Are clubs getting the most out of their extension opportunities?
Wade Miley, Brian Dozier, Juan Lagares and Christian Yelich are among the most recent round of players to get extensions that cover their arbitration years and not much more. We think we mostly know why these deals happen: teams want to lock in players at below market cost and players want to lock in moneys. The discussion on the benefit to teams mainly centers on the fact that players—being people—are risk averse and overfocused on negative, small-probability outcomes, such as a career-ending injury or becoming terrible. As a theoretical consequence, players accept below-market deals in order to guarantee income.
However, the four extensions listed above did not receive the pro-team praise/anti-labor outrage that past extensions have received. Is this a coincidence? Maybe. Is this just agents and players getting smarter? Maybe. Is this a reaction to an overreaction to the Jon Singleton extension? Maybe (though the author notes that this would be a gross oversimplification of the Singleton situation). Another possibility is that such extensions lend themselves to decision-making errors for teams just as they do for players. More specifically, teams might be overweighting certainty, small-probability outcomes, and positive trends in handing out such extensions.
Ben Cherington's crowded lineup projects to score the most runs in the league.
Every day until Opening Day, Baseball Prospectus authors will preview two teams—one from the AL, one from the NL—identifying strategies those teams employ to gain an advantage. Today: two AL teams! Projected division winners Angels and their diverse bullpen of specific pieces, plus the Red Sox and their collection of same-position hitters.
There's more to Pedroia's sinking power than thumb injuries.
The simplest explanation is usually the right one. We hear this saying all the time. Ironically enough, it’s derived from a more complicated principle—Occam’s Razor—but it’s easier for us all to just use that watered-down version. Here’s the thing: I’m not a fan of that type of mindset. Sure, the simplest explanation might be a part of the answer, but in all likelihood, it’s much more layered than one reason. This is especially the case when analyzing baseball.
While I try to avoid leaning on the obvious answer, even I have my pitfalls. The biggest would be when I see power numbers are down for a particular player. Immediately, I’ll go check said player’s injury history, searching for wrist, thumb, or hand issues (which are widely believed to sap a player’s power) and if I find what I’m looking for, I’ll stop digging for other reasons. And this is where I recently made a mistake.
The Blue Jays appear to have committed to Aaron Sanchez in the rotation, while the Red Sox consider committing to Mookie Betts for the better part of a decade.
John Gibbons indicates Aaron Sanchez is locked into rotation spot
It was universally expected that Aaron Sanchez would slide into the Blue Jays rotation after Marcus Stroman’s season-ending ACL tear last week. In case anyone still had doubts about the right-hander’s role come the start of the season, manager John Gibbons on Thursday all but officially confirmed that Sanchez will end up in the rotation. The Jays skipper told members of the media, including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star, that the 22-year-old is "pretty much locked into where he is now.”
The Barstow, California native proceeded to pitch into the sixth inning, striking out three and issuing one free pass while generating eight grounders versus a single fly. Getting opposing hitters to beat the ball into ground was the key to Sanchez’s success out of the pen in the second half last year, as he heavily relied on a two-seam fastball that averaged 97 mph and resulted in a groundball percentage just a shade under 66 percent.
Notes on some interesting Mets and Red Sox prospects, including Jhoan Urena and Manuel Margot.
Throughout March, the BP Prospect Team is invading both Arizona and Florida to get some fresh looks at players as they prepare for their 2015 assignments. Between now and the start of the minor league season, they’ll be providing updates (and videos) on the prospects you know and love—and quite a few that you may not.
Even a limited look at the Cuban super prospect makes it clear why he's garnered so much attention.
Yoan Moncada’s journey from Cuba to Fort Myers has simultaneously been well documented and, as with so many Cuban defectors, shrouded in mystery. I, on the other hand, had only to forego a Friday night of debauchery*, respond to a 5 a.m. alarm clock, and make the cross-state trip through Alligator Alley in order to see the Red Sox newest acquisition in action for the first time.
The Twins and the Red Sox share space at the top of one particular leaderboard, but changes in the game have made it a poor time in history to be there.
I’m not a scout, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend. When I attend baseball games in person, I often do so alone, the better to scratch feverishly at a notebook all night long. On April 15, 2013, I got to Target Field early, settled in with George Will's Men at Work, and braced myself for a long night of cold baseball. The Twins were playing the Angels, and I had a dirt-cheap seat in the highest level of the seating bowl, but directly behind home plate. I was there, mostly, to see Mike Trout in the flesh, but also to witness the big-league debut of Oswaldo Arcia and to get a feel for this young, rough Twins club.
Trout had two hits. Arcia had one, and flashed his violent, lightning-quick swing. Joe Mauer had four hits, two of them for extra bases. (This was before his power disappeared into the ether.) The Twins won easily. What caught my eye, though—what began showing up in my scorebook by the second inning, and what I’ve tracked for two years since—was one peculiar element of Minnesota’s collective plate approach: They weren’t swinging at the first pitch of any at-bat.
The Red Sox will go with the veteran in a crowded outfield; meanwhile, the Rangers might pick up Beltre's option early.
Farrell tabs Victorino as starting right fielder
Injuries derailed Shane Victorino’s 2014 campaign, as the Wailuku, Hawaii native made three separate trips to the disabled list. The final stint required an early-August surgery on two bulging disks in his back. However, Victorino’s lost 2014 season won’t cost him a spot in Boston’s 2015 starting lineup, according to manager John Farrell, who told the media on Friday, “If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy he's our right fielder. I mean, that’s pretty simple."
Health is something that is becoming harder to count on from Victorino, who turned 34 in November and in recent seasons has an injury log littered with ailments that can be attributed to his all-out style of play. However, when he’s been on the field, Victorino has been one of the more reliable all-around outfielders in the game, averaging 4.7 WARP between 2010-2013, including a five-win effort in his most recent full season. A considerable portion of Victorino’s game throughout his career has been tied to his legs, with value added both on the basepaths and as a plus defender roaming the outfield. As he enters his mid-30s, it’s reasonable to expect a drop off in performance, but for now Farrell is willing to give the veteran the nod with the hope that he’ll resemble the catalyst who propelled the Red Sox to their 2013 title.