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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reds - Signed AGon

Cincinnati Reds - Signed SS Alex Gonzalez to a 3-year, $14 million contract.

The hi-larious relationship between the defensive improvements the team makes and the pitchers the team has continues.

In this case, they get a really good defensive shortstop who can’t hit very well.  The Reds continue to be obsessed with the defensive infield while happily accepting a horrific defensive outfield as if they have a staff of groundballers.  Looking at 2006’s starters:

Reds Starters Who Allowed More Flyballs than League Average in 2006

Bronson Arroyo (35 starts)
Aaron Harang (35 starts)
Kyle Lohse (11 starts)
Eric Milton (26 starts)
Sun Woo Kim (1 starts)
Brandon Claussen (14 starts)
Dave Williams (8 starts)

Total - 130

Reds Starters Who Allowed Less Flyballs than League Average in 2006

Matt Belisle (2 starts)
Chris Michalak (6 starts)
Elizardo Ramirez (19 starts)
Justin Germano (1 start)
Joe Mays (4 starts)

Total - 32

It’s even more unbalanced than that looks - Germano and Mays are out of the organization, Michalak shouldn’t ever pitch in the majors again, Belisle’s a reliever, and Elizardo Ramirez appears on the outs.

This is an example of what seems to be the worst aspect of Krivsky’s tenure with the Reds so far - no moves go together.  There’s no underlying logic behind moves, each player move is made in complete isolation with every other player move.  The net effect is that sometimes moves turn out good (picking up Guardado and Lohse, acquiring Ross and Phillips, and the signing of Hatteberg), sometimes they turn out badly (Womack, various 4th/5th otufielders, the infamous Kearns/Lopez trade) and since Krivsky only deals with tactics and not strategy, the bad moves aren’t minimized and the good moves aren’t maximized. 

This is, in effect, Dan O’Dowd Syndrome, in which good transactions and decisions are rendered irrelevant and a bad way to run any business.  It doesn’t really matter if Alex Gonzalez is worth the money or not; the Reds have not put themselves in a position in which they could reap the benefits of Alex Gonzalez living up to his salary.  There are fewer and fewer high-OBP guys in Cincinnati by the day that would make a low OBP shortstop with some pop useful.  There are no Brandon Webbs or Derek Lowes for whom a really good defensive shortstop could balance a weak bat.  It’s not a mindbogglingly dumb move, just a mindobblingly irrelevant one.

 

2007 ZiPS Projection - Alex Gonzalez
———————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
———————————————————————————————————
Projection   449 55 110 25 2 12 57 27 89   3 .245 .293 .390
———————————————————————————————————
Opt. (15%)  497 72 132 32 2 18 79 36 87   4 .266 .324 .447
Pes. (15%)  282 30   65 13 0   6 27 14 59   1 .230 .272 .340
———————————————————————————————————

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 19, 2006 at 05:43 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Walt Davis Posted: November 19, 2006 at 07:33 PM (#2241570)
mindobblingly

??

I like it, it's got a jabberwocky feel to it.

Spot on analysis too.
   2. David Cameron Posted: November 19, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2241596)
I should preface this with a caveat that this is completely theoretical, and I've done no work at all to answer my own question. Just throwing it out there.

I was thinking the other day that this fielder-pitcher mismatch might actually be more effective by avoiding diminishing returns. The goal of having an above average defense is to convert more of the balls on the margins into outs. Might it be possible that when a groundball pitcher allows a flyball, it's more likely to be a marginal ball that some defenders will get to and others will not?

Basically, what I'm thinking is that it's possible that a guy like Derek Lowe could benefit more from having an elite defensive outfield than an elite defensive infield. If the theory is true that a GB pitcher inducing a GB is more likely to be a weakly hit easy out than when a FB pitcher induces a GB, then his balls in play on the fringes of his teammates fielding abilities will occur when he misses his spot, which usually results in a FB.

If the split was significant enough, say 70/30 in favor of his marginal balls in play being flyballs, it may make sense to put a bunch of flycatchers behind him to maximize the amount of marginal balls being turned into outs.

In other words, just because the volume of groundballs is higher doesn't necessarily mean the volume of hard-to-field groundballs is proportionally higher. It might be, but it might not be.
   3. bibigon Posted: November 19, 2006 at 10:50 PM (#2241706)

In other words, just because the volume of groundballs is higher doesn't necessarily mean the volume of hard-to-field groundballs is proportionally higher. It might be, but it might not be.


This is possible, but it's counterintuitive enough for me that I don't see why we should assume this to be the case without specific evidence suggesting this.
   4. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 19, 2006 at 11:20 PM (#2241734)
In other words, just because the volume of groundballs is higher doesn't necessarily mean the volume of hard-to-field groundballs is proportionally higher. It might be, but it might not be.


I have noticed, in the past, that flyball pitchers get a higher percentage of their flyballs turned into outs, and a lower percentage of their groundballs turned into outs, than does the average pitcher.

-- MWE
   5. David Cameron Posted: November 19, 2006 at 11:24 PM (#2241737)
Yea, that's demonstrably true. Flyball pitchers also have less of their flyballs go for home runs than groundball pitchers.

It seems pretty likely, to me, that the average FB from a groundball pitcher is going to be less catchable than the average FB from a flyball pitcher. The raw data used to compile UZR could tell us for sure.
   6. Honkie Kong Posted: November 19, 2006 at 11:27 PM (#2241740)
Are FB's counted separately from pop ups?
Flyball pitchers tend to get lot of weak pop flys and infield pop ups..
   7. bibigon Posted: November 19, 2006 at 11:58 PM (#2241764)
I have noticed, in the past, that flyball pitchers get a higher percentage of their flyballs turned into outs, and a lower percentage of their groundballs turned into outs, than does the average pitcher.


Could you post this data? I'd love to see how strong this effect is.
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 20, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2241770)
There were 388 pitchers in 2005 who had at least 100 BIP for a team. The group norm was 33.9% FBIP, 74.1% GB converted into outs, and 86.2% FB converted into outs. The weighted standard deviation of FB% for the group was (roughly) 7%.

There were 64 pitchers who had at least 41% FBIP (roughly, one or more SD above the group norm), who can reasonably be described as flyball pitchers. This group got outs on 87.4% of FB and 72.4% of GB.

There were 56 pitchers who did not exceed 27% FBIP (roughly, one or more SD below the group norm), who can reasonably be described as groundball pitchers. This group got outs on 84.3% of FB and 75.4% of GB. (For the D'back guys: Brandon Webb, the second-most extreme pitcher in this group, got outs on 81.2% of FB, 76.4% of GB).

Are FB's counted separately from pop ups?


I usually don't separate them. If I did, since the overwhelming majority of popups are converted into outs, there would be even more separation on FB conversion percentages between FB pitchers and GB pitchers.

-- MWE
   9. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 20, 2006 at 12:05 AM (#2241771)
Alex Gonzalez was a very strange hitter for the Red Sox. Terrible for the first month or two then surprisingly good then terrible again. ?!?

The last 3 years, Gonzalez's games played have been 159 then 130 then 111 last year. Would you want to pay to see the next number in that progression?
   10. Darren Posted: November 20, 2006 at 04:22 AM (#2241957)
I'd guess the next number is around 130. He's getting a little be expensive here, but still fairly reasonable. I wouldn't have been upset if the Red Sox did this deal. Now they'll have to settle for Nomar.
   11. Raoul Duke Posted: November 20, 2006 at 05:30 AM (#2241985)
No data analysis here but I offer that the signing goes to prove a lack of any sort of comprehensive approach in Cincinnati. Lordamighty . . .
   12. bibigon Posted: November 20, 2006 at 08:05 AM (#2242042)
So the first thing that comes to mind with that data is that perhaps it's evidence of the very effect that Dan suggested that the Reds should be paying attention to. Namely that teams with strong outfield defenses attract flyball pitchers, and that teams with flyball pitchers try and build strong outfield defenses. The same goes for groundball guys. So while this data is facially consistent with the idea that flyball pitchers generate easier to catch flyballs, and harder to catch groundballs, it's also facially consistent with a much more benign explanation.
   13. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 20, 2006 at 09:02 AM (#2242052)
Could it be that part of the reason why flyballers have more fly bulls turned into outs is because outfielders know they're playing behind a flyballer and are on their toes, whereas the infielders know the same thing, and are back on their heels? It seems like people who are really attuned to the ins and outs of playing baseball would possibly develop a feel for certain pitchers and their tendencies of allowing BIP.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 20, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2242075)
teams with strong outfield defenses attract flyball pitchers, and that teams with flyball pitchers try and build strong outfield defenses.


The effect still tends to show up when looking at flyball pitchers on teams with staffs that are otherwise groundball-oriented, so I don't think it's quite that simple.

-- MWE
   15. John DiFool2 Posted: November 20, 2006 at 04:22 PM (#2242145)
It may be that, despite the data in #9, that the total number of tough fly balls is still higher for a FB
pitcher than it is for a GB pitcher, because they are still giving up more total FBs.
   16. rr Posted: November 21, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2242863)
I don't think this is a terrible signing, but it reminds me of the way the team should have been set up originally, but wasn't.

Too late.

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