Author Archive

Mike Moustakas, Travis Shaw, and the Brewers’ Second-Base Experiment

Last year, the Brewers resurfaced after a rebuilding period that saw them purge basically all the top players from their last good season. With a strong pitching staff and a maturing crop of prospects, Milwaukee surged, presenting a threat to Chicago’s North Side club for the division crown. On this day a year ago, the Brewers were a half-game back of the Cubs. While they inevitably came up short, the Brewers started to see returns from a top-10 farm system they had spent years assembling.

During the offseason, they sought to address their weaknesses in the outfield, consolidating prospect gains for the inimitable Christian Yelich. They also signed Lorenzo Cain to an affordable long-term contract, providing them with greater protection from variance and much improved production. While those two acquisitions haven’t been the only factors to have propelled the Brew Crew to contention, such additions have led the organization to find themselves 1.5 games back of the Cubs for the division this season, holding the first Wild Card spot. FanGraphs’ own playoff odds give them (read: Milwaukee) a 60.2% chance to make the playoffs. Last night, David Stearns inched that figure a bit higher.

Late Friday evening, the Milwaukee Brewers moved to augment their roster for a postseason push, acquiring Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals.

As reported first by a self-described Wisconsin sports fan, here’s the trade in its entirety:

Brewers get:

Royals get:

For the Royals, it’s a pretty bittersweet move featuring one of their longest-tenured players. Kansas City drafted Moustakas with the second overall pick all the way back in 2007. He’s spent his entire adult life with the organization, ascending the minor-league ladder, enduring growing pains, making a World Series, and then winning a World Series. Or, as Royals manager Ned Yost puts it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Kole Calhoun Is Cold No More

For all intents and purposes, the Angels are having a disappointing season. Not every club that begins the season as a contender is able to end it in the same way, but somehow the organization has been remarkably consistent in their path to disappointment. For the third year in a row, they’ve been swarmed by numerous debilitating ligament injuries to the arms of controllable starting pitchers — seven in the last three years and four this year alone. This season, that list is headlined by Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards.

Craig Edwards recently discussed the team’s competitive positioning and outlook following the news of Zack Cozart’s season-ending labrum surgery, noting that, at the time of publication, the Angels had just a 4.5% chance of reaching the postseason. Edwards advocated that, with little to sell and hopes of contending in the near future, the club’s best course of action may be to do nothing, to bet on positive regression, and to hope that Seattle falters before the end of the season.

With numerous players’ failing to reach their projected levels, one might say underperformance is the team’s middle name. (Well, one of them.) Platoon specialist Luis Valbuena sports a 57 wRC+ against right-handed hitters, fanning a whopping 34% of the time. Ian Kinsler boasts a measly .214 BABIP en route to a batting average just five points higher, and Cozart had a rough albeit inconclusive go in learning the hot corner (-5 DRS in 278.1 innings). Kole Calhoun’s year, however, is the most incomprehensible roller coaster of them all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Hello, J.T. Realmuto

In recent memory alone, the conduct of Marlins owners has been defined largely by questionable judgment, from the purchase of a team whose payroll they could not afford to the alleged pocketing of revenue-sharing monies that should have been put towards improving the on-field product. They have claimed to be based in the British Virgin Islands in hopes of taking a court case to arbitration and even sued season ticket-holders and vendors.

Legal aficionado Sheryl Ring addressed the absurdity of what the Marlins are doing:

That’s right: the Marlins obtained a judgment against a season ticket holder using as leverage the fact that his attorney suffered a heart attack. They then attempted to take away a building he owns to collect on that judgment — and all because he didn’t want to renew his season tickets.


Because, consider: the Marlins haven’t sued just their fans; they’ve also sued ballpark concession vendors who, due to low attendance, were unable to stay in business and thus renew their contracts or pay the $2 million entry fee charged by the team.

What makes that tactic strange is that those lawsuits include claims against companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection, which means that the team is engaged in expensive litigation against entities that may have little or no ability to pay back the amount the team says it’s owed.

You could say that the Marlins are conducting a peculiar type of experiment: what happens when a team alienates its fans to such a degree that no one is left to watch.

As images like the following reveal, the experiment appears to be working.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shohei Ohtani and the Implications

This is Rahul Setty’s first post at FanGraphs. His work can also be found at SB Nation blog Halos Heaven. He is present at Twitter dot com.

When Shohei Ohtani was finally posted in early December, baseball fans in the States were formally introduced to his exploits. Selected first in the NPB’s 2012 draft by the Nippon Ham Fighters when he was 18, Ohtani quickly became the first player to start on the mound and in the field. As a teenager and young adult in a league that, on average, featured players between five and 10 years his senior, Ohtani slashed .286/.358/.500 and struck out in excess of 10 batters per nine innings for a 2.52 ERA. He also possessed an outstanding arm, jaw-dropping raw power, and top-of-the-line speed. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, Ohtani set a velocity record for all Japanese high schoolers at the age of 17 (99 mph) and then did the same, one-upping himself, in NPB play four years later (102.5 mph).

He doesn’t feel human.

By now, you have likely heard the news that Shohei Ohtani is immensely talented. Inviting comps to Babe Ruth, he has taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning and homered off of a reigning Cy Young winner. He owns the 11th-highest exit velocity (and 10th-highest hard-hit percentage) among batters with 50 batted balls or more. Ohtani’s 151 wRC+ places him in the 95th percentile (min. 100 PA), which is as remarkable as it is baffling given the notable adjustment he made so quickly.

You have also likely heard that Ohtani came down with a second blister on his throwing hand approximately two weeks ago, received an MRI, and found out he has a grade-2 sprain of his throwing UCL. The two-way unicorn has opted for plasma-rich platelet and stem-cell treatment in an effort to repair the ligament and avoid Tommy John surgery.

Read the rest of this entry »