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01-26

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8

The Adjuster: Second Base
by
Wilson Karaman

12-18

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1

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: OBP: A Deeper Dive
by
Wilson Karaman

12-17

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1

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: OBP: Over/Underachievers
by
J.J. Jansons

12-16

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2

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: OBP: The General Landscape
by
Greg Wellemeyer

05-24

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11

BP Unfiltered: Votto v. Phillips, The People's Case
by
Colin Wyers

05-17

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5

BP Unfiltered: Jeff Keppinger Finally Works a Walk, and a Disar Awards Update
by
Ben Lindbergh

11-19

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5

Baseball Therapy: Defining Change in Player Performance from Year to Year
by
Russell A. Carleton

08-06

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6

Pebble Hunting: The Best Baseball Questions on Yahoo! Answers
by
Sam Miller

07-10

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2

Baseball ProGUESTus: Does the Hit and Run Help?
by
Pete Palmer

05-19

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11

Changing Speeds: Bounceback, Breakthrough, or Balderdash?
by
Ken Funck

10-05

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6

Playoff Prospectus: NLDS Preview : Phillies vs. Reds
by
Christina Kahrl

05-04

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3

Fantasy Beat: Early Season TAv
by
Marc Normandin

04-06

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0

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop
by
Michael Jong

04-05

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Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third Base, and Designated Hitter
by
Michael Street

03-30

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3

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop
by
Michael Jong

03-23

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0

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop
by
Michael Jong

03-08

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48

Baseball Therapy: Going Streaking
by
Russell A. Carleton

10-28

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15

Changing Speeds: Smoltz, SOMA, and the Series
by
Ken Funck

09-22

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39

Prospectus Today: The Missing Man
by
Joe Sheehan

09-22

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9

Solving the Rookie Dilemma
by
Dan Malkiel

09-10

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12

Solving the Rookie Dilemma
by
Dan Malkiel

08-03

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46

Ahead in the Count: Runs Per Inning, and Why I Love the Long Ball
by
Matt Swartz

06-21

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36

Prospectus Idol Entry: The Little Big Man Awards
by
Ken Funck

06-14

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49

Prospectus Idol Entry: The Curious Case of Brandon Inge Battin'
by
Ken Funck

05-23

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34

Prospectus Idol Entry: Why is On Base Percentage King?
by
Matthew Knight

04-10

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10

Leading Off
by
Christina Kahrl

08-05

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0

Prospectus Today: Jeter vs. Reyes
by
Joe Sheehan

05-15

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Prospectus Today: McCann versus Martin
by
Joe Sheehan

04-03

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Prospectus Today: Angel Mayhem
by
Joe Sheehan

03-25

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Doctoring The Numbers: Royals and Phillies
by
Rany Jazayerli

09-24

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Player Profile: Eric Byrnes
by
Marc Normandin

08-07

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Wait 'Til Next Year: Minor League Leadoff Hitters, Ranked
by
Bryan Smith

07-10

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Prospectus Toolbox: Small Samples and All-Star Berths
by
Derek Jacques

05-23

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Player Profile: John Buck
by
Marc Normandin

04-11

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Player Profile: Geoff Jenkins
by
Marc Normandin

02-09

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Prospectus Matchups: The Column Reversers
by
Jim Baker

01-25

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Player Profile
by
Marc Normandin

12-15

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Prospectus Matchups: The .400 Club
by
Jim Baker

10-09

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0

Completely Random Statistical Trivia
by
Keith Woolner

09-25

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0

Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten-Pack, 9/25/06
by
Kevin Goldstein

09-19

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Prospectus Matchups: More Than Their Fair Share
by
Jim Baker

06-07

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Prospectus Today: OBP Is Life
by
Joe Sheehan

05-05

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0

The Prince Is Dead
by
Jonah Keri

04-13

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Schrodinger's Bat: The Irreducible Essence of Platoon Splits
by
Dan Fox

03-29

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0

Future Shock: Spring Prospect Report, National League
by
Kevin Goldstein

03-28

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Future Shock: Spring Prospect Report, American League
by
Kevin Goldstein

12-12

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0

The Class of 2006
by
Jay Jaffe

10-27

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0

Prospectus Notebook: White Sox, Reds
by
Baseball Prospectus

10-19

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0

Lies, Damned Lies: Running the Odds
by
Nate Silver

08-18

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Lies, Damned Lies: Running down SOB
by
Nate Silver

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April 6, 2010 9:00 am

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

0

Michael Jong

Michael Jong examines Marco Scutaro in Boston, the curious catchers of Oakland, and the middle infield in Washington.

With the lack of depth at shortstop, many fantasy players who missed out on the early-round names are filling the position with one-category speedsters like Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar who will not kill you in AVG and runs and will contribute heavily in steals. Lost in this legitimate strategy is Marco Scutaro, a guy who does not have speed to burn but provides better balance in his categories. As of this writing, Scutaro is owned in only 62% of ESPN leagues, despite coming off a career year in which he scored 100 runs, batted .280+, and stole 14 bags. None of those stats are groundbreaking in traditional roto leagues, but they are worthy of a player who should do a bit more than ride the fantasy team pine.

The reasoning against Scutaro lies in the outlier 13.2% BB% which fuelled Scutaro's impressive .379 OBP and got him on base to score those runs. Since he had never walked at that kind of rate before, I imagine many wrote him off as bench fodder for 2010. The truth is that Scutaro only changed one thing in his approach: he stopped swinging at pitches both outside and inside the strike zone, a very repeatable change. Scutaro dropped his swing rate in the zone from the low 60% to 55.2%, allowing him to see more pitches and draw more walks. When he does swing, he has no issues making contact, yielding a consistent, if unimpressive AVG. PECOTA projects the move to Fenway should keep his AVG inflated in the .280 range. Batting with his OBP skills at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup puts him in front of good hitters in Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, ensuring that Scutaro will once again provide decent run totals. Given the consistency of Scutaro's contact and plate discipline, his contributions should be more assured than the performances of younger, upside-laden shortstops.

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April 5, 2010 9:00 am

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third Base, and Designated Hitter

0

Michael Street

In the last of his preseason "Hot Spots," Michael Street looks at the underappreciated 1B Billy Butler, the increasing flexibility of DH Hideki Matsui, and how Scott Rolen and Juan Francisco fit in to Cincinnati's 3B picture.

For this final preseason Hot Spots column, I’m focusing on underdrafted players, anticipating our shift to targeting undervalued players during the regular season. There’s no better place to start than Kansas City, whose offense is projected by BP to score 741 runs, fourth-worst in the AL, making fantasy owners overlook Royals players.

One who doesn’t deserve such a snub is Billy Butler, whose 32.3 VORP in 2009 was second-best on the team. He’ll need to reach his 80th PECOTA percentile to beat that VORP in 2010, but even his 50th percentile has fantasy value. Though he isn’t a slugger, Butler’s 14% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate from 2007-9 show his strong BA contributions. If he can recapture the patience he exhibited in 2008, when he had a career-best 12.9% K rate, Butler could hit .300 again in 2010; his 60th percentile would get him there, while also cresting .500 SLG.

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March 30, 2010 9:13 am

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

3

Michael Jong

Michael Jong covers the catchers in Boston and St. Louis, along with the second basemen competing in Cleveland.

It seems the plight of Mike Lowell is affecting more than just the third base position. The inability to trade Lowell has forced the Red Sox to play him as a backup corner infielder. This saps the playing time that generally would go to starting catcher Victor Martinez, who usually backs up first base on his catching off-days. This practice has helped keep Martinez healthy and playing; Martinez has gathered 600+ PA in four out of the last five seasons. Heater expert Evan Brunell expects Martinez to pick up that slack playing more behind the plate at the expense of the husk of Jason Varitek. However, there is a risk with this move: Will Carroll mentioned in Boston's Team Health Report that Martinez' injury risk (he stands at "yellow" as of the report) is tied to his playing time behind the plate. Increased catching time may haunt the Red Sox, Martinez, and his fantasy owners.

While a big part of Martinez's appeal is his longevity, another major aspect is that he's just a good hitter. Outside of an injury-riddled 2008 season, Martinez has been consistently among the best offensive options at catcher. You can pretty much count on him posting an average around .300 because he is excellent at avoiding strikeouts; since 2004, Martinez boasts a superb 88.9 percent contact rate. PECOTA's 50th percentile projection of .286 is fair, but don't be surprised if he once again tops .300, as the 60th percentile on up has him hitting that mark. Martinez does not boast the best power, as his "Bash" (TB/H) are about average for a catcher. However, hitting cleanup OBP machines like Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia should generate excellent RBI numbers. Martinez has reached 20+ homers four times in his career, but he is more of a ground ball hitter and will only reach that mark if he gets his maximum playing time as shown here. Varitek has shown little appeal for two seasons now, and PECOTA does not expect much change. Unless he begins starting regularly, you should avoid him.

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March 23, 2010 9:28 am

Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

0

Michael Jong

Michael Jong covers the Angels' and Rays' catching tandems and the situation at shortstop for the Mets.

Any time Mike Napoli gets a bump in playing time in Los Angeles, it is a time for celebration for fantasy fans. Napoli is a good hitter in his own right (career TAv of .287 in 1294 PA), but he is even more highly considered given his status as a catcher. PECOTA is projecting similar rate stats to his career numbers (career slash line of .256/.358/.493), meaning once again that Napoli will be among the most wanted fantasy catchers in the game. With a projected BABIP in the .280-.290 range, Napoli will be only passable in batting average, though his ability to draw walks (career 12.3% and projected 10.7%) should make his OBP solid. Power is where his game shines; how many other catchers could give you an ISO above .230 and almost 33 HR/600 PA?

Of course, Napoli would never garner anything close to 600 PA. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a former major league catcher, does not tolerate Napoli's sloppy defense and game-calling behind the plate. The concern is not without reason; BP's own FRAA measures Napoli as 17 runs below average in his career, and other measures are similarly unkind about his defense. As a a result, despite the fact that both Jeff Mathis and Napoli are right handed and show similar platoon splits, Mathis will still sap playing time from a superior hitter. However, with Napoli receiving some PA at DH as well as a 60% share at catcher, 460 PA seems very likely. At that PT, Napoli should still be an excellent option for both AL-only and mixed leagues. Mathis is the typical real-life backup catcher: good defensive reputation, but a black hole on offense that should be avoided by your fantasy team at all costs.

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March 8, 2010 11:45 am

Baseball Therapy: Going Streaking

48

Russell A. Carleton

Putting a big chill on the hot-hand theory of player performance at the plate.

Flash forward to July, 2010, as Prince Fielder is being interviewed after a Brewers win. Fielder has just gone 4-for-5 with two home runs, and the announcers tell Fielder that he’s gone 9-for-his-last-12 over the past few days. Fielder says, "Yeah, I’ve been feeling great and seeing the ball really clearly the past few days. Some days, you just see the ball better than others."

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October 28, 2009 11:55 am

Changing Speeds: Smoltz, SOMA, and the Series

15

Ken Funck

Do the Yankees and Phillies stand a better chance of laying into the starting pitchers the third time through the order?

For the first time since 1926, the most powerful offenses in each league will be facing off in this year's Fall Classic, and fans and media have been busy pondering the ability of either pitching staff to hold up. Both the Yankees and Phillies boast deep and powerful lineups that can easily convert a few mistakes into crooked numbers on the scoreboard, and Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel have surely spent anxious hours trying to determine the optimal way to ensure their best available arms pitch the most and, most important, innings. The countdown to Game One has included speculation on whether the Yankees will stick with a three-man rotation, how much gas Pedro Martinez has in his tank, whether CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee can be effective through three starts in a seven-game series, and whether Manual will continue his careful use of volatile "closer" Brad Lidge.

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September 22, 2009 3:45 pm

Prospectus Today: The Missing Man

39

Joe Sheehan

Despite last night's heroics, Bruce Bochy's misuse of Fred Lewis may be a key reason the Giants will miss the postseason.

Fred Lewis was the lead in the AP game story about the Giants' 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks last night. Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, Lewis hit a ground ball to second base that well could have been an inning-ending double play. He beat out the relay throw to first, however, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Giants' bullpen held onto the lead over the last six outs, moving the team to four games behind the wild-card leading Rockies with 12 games to play.

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September 22, 2009 1:39 pm

Solving the Rookie Dilemma

9

Dan Malkiel

Popping the hood to dig down into when to let it ride with your rookie hitters, and when to worry.

In my previous article, I modeled the choice between a stable veteran and a promising but unproven rookie as a "multi-armed bandit" problem. To solve it, I devised an algorithm that computes the expected value of each choice and discovered that provisionally starting the rookie usually yields a greater expectation. The intuition behind this result is that it's usually worth investing a few plate appearances in the hopes that a rookie might be highly productive, even if that is improbable according to his PECOTA projection; after all, the veteran can always replace him if the experiment fails. But what constitutes failure? In other words, how long should the rookie be allowed to struggle?

To answer this question, we'll need to go under the hood of the model I described the first time out. In the model, the rookie's productivity is described by a probability distribution on his OBP based on PECOTA's projections. The probability distribution in question is a beta; in order to understand the methodology I am about to describe, we'll need to grasp the basics of this distribution. The beta ranges over the interval [0, 1] and is defined by two positive parameters (α, β). Its mean is α/(α+β); thus, if α goes up, the mean goes up, while if β goes up, the mean goes down. Also, the greater α and β are the more "peaked" the distribution will be around this mean. Let's see how this looks:

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September 10, 2009 4:18 pm

Solving the Rookie Dilemma

12

Dan Malkiel

Exploring when they should start versus when they should head for farm country.

Willie Mays famously started his career 0-for-12 before hitting a home run off of Warren Spahn. This season, Orioles ber-stud catcher Matt Wieters has struggled to live up to expectations, posting a feeble .264/.310/.368 line since being called up in May. Talented rookies such as these present a twofold challenge to their teams: first, how to identify when they're ready for promotion, and second, how to react when they fail to produce. These decisions can be driven by subjective considerations, such as a scout or manager's evaluation of the player's poise and confidence. Such things are certainly important, but it's worth investigating what a purely objective mechanism for making these decisions might look like.

So, today we'll try to answer the first question: How do you decide when a prospect's ready? Let's consider the common scenario in which a rookie player is competing with a veteran for the vet's job. The veteran's productivity is typically well established, while the rookie's productivity is not known as precisely. Thus, we're faced with a choice between a so-called sure thing, and an unknown but possibly superior alternative.

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Have some of us been overlooking the obvious when it comes to scoring runs?

If you have ever tried to explain the concept of Pythagorean Record to a baseball novice, you probably have had to answer the following criticism: "That counts the extra runs at the end of a blowout as much as other runs, even though it does not matter whether you win 10-0 or 15-0." The answer that we give to that criticism is that teams that can take advantage of blowouts have better offenses and those type of teams will be more likely to win close games in the future. That is the reason that we have thousand-run estimators that try to approximate how many runs a team will score on average, and why we evaluate players with statistics like VORP-measured in runs over replacement player. Runs are the building blocks of wins, and you win by scoring more runs than your opponent. We cringe when we hear offenses evaluated by batting average because we know that the goal of offenses is to score runs, not get hits.

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Geoff Young recently used a BP Unfiltered post to come clean about his unrequited man crush on David Eckstein, setting off a wonderful comment thread in which readers described the players that they consider "guilty pleasures" - those that may not be stars, but are fun to watch nonetheless. Reading through the comments, I was struck by the many different types of players that can catch a fan's fancy, but one variety seemed to be particularly popular: The Little Guy. Maybe it's the David vs. Goliath matchup of the smaller batter versus the hulking pitcher that appeals to us; maybe we just identify with a more normal-seeming scale of player; in any case, shorter players seem to have some level of curb appeal that can't be explained by their stats.

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A year removed from one of the most disappointing seasons since, well, pick your least-favorite SNL cast, the Detroit Tigers are back on top in the AL Central. With a middle-of-the-pack offense, the Tigers have been doing it with improved pitching and, just as importantly, stellar defense. Flashing the leather is the latest little black dress of team construction - just take a peak at these defensive rankings for the current front-runners in the AL Central and AL West (all 2009 statistics through June 10th):

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