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Monday, January 23, 2017

Ryan Zimmerman hits hard but needs to add lift | MLB.com

I would have liked to see a comparison to his 2014-2015 results. (If I have time later today, I check out their handy new tool to investigate myself.) Anyway, this suggests it wasn’t a physical issue but was mechanical. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff helps him correct the problem.

Though he hit the ball hard, Zimmerman had a pretty low launch angle, which is to say he was hitting hard-hit grounders. When viewed in this context, his numbers above make a lot more sense. While the Major League average for all batted balls 95 mph and up was .538, the average for batted balls 95 mph with a launch angle of 10 degrees and under was .470—just about exactly the .476 Zimmerman had.

So Zimmerman is doing himself no favors by putting his hard-hit balls on the ground, but he’s not being unfairly penalized for them, either. The real problem here, as it turns out, isn’t just what happens when he hits the ball hard. It’s what happens when he doesn’t. As we said before, 51.6 percent of Zimmerman’s batted balls go more than 95 mph. That means just more than 48 percent do not. If hard-hit balls on the ground aren’t helping Zimmerman out as much as you’d think, you can imagine what softly-hit balls on the ground are doing.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2017 at 11:21 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ryan zimmerman, statcast

Baseball Prospectus | Prospectus Feature: Command and Control

Interesting stuff. Read the whole article.

Command

Now that we’ve established that CS Prob is a proxy for control, we can build on it. After extensive review, we’ve concluded that CSAA substantially reflects a pitcher’s ability to command his pitches. It’s important to make the connection between what CSAA does and the popular definition of command.

Traditionally command is understood as the ability to “hit your spots”—having the ball end up where you intend it to. Over the years this has been studied in numerous ways—most notably by attempting to determine how much the catcher moves his glove to receive a pitch. This is flawed because the catcher’s glove isn’t always the target, and we can’t know where the pitcher is truly intending the pitch to go.

What we can do is come at command from a different angle. A pitcher with good command should be more predictable for the catcher—their pitches often end up in the locations, and with the movement that the catcher expects. This skill results in easier receiving for catchers, and additional called strikes for the pitcher. Once we aggregate the data cross thousands of pitches, CSAA is able to tell us whether a pitcher is reliably hitting his spots.

CS Prob is actually covariate in the model for CSAA, which is a fancy way of saying that CSAA measures the extent to which a participant tends to affect the likelihood of a strike being called, notwithstanding its final location. As such, CSAA controls for all of the same things as CS Prob and adds in the umpire and catcher for good measure.

So what does accumulating CSAA look like? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Sure, you could throw a ton of pitches in the middle of the zone and basically guarantee that you’ll wrack up called strikes on the pitches hitters don’t offer at. The downside to that approach is that pitches in the center of the plate get crushed.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2017 at 10:18 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-23-2017

Ogden Standard, January 23, 1917:

A charge that last year’s pennant race in the Pacific Coast baseball league was “fixed” so that the Vernon club could not win was made in a statement by Edward R. Maier, former owner of the club, printed [in San Francisco yesterday]. Maier was expelled from membership in the league last September. At that time the explanation of Maier’s departure generally accepted was that he did not get along with the directors.
...
[Maier:] “In the final game of the season, that upon which hinged the race itself a certain Los Angeles pitcher, whose turn it was to work, was told he could pitch the game only on condition that he would agree to lose. He indignantly refused to enter into any such agreement and he was not permitted to pitch.”

The PCL, of course, denied the allegations. I guess it would probably be easy enough to check the box scores of the final day of the season to see if Los Angeles used a spot starter.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 23, 2017 at 09:56 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, fixed games, history

OTP 23 Jan. 2017: Theo Epstein on baseball, politics and what he may do next

Theo globally, act locally:

“The reality is these days so much of the most important work in society is done by these non-profits, most of which don’t get real government funding, so it’s really important to identify the most impactful non-profits in your community, especially in a city like Chicago right now that is battling so many critical challenges and support them,” Epstein said. “Baseball is just bread and circus. What we do, we just entertain the masses.”

(As always, views expressed in the article lede and comments are the views of the individual commenters and the submitter of the article and do not represent the views of Baseball Think Factory or its owner.)

 

BDC Posted: January 23, 2017 at 07:37 AM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, politics, theo epstein

2017 Top 10 second base prospects | MLB.com

Except for the top guy, a bunch of new names on the top second base prospect list.

1. Yoan Moncada, White Sox
After the Red Sox broke the bank to sign Moncada—a total of $63 million—he made it to the big leagues in just two years, where he struggled, albeit in just 19 at-bats. He was at the top of the four prospects the White Sox got in that Sale deal and he should see time at second in Chicago at some point in 2017.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2017 at 06:36 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects reports

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Becoming Yordano

The odds of a young Yordano Ventura ever pitching in the major leagues were astronomically long.  But thanks to ability that Royals officials call a gift, not to mention more than a little good fortune, the fire-throwing young man who starred in game six of the 2014 World Series could be poised to follow in the footsteps of Dominican Republic countryman Pedro Martinez.

Zach Posted: January 22, 2017 at 11:22 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: rip, royals, yordano ventura

MLB community mourns deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died Sunday in a car crash in the Dominican Republic. Former MLB infielder Andy Marte died on the same day in a separate car crash in the Dominican Republic.

RIP

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 22, 2017 at 02:41 PM | 59 comment(s)
  Beats: deaths in baseball, obituaries, royals

dWAR Doesn’t Care One Bit About Your Reputation

Do Mattingly was a great first baseman, wasn’t he?

Wasn’t he?


Gary Sheffield and the war on WAR - Beyond the Box Score

Even if you buy the idea that his defensive WAR is overestimated, he’s still a poor defensive player. I don’t believe this is a winning argument for his candidacy.

The math problem then amounts to this: If you’re willing to consider that Sheffield’s negative defensive numbers might be overblown by 15 to 25 percent, you’re looking at a case that ranges from, “Well, he’s definitely better than Tony Gwynn,” to “Um, yes, we need to enshrine turn-of-the-millennium Reggie Jackson.”

Considering “factors that lie outside those player’s control” is a rabbit hole not worth entering.

And this is where WAR’s usage becomes tricky. It is extremely helpful in comparing the values of a competent shortstop who can hit and a not-very-good right fielder who can mash. But it is a formula, and it can’t fully account for the many factors that lie outside those player’s control; the logical breakdowns that might occur in the course of reality.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 09:20 AM | 70 comment(s)
  Beats: gary sheffield, hall of fame

Sunday Notes: JBJ, Bridich, Wallace on Britton, more | FanGraphs Baseball

“Buck (Showalter) hired me in 2013, and we went out to UC Irvine and heard all about Zach Britton,” Wallace said recently. “We met him, Chris Tillman, and a few other pitchers. My bullpen coach, Dom Chiti — as good of a pitching guy I’ve ever known — and I talked to Zach in the outfield.

“Zach had been tried as a starter, and he couldn’t do this, and he had flashes of brilliance. When you talk to Zach… he was one of those guys where it was almost paralysis by analysis. He wanted it to be, ‘My right foot there, my left foot there.’

“He doesn’t have the… I wouldn’t say mentality, but the wherewithal to navigate. When you’re a starting pitcher, and you give up a run — give up something — you have to maintain your composure and still make pitches, knowing you have quite a bit of the game to go. A lot of guys can’t do that, and he was one of those guys.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 08:59 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: notes, zach britton

What if this Drew Hutchison Thing Actually Worked Out?

Believing in the power of Ray Searage.

Now he’s getting a fresh start and moving to an easier league and ballpark to pitch in, plus has the Ray Searage effect that could do wonders for him. His career 38.6 GB% would be the lowest of any pitcher on the Pirates staff. If Searage can get Hutch to work more inside and keep the ball down more, why couldn’t we see a turnaround for Hutchison?

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 08:56 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: drew hutchison, pirates

Nick Cafardo: Terry Francona and the Indians’ great expectations for 2017

Going from a big market with a high-priced roster to a small market with a payroll half the size of the Red Sox’ has definitely given Francona a different perspective on managing.

“It’s a different challenge,” Francona said. “I think you’ve got to be realistic that in the winter, for the most part, we play in a different neighborhood and our guys do a great job of trying to be realistic about, ‘OK, who can go after and not waste time on players that are not going to come.’ I’ve actually been really impressed with how they do things here. They’ve put together a really good nucleus that hopefully keeps our window open.

“I think windows for small-market teams are probably shorter than the big markets. I don’t think that’s out of line to say that. But I think because our nucleus is younger, the core group, hopefully it keeps our window open longer.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 08:32 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, notes, terry francona

A look inside the Marlins’ year-old analytics department - Sun Sentinel

This was always the it should be. It just took a little while to get there.

Instead, it’s about finding a balance. Paré, for example, credits his reading of “Moneyball” as a Yale freshman with helping set him down this career path, but he also attended MLB’s scout development program in the fall of 2009 — blending more traditional front-office skills with his new-age ones.

“People who are outside of this [analytics] realm here still see the value in what we’re doing as a department,” Paré said of the Marlins. “I would rather do something that includes the scouts, includes their information, includes their perspective and adds my spin on it than do something that’s completely homebrewed on my end, say ‘This is the right answer’ and piss off a bunch of people.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2017 at 08:11 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: analytics, scouting

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mets’ Jay Bruce problem: Ex-GMs weigh in on what team should do - NY Daily News

“You could end up looking for the same type hitter you gave away,” said O’Dowd, the long-time Rockies’ GM. “You can’t force a deal. The worst trades I ever made were ones that I forced.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2017 at 10:58 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: jay bruce, mets

Dave Engle reflects on Ted Williams memories | MLB.com

MLB.com: So at this stage of life, when you think about Ted Williams, what comes to mind?
Engle: It’s all part of the good fortune I’ve had in life. For being a little shooter in this game of baseball, I was able to have participated in football on a national championship team at USC [in 1974], and actually play on the baseball team that won the College World Series [in ‘78]. There have been so many things that have happened in my life. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone that has ever lived, because of the experiences that have happened. The Ted Williams side is just one chapter in this incredible life story that I have been able to just be like a fly on the wall around all these great players and great situations.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2017 at 10:24 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: ted williams

MLB Tonight: Jorge Posada | MLB.com

I’m a big fan of Brian Kenny. I’m not sold on Posada’s Hall of Fame case.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2017 at 08:54 AM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, jorge posada

Chris Russo thinks the latest selections have ruined Hall of Fame

Occasionally he’s entertaining. His Hall of Fame rants are tough to get though. It’s usually when I change the channel.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2017 at 08:47 AM | 118 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame

Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Top 10 first base prospects | MLB.com

I’ve really enjoyed work of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLB Pipeline. Here’s the unveiling of their Top Ten 1B. They’ve been introducing the lists on Hot Stove. I’ll try embedding the segment over the next couple of weeks.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 20, 2017 at 02:24 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects reports

The Trumbo agreement, the ripple effect and what’s next - School of Roch

I’ve been asked how Trumbo’s signing impacts rookie Trey Mancini. Good question. The Orioles have indicated that there’s no reason to return Mancini to the minors. There’s no 4A and he deserves to break camp with the team. They’ve also shown no concerns over having him sit on the bench rather than play every day at Triple-A Norfolk, insisting that it won’t stunt his development.

That said, they could decide this spring that there simply aren’t enough at-bats for him with Trumbo also able to back up Chris Davis at first base.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 20, 2017 at 11:35 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: orioles

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-20-2017

Marshalltown [Iowa] Times-Republican, January 20, 1917:

Vic Saiere [sic], first baseman of the Chicago Nationals, whose sight was thought to be failing him, has assured President Weegham [sic] of the Chicago club that his eyes have regained their normal strength after a winter’s rest.

Saier is a movie fan and the theory was that he had damaged his eyes watching the flickering light on the screen and sitting up late reading. He avoided any strain whatever during the winter months and now believes he is as good as ever.

Unfortunately, Saier didn’t get much of a chance to show whether his eyes had recovered. He broke his leg a week into the 1917 season and was out for the year, then missed all of 1918 working for the war effort instead of playing baseball.

When Saier returned in 1919, he struggled badly, but there’s no way to know whether that was a result of his eyes, his leg, the time away from baseball, or something else.

Elsewhere in the newspapers of January 20, 1917, Giants executive John Foster seems unconcerned about a possible strike because major league teams can just use replacement players.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 20, 2017 at 10:04 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Ex-Astro Luis Valbuena reportedly agrees to deal with Angels - Houston Chronicle

The Angels get a useful player.

The left-handed hitting Valbuena batted .260 with 13 home runs and an .816 OPS in 292 at-bats last year before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury in late July. The Astros weren’t expected to retain him given the emergence of Alex Bregman at third base and the signing of Yulieski Gurriel last summer.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 20, 2017 at 08:38 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, free agents, luis valbuena

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hall of Fame’s Rule of 10 should be changed | MLB.com

I don’t get it either. The limit leads to all kinds of unintended consequences.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2017 at 07:09 PM | 77 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame

Orioles, Mark Trumbo agree to deal | MLB.com

The Orioles and free-agent first baseman/right fielder Mark Trumbo have agreed to a three-year deal for the slugger to return to Baltimore pending a physical, a Major League source told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the deal is for approximately $37 million.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2017 at 07:06 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: free agent, mark trumbo, orioles

Jayson Stark: Casting my 2018 Hall of Fame ballot ... today

Look, I know the range data shows he wasn’t really a modern Ozzie Smith. But this just in: Nobody was. Still, those 11 Gold Gloves—the third most by any infielder in history—tell us exactly what the rest of baseball thought of Vizquel in his prime. Plus, I think I can make a case he was the most sure-handed shortstop ever.

I can throw lots of numbers at you, but my favorite is this: Incredibly, he had three seasons in which he played at least 140 games and made five errors or fewer. That’s as many seasons like that as all the other shortstops since 1900 combined.

And one more thing. Despite Vizquel’s offensive limitations, he still finished with 2,877 hits. And here’s your complete list of players with as many hits and Gold Gloves as Vizquel: Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and that’s it. So is there a Hall of Fame argument for this man? Heck yeah, there is.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 19, 2017 at 04:45 PM | 90 comment(s)
  Beats: andruw jones, hall of fame, jayson stark, omar vizquel, scott rolen

Predicting every Hall of Fame class through 2045 | ESPN.com

David Schoenfield breaks out his crystal ball.

2043

Elected: Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Theo Epstein

Executives have to be retired for five years to be considered or 70 years old if they’re still active. This is the year Theo will turn 70. He could have 10 World Series titles by then, he could be commissioner of baseball, he could be president, or he could simply be retired and watching YouTube clips of cats clawing at dogs.

Baldrick Posted: January 19, 2017 at 03:19 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame

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