Archive for December, 2015

The Yankees Bullpen Probably Won’t Be Any Better

Your immediate reaction to the Aroldis Chapman trade was right on. The Yankees have assembled something silly, a three-headed bullpen monster to rival any in the history of the game. On talent, Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances are three of the five or ten or so best relievers in baseball, and now if this plan comes together, one will hand the ball to the other, who will then in turn hand the ball to the other. While the 2016 Yankees aren’t going to feature a roster full of All-Stars, it’s going to feel like a pitching staff full of All-Stars in the most important moments, and that’s not going to be any fun for half the people watching.

There’s something important to be said, though. On talent, the 2016 Yankees bullpen should be better than the 2015 Yankees bullpen. Yet on performance, it’ll be hard for this coming year’s group to improve on the group that was. You’ve probably seen some of the numbers, like how the Yankees were 66-3 when leading after six, and 73-2 when leading after seven. Honestly, that probably already says enough, but we can make use of some of our own statistics. Whether you go superficial or analytical, last year’s bullpen almost always got the job done, when the job was important.

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FanGraphs Q&A and Sunday Notes: The Best Quotes of 2015

In 2015, I once again had the pleasure of interviewing hundreds of people within baseball. Many of their words were shared via the FanGraphs Q&A series. Others came courtesy of my Sunday Notes column. Here is a selection of the best quotes from this year’s conversations.

———

“We have to understand how a pitcher’s movements affect the ball, how the movement on the ball affects the hitter’s reaction, and how the batted-ball results average out over the course of a long season. To effectively map out this sequence of events, you need to have a thorough understanding of pitching mechanics, pitch data, and sabermetrics, because they all work together.” — Brian Bannister, Red Sox pitching analyst, January 2015

“You can take two guys with the exact same stuff and have them put up the exact same type of contact, but if the defense is one step slower, or they’re not shifted properly, that can be the difference between having an 4.01 ERA or a 3.01 ERA.” — Chris Archer, Rays pitcher, January 2015

“I would equate that to throwing my cutter… It’s the pitch I throw more than anything. The other pitches could be other songs, and the song I always come back to is my cutter.” — Evan Meek, journeyman reliever and guitar player, January 2015

“I was like a squirrel. I could turn left, turn right, go up, go down. Basically, everything that caught my eye, I was going straight for. I wasn’t ready – especially spiritually – for the journey that’s coming.” — Mark Hamburger, Twins minor league pitcher, January 2015 Read the rest of this entry »


Dodgers Give Iwakuma Money to Scott Kazmir

It seemed for a time like Scott Kazmir wanted to get himself signed before Christmas. That didn’t happen, but he’ll settle for getting signed before New Year’s — for three years, and $48 million, with the Dodgers being his newest employer. Kazmir joins what could be an all-left-handed starting rotation, not even counting the left-handed Julio Urias. No one would ever suggest you can fill a Zack Greinke-shaped hole with a Scott Kazmir-shaped plug, but there simply wasn’t another Greinke to be had, and Kazmir makes this group better than it could have been.

This is, what, a Tier-2-level transaction? Maybe even Tier 3. I’m not sure because I just invented the scale. But with a move like this, there generally isn’t all that much to be said in terms of player or team analysis. Kazmir is above-average. Occasionally great, occasionally awful. The Dodgers are above-average, too, and should remain that way into the future. Kazmir is getting above-average-player money. All that stuff is obvious, so it’s better to focus on the one most interesting detail. And in this case, I think that detail is that Kazmir can opt out of the contract after this coming season.

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Predicting Secondary Market Prices for Playoff Tickets, Part 2

This is a follow-up to my previous post, “Predicting Secondary Market Prices for ALDS/NLDS Tickets”. Now with a complete set of price data from 2011 to 2015, I’ve amended and refined my previous model for ALDS/NLDS ticket prices. I’ve also been able to build additional models to predict prices for ALCS/NLCS and World Series ticket prices in the future.

Before I go further, I’d like to thank Chris from TiqIQ. Chris was nice enough to give me TiqIQ’s complete set of price data from 2011 to 2015 for each year’s playoff teams. Needless to say, without his help, this study could not be completed.

The new set of data is superior to the previous data I collected from TiqIQ’s blog for the following reasons:

  • It takes into account all the transaction values, instead of only the transactions at the time the TiqIQ blog posts were written; and
  • It only includes playoff games that were actually played, instead of all possible playoff games (which include prices for games that may not be played); and
  • We have values for each individual game, instead of only an average value for the whole regular season and the whole ALDS/NLDS.

As before, the statistic that is predicted is the average price of the tickets for each playoff series. Because the final game of each series (Game 5 in the ALDS/NLDS and Game 7 in the ALCS/NLCS and World Series) is guaranteed to be an elimination game for both teams, it commands a premium compared to the other games, so I excluded that data in calculating the average value.

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Chris Davis and the Free Agent Bottleneck

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is traditionally a quiet one in baseball circles, as most home offices are closed, and many top executives vacation far, far away. This year hasn’t exactly been typical, with one big trade (Aroldis Chapman to the Yanks) and one reasonably significant free agent signing already in the books (Henderson Alvarez to the A’s) and another one pending a physical (Daniel Murphy to the Nationals).

There are still many big name free agents yet to sign on with their new clubs, and most of them are of the position player variety. Outfielders Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon, to name just three, are still on the board. So is first baseman Chris Davis, whose recent offensive contributions outstrip even those three. The Orioles reportedly offered Davis in the vicinity of $150 million over seven years to remain in the fold, only to be rebuffed. Has that offer clogged up position player free agency? And is an investment of that magnitude in this sort of player a wise one?

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Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 12/30/15

12:07
Dave Cameron: Sorry for being a few minutes late.

12:07
Dave Cameron: We’ll get this thing fired up now.

12:08
Pat: Does Cashman have more moves in him?

12:08
Dave Cameron: I would think so. I’d imagine they’ll end up as players for whichever free agent SP ends up looking for a discounted deal in late January or early February.

12:09
Pat: What would it take for the nationals to part with Joe Ross?

12:09
Dave Cameron: Probably a good amount. I’m not sure what their motivation to trade him would be.

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Projecting the Prospects in the Aroldis Chapman Trade

A couple of days ago, news broke that the Yankees had traded for uber-reliever Aroldis Chapman. In exchange for Chapman’s services, the Bombers coughed up four prospects: Starting pitcher Rookie Davis, corner infielder Eric Jagielo, second baseman Tony Renda and reliever Caleb Cotham. Here’s what my fancy computer math says about this quartet.

Rookie Davis, RHP (Profile)
KATOH Projection Through Age 28 (2015 stats): 2.6 WAR
KATOH Projection Through Age 28 (2014 stats): 0.7 WAR

The Yankees took Davis in the 14th round out of high school in 2011, but he soon proved to be a steal at that spot. In 2013, he dominated Short-Season A-Ball with the help of a mid-90s fastball. He continued to establish himself in 2014 by posting a sub-4.00 FIP as a starter in Low-A.

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FanGraphs Audio: The Dave Cameron Food Metaphor Episode

Episode 620
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio, during which edition he employs no fewer than one (1) food metaphor while discussing, at different points, the Aroldis Chapman trade, the signing of Daniel Murphy, and the prospect of the Cubs as the league’s best team.

This edition of the program is sponsored by Draft, the first truly mobile fantasy sports app. Compete directly against idiot host Carson Cistulli by clicking here.

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 37 min play time.)

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Chicago Cubs

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Chicago Cubs. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Cincinnati / Kansas City / New York AL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
About two weeks ago, Jeff Sullivan wrote a piece for this site examining the very real possibility that, as presently constituted, the Chicago Cubs are the best team in the majors. That claim was based, in no small part, on how the club possessed then — and still possesses today — the league’s best collective Steamer WAR projection. Given the numbers one finds below, it wouldn’t be surprising to find — when the present series of forecasts is complete — that the Cubs possess the top projected record by ZiPS, as well.

Among position players, the strengths are unsurprising. Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo amassed a total of 18 wins between them in 2015. Because negative regression is the rule, and not the exception, with regard to these sorts of star-level performances, ZiPS doesn’t call for an exact repeat of last year’s production. As a trio, however, that group is expected to log around 15 wins. That figure alone would represent a better mark than the overall totals posted by the position players of eight clubs in 2015.

Elsewhere, it isn’t entirely clear where Joe Maddon et al. will deploy Javier Baez. After recording starts at second, third, and short this past season both in Chicago and at Triple-A Iowa, Baez has recently made appearances in center field with Santurce, his Puerto Rican winter league club. He appears, within the depth chart below, as a platoon partner with Kyle Schwarber — although that’s a product more of “idle speculation” than “actual facts.” Whatever the particulars, ZiPS is optimistic regarding Baez’s 2016 campaign, calling for slightly more than two wins.

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August Fagerstrom FanGraphs Chat — 12/29/15

11:51
august fagerstrom: alright let’s start this thang up a little early

11:51
august fagerstrom: good afternoon to all, and I hope any time spent with family recently was cherished

11:51
august fagerstrom: chat soundtrack: Lil Ugly Mane – Three Sided Tape, Volume One

11:51
august fagerstrom:

11:51
august fagerstrom: also, a user recommendation –

11:51
Derek: Can I start the chat off with a music rec? William Onyeabor – Fantastic Man. I’d post a youtube link but, at work.

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