This week's mailbag takes a look at Hall of Famers who were picked in later rounds of the draft, home team winning percentage in extra innings, and Matt Cain's one-hitter.
Welcome to the latest installment of the Baseball Prospectus Research Mailbag. This week, we’ll tackle Hall of Famers being selected in later rounds of the draft, the home team’s winning percentage in extra-inning contests, and the quirks of Matt Cain’s one-hitter against the Pirates last Friday. As always, if there’s a question you would like to see answered in a future mailbag, please feel free to send it in via email or through the “Contact Author” form (please remember to include your full name and hometown with your question).
George Brett and Mike Schmidt went back-to-back with the 29th and 30th picks of the 1971 draft. Have there been any other cases of two Hall of Famers being picked back-to-back in the draft? Also, what’s the latest a Hall of Fame player has gone in the draft?
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Due to reader response, the annotated list continues with 21st through 31st best seasons of all time, featuring Mike Piazza, Ernie Banks, and more third basemen of the 1970s.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches.
On Monday, I used the newly revised list to take a look at the top 20 seasons of the last 60 years. Due to reader enthusiasm and the fact that I find this kind of thing to be tremendous fun, I’ve expanded the scope to include the top 50, continuing today with the player-seasons that rank 21 through 31.
21. Frank Robinson, OF, 1966: 11.0
Robinson, newly arrived with the Baltimore Orioles after the Reds called him “an old 30,” won the triple crown, joining Mickey Mantle ’56 and Carl Yastrzemski ’67 in the top 50. He picked up a unanimous MVP award, Given how much grief the voters have deservedly taken over the years, it’s reassuring to see how many of these great seasons have won. Of the top 11, the voters rewarded all but three, and one of those was Sammy Sosa's ’01, who the voters passed over in favor of Barry Bonds' ’01, which was even better. Here are the other occasions to this point in the rankings where the voters failed to reward one of the 20 best seasons in history:
A trip through our new 1950-and-up leaderboard, including a close look at our new-formula fielding runs.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches. Herein we traipse quickly through the 20 best players of the Truman-Eisenhower years and onward.
The fielding runs featured here are the product of our new revised formula developed by Colin Wyers. As Colin says, “The difficult part of any defensive metric is estimating the batted-ball distribution among fielders. Old FRAA used season-level data about things like pitcher handedness to figure out the distribution on a seasonal level, and prorated it out to individual fielders. Now, FRAA uses play-by-play data, which allows us to use more variables (like whether or not a fielder has to hold on a runner) and to assign responsibility to each fielder based on the games he actually played in.”
This version of FRAA avoids the pitfall of subjectivity inherent in zone-based ratings. “In contrast to other popular metrics, FRAA does not use any stringer-recorded observational data,” Colin explains. “Serious discrepancies have been noted between data providers, and research has shown that in larger samples use of that sort of batted-ball data introduces severe distortions in the metrics that impede accuracy. Without evidence that the batted-ball data has redeeming value in the short term, it seems imprudent to use that sort of data in our evaluation of player defense.”
A conversation with the Angels' bench coach about in-game tactics, baserunning as an Anaheim brand of baseball, and more.
An often overlooked role in baseball is that of the bench coach, and few do the job better than Ron Roenicke. Mike Scioscia's right-hand man for each of the past four seasons, the 53-year-old Roenicke assumed his current duties after having served as the Angels' third-base coach for six years, stepping in when Joe Maddon left to become the manager in Tampa Bay. Roenicke himself is a candidate for a managerial position, as the former minor league skipper is reportedly among those being considered to fill the vacancy in Cleveland. Roenicke talked about his responsibilities as a bench coach and shared some of his philosophies on the game when the Angels visited Fenway Park in mid-September.
Running down some of the long-term decisions that have helped create Colorado's recent success.
Colorado's eight-game win streak has propelled the team into contention and created one of the most positive seasons in the organization's existence. One of the accompanying narratives is that they are learning how to win in Coors Field. Another is the declining park factor in Colorado has allowed for a more stable pitching staff. While there is some truth to these, for me the Rockies are more than the product of an evolving ballpark-related dynamic. Rather, they are a perfect case study in proper player development.
Greg Maddux throws a gem as Derek watches the Giants and Dodgers duel.
Taking the Dodgers first, they've hit the top of the division after residing in the cellar just a little over two weeks ago, going on an 11 game streak which was broken on Wednesday in Colorado, followed by a three game winning streak coming into today's matchup. Let's take a look at how a few Dodgers have performed during this stretch (courtesy of Dave Pinto's Day by Day Database):
As we approach the trading deadline, the names are flying fast and furious. But it's not clear what teams could expect to get from some of the players who are rumored to be on the market. Leave it to Nate to break it down.
One of the funny things about the trade deadline is that there is so much buzz about who is going to wind up with the empty chair that there is relatively little discussion about whether the players on the trade block are even worth acquiring. Why on earth would someone want Sidney Ponson? Is Eric Byrnes supposed to get people excited?
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.