Who could be the surprise player of 2011, and could he rival the Jays' breakout ballplayer of 2010?
Last week in this space, among my random wishes for the upcoming season, I mentioned my desire for there to be another Jose Bautista in 2011, i.e., another veteran player who suddenly and unexpectedly puts up a monster year. Virtually no one predicted that the Jose-Bot would suddenly go all George Foster on the American League, but anyone that could have would have had a huge advantage in their fantasy or sim leagues last year.
The league's worst regulars often reside on the league's worst teams.
It's one thing for a contending team to suffer such subpar production at a position that it helps doom their playoff hopes, hence the Replacement-level Killers. But because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, it's often more fun to hunt the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel for the positions where players' contributions could be considered the worst in the majors, regardless of a team's status as a contender. What follows is an "all-star" team of players who produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a cool breeze running through their team's bank account. These are the Vortices of Suck.
Every team has positions that seem to chronically drag them down, but these teams ought to consider addition by excision.
When it comes to playoff races, every edge matters. Yet all too often, managers and GMs fail to make the moves that could help their teams for reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's statistics, allowing sub-par production to fester until it kills a club's post-season hopes. Back in 2007, I compiled a historical all-star squad of ignominy for our pennant race book, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, identifying players at each position whose performances had dragged their teams down in tight races: the Replacement-level Killers. The concept has been revisited on a more or less annual basis here at Baseball Prospectus, both bymyself and by my colleagues, with an eye toward what teams can do to solve such potentially fatal problems.
A look at the hitters whose True Average fell sharply from one season to the next and how they fared the following season.
Lance Berkman had a down year. I know that isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, but he did not perform up to the level we have come to expect given his career numbers. At 34 years old, he is unlikely to continue to hit like he did in the early part of his career, but his 2010 numbers paled in comparison to those produced a year ago, when he hit .274/.399/.509 with a .314 TAv. In 2010, Berkman put up a .288 TAv while hitting .248/.368/.413. Though his season was plagued by injuries, he managed a mere 14 home runs, and that slash line looks strange when attached to his name. The numbers were not terrible, but rather different, considering that he has never posted a BA below .274, an OBP below .386, an SLG below .509, or a TAv below .300.
Carlos Gonzalez has huge home-road splits, but he doesn't have the most dramatic splits of all time.
It isn’t exactly breaking news that Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies is having a fantastic season. Entering Thursday’s action, his .341 batting average topped the National League, as did his .612 slugging percentage, 182 hits, 106 RBI, 100 runs, and 326 total bases. Add in 23 stolen bases, a solid defensive reputation, and the fact that he is still the most likely candidate to achieve the Triple Crown, and it is very safe to say that he has soared far beyond reasonable expectations entering the year. PECOTA’s 90th- percentile foresaw a .312/.386/.550 slash line, which he has surpassed, even if his long-term rate of reaching base is likely to be called into question.
Looking at the most punchless players on contending teams and possible fixes.
When it comes to playoff races, every edge matters. Yet all too often, managers and GMs fail to make the moves that could help their teams for reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's statistics, allowing sub-par production to fester until it kills a club's post-season hopes. Back in 2007, I compiled a historical all-star squad of ignominy for our pennant race book, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, identifying players at each position whose performances had dragged their teams down in tight races: the Replacement-level Killers. The concept has been revisited on a more or less annual basis here at Baseball Prospectus, both bymyself and my colleagues, with an eye toward what teams can do to solve such potentially fatal problems. With the trading deadline less than two weeks away, the window for contenders to take their best shots at parlaying their resources into solutions are closing.
The best way to build a winning organization is to draft and develop talent then know which players to keep for the long haul.
While last week’s article contrasting the cost of re-signees vs. the cost of other people’s players, or “OPP,” made a strong point that there is a difference between these two groups of players, many readers had questions about various issues, including hometown discounts, the performance of the two groups of players before the deals, and whether the decline was a matter of a decrease in playing time or production. In this article, I break down each of these factors and use them to learn more about the cost of other people’s players.
Ty Wigginton and Alex Rios are among many hitters who are far exceeding their 2009 production.
It’s mid-May, and now that the clanging stampede at the starting gate has faded, baseball is starting to settle into its normal, quiet rhythms. Division races are beginning to take some shape. Metrics are starting to develop some sample-size heft. The cream is rising to the top, with names like Ethier, Morneau, Cabrera, Cano, and Pujols holding most of the top spots on the VORP leaderboard. And there, wedged between Ryan Braun and Chase Utley, you’ll find Ty Wigginton and his 20.6 VORP.
Taking a look at TAv broken down by position, one month into the season.
Seeing what positions are providing you with the most offense is important when you need to make a trade or drop a player to make room for one on the waiver wire. If you're into positional scarcity, then knowing where offense is the most scarce (or prevalent) is key for knowing what a player's value is like contextually. Today we'll take a look at how each position is doing via True Average (TAv) thus far, and compare it to last year's end of season totals. TAv is a catch-all offensive statistic scaled to batting average--.260 is always league average, but each position can have a different average to it.
Now, it's been just over a month, so these numbers are subject to change, but the lowest at-bat total at a position this far in is 2650, so we're not playing with tiny numbers either:
Some would-be contenders need to fill holes now before it gets too late.
You don't always have to settle for a patch—sometimes it pays to go with a whole new suit. Take the Astros' predicament while Lance Berkman was out. Pedro Feliz or Geoff Blum at first base—what were the Astros thinking? Their hands were somewhat forced by the seven-man bullpen and the 40-man roster, but let's face it, when the in-house alternative is a non-rostered repeat reject Chris Shelton, it wasn't like they had a Plan B. That said, a number of teams and some contenders have problem positions—but also on-hand aid they can plug and play.