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.
How Terry Francona has gained the platoon advantage in three different ways.
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: the handedness games of the Brewers and Indians.
What happens if one of the greatest pitchers ever is given one of the best offenses ever? It nearly happened.
Here’s the thing about pitcher wins: It’s not that they don’t have value in this sport. It’s that their value in this sport is limited to one very specific, very rare situation. That situation is not “what should we say about this Anthony Raunado performance, in one word or fewer?”, and it’s not “how do we decide who’s better, Fernando Abad or Christian Bergman.” But, then, the pitcher win shouldn’t aspire to be such a stat. The stat that exists to answer those questions lives the boring life of an accounting operations manager at a third-tier gas station franchise. The stat that exists to answer those questions lives steeped in the tepid banality of everyday. The pitcher win is limited and stunted and has a funny voice and it exists in case of just one scenario, and that scenario, if it happens, will be of the utmost importance. The pitcher win is basically Owen Meany.
The Indians have a very cheap, very good rotation. Or they have a very cheap, very bad rotation. Time will tell!
In 2012, Gavin Floyd made five starts for the White Sox before needing Tommy John surgery. He signed with the Braves last winter, and made nine impressive starts before a stress fracture in his elbow truncated his season. After signing with the Indians this winter, Floyd looked to be in the pole position to claim the fifth starter’s job in Cleveland. Alas, this time, he didn’t even make it as far as the trip North. A recurrence of the stress fracture will shelve him indefinitely.
Happily, the Indians have several remaining options for the back end of their rotation. If we assume that Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar all have spots sewn up, the remaining candidates to round out the unit are T.J. House, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin. Those may not be household names, but they’re more than usually credible as spare parts. They’ve combined to make 153 starts in the majors, including 49 last season. Tomlin will be 30 this season, and is the oldest of the bunch. The Indians have a deep corps of starting pitchers, is what I’m saying, and that’s especially true given how little they’re spending on it.
Are the Indians early start times a roundabout way to keep from losing viewers late during long games?
If the Cleveland Indians discovered the fix—or more accurately, the workaround—to baseball’s pace of game problem, they did it by accident.
In a move that didn’t make too many waves on Lake Erie, even in our slowest month for baseball news, the Indians will shift five home games from the usual weekday start time of 7:10 p.m. to the special time of 6:10 p.m. The games are all Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays and all on or before May 13.