Archive for October, 2011

FanGraphs Audio: The Great Dayn Perry Experiment

Episode Ninety-One
In which things change and also stay the same.

Look Inside!

Dayn Perry, Baseball Writing Veteran

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

Audio on the flip-flop. (Approximately 23 min. play time.)

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Indians Bet on Derek Lowe – and FIP

The Braves and Indians consummated the first trade of the off-season today, with the Braves trading Derek Lowe to the Indians for a minor-league pitcher Chris Jones. As a 23-year-old reliever who spent the year in A-ball, Jones is not exactly a premium prospect – this deal was all about money, as Atlanta also agreed to pay $10 million of the $15 million owed to Lowe for the 2012 season.

For the Braves, Lowe was a surplus part given their existing rotation members (Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, and Brandon Beachy) and their quartet of MLB ready pitching prospects (Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino). In addition, Lowe’s 2011 did nothing to endear him to Braves fans; he was arrested for DUI in April, went 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA in 187 innings of work on the season, and contributed more than his fair share to the Braves’ September collapse by allowing 25 runs over 23.2 innings in his last 5 starts.

For the Indians, Lowe represents a relatively low cost addition to a rotation that includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, and Fausto Carmona. Clearly, Cleveland likes ground-ballers, but what can the Indians expect out of Lowe in 2012?

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My Game 7 Experience

Disclaimer: this post will not contain any wOBAs, xFIPs, or UZRs. This is the story of Game 7 from the perspective of one fan — me.

As soon as David Freese’s home run landed in the grass beyond the centerfield wall, ending Game 6, I made up my mind that I was going to the stadium for Game 7. It was an interesting and amazing night, and I thought I’d try to relay that experience.

On Friday in St. Louis everyone seemingly adopted new salutations. Gone were “hello” and “goodbye”, instead, every conversation started with, “Could you believe that game last night?” and ended with, “The Cards have to win tonight.” Everyone at my office spent most of their Friday passing around emails with the best links about Game 6 (the win expectancy graph being one popular option). Cardinals fans are always crazy about their team, and we’ve been in two World Series recently, but I’ve never seen anything like the buzz for Game 7.

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World Series Win Probabilities: Primer

Over the next few days, I will be running out a series based on win probabilities from the World Series not only using single game win probabilities like the ones in our game graphs, but also using overall series win probabilities, which will be introduced today.

The idea behind the series win probabilities is based around the same idea as the single game win probabilities we use here: both teams have a 50% chance of winning each game. As such, this flow chart describes every possible path for a team through the World Series (or any other seven game series; the part from 1-1 up would describe a five-game series):

Click to embiggen, and then follow the jump for more on what’s inside.

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King of Little Things 2011

With a classic World Series — the most exciting in a long time, if not the best-played or best-managed — now over, it is time to hand out individual awards for the 2011 regular season. Sure, some people are anticipating the Cy Young, MVP, and Rookie of the Year announcements, but I bet true baseball fans really pumped for stuff like today’s award, which attempts to measure how much a hitter has contributed to his team’s wins beyond what traditional linear weights indicates. Who is 2011’s King of Little Things?

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Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 10/31/11

Top 50 Free Agents

The 2011 season is officially over, so today, we kick off our coverage of the Hot Stove League. Over the next few months, we’ll have coverage of every transaction, breakdowns of how each move will impact the various teams going forward, and analysis of the market as a whole.

We begin our off-season coverage with a look at the 50 best available free agents. Obviously, any ranking is going to be subjective in nature, and I’m sure that there will be disagreements in placement, but overall, it looks to be me like there are some pretty distinct tiers that the players fall into.

This is a pretty top heavy group, with a big five who should all land pretty large deals, and then a significant drop-off after you get past those guys. There’s a half dozen or so good players beyond them, and then you get into guys who can fill a hole but aren’t really difference makers. Then, it’s 10 guys you want on your team but shouldn’t pay an arm and a leg to acquire, followed by 20 useful players who shouldn’t be counted on as regulars but could be useful if used correctly. I’ve used these breaks to show where I think each respective player fits, but if you think he should be higher or lower within that tier, I probably won’t argue with you.

Also, I’ve included each player’s WAR total for the prior three seasons. One of the regular traps in free agency is paying for a player’s most recent performance and ignoring prior history, so using 2009-2011 data will help put some context into what they’ve done over a larger sample. It’s not perfect, of course, as most recent data is most important, but in most cases the three year window gives us a better view of a player’s true talent level than just looking at what he did in 2011.

Oh, and one last thing before we get to the list – using the Custom Player List feature on the leaderboards, we’ve created a Sortable Free Agent Leaderboard for everyone to use. Now you can compare free agents within specific positions, over various periods of time, or check out their data on a specific split. Want to know which free agent outfielders performed the best against LHPs from 2006-2011? Now you can.

The report will soon be added to the leaderboards, where you’ll always be able to just click on it to get an updated list of free agents. We’ll maintain that list all winter so you’ll always be able to see who is still available and how they compare to their peers still on the market. The link above will stay static, however, so you can refer back to that one to see the market as it is today.

Now, without further ado, our top 50 free agents of the winter.

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Dontrelle Willis: Lefty Specialist

It’s hard to believe that just six years ago, 23-year-old Dontrelle Willis threw 236.1 innings for the Florida Marlins and logged one of the better seasons from a starting pitcher over the past decade — 2.63 ERA, 2.99 FIP, and 6.2 WAR.

Since then, Willis has gone from Cy Young contender to replacement-level pitcher. He has become a major-league journeyman, playing with four organizations over the last four years and trying to re-discover the spark that once made him a star.

In that time frame, though, he compiled a 6.15 ERA over 199 innings with more walks (156) than strikeouts (139).

Despite those lackluster numbers, things appeared brighter this year in Cincinnati. Reds’ pitching coach Bryan Price helped smooth out Willis’ mechanics and focused on staying behind the baseball more effectively. He started 13 games in Triple-A Louisville to begin the year and dominated hitters. The walk rate was back down to 2.39 BB/9, and his 2.63 ERA earned him a mid-season promotion to the big leagues.

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Offseason Notes: All the Options

Japanese sensation Yu Darvish pitched in the NPB playoffs on Friday (i.e. Saturday). More info here.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.

1. Assorted Headlines
2. SCOUT Leaderboards: Arizona Fall League
3. Projection: ZiPS for New York (AL), Boston, Chicago (NL), Philadelphia

Assorted Headlines
Brewers Decline Options on K-Rod and (More Importantly) Betancourt
The Milwaukee Brewers declined Sunday to exercise the 2012 options for both Francisco Rodriguez and Yuniesky Betancourt,’s Adam McCalvy reports. Rodriguez would have been owed $17.5 million in 2012; Betancourt, $6 million. The pair’s buyouts were $4 and $2 million, respectively. While the Brewers will no doubt miss the offensive production of Prince Fielder, replacing Yuniesky Betancourt with someone who’s not Yuniesky Betancourt will go some way towards mitigating the loss of Fielder.

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Is Cleveland Making the Right Choices?

According to Jordan Bastian of, the Indians are expected to decline the $9 million 2012 option on Grady Sizemore. The Tribe is also expected to exercise the $7 million 2012 option on Fausto Carmona. Bringing back Carmona is considerably less risky than exercising Sizemore’s option, however, taken together, the transactions tandem speaks to the Indians evaluation of risk and reward.

Is the team making the right choices with these two longtime employees?

The kneejerk reaction with Sizemore is to pan the organization. How could they decline a relatively low-valued option for a player who averaged close to 7 WAR from 2005-08? At $9 million, even an injury-prone Sizemore would seem worth the risk because the reward is substantial. By declining his option, the team is effectively saying one of two things: that it would rather pay him $500,000 for the right to bring him back on an even lesser deal, or that it thinks so little of his long-term health and performance prospects that it’s unlikely he hovers around the league average moving forward.

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