How the old adage is probably wrong, and how a pitcher's reputation might make his manager do bad things.
There’s an adage—well, at least I think there’s an adage, and if there’s not I’m going to straw man the heck out of it anyway, because it set me down an interesting path—that if you’re going to “get” an opposing team’s ace, you’ve got to get ‘em early or not at all. The logic, I imagine, goes something like this: aces have great stuff, so if you allow them to settle in without scoring against them, you’re not going to be able to score at all later. Which, like the logic behind so many adages, sounds perfectly reasonable until you subject it to data.
Six months of waiting end in almost immediate disappointment for two players.
Talk to enough diehard baseball fans and you’ll find people who find comfort in the length of the baseball season. Baseball will never really feel like an event because it isn’t one—it’s mundane, quotidian. Football is a vacation. Football happens once a week on national TV—you block out your day to watch football. Baseball happens six times a week, times 30 teams if you’re an MLB.tv addict. You don’t block out your day to watch baseball, but baseball’s on the radio while you’re driving home from work or doing the dishes. It’s on the TV when you’re at the bar with your friends. It’s humming in the background while you fall asleep on the sofa on Sunday afternoon.
Baseball is always there when you need it because baseball is always there.
The Cubs hold their breath to see how Kyle Schwarber is, while Al Pujols adds a walk-off to his career and the Phillies' bullpen has already blown two late, and it's still early.
The Thursday Takeaway
Last night’s game between the Cubs and Diamondbacks can be described in many ways. It was a slugfest; a night in which neither starter (John Lackey and Rubby De La Rosa) had excellent stuff by any stretch of the imagination. Lackey was wild and missing his spots. De La Rosa was De La Rosa.
The BP writing and editing staff predict the stars and champs of the 2016 season.
In seven months, we will know everything that happened in the 2016 season. If you're too impatient to wait, we'll tell you right now what we think will happen. Here are Baseball Prospectus' staff predictions, considered by many to be the gold standard in Baseball Prospectus staff predictions.
Individual awards votes are assigned on a 5-3-1 basis—five points for first place, one point for third. Below the vote totals are each of our 38 individual ballots. Otherwise, little in the way of introduction or caveat is needed. The unpredictability of baseball precedes us.
A roundup of articles on mental skills, produced by the BP Wrigleyville staff.
We spend a lot of time—here at Baseball Prospectus, and elsewhere in the sabermetric universe—focusing on the elements of player performance that we see take place between white lines and on green grass. Those things are (relatively) simple and easy to understand. We can add them, subtract them, divide and multiply them. They make sense. We spend relatively little time focusing on what goes on inside players’ heads. At BP Wrigleyville this offseason, we’ve tried to change that, writing a series of pieces about the myriad ways in which the Cubs are weaving a deep appreciation for mental skills into the fabric of the franchise.
There's a plausible case for a team doing to the draft what some teams have done to the international market. Here's what it might look like.
With 97 wins, an NLCS appearance, and the successful graduation of several key young players, the Chicago Cubs were one of baseball’s most successful teams last year. Off the field, they had a successful international signing period, as well, inking Cuban star Eddy Julio Martinez, and various other international prospects. The signings of these players came at great cost—the Cubs were taxed at a 100 percent rate on every dollar they went over their spending pool; they lost the rights to sign any international prospects for more than $300,000 in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 signing periods—but the Cubs, as a few other teams have done in recent years, found the gain in talent to be worth the penalties.
The Cubs also had, by all accounts, a successful 2015 draft. While I would tend to agree, I also believe that they missed an opportunity. They were the perfect team to do what no team has done since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement was put in place: blow past their allotted bonus pool. While a number of teams have shown the propensity to spend way beyond their pools in the international sphere, no team has gone past the 5 percent overage in the Rule 4 daft that would result in the first of three possible penalties—let alone blow past the 15 percent overage that sets off full penalties. (Penalties are as follows: the loss of a first-rounder the following year for 5 percent to 9.99 percent overage; loss of a first- and second-rounder for the following year for 10 percent-14.99 percent; and the loss of your next two first-rounders for spending more than 15 percent over your draft allotment.)
During last fall semester, in anticipation of job interviews at the Winter Meetings, I looked into the merits and costs of a team doing to the Rule 4 draft pools what the Cubs, Yankees, Rays, et al have done to the international signing pools. This analysis rests on a number of assumptions—about the value of a certain subset of unsigned draftees, about the costs in dollars to sign them, about the consequences of such a decision, and most especially about the signability of such players—that might, as with any battle plan, wilt upon contact with the enemy. But within the parameters of these assumptions, I concluded there is an opportunity for an aggressive team to add a massive influx of high-end talent into its farm system, an influx that could, thanks to other recent draft rule changes, help a team in the short term as much as the long. And, with the collective bargaining agreement reopened for negotiations, this June might be the last chance to try it.
Where the Cubs' rosy World Series odds fit in their history of World Series odds.
The Cubs currently have a 12.3 percent chance to win the World Series in 2016. That’s according to BP’s own playoff odds report (POR), which runs one million simulations of the season-to-come, and reports the percentage of those simulations in which a certain outcome (in this case, the Cubs winning the World Series) occurs.
On their march to the 2013 Bundesliga title, Bayern Munich triggered an out clause in Mario Götze’s contract, effectively poaching rival Borussia Dortmund’s best playmaking midfielder. Less than a year later, Munich again raided Dortmund’s cupboard, this time leaving with BVB’s top striker, Robert Lewandowski. Götze and Lewandowski are two of the top players in the world, but despite their talent, the moves were motivated less by Munich’s need to augment its already star-studded team than by the club’s pragmatic desire to cripple its only challenger to the Bundesliga crown.
You know the Cubs are young. I mean, everybody has spent all offseason telling you that. But do you fully appreciate just how young they are? I don’t think you do. I don’t think you’ve spent enough time considering just how recently these young men came into this ever-turning world. This piece will change all of that, and it’ll also introduce a bold new projection system into a world sorely lacking more duplicative effort.
Alas, it wasn’t in the cards. The AL Central team that now employs Jackson is not the Tribe but the White Sox, who inked him to a one-year, $5 million contract. And the runner-up in the race to sign the 29-year-old wasn’t Cleveland, but Anaheim, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.