Archive for January, 2018

Diamondbacks Sign One of Last Year’s Best Hitters

I’ve been waiting for the Diamondbacks to sign Alex Avila for months. It’s not like it’s been some obsession, and it’s not something I’ve thought about every single day, but the fit just always seemed more or less perfect. Avila is younger than the departed Chris Iannetta, and, unlike Iannetta, he swings from the left side, which makes him a better partner for Jeff Mathis. Importantly, Avila had a highly promising 2017; importantly, he was never going to cost a fortune, and the Diamondbacks are dealing with limited financial flexibility. It’s a move that I thought was inevitable. Oftentimes, those inevitable moves fail to come to fruition, but at least this one is finally crossing the finish line. Avila is joining the Diamondbacks, on a two-year contract.

He’s going to get paid $8.25 million, and there are additionally some modest incentives. Avila’s likely to be something of a semi-regular, and last year’s 112 games played was his highest total since 2014. When a team uses Avila, he should be platooned, because southpaws just give him awful fits. There are so many reasons to just see this news and move right on by it, like seeing that David Hernandez signed with the Reds. But in case you don’t play much with Statcast tools, Avila’s 2017 was outstanding. He resembled, by one measure, a frightening threat.

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The Most Exciting Player on the Padres

To be completely honest with you, I’ve been kind of bored. Bored and feeling uninspired. Maybe it’s just a winter funk, but there’s also the reality of the slow-motion baseball offseason. I know I’m not the only writer whose topic well has begun to run dry. It’s not a big deal; everything’s cyclical, and writing has its ups and downs. I’m just trying to explain to you how I got here.

When I’m feeling stuck, I frequently just play around on various leaderboards, searching for inspiration. I’ll run through leaderboards here, I’ll run through leaderboards on Baseball Reference, and I’ll run through leaderboards on Baseball Savant. Most recently I was bit by the Statcast bug, so I found myself on Baseball Savant’s familiar pages. I was looking at the exit velocity page. I was looking at the sprint speed page. Suddenly, a name jumped out I didn’t expect. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t ignore this.

I considered all the current Padres position players for whom there’s a decent sample of 2017 Statcast information available. The player with the fastest average sprint speed? It’s not Manuel Margot. It’s Franchy Cordero. And, the player with the fastest average exit velocity? It’s not Wil Myers. It’s Franchy Cordero. A few days ago, I knew next to nothing about Cordero’s skillset. I knew only of his existence. Now I realize he’s one of the more exciting young players around.

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Could Baseball Borrow the Premier League’s Spending Incentive?

“The strategy the Marlins have adopted is tried and true in baseball. I’m not saying it’s without pain… But it was a process that ultimately produced a winner [at times, including Houston this season], in terms of smaller markets’ ability to win.”

–Commissioner Rob Manfred on the Dan LeBatard show, Dec. 20

Rebuilding, of course, has long been a part of baseball.

Before the Astros and Cubs parlayed dramatic rebuilds into World Series titles, the Marlins conducted fire sales of their own amid championships in 1997 and 2003. Young, cheap, talented labor has been prized since the origins of the professional game.

However, it is the depth of baseball’s current rebuilds that has begun to create more concern recently, notably among the league’s 120 unsigned free agents. It seems like something is different is occurring, that organizations are thinking more extreme, more like an NBA team when retooling.

If the Cubs and Astros did not inspire these more extreme retooling efforts, the Cubs’ and Astros’ success has nevertheless allowed clubs to follow the “tanking” model with greater conviction.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 1/31/18


Kiley McDaniel: Kiley estoy aqui


Lurker: When will your top 100 drop?


Kiley McDaniel: Okay schedule is a good place to start here. Just recorded a podcast with Carson but it isn’t up yet so I guess I’ll break some news (?) that the top 100 drops Monday and there will be a whole week of top 100 related content.


Kiley McDaniel: The list is essentially done now, gonna lock it tonight, so I can talk in generalities about some players but don’t want to give too much away.


Kiley McDaniel: And since we’re blowing this out a bit and the Braves list is like 1/2 on the the top 100, that and the Yankees list got pushed back a bit but should both be coming soon after prospect week.


Kiley McDaniel: And sortable 2018/2019/2020 draft rankings drop the next Monday, so it’s a true 7-day week of rankings

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Thanks for Reading

January 21st, 2011. That’s the day I got a phone call from David Appelman that changed my life.

I’d moved to California and was trying to make a full-time go of writing about fantasy baseball for a living, but my wife — as amazingly supportive as she’s been — had been wondering when I might be able to contribute more to the household. David’s call was a lifeline, a rope to a sinking writer, and I’ll never forget it. A job. Writing about baseball. Amazing.

Other than giving me a chance to do this for a living, David also gave me a chance to connect with you readers here at FanGraphs, readers I count as probably the best of the internet, and sometimes I feel like I’ve written for all of the internet. Maybe I have some authority on the matter. You guys are awesome, believe me.

This will be my last post for FanGraphs for now, post number 2,202 when you add them all up. Details to come, but I’m excited for this new chapter, and I will still see you around, but not on these pages.

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2018 ZiPS Projections – Arizona Diamondbacks

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

A perfectly average group of field players would produce something like 16 wins collectively in a season (that is, two wins times eight starters). The group of D-backs field players on the depth-chart image below is projected for roughly 15 wins collectively in 2018. By one definition, at least, this is basically an average offense.

By another, it’s not at all. Of the club’s eight likely starters, only one — Ketel Marte (599 PA, 1.7 zWAR) — receives a wins forecast that would round to 2.0. Paul Goldschmidt (638, 4.1), Jake Lamb (589, 2.5), and A.J. Pollock (510, 3.4) occupy one mode of this hypothetical distribution graph; the rest of the starting eight (minus Marte), the other.

The weakness for a club constructed thusly is its exposure to risk: an injury to one of the teams leaders can have catastrophic effects. This was the case for the 2016 edition of the D-backs, for example, when A.J. Pollock was unable to make his season debut until late August. The strength for such a club, meanwhile, is the ease of upgrading the roster. In the case of Arizona, finding an alternative to Yasmany Tomas (426, 0.4) in left field might represent the most expedient means to such an upgrade.

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Vladimir Guerrero Was Obviously One of a Kind

Last week, we found out that Vladimir Guerrero — among others — will go into the Hall of Fame. The Guerrero news was hardly surprising, given how well he fared his first time on the ballot, but still, the Hall of Fame is considered a black-and-white issue, and for all but the most obvious of cases, there emerge criticisms, cases against. Arguments that a given player might not be good enough. Guerrero’s career generated some of those arguments, as he wound up with a WAR under 60. WAR has never been and will never be the sole defining metric for Cooperstown, but it’s true that Guerrero’s number might be surprisingly low. It’s right there on his player page, one estimated summation of all he achieved.

One consequence of Hall-of-Fame conversations is that great players get nitpicked. Everyone who gets so much as close to induction had a remarkable career spanning more than a decade. Another consequence is that players can get reduced to totals, with little attention given to how they were amassed. In a case like Guerrero’s, this means there’s something left out. And maybe it’s better that way, I don’t know — maybe all that should matter are the final results. The numbers a player has to show for his career. Yet players play in different ways, and there are different paths to accumulate value. You might not need to be told this, but Guerrero was something extraordinary. He wasn’t just a regular great player. He was a great player in a way all his own.

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You Didn’t Know You Were Interested in This Royals/A’s Trade

Monday afternoon, the Royals and A’s exchanged four players, and the most recognizable among them is also the least valuable. It’s one of those multiplayer trades that tends to be easy to ignore, and that’s made all the more true by the fact that the Royals have entered a down period, and the A’s might not yet have emerged from their own. But as I’ve repeated lately, every major-league move is interesting if you look at it long enough. And in this case, there are two notable players in particular. Two players who might be considered analytical standouts. Here’s the breakdown:

A’s get

Royals get

At first, you could interpret this as the A’s reuniting with a beloved slugger. It’s not so. Moss is likely to be dropped or flipped, and he’s only in here for the purposes of the Royals shedding about $5 million. From the A’s perspective, this is about landing Buchter, a much-needed lefty for the bullpen. For the Royals, they get to roll the dice on some pitchers. Fillmyer is the prospect. Hahn is arguably the more intriguing one.

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Lars Anderson Discovers Australia, Part 5

In the previous installment we learned how Lars ended up with the club-level Henley and Grange Rams, while Ryan Kalish landed with the Canberra Cavalry — the ABL team Anderson had journeyed Down Under to join. In Part 5, Lars makes the jump to Australia’s top league, where multiple teams wanted him but only after they could find room for an import on the roster. Would the former big leaguer wait on the Aces or the Bite, or was wearing his third color of Sox a better option?


Lars Anderson: “Looking back at my career, I reckoned I had run the gamut of professional baseball experiences and transactions, from the top of Mt. Everest to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I’ve been drafted, called up, sent down, designated for assignment, claimed off waivers, traded, released, entered free agency, signed free-agent deals. I thought that I had done it all, but while Gary and Ryan were visiting me in Adelaide, I found myself in a unfamiliar world: I was a relatively hot free-agent commodity in the midst of a modest bidding war.

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Eric Longenhagen Prospects Chat: 1/30


Eric A Longenhagen: Morning, everyone. Would like to extend condolences to the family and friends of Kevin Towers, who people in baseball held in high regard.


Blooper: How is the outlook for Jose Siri? He crushed it last year


Eric A Longenhagen: I buy it. Think he’s talented enough to make the approach (which is horrendous) work.


Rick C: What would an Atlanta package have looked like to match what the Brewers gave up for Yelich?


Eric A Longenhagen: Not sure there’s a clear match on prospect quality/readiness and package depth. Maybe something like Soroka, Anderson, Riley and a 40?


Scuffy McGee: Do the A’s have a true top of the rotation guy in the minors? Puk is a little wild for that designation I think

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