The Weekend Takeaway
In a sport with a culture as staid and a season as long as baseball's, everyone loves a nice dose of old-fashioned shenanigans. This weekend’s A’s-Royals series was a shenanigan factory.
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.
One of the most exciting leagues to watch this year, but you might want to get there early.
While Double-A can often be a mixed bag of top prospects and organizational filler, the 2015 Texas League—or at least the first half of the season—should offer some compelling talent for fans and talent evaluators to observe. Between elite prospects like Carlos Correa and Julio Urias, and merely excellent prospects like Raul Mondesi, Miguel Almonte, and Nomar Mazara, people with the ability to get out to a Texas League park should do so early and often before the top prospects finish abusing the rest of the league and get promoted.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals)
Those who follow the minor leagues closely will realize that the Royals system, while not at the peak of a few years ago, remains very strong, and they would need to look no further than the Double-A Northwest Arkansas roster to see evidence of that strength. The club’s top three prospects, Raul Mondesi (SS), Miguel Almonte (RHP), and Sean Manaea (LHP), are all projected to see considerable time on the Naturals’ diamond this summer; all three with the potential to take your breath away during any given game. On top of that ridiculous trio, the Royals are likely to send infielder Hunter Dozier and possibly outfielder Jorge Bonifacio to Double-A to continue their development. Rounding things out—for those with a morbid curiosity for big athletes with limited feel for baseball—outfielder Bubba Starling could make an appearance in Double-A, and his time on the field is always worth watching.
Perpetual failure and adjustments eventually propelled the Royals to the World Series.
Welcome to the Baseball Prospectus 2015 season previews. For the next three weeks, BP authors will be writing about what each team does best in pursuit of wins. We will parse statistics, transactions, news, and quotes in an effort to identify the market inefficiency each team is taking advantage of. Wins are the end goal, but all of the 30 teams are obtaining them in different ways by prioritizing certain initiatives. Today, we begin the series with last year's World Series players, the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals.—Andrew Koo
Morosi doesn’t provide specifics regarding which teams have made offers to Shields or what type of offers are on the table, but his report prompted several other reporters to follow up and see which teams have made a pitch to Shields. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes that the Marlins and Shields continue to have ongoing conversations, and according to CSNChicago’s David Kaplan the Cubs are “kicking the tires” on the right-hander. But there were also several reports by various national and beat writers ruling teams out of the running. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the Giants, Angels, Athletics and Yankees are all out on Shields. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted that the Red Sox haven’t made an offer to Shields. The same goes for the Royals, Cardinals, Rangers and White Sox, according to their local beat writers.
The Royals add another aging bat, the Marlins hope a move to first keeps Morse healthy, the Rockies add bench depth, the Yankees keep some rotation depth, the Cubs and Orioles build pen depth, and a low-risk, but possibly not-so-high-reward arm, lands in San Diego.