Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/30/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to the post-Memorial Day edition of my chat. I had a weekend of solo parenting that was filled with activity, including taking my 6 1/2 year old daughter to a Yankees-Padres game on Friday night, but didn’t see much baseball otherwise until last night when I had Bobby Miller on one device and Bryce Miller on the other.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: anyway… no article from me today due to travel. ON Friday I checked in on Trea Turner’s struggles https://blogs.fangraphs.com/trea-turners-slide-has-not-been-smooth/ and the day before that on Carlos Correa’s foot https://blogs.fangraphs.com/carlos-correas-rebound-from-a-slow-start-h… Surprisingly, the latter has avoided the IL for now

Chairman Meow: What are your thoughts on  Francisco Alvarez after his hot start, future star or even current star?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m impressed so far. I mean, who wouldn’t be given his .269/.327/.558 start through 113 PA?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s +4.9 runs in framing, too. Didn’t see that coming

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He graded out as a 60 FV prospect, which is All-Star caliber. I haven’t seen anything to suggest he won’t be one though I don’t expect him to maintain a 142 wRC+

Read the rest of this entry »

How Have the New Rules Changed the Game?

Adam Frazier
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

This is a big year for the MLB rulebook. After decades of tiny incremental changes, the league made three huge ones in 2023. They instituted a pitch timer, changed the size of the bases, and restricted defensive positioning for the first time in modern history. But how have these new rules changed how the game looks on the field? I broke down each one to find out.

Games Are Shorter

The biggest change to the game this year was the introduction of a pitch timer, and it’s had a huge impact on game length. Per Baseball Reference, the average nine-inning game has lasted two hours and 37 minutes this year, down from three hours and three minutes last year. You have to go back to 1985 to find a shorter average game length.

Despite that drastic change, the amount of action in a game hasn’t changed much. Plate appearances per game are roughly unchanged: there are 75.6 this year, quite close to the 76.4 average in the 21st century. Pitcher per plate appearance are stable: 3.9 this year, 3.9 for the last 10 years on average.

The difference is all pace. Per Statcast, pitchers are taking three fewer seconds to throw with the bases empty and 4.5 fewer seconds to throw with a runner on base. The bases-empty change is welcome but only gets us back to the numbers that prevailed 15 years ago or so. The change with runners on base is far more important; we’ve likely never seen a faster pace when pitchers are holding runners, though the data only goes back to 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Power Rankings: May 22–28

We’re a third of the way through the regular season, and June is right around the corner. The teams in the American League have sorted themselves into haves and have-nots, but the National League looks wide open for any team to make a run this summer.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the three most important components of a team — their offense (wRC+), their pitching (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by starter and reliever IP share), and their defense (RAA) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. I also add in a factor for “luck,” adjusting a team’s win percentage based on expected win-loss record. The result is a power ranking, which is then presented in tiers below.

Note: All stats are through Sunday’s games.

Tier 1 – The Best of the Best
Team Record “Luck” wRC+ SP- RP- RAA Team Quality Playoff Odds
Rays 39-16 1 139 80 114 8 159 97.0%
Rangers 33-19 -4 118 80 107 2 156 76.1%
Braves 32-21 -1 114 81 92 -14 142 98.8%

The Rays just wrapped up a long homestand where they went 7–3 against the Brewers, Blue Jays, and Dodgers. Their schedule in May has been particularly tough, with every single series (except for their current one against the Cubs) coming against teams with winning records. Naturally, when facing its weakest opponent since April, Tampa Bay was shut out in a 1–0 loss on Monday. Also, don’t look now, but the Rangers have overtaken the Rays for the best run differential in baseball.

The Braves welcomed back Michael Soroka on Monday, as he made his first major league start since August 2020. He wasn’t particularly sharp, allowing four runs in six innings against the A’s, but his resilience to get back to the big leagues after so many injuries is inspiring. The hope is that he’ll be able to stabilize an Atlanta rotation still suffering from the absences of Max Fried and Kyle Wright. On offense, Austin Riley’s bat has finally started to heat up; he’s in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak that includes nine extra-base hits. Read the rest of this entry »

What Is a Web Gem Worth?

Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

The drama of a superlative catch at a crucial point in a game is one of baseball’s great narrative moments. A ball is struck and everyone – fans, baserunners, sprinting outfielders – holds their breath for a few seconds waiting for it to hit either leather or grass, sending those baserunners and swinging the game in one direction or the other. It’s baseball’s version of a three-pointer heading towards rim or net, or a wide receiver and a cornerback extending for the same airborne pass – a moment of suspense in the most literal sense of the term, during which the only thing drawing us closer to a conclusion is gravity.

Now, because there’s nothing baseball fans love more than taking a beautiful moment of athleticism, emotion, and aesthetics and distilling it into numbers, I’ve been mulling how to appropriately credit an outfielder for a play like this – particularly with respect to how it impacts the game in that moment. We have a pretty good measure for what a batted ball is worth if it falls in for a hit or is caught for an out, adding to one team’s chances of winning depending on the score and base-out situation – Win Probability Added. But what about when the ball’s in the air and it’s up to the outfielder to track it down? How much credit (or blame) is owed to the outfielder? How do we measure how much the outfielder’s defense itself swung the game? Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 2013: The League Looks More Level

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about Pete Alonso‘s, um, emergency swing, the activations (6:25) of four players (Liam Hendriks, Michael Soroka, Paul Blackburn, and Royce Lewis), the small leads in most divisions (12:03) and the leveling out of the league (A’s aside), José Abreu‘s first homer “trot” of the season, and an umpire comment caught on a hot mic. Then (40:15) they answer a listener email about the ball’s liveliness and follow up on a few other email answers, bring on Rob Mains (57:35) of Baseball Prospectus to Stat Blast about the zombie runner’s impact on home field advantage and discuss the origins of the DL’s rechristening to “injured list” (1:18:45), and follow a Past Blast from 2013 (1:27:27) with banter about Andrew McCutchen’s request for a new rule, plus a postscript (1:37:58).

Audio intro: Gabriel-Ernest, “Effectively Wild Theme
Audio outro: Jimmy Kramer, “Effectively Wild Theme

Link to Alonso clip
Link to Meg on Bradley
Link to Meg on Lind
Link to EW on Hernández
Link to Passan on Hendriks
Link to MLBTR on McCullers
Link to Rob Mains on 2022 inequality
Link to Rob Arthur on 2022 balance
Link to story on the Reds
Link to EW Wiki on the Reds
Link to FG playoff odds
Link to preseason predictions pod
Link to Abreu’s “trot”
Link to ump video
Link to ump post
Link to Marte’s homer
Link to HR/Contact graph
Link to ball-drag dashboard
Link to last email show
Link to Lemon on “prime”
Link to listener emails database
Link to Topps Now cards
Link to Rob on HFA
Link to HFA across sports
Link to HFA research
Link to more HFA research
Link to Ben on HFA
Link to Rob on the DL/IL
Link to 2013 Past Blast source
Link to another 2013 source
Link to Grant on catcher collisions
Link to EW Stanky Draft
Link to McCutchen article
Link to positional aging curves
Link to David Lewis’s Twitter
Link to David Lewis’s Substack
Link to 2016 sliding changes
Link to Hendriks gamer
Link to Soroka gamer
Link to Lewis gamer
Link to EW on TV exit speeds
Link to Fatsis on Wambsgans(s)
Link to Sam on Succession

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

Sunday Notes: John Henry Didn’t Want To Own a Soccer Team

Everton-Bournemouth stands out among today’s Premier League matchups, as the former will secure a return to England’s elite division with a win (they could also survive with a loss or a draw, but only if both Leeds and Leicester City likewise fail to win). Everton FC, which is located in Liverpool, was last relegated below the top flight in 1951.

As most EPL fans are aware, Everton’s home grounds, Goodison Park, are located less than a mile from Anfield, the historic home of Liverpool FC. They also know that the principal owner of Everton’s longtime arch rival is John Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group purchased the more-ballyhooed of the two clubs in 2010.

According to a new book by Bruce Schoenfeld, the acquisition happened only after initial reluctance from FSG’s ultimate decision-maker. As chronicled in Game of Edges: The Analytics Revolution and the Future of Professional Sports, Henry proclaimed the following during a business meeting held to assess the possible purchase:

“But I don’t want to own a soccer team.” Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 2012: Double Clutch

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about Ben’s prediction concerning the Padres’ and Rangers’ rest-of-season performance with runners in scoring position, then (14:08) answer listener emails about the ultimate Quadruple-A player, leaving runners on base for the opposing team, immaculate-inning edge cases, tanking for Shohei Ohtani, setting up a lifelong Google Alert for a player, the 2020 season’s impact on Hall of Fame cases, and Barry Bonds with an extra-short bat, followed by (1:12:43) Stat Blasts about the frequency of in-game position switches and the most players on a team who had previously played on the same former team, plus (1:40:06) a Past Blast from 2012 and a few follow-ups.

Audio intro: Tom Rhoads, “Effectively Wild Theme
Audio outro: Dave Armstrong and Mike Murray, “Effectively Wild Theme

Link to lowest tOPS+ w/RISP
Link to lowest OPS w/RISP
Link to highest tOPS+ w/RISP
Link to highest OPS w/RISP
Link to OPS w/bases empty
Link to Petriello on the Rangers
Link to Odor HR
Link to preseason predictions pod
Link to latest MiLB FA draft
Link to Gonny Jomes wiki
Link to old EW on immaculate innings
Link to Oviedo’s inning
Link to info on Mavs tanking
Link to article on Wemby tanking
Link to Waddell SABR bio
Link to McLaughlin wiki
Link to McLaughlin feature
Link to Posnanski on DiMaggio
Link to Bois on Bonds
Link to listener emails database
Link to Topps Now cards
Link to Ryan Nelson on Twitter
Link to positional permutations
Link to position-switch sheet
Link to second Stat Blast doc
Link to 2012 Past Blast source
Link to David Lewis’s Twitter
Link to David Lewis’s Substack
Link to America Magazine article
Link to other Dodgers/SPI links
Link to Calcaterra newsletter
Link to Alonso clip
Link to Sabathia periods source
Link to more on C.C./CC

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

It’s Not Your Imagination: A Lot of Relievers Are Really Good Now

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a growing stereotype that even the most unheralded reliever coming off the shuttle from Triple-A can pump triple digits and throw wipeout secondary stuff out of nowhere. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this phenomenon in the pitch data era, from the Rays developing Jason Adam into a high-leverage ace to Yennier Cano improving his ERA from 11.50 to 0.35. Baltimore and Tampa Bay are known for turning people off the street into elite relievers, but nearly every team is light years ahead of where the industry was just a few years ago. Of course, not every pitcher can have a 200 ERA+, but I wanted to see just how many replacement-caliber relievers really are the real deal. Let’s take a look at a nondescript game from earlier this week and find out.

On Tuesday, the Angels and Red Sox faced off. The two teams had played a rather close game through the end of seven innings. Boston starter Brayan Bello surrendered just two solo shots in the longest start of his young career, while his opponent, Griffin Canning, one-upped him with seven shutout frames. As the bullpens came in, the Sox still had a fighting chance to win… at least until Mike Trout clubbed a two-run homer off Joely Rodríguez, who would then allow two more runners to reach base. While just a one-run swing would make it a save situation, the leverage index sat at a measly 0.07. At this point, both teams went to the back of their bullpens, with the Sox summoning Justin Garza and the Angels letting Jacob Webb complete the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Harrison Bader’s Defense Is Generationally Good

Harrison Bader
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to say this bluntly because it’s something that most should agree with: Harrison Bader’s defense in center field is special. Unfortunately for Bader and baseball fans, he has never totaled above 430 plate appearances in a single season, so we’ve never had the privilege to see him run around the outfield for a traditional full season and rack up defensive value. But even with this limitation, he’s still at or near the top of just about every aggregated defensive metric leaderboard for the last few seasons. If you watch him roam the outfield — and I mean really watch him — you realize that this is a player who does everything correctly out there and has an unflappable baseball IQ. If you could write a script on how to be the perfect outfielder, all you would need to say is “be Bader.”

Let’s start by addressing where Bader ranks next to his peers this season in terms of defensive metrics. I’m only going to focus on Outs Above Average (OAA) for this piece. Defensive metrics are a great starting point to a conversation like this, but they are a complement to video analysis that will show us the details of a player’s fundamentals and decision making.

Here are the leading outfielders in terms of OAA this season:

Outfield OAA Leaders
Name Games Played OAA Success Rate Success Rate Added
Luis Robert Jr. 50 6 92% 4%
Harrison Bader 22 5 95% 8%
Jackie Bradley Jr. 38 5 95% 7%
Kevin Kiermaier 41 5 95% 5%
Joey Wiemer 48 5 91% 3%

One of these is not like the others! Given that OAA is a counting stat, a player with at least 16 fewer games played (usually more) should not be on this list, but Bader only trails Robert this season in OAA, and that is mainly due to his Success Rate Added. That gives some more insight into how valuable he has been in his limited sample this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Our Precious Endangered Triple

Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

By and large, the new rule set for this season has led to more exciting baseball. Stolen bases are more common than they’ve been at any point this century. The average time of game is down more than half an hour from its peak in 2021, and lower than it’s been in almost 40 years. There’s less dead time between pitches and fewer annoying delays.

But as much as these rules represent a considered effort to goose the entertainment value of the sport, there wasn’t a mechanism to preserve baseball’s most exciting play: the triple. So concurrent with a rise in stolen bases, we’re down to 0.12 triples per team per game. According to the historical data on Baseball Reference, that’s an all-time low:

Read the rest of this entry »