Author Archive

Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/30/19

2:01
cavebird: Do you think they should allow Carter Kieboom to get the Boxburger exception to the no emojis rule for player’s weekend?  And if he does, what if his brother is also up that weekend?  Of course, they would have the same name on the back of their uniforms in normal games, too.

2:01
Meg Rowley: I really can’t imagine caring what a player puts on his players’ weekend jersey so long as it wasn’t a slur?

2:02
Greg: The top 5 teams in defensive runs above average are the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. Is this a weird coincidence? https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0…

2:02
Meg Rowley: Given some of the individual guys those teams have, it isn’t super surprising, but also, I would warn against looking at a month’s worth of defensive data and thinking it’s anything so meaningful.

2:03
The Chop is for Chumps: Meg, what do you make of all the young, superhyped, Atlanta arms flopping at the big stage i.e. Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, Luiz Ghohara, and Sean Newcomb?

2:03
Meg Rowley: That pitching is really hard and that there is a reason that we were all a little nervous about a pitching-forward approach to building the farm?

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/23/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello all, and welcome to the chat. We’ll get started in just a second here.

2:02
Gene: I’m very bored in Economics. Will the Mets pitching be fine?

2:02
Meg Rowley: Hmmm maybe?

2:03
henryv: Best former Seattle baseball team name: Pilots, Hustlers, Yannigans, Clamdiggers, Siwashes, Chinooks, or Turks?

2:03
Meg Rowley: Clamdiggers or Chinooks imo.

2:03
CamdenWarehouse: I was happy to hear you are on the right side of the almond/soy/etc milk vs. juice debate

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel Welcomes the Night King

Episode 859

FanGraphs Audio welcomes back Kiley McDaniel, prospect analyst, to discuss all things scouting, including Kiley’s recent trip to Florida to see potential draftees in the 2019 draft class and the biggest risers and fallers on the draft section of The BOARD. We also engage in a little bit of contract extension talk, particularly as it pertains to Ozzie Albies, and the concept of bummers. And finally, we indulge a little non-baseball talk, offering our spoiler-laden assessments of the new season of Game of Thrones.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 59 min play time.)


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/16/19

2:01
Meg Rowley: Hello all, and welcome to the chat. Allow me a moment to schedule a post, and then we’ll get started.

2:09
Meg Rowley: Alright

2:09
Meg Rowley: I am here

2:09
Meg Rowley: Thank you for your patience!

2:09
dmitry: I get the Yanks, they’ve been killed with injuries.. but why are the Sox so bad so far?

2:10
Meg Rowley: Turns out that when your pitching is shaky it can be tricky to win baseball games.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Dylan Higgins Allows Exactly One Swear

Episode 858

FanGraphs Audio returns to welcome Dylan Higgins, FanGraphs editor and important podcast person, to the program for the very first time. Dylan and I engage in a little bit of editor talk, and also recount some of Dylan’s experiences as a baseball intern in Australia, and with the Pacific Coast League. We also discuss the matter of minor league fandom, and the proper etiquette for those who attend baseball meetups.

Warning: this episode contains exactly one unbleeped swear, which appears around the 8 minute 38 second mark, and is well telegraphed in advance, but which will scar and alter young listeners.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 46 min play time.)


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/9/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello and welcome to the chat!

2:00
Estuary Ruiz: Hey Meg! Are there any FG meetups scheduled for this summer?

2:01
Meg Rowley: We will definitely do a meetup in Boston before Saberseminar, as is our tradition.

2:02
Meg Rowley: And it is sounding increasingly like we will do a meetup in Cleveland around the All-Star game, as we’ll already have a number of folks in town for Futures Game stuff

2:02
Meg Rowley: more details/certainty on that in the weeks to come but we will be sure to keep everyone posted!

2:03
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: If Trevor Rosenthal pitched to Chris Davis in an empty forest, would it make a sound?

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/2/19

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hi all,

2:00
Meg Rowley: and welcome to the chat!

2:00
Meg Rowley: Going to be a short one for me today, as there are Things to Edit and such.

2:00
henryv: Describe your feeling about this tweet:

Good morning and #GoMariners.
2 Apr 2019
2:00
Meg Rowley: Baseball is fun, and Mallex Smith is fun, and I like fun.

2:01
Knucklebear: On an excitement scale of 1 – 10. Should be Padres fan base be at an 11 or higher?

Read the rest of this entry »


2019 Opening Day Very Long Chat

12:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Happy Opening Day 2019 v2.0, and welcome to our Very Long Chat. Craig Edwards, Paul Sporer and I are warming up at our respective keyboards, practicing our quips and disses, and crunching all kinds of numbers in order to scientifically predict every aspect of the baseb — wait, scrap that last one, it still can’t be one in 2019. In any event, we’ll get things started here around 1 pm, give or take, but feel free to fill the queue with your questions in the meantime.

12:48
Craig Edwards: We have lineups for actual baseball games that start during my normal waking hours, and in 15 minutes, we are going to be able to watch those games. Get excited.

12:53
Craig Edwards:

Which early game are you watching?

Orioles-Yankees (21.8% | 44 votes)
 
Mets-Nationals (65.6% | 132 votes)
 
Both (12.4% | 25 votes)
 

Total Votes: 201
12:56
FrodoBeck: I have done nothing at work all day and I blame baseball

12:56
Craig Edwards: Your afternoon doesn’t look much better from a productivity perspective.

12:58
Craig Edwards: Yankee stadium’s pump up music for the National Anthem is Daft Punk.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs 2019 Staff Predictions

There were times this winter when it felt like the offseason would never end. But end it has, and on this, the morning of Opening Day, we engage in our annual tradition of asking our staff to open themselves up to future public ridicule and predict the year in baseball. Some of these predictions will prove to be prescient; others will make their forecaster feel a little silly. Last year, we had the American League playoff picture pretty well pegged, with the exception of the A’s. Washington’s collapse? Not so much. The Rookies of the Year? Got ’em. Either league’s Cy Young winner? Nope! That’s ok, though. Baseball is best when it is energetic, even a touch frenzied.

Folks from FanGraphs, RotoGraphs, and The Hardball Times weighed in; here are the results.

The National League

The National League gets to have all the fun. Of course, some things are as you’d expect. The Dodgers are still anticipated to be a powerhouse. Only two of the 32 ballots cast exclude them from a postseason berth entirely, and they actually received one more vote to take their division than Cleveland did, despite their division opponents being projected for an average of 77.25 wins vs. Cleveland’s 72.5.

The Marlins look quite hopeless. The Giants don’t look a ton better. The Padres have not yet arrived. Read the rest of this entry »


2019 Positional Power Rankings: Summary

Over the past week and a half, we’ve published our annual preview of the upcoming season, ranking each position based on a blend of our projections (a 50/50 split between ZiPS and Steamer) and our manually maintained playing time estimates. The result was a document nearly the length of Infinite Jest (I am only somewhat kidding), so if you missed any of the posts, or would like to refresh your memory of what all it is that we’ve said, you can use the handy navigation widget above.

Today I’m going to summarize the results of the rankings. Before I get started, a brief note. I will throughout this post make reference to our Team WAR Totals. We maintain a total of projected future value by position, which updates regularly throughout the season. As such, the totals you see there may vary slightly from what you see on the positional power rankings, mostly because they are aware of injuries and transactions that have altered playing time estimates since the power rankings went live. I’ll provide a snapshot of those totals at the end of the post, but when you see that they are a little different here and there, don’t be surprised. Now you know why, and will be prepared. Now on to some trends.

First, we’ll take a look at where each team stacked up across positions. This table is sortable, so feel free to poke around.

2019 Positional Power Rankings
Team C 1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF SP RP DH
Angels 25 27 22 22 4 16 1 22 18 23 3
Astros 18 22 1 2 3 15 9 12 3 2 6
Athletics 30 6 8 7 13 23 8 11 22 3 5
Blue Jays 7 11 29 10 26 24 14 14 21 21 13
Braves 6 1 2 9 17 4 11 26 20 18
Brewers 1 9 5 13 28 19 2 3 24 17
Cardinals 8 2 10 11 11 5 15 19 11 16
Cubs 15 3 9 3 8 9 20 15 10 14
Diamondbacks 16 18 11 16 16 11 18 21 15 25
Dodgers 3 8 6 4 2 13 6 5 7 10
Giants 2 7 14 26 10 30 27 28 25 7
Indians 17 21 20 1 1 29 22 25 1 15 9
Mariners 29 25 26 25 23 20 12 7 19 28 8
Marlins 22 28 27 14 25 27 29 30 28 29
Mets 10 13 3 21 15 3 19 10 6 5
Nationals 20 20 13 6 5 1 17 6 4 9
Orioles 28 30 30 29 30 26 23 27 30 20 14
Padres 9 16 15 5 19 17 16 16 17 13
Phillies 4 5 17 28 14 8 21 4 12 4
Pirates 13 17 18 15 29 14 7 18 9 6
Rangers 26 26 23 27 22 12 26 23 23 12 12
Rays 14 19 16 19 20 7 4 24 8 8 11
Red Sox 19 23 19 20 6 2 5 1 5 27 1
Reds 23 4 21 12 21 18 10 8 16 22
Rockies 21 12 24 8 7 21 25 17 13 26
Royals 12 29 4 30 9 22 24 29 26 30 10
Tigers 27 24 28 24 27 25 28 20 27 24 15
Twins 11 14 12 17 18 10 13 13 14 11 2
White Sox 24 15 25 23 24 28 30 9 29 19 7
Yankees 5 10 7 18 12 6 3 2 2 1 4

Eight different teams check in with at least one first-place finish (the Angels, Astros, Braves, Brewers, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, and Yankees). Only Cleveland (three) and Boston (two) can boast more than one such finish, though they present interesting and opposing case studies in how best to construct a roster. The Red Sox are one of eight teams (more on the others in a moment) that has six or more categories in which they rank in the top 10. The Red Sox are tops at both designated hitter and right field (J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts: pretty good at baseball!) but are also sixth at shortstop, second in left field, fifth in center field, and fifth in their starting rotation. They have an incredibly deep, well-rounded team, though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention their bullpen, which came in at 27.

The only team among the eight I referenced above with a worse positional ranking was the Athletics, whose catching corps of Josh Phegley, Nick Hundley, Chris Herrmann, and Beau Taylor are projected to combine for a solitary win. Meanwhile, if you toggle over to the Team WAR Total projection for baseball’s remaining free agents, you’ll see that Craig Kimbrel accounts for 2.0 WAR of the All-Unemployed Team’s 2.2 relief WAR. He has the same projection as Edwin Diaz. The two of them only trail Aroldis Chapman and his 2.2 projected WAR. Those things are all facts that are being stated near to facts about the Boston Red Sox. Just some bullpen facts for your enjoyment.

Cleveland, on the other hand, has concentrated its wins rather sharply. Having Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor on the roster means the Indians are ranked first at third base and shortstop; Corey Kluber and Co. mean that their rotation is projected to be the best in baseball. But things fall of sharply from there. As I noted in my right field preview, Cleveland’s outfield is a mess, projected to be better than just the Tigers, Orioles, Royals, Giants, and Marlins in terms of its production across all three spots. They enjoy a weak division, but they also have a surprising thin margin for error given their advantage over bad competition, and it looks like their strategy will be tested early, with Ramirez dinged up while Lindor’s timeline for return is uncertain after he sustained an acute ankle sprain on Tuesday. Cleveland will almost certainly still find its way to October baseball (going into today, they had an 86.8% chance of winning their division according to our playoff odds), but its fate upon arriving there is far less assured.

I want to spend some time on the teams at the top and bottom of these rankings. The Yankees and Dodgers tally nine (nine!) positions a piece in those positions’ respective top 10s. The Astros can count seven. We’ve already talked about the Red Sox. That is impressive (there are five teams that don’t have a single top 10 finish), but it doesn’t necessarily give you a complete picture. The Cardinals are projected to win 86 games, tied for fifth-most in the NL with the Phillies, and they only have four top 10 finishes, as do the Giants, who we expect to win just 75 games. Ordinal rankings can make small differences appear larger than they are or obscure large gaps. But even with that proviso in mind, the Yankees and Dodgers impress. The Dodgers have four positions not just in the top 10, but the top five! They’re third at catcher, fourth at third base, second at shortstop, and fifth in right field. They don’t play with a designated hitter, being famously a National League team, but their projected 1.3 wins at DH in our Team WAR Totals page, which uses the expected value from pinch hitters to arrive at its NL DH forecast, is better than the Tigers’ 0.2 wins at the position, and the Tigers’ lineup is almost entirely composed of designated hitters playing out of position.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have a staggering six positions in that position’s top five. Their bullpen is first; their starting pitching is second. Right field comes in second; center field is in third. They’re fourth at DH and fifth at catcher. The Dodgers are projected for 93 wins and, despite an increasingly tough division, have an 85.9% chance of repeating as NL West champs. The Yankees have the best projected win total in baseball (97), and even with the Red Sox and Rays nipping at their heels, have a 62.2% chance of winning the division, not to mention the best odds to win the World Series. Contending teams can be balanced and pretty good at a lot of things, or they can be really good at a few things and cross their fingers about the rest. But the question the Yankees and Dodgers, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Astros and Red Sox, pose is: what if you were just really, really good at everything? Very good teams have faltered before, but at least on paper, this is the creme de la creme.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Orioles and the Marlins. The Orioles’ average power rankings position was 26.09; the Marlins’ was 25.90. If we were to pretend that Baltimore had suddenly transferred to the National League and thus lost the DH (at 14, it was their only position ranked in the teens or better), that average drops to 27.3. We don’t have to belabor the point; Orioles and Marlins fans have suffered enough. But jeez are they bad.

As we’ve discussed, the rankings by themselves are helpful, but not totally helpful. We need some additional context to see how close and far apart these are to get a better sense of relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see how the last week of activity and injury affects things (poor Steven Souza Jr.). Remember, the NL DH values reflect expected value from pinch-hitters.

2019 Projected Values by Position
Team C 1B 2B SS 3B LF CF RF DH SP RP WAR
Angels 1.6 0.8 1.9 4.8 2.5 2.5 9.2 1.8 2.8 9.1 1.8 39.0
Astros 2.3 1.4 5.0 5.1 5.6 2.5 3.2 2.9 1.9 16.3 4.6 50.8
Athletics 1.0 2.9 2.8 2.7 5.3 1.2 3.2 2.9 2.5 7.7 4.3 36.7
Blue Jays 3.4 2.1 1.3 1.7 4.5 1.1 2.7 2.5 0.5 7.8 1.9 29.6
Braves 3.6 4.6 4.1 2.3 4.9 3.5 3.1 1.0 0.5 8.7 2.3 38.6
Brewers 5.4 2.2 3.1 1.2 3.4 2.1 4.6 5.2 0.8 7.5 2.3 37.8
Cardinals 3.2 4.4 2.9 3.2 4.0 3.3 2.6 2.0 1.1 12.1 2.5 41.1
Cubs 2.4 4.3 3.0 3.8 5.5 2.9 2.1 2.5 0.9 12.6 2.6 42.5
Diamondbacks 2.4 1.6 2.8 2.4 2.8 2.6 2.6 0.4 0.7 11.2 1.7 31.2
Dodgers 4.5 2.5 3.4 5.5 5.4 2.5 3.7 4.0 1.3 14.3 2.9 50.0
Giants 5.1 3.0 2.4 3.2 2.1 0.4 1.0 0.4 0.4 6.9 3.2 28.2
Indians 2.3 1.4 2.2 6.5 6.2 0.9 2.0 1.2 1.5 19.4 2.6 46.2
Mariners 1.2 0.9 1.7 2.0 2.3 1.9 2.9 3.3 1.6 8.7 1.1 27.6
Marlins 1.9 0.3 1.6 1.7 3.3 0.9 0.9 -0.2 0.5 6.9 0.9 18.8
Mets 3.0 2.1 3.3 2.4 2.6 2.6 2.3 3.0 0.9 15.5 4.1 42.0
Nationals 2.1 1.4 2.6 4.5 5.3 4.8 2.5 3.3 0.8 16.2 3.0 46.6
Orioles 1.1 0.1 1.6 1.1 1.5 1.1 1.9 0.7 0.3 5.2 2.0 16.5
Padres 3.0 1.6 2.4 2.1 5.4 2.3 2.6 2.3 0.8 10.1 2.7 35.1
Phillies 4.3 3.6 2.3 2.7 2.0 2.9 2.0 4.9 0.6 12.0 4.2 41.5
Pirates 2.6 1.6 2.2 1.1 3.1 2.5 3.6 2.2 0.9 12.6 3.8 36.2
Rangers 1.6 0.9 2.0 1.9 2.2 2.2 1.6 1.8 0.8 7.7 2.7 25.2
Rays 2.4 1.5 2.4 2.2 2.8 3.1 3.9 1.7 0.9 12.6 3.3 36.8
Red Sox 2.1 1.3 2.2 4.4 2.7 3.8 3.7 7.2 3.4 16.1 1.5 48.3
Reds 1.6 3.9 2.5 2.1 3.8 2.2 2.5 3.2 0.8 10.6 1.9 35.2
Rockies 2.1 2.0 1.9 3.9 5.0 1.4 1.6 2.3 0.5 12.0 1.5 34.1
Royals 2.7 0.3 3.1 3.6 0.3 1.3 1.7 1.2 0.8 6.6 -0.4 21.2
Tigers 1.7 1.0 1.5 1.3 2.4 1.1 1.1 1.9 0.2 6.4 1.7 20.3
Twins 2.7 1.9 2.6 2.3 2.9 2.8 2.9 2.8 2.9 11.4 2.7 37.9
White Sox 1.6 1.7 1.7 1.8 2.5 0.7 0.3 3.0 1.7 5.5 2.1 22.5
Yankees 4.0 2.2 2.9 3.1 2.6 3.1 4.1 5.5 2.8 16.9 6.5 53.7

The Yankees are good. The Dodgers are good. The Astros, Red Sox, and Nationals are good. The Indians play in the AL Central. The Cubs and Cardinals are going to beat up on each other all season long; ditto the Phillies and Mets. The bad teams are very, very bad, and the middle is thin. It’s baseball in 2019. Tomorrow, real baseball with real stakes will be played in US time zones. We’ll look back and feel silly about some of these projections and haughty about others. We hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s installment of the positional power rankings and that the format provided you with something useful. We hope it helped to pass the time. We can’t wait to watch baseball along with all of you this season. It’s almost here.