Author Archive

The Best of FanGraphs: August 17-21, 2015

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, orange for TechGraphs and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs Audio: The NotGraphs Reunion Extravaganza

Episode 585
In this belated episode of FanGraphs Audio, fill-in host David Temple talks to former NotGraphs writers about what they are currently up to, and also about their memories of writing for the now-dead section of the Internet.

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 2 hours, 16 min play time.)

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Analyzes All Trades

Episode 583
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 discusses all (read: most) of the trades that happened toward the end of this previous week. It is guest hosted by David G. Temple, so don’t be alarmed when the host’s voice is much more pleasurable than what you were expecting.

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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Wade Davis Deserves Better Than Some Footnote

On August 24, 2013, the most popular movie at the box office was Iron Man 3. The troublesome pop song Blurred Lines was all over our radios. The Boston Red Sox had the best record in the American League, and the Atlanta Professional Baseball Club led the National League. Were we ever so young?

Also on that date, Wade Davis had a start against the Washington Nationals. He ended up losing the game, giving up seven earned runs in six innings. He struck out four and gave up a home run. Remember that last part for a minute.

Wade Davis’ start on August 24, 2013 was, as of this writing, the last start he’d ever have. This was not insignificant, as he was the other half of the James Shields trade — a trade that saw a somewhat-significant package of prospects being sent to Tampa Bay. The Royals thought they were getting a top-notch starter and another with some potential. Through most of 2013, they got a top-notch starter and whatever Wade Davis was. Shields would go on to have two productive seasons for Kansas City, as Davis continued to struggle in the starter’s role and be moved to the bullpen.

A “demotion” to the bullpen is rarely a high point for a pitcher, but for Davis, it could not have been more advantageous. After being sent to the pen, Davis would go on to dominate in the relief role (more on that later). As it happens, August 24, 2013 was a positive turning point for Davis. It would also be the beginning of an impressive — if not quirky — streak. August 24, 2013 was the last time Davis would give up a home run for almost two years.

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Twins Add Another Perfectly-Serviceable Pitcher in Santana

The 2014 Winter Meetings went on at a fairly furious pace, all things considered. There was of course speculation as to what kind of moves would be done. Jon Lester was expected to sign — he did. There were rumors Matt Kemp could get traded — he was. The Red Sox were thought to be looking to alleviate their crowded outfield — this also happened. But a ton of other things happened. The White Sox tried to get better, the Reds had a mini fire sale, and the Dodgers turned the Winter Meetings into their personal Out of The Park game. I don’t really want to call it a tradeapalooza, but I want to call it a tradepocalypse even less, so I’ll stick with the former. And in the middle of it all was the Twins signing Ervin Santana to a four-year, $55 million contract. If one were skimming the pages of MLB Trade Rumors looking for the fallout of the Winter Meetings, the Santana headline would most likely cause them to shrug unemphatically. Because Ervin Santana, as a player, is an unemphatic shrug. And he’s probably the best that the Minnesota Twins can do. Read the rest of this entry »

Casey McGehee: Fake Speedster

The 2009 Milwaukee Brewers had a fairly potent offense. Prince Fielder was playing out of his mind. Ryan Braun was not far behind him. Mike Cameron was still providing value, Corey Hart was about league average. Jason Kendall and J.J. Hardy, while not hitting very well, were playing well enough defensively that they needed to be in the lineup. And then there was Casey McGehee. Claimed off waivers from the Cubs in late 2008, McGehee had a banner season in 2009; his 126 wRC+ was good enough for 9th amongst third baseman with 300 PA or more.

The Brewers had no pitching that year, and so were out of the playoff race, and by the time Milwaukee made their push in 2011, McGehee was nowhere near his 2009 level. He was traded to the Pirates, then to the Yankees, but could never reclaim his mojo. He signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in late 2012. He hit 28 dingers in 144 games with the Eagles. This was a good enough performance to earn him a free-agent contract with the Miami Marlins. Then, things got weird. Read the rest of this entry »

So Jose Molina Has Three Stolen Bases

It’s a bit of an odd time to write about baseball. Some trades are trickling in, but we’re about a week removed from the All Star Game. The ASG break is a great time to do some summaries, compare some first halves, look at some guys who may be surprising or disappointing. But there’s only been a handful of days since everyone submitted those stories, and very little has happened since, at least as far as big-picture stuff goes. It is for this reason, and many other selfish reasons, that I am now writing about husky guys stealing bases.

This actually started as a tweet from fellow FanGraphs-er Jason Collette. It’s a fairly innocuous thing on its own. The fact that Molina has only scored three runs is a bit of an oddity, but more on a “weird baseball” level — which I assume Jason was going for. The fact that he has three steals is even less of a big deal. Lots of dudes don’t have many steals. As of this writng, 64 players have less than 3 steals. It is slightly noteworthy that Jose Molina has as many steals as both Starlin Castro and Andrelton Simmons, but only because guys like Castro and Simmons are smaller young guys that look like they should be speedy. Conversely, Molina looks like he should not be speedy. That is, he’s 39 years old and rotund.

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Joey Votto Needs His Legs

We talk a fair bit about Joey Votto in these electronic pages. Some may say we do it too much, perhaps. But it’s for a reason. It’s not that he’s paying us to — he’s not paying me at least. He’s simply a somewhat-fascinating specimen as far as baseball players go. He’s smart, he’s a pretty good model of consistency, he never pops out.

He’s also been a small point of consternation between the statistically-inclined and fans that adhere to a more traditional understanding of the game. There’s been disagreements revolving around his penchant for walks, his attitude toward RBI, his preference to hit to all fields rather than try and pull everything for homeruns. But fans on both sides of the argument can agree that Joey Votto just hasn’t been very good this season.

Actually, allow me to check myself before I subsequently wreck myself. Joey Votto, at least on the whole, has actually been more than serviceable in 2014. As a hitter, he’s still been 28% better than league average according to wRC+. But the whole story doesn’t tell the most recent story, and the recent version of Joey Votto has been subpar by any standards. Read the rest of this entry »

The Astros Pitchers Are Still Tinkering

I’ve recently started taking golf lessons again. It’s the first time I’ve taken them in almost a decade, and in that 10 years I’ve developed a lot of bad habits. My shoulders over-rotate, my left knee collapses on the backswing, I release my wrists too early. I’m a mess, really. And working with a professional has shown me just how I got from being pretty good at something to fairly poor at it over 10 years.

It’s about creating a repeatable motion, really. Consistency is key. I can hit some dandy shots, but those are occurring less frequently. Inconsistency between rounds turn into inconsistency between holes turns into inconsistency between swings. Success comes from not only creating a good motion, but a dependable one. And getting there involves a long road of minor adjustments.

This didn’t start out as an Astros post. Technically, this started as a post about golf, but you know what I mean. I didn’t sit down to research the Astros at the outset. I was fiddling with PitchF/X numbers looking to see how pitchers were changing their positions on the rubber compared to last year. With some help from Jeff Zimmerman, I found the difference between x0 positions — essentially the horizontal position in feet where the PitchF/X cameras first pick up the ball. I sorted by the absolute difference, so that righties and lefties could be compared equally. Here’s how the top 30 shook out:
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The Diamondbacks’ Grit vs. Win Expectancy

It’s fairly safe to say that Arizona manager Kirk Gibson doesn’t care for Ryan Braun that much. Braun torched Gibson’s Diamondbacks in the 2011 LCS, just before Braun was found to have been taking some form of PEDs. The suspension, repeal fiasco, and Braun’s name coming up in the Biogenesis scandal never sat right with Gibson and he’s been a vocal critic ever since.

This fact and this fact alone could be the reason D-Backs reliever Evan Marshall threw at Ryan Braun twice in a row, hitting him the second time and earning an ejection. It could have been compounded by the fact that Brewers starter Kyle Lohse hit two batters himself earlier in the game. It could have to do with the two batters that were hit the night before. There could be a lot of reasons for it, but one thing is clear; the Diamondbacks playing tough-guy baseball was a bad move as far as the numbers go and ended up costing them the game in this case. Read the rest of this entry »