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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FG: Xander Bogaerts’ Rookie Struggles

I think we’ve learned that “trouble with the curve” is no good for anybody…

[Xander] Bogaerts… has a wRC+ of 82, which combined with mediocre defense has left him hovering around replacement level…

Bogaerts is actually hitting pretty well against fastballs and changeups. The crux of his issues this year have been against breaking balls. And there’s really no way to sugarcoat it. He’s been terrible against any and all spin, hitting just .143 and slugging .167. Unfortunately, opposing pitchers have noticed, and Bogaerts has only seen more breaking balls as the season has progressed.

Bogaerts’ struggles with breaking balls coincide with the part of his game that has perhaps regressed the most as his season has progressed: his plate discipline. After working 25 walks through the end of May, Bogaerts has been told to take his base just seven times since. A large part of that has been the decline of his ability to discriminate between a breaking ball thrown for a strike, and one thrown for a ball.

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 02:06 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox, sabermetrics, xander bogaerts

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   1. Greg K Posted: August 12, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4769580)
Is Bogaerts likely to stick at shortstop? I only see about 10 or so Boston games a year, but it seems like every game I see him play he makes a pretty horrible play in the field. Is there an expectation that he'll get better over time? Or am I totally over-valuing my limited observations?
   2. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4769588)
It's weird. Watching him I think he's better at short right now than at third base but I think he has the ability to be a great third baseman but is a bit limited at shortstop. His play at short is just a lot more instinctive, he seems much more comfortable there. I just think the physical tools are better suited to third.

Offensively he is a mess. An issue that isn't talked about much at all and I don't know why is whether or not he is hurt. Bogaerts was absolutely raking in early June and had his OPS up to .842 when he got hit on the wrist with pitches on back to back days. Since then he's been an absolute disaster. I really think/hope that he's hiding an injury of some kind.

The temptation is to wonder how that would affect his discipline but I think it makes some sense. If he feels like he has to start his swing earlier or something like that it seems to me that he would be susceptible to the very pitches that are getting him out.

It's possible that he's just a bust and has been exposed. Given the scouting reports, his minor league performance and what he did in limited time last year I think he's more than capable of breaking out. At least that's what I'm telling myself when I start to sob gently at night.
   3. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4769589)
Also the argument about the move to third base messing him up is a bogus one. His hottest stretch of the year came in the immediate aftermath of the Drew signing and since being moved back to short he hasn't done a damned thing.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4769593)
Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid.
   5. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4769606)
I was thinking of Pedro myself.
   6. Jose Bautista Bobblehead Day Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4769623)
The data suggests that Bogaerts is an average to below-average shortstop.

Bogaerts rates at -7/1200 innings by Defensive Runs Saved and +2/1200 innings by UZR.

Inside Edge fielding data classifies plays by difficulty, from Routine (made 90-100% of the time) down to Impossible (0%). They've classified 257 of Bogaerts' chances at SS. Most are Routine chances (186/257), and he makes 97% of those plays. Of the 71 non-Routine chances, he's fielded 22 of them (31%). A weighted average* suggests that the average shortstop would make 32.5% of those plays.

*To compare Bogaerts to an average, I took the mean of the probability range in each classification bin and weighted it by the proportion of his total chances represented by the classification.

Now, we don't know the distribution of plays within each classification. Bogaerts could have systematically easier or harder chances than the means of the category ranges may suggest.
   7. Jose Bautista Bobblehead Day Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4769643)
To try to give a little validation to what I did with the Inside Edge data on non-Routine plays, here are percentages of non-Routine plays made by other shortstops (weighted average in parentheses). Data are from 2012-2014:

Andrelton Simmons: 48.5 (36.4)
Brandon Crawford: 43.8 (38.1)
Jed Lowrie: 38.3 (41.6)
Jhonny Peralta: 33.2 (37.5)
Derek Jeter: 29.9 (37.2)
   8. Dale Sams Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4769732)
Hunh. Why can't the Sox get guys like Jed Lowrie? Oh's as if people who get Mono really arn't injury prone. Well, at least they got Mark Melancon for him.
   9. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:36 PM (#4769739)
Jed Lowrie has played more than 100 games twice in his entire career. This is one of those years, and he's been worth less than 1 bWAR so far. He's never been worth more than 2.5 bWAR. He is fragile, and he isn't that good.
   10. Danny Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4769754)
Jed Lowrie has played more than 100 games twice in his entire career. This is one of those years, and he's been worth less than 1 bWAR so far. He's never been worth more than 2.5 bWAR. He is fragile, and he isn't that good.

That's because DRS hates his defense. Lowrie's DRS and UZR for the past three years:

-3   3
-21  -8
-7   2
-31  -

Lowrie has been worth 7.6 fWAR over the past three years--in Red Sox terms, pretty much the same as Ortiz (7.6) and Cespedes (7.7).
   11. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4769759)
Yes, if UZR is right. There's no reason to believe it's much more accurate than DRS.
   12. villageidiom Posted: August 12, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4769888)
That's because DRS hates his defense. Lowrie's DRS and UZR for the past three years:

2012 -3 3
2013 -21 -8
2014 -7 2
Tot -31 -3

Why stop there?
Year DRS  UZR  PM  FSR  
-3  +3   -1   -3  
-21  -8  -17  -17  
-7  +2   -3   *   
Tot  -31  -3  -21  -20

...all per Fangraphs.

So it's not so much that DRS hates his defense as much as it is that UZR is the only one that thinks his defense has been average.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4769889)

I assume most of you were alert enough to ignore, but note that the data point in the graph for 3/14 is one game. It shouldn't be on the chart (he merges Mar/Apr when he reports WRC+.

I'll also note that reporting WRC+ for March/April and May, then switching to OPS for June, July then comping that OPS to overall OPS Mar-May makes things a bit hard to follow.

In the second chart, the vertical axis is "strike zone discrimination (d')" ... I didn't notice that defined anywhere, am I supposed to know what that is? Values above 1 are a good thing I assume ... so he's been better at recognizing breaking balls over the last couple of months? That's not the interpretation so values near zero are a good thing? So he was relatively good at recognizing them during the first momth of the slump but has gone to crap since then? And are those changes big enough to be a key driver behind the radical change in his walk rate (from 25 in 224 PA through May 31 to 7 in 224 PA from June 1)? (Ks went from 49 to 59 so not a good direction but nothing as dramatic as the walk rate.)

Anyway, the jump in breaking balls in May seems to have coincided with better hitting numbers for Bogaerts. Since then, things have been so very horrible that it's hard for me to imagine it has that much to do with what was for June/July a rather small increase in breaking balls -- but what do I know since I don't know what league average is or how variable this measure usually is from month-to-month. The second chart might be getting at something but I can't really tell.

I would like to thank Mr Bogaerts for conveniently having 224 PA through May 31 and 224 PA since May 31 (as of Aug 10 when the data for the article ends).

By the way, period 1 to period 2 ... so the Ks were roughly similar but worse in period 2; the ISOs were roughly similar but worse in period 2 (134 to 105) ... but the BABIP ... from 394 to 193.

Maybe it's time for a meeting of the SS union -- you don't shift on me, I won't shift on you ...
   14. Danny Posted: August 12, 2014 at 11:34 PM (#4769923)
Why stop there?
2012 -3 +3 -1 -3
2013 -21 -8 -17 -17
2014 -7 +2 -3 *
Tot -31 -3 -21 -20*

...all per Fangraphs.

So it's not so much that DRS hates his defense as much as it is that UZR is the only one that thinks his defense has been average.

Plus-Minus (PM) is just the range component of DRS; of course it "agrees" with DRS. FSR is the subjective opinion of fans who chose to vote on Tango's site.

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