Archive for April, 2012

Leaderboards of Pleasure – 4/30/12


What? It’s just science.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for this edition of the Leaderboards of Pleasure.

1. A Brief Introduction to This Very Important Thing
2. Team NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard
3. Pitcher NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard

A Brief Introduction to This Very Important Thing
Regarding What Is the Leaderboards of Pleasure
The Leaderboards of Pleasure (past editions of which you can find by clicking here) is a mostly weekly feature of FanGraphs during the season and is composed mostly of the different NERD leaderboards.

Regarding What Is NERD
NERD is the result of an attempt to represent numerically the likely aesthetic appeal of a pitcher, team, game, etc. to the baseball nerd (i.e. you, reading this). It was developed as a response to a challenge issued to the author by Rob Neyer in May of 2010.

Specifically, NERD is a score (on a 0-10 scale) given to pitchers, teams, games, etc. that’s calculated using metrics available here at the site. When pitcher and team scores are combined in game scores (like those that appeared in today’s edition of Daily Notes), it’s possible to approximate, with at least some accuracy, which games might be of greatest (or least) interest to the baseball nerd.

Regarding the History of NERD, Part I
The history of NERD is like an ouroboros, except that way fewer people have tattoos of it.

Regarding the History of NERD, Part II
Discussions of Pitcher and Team NERD can be found here and here, respectively.

Regarding What You’ll Find Below
Wondrous spectacles and mysterious mysteries, predominantly.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron

Episode 174
Managing editor Dave Cameron makes his weekly appearance on this Monday edition of FanGraphs Audio. Topic discussed: April records, what they do and don’t mean (especially for the Angels and Dodgers); this week’s edition of the SI.com power rankings; and the recent promotions of both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, what their roles might be with their respective clubs.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 33 min. play time.)

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When Should The Dodgers Become Buyers?

While it’s hard to remember it now, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a proud history. Only the San Francisco Giants have more Hall of Famers, and only four teams have won more World Series championships. With the team’s hot start and impending sale, which is scheduled to close today, people have begun the process of wading through the fog that befell the team in the last year of Frank McCourt’s ownership to see what all the fuss is about. Few people could have predicted such a scenario before the season started, but now that it has happened, one of the more pertinent questions is — when should the Dodgers become buyers?

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A’s Sign Brandon Inge to Replace Brandon Inge

After getting swept by the Mariners at home last week, the Tigers decided to make some changes, and those changes including releasing Brandon Inge. The longtime Tiger played himself out of a job last year and failed to improve on his struggles while making the conversion to second base this season, so Detroit finally cut him loose. After clearing waivers, the A’s swooped in and signed him to a contract, and will install him as their third baseman after designating Luke Hughes (claimed on waivers to take the position just last week) for assignment to make room for Inge.

On one hand, it’s hard to imagine how Inge could actually represent any grade of upgrade for a Major League team at this point in his career. He hit .197/.265/.283 last year and was just 2 for 20 to begin the 2012 season. As a soon to be 35-year-old, he looks like his career is nearly finished. On the other hand, the A’s in-house options at third base might actually be even worse.

The team began the year with Josh Donaldson tabbed as the starter coming out of spring training. Donaldson is a 26-year-old who was a below average hitter in the PCL last year. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t able to hold the job for more than a few days, as Bob Melvin had him split time with utility infielder Eric Sogard. Sogard was bad, but Donaldson was worse, so he ended up back in Triple-A and the team claimed Luke Hughes on waivers from the Twins. Hughes played four games before he was DFA’d to make room for Inge.

Using the rest-of-season ZIPS projections, we can see the forecast for Inge and the two guys who he’s being called on to replace:

Inge: .285 wOBA
Donaldson: .277 wOBA
Hughes: .274 wOBA

Almost unbelievably, Inge is actually projected to outhit both incumbents, but of course the margin is so small that all three could really just be lumped into the same “awful hitter” category.

Inge used to be an elite defender at third base, but injuries have taken their toll on him, and he’s not what he used to be with the glove. Still, given the atrocious options the A’s had in house, signing him actually represents a small upgrade offensively, as hard as that actually is to believe.


Live Player Stats!

In the player pages there is a new section called “Live”, which has live stats from the game(s) a player played in today, and then an updated year-to-date stats line for them.

Basically, you no longer need to wait until 4:30-ish AM to see how the day’s games changed a player’s most popular full season stats.


Time to End Gardy Time?

You may have noticed that the Minnesota Twins are not good. They are certainly a long way from 2010, when they won the American League Central for the second year in a row. That meant it was time for certain writers to start talking (again) about how Ron Gardenhire was maybe The Best Manager in Baseball, because, hey, someone had to be making the Twins win against all odds (supposedly). It was “Gardy Time,” as Joe Posnanski liked to declare.

So, given last year’s 99-loss season and this season’s continuing fiasco, the Twin have to seriously consider firing Gardenhire, right?

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Yankees Look to Mix it Up with D.J. Mitchell

With the big league pitching staff under performing, the New York Yankees front office has been forced to shake things up. In the upheaval, minor league starter D.J. Mitchell finds himself added to the 25-man roster for the first time in his four-year pro career.

Mitchell, who was omitted from the Yankees pre-season Top 15 prospect list, was out-performing – and earned the promotion over – fellow prospects Dellin Betances (ranked third) and Adam Warren (14th) at triple-A. Rookie hurler David Phelps (12th) was pitching well enough in the big league bullpen to earn a shot at replacing disappointing veteran Freddy Garcia in the starting rotation.

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Andy Hawkins vs the Detroit Tigers, October 10, 1984

Andy Hawkins is the only pitcher in San Diego Padres history to earn a World Series win. It came in 1984 when the then-24-year-old right-hander threw five-and-one-third scoreless innings in Game 2, in relief of Ed Whitson. Dominating a powerhouse Detroit Tigers lineup, Hawkins allowed only one base runner as the Padres rallied for a 5-3 win at Jack Murphy Stadium.

Hawkins finished his career with a record of 84-91, his best season coming in 1985 when he went 18-8 with a 3.15 ERA. Currently the bullpen coach for the Texas Rangers, he reminisced about his World Series win during a visit to Fenway Park earlier this month.

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Andy Hawkins on October 10, 1984: “It was Game 2. I came in with two out in the first inning and we were in a tough situation. We were down [3-0] and they had runners on. My approach was to throw strikes, get somebody out immediately, and try to pick up the pieces from there. Fortunately, that happened. From there, I got a little stronger as the game progressed.

“It was mainly about controlling my emotions. This was the World Series and I was very uptight and very nervous. It was a battle of keeping myself under control, because I was pitching with an immense amount of adrenaline. Read the rest of this entry »


Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 4/30/12


Strong Starts Don’t Mean That Much

Last Friday, I focused my weekly ESPN Insider column (which can also be read here on the site if you are a FanGraphs Plus subscriber) on the predictive power of a team getting off to a strong start in April. We know that at the individual level one month doesn’t mean much, but I wondered whether a dominating start to the season for an entire team might be more predictive of future success.

To do this, we looked at every team since 1974 that won at least 70 percent of their games in April (minimum 15 games), which gave us a sample of 45 teams. We then looked at how these teams performed from May through September to find out how predictive a strong team start actually was. I was pretty surprised at just how little it actually mattered.

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