Josh looks at a few players whose bats have sizzled out of the gate and explains whether you should sell high or look to acquire them.
Selling high on fast starters is largely a myth these days. There is simply too much information available for fantasy gamers. Not all fast starts are created equal, though, and sometimes it pays to inquire on the availability of some of these players. Occasionally, owners will feel like they are selling at peak value, and now is the time to make a deal with them. In other cases, those owners are selling a player at peak value, and it is best to avoid acquiring him now. The key is determining which hot players are likely to sustain their high level of success.
There were quite a few players for me to pick from, and I opted to eliminate superstars from the discussion. Superstars do great things, and telling you that Miguel Cabrera will continue to play well and is worth acquiring isn't terribly useful. With that in mind, I selected four hitters that had an ADP outside the top 100 at the end of March for NFBC leagues.
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How does the plate discipline of Dominican players compare to the league as a whole?
If you read Jorge Arangure Jr.’s great guest piece on Dominican players and plate discipline today, you may have wondered, as I did, whether we could see any difference between Dominicans and non-Dominicans in the data. Jorge mentioned how few Dominicans are among their respective leagues’ leaders in walk rate, but I wanted to see how DR-born players stacked up as a group. I asked BP data dude Dan Turkenkopf to run the numbers, and this is what he found for major leaguers in 2012. (Note: pitcher hitting is included, and the “league” rates include Dominican players.)
Are Dominican hitters hurting themselves by focusing on raw skills at the expense of a patient approach? And can anything be done about it?
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.
Jorge Arangure has been a baseball writer since 2003. He has worked as a senior writer for ESPN and The Washington Post. He's got #want and is #wet and will probably spend his BP freelancing money drinking with Jason Parks.
If it doesn't look like a Twin, soft-toss like a Twin, or pitch to contact like a Twin, it's probably not a Twin.
Francisco Liriano throws hard. He misses bats. He also misses the strike zone. In other words, he's never seemed much like a Minnesota Twin. Still, we went along with his act, as long as he wore the uniform and from time to time let Ron Gardenhire tell him to pitch to contact. But on Friday night, he completely blew his cover, striking out 15 batters in a loss to the A's. Fifteen batters! That's more than Nick Blackburn strikes out in most months.
David Robertson walked two consecutive batters on Saturday night, which was something he'd done either zero or 12 times before, depending on whom you ask.
Tim McCarver is a baseball broadcaster. His job is to talk during the hours that a baseball game is in progress—usually about baseball, but sometimes about TV shows, if a FOX sitcom star happens to be in the booth. Once in a while, in the course of those hours, he says something that isn't entirely accurate. So I just got this brilliant idea: catch him saying one of those inaccurate things! For too long has Tim McCarver's reputation gone unbesmirched by baseball bloggers. For too long has the broadcast team of Buck and McCarver been universally beloved. Well, no more. I'm here to tell you something you won't want to hear: even Tim McCarver makes mistakes.
Does the Pirates' Josh Harrison have a historically troubled relationship to the strike zone?
Start with the best part, from Josh Harrison’s perspective. On Friday, Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Pirates. It felt, at that moment, like one of the most inevitable no-hitters ever, because it had felt, in the first inning, like one of the most inevitable no-hitters ever. But, with one out, Josh Harrison got a base hit. That at-bat:
Player 1: In my last 105 plate appearances, I am hitting .316/.362/.531 which has taken my seasonal slash line up to a more respectable .273/.340/.432. In that time, I have 13 extra base hits, have scored 11 times, and have driven in 16 runs, but there are problems. For instance, I have struck out 32 times while walking just five during this run of success which is a stark contrast from my seasonal output. I have a nine percent walk rate and a 27 percent strikeout rate on the season, so the declines in both metrics are concerning. My home run to fly ball ratio is just 16 percent, which is likely sustainable, but my .435 batting average on balls in play is the second-highest at my position and trails only a strong candidate for league MVP at this time. I have a 30 percent line drive rate over the past month but was at just 20 percent before this hot streak happened. Still, this is quite an impressive run for a guy that still qualifies for the rookie of the year award. Who am I?
Jason looks at his Holy Trinity of Skills and the pitchers who qualify for the honor.
A few times this past off-season, I referred to James Shields, Scott Baker, and Ricky Nolasco as the unholy trinity based on how unlucky they were last season. The three of them were in the end-of-season top 25 for SIERA, but their ERA’s were 5.18, 4.51, and 4.63, respectively. Skills-wise, each had strong strikeout rates and low walk rates, but all three were victims of untimely home runs and, in Shields’s cases, just too many home runs. This season (until last night’s performance by Shields), all three were in the top 27 for this season with SIERA’s of 3.62 or lower.
To avoid biasing our opinion, Jason gives the report on a player before telling us whom he's talking about.
One thing many fantasy owners are guilty of is visual bias. We hear a player’s name and our minds immediately jump to the last reaction we had when watching that player. Refusing to deal Coco Crisp for Edwin Jackson in 2009 was one of the main reasons why my AL Tout Wars season suffered and Mike Siano’s competed for the league title in the final hour of the season. People were down on Leo Nunez coming into this season based on late season struggles and, yet, he is near the top of the standings for save. Similarly, those that passed on Kyle Farnsworth because, well, he was Kyle Farnsworth have missed out on a nice season thus far.
Some players look to be helping you out with nothing on the surface, but despite their early season struggles have been somewhat productive.
“Give me something! Give me anything!” I am guessing most of you have shouted that phrase at your TV or mobile device while watching one of your players this season. Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford were both premiere picks and yet Ben Zobrist did more last night against Twins pitching than those guys have done all season thus far. While that pair, Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Francisco Liriano, and others are making fantasy owners red hot with rage, some of the strugglers are doing something, anything, to help out in some areas while they continue to struggle in other areas. Here are some of those guys that are producing well despite struggles in other areas.
Are pitchers able to apply certain skills when a game calls for it?
One of the pitchers I enjoyed watching the most while I was growing up was Tom Glavine. Even though I was a Phillies fan and frequently saw him victimize my favorite team, I was impressed by the expertise he demonstrated on the mound, and how he perfected his craft. Glavine remains the premier example of a pitcher who out-pitched his peripheral statistics; he was greater than the sum of his parts. For the amount of strikeouts, walks, and ground balls that Glavine got in his career, he should never have been able to keep runs off the scoreboard as well as he did.
Is having pitch data available helpful in determining a pitcher's walk rates?
Last week, I looked at Predicting Strikeouts with Swing and Whiff Rates, breaking down pitch-by-pitch data to see if things like swinging-strike rates could provide more enlightenment when combined with the previous year’s strikeout rate to predict future strikeout rate. The answer was mostly negative. This was primarily due to two reasons. One was that much of the data on pitch locations is poor, and ensuing discussions highlighted just how poor it is. The other reason, however, is that strikeout rate is the quickest statistic to stabilize over small samples, so one year of strikeout data does a very good job of predicting subsequent strikeout data already. However, this week I will look at walk rate, and attempt to determine whether this data is more useful in predicting future walk rates. There is certainly evidence of value added in this case, far more so than with predicting strikeouts.