
Break up the Cubs!
Good luck. I have really enjoyed your columns. Any chance of getting Scott Boros to fill in during your absence? Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.
Obviously, teams with four great hitters ought to be in the market for four lousy ones... Hmm...
The Orioles pitching after the all-star break has been very impressive. You know, it seems to me that a lot of analysts had them finishing last in the AL East this year...
But how will we keep up with all those players in the Texas Rangers system now?
It was Evan Longoria Jones robbed.
Sounds like the young players are treated like migrant labor. What is your view of the suit recently filed over the treatment of minor leaguers?
I'm surprised Abad got off so easy.
Maybe as a follow-up you could look at MLB progeny on the rise (Hunter Harvey and Mike Yaz immediately come to mind -- both will play in the SAL All-Star game)...
Any chance he (or any others for that matter) negotiated a clause forbidding the Braves from submitting a qualifying offer at the end of the contract? Seems to me that would make sense (for a player to do).
Hayhurst's books -- all of them -- provide a lot of insight into the world of the baseball player, especially the minor leaguer who is trying desperately to get to the majors (and who is secretly afraid that he might not make it). I was really impressed with his admission of personal fears and depression that is part of the struggle, though I suspect he would have admitted neither of these if he was still a player.
I did find the book to be a bit padded, especially the first few chapters and the practical jokes at the Andrews Clinic, but it is an illuminating read.
John Feinstein's recently released "Where Nobody Knows Your Name" is a good complement to Hayhurst.
I thought he was Brett Cecil.
The Orioles lose a draft pick but what happens to the money allocated for that pick? I assume they get to keep it...
The Oakland A's of the early 1970s were known reputed to have "bad chemistry", something that did not get in the way of winning three WS titles. Of course they were all united in their hatred of Charles Finley.
I find the dynamic between the minor league and major league experience interesting and asked out of curiosity. I am sure the teams know what the average salaries are...
When you mention salaries, minor leaguers with no MLB experience get $10-$15K per month? I thought it was a lot lower than that. Seems to me Dirk Hayhurst mentioned a much lower figure... I have read that players often do not get paid well enough to eat properly. Seems to me you can eat fairly well at $10K per month. What are the average salaries at each level?
The food program is for minor leaguers obviously... the major leaguers get lotsa dough and can eat anywhere. A gain in wins in the minors is nothing -- winning isn't why the minors exists. It is in each individual player's best interest to eat property and get enough exercise to burn off all those Big Macs. I suspect some nutrition counselling is already provided... and fitness is encouraged. Each player stands to reap a rather significant financial return by following a good nutrition / fitness program.
Reviewing balls and strikes is a bit excessive. While the calls are sometimes wrong, to review these will send me to the fridge far too often than is healthy. I can see allowing appeals on plays that advance a runner. That should be enough.
As an Orioles fan, I enjoyed a great trip a few years ago (when the Orioles were not very good) ... catching (in this order) the Orioles, Aberdeen, Bowie, Frederick, Delmarva (Salisbury MD), Norfolk (3 games including a double header) and Bluefield in a seven day period... nine games in seven days... all at home. The Baseball Prospect book and Orioles Media Guide were necessities in the trip. I viewed it as a personal scouting trip. What would I change? I would try to catch a three-game series featuring each of the minor league teams (though Bluefield has gone Blue Jays) next time.
Regarding the protection debate, wouldn't the Adam Jones - Chris Davis situation provide a worthwhile comparison? Jones usually bats ahead of Davis and is producing at his usual rate (except even fewer walks than in the past). Davis is... um... hitting rather well.
There's an absolute zero chance Canada would attack Minnesota from Manitoba at International Falls because International Falls is on the Ontario-Minnesota border.
The Rangers should dump Kinsler on the Orioles... maybe for Ryan Flaherty, who's happy to play anywhere, or Nolan Reimold...
Manny Machado, on he other hand...
Jason, you've mixed your metaphors. A queue can be long but not thin...
How can the Tigers stay atop the hit list week after week with a not-so-impressive record?
Is -6.2 WAR better than nothing at all?
You missed Matt Wieters steal of second (when he was actually caught off first) against the Blue Jays on the weekend. Encarnacion didn't even throw to second on the play.
Tommy Hunter away from the team? He was warming up last night. Has something happened since then?
The strike zone also varies depending on the batter and pitcher. What's called a strike when Ryan Flaherty is batting is a ball when Joe Maurer is at the plate. And when a pitcher is struggling to find the strike zone, he's less likely to get a favorable call than when the pitcher has been sharper (even the same pitcher).
Why is Matt Hobgood's performance "disappointing"? Because he gave up a hit? He only struck out three? I would bet the Orioles are pleased so far. He hasn't given up a run in three appearances. Mychal Givens, a converted shortstop now pitching, is also worth noting.
The downside is that a team is stuck paying millions to a player who is no longer productive (aka Vernon Wells). The upside is not having to worry about losing him (quite so soon) to free agency. Would you try to lock down someone like Matt Wieters today?
Unfortunately, it was done during the TypeA/TypeB free agent days. But if a first round draft pick generates, on average, $6.1 million in surplus value, signing someone like Lohse does not appear to make sense. If I understand it correctly, he'd have to generate his salary plus $6.1 million for the team to break even. Does that make sense to you?
I'm sure I read somewhere (back a few years, I think) a calculation showing the expected value of a first draft choice vs. signing a free agent (Lohse in this case). Of course signing Lohse for one year is worth less than signing him for more than one year (a team loses the draft pick no matter how long the contract). But... I can't help but think that teams with low level first draft picks might gain from signing Lohse, even taking into account Lohse's $12 to $14 million salary. Are you familiar with the calculations?
I have noticed that umpires often get the call wrong (based on replays) on a steal of second. Do umpires in a sim game perform better?
I suspect team chemistry is a significant factor, even though I am not sure you'd be able to measure it. These players are together for six to eight months, half that time on the road, playing almost every day. Some of the team chemistry measure may be reflected in how well a team rebounds from a tough loss. Or from a shellacking. Maybe even from a good win. Adam Jones, for example, seems to put things in perspective for the Orioles (or maybe he's just more accessible to the media), pointing out that "it's only one game". If the leadership of one player can help the others overcome the disappointment of one night, maybe team chemistry comes into play at that juncture.
Isn't Bourn (for three or four years) worth more than a first round draft pick? This would apply even more profoundly for teams at the bottom end of the first round. Same for Lohse. What are the chances you will get someone of equal value with the 20th or 23rd pick? Okay, plus $15 million per year.
It seems odd that teams with low first round draft picks are reluctant to give them up to sign Bourn or Lohse. I can see signing either to a one-year contract does not make sense, given the cost of each in addition to the loss of a draft pick, but aren't both of them better bets than someone chosen among the later picks in the first round? I have heard that this year's draft lot is rather thin. Aren't the odds of a lower pick being a major contributor to a team in the future kind of long? How much does a team have to gain for it to be worth signing Lohse or Bourn?
You can only hit into one double play per inning. That should keep the Tigers numbers down.
I'm sure the Blue Jays would trade him if they could find a buyer who is willing to pay $3 million. They might even give him away if someone would take on his contract. Problem is, he does not appear to be worth that much. On the other hand, he does have the right to retire.
Coaching at all levels seems to me to be one of the game's inefficiencies. Or maybe unknowns. I have often wondered about how good coaches are at the lower levels, and how that could be measured. Do you base it on how many lower draft picks develop into major league potentials? Or on how quickly the top draft picks move through the system? Problem is, that also reflects on the team's talent evaluators (and how do you measure that?).
Did older teams, on average, lose more players to injury? Could that be a factor in the Orioles totals?
Voting on all awards is flawed. It's based, to a large degree, on perception. On the other hand, I'm not sure statistical calculations alone would be satisfactory either. Come to think of it, even the results of national elections are seen as flawed by almost half the population.
Defined roles help a player focus (I suspect); I know being mentally prepared helps me perform better. And,yes, if the game was performed on paper, the Orioles would have finished out of the running...
I've often wondered about this too. Teams often do not seem to be operating in their own best interests. What you eat affects brain development (the ability to learn) too. Why would teams leave that to shallow-pocketed players? Then there's those who do not speak English. Remember the movie "Sugar", where the Dominican players all eat pancakes because they don't know how to order anything else? Chances are, that is a reasonably accurate depiction.
I like Swisher as a ballplayer but not at $13.3 million. I doubt any team (not even the Yankees) will be willing to pay that much for Swisher. Same with Upton at Tampa Bay. As much as they prize draft picks, I doubt they will gamble $13.3 million to get a draft pick. I suspect there won't be many qualifying offers this year.
I presume the stats chart is for Sabathia, not Hughes... You did change the stats, didn't you?
And to the home team go the concessions... not inconsiderable when you're selling 40 000 tickets. There's not a lot of difference between the teams at this point in the season, making home field advantage even less of a factor.
"...with the score tied 5-3..." No wonder the A's won. It wasn't fair. The Rangers should demand a recount.
The signing of Nishioka also freed up J.J.Hardy for the Orioles.
If two teams in the same league (say, Washington and Cincinnati, Texas and New York/Baltimore) end up with the same record, how do they determine which team would get the extra home game in the championship series (wild cards not included)? And I assume the wild card team with the best record is the home team for the one-game elimination match...
You can't really look at the pitchers without taking the catchers into account. Some more than others...
Funny, I was going to make the same comment about Ichiro. Hmm, I guess I just did.
You appear to be too deeply wedded to stats, so much that you dislike those who don't match your statistical bias. Sometimes there are exceptions. If the team's stats don't reflect your preferences (i.e. Orioles), they should not win. Rather you should be examining why they are succeeding in spite of the stats. I don't think it's fluke. Neither is it due to old management.
Duquette signed a lot of unappreciated/undervalued players (stats people should like that!)... Chen, Wada, Gonzalez, McLouth... and resisted making trades for short-term (maybe) gain (a few times he said the players he could have landed did not appear to be better than the options within the organization), leaving the Orioles with players to carry them through injury. I think Duquette has shown that he's an astute judge of talent. They did not trade Tillman (not traded) and Gonzalez (unexpected signing) arrived and pitched well when the young arms failed (and Hammel was injured). He brought up Machado (instead of trading for Headley). Sometimes it appears that Showalter overmanages (his pitching rotation this month) but I think the Orioles are better than their run differential suggests.
The key to being able to make the moves Showalter has made is to have players available when those moves are deemed to be necessary. That is where Duquette deserves praise. He obtained relievers and spare relievers (in Norfolk) for the bullpen. He made sure the Norfolk roster had replacement position parts (McLouth, Ford, Tolleson). He found players when the Orioles were in need (Pearce, Quintanilla) and they played well, if only briefly. He not only found starters (Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez) from elsewhere but, as you mentioned, he held on to players (Tillman, Machado) who have been key during the last two months. Like probably everybody else, I expected the Orioles to fold (as they appeared to be doing in June/July) and be long out of the race by now. Lately I've been suspecting they may actually finish first in the AL East. Showalter appears to have kept them on an even keel so that they could rebound from serious defeats.
Duquette went for depth, and it has paid off. He signed twice as many pitchers as he needed, and the team was rewarded (in fact, there's more that were performing well but weren't used in Baltimore - Villareal, Burke, Clark have pitched well enough to earn a look... except there was so little room they had to ship Neshek to Oakland, Socolovich to the Cubs, Bergesen to Arizona, Berken to DFA land). The Baltimore bullpen performed better could be reasonably expected. He made sure the "spare position parts" in Norfolk were ready and were not going to hurt the Orioles when they were called up. McLouth, Tolleson, Ford, Hall... Norfolk was used to repair those who weren't functioning well (Arrieta, Matusz, Britton, Hunter)... And to think he wasn't anywhere near the top of the list when the GM search began during the offseason.
I agree. The Orioles do not have the best offense. The bullpen has been (most of) the story this year.
Sorry. It should read "ninth-inning heroics", not nine-inning heroics.
I think you backed off in your analysis. There's no doubt that one-run games can hinge on a bloop single or swinging bunt, and that weak teams are as likely to get that kind of hit as are stronger teams. But weak teams have an inferior lineup to stronger teams, and almost always have a weaker bullpen. A team with a strong bullpen should prevail more often. Isn't that what the Orioles have been doing? Not only have Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop and Troy Patton been extraordinarily effective, but the rest of the members of the bullpen have also been effective most of the time. All of them, not just three of them. They've won their last 12 extra inning games, games which stretch the resources of any bullpen (and probably reward the deepest 'pen). The Orioles haven't won very often with nine-inning last at-bat heroics (like Oakland, for example), but have won in the 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th after not scoring (most of the time) in the earlier extra innings. It's the bullpen that stymied the other team... How often has the Oriole bullpen shut down their opponents in the 7th, 8th and (not "or") 9th? Doesn't that throw the model off?
The Orioles record in one and two-run games is remarkable, and I have difficulty believing it is simply fluke. Their bullpen has been stunningly good while the starting pitching has been spotty. It would be a safe bet to wager that the lopsided losses are almost entirely (I can recall a couple of bullpen implosions) due to poor results by their starters. Oh, and their mediocre offense.
The Orioles are winning one and two-run games with amazing regularity. Can this be fluke? It used to be believed that low-margin wins were mostly fluke. Or due to an amazing bullpen. Has anyone done an analysis on this recently?
Re:Flynn - I didn't think you could trade players until one year after the draft.
In order to have walk-off wins, your pitching (starters, bullpen) needs to keep the team close. I suspect that applies to Oakland as much as it does for the extra-inning record of the Orioles.
Not Jim Johnson?
Hope you're getting paid for all the product placement in this article.
In Toronto (where turf glare is a problem for the fans, i.e. me) ground balls bounce higher, making it easier for the infielder to snag it and to make the throw.
What effect will the new CBA have on trades? As I recall (probably darkly), teams trading for players in their free agent year will not get compensatory draft picks if they aren't signed. That is correct, isn't it? Will it not be likely, then, that the receiving team will get less in prospects than they used to get? After all, teams getting a free agent year player could at least be comforted by the awareness that they can replenish their systems with one (or two) draft picks if they fail to sign the free agent year player they receive in trade.
I heard an announcer, not long ago, state that the hitter had "31 of his 34 rbi's with men on base."
The anti-home run bias seems ludicrous. Would it be better to introduce an option, allowing teams to decline a home run and settle for a double? Will the Yankees sit Cano or Granderson in favor of Gardner? There's not a manager in baseball (now that Gene Mauch is gone) who would decline a homer. Stolen base attempts are entertaining. Runs scored on hits inside the park are dramatic, or at least more dramatic for a few more seconds. How many bases will the hitter get? Will the runner be thrown out at the plate? That's more fun than a home run trot. But...
Those of us who watch on TV notice the benefit (or non-benefit) of the shift when the batter hits into an out (or avoids one because of the shift). But there's a bit of a chicken-chicken comparison too... How does the shift affect what the batter does? Mark Reynolds punched a single through the second base position last night... did he do it on purpose? It looked like it. The amusing thing about the shift, to me, is that it is designed to prevent singles. However, if it makes David Ortiz go for a single rather than a home run, there may be big gain that cannot be measured.
Who won last year's Tater Trot derby? I think I missed that.
Collateral Damage has been one of my favorite columns. I hope what it did best -- to describe the nature of various injuries -- will not be lost in what appears to be a conversion of the column to serve fantasy leaguers (as it appears today). Some of us are just interested in baseball and want to understand the nature of various injuries.
Yes, but Dan Turkenkopf's piece in Extra Innings points out that you don't rate them equally. While you might sit a glove man on the bench if he can't hit, you don't sit a home run hitter just because he's weak in the field. Unless you can convince him to DH...
Their agents ought to fight it out.
Will you to open for on-line questions? I want to know how to figure out when a player's defensive shortcomings overwhelms his offensive contributions. Like, say, Mark Reynolds. Is there a formula?
I miss having a place to respond to, and ask questions about, articles in Extra Innings and even the Best of books. Like I am searching for the formula to determine if Mark Reynolds, given his home runs and his errors, is a plus for the Orioles. His fielding is appalling. But how can you sneeze at 37 home runs?
Now that we seem to have sufficient critical mass, I'd love to see an analysis of how well Tommy John surgery pitchers have done. I seem to recall something in the distant past about pitchers being able to throw better after TJ surgery than they could before. It made me wonder if every pitcher should have it, whether they need it or not. Now that steroids are out, is surgery the new PED?
You've convinced me. I'm not going to buy a team this year.
Reading your report on the Dominican prospects, especially the "running for his life" reference, reminds me of the movie Sugar. To me it illuminates the situation regarding Dominican (migrant labor) talent. Great movie.
I prefer the outfield to the more costlier (neck-wrenching) seats along the lines. The glare from the plastic field is awful. And then there's anal-retentive ushers who pounce the moment your foot or any food item touches the concrete wall in front of your seats. I live within close proximity to Toronto but would rather drive to Buffalo for a Triple A game than attend a Jays home game.
Watching baseball without worrying about the two teams' place in the standings is liberating. Relaxing and enjoying talent, appreciating good plays from players on either team, enriches the experience of watching baseball, especially live (except at Rogers Centre in Toronto, which is an awful baseball environment). Then again maybe I'm saying this because I'm an Orioles fan.
Welch "struck out fewer than five batters per inning"? That sounds pretty impressive to me.
On the other hand, I have dreams of Christina Karl...
Somewhere in the foggy corners of by Baseball Abstract memories, I recall an analysis that supported dealing prospects for an established star player. I think of it when Adrian Gonzalez steps to the plate, or even A-Rod. Dealing for Santana fits into that mold. Even with his arm troubles, it appears, the Mets came out on top.
I hope the Dawkins/Lindbergh Collateral Damage column will continue. I have found that to be extremely enlightening.
What, you're two different people? I thought you were just a pen name. Or that Kevin Goldstein was.
Cabrera? Lightheadedness? Maybe it's whiplash from all the hits he got against the Orioles.
Applause! Applause! Where's the champagne?
What do you make of Jacob Pettit? He was a 42nd round draft choice in 2010 who went 7-0 after being elevated from the South Atlantic League to the Carolina League?
The GCL Orioles have a team ERA below 2.00. What do you think of Jaime Esquival? Cameron Coffey? Others on that starting staff...
Good piece on Pie. Yes, he is a bit of a victim of circumstance, but he's also failed to step forward when the opportunity presented itself. And, for all his speed, he's a lousy baserunner, with no baseball instincts at all. I recall seeing him tag up at second on a foul pop to the firstbaseman (Morneau it was) and try to move to third. He was out by half the distance to the goal line. It was a totally befuddling decision.
But...but...but... Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley...
Denard Span went on the DL last week with "migraine symptoms". Fifteen days for a migraine. Hmmm. I'm not underestimating the pain experienced with a migraine (I get them myself) but... 15 days? Maybe they should say "brain tumor symptoms".
I prefer to transfer my attention to my team's minor league affilates, as a means to kindle a little bit of hope for the future. Unfortunately, I am an Orioles fan. Fortunately, four of their minor league teams are playoff bound.
Cursed, as I am, with an affection for the Orioles (damn baseball cards when I was eight!) I have been impressed with their GCL pitching, especially Jaime Esquivel, an overslot signing last year. Is that level too low to assess performance?
Migraine symptoms? Migraines don't tend to last days... they provide severe pain for hours, sometimes a day, and then retreat. I am one such sufferer (and there are several more in my family). Did Span have a concussion? That's more likely than 15 days off to recover from a migraine.
Regarding Machado : You missed one key event. He was also tossed from the game.
Are you mixing up your players named Davis? Chris Davis came to the Orioles in the Koji Uehara deal. Blake Davis was a minor league call-up and he's still healthy (no bench sliver injury).
The only real home field advantage is money... Ticket revenue is shared but concessions and souvenir sales are not. That's a lot of cash.
JJ Hardy seems to fit in the four-category category... Stolen bases seem an odd stat to rate so high.
I had a curling injury. Really. Injured my elbow sweeping. It was like tennis elbow. It ended up requiring a cortisone shot. It still aches, on occasion. I've also heard of players slipping on the ice, suffering concussions. Then there are knee injuries. Chess anyone?
L.J.Hoes has suddenly learned to hit home runs (his first four of the season last week and two more last night).
Tim Beckham playing baseball's toughest position? He's been converted to catcher?
The more I read about all these injuries, the more amazing Cal Ripken's career appears to be. He played one of the most physically demanding positions -- everyday for 15 years. I know he kept himself in top condition but has anybody ever examined Ripken's regimen?
On another note, could John Lester be taking a dive. After all, his next scheduled start is against the Orioles (who have never beaten him).
Dunn was not the bullpen coach when he left the Orioles. He was the bullpen coach last season. This year he had some kind of roving instructor position.
But, when you watch the Orioles pitchers, you do wonder about the coaching. They all seem to throw too many pitches to get outs. If it was one or two of them, I would blame it on the individual pitchers, but they all seem to throw 20 pitches per inning (even when no runs score). On an 0-2 count, for example, it's not odd to throw a pitch out of the strike zone to get a batter to bite but the Orioles' pitchers seem always to throw it far out of the strike zone, so far that even Guerrero would let it go. I'd figure this is just a young pitcher problem but then I watch Michael Pineda and...
What do the asterisks mean?
How does Jonathan Scoop measure up against Machado? He's almost as young, with comparable stats. I assume he's headed for another position.
Could the headaches Brian Roberts has been suffering have been caused by impacted wisdom teeth (he had them removed the other day, I hear) and not a concussion? Should a 7-day wisdom tooth DL be established?
What does the asterisk mean?
What's the "Hit List Factor"? How is it calculated?
I often thought that drafting the top players was fairly easy, a view the above list tosses out the window. Drafting well in the later rounds provides even more of a challenge but how much of the success of drafted players is due to talent and how much to effective player development? Many teams seem to hire former players as minor league coaches but merely having played in the majors does not make them good coaches. I'd love to see a study that examined how well each organization brought along lower draft picks. Okay, yeah, that would overlap scouting... but I suspect there are major differences. For example, both the Yankees and Red Sox often lose their first round picks yet they seem always to have have players in the minors who can move up.
I'm also a teacher. Perhaps someday I will get a chance to refer to my marking injury. Oh, and my jazz festival injury...
It was a sweeping injury... Okay, laugh again.
Is there not a limit to the number of cortisone shots a person can take? I received one after a curling injury (don't laugh!) and was advised that cortisone shots work less well with each shot.
Any play at the plate, even without a collision, is fun to watch. The collision is just icing...
Great series. When my team of preference drops out of contention (okay, it's the Orioles, so that happens often) I turn to the minor leagues for solace. I look for how the players of the future are doing. I often wonder how some players, who are enjoying significant success in the minors, don't even rate in the Top 30 listings for that team (Kipp Schutz for example). I would love to see a series on each team's scouting approaches, and perhaps on why they succeed or fail.
Have these figures been adjusted to take into account park effects? Oakland and Seattle ballparks seem work work in favour of their pitching. Oh and quality of competition? The AL East has some rather offensive ballparks -- Boston, New York, Baltimore -- and some heavy-hitting teams. Then there's the Yankees, who did not appear to have much trouble against A's pitching or their ballpark last week.
Would different footwear make a difference for catchers in plays at the plate? I would suspect that shoes without cleats would have more give, perhaps reducing injury.
Is catcher evaluation statistically impossible to achieve? How do you combine all the things that catchers do -- framing the ball, calling pitches, blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out players attempting to steal, intimidating runners into not even trying to steal, blocking the plate, calming and refocusing pitchers, etc. -- into a defensive metric? Just because a catcher calls a pitch does not guarantee the pitcher will throw it well or to where he places the glove. And the pitcher's ability to hold a runner affects a catcher's caught stealing stats. He's the most important defensive player (pitchers change while the catcher remains) yet may be impossible to measure. Oh, and that's before calculating offense...
An article on Wieters on the Baltimore Sun site today says his release time is 1.8.
Great article. It underlines why statistics are inadequate to measure a catcher's performance. You can see catchers that look good (blocking a lot of throws in the dirt, throwing out players attempting to steal bases) but how do you determine that they are as good as they appear to be? If you were to take a scout's eye to the present crop of catchers, which would you rate as the best?
I agree with jinaz, that catchers block the plate and runners have a right to knock them over. The only way a rule change could protect players is if the umpire stopped the play before the ball arrived, awarding the runner home plate when the catcher is blocking the baseline. Catchers stand there because that's where the ball should be thrown, and to land on the sliding player so that his slide keeps him from reaching the plate should the throw be a split second late. A catcher could wear different (no spikes) footwear behind the plate so that the foot gives way rather than the spikes digging in, reducing the chance of injury. But making contact at the plate has to be allowed. I have seen two instances this year of pitchers blocking the plate with a foot (one for each pitcher) and tagging the runner out because he slid headfirst. In both instances, a foot-first slide would probably have resulted in a run scored and a pitcher being sent to the DL. Instead, both were out. That's the game.
A good catcher is supposed to block the plate, if possible, running the risk of being bowled over. Catchers who are afraid to block the plate (most of them) don't deserve to be catchers. If we're going to change the rule on that play, let's switch to nerf balls too, so that nobody gets hurt when the ball hits him.
I used to be a catcher and intentionally blocked the base on plays at the plate so that, when the player slid, I would land on top of him during the seconds before the ball arrived, stopping his progress to the plate. That's the way the position is played. I accepted the possibility that the runner would bowl me over (though only one ever did, and I commended him for it). After all, I would have bowled over a catcher blocking my path. The injury to Posey is collateral damage, the result of a catcher playing his position and the runner trying to score. When I watch games on TV, I notice that there aren't many catchers willing to block the plate, though Wieters does it effectively, with success. (PS - I also played second base, and did the same on steal attempts. Never got called for it.)
How do you measure the effectiveness of catchers? Catching is, I think, the most significant position on the field (maybe even more significant than the pitcher because the catcher is there every game while a dozen players share the piching role). I know there's catchers ERA and caught stealing and such but that's the easy part. I have watched Matt Wieters a lot (alot?) this year and notice how often he corrals throws in the dirt, and how far he has come in controlling the game from behind the plate. Then there's framing the pitch and discouraging runners from going and blocking the plate and...
Is this the worst crew in baseball? Last night the same crew made two bad calls in the Mariners - Orioles game, one at second and another at the plate. Fortunately, the calls benefited the Orioles. Didn't the book Scorecasting show that bad calls tend to favor the home team? The calling of balls and strikes was also peculiar last night as Jim Palmer frequently pointed out.
Davis stole first? Wow. That's gotta be one for the record books.
They use a smaller ball in Japan? Really? Wouldn't that make a team skeptical about signing a pitcher from that league?
Hope you noticed that Ted Giannoulas(The San Diego Chicken) has been elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in the recent Baseball Reliquary election.
I'm still waiting for a reliable catchers' defensive metric. Catchers ERA and caught stealing figures are significantly influenced by pichers (and by runners who don't run). Wild pitches and passed balls should figure into it. Blocking balls in the dirt should be part of it. How do you measure catchers? Of those I have seen this year, Wieters looks extremely strong behind the plate. I need a metric...
You should add a season leaders category -- slowest 3, fastest 3 -- so the players have times to beat (or we have times to pretend the players were trying to beat them).
When AA mentions the Expos being damaged by the ballpark, he needs also to look at his own park. To be frank, it's not a great place for those who really love baseball. The artificial turf is awful -- shredded plastic that creates a glare for the fans -- and the atmosphere is crappy, mostly due to the anal-retentive rules the ushers are required to enforce. I live less than an hour from the ballpark but I am reluctant to attend games there. I'd rather drive to Buffalo for a minor league encounter.
A lot of players and teams seem to be hitting well below average. It's been a cool April in many areas. Have there been studies showing a connection between cold weather and poor offensive production? Or am i just seeing things?
Bill James has a (controlled) rant about minor league baseball on his website and in Solid Fool's Gold. He complains because minor league teams merely serve as development tools, that the major league teams don't care if they disrupt a good team by promoting young players. I view them as a more organized form of spring training (when winning is less important watching minor league games is more fun). That said, minor league teams should be totally focused on development and should not be allowed to issue intentional walks. How does that help a player develop? An intentional walk is issued to help a team win but if winning is not the main thing, then why tolerate it as a strategy? A pitcher battling a tough hitter (note Manny Machado above) will gain more from actually having to pitch to him.
I know Hamilton's a competitor and that a run could have been scored but sometimes long-term considerations should be brought to bear. Like, maybe sliding head first is not the best idea, especially for one of your key players. It's just one run if it is successful (and worth nothing if it isn't). One swing of the bat and the sheet is balanced. Some teams have curtailed base stealing attempts because of the chance of injury (okay, some may have read the statistical analysis too). Maybe sliding to break up a double play is another thing teams should consider. The Twins lost Morneau for four months (and he's still not back to what he was) to possibly save one out last year. As fans we like to see players go all out but is bowling over a heavily-protected catcher to maybe score a run worth the injury potential?
I hate to say it but picking the Orioles (and I'm an Orioles fan) is dicey, what with Hardy being hurt, Roberts in (stomach) pain, Scott hobbling...
It was hard not to like Manny. He was a character. Unfortunately the drug issue will probably keep him out of the hall of fame (for a considerable period at least). He does deserve Baseball Reliquary consideration however...
Geez, just when I thought I'd found a writer with a little bit of depth. Good luck Christina. I have really enjoyed your writings.
Are you implying that Kirkman is going to be traded to the Astros? Isn't Round Rock an Astros farm team?
Ya gotta give the fans something, and that's why the Orioles capitulated, a bit, over previous McPhail era moves. They made a lot of mistakes in the pre-McPhail past... terrible decisions that cost the club plenty. They've drafted better recently, which should help, and the Gonzalez deal (though not terribly expensive) should provide a cautionary note about signing relievers. However, this year they restrained themselves, signing Guerrero and Lee to one-year deals only, much of this to placate the fans. If the Nats and Orioles are battling for attendance, the expenditure the Orioles made this year may pay off this year, before the Strasburg-Harper begins in Washington.
oops. Add "how".
This is a damn good column. It's great to have actual information about the body and injuries work. Regarding the MRI topic above, it has seemed to me that many pitchers experience a slump somewhere near midseason. Wouldn't it make sense to give a pitcher a couple of weeks off ("tired arm") to be refreshed about then?
Brian Roberts has suffered back spasms lately. Are they not often related to disc problems? Could they be related to the problem that sidelined him last year?
One of the more enjoyable pastimes is to visit minor league teams and, on observing, get caught up in the performance of a young player. It's almost like he becomes a pet, someone you follow as he continues within the system, someone you hope will emerge as the top level. As an Oriole fan (sorry, I can't help it!) I toured the farm system a couple of years ago and was really impressed by a young player at Frederick, Robbie Widlansky. Since then, I always check the box score to see how he's doing (he hit well in the Australian winter league this year!). He was never listed as a prospect... but I hoped against hope that they were wrong. It wasn't until midseason last year that I conceded ... Still, it's an entertaining way to follow the team, especially when the big club is performing below expectations.
I am a metafan, I'll admit it. I survive the winter by following all the management moves closely, and reading baseball books. I grew up in Saskatchewan (Canada) and I rememeber my father hauling our big-ass radio to our back step, plugging it in and playing with the dials / revolving the radio until a major league game was received. We seemed to pick up the Cardinals a lot.
But of all the teams, I preferred the Baltimore Orioles though I did not learn why I chose them until about 17 years later when I was a university student. I walked into a sporting goods store in Regina (Saskatchewan) and spotted an Orioles cap. I put it on, looked in the mirror and realized : when I collected baseball cards, they had the nicest hats!
I don't participate in fantasy baseball and, while I am absorbed in (most of) the new stats, they support my viewing pleasures : What's that idiot manager doing bunting in the second inning!
The two saves Koji Uehara "blew" last year -- against the Yankees, on home runs in the 9th -- were both preceded by could-easily-have been third-strike low-inside calls. In one case, at least, ARod made a comment to the umpire just before the non strike call. In both cases, Uehara's following pitch was a few inches toward the centre of the plate. Both became home runs. Has the data been analyzed to take into account the hitter, offensive team and opposing team? The Yankees caught a break both times. They were playing the last place team both times in games they were expected to win. It has long been said that veteran hitters are more likely to catch a break...
Christina : In a field rife with cliches and warmed-over bromides (got a recipe for that?), your writing is a delight. And it's getting better. I look for your byline now. Keep up the good work (and get your agent working on extending your contract).
Pujols is an ingrate! Send him to the Orioles. I hear Nolan Reimold is available. Maybe even Luke Scott if you catch Andy McPhail at a weak moment.
"players who strike out their first time up to strike out in 21% of their plate appearances in the upcoming year, compared to a rate of only 19% for everyone else."
That's a small difference, like one more strikeout in fifty at bats. Sheesh. This appears, to me, to be a totally meaningless and trivial article, about as significant in the scheme of things as the first at bat is to an entire career.
Of course Guerrero could also be flipped at midseason should the Orioles be... er, beaten down... Or if Reimold shows he can hit again. Or Bell (who, I suspect, will probably get some outfield/1B training in Norfolk) Considering $3 million is deferred, he'd be a reasonably priced rescue package for a team with a failed DH.
Oops, I mean $14 million not including concession and other purchases based on $35 per seat. I used a two-ticket price in the earlier calculation.
The other thing about signing Guerrero is that it invigorates the Orioles fan base, especially after the dismal first 2/3 of the 2010 season. They've had more than a decade of suffering, and this pain was visible in responses to the Baltimore Sun earlier in this off-season. Adding Reynolds, Hardy and Lee upped the mood. But now they're jumping for joy ("Vlad all over?"). How much ticket revenue does optimism produce? An attendance increase of 5000 for one game is worth about $175 000 (based on last year's ticket prices). If all the new additions make them competitive and boost attendance by 5000 per game on average, the team will collect something like $28 million more.
So don't the subscribers get a t-shirt or something?
It's funny. If you pitch poorly, your career is in trouble If you pitch really well, you receive a high designation but nobody wants to sign you. Maybe the pitchers could decline the designation. Didn't Soriano accept arbitration last year, surprising the Braves? I bet more will accept arbitration in future. Soriano and Balfour will probably both end up in Tampa Bay.
Billy Rowell? Drafted just ahead of Tim Lincecum.
It's interesting that Denny McLain had a -1.5 WARP the year immediately before he won 31 wins. I suspect he'd be among the pitchers who showed the biggest jump in WARP from one season to the next.
It's a bit soon to book your Red Sox World Series tickets. They are still running a bit of an offensive deficit, if you take the loss of Beltre and Martinez into account. If they can add Crawford, they'll be in the running.
The Blue Jays have continued to struggle with attendance and TV ratings since the '94 strike (they are owned by a cable TV company). Having a Canadian star could boost both. I suspect that played into the calculations for Toronto. Now if only Votto or Morneau were available...
What about cheating? A number of teams have been detected (or accused with reasonable proof) of reading the catcher's signs through some in-park technology and relaying the information to batters. That's a lot harder to do on the road.
You concede that Votto's season was close to Pujols, so it's not surprising (or even alarming) that voters would place him first. There's no way to split the ballot, giving, say Votta .6 of a first place ballot and Pujols .4. Not voting Pujols second is perplexing -- he had just an ordinary superstar season for him. Besides, Votto is Canadian -- the exchange rate has to come in there somewhere.
Martinez is a perfect fit for Baltimore, switch-hitting and playing first in a hitters' ballpark. And he could spell off Wieters let him DH!), especially against teams that don't run much... He could even stick it to the RedSox for not offeringhim more...
I think (even hope) Lee is going to stay in Texas much to the Yankees chagrin. And that Crawford will end up in Boston. Even if the Yankees sign Crawford, it won't gain them much. Who are they going to bench? Swisher? Gardner? Granderson? They have pitching problems and aging problems (and Jeter, a defensive problem), but I don't think Crawford is the answer to any of those.
I know it's not considered one of the best World Series but, for me, 1966 was a thrill, if only because the Orioles won their first. That's the year they beat the Koufax/Drysdale Dodgers in four straight. The heavily-favored Dodgers did not score a run after the the fourth inning of the first game as young guys named McNally, Bunker and Palmer pitched brilliantly. Oh, and there was the Robinson boys...
All that calling of time by pitcher, hitter and catcher drives me crazy. Put the pitcher on a time clock. Don't allow the batter to call time. I can survive the commercials, though I hate them at the ballpark (I can switch channels at home), but these constant time outs. Death to them I say!
Bush is right-handed, not a lefty. What about the Orioles, who need a first baseman and have a fistful of young pitchers?
Kevin... What about Ryan Adams? 3 for 3, HR, 4 RBI (giving him five in two games) for Scottsdale.
The win totals would also vary depending on the team the player pitched for. The Mariners, this year,haven't helped Hernandez climb the table; the Yankees provide a significant boost for Sabathia. If Hernandez were traded to the Yankees...
Somehow I am missing the formula. Where does the percentage come from? How is it determined?
Why are the Orioles still 14th when they have a better record than Seattle and are winning at a much more consistent rate (even against AL East teams!)?
Wigginton at 2B only when there's a strikeout pitcher on the mound. I don't really seem him as deserving to represent the Orioles on the AL Allstars. Choosing Markakis could be justified (he's got an all-star arm, good OBP) or Berken.
St. Lucie is AAA? That's some jump.
The other factor is that it's easier to spy on the other team and develop a system to relay the pitch to hitters in your home park. If I were a visiting team, I'd employ some counter espionage...
The old belief in leading off a relatively quick middle infielder still lives. Both Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel (no difference in managerial approach... including the losses) have led off with Patterson (.306 OBP) and, believe it or not, Julio Lugo (.290 OBP) leading off this year during the absence of Brian Roberts. Kind of a 'let's start with one hand tied behind our back' approach. Trembley also tried Adam Jones (.298 OBP), during his deep-in-a-slump days, and do not appear to have looked at the stats where Nick Markakis (.390 OBP, 3 HR, 23 doubles) appears to be the best choice. Do any of these managers read?
I think you missed something else in the calculation. You have identified the odds of pitching a 1-2-3 inning but you need to work in the odds of pitching two consecutive 1-2-3 innings, the odds of pitching three consecutive 1-2-3 innings, the odds of... etc... to get an accurate measure of probability. Every pitcher manages a 1-2-3 inning occasionally (hopefully more often than that) but following that with another, and another, and another... becomes increasingly difficult.
Is it worth it to offer arbitration to any Type A or Type B free agent, taking a chance that they won't accept it, in exchange for the draft picks you get when he signs with another team? For example, the Blue Jays offered Scutaro and Barajas arbitration, and received draft picks when they signed elsewhere. Houston did not offer Tejada compensation... and got nothing. Even if Tejada had accepted, they could have traded him and received something in return. I assume they decided the potential arbitration cost was too high (and in his case it may have been). Or others? Is the gamble worth it? Even if they release the player in spring training... What's the dividing line between the value of a draft pick and cost of keeping a player who accepts arbitration even when you don't want him to? When is it worth it?
Millwood is, no doubt, available, but the Orioles aren't going to give him up as a salary dump. The Mets are going to have to give up at least one good prospect and a couple other potentials...
It's obvious -- release him and replace him with Daniel Cabrera.
I don't think the National Hockey League forbids players from owning part of their own team. Mario Lemieux owned part of the Penguins while he played for them (and still owns a part of the team). It would be a great incentive for a franchise player...
Who's next? The Vernon Wells situation in Toronto is interesting. He's getting more money than GoldmanSachs managers and producting less. Are the Jays getting enough to justify keeping him, filling a spot in the outfield that could be filled by someone more productive? The Jays got rid of Alex Rios by fluke. Is Wells next? Is he worth the money?
As I read your continuing series, I notice that first round picks are almost invariably high prospects and wonder about measuring a team's development efficiency... not only how well they bring their top picks along but how many low picks the develop into major league calibre players. Scouting is part of the equation but surely minor league coaching is another. This came to mind after reading Matt McCarthy's Odd Man Out, a book that details a year in the minors of a LHP drafted in the 26th round out of Princeton. One of the revelations, to me, is that the minor league pitching coaches aren't necessarily very good. Who is best at developing low draft picks? Surely that could that be measured...
The Orioles are compensating for losing George Sherrill. He netted them a prospective third baseman but his lost resulted in a lot of frustration in August and September. The Orioles have to look like they are trying to win more often (if only to keep their fans and the money they pay to see the team) and having a stronger bullpen should help them climb towards a .500 season, which would delight Oriole fans. Or, come late July, if need be, they could flip Gonzalez for more prospects.
It's not quite accurate to say that managers don't have a huge impact on the performance of their teams. While strategic moves during the game may not make a big difference in terms of wins and losses, Earl Weaver used to say that the most important decision a manager makes is when he fills out his lineup card. And filling out the lineup card is the last step in the sequence that includes assessing ability / determining who is in your lineup. Those kind of decisions do not show up in sabermetric calculations but who plays, who doesn't, who you drop and who you keep are critical decisions.
"its", not "it's".
I indulged myself, and visited most of the Oriole farm teams during a holiday last year. Two things come to mind. Brandon Snyder looked far better as a hitter at Norfolk than his average suggested; he was hitting the ball hard (mostly) in late July but the drivers were being caught. He had a better average in August. One of the most impressive hitters I saw was Robbie Widlansky. He looked great, and was the top hitter in the league. Yet he rarely gets any mention at all. Is he not considered a prospect? DonM
Come on, it wasn't money, it was God. Mark Teixiera said it himself after the game... He prayed and God directed him to sign with the Yankees. No doubt God directed CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett too... Now we know that God sides with the guys with the bucks.