Allow me to set a scene. In my deep NL-only league (a fairly standard 5x5 NL-only roto league with 12 teams, 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, a $260 auction budget and weekly transactions) we had a bit of an incident over the weekend. On Sunday June 4, Randal Grichuk’s owner (let’s call him Chris) released him to acquire Atlanta Braves utility infielder Danny Santana with a $0 bid in our FAAB processing. The context for this move was that the Cardinals had demoted Grichuk on May 29 to work on his approach after a rough month in the majors. Chris was trying to fill a dead spot in his lineup with a warm body who might actually get some plate appearances the following week. If you read my weekly column, the Deep League Report, you know how slim the pickings can be in the free-agent pool in deep NL-only leagues. Sometimes, Danny Santana is the best you can do.
How much does a hitter's performance depend on the quality of pitches he sees?
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.
Evan Petty is a 22-year-old lifelong student of the game who’s studying Magazine Journalism and Applied Statistics at Syracuse University. Raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Evan remains an ardent J.D. Drew defender.
Shining a spotlight on the minor mental mistakes and successes that often go overlooked.
There was an axiom tossed about when I was in college, one that I and my other bench-warming teammates were only too happy to co-opt, which held that the dumber you were, the better you played. In other words, the less intelligent a player was, and the less he had going on in his mind (colloquially, the less "in his own head" he was), the more focused he'd be on playing to the best of his abilities. Some rebutted that we spent too much free time during games coming up with theories about why we weren't playing, but you get the idea.
The big leaguers we see on TV have found a way to circumvent this problem, if it even exists. Nevertheless, there remains a mental aspect of the game that often goes ignored, both by sabermetricians (because it's nearly impossible to measure) and by the players themselves (because these mistakes are usually too small to affect their club's opinion of them). I don't mean visualization or Pedro Cerrano's Jobu doll or Turk Wendell's animal tooth necklace—I'm talking about the nuts-and-bolts logic of baseball that, when ignored, costs teams outs and runs, which eventually cost them games.
Continuing to look at plate discipline with a discussion of contact rate and swing frequency.
Last Friday, I discussed plate discipline at length, noting that the commonly cited facet of performance extends beyond its synonym of patience and into the realm of making fewer responsive mistakes in a given trip to the dish. I introduced signal detection theory as a means of more accurately measuring which hitters produce the correct responses most often, since having good plate discipline must also cover the optimization of in zone pitches and not merely how often a hitter chases.
Taking a look at a hitter's discipline and pitch sensitivities; the numbers on who's more inclined to do so may surprise you.
Ever since Billy Beane wrote Moneyball (right, Mr. Morgan?) in order to prove that the true path to success involved only seeking the services of high-OBP employees, analysts of several varieties have worked diligently to discover market inefficiencies worth exploiting. One of the areas that has risen to prominence recently, likely due to the increased availability of the data, focuses on plate discipline on both sides of the spectrum-for hitters, or induced by pitchers.
Sitting down to talk to the former All-Star about his career as a player, and his new turn as a minor league skipper.
Travis Fryman has a new career, even if he's hesitant to admit it. A five-time American League All-Star at third base during 13 big-league seasons (1990-2002), the 39-year-old Fryman is now the manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Cleveland's affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League. Selected by Detroit in the first round of the 1987 draft, Fryman went on to spend eight years with the Tigers and five more with the Indians, hitting .274/.336/.443 with 223 home runs. Known for having one of the best arms in the game, Fryman came up as a shortstop before moving to the hot corner, where he won a Gold Glove in 2000.
The Royals catcher is starting to make the Carlos Beltran trade sting a little bit less for Kansas City fans.
Despite another poor start in Kansas City-Joe Posnanski has already written his annual end of the season column for the Royals-there are a few bright spots on the team. Gil Meche has managed to pitch much more effectively than many analysts thought he would-more on that in a future profile-and John Buck has seemingly secured the catcher's job, despite the offseason acquisition of Jason LaRue. Buck has hit .299/.398/.588 to open the season, and although he has slowed down a bit in May after a torrid April, he finally looks like the hitter the Royals expected back in 2004 when they traded for him.