Archive for June, 2015

FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel on the Second of July

Episode 577
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect analyst for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses, among sundry matters, baseball’s looming international-signing period.

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 1 hr 19 min play time.)

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 6/30/15

Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

Join Jeff and myself tonight at 9 pm ET for all the baseballing action you can act on.

It’s Jeff’s last chat for two weeks, so get in all the fancy Royals questions you’ve dying to ask! See you soon!

Paul Swydan: Hi guys! Let’s do this.

Comment From Jung Ho Kodos
Head to head league where I’ve taken second place 5 years in a row. Should I trade Joc for Stanton if I’m comfortably in the playoff picture and can survive the time between now and when Stanton comes back, or should I be worried about Stanton’s power when he gets back?

Jeff Zimmerman: I would worry if Stanto makes it back at all

Paul Swydan: I would absolutely be worried about his power when he comes back, because hand injuries tend to take longer to get over.

Paul Swydan: That’s another good point. Stanton’s injury is a clear sign that the Marlins can sell.

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Billy Hamilton, As Advertised

Monday, against the Twins, Billy Hamilton stole four bases. In so doing, he reached 40 steals on the year before anyone else reached 30. Probably even more impressive: Hamilton now has more steals than exactly half the teams in baseball. He has more than the White Sox and Dodgers combined. Over the course of the past month, Hamilton has stolen 20 bases, and second and third place on the leaderboard combined have stolen 19 bases. Over that same month, Hamilton has more stolen bases than he has hits.

It’s funny now to reflect on some of the things I wrote in 2014. Early on, when Hamilton started to hit, I decided he wasn’t a caricature. When it all ended, I asked why Hamilton hadn’t been a base-stealing dynamo. Now Hamilton is a base-stealing dynamo. And he’s a terrible hitter. He can’t hit, but he does run, and when he’s on the other side of things, he can play a mean center field. Which means, in a way, Billy Hamilton now is something of a caricature. He’s an exaggeration of a player type, which is exactly how he was advertised.

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Tempering Expectations for Atlanta’s Matt Wisler

Matt Wisler’s big-league debut went about as well as anyone could have expected. The 22-year-old tossed eight innings of one-run ball two Fridays. His performance was good enough to outduel Jacob deGrom, as he led the Braves to a 2-1 victory over the Mets. His second start didn’t go as swimmingly, however: the Nationals tattooed him for six runs in four innings of work. He didn’t strike out a single one of the 21 batters he faced.

Wisler’s primarily a fastball-slider guy, and both pitches have the potential to be plus, according to Kiley McDaniel. His fastball was clocked as fast as 95 mph in his big-league debut, but it’s averaged closer to 92 overall thus far. Both of Wisler’s strikeouts — yes, he’s only had two — came by way of his low-80s slider. The first victim was Curtis Granderson.

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MLB Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Deny San Jose Appeal

Overshadowed by last week’s series of momentous decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, Major League Baseball recently filed a brief with the Court urging it to reject an appeal by the city of San Jose, California in the on-going dispute over the future home of the Oakland Athletics. As I noted at the time San Jose filed its appeal back in April, the city is hoping to challenge MLB’s refusal to approve the proposed relocation of the A’s to the city in court under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Over the last two years, however, both the trial court and court of appeals have dismissed San Jose’s suit in light of professional baseball’s nearly century-old antitrust exemption. The city is now asking the Supreme Court to take its appeal and overturn the controversial doctrine in order to hold MLB accountable under the Sherman Act, like all of the other major U.S. professional sports leagues.

As one might expect, MLB’s brief instead argues that San Jose’s appeal should be rejected for several reasons. In particular, MLB devotes much of the first half of its brief to the contention that San Jose lacks standing to sue — a requirement in which the plaintiff must show that it has a personal stake in the outcome of an actual legal case or controversy (as opposed to a hypothetical, future dispute) — and therefore can’t sustain its case against the league.

MLB challenges San Jose’s standing on several grounds. The primary basis of MLB’s attack, however, focuses on a recent California state court decision holding that an option agreement between the city and the A’s for the land on which a new stadium is to be built is invalid under various state and municipal laws. Specifically, the California court determined that San Jose had illegally transferred the land to a governmental authority in an attempt to circumvent laws requiring that a public referendum be held to approve the use of any tax dollars to build a sports facility.

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Picking the 2015 American League All-Stars

Yesterday, we tackled the National League’s 34 most deserving candidates, so today, we’ll do the American League. When it comes to picking players, I lean very heavily towards in-season performance, as I tend towards the camp that sees the game as a reward for the players more than a showcase for the fans. It is both, of course, and trying to serve both masters can make for some tricky decisions, but I’d rather reward a deserving player for a big first half than simply invite the same players every year based on their legacy. I know others see it differently, and that’s fine; I personally just find it more interesting to recognize performance than name-value.

In putting this together, I broke the 34 roster spots into 21 position players and 13 pitchers, and I also held to the rule that every team had to be represented. Injured players were not considered, so while Andrew Miller will likely be picked and then replaced, I didn’t bother with that formality. And while the only stat listed is a player’s WAR, it’s just there for reference; I didn’t select the players based solely on their WAR totals. Oh, and for pitchers, the WAR listed is a 50/50 blend of FIP-based and RA9-based WAR.

Okay, on to the team. We’ll go position by position, with the starter listed first.

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The Simplicity of Josh Reddick’s Improvement

Not every breakout comes with a complicated story. Sometimes it’s super simple. Sometimes, as Josh Reddick put it, a player just comes to “a recognition.” For Reddick, it was recognition born of who he is. He became better by becoming more like himself.

Look down at his numbers, and it seems as straight forward as Reddick makes it when he told me, “It’s just staying on pitches in the zone as opposed to pitches outside of the zone.” Reddick has halved his career strikeout rate by swinging less than he’s ever swung.

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Kiley McDaniel Prospects Chat – 6/30/15

Kiley McDaniel: Headed to Hickory once we’re done here but you people get me for an hour or so. For most basic July 2 questions see the July 2 board (will be updated any minute when the admin sees my email)… and the international article archive… which has articles covering many of the more nuanced issues in the int’l game

Comment From mike
Bluejays sign Vandy commit Pruit, anything there besides speed and potential?

Kiley McDaniel: Plus speed, CF fit, twitchy athlete, has bat speed and decent results but swing is inconsistent. solid gamble. thought it would take more money than that to buy out Vandy

Comment From Giants Fanboy
Which do you think the Giants are more closer to signing between Fox and Eddy Julio?

Kiley McDaniel: I think it’s a real but unlikely chance on both. Say around 25%? Could jump in the coming weeks as neither have a deal in place yet.

Comment From Billy
So besides Socrates Brito having an 80 name, does he have much future potential?

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NERD Game Scores: Houston Astros Return Engagement

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.


Most Highly Rated Game
Kansas City at Houston | 20:10 ET
Duffy (43.0 IP, 117 xFIP-) vs. Keuchel (116.1 IP, 73 xFIP-)
By mere decimal points, this Royals-Astros encounter receives today’s highest game score, rendering it not only (a) the (hypothetically) most watchable contest of the evening according to the inadequate methodology devised by the author, but also (b) the third consecutive day on which the Houstons have been featured within same. With regard to which of the club’s qualities distinguish them most substantially, one finds that they’ve produced a park-adjusted home-run rate nearly 2.5 standard deviations better than the league average while having deployed batters who, overall, are more than 2.5 standard deviations younger than the mean — both league-leading figures, those. Additionally, the Astros bullpen has recorded the lowest park-adjusted xFIP in all the majors; its baserunners, the fifth-most runs by that measure. A collection of promising traits, is what one finds here — just as within a dating profile on which one has lied about his collection of promising traits.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Houston Radio.

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Pablo Sandoval Hit a Pitch at His Eyes

A few years ago, early in the World Series, Pablo Sandoval teed off against the Tigers, going deep three times. What people tend to remember most is Sandoval tomahawking an 0-and-2 Justin Verlander fastball, up and out of the zone. Sandoval, of course, has always been perhaps the best bad-ball hitter in the game, but it was still something to get on top of that kind of pitch, in that kind of place, in that kind of situation. A relevant still:


That’s a high pitch, that Sandoval drilled with little problem. The form looks good. I mean, it was a dinger — the form had to look good. Some people took to saying that Sandoval homered off a pitch at his eyes. Something of an exaggeration, sure, but it’s the language of baseball, and it’s not like pitches get a whole lot higher.

On Monday, against Toronto, Pablo Sandoval hit a pitch that was actually at his eyes. It wasn’t the World Series, and it wasn’t a home run. It wasn’t even a base hit. It was just a groundball, like any other groundball. Except for that one thing, where the pitch was more than five feet off of the earth. People still remember Sandoval going upstairs to punish Verlander. The pitch Sandoval put in play against R.A. Dickey was higher than the Verlander pitch by 21 inches. 21 inches is the height of the world’s smallest man. Between Monday’s pitch and the Verlander pitch, you could fit a whole man.

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