Is the dominant Jake Arrieta from 2015 and part of 2016 still lurking, underneath an ugly ERA?
It’s been a grotesquely uneven start to the season for Jake Arrieta. From mid-2014 through the end of last season, few pitchers were as consistently tough to hit as Arrieta. The Cubs could send him to the mound knowing he would work deep into the game, miss bats (or at least the barrels of them), and put the team in a position to win, even if he lacked the sharp command that made him (for a year or so) one of the most brilliant pitchers the game has ever seen.
This year, though, he’s having problems he hasn’t had in years. There are pitches elevated in a way they haven’t been, first within the strike zone, then into the bleachers. There are far fewer swings and misses, which is leading to long at-bats and short outings. This isn’t happening every time, and indeed, he got more ground balls in his latest outing—an easy win over the Brewers in which he surrendered just one unearned run over six innings, with six strikeouts and one walk. However, even then he threw 111 pitches in order to get through those six frames.
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On the sixth episode of DFA, Bryan and R.J. review the fall of Blake Snell, as the Rays send him back down to Durham after a rough start to the season. Then it's on to Ian Happ and his cameo in Chicago, plus the usual run-through of all things transaction–including the Dodgers gaming the system and the closers disappearing in NYC.
It's Baseball Prospectus's newest podcast: DFA! Host Bryan Grosnick (Baseball Prospectus), co-host R.J. Anderson (CBS Sports), and producer Shawn Brody (Beyond the Box Score, BP Mets) are talking about all the transactions and roster moves that make MLB go. From trades and signings to callups and disabled list stints, DFA is here to provide analysis and commentary on all things baseball.
Earl Weaver would have a lot of faith in these Cubs.
As the new season dawns, the baseball punditry finds itself a bit in a panic. The demand for baseball content keeps ramping up, but there’s very little groundbreaking analysis for any of the industry’s too-many talking heads to offer up. Rare are the seasons that leave this small a margin for reasonable disagreement. Of the six divisions, there is an overwhelming favorite to win three, and a clear (though not consensus) choice in two more.
The Wild Card system creates more uncertainty, but not necessarily more suspense or more intrigue. We’re starving for a juicy debate, and after waiting all offseason for real games to begin we’re starting to see some people invent one. So let me answer the question I suddenly hear people (to name a few, and these are some of my very favorite baseball minds, but they’re just missing this one: Joe Sheehan, Bernie Miklasz, Doug Thorburn, and Buster Olney) asking way too often.
Every season necessarily brings with it change. Players become old and ineffective and are replaced by promising rookies. The injured get healthy and the healthy get injured. Some players exit via trade, waiver, and release, and some arrive by the same routes. Turnover is inevitable.
Javier Baez is as good as we thought he might be, just...completely differently.
Great players comes in all shapes, with all kinds of skills, and so do great prospects. Yet there’s some great players or even good players that were great prospects that projected to hold totally different skills than the ones they ultimately ended up with. What happens when you successfully project how good a prospect will become as a major-league player, but totally miss on what kind of player he will become?
There's a lot riding on comebacks by Michael Brantley, Kyle Schwarber, and A.J. Pollock.
Michael Brantley was one of baseball’s best all-around outfielders in 2014 and 2015, hitting a combined .319/.382/.494 with 35 homers, an MLB-high 90 doubles, 38 steals, and more walks (112) than strikeouts (107) in 293 games. He easily led Indians position players in WARP during that two-year span and placed third in the AL MVP voting in 2014. And then he missed nearly the entire 2016 season following offseason shoulder surgery, appearing in just 11 games and seeing zero action after mid-May.
Which young pitchers does PECOTA see as having breakout potential in 2017?
“Breakout” can mean different things to different people. It can mean a prospect or untested young big leaguer establishing himself as a valuable regular. It can mean a relative unknown becoming an impact player. It can mean a well-known star making the leap to full-blown superstar, perhaps even following up a “breakout” one year with an even bigger “breakout” the next. Your own definition may vary, but in PECOTA’s case “breakout” is all about out-performing track records.
PECOTA assigns each player a “breakout rate” for the upcoming season based on their odds of beating their established level of recent performance by at least 20 percent, with historical player comps serving as an important factor. Because the entire system is based on regressed-to-the-mean, 50th percentile projections, breakout rate identifies the players most likely to leave that in the dust for their 70th, 80th, and 90th percentile upsides.