Archive for August, 2016

FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 8/31/16

9:02
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

9:02
Jamie Sayer: Is it safe to say 1st half Jake Lamb was a tad lucky while 2nd half Jake Lamb is a tad unlucky?

9:03
Paul Swydan: I think it’s more safe to say the latter part. I think Lamb is pretty good, and his first half BABIP wasn’t so high.

9:04
Paul Swydan: The ISO was high though. Yeah I guess it would be safe to say what you said.

9:04
Jeff Zimmerman: Some, also his plate discipline has gotten worse.

9:04
Nathan: Alot has been said about an assortment of Brewers the last couple weeks. I think we should talk about another. Tyler Thornburg has looked dominant. How do you guys feel about him?

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Effectively Wild Episode 947: Cy Young or Bust

Ben and Sam banter about Shohei Otani, then answer listener emails about running the Rockies (with a twist), a Kershaw dilemma, a time-traveling Ubaldo Jimenez, umpire park effects, and more.


Kyle Hendricks as Arrieta’s Opposite

Just yesterday, I wrote about some concerns regarding Jake Arrieta. In particular, over time, Arrieta has gotten worse against left-handed hitters, losing the effectiveness of his best pitch while also losing his pinpoint command. This can be traced back to Arrieta losing the remarkable consistency of his mechanics. Arm speed and release point are everything, and for the last little while, Arrieta has been fighting uphill. He needs to get himself right before the playoffs.

Arrieta remains plenty good, but he has some stuff to work out. Kyle Hendricks, meanwhile, has nothing to work out. And compared to Arrieta, Hendricks has followed kind of the opposite course. He’s gotten better against left-handed hitters. He’s essentially added a new pitch while honing his pinpoint command. His mechanics are as consistent as they’ve ever been. Right now, we’re seeing the best version of Kyle Hendricks. You’ve probably read about him limiting quality contact. When you dig in, it’s no mystery how it’s happened.

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Yoan Moncada Is Already Eligible for the Playoffs

I’m writing this post as a favor to former colleague and friend-of-the-site Mike Petriello, who is now working as an analyst for MLB.com. Over the last few weeks, on Twitter, Mike has been doing his best to dispel the notion that teams have to set their playoff rosters today.

The myth of the August 31st playoff roster deadline is seemingly born out of the notion that, to be eligible to play in the postseason, teams have to acquire players from other organizations by the end of the day today. That part is absolutely true; any player acquired tomorrow will not be eligible to participate in the postseason. But beyond that restriction, anyone in a team’s organization today is effectively eligible for the playoff roster, no matter what part of the organization they are assigned to today.

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Rowdy Tellez: A Future Jay and the Chip on His Shoulder

Two years ago, I wrote that the Blue Jays may have hit it big when they took Rowdy Tellez in the 30th round of the 2013 draft. So far, that suggestion looks solid. The 21-year-old first-base prospect logged an .801 OPS in A-ball last season, and this year he’s slashing .296/.384/.516 with Double-A New Hampshire.

Power is his calling card. Tellez has 50 extra-base hits as a Fisher Cat, and 20 of them have left the yard. When he really gets into one, they cross property lines. In our 2014 interview, Tellez told me he once hit a ball “over the fence, then a back yard, then a house, then over a cul de sac, and then into the next house across the street.”

He sees himself as more than a slugger. His minor-league numbers back that up, as does a left-handed stroke modeled after a pair of All-Stars’.

Tellez talked about his game — and the draft-snub chip that remains on his shoulder — prior to a recent game in Portland, Maine.

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Tellez on what has changed since two years ago: “A lot is different. I’m two years older and hopefully a little wiser. Defensively, I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was then. I’m a much more competent fielder. Everybody is confident in throwing the ball over to me and pitchers don’t worry about ground balls hit to me. Defense is what I’ve worked on the most. I’ve worked on it day in, day out.

“I’ve lost weight. I’m 245 now. The most I’ve been is probably about 275. That was around the time I signed out of high school.

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How Good Is Shohei Otani?

This is a guest post from our friends at NEIFI.co, who have built a projection system and systematic evaluation methodology about which you can read more at their site. They also tweet @NEIFIco and have started their own blog as well.

Back in November, we contributed a post about Japanese superstar Shohei Otani, noting that the 22-year-old hurler already projected as one of the best pitchers on the planet, and would be one of the most coveted international imports in baseball history if his NPB team, Nippon Ham, decided to make him available to MLB clubs. Since that time, Otani’s 2016 season has only expanded his legend.

On the mound, Otani has had another great year, allowing a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts and racking up 140 strikeouts in 116 innings. But his real coming out party has been at the plate, as he’s forced his way into the lineup on a regular basis, becoming a legitimate two-way player. In 301 plate appearances, he’s hitting .333/.435/.631, which means he leads the league in OPS. With all due respect to Madison Bumgarner and the #PitchersWhoRake hashtag, Otani looks like something the likes of which we don’t currently have in MLB.

That brings up the obvious question: do we have any relevant comparisons for Shohei Otani?

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Let’s Improve Some Pitching Arsenals

Yesterday, we talked about Corey Kluber and Jose Fernandez, who have both made an effort to improve their arsenals in the second half by maximizing the usage of their best pitch — in this case, their similarly frisbee-like breaking balls. Kluber and Fernandez, in this regard, have been inching closer toward following in the footsteps of pitchers like Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Lance McCullers, Matt Shoemaker, and Masahiro Tanaka each of whom has thrown some version of a breaking or offspeed pitch this season more often than they’ve thrown a fastball.

A comment by Hill in May seemed to suggest that more pitchers could benefit from being told that they should simply throw their best pitch more often, regardless of whether that pitch is a fastball. Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway told me more recently that “traditional things take some time to change,” and that the thinking with Kluber was that he could become more efficient in getting ahead in counts by throwing his best pitch, the curve, more often, rather than the more traditional choice of his two-seam fastball.

Guys like Hill, McCullers, Shoemaker, and now potentially Kluber and Fernandez have already made the adjustment to lead with a non-fastball. Because this approach interests me so much, I’m now curious who else might benefit from such a change.

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Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 8/31/16

12:04
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone. I just flew back from SF yesterday, after a fun Pitch Talks event on Monday night. Seriously, these shows are great, and you really should make a point of going if one comes anywhere near you.

12:05
Dave Cameron: Watching Jonah Keri get made crushed by Jon Miller was a lifetime highlight.

12:05
Dave Cameron: But with a month left in the season, we’ve got plenty of stuff to talk about, so let’s spend the next hour talking baseball.

12:06
wilson: Shelby Miller is back up today, do you think theres a shred of hope for him going forward?

12:07
Dave Cameron: Sure, there’s no reason to think that a guy who was a quality pitcher for several years is now just utterly useless. It seems like his season just snowballed on him, with his mechanics getting out of whack, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Miller turned out to be a useful pitcher again. Remember, Roy Halladay had one of the worst seasons in baseball history, got sent back to A-ball to redo his mechanics, and came back as a Hall of Famer starter.

12:07
Guest: Hendricks peripherals are pretty much identical to last year? Has he actually gotten better?

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NERD Game Scores for Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric nobleman 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.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Toronto at Baltimore | 19:05 ET
Sanchez (156.1 IP, 82 xFIP-) vs. Gallardo (91.2 IP, 130 xFIP-)
This seems like the sort of television for which one might be required to make an appointment: an unexpected and legitimate Cy Young candidate starts for a club that possesses the slimmest of leads over not one, but two, division rivals. One of those two division rivals is the opponent. Starring Aaron Sanchez and all the rules governing baseball.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Toronto Radio or Baltimore Television.

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Matt Moore’s New Pitch Addresses Old Concerns

In his last start, the Giants’ Matt Moore did something he’d never done before. Not no-hit a team through eight innings: he’d thrown an actual no-hitter before, in Double-A in 2011, on 98 pitches on his brother’s birthday. He’d thrown a one-hitter before, too — albeit over seven innings instead of 9.2, and earlier in his pro career.

What he did this Aug. 25 against the Dodgers that he’d never done before was throw a cutter 29 times. Only twice had he thrown the pitch even 10 times, but there he was going to the well, again and again, on his way to an oh-no instead of a no-no.

Weirdly, he didn’t get a single whiff on the pitch. But it doesn’t seem like the swinging strike is the point to the pitcher. Nearly everything else is.

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