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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Notes: Taylor Hearn and the Tale of the Black Rodeo Cowboys | FanGraphs Baseball

David Laurila’s latest includes the following curious comparison:

Eric Hosmer has been a bit of a lightning rod this winter. The free agent first baseman is coming off a strong season, yet plenty of pundits are less than enamored with his offensive profile. Couple the launch angle revolution with an increased acceptance of strikeouts, and Hosmer has become, in the eyes of his detractors, somewhat of a square peg in a round hole.

Would the former (and perhaps future) Kansas City Royal be looked upon more favorably if he were to trade in a chunk of his ground-ball outs for strikeouts? As counterintuitive as that sounds — fanning is every hitter’s humiliation — it may actually be true.

Let’s compare Hosmer to a player who is, by and large, considered to be a superior hitter.

Home runs: Hosmer 25, Corey Seager 22.
Adjusted OPS: Hosmer 132, Seager 125.
wRC+: Hosmer 135, Seager 127.
wOBA: Hosmer .376, Seager .364.
BABiP: Hosmer .351, Seager .352.

Now let’s look at their ground ball and strikeout rates.

GB%: Hosmer 55.6, Seager 42.1.
K%: Hosmer 15.5, Seager 21.4.

What if the last set of numbers were flip-flopped, and it was the Dodgers shortstop who K’d less often and hit more balls on the ground? Would the way the two are perceived flip-flop as well? It’s a question worth pondering.

As for whether the one-year snapshot shows that Hosmer is a better hitter than Seager… that probably isn’t the case. (Justin Upton is another interesting comp, as his K and GB rates were markedly different from Hosmer’s, and his wRC+ and wOBA almost identical.) But it does suggest that not being what people think you should be — being a square peg in a round hole — can negatively impact how you’re viewed.

 

Jim Furtado Posted: February 11, 2018 at 12:16 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 03:21 PM (#5623243)
Laurila should have answered his own question given how obvious it is -- Seager 2017 was viewed as a good hitter for a SS. If Eric Hosmer was a SS or even an average fielding 3B, he'd be getting more interest. Laurila does hint at the other point that 2017 was a "down" year for Seager so far while it was Hosmer's best and Seager is only 23.

The Upton comp is more relevant ... and Upton originally signed for 6/$132, made $44, had an opt-out that led to a 5/$106 replacing the 4/$88 that was left. So it has worked out to 7/$150 for Upton and that's supposedly about what Hosmer has been offered despite his inferior hitting track record. What's interesting about Upton is that he was coming off the 2nd best season of his career by WAR (5.7) and decided not to hit the open market (in a weak hitting year) and only parlayed that big year into one extra year at an extra $18 M in 2022 dollars. This contract still only takes him through age 34. Financially, he probably should have come out and tried for a 7-year deal.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: February 11, 2018 at 07:26 PM (#5623308)
I will say that we do sometimes forget to distinguish between "good hitter" and "good hitter for position" and maybe that's a bit of the zeitgeist that Laurila is picking up on. In an extreme case, there always seemed to be a bit of this with Alex Rodriguez -- who obviously was an outstanding hitter but far from an all-time great. For ages 23-30, expansion era:

AROD: 302/395/586, 150 ERA+, 43 Rbat/650 PA
Vlad: 326/394/596, 153 ERA+, 41 Rbat/650 PA

The big difference of course being he did that as a SS (mainly) not a RF. By OPS+ for those ages/era, AROD is 23rd by OPS+ (but has a lot more PT than many of the guys around him) -- still, as a hitter for those ages, he wasn't much better than Will Clark (mostly power which is partly era).

Back to Vlad, ARod aged better but it's not like it was a blowout. For ages 31-36, it was 308/360/502, 125 OPS+ for Vlad; 288/381/532, 139 OPS+ for ARod with Vlad the small advantage in PA. OK, apparently that difference is even bigger than it looks at 13 Rbat per 650 PA. Vlad was done done after 36; ARod had one good season and a lot of missed time awaiting him.

Hmmm ... for the seasons they have in common, Seager and ARod look a lot alike. Ages 21-23: 305/374/502, 133 OPS+ for Seager; 300/356/546, 130 OPS+ for ARod. However that misses ARod's monster age 20 season.

Correa is probably an even better fit because this comp is ages 20-22: 288/366/498, 138 OPS+ for Correa; 322/375/562, 139 OPS+ for ARod. Correa doesn't have the BA, mainly thanks to 20% vs 15% K-rates which is mainly era, but that's pretty close. Correa's age 22 is a pretty good (adjusted) match for ARod's age 20. ARod is the better defender and runner at these ages.
   3. puck Posted: February 11, 2018 at 09:20 PM (#5623333)
I thought I had posted this; there's a good linked story from the NY Post on Bud Harrelson's struggle with Alzheimer's. Bummer.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: February 12, 2018 at 07:14 AM (#5623357)
Now let’s look at their ground ball and strikeout rates.

GB%: Hosmer 55.6, Seager 42.1.
K%: Hosmer 15.5, Seager 21.4.

What if the last set of numbers were flip-flopped, and it was the Dodgers shortstop who K’d less often and hit more balls on the ground? Would the way the two are perceived flip-flop as well? It’s a question worth pondering


No. No. Not really.
   5. stevegamer Posted: February 12, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5623387)
The parts about black rodeo cowboys and overall contribution to baseball regarding the Hall of Fame ( re: Mel harder) were more interesting.
   6. Voodoo Posted: February 12, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5623407)
It's always weird when the quoted and discussed portion of an article bears zero resemblance to the headline, especially when browsing from the Hot Topics bar.
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 12, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5623416)
The parts about black rodeo cowboys and overall contribution to baseball regarding the Hall of Fame ( re: Mel harder) were more interesting.


Agreed. Taylor Hearn is a fun pitcher to watch, and I had no idea that there were so many little interesting items in his personal backstory.

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