Author Archive

The (Final) Top College Players by (Maybe) Predictive Stats

On multiple occasions since the middle of March, the author has published here a statistical report designed to serve as a nearly responsible shorthand for people who, like the author, have enthusiasm for collegiate baseball, if not actually expert knowledge of it. These posts have served as a means by which one might broadly detect which players have produced the most excellent performances of the college season.

What follows is another edition of that same thing, updated to account for the completion of every conference’s regular season.

As in the original edition of this same thing, what I’ve done is utilize principles introduced by Chris Mitchell on forecasting future major-league performance with minor-league stats.

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NERD Game Scores for Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Atlanta at Los Angeles | 22:10 ET
Teheran (50.2 IP, 104 xFIP-) vs. Kershaw (58.1 IP, 60 xFIP-)
With regard to all the sorts of numbers that both (a) become reliable in smaller samples and also (b) most directly inform run prevention, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has produced almost an exact replica this year of his monstrous 2014 season. With regard to how many runs he’s actually conceded, however, the differences are unfortunately less subtle.

Regard, by way of illustration, this table:

Season IP K% BB% GB% SwStr% FBv BABIP HR/FB LOB% xFIP- ERA-
2014 198.1 31.9% 4.1% 51.8% 14.2% 93.0 .278 6.6% 81.6% 56 50
2015 58.1 30.0% 6.6% 52.7% 13.7% 93.5 .342 20.0% 65.6% 60 116

Strikeout rate, walk rate, ground-ball rate, and also fastball velocity (denoted as FBv): all are rough approximations this year of what they were last. Indeed, the first three of those metrics conspire to produce the very best park-adjusted xFIP among all qualifiers this season so far. Kershaw, however, has conceded both hits (as denoted by BABIP) and home runs (HR/FB) in unusually large quantities — which has led to all the run-allowing. It’s probably premature to describe Kershaw’s misfortunes at this point as “Job-like.” Perhaps they’re more similar to the misfortunes of one who left his wallet at the restaurant and now must go all the way back there to recover it.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Los Angeles NL Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Monday, May 25, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.s

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Washington at Chicago NL | 14:20 ET
Roark (20.1 IP, 119 xFIP-) vs. Wada (4.2 IP, 39 xFIP-)
Among pitchers who’ve (a) thrown at least 100 total innings over the last three seasons and also (b) recorded at least half their appearances in a starting capacity — among pitchers who meet both those criteria, Washington right-hander Tanner Roark has produced the fourth-greatest difference between his park-adjusted ERA and xFIP figures. Among pitchers who’ve thrown at least 200 innings and meet the other relevant criteria, Roark ranks second by that same measure. Raising the innings threshold to 250 innings places Roark atop the table — and raising it to 1000 innings eliminates every pitcher from the sample and renders the endeavor wholly meaningless.

A table expressing most of the above in mostly numeric form appears below. (Note that X-E denotes the difference between xFIP- and ERA-).

# Name Team GS% IP xFIP- ERA- X-E
1 Chris Young - – - 82.5% 199.2 135 85 50
2 Nick Martinez Rangers 86.8% 195.1 134 94 40
3 Danny Duffy Royals 86.4% 212.0 117 78 39
4 Tanner Roark Nationals 62.1% 272.2 101 70 31
5 Hector Santiago - – - 76.4% 324.1 118 89 29
6 Tyler Chatwood Rockies 100.0% 135.1 105 78 27
7 Miguel Gonzalez Orioles 95.4% 380.1 112 87 25
8 Matt Moore Rays 100.0% 160.1 110 86 24
9 Jarred Cosart - – - 100.0% 280.0 112 88 24
10 Kyle Hendricks Cubs 100.0% 126.0 103 80 23

It’s improbable but not impossible that Roark possesses some collection of skills that will allow him to continue preventing runs at his established levels while also recording fielding-independent numbers at his established levels. As PG Wodehouse’s insouciant aristocrat Psmith advises, however, one ought never to confuse the former (that is, the improbably) with the latter (the impossible).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Chicago NL Television.

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FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel Analyzes All Swan Colors

Episode 564
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect analyst for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses Nassim Taleb’s black-swan theory with regard to short right-handed pitchers in the amateur draft, how that same theory might apply to position players, and a pair of minor leaguers with unusual (if also promising) profiles.

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 1 hr 14 min play time.)

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Play

NERD Game Scores: A Carlos Frias Data-Point Special Event

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
San Diego at Los Angeles NL | 16:10 ET
Shields (55.1 IP, 74 xFIP-) vs. Frias (24.2 IP, 91 xFIP-)
For those, like the author, who operate under the notion that Dodgers right-hander Carlos Friasowing to a combination of arm speed and command — that Carlos Frias possesses the tools to develop into an above-average major-league starting pitcher, what this game represents is not an opportunity to wholly confirm or refute that hypothesis, but rather to collect another data point in a series of data points that might ultimately aid in answering that question. For those, like the author, who also aren’t immune to the charms of fermented beverages, it represents an opportunity to collect that data point while consuming same.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Los Angeles NL Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Saturday, May 23, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Chicago NL at Arizona | 22:10 ET
Arrieta (52.0 IP, 70 xFIP-) vs. de la Rosa (53.0 IP, 89 xFIP-)
Of some interest regarding this game — besides the matchup featuring two above-average starters — is the quantity of young players its likely to feature. Consider: per Baseball Reference, Chicago has recorded the lowest average batter age (weighted by at-bats) among all major-leauge clubs; Arizona, the second-lowest such mark (tied with Houston). The Cubs, one notes, feature three regulars currently participating in their age-24 season or something less than that: Kris Bryant (147 PA, 1.3 WAR), Addison Russell (112 PA, 0.5 WAR), and Jorge Soler (180 PA, 0.3 WAR). The Diamondbacks feature that same thing, as well, in Ender Inciarte (174 PA, 0.5 WAR), Chris Owings (152 PA, -0.3 WAR), and Yasmany Tomas (98 PA, 0.4 WAR). If not an entire fountain of youth, this encounter certainly offers at least a lawn sprinkler or maybe bidet of youth.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Chicago NL Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Friday, May 22, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Oakland at Tampa Bay | 19:10 ET
Kazmir (49.2 IP, 92 xFIP-) vs. Archer (54.2 IP, 68 xFIP-)
A protostar, in astronomical terms, is a region of matter in space that, by some combination of condensing matter and pressure, forms a hot and spinning mass which, with the addition of even more matter, itself develops into a main-sequence star. A protostar, in sporting terms, isn’t really a thing. Were it a thing, however, it would likely denote Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer, which pitcher has the sixth-best expected FIP and eighth-highest average fastball velocity among all qualified pitchers. One has the opportunity to observe him today by means of the Rays’ excellent center-field camera.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Tampa Bay Radio.

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NERD Game Scores for Thursday, May 21, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles NL at San Francisco | 15:45 ET
Kershaw (51.0 IP, 57 xFIP-) vs. Bumgarner (50.2 IP, 93 xFIP-)
The reader might regard it as an instance of “beating a dead horse” to suggest that a combination of Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, and their respective California-based franchises — to suggest that all of it, together, conspires to produce a compelling spectacle. The author contends, however, that it’s nothing at all like beating a dead horse. On the contrary: while the encounter between Bumgarner and Kershaw is likely to produce considerable pleasure, the prospect of beating horses — dead or alive, really — skews decidedly more to the horrifying side of things. Indeed, a little research reveals that today’s psychiatric wards are occupied almost exclusively by people who were traumatized after witnessing the merciless assault of a horse. Really, the author’s suggestion regarding Bumgarner and Kershaw, etc., rather than the beating of an equine, bears much more resemblance to sitting in a massage chair at an area Sharper Image location, in that one is likely both to enjoy and also to repeat that activity. To that end, I submit that it might be more accurately regarded as an instance of “sitting in a massage chair at the Sharper Image” to suggest that a combination of Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, and their respective California-based franchises — to suggest that all of it, together, conspires to produce a compelling spectacle

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television*.

*Unless Vin Scully has made trip to San Francisco. In which case, Vin Scully.

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a couple years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above both (a) absent from the most current iteration of Kiley McDaniel’s top-200 prospect list and (b) not currently playing in the majors. Players appearing on any of McDaniel’s updated prospect lists or, otherwise, selected in the first round of the current season’s amateur draft will also be excluded from eligibility.

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NERD Game Scores for Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
St. Louis at New York NL | 18:10 ET
Martinez (51.1 IP, 88 xFIP-) vs. Colon (40.0 IP, 90 xFIP-)
Here, in lieu of a thousand words, is a chart depicting the number of batters Bartolo Colon has faced and the number of those same batters (colored red) that he’s walked (click to enlarge, naturally):

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Addresses Those Marlins

Episode 563
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio, during which edition he addresses — among other important matters — how the Marlins are a little bit of a huge, giant bummer.

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 38 min play time.)

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NERD Game Scores: Climax for a Carlos Frias Story

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles NL at San Francisco | 22:15 ET
Frias (18.2 IP, 83 xFIP-) vs. Hudson (45.1 IP, 102 xFIP-)
In the foreword to his anthology of fantastic literature Black Water, editor Alberto Manguel suggests that the definitive and also most appealing characteristic of that genre is its capacity for surprise — the capacity for surprise one finds, for example, in I. A. Ireland’s Climax for a Ghost Story, which brief story not only appears in Manguel’s anthology but also right here in its entirety:

“How eerie!” said the girl, advancing cautiously. “–And what a heavy door!” She touched it as she spoke and it suddenly swung to with a click.

“Good Lord!” said the man. “I don’t believe there’s a handle inside. Why, you’ve locked us both in!”

“Not both of us. Only one of us,” said the girl, and before his eyes she passed straight through the door, and vanished.

Ireland’s brief work not only illustrates the best of fantastic literature, but also serves as a means by which to better understand Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias. Because Frias is the man in the story, is why. But in addition to the man, he’s also the girl. And in addition to those two, he’s also — and this is most unnerving — he’s also the door.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Monday, May 18, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Cleveland at Chicago AL | 20:10 ET
Kluber (52.2 IP, 66 xFIP-) vs. Sale (35.1 IP, 87 xFIP-)
As the reader is likely aware, Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber recorded 18 strikeouts in his most recent start. With regard to the historical significance of that performance and also by what means Kluber made it possible, dauntless polymath Owen Watson has supplied all relevant information. In this week’s edition of the Sunday Notes, David Laurila addresses another matter relevant to Kluber, paraphrased here: on the 30 occasions on which a pitcher has recorded 18-plus strikeouts in a single game, those same pitchers have averaged 7.4 strikeouts in their respective subsequent outings. Readers who are so motivated might consider choosing either the over or under on that particular figure and then compelling a friend or awkward acquaintance to select the opposite.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Cleveland Radio.

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NERD Game Scores for Sunday, May 17, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Milwaukee at New York NL | 13:10 ET
Peralta (45.0 IP, 100 xFIP-) vs. Syndergaard (5.1 IP, 128 xFIP-)
Young Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard‘s major-league debut wasn’t a rousing success, necessarily, in terms either of run prevention or defense-independent numbers. It also wasn’t a complete failure by those standards, either, though. And more relevant to the reader searching for maximum pleasure this afternoon is that the giant Nord exhibited the repertoire which has earned him considerable praise from scouting types, sitting at 97 mph with his fastball and throwing a curveball capable of provoking considerable duress for opposing hitters.

This curveball, specifically:

NS Curve 3

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Milwaukee Radio or New York NL Television.

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NERD Game Scores for Saturday, May 16, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Washington at San Diego | 20:40 ET
Scherzer (49.2 IP, 77 xFIP-) vs. Cashner (44.0 IP, 87 xFIP-)
Over the first seven starts of his 2015 season, Washington right-hander Max Scherzer has produced roughly the same strikeout rate that he recorded over his three most recent years in Detroit while also somehow halving his walk rate. Neil Weinberg examined some potential explanations for this development on Friday for the electronic pages. As one might expect, it’s some combination of irresponsible and impossible to reach any firm conclusions on the matter. Here’re two notable and possibly related developments, however: Scherzer is (a) throwing his fastball more often and also (b) inducing more swings at pitches out of the zone. The reader is invited to look for evidence of these trends during Scherzer’s start this evening. Also, because it’s a Saturday in late May, the reader is also probably invited to a graduation party for a relative or family friend.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Washington Radio.

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The Best of FanGraphs: May 11-15, 2015

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times, orange for TechGraphs and blue for Community Research.

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FanGraphs Audio: The Mostly Unfeeling Jeff Sullivan

Episode 562
Jeff Sullivan is a senior editor at FanGraphs. He’s also the mostly unfeeling 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 1 hr 11 min play time.)

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Play

NERD Game Scores for Friday, May 15, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
New York AL at Kansas City | 20:10 ET
Pineda (46.1 IP, 55 xFIP-) vs. Young (23.0 IP, 104 xFIP-)
Most of the observations one might reasonably make while attempting to characterize the nature of Michael Pineda‘s success so far this year were made by Jeff Sullivan for the benefit of this site’s readers on Monday. Summarized briefly, however, what Pineda has done is to produce one of the league’s best strikeout rates while also recording (relatively speaking) an even better walk rate. Indeed, were Bartolo Colon never to have been born, Pineda’s walk rate would currently stand as the best in the majors. Coincidentally, Bartolo Colon having never been born is actually the premise on which noted filmmaker Charlie Kaufman has written a remake of Frank Capra’s 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Kansas City Radio?

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NERD Game Scores for Thursday, May 14, 2015

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Boston at Seattle | 22:10 ET
Kelly (34.0 IP, 99 xFIP-) vs. Elias (18.2 IP, 86 xFIP-)
In terms of aesthetic heights, tonight’s collection of games would appear to offer a lower probability of scaling them — or, perhaps more accurately, allowing the viewer to scale them — than what has been available previously this month. Boston’s Joe Kelly has recorded the highest average fastball velocity among qualifiers, but his arm speed hasn’t translated either to run prevention or even particularly great fielding-independent numbers. Seattle’s Roenis Elias throws strikes at a rate about a standard deviation greater than the average starter, but he lacks metaphorical electricity.

Indeed, one might consider utilizing tonight to observe some compelling amateur talent, instead. Hard-throwing Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, for example — ranked fifth among all draft prospects recently by Kiley McDaniel — starts tonight against NC State at 6pm ET, which game is available on Watch ESPN. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt plays Alabama at 8pm ET, which game features both right-hander Carson Fulmer and shortstop Dansby Swanson — both also ranked among McDaniel’s top-10 draft prospects. That game is available on streaming video by means of SEC Network Plus, itself also accessible through Watch ESPN.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Boston Radio.

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a couple years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion in the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above both (a) absent from the most current iteration of Kiley McDaniel’s top-200 prospect list and (b) not currently playing in the majors. Players appearing on any of McDaniel’s updated prospect lists or, otherwise, selected in the first round of the current season’s amateur draft will also be excluded from eligibility.

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