Archive for April, 2011

Graphing BABIP Against Speed

Faster players get more hits on their ground balls. That should be no surprise. There is a benefit to having speed in that you can beat more infield hits than slower players. That’s a fairly straight forward assertion, but ultimately I was a bit surprised that the gap is actually quite small.

Speed v GB BABIP

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Alcides Escobar’s Magnified Incompetence

The opening of any MLB season brings with it a host of underperforming players, and 2011 is no different. Superstars like Carl Crawford, Carlos Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez have taken up lodging in the unfortunate sub-50 wRC+ club. Although Crawford’s .199 wOBA and 15 wRC+ are the worst among qualified players, not even he can approach the unfortunate season Alcides Escobar is suffering through. Escobar’s league-worst Win Probability Added of -2.01 is nearly a full win worse than second-place Crawford’s -1.02.

Escobar’s context-neutral stats aren’t much better, but his .224/.248/.265 line is still, somehow, significantly better than what Crawford has managed through his inaugural Red Sox campaign. Unlike Crawford, though, Escobar has had his poor season magnified by multiple failures in extremely high leverage situations. Escobar has seen seen six situations with a leverage index of 4.0 or higher — given that 1.5 is considered high leverage, these were extremely important situations. Except for receiving one intentional walk, Escobar made an out in every single one. All told, his WPA for these six plate appearances alone adds up to -0.911, nearly equaling Crawford’s WPA from his entire horrible season. Expanding our scope to all high-leverage situations, Escobar holds a .059/.158/.059 triple-slash. He even breaks wRC+, with a -38 mark in those situations.

The Royals have quickly fallen back to earth since opening up the year at the top of the AL Central. Escobar’s incompetence in high leverage situations has been a significant reason why. It is a tiny sample, and one will imagine that Escobar can turn things around at least a bit, and get some hits to drop in. Unfortunately for the young Escobar, though, nothing can change what’s already happened: one of the worst clutch stretches imaginable for an MLB player.

One Night Only: Previews for Weekend of April 29th

An actual drawing from Daniel Hudson’s dream journal.

This edition of One Night Only contains:

1. Hot, bullet-pointed previews for six games.

2. Pitcher and Team NERD scores for every one of this weekend’s games.

3. A challenging blend of vim and vigor.

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Travis Snider’s Demotion

The Toronto Blue Jays’ 23-year-old outfielder Travis Snider managed to go one-for-four against the Texas Rangers yesterday, extending his hitting streak to five games, but that wasn’t enough to keep him from getting demoted to AAA after the game. Despite the totally meaningful streak, Snider has “hit” .184/.276/.264 (59 wRC+) on the season, although hey, he has stolen 5 bases (look out Tim Raines (51)!). The Blue Jays likely made this move to make room for center fielder Rajai Davis (30), who is coming off of the disabled list today, but Snider wasn’t the only move they could have made, particularly given his age, prospect status, and above all, how early in the season it is. I could just tempt fate and write “sample size sample size sample size,” and that is probably the biggest issue. But is there anything in Snider’s 99 plate appearances so far in 2011 to indicate a problem that requires some time in the minors to work through?

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Jack Hannahan’s Crazy April

If you go to the leaderboards here on the site, you’ll see a whole bunch of familiar names that you’d expect to see doing well, a couple of interesting guys having rebound seasons, and Jack Hannahan. The Indians third baseman is mixed in with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s doing it in a surprising manner.

Hannahan has always been a terrific defensive third baseman so it’s no surprise that he’s racking up the fielding value again, leading all third baseman in UZR. Most of his value has come at the plate, however, and from the one area – power hitting – where he hasn’t traditionally shown much ability. Hannahan already has four home runs this year, as many as he hit in all of 2009 when he racked up 301 plate appearances for the A’s and Mariners.

But, that’s not the most surprising thing. Hannahan is strong enough that a four home run binge over the course of a few weeks isn’t all that weird. It’s an outlier, and it’s the kind of thing you come to expect from small sample sizes in April. What you don’t expect, however, is this.

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Same Masterson, Different Results

Based on traditional metrics like wins, losses, and ERA, Justin Masterson has been a below-average starting pitcher during the past two seasons. With a 10-23 record, and an ERA above 4.50, the former prospect looked like a superficial candidate for the label of “bust”. But defensive independent metrics suggested Masterson was a quality starter — who struggled shaking the luck dragons known as left-on base percentage (LOB%) and batting average on balls in play (BABIP).

In 2009 and 2010, the right-hander’s average on balls in play was roughly 25% more than the league average, which came despite a fantastic groundball rate. It certainly did not help that most of those groundballs came in front of the second worst defense in the league during the same period. With an increased amount of balls finding holes, his strand rate fell about 6% below the average of his peers.

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2008 Amateur Draft Review: The AL Central

Recently, we took a look back at the ’08 draft for the American League West teams. Today, we’re seeing how the draft has played out for the American League Central organizations.

The first three rounds are listed for each team, plus any other above-slot signees.
(X = Signed to Over-Slot Deal; S = Supplemental Round; DNS = Did Not Sign)

The Kansas City Royals
1st. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Florida HS
1S. Mike Montgomery, LHP, California HS
2nd. Johnny Giavotella, 2B, New Orleans
3rd. Tyler Sample, RHP, Colorado HS
4thx- Tim Melville, RHP, Missouri HS

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Iannetta Battles the BABIP Gods

Chris Iannetta can’t catch a break.

First, the Rockies’ catcher had to compete for a starting spot in 2009 despite producing a .391 wOBA the year before. Since being named the starter, his supposed failure to record hits over the last couple of seasons has that status being called into question. Iannetta is one of the game’s most patient hitters, but the 28-year-old frequently strikes out, and his lack of success with balls in play has led to some truly wacky slash lines.

The latter two components of his 2009 slash line were solid at .344/.460, but a .228 batting average fueled by an ugly .245 BABIP dropped his overall production. Last season the trend continued, albeit with poorer results on balls in play: Iannetta hit .197/.318/.383, with a .212 BABIP in 223 plate appearances. Through 67 plate appearances this season the situation remains the same. Iannetta is hitting a strange, yet impressive, .163/.388/.388. Remove the batting average, and his numbers are solid for a starting catcher.

Regardless of his high on-base marks, we have to question why Iannetta has struggled in the BABIP department, and then research whether similar-profile players can improve in that area.

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FanGraphs Audio: Sorting by WAR for Fun and Profit

Episode Seventy-Two
In which the panel is every which and loose.

The Live Event in LA — Briefly Discussed!
The Marlins and Indians — Marveled At!
Travis Hafner’s Face — Considered Scientifically!

Dave Cameron, Full-Time Employee
Matt Klaassen, Troublemaker
Joe Pawlikowski, Morning Afterer

Finally, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio on the flip-flop. (Approximately 50 min play time.)

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Bartolo Colon Returns To Prominence

Stage hypnotists make a living calling people up on stage and making them believe that they’re something they’re not, be it a lion, a pirate or even Kanye West. Someone may want to look at the Yankees payroll to see if they have a hypnotist on payroll this season, because all of a sudden Bartolo Colon — after allowing just three runs in his first 14 2/3 innings as a starter this year — has been transformed into a quality Major League starter once again.

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