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Monday, November 02, 2020

2021 Top 50 Free Agents

Craig’s Take
While Kris Bryant is the most well-known recent example of service time manipulation, Springer has arguably been hurt the most by the practice. After turning down an extension ahead of the 2014 season, he was held in the minors for a few weeks and barely missed becoming a free agent at the end of last season. He likely would have ended up with more than $200 million in last year’s free agent frenzy, but will have to settle for something closer to half that amount due to his age — he turned 31 in September — and the tightened spending expected this winter.

Player Notes
While many of his Astros teammates saw their offensive stats take a downturn in the wake of the team’s sign-stealing scandal, Springer chugged along as if nothing had happened, putting up numbers right in line with the rest of his excellent career to date. Houston’s malfeasance will lead a lot of general managers to go over Springer’s numbers with a fine-tooth comb. What they’ll find is a player with outstanding plate discipline (he ranked in the top third of qualified hitters last season in strikeout rate, at just 17.1%) and power (his .275 ISO was 20th in that same group) who easily slots in atop any lineup. Any buyer also gets solid defense in center field and above-average speed. A much likelier limiting factor contract-wise will be age: Springer turned 31 in September. But he’s without a doubt the best all-around outfielder on the market, and any contender with a hole in center should be all over him.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 02, 2020 at 12:11 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agents

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   1. Rally Posted: November 02, 2020 at 09:13 AM (#5986994)
(he ranked in the top third of qualified hitters last season in strikeout rate, at just 17.1%)

That is particularly impressive given where he started. As a draft prospect he was considered a toolsy player, but it was a big question as to whether he would make enough contact. In 2 full minor league seasons he struck out 156 and 161 times. In his first full MLB season, he struck out 178 times.

It's not easy to get from where he was down to 17%, I'm curious if there are others who improved to a similar extent. And all the more impressive considering the yearly rise in league strikeout percentage, he is really bucking the trend.
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: November 02, 2020 at 12:08 PM (#5987026)
Six free agents received qualifying offers: Bauer, Springer, Realmuto, as well as LeMahieu, Gausman, and Stroman.

I am guessing that most teams would be willing to give up the draft pick for the first three...but the second three players will be hurt by receiving the qualifying offer. For example, I saw one Boston-area reporter who is credible say this morning that the fact Gausman got the QO made him much less attractive to the Red Sox, who (because of their terrible 2020 season) will have a high enough pick that they would have to give up their second-rounder if they sign any of these six guys.

The Red Sox haven't had this high a pick in a long time, and the feeling is that the team wants to rebuild the farm system, and keep the draft pool money, as much as possible.
   3. DL from MN Posted: November 02, 2020 at 01:14 PM (#5987033)
The Red Sox haven't had this high a pick in a long time, and the feeling is that the team wants to rebuild the farm system, and keep the draft pool money, as much as possible.

Because of the short 2020 draft the 2021 draft should be pretty deep.
   4. puck Posted: November 02, 2020 at 02:44 PM (#5987048)
In his first full MLB season, he struck out 178 times...And all the more impressive considering the yearly rise in league strikeout percentage, he is really bucking the trend.

The league rate is so high, the year he K'd 178 times, his SO% that season (23.9) is only a smidgen above the 2020 league average (23.4). (Springer had 744 PA that high K season.)
   5. Walt Davis Posted: November 02, 2020 at 05:17 PM (#5987072)
It's a bit hard to say what Springer's "true" K-rates have been. He started at 33% and pretty much everybody has to come down from that or leave the league (we are now seeing some exceptions of course, e.g. Judge). He immediately dropped it to 24 for a couple of seasons, then to 18 but back up to 20, now down to 17 again but in 60 games. Bryant went through something similar, starting at 30, dropping it immediately to 22 then 19 but back to 23 for a couple of years then 27 in this year's disaster.

Long gone are the days when I could express concern about Ryan Braun's 23% rookie K-rate but he got it down to 15% for a couple of years while increasing his BB-rate while also coming off his probably unsustainable for him anyway HR/FB rate of 19% (not sure we had that back in the day). He creeped back up to 19% or so. Oddly Braun's 2020 components (141 PA) aren't far off his rookie year componenets except a 100 point difference in BA and BABIP (despite a 34% "LD" rate ... seems fishy).

Heck, Brandon Wood's 29% K-rate is starting to look tolerable.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: November 02, 2020 at 05:26 PM (#5987073)
We may have finally found the batter to break Ruth's long-standing on-contact "record". Through his career so far, Judge is hitting 438 with 898 SLG on-contact. There may have been others but he's the only guy I know who's been able to sustain clearly above-Ruth numbers for anything like 1800 PAs. For his career, Ruth was 406/819. Judge K's more than twice as often as Ruth which is the main difference between a 206 OPS+ and a 150. (Ruth also walked a lot more but if Judge was smashing a 200 OPS+ with a 13% K-rate, he'd be getting walked a lot more too.)
   7. Itchy Row Posted: November 02, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5987074)
A strikeout rate of "just 17.1%" works out to around 100 strikeouts in a full season. I'm still not used to that not being a high number, but there were 161 players with 100+ strikeouts in 2019.
   8. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: November 02, 2020 at 06:34 PM (#5987082)
I'd be happy with Stroman back on the qualifying offer.
   9. Buck Coats Posted: November 02, 2020 at 07:34 PM (#5987087)
Man, Gausman just signed for 1/9 last year, he has 60 good innings and the Giants are willing to double that money? In a who-knows economy? Good luck to them.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: November 02, 2020 at 08:10 PM (#5987092)
The ML rate hit 17.1% in 2007. That would include some pitchers of course -- the AL rate crossed the 17% boundary in 2009. In 2009, AL HR/PA was 2.9% and HR/FB was 8.3%; in 2019 those were 3.7 and 11.0 (K-rate of 23%). Also:

2009 BA 267 BABIP 300 ISO 161
2019 BA 253 BABIP 298 ISO 186

For 40 PAs and about 36 ABs, that's about 2.5 Ks and .75 of an IP hit for about 1/3 of a HR per game. Trivial tradeoff based on those two years -- 4.82 R/G in 2009; 4.88 in 2019. The question is to what extent the jump in Ks is the fault of the hitters' pursuit of power -- i.e. we could go back to 2009's K-rate without a drop in scoring -- and to what extent it is the fault of pitchers and the batters have had to respond with power -- i.e. we can't go back to 2009's K-rate (without some substantial changes) and scoring will go down if batters stop pursuing power. Then the question of whether a 23% K-rate and 4.5 R/G with fewer HRs is aesthetically preferable is left to the reader.

I think we'd all like to see fewer Ks but you've got to find a set of changes that will balance Ks, HRs and BABIP ... and that's just to get back to 2009 ... getting back to 1989 would be quite the feat.
   11. John Northey Posted: November 04, 2020 at 02:34 PM (#5987238)
We all assume the draft will be deep this year, but how much more will it be? Rounds 6 and beyond were skipped. Round 6 in 2010 (figure a decade is long enough to know if anyone was good) produced one player with more than 4 WAR so far in Kevin Gausman (who didn't sign). 7th round Mark Canha (7.5 WAR) was the best, 8th Kole Calhoun (16.7) and Corey Dickerson (13), 9th Jacob deGrom (38.1) and Whit Merrifield (13.8). 10th round had a peak of 1.1 WAR. So 5 players worth a significant amount out of the 5 rounds. deGrom obviously the big one, he signed for under $100k so if he was around in the last draft he might have signed for $20k and just lived with it (14 others signed for more that round - he was 22 and at the end of his college career).

The lesson to be learned is MLB might have the right idea shrinking the draft. Very few after the first 5 rounds ever make it, let alone become stars (for every Albert Pujols [13th round 1999] there are dozens of Corey Myers' who got $1 mil plus in the draft and never reached the majors. (1999 saw 19 guys get $1+ million as a draft bonus in the first round who didn't reach the majors). In 2010 there were 8 first round guys who got $1+ million who didn't reach, plus 10 more who have negative WAR lifetime who also got $1+ million so 18 who got big bonuses who contributed nothing or hurt the ML team out of the 33 who got $1+ million in round 1.

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