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Sunday Notes: Starting vs Relieving, Trade Dialogue and Much, Much More

by David Laurila - 12/28/2014 - Comments (1)

Becoming a full-time reliever has paid dividends for Brian Duensing. The 31-year-old southpaw had mixed success as a swing-man for the Twins from 2009-2012. The best of those campaigns came in 2010 when he pitched primarily out of the bullpen. The worst was 2011 when he worked almost exclusively as a starter.

The writing was on the wall, and it unfolded into a success story. Duensing has done well as a reliever the past two seasons. Given his pitching style and demeanor, it’s not the role many might have envisioned.

“As a starter, you have time to prepare,” said Duensing. “You can look ahead to who you’ll be facing and how you’ll go about it. As a reliever, it’s ‘OK, this is everything I have’ for an inning. Compared to starting, you’re all out.

For Duensing, that doesn’t mean reaching back and pumping gas. The thoughtful former Nebraska Cornhusker is anything but all out. His fastball was a pedestrian 91.2 mph this year. In many ways, he pitches like a starter out of the bullpen.

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The Brandon Webb That Wasn't and Will Be

by Carson Cistulli - 12/26/2014 - Comments (28)

By means that remain unclear at the moment, the present author found himself browsing within the baseball-related pages of reddit.com over the holiday. For reasons that are also obscure, I followed a link from that site (courtesy user jedisloth) to a piece from The Arizona Republic’s sports section dated April 2009. There, I was reminded — on Christmas, a day intended to be full of sweetness and light — I was reminded of former Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Webb and the stupid and dreadful injury that would ultimately end his career.

What one learns from the experience is not to go around clicking links haphazardly on a day supposedly reserved for joy. What else one learns — or what I, specifically, learned — is a lesson about Brandon Webb and scouting and context.

Webb’s was a career that, if it ended suddenly, also began with a sort of remarkable suddenness, too — at least in terms of Webb’s success relative to the expectations that preceded him. Having been selected in just the eighth round of the 2000 draft and remaining absent from all of Baseball America’s top-100 prospect lists throughout his minor-league career, Webb debuted with Arizona in 2003, throwing 180.2 innings that season and producing a 4.4 WAR. He surpassed the 180-inning threshold in every subsequent campaign through 2008 — which season was of sufficient quality to earn him a second place finish in Cy Young voting only to Tim Lincecum.

After that, for all intents and purposes, Webb’s career was over.

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FG on Fox: The Padres' Other Defensive Sacrifice

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/26/2014 - Comments (18)

Let’s bring you up to speed, in case this has somehow eluded you: the Padres recently acquired Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers. They also did more than that, too, but, as things stand, those guys project to be the Padres’ three starting outfielders, Kemp’s hip arthritis and all. (Matt Kemp reportedly has hip arthritis.) Because someone has to play center, it looks like Myers will play center. He’ll do so acceptably — Shin-Soo Choo played center for a team that won 90 games — but Myers looks like he’ll be a liability. The Padres are sacrificing outfield defense for outfield offense.

But that’s not the only defensive sacrifice they’re lined up to make. Now, before we proceed: who knows, right? Who knows what the Padres’ roster will look like in three months? Consider how the Padres’ roster looked just last month. A.J. Preller is a busy man. Answer the phone. It’s A.J. Preller. He’s calling you right now. You missed him. Preller still has moves to make, so we’ll just have to see how things look in the end, but given where things are now, the Padres are also going to be weaker behind the plate.

Coming into the offseason, the Padres had both Rene Rivera and Yasmani Grandal. At one point, they were briefly in possession of Ryan Hanigan. They were also a rumored landing spot for David Ross. All those guys have gone elsewhere. The Padres’ depth chart reads Derek Norris, supported by Tim Federowicz. Top prospect Austin Hedges remains in the system, but he’s not yet ready for the show, nor should he be for a while. The Padres right now would go into the season with Norris and Federowicz receiving.

Read the rest on Just A Bit Outside.

Japanese and Korean Prospects in Context

by Bradley Woodrum - 12/24/2014 - Comments (48)

The MLB should be receiving a new crop of far eastern talent in the next year or two, which means it is worth reacquainting ourselves with the standouts and talent levels of these leagues — specifically the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and Japan’s Nippon Pro Baseball league (NPB).

Let’s start with Korea and Pittsburgh’s potential new infielder, Jeong-ho Kang:

KBO Hitters

NOTE: I am using wOBA+ here, which is merely my shorthand for wRC+ without park factors and using MLB linear weights. So the numbers are not perfect, but they’re better than OPS or OPS+.

The KBO is a hitter’s league. That is the refrain we hear most often whenever Kang’s surfaces. He slashed a filthy .356/.459/.739 with 40 homers in 2014, and his career stats suggest he’s a middle infielder who hits like he’s from the corner. But how good is he with respect to the league?

Answer: He’s the best. But a wide margin.

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Job Posting: TrackMan/Perfect Game Data & Operations Intern

by Paul Swydan - 12/24/2014 - Comments (10)

Position: TrackMan/Perfect Game Data & Operations Intern

Locations: Goodyear, Ariz., Jupiter, Fla., LakePoint Sports Complex (Emerson, Ga.)

Be our hands and eyes on the ground. By this we mean the D&O Intern will be out in the field on almost a daily basis focused primarily on operating the TrackMan system and ensuring data quality measures are effectively in place at the point of capture. As part of the unique partnership between Perfect Game and TrackMan, you will be an integral piece of ensuring the added TrackMan value to players, coaches, college teams, and Major League teams.

At TrackMan Baseball we measure stuff – the speed, spin and movement of pitched and hit baseballs.

We do this using proprietary 3D Doppler radar hardware and software. The majority of Major League teams use our products and services for player development and evaluation. We also work with collegiate, Japanese and Korean teams, premier amateur baseball organizations, broadcasters and equipment manufacturers.

Our business is growing fast. By the start of next season we will have a network of radars installed in more than 100 stadiums on three continents, and dozens of remote systems traveling the US.


  • Becoming an in-house expert for Perfect Game in the TrackMan Baseball system.
  • Setup and maintenance of the TrackMan system per the defined requirements.
  • Operate the TrackMan system and ensure all data is being captured effectively and accurately.
  • Support the TrackMan and Perfect Game data operations teams in ad-hoc data requests and evaluations.
  • Support the Perfect Game event staff in any additional areas to ensure successful event activation.

Preferred/Required Skills:

  • Current college student or recent graduate with education focused on Sports Management, Statistics / Mathematics, Operations Management, or similar
  • Ideally an individual who is a self-starter with an entrepreneurial attitude who can work individually while also supporting a larger team
  • An ability to work through ambiguity and adaptable while working in fast-paced environment
  • Strong computer skills (regular use of the TrackMan application)
  • Strong knowledge of baseball rules
  • Experience in Customer Relationship Management
  • Experience in Project Management a plus
  • Basic database and/or analytics experience a plus
  • Ability to lift upwards of 50 lbs.


  • Experience with operations, marketing, project management and statistics within a baseball setting.
  • Strengthen your baseball analytics knowledge through access to game data and individual queries.
  • Work within two growing companies ingrained in baseball culture.

This position is compensated.

To Apply:

Send a resume to kmy@trackman.dk and/or nba@trackman.dk. No phone calls please.

The Twins May Have Weakened a Weakness

by Mike Petriello - 12/24/2014 - Comments (91)

Let’s talk about the Twins for a moment. No, you probably don’t want to talk about the Twins, I understand, but it’s Christmas Eve, and the eight or so of you who are unfortunate enough to be in an office right now will probably be happy to talk about something, I think. And the Twins, certainly, are something.

Yesterday, Jeff Sullivan took a look at projected 2015 team defenses, and within that piece was a list of teams that you wouldn’t really want to be included on:

Now, the three worst defensive teams, projected:

  • Astros
  • White Sox
  • Twins

It’s difficult to dispute that from a Minnesota perspective, because while Jeff noted the obvious caveats of attempting to project defense, the 2014 Twins finished 29th in DRS, 24th in UZR/150, and 27th in Defense. One of the teams regularly behind them, Cleveland, will no longer have a left side of the infield that occasionally lined up as Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. They’ll still be below-average, but they might not be a train wreck. The Twins? The Twins’ main non-pitching move this winter has been to import baseball’s worst regular defender from a year ago, Torii Hunter, and park him in right field.

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FG on Fox: The Texas Rangers' Window Is (Briefly) Closed

by Drew Fairservice - 12/24/2014 - Comments (17)

The 2014 season was, in no uncertain terms, a disaster for the Texas Rangers. Injuries destroyed a promising club and left them in the basement of the American League West with a 67-95 record, losing more games than even the lowly Astros.

As easy as it might be to write 2014 off to injury, the Rangers as currently constructed don’t appear much better than the club that limped to those 95 loses. With 2015 just around the corner, the biggest move of their offseason so far was the one to acquire Ross Detwiler from the Nationals and decline their contract option on Alex Rios, making him a free agent.

The Rangers front office believes it can better with the some health and the absence of “cursed by a coven of witches” bad luck. Their two huge acquisitions ahead of 2014 — Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder — were both known for their durability and production before coming to Texas. Both players ended up vastly underperforming and managed just 700 plate appearances combined, where they hit a meagre .243/.345/.370 with 16 home runs – replacement level production from two superstars paid $38 million for their troubles.

Both players can’t help but improve on their 2014 seasons but what does that net the Rangers? Three more wins? Maybe four? They used 40 different pitchers (including three different position players) as the wide-ranging injuries pushed green players into positions they were not prepared to fill. They won’t have Martin Perez back until late this season (if at all) but the team as constituted looks like Darvish and Holland and pray for rain.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.

FanGraphs Audio: Jeff Sullivan Analyzes All Baseball

by Carson Cistulli - 12/23/2014 - Comments (14)

Episode 516
Jeff Sullivan is a senior editor at FanGraphs. He’s also the nearly willing guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 55 min play time.)

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Examining the Projected Team Defenses

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/23/2014 - Comments (34)

There are people who think we make too much of projections, and that’s with regard to hitting and pitching projections. That is to say, the more reliable projections. We pretty much never talk about defensive projections, and there’s enough controversy over defensive non-projections. People can’t even agree on what’s already happened, so it’s asking a lot to expect people to look at defensive forecasts and take them seriously. Also, hey, by the way, it’s not even Christmas yet, so there’s plenty of offseason left to go. We don’t yet know what team rosters are going to look like in April. Projections we have right now are of limited utility.

But, there’s nothing happening. It’s the holiday season, so now baseball’s moving slowly, and one of the things we offer here are team defensive projections, so, let’s look at those. They’re coming from Steamer, as usual, and they’re based on our current author-maintained depth charts, as usual. Following, a big table, which I will try my very hardest to make sortable.

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Ball-in-Play Leaders and Laggards: American League Hitters

by Blengino - 12/23/2014 - Comments (11)

The holidays are upon us, and transactional activity is about to take a short hiatus, if history is a guide. (Though I do remember Jeff Suppan signing as a free agent on Christmas Eve when I was with the Brewers, but I digress.) Just some fun data for readers to chew on as they sip their beverage of choice over the next few of days.

Today, let’s take a look at the 2014 offensive ball-in-play (BIP) frequency and production leaders and laggards in the American League. Sometime around New Year’s, we’ll check out the NL. Caution: there is a fairly healthy dose of Danny Santana information to follow. Continue at your own risk.

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The Top-Five Mets Prospects by Projected WAR

by Carson Cistulli - 12/23/2014 - Comments (2)

Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the New York Mets. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not New York’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Mets system who are most ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they’re likely to receive the opportunity to do so). No attempt has been made, in other words, to account for future value.

Below are the top-five prospects in the Mets system by projected WAR. To assemble this brief list, what I’ve done is to locate the Steamer 600 projections for all the prospects to whom McDaniel assessed a Future Value grade of 40 or greater. Hitters’ numbers are normalized to 550 plate appearances; starting pitchers’, to 150 innings — i.e. the playing-time thresholds at which a league-average player would produce a 2.0 WAR. Catcher projections are prorated to 415 plate appearances to account for their reduced playing time.

Note that, in many cases, defensive value has been calculated entirely by positional adjustment based on the relevant player’s minor-league defensive starts — which is to say, there has been no attempt to account for the runs a player is likely to save in the field. As a result, players with an impressive offensive profile relative to their position are sometimes perhaps overvalued — that is, in such cases where their actual defensive skills are sub-par.

t4. Cory Mazzoni, RHP (Profile)

150 7.7 2.9 1.0 3.94 0.9

After recording just 66.0 innings in 2013 — all in a starting capacity — Mazzoni didn’t surpass that total by much in 2014, owing to a lat strain that forced him to miss roughly three months of the season. Upon returning, he proceeded to produce almost the precise strikeout and walk figures (75:20 K:BB) as he had the previous year (74:19 K:BB) — although most of them in his first exposure to Triple-A, in this case. Perhaps because of his health difficulties or for other reasons, the notion persists that the Mets will move Mazzoni to the bullpen. It seems like he’d be entirely competent there, but that he also appears to have the tools (if not the health) to survive as a starter.

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Evaluating the Prospects: New York Mets

by Kiley McDaniel - 12/23/2014 - Comments (61)

Evaluating the Prospects: RangersRockiesD’BacksTwinsAstrosRed SoxCubsWhite SoxRedsPhilliesRays & Mets

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

I mentioned this with the Reds system as well, but I was surprised how strong the Mets system ended up being after I made all of my calls. They have a nice crop of talent on the MLB growth assets list, upper level talent that could be everyday players and some intriguing guys at the lower levels.  The organization has been aggressive in targeting top minor league talents in trades (Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Dilson Herrera), going after top talent on July 2nd and doing well in the draft, with all recent top picks still on the prospect radar.

One thing to keep an eye on in spring training is the MLB/AAA pitching glut.  With the big league rotation looking right now like it’ll be Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, that leaves seven arms with prospect value (Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Dillon Gee, Matt Bowman, Cory Mazzoni, Steven Matz and Gabriel Ynoa) as candidates for five Triple-A rotation spots or the big league bullpen.  This logjam is what made Logan Verrett expendable in the Rule 5 draft; it should cause roster crunch issues and also valuable depth to a Mets team on the rise.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat -- 12/23/14

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/23/2014 - Comments (1)

Jeff Sullivan: Hello there friends and welcome to Christmas Eve eve baseball chat

Jeff Sullivan: I will be attempting to perform this live baseball chat with what appears to be a loose A button on my keyboard

Jeff Sullivan: wish all of us luck!

Comment From adam
the best candidate for replacing Rube in Philly?

Jeff Sullivan: This is the default answer: http://www.fangraphs.com/bl…

Comment From Invisible Man
Tell me mean things about Nelson Cruz

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Did Max Scherzer Really Have His Breakout in 2012?

by japem - 12/23/2014 - Comments (32)

Max Scherzer was on my fantasy baseball team in 2013. (Note: I recognize you don’t care about my fantasy team. This is in the service of a point, I promise.) My fantasy baseball team that year won the league championship, and Scherzer was a big reason why. I don’t remember if I thought to myself during the draft, “Hey, this guy is going to be really good because he had a 78 xFIP- last year,” or if I said, “Hey, whatever, it’s a late round, this pick won’t really matter. Why not take a flyer on this guy?” Scherzer wasn’t really much of anybody the year before, which is why I could get him late in my draft. Sure, he had a 3.74 ERA in 2012, and he won 16 games, but he certainly didn’t have the hype he does now.

Fast-forward to this offseason. Sooner or later, a real-life team will acquire Scherzer. He will be expensive, there’s no doubting that. And rightly so. Scherzer has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. A true ace who has put up consecutive 5.5-win seasons, Scherzer now has a whole lot more value than pre-2013 Scherzer, who showed signs of promise but was just another pitcher who couldn’t put it together.

But how different is Scherzer now than he was two years ago? He’s two years older, of course. He’s a free-agent — as opposed to having two more years of team control. And he’s had three consecutive good (or better) years, instead of just one. But when you look closely, Scherzer is a very similar pitcher to who he was even before his Cy Young-winning 2013 campaign. And that’s not a bad thing.

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FG on Fox: Changes Coming to Agent Certification

by Eno Sarris - 12/23/2014 - Comments (3)

It’s soon going to be harder to be an agent certified by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association. The process is about to change, and though it’s been due for an update for a while, the new rules are not without questions. Will it change anything? Is it being done for the right reasons?

According to multiple sources familiar with the process, the MLBPA will soon be officially changing the process of agent certification. Right now, their site lists having a player on the forty-man, filling out an application, and submitting $500 as the main requirements.

The revised process will ask new agents to complete an in-person test, available twice a year. Fees may be raised (sources conflicted on this issue). Background checks will be beefed up. And the more informal rule governing having a player on the forty-man will be relaxed in one way and strengthened in another: agents must have a player on the forty-man once every three years, but presumably this will be enforced more often than it has been in the past.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.

Fitting Jung-Ho Kang in Pittsburgh

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/22/2014 - Comments (47)

Last Friday, for Fox, I wrote something of a primer article on South Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang. I tried to make sure the timing coincided with an announcement, but instead, it just coincided with the closing of the posting window. We had to wait all weekend to find out which team put in the high bid, and now, Monday, we’ve got our answer: the Pirates won the bidding process for Kang, submitting a figure just north of $5 million. Now those same Pirates have an exclusive negotiating window, following the same process that Japan recently did away with. Reports say Kang is looking for about $5 million a year over four years.

The Pirates haven’t said much of anything about this, aside from an acknowledgment of the fact that they’ll be negotiating now. And because of the way this works, there is some possibility that the Pirates simply put in the high bid to block a rival. That’s not very likely. A bid intended to block someone probably would’ve been higher than $5 million, because that’s not actually very much money. The odds of this being a block aren’t 0%, but if we assume that the Pirates are serious about getting Kang locked up, then we’re free to think about the various possibilities. How would Kang fit in in Pittsburgh?

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Twins Reward the Phil Hughes Breakthrough

by Jeff Sullivan - 12/22/2014 - Comments (18)

It was an exciting thing that Phil Hughes pulled off — just last season, he finished with the best-ever ratio of strikeouts to walks. It sounds good. It is good. Strikeouts are good! Walks are bad. (For pitchers.) You want to have a lot of the former and few of the latter. There’s no taking away Hughes’ accomplishment, now that the season’s complete. But then, we have come to understand that strikeouts minus walks is more meaningful than strikeouts over walks. Ratios can go crazy with little denominators. By K-BB%, Hughes didn’t set any records. He did, though, finish in between Madison Bumgarner and Jon Lester. And he established a career-best for himself.

The story, really, isn’t that Hughes became one of the best pitchers ever. It’s just that he became a much better pitcher, which is plenty. Down the stretch, it came to public attention that Hughes finished one out shy of triggering a contract bonus. There was thought that the Twins should pay Hughes the bonus anyway, since he did enough to earn it. Turns out Hughes declined an opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen to make his extra money. And now it doesn’t even matter, because the Twins have given Hughes an extension. He’s getting an extra three years and $42 million, including an extra $1.2 million in each of the next two years. In a sense, the Twins just signed Hughes to a five-year, $58-million contract.

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How Many Runs Won't Wil Myers Save in Center Field?

by Carson Cistulli - 12/22/2014 - Comments (68)

According to Dennis Lin of the U-T San Diego, the San Diego Padres — despite rumors to the contrary — aren’t interested in flipping the recently acquired Wil Myers to the Phillies in exchange for Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels.

Writes Lin:

Indications from sources within the organization… are that the Padres intend on playing all three of their newest outfielders, including Myers. The early plan is for the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year to start in center field, flanked by fellow power-hitting right-handers Justin Upton and Matt Kemp.

The bold is mine and the bold is of some interest insofar as center field, with the exception of 51 innings in 2013, isn’t a position at which Wil Myers has spent much time as a major leaguer. He played it to a greater extent in the minors, making about two-thirds as many starts there as he did in right field while still a member of the Royals organization. But one also notes that minor-league defensive assignment aren’t necessarily excellent indicators of future major-league defensive prowess. Miguel Cabrera, for example — on something more intimate than just nodding terms with inertia even as a 20-year-old rookie — nevertheless made more minor-league starts at shortstop than any other position. Michael Morse made 95% of his nearly 500 minor-league starts at shortstop leading up to his 2005 major-league debut. His physique now isn’t identical to his physique then, but he’s still the same human — and that human wasn’t a good shortstop in 2005.

So we acknowledge, owing to Myers’ minor-leaguer experience there, that center field at least won’t be entirely foreign to him. But having some familiarty with a position and possessing the capacity to prevent runs there at a league-average rate — these aren’t identical propositions. Our interest is in understanding the effect on the Padres’ capacity to prevent runs of Myers playing center field for that team.

There are probably multiple ways to estimate Wil Myers’ ability to prevent runs in center field. I’ll consider two of them here. One is easy and one is more difficult. Or more involved, at least.

The first is easy because it’s a fixture of the calculation for WAR. Over a full season, a league-average center fielder receives a positional adjustment of +2.5 runs; a corner outfielder, of -7.5. As Dave Cameron noted when introducing WAR to this site’s readership back in 2008, that gap is derived empirically using historical UZR values. Typically, defenders who’ve moved from a corner-outfield spot to center field have prevented 10 fewer runs per 162 games following the transition. Conversely, center fielders who’ve moved to a corner have saved more than 10 runs. Again, on average.

I say that those positional adjustments were derived empirically, but they were also derived empirically almost 10 years ago now. A lot has happened in 10 years. Like more than half of the Fast and Furious movies, for example. And a lot has happened in baseball, too. Clubs, or at least some clubs, have more thoroughly embraced the idea that a player with a center-field profile can have success in a corner-outfield position. Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner have mostly happened since then, neither typical corner outfielder but both successful.

This leads us to the second way of estimating the numbers of runs Wil Myers’ might prevent as a center fielder: by finding other recent players who’ve transitioned between a corner-outfield spot and center field — and then calculating the difference in the runs they’ve prevented at each position.

The challenge of doing so, of course, is finding players who’ve recorded not only somewhat robust samples at each position (because UZR becomes reliable rather slowly), but also samples that occurred either simultaneously or, at least, within one season of each other — so that it’s essentially the same guy producing the numbers and not the 22-year-old version of him versus the slower, 34-year-old one.

With this in mind, I first identified those players who’d recorded more than 1000 innings at center field between 2012 and -14. This wasn’t a necessary constraint, per se, but useful as a starting point to narrow the sample of players. From that sample, I found every defender who’d Played at least 500 innings at corner outfield position in the season just before, during, or just after another season during which he recorded at least 500 innings in center field. I then selected, from that group, defenders who’d played no fewer than 1000 innings at both positions (corner and center field) within three-year span.

The results: 12 players (including two versions both of Brett Gardner and Shane Victorino) who met the necessary criteria.

Below is a table featuring those 12 players as corner outfielders. Year denotes the relevant seasons included in the sample. Inn denotes total innings played at the relevant position during the sample. UZR denotes the numbers of runs saved at the position relative to a league-average fielder. UZR150 denotes the numbers of runs saved relative to average per 150 games (or, 1350 innings).

Name Pos Year Inn UZR UZR150
Alejandro De Aza COF 2013-14 1461 6 5
Alex Rios COF 2007-12* 4432 23 7
Andre Ethier COF 2012-14 1958 -3 -2
Brett Gardner No. 1 COF 2010-11 2064 52 34
Brett Gardner No. 2 COF 2014 1075 2 2
Coco Crisp COF 2004-05 1493 30 27
Denard Span COF 2008-09 1366 12 11
Desmond Jennings COF 2011-12 1406 13 12
Gregor Blanco COF 2012-14 1546 15 13
Michael Brantley COF 2010-13 1914 -1 -1
Shane Victorino No. 1 COF 2006-08 1114 16 19
Shane Victorino No. 2 COF 2012-13 1325 32 32
Shin-Soo Choo COF 2012-14 1986 -24 -16
Will Venable COF 2012-14 1774 -3 -2
Total 24917 +169 +9

And now as center fielders:

Name Pos Year Inn UZR UZR150
Alejandro De Aza CF 2013-14 1003 -1 -1
Alex Rios CF 2007-11* 3506 1 1
Andre Ethier CF 2012-14 1161 -2 -2
Brett Gardner 1 CF 2009-11 1025 9 12
Brett Gardner 2 CF 2013-14 1343 0 0
Coco Crisp CF 2004-06 1787 4 3
Denard Span CF 2008-10 2053 -1 -1
Desmond Jennings CF 2011-13 1414 -5 -5
Gregor Blanco CF 2012-14 1243 10 11
Michael Brantley CF 2009-12 2377 -19 -11
Shane Victorino No. 1 CF 2006-08 1768 15 11
Shane Victorino No. 2 CF 2012-13 1047 -3 -3
Shin-Soo Choo CF 2013 1333 -17 -17
Will Venable CF 2012-14 1115 4 4
Total 22176 -6 0

One sees immediately the extraordinary variance that can occur in just a thousand-inning sample — and thus the importance of combining all the relevant player-seasons together. Between 2012 and -13, for example, Shane Victorino saved 32 runs per season as a corner outfielder but -3 runs as a center fielder during roughly that same time period. That’s a substantial gap — much larger than the 10 or so runs suggested by WAR’s positional adjustment.

In the aggregate, however — with samples of over 20,000 each — the numbers appear quite reasonable. As a group the 12 players here (or 14, depending on how one cares to define it) have saved about 9 runs per every 150 games as corner outfielders while saving 0 runs while playing center field during the same basic timeframes within their respective careers. Those defenders, in other words, have saved nine fewer runs per 150 games as a group while playing center field than either left or right field.

This figure is remarkably similar to the one already present in the WAR calculation. One notes, as well, that the positional adjustment present in the WAR calculations accounts for 162 games, while we’ve prorated the defensive-run figures here to 150 games. Accounting for that difference brings the difference between the two even closer to the 10-run figure already extant in the WAR calculation.

Turning our attention to Myers, specifically, we find that he’s produced 0.4 UZR/150 in right field over the first 1279 innings of his major-league career at that position. He has been, in other words, almost a precisely league-average defender there. Given the calculations present here, one could reasonably expect him, as a center fielder, to concede nine more runs defensively in 2015 — should he, in fact, play that position for the Padres.

How the Teams Are Built

by August Fagerstrom - 12/22/2014 - Comments (49)

It’s been a busy offseason. Don’t believe me? Dave Cameron started out a post with the words “Screw it, I can’t even keep up anymore.” Take a look at this guy’s picture from the winter meetings. That’s the face of a writer at 1 a.m. who knows he’s going to be up until 4 a.m. because of all these damn trades the Dodgers are making.

A lot has gone on. By a quick count, well over 100 players have changed teams due to trades alone since the start of the month, and that’s so many players. That many transactions can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s easy to forget who is on which team. To keep yourself in check, an incredibly useful site is RosterResource.com, which used to go as MLBDepthCharts.com. Jason Martinez and his crew do a great job of staying on top of recent transactions, the projected lineups and 25-man rosters are interesting to see change in real-time, and there’s other nifty tools to play with on his pages.

One of those tools recently caught my eye and held my attention, due to the bevy of aforementioned trades. It’s the “How Assembled” pages. They’re hardly a new concept, and the idea is simple: each player on the 40-man roster for each team was acquired in a specific year, and in a specific way. Whether it be through the draft, free agency, trade, or some other means, this table lets you know.

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Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat - 12/22/14

by Carson Cistulli - 12/22/2014 - Comments (15)

Dan Szymborski’s chat today has been interrupted by provider problems. Sorry.

Live Blog Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 12/22/14

WAR: Batters
Mike Trout7.8
Andrew McCutchen6.8
Michael Brantley6.6
Anthony Rendon6.6
Alex Gordon6.6
WAR: Pitchers
Corey Kluber7.3
Clayton Kershaw7.2
Felix Hernandez6.2
David Price6.1
Phil Hughes6.1
WPA: Batters
Mike Trout6.88
Giancarlo Stanton5.18
Andrew McCutchen4.90
Buster Posey4.81
Jayson Werth4.68
Clayton Kershaw5.47
Johnny Cueto4.67
Adam Wainwright4.17
Chris Sale3.90
Max Scherzer3.46
Dellin Betances4.19
Wade Davis3.74
Huston Street3.61
Jonathan Papelbon3.32
Zach Britton3.27
Fastball (mph): SP
Yordano Ventura96.9
Carlos Martinez96.5
Garrett Richards96.3
Wily Peralta95.8
Tom Wilhelmsen95.7