Mike runs down the worst player pitfalls owners may have encountered in the past spring's drafts and auctions.
It is hard to believe, but we’re almost halfway through the regular season. For the most part, the caveats of small sample sizes and arbitrary endpoints can be tossed out the window and we can start looking at 2013 data and drawing definitive conclusions on what we have seen thus far.
Fantasy baseball is no exception. While there is still plenty of time for most of us to make up ground, by now we certainly know if we have a good chance, are fighting an uphill battle, or are hopelessly tilting at windmills.
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Looking at another pitcher who found benefits in a small shift.
Last April I chronicled Fernando Rodney's shift on the mound and the potential ramifications. Though examining similar shifts bore no predictive fruit—pitching, as it turns out, is more complicated —it was a fun topic that showcased the creativity put forth by the league's pitching coaches. The new season will bring new changes to uncover and analyze. But before we forget about 2012 let's take one final look back at the year in shifts.
Max Marchi was kind enough to assist me, as he did in the first piece, by providing the PITCHf/x data complete with his own ballpark adjustments. The top-10 shifters, as ranked by absolute difference in horizontal release point from 2011 to 2012, are presented in the table below. This methodology benefits those who made one big shift from the first year to the second rather than those who made a number of small moves, which is to say fervent shifters like Francisco Liriano (who moves based on the batter's handedness) are absent from the list. Rodney is amusingly absent as well, since he failed to meet the playing time requirement of 1,000 pitches in both seasons. Rest assured, he would've finished at the top.
Andrew Miller makes Jose Molina look like a worse hitter than usual, David Price makes Nick Swisher's head explode, Chris Davis makes baseball look easy (or hard), and more.
Here are the three best pitches of the week, or rather some number near three in some period of time that is roughly week-like.
3. Andrew Miller, slider, against Jose Molina.
There's a tendency to judge these pitches on how the batter reacts to them. This seems like a flaw in the judging, but maybe this is actually just right. Without being in the pitcher's head, we don't really know whether the pitch was exactly as he intended it. A two-seamer with nasty movement can look an awful lot like a two-seamer that gets away from him. Even if he did execute his pitch perfectly, exactly as he intended it, we can't know without being the hitter whether it was actually a difficult pitch to hit. Brian Moehler probably executed a lot of garbage pitches exactly as he intended them, as slightly less-garbagey garbage. Our understanding of the value of pitch sequencing is primitive. Catchers' targets are often inexact suggestions, or they allow for the movement of the pitch, so it's hard to say the pitcher hit his target exactly right. Our view of these pitches on TV is misleading and inconsistent. So we're left with the one thing we can clearly observe.
David Price made a change. A change made David Price.
It’s July 7, 2010. David Price is on the mound during the third inning of a Red Sox-Rays game. He delivers his 40th pitch of the night and the scoreboard reads, “86 MPH, CHANGEUP”; significant, as the previous 39 pitches were fastballs, all over 92 miles per hour. Another 33 pitches pass before Price throws his next non-fastball—back-to-back curveballs. Over Price’s final 36 pitches, he throws eight offspeed or breaking pitches, giving him 11 on a night that he threw 111 pitches. Price exits after 7 2/3 innings pitched, having struck out 10 batters and allowed two runs.
It’s now May 2012. Price is 26 years old and a month shy of being five years removed from his draft year. Back in 2007, the then-Devil Rays tabbed him as the no. 1 pick over Matt Wieters, Mike Moustakas, and the like. Ninety-five regular season starts, three postseason starts, and an All-Star Game start later, the Rays have to be happy with the selection. Price is foregoing celebration in favor of improvement. Six starts into a new season, Price owns a higher strikeout-to-walk ratio than run average (2.92 to 2.35) and nearly as many strikeouts (35) as total bases allowed (37).
David Robertson battles a staircase while other players nurse their respective wounds.
David Robertson, New York Yankees (Right Mid-Foot Sprain)
Not all injuries occur on the baseball field. Robertson was moving boxes, missed a step, and fell down a flight of stairs. He went for an x-ray Wednesday night; the result was negative. An MRI was used to confirm a mid-foot sprain, but Robertson needed further tests, including a CT scan and a weight-bearing x-ray.
This combination of testing raises the concern for a Lisfranc injury, the same one that felled Chien-Ming Wang in 2008. The CT can provide a very detailed picture of that joint, including a 3-D reconstruction. The standing x-ray is the tip-off, though. The MRI reveals a mid-foot sprain in severe Lisfranc injuries, while the CT may or may not reveal a fracture in the area. The standing x-ray most likely won’t show a fracture, but it will show if there is any increased space between the bones, indicative of instability in the area. When there is instability, there is a significant risk of severe long-term damage if the area does not heal through conservative measures or surgery. Without knowing the results of all of the tests, we cannot definitively say surgery is necessary.
Proposing a new way to settle an old debate about which players get too much attention and which are overlooked.
Years of talking about baseball have taught me at least two things: it’s dangerous to shout “Francoeur!” in a crowded room, and it’s difficult to gauge a player’s popularity, especially outside of the sabermetric bubble. Unless you work for a club and have access to information on team merchandise and ticket sales—and maybe even if you do—it’s tough to know how high a profile a player has among fans. So how can we decide if a particular player is overrated or underrated, or whether he gets more or less attention than his play on the field might merit? Are we forever doomed to count google hits?
We can approach this problem in a number of ways. If I were Vince Gennaro, author of Diamond Dollars, I might spend several hundred hours developing a proprietary “marquee value” metric based on social media measurements and other components to assess the off-the-field value of star players. Then I’d write a book and a bunch of articles about it and consult with major-league teams. Well, here’s a blurry picture of me sitting at the same table as Vince Gennaro (also pictured: part of Kevin Goldstein’s fedora). I may look like I have one strangely-shaped eye and don’t trust Cory Schwartz, but do I look like I’m Vince Gennaro? Not particularly. So that’s not what I did.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
BP's dirty dozen makes their prognostications to generate the wisdom of at least one small crowd.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.