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Wednesday, November 06, 2019

One Free Agent Every MLB Team Should Sign

For a sample of this approach:

Arizona Diamondbacks

2019 Record: 85-77, 2nd Place in NL West

Positions of Need: CF/2B, RF, RP

Target: The Diamondbacks have a solid rotation and good, young hitters. Then there’s Ketel Marte, who can start at either second base or centerfield but not both. This free-agent class is thin at both positions, with perhaps their best option being the only non-National to homer off Gerrit Cole this postseason: Eric Sogard. Sogard isn’t a season-altering signing, but the 33-year-old nicknamed “Nerd Power” for his signature sports glasses is coming off his best season yet (.290/.353/.457, 2.6 bWAR). He’s from Phoenix, went to Arizona State and could be just the right guy while Arizona waits for prospect Joshua Rojas, whom it acquired in the Zack Greinke trade.

So, would you agree with these assessment, and, if not, what would you do instead?

QLE Posted: November 06, 2019 at 01:00 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: free agents

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: November 06, 2019 at 06:27 AM (#5899008)
Is it Gerrit Cole?
   2. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: November 06, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5899026)

The Red Sox face the most uncertainty with their pitching staff. Chris Sale, David Price and Nathan Eovaldi (who are making a combined $79 million next season) all battled injuries this year, which makes it more difficult to know what to expect from them moving forward. Their bullpen, other than Brandon Workman, was a disaster.

It's funny how one's perception can be skewed when there is no standout in the pen. Per WAA the Sox actually had the 3rd best pen in the majors at a combined .8, it was just a crap shoot where the outs were coming from.
   3. Blastin Posted: November 06, 2019 at 09:02 AM (#5899029)
I tend to think WAR and especially WAA are pretty terrible ways to judge bullpen performance.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: November 06, 2019 at 09:29 AM (#5899036)
.8 WAA was the 3rd best in the majors? That doesn't sound right.

At first glance the Sox pen looks mediocre, not disastrous. A lot of guys with an ERA in the 3.8-4.5 area, which isn't murderously bad, but also isn't good.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: November 06, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5899038)
Their bullpen was a failure, overall. But it was not a complete failure in the things that usually matter, like preventing baserunners and runs. I guess this is a lukewarm defense of Dombrowski, especially because the obvious additions to the 'pen last winter would have been Robertson or Kimbrel. If we could use a time machine, they would have been better signing Ottavino instead of Eovaldi.
   6. Rally Posted: November 06, 2019 at 09:55 AM (#5899044)
I tend to think WAR and especially WAA are pretty terrible ways to judge bullpen performance.

What might be surprising to the analytics crowd is that won-lost record is a useful way to judge bullpen effectiveness. Not for individual pitchers, it's too depended on their role, but for the bullpen as a group.

Or at least it was before the opener strategy polluted the data. If a starter is terrible you're probably going to lose and the bullpen gets a no-decision. If you score a ton of runs, starter gets the win (at least in the days we could expect them to last at least 5) and bullpen gets a no-decision. You're left with games where the bullpen performance is reasonable reflected by their combined W-L record.

Not that it's the best measure, but a simple one that is usually consistent with more sophisticated analysis.
   7. escabeche Posted: November 06, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5899064)
Baltimore Orioles
2019 Record: 54-108, 5th Place in AL East

Positions of Need: SP, RP, 2B/SS

Are they assuming Villar is gone? 2B is one of the only positions where the Orioles were actually pretty good last year!
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 06, 2019 at 11:08 AM (#5899075)
They didn't manage to identify third base as the Pirates' biggest position of need, which kind of tells you all you need to know.
   9. caspian88 Posted: November 06, 2019 at 11:12 AM (#5899079)
The Giants absolutely do not need to sign a mediocre corner outfielder when they have a bunch of mediocre corner outfielders who are younger and cheaper.
   10. Lassus Posted: November 06, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5899112)
Shout-out to #1, as I disapprove of this headline.
   11. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: November 06, 2019 at 12:10 PM (#5899116)
Everybody in Milwaukee doing the Moose call but I am ok if Stearns takes a pass on the over 30 dude whose offense is all power. Lots of Crew fans nervous about the apparent turnover plan but I dig the aggressive idea that the Brewers think they can overhaul the roster and be in the race in 2020. They have Yelich as the anchor, right? So just don't be the Angels where like 3/5 of the roster is total ####. That's a strategy that can work.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: November 06, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5899207)
.8 WAA was the 3rd best in the majors? That doesn't sound right.

Bullpens were below-average this year. Bullpens are "supposed" to post RAs/ERAs better than SPs but didn't this year. The AAA shuttle means that there are lots of replacement-level (or even worse) pitchers taking the mound. Anyway, average bullpen WAA this year was -2.0.

The RA9role for relievers is around -0.33 so a reliever who throws 54 innings with an adjusted average RA will get -2 RAA. Bullpens throw about 600 innings a year now (a bit more actually) so that would be about -22 RAA for a pen that throws a league-average RA. That's what the average bullpen did this year and that's -2 WAA (give or take).

The -0.33 role adjustment reflects that relieving is easier than starting and so relievers generally perform better in RA9 terms. With the expansion of bullpen innings -- and reduced 3rd-time effects for SPs -- the two roles seem to have reached an equilibrium at least for the last couple of years. That doesn't mean relieving has become harder necessarily, more likely those extra innings are being thrown by replacement-level pitchers. I suppose since SPs are leaving the game sooner, their job has gotten a bit "easier."

Whether WAR needs to "fix" the RA9role component to make things work out such that an average bullpen is 0 WAA I'll leave to Sean, etc. In real baseball terms, it would seem that (at the moment at least) there is a widening gap between the quality of the 5 relievers a team uses in close games vs. the 300+ innings covered by the last 3 bullpen slots (with its rotating cast of characters). But as long as that crew are doing at least as well as SPs on their 3rd time through, it still makes sense (esp with a 26th man next year).

(I don't think openers and bullpen games are common enough yet to mess up SP/RP splits but I could be wrong about that.)

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