What some of the reactions to last week's collision revealed.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Hunter Felt blogs about baseball, basketball and assorted U.S. sports for the TheGuardian. He has contributed to PopMatters and Ettu, Mr. Destructo? He also is occasionally (not) Terry Francona on Twitter in the guise of @NotCoachTito. You can follow him as himself as @HunterFelt where he mainly just makes really snarky jokes about life in Somerville, MA and raves about his kickass girlfriend.
Eric Chavez and Josh Vitters join a strong Value Picks list this week, as two VPs look towards their imminent graduation.
In mywrite-ups of Travis Hafner(Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 0%, CBS 9%), I often reference his fragility, but Hafner’s owners still have to be disappointed at the news that his injured back could sideline him for the rest of the season. If that’s true, Pronk finishes the year with a .239/.355/.453 triple-slash with 11 home runs and 32 RBI, respectable totals in all categories but batting average.
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Reviewing the best and worst first-half position players on each team.
In the numerical sense, the halfway point of the season arrived about a week ago. However, the All-Star break marks the arbitrary end point of the first half, bringing a few days of festivities and vacations to the forefront. That period of inactivity in games that matter offers a window into the frozen stats for each team, allowing us to see who is leading the charge and who is failing the team so far.
In order to determine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, I’ll enlist the aid of the Wins Above Replacement metric. Next time, we’ll cover the pitchers, but for today, it’s all about the position players.
Which players off to a powerful start at the plate can expect to retain that production going forward?
In a season where offense is tough to come by, fantasy owners are looking in every nook and cranny and under every rock looking for power. Power hitters can effect three of the scoring categories in one swing of the bat, hence the premium price for it on draft day. The quick and dirty way to find power sleepers has traditionally been to look at players’ Isolated Power score, and find those batters who had a score of .200 or better. However, that is just one way to find your surprise power, because an attractive ISO this time of year may not be sustainable based on other peripherals. Here are a few players that are going to pop up on your ISO radar as you go searching for help.
A look at the surprise home run hitters of 2010, relative to their pre-season PECOTA forecasts.
On Tuesday night in Kansas City, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista launched his major league-leading 26th home run, continuing one of the most unexpected power surges in recent memory. Long known as a journeyman with decent patience and a modicum of power, few expected Bautista at this stage of his career to suddenly turn into a long-ball machine. It’s always fun to see players suddenly show a propensity for the long ball—perhaps we identify with players who manage the baseball equivalent of the young Marty McFly balling up his fist and decking Biff with an unexpected haymaker.
What can hunting high and not so high teach us about hitting at home?
Home-field advantage is one of the greatest puzzles of baseball (and other sports) analysis. Indeed, my colleague Matt Swartz wrote a Burns-esquefive-partinquisitionintothe topic a few months ago. Home-field advantage unquestionably exists. In 2009, the home team won 54.9 percent of all regular season games, and that general range (53-55 percent) has remained remarkably consistent over the years. Seeing that teams play an equal number of home and road games, and that who hosts a regular season game is not determined by the overall quality of the team (as in the NFL playoffs), then the home team should win at a rate close to 50 percent. But HFA persists. Why?
Sometimes it's not just a matter of how fast you throw, but from how close to the plate you're throwing it.
Few pitchers utilize their fastballs more frequently than J.A. Happ of the Phillies does, as he throws his four-seamed heater 71 percent of the time. Unlike Max Scherzer, who throws his fastball at a similar rate but routinely registers 95+ miles per hour on the gun, Happ averages a relatively modest 89.7 mph with rather pedestrian movement. Despite these facts pointing towards the idea that Happ's chief pitch is thus somewhat average or below, his plate discipline data has trended in the opposite direction: Happ ranks amongst the leaders in zone percentage yet has very low rates of both swings induced and contact made on pitches in the zone, performance characteristics that portend an ability to deceive hitters when coupled with his velocity and movement marks. Unless we accept that Happ's numbers are fluky, something about his delivery is preventing hitters from picking the ball up and reacting in appropriate fashion, whether that's a question of his hiding the ball well, or having a release that's closer to home plate than hitters are accustomed to seeing.
An initial look at the extent of the home-field advantage in terms of its incidence on in-game results.
In every sport and at every level, the home team wins more games than the visiting team. While this is true in baseball, it's less the case than in other sports. Throughout baseball history, the home team has won approximately 54 percent of the games played. Nearly every aspect of the game has changed drastically over the last century, but home-field advantage has barely changed at all. Consider the home-field advantage in each decade since 1901: