Archive for February, 2012

White Sox Keenyn Walker Is All Tools

Last June, the Chicago White Sox plucked outfielder Keenyn Walker from the junior college ranks with the 47th overall pick in the amateur draft. After seeing him in person late in the 2011 season, it became apparent the organization tried to have their cake and eat it too to some extent with the selection of Walker. How so? For a touch under $800,000 in signing bonus, Walker has tools better than players I’ve scouted who have received two to three times as much in signing bonus, but his baseball skills are on par with somewhat skillful teenagers seen at the level.

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Second Wild Card Spot “A Go” for 2012

According to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association have come to some sort of agreement that will allow for the possibility of expanded playoffs beginning this season, and an announcement to that effect will come tomorrow.

At the beginning of the month, Jayson Stark highlighted some of the issues with expanding the playoffs for 2012 after the schedules had already been set. Because the dates for the end of the regular season (October 3rd) and the beginning of the World Series (October 24th) are set in stone and cannot be moved, the league had to figure out how to get the play-in games (and any potential tie-breakers) into a three week window that already needed to house the Division and League Championship series. As Stark noted, the most likely way to handle this issue was to eliminate a day off during the Division Series, so the five game sets would be played out over six days.

I’m all in favor of contracted schedules for playoff series that do more to emulate the pace of the regular season. Teams have been able to manipulate the off days in the postseason schedule to lean heavily on just a few pitchers, and a more compact schedule should make depth more valuable in the postseason. I’d consider that a good thing.

However, the regular season schedule is created with travel in mind. When a team has a cross country flight, they often have a travel day to assist them in getting to their destination, or will play a “getaway” afternoon game that gets them in the air with enough time to still get some sleep in their new city that evening. Since MLB cannot control the geographical distance between Division Series opponents, it is quite possible that we could have a first round match-up between teams 2,000+ miles apart – say, for instance, the Angels and the Red Sox. That would be problematic if the schedule for the Division Series called for games on October 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th.

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If Nothing Else, JPA Should At Least Stick Around

I have no idea if JPA — which sounds like the name of some backwoods, Alaskan air strip (or, sure, Brazil) — is an actual nickname for the Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, but his name is surprisingly long (13 characters, not including the space), which is nuts, considering his name is actually just one name and two letters (my name, in the short version — Brad Woodrum — is only 11 characters); so what I’m saying here is that I couldn’t fit “J.P. Arencibia” in the title. But he still certainly deserves the post.

Last year, the Blue Jays handed their chief catching duties to 25-year-old Arencibia, and he promptly clobbered some 23 home runs and began looking like the legitimate heir to homer-happy, walk-disenchanted John Buck — from whom he received his starting role. Arencibia’s homers came with an uninspiring .282 OBP, putting him at a less-than-awesome .309 wOBA and 92 wRC+.

A lot of hope is riding on J.P. Arencibia — not only has he shown some early promise, but he also comes with a solid pedigree. As recently as last year, Marc Hulet rated him as the No. 3 prospect in a deep Blue Jays system. In 2012, JPA will once again saddle up as the Jays’ starting catcher, but how will he do?
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Daily Notes for February 29th

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for the thing that’s now called Daily Notes.

1. Injury Reports
2. Other Assorted Headlines
3. GIF: Josh Banks’s Kunckleball

Injury Reports
Freeman Injures Knee, Out Maybe Two Weeks
Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman has a sublux (partial dislocation) of the right kneecap after being injured during a fielding drill near the end of Tuesday’s workout, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution almost verbatim.’s Mark Bowman notes that the injury occurred as Freeman was attempting to pick a low throw out of the dirt and might force the Braves first baseman to miss upwards of two weeks — i.e. how long it took him to recover after suffering a similar injury in May 2010 at Triple-A Gwinnett.

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Catcher Pitch Blocking & WAR Update

Back in October, Bojan Koprivica wrote an excellent research piece on determining the difficulty of blocking every major league pitch.

Our WAR implementation now includes Bojan’s pitch-blocking algorithm dating back to the 2008 season. This impacts catchers only, with a maximum range of +/- 7 runs per season. The vast majority of catchers will see a change of +/- 2 runs or less per season.

We’ve also included two new stats in our fielding section: CPP and RPP.

CPP – The expected number of passed pitches.
RPP – The number of runs above / below average a pitcher is at blocking pitches.

You can check out these leaderboards to see which catchers have benefited the most since 2008 and here are the RPP leaderboards for individual seasons since 2008.

Much thanks goes out to Bojan for helping us get his metric up on the site! We will be updating CPP rand RPP weekly (possibly daily) throughout the 2012 season.

FanGraphs Chat – 2/29/12

MLB Draft: High School Arms To Watch

After such a talent-laden draft class last year, it is quite easy to feel a bit underwhelmed with the upcoming crop of players for the 2012 MLB Draft. That does not mean the draft class is bereft of big league talent or necessarily poor. It simply reflects just how good the ’11 group of draftees was largely thought to be. Plenty of quality players exist in the ’12 draft class.

Much of the talent lies within the high school arms. The hype surrounding prep pitchers tends to increase as we inch closer to June, as reports stream in throughout the high school baseball season regarding increased velocity, growth spurts, and improved control of offspeed pitches. Thus, the rankings will ebb and flow with unknown names climbing the list after stellar high school seasons, impressive private workouts, and well-established pitchers falling after mediocre seasons. It happens every single year.

Despite the fluidity of the overall rankings, certain names routinely top the charts. They will be the ones to watch this spring. Here are ten names (featuring brief scouting reports based upon online video and various online scouting reports) in no particular order with which to familiarize yourself prior to spring baseball:

RHP Lucas Giolito — Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, CA)

Giolito is largely considered the best prep arm — if not the best arm, period — in the draft. He sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, but can reportedly run it up to 97 MPH (or higher) on a good day. His curveball is a legitimate out-pitch with two-plane break that can be thrown for strikes or spiked into the dirt, while his changeup remains a work-in-progress. Scouts love his 6-foot-6 frame and believe he has some room to fill out.

On Tuesday 2/28: Giolito threw 6.1 IP of one-hit baseball with eight strikeouts and no walks. He reportedly hit 100 MPH on the radar gun multiple times in the first and second innings.

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Broadcaster Rankings (TV): #20 – #11

Introduction and #31
#30 – #21

Beginning in late November, we’ve spent much of the offseason asking readers to rate the television broadcast teams (on a scale of 1-5 for charisma, analysis, and then overall) for all 30 major-league clubs — with the intention, ultimately, of determining which broadcasts might best reflect the sorts of inquiry and analysis performed here at the site. (Click here for more on this project.)

Below are the 20th- through 11th-ranked television broadcast teams, per the FanGraphs readership.

But first, three notes:
• Teams are ranked in ascending order of Overall rating. Overall ratings are not merely averages of Charisma and Analysis.
• I’ve attempted to choose reader comments that are either (a) illustrative of the team’s place in the rankings or (b) conspicuously amusing.
• A complete table of ratings and ballots cast will appear in these pages Friday.

20. Pittsburgh Pirates
Broadcasters: Some combination of Greg Brown, Tim Neverett, Bob Walk, Steve Blass, and John Wehner
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.1, 2.9, 3.0

Three Reader Comments
• “Walk and Brown are very good, Blass and Wehner are pretty weak. Neverett has the chops but lacks the personality in his short time on the job.”
• “Tim N. and Wehner are probably the least annoying combo, but also the least frequent.”
• “They truly detract from the experience of enjoying a game on TV, which is basically the worst thing one can say about announcers.”

There’s some disagreement among respondents as to whom, precisely, is most deserving of their scorn — besides Blass, perhaps, about whom readers are mostly unified in their scorn. Speaking anecdotally, I found this interview by Bob Walk with Charlie Morton from last May to be enlightening.

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Filling Oakland’s 3B Hole: Conor Gillaspie

Oakland was dealt a moderate blow this month when third baseman Scott Sizemore went down with a season-ending ACL injury. Our very own Jack Moore looked at some of the implications yesterday. With limited depth at the position, as noted by Jack, the A’s now are scrambling to find a replacement and the obvious options are not that enticing. The search may not be all that difficult or hopeless, though, since a cost-effective option can be found in nearby San Francisco.

Conor Gillaspie, 24, was a supplemental first round draft pick (37th overall) in 2008 — the same draft that saw the club acquire catcher Buster Posey with the fifth-overall selection. With 25-year-old Pablo Sandoval, already manning the Giants’ hot corner, Gillaspie is an afterthought who’s set to spend a second straight season at triple-A.

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 2/28/11