Archive for January, 2014

New Protective Hats Raise Questions Regarding Usefulness

Though it can sometimes occur, we do not watch baseball for the violence. That is reserved for football — the bone-crushing hits, the gruesome tackles, the cringe-worthy collisions. Baseball is supposed to transcend that. It’s a game of athleticism, certainly, but it’s about grace and fluidity and unencumbered effort. This is not to say that baseball is without contact of course. There are the double-play-breaking slides at second, the collisions at home. Major League Baseball has taken measures to combat the latter, and, very recently, to take on another injury concern — players getting hit by batted balls.

We remember Ray Chapman certainly, who was struck in the head with a  pitch and remains the only player to die on a major league field. The baseball itself underwent fundamental changes after that incident in 1920. There’s also Mike Coolbaugh, the minor-league first base coach that was killed after being hit in the head by a foul boul. Major League Baseball has reacted to this as well, making base coaches wear batting helmets while on the field. On Tuesday, it was announced that MLB has approved a new type of hat geared toward protecting the heads of pitchers from line drives. This, on the surface, is a good thing. It’s a good thing on any layer, but if the goal is really to protect pitchers on the mound, it still might not be enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Kyle Parker, Colorado Rockies Power-Hitting Prospect

Kyle Parker has a simple approach to hitting. The 24-year-old Colorado Rockies prospect likes to hunt fastballs, and when he gets one, he takes a healthy rip. Parker has power. He hit 23 bombs in Tulsa last year, and he’ll hit plenty more at Coors Field if he can fine-tune his plate discipline. The former college quarterback isn’t a hacker, but his approach needs honing.

Drafted 26th overall in 2010 out of Clemson University, Parker projects as a middle-of-the-order bat in either a corner outfield position or at first base. He‘s coming off a .288/.345/.492 performance in Double-A, and could easily hopscotch from Triple-A Colorado Springs to Denver by midseason. Parker discussed his game earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Chat – 1/29/14

Dave Cameron: After a week off for a ski vacation in West Virginia, I’m back for the regular Wednesday chat. Queue is open, you know the drill.

Dave Cameron: Alright, lets get this started.

Comment From Eddie
What’s a fair return for two years of Jeff Samardzija?

Dave Cameron: A few solid prospects, the best of the bunch being a back-end Top 100 type. He’s not worth any elite prospects or big league pre-arb contributors.

Comment From Gson
AJ Burnett… does his return to the open market mean the Indians are more likely to have Ubaldo return?

Dave Cameron: I doubt it. Ubaldo’s going to get a 3 year deal, and I still think the Blue Jays are the team that will give it to him.

Read the rest of this entry »

2014 ZiPS Projections – Houston Astros

After having typically appeared in the entirely venerable pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections were released at FanGraphs last year. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Houson Astros. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Kansas City / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Toronto.

Unlike the blouse of an Olympic-level figure skater, the Houston Astros’ roster is not studded with bright and/or shining stars. That said, relative to the amount, in dollars, which that same roster is likely to be compensated in 2014 — the field-playing part, at least — they’ll actually provide some value, as none are projected to be worse than replacement-level, either.

As was the mostly the case for the 2013 edition of the Astros, this next season will be dedicated, it appears, to evaluating which of the players on the current roster are worthy of retaining as the club looks ahead to contending in the future. Here’s a summary of ZiPS’ opinion on the matter: Jose Altuve and Dexter Fowler — and probably also Matt Dominguez and Max Stassi — are about average. Jason Castro and George Springer are probably better than that, despite the fact that the latter has recorded zero major-league plate appearances. Everyone else? Not so much.

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A.J. Burnett: New and Best Option

I wrote a little bit about A.J. Burnett late last week. The article is here, and it’s about the significance to the Pittsburgh Pirates of Burnett deciding to either retire or return to Pittsburgh for another go. I figured it would be a hugely significant decision either way, and I wrote it like that because things appeared like that: The most recent word was that Burnett would either come back for the same team or hang it up for good to spend time with his family. There was no real indication Burnett would be willing to consider other employers if he returned.

So Travis Sawchik brought some news on Tuesday. The good news for the Pirates: Burnett intends to pitch in 2014. The bad news for the Pirates: Burnett intends to explore other organizations. Which doesn’t mean he’s written the Pirates off, but now they’ll have competition. Burnett’s officially a pursuable free-agent now, and while he could still end up back in the same uniform, he’s got his eyes and ears open. And that changes a whole lot of things.

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Are We Overrating the Nationals Again?

A year ago, pretty much everyone picked the Nationals to win the NL East. Why not? They’d won 98 games in 2012, and they’d done so without full seasons from Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, or Jayson Werth. They’d done so without a real center fielder, since Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina had started 64 games there while Harper was still in the minors or otherwise unavailable, a problem that newcomer Denard Span was intended to fix. They’d also won 98 without Rafael Soriano, a seemingly luxurious addition who had been added to a bullpen that was already solid, and without Dan Haren, who was a risk but had many years of excellent performance behind him and wasn’t being counted on to be more than the fourth starter.

No one wanted to say that the Nationals were going to top 100 wins, but plenty of us thought it. In a division with only one other serious contender, they seemed like a lock. They seemed like the safest bet in the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 374: Baseball’s State of the Union: The BP Rebuttal

Ben and Sam discuss Tom Verducci’s suggested ways to make baseball better.

FanGraphs Audio: Eno Sarris on the Curiosities of Arbitration

Episode 419
Full-time employee of FanGraphs, Eno Sarris, has recently performed some legitimate reportage on the peculiar logistics of salary arbitration in baseball. He discusses that exact thing on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

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 38 min play time.)

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 1/28/14

Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

My son wants me to push X. So I did.

Anyhooo, join Jeff Z and me tonight at 9 pm ET. We can talk all about the new, which I know you’re all totally going to visit every single day, right? Cool. Cool cool cool.

See you soon!

Paul Swydan: Ok, guys, let’s do this. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Jeff will be late. He’s doing an expert mock draft that Howard Bender organized.

Paul Swydan: Yes, a mock draft in January.

Comment From Eric
In ottoneu, what happens to a team if they don’t make cuts by the keeper deadline and they have exceeded their budget and/or roster limit?

Paul Swydan: Oh, that’s a good question. Has anyone ever done this? One of the teams in my league forgot to cut people last year, but he wasn’t over the cap.

Comment From Jaack
AJ Burnett is a fantastic troll.

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A Data-Centric View on Why the Phillies May Want to Avoid Losing

On Sunday, I wrote about the Phillies offseason and how their seemingly wishy-washy approach to rebuilding may, possibly, potentially, could be perfectly rational. Buried within the article was a throwaway comment. I said:

The fans in Philadelphia simply don’t have patience for losers.

Commenters rightly pointed out that this is true of all teams. Instead of letting it go, I argued that Philly fans seem to respond more elastically than fans of other cities.

Perhaps this is a good time to share my credentials. I grew up 20 minutes from the Philadelphia sports complex. I had full season tickets at the Vet during those years when announced attendance was around 13,000 and actual attendance appeared closer to 3,000. The section security guard would sit down and watch part of the game with us because there was nothing to guard. He would go in the dugout between innings and come back with bazooka gum and sunflower seeds, sometimes with autographs. Those were my favorite years of baseball – between 1995 and 2001 – and my hometown Phillies were godawfulterrible.

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