For hitters and fantasy owners alike, a little bit of patience can go a long way.
Episode 230 of the Effectively Wild podcast featured an interesting discussion on strikeouts and walks this season. Strikeouts are up this season for a fifth consecutive year while walks continue to fall. Heading into play on Monday, there were 56 pitchers who had strikeout-to-walk ratios of at least 4.0 with a minimum of 25 innings pitched. That is seven more than in 2012, which shattered the previous record of 33 that was set in both 2010 and 2011.
Walks are a bit harder to come by these days, but for some hitters, getting that first walk solves some ills they are having at the plate. The best example of that would be Josh Donaldson. In 2012, Donaldson was twice optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento by Oakland in the first half of that season. In his final game before his second option, Donaldson walked. It was the first time he had walked in 2012 and he went to the minors with a .153/.160/.235 slash line in 100 plate appearances.
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.
The latest on the longest season-starting walkless streaks.
It’s appropriate that Jeff Keppinger’s first walk of 2013 was a game-winner. After 140 plate appearances without one—150 dating back to the end of last season—it would’ve been a shame if the walk we’d all been waiting for hadn’t helped the White Sox win.
It's the time for non-tenders. R.J. looks back at last year's giveaways to see which fared the best.
Expect to hear about the non-tender deadline a lot over the next four weeks. Teams must determine by November 30th which arbitration-eligible players to tender contracts to. The players deemed unworthy will experience one of the sport’s oddest existences. Although the players are technically free agents, their market worth is limited. Teams have no incentive to offer this subset of players more than a one-year deal since they retain the players’ rights through their arbitration years regardless. Non-tendered players are almost by definition undeserving of a raise, so they usually take pay cuts on the open market.
Despite the odd existence, the pool of non-tendered players intrigues fans and media alike. Many of these players have a marketable skill or two that could prove useful in the right situation. Everyone likes finding the diamond in the trash. But dumpster diving correctly usually means finding more slime than treasure. That never seems to stop us, so we hunt on, with our hearts full of hope and our pockets full of hand sanitizer.
Five older players on contending teams have defied the aging curve by having unexpected success this year. How have they done it, and can it continue?
Most players tend to peak in their mid-to-late 20s before declining after age 30. But not every player adheres to the typical trajectory. Several contending teams have benefited from unlikely resurgences or career years by players who’ve struggled in recent seasons and have already reached the point on the aging curve at which we would have expected their declines to continue. Who are they? How have they turned back the clock? And most importantly, can their surprising success continue?
Ryan Ludwick, Reds, 34
What he’s done: The Reds are 65-38 since their .500 April and 25-10 since losing Joey Votto to knee surgery in mid-July. No player has been more responsible for that run than Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick was a below-average batter with the Padres over the past two seasons even after adjusting for Petco Park’s pitcher friendliness, and when he hit .207/.289/.405 through June 6th of this season, Reds fans called for his playing time to be curtailed. Then he got hot. Ludwick’s .340 TAv since the start of June ranks 13th among all hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, and his .356 TAv since the start of July ranks eighth (min. 150 PA), behind only Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols. How he’s done it: Ludwick hit much better before and after his stint with San Diego, so it’s possible that Petco hurt him even more than it hurts the average hitter. Great American Ball Park, however, is a haven for right-handed hitters and the perfect place to restore his power. This is also the first season in which Ludwick has avoided the disabled list since his career year of 2008, so good health is also a factor. Can he keep doing it: Ludwick can’t keep producing like a perennial MVP candidate, so some regression is in store, but little about his line looks fluky. Any decline in his production should be more than offset for Cincinnati by Votto’s impending return.
Events that have happened already this season after not happening for all of 2011 help explain why we're still hooked on baseball.
There were 2429 major-league games played last season.* Most of the things that can happen in a baseball game happened in one of those. With a few exceptions, teams and players will do all of the same things in 2012 that they did in 2011—they’ll just do them in a difference sequence and more, or less, frequently than they did before. When and how often they do those nearly identical things will determine which teams win divisions and which players win awards. We’re suckers for those things, so another season of the same, reshuffled, is enough to suck us in. But we're not completely content with repetition. We also watch in hopes of seeing something we didn’t see the season before.
*There would have been 2430, but no one felt like seeing another Dodgers-Nationals game in September. That missed game may have deprived us of history: Matt Kemp finished the season one home run away from 40 home runs, and Dee Gordon finished the season one home run away from one home run. For the alternate-history buffs: the man who would have started that game against the Dodgers, had it been played, was Tom Milone. Milone had the fifth-lowest home run rate among Triple-A starters last season, so that extra game might not have made Matt Kemp baseball’s fifth 40-40 man. Then again, that home run rate might not have meant much, since there weren’t many Matt Kemps in the International League. More on Milone a little later.
Justin Turner ships off the VP list almost as soon as he arrived (but for good reasons), but Michael finds a replacement for him in the mountains.
The Value Picks portfolio is an ever-changing one that has occasional graduations and demotions, with new faces coming in every week. This week, Value Picks graduates two members, one tenured and one fleeting in attendance, and brings in two more names you should be aware of in the upcoming weeks.
Value Picks heading into the All-Star break, along with some returning injuries
Heading out of the VP portfolio is Ronny Paulino, who seems to finally be falling back to earth. With last week's morbid 2-for-16 performance, Paulino's season AVG has dropped to .282, and his OBP and SLG are beginning to look eerily familiar to PECOTA's projected line. With his power looking more and more like his career before 2009, a .270 AVG may not be enough to warrant play. He had started 24 straight games before getting a breather on July 4th, so some of this regression may be a result of fatigue from wearing the tools of ignorance for an extended period of time. VP will keep an eye on him, but drop him off the list for now.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 16 National League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. Keep in mind these are projected rosters and subject to change. American League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.