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Are you under the impression that the premise of this article is that pace of play is a serious problem? If so, please re-read it.
This is an excellent point. Implied there but worth making explicit, too: the national TV partners who make up so much of the media covering the games have a world of incentive to make clear their sympathy for fans' concerns over pace of play, but a world of disincentive to admit that they're profiting hugely from the main driver of pace of play problems.
Yes! Go to our sortable statistics menu; pitch tunnel pairs are under ADVANCED.
I'm higher on Sano, because I think there's a better chance that he consistently makes enough contact to get to his power. But Gallo has athleticism on his side, so overall, yes, I think it's close to the same story.
My first rebuttal to that is that while Maddux was right about tunneling on a general level, I don't believe (and have never believed, going back several years to when I first heard that quote) that he was right about this specifically. Indeed, while we're still not ready to make definitive claims in this area, I suspect we'll eventually find that minimizing velocity differential at the tunnel point *is* a valuable (though not always necessary) skill.
My second rebuttal is that I don't think my theory of De Leon's struggles centers as much on the velocity gap alone as you might have taken it to. (Obviously, to whatever extent that's true, it's no one's fault but mine.) Rather, it's mostly about having a big velocity differential *without* big movement, and especially without big post-tunnel movement. Without exceptional movement, the pitch relies more on deception, and a big velocity differential is an impediment to that deception.
What Craig said is generally right. To it, I'll add this.
The greater the gap in velocity between a fastball and a changeup (holding movement constant), the greater the whiff rate. The smaller the gap (holding movement constant), the greater the ground ball rate on balls in play. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45536">Felix Hernandez</a></span> and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=31734">Zack Greinke</a></span> have had good success in recent seasons with fastballs and changeups just a few ticks apart in average velocity. The optimal velo drop is different for everyone, and velo drop may not be the most crucial determinant of a changeup's effectiveness, anyway.
In this specific case, I'm looking at the pretty tepid movement on De Leon's change and thinking that he might do a bit better (since it would seem that his best asset with the pitch is the difficulty of picking it up, anyway) with a version that had a smaller velo drop but might induce weaker contact than the current form. It's a theory.
Thanks for the comment; it's an evolving topic.
Yes. They led an upset of, maybe the U.S. National team?, in an exhibition game while they were there. They make an interesting story.
This is, if anything, an extra rosy analysis of this deal. I love this player, love the bargain the Cardinals got on him. In what way is that negative?
It's not clear to me that Maddon called that. Was it mentioned in any post game interviews? If so, I missed it. Looked to me like Baez might have done it on his own.
Victorino was picked twice in the Rule 5, in fact.... But well before the rule change in 2006.
Yeah, except there are no good hitting pitchers. Even Greinke was basically Ahmed last year. Guys have a year, some have two or three. Real hitting pitchers who can outhit even Belanger types on a sustainable basis are an extinct species.
Expected W% doesn't concern itself with the record already compiled. It's an estimate of team strength based on <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=PECOTA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('PECOTA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">PECOTA</span></a>'s projections. The Orioles were running out a sub-.500 team by the end of the season, PECOTA felt.
None of those arms are dynamite. There are a few usable big-league relievers there, but the top-heaviness of the Yankees' relief corps is as much a story as the quality of it. Absolutely every team in baseball has a Lindgren, a Rumbelow, a Pazos, a Webb, a Pinder, a Goody, a Campos. There is nothing unusual about the Yankees' relief depth.
I have all five teams finishing at or over .500.
Sorry about those format problems; happens with any player names or stat labels, in certain threads. I raised the Berrios issue during the review phase for these; the feeling seems to be that we'll wait and see when he actually gets called up.
Yeah, sorry about the HTML issues. This has my attention; feels weird. Following up with the smarter, stat-savvier people. Will update you.
Some playing time was reallocated, shifted to better approximate their plans for this season. A dash of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=57850">Wilmer FLores</a></span> at shortstop, a pinch of Cespedes in left field, more <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=50845">Juan Lagares</a></span> in center, etc.
In case you're still wondering about this: we caught it, too. We've at least partially fixed that issue, but will be smoothing it out until perfect soon. (and by we, obviously, I mean the tech and stat architects who are much, much smarter than I am.)
I agree, and strongly advocate more FULL days of rest, in addition to some spent at DH. I would also say, though, that DHing, while maybe not a rest in full, takes away a significant portion (half? Maybe.) of a player's injury risk for the day. Maybe that would have been the better frame for the argument.
Baseball teams aren't car buyers. They could each afford to spend every dollar they spend, and then some.
Park factors, <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=TAv" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('TAv'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">TAv</span></a>'s preference for <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OBP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OBP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OBP</span></a> over <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=SLG" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('SLG'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">SLG</span></a>, I'd guess. TAv is an interesting beast, though. Will try to do a case-studies piece in consultation with our great stat guys soon to demonstrate what TAv sees differently than other offensive stats.
Not according to <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=DRA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('DRA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">DRA</span></a>, he wasn't. (I know that response seems overly simplistic. It is. I'm just saying, we absolutely can't say that for sure.)
Seeing a guy sign elsewhere in free agency after his second <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=23954">Tommy John</a></span> surgery isn't really a sin of the same order.
I'm all for normative statements over positive ones, but I'm not sure it's even productive to ask whether they *should* move on from Mauer. That would be very difficult to do for almost any team, and it would be impossible for this one. Mauer is a fixture for 2016, barring injury.
If winning the World Series were the proper goal for a team to set during the team-building phases or the offseason and in July, that would be true. But the playoffs are a crapshoot. Building for October success tends to lead to high-risk, short-term-focused behavior. Putting together a team than can consistently go into seasons with the expectation of winning 90-plus games is the right way to do things. I'm saying, there's not much evidence that emphasizing contact at the plate is in line with that philosophy.
No player signed as a free agent, including by taking the QO, can be traded before May 15 of the next season unless they give their permission. Maybe Estrada would... but I doubt it. So that's an issue.
I think this is his last chance to get a multi year deal, so I can't see him taking the QO. But I could have pulled him out of he first group and into the second, for sure.
In the works...
He's been on the job three and a half years, been to the NLCS three times, been handed the keys to an exceptionally talented team with multiple All-Stars. Inexperience is definitely not an excuse or a defense. I believe his bench coach is <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=David+Bell">David Bell</a></span>.
Kazmir turned in eight Game Scores south of 40 in 1013, four of them in August and September. Last year, he had six such games, five of them in August and September.
Samardzija had seven starts with GSc south of 40 in 2013, three in August and September. Last season, he had only three such games total, only one of those in August and September.
When a team is trading for roughly a dozen starts of a guy, his game-to-game reliability is crucial. Samardzija's is far superior to Kazmir's. Shark is better at keeping his team in the game and/or saving the bullpen when he doesn't have his best stuff than is Kazmir.
If the Sox re-sign Samardzija *and* get a pick for him, I'll be about as impressed as one can possibly be with Rick Hahn.
You're not wrong about the consensus opinion, I don't think. It's my feeling that that consensus stemmed from a drastic overrating of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=101165">Jorge Mateo</a></span>.
If anything, one would think it might lead them to think more about <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=50175">Jeff Samardzija</a></span> or one of the Padres. Hamels is a lefty, and no matter how good, a lefty isn't the thing to acquire if one is worried about the Blue Jays right now.
(But yes, it could.)
Still could be! They're such different pitchers. I think that'd be fascinating.
I think that gives you an idea of Mazara's perceived worth among Rangers fans, which isn't the same thing as what you said.
Arcia is one-dimensional and has some deep flaws. Burdi is a relief arm who failed his first try at the AA test. Stewart is ages away yet and has arm trouble on his track record already. I think you're using dated valuations of some of these guys. I do also think, though, that that offer suffered from coming in first. It's a solid third-best offer, behind Toronto's and St. Louis's.
Every team can say those kinds of things. It's important to keep a wide lens on those kinds of issues. The Nationals have had to overcome long stretches without Rendon, Span, and Werth, among others. The Cardinals lost Wainwright and Adams for the year, Holliday for a long stretch. The Cubs went a month without <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jorge+Soler">Jorge Soler</a></span>, and their entire bench was torpedoed by injuries within two weeks of the beginning of the season. The Dodgers lost <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45558">Brandon McCarthy</a></span> for the year, were missing <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=101652">Yasiel Puig</a></span> for a while, are still short <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=1037">Carl Crawford</a></span>. I don't want to just do a laundry list, but I don't see that as an element we need to account for as much as the ones discussed above. They tend to even out much more quickly, except in the cases of very old or fragile teams who are simply injury-prone.
But let's set that aside a moment: who are we even talking about here? <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=57951">Josh Harrison</a></span> is hurt, but who else? No other would-be regular has missed any significant time...
If that's the logic that led Maddon to slot Hendricks in for Friday, Maddon should be fired. Six weeks of good performance is not a reason for which to elevate a young pitcher with a third starter's track record and a fourth starter's repertoire over three guys with better marks in both columns.
This is all pretty fair. One thing: I'm not sure you can ease the punishment even if it appears it was just interns. You'll have teams doing the same things, and making sure they only trace to interns.
I think a scout would call him "solid-average." He tends to post positive fielding stats, but not significantly positive ones. He's average, with a little upside from there, depending on the numbers you trust.
Third-worst SRAA_Catcher in MLB for 2015: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1839447
The NL REALLY should add the DH, though.
Will fielders and batters be similarly compensated for the cold? Because batted balls go nowhere in the cold. And shortstops have to pick and throw just as quickly in the cold. Nah, not buying this. Baseball is harder when it's cold. Pitchers have the advantage in that setting. If they're a little more wild, I'm not going to cry for them. They also have more margin for error.
Remember that nothing happens to a single team in a vacuum. The Yanks saw their percentage soar that particular week because they played well, but also because their chief rivals for playoff slots didn't. That's the explanation.
And as I write there at the end of the piece, it's a little more volatile than I would guess, too, at least in places. That stems mostly from <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=PECOTA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('PECOTA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">PECOTA</span></a> believing a team will play more or less to its expectation going forward, not accounting for any sort of compensation or reversion after a hot or cold streak.
I wish I could give more details on the simulation itself. I can't. <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/rob_mcquown">Rob McQuown</a> might be able to help you there. I know that we blend in differences between PECOTA and in-season performance slowly, so even at this point, the odds mostly reflect an expectation of playing to the preseason projection.
Four percent is not a 'real' difference in playoff odds. That's what the scaling and the discussion here is all about. Sure, they have slightly different specific numbers, but they're fundamentally in the same position. That small sliver of separation comes from the Royals having less clearance from the Tigers, and from the fact that more of the other teams in the AL Central are contenders at this point.
Yes. Good hitters hit. Way too early to think that either guy, but (obviously) TULO in particular, is in trouble.
Ian's entry is about the Royals, though, or at least largely about that. He's sharing a personal experience. He's a former Cardinals fan himself. He's not exactly spewing hatred here.
Seriously, I don't... No one criticized the Cardinals in this piece, not really. And we didn't put the one section about them out front, so calling it clickbait is... something.
You guys need tin foil hats and signet rings or something.
Paranoia will destroy ya. There really isn't an inordinate amount of Cardinals hate out there. That so many Cardinals fans are so sure there is might be the most grating thing about them.
I'm not sure any team is more consistently or unfailingly praised than are the Cardinals. What people bellyache about are the rule set that keeps feeding them small advantages despite their wealth, and the pedantry of their local media. Neither of which are unfair objections to raise.
The NFL precedent (which is equally disastrous, and with even more limiting language, so maybe worse) is definitely one reason we have what we have.
To answer youri phoner at question: no, I don't think so. I see no value in using a potentially flawed assumption as a starting point for an important decision, when full information is available to make the correct decision.
Yeah, that's another element no one talks about much, too. Joe West is the president of the umpires' union. He made a call a couple weeks ago that was clearly wrong (even, I think, by the current standard), but it stood. Which leaves me wondering: did the guy on the other end of the headset really want to tell his union boss he flubbed one?
Hey, that's why we do this. Disagreement is not a bad thing. (But I'm right. :) )
No, that's exactly what I AM saying. Whichever call the video best supports, even if it's 51/49, that should be the call.
I don't say. Not think, that baseball actually believes umpires have some understanding of the play the camera misses. What I'm saying is that only that farce of a stance could make the current replays system a logical outcome.
Yes. I didn't want to make the piece all about bullpen depletion; I really do want mostly to celebrate those games, and direct those who didn't see them to do that. But it's obviously a big thing for the Cards. Their pitching is getting thin.
Votto is, of course, very patient in his own right, but pitchers have attacked him pretty aggressively to date. He has almost a dead-average zone rate. We'll see if a stretch of good health and consistent power output puts the fear back in them.
Because in turn, <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BABIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BABIP</span></a> is driven by athleticism. Speed. Strength. Hand-eye coordination. Many good BABIP guys have raw approaches and flawed swings. They make up for it with those things.
The inveterate chaser who sees no strikes is <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=67758">Evan Gattis</a></span>. The free swinger no one fears in the top right corner is <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=59768">Danny Santana</a></span>.
Infante and Rios are old and increasingly fraught with injuries, so let's not just say they could cure the offense, as though that's likely.
They still have most of that bullpen. For the moment. Holland is on the shelf, and I don't really trust <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=56449">Kelvin Herrera</a></span> to remain dominant. I certainly think they'll regress from the level they've flashed early on.
They can compete with any team in the AL Central, that's increasingly clear. I still think they're the third-best team of the set, but they're right there in the mix. I do NOT think they can compete with the contenders in the other two divisions, who still aren't juggernauts, but have better depth and stronger talent cores than the contenders in the Central do.
After about 60 games, a team's seasonal record can reasonably be weighted evenly with the team's expected record going into that season when projecting the rest of the campaign. Use run differential instead of raw record, and it comes to 50/50 at closer to 48 games. At 20ish games, a wise prognosticator is only assigning a weight of one part in six to what has happened thus far. At a player level, the number is probably even lower. I'm still expecting players to perform 90 percent according to what I expected from them before this season, and only 10 percent according to what they've done to this point.
If <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Daniel+Murphy">Daniel Murphy</a></span> is a big upgrade over <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45379">Kendrys Morales</a></span> in your book... Well, that's one interesting book. Acquiring Daniel Murphy wouldn't make the Royals better.
I selected using our visual <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/dc/">depth charts</a> tool, which I want to recommend to everyone. It shows the projected <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=WARP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('WARP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">WARP</span></a> a team will get from a position from now through the end of the season. It wasn't an arbitrary selection process.
Also: <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jimmy+Rollins">Jimmy Rollins</a></span> is a pretty solid shortstop. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=57645">Darwin Barney</a></span> and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=102261">Erisbel Arruebarrena</a></span> offer very good glove work if Rollins is down for a short while, and (as <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Chris+Crawford">Chris Crawford</a></span> pointed out on Twitter last night) <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70635">Corey Seager</a></span> is right on the doorstep of the Majors, and has the profile of one who makes an immediate impact. The Dodgers have one of the better shortstop situations in the league, and among AL Central teams, only the White Sox have anything close to the expected production LA should get at that spot.
I feel quite sure teams humor Boras, smile at him about the binder, pretend to leaf through it with fascination during the meeting in which they might receive it—and then foist it onto an underpaid intern as busywork, never to be seen again by any executive.
So far so good is exactly the mentality we're hoping to avoid here. What has happened over the last three weeks doesn't predict what will happen over the next 23 as reliably as what has happened over the last three years. I consider the Pirates' thin pitching to be a very real concern for them.
<span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70408">Dan Vogelbach</a></span> went 3-3 with a Vogelbomb and two walks on Saturday. Hitting .444 with 13 walks, 10 XBH and five K through 67 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=PA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('PA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">PA</span></a> in Tennessee.
I'm not sure what you're looking for, but yes, it's a habit of Price's. High-leverage situations made up a much smaller percentage of his appearances last year than in either of the last two years under Baker.
He didn't say a thing about Jocketty, though. If a man hits his wife because of his own insecurities and inadequacies (and I mean, that's why men do it), you don't excuse him because there was no good reason for his abuse. To the contrary, that's part of what makes the crime so appalling. Price didn't hit anyone; didn't even throw an office phone. Good for him. His language, tone and general approach to the interaction still falls well within the bounds of abuse.
Thank *you*, and I agree. Many managers, Price apparently included, dramatically overestimate the value of these informational advantages, anyway.
It's absolutely something one could be fired for, under certain circumstances. As I said, the lack of any apparent discipline is surprising and disappointing. I do think we underestimate what most employees would get away with, at least as a first offense. There are disciplinary steps many organizations would take in a similar situation that fall shy of termination.
There's also the fact that obscene language is much less rare in baseball than in virtually any typical workplace. I'm not happy about that, and wish more were done to push back on it in cases like this, but it's probably a factor.
Chapman warmed up twice that night. He was available.
That's... Not what he was on about. He was upset that he felt reporters were reporting things that damaged the Reds' ability to gain very minor strategic advantages. It could hardly be a more unfounded complaint.
I'm not a betting man. But I will, you know, bookmark this or something, and if they don't finish last, a gold star for you at season's end. Five games is probably as wide as the talent gap between them and Milwaukee in the first place, so perhaps I should have said that I expect them to be worse from here on out, rather than that they're simply the worst in the division.
I can't share your optimism, though. I'm sorry. This lineup is so shallow, even one guy going down (and if it be Votto, sheesh, they might never score again) would just be too costly. And I don't trust Price to evolve in the same way you do, though I don't claim clairvoyance on it.
You're only saying that because you haven't heard my jokes! They're the best, Woody, the BEST!
This is... I mean, this isn't true of the A's and Giants, Yankees and Mets, Dodgers and Angels or Cubs and White Sox. Why would it be true of the Nationals and Orioles? I don't buy an iota of this.
The most significant changes in forward-facing performance come from injuries, especially in the cases of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=55886">Henderson Alvarez</a></span> and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=60834">Yan Gomes</a></span>. The rest is, as Sam notes, mostly about what's already happened.
I wonder if folks are getting hung up on the name for this thing, instead of appreciating what it really is. It's not a box score; it doesn't begin with the same intention or achieve the same things that a box score does. But under a different name, I hope everyone can see that it's a neat shorthand version of the game. Like a more richly detailed *line* score.
That's also with Quentin still projected for PETCO. There's a gap of 20-25 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=TAv" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('TAv'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">TAv</span></a> points between the two. That's really significant.
May need to have a Carlos Quentin Day here or something. Guys, seriously, I don't... Quentin can hit. He can really, really hit, and that's the whole point here. Stop comparing him to people who can't hit.
Ahhh. Gotcha. Well, count me as one who would just hand a hitter a first baseman's mitt and let the rest be the rest. But too many MLB teams clearly feel differently.
In short, no. I did look at that. The effect is very real.
I'd argue, actually, that Sweeney is rather the opposite: He's held on longer than he should have because he can play all three OF spots with some aplomb. Dude can't stay healthy, like Quentin, but unlike Quentin, he also can't hit.
He absolutely *could*. He didn't, for the reasons listed above. In fact, Quentin has a better career <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OPS" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OPS'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OPS</span></a> against RHP than against LHP, and he's about 100 points clear of Alonso in any case whatsoever.
<span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45468">Carlos Quentin</a></span> is a very good hitter. That's a huge linchpin for the argument of this piece. Do you fundamentally disagree there? Because if so, we can't have much of a debate.
The Red Sox's commitment to <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=57745">Rick Porcello</a></span> makes $10 for one banana look like a bargain.
The money in that deal works out to $56 million added to the Padres' ledgers over three years. Even adding the projected surplus value of the two prospects and the pick, I can only get Kimbrel to about $80 million in implied trade value. Which is okay! He's substantially less valuable than Tulowitzki. I don't think we need to try to make him a $100-million asset to say that Tulo is still that and then some. His contract is, for my money, a really good one.
This. Although, I would argue (and do, above!) that that itself is a bad thing, and a bad decision.
Well... I think we need to see how much money they're really going to have before we know how much taking on this much money can hurt them. If they're yet another team whose budget expands so drastically due to the influx of TV money that they can easily sustain a $120-million payroll, I'm not sure this is a big deal. And there are signs of that, even though we don't know it for sure yet. And don't ignore the fact that, by giving away his top two potential draft picks, Preller is probably shrinking his spending on things other than the MLB payroll, which helps offset some of the money he's stacking onto that payroll.
Again, check back to see what the prospect people say. From a roster construction angle, though, this changes little, I'd think. Both guys are still going to be asked to keep working, and will get their chance either after Upton leaves this winter, or when one of the starters gets hurt. OR OR OR when AJ trades them for anything but an infielder.
I'd guess it isn't. I'll leave it to the prospect people to give a more definite answer, but I'd be very surprised if They think the 41st pick has more value than Wisler. I'd bet that Wisler would go in the top half of the first round of the upcoming draft, based on what I know of him. Maybe higher? I mean obviously he's not to be directly compared to draftees; he's pretty much on the doorstep of the Majors. But I would value him higher than all but the top 10 or so picks of the draft. And I'm the curmudgeon about itching prospects!
You're gonna hurt our prospect team's feelings, calling Paroubeck a complete unknown. He was in the 'On the Rise' portion of the Padres list this offseason.
I certainly get this from the Padres' perspective. I fall far short of calling it a coup. They're taking on some major money, and while Kimbrel doesn't deserve to be 'knocked' in any way, he's still a reliever. Relievers are volatile. They're never not volatile, and no reliever is an exception to the rule of their volatility.
Ahm. Hmm. Well, while it's often cited as such, the antitrust exemption isn't really the reason players can't auction their services to the highest bidder at any given time. At least, not anymore. All the roster rules that tie player to team are now collectively bargained, and while, yes, the exemption protects the owners' position in negotiations, it probably wouldn't survive a serious challenge from the players, in that sense. These rules are what they are mostly because everyone, including the players, understands that teams' ability to retain absolute control over a player's rights, for whatever term, is vital to maintaining the competitive integrity of the game. You can't have guys just declaring themselves unhappy and seeking a new, better position week-to-week. Baseball needs contracts, so players have agreed to work under binding contracts. It's not really an antitrust thing. These days, that mostly applies to issue like the Cubs' current conflict with the rooftop owners near Wrigley Field, or to the processes teams must go through to gain entry to the league or move from one city to another.
right, that's the point there. He started early in his career (that's the filter we set there), but found success by moving to the bullpen.
I think the oft-cited Weaver philosophy is obsolete at this point. We don't use anyone te way he used the guys he broke in that way. There are no long relievers. No modern relief role, and certainly not the one Martinez has occupied, prepares a pitcher in any meaningful way for the task of starting.
Still, I see your broader point, and can accept it, too. This is a 60/40 kind of decision, to me. I just think the Cardinals played the thinner odds, and didn't need to.
Fair enough. Worth a shot, in my opinion. But he's had so many (however minor) shoulder hiccups that I really can't see a good way forward for him in the rotation. Still, why not try it? Other, I suppose, than for the fact that the Twins don't seem to share the consensus view that they're cellar-bound again this season.
This has been a common thread in conversations about Meyer. I disagree with it. We talk way too much about tall pitchers, setting them apart from others just an inch or two shorter, satisfying ourselves with tiny samples and extrapolating wildly therefrom. It's not the smart way to analyze a career arc. He's tall. He's also right-handed, white and a college draftee. These are all demographic data points of at least as much value in discussing his development as his height. None of them should drive the discussion about his future the way repertoire, age, injury history and minor-league track record should.
You gotta love a division where every team gets at least one first-place vote, man. #TeamEntropy
We're not unanimous about the Central...
Thank you. Some of the nuggets in here took me totally by surprise, very interesting stuff. We'll see how each choice turns out.
Thanks! It was fun to write.
I didn't put this in the piece--widen a scope enough and even the landmarks look tiny and grainy--but the data suggest that Yelich's outperformance with two outs runs deeper than how pitchers pitched the two batters. Yelich actually saw a greater drop in the percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone than did Trout, and had a lower raw zone percentage in those situations, too. Which is hard to explain. Some things remain mysteries.
It's certainly not *all* the shift, but yes, definitely a factor.
Yes, the Cubs can get their year back if they keep Baez in Iowa long enough.
A New Shortstop Every Spring;
More and More Shortstops.
Outfielders Aplenty, But
None Good Enough to
Demand the Organization's Loyalty.
Bats Shy of
Average Across the Infield, Save Goldy's;
Catcher? What--Catchers? Don't Ask Us About Catchers!
Kirk and Kevin are Gone, But
Stew and La Ru Carry Their Spirit On.
I agree, Noj. Needs work defensively, including learning the corner outfield spots. And it'd be nice to see him succeed at a lower strikeout rate.
/eye roll/ but it hasn't been a rival league for 35 years. The distinction is strictly ceremonial; let's not pretend otherwise just for nostalgia's sake.
I wholeheartedly support as little pretense of separation between the leagues as possible. Calling them conferences would be fine with me, though they'll never do it, because American and National league are band names they can always use, regardless of how much (if any) meaning they maintain.
CC is a .225/.232/.333 career hitter. But he doesn't have a hit since 2010 so clearly in rapid offensive decline.
I actually love pitchers who can hit. Bumgarner, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=49168">Travis Wood</a></span>, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=61051">Mike Leake</a></span>, all of them. To me, there just aren't nearly enough of them to make up for all the guys who are a perfectly automatic out. It's SO bad out there. Plus, I think baseball would be better if position players could be kept fresher, and the DH helps allow that. (It also lets us enjoy some of the game's very best hitters in ways we otherwise couldn't, or for longer than we otherwise could.)
As to first part: I think San Antonio is clearly the best possible market. Problem might be getting other Texas teams to okay it.
As to the DH, yes, one of the most important things to say--the thing I hope we can all agree on--is that the leagues playing under different rule sets is doing unnecessary damage. I guess you can argue for returning to pitchers hitting in both leagues. I Disagree with a capital D, but at least that's the right way to argue it.
This might be--there are so many, and no man can account for taste, I'm open to the idea that it isn't, but it really might be--the silliest of all the anti-DH silly arguments in existence. No one is proposing that, and no one would like that, and it will not happen in my grandchildren's lifetimes, and no, adding the DH to the NL is not about adding offense.
I can't tell whether you're implying that that's some kind of rational extension of the argument for the single DH. It isn't. That would be horrible. That also doesn't change the validity or desirability of the DH as we know it.
Amen, brother. (To the second part. You're a stark, raving lunatic for the first.)
Unbelievable. Madness is consuming the world.
Second! <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Chris+Crawford">Chris Crawford</a></span>, the prospect team's fearless leader*, previewed the Modwest League last week.
*I'm not actually sure whether Chris is fearless.
I've had the DH argument in almost that exact form above, so I'll let that be. To your expansion idea, which is interesting, and which I like: Where do you propose expanding? I worry that there isn't a viable virgin market right now. Otherwise, I might be in your camp.
Oh, to be sure, there isn't one. As I noted, the manipulation will always happen. The objective of my proposal is to take the feeling of farce out of it, and hopefully, in so doing, to make it less frustrating for all parties--especially fans.
Firmly disagree with your characterization of my argument about the DH, of course, but I would gladly tone it down if writing this again, just to keep the conversation focused more on the more important and worthwhile parts. The other elements of these negotiations will be a lot more interesting than the DH element.
No, just by inclination, and for today, by Q score. :)
"It could also come in the form of an expansion to 26-man active rosters, or increased pay for minor leaguers, or"
I didn't emphasize it, and I don't really agree with all your points or ideas there, although they're really interesting!
AL managers don't have the crutch of the pitcher's spot in the order to help them make the fascinating decision of when to remove a pitcher. So yes, I find the NL skipper's choice much less interesting, much less nuanced, much less difficult.
Can't tell if joking. Yes, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=58692">Justin Smoak</a></span> v <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=55376">Dayan Viciedo</a></span> is a much more interesting choice than whether a pitcher should sac bunt.
I can't even with this one.
Oh, sure. Nothing *guarantees* more money would actually be spent, short of prescribing the share of revenue that would have to be paid to players, the way the NFL and NBA do. But that comes with a guaranteed salary floor (owners balk) and cap (players ball), so I doubt it would come to fruition.
The players would still want this, because:
1. The time value of money matters. They want guys getting their money sooner, before they get hurt, while the actuarial tables are still on their side, a year further ahead of inflation, etc.; and
2. Two free agents sharing the money that used to go to one are both still making a lot more than a player who hasn't reached free agency yet.
See, *this* is the thing that almost gives me pause. This and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=49168">Travis Wood</a></span>.
There's nothing interesting about the question of whether to bunt when the pitcher comes to bat with a runner on base. You do it, unless his name is Wood or Leake. There's nothing interesting about the question of whether to pinch-hit in a close game with the pitcher batting for the third time. You do it. Double-switches aren't complex, they're just complicated.
Now, pinch-hitting and bunting can still be nuanced strategic tools. Double switches can be, too. But only when the changes are rendered non-obvious by having two decent choices available. Position players at the plate make those things interesting, especially if you have a halfway-usable bench. Pitchers make them obvious, and obvious is boring. Also: who says DHes have to be troglodytes? That's how some teams use the spot. Others already use it as a revolving door for a few players who either have defensive limitations, or need help staying healthy. There's an even more extreme way to do it, too, and yeah, I might write an article about that.
All I'm saying is, let's not confuse what color commentators (who just happen to be former pitchers, a lot of the time) tell us is interesting strategy for actually interesting strategy. There's more nuance to the game than that, or, again, there *could be*, if we removed the automatic choices from the equation.
There are, unequivocally, *fewer* interesting strategic choices to make when the pitcher is part of the batting order, not more.
If that's the way you see it, cool, call it that way. There are all kinds of objective reasons the DH needs to be ubiquitous, and no objective reasons to keep the current system in place.
Well, the CBA isn't a Word document they're just going to edit as they go. They'll draft it from scratch. Many things get carried right over from one document to the next, but it doesn't sound like Clark is willing to just let a concession made under previous management--a concession that got the players nothing in return--stand just because it's there.
On what basis are you advocating that they make their decisions? Hope and faith? Intuition? It doesn't have to be <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=PECOTA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('PECOTA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">PECOTA</span></a> (though since you mention it, I'll point out that PECOTA is quite a bit more bullish on the Reds than, for instance, ZiPS), but if they're not making their choices about whether to attempt to compete based on some probabilistic model (which could be, even should be, proprietary, but had also better be objective) that gives them an idea of their chances, then they're not treating the question with sufficient rigor. The Reds aren't going to be good in 2015. If they don't know that, it's a further indictment of the organization, not an excuse for any particular mistake they make because of their ignorance.
I guess I failed to flesh out this part of the conversation fully enough. That's not a whole different discussion. It's a critically important and inextricably related discussion. This is the wrong decision, being made primarily because the team has the wrong idea about what it should be doing this season.
I can't make much of it, but it's a start, if you're interested.
Well, sounds like your objection is to my premise that the team won't won this year, not to my conclusion, which is predicated on that premise. Right? If so, fine by me. There's room for rational disagreement about the viability of this team for this season. I remain pretty confident that they're likely to finish fourth or worse in the NL Central.
I work on that stuff much more than I feel like I should. So thanks very much.
I don't think anyone here ridicules the Yankees.
These Giants have been good teams. Even the bad teams, especially the 2011 bunch, have been decent. I think we're still getting comfortable with what the violent variance within the game right now has wrought. Nobody looks good for even a single full season anymore, let alone consecutive seasons. But that doesn't mean they aren't good, anymore than winning three titles means they're gods. Luck has carried the day for every World Series winner since (at least) the 2009 Yankees, and in the same way the 2010,12,14 Giants were unimpressive during stretches of the regular season, the 1999 and 2000 Yankees were, too.
Luck touches everyone. We shouldn't ignore process just because variance can outrun it.
You're not wrong; the Giants have gotten lucky. I hope I haven't implied that this particular aspect of their operation is why they've won. It isn't; my lede lays out the reason for their success, which is good scouting and good fortune at the top of the draft.
That said, I do think this approach has served them well, and it's clearly the thing that most sets the team apart from the other 29.
I think Brunansky is doing good work. That quote goes to his general appetite for power and patience. He'll have to adjust to the way the game is changing, but he might be the rare Twins employee who can be trusted to do so.
The Brewers are aggressive regardless of count, but yes, THE MOST aggressive on the first pitch: 33.2 percent swings.
Great question, one I've been pondering myself. Probably a balance of varied ones? But it he question deserves a more considered answer. Maybe this'll be an Unfiltered sometime next week, or whatever.
Right, and part of the point here is that they don't seem overwhelmingly inclined to do so. We'd expect them to pretty much just buy him out, but they haven't, which seems to reflect that they still understand the value he can have. So few teams have above-average hitters anywhere on their bench. If PECOTA is right and Ethier is such a player, he has value, in an absolute sense if not in an economic one.
Fair point. I would point out that only 16 teams had as many as four hitters with at least 400 PA and a 105 OPS+ last year, though. Any guy with an above-average bat has value.
Well, plus new draftees and signees. There are, what, a half-dozen guys drafted the previous summer on most lists?
Photos relating, perhaps, to some certain fan fiction that might not be fiction after all...? :)
I agree with this.
Also, Cleveland drafted Chris Archer, Francisco Lindor (sure, he *could* be a bust, but it doesn't feel like he will be), Kipnis, T.J. House, Cody Allen, they're not getting total zeros from their draftees. Seems like a long player development arc for most of their guys, but they end up making enough of them work to stay afloat. The drafting will come around.
Excellent. Enthralling. I love this piece so, so much. Sahadev, terrific work. This has been a story too few people noticed for a long time, the Indians outworking and out-developing other teams left and right.
Edwin Jackson's projection is weird, because if he's anywhere near that bad, there's no way he gets that many chances.
The Rays and A's were both willing to bet on Escobar's defensive slippage being permanent, and really didn't treat him like a major asset. If I'm the Nationals, I'm heeding that, and keeping Desmond, with Escobar at second. But maybe the Nationals know something I don't about Desmond's trade value.
Gattis is such a marvelous fit for MMP. Hits a ton of fly balls to left field. That's the thing I keep coming back to. The Astros see a small left field for him to play and a short porch at which he can aim. It might not change his numbers more than a few percent, but it's a drastically better situation for the team than sticking Robbie Grossman (or even L.J. Hoes) out there.
Plus, the bat has to deliver buckets of value, because ugh, the defense. Miserable defender at a non-premium pair of positions. He'd be DHing if the team didn't have like three other DHs.
Ken's article, as Sam explains it, puts me in mind of 'The World's End,' the British comedy/thriller/whothehellknows. You have to see the flick to get the connection, I think, but just throwing it out there.
(Also, read Ken's piece a while ago. It's so good. Read it!)
Cornering the market is a strategy unto itself. It's like owning every Tim Wallach card ever.
Well, never say never. The trademark of the 2013 Red Sox, for instance, was that every guy was taking and raking, just painfully patient and then swinging hard. With Chili Davis taking over as hitting coach, I sort of expect that to be drilled into everyone this coming season, too. That doesn't mean PS will suddenly walk 10 percent of the time, but I don't think batters' approaches are utterly unchangeable.
Bill James wrote on his site once, not long after The Adrian Trade, in response to a question about what the Red Sox were doing: "You're overthinking it. You're making it harder than it has to be." Or something in that vein. That's really the thesis here. Great work, Sam.
I wholeheartedly agree that opinion is at the heart of most good sports writing, including the BP Annual. That opinion has to come from a person with a name and a face, though, or for me, it loses credibility. You'll note, I'm sure, that the player comments aren't specifically credited, but we know that each of those is written by someone in this pool of people we decide to trust by purchasing the book. For what it's worth (very little, probably), I would find a way to make clear which individual wrote each Annual comment, and I probably wouldn't run "What Scouts Are Saying." That said, I don't run a business, and I understand why BP does things the way they do. While I raised the issue of the varying credibility of scouts, BP is one place where you can trust that information farther than most, because we know the guys deciding what to pass along know when someone is way off base. (I still see things there I would not publish, though. Any scout statement that begins, "I'm out on a limb here," or some variant thereof, should be attributed or discarded.)
Your opinion is a valid one. I certainly think news organizations have come to understand sports coverage as a subset of entertainment and not of news. I would actually prefer a body of baseball coverage less grounded in rumor in rumors and more grounded in analysis and human interest. Much of the article deals with the reality that that's unlikely to suddenly develop, and so I aim mostly to ensure that whatever rumors and speculation are reported contain some semblance of legitimacy. I'm not sure why we would want a whole swamp of rumors we understand to be mostly spurious.
So let me boil down my argument: I want to see more talk about what SHOULD happen, and less about what will, and when the latter must be the center of the discussion, I still want accuracy.
You write that "his walk rates are pedestrian," but it seems to me a pedestrian has a very high walk rate. R.J. R.J., do you get it? Like, all walk rates are pedestrian, would be another way to tell this joke.
Dyson played Perez too deep in the fifth last night, too. That was why he had to dive for the ball, and therefore, why Pence was able to score. Dude's a great defender, not just an athlete, good reads, sets himself well for throws, but there are rough edges.
I agree. Or at least, that's what he should do. Will he? Less sure.
Doesn't it strike you as an offering that only works as a very rare change of pace? Looks that way to me.
PECOTA knew about Richards's injury.
Indeed, Andy McCullough said something about how the club never gets down when they trail on Monday's EW.
I still have concerns—one can't simply conjure offense from desire and energy—but it's not like the Giants field the ball much better than Anaheim or Baltimore, or like their pitching staff is going to push back very hard against the Royals putting the ball in play (16th in K rate this season). Also, without the pitcher's spot in the lineup to create a natural removal point, will B9ochy lean too heavily on a starter or two, let them go one batter too far? Wasn't as much of a problem last two Series. You could trust those SPs more.
That said, what does the Royals' PITCHING plan look like when they trail? I think that's a fair question. If the Big Three aren't lined up, do they still come in just to keep a game close? And if not, can Frasor, Crow and Collins keep a game close?
CAN they? Is that actually legal? I confess, I'm ignorant on this issue.
I just learned, today, from this article, that Dick Williams managed against Sparky Anderson in both the 1972 and the 1984 World Series. And they changed not only teams, but leagues in the interim.
How many years left on that Verlander deal the Tigers signed two years ahead of their decision point, again?
Yeah, but Sam, that headline writer lifted the little door and hit the red button with 'garner' NLDS trip. That's cold-blooded.
That game has to have set a record for successful sacrifices without a failure, though, right? Little though we like the sac bunt around here, it was cool to see several guys lay them down, and no one pop out trying, and no one bunt foul for strike three or bunt through one with the runner going. Again, not an apologist for the strategy, but the execution was crisp, and that actually made it much easier to watch for me. Credit the defenses, too, for not throwing any away or trying too hard and letting everyone end up safe.
Report on Tseng is similar to the report on Blackburn from the weekend. I like it. Give me all your mid- to back-end starter prospects, let me pick the five best of 10 each spring, and I'll spend all my resources acquiring bad-ass positional talent. I hope the Cubs maintain precisely that strategy. I'm always mystified at the time teams spend balancing themselves. In particular, I'm always mystified at how much teams invest in pitching. Offense wins championships.
AQctually, he's had no such stretch this year:
One six-game stretch in which he had just one hit, but he also drew four walks. Hardly a collapse.
I adore this work. Thanks, Jeff. Maddux's repeatable delivery was, to my mind, his most remarkable and important asset. It wasn't just about deception; that was the biggest contributor to his durability too.
I think Stroman's delivery is deceptive because it doesn't fit the batter's expectations. Guys with his general wind-up and pre-pitch mechanics (not to mention his height) tend to come more over the top than he does, and I think it not only makes it hard for batters to find his release point, but leaves them unprepared for his natural movement, too*. They fit a guy into a profile based on guys they've faced in the past who gave them a similar look, but he's got a lower arm slot, which means more movement than the guys with whom they're lumping him in. That might mean that he'll fool people less as they get a longer look. Thankfully, then, his stuff is nasty enough that he isn't reliant on that deception. (Of course, as long as he keeps that consistent arm slot, he's still going to fool people. Just not as often, or as badly.)
*I could be full of it here. I'm not a pitching expert of any kind.
Ryan, your work is some of my favorite current BP content. Keep it up. Loved this breakdown.
Seems to me that Stanton's swing plane is especially important, because it allows him to adjust to pitches in all areas of the zone without having to keyhole first and use different swing paths to get there. Am I full of crap?
Here's a question: How well-suited is the average clubhouse to rosters this large? I know, for instance, that the Cubs couldn't cram 37 players into their home clubhouse if they wanted to. I know teams have coaches retreating into shared office spaces and players splitting lockers this time of year. Is the sheer logistical nightmare of carrying so many guys a reason we rarely see anyone load up like this, too?
I agree with you. We might both be wrong, but I share your sense that that's part of the problem. I think it's probably part of the problem no matter at what level the game is being broadcast, so long as it's on TV at all. Also, maybe we trim to six warm-up pitches between innings?
Still don't understand the Charlie Morton extension.
Se73n Epitaphs for Bud's Zelig Reign
I don't know at all, but propose that it *should* be a very lateral--oblique, even--reference to this:
No idea who this is, but Selig and "sins" sure go together well.
Colluded against players in 1980s, out of greed. Took control of MLB by force in 1992, to ensure opportunity to double down on greed and steal back what was lost when collusion backfired. Played dumb and coy, as though did not want job he very clearly wanted. Extorted communities for billions of dollars. Called to personally intimidate public critics. Created Wild Card system, lessening sport's exceptionalism and dampening competitive integrity. Responsible for cancelation of 1994 World Series. Expanded league twice, by four teams, in cash grabs to appease owners. Anti-marketed the game. Actions ensured loss of Montreal Expos. Oversaw steroid proliferation in baseball, ignored it, demonized users after problem became public.
Won by losing, over and over again. Oversaw massive growth of industry, and tremendous profit growth, through no fault of his own. Made back-room deals with thugs, drug pushers in order to disgrace Hall of Fame player. Added second Wild Card, making farce of playoff race, in fact watering down meaning of word itself. Threw schedule grossly out of balance, in cash grab, making game harder to market nationally, messing with competitive landscape. Made huge rule changes in order to address previously-obvious problems, only after they bit him in backside. Botched installation of replay, creating creaky system and implementing it years too late.
Did some good with revenue-sharing. By most accounts, a nice guy.
Don't know who might be interested, but I wrote this last August, about the erosion of the old gentleman's agreement, and why anyone *does* get claimed in August (they never used to):
Love this concept. Adore it, really.
I was on the opposite side of the McGriff deal, but I share R.J.'s bittersweet memories. I called my dad when I saw the news on the ESPN crawl, and informed him that the Cubs had traded for the National League pennant. I was 12, okay?
Anyway, my childhood-defining trade actually happened just after I attained adulthood. I was 18 in 2007, when (after fully a decade of longing for him) I finally got to see Jason Kendall traded to the Cubs. I have no idea why I fixated so much on Kendall when I first found baseball, except perhaps that he was a divisional opponent at his absolute peak and a player archetype (a catcher who can run, hit, all of it, with a huge wad of chaw and without batting gloves) that appeals awfully strongly to eight-year-olds. Whatever the reason, I was deeply invested in Kendall. I went to 15 home games at Wrigley during his two-month tenure with the team, and was probably the only guy there who would heave a sigh of frustration when Geovany Soto was in the lineup.
Trades are so much fun.
It would be an awesome team-level heel turn to simply mob the defender who erred.
Also, this happened again last night!
Great work, as always. Been wondering why this isn't more common for a while. Fenway left fielders should often be somewhere else, for my money. You could drastically pinch the outfielders in Arizona, for many batters, and get some benefit. Minute Maid left fielders should be to the CF side of the Crawford boxes more often than not. Wrigley Field and Miller Park have hella deep corners and very short power alleys, so teams should shift there a ton. I think an infield shift to the pull side paired with an outfield shift the other way would be especially effective against most guys in either of those parks. And i do mean shifts, not shading.
Fun. Glad these innovations continue.
Love it. Was just wondering this. Rany once found it was 48 games before record was "real", so this sounds about perfect: Run differential gets you real, reliable information about a team 17 percent sooner.
You're probably right about that. I probably didn't weigh the flexibility of arbitration years as heavily as I ought to have. I think I still assume an extension is forthcoming, and assume too much about the structure of that deal.
Excellent work as always, Zachary. I argued the other side of this, though:
Because of Springer's age and profile, I think he's the rare guy for whom the extra year of control means practically nothing, and that if the Astros weren't willing to wait until past the Super Two cutoff, they ought to have just promoted him last September, when he was certainly ready.
I had that game. Loved it. Soundtrack still sticks in my head sometimes.
If a high-school position player goes in the top five picks, who will it be?
Value is value. We've gotten way too into the mindset of "this is rare, so it's extra valuable." Value is value. The shape of value matters a little when finishing a roster, but it shouldn't color evaluations of a player themselves.
The name of the game is not making outs at the plate. Lindor has an OBP ceiling the others can't match and an OBP floor as high as Baez's OBP ceiling. If Lindor's glove is also the strongest in the group, what are we even talking about?
You nailed it. A pitcher who enters the game is trapped there for one batter. If he issues an IBB to the first guy, you have more options than if he doesn't.
I think it'll be mostly Valbuena for the first month or so, as Olt moves past the sore shoulder that has kept him off 3B most of the spring, and shakes the rust off his leather. Olt will still play in the meantime, but yeah, mostly against lefties and likely not always at third. Then Valbuena will slide to second, Olt will take over full-time at third and Darwin Barney's career as an MLB regular will come to an end.
I think Bryant's a corner OF anyway. I don't like six-foot-five third basemen, from a defensive ability or a durability perspective. I want a shorter guy there, who can stay low and charge bunts without putting so much strain on everything. I'm still not 100% sure Christian Villanueva isn't the third baseman of the Cubs' future, although he'd really have to shine to force his way into that slot from here.
No one knows. I think it's very exciting, if you're a Cubs fan. Rizzo, Olt, Alcantara, Baez, Castro, Valbuena, Barney and maybe Bryant will all be ready, viable options for substantial playing time in 2015, and all are under team control. This season is about sorting through them all to determine who should get the gigs next season.
I can't disprove that, but scouts have (supposedly) been pretty unimpressed with his defense this spring, and Hahn said they want to see him make a change or two to increase his lateral range at third. I buy it.
Wood had a miserable changeup. If I remember right, though (and I don't, because I was nine), most of the big pitching prospects coming up had both breaking balls, but no real changeup.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn actually said that's the plan, publicly, over the weekend. Davidson just has a last box or two to check on each side of the ledger, so they're (very likely, anyway) going to send him to AAA for a bit to get those things cleaned up. He left the door open, but it was clear he intends to let Davidson simmer just a little while longer.
Russell, I would love to read, if you had occasion to write, what you think a team could do with this:
Love this whole series. I'm especially interested in the note that Baez's considerable early movement doesn't change the bat's position relative to his front forearm. Is that an asset in keeping some measure of bat control, or is it just a quirk?
Park factor is a major reason for the small WAR gap against the large absolute production gap, there.
THis puts me on such a confirmation-bias high. I've been saying this forever. Russell, let me ask:
Is this one reason why the NL has fallen so badly behind the AL in terms of overall quality? It seems to me that the pitcher's presence at the bottom of the order makes it even more costly to hide a bad hitter in an NL lineup, and therefore, complicates any effort to slot in an all-glove guy for NL teams.
At the same time, of course, all-bat guys (or those who risk becoming same) also fit more easily into an AL lineup, thanks to the flexibility afforded by the DH. And because of DHs, pitchers get fewer breaks in the AL, so starting hurlers have higher utility for AL teams, too. The only things NL teams can afford to value more highly than American League clubs, it seems to me, are guys who do a little bit of everything, especially off the bench. It's a screaming inequality that can't be solved until the senior circuit gets with the times and adds the DH.
Anyway, obviously, thought-provoking, fun work. I love the detail you provide. While I had no trouble understanding or enjoying them, there was something fundamentally unsatisfying about the 'in a vacuum' models that dominated baseball research last decade. I love getting into how differently things can work in specific situations. Thanks for your usual excellence, RC.
If it's true that Tseng will pitch in Kane County this year, that's impressive, indeed, and it could make that rotation a really intriguing one. Tseng, Underwood, Blackburn... Will Zastyzny start there, or higher? Do any of you gurus know where Erick Leal stands? You're probably lucky if two of those guys make the Majors, but the lottery tickets are starting to pile up there.
While it measures something slightly different, this seems to accord with Nate Silver's findings of eight years ago:
Interesting stuff, Robert.
Great info. Thanks for both answers.
I nearly forgot to ask: Doug, do you subscribe to the theory that velocity upticks can be a precursor to injury? I presume that, if increased mechanical efficiency is at Tue root of the climb, we need not worry too much, but where does that notion come from? And is it ever a fair concern?
Soaking it up, Doug. Terrific as always.
I'm probably on the left side of the bell curve of Cubs fans in terms of expectations for Arrieta. I feel like he's a reliever, or a mess. Do you see cause for hope that he can stick in the rotation, though? Or is that fastball playing up just another sign to see whether it could play up even further in bursts?
Any front office looks smarter when they have no choice but to do the smart thing. I think that's the situation here.
You're right about the jump Hamilton got on that particular attempt. I think you're overselling the general value of a good jump, relative to pure speed and acceleration.
It's pretty easy to say that if Olt shows ANYTHING, he's a Cub right away. Chicago has a solid prospect who spent all of 2013 playing 3B in Double-A, in Christian Villanueva, and they intend to keep playing Kris Bryant at 3B as he starts the season at Double-A. There's nowhere for Olt to go but the regular third-base job on the parent club.
I'm cool with that side of it, but that's not how it feels to me. I think there are perfectly good position players teams rush to push off their roster, rather than platoon them or stash them. Again, I could be wrong.
That's the thing, though: the roster spot. It's totally worth it in September, but the rest of the year, the way teams build their rosters these days, it's untenable. I'm no advocate for the way teams build their rosters these days, mind you: I want 14 position players back on every 25-man roster. But until that becomes reality, there's not enough on anyone's bench to make this work.
In the cases of De Aza/Viciedo and Owings/Gregorius, I continue to say that a platoon is the best solution. Too many teams platoon as a last resort, the way the Tigers did in left field, leaving one guy exposed if the other gets hurt. Each of the pairings we're talking about contain two guys who can at least handle everyday duty, so the injury risk is mitigated. Yet none of the four are without either serious question marks (R.J., you and I have talked about the sketchy profile on Owings) or obvious deficiencies (Gregorius's stick versus LHP, De Aza's, too, Viciedo's defense).
To me, both situations scream for a proactive, extremely productive platoon. Owings can slide to second base if Aaron Hill gets hurt. The presence of both Martin Prado and Eric Chavez (with Trumbo in an emergency, I guess) means neither guy should ever have to slide to third, where they would, admittedly, be stretched. De Aza can play center or right as needed, too. Heck, Viciedo should be able to play right, since his arm is his best defensive tool anyway.
Teams set the bar too low for themselves, and tag players as either everyday guys or bench guys too quickly. That leads to giving away useful players, then finding insufficient depth. It's self-defeating. These are platoon options that don't really even cost a roster spot, the way the Pirates' would, for instance, because of the versatility of the players involved. I hope the executives in charge of those decisions can see that.
Good stuff, Ken. My favorite part might be at the tail end, though, wherre you imply that the owner of an MLB team may have a soul. Sometimes even the most subtle satire needs a good punchline.
Wait... he PUBLISHED it? Is this out there somewhere? Do we know how detailed and specific it is?
No, but I'm comparing them as prospects. Jones wasn't supposed to hit 30, either.
Parks has been pretty clear that the one thing he perceives to be missing from Baez's swing is bat control. Is your mention of controlled violence just in a relative sense, like 'He controls it better than Joey Gallo,' or are you taking a stand?
Steffan, am I wrong to think that the volatility of high-school players' stock makes that sort of labeling tricky, too? It seems to me that high-schoolers are developing and changing so much that there's almost no way to confidently forecase their draft position until a few weeks out from the event.
Watch the video Myles posted above. Bat wrap is that extreme coiling in his stance and pre-swing mechanics.
MLB Network is notorious for its laughably, hilariously awful comps during Draft coverage. As Almora develops, though, he seems to be moving ever closer to making his particular comp seem downright uncanny: Adam Jones.
Am I wrong? I've been following Jones since he was in the Midwest League, playing for my hometown's team. It seems like there are physical, skill-based and personality parallels here, though Jones probably had louder tools.
While I know what you mean and you're absolutely right, isn't it possible, historically speaking, to argue that the Cardinals DID invent player development? :)
Great work, Russell. I love reading your concise, thoughtful treatment of these simpler topics. It's very intuitive, to have a record of what works and what doesn't. I would hope almost every team is at least moving toward this more scientific model of experimentation and feedback.
Included in "other factors," too, should be the preposterous dimensions of Yankee Stadium during his time there. Even an 80-power guy had to lose some homers in the never-ending gaps there.
Well, scouts were mostly racist then, so here's guessing not so well. Even a fair evaluator could have wondered about it. Jackie turned out to have the perfect temperament for what he faced, but he had (if this is a real thing, and I think it is) risk in his makeup tool. We saw the ceiling; I do think, having read about him extensively, that his personality also offered an ugly floor.
Well, for one thing, Javier Baez struck out in 69 of 240 plate appearances at Double-A. I see the massive upside, but I think we're beginning to drastically undersell his risk.
Albert Almora doesn't have a carrying tool, so although he could be really good, his floor is pegged too high. He really could be nothing more than a fourth outfielder.
Jorge Soler has fewer than 400 professional plate appearances, there seem to be makeup issues (not the hothead thing; the slow adjustments thing) and an injury stopped him from putting in development time and guaranteeing he'll be in Double-A this year.
Kris Bryant is long, and his swing is long, and that's why he's fanned nearly a quarter of the time in pro ball. There aren't many even decent six-foot-five third basemen, so now we're looking at a corner outfielder, and maybe the strikeouts get out of hand.
Pierce Johnson and C.J. Edwards have durability/role concerns around them, and also, are pitchers. Dan Vogelbach has to be an absolute offensive monster in order to have value, and he only slugged .450 in the Midwest League last year. Jeimer Candelario only slugged .396 there. Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres are 16.
There's tons of upside here, but if you're looking for risk, don't worry, there's plenty of that, too.
I do think Rizzo has a bunch of bounceback potential. I also prefer an above-average position player to a similarly above-average pitcher. I'm a Cubs fan, so I suppose I have to declare a bias, but I still feel unqualified excitement about the Cubs' side of the deal. Enjoyed the writeup, R.J. Thorough and thought-provoking, as always.
I know it's not this easy, especially at age 35, but it seems to me McGrady might just have never gotten proper instruction on the timing of that rotation, and that a good coach could work with him to address it.
From a sheer arm-action perspective, his extension doesn't appear to be terrible. Maybe the sense is that that athleticism and the flashes of arm strength will really boil up into something given a bit of work? I still doubt he even reaches affiliated ball, but I'd almost be surprised if he DOESN'T clean this up some and thrive in the independent leagues.
I imagine the gears are already in motion, but this doesn't mention Jason Hammel.
That's not how this works, though. Remember that. The one thing that's been bad this winter is the lack of sound expectation management in Cubdom. Some of these guys WON'T be average or better MLB regulars. Remember to be thrilled if ONE of Baez and Bryant becomes a superstar, and if ONE of Almora and Soler becomes a star, and if ONE of Johnson and Edwards sticks in the middle of a rotation, and if ONE of Alcantara, Vogelbach, Villanueva, Olt and Candelario becomes an average regular. That's how this works, still.
Got it. That's clear for me. Thank you.
Okay, thanks again. One more question: You talk about Baez getting "tied up" by off-speed stuff. Is he just unable to adjust to soft stuff in, and gets too far ahead of it? Is this a swing-path thing? Is he looking away too often? Just trying to visualize, because we usually hear that phrase with fastballs, but clearly, Baez's bat is too fast to get tied up by velocity.
Thanks. Does Geiger suffer for being in an org where he just can't possibly play 3B, even here in the minors, or does the glove not work there, anyway?
Jasonn, ss there anything to John Andreoli or Dustin Geiger, or are those just minor-league number mirages?
How do we see this infield logjam resolving itself? Long-term, it's too early to figure, but just for April 2014, the Cubs have Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, Luis Valbuena, Mike Olt and Donnie Murphy for four MLB infield slots (starters at 3B & 2B and two UTIL), and none of them can fall back on a regular job in Iowa, thanks to Baez, Alcantara and Villanueva. I'm fascinated by that dilemma.
You would. You totally would roll out the Super Premium the DAY AFTER I renew for the full year at the regular premium price. Sigh.
I noticed the disappearance of that event last year; I'd wanted to attend, but clearly, didn't get on it soon enough. Minneapolis isn't the world's best host city for such a thing when a big crowd is descending, either, so I'll understand if no major event comes together. It'd be good to at least do a meetup, though.
Will there eventually be an event around the ASG/Futures Game in Minnesota?
Have loved this series/streak, Russell. A lot of these things, I knew, because I share your nerdy obsession with this particular facet of roster construction and deployment, but I still love the work-through.
Tom House, who knows his biomechanics, used to say that you needed five in the rotation because the arm absolutely must have 72 hours of rest between starts. I found that hilarious, since even on three day's rest, a pitcher has that, but that's what he said.
I have a wrinkle to offer, a model I've tinkered with over the last six months or so. In it, five starters would still rotate, although it would need to be every fifth day, as you say, not every fifth game. They could each even pitch a vbery little bit less. The twist is, they wouldn't start. Instead, there would be a three-man "starting" rotation of short-burst relievers, the second- through fourth-best of that breed in your organization. They would pitch an inning, two maximum, then give way to the no-longer-a-starter, who would not only be three-to-six outs closer to the end of the game, but (for TTOP purposes) would be facing an opposing lineup whose best hitters batted last. It'd make it tougher to platoon against you. It'd turn the progression of the game more in your favor. And if you did it right, you could probably get by with 11 pitchers on the staff, a coup these days.
Starters would hate it, of course. They'd be unable to accumulate wins, they wouldn't know exactly the time at which they'd begin their outing and they'd be less elevated above relievers. But screw the starters, I say. If you can afford to, anyway.
One last thing: My perception is that the last year or two has actually seen the reemergence of more varied bullpen roles, a first step toward using pitchers more to their exact skill set and optimal workload. Craig Stammen is a minor example; Josh Collmenter is a major one. And whether he did it to protect a young arm, or because he had 119 relievers stuffed into his bullpen in September, or in a nod to a specific player's abilities, Terry Francona made excellent use of Danny Salazar.
Wouldn't it be a mild surprise if he WASN'T the only guy with zero career homers but two near-inside-the-park homers? It'd stun me if there's another player who fits that precise parameter set.
It'll never happen with Ron Washington in the dugout, but if Bob Melvin managed the Rangers, Choo and Choice would platoon, and it would be glorious.
Well, you can hit it to right... Ichiro isn't Ichiro anymore.
Forgiver me if the comp is facile, but is there any concern that Bundy becomes a smaller Phil Hughes? As a prospect, Hughes had more or less the same repertoire: fastball, cutter, curve, bit of a change. The grades looked the same. People were similarly excited about the build and the delivery.
Bundy's stuff seems a bit more electric and a bit more erratic, but there's a whiff of profile matchup that, since Hughes is trying to reinvent himself as a fastball-slider guy just to stay relevant, puts me ill at ease. (Fire away, comp haters. Just trying to frame the question: Is Bundy's specific pitch mix a concern?)
Let's applaud Nick for going all-out here. #7 is a doozy. I don't think any of the three teams involved would actually do it, but that's the kind of fake trade that makes fake trade talk fun.
Rendon would still have to play 2B under that scenario, yes? We're not worried about his durability there, though?
I occasionally kick around an article idea for a 30-team, 70-player trade. Think it'd be fun.
Oookaayy. You show me the team that can send up more than maybe one or two viable big-league hitters as pinch-hitters, pre- or post-roster expansion, and we can talk about that. Teams don't have enough competent hitters on their roster to actually do that, and when they do, managers are some mixture of too cowardly and too dim-witted to use them.
And obviously, you wouldn't use this against pitchers. It doesn't matter where the outfield plays against pitchers. If a pitcher hits a ball to the outfield, they win high fives when they get back to the dugout. I get that you're doing reductio ad absurdum, but it's not very artfully executed.
That's fascinating. Can't imagine many people knew this rule existed. Good input!
Chris Davis is the wrong comp, though. Chris Carter would be closer. Yes, missing bats is the best single skill a pitcher can possess, but that skill does not automatically make one a good pitcher. Samardzija isn't bad, but he's all strikeout rate. Chris Davis hits the ball all over the park. He draws plenty of walks.
The Chris Carter comp was just a parallel names thing; Jose Bautista is a better fit, I think. But that's the range where Samardzija fits. I may not need to tell those who read this site that. I just have to go back-and-forth with a lot of Cubs fans who think he's a five-win pitcher, or will be in the future, and I don't think either of those things are true or close to true.
I'm a Cubs fan, but am not of the opinion that the front office should be squeezing too tightly to Samardzija. I don't forecast the growth that some people do in him, and at the risk of overstating my case, he's basically a one-trick pony right now. He misses a lot of bats. That's it, though. He's not good at avoiding solid contact, or terribly good with his command, or extreme in terms of batted-ball tendencies, or anything. He has a limited repertoire. He's a fine pitcher, but if it's me, I'm trading him for any of a number of packages the Jays could put together.
Ha! I was just typing an email to Russell about the infielder swap. I can erase that now. Awesome. Fun stuff, Sam.
Ted Williams always said he could beat the shift if he wanted to, but felt his approach and role demanded he rage against it. That statement has colored all subsequent discussion, with people who don't like the shift pointing to it as evidence that the failure to beat the shift is voluntary.
I reject that completely. Even if Williams could have beaten the shift, which we don't know for certain, that was the greatest hitter of all time, speaking at a time when pitchers didn't throw nearly as hard. I firmly believe that the swing hitters must maintain in order to succeed in the Majors today precludes major pitch-to-pitch adjustments. You can't have a shift swing and a regular swing. You'd just get beat over and over, trying to poke the ball the other way. I'm sure there are guys who can do it, but very few of them, and most of the ones who can are poor hitters.
I love this. Wonder if they were putting him in the pull or off fields. Not even too concerned with how it relates to this; that's just a neat thing to know happened.
That's not an invalid thought process, but extra practice doesn't effect a very big difference in skill for most guys. If it did, every team would drill all of its crummy defensive players until they dropped, to make them better.
It's actually a lot easier to do this, and if you were to simply admit and embrace the imbalance there, you could also add a guy who could really hit, as that worse corner guy. Sometimes a whole roster of very balanced, well-rounded players is both difficult and inefficient to assemble.
Not sure what games some people are watching. It's usually at least 30 seconds between batters, as the next guy digs in, steps out, adjusts his batting gloves and digs in again. Unless and until THAT gets outlawed, I fail to see why this would be considered a unique or actionable nuisance.
Hanigan would be a nice little addition for them, but it seems to me they're planning on Gattis, for now, full-time.
Russell, thanks for digging into this, deeper and better than I could. I'm glad I'm not crazy; maybe just slightly obsessive. A lot of the little questions that made up the larger inquiry get answered here.
Do you think there would also be a structural/flexibility advantage to thei strategy? I imagine that, if a team did decide to do this, they might be slightly more willing to add that corner OF bat that comes with a lousy glove. I'm sure a certain level of imbalance would destroy the advantage, but some imbalance would be better under those circumstances. Right now, I sense that most teams treat the spots as having all but identical defensive requirements, other than the caveat about right-field arms.
Sam mentioned, during the discussion on the podcast, having a sort of super fielder, an Andrelton Simmons-type defensive demigod whose job is to drift around the diamond to whatever spot is most likely to see the next action. Surely a team that tried that (doubtful, but it'd be neat) would be better able to field an excellent offense, because they could hide that extra troglodytic power hitter on the diamond. Maybe this strategy would allow a bit more of that too?
I don't follow your Hanley-Reyes claim at all.
I get that the height lures you in, but to speak generally, comparing anyone, ever, to Randy Johnson is a bad, a very bad idea.
Can you roughly quadruple the frequency of these? First of all, I love them. The BP archives are an absolute treasure trove. Secondly, though, we really need to get to the article about aging curves by position this winter. There are like five high-profile second basemen in the news.
Thanks, that's great info. I can really envision the issue now.
I have a question about an issue mentioned RE: Domingo Santana. When you say heavy swing, what is that describing? I'm seeing a swing limited by fairly stiff or weak wrist action, creating a swoop or a slowdown on inside stuff, but am not sure I have that right. Or is it just a slower bat?
I think I can speak to that part. Ford has more than one truck in the class, but Dodge brands all of its pickups Ram. I could be wrong, but I think that's the case.
That one's bad, too. Because really, the kid would ask what to call his fear of public speaking, right? Not what the word means, because he knows that's what he's feeling.
I think it probably entered their minds, too, that they could add Abreu (whatever his talent translation turns out to be) without giving up a draft pick, even a second-rounder. For a team that knows its farm system is far too thin, that might be worth $10 million or an extra year on the deal, not in an apples-to-apples way, but from an organizational objectives perspective.
Ehhh. I don't think the reverse-platoon split is real, still. If there's one thing to take away from the stolen-bases piece, it's that the ability of baseball (on a league level, a team level and a player level) to fluke out for a fairly long time is constantly surpassing our expectations.
In Trout's case, it's a little over 400 PA v LHP. The rules say you have to regress platoon splits, at least until a guy sees lefties (I think) 720 times. If Trout were defying convention by also controlling the strike zone better against righties than against lefties, I might be willing to jump on board early, but his ratios of strikeouts to walks against righties (94:69) and lefties (38:36) work the same way other righty batters' do. So, sure, root for it, but I think we're just lending credence to this because Trout is so remarkable in general. I doubt this phenomenon will hold up for much longer at all.
Russell, a question: Could it be that leveraging relievers based on game situations is folly, and that the best way to use short-burst pitchers is at the BEGINNING of games, when they can be assured of facing the opponent's best hitters (a different kind of leverage) and can pitch in a kind of rotation, rather than in jagged patterns that surely subvert their performance by some small margin?
This is something I've been kicking around a while. Like a tandem starter system, but not stretching out those arms or their repertoires, and keeping intact the traditional start—only it'd start in the second or third inning. It doesn't save the save; it kills the save, at least as a fixture in evaluation of relief arms. But it seems efficient and innovative to me.
I'm sorry, what was your proposed alternative? Should Manuel have skipped Halladay in the rotation twice per season? Roy Halladay has been around a long time, thrown a lot of innings, and did it all on an arm that had issues when he was young. Making Charlie Manuel the goat there is a bit like blaming the jockey when the old thoroughbred dies of natural causes.
Can a pitch you can't command ever really be a 7? I know you mentioned plus life and the velo obviously runs into the 7 range, but isn't the utility limited by the inability to spot it?
A bit surprised to read such a tepid report on Baez's speed and athleticism. The 40 run grade, especially. Not arguing; I have no first-hand knowledge on which to draw. In 162 pro grames, though, he has stolen 36 bases in 42 tries, all despite mostly hitting for power and having been on first base via singles and walks just 126 times in that span. Is he just vulturing those swipes off of unaware or uncoordinated batteries?
I love this, a close look at an interesting (if not life-or-death, even for baseball) issue. My favorite thing, though, is definitely that in 2011, only six PA from a top-20 hitter happened in the two spot. Awesome.
Sure. I just mean the particular ball Frenchy hit went what, 410 feet?
This is delightful. Also: Kauffmann, O.Co, Angel Stadium, Houston... this is a tough set of parks. If these balls are hit at Wrigley Field or The Cell or Camden Yards, does Jack Maloof still have his job?
The added proclivity for the two true outcomes makes sense to me. You don't just hear about pitchers reaching for something; you can see it. Watching games, you see pitchers toward the end of their outing disregard any inclination to pitch to weak contact and limit pitch counts, and they just start aiming for the corners, trying to throw perfect pitches. Problem is, a lot of guys don't make themselves better when they do so, as you note, Russell. They just make themselves different and less efficient. This is when the time between pitches drags, and a good hitter starts to foul balls off and frustrate the guy. Carlos Zambrano used to see way too many outings end with crucial mistakes after seven-pitch at-bats in tight games, because he started throwing 98, missing his spots, trying to bury his slider instead of throwing it at the bottom of the opponent's bat. Yeah, this finding makes sense.
Apologies if I'm missing this. Reading in https format at work, can't see the graph, might be limited in other ways. But is home-run vulnerability addressed? Intuitively, I might think firmer changeups or ones with smaller gaps would result in fewer total flies, but harder-hit flies. Maybe that's silly. Just a question. I love this piece.
Proposed: Because pitchers have gotten inexorably, inarguably better, but continue not to be selected for any offensive skills whatsoever, and because they bat less than ever thanks to not going as deep into games, they simply get overwhelmed as soon as their bat slows down and they lose even an iota of athleticism. If you think about it, an average starter in 2010 probably batted 30 percent less often than the same guy in 1975. So a lot of it could be that pitchers are getting better, and the ability to find rhythm and learn and adjust just never manifests itself, since you bat way less often and are more overmatched in terms of sheer force and stuff than you were 40 years ago.
Worley's inability to miss AL bats is just fatal. It's not like he has just regressed; he's actually pitching worse. But this is a guy who sniped pitchers for Ks (36% of pitchers hitting have fanned against him in his career), and who led MLB last season in percentage of strikeouts called, not swinging. If you can't get swings and misses from position players, you have to have excellent command. He doesn't. Thing is, I bet it IS the elbow, at least a little, but once an albow goes balky, your command might never come all the way back. Few pitchers need their command as badly as Worley. Just a bad situation for Minnesota there.
Nothing here is stunning or surprising, per se, but it's a really nice piece. Arm angle and deception really do matter more than arsenal or blending factors in determining platoon vulnerability.
In general, the bulk of the intrinsic platoon advantage is about strike-zone control, not BABIP or power, so it makes sense that guys against whom same-handed batters struggle to pick up the ball (even including Collmenter) would have exaggerated splits, even greater than the ones observed for guys with typically platoon-heavy pitch arrays. Carlos Marmol is one guy whose splits have never been as large as his slider-dependent repertoire might portend, and I have always said it's because his mechanics are easier to read for righties than a typical slider monster's. I really don't think the platoon advantage is as much about the movement of the ball as about how batters see it out of the hand, and this seems to reinforce that. Great work, Doug.
Incidentally, as a nearly-blind non-athlete whose talent topped out in coach-pitch third-grade baseball, I have never had a great feel for just what makes certain pitchers harder and easier for same-handed hitters to pick up. The physical/mechanical/visual explanation of that phenomenon would make for an article I would enjoy immensely.
Again, fun read. Thanks.
I know this game. You pick the player who's totally made up and fictional, right? Unfortunately, you made it too easy this time, boys. Duke Von Schamann. Where do I leave my info for the prize?
I take the point, but reject one of its premises: Baseball players can't possibly be so dense that they're unable to learn new responsibilities for relay throws and base coverages. Football players are meatheads with accumulating head trauma, and they memorize more different responsibilities and choreographies than baseball players.
Rickey also knows Rickey is spelled with an e.
Sure, but I'm not talking about massive changes to WHERE guys play. I'm saying you change WHO goes to each spot. This is one way of letting players be defined by their strengths, not their weaknesses, like a platoon or a LOOGY. You can use standard defensive positioning while moving an elite defender all over to make the maximum possible number of plays, and that will go almost as far as almost any shift or change in the overall array of fielders.
This calls forther a related question I have wondered about in the past: How far into the future before the notion of set positions seems silly in itself?
We have the information now. We know which players hit to which areas of the field most often. We know certain guys could almost walk off the field with certain batters at the plate. So why not always have your best defenders in the spots most likely to see action on a given play? Andrelton Simmons should play second base with Joe Mauer at bat. Mauer hits a ton of sharp ground balls to the right side; Simmons is likely to get to 10 percent more of them than Dan Uggla. Jose Bautista pulls a ton of fly balls, so many that it probably makes sense to play your best defender against him in left, not center.
Put your best defensive players in the spots where they're likely to be needed most. It's that simple. Then, of course, over time, you could select really superb defenders, stick them at the bottom of the order and not worry about what they do with the stick, because they can have an impact on the game against every batter (not literally, but you see the point), not just two or three times per game.
To #1, I would respond by observing that some purpose must still be served, because you can see some guys who still use a long, long stride to generate momentum. It usually hurts their posture, and the exaggerated windup mechanics aren't usually there, but that stride still helps some smaller guys really launch the ball. Trevor Bauer comes to mind.
The answer to the question of whether the windup has become a counterproductive vestigial mechanism can't be answered statistically. The number of factors for which you would have to control is too large. Even if you did it, you'd be left with a useless extraction.
No, the question has to be answered physically, and there will never be a time when all pitchers will be better off pitching from the stretch or from the windup. It has to be case-by-case.
Doug could correct me here, but from my reading and observations, it seems to be all about the push of the back leg and hip. A good kick from the stretch keeps the hip and front side firmly closed, and the pitcher pivots the back hip toward home plate while pushing forward with the post leg to create forward momentum even before we perceive forward movement. The energy is mostly potential, but that's okay: As the stride leg begins its descent, there's a sort of controlled explosion, a firing of the hips that starts with that back side. You ride the back leg down the mound.
I picture the groundskeepers in underground tunnels, using magnets to hold the runner's metal cleats in place. Motives: unclear.
Actually, though, would we say it IS league-wide? Or is the stark reduction in attempts by a few teams tilting the numbers? We'd want to know what the usual SBA distribution for the early going is, and compare it to this year's. I mean, Boston has attempted 20 steals. Colorado has. The Indians, Astros, Angels and Yankees have just 25 attempts between them.
Now, I don't think the reasons for those teams' low attempts totals are strategic. I think they're accidents. I think the Indians might be doing some number-crunching and deciding to wait it out, but the Angels' drop is injury-related. The Astros' is about their .301 team OBP. The Yankees' is because they're anceint. Viewed this way, I sort of think the drop could be coincidence stemming from a few teams being in weird positions early on. Still just guessing though.
Mike Scioscia is the most or second-most aggressive manager in baseball when it comes to stealing bases. I'd be stunned if that had changed, given the efficiency and profligacy of so many of their runners (Aybar, Bourjos, Trout). I think in the Angels' case, it's absolutely just a blip that will correct itself.
COuld there just be fewer fast enough players to try stealing? The Cardinals have attempted only five steals all year. Well, that's probably in part because Pete Kozma is a lot, lot slower than Rafael Furcal. The Yankees have only attempted six steals, partially because Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter are on the shelf. The Astros replaced their entire team with Carlos Pena and Chris Carter; they have tried just seven steals. I'm at a loss to explain the Indians (five attempts), but the Angels have tried just seven steals, and part of that is Pujols is hobbled, and part is that Erick Aybar is hurt.
Just a notion.
Is this going to be a cautionary tale, the tipping point back toward at least a modicum of polish for top draft picks? It just seems like Starling marks the point at which this pendulum of draft-day decision-making (which swung too far toward college kids five or 10 years ago) swung too far toward tools again. I would think this will give pause to teams thinking about spending a top-10 pick on a really raw position player for a while.
Is his tendency to sit on that back leg contributing to the late arm? It's not the worst thing in the world, the way he does it, but that definitely stalls his momentum a bit in his windup mechanics, and it seems like his front side is headed downhill and opening before his arm can really get going. He looked better from the stretch, to me, because he didn't overlift the front leg the way he does from the wind and he rode his back leg downhill better.
Is any of that right?
Thanks as always, Doug.
This is actually really interesting, though. The corollary conclusion might be, "A pitch that breaks less deceives best," since a batter will perceive so much less movement until after the point at which they have to decide to swing. This is why so few pitchers actually do well with the Matt Clement/Carlos Marmol-style sweeping, two-foot breaker. The batter can see that that pitch is going to end up in la-la land, no matter where it starts. But a slider with less movement, even thrown at the same (maybe even a bit slower) speed, has a better chance of inducing an ill-advised swing.
It seems to me this is an issue not wholly unrelated to Doug Thorburn's Raising Aces today on blow-up starts. The factoid is misleading; I know that's really what the article is about. But one thing the factoid does capture, however roughly and imperfectly, is that Barry Zito rarely shits the bed when you make it for him really nicely.
I have often wondered what the standard deviation of game scores over a given season is, whether pitchers have a demonstrable consistency skill, and at what inflection point or extreme a starter's performance really becomes the driving force in determining the game's outcome. I mean, if the Giants score three or four runs with Zito in the game, it's pretty clear that not only is Zito not driving the outcome, but virtually no pitcher in baseball would be driving the outcome. Three runs scored in the first six or seven innings means the starting pitcher is not likely to factor in the decision that day, and will leave, unless he pitched really, really well or really, really badly, without having changed the win probability for his team much at all that day.
This is where I start thinking starters, while important narratively and important because teams couldn't possibly keep 12 good relievers healthy all year, are drastically overpaid, and their importance overstated. If I had to guess, I would guess that starting pitching determines the outcome of fewer than 35 percent of all games.
I hear you there, but in The Book, they found (by isolating the first nine batters a starter faced, and seeing how they did thereafter if they got really thumped by those nine) that it was really a temporary skill change, or a genuine case of "not having it," more often than not. I think some pitchers genuinely are more susceptible to inconsistency based on bad starts than others.
Doug, excellent work. My big issue: Does Jeremy Hellickson know about you? I feel like maybe we need a few levels of accountability there... He really is great, though.
How did what to call plate appearances not come up? I mean, I know no one is really talking about it, but plate appearances is God awful, and at bats describes a subset of what we really want. This issue demands address!
Hey, this isn't a slideshow! I thought it would be a slideshow!
Where do Gallo and Mazara go this year? Could they be in full-season leagues by July or August?