Sunday Notes: A.J. Hinch Knows the Value of an Out (and Doesn’t Fear Twitter)

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch addressed the importance of being aggressive on the base paths during his Saturday morning media session. What he shared included the following, which I quoted on Twitter:

“Your WAR gets dinged whenever you get thrown out on the bases. It’s not valued. People are very aware… players are very aware of that. Winning baseball is good for your WAR too, even if it’s not quantifiable.

Almost immediately, people began responding critically, opining that Hinch was (pun intended) off base. Feeling that more context was in order — I’d prefaced the original Tweet by noting the subject at hand — I added that Hinch also said that if you’re safe every time, you’re probably not being aggressive enough.

No matter. Commenters went on to suggest that Hinch doesn’t understand the value of an out, sometimes in a snarky, condescending manner. (On Twitter! Imagine that!)

Hinch had a second media session following the team’s workout, so I took the opportunity to bring up the minor foofaraw I’d caused at his expense. Would he like to elaborate on, and clarify, what he’d said, lest a faction of the Twitterverse continue to question his sanity? Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 1661: Season Preview Series: Nationals and Cubs

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about Jarred Kelenic’s beef with the Mariners about alleged service-time manipulation, then preview the 2021 Nationals (25:37) with Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post and the 2021 Cubs (59:43) with Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic.

Audio intro: Ty Segall, "Manipulator"
Audio interstitial 1: Gary Louris, "D.C. Blues"
Audio interstitial 2: Jason Isbell, "Chicago Promenade"
Audio outro: Van Morrison, "March Winds in February"

Link to USA Today article about Kelenic
Link to Mather video transcript
Link to Craig Goldstein on holding down prospects
Link to Jayson Stark on fixing service-time manipulation
Link to R.J. Anderson on the Bryant grievance
Link to Sahadev on the Darvish trade
Link to Sahadev’s interview with Breslow
Link to Sahadev on Kimbrel
Link to Sahadev on Arrieta
Link to Sahadev on the Cubs’ defense
Link to Alex Chamberlain on Hendricks
Link to Joe Sheehan on hitters in walk years
Link to Jesse on Schwarber getting squatty
Link to Jesse on Kieboom
Link to Jesse on Strasburg
Link to Jesse on Hand
Link to Buzz Saw

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Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/26/21

2:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my now-regular Friday chat (this is the sixth week in a row, my longest since the first month of the pandemic).

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Today I’ve got a piece up on Carlos Correa (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-to-make-of-carlos-correa/), which was inspired by a FanGraphs Audio spot I did with Kevin Goldstein (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-bill-james-updates-his-ran…) discussing last week’s piece on Fernando Tatis Jr. (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fernando-tatis-jr-has-a-clear-shot-at-coop…) as well as Kevin’s piece on the next $400 million deal (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/who-will-be-the-first-400-million-player/).

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I spent much of this week in Remember Some Guys mode, writing about the return of Oliver Perez (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/hello-again-cleveland-oliver-perez-returns…), the departure of Shin-Soo Choo (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/shin-soo-choo-heads-home-to-south-korea/) and the indy-league detours of Scott Kazmir (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/schlepping-from-sugar-land-scott-kazmir-on…), who spent a few weeks last season in something called the Constellation Energy League, where among other things he competed against a team laden with the large adult sons of Roger Clemens. In acknowledgement of all of this, I have donated my royalties from all of these pieces to David Roth’s Foundation to Remember Some Guys

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Before getting to the festivities, I have to recommend this Washington Post piece on “Baseball Bugs” the famous Looney Tunes cartoon which was released 75 years ago this month: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/02/25/baseball-bugs-bunny-l… You can watch it here: https://www.supercartoons.net/cartoon/629/bugs-bunny-baseball-bugs.htm…

And now, on with the show…

2:02
Dellin Betances With Wolves: How come no HOF love for Brett Butler? -3rd best leadoff hitter all-time, best bunter ever, received MVP votes in 6 seasons, cancer survivor …

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d dispute the notion that Butler is the 3rd best leadoff hitter of all time, first off. Kenny Lofton was a similar hitter but a much better baserunner, and everybody forgets that Pete Rose was an elite leadoff guy, taking more than 10000 PA at the spot.

Beyond that, Butler’s fielding metrics are downright brutal (-84 via B-Ref) such that he finished with 49.7 WAR, about 19 fewer than Lofton and not enough to really make a dent in an advanced stat-based Hall conversation

Read the rest of this entry »


ZiPS Time Warp: Dustin Pedroia

By the time Dustin Pedroia officially announced his retirement early this month, it was already apparent that he’d never return to the Red Sox as a full-time player. One of the last active members of the 2007 championship team — Jon Lester is still kicking around, and I don’t believe Clay Buchholz has officially retired — his run ended prematurely thanks to the consequences of a 2017 knee injury. This was no random injury, either; it was the result of a collision at second with Manny Machado buckling Pedroia’s knee on a high-spikes slide. This wasn’t Machado’s first (or last) questionable slide as a baserunner, but the results here were worse than they looked initially. Pedroia played through pain for the rest of the 2017 season, missing most of August with continued inflammation, then had a procedure after the 2017 season to restore missing cartilage to his knee.

At the time, the belief was that Pedroia would be able to return in 2018, though not likely at the start of the season. Instead, he only totaled nine more games in what ended up being the rest of his career, with continual cycles of the knee feeling better followed by significant setbacks. More operations were required, and while he theoretically could have returned in 2020, he never got anywhere near returning to the field, and after the Red Sox agreed to pay him his full 2021 salary, he walked off into the sunset.

My colleague Brendan Gawlowski has already covered Pedroia’s retirement and what he meant to Red Sox fans and to baseball as a whole. Here, I’m using the ZiPS time machine once again to take a look at the bittersweet what-ifs.

Read the rest of this entry »


What to Make of Carlos Correa

Is Fernando Tatis Jr. the next Carlos Correa? The question has lingered in my mind in the wake of last week’s piece about Tatis’ already-substantial Hall of Fame chances, itself a response to the Padres’ shortstop landing a 14-year, $340 million deal at the tender age of 22. Digging into some of my previous research, I illustrated that even given the fairly slim sample sizes, the vast majority of players who perform as Tatis has through his age-21 season — whether based merely on offensive prowess or full value as estimated by WAR — are bound for the Hall of Fame.

That provocative conclusion certainly stirred the pot, perhaps even moreso than I intended, with critics offering a range of counterexamples, some of them so far off base as to be laughable (left fielder/designated hitter Joe Charboneau, AL Rookie of the Year at age 25, out of the majors by age 28), others a bit more subtle (Vern Stephens, a slugging shortstop who had some of his best years against lesser competition during World War II). The one that stuck in my mind, however was the example of Correa, whose performance through his age-21 season bore some striking similarities to that of Tatis, to the point that the pair were adjacent on multiple leaderboards. The comparison, which also includes some key differences, was still on my mind when I discussed the two shortstops and a small handful of other young players — most notably Francisco Lindor, Juan Soto, and Wander Franco — during a FanGraphs Audio podcast spot with Kevin Goldstein, who had a front-row seat to the professional progress of Correa, whom the Astros drafted with the first overall pick just three months before he joined their front office.

Correa, now heading into his age-26 season as well as his final year before eligibility for free agency, has had his ups and downs at the major league level. He won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 while helping the Astros to their first playoff appearance in a decade. While he’s helped Houston to four more playoff appearances, including a World Series victory in 2017 and an AL pennant two years later, he’s been an All-Star just once, mainly due to injuries that have limited him to just one season with more than 110 games played: 2016, his age-21 season, when he played 153 games and set an as-yet-unsurpassed career high in WAR, whether by FanGraphs’ measure (5.2) or that of Baseball-Reference (7.0). More on that gap, which is driven by widely divergent defensive metrics, below.

Correa did play 58 out of the Astros’ 60 games last year, but hit just .264/.326/.383, setting career lows in slugging percentage and wRC+ (98) as well as more obviously counting-dependent stats like home runs (five) and WAR (0.9 by FanGraphs, 1.8 by B-Ref). To be fair, he was hitting .301/.367/.441 (125 wRC+) through September 7 before suffering through a 5-for-44 slump from September 8-22, so it’s not like his entire season was a slog; he had a very bad fortnight. He even hit his way out of that skid, closing the season by going 5-for-14 over his final four games and then batting a sizzling .362/.455/.766 with six homers in 55 PA in the postseason. That would have lifted his season line to .282/.340/.456 if we were to add it all up. Read the rest of this entry »


Eric Longenhagen Chat – 2/26/21

12:01
Eric A Longenhagen: Good morning from Tempe, AZ. Spring training is upon us. Hope folks can stay as safe and healthy as possible, please don’t fly here to see any of it.

12:02
Fate: Noticed that Will Craig and Resly Linares were not mentioned in either PIT’s or TBR’s list respectively. Time to abandon ship on them?

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Linares was released and I’ve never been on Craig.

12:02
Billy Beane: Will Aaron Antonini make the bottom part of the STL list?

12:02
Eric A Longenhagen: Yes

12:02
Not Evan: Hey, Eric. Where do you think Royce Lewis would rank on the Top 100 now, since he tore his ACL? Thanks!

Read the rest of this entry »


Chin Music, Episode 2: Thank You For Bringing Your Bubbly Cheer

We’re back. This week, I welcome very special co-host Cody Decker, who shares stories from his decade-long career as a minor league slugger. We discuss spring training eyewash, DFA limbo, his nine games on the mound and much more. Then we’re joined by our special guest for the week, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, who discusses the ugly recent news from Mariners-land while adding his Japanese whiskey recommendations. Then we take some listener emails, covering changes to the game, how quickly trades can be made, and politics in the clubhouse. A variety of side conversations and tangents ensue. It’s over two hours. We ramble a bit. Enjoy!

Have a question you’d like answered on the show? Hit us up at chinmusic@fangraphs.com.

Warning One: While ostensibly a podcast about baseball, these conversations often veer into other subjects.

Warning Two: There is explicit language.

RSS feed: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/feed/chin-music/
Apple feed: Coming soon.

Run Time: 2:12:31


Pete Alonso, Corey Dickerson, and Two Dissimilar Power Outages

Pete Alonso didn’t duplicate his stellar rookie season in 2020. There wasn’t one obvious problem to point to, though. He trimmed his strikeouts slightly. He hit the ball as hard, both in frequency and in terms of maximum exit velocity, as he did the year before. He made more contact in the strike zone, and he swung less at pitches outside the strike zone. That all sounds pretty good.

Despite all those glowing facts, there’s no way around it: Alonso was a lot worse in 2020. His BABIP dropped from .280 to .242. His slugging percentage fell by nearly 100 points. He fell off of his 2019 home run pace, but not by as much as you’d think. He lost far more doubles, though, and didn’t make up for it elsewhere. He wasn’t bad, but a 118 wRC+ out of your bat-first first baseman is par for the course rather than spectacular.

What if I told you I could explain what went haywire? You’d probably tell me I’m lying, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I can tell you what I think happened, though, and that will have to be good enough. You know how I said his contact was just as loud? It’s time to delve obnoxiously deep into that data. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Bill James Updates His Rankings

Episode 911

This week we welcome an all-time great of baseball analytics, discuss Fernando Tatis Jr.’s big 14-year contract, and assess one of the frustrating teams in the NL Central.

Read the rest of this entry »


Job Posting: New York Mets Baseball Analytics Roles

Please note, this posting contains three positions.

Position: Analyst, Baseball Analytics

Location: Citi Field – Queens, New York

Job Description:

Summary:
The New York Mets are seeking an Analyst in Baseball Analytics. The Analyst will build, test, and present statistical models that inform decision-making in all facets of Baseball Operations. This position requires strong background in complex statistics and data analytics, as well as the ability to communicate statistical model details and findings to both a technical and non-technical audience. Prior experience in or knowledge of baseball is a plus, but is not required.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Build statistical models to answer a wide variety of baseball-related questions affecting the operations of the organization using advanced knowledge of statistics and data analytics and exercising appropriate discretion and judgment regarding development of statistical models
  • Interpret data and report conclusions drawn from their analyses
  • Use data analysis to support and improve business decisions
  • Present model outputs in an effective way, both for technical and non-technical audiences
  • Communicate well with both the Director and Manager of Baseball Analytics as well as other Baseball Operations personnel to understand the parameters of any particular research project
  • Provide advice on the desired outputs from the data engineering team, and guidance to the Baseball Systems team on how best to present model results
  • Assist with recruiting, hiring, and mentoring new analysts in the Baseball Analytics department
  • Evaluate potential new data sources and technologies to determine their validity and usefulness
  • Consistently analyze research in analytics that can help improve the modeling work done by the Baseball Analytics department

Read the rest of this entry »