Archive for Dodgers

Joe Blanton, and Other Ray Searage Success Stories

Maybe the headline is a tad misleading; Joe Blanton-to-the-bullpen looked like something of a success story before he went to Pittsburgh and worked under the tutelage of pitching coach guru Ray Searage. But it was in Pittsburgh and under Searage that Blanton really took off, and without that time in Pittsburgh, Blanton may very well have been Just Another Reliever on the scrap heap, rather than a reliever who receives $4 million on a one-year deal to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It’s the year 2016, and we live in a world where Joe Blanton is getting guaranteed money to serve as a relief weapon for a contender. What a time to be alive.

Like many of you, I’ve long played fantasy baseball, and I’ve got a history with Mr. Blanton. Beware: I’m currently breaking rule No. 1 of playing fantasy baseball by talking about my fantasy baseball team. Nobody cares, I know, but I promise it won’t take long, and it’s related to the events at hand. My history with Joe Blanton goes like this: when I first started learning about sabermetrics, I learned about xFIP, and thought to myself, “Hey, this could be a useful tool for fantasy baseball.” One single stat, a predictive stat, that shows you potential under- and over-performers who have the peripherals to succeed; it was perfect!

Through the power of the almighty xFIP, I hastily, yet assertively, concluded that Joe Blanton was just unlucky. I concluded that Joe Blanton’s peripherals hinted at better results than he’d shown, and that Joe Blanton would provide Good Value. I drafted Joe Blanton, and then he was bad. Drats. Unlucky. Drafted him again, bad again. It goes on like this for several seasons until I couldn’t draft Joe Blanton anymore because he was no longer in the major leagues. At a certain point, I think I just became pot-committed and was determined to squeeze a good season out of Joe Blanton. It never came.

The point is this: Joe Blanton was always close. It always seemed like he might just be an adjustment away. An adjustment, or a lucky home run season. One of the two. He didn’t get a ton of strikeouts, but he got enough, he didn’t walk anybody, and he got a bunch of ground balls. That’s typically the beginning of a strong recipe for a successful pitcher, except Joe Blanton just gave up so many freaking dingers. Joe Blanton dingered himself right out of baseball, culminating in a 2013 in which he allowed 29 homers in 28 appearances. That was it for Blanton.

Or so we thought — until right around this time last year, when Blanton announced he was coming out of retirement, and we scoffed. Until Blanton received a minor league deal with the Royals, and we scoffed. Until Blanton found his way onto the major league roster and pitched effectively out of the bullpen, and we continued to scoff, but our hearts weren’t really in it, and as we scoffed we kind of looked around the proverbial room at one another, quizzically, as if to say, “Should we still be scoffing?” Until Blanton made his way to Pittsburgh and flat-out dominated, and we all just sat there, dumbfounded.

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2016 ZiPS Projections – Los Angeles Dodgers

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 Los Angeles Dodgers. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Baltimore / Boston / Chicago NL / Cincinnati / Cleveland / Houston / Kansas City / Minnesota / New York AL / New York NL / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego / Seattle / Texas / Toronto.

Batters
It’s not particularly common for one of the strongest teams in the majors to acquire a new best position player. Theoretically, such a club already features an assortment of talented players; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been one of the strongest teams in the majors. And yet, this is effectively what the Dodgers — who recorded the third-best Base Runs record in the league last year — it’s effectively what they’ll have done by deploying Corey Seager (643 PA, 3.9 zWAR) as their opening-day shortstop this spring. A projection represents an attempt to estimate a player’s true-talent level. Seager’s true talent appears to be more talented than everyone else’s.

There’s some uncertainty at the moment regarding new manager Dave Roberts‘ plans for the outfield. According to Dan Szymborski’s computer, allowing Joc Pederson (571 PA, 3.1 zWAR) to retain his starting center-field role would be part of the club’s optimal arrangement. As for second base, there doesn’t appear to be an optimal arrangement yet: both Enrique Hernandez (437 PA, 1.3 zWAR) and Chase Utley (464 PA, 1.1 zWAR) receive rather modest forecasts.

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That Kenta Maeda Contract

The Dodgers just signed Japanese righty Kenta Maeda to a deal that sounds like it belongs in the early 1990s: eight years, $25 million. Not $25 million a year. $25 million. Total. Greg Maddux signed in 1993 for six years and $28 million. That’s how far you have to go back to get a similar deal.

Of course, this is nothing like that deal, because this is 2016, not 1993. The reason this deal is so low is all the risk — risk upon risk, really. But the years, the low guarantee, and even the incentives combine to shift this deal all the way in the other direction. The Dodgers did really well here.

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Scott Kazmir, the Dodgers, and Health

The real nice thing about having Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the same starting rotation, aside from all the wins, is that they allow a team to lose two key starters for the season — Hyun-Jin Ryu to a shoulder injury suffered in spring training and a Brandon McCarthy to Tommy John Surgery after just four starts — without it crippling the team. The Dodgers would’ve preferred Ryu and McCarthy stay healthy, but with top-end talent like the Dodgers had, a lot can go wrong for things to still go right.

This year, the Dodgers had a chance to retain Greinke, but they narrowly missed out, with Greinke heading to Arizona. Whether or not they “missed out” on guys like David Price and Johnny Cueto doesn’t matter; the point is, those guys play for different teams, too. Without Greinke, the Dodgers rotation will be much different than it was in 2015, but in certain ways, it will be very much the same.

You start with Clayton Kershaw. We’re talking pitching here, so you always start with Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is the best in the world and he’s got a clean bill of health when it comes to his arm, so there’s no better place to start. But after Kershaw, there’s still Ryu, who’s clearly an injury risk, and there’s still McCarthy, who’s clearly an injury risk, and there’s still Brett Anderson, who made 31 healthy starts last year, but made just 32 starts the past four years combined, and so he’s clearly an injury risk.

The Dodgers knew that’s what they had going into the offseason, and their first move to address the rotation, having missed out on the top flight arms, was an attempt to sign Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma’s 34 years old, had an injury history in Japan and hit the disabled list last year, so he’s clearly an injury risk. So much so, in fact, that he failed his physical and the Dodgers decided to move on.

The guy they moved on to ended up being Scott Kazmir, who signed a similar contract to the one the Dodgers were prepared to give Iwakuma. When you think Scott Kazmir, you probably think injury risk. Granted, Kazmir’s averaged 31 starts a year over the past three seasons and has avoided the disabled list, so most recently, he’s been something resembling durable. Yet, still, there’s been the occasional skipped start due to shoulder concerns or early, precautionary removal due to tricep tightness and of course the three years of injuries that derailed Kazmir’s career and left him jobless, not too long ago. After all, the best predictor of future injury is past injury. While he’s been healthy lately, we’ll never live in a world where Scott Kazmir isn’t considered an injury risk.

So, to quickly recap, after Kershaw, the Dodgers had three injury question marks, who they tried to tandem with an injury question mark, but when that didn’t work, they went out and got a different injury question mark. Got it. With that in mind, let’s look at some numbers and graphs.

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Dodgers Give Iwakuma Money to Scott Kazmir

It seemed for a time like Scott Kazmir wanted to get himself signed before Christmas. That didn’t happen, but he’ll settle for getting signed before New Year’s — for three years, and $48 million, with the Dodgers being his newest employer. Kazmir joins what could be an all-left-handed starting rotation, not even counting the left-handed Julio Urias. No one would ever suggest you can fill a Zack Greinke-shaped hole with a Scott Kazmir-shaped plug, but there simply wasn’t another Greinke to be had, and Kazmir makes this group better than it could have been.

This is, what, a Tier-2-level transaction? Maybe even Tier 3. I’m not sure because I just invented the scale. But with a move like this, there generally isn’t all that much to be said in terms of player or team analysis. Kazmir is above-average. Occasionally great, occasionally awful. The Dodgers are above-average, too, and should remain that way into the future. Kazmir is getting above-average-player money. All that stuff is obvious, so it’s better to focus on the one most interesting detail. And in this case, I think that detail is that Kazmir can opt out of the contract after this coming season.

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Joc Pederson’s Ugly Second Half

For the first three months of last season, Joc Pederson looked like a future star. At the All-Star break, Pederson was hitting .230/.364/.487 and his 137 wRC+ placed him 12th among National League batters. In the last 20 years, the only players younger than Pederson to hit 20 home runs faster than Pederson (95 games) are Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Correa, and Chris Davis, per Baseball-Reference’s Play Index. In the second half, however, things unfolded quite differently: Pederson recorded 219 terribly unproductive plate appearances, leading to questions about whether the league had figured Pederson out.

Pederson’s strikeouts rose as steadily as he did through the minors, topping out at 27% in his last Triple-A season in 2014 before he was promoted to the majors. The rise in strikeouts was accompanied by a a rise in walks and power, and that pattern continued in the first half of last season with a 16% walk rate and a 29% strikeout rate. Pederson’s first half surge did not last into the summer months, as both his BABIP (from .282 to .232) and ISO (from .257 to .122) plunged — although his walk and strikeout rates remained unchanged.

While it would be easy to point to Pederson’s BABIP decline and hope for a turnaround, there are too many other peripheral statistics that point to a general drop in Pederson’s ability last season. Pederson’s line-drive rate dropped from 18% to 14% from the first half to the second half, his infield-fly percentage went from 10% to 23%, and his soft-contact percentage moved from 15% up to 29% in the second half. His exit velocity was 93.5 mph in the first half, ranking behind only Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, and Jorge Soler among players with 100 at bats. In the second half, however, it dropped to 89.3 mph, per Baseball Savant.

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Managers on Learning on the Job

At the winter meetings, I asked a small collection of managers about the evolution of the role, and all of them — save perhaps Mike Scioscia — spoke to the importance of communicating with the media and with their players.

But that story had a longer scope, and a more universal one. I also asked them about a smaller more immediate thing — I asked many of them what they had learned this year, on the job. And for those just coming to the job, what they have tried to learn before they first manage a game.

Of particular note was what former position players did to learn about pitching, and vice versa. Managers have to communicate with all sorts of different players, and yet they came from one tradition within the game. And each has spent time developing themselves in their present role.

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Imagining a Matt Harvey-Joc Pederson Trade

Despite losing out on Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to have one of the best teams in major league baseball. While Jeff Sullivan made a reasonable case recently for the Chicago Cubs as the best team in baseball currently, the Dodgers are right there with them, even without the benefit of a major move. But now that the Hisashi Iwakuma deal has fallen apart and led Iwakuma to reunite with the Seattle Mariners, the Dodgers need pitching. They were rumored to be involved with the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller and rumors still surround the pursuit of Jose Fernandez and pitchers in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. It’s possible, however, that it’s Matt Harvey who could best solve the Dodgers’ problems.

Despite likely losing Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy to free agency, the New York Mets also have a very good team returning next year. By our Depth Charts projections, the Mets have the fifth-best team in baseball, less than a win behind division-rival Washington Nationals. The club has a really good shot at repeating as division winners, with a rotation of Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard leading the way, and a returning Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon as insurance. The team has a solid infield, shrewdly picking up Neil Walker, and they should be able to cobble something semi-productive out of Asdrubal Cabrera and their returning middle infielders at shortstop. The team does have a bit of a hole in center field, and the offense, without Cespedes or Cespedes, doesn’t look all that great. The Mets might still have some financial concerns going into next season. It’s possible, though, that the young and cheap and talented Joc Pederson could solve the Mets’ problems.

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Proposing a Dodgers Trade for Chris Archer

Yesterday, the Dodgers were involved in the three team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox, presumably because the Reds preferred a different type of prospect than what Chicago could offer. Andrew Friedman and his gang essentially acted as brokers for the other two teams, and took a commission for helping facilitate the trade, upgrading their own stock of prospects in the process.

But when a win-now team chooses to upgrade their prospect stock over simply just acquiring a guy like Frazier for themselves, it raises questions about what the overarching strategy really is. And when Andrew Friedman says stuff like this, the questions seem to be even more legitimate.

Of course, to be fair, Friedman also said this.

Ken Rosenthal, the most connected guy out there, published a piece not long after suggesting that this deal might help the Dodgers pursue Jose Fernandez. Based on what the asking price was during the winter meetings, however, perhaps we should actually be looking at the other Florida team when looking for a partner in a mega-trade for the Dodgers.

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Reds Sell Todd Frazier for Low Upside In Three-Way Deal

I detected a real sense of impatience as far as the Dodgers were concerned. Not impatience on the part of the Dodgers — rather, impatience on the part of people observing the Dodgers. Not that they’d been totally quiet, but they had been inactive. Now, Wednesday, the Dodgers have gotten themselves involved in a doozy. It’s a three-way trade, with the best player neither leaving the Dodgers, nor joining them. Instead, the Dodgers helped facilitate the Reds sending a quality third baseman to the White Sox. The full player breakdown:

White Sox get:

White Sox lose:

Reds get:

Reds lose:

  • Todd Frazier

Dodgers get:

  • Francelis Montas
  • Trayce Thompson
  • Micah Johnson

Dodgers lose:

  • Jose Peraza
  • Scott Schebler
  • Brandon Dixon

Frazier to Chicago, three Chicago prospects to Los Angeles, three Los Angeles prospects to Cincinnati. It stands to reason the Dodgers had to get involved because the Reds and White Sox couldn’t find an easy match straight up. Implying the Reds are higher on, say, the Peraza centerpiece than they would’ve been on a Montas centerpiece. These things can be kind of complicated to analyze, but let’s go team by team.

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Aroldis Chapman and the Duty to Disclose

As everyone reading this is by now undoubtedly aware, Monday’s proposed blockbuster trade that would have sent Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers is on hold, following reports that the star closer was allegedly involved in a domestic incident with his girlfriend back in October. Although the Reds remain free to trade Chapman pending Major League Baseball’s investigation of the incident under the league’s new domestic violence policy, the market for Chapman is reported to have predictably dried up as teams wait to learn what type of punishment the pitcher will face.

It remains unclear how much, if anything, the Reds knew about the allegations against Chapman prior to Monday’s media reports, or if the team took any steps to notify potential trade partners of the incident. Nevertheless, the episode has raised questions regarding the extent to which teams are expected to disclose unfavorable information of this sort to one another during trade discussions.

As is so often the case, this is an area in which MLB operates a bit differently than most other industries.

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Comparing the Cost of Zack Greinke to Cole Hamels

Zack Greinke is one of the best pitchers in major league baseball, and as a result, he had no shortage of suitors before ultimately signing a contract in excess of $200 million. In addition to money, the Diamondbacks also surrendered their first-round pick next year, the 13th overall selection. While it would not be quite true to say that Greinke cost “only money,” the Diamondbacks did not give up a single active player in order to acquire Greinke.

Cole Hamels, both the same age as Greinke and roughly as effective over the course of his career, was traded over the summer. Hamels’ cost was not “only money,” as the Texas Rangers gave up six players, including three high-end prospects (and Matt Harrison‘s contract), for Jake Diekman and the opportunity to pay Cole Hamels around $100 million over the next four years. While the costs come in different forms, we can compare the two to see how the trade market this past summer compared to this offseason’s free agent market for Greinke.

The Los Angeles Dodgers prioritized Cole Hamels at the trade deadline, but subsequently missed out by refusing to part with their best prospects. The team then prioritized bringing Greinke back, only to be outbid by division rival Arizona. The cost for both players was high, and it is difficult to say whether the Dodgers made a mistake passing on both players, but we should be able to compare the costs for both to see if the Dodgers could have kept a comparable pitcher for less than the amount Greinke received in free agency.

As far as comparisons go, Greinke did have a better year in 2015, but their cumulative WAR graphs (shown below) reveal two remarkably similar careers in terms of value.

COLE HAMELS AND ZACK GREINKE- CUMULATIVE CAREER WAR

In addition, both players are projected to do well next season. By Steamer, Greinke is set for a 4.2 WAR while Hamels comes in a bit behind at 3.6 WAR for the 2016 season. Using those projections as the baseline for future production, we can get an estimate for their value over the next few years. With deferrals, Greinke’s deal turns out to be $194.5 million over six seasons, per Ken Rosenthal. Given the consistency of both Greinke and Hamels, for the purposes of this analysis, we will assume the players will age well.

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Dodgers to Pair Unhittable Closer With Unhittable Closer

It’s different when you’re an executive for a smaller-budget organization. It’s not bad, and it might even be fun, but the circumstances force you to be a little more imaginative. You don’t ever really get to splurge, not unless you get lucky. More often, you have to be creative — you have to try to see things where other people don’t. You’re forever hunting for bargains, looking for upside where others might see downside. So much is about accepting flaws and reclamation projects. It can be a rewarding challenge, but only the challenge part is certain.

It’s simpler when you have resources. There’s a lot more pressure, as there are higher expectations, but when you have resources, you don’t always need to overthink. When you have resources, like the Dodgers, you can determine that you have a weakness in the bullpen, and you can just go get Aroldis Chapman to try to fix it. The Dodgers looked somewhat thin behind Kenley Jansen, who’s one of the best relievers in baseball. So word is they’re on the verge of picking up another one of the best relievers in baseball.

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The Dodgers Continue to Bet on Depth

On Friday night, Zack Greinke decided to take his talents to Phoenix, joining the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are now an interesting potential contender for 2016. That decision, of course, left a significant hole in the Dodgers starting rotation, and the loss of their alternate ace has set the team down a different course. Since the Greinke news broke, they’ve struck deals with aging veterans Hisashi Iwakuma and Chase Utley, traded for Aroldis Chapman, talked to the Marlins about Jose Fernandez, were named as a suitor for Ben Zobrist, and probably have a few dozen other alternatives that haven’t leaked out to the public yet. This certainly won’t be a boring winter in Los Angeles.

But it’s certainly possible that, for the second straight winter, the Dodgers are going to choose to acquire a larger quantity of potentially good players rather than banking on the elite performances of a few high profile stars. Andrew Friedman’s roster revamp a year ago saw the team acquire guys like Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Yasmani Grandal, Jimmy Rollins, and Howie Kendrick rather than make runs at All-Stars like Max Scherzer or Jon Lester. And then the Dodgers essentially affirmed that philosophy in July, when they were heavily linked to Cole Hamels, but chose to make a deal that brought in Alex Wood and Mat Latos instead. Capping their offer to Greinke at $160 million might have been surprising for a team that has seemingly unlimited payroll space, but while the Dodgers have spent extensively on acquiring young talent (particularly in the international market), this front office has not shown an inclination to pay a premium for high-end veterans.

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Tigers Upgrade Bullpen with Mark Lowe

On July 7th, 2006, a 23-year-old righty made his major league debut against the Tigers. He entered the game in relief and immediately began putting up 99s on the radar gun. It wasn’t enough, however, to prevent Chris Shelton from singling to shortstop and beating out the throw. Brandon Inge also wasn’t afraid of the velocity, as he hit a ground-rule double to center. The young righty was now flustered. He hit Curtis Granderson to load the bases. He paced around the mound, gathered himself, and then rallied to strike out Placido Polanco, get a weak grounder from Ivan Rodriguez, and strike out Magglio Ordonez to end the threat.

On that day, Mark Lowe began a journey that started with the Mariners and continued on to the Rangers (in the Cliff Lee deal), and then the Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Rays, Indians, Mariners (again), and Blue Jays. And now, almost ten years later, the Tigers have signed him with a two-year deal to be their setup man. It’s been quite a trip for him.

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Zack Greinke May Be Getting Paid for His Bat and Glove

The next major free agent off the board is almost certainly going to be Zack Greinke. According to a wide number of reports, Greinke has narrowed his choices down to the Dodgers and Giants, and is pitting the two NL West rivals against each other with the goal of landing a six year deal at the highest annual average value of any player in baseball history; reportedly, he’s asking for $35 million per season, so if he gets six years, he’d end up with $210 million guaranteed. Even if he has to settle for five years and some kind of sixth year option, that’s still $175 million guaranteed at the AAV he’s seeking.

That’s a bit higher than the 5/$160M I predicted at the start of the off-season, and blows away the crowd’s expected 6/$156M valuation. On the one hand, when the Dodgers are bidding on someone, you can say that the dollars are irrelevant, because they have so much much money that the difference of a few million per year just doesn’t really matter. But this doesn’t seem like it’s just the Dodgers blowing away the competition to get the guy they want back; the Giants are reportedly being very competitive on price, making Greinke’s decision difficult.

And while Greinke is an excellent pitcher, there isn’t a lot of evidence that he’s a $200 million pitcher. For his career, he’s graded out as about a +4 WAR pitcher, regardless of whether you use ERA or FIP, and he’s headed into his age-32 season. Rationally, he’s going to get worse during his next deal, and even if you start him around his career average of +4 WAR — Steamer projects +4.1 for 2016 — then you’re looking at a pitching performance that projects to be worth about $150 million over the next six years.

Zack Greinke’s Contract Estimate — 6 yr / $151.2 M
Year Age WAR $/WAR Est. Value
2016 32 4.1 $8.0 M $32.8 M
2017 33 3.6 $8.4 M $30.2 M
2018 34 3.1 $8.8 M $27.3 M
2019 35 2.6 $9.3 M $24.1 M
2020 36 2.1 $9.7 M $20.4 M
2021 37 1.6 $10.2 M $16.3 M
Totals 17.1 $151.2 M
Assumptions
Value: $8M/WAR with 5.0% inflation
Aging Curve: +0.25 WAR/yr (18-27), 0 WAR/yr (28-30),-0.5 WAR/yr (31-37),-0.75 WAR/yr (> 37)

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This Offseason’s Best Non-Tender Pickups

Last year was the worst year for shopping in the non-tender market since 2007. No player that was non-tendered after the 2014 season was worth even a win in 2015, which hasn’t happened since MLBTradeRumors started tracking non-tenders with their handy tool.

Before we consider it a trend, remember that the year before was the best year for non-tender shopping over the same time frame. Infielder Justin Turner netted the Dodgers three wins, oufielder Sam Fuld nearly did the same for the Rays, now-Cub Chris Coghlan was worth two wins, and catcher Michael McKenry was also nearly average.

In any case, looking over the past non-tender values, a few truths emerge. The best non-tender pickups were above replacement level the year before, for one. And, like Kelly Johnson, Willie Harris, Aaron Miles, and Jeff Keppinger before, they usually had some positional flexibility. Or at least positional value, in the case of the center fielders and catchers.

In that way, maybe last year did buck the trend to some extent. Kyle Blanks (0.8 WAR) and Justin Smoak (0.6 WAR) led the way, and they don’t offer much in positional flexibility or value. Still, last year’s above-replacement non-tenders also included Slade Heathcott (0.5) and Gordon Beckham (0.3).

So who will lead this year’s non-tender market?

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The Season’s Biggest Upset

Before every game, we publish estimated game odds. The odds consider the identities of the starting pitchers, and as the first pitch draws closer, the odds update to factor in the actual starting lineups. I’m not saying it’s an infallible system or anything, but it’s a neat little feature we have, even if it doesn’t get all that much use. And though this is by no means a rigorous test, consider the top 100 most seemingly lopsided games from the season past. Based on the calculated odds, the favorites in those games should’ve won 70 times. The favorites actually won 71 times. So things check out.

The favorite won the game with the single most lopsided odds. Max Scherzer and the Nationals were projected to have 78% odds against Sean O’Sullivan and the Phillies. The favorite also won the next-most lopsided game, and the next-most lopsided game, and the next-most lopsided game, and the next-most lopsided game. The five games with the most imbalanced odds all went to the team expected to win. We find our first upset in sixth. Which would then qualify this as the season’s greatest upset, taking into consideration only pre-game odds. It was an upset when the Royals rallied past the Astros in the playoffs, but that wasn’t a lopsided game at the start. It only became that way later. The biggest upset, considering pre-game outlook? We rewind to June 17, and we go to Los Angeles.

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Pondering an Andrelton Simmons/Yasiel Puig Swap

Last night, Jonah Keri got the baseball world buzzing with a series of tweets.

While we’ve seen a few deals struck already, Andrelton Simmons going west would be qualify as a pretty significant move, and so immediately, other reporters started checking in to see who the unidentified NL West club could be.

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Looking for a Kenta Maeda Comp

Since we don’t have much more than velocity readings from Japan, it can be difficult to rely on anything but scouting reports when evaluating pitchers coming over from Nippon Professional Baseball. And now that 27-year-old Kenta Maeda is once again rumored to be coming to America through the posting system, we’re once again left wondering how to place him in context.

We have his Japanese strikeout and walk rates, which we can compare to recent postings to find comparable countrymen. We also have his velocity readings and a general sense of the quality of his pitches that we can use to compare him to pitchers beyond just ones that have come from Japan. We even have one game of PITCHf/x data to help us look at the movement of his pitches.

And the few comparable players we produce might be the best we can do from out here in the public sphere.

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