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Monday, April 09, 2018

How I was wrong about Shohei Ohtani

Maybe Spring Training isn’t a big enough sample. Of course, neither is ten games.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 09, 2018 at 09:32 AM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, shohei ohtani

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   1. Adam Starblind Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:13 AM (#5650168)
I still think they should send him to A ball.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5650171)
“It’s been my experience that Asians are so drilled and regimented in their approach they put no performance stock in spring training,” the scout said. “They work on tracking, sequencing and other process-type stuff. Performance is last. Unlike the vets, they do not appear to turn up the performance side the last week of spring training and instead do so opening day.”
   3. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5650178)
“It’s been my experience that Asians are so drilled and regimented in their approach they put no performance stock in spring training,” the scout said.


But is he good at math?
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5650181)
And video games?
   5. PreservedFish Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5650184)
Passan: Me So Solly
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5650195)
And is he technically proficient at the violin, but lacking emotional range in his playing?
   7. BDC Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5650199)
Well, it's all just inscrutable.
   8. bookbook Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5650203)
The problem, of course, is the asymmetric rewards for Jeff Passan, if he’d been proven right, Passan would be getting lauded as a genius. Even now, “proven” wrong, Passan gets many more clicks and much more reward that if he’d stated the obvious: “this guy has proven himself elite in the best league in the world that’s not the major leagues. It may take several months to find out how good he is in the majors, but there’s no way to figure this out other than throwing him into the games. Spring training (or three months of AAA) will teach us nothing.”
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5650206)
Well, it's all just inscrutable.
It's true. I tried multiple times to scrute him while I was watching yesterday's game, and I just could not do it.
   10. Baldrick Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:22 AM (#5650213)
Why is this written at Ohtani? What is the point of that device?
   11. Tin Angel Posted: April 09, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5650233)
Why is this written at Ohtani? What is the point of that device?


It's called "lack of creativity."
   12. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 09, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5650371)

The problem is that the column was so obviously stupid that it can't be salvaged with an apology. NPB may not be MLB caliber, but claiming that a very successful Japanese player can't hit a curveball is absurd.
   13. Khrushin it bro Posted: April 09, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5650377)
There was one at bat in which he flailed at 3 sliders or curves in the dirt off Santiago Casilla. I think MLB pitchers will adjust and his hitting will suffer. That said I think his pitching is pretty legit. I'd wager a guess that his OBP will be within .010 of .300. His power is as advertised or so it appears so far.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2018 at 07:39 PM (#5650495)
I will admit I saw a few of his first PAs this (regular) season and thought he looked pretty bad. Must have been his first game, 1 for 5. Hints of Ichiro with none of the speed and I didn't see where his power was supposed to come from with that swing and build (6'4" but not bulky). Naturally since then he's 6 for 13 with 3 HR which may mean I know squat about hitting ... or he was having a bad day or trying too hard to make contact or something that leaves my genius untainted.

EDIT: hey, he's gotten a hit in his first 4 games ... what's the longest hitting streak to start a career?
   15. DavidFoss Posted: April 09, 2018 at 07:58 PM (#5650500)
what's the longest hitting streak to start a career?

17 by Chuck Aleno in 1941 and David Dahl in 2016
   16. PreservedFish Posted: April 09, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5650524)
There was one at bat in which he flailed at 3 sliders or curves in the dirt off Santiago Casilla.


You know who else flails at breaking balls in the dirt? Every other player.
   17. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 09, 2018 at 09:10 PM (#5650539)
You know who else flails at breaking balls in the dirt?


Soriano could, but alas he is no longer available.

But is he good at math?


And video games?


Of course he's a pretty cr*ppy driver so that will offset those math and video game skills that are already inherent.
   18. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 09, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5650543)
what's the longest hitting streak to start a career?

17 by Chuck Aleno in 1941 and David Dahl in 2016

what's the deal with him--why haven't they brought him back up?
   19. PreservedFish Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:08 PM (#5650559)
The Rockies' two best corner outfielders are in AAA.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:16 PM (#5650567)
what's the deal with him--why haven't they brought him back up?

Looks like he was hurt for nearly all of 2017 (17 games at AAA, 2 at A+). For this year, I don't know, I'd guess he had a lousy spring and may have lost out with the late re-signing of CarGo (a mediocre 37 PA so far).

Right now the list of the Rox OPS+ at b-r looks like an interval workout.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:17 PM (#5650571)
Rockies' bench I think was 0 for 31 with 15 K this year before breaking the schneid

that's hard to do
   22. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2018 at 10:18 PM (#5650572)
So are the Angels putting Ohtani on the AS ballot at DH?
   23. ReggieThomasLives Posted: April 10, 2018 at 12:57 AM (#5650630)
Given the small sample size, I think everyone is jumping to some big conclusions about Ohtani that might not be warrented. All we really know is that he’s the greatest baseball player since Ruth, we really don’t know if he’s as good as Ruth yet.
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2018 at 09:00 AM (#5650665)
So are the Angels putting Ohtani on the AS ballot at DH?

Hell, maybe they should go for broke and start him at shortstop on the days he isn't pitching.
   25. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 10, 2018 at 10:20 AM (#5650705)

Looks like he was hurt for nearly all of 2017 (17 games at AAA, 2 at A+). For this year, I don't know, I'd guess he had a lousy spring and may have lost out with the late re-signing of CarGo (a mediocre 37 PA so far).


Dahl had some kind of weird rib separation that happened last spring and prevented him from swinging a bat. He was fine this spring - you can look this stuff up, you know. He led the team in homers, but with a logjam in the outfield and coming off an almost entirely missed season, the Rox sent him to AAA to start the year. It's assumed he'll be back up in a couple of weeks, when they're sure he's ready.

The problem for Dahl isn't Gonzalez (who has been fine so far) so much as Parra, who is at best a fourth outfielder, but for some reason the Rox like him. Tracy Ringolsby suggested that Dahl might replace Parra in the starting outfield in a couple of weeks, which would greatly improve the team.
   26. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 10, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5650707)
Rockies' bench I think was 0 for 31 with 15 K this year before breaking the schneid


They're up to 3 for 48 now.
   27. Endless Trash Posted: April 10, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5650719)
I've only been an avid follower of mlb since 2003 but I figured out about ten years ago not to read anything into the first two months of the season, and try not to form any opinions until at least June.

Yet every year I sit here amazed at baseball lifers who jump to wild conclusions based on spring training and are saying all kinds of things on April... 10th?

I guess in our culture of Twitter and all that everyone needs to be shouting their opinions at all times so it's his job to be wrong but still I feel like it would be nice if people would just stay quiet about who was right and who was wrong until, I don't know, August or so.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 10, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5650728)
I've only been an avid follower of mlb since 2003 but I figured out about ten years ago not to read anything into the first two months of the season, and try not to form any opinions until at least June.

Divisions are often won and lost in April and May. You can't play yourself into a playoff spot in two months, but you can sure as hell play yourself out of one.
   29. Ithaca2323 Posted: April 10, 2018 at 12:15 PM (#5650794)
I've only been an avid follower of mlb since 2003 but I figured out about ten years ago not to read anything into the first two months of the season, and try not to form any opinions until at least June.

I guess in our culture of Twitter and all that everyone needs to be shouting their opinions at all times so it's his job to be wrong


It's not that their job is to be wrong. It's that their job can't be to say "I will have no meaningful opinions until August."

I once covered the college wrestling beat for my hometown paper, and one of the coaches on one of the teams loved to tell me, anytime I asked him about the performance of a wrestler or the team at the most recent match, "I'm not concerned with how we wrestled against [whatever team they just wrestled] I care about how we'll wrestle at the end of the season, when we need to qualify guys for the NCAA championships". I finally had to tell him that, while I understood where he was coming from, I couldn't write just that for three months straight.

   30. Rally Posted: April 10, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5650888)
“Hell, maybe they should go for broke and start him at shortstop on the days he isn't pitching.”

Nah, good arm hitting 100 as a starter, but he’s no Andrelton.
   31. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 10, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5650964)
There was one at bat in which he flailed at 3 sliders or curves in the dirt off Santiago Casilla. I think MLB pitchers will adjust and his hitting will suffer. That said I think his pitching is pretty legit. I'd wager a guess that his OBP will be within .010 of .300. His power is as advertised or so it appears so far.


He's obviously not going to bat .390 all year, but I see no particular reason to believe that Japanese players can't hit breaking stuff. Many of the pitchers who come over from there are famous for their breaking stuff. Ohtani showed decent plate judgement in NPB; why would that suddenly be different here? He may not get pitched around as much as he did in Japan if his SLG doesn't translate long-term (probably won't -- isn't that the thing that most often declines for Japanese hitters when they cross the pond?). But he's proven you can't just challenge him and expect he's going to hit like a pitcher. You have to pitch him like a real player, meaning he's going to be seeing fewer strikes of all kinds in the future.

And -- let's not forget this -- he's only 23 years old.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5651193)
you can look this stuff up, you know.

Actually once spring training ends, I find those stats pretty hard to find. And historical spring training data even harder.

The problem for Dahl isn't Gonzalez (who has been fine so far) so much as Parra, who is at best a fourth outfielder

Well, sure, but Gonzalez was the guy they signed on March 12, just 2 weeks before opening day, who directly took a roster spot from one of the Rox OF. If he's not signed, surely Dahl's chances of making the opening day roster would have been much higher.

Yet every year I sit here amazed at baseball lifers who jump to wild conclusions based on spring training and are saying all kinds of things on April... 10th?

C'mon, it's fun. But it also depends on the question. Will Ohtani be a "good" hitter? I agree we don't have enough data for that yet. Does Ohtani have a swing that can generate power? Well, 3 HR in 18 PA is a pretty strong indicator the answer is yes. He might also have a huge hole in his swing or be unable to lay off outsides junk or high fastballs or whatever ... but he's almost certainly got more power than, say, Billy Hamilton (who did once hit 3HR over a 33 PA span). Anyway, I'm pretty comfortable that Ohtani has more power than my (small sample) evaluation of his swing.



   33. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 10, 2018 at 11:09 PM (#5651229)
Actually once spring training ends, I find those stats pretty hard to find. And historical spring training data even harder.

I once got into a too-long argument with some doofus who was claiming that the American League of the 50's and early 60's wasn't inferior to the NL, and I had to dig out my run of TSN and go through the box scores in order to show the lopsided NL > AL nature of the Spring Training results. Try as I did, I couldn't find any of those results online.

Of course after going through all that, Doofus claimed that the results "didn't prove anything", even though they were almost uniformly consistent over that entire period, but dealing with doofuses just goes with the territory.
   34. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: April 10, 2018 at 11:36 PM (#5651235)
And -- let's not forget this -- he's only 23 years old.

I think that's a key difference between him and Hideki Matsui, who came to America in his age 29 season.
   35. This is going to be state of the art wall Posted: April 11, 2018 at 12:06 AM (#5651239)
The hard thing about baseball, including from a marketing standpoint, is how volatile things are in general. Ohtani has had a really great first couple weeks. Judge had a really great first year. I really hope these guys outhype the hype but we'll see. It is exciting, even as a casual fan of teams that aren't my team. Seattle Times sports page led with an Ohtani story today, relative to Seattle's disappointment of course, but hey, it's got people talking.

I might go and see him when he comes to town, which is more than I'd usually say for a random Mariners and Angels tilt.
   36. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:33 AM (#5651276)
What will be the usage strategy for him. Looks like he fully rests the day after he pitches, but then he was off yesterday as well (except for a late garbage-time PH appearance). Two hitting games between starts?
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:36 AM (#5651281)
I think that's a key difference between him and Hideki Matsui,
Well, that and Ohtani presumably goes online for his porn. It's a generational thing.
   38. PreservedFish Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5651285)
What will be the usage strategy for him. Looks like he fully rests the day after he pitches, but then he was off yesterday as well (except for a late garbage-time PH appearance). Two hitting games between starts?


I think he pitches on Sundays, and always has Saturdays and Mondays off. Tue-Fri he DHs against RHP.
   39. Endless Trash Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:40 AM (#5651289)

Divisions are often won and lost in April and May. You can't play yourself into a playoff spot in two months, but you can sure as hell play yourself out of one.


That's silly and makes no sense.
   40. PreservedFish Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:47 AM (#5651294)
Endless Trash, I can't speak for everyone, but I personally will knowingly participate in the delusion that early April results mean something because it's just more fun to talk about baseball without bookending every observation with sample size caveats.
   41. Endless Trash Posted: April 11, 2018 at 08:51 AM (#5651299)
That's fair. I am joyless and anhedonistic. I like talking about strategy and what teams and players are doing but I basically try to ignore any baseball results until June. I don't really see the fun in saying outlandish things that will probably make you look stupid in three months.

But that's just me I guess.

Excited about Ohtani though.

—------
I finally had to tell him that, while I understood where he was coming from, I couldn't write just that for three months straight.
--------

What did you think I meant by, it's his job to be wrong? It was snarky shorthand for what you just said.
   42. BDC Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5651332)
Early April may not be predictive of October, but you can always try to analyze what's happening right now. For instance, the Rangers have broken from the gate 4-9 so far. Are they terrible in some essential sense? Maybe, but there's some chance they're not. Have they been terrible for two weeks? Absolutely. It is quite interesting to get into why (only three or four guys on the roster have hit worth a ####, pitching has been awful except for Bartolo Colon, etc.) Well, interesting for masochists.
   43. Rally Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5651333)
I once got into a too-long argument with some doofus who was claiming that the American League of the 50's and early 60's wasn't inferior to the NL, and I had to dig out my run of TSN and go through the box scores in order to show the lopsided NL > AL nature of the Spring Training results. Try as I did, I couldn't find any of those results online.


I'm not even sure where to find spring training results from 2017 online.
   44. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:24 AM (#5651334)
Endless Trash, I can't speak for everyone, but I personally will knowingly participate in the delusion that early April results mean something because it's just more fun to talk about baseball without bookending every observation with sample size caveats.

I do some of this too. Basically, the offseason is long and I am a bit starved for something baseball related to follow. I don't *extrapolate* first week rate stats but it is still super exciting to see who is having a good first week, seeing the bb-ref page update every morning, and seeing how each individual game moves everyone's 'yearly' numbers so much.

On the original point, I think there is some truth to the fact that on a team level, a horrific April can be hard to overcome. A team with a hot start will come back to earth, but a team that falls too far below .500 can be ruining their season. It ends up being too big of a hole to climb out of. So, I don't get too worked up about whether my team is in first place in April as long as they are hovering within a few games of .500.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 11, 2018 at 10:27 AM (#5651373)
Endless Trash, I can't speak for everyone, but I personally will knowingly participate in the delusion that early April results mean something because it's just more fun to talk about baseball without bookending every observation with sample size caveats.
I was listening to a Jonah Keri podcast on Spotify last night and he told a story about one of the first times he went on Baseball Tonight. It was early in the year, and he was on with Karl Ravech, John Kruk and Curt Schilling. He said they were raving about one hitter who was off to a great start, maybe talking about some mechanical change he'd made, or Best Shape of His Life or whatever, and when they asked Jonah what he thought, he just said "small sample size." Then they talked about a pitcher who was having a great game, striking a bunch of guys out, and Schilling talked about his great stuff, Kruk said how he'd hate to face the guy, and again Jonah just said "small sample size."

During the break, the producers pulled him aside and told him that although they knew he was absolutely right, he couldn't keep saying that because it was terrible entertainment.
   46. PreservedFish Posted: April 11, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5651381)
The great thing about Fangraphs is that they've figured out how to write about tiny results and isolated events. Here's a great article on how pitchers are approaching Ohtani. There was a decade or so after Neyer when nobody knew how to do anything except say "the GM is an idiot" or "small sample size."
   47. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 11, 2018 at 12:18 PM (#5651440)
The games count in April just as much as September, and while there's obviously regression to the mean (the Mets and Red Sox aren't going to go 146-16) having a strong April puts teams in really good shape... and also influences their trade deadline decisions. Even if you're a team who's expecting to compete you might trade useful players at the deadline who are in the last year of their contract if you went 9-21 in April and haven't gotten back to .500. Likewise, if you're a team that had a shot at a wildcard spot to start the season and go 21-9 to start, you're probably going to be a buyer at the trade deadline instead of waiting for next year.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 11, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5651476)
If you look for "david dahl spring training" on Google news, this is in the first hit:

But if he continues to hit like he has since starting spring training in an 0-for-15 skid (he has gone 17-for-42 and leads the team in HR and RBI), Dahl will be back up in the majors in no time....


   49. spycake Posted: April 11, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5651499)
I'm not even sure where to find spring training results from 2017 online.


MLB.com has spring training stats dating back to 2006:

MLB.com Spring Training 2006 stats

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