Mike Trout Newsbeat
Monday, October 06, 2014
Mike Trout is the definitive best player in baseball and has been for at least two full seasons now, probably three. There is no reasonable rebut to that.
But, for the first time since he announced himself as such, Trout enters an offseason with an obvious flaw: He can’t hit the high fastball.
Posted: October 06, 2014 at 06:49 AM | 90 comment(s)
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Pitchers, by and large, are working lower. The called strike zone has followed them... Hitters are… swinging at more pitches in the lower third… Contact rates on pitches up have declined. Contact rates on pitches down have very slightly improved… here’s what this has led to: in 2008, hitters slugged 30 points better against high strikes than they did against low strikes. The next season, they slugged 51 points better. Fast-forward now to 2014, and you’ll observe that now hitters are slugging 10 points worse against those same high strikes…
Yet, pitchers continue to work down. It’s how they’ve long been instructed, and it’s where offspeed pitches are usually supposed to go… From a recent Business Week Astros profile:
advanced data yielded a useful insight: Major league hitters had become so adept at hitting low pitches that they were vulnerable to high ones. [Billy] Beane had discovered a particularly clever countermove. “Beane stayed ahead of the curve,” says [Astros pitching coach Brent] Strom, “by finding hitters with a steep upward swing path to counter the sinking action of pitchers trying to induce ground balls.”
Billy Beane put together a baseball team constructed to fight those low pitches… The Astros had Collin McHugh start to throw more elevated four-seam fastballs… McHugh is having an outstanding season out of nowhere…
So this is how we proceed in the league’s hunt for equilibrium. For years, pitchers worked to throw down more and more often… The league has started to respond… [and] now the league will eventually respond to the response, re-establishing the upper parts of the zone. McHugh is one example… And then, in time, there [will] just be a response to the response to the response. Look closely enough and there’s no such thing as equilibrium at all.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Get that dunce cap off your head and put it on Pedro Guerrero’s!
If I gave you a choice of any non-Kershaw major leaguer for the rest of the season, who would you choose?
Right: Mike Trout. Get that dunce cap off your head and move a little closer to my desk, right this minute.
And your second choice?
I’m not going to make you put the dunce cap back on if you don’t immediately think of Alex Gordon. But by this measure, he’s actually been the best player in the major leagues this season... [but] There’s no functional difference between 5.7 fWAR and 5.6 fWAR. Better to say those two have been the two best in the majors this season…
this is where I caution everyone, quite carefully: None of this means that the people at FanGraphs believe Alex Gordon is one of the two best players in the majors, or is as valuable as Mike Trout.
Every method has limitations, and we’re simply looking for the method with the fewest limitations. Wins Above Replacement is really good. But this version, anyway, seems to overrate really good corner outfielders like Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward. I think Gordon’s a great player. I’m just not sure he’s this great.
Friday, August 15, 2014
The Angels hooked a good one.
he leading 2006 Rays draft managed to produce three productive major leaguers: Evan Longoria (1st Round, 3rd pick, 38.5 career rWAR, 5.81 WAR/Season), Alex Cobb (4th Round, 3rd Pick, 7.1 career rWAR, 1.94 WAR/Season), and Desmond Jennings (10th Round, 3rd Pick, 11.7 rWAR, 3.02 WAR/Season). However, the 2009 Angels drafted Mike Trout, Tyler Skaggs, and Garrett Richards, so they may be on the way to passing the 2006 Rays. In addition, the Angels’s total includes Patrick Corban and Randal Grichuk, whom they traded away. However, since the point of this exercise is identifying the teams who are getting the best value, even if it gets traded away, this is a reasonable inclusion.
On the opposite end, the 1994 Phillies drafted four players who reached the majors, all of whom had negative WAR. The 1997 White Sox failed to sign 2nd Round pick Jeff Weaver (who would go on to have 15.5 career rWAR), had six total 1st Round and Supplement 1st Round Picks, and still wound out on -1.77 WAR/Season….
Accounting for this, we can calculate the WAR/Season above the expectation that a team got in their draft, which can be looked at as a measure of value. Not surprisingly this list has several teams picking near the bottom of the round who find a star (a la Mike Trout), or teams who find a star in the later rounds (Such as Paul Goldschmidt)...
Not surprisingly, the 2009 Angels draft class comes out on top. In fact, in future years this class may look even more impressive if Skaggs, Richards, Grichuk, and Corbin continue to develop.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Full disclosure, this writer works for me on another site. Also full disclosure: Alex Gordon is my favorite player, and Eugene Cernan is my favorite astronaut.
Alex Gordon, on the other hand, is a little bit more like Eugene Cernan, the 24th—and last—man to walk on the moon. Maybe you’ve heard of him, but probably not. “The 24th Man to Walk on the Moon” doesn’t have much musicality to it. His achievement is far from being as historical as Armstrong’s, but still, he’s been to the ####### moon ... and you haven’t. Similarly, Gordon isn’t a record-breaking super-deity like Trout or Cabrera, but he is one of the best players in the game….
Most of Gordon’s value comes from his seemingly unethical arm strength and his superb range in left field. Maybe that’s a knock on his All-Star credentials to some, since the metrics that inflate the defensive hemisphere of WAR are volatile. Is it more volatile than the BABIP-tethered merits of batting average, or the number of times a ball lands on the other side of a fence? Maybe, maybe not. The volatility of those metrics tends to average out over the span of a few years, and since Gordon began seeing regular playing time in left field in 2011, only Trout, Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Robinson Cano, and Ben Zobrist have produced more wins according to FanGraphs. Like Gordon, most of Zobrist’s value comes from defensive metrics. In fact, the two players are almost indiscernible, yet Gordon doesn’t have quite the same ironically notorious reputation for being underrated.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Mike Trout set team and stadium records for home run distance Friday, belting a 489-foot tape-measure solo shot to center field in the first inning of the Los Angeles Angels’ game against the Kansas City Royals.
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