Jason Kipnis was good, then bad, then bad still, and now he's good again. Why?
Streaks are a fascinating thing in baseball. There's an ongoing debate about whether having a hot hand is a fallacy or if there is actually some rhyme and reason to performing better for longer stretches of time.
Frankly, all that stuff is a bit beyond my interest. What I enjoy trying to figure out is why a great player is struggling, how he handles it, and how he attempts to bounce back. A month ago, I talked toAndrew McCutchen about a rough patch he was going through; his OPS was hovering around .600 at the time. He was confident he’d figure things out, and repeatedly talked about how the game is all about adjustments. Well, to no one’s surprise, Cutch has been on fire since, with a .368/.464/.691 line in his last 19 games. I’m not going to say I motivated him, but hey, you can thank me later, Pirates fans.
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.
Kluber, fresh off an 18-K performance, strikes out a dozen; pitchers duels turn into bullpen games, Carlos Gomez bounces back from a pitch to the face, and the best defensive play of the day.
The Monday Takeaway
The last time Corey Kluber took the hill he nearly made history. The Indians ace had 18 strikeouts heading into the ninth inning of last Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals but was pulled after 113 pitches without getting the chance to break the single-game strikeout record. So naturally, Kluber struck out the first five White Sox who took their hacks on Monday.
How PITCHf/x informed Nick Hagadone's offseason improvements.
While we often use the terms “ceiling” and “floor” to describe prospects, the implication is far more certain than the facts: A prospect’s ceiling might be higher than we ever allowed, and his floor might be nearly anything. Take Nick Hagadone: He always had promise, but the floor was set by concerns about his ability to develop a solid third pitch. See it in his player comment the 2010 BP Annual:
A key part of the V-Mart trade, Hagadone missed most of the 2008 season with Tommy John surgery. In his 15 Sally League starts across both systems he impressed, showing both the good (a 93-98 mph fastball is unusual power for a lefty, plus he has good sinking movement) and the bad (control issues). A rare talent who has only given up one home run in 79 1/3 minor-league innings, Hagadone's health, lack of command, and the absence of a solid third pitch have some scouts already projecting him as a reliever, but that's one heck of a back-up plan, as we're talking about a guy with Billy Wagner's arsenal and about eight more inches of height to angle it from.
The first week of the season is overrated, overanalyzed, overdiscussed--and, also, enough to move the odds significantly.
Prospectus co-founder Joe Sheehan often says that fans would be better served by baseball writers if they all put down their pens and pushed away from their keyboards from Opening Day until Memorial Day. Rany Jazayerli—another co-founder—ran a three-part study back in 2003 that provides some objective support to that subjective statement: it takes about 48 games for a team’s seasonal performance to become more predictive of their final record than a simple blend of their three previous seasons’ records, and a regression factor. After 10 games, that rough preseason projection is still more than six times as predictive of final record as actual performance is.
Joe isn’t wrong, and Rany’s math wasn’t, either. We have some tools that change the way we perceive the early segment of the season, though. For one, we have PECOTA, which was just making its maiden voyage through April when Rany wrote up his study. For another, we have the Playoff Odds Report, which uses PECOTA and a Monte Carlo simulation that repeats the season thousands of times to give us an estimate of the chances that each team will make it to the postseason.
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.
Four young pitcher whose teams made four interesting choices with them: Carlos Martinez, Alex Meyer, Tanner Roark and Danny Salazar.
This is a story about a surfer who became a pop star, and a pop star who became a clairvoyant.
Jack Johnson was born in Hawaii, the son of a professional surfer, and he might have been one himself if, at 17, he hadn’t lost a bunch of blood and teeth in a serious accident during competition. Maybe it was then that he gained supernatural powers of divination. Maybe it was some other, much later occasion. I wouldn’t dare to speculate. Somewhere along the way, though, Johnson became an unwitting portal through which the universe spoke of the future fall of men. Consider the following insipid ditty from Johnson’s third album:
Nick Ahmed might win the starting shortstop job, which had implications on the rest of the roster; while the Indians and Corey Kluber aren't even close on a contract extension.
Diamondbacks infield arrangement still in flux
A Monday morning report from Peter Gammons, which indicated that Nick Ahmed had gone from darkhorse to favorite in the battle to be the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day shortstop, set off a chain of speculation about the rest of the team’s infield plans. But hours later, first-year manager Chip Hale had a message for everyone eager to etch the club’s depth chart in stone: Hold your horses.