Author Archive

The Best of FanGraphs: August 22-26, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 8/23/16

9:02
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!
9:02
Paul Swydan: Sorry, was just talking with Jeff.
9:02
John Olerud: Start Danny Duffy @ BOS this week? I know it seems crazy to sit him given the roll he’s on, but his peripherals and dropping velocity are a little concerning. I’d probably start him in any other situation (except for an @ COL start), but based on the team and park factors for 2016 @ BOS is on par with an @ COL start. What say you guys?
9:03
Paul Swydan: I think Podhorzer made a compelling case to drop him last week at RotoGraphs. In my opinion, the Sox have been scoring less, so I’d rock Duffy til the wheels fell off. But you are right to be wary.
9:05
Paul Swydan: Hold on guys, Jeff is having issues.
9:05
OddBall Herrera: Did I get the poll questions right? You never publish answers to these things

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Rob Manfred and the Dangers of Unintended Consequences

Last week, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred declared in Houston that the problems most plaguing Major League Baseball’s current product are an excess of defensive shifts, an excess of relievers and the lack of a pitch clock. I’m not here to debate the specific merits of any of Manfred’s arguments. If you read this site on a regular basis, you likely know the arguments for each forwards and backwards. But I am troubled by the constant insistence that the game needs to be tinkered with in order to make it more appealing to new generations of fans.

No matter what is done to speed up the game, or make it more appealing, the core product is going to remain relatively unchanged. Games are still going to hover in the area of three hours. We’re not going to see a 30-minute reduction in game time. We often hear about the greatness of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series as a spectacle — a 10-inning, 1-0 affair that only featured two pitching changes. It took three hours and 23 minutes. The average game time for the World Series that year as a whole was three hours, 14 minutes. The game has lasted about three hours for roughly 30 years. We are not getting back to the days of two hour, 30 minute game times unless the league institutes a seven-inning game. Even then it might be dicey.

Instead of fretting over the game’s minor details, the game should be out marketing what makes its sport best — its players. This is something baseball does precious little of. Instead, the league is more worried about what I call the NFL Rules Committee-ification of the game. The NFL continuously churns out new rules, designed to make its game more appealing. Sometimes, they do. But the unintended consequences can be significant. Perhaps you remember the Dez Bryant catch? If you don’t, go ahead and watch it again at that link, I’ll wait.

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The Best of FanGraphs: August 15-19, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 8/16/16

9:01
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!
9:01
Daniel Carroll: The visitors score three in the first, and as we go to the bottom of the first, the visitors are approximately 80% likely to win by Win Probability, but a portion of that 80% includes situations where the home team hits a grand slam in the 6th and the visitors still come back to win. Is there any way to tell what the probability is that the visitors will never relinquish the lead?
9:02
Paul Swydan: Wow, uh, probably, but I’m not sure that I’m the person equipped to tackle that equation. Jeff?
9:03
Jeff Zimmerman: Not sure, doing 2 runs is somewhat easy
9:04
Ray: Peralta or Didi ROS?

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Saberseminar 6 Was A Smashing Success

Each August, the best and brightest minds in the game come together in Boston for Saberseminar. Like the five conferences that preceded it, Saberseminar 6 was a fantastic weekend of friends and baseball research, and most importantly, raising money for cancer research.

We helped kick off the weekend with a Friday night event at Mead Hall in Cambridge. Anecdotally, it was the best attended pre-Saberseminar meetup yet, and it was wonderful to see so many new faces, as well as familiar ones.

As you likely know if you’ve heard of Saber Seminar, 100% of the event’s proceeds go to The Jimmy Fund and the Angioma Alliance, and we were greeted on Saturday morning with a reminder of just how important their work is. Former Red Sox prospect and survivor of multiple brain surgeries Ryan Westmoreland helped kick off the event Saturday morning by telling us his story. It was a winding story that led him from a 159 wRC+ debut in 2009 at the tender of age of 19, to the operating table, to the Dominican Republic for a comeback, back to the operating table, to retirement. This would be a harrowing ordeal for anyone, let alone a young person just finding their way into the world, and Westmoreland very candidly detailed for us his battle against suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, through the support of his family and doctors and counselors he has met through the Angioma Alliance, he was able to move past that. It was a moving story, and hearing it really drove home why raising awareness of cavernous angiomas is so important.

With that, the conference — once again held at the best school in America, Boston University — got into full swing. Art Shapiro and Baseball Prospectus’ Grant Jones got us primed for the day, and then in came Tom Tippett. Tippett, who has spoken every year I’ve attended (this was my fifth year, as I somehow didn’t make it to the first one) gave a presentation on both the Red Sox’s 2011 and 2016 seasons, and as always, it was quite illuminating. Following him were three more killer presentations. The first was The Hardball Times’ David Kagan, and the last was Driveline Mechanics (and former THT writer) Kyle Boddy. Sandwiched in between was a real treat. Former catcher John Baker, who now works for the Cubs front office, and former pitcher Brian Bannister, who now works for the Red Sox’s, took part in a Q&A on in-game and out-of-game adjustments for pitchers and catchers. Given their thoughtful and creative answers and reservoir of baseball knowledge, it’s not hard to see why both have ascended into the front office ranks so quickly.

After lunch, Glenn Healey gave his presentation on the intrinsic value of a batted ball. It was modeled after his two pieces that have been featured on THT this year, and you should definitely try to read both of them.

Later in the afternoon, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski took to the stage, and regaled us with brief anecdotes on his nearly 40-year career in the game before giving measured responses to the audience’s various questions. In mostly direct contrast to previous keynote speakers like Curt Schilling and Bobby Valentine, it was refreshing to see Dombrowski’s calm and ease in the room, even though, as he noted, he hadn’t spoken in front of such a large audience since a long-ago SABR convention in Miami.

In fact, Q&A’s were sort of the order of the day. Diamondbacks assistant general manager Bryan Minniti took part in a Q&A of his own, and the day concluded with a live recording of the Effectively Wild podcast. Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh broke from their normal two-man format, and asked Baker and former pitcher David Aardsma — who was also attending the conference — up to the front of the room to help the dynamic duo answer three-year-old questions from their mailbag that they hadn’t answered in the past for one reason or another. It was a fantastic end to day one.

There were three more Q&A’s on Sunday. The day started and ended with them — the Red Sox scouting and development team in the morning, and FanGraphs’ own Dave Cameron in the afternoon, and the morning also gave us a media panel. The highlight of the media panel was a long diatribe against sports talk radio from noted sports talk radio host Mike Ferrin. It came on the spur of the moment, so I don’t think anyone actually recorded it, but if you were in attendance, you won’t soon forget his line about “Johnny from Pig Vomit.” But Sunday was also chock full of incredible research presentations. Breaking down into bullet points:

  • Harry Pavlidis and Jonathan Judge gave back-to-back talks on the new pitch calling metric they are developing for BP. These were the polished and informative presentations we have come to expect from Harry and Jonathan, and I think we are all looking forward to delving into their work more deeply when they publish it on the site, which they said would happen soon.
  • Alan Nathan presented evidence that suggests that the baseball might not be juiced.
  • Brian Mills showed changes to the strike zone, and while he didn’t show conclusive proof, his presentation certainly brings up the question as to whether the umpires are influencing run scoring now that the strike zone has shrunk a little.
  • Director of Tufts Sports Medicine Chris Geary broke down every Red Sox injury and then some, with his rapid fire talk. Chris speaks every year, and is always a breath of fresh air.
  • Scott Powers’ talk on jointly predicting exit velocity and launch angle for batter-pitcher matchups was great.
  • The Rockies’ Jerry Weinstein gave a marvelous talk on pitch calling as well, and gave us such great tests as “The Rule of 68” and the “Porcelain Test.”

These are not all of the memorable talks. From Peter Bonney to Meredith Wills to Allison Levin to the student presentations from kids at Tufts, Skidmore and Notre Dame, to former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold, the day was wall-to-wall with new information. Levin in particular was notable, as she closed her presentation by telling us the story of her mother, who three years prior had been diagnosed Stage 4 with her cancer, only to see new medicine work to the point that her cancer was recently diagnosed as dormant.

From a literal mic drop (from first-day presenter Michael Richmond), to pictures of blue, Irish, upside-down cows from event co-organizer Dan Brooks, to the testimonials from Westmoreland and Levin, to Ferrin’s speech, the event was charged with positive emotion, and it is a testament to just why Saberseminar is the best. The camaraderie here is always evident, whether it is a group of physics professors convening for the first time, team employees bonding over their yearly chance to get away for a weekend, or factions of writers from FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and Beyond the Box Score getting to see each other for perhaps the only time each year. It puts everyone in the mood to learn, and as a result we do that with smiles on our faces, and the weekend zips by in the blink of an eye. Anyone can organize a conference, but Saberseminar is an event.

UPDATE:
Here is Ryan Westmoreland’s speech. It picks up roughly 30 seconds into it.


The Best of FanGraphs: August 8-12, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs Boston Meetup – Saber Seminar Eve (8/12/16)

Dear reader, please allow this internet article to serve as the official announcement of the fourth annual FanGraphs Boston Meetup on Saber Seminar Eve. As the title makes clear, this year that day is Friday, August 12th. We’ll kick off around 7 pm, and the televisions will display the baseball match between the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. We’ll talk about it, and baseball, and beer, and maybe how ridiculous it is that the other TVs in the bar are showing preseason football because who watches those?
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 8/9/16

9:01
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!
9:01
M.O.: People don’t talk about Josh Donaldson enough. He’s awesome. Any reason for lack of coverage?
9:02
Paul Swydan: I mean, he’s been tagged in four FanGraphs posts since May 11. How much more coverage should he receive?
9:02
Jeff Zimmerman: I don’t know. Sometimes the best player are the least interesting … at least for me.
9:03
Paul Swydan: In the general media world, people aren’t going to talk about mid-market teams that aren’t awesome, and the Jays are mehhhhhh this year.
9:03
mike: i’m concerned about cleveland. are you concerned about cleveland? what is going on in cleveland?

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Ichiro Suzuki’s Greatest Hits

Yesterday afternoon, Ichiro Suzuki became just the 30th player to reach 3,000 hits in the major leagues. He did so with a triple, making him just the second player ever to get to hit number 3,000 on a triple. It was a pretty glorious hit, and it will be one of the capstones on an awesome career. To celebrate, I thought we could take a walk back down memory lane and look at some of the most impactful hits of his Hall of Fame career. Some are his best according to WPA, some are postseason hits, and a few are just round-number hits, because we all love those. We’ll go in chronological order.

April 2, 2001, Mariners vs. Athletics
Ichiro wasted little time getting going. After grounding out to the right side in his first two major-league plate appearances, and striking out in the third, Ichiro would single up the middle in his fourth plate appearance, and drop down a bunt single in his fifth and final plate appearance of his first game.

The first hit came off of T.J. Mathews, and the bunt came off of Jim Mecir. Ichiro scored following the first hit to pull the Mariners within one run, and the bunt would push go-ahead run Carlos Guillen to third. The bunt came following a walk. Generally speaking, you don’t want to give away an out with a bunt when a reliever comes into the game and walks the first batter he faces on five pitches, but Ichiro did anyway, quickly serving notice that the normal rules of engagement did not apply to him. Guillen would cross home three batters later, and the Mariners historic 2001 season started with a bang.

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New FanGraphs T-Shirts and Apparel!

Recently, we started running out of t-shirts. As such, we thought it was high time to design some new ones. And design them we did. But we didn’t just stop at t-shirts. Oh no, constant reader, we went the extra mile this time. In addition to t-shirts, which now are available in both men’s and women’s sizes, we now have raglan t-shirts (again, both men’s and woman’s kinds), zip hoodie sweatshirts, baby onesies and hats. You might think of this as the holiday season come many months earlier than normal. And you’d be right.

The person we have to thank for all of this shiny new garb is Aaron Gershman of Creative Sentencing, who you should absolutely hire for your next design project.

Let’s take a look at the designs, which are available for purchase at this very moment.

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Trade Deadline 2016 Omnibus Post

As it has been the past few years, the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline brought about a flurry of activity that was hard to keep up with even if it was the only thing you were doing. Since most of us have other things that we have to or would like to occupy our time with, we figured we would save you some hassle and create an omnibus post with all of our trade deadline content so that you have it all in one place. For clarity’s sake, I’m going to limit this to articles about trades that actually took place.

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The Yankees Have Been Impressively Rebuilt

You’ll have to forgive me if I think of Andrew Miller as the travellin man. Now in his 11th major league season, Miller is headed to his sixth major league team, all east of the Mississippi. But unlike most journeymen, for the most part the teams acquiring Miller have been quite excited about the possibility. The latest team to celebrate getting the lanky lefty are the Cleveland Indians, who are now looking quite formidable. But they’re not the only team looking formidable. The Yankees may no longer be in 2016 contention, but they’re setting up well for 2017 and beyond.
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The Best of FanGraphs: July 25-29, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 7/26/16

9:01
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!
9:01
Paul Swydan: I think you’re stuck with just me tonight. Jeff is out with his better half.
9:01
BK: Given that the cost of Upton was 1.5 years/$5M and a ~30th ranked prospect, why wouldn’t more teams be in on that?
9:02
Paul Swydan: Maybe they were but the Padres just like the Blue Jays prospect better.
9:02
Paul Swydan: I mean, we definitely heard that Cleveland was in on Upton. Baltimore too.
9:02
Orioles Fan: It’s not dark yet…are you in Europe?

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What If the Rockies Aren’t Sellers?

On Sunday, news broke that the Rockies were ready to call up top prospect David Dahl following his 2016 minor-league stints at both Double-A and Triple-A, both of which were incredibly successful. For a prospect who looked to be thrown off his fast track last year thanks to a spleen injury, the news is joyous for Rockies fans. The high-school standout reaches the majors in his fifth professional season, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that far off course.

While plenty of players from his draft class have already found success in the majors — Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, Corey Seager and Marcus Stroman, and Michael Wacha are other 2012 first rounders who have done well — some still haven’t debuted at all. That list includes three players taken ahead of him — Kyle Zimmer, Max Fried and Mark Appel — and Albert Almora, taken four picks ahead of Dahl, was only just recently promoted.

I think Dahl will be a monster, but don’t take my word for it: read what Eric and Chris have to say about him. As cool as Dahl’s promotion is for the Rockies, it wasn’t his actual promotion that was the most interesting tidbit to come out of his news report. The Rockies, 7-3 since the All-Star break at the time of his call-up (and now 7-4 following a loss last night), suddenly are not yet ready to give up on 2016. Per Thomas Harding of MLB.com:

The callup comes with the Rockies challenging themselves to become a contender. They are 47-51, six games back in the National League Wild Card race.

The Rockies wake up this morning in sixth place for a National League wild-card berth, behind the Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, Cardinals and Pirates, whom they trail by 4.5 games. The Rockies are sort of floating in their own tier, as they have a bit of separation between themselves and the next team in the queue (the Phillies at 8.0 games back).

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The Best of FanGraphs: July 18-22, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 7/19/16

9:01
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!
9:01
Stevo: CURLING!
9:01
Paul Swydan: I thought it was implied I meant Summer Olympic events, but Stevo is the kind of commenter that a lawyer dreams about.
9:02
Roadhog: How would you balance a Puig for Hill trade? Setbacks for Kershaw and Ryu should scare the Dodgers a bit.
9:02
Paul Swydan: There’s no way I would give up Puig for Rich Hill (I’m assuming that’s the Hill you mean). Hill exited this weekend with a blister, and has already had a DL stint. I don’t know that I’d be all that jazzed about giving up anything of value for him. Certainly not a current big leaguer like Puig.
9:02
Fork: 10 team Roto 15 active hitting/15 active pitching/10 bench slots so 400 active players. Would you trade Thor for Springer & JA Happ what about Thor for Wil Myers and Kyle Hendricks

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The Best of FanGraphs: July 11-15, 2016

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 and blue for Community Research.
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Dave Dombrowski Has Been Good at Trading Prospects

Know this — Dave Dombrowski likes to make trades. He was first named a general manager back on July 5, 1988, assuming the title of “youngest GM in the game” back before it was cool with the Montreal Expos. He made his first trade on July 13. His aggressive nature was sometimes just off center stage, as the teams he had previously helmed — the Expos, Marlins and Tigers — have rarely been media darlings. But now he is running the Red Sox, and they get plenty of coverage. While that level of coverage might not be fair or warranted, his deals are being scrutinized hard these days. Is he gutting the farm system? Or does Dombrowski know how to pick ’em? I thought I’d take an objective stab at his trade record.
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