Greatest World Series Rotations of All Time

Between Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin on the Nationals and Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke on the Astros, six of the top 13 pitchers by WAR will be starting in the first three games of the World Series.

2019 Pitching WAR Leaders
Gerrit Cole 212.1 2.50 2.64 7.4
Jacob deGrom 204 2.43 2.67 7.0
Lance Lynn 208.1 3.67 3.13 6.8
Max Scherzer 172.1 2.92 2.45 6.5
Justin Verlander 223 2.58 3.27 6.4
Charlie Morton 194.2 3.05 2.81 6.1
Stephen Strasburg 209 3.32 3.25 5.7
Shane Bieber 214.1 3.28 3.32 5.6
Zack Greinke 208.2 2.93 3.22 5.4
Lucas Giolito 176.2 3.41 3.43 5.1
Walker Buehler 182.1 3.26 3.01 5.0
Hyun-Jin Ryu 182.2 2.32 3.10 4.8
Patrick Corbin 202 3.25 3.49 4.8
Jack Flaherty 196.1 2.75 3.46 4.7
Zack Wheeler 195.1 3.96 3.48 4.7
Orange = Astros
Blue = Nationals

That’s a staggering amount of good pitching packed into just one series. Even if both teams use a fourth starter, 75%-87% of all starters in the World Series will come from the list above. That has to be the best collection of present pitching talent in a World Series, right? Let’s test it out. Read the rest of this entry »

Jose Altuve Has Gotten His Groove Back

With one swing of his bat on a hanging slider from Aroldis Chapman, José Altuve untied Game 6 of the ALCS and sent the Astros to their second World Series in three years. In doing so, he joined some select company, becoming the fifth player in 50 years worth of League Championship Series to hit a pennant-winning walk-off home run, after current Yankees manager Aaron Boone (2003 against the Red Sox) as well as the Yankees’ Chris Chambliss (1976 against the Royals), the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez (2006 against the A’s), and the Giants’ Travis Ishikawa (2014 against the Cardinals).

Altuve’s shot had an air of inevitability about it. While he has been surpassed by Alex Bregman as the team’s top position player — the two-year WAR totals for the pair are 16.1 for Bregman, 8.4 for Altuve — even at just 29 years old, he’s become something an elder statesman as well as a leader. He’s the longest-tenured Astro, having debuted in 2011, when the team was still in the National League and before Jeff Luhnow was general manager. His first three seasons featured a combined total of 324 losses, and while he was spared the first half of 2011 (he debuted on July 20), that’s a lot of losing for one person to endure, regardless of how one feels about the team’s choice of rebuilding strategies. Now he’s been part of teams that have won a combined total of 311 games over the past three years. Read the rest of this entry »

Contract Crowdsourcing 2019-20: Ballot 2 of 10

Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating a contract-crowdsourcing project this offseason, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2019-20 free-agent market.

Below are ballots for eight of this year’s free agents — in this case, all catchers. Numbers are prorated to full season where noted. Projected WAR figures from final the update of the 2019 Steamer forecast.

Contract Crowdsourcing 2019-20: Ballot 1 of 10

Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating a contract-crowdsourcing project this offseason, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2019-20 free-agent market.

Below are ballots for nine of this year’s free agents — in this case, a collection of infield sorts, primarily first basemen and second basemen. Numbers are prorated to full season where noted. Projected WAR figures from the final update of the 2019 Steamer forecast.

A Conversation with Red Sox Analytics Department Overseer Zack Scott

Zack Scott is currently one of four people running Boston’s baseball operations department. Along with Raquel Ferreira, Brian O’Halloran, and Eddie Romero Jr, the 16-year member of the team’s front office is keeping a chair warm while the search for Dave Dombrowski’s replacement continues. His core responsibilities remain largely the same. Scott’s title is Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager, and per the Red Sox media guide, he “oversees the club’s Baseball Analytics and Baseball Systems departments.”

What is the current state of Boston’s analytics department, and how much has it changed since the University of Vermont graduate (B.S. in Mathematics) joined the organization in 2004? I addressed those questions with Scott following the completion of the Red Sox season.


David Laurila: How much has the Red Sox analytics department grown over the years?

Zack Scott: “There’s been a lot of growth, not just with us, but in the industry. As you know, there’s been an explosion of data. Throwing out round-number estimates, when I started there were around 10,000 data points, and now it’s more like 10 billion data points. And a lot of that has been the last five years. So the need to grow is apparent; there’s only so much you can do with a short staff.”

Laurila: How many people are currently in the department?

Scott: “We added five new employees last offseason. Overall, our R&D team is 15 people. It’s around half analysts, half software developers/technology-implementation.”

Laurila: There’s a perception that the Red Sox went from one of the top analytics teams in baseball to one that is below the top tier. Is that accurate? Read the rest of this entry »

Can the Giants Avoid a Full Rebuild?

Although 2019 went a bit better than expected, the Giants do not look like a playoff contender in the near future. (Photo: Travis Wise)

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” – Oscar Wilde

With three World Series wins over the last decade, it would be a bit greedy for fans of the Giants to bemoan the team’s current state too strenuously. San Francisco fell out of their even-year championship pattern in 2016 and finished the last three seasons with losing records. With the key players of the dynasty either past their prime or gone completely, the club’s laudable goal of putting a quality team on the field every year has become a tricky one to fulfill.

The Setup

Unlike other formerly competitive teams such as the Tigers and Orioles, the Giants were in no mood to head full-bore into a rebuild in 2018. San Francisco rightly realized that the outfield was a major weakness, but the club struck out in their attempts to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. Unable to be one of the teams pillaging the Marlins during that organization’s latest payroll temper tantrum, the Giants picked up Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for Bryan Reynolds, Kyle Crick, and international bonus money. That trade doesn’t look all that phenomenal in 2019 terms given the season Reynolds had, but it was a necessary one given San Francisco’s 2018 goals. Evan Longoria was also acquired in the hopes he could bounce back to being the star he had been for most of his 20s.

As we all know now, 2018 firmly demonstrated that 2017’s 64-98 record wasn’t some horrifying outlier. While the Giants were clearly had not given up on competing, the team’s attempts to stay under the luxury tax threshold made any October aspirations more difficult to achieve. There would be no Lorenzo Cain, no J.D. Martinez, and no Yu Darvish signed in free agency to reinforce the team’s declining core. In any event, none of those signings would have salvaged San Francisco’s 2018 campaign. McCutchen himself didn’t even finish the season with the Giants, as he was sent to the Yankees at the August trade deadline.

San Francisco entered last winter with competitive aspirations, and a combination of a $10 million bump in the luxury tax threshold and $25 million in expiring contracts to Hunter Pence and Matt Cain gave the team a bit of breathing room to add to the roster. One big addition, though not of the roster variety, was that of Farhan Zaidi, formerly the GM of the Dodgers, as head of baseball operations. Zaidi wasn’t brought in — at least at that point — to spearhead a full rebuild, and the Giants went after one of the offseason’s top prizes in free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. The Giants offered Harper 12 years and $310 million, but Harper instead took Philadelphia’s 13-year, $330 million offer. Read the rest of this entry »

Postseason Preview: The 2019 World Series

On May 23, the Washington Nationals lost a matinee to the Mets in heartbreaking fashion, taking a lead 4-3 with a three-run eighth inning only to give up three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. The loss dropped the Nationals to 19-31, a whopping 10 games back of the division-leading Phillies. They had been outscored by 40 runs on the season, and Dave Martinez’s seat was getting hot in only his second year as manager.

On Tuesday night, the Nationals will play in the World Series. It’s a change in fortune so extreme that it begs for explanation, and at first glance the explanation is easy. The Nationals have star power but lack depth, the exact kind of team “built for October.” Their starting lineup and top four starting pitchers are phenomenal; the less said about the backups and bullpen, the better. The kind of Nationals team losing 6-4 on a Tuesday afternoon in Queens is simply not the same team playing now.

That’s a convenient explanation, but it’s also wrong. Stephen Strasburg threw seven innings that day, and no regular had the day off. Wander Suero was the only reliever to pitch, and he wasn’t one of the relievers who weighed the Nationals down this year; he had a 4.54 ERA and 3.07 FIP over 71.1 innings, a solid season for a middle reliever.

No, the Nationals sent out their best, their co-ace starter backed by the A-squad, and they lost to a Mets team playing Adeiny Hechavarría, Carlos Gómez, and Juan Lagares all at once. That same team survived the Brewers, outlasted the Dodgers, and walked all over the Cardinals on their way to the first World Series appearance in franchise history. The convenient story isn’t always the right one. Washington simply started playing better.

After that bleak day in May, the Nations went 74-38 to finish the regular season. They outscored their opponents by 189 runs, scoring the most runs in the National League and allowing the third-least. The talent at the top of the roster shone through; the combined brilliance of Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, and all the rest was so great that no amount of bullpen incompetence or lack of bench depth (36-year-old Howie Kendrick played the second-most innings at third base for them this year) could hold the team down.

Shockingly, that 74-38 record wasn’t the best in baseball. The Houston Astros, their World Series opponents, went 74-37 over the same stretch, a scant half-game ahead. They scored four fewer runs than the Nationals and allowed one more. The two hottest teams in baseball are facing off in the World Series, and if you don’t think about it too literally, you could even say they’re constructed from the same blueprint. Read the rest of this entry »

Job Posting: Mariners Baseball Operations Intern and Video Coordinator Roles

Please note, this posting contains two positions.

Job Title: Baseball Operations Intern

Department: Baseball Operations
Reports To: Manager, Baseball Operations
Status: Part-time, Nonexempt
Dates: Must be available to start by March 15th, 2020. End date is end of the 2020 season. Preference will be given to candidates who can start by February 1st, 2020

Primary Objective: Support the baseball operations department in research, administration, and day-to-day scouting operation tasks.

Essential Functions:

  • Provide support in all areas of advance scouting, including, game day duties and preparation of the advance report and for pre-series meetings.
  • Support all areas of the Professional, International and Amateur Scouting Department, including research, video clipping and player evaluation as well as preparation for the Amateur Draft Meetings.
  • Provide additional statistical analysis, economic and financial research as assigned or as time permits.

Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree strongly preferred. Equivalent, relevant work or playing experience may be considered in lieu of formal education if approved by management.
  • Spanish speaking is a plus; but not required.
  • Programming Skills (including SQL, R & Python, etc.) is a plus; but not required.
  • Background in player evaluation is a plus; but not required.
  • Background in video is a plus; but not required.

Competencies, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s):

  • Working knowledge of statistical baseball data and its application as it pertains to scouting information
  • Working knowledge of baseball strategy and current in-game management trends
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Excel & PowerPoint
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with proven ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Self-motivated with a high degree of integrity; takes personal responsibility for getting things done in a way that positively and professionally represents the organization
  • Demonstrated initiative; thinks creatively and takes actions that create a positive outcome for the team

To Apply:
Interested and qualified applicants may apply by October 30, 2019 through the following link: Baseball Operations Intern

Job Title: Major League Video Coordinator

Department: Baseball Operations
Reports To: Assistant GM

Primary Objective: Support the Major League Team (players and staff) and AGM with all video related needs. Consistently communicate and foster a positive “team first” environment and culture

Essential Functions:

  • Capture, record and store video for all assigned Major League activity – bullpens, batting practice, cage work, on-field sessions, advance scouting meetings, etc…
  • Archive all Major League video and maintain a database for present/future reference
  • Assist and educate players and staff regarding the function and use of all video tools
  • Oversee the operation and implementation of all video tools in the Major League domain
  • Maintain an intellectual curiosity in researching new technology and coaching tools as well as engaging players and staff with video in support of game preparation and skill development
  • Support scouting departments and engage with VP, Scouting, Personnel Managers as well as Amateur and International Directors in ways to support their departments with video

Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree or significant/equivalent video experience
  • Experience video capturing and charting in baseball or other sports transferrable to baseball

Competencies, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s):

  • Advanced understanding of video technology including but not limited to: cameras, editing software and logging and tagging platforms
  • Intermediate understanding of baseball to assist with tagging video as well as assist coaching staff with use of video as a teaching tool, including but not limited to: pitch types, baseball terminology and rules.
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to interact comfortably with players, coaches and front office staff
  • Ability to collaborate with and hold vendors accountable to the standards required by the Mariners

Physical Activities and Working Conditions:

  • Assist in overseeing the daily function and development of the video interns at the major league and minor league level
  • Maintain a current and accurate inventory of all Major League video equipment. Ensure that all equipment is in working condition. Purchase upgrades as approved and needed.
  • Collaborate with the AGM and Manager, BB Ops in developing and managing the annual budgets in all Video domain
  • Assist as needed in training Affiliate QC/Video Coordinators on basic camera and video program operations
  • Provide QA and resolve any equipment/mechanical/technical issues in a timely manner
  • Attend and assist with pre and/or postseason camps and events as assigned by the AGM.
  • Produce video packages, instructional and highlight films for players and staff

To Apply:
Interested and qualified applicants may apply by October 30, 2019 through the following link: Major League Video Coordinator

The content in this posting was created and provided solely by the Seattle Mariners.

Houston Survives Late Inning Scare, Beats Yankees in Six

After what was otherwise a fairly quiet affair punctuated by the occasional home run, the Houston Astros won Game 6 of the American League Championship Series 6-4 on a walkoff home run from José Altuve. Houston takes the series four games to two, and avoids a high-stakes Game 7 that would have left Gerrit Cole unavailable in the World Series until the third game.

The evening got off to an inauspicious start for the Yankees as Houston’s first entrant in the bullpen battle, Brad Peacock, quickly dispatched DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres with seven pitches. Chad Green opened for New York and didn’t perform as well in his half of the inning as Peacock did in his. Green was perhaps fortunate to escape a rather pedestrian slider to Altuve with only a double, but he was less lucky with a high, very inside fastball to Yuli Gurriel, which the first baseman turned on for a home run to give the Astros an early 3-0 lead. That high, inside fastball isn’t usually that dangerous for a pitcher; there were only 13 home runs hit this year by right-handed hitters swinging at a four-seamer in Statcast’s inside and high-inside “chase” zones. Coincidentally enough, Gurriel had one of those home runs, comfortably turning on a sorta-fastball from Trevor Williams. This might have been one of the highest-leverage of those since Kit Keller’s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Notes: Giants Righty Tyler Rogers is Thriving as a Submarine-Style Sibling

Here’s the lowdown on Tyler Rogers: A 6-foot-5 right-hander from Littleton, Colorado, he’s the twin brother of a left-hander closer, he made his MLB debut this past August, and he’s a submariner. Moreover, he kills a lot of worms. The 1.02 ERA that Rogers put up in 17 games out of the San Francisco Giants bullpen was augmented with a 69.4% ground ball rate.

Unlike his traditional-arm-slot sibling, he’s not a power pitcher. Taylor Rogers — fittingly, a Minnesota Twin — features a 95-mph fastball and an 83-mph slider. Tyler features an 82-mph sinker and a 73-mph slider. The latter pitch, which the atypical hurler throws roughly a third of the time, is atypical in itself.

“I call it a slider, but it’s almost a curveball,” Rogers said in September. “I kind of curl it like people do when they throw a curveball overhand. It’s the same thing, I’m just bent over doing it. So yeah, basically it’s just a normal curveball grip that I throw from underneath.”

Rogers began dropping down his freshman year of junior college. He did so at the suggestion of a coach, and from there progressively got lower and lower. The transformation to an actual submarine-style delivery came after the Giants took him in the 10th round of the 2013 draft. Irony being what it is, the genesis of the more-extreme verticality was horizontal in nature. Read the rest of this entry »