Velasquez, who turns 24 in June, debuted with the Astros last year in a swingman capacity. He made seven starts and appeared 12 times in relief, racking up 58 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings, a reflection of big-league-ready stuff. Chris Crawford wrote in our Transaction Analysis of the Giles trade, “At worst, Velasquez marks a strong central piece as a potential high-leverage reliever,” but the Phillies will let him start until he proves he can’t, and his ceiling could be substantially loftier than the late-inning floor.
The looming disasters behind the plate in the AL Central.
Disaster comes in many forms. In 2016, one of those forms will probably be catching in the American League Central. There is no other position-division combination which PECOTA projects so poorly in the aggregate: Four of the division’s five teams project to generate 0.4 WARP or less from the catcher position in 2016, and three project to actually lose value (relative to replacement level) from their catchers next year. Cleveland, which has Yan Gomes holding down the fort at the position, is the lone exception to the rule.
Should we pity the poor catcher whose manager won't give him a doggone break?
Catching might be the most exhausting job on the field. While everyone else can stand up straight and meander about their appointed pasture, you, the pitiable catcher, have to crouch behind the plate. And stop 90 mph balls with your glove. And call the pitches. And be the front-line psychologist for the pitcher. And take foul tips off the chest protector. And… oh dear, R.A. Dickey is pitching today. Plus, you gotta hit and run and sign autographs for the 8-year-olds.
Eleven short stories: Comedies, tragedies, sagas, and more.
They say the triple is the most exciting play in baseball, which is an odd adage to have in a world where inside-the-park home runs exist. There’s a lot to like about the triple—the geometry is cool, with the batter-runner having different starting and ending points, and while inside-the-park home runs are almost always the result of misplays in the outfield, you can get a triple without anyone making a mistake.
But let’s be real—we only say the triple is the most exciting play in baseball because inside-the-park home runs are so rare: Only 11 of the 4,909 regular-season home runs in 2015 failed to leave the park. And since it’s March and nothing’s really going on, let’s rank those regular season (because including Alcides Escobar’s World Series homer would just be unfair) inside-the-parkers.
No, really: The Royals are a hell of a contact-hitting club.
Over the past two seasons, fans of the Kansas City baseball club have become acquainted with the supernatural wonder known as “Royals Devil Magic.” The simplest explanation of this phenomena is it occurs when you take your sabermetric dogma, crumple it up into a tiny ball, and set it on fire with a flamethrower.
How the Reds have underperformed their projections more than any other team.
On Tuesday, Baseball Prospectus released PECOTA's preseason projections. In keeping with tradition, the algorithm has again seeminglyundersold the champion Royals, who have nudged aside the White Sox to become the symbol for outpacing expectations. That status is well earned: Over the past three seasons, the Royals have won a majors-leading 44 games more than PECOTA figured they would. Along the way, the Royals have birthed countless thinkpieces and arguments about every facet of their success: whether it's by design; whether it's sustainable; whether it's duplicable; and so on.
Did PECOTA fuel the Royals' championship run last year? Will it, and the Royals, repeat?
Last year, the Kansas City Royals were the defending American League champions. They had just won 89 games in 2014, the American League pennant and had come oh so close to winning the 2014 World Series. And no one believed that they were for real. It was hard to find a pundit prediction which had the Royals finishing in third place in the AL Central, much less making the playoffs. If you were paying close attention last season, you know how that one turned out.