How Sam Mondry-Cohen Went From Intern to Nats Assistant GM

Sam Mondry-Cohen was between his junior and senior years at the University of Pennsylvania when he first began working with the Washington Nationals. He’s come a long way since then. An unpaid intern for six week in the summer of 2009, Mondry-Cohen now holds the title of Assistant General Manager, Baseball Research & Development.

His initial front office experience was the epitome of humble. The Nationals didn’t even have an actual internship program at the time. As Mondry-Cohen explained it, “They were basically there to babysit me. I don’t know that anyone was really looking for any work product.”

What they got was a second sabermetric voice at a time when analytics had yet to become mainstream. Mondry-Cohen may have been majoring in English at Penn — African-American literature was his main focus — but he was an avaricious reader of FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. He’d devoured The Book. In short, he was a nerd-in-training.

“I had the vocabulary, and a way of looking at the game, that wasn’t common back then,” recalled Mondry-Cohen. “The Nationals didn’t have an analytics department or an R&D department. They didn’t have any data analysts. Adam Cromie, who went on to become the assistant GM, was the Assistant Director of Baseball Operations. He was the one who appreciated my world view of baseball, and he did assign me a few projects.” Read the rest of this entry »


Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 1/23/2020

Read the rest of this entry »


How Much Did the Red Sox Benefit from Their Sign-Stealing Scheme?

Last week, the consequences of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal became clear after commissioner Rob Manfred announced the results of MLB’s investigation into the team’s “banging scheme” and use of replay review to electronically steal signs. By the end of the week, Houston’s field manager and general manager had been fired, and the collateral damage from that investigation led to two more managerial dismissals around the league. While the league-administered discipline for non-Houston personnel is still pending, everyone named in the report has been fired.

Now that Houston has been punished, Manfred will turn his attention to the Red Sox, who are under investigation for illegally using the replay room in their own sign-stealing system. Boston’s scheme wasn’t nearly as elaborate as the one used in Houston. Per a report from Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich in The Athletic:

Three people who were with the Red Sox during their 108-win 2018 season told The Athletic that during that regular season, at least some players visited the video replay room during games to learn the sign sequence opponents were using. The replay room is just steps from the home dugout at Fenway Park, through the same doors that lead to the batting cage. Every team’s replay staff travels to road games, making the system viable in other parks as well… The Red Sox’s system was possible only when a runner was on second base, or sometimes even on first base. Nonetheless, a team that is able to discern that information live, during a game, and relay it to base runners has a distinct advantage. A runner at second base can stare in at a flurry of catcher’s signs and know which one matters, then inform the hitter accordingly.

Rather than a using a trash can, the Red Sox decoded signs sequences in the video replay room and conveyed that information to the dugout. Once everyone knew the sign sequence, any runner on second base could communicate the signs to the batter via subtle movements or gestures.

The Red Sox will almost certainly face some sort of discipline, especially since they’re repeat offenders: In September 2017, both the Red Sox and Yankees received what now looks like a slap on the wrist for using electronic means to steal signs — on that occasion, using smart watches to communicate between members of the coaching staff and club personnel. Alex Cora obviously wasn’t part of the organization the first time the Red Sox were caught, but he was likely involved this time around. Cora and the Red Sox have already “mutually agreed to part ways,” but that won’t stop MLB from handing down some sort of suspension on top of the penalties it levies on the team.

From an on-field perspective, the limitations of the Red Sox system are immediately apparent. The system only works if there’s a runner on base to see the signs the catchers puts down. The threat of runners stealing signs from second base has always been a part of game — it’s the reason a different sign sequence is used once a runner reaches base — but decoding the sequence using video replay cuts out that gamesmanship.

As I was with the Astros, I was interested in seeing if we could decipher just how much the Red Sox benefited from their own sign-stealing system.

Back in November, I estimated the Astros cumulatively gained around five wins from their banging scheme. Would Boston’s less sophisticated system result in a similar cumulative benefit or would the constraints of requiring a runner to be on second base limit the net effect? The answer might seem obvious, but based on the reports, the Red Sox were able to use their system both at home and on the road, while the Astros were limited to using their cameras at home. That alone increases the sample size for the Red Sox to about half of the total pitches the Astros saw at home in 2017.

A simple look at the Red Sox’s wOBA with a runner on second reveals a big jump in performance in 2018:

Red Sox wOBA with Runner on Second
Year Red Sox League Avg
2015 0.317 0.313
2016 0.348 0.316
2017 0.328 0.321
2018 0.365 0.315
2019 0.349 0.324
SOURCE: Baseball Savant

At the surface-level, something seems amiss. The team’s improvement probably isn’t related to an upgraded roster, as it could have been with the Astros in 2017. Of the 11 batters who accumulated more than 200 plate appearances with the 2017 Red Sox, eight were back in 2018.

When we look at Boston’s plate discipline metrics with a runner on second, things look a bit murky:

Red Sox plate discipline with Runner on Second
Year O-Swing% Z-Contact% SwStr%
2015 30.2% 84.2% 10.3%
2016 27.1% 87.4% 8.7%
2017 27.1% 85.0% 10.1%
2018 25.9% 84.7% 10.0%
2019 29.4% 81.2% 12.1%
SOURCE: Baseball Savant

As a team, with a man on second, the Red Sox chased pitches out of the zone far less often than in years prior but that didn’t necessarily translate to fewer swings and misses. And their contact rate on pitches in the zone actually fell from 2017 to 2018.

With that high-level look not very conclusive, let’s dive into the pitch-level data. As a refresher, I’m calculating run values for every pitch thrown using RE288 — the run expectancy based on the 24 base-out states and the 12 plate count states. When we filter and aggregate those run values, we can get a sense of how a team performed in particular situations, say, when a runner is on second base and they might be relaying the incoming pitch to the batter. To account for the different sample sizes, I scaled the run values to standardize the values per 100 pitches.

Red Sox Pitch Type Run Values with Runner on Second
Year Fastball Breaking Offspeed
Swing Runs
2017 – Runner on 2B -1.43 0.18 -2.71
2018 – Runner on 2B -0.44 -0.67 1.06
Change 0.99 -0.85 3.77
Take Runs
2017 – Runner on 2B 0.83 1.74 2.13
2018 – Runner on 2B 1.06 1.63 2.53
Change 0.23 -0.11 0.40
SOURCE: Baseball Savant

In 2018, the Red Sox saw a huge boost in performance when facing offspeed pitches with a runner on second base when compared to 2017, particularly when they swung at those pitches. They also saw a big improvement when swinging at fastballs. They saw smaller benefits when taking those two pitch types. It’s interesting that they didn’t see any improvement against breaking balls, though their improvement against the two other pitch types more than compensated.

What does the data show when we compare their 2018 performance with runners on second to their performance when there were runners on first or third but not on second?

Red Sox Pitch Type Run Values with Runner on Second
Base state Fastball Breaking Offspeed
Swing Runs
2018 – Runner on, not on 2B -0.78 -1.70 -1.60
2018 – Runner on 2B -0.44 -0.67 1.06
Difference 0.34 1.03 2.66
Take Runs
2018 – Runner on, not on 2B 1.40 1.35 2.12
2018 – Runner on 2B 1.06 1.63 2.53
Difference -0.34 0.28 0.41
SOURCE: Baseball Savant

Almost across the board, the Red Sox performed much better when there was a runner on second. And the biggest difference in performance was swinging at offspeed pitches like we saw above. In Rosenthal and Drellich’s initial report about the Red Sox sign-stealing scheme, there was some speculation that the signs could be stolen by a runner on first base. If that’s true, it doesn’t necessarily show up in the data. They clearly saw a benefit when there was specifically a runner on second.

Finally, let’s add their performance when the bases are empty to our analysis.

Red Sox Pitch Type Run Values with Runner on Second
Base state Fastball Breaking Offspeed
Swing Runs
2018 – Runner on, not on 2B -0.78 -1.70 -1.60
2018 – Runner on 2B -0.44 -0.67 1.06
2018 – Bases Empty -0.68 -0.71 -1.03
Take Runs
2018 – Runner on, not on 2B 1.40 1.35 2.12
2018 – Runner on 2B 1.06 1.63 2.53
2018 – Bases Empty 0.93 0.67 1.33
SOURCE: Baseball Savant

It’s clear that the Red Sox hit much better when there was a runner on second base. They simply crushed offspeed pitches and saw smaller benefits when facing breaking balls and fastballs. The obvious implication is that the team gained an advantage when a runner on second was able to relay the incoming pitch to the batter. When we compare their aggregate run values from 2017 to 2018, I estimate they gained a total cumulative value around five wins — the same estimated benefit the Astros saw with their sign-stealing scheme in 2017. And of course, that doesn’t completely account for the effects that are difficult to quantify, such as the cumulative benefit of requiring opposing pitchers to throw more pitches as hitters lay off of offspeed deliveries designed to entice a swing and a miss.

This isn’t the space to analyze how individual batters benefited from the system, particularly since no players were directly named in the report from Rosenthal and Drellich. I’d expect we’d see similar results to the Astros data though — marginal benefits for most individuals that add up to significant gains for the team. I was surprised to find that the total cumulative effect for Boston was on par with what I estimated for the Astros. It seemed like the limitations of Boston’s system would have resulted in a smaller effect. Perhaps the familiarity of receiving intel from a runner on second allowed Red Sox batters to effectively act on that information when presented; maybe it was hard for hitters to process information from a clanging trash can in the short time before they had to face an incoming pitch.

It appears that both sign-stealing ploys were similarly effective, which makes it’s clear that MLB needs to find a way to prevent teams from implementing these kind of schemes moving forward. Houston’s harsh punishment and the pending discipline for the Red Sox is one step, but the league needs to take more effective preventative measures. Further regulating who is allowed to use the replay room seems like a quick and simple fix that could be instituted as soon as this season. But as long as teams are looking for any and every small advantage and win-at-all-costs attitudes are promoted within organizational cultures, another controversy of this magnitude seems likely to happen again. Rather than react to that new disruption, MLB needs to be forward thinking, particularly as new technology affects how the game is viewed and played.


2020 ZiPS Projections: Minnesota Twins

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for eight years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Minnesota Twins.

Batters

In my opinion, closing the deal with Josh Donaldson salvaged the Twins’ offseason. The team didn’t make any big moves last winter, disappointingly starting 2019 with a lower payroll than in 2018, but it did make several lower-key additions. With the Indians engaged in crippling levels of inaction, the Twins were able to “steal a march” on Cleveland and surprise them from behind. Minnesota had a quieter winter in the early going of this year and my worry — from their point of view that is — was that the Twins might enabling the White Sox to do to them in 2020 what they did to Cleveland in 2019.

Adding Donaldson, and moving Miguel Sanó to first, closes up the final hole in the starting lineup. Now, the Twins lineup resembles a classic Cardinals lineup, in the very best sense. There are no superstars — not even Donaldson — but the lineup is stacked, with every single starter projected to be at least league average. And there might be some upside remaining in Byron Buxton and Sanó. Like the best St. Louis teams, ZiPS sees the Twins as having ample backup plans at most positions, with Willians Astudillo, Marwin Gonzalez, Alex Avila, and even Jake Cave and Tomás Telis/Ryan Jeffers as more-than-capable fill-ins.

I’m very happy to see that ZiPS, like Steamer, has become a true disciple of Luis Arraez. His 2019 projection of .268/.309/.354 was more than respectable for a player who only had a couple months of Double-A experience and who was on the edges of prospect status. Arraez blew through that quickly, hitting .344/.409/.401 in the minors and .334/.399/.439 in 92 major league games. And remember, the offensive explosion in the minors was home run related, something that didn’t much benefit Arraez, who had all of six professional homers when the Twins called him up (and none in 2019). I didn’t have an American League Rookie of the Year vote, but Arraez would have been either second or third on my ballot. I’m know it’s likely that ZiPS is projecting Arraez to lead the league in batting average, but so be it; I don’t put my thumb on the scale.

Pitchers

While I love the Donaldson signing, I would much rather have seen them sign the Josh Donaldson of pitching. The top of the rotation is solid, with José Berríos and Jake Odorizzi, and Rich Hill and Homer Bailey aren’t bad pickups, especially as the team waits for Michael Pineada to come back from suspension, but there are too many interesting question marks behind Berríos and Odorizzi. That’s a more palatable situation for a rebuilding team than a contending one. The Twins are still one, possibly two pitchers away from me feeling comfortable with their roster. The rotation is unlikely to be a disaster because they also project to have a lot of reasonable back-end options, but the whole complexion of this group changes with Zack Wheeler or Hyun-Jin Ryu in there.

The bullpen looks a lot like the offense in that there’s nobody really dominant apart from Taylor Rogers, but it’s not really weak anywhere either. ZiPS likes a lot of the team’s Triple-A bound relievers, with pitchers like Ryne Harper, Danny Coulombe, Andrew Vasquez, Blaine Hardy, and Cody Stashak all having the potential to add real value to the parent club if needed.

Prospects

While ZiPS still sees Royce Lewis ending up with more career WAR than Nick Gordon, that gap is much narrower than scouts’ perceptions of the two middle infielders would suggest. ZiPS thinks Lewis has a lot more upside than Gordon, but also a fairly large chance of being a total bust; ZiPS translates his 2019 minor league performance at .193/.234/.305, coming off a .228/.276/.339 translation in 2018. ZiPS thinks Gordon is a safer bet, but doesn’t see a great deal of upside, pegging him basically as a one-win starter for most of his career. Given where the Twins are right now, if they can land a real difference-maker on the mound with a package centered around Lewis or Alex Kirilloff, I would pull that trigger in an instant.

ZiPS is more optimistic about the pitching prospects. Both Brusdar Graterol and Lewis Thorpe received projections suggesting they could pitch right now in the majors without the least bit of embarrassment, forming part of the Twins’ ample supply of third-through-fifth starters. And if you’re looking for some interesting names of the fringe prospect variety, ZiPS gives a better than 50/50 shot that either Griffin Jax or Bailey Ober have at least one league-average season as a starter in the majors. Now, I’d be skeptical of Ober until he passes the Triple-A test — he looks like an NBA power forward with a fastball that’s maybe better than Jered Weaver’s — but I like giving players who don’t fit the mold but play well every opportunity to pass or fail on merit.

One pedantic note for 2020: for the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Josh Donaldson R 34 3B 539 452 76 116 24 1 27 79 80 121 4 2
Max Kepler L 27 RF 587 516 85 131 31 3 28 84 61 104 3 4
Jorge Polanco B 26 SS 656 590 86 166 35 7 19 83 53 110 7 5
Luis Arraez L 23 2B 638 576 82 178 30 3 6 45 57 45 6 4
Miguel Sano R 27 1B 482 418 76 100 19 2 35 91 59 181 0 1
Nelson Cruz R 39 DH 484 426 63 116 19 0 32 96 46 116 0 1
Byron Buxton R 26 CF 393 357 54 88 21 4 13 49 27 110 17 2
Eddie Rosario L 28 LF 601 568 89 161 33 2 27 96 26 99 6 3
Mitch Garver R 29 C 379 334 55 83 18 1 18 61 40 94 0 0
Willians Astudillo R 28 C 334 314 39 89 15 1 12 42 8 13 2 3
Marwin Gonzalez B 31 RF 487 443 55 117 26 1 15 65 36 103 4 2
Alex Avila L 33 C 243 199 22 40 7 0 9 27 42 90 1 0
Jake Cave L 27 CF 494 449 63 116 25 5 17 64 35 146 4 2
Ryan Jeffers R 23 C 404 369 44 86 16 0 12 40 28 97 0 0
Tomás Telis B 29 C 356 333 38 92 16 2 5 36 17 40 1 1
Ian Miller L 28 CF 526 481 56 119 23 4 5 43 34 102 29 6
Nick Gordon L 24 SS 492 459 51 113 25 4 6 44 26 116 15 5
Ehire Adrianza B 30 SS 279 249 35 64 13 2 6 30 20 51 3 2
Alex Kirilloff L 22 RF 508 475 54 128 26 2 15 54 26 105 6 5
Drew Maggi R 31 3B 428 378 45 84 16 2 6 31 36 104 8 5
Ben Rortvedt L 22 C 353 320 34 67 14 2 7 30 27 86 0 0
LaMonte Wade Jr L 26 RF 467 399 54 94 15 3 8 37 56 81 6 3
Luke Raley L 25 RF 445 406 51 94 15 5 13 47 23 138 5 1
Jimmy Kerrigan R 26 CF 388 362 37 78 13 1 12 37 15 128 8 6
Wynston Sawyer R 28 C 202 181 21 41 11 0 4 18 15 55 0 1
Wilfredo Tovar R 28 SS 429 403 40 98 19 2 4 35 22 65 8 6
Jack Reinheimer R 27 SS 432 390 44 87 15 2 5 32 35 99 12 5
Alejandro De Aza L 36 LF 180 159 20 37 7 1 4 17 16 39 3 0
Mike Miller R 30 SS 326 298 32 72 12 0 3 22 21 52 5 4
Gilberto Celestino R 21 CF 521 483 49 109 21 1 11 44 32 114 14 8
Brent Rooker R 25 LF 406 363 48 78 17 1 17 51 35 142 2 1
Jose Miranda R 22 3B 535 503 51 114 25 1 12 53 20 77 0 1
Juan Graterol R 31 C 227 213 19 50 8 0 1 17 8 24 0 1
Ivan De Jesus Jr. R 33 3B 323 292 30 69 12 1 3 24 23 69 1 3
Cody Asche L 30 3B 318 283 34 59 13 1 8 35 30 97 3 2
Travis Blankenhorn L 23 2B 501 471 50 107 21 3 15 53 23 136 8 2
Royce Lewis R 21 SS 583 542 57 122 24 3 13 51 33 151 19 12
Wilin Rosario R 31 1B 443 414 50 102 21 1 15 61 21 95 3 2
Brandon Barnes R 34 LF 484 446 49 96 22 1 12 50 28 150 9 3
Zander Wiel R 27 1B 512 468 56 101 25 4 15 58 35 157 3 1
Trevor Larnach L 23 RF 519 473 53 114 25 2 12 50 39 143 3 1
Michael Davis L 24 SS 244 226 20 35 8 1 5 18 16 118 2 1
Andrew Bechtold R 24 3B 446 401 38 73 15 1 4 28 41 158 4 2
Caleb Hamilton R 25 C 365 330 33 60 15 1 6 30 31 114 4 4

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Josh Donaldson .257 .373 .493 125 .237 .293 6.7 3 3.9 Ron Santo
Max Kepler .254 .337 .488 118 .234 .268 5.9 9 3.1 Trot Nixon
Jorge Polanco .281 .342 .461 113 .180 .319 5.9 -4 3.0 Jorge Orta
Luis Arraez .309 .370 .403 108 .094 .328 5.8 -1 2.8 Dustin Pedroia
Miguel Sano .239 .336 .545 131 .306 .322 6.5 2 2.7 Jay Buhner
Nelson Cruz .272 .353 .542 135 .270 .302 7.1 0 2.7 Fred McGriff
Byron Buxton .246 .305 .437 96 .190 .321 5.2 8 2.0 Devon White
Eddie Rosario .283 .312 .491 111 .208 .303 5.8 2 1.9 Garret Anderson
Mitch Garver .249 .332 .470 112 .222 .293 5.6 -4 1.8 Steve Yeager
Willians Astudillo .283 .312 .452 102 .169 .266 5.2 2 1.5 Frank House
Marwin Gonzalez .264 .326 .429 100 .165 .314 5.1 2 1.2 Mike Brown
Alex Avila .201 .342 .372 92 .171 .310 4.3 4 1.2 Wes Westrum
Jake Cave .258 .318 .450 103 .192 .346 5.2 -7 1.2 Junior Felix
Ryan Jeffers .233 .297 .374 79 .141 .285 3.9 3 1.0 Pete Beeler
Tomás Telis .276 .315 .381 86 .105 .302 4.5 0 0.8 Charlie Moore
Ian Miller .247 .303 .343 74 .096 .305 4.1 4 0.8 Chris Roberson
Nick Gordon .246 .291 .357 73 .111 .318 3.8 2 0.6 Ron Gardenhire
Ehire Adrianza .257 .315 .398 90 .141 .302 4.5 -4 0.4 Joe Randa
Alex Kirilloff .269 .311 .427 96 .158 .318 4.8 -3 0.3 Jose Guillen
Drew Maggi .222 .306 .323 70 .101 .291 3.4 4 0.3 Chico Ruiz
Ben Rortvedt .209 .278 .331 63 .122 .264 3.1 4 0.3 Walt McKeel
LaMonte Wade Jr .236 .337 .348 85 .113 .277 4.1 -2 0.2 John Lewis
Luke Raley .232 .292 .389 81 .158 .318 4.1 1 0.0 Rusty Tillman
Jimmy Kerrigan .215 .258 .356 63 .141 .297 3.1 6 0.0 Greg Porter
Wynston Sawyer .227 .302 .354 76 .127 .303 3.6 -3 0.0 Dusty Brown
Wilfredo Tovar .243 .283 .330 64 .087 .281 3.2 2 0.0 Dave Myers
Jack Reinheimer .223 .288 .310 61 .087 .287 3.2 2 -0.1 Drew Meyer
Alejandro De Aza .233 .313 .365 82 .132 .284 4.2 -1 -0.1 Brian Jordan
Mike Miller .242 .293 .312 63 .070 .284 3.2 0 -0.2 Al Pedrique
Gilberto Celestino .226 .278 .342 66 .116 .274 3.3 3 -0.2 Mike Rennhack
Brent Rooker .215 .293 .408 85 .193 .299 4.1 -4 -0.2 Shon Ashley
Jose Miranda .227 .265 .352 64 .125 .246 3.2 4 -0.2 Rob Cosby
Juan Graterol .235 .270 .286 50 .052 .261 2.6 2 -0.3 Bob Swift
Ivan De Jesus Jr. .236 .299 .315 66 .079 .300 3.1 -1 -0.4 Ron Oester
Cody Asche .208 .289 .346 70 .138 .287 3.4 -4 -0.4 Trace Coquillette
Travis Blankenhorn .227 .268 .380 71 .153 .288 3.6 -4 -0.4 Carlos Casimiro
Royce Lewis .225 .271 .352 66 .127 .288 3.2 -2 -0.5 Asdrubal Cabrera
Wilin Rosario .246 .289 .411 85 .164 .286 4.2 -4 -0.5 Chan Perry
Brandon Barnes .215 .269 .350 65 .135 .296 3.3 5 -0.6 Orsino Hill
Zander Wiel .216 .275 .382 74 .167 .291 3.6 1 -0.6 Doug Devore
Trevor Larnach .241 .301 .378 81 .137 .321 4.1 -6 -0.6 Juan Tejeda
Michael Davis .155 .213 .265 28 .111 .291 1.8 1 -1.1 Dave Detienne
Andrew Bechtold .182 .258 .254 39 .072 .289 2.2 2 -1.6 Jake Wald
Caleb Hamilton .182 .255 .288 46 .106 .257 2.3 -7 -1.6 Brian Moon

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Jose Berrios R 26 13 10 4.17 32 32 190.0 179 88 27 59 193 3.93
Jake Odorizzi R 30 12 8 4.09 29 29 149.7 136 68 22 52 158 4.02
Randy Dobnak R 25 10 8 4.29 32 25 147.0 161 70 17 38 100 4.10
Rich Hill L 40 7 4 3.59 18 18 87.7 73 35 13 28 103 3.72
Devin Smeltzer L 24 7 6 4.55 33 25 144.3 155 73 24 35 122 4.38
Michael Pineda R 31 7 6 4.50 22 22 118.0 125 59 21 25 110 4.26
Taylor Rogers L 29 4 2 3.09 63 0 67.0 56 23 6 19 78 2.87
Lewis Thorpe L 24 8 7 4.69 31 23 126.7 130 66 23 38 132 4.36
Brusdar Graterol R 21 6 5 4.52 30 16 85.7 86 43 11 37 77 4.35
Griffin Jax R 25 6 5 4.86 22 22 113.0 130 61 15 29 68 4.47
Bailey Ober R 24 4 4 4.56 15 14 73.0 77 37 14 17 63 4.65
Bryan Sammons L 25 8 8 5.01 25 24 109.7 113 61 15 58 94 4.83
Matt Wisler R 27 6 6 4.83 38 15 104.3 110 56 18 28 101 4.29
Blaine Hardy L 33 3 2 4.14 41 5 63.0 63 29 7 18 49 3.93
Sean Poppen R 26 6 6 5.04 24 18 103.7 109 58 15 47 91 4.67
Jhoan Duran R 22 8 8 5.09 23 23 104.3 106 59 16 53 101 4.76
Zack Littell R 24 3 2 4.05 66 0 80.0 76 36 9 32 78 3.89
Tyler Duffey R 29 4 3 4.04 61 0 71.3 65 32 11 21 85 3.68
Cody Stashak R 26 5 5 4.65 42 7 79.3 81 41 14 21 77 4.33
Trevor May R 30 4 3 3.93 57 0 52.7 44 23 7 24 65 3.81
Charlie Barnes L 24 7 7 5.31 25 24 120.3 133 71 16 64 84 5.11
Adam Bray R 27 4 4 4.93 32 10 84.0 95 46 15 26 65 4.88
Homer Bailey R 34 8 9 5.41 25 25 126.3 142 76 24 45 109 4.99
Addison Reed R 31 3 2 4.18 58 0 56.0 57 26 9 13 51 4.14
Sam Dyson R 32 4 3 4.20 59 0 55.7 55 26 7 18 46 4.13
Ryne Harper R 31 4 3 4.20 53 0 55.7 55 26 8 16 53 4.01
Daniel Coulombe L 30 3 2 4.14 42 0 45.7 41 21 6 19 53 3.82
Andrew Vasquez L 26 3 2 4.35 37 1 49.7 42 24 4 36 57 4.11
Edwar Colina R 23 5 6 5.40 20 16 93.3 97 56 14 52 78 5.13
Fernando Romero R 25 3 2 4.40 57 0 71.7 69 35 7 35 67 4.05
Gabriel Moya L 25 3 3 4.83 48 7 59.7 59 32 10 25 58 4.67
Jorge Alcala R 24 6 7 5.35 31 16 102.7 109 61 16 53 89 5.02
Preston Guilmet R 32 3 3 4.76 41 4 62.3 63 33 12 19 66 4.48
Sergio Romo R 37 2 2 4.38 57 0 51.3 49 25 9 16 54 4.29
Andro Cutura R 26 3 4 5.37 16 12 62.0 71 37 9 25 38 5.05
Tyler Clippard R 35 2 2 4.45 56 0 54.7 48 27 10 20 63 4.35
DJ Baxendale R 29 5 5 5.23 30 9 74.0 81 43 12 29 58 4.90
Jeremy Bleich L 33 3 3 4.70 31 2 44.0 47 23 6 16 37 4.36
Melvi Acosta R 25 5 6 5.28 26 8 73.3 82 43 10 35 48 5.08
Ian Krol L 29 2 2 4.53 50 0 51.7 49 26 7 25 56 4.23
Jonathan Cheshire R 25 3 3 4.57 27 0 41.3 45 21 5 14 27 4.46
Anthony Vizcaya R 26 3 3 4.87 43 2 68.3 68 37 10 37 63 4.86
Ryan Garton R 30 3 3 4.77 43 1 60.3 59 32 8 32 59 4.54
Tom Hackimer R 26 4 4 4.70 35 0 51.7 48 27 5 36 49 4.63
Sam Clay L 27 4 5 5.11 41 4 68.7 67 39 6 51 59 4.83
Jake Reed R 27 4 3 4.86 43 1 66.7 64 36 9 34 67 4.46
Caleb Thielbar L 33 2 2 4.75 43 0 60.7 63 32 11 16 55 4.52
Ryan Mason R 25 4 3 4.84 29 0 48.3 52 26 7 19 37 4.71
Ryan O’Rourke L 32 3 3 5.01 43 1 46.7 43 26 6 32 51 4.72
Brandon Barnes R 34 0 0 7.36 3 0 3.7 5 3 1 1 1 7.00
Cody Allen R 31 3 3 5.10 51 1 47.7 43 27 9 27 56 4.98
Jovani Moran L 23 3 4 5.17 29 0 47.0 41 27 7 38 56 5.16
Mitch Horacek L 28 3 3 5.62 45 0 49.7 51 31 8 32 48 5.27
Hector Lujan R 25 3 4 5.46 36 0 57.7 65 35 12 21 44 5.45
Tyler Watson L 27 1 2 6.08 22 0 37.0 43 25 8 17 28 5.86
Chase De Jong R 26 5 8 6.75 23 21 110.7 136 83 27 48 72 6.35

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Jose Berrios 9.1 2.8 1.3 7.3% 23.9% .295 107 94 3.1 Steve Rogers
Jake Odorizzi 9.5 3.1 1.3 8.3% 25.1% .289 109 92 2.5 Pat Hentgen
Randy Dobnak 6.1 2.3 1.0 6.0% 15.7% .304 104 96 2.1 Fred Newman
Rich Hill 10.6 2.9 1.3 7.7% 28.2% .279 116 87 1.6 Al Leiter
Devin Smeltzer 7.6 2.2 1.5 5.7% 19.7% .304 98 102 1.7 Scott McGregor
Michael Pineda 8.4 1.9 1.6 5.0% 22.0% .306 99 101 1.5 Bob Tewksbury
Taylor Rogers 10.5 2.6 0.8 6.9% 28.3% .296 144 69 1.5 Sparky Lyle
Lewis Thorpe 9.4 2.7 1.6 7.0% 24.2% .308 95 105 1.3 Glendon Rusch
Brusdar Graterol 8.1 3.9 1.2 9.8% 20.4% .301 99 101 1.0 Russ Meyer
Griffin Jax 5.4 2.3 1.2 5.9% 13.7% .305 92 109 1.0 Rick Wise
Bailey Ober 7.8 2.1 1.7 5.4% 20.2% .294 98 102 0.9 Dave Rozema
Bryan Sammons 7.7 4.8 1.2 11.6% 18.8% .302 89 112 0.8 Terry Mulholland
Matt Wisler 8.7 2.4 1.6 6.3% 22.6% .310 92 108 0.8 Tony Arnold
Blaine Hardy 7.0 2.6 1.0 6.8% 18.4% .293 108 93 0.7 Ramon Hernandez
Sean Poppen 7.9 4.1 1.3 10.1% 19.5% .306 89 113 0.7 Sean White
Jhoan Duran 8.7 4.6 1.4 11.3% 21.4% .305 88 114 0.7 Rick Berg
Zack Littell 8.8 3.6 1.0 9.3% 22.6% .300 110 91 0.6 Turk Farrell
Tyler Duffey 10.7 2.6 1.4 7.0% 28.4% .302 110 91 0.6 Mike Burns
Cody Stashak 8.7 2.4 1.6 6.2% 22.7% .300 96 104 0.5 John Doherty
Trevor May 11.1 4.1 1.2 10.7% 28.9% .291 113 88 0.5 Ken Ryan
Charlie Barnes 6.3 4.8 1.2 11.5% 15.1% .304 84 119 0.5 Jerry Reuss
Adam Bray 7.0 2.8 1.6 7.0% 17.5% .307 90 111 0.5 John Doherty
Homer Bailey 7.8 3.2 1.7 8.0% 19.4% .311 82 121 0.4 Pat Ahearne
Addison Reed 8.2 2.1 1.4 5.5% 21.7% .298 107 94 0.4 Hi Bell
Sam Dyson 7.4 2.9 1.1 7.5% 19.2% .291 106 94 0.4 Kent Tekulve
Ryne Harper 8.6 2.6 1.3 6.8% 22.5% .299 106 94 0.3 Kent Tekulve
Daniel Coulombe 10.4 3.7 1.2 9.7% 27.0% .302 108 93 0.3 Javier Lopez
Andrew Vasquez 10.3 6.5 0.7 15.8% 25.0% .299 103 98 0.3 Clay Bryant
Edwar Colina 7.5 5.0 1.4 12.2% 18.3% .299 83 121 0.3 Jim Clancy
Fernando Romero 8.4 4.4 0.9 11.0% 21.0% .302 101 99 0.3 Tommie Sisk
Gabriel Moya 8.7 3.8 1.5 9.5% 22.1% .295 92 108 0.3 Pat Clements
Jorge Alcala 7.8 4.6 1.4 11.3% 19.0% .305 83 120 0.2 Tim Byron
Preston Guilmet 9.5 2.7 1.7 7.1% 24.6% .304 94 107 0.2 Gil Heredia
Sergio Romo 9.5 2.8 1.6 7.4% 24.9% .292 102 98 0.2 Mike Timlin
Andro Cutura 5.5 3.6 1.3 8.9% 13.5% .302 83 120 0.2 Bill Swift
Tyler Clippard 10.4 3.3 1.6 8.6% 27.2% .279 100 100 0.2 Jim Corsi
DJ Baxendale 7.1 3.5 1.5 8.8% 17.6% .304 85 117 0.2 Milo Candini
Jeremy Bleich 7.6 3.3 1.2 8.2% 19.0% .308 95 106 0.2 Fred Gladding
Melvi Acosta 5.9 4.3 1.2 10.4% 14.3% .303 84 118 0.1 Don Carrithers
Ian Krol 9.8 4.4 1.2 10.9% 24.5% .304 98 102 0.1 Tippy Martinez
Jonathan Cheshire 5.9 3.0 1.1 7.7% 14.8% .299 97 103 0.1 Pedro Borbon
Anthony Vizcaya 8.3 4.9 1.3 12.0% 20.4% .297 91 109 0.1 Joe Hudson
Ryan Garton 8.8 4.8 1.2 11.9% 21.9% .302 93 107 0.1 Ted Abernathy
Tom Hackimer 8.5 6.3 0.9 15.1% 20.6% .297 95 105 0.0 Newt Kimball
Sam Clay 7.7 6.7 0.8 15.8% 18.3% .300 87 115 0.0 Brian Adams
Jake Reed 9.0 4.6 1.2 11.5% 22.6% .301 92 109 0.0 Sean Green
Caleb Thielbar 8.2 2.4 1.6 6.2% 21.2% .297 94 106 0.0 Tom Burgmeier
Ryan Mason 6.9 3.5 1.3 8.8% 17.2% .302 92 109 -0.1 Bill Castro
Ryan O’Rourke 9.8 6.2 1.2 15.0% 23.8% .301 89 112 -0.1 Marshall Bridges
Brandon Barnes 2.5 2.5 2.5 5.9% 5.9% .286 61 165 -0.1 Bob Miller
Cody Allen 10.6 5.1 1.7 12.8% 26.5% .288 87 114 -0.2 Craig McMurtry
Jovani Moran 10.7 7.3 1.3 17.3% 25.5% .293 86 116 -0.2 Grant Jackson
Mitch Horacek 8.7 5.8 1.4 13.8% 20.7% .305 87 114 -0.1 Tom Doyle
Hector Lujan 6.9 3.3 1.9 8.1% 17.1% .298 82 123 -0.5 Dick Coffman
Tyler Watson 6.8 4.1 1.9 9.9% 16.4% .304 73 136 -0.6 Brian Henderson
Chase De Jong 5.9 3.9 2.2 9.4% 14.0% .303 66 151 -1.3 Pat Ahearne

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2020 due to injury, and players who were released in 2019. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in June to form a ska-cowpunk Luxembourgian bubblegum pop-death metal band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article.


Let’s Have Fun With Non-Neutral Games Contexts

As I was browsing through Baseball Twitter a few days ago (terrible habit, I suggest you avoid it), I came across an interesting question:

My brain loves puzzles and answering questions, so I decided to vote. The obvious choice is Player C. He’s the best hitter, and I want my best hitter in the most important situations. The point of the exercise has to be to dunk on fans who think Player A is clutch, right?

Well, essentially yes. The players in this question are 2019 DJ LeMahieu, 2014 Giancarlo Stanton, and 2017 Aaron Judge. Yankees fans were really into LeMahieu in 2019, to the point of advocating for him as MVP, and while he was certainly a good hitter, he’s not Aaron Judge.

But don’t stop the analysis there, because something important is missing. Picking the best hitter is easy — as long as you define best correctly. For example, ISO shouldn’t enter into your decision at all. With the bases loaded and two outs, there’s not much difference between a single and a home run, and there’s definitely no difference between a double and a home run. Power stats aren’t relevant here. Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 1490: Yeah Jeets

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller do a brief, spoiler-free followup on their Knives Out banter from the previous episode, then break down the elections of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker to the Hall of Fame, touching on the contrast between their voting trajectories, how and why Walker made it, the lone Jeter ballot holdout, the next sabermetric Cooperstown Cause célèbre, Scott Rolen vs. Omar Vizquel, the next few Hall of Fame ballots, and more. Then they banter about the Braves signing Marcell Ozuna and answer listener emails about the possibility of a player blackmailing a cheating team, whether sign stealing is more powerful than PEDs, when baseball becomes “history,” and why politicians so often bring up baseball, plus a Stat Blast about the Rockies’ pre-Walker Hall of Fame shutout.

Audio intro: The Spinanes, "Fame and Fortune"
Audio outro: Silver Jews, "Pet Politics"

Link to Hall of Fame voting results
Link to Baumann on Jeter and Walker
Link to Stark on the Hall of Fame results
Link to Ben Clemens on the Ozuna signing
Link to Jay Jaffe on the sign-stealing and PED scandals
Link to Ben on the statistical effects of steroids
Link to story on when history ends
Link to Bryan Curtis on baseball metaphors in politics
Link to order The MVP Machine

 iTunes Feed (Please rate and review us!)
 Sponsor Us on Patreon
 Facebook Group
 Effectively Wild Wiki
 Twitter Account
 Get Our Merch!
 Email Us: podcast@fangraphs.com


A Candidate-by-Candidate Look at the 2020 Hall of Fame Election Results

For an unprecedented seventh year in a row, and as part of a still record-setting surge, the BBWAA elected multiple candidates to the Hall of Fame with the 2020 ballot. Derek Jeter and Larry Walker had very different playing careers and voting paths, but both gained entry via results that carried a fair bit of drama into Tuesday evening’s announcement, as the questions of whether the former would join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the second unanimous selection in as many years, and of whether the latter would end up on the right side of 75%, were both up in the air.

The Surge: BBWAA-elected Hall of Famers 2014-20
Year 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
2014 Greg Maddux (97.2%) Tom Glavine (91.9%) Frank Thomas (83.7%)
2015 Randy Johnson (97.3%) Pedro Martinez (91.1%) John Smoltz (82.9%) Craig Biggio (82.7%)
2016 Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3%) Mike Piazza (83.0%)
2017 Jeff Bagwell (86.2%) Tim Raines (86.0%) Ivan Rodriguez (76.0%)
2018 Chipper Jones (97.2%) Vlad Guerrero (92.9%) Jim Thome (89.8%) Trevor Hoffman (79.9%)
2019 Mariano Rivera (100%) Roy Halladay (85.4%) Edgar Martinez (85.4%) Mike Mussina (76.7%)
2020 Derek Jeter (99.7%) Larry Walker (76.6%)
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

We now know the answers, of course, and I’ve already delved into the ballot’s big take-home points. What follows here is my look at how each candidate fared, with a few lumped together for obvious reasons. Having written so much about the two honorees, I’m starting at the bottom of the results and working my way to the top, though of course I do hope you stick around to the end, if only to meet Robinson Canoe. Read the rest of this entry »


The Texas Rangers Still Aren’t Very Good

As the Rangers look to open 2020 in a new ballpark, they set out to build on a surprisingly competent 2019 season by making significant additions. The team was aggressive on the pitching side, quickly adding Kyle Gibson on a potential bargain of a three-year deal for $28 million, then they added Jordan Lyles as a potential starter for reliever money. Next, they traded for a potential ace in Corey Kluber without giving up much in return. Adding that trio to Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, two of the better pitchers in baseball a year ago, means the Rangers should have one of the top 10 rotations in the game with the potential to land in the top five at season’s end.

Unfortunately, the Rangers still look to be one of the 10 worst teams in baseball because they’ve done little to address the position-player side of their team. To illustrate the Rangers’ issues, the table below shows projections by position as well as team rank at that position.

Rangers Depth Chart Projections
Position 2020 Starter Projected Team WAR Projected MLB Rank 2019 MLB Rank
C Robinson Chirinos 0.2 30 30
1B Ronald Guzmán 0.1 30 29
2B Rougned Odor 1.3 25 18
SS Elvis Andrus 1.3 29 24
3B Todd Frazier 2.0 22 26
LF Willie Calhoun 1.3 21 9
CF Danny Santana 1.4 22 9
RF Joey Gallo 2.2 10 18
DH Shin-Soo Choo 1.1 11 4

That’s really bad, and as the 2019 column shows, it was really bad a year ago as well. The 2020 projections have the Rangers getting about 11 wins from their entire position player group. That would actually be an improvement over last season when they put up 9.2 WAR the entire season. The Rangers made it into the top 10 last year in two position player groups outside of designated hitter, but in both left field and center field, the team was adequate because Joey Gallo put up good numbers at both positions. Since the season ended, the team has brought in Robinson Chirinos, whose okay projection gets canceled out by Jeff Mathis. The team traded away Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields, who aren’t big losses from their 2019 production, but expectations for Danny Santana and Willie Calhoun are not high. Todd Frazier was signed in a nice deal to add some production at either first or third base, but even then, the position still ends up below average. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Phoenix Meetup: March 13

FanGraphs is headed to Arizona for spring training, and we want to share a few drinks and some baseball talk with our readers. So we hope you’ll join us Friday, March 13 from 6 pm to 10 pm at Angel’s Trumpet Alehouse: Arcadia. We’ve reserved the Tall Grass Lounge, and will have appetizers for everyone. It’s a great chance to meet other baseball fans and chat with a bunch of your favorite FanGraphs writers.

If you plan on joining us, we would appreciate you RSVPing using this handy Google form so we know how much food to order.

Confirmed attendees are listed below, with additional staff members to follow.

FanGraphs Attendees

  • David Appelman
  • Ben Clemens
  • Sean Dolinar
  • Craig Edwards
  • Brendan Gawlowski
  • Jay Jaffe
  • David Laurila
  • Eric Longenhagen
  • Kiley McDaniel
  • Rachael McDaniel
  • Me, Meg Rowley
  • Dan Szymborski

Event Details
Friday, March 13 from 6 pm to 10 pm
Angel’s Trumpet Alehouse: Arcadia, Tall Grass Lounge
2339 North 44th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85008


Kiley McDaniel Chat – 1/22/20

12:20

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: Hello from ATL! Scout is eating lunch and I’ve got a busy day so let’s get going before a quick review of recent pieces

12:21
12:21

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: and post Ozuna signing, there’s lots of ATL questions in the queue but I’ll try to limit them

12:22

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: I also wrote about what’s next for the Astros: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/whats-next-for-the-astros/

12:23

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: and Prospects Week is set for February but lemme find the actual date for you

12:24

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: on Feb 10

Read the rest of this entry »