Author Archive

FanGraphs+ Player-Profile Game: Question #3

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:15am ET. We’re giving away a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+ to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As Eno Sarris announced Monday, the newest iteration of FanGraphs+ is now available for purchase with money. As in recent years, we’re celebrating the release of FG+ by way of the player-profile game.

Said game is easy: the author offers the text of an actual player profile from the newest iteration of FG+, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The reader, in turn, attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+.

Today’s entry was composed by Patrick Dubuque and actually appeared in last year’s edition of FG+, but is of such considerable merit that it deserves to be revisited.

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FanGraphs+ Player-Profile Game: Question #2

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:00am ET. We’re giving away a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+ to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As Eno Sarris announced yesterday, the newest iteration of FanGraphs+ is now available for purchase with money. As in recent years, we’re celebrating the release of FG+ by way of the player-profile game.

Said game is easy: the author offers the text of an actual player profile from the newest iteration of FG+, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The reader, in turn, attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+.

Today’s entry, of above-average difficulty, was written by hirsute adventurer Bradley Woodrum.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Philadelphia Phillies

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Philadelphia Phillies. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Pittsburgh / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Washington.

Batters
Were one to construct a Venn diagram depicting (in one set) those individuals who derive pleasure from baseball analytics and (in another set) those who employ the phrase “hot mess” with some frequency, one would likely find that the circles occupied by those sets don’t overlap. Largely, that, because the former demographic is composed mostly of 18- to 34-year-old males; the latter, Southern women who’ve been dead for half a century.

Were they to overlap, however, every one of those individuals who occupied both sets would feel compelled to describe the present iteration of the Phillies as a “hot mess” — for reasons that are illustrated by the ZiPS projections below. There are multiple examples of why, although the presence of Ryan Howard remains the most illustrative: with no fewer than two years and $60 million remaining on his contract, the 35-year-old Howard is projected to record a -0.1 WAR in 449 plate appearances.

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FanGraphs Audio: Burying the Lede with Dave Cameron

Episode 529
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 discusses a proposal for abolishing the draft and the Padres’ signing of James Shields, nearly.

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 42 min play time.)

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FanGraphs+ Player-Profile Game: Question #1

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:00am ET. We’re giving away a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+ to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As Eno Sarris announced earlier today, the newest iteration of FanGraphs+ is now available for the price of a cup of coffee that’s roughly twice as expensive as it ought to be.

As in recent years, we’re celebrating the release of FG+ by way of the player-profile game.

Said game is easy: the author offers the text of an actual player profile from the newest iteration of FG+, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The reader, in turn, attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free annual subscription to FanGraphs+, worth its weight in whichever precious metal one cares to name.

Today’s entry comes to us by way of the Sarris himself.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Cincinnati Reds

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Cincinnati Reds. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / Pittsburgh / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Washington.

Batters
For a club that was compelled to trade some useful major-league pieces this offseason, the Cincinnati Reds feature a remarkably competent and seemingly competitive group of hitters. Depending on how one chooses to determine such a thing, the star of team (per ZiPS) is either Todd Frazier (605 PA, 3.6 WAR) or Joey Votto (468 PA, 3.4 WAR) — the former for his overall WAR projection; the latter, for his projected WAR per plate appearance. It’s not surprising to find something less than full complement of games forecast for Votto: two of his last three seasons have been interrupted by injury.

So far as weak links, however, there’s little to be found among Cincinnati’s starting eight field players. The batting projections for Zack Cozart (.282 wOBA), Billy Hamilton (.310 wOBA), and Brandon Phillips (.303 wOBA) are all below average, but each of those players is also projected to save five or more runs at a position already on the more challenging side of the defensive spectrum.

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FanGraphs Audio: Classic Kiley McDaniel

Episode 528
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect writer for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses the denotations of fringe and a consequence of the Yoan Moncada signing (when it happens).

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 50 min play time.)

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Pittsburgh Pirates

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Texas / Washington.

Batters
On multiple occasions over the course of Woody Allen’s 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, jazz guitarist Emmet Ray (played by Sean Penn) announces that he’s the best in the world “except [for] this gypsy in France” (understood to be Django Reinhardt). It’s not particularly daring to suggest that, likewise, Andrew McCutchen is the best non-pitcher in baseball — except for this center fielder in Los Angeles. McCutchen and Mike Trout possess largely similar skill sets; it’s just, in most cases, Trout possesses them a little harder. Even still, McCutchen’s projection (659 PA, 6.3 WAR) is among the best published so far in this series.

Of some interest is ZiPS’ forecast for recent Korean signing Jung-ho Kang (502 PA, 1.5 WAR), which is slightly (although not substantively) less strong than incumbent Jordy Mercer‘s projection (504 PA, 1.9 WAR) for 2015. A potential area of concern for Kang appears to be his ability to make contact. To wit: ZiPS projects Pedro Alvarez to post a 30.0% strikeout rate; Kang, a slightly higher 30.5% mark.

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The 1985 Cardinals of the Year 2015

On Monday’s edition of the podcast, Dave Cameron and I discussed in some depth his trilogy of posts from last week concerning the intersection within baseball between run-scoring and time of play. The former is trending downward; the latter, upward. The reasons for these twin developments are surely manifold, but one definite influence is greater specialization among relievers. More relief pitchers leads to greater effectivenss on a per-batter basis for those pitchers. It also leads to shorter outings for starters, allowing them to exert themselves more thoroughly and thus prevent runs at a greater rate, as well.

During the course of that discussion, when asked to identify a historical example which might serve to guide hypothetical rule changes by Major League Baseball, Cameron offered the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals as an aspirational model. Before losing the World Series to Kansas City in seven games, the 1985 Cardinals led the National League in runs scored while also hitting the second-fewest home runs. As a club they relied on excellent baserunning and making the most of the contact they did make.

Tom Herr, Willie McGee, Ozzie Smith, and Andy Van Slyke all stole at least 30 bases for that St. Louis club — and all produced above-average batting lines relative to league average despite a dearth of power. Vince Coleman failed to record a league-average batting line and Terry Pendleton stole just 17 bases, but each more or less embodied the Cardinals offensive profile, as well.

“Who,” I thought recently, “who, among the game’s current players, might have best fit on that edition of the Cardinals — and who, in turn, might serve as the model by which any potential rule change ought to be made?”

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FanGraphs Crowd: Yoan Moncada’s Contract

Yesterday, FanGraphs facilitated a brief crowdsourcing project with a view towards estimating Cuban defector Yoan Moncada’s signing bonus and other relevant information concerning the 19-year-old infielder.

What follows are the results of that effort followed by analysis courtesy FanGraphs’ lead prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel.

***

Signing Bonus
Moncada will likely receive the largest bonus ever given to a free agent who’s also subject to Major League Baseball’s international free agent rules. (Note: the figures below do not include the 100% tax to which Moncada’s signing club will be subject.)

Here’s the median figure as projected by the crowd: $45.0 million.

And here’s the average figure: $43.3 million.

And here’s a histogram of all possible outcomes with also a Cuban flag in the background:

Bonus Graph Cuban
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2015 ZiPS Projections – Texas Rangers

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Texas Rangers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
One doesn’t wake up every morning to find articles in the morning dailies arguing on behalf of Adrian Beltre‘s Hall of Fame candidacy, and yet all indications are that, even were he to retire this second, he’d be a deserving inductee. Both his career WAR and also JAWS figures currently reside above the threshold for the average Hall of Fame entrant. ZiPS projects him to add four more wins to his resume in 2015.

Mike Petriello has already written this week about the Arizona Diamondbacks and their curiously shallow catcher depth chart. A properly motivated individual would probably have some luck composing a similar piece regarding the Rangers’ left-field spot. Jake Smolinski (468 PA, 0.1 WAR) is the favorite to earn the starting role there, while Michael Choice (559 PA, -0.4 WAR) is another candidate.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron’s Modest Proposal

Episode 527
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 discusses the 2015 iteration of the Yankees and the baseball equivalent of passing from the one-yard line and, in greatest depth, some possibilities for addressing game length.

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 39 min play time.)

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2015 ZiPS Projections – New York Yankees

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the New York Yankees. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
There are a number of players on this Yankees club projected not to produce wins at a rate commensurate with their salaries. The current market offers something like $6-8 million per win. Per ZiPS, Alex Rodriguez will receive about $18 million per one of those; Mark Teixeira, about the same; Carlos Beltran, about $25 million. In each case, durability is an issue beyond just declining skills. Regard: none is projected to record as many as 500 plate appearances.

A relative bargain within the context of the Yankee lineup is Chase Headley, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the team in December but is projected by ZiPS to play like someone roughly twice as good as that. This isn’t particularly surprising. As Dave Cameron noted earlier in the offseason, Headley’s profile — defensively above-average at third base with strong plate discipline but merely average power — hasn’t ever appealed greatly to the market. New York would appear to be the beneficiaries of this.

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FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel on What Is College Baseball

Episode 526
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect writer for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses Atlanta prospects and New York Yankees prospects and certain finer (but also less fine) points concerning collegiate prospects.

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 5 min play time.)

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FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry Remembers

Episode 525
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the moribund 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 7 min play time.)

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Baltimore Orioles

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Baltimore Orioles. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Seattle / Tampa Bay / Washington.

Batters
Manny Machado returned in May after completing rehab on his horribly ruptured left-knee ligament and the surgery to repair it. His slash stats were poor during that first month back (.220/.271/.284 in 119 PA), but by the beginning of August he possessed roughly the same park-adjusted offensive mark he’d recorded the season before (111 wRC+, as opposed to 102 wRC+ in 2013). His 2014 campaign ended in August when we underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his other knee. ZiPS doesn’t specifically “know” about the injuries — just the playing time lost to them. In any case, Machado is expected to replicate his slightly above-average batting line once again — with a little bit more in the way of isolated power than either of the past two seasons.

The breakout age-31 season isn’t a particularly common occurrence in baseball, but that’s what Steve Pearce produced in 2014, recording a 161 wRC+ and 4.9 WAR in 383 plate appearances. Characteristically, ZiPS is conservative. After hitting homers at a rate of 33 per 600 plate appearances, Pearce is projected for 26 every 600 plate appearances in 2015 — plus also a markedly more average defensive figure.

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Last Year’s Minor-League WAR Leaders, If That Existed

Even for those among us who, for whatever reason, derive no particular spiritual nourishment from the Judeo-Christian tradition, it’s difficult to ignore the charms and actual, real wisdom provided by the Book of Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament. The author of that particular text is noteworthy both for his concision and his clear-eyed observations, announcing at the beginning of the text (for example), “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Everything is meaningless” and also noting that “All things are wearisome.” Rarely has truth been uttered more truthfully.

It’s also the first chapter of that Book within which the author proclaims, “What has been done will be done again; / there is nothing new under the sun.” For anyone who has ever bothered to produce an idea inside his or her own dumb head, this sentiment resonates loudly. For it’s just as soon as one has completed the manufacture of an idea, that said idea is accompanied by a gnawing sensation — namely that someone else, in some other place, has probably manufactured that idea before.

This happens to me a lot. For example, I recently had the pleasure of discovering that two of my favorite words, when combined together, form an elegant portmanteau to describe that class of dining establishment — Hooters, Tilted Kilt, etc. — known for employing scantily clad waitresses to compensate for the fact that the cuisine is poor and life is terrible. Upon further examination, however, I learned not only that the term breastaurant is already in wide use, but that it has, in fact, been registered as a trademark by a third such dining establishment (something called Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill) with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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The Top-Five Atlanta Prospects by Projected WAR

Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel published his consummately researched and demonstrably authoritative prospect list for the Atlanta Baseball Club. What follows is a different exercise than that, one much smaller in scope and designed to identify not Atlanta’s top overall prospects but rather the rookie-eligible players in the Atlanta 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 Atlanta 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.

5. Jace Peterson, 2B (Profile)

PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ WAR
550 .230 .297 .314 74 0.1

Two other players besides Peterson — both outfielder Zoilo Almonte and right-handed reliever Juan Jaime — are projected by Steamer to produce about 0.1 wins for Atlanta, as well. Composing whole paragraph for all three of that group, however, would seem to constitute an example of Overenthusiasm in Action. In any case, among the triumvirate, Peterson appears to have the greatest likelihood of finding a half-regular role with the parent club. Despite last season’s vigorously unsuccessful cameo with the Padres (58 PA, -27 wRC+, -0.6 WAR), Peterson nonetheless continued to exhibit above-average contact skills in the high minors — in addition, that, to occupying a place along the more challenging end of the defensive spectrum.

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2015 ZiPS Projections – Seattle Mariners

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Seattle Mariners. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington

Batters
In the first year of his 10-year and $240 million contract with the M’s, Robinson Cano served as a one-man illustration of park effects, recording almost precisely the same batting-average and on-base figures as the previous season with the Yankees, but producing only half the home runs. (We’ll ignore for the moment that he actually hit more homers at Safeco than on the road, as that would disturb the narrative.) The result was a park-adjusted offensive line roughly approximating 2013’s. ZiPS calls for another five-win season in 2015 despite a home-run total somewhere below 20.

On the topic of park effects, offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz moves from a home field that inflates right-handed homers by roughly 8% to one that suppresses them by about 6%. That move plus age plus mere regression conspire to produce a forecast of 29 home runs for Cruz in 2015 after last season’s total of 40.

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The Jose Bautista of the Ivy League

Multiple influences led to the composition of this brief post — and I fully anticipate that the end result will appeal to approximately X readers, where X is an integer less than 1. That said, as my fourth-grade teacher at Broken Ground School in Concord, NH, once told me during an actual student-teacher conference, “Carson, you’re not that special.” Which is to say: there’s a possibility that at least one other person will derive some pleasure from what follows and perhaps, not unlike that same bright star upon which Fievel Mousekewitz and his sister Tanya both wished in 1986 animated musical An American Tail, the current dispatch will allow us to feel less alone in a world populated by talking felines who extort small immigrant mice in return for quote-unquote protection.

Earlier today, my colleague Jeff Zimmerman — a person who, I sense, very much anticipates the return of domestic baseball — asked if I had plans to do any scouting this spring/summer in the the northeast. The short answer is “No” — not because I don’t intend to transport my dumb body to actual games (I do), but rather because, even were I to acquire both a radar gun and a lifetime supply of moisture-wicking polos, I am a mere impostor in this regard.

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