Early-April stats may be meaningless, but is even a full month of data enough to reach any significant conclusions? Mike investigates here.
Toward the end of April, something funny starts happening to fantasy baseball owners. After one week, nearly every fantasy player looks at the stats, looks at the sample size, and simply dismisses the numbers as the product of a good or a bad week. After three weeks, this mindset changes considerably.
For reasons I cannot comprehend, after about 20 games, fantasy owners start diving into the numbers and drawing conclusions about whether or not their players are going to have good years or bad ones. The difference between 25 plate appearances and 75 plate appearances isn’t significant—yet, in the minds of some, that 50-plat- appearance gap is the difference between an insignificant sample size and a reason to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming “Giancarlo Stanton, you’re killing me!”
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Which NL starters are off to a worse start than the Angels' not-yet-sluggy first baseman?
On Wednesday, I examined a half-dozen American League hitters who are off to chillier starts than even Albert Pujols in an attempt to shine a light on a handful of developing stories centered around underperforming players. Of course, none of those hitters has the track record or the job security of the Angels' newest marquee attraction; neither do seven billion other people on Earth. In other words, they're a wee bit more likely to find themselves riding the pine or worse if they continue to flounder, and at the very least, their small-sample struggles—and for this the threshold is 70 plate appearances, not long enough for any key hitter statistic to stabilize—are worth your attention.
Torii Hunter's suggestion that Mike Scioscia should have had the Angels bunt does not make sense.
After the Angels lost at Tampa Bay last Wednesday, right fielder Torii Hunter suggested that his manager, Mike Scioscia, had not done everything possible to put the team in a position to win. This is the sort of problem that arises when you enter a season with astronomical expectations and then stumble badly out of the gate.
After losing on a walk-off homer by Oakland castoff Brandon Allen the following afternoon and on a walk-off single by Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland the next night, the Angels found themselves nine games behind AL West-leading Texas, the largest deficit of any team in baseball. The off-season signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson were supposed to take last year's 86-win team to the proverbial next level. Instead, the Angels have skidded in the opposite direction, leading some folks to panic.
Injuries to David Wright and Ike Davis start a Mets infield shuffle, the Red Sox rotation gets rejiggered, the curse of the Rangers outfield continues, Aroldis Chapman exeunt, and familiar faces resurface in the Cubs rotation and Braves bullpen.
Chris Narveson sustains his second-half success, Nyjer Morgan makes a case for more playing time, and the Pirates flirt with .500.
The 2011 season is now a week-and-a-half old. Each team in baseball has played through three series, and every team has had the chance to go through its rotation—such as it is in early April, when off days allow some clubs to dispense with fifth starters—twice now. Some, like the Brewers, have even been able to squeeze three starts out of their Opening Day starter. The season is much too young to know anything for certain (other than that Manny Ramirez will not be contributing to the Rays this year), but that doesn't mean the performances that we've seen so far this year should be ignored completely. Even with all of the time and effort, researching and projecting, and discussing and arguing we do in the offseason, nothing can take the place of the actual games, and nothing will ever keep players from surprising us.
Listed below are the five biggest surprises in the National League Central so far this year. As with all statistical surprises (especially those that hinge in large part on small sample size), these observations are meant to be mostly descriptive, not predictive. Players are still subject to the tyranny of true talent, and hot (or slow) starts mean little in the long run.
Need to know whom to start next week? Craig has you covered for both AL- and NL-only formats.
We’re just in the second week of the season, but it feels like the fantasy year is in full swing. This week especially, given there is a plethora of two start pitchers for those looking to stock their roster.
The Red Sox have the advantage of a full deck, but in St. Louis they seem to be running out of Cards.
Chien-Ming Wang (90 DXL)
No one knows feet like Dr. Philip Kwong of Kerlan-Jobe, so I'll just let him tell you about Wang: "It is unusual to have both a Lisfranc ligament sprain and partial tear peroneal longus together, and longer time will be needed for recovery (8-12 weeks if no significant instability occurs at the Lisfranc joints). The combined injuries represent greater rotational stress than would be experienced for each injury alone. Prognosis and time line for recovery will depend on the exact amount of ligament/tendon tear sustained and on the amount of tissue remaining to provide stability. Healing is the formation of scar tissue and not regrowth of the normal ligament or tendon tissue; consequently, future problems such as arthritis can occur at Lisfranc's joints or reinjury of the peroneal longus tendon." So as I'd expected, the additional damage beyond the Lisfranc is likely to add to the time Wang is out. It leaves very little wiggle time for him to come back and throw meaningful innings, not unless the Yankees are right and Wang comes back at the extreme low end of expectations. I think the Yankees' record is going to dictate how this is eventually handled.
Some players are likely already lost for the season, but others have recovered quite nicely from past hurts.
Kelvim Escobar (180 DXL/$10.9 million)
I have no idea where the phrase "it's all over but the shouting" came from, but this one's all over but the official announcement. Escobar has gone from a bit sore to done for the season in short order after being diagnosed with a tear in his shoulder. The LA Times article about this is solid, but misses one detail: where the tear is, but it's actually tipped in the Mark Mulder/Bartolo Colon comparison. Sources confirm that Escobar has a torn rotator cuff, with potentially more damage inside. The official word is that they're going to shut him down for a while and see if they can build his strength up around the area of the injury, but surgery is almost always the end result here. It would stun me if Escobar is able to come back this season, and many are questioning if he can come back at all. It's interesting to note that Colon did have the same injury, and that the Angels have, since their World Series win, experienced a number of shoulder injuries. They've had a couple of pitching coaches over that period, so I don't think we can derive any teaching point or potentially problematic mechanical philosophy; it just bears noting. Of course, it was noted.
Popping the hood on King Felix as a demonstration of what's possible with PITCHf/x data
"Hell, yeah, I want to throw that pitch. They don't let me, though. They tell me I'm too young, that it's bad for my elbow. I told them I want to throw it."
--Felix Hernandeztalking about his slider before the 2006 season
Our servers, like the Cardinals bullpen and the A's, crashed. Only two of those get to come back.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1161098296_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.