While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As Carlos Beltran heads for the NL West, revisit Joe's review of the last Beltran blockbuster, which originally ran as a "Prospectus Today" column on June 25, 2004.
Since baseball is an individual game wrapped in a team concept, selfishness by Beltran and Reyes actually could be a good thing. I heard that with Wright and Ike Davis out of the lineup and Jason Bay still in freefall, Terry Collins actually went to Beltran recently and told the switch-hitter to get greedy in RBI situations. The Mets manager liberated Beltran to essentially become an RBI whore.
As Craig Calcaterra suggested, the whole concept of the “RBI whore” is questionable, because when is a player trying not to drive in a run in an RBI situation? This is not “Bartleby, the Ballplayer”—no hitter, confronted with ducks on the pond, says, “I would prefer not to.” The only possibility I can think of is that Collins is suggesting that Beltran expand his strike zone with runners on, hack away instead of taking close pitches and working a walk. This hasn’t been a big issue for Beltran so far—he’s taken all of eight walks in 53 PAs with runners in scoring position, leaving him swinging away 85 percent of the time. Still, it’s possible that Collins is gripped by the same questionable thinking that confronted Ted Williams back in his day, that a walk taken with runners in scoring position was a wasted opportunity.
The Mets center fielder, out all season while recovering from microfracture knee surgery, begins a rehab assignment Thursday, along with other injury news from around the majors.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 7/15) In what is sure to be a continuing series, the Beltran watch is now headed for a rehab assignment, which will start tomorrow at High-A St. Lucie. Beltran was watched by the Mets' top brass, including Omar Minaya, during an extended spring training game on Sunday and they felt the center fielder was ready to start his 20-day rehab clock. I've pushed the idea that Beltran needs to be up in Flushing as soon as he's physically able, but several people inside the game have told me that while there's merit in the concept, Beltran is human and needs a "spring training equivalent." The downside here is that he's going to be taxing the knee during that time. Of course, that's what rehab assignments are for. They'll be very controlled, perhaps not so much as the simulated games he's been in, but Beltran will have very specific steps and tests at each point. He'll have the DH option in most games as well, something he won't have when he makes it back to the Mets. Watching how often he needs to play there is going to be a big tell for his progress. The key will be how his knee responds and the Mets' ability to manage the inflammation and bruising that will inevitably occur inside the knee. The brace he is wearing is helping, but the continued idea that he's a center fielder is not. I'm most curious to see when that will be abandoned. One interesting concept that was tossed out by an MLB athletic trainer was the idea that Beltran could hit well enough to be in the lineup every day, but not play the field consistently. He wondered if there's a level and a cost where Beltran might make sense for an AL team. If Beltran were to show that, the idea of him being a modern-day Harold Baines would have to be intriguing for some teams as well as for the Mets escaping at least some of Beltran's contract. It's very equivalent to what the Twins did with Jim Thome, though he was a free agent.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The impending return of Carlos Beltran highlights today's injury report.
Carlos Beltran (8/15)
Carlos Beltran is coming back. That was always the plan, but how he's going about it speaks a lot to where he might be in the future. Beltran has decided to accelerate the pace of his rehab, hoping to come back towards mid-August, matching up closely with Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, and Billy Wagner. That's an infusion of talent no team will be able to match with trades, but it might also be too little, too late as the Mets continue to slip. Beltran made the informed decision based on the near certainty that he will need microfracture surgery and could miss much, if not all, of the 2010 season. He'll do everything he can to avoid it, but that's the worst case scenario and he's willing to give it a go. His success will be based on pain tolerance and management, as well as Jerry Manuel's ability to spot him in and out. It's unlikely he can play CF, though no one has said much about where he will actually play. It's a calculated risk that Beltran and the Mets are taking. Given the success - or lack thereof - with microfracture in MLB, it's a big risk and perhaps Beltran's last hurrah.
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
Keith checks in with all kinds of fun facts from the completed season.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
The Baseline forecast is also significant in that it attempts to remove luck from a forecast line. For example, a player who hit .310, but with a poor batting eye and unimpressive speed indicators, is probably not really a .310 hitter. Its more likely that hes a .290 hitter who had a few balls bounce his way, and the Baseline attempts to correct for this.
\nSimilarly, a pitcher with an unusually low EqHR9 rate, but a high flyball rate, is likely to have achieved the low EqHR9 partly as a result of luck. In addition, the Baseline corrects for large disparities between a pitchers ERA and his PERA, and an unusually high or low hit rate on balls in play, which are highly subject to luck. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_32 = 'Approximate number of batting outs made while playing this position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_33 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats. In PECOTA, Batting Average is one of five primary production metrics used in identifying a hitters comparables. It is defined as H/AB. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_34 = 'Bases on Balls, or bases on balls allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_35 = 'Bases on balls allowed per 9 innings pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_36 = 'Batters faced pitching.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_37 = 'Balks. Not recorded 1876-1880.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_38 = 'Batting Runs Above Replacement. The number of runs better than a hitter with a .230 EQA and the same number of outs; EQR - 5 * OUT * .230^2.5.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_39 = 'Batting runs above a replacement at the same position. A replacement position player is one with an EQA equal to (230/260) times the average EqA for that position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_40 = 'Breakout Rate is the percent chance that a hitters EqR/27 or a pitchers EqERA will improve by at least 20% relative to the weighted average of his EqR/27 in his three previous seasons of performance. High breakout rates are indicative of upside risk.
Dan starts to bring it all home in his look at baserunning, as he tallies up each of his metrics and shows us the best and worst runners from 2000-2005.
So we've finally reached a turning point in our series on quantifying baserunning. Since mid-July we've developed a methodology and framework for crediting baserunners for advancing on ground outs (Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs, or EqGAR), advancing on outs in the air (Equivalent Air Advancement Runs, or EqAAR), and attempted stolen bases as well as pick offs (Equivalent Stolen Base Runs, or EqSBR). This week we'll look at total picture and evaluate which players got the most and least from their legs over the past six years.
A Pedro-Dontrelle matchup makes for a bonus edition of the Game of the Week.
For the Mets, the season has turned into an exercise in avoiding complacency and injury. While a 13 game division lead in early August does not guarantee a playoff spot, it's pretty darned close. The Postseason Odds Report has the Metropolitans with a 99.49% chance of winning the division, 99.83% of making the playoffs. So the Mets are trying to avoid any more bad cab rides, at least until October.
Each author's ballot may be found later in the article. Here, we neatly summarize the results. In each division standings table you'll find the average rank of the team, plus the standard deviation. The lower the standard deviation, the more in agreement the authors were about that team's place in the division standings. In our AL column, the Royals had a standard deviation of 0, meaning that all authors agreed they would finish last. And if it weren't for the rebellious, anti-establishment ways of one Keith Woolner, the Cardinals would notch a standard deviation of 0 on the other end of the standings.
Nate Silver breaks down the long-term deals handed out this season, PECOTA-style.
One of the nifty things about PECOTA is that it projects performance more than one year into the future; I don't know of any other system that does that, or at least not one that's available publicly. One-year projections are fine for a lot of things, but they can be absolutely misleading when you're using them to make a decision with a longer time horizon than that, such as determining who to retain for your keeper league or which free agent to sign to a $50-million contact. Let's take a look, for example, at the year-by-year WARP projections for the six free agents who were signed to contracts totaling $50 million or more this past winter:
Each author's ballot may be found later in the article. Here, we neatly summarize
the results. In each division standings table you'll find the average rank of the team, plus the standard deviation. The lower the standard
deviation, the more in agreement the authors were about that team's place in the division standings. In our AL column, the
Royals had a standard deviation of 0, meaning that all authors agreed they would finish last. We have similar consensus with
the old/new Washington Nationals, also picked to finish last across the board. Such agreement is rare around here, and
obviously means that both the Royals and Nationals will finish third in their respective divisions.