David Price’s Trade Value

With the Red Sox trying to cut payroll and increase profits at the expense of the on-field product, it would make sense that the team might try to deal one of their most expensive players. David Price put up a very good season for the Red Sox in 2016 and helped the club win the World Series in 2018, but he made just 22 starts last year and began the offseason recovering from surgery on his wrist. When he did pitch this season, Price was effective, with a 3.62 FIP and 2.6 WAR despite just 107 innings, but the 34-year-old only threw 24 innings after the All-Star Break and his health is a huge question mark. Despite those concerns, Jeff Passan is reporting that teams are inquiring about the possibility of acquiring the left-hander.

Given the present injury concerns, determining Price’s trade value is a bit difficult. Dan Szymborski provided the following ZiPS projections for Price over the next three seasons:

ZiPS Projection – David Price
2020 9 6 4.01 23 23 128.0 121 19 36 137 114 2.4
2021 8 6 4.20 21 21 113.7 111 17 32 118 109 1.9
2022 7 6 4.35 21 20 111.7 111 18 32 115 105 1.7

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Blake Treinen and the Dodgers Are a Great Match

At the end of 2018, Blake Treinen was riding high. He finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting, a placement befitting his absolutely outrageous season. He threw 80 innings of 0.78 ERA, 1.82 FIP relief, the best relief season by RA9 WAR in the 21st century and the sixth best by fWAR. He earned a $6.4 million salary in arbitration, and entered 2019 as the anchor of a fearsome bullpen.

Ten days ago, the A’s chose not to tender Treinen a contract. The dominant days of 2018 looked far gone; Treinen was below replacement level this year, and it’s easy to see why: his walk rate spiked from 6.7% to 13.9%, while his strikeout rate concurrently fell from 31.8% to 22.2%. Where a year ago he was an elite strikeout pitcher with a below average walk rate, this year he was just bad. His nine home runs allowed were also a career worst, and the combined package just didn’t work at all.

So when the A’s non-tendered him, it was somewhat surprising but not unthinkable. They run a shoestring operation, and spending on relievers is a risky way to spend scarce resources, particularly when said reliever was so bad last season. He wasn’t due much of a raise in arbitration — MLB Trade Rumors projected a $7.8 million salary — but the A’s decided they’d be better off finding relievers elsewhere and saving the money.

Yesterday, everything went all funny. The Dodgers signed Treinen to a one-year, $10 million deal, and, well — you’re not supposed to get non-tendered and then make more as a free agent. The whole reason teams crave controllable players so much is that arbitration awards tend to come at a discount to free agent prices. Non-tenders happen when teams expect a corner case in arbitration (generally for closers and dingers, but also award wins and prior salary awards) to create a distorted market. Read the rest of this entry »

Anthony Rendon Is an Angel on the Infield

Anthony Rendon is stoic on the field. Watching a Nationals game during his tenure, there was always opportunity to play a fun sub-game: watch Rendon for a grimace, or a sigh, or any indication that he was upset. You could go whole games without seeing it; he was simply out there working, staying in the moment, comfortable in himself and focused on the next pitch, the next ball to field, the next rally.

While it’s probably unfair to generalize a player’s on-field demeanor to their life, it’s a natural impulse. And so I can’t help picturing Rendon and his wife celebrating his new deal with a head nod, or perhaps a knowing smile, and a glass of wine on the patio. Staying in the moment; focusing on the next task at hand.

The next task is now teaming up with Mike Trout to win the World Series. The Angels signed Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million contract tonight, making him the third highest paid player in baseball on an annual basis, behind only Trout and Gerrit Cole (and tied with former teammate Stephen Strasburg, though without the deferral chicanery). The contract, first reported by Jon Heyman, is straightforward: seven years, $35 million each year, with a full no-trade clause and no opt outs. Read the rest of this entry »

Anthony Rendon Is a Los Angeles Angel

One of the last unsigned stars available, third baseman Anthony Rendon found his new home Wednesday night, signing a seven-year, $245 million with the Los Angeles Angels as first reported by Jon Heyman. Rendon, who finished third in the National League MVP voting and made his first All-Star appearance in 2019, hit .319/.412/.598 for 7.0 WAR in 2019, all career bests. A key member of the World Champion Washington Nationals, Rendon’s departure leaves a giant hole in D.C.’s lineup.

That Rendon has achieved this much is a fantastic comeback story given the obstacles he faced early in his career. While it’s hard to characterize a first-rounder as a true underdog, Rendon had multiple ankle surgeries in college from injuries and partially broke his other ankle in his second professional game for the High-A Potomac Nationals in a non-contact injury. But since 2015’s knee and abdomen injuries, he’s managed to stay healthy and crucially, the injuries didn’t appear to thwart his development. Over the last four years, Rendon’s only averaged 15 missing games a year. That’s not Ripken-like, but it’s enough to put the injury worries on the back-burner.

Among position players, Rendon has been fourth in WAR over the last three years, behind only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Christian Yelich. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1469: The Cole-Powered Yankees

Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller debate the merits of a possible Mike Trout fun fact, banter about Nomar Mazara and the evolving definition of “slugger,” discuss the record Gerrit Cole contract and its implications for the Yankees, the battle to be the best team in baseball, the Dodgers and Angels without Cole, baseball’s competitive balance, Scott Boras, the perplexing free-agent market, and more. Then they review the last 16 of Bill James’s 30 recent suggestions for counteracting baseball’s slowing pace of play and rising strikeout and home-run rates, and Ben talks to Rob Arthur of Baseball Prospectus (1:32:33) about the findings of MLB’s latest study on the baseball’s behavior, the causes of the record homer rate, and the future of offense.

Audio intro: Jale, "Nine Years Now"
Audio interstitial: The Apples in Stereo, "Same Old Drag"
Audio outro: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, "Tearing at the Seams"

Link to Beyond the Box Score draft post
Link to Ben on Cole implications
Link to David Schoenfield on the highest-paid pitchers
Link to Travis on foul balls
Link to ESPN story about the ball
Link to Rob’s story about the ball
Link to Bill James Handbook 2020
Link to order The MVP Machine

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Michael Wacha Tries to Make Good With Mets

Michael Wacha was once one of the most promising young pitches in the game. In 2013, he pitched the Cardinals to the World Series, winning NLCS MVP. Through his first dozen starts in 2014, Wacha put up a 2.78 FIP, 2.45 ERA, and a 1.8 WAR that was among the top 15 pitchers in the game. Shortly thereafter, Wacha was diagnosed with a scapular stress injury that would ruin the rest of 2014, leaving him an innings eater the following three seasons, and something less than that over the last two years. Wacha hit free agency for the first time having barely held on to a rotation spot for most of the season and having failed to make the Cardinals postseason roster. The Mets, seeking depth in a rotation that already includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz, opted for a low-risk deal to position Wacha to close out the rotation with a one-year, $3 million contract that, with incentives, could bring the total to $10 million, as first reported by Joel Sherman.

Wacha still has his signature changeup, but his fastball rarely missed bats and he allowed 16 homers on the pitch last season. His strikeout rate dipped below 20%, and he might have been hurt by the rise in home runs last year. While Busch Stadium is a home run suppressor, Wacha gave up a ton of long balls both at home and on the road, though his road numbers were particularly brutal, with a 6.17 FIP. An indication that he probably wasn’t fully healthy, Wacha’s velocity moved all over the place throughout the season. Mike Shildt did say that Wacha was healthy as the season ended, but that he didn’t make the postseason roster due to a lack of need for an extra starter. Read the rest of this entry »

Giants Add Veterans Gausman and Cozart

The Giants made two acquisitions Tuesday evening, signing pitcher Kevin Gausman to a one-year contract and acquiring infielders Zack Cozart and Will Wilson from the Los Angeles Angels for future considerations.

These moves aren’t quite as earth-shattering as the Gerrit Cole signing, but both have short term upside for the Giants, which is consistent with the team’s goal of not completely gutting the roster while rebuilding.

Kevin Gausman is a long-term favorite of mine, and the $9 million the Giants will pay him in 2020 strikes me as a reasonable risk to take given the upside he represents. His stint with the Braves in 2019 is one he’d be happy to forget thanks to the 3-7, 6.19 ERA line he put up in 16 starts. It’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that his 4.20 FIP was nearly two runs better than his actual ERA, which was inflated by a .344 BABIP. Gausman’s strikeout rate had faded in recent years, dipping to a lackluster 7.3 K/9 in 2018, so his 9.6 K/9 in Atlanta was roughly a 30% improvement, which generally portends pleasant results rather than what actually happened.

When looking at Gausman’s 2019 hit data, the ZiPS projection system expects a BABIP of .309 rather than his actual .334. That’s still on the high side, but is enough to drop his batting average against in Atlanta from .290 to .252. Batters actually had the lowest exit velocity against Gausman since 2015 at 86.9 mph, which partially explains why even a struggling Gausman didn’t see his homer rate tick up. Read the rest of this entry »

White Sox Acquire Good Fit in Mazara, Rangers Farm System Gets Deeper

It’s not the sort of splashy, high-profile move that would muffle some of the White Sox fan base’s simmering impatience, but acquiring two years of 24-year-old right fielder Nomar Mazara was a sensible, bird-in-the-hand trade for Rick Hahn and company. Up until this point, Mazara hasn’t had the kind of career many in baseball or baseball media (myself included) anticipated when he was an 18-year-old clubbing on Double-A pitching late in 2014. He’s produced just 1.7 WAR combined during his first four years in the big leagues, reaching base just a shade below league average (his biggest issue) without hitting for quite enough power to counterbalance it.

But he’s still a good fit for Chicago. The White Sox needed a corner outfield bat, and they needed it to be left-handed. Daniel Palka, a Mazara caricature, was jettisoned off the 40-man last month, Luis Alexander Basabe, a switch-hitter, is coming off a bad year, Blake Rutherford has a low-ball swing at a time when pitchers are attacking the top of the zone, Leury García, who also bats switch, is more of a versatile utility type than a true starting outfielder, and everyone else swings right-handed. Mazara has a .271/.337/.462 career line against righties, good for a 103 career wRC+, a number that has climbed in three consecutive seasons, as has Mazara’s Hard Hit % and Barrel % (the last one according to BaseballSavant). This is a 24-year-old (Mazara will turn 25 in April) who’s still getting better at the thing he’ll most often be called upon to do for the White Sox next year.

Nomar Mazara’s Progression
Year/Stat wRC+ vs RHP Hard Hit% Barrel% (Savant)
2017 97 32.6% 6.5%
2018 104 37.5% 8.5%
2019 110 45.3% 10.7%

We’ve seen single-frame glimpses of elite physical ability from Mazara, like his 500 foot homer off of Reynaldo López, and perhaps at his age there’s some hope that he can continue to improve, though it’s more likely this is a perfectly fine corner platoon bat. Read the rest of this entry »

Kiley McDaniel Chat – 12/11/19


Avatar Kiley McDaniel: Hello from my San Diego hotel room, away from the huddled masses in the larger hotel down the street where everyone else is.


Avatar Kiley McDaniel: Eric and I have the lengthy Twins list that should be set for tomorrow


Avatar Kiley McDaniel: Some minor draft news on a 2020 player early enrolling to get into the 2022 class and skip being draft-eligible out of HS:


Kiley McDaniel


So the other shoe dropped on this one and KS prep SS Robert Moore (son of Dayton) announced today that he’s early-enrolling at Arkansas in January. Low 40 FV has been moved to 2022 rankings: fangraphs.com/prospects/the-…

Our 18th prospect in the 2020 draft is reported to be skipping his HS senior year to early enroll at Virginia, be draft eligible first in 2022. This has been rumored all summer, along with 2020 prep SS Robert Moore possibly early enrolling at Arkansas fangraphs.com/prospects/the-… twitter.com/NVBaseballMag/…
11 Dec 2019

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: and, for those that haven’t heard, Eric and I are writing a book!


Avatar Kiley McDaniel:


Kiley McDaniel


Proud to announce that @longenhagen and I wrote a book: FUTURE VALUE, coming in April 2020.

We explore the tension between analytics and scouting along w/the state of the art & old school ways teams find superstars.

Preorder now triumphbooks.com/FutureValue for 20% off w/code FV20

22 Nov 2019

Avatar Kiley McDaniel: Also, as long requested, we have a new drop-down menu that’s prospects only on the site, so it’s easier to find all of our stuff

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JAWS and the 2020 Hall of Fame Ballot: Roger Clemens

The following article is part of Jay Jaffe’s ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2020 Hall of Fame ballot. Originally written for the 2013 election at SI.com, it has been updated to reflect recent voting results as well as additional research. For a detailed introduction to this year’s ballot, and other candidates in the series, use the tool above; an introduction to JAWS can be found here. For a tentative schedule, and a chance to fill out a Hall of Fame ballot for our crowdsourcing project, see here. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

Roger Clemens has a reasonable claim as the greatest pitcher of all time. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and Grover Cleveland Alexander spent all or most of their careers in the dead-ball era, before the home run was a real threat, and pitched while the color line was still in effect, barring some of the game’s most talented players from participating. Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver pitched when scoring levels were much lower and pitchers held a greater advantage. Koufax and 2015 inductees Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez didn’t sustain their greatness for nearly as long. Greg Maddux didn’t dominate hitters to nearly the same extent.

Clemens, meanwhile, spent 24 years in the majors and racked up a record seven Cy Young awards, not to mention an MVP award. He won 354 games, led his leagues in the Triple Crown categories (wins, strikeouts, and ERA) a total of 16 times, and helped his teams to six pennants and a pair of world championships.

Alas, whatever claim “The Rocket” may have on such an exalted title is clouded by suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs. When those suspicions came to light in the Mitchell Report in 2007, Clemens took the otherwise unprecedented step of challenging the findings during a Congressional hearing, but nearly painted himself into a legal corner; he was subject to a high-profile trial for six counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to Congress. After a mistrial in 2011, he was acquitted on all counts the following year. But despite the verdicts, the specter of PEDs won’t leave Clemens’ case anytime soon, even given that in March 2015, he settled the defamation lawsuit filed by former personal trainer Brian McNamee for an unspecified amount.

Amid the ongoing Hall of Fame-related debates over hitters connected to PEDs — most prominently Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa — it’s worth remembering that the chemical arms race involved pitchers as well, leveling the playing field a lot more than some critics of the aforementioned sluggers would admit. The voters certainly haven’t forgotten that when it comes to Clemens, whose share of the vote has approximated that of Bonds. Clemens debuted with 37.6% of the vote in 2013 and only in 2016 began making significant headway, climbing to 45.2% thanks largely to the Hall’s purge of voters more than 10 years removed from covering the game. Like Bonds, he surged above 50% — a historically significant marker towards future election — in 2017, benefiting from voters rethinking their positions in the wake of the election of Bud Selig. The former commissioner’s roles in the late-1980s collusion scandal and in presiding over the proliferation of PEDs within the game dwarf the impact of individual PED users and call into question the so-called “character clause.”

Clemens’ march towards Cooperstown has stalled somewhat in the two years since, as he’s added just 5.4% to reach 59.5%. Whether or not the open letter from Hall of Fame Vice Chairman Joe Morgan pleading with voters not to honor players connected to steroids had an impact, the end result is time run off the clock. He still has a shot at reaching 75% before his eligibility runs out in 2022, but like Bonds, needs to regain momentum.

2020 BBWAA Candidate: Roger Clemens
Pitcher Career WAR Peak WAR JAWS
Roger Clemens 139.6 65.9 102.5
Avg. HOF SP 73.2 49.9 61.5
354-184 4,672 3.12 143
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

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