Archive for February, 2015

FanGraphs Audio: The Splendid Dayn Perry

Episode 536
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the definitely splendid guest 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 48 min play time.)

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The Cubs Vs. a Decade of Projections

Earlier, I published a post including this graph:


Of all the things that stand out, perhaps nothing stands out quite like the Cubs. Over the last 10 years, they’ve won 55 fewer games than they’ve been projected to win, and while there are some quibbles you can have with blending all the years and all the projection systems, at the end of the day, projections aren’t too dissimilar and they haven’t changed super dramatically over the decade, and no one comes particularly close to matching the Cubs’ level of disappointment. At -55, they’re separated from the next-lowest team by 19 wins.

I don’t think there’s really anything predictive, here. I’d never bet on a given team beating or undershooting its next-year projection. Certainly not based on what it just did. But -55 seems worthy of investigation. What can we find out, about why this might’ve happened? What traits or events might’ve contributed to the Cubs coming off as such a disappointment?

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The Top Performances of College Baseball

What follows does not constitute the most rigorous of statistical analyses. Rather, it’s designed to serve as a nearly responsible shorthand for people who, like the author, have considerably more enthusiasm for than actual knowledge of the collegiate game — a shorthand means, that is, towards detecting which players have produced the most excellent performances over the first weeks of the college season.

As in the first ever edition of this same thing from last week, what I’ve done is utilize principles recently introduced by Chris Mitchell on forecasting future major-league performance with minor-league stats.

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The Blue Jays Need Maicer Izturis To Be Useful

The Blue Jays have new players up and down their lineup — Russell Martin, Justin Smoak, Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders, Devon Travis, etc. Dalton Pompey basically qualifies here as well. But one incumbent player may end up being just as, if not more, important than all of the new acquisitions — middle infielder Maicer Izturis.

Signed early in free agency after the 2012 season, Izturis hasn’t really done what the Blue Jays had hoped he would in a Toronto uniform. He was, by WAR, the worst position player in the game in 2013, and then he missed all but 11 games in 2014. Ankle and knee injuries were culprits, though the ankle injury in 2013 may not explain the near-career low walk rate and career-low pitches per plate appearance. Either way, Izturis hasn’t gotten good results for awhile.

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The Pirates’ Road Home Run Problem

At first, it looked like pitchers that play their home games in extreme parks have extreme home run splits — that pitchers in pitchers’ parks go on the road and give up more home runs than expected. But it turns out, it might just be a Pittsburgh Pirates problem.

Staffs that leave the six most pitcher-friendly parks to go on the road have a 10.5% home run per fly ball rate, we found. But if you remove the Pirates (12%), that number for other six drops to 10.3%, very much close to the 10.1% sample average.

Take a look at the road homer per fly ball rates per team over the last five years. There’s a clear outlier.

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JABO: Every Single Team Has a Chance

Do you like an origin story? This post was originally going to be about the nature of spring-training optimism. Among players, even, not just fans. It seems like, every single February, when players show up to camp, you get quotes from everywhere about how a given team has a great bunch of guys, and if they play the kind of baseball they’re capable of, there’s no reason the season can’t be magic. I started looking for such quotes for every single team. The way I figured, they had to be out there. And as a matter of fact, I even found one for the Phillies. The same Phillies whose own front office has finally admitted that the team is rebuilding, and contention seems years off.

In case you’ve somehow been in the dark, this year’s Phillies are supposed to be bad. I mean, they aren’t supposed to be bad, but they’re expected to be bad, relative to every single other team. FanGraphs has the Phillies projected for the worst record in baseball. So does Baseball Prospectus. I’m not telling you anything new. Probably going to be a rough year in Philadelphia. But, you know who has opinions? Jonathan Papelbon. Here, he talks to Jim Salisbury about the possibility of being traded.

Toward the bottom of the post:

Papelbon said the Blue Jays would “fit his criteria” because they project as a contending club, but he was quick to add that he believes the Phillies can still be a contender, despite management’s charting a rebuilding course.

“If we come out and play the baseball we’re capable of playing then I plan on being right here and righting the ship here,” he said. […] “My storybook ending here is sneaking into the wild card and getting hot in the playoffs with these Phillies.”

It’s not exactly “we’re getting those rings,” but Papelbon has a certain level of confidence, a level that isn’t shared by Cole Hamels or the people in charge. Papelbon doesn’t see this as an impossible mission. And, wouldn’t you know it — it’s not an impossible mission. Let’s talk about how teams do, relative to how they’re projected to do.

Read the rest on Just A Bit Outside.

Trevor Bauer and the Lost Screwball

Trevor Bauer is a lot of things – former first round pick, pupil of Ron Wolforth’s unique coaching style, permanent breakout candidate, and now part of a rotation in Cleveland that many predict will be one of this year’s best. Bauer is a part of the current and future plans for Cleveland, but he’s also a work in progress: a not yet fully realized starter that suffers from real control problems on the mound. The most intriguing thing about Bauer isn’t his upside, however — it’s the fact that he throws a pitch almost totally lost to the modern game: the screwball.

Today, we’re not going to speculate on what Bauer might accomplish this year. Instead, we’re going to focus on the screwball, a pitch thrown by just one or two other pitchers in the majors. It’s an exceedingly rare pitch, and we’re going to look at how he throws it, and see where it fits in his arsenal.

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10 Years of Team Performance, 10 Years of Team Projections

I’ve got a post going up at JABO today. It might’ve already gone up, I don’t know — I’m writing this in advance, and I wrote that post in advance, and I’m not in charge of when they publish the content that’s been sent their way. But today, there is this post and that JABO post, and within the latter, you will see the following image:


You’re smart enough to get this. That’s a whole decade of information, showing single-season projected team win totals, and single-season actual team win totals. You observe both a relationship, and a fair amount of noise. I suppose I don’t need to spoil that other post. Read that other post, whenever it’s published. Read that other post twice! Click click click!

Yet seldom do we dig into historical team projections. There are reasons for this, but now that I’ve gone to the trouble of gathering all the necessary data, there’s some other stuff we can do. There’s a lot of other stuff we can do; I have done a small amount of it.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 2/27/15

Kiley McDaniel: Some hiccups with CoverItLive, but think we’re good to go now. Should get an hour in here but leaving soon to see Ian Happ/Maryland draft matchups this afternoon at the PG Complex, then Iowa RHP Blake Hickman jumps in the mix tomorrow.

Comment From hi

Kiley McDaniel: hi

Comment From Jheff
How concerning is Max Pentecost’s shoulder surgery?

Kiley McDaniel: Long-term it shouldn’t be a problem, but in the insta-reactions to every first round pick, he obviously loses a little stock to those types of people

Comment From Colby
A lot of other red sox prospects are getting a ton of press this off season, how do you feel about Michael Kopech?

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Oswaldo Arcia and the Relentless 3-0 Hack

Last week, I wrote a post in which I drew a comparison between Oswaldo Arcia and phenom George Springer. All things considered, the two are far from similar players, but this was strictly an offensive comparison. Even then, it wasn’t perfect, but it was something! Springer and Arcia had the two worst in-zone contact rates in baseball, yet carried two of highest isolated slugging percentages. They don’t hit the ball very often, but it’s worth it when they do. For that, they’re both interesting and worthy of a comparison.

This time, there is no comparison. There couldn’t be. Because nobody was even remotely like Oswaldo Arcia in 3-0 counts last year.
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