A Detroit Tigers pitcher corrects a Detroit Tigers writer on Twitter, because this is the world we live in.
The Tigers are going through a bit of a bullpen crisis, and late Monday night, Detroit News columnist Lynn Henning took to Twitter to speculate that the team might have to make a 40-man move to bring in a fresh arm. According to Henning, the most likely guy to go looks like right-hander Thad Weber, who pitched four innings for the Tigers in April but has otherwise spent the last couple seasons allowing a whole lot of homers for Triple-A Toledo.
Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
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Talking arbitration with long-time baseball arbitrator, professor, and author Roger Abrams.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Who makes the Hall of Fame cut when faced against the Keltner Test and JAWS?
On Friday, I unveiled the catcher and infielders on what I'm calling the Keltner All-Stars, the best eligible player at each position outside the Hall of Fame. The name comes from former Indians third baseman Ken Keltner, who inspired Bill James' Keltner Test, a set of 15 questions that can be used to frame a player’s Hall of Fame case. The basis of my choices isn't that test. Instead, I'm using JAWS.
Bernie Williams burned it up with the Yankees during his career, but did the Puerto Rican do enough to blaze a trail to the Hall?
Before Derek Jeter, there was Bernie Williams. As the Yankees emerged from a barren stretch of 13 seasons without a trip to the playoffs from 1982-1994, and a particularly abysmal stretch of four straight losing seasons from 1989-1992, their young switch-hitting center fielder stood as a symbol for the franchise's resurgence. For too long, the Yankees had drafted poorly, traded away what homegrown talent they produced for veterans, and signed pricey free agents to fill the gaps as part of George Steinbrenner's eternal win-now directive. But with Steinbrennerbanned by commissioner Fay Vincent and the Yankees' day-to-day baseball operations in the hands of Gene Michael, promising youngsters were allowed to develop unimpeded.
As CC Sabathia's opt-out date ticks nearer, we look at some of his potential free-agent comparables from the past.
The stroke of midnight on Monday is the deadline for Yankees ace CC Sabathia to opt out of the final four years of the seven-year, $161 million deal he signed in December 2008, and the word on the street, via SI.com's Jon Heyman, is that he will do so. While a thrilling World Series played out in Texas and St. Louis, the New York City tabloids were been busy picturing Sabathia in a Red Sox uniform, particularly on the heels of the news that John Lackey will miss the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are said to have prepared a pre-emptive pitch; according to the New York Post's George King III, "The Yankees are believed to be OK with a five- or six-year deal for an obvious raise over his current $23 million a year. Yet seven or eight years is something they want to avoid because of age, workload, and Sabathia gaining weight across the second half of last season."
One of BP's co-founders returns to reveal an important amateur draft inefficiency.
Everyone missed on Mike Trout. Don’t get me wrong: Trout was a well-regarded player headed into the 2009 draft, a certain first-round talent. But he wasn’t—yet—a phenom. Everyone liked Trout; it’s just that no one loved him. Baseball America ranked him as the 22nd-best player in the draft. No one doubted his athleticism or his work ethic; a lot of people doubted the level of competition he faced as a high school player from rural New Jersey. The Angels drafted him with the 25th pick overall, and they’ll tell you today that they knew he was destined to be a special player. What they won’t tell you is that they had back-to-back picks at #24 and #25, and they announced Randal Grichuk’s name first.
Checking in on whether a player with high pedigree has a better major-league career than a non-prospect.
Potential is a funny thing. The team that manages to grab the most players who outperform expectations often wins fantasy leagues. Every spring we hear about breakout candidates and which players stand the best chance of outperforming their projections. Often, these breakout candidates are selected based on their tools and their pedigree—their potential. While this kind of subjective and scouting data is very important, few people outside of Major League Baseball have a database with scouting reports on enough players dating back as far as we’d need to run a study to examine what these things actually tell us—not to mention all of the complications that would go into such a study. But there is one freely available tool that I thought might make for an interesting study: Baseball America’s archive of their Top 100 prospect lists dating back to 1990.
Today, I wanted to run a study using this archive as a proxy for pedigree to see how much pedigree matters for players who have already made it to the majors. Once a player is in the majors, does his pedigree make him more likely to break out?
Jose Bautista is poised to trump his first seven seasons in one glorious campaign. What other players have done almost all their damage on only one side of age 30?
If you’ve been paying any attention to current athletic events, you know that Jose Bautista has been busy making the rest of baseball look bad. The 30-year-old slugger is hitting .370/.516/.849, leading the majors in home runs, walks, and runs scored, and serenading himself in the shower with the refrain to Jay-Z’s “30 Something”: “30’s the new 20, I’m so hot still.” (Yes, Bautista prefers the “clean” version.) As Hova notes elsewhere on that track, 30 is “young enough to know the right car to buy, yet grown enough not to put rims on it.” That’s not the kind of old-player skill we generally associate with athletes—it’s more of an old-playa skill, probably—but baseball players do compensate for their declining physical talents by adopting more refined approaches as they leave their third decades behind.
Of course, there comes a point at which no amount of experience and savvy can help a player catch up with a fastball, which is why places on the 25-man roster aren’t lifetime appointments. Bautista’s offensive outburst has been compared to the early-century output of Barry Bonds. Bautista’s recent production is more out of character with his previously established performance level than Bonds’ was, but one of the factors that made Bonds’ record-busting performance so improbable was that it came as he entered his late 30s, typically a time when players retain only a fraction of their former glory. At 30, Bautista is hardly over the hill, but he is a few years past the age at which most players peak.
Has super-agent Scott Boras earned his reputation for getting the most cash and the longest contracts for his clients?
Believe it or not, 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.
Vince Gennaro is the author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseballand a consultant to MLB teams. He teaches in the Graduate Sports Management programs at Columbia University and Manhattanville College. He is also on the Advisory Board of The Perfect Game Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), whose upcoming annual convention will feature Scott Boras as the keynote speaker. A non-profit organization with 6,700 members, SABR is a perfect fit for anyone who has an interest in baseball research, statistics and history. Vince's website is www.vincegennaro.com.