Archive for Giants

Weak Contact and the National League Cy Young Race

The National League Cy Young race is an incredibly competitive one, and as Dave Cameron (who has a vote this year) broke down a few weeks ago, much of the differences between the candidates deals with run prevention in a team sense (RA/9-WAR and ERA) versus run prevention in a component sense (FIP, WAR). As a result, there has been considerable discussion on the concept of weak contact, and last week I looked at the role of the Cubs defense in the Chicago pitchers’ low BABIPs. Taking a small step further, let’s use the Statcast to look at weak and strong contact to determine if the Cy Young candidates in the National League have been helping out their defenses.

To whittle down the candidates, I found the pitchers who are among the National League’s top 10 both by WAR and RA/9-WAR — and then added Jose Fernandez, who just missed the second list. This is a list of those pitchers and their respective ERA, FIP and WAR marks.

National League Cy Young Candidates
Name ERA NL Rank FIP NL Rank WAR
Noah Syndergaard 2.63 3 2.34 1 6.1
Clayton Kershaw 1.73 1* 1.68 1* 6.1
Jose Fernandez 2.99 9 2.39 2 5.7
Max Scherzer 2.78 6 3.08 4 5.6
Johnny Cueto 2.86 7 3.06 3 4.9
Madison Bumgarner 2.57 4 3.12 5 4.9
Kyle Hendricks 2.06 1 3.27 6 4.1
Jon Lester 2.40 2 3.45 7 3.9
*Kershaw does not have enough innings to qualify

As you can see, the NL pitchers ranked first and second in ERA only rank sixth and seventh in FIP, which has led to discussions, particularly with regard to Kyle Hendricks, about how to evaluate such discrepancies when discussing a pitcher’s Cy Young candidacy. To examine the type of contact a pitcher is generating, ee can start with a simple look at average exit velocity. Here are the pitchers’ average exit-velocity numbers and MLB ranks, per Baseball Savant.

Exit Velocity of NL Cy Young Candidates
Avg Exit Velocity (mph) MLB Rank
Clayton Kershaw 87.1 6
Kyle Hendricks 87.3 9
Noah Syndergaard 87.5 12
Max Scherzer 87.7 13
Johnny Cueto 88.1 25
Jon Lester 88.3 30
Madison Bumgarner 89.1 60
Jose Fernandez 90.0 106

While the evidence isn’t overwhelming, there is some reason to think that a pitcher has some, if not a lot, of influence over exit velocity, with the bulk of the influence coming from the batter. Those arguing for Kyle Hendricks for the Cy Young would likely say there is a considerable effect and point to the very good exit-velocity numbers and very low BABIP he’s conceded as evidence. That said, Clayton Kershaw has an even better average exit velocity and his BABIP isn’t quite as low as Hendricks’. Which pitcher gets more credit?

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Graphing a Week of the Giants Bullpen

Last night, the Giants took a 1-0 lead over the Dodgers into the 9th inning. They lost anyway. At this point, the team’s lead-blowing prowess has become so well known that it wasn’t even really a surprise, and the last week has cemented the tire-fire status of the team’s relief corps. They gave up two in the ninth to lose by one last night. They gave up two in the ninth to lose by one on Saturday. They gave up five in the ninth to lose by one last Tuesday. In the last seven days, the Giants bullpen has handed over three should-win games with three outs to go, and as a result, the Giants are now six games back in the NL West race, and tied with the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.

Those words make it sound bad, but I thought some graphs might more adequately represent the disaster that was the Giants bullpen over the last week.


This is a scatter plot of shutdowns and meltdowns, a couple of relief pitcher metrics we track here on FanGraphs. A shutdown is any relief appearance where the team’s win probability goes up by at least six percentage points during the outing, and a meltdown is an appearance where it goes down by at least six percentage points. The standard ratio of shutdowns to meltdowns is a little under 2:1, though for high leverage relievers, they usually earn those roles because they do much better than that.

As the graph shows, the Giants ratio last week was 1:7. They had the fewest shutdowns in MLB and the most meltdowns. Their bullpen essentially only pitched well when the game wasn’t really on the line, and then was a total disaster if the game was close.

So let’s look at the league’s relievers total Win Probability Added last week, or in the Giants case, Win Probability Lost.


I probably didn’t have to highlight the Giants line there; you likely would have known it was them even without the assistance. They racked up nearly -2.0 WPA last week, which is astonishingly bad for a seven day stretch.

Let’s finish up with a table. Here is how hitters performed against various Giants relievers in high leverage situations over the last week, thanks to our handy new splits tool.

Giants Relievers in High Leverage, Last 7 Days
Pitcher Batters Faced BA OBP SLG wOBA
Hunter Strickland 4 0.667 0.750 1.000 0.702
Santiago Casilla 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 0.784
Javier Lopez 2 0.500 0.500 0.500 0.439
Derek Law 2 0.500 0.500 0.500 0.439
Steven Okert 1 1.000 1.000 4.000 2.012

That isn’t so much closer by committee as it is a Jonestown Massacre reenactment. Bruce Bochy has taken a good amount of flak for his bullpen management in the second half of the season — especially his loyalty to Casilla — but no one could look good managing a group of pitchers who did that.

The Giants still have a chance to turn this around and make the playoffs, but they’re going to need their bullpen to pull it together. Like tonight.

Matt Duffy on Seeing the Baseball (and the Penguin)

A few weeks ago, I approached Tampa Bay (and former San Francisco) infielder Matt Duffy in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park. I wanted to talk to him about the mental side of the game. He was getting dressed, so we agreed to meet in the dugout in five minutes. At that very moment, Brian Kenny began talking about the idea of clutch on MLB Network, which was showing on the TV a few steps from where were standing.

Duffy kept his eyes and ears on the MLB Network discussion as he pulled on his uniform and cleats. With that in mind, I began our subsequent conversation with that very subject. From there, we segued into his mindset as a hitter, which is heavily influenced by Harvey Dorfman’s The Mental Keys of Hitting.


Duffy on clutch hitting and heart rate: “I think there is something to [the idea of clutch]. When you look at the RBI leaders every year — the guys who do well with runners in scoring position — for the most part it’s the same guys. To me, that’s not an accident. I think a lot of people think RBIs are purely a result of the opportunities you have. That does play into it, but I also think that, in certain situations, if I can keep my heart rate at a more efficient level than the pitcher does, more times than not I’ll succeed. I don’t want my heart rate to be so low to where I’m not awake, but I also don’t want it to be so high that I’m jumping at everything in the box.

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What Can Hitters Actually See Out of a Pitcher’s Hand?

We’ve all seen those swings so terrible that a batter can’t help but smile. Swings like this one from Brandon Phillips last year.

Phillips, of course, isn’t the only victim of this sort of thing. He’s been a league-average major-league hitter for a decade, which is a substantial accomplishment. But even accomplished hitters can look bad, can get it very wrong.

Were Phillips batting not for a last-place club but one contending for the postseason, we might gnash our teeth. Couldn’t he see that was a slider? What was he thinking? What was he looking at?

The answer to that last question, turns out, is way more complicated than it seems. Phillips clearly should have laid off a breaking ball that failed to reach the plate. He clearly has done that — otherwise, he wouldn’t have had a major-league career. So what happened? What did he see? Or not see? Ask hitters and experts that question, and the answers are vague, conflicting, and sometimes just strange.

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Pitching to Contact with Zack Greinke and Denard Span

I hadn’t planned on talking to Zack Greinke about the game he’d started the night before, but then, for the second time in his career and the first time since his rookie year, he went six innings and recorded only one strikeout. It was a win for the team, but maybe not his finest game, that one against the Giants on Tuesday night. So I had to say something. “They make a lot of contact,” he grumbled, “but it wasn’t ideal.”

When I asked him if anything was different, he shrugged. “Against guys like Denard Span, Ben Revere, Buster Posey, I’m not going to spend a lot of pitches going for the strikeout. They make too much contact.”

We’ve heard this sort of thing before, of course. Pitching to contact is even espoused as a general philosophy by some organizations. But it’s a little surprising to hear from this pitcher, who regularly strikes out 200 batters a year, even if he’s told us before that pitching to FIP — pitching to limit the walks and increase the strikeouts — just led to hard contact in the zone.

He also gave us a name! Denard Span, he of the 3.7% career swinging strike rate, good for 11th-best overall since he’s been in the league. Span, because of his contact-oriented skill st, has forced Greinke to approach him differently.

So let’s look at Greinke’s plan against Span this past Tuesday and see what he was trying to do.

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Matt Moore’s New Pitch Addresses Old Concerns

In his last start, the Giants’ Matt Moore did something he’d never done before. Not no-hit a team through eight innings: he’d thrown an actual no-hitter before, in Double-A in 2011, on 98 pitches on his brother’s birthday. He’d thrown a one-hitter before, too — albeit over seven innings instead of 9.2, and earlier in his pro career.

What he did this Aug. 25 against the Dodgers that he’d never done before was throw a cutter 29 times. Only twice had he thrown the pitch even 10 times, but there he was going to the well, again and again, on his way to an oh-no instead of a no-no.

Weirdly, he didn’t get a single whiff on the pitch. But it doesn’t seem like the swinging strike is the point to the pitcher. Nearly everything else is.

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Noah Syndergaard Showed a Fix

The Giants faced Noah Syndergaard Sunday night, and they tried to steal two bases. Both times, they were unsuccessful. That’s notable because Syndergaard, this year, has been horrible about controlling the running game. It’s been his one drawback — before Sunday, runners in 2016 were 40-for-44 in their attempts. The Giants assumed they’d be able to take advantage of his vulnerability. Plans went awry and for those reasons, and others, the Giants lost.

The first runner to get thrown out was Trevor Brown. Brown, as you might know, is a catcher. Before Sunday in the majors this year, Brown was 0-for-0 in trying to steal. He doesn’t run. He was trying to test the limits of Syndergaard’s weakness, and Brown got himself out, after Rene Rivera made a strong throw to second.

There’s nothing too interesting about that. Syndergaard was slow to the plate. Rivera did his job well. Brown got a bad jump and he doesn’t sprint well to begin with. That caught steal is almost a direct result of other players not getting caught stealing. The weakness encourages non-runners to run. Just as Syndergaard is slow enough that any decent runner can advance, some runners are slow enough that even Syndergaard can’t be exploited.

I’m more interested in the second runner to get thrown out. That was Eduardo Nunez, and, unlike Brown, Nunez has had a big year in swiping. He’s an obvious running threat. Here’s Syndergaard’s first pitch after Nunez reached:

And now, here’s the second pitch:

You see that? Nunez had seen enough. He read Syndergaard and took off on the second delivery. Rivera was excellent here — he was quick to his feet and his throw was outstanding. So, Rivera absolutely played a role. But Syndergaard also showed Nunez a twist. The first pitch:


The second pitch:


Syndergaard lowered his leg lift. He mixed up his timing, and while for the first pitch I had him close to 1.7 seconds to the plate, on the second pitch he was at almost 1.4. He shaved roughly 15% off his time, and though he was still short of the 1.3 mark that most pitchers want to achieve, that’s a healthy leap forward. Syndergaard gave Nunez a different look, and he gave his own catcher a chance. Nunez easily could’ve wound up safe if Rivera’s throw were any worse, but what matters is just that there was a possibility he’d be out. This is something Syndergaard’s been working on, and getting Nunez out is an encouraging step.

It’s going to take more outs before runners stop trying. And it’s worth noting that, when Syndergaard lowered his leg lift, he threw his slowest fastball of the first five innings. The Mets don’t want for him to sacrifice too much, and they need to keep an eye on his mechanics. But for the time being, Syndergaard is coming off an outstanding start, and in that start, runners trying to steal went 0-for-2. One of those runners even knows how to run. It’s something to build on.

Dave Righetti on Pitching

Dave Righetti was a good pitcher. In a 16-year career spent mostly with the New York Yankees, he threw a no-hitter and saved over 250 games. He might be an even better pitching coach. “Rags” has held that position with the San Francisco Giants since 2000, and in the opinion of many, he’s among the best in the business.

Righetti’s reputation is well deserved. Under his tutelage, Giants pitchers have made 22 All-Star teams, won two Cy Young awards, and thrown five no-hitters. More importantly, the club has gone to the World Series four times and captured three titles.

Righetti talked about his philosophies — and the repertoires and pitch selection of members of the Giants’ staff — when the team visited Fenway Park in July.


Righetti on location and changing speeds: “Changing speeds on any pitch is essential, even if it’s a 95-mph fastball. If you can’t back off on it at times and throw it 90, people are going to time it out. The last thing you want to do is throw your hardest fastball every pitch.

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Jeff Samardzija Has Resurrected an Old Pitch

By now, we’re used to seeing once-starters transition to the bullpen and have successful careers. We’re used to the mold. It’s a hard-throwing righty who’s got a fastball and a slider but just can’t master a consistent changeup. He gets moved to the bullpen, he ditches the changeup entirely, he ramps the velocity up a few ticks, and the fastball/slider combo dominates in one-inning bursts. It’s become a rather common career arc. And it’s almost the precise opposite of Jeff Samardzija‘s career arc.

After playing football for four years at the University of Notre Dame, Samardzija cracked the big leagues two years after being selected in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB draft, and after four years pitching out of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen, made the rare reliever-to-starter conversion. Not only that, but he actually reduced his arsenal when he became a starter. Usually, it’s the other way around. So much about Samardzija’s career seems backwards.

From an ESPN article from 2012:

Samardzija was tough against the Atlanta Braves on Monday as he got some much needed distance from a terrible June. Last month he added a curveball into the mix and might have leaned on it a bit too much.

“These last few starts we have been feeling things out, seeing what works and what doesn’t,” said Samardzija, whose next outing will be Saturday at New York. “But I was kind of fed up with walking guys and stuff so I really wanted to get into the zone, and I knew I could get into the zone with my slider.”

Starters-turned-relievers have no qualms with abandoning their problem pitches, because they don’t have to worry about giving batters multiple looks in order to turn over a lineup several times. Every batter a reliever faces, he’s only going to face once, so he trusts his best stuff and lets the hitter have it. Starters do have to worry about multiple looks, and so theoretically, the wider the arsenal, the better, as long as the pitches are effective. Jeff Samardzija used to throw a curveball, but once he transitioned into his starter role, he began to struggle. He identified the curve as being no longer effective, so he ditched it. From August 8, 2012 to July 23, 2016, Jeff Samardzija threw zero curveballs.

In the second inning of Samardzija’s July 24 start in New York against the Yankees, Starlin Castro saw something he couldn’t have possibly expected:

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Brandon Crawford Had One of the Greatest Games In History

In an extra-inning affair last night, Brandon Crawford recorded eight at-bats, and seven hits. One thing that means is that Crawford recorded an out. Another thing that means is that Crawford recorded seven hits. A game in which a player finishes with seven hits is very obviously outstanding. Crawford became the first player to get there since Rennie Stennett went 7-for-7 in 1975. It’s unusual to get at least seven opportunities to knock a hit. It’s especially unusual to successfully knock a hit in pretty much all of them.

Based just on hits, Crawford has equaled Stennett’s accomplishment. But there’s another layer here. Yesterday, the Giants just barely edged out the Marlins, 8-7. When Stennett had his big day, the Pirates beat the Cubs 22-0. That was a nine-run game as early as the first inning, so in the end, Stennett registered a Win Probability Added — WPA — of +0.082. Crawford registered a WPA of +1.438. He was essentially worth about a win and a half on his own. By regular numbers, Crawford had an impressive game. When you take context into account, Crawford had one of the very greatest days in baseball history.

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Sergio Romo Got Nearly the Dumbest Win Ever

Pitcher wins are a silly statistic, for all the reasons you know, and additional reasons you don’t. So we pretty much never talk about them — there was a time, once, when the analysts would rail against wins, but that battle is over. The analysts won. Wins carry less value than they ever have, and there’s a part of me that wonders why I’m even bothering to write this post in the first place.

But I just can’t not do it. For one thing, it’s Friday. Leave me alone. It’s August, and the trade deadline just passed, so, again, leave me alone. And even though we don’t talk about them, wins do still exist. Somebody hands them out, and they remain a part of the official records. So I want to take a few minutes of your time to discuss really dumb wins. Sergio Romo just got one Thursday. It was one of the very dumbest.

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Scouting Phil Bickford, Conundrum

For a player who hasn’t even ascended to Double-A yet, newly acquired Brewers RHP Phil Bickford has had a very interesting career. As a rising senior in high school, Bickford was sitting 87-90 mph and generating very little buzz. In the middle of the following spring, however, he was suddenly sitting 91-96 with unusually advanced command and feel for a slider. He suddenly became a first-round prospect, but teams also had very little history with him and had a difficult time getting to know the kid at all.

When draft day came, Bickford’s stock was seen as volatile but the Blue Jays popped him 10th overall. He didn’t sign. The circumstances that led to the collapse of negotiations are foggy. It makes sense that it was something medical, but Bickford has never had surgery or missed time with any kind of shoulder or elbow ailment, no benign soreness of any kind.

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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 Rays Make a Smart Bet on Matt Duffy

After months of rumors, the Rays finally traded a starting pitcher, shipping Matt Moore to San Francisco in exchange for a three player package headlined by infielder Matt Duffy. Eno Sarris already talked about what the Giants are hoping they get in Moore, so let’s talk about what they gave up to upgrade their rotation with a young controllable starting pitcher.

The prospects in this deal are both interesting. Lucius Fox cost the Giants a $6 million signing bonus last year after being declared an international free agent, and we rated him as the Giants #3 prospect this spring, noting his upside as a high-end athlete who might hit. He’s not close to the big leagues, but there’s some real upside here, especially if he turns out to be an above-average defensive shortstop; you don’t have to hit that well to have value if you can field at that level.

The other prospect, Michael Santos, is your typical deadline trade chip; a projectable hard-thrower in A-ball, nowhere close to the big leagues, with about as wide a range of outcomes as you could imagine. We ranked Santos as the Giants #16 prospect back in the spring, and he’s pitched well (though without missing bats) this year, so there’s some value there, though like Fox, he’s a long ways away.

But there’s one piece of the trade that isn’t a long-term project. While they got two A-ball lottery tickets in the deal, they also got back a big league infielder who put up a +5 WAR season last year. And more than anything else, this deal will probably be decided by the answer to the question: what is Matt Duffy, really?

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Scouting the Prospects in the Matt Moore Deal

Bahamian (won’t ever get tired of typing that) SS Lucius Fox is headed to Tampa Bay as the primary prospect return for LHP Matt Moore. Fox was receiving late-first-round grades as a domestic amateur before reclassifying as an international prospect before his senior year and signing for $6.5 million during last year’s J2 period. Fox ranked third on FanGraphs’ 2015 J2 sortable board and was #2 in my personal rankings.

Fox turned 19 last month and is extremely young for the full-season Sally League, where he was hitting .207/.305/.277. Fox’s body was simply not ready for full-season ball. Though he’s exceptionally twitchy and athletic, he hasn’t matured enough to compete and succeed at that level. There’s bat speed here as well as feel for moving that barrel around the zone and Fox has the physical tools to be an above-average hitter who pulls out a dozen or so annual homers. The left-handed swing has more power potential than his more conservative right-handed cut.

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Giants Add Lefty Starter Matt Moore’s Resurgent Stuff

The Giants just added a 27-year-old left-hander with a 93 mph fastball and major-league success under his belt on an affordable contract until 2019. That left-hander, Matt Moore, hasn’t recorded the same ERA or strikeout rates he’d produced before his Tommy John surgery, but if you look under the hood, the stuff seems to be back.

That stuff, and that contract, made it worth the hefty price: 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Michael Santos, exciting young 19-year-old Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox, and — most painful of all — 25-year-old major-league third baseman Matt Duffy. Dave Cameron will have more on the choice to include Duffy, but either way, it’s a price you pay for a pitcher you believe can serve at least as a middle-of-the-rotation guy. A price you pay if you believe Moore has his stuff back.

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Giants Pay Steep Price for Brewers Reliever Will Smith

While deals for Zach Duke and Mark Melancon might have made it appear as though the price for relief pitching was coming down, the San Francisco Giants, in need of some help at the back end of the bullpen, have just paid a pretty high price to get the left-handed Brewers’ reliever Will Smith.

Here are the full terms.

Giants get:

  • Will Smith (RHP)

Brewers get:

For the Giants, pursuing a reliever made a lot of sense. They have some useful pieces there, surely: Santiago Casilla has been generally reliable at the the end of the bullpen, Derek Law has pitched well with more exposure, and Hunter Strickland has been solid at time. As a whole, however, the group hasn’t done a lot to add to the Giants’ chances of reaching the postseason this year.

The Giants’ 19.8% strikeout rate is barely ahead of the Colorado Rockies’ (19.7%). By ERA (3.76) and FIP (3.92), the Giants pen sits in the middle of the National League pack. By WAR, however, the team places ahead only of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the abomination the Cincinnati Reds have put together. By Win Probability Added (WPA) among NL relievers, Casilla (0.63, 37th), Strickland (0.53, 39th) and Law (0.52, 40) — who, again, represent the back-end of San Francisco’s bullpen — are well behind the game’s better pitchers. The rest of the relief corps is hovering around zero or worse. They’ve landed someone who should be able to bolster the bullpen significantly this year, and perhaps into future seasons.

In 2015, mostly in the capacity of setting up Francisco Rodriguez, Will Smith was one of the best relievers in baseball, . He made 76 appearances, strinking out 35% of the batters he faced — and no NL reliever without a save had a higher WAR than Smith’s 1.4 mark. He moved into 2016 with the closer role his to lose, but lose it he did when he lost his balance while removing a shoe and twisting his right knee during spring training, an injury which required surgery. Smith hasn’t been as lights out this season, striking out 24% of batters against a 10% walk rate in 22 innings. Although his ERA and FIP have not stabilized due to a couple home runs, his strikeout rate in July has crossed the 30% threshold, providing some encouragement that Smith is on his way back.

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Projecting Adalberto Mejia, the Return for Eduardo Nunez

Adalberto Mejia‘s turned in a 2.81 ERA in 18 starts between Double-A and Triple-A this year. His ERA was helped by a low BABIP, especially at the Double-A level. But even so, his 24% strikeout and 6% walk rates signify a solid pitcher. Although he’s pitched professionally since 2011, Mejia didn’t turn 23 until last month, which makes his high-minors dominance all the more impressive. Mejia’s numbers where significantly less impressive in a limited sample last season, but were still encouraging from a 22-year-old at Double-A.

My newly revamped KATOH projection system rates Mejia as a good, but not elite, pitching prospect. It projects him for 3.4 WAR over his first six seasons by the traditional method. Incorporating Baseball America rankings bumps Mejia’s forecast up to 3.9 WAR, which places him 94th overall among all prospects. To help you visualize what KATOH’s projection entails, here is a probability density function showing KATOH+’s projected distribution of outcomes for Mejia’s first six seasons in the major leagues.


To put some faces to Mejia’s statistical profile, let’s go ahead and generate some statistical comps for the southpaw. I calculated a Mahalanobis distance between Mejia’s Double-A and Triple-A performance this year and every season at those levels since 1991 in which a pitcher recorded at least 350 batters faced. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. A lower “Mah Dist” reading indicates a closer comp.

Please note that the Mahalanobis analysis is separate from KATOH. KATOH relies on macro-level trends, rather than comps. The fates of a few statistically similar players shouldn’t be used to draw sweeping conclusions about a prospect’s future. For this reason, I recommend using a player’s KATOH forecast to assess his future potential. The comps give us some interesting names that sometimes feel spot-on, but they’re mostly just there for fun.

Adalberto Mejia’s Mahalanobis Comps
Rank Name Mah Dist Projected KATOH+ WAR Actual WAR
1 Victor Santos 0.28 2.3 3.8
2 John Thomson 0.36 2.4 13.7
3 Zack Greinke 0.49 2.3 32.0
4 Jeff Karstens 0.66 2.0 3.4
5 John Johnstone 0.76 2.1 1.3
6 Ricky Nolasco 0.82 3.4 16.6
7 Jeff Housman 0.90 2.0 0.0
8 Peter Munro 0.97 3.5 3.3
9 Pat Misch 0.99 2.1 1.0
10 Wil Ledezma 1.02 2.9 1.4

Eduardo Nunez and the Case of the Minus-28

The San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins made a little trade last night. The weekend of the trade deadline is here, meaning we’re about to see a frenzy of deals, meaning this little guy involving Eduardo Nunez and barely-a-top-100 prospect that happened on Thursday night is going to get swept under the rug pretty quickly. If you’re here for a deep analysis of the move and the players involved, well, sorry.

I can tell you that Paul Swydan gave you a bit of that last night when the news broke, and Eric Longenhagen whipped up a report on Adalberto Mejia, the new Twins pitching prospect. I can tell you that Eduardo Nunez has been worth 1.0 WAR in his career, and 1.6 WAR this year. He was technically just an All-Star, but he was an All-Star in the way that the guys who finished after Lance Armstrong during his doping years are Tour de France champions.

I can also tell you that something’s fascinated me about Nunez for a while, and this is actually an article I’ve been dying to write. Throughout most of the year, though, folks aren’t exactly dying to read Eduardo Nunez articles. The time is now. I may never have a more opportune moment.

This is what this article will be about:


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Players’ View: What It’s Like to Get Traded

Trade-deadline hysteria can lead to a dehumanization of players. In our effort to feverishly re-imagine our favorite team’s roster, all of us can be guilty of rooting to exchange this piece for that piece without considering all of the havoc that a trade can create for the people concerned.

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket. It’s fun to dream on that big acquisition that will put our teams over the top, and let’s please continue to do so.

But! We can also appreciate how difficult it must be to weather the constant speculation about your status, and then, if the trade is consummated, to then figure out how to move your life to another city — quickly.

So David Laurila and I set out to ask players about the experience. How did they find out? What were the conversations with the family like? What was the emotional roller coaster like? Thanks to the players that opened up, we can get a better sense of the human side of the trade deadline.


Jeff Samardzija, Giants starting pitcher: “The first time, I watched all the rumors, and it ended up being Oakland, which wasn’t even on the radar, anywhere. The second time around I just ignored it all, and then I almost went to the White Sox and it fell through, and then a few days later it actually happened. Following for entertainment purposes is kinda fun.

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