Archive for September, 2017

The Best of FanGraphs: September 25-29

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community Research.
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Effectively Wild Episode 1117: Pats on the Back and Slaps on the Wrist


Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Ben’s chat with Bill James, a fan who got ejected for giving Gary Sanchez pitch locations, a suggestion for tweaking the wild card game, and Sammy Sosa, then discuss the teams whose organizational stocks have risen or fallen the most this season and wrap up with brief banter about a Patreon perk, awards voting, and Jason Benetti.

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What Statcast Says About the National League Cy Young

Over in the American League, there’s a clear two-horse race between Chris Sale and Corey Kluber for the Cy Young Award. Both are head and shoulders above the rest of the league and both have very strong cases for the honor, depending on what metrics you prefer.

Over in the National League, that isn’t quite the case. Max Scherzer is the clear front-runner at this point, with a host of other pitchers behind him all trying to make an argument why they might have had better seasons. Clayton Kershaw has a lower ERA. Zack Greinke pitches in a much tougher park. Teammate Stephen Strasburg has a lower FIP.

Those are just the stats that measure outcomes, though. Let’s see what Statcast has to say about the sort of contact the other candidates are allowing to see if anybody has a real case against Scherzer.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/29/17

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

Jeff Sullivan: Sorry for that extra long delay — had some problems recording the podcast

Bork: Hello, friend!

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friend

Tim Tebow’s Thunder Thighs: The Tigers announced that Andrew Romine will play all nine positions on Sunday. Can we please do this with Andrelton Simmons, too? Watching him pitch and run down fly balls in center would be a hoot.

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Andrew Miller Is Back, Never Really Left

Last year, perhaps without even knowing it, Andrew Miller became the father of a bullpen revolution. It was a year ago when Miller, entering multiple games in the fifth and sixth innings, helped propel a Cleveland team down its No. 2 and No. 3 starting pitchers to the brink of a World Series title.

The Indians were lauded for their creative use of Miller, freeing him from the shackles of the save to impact games in high-leverage situations and for multiple innings. He avoided the fate of Zach Britton, another dominant left-hander, who looked on longingly from the Rogers Centre bullpen as his Orioles fell to the Blue Jays in an extra-inning Wild Card game.

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Jon Gray Is Becoming the Best That the Rockies Have Had

Although it’s not yet completely certain, it looks like the Rockies are going to earn a trip to the playoffs. Should they get there, they’re going to need someone who looks like an ace. And, you know what, even if the Rockies somehow miss the playoffs, there’s still going to be more baseball, in 2018 and beyond. In those years, the Rockies are going to need someone who looks like an ace. Even in this era where starting pitchers have slightly diminished importance, there’s no substitute for a No. 1. Every team could use one; every team badly wants one.

The Rockies might thank their lucky stars for Jon Gray. Not that it’s all been luck, of course — the Rockies drafted Gray in the first round, and the Rockies developed him. But, with pitching prospects, anything can happen, for almost any reason. There would’ve been countless opportunities for Gray’s career to veer off the tracks. Still could, I suppose. Nothing’s for sure. But where Gray is, now, a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday — he seems to be becoming the best starting pitcher the Rockies have ever had.

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The Players KATOH Got Right in 2017

Matt Olson’s adjusted minor-league power numbers were encouraging. (Photo: Keith Allison)

Over the course of the last year, I’ve published projections for a boatload of prospects at this site. Now that the 2017 season is winding down, I thought it might make sense to review how KATOH has performed with specific players. For this particular post, I’d like to look at some instances where KATOH’s forecasts have looked prescient.

Allow me to point out immediately that none of this is conclusive: we’re only a year (or less) into the big-league careers of the players included here. Labeling a six-year projection as definitively “right” or “wrong” following a single season is obviously premature. That said, we undoubtedly have a much clearer picture of these players’ futures than we did six months ago.

This analysis compares each player’s industry-wide consensus to his stats-only KATOH projection — which does not consider a player’s ranking on prospect lists. Stats-only is KATOH’s purest form and also the version that disagrees most fervently with the establishment.

Writing this article was a lot of fun. Like everyone else, I enjoy saying “I told you so” when I’m right. But I also acknowledge that I’m often wrong. So as much as I’d like to tout these cherry-picked success stories and move on to current projections, I feel I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t write another article pointing out KATOH’s misses. Stay tuned.

Prospects KATOH Liked
Here are the players on whom KATOH has typically been more bullish than other outlets. Players are listed in general order of “success” in 2017.

Rhys Hoskins, 1B/OF, Philadelphia

As you’re probably aware, Hoskins had a pretty good summer. But before he was hitting homers at a ridiculous clip, Hoskins was an unheralded first-base prospect who had never cracked a major publication’s top-100 list. KATOH was all over him, though, due to his impressive minor-league numbers. My system ranked him No. 54 in the preseason and No. 14 when he was called up. He also cracked the All-KATOH Team in the preseason. The best minor-league hitters often succeed in the majors as well. As obvious as that sounds, the case of Rhys Hoskins shows that we sometimes overthink these things.

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FanGraphs Audio: A Deeply Flawed Conversation About Bruce Maxwell

Episode 772
When Monday arrived this week, managing editor Dave Cameron found it difficult to write about anything other than Bruce Maxwell’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem. When it was time to record the podcast on Wednesday, he felt similarly. The result? Hopefully, a responsible and nuanced conversation. In reality, though, probably something less than that.

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 39 min play time.)

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Effectively Wild Episode 1116: Sleep on It


Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about how one’s incentives alter one’s perception of a season, then answer listener emails about FanGraphs’ World Series odds, the mid-1990s Braves pitching staffs, the annual suggestion that a team start a reliever in the wild card game, a comeback for Tony La Russa’s pitching platoon system, Andrew McCutchen’s belated first grand slam, the shift and ground ball success, the value of better sleep, the significance of the absence of managerial firings in 2017, the overlooked career of hefty triples machine Dave Orr, a hitter equivalent of Game Score, and more.

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Andrelton Simmons Is Incredible in Ways We Cannot Measure

On Sunday night, Andrelton Simmons orchestrated what has to be one of the top assists of the year, certainly the most creative. On one play, within one sequence, he created two separate rundowns. If it’s not one of the most watchable chain of events all season, I have to see the full list of contenders. It featured all the athleticism, artistry, and anticipation that we’ve come to associate with Simmons.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, the count full, and Jose Altuve on first base, Carlos Correa ripped a single to right. With Altuve off and running, Simmons moved into position to cut off the throw from Kole Calhoun. Instead of holding his glove up near his chest, however, to intercept the ball, Simmons allowed his hands to hang freely at his sides. His intent, it seemed, was to let the ball carry through to third base with a view to catching Altuve.

Simultaneously, Correa proceeded to make a wide turn around first base. Perhaps anticipating this — indeed, perhaps having caused it — Simmons reached up at the last moment to cut off Calhoun’s throw. Immediately, he turned to first, throwing it behind Correa and creating the opportunity for a rundown.

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