Archive for Giants

The Adjustments That Made the All-Stars

Most All-Stars weren’t born into baseball this way. Most of them had to alter their approach, or their mechanics, in order to find that a-ha moment. They threw a pitch differently, or decided to pull the ball more, or changed their swing, and then found a run of sustained success that put them in the All-Star game that’s being played tonight.

So, given fairly fettered access to the All-Stars from both leagues, that was the question I posed: what was the big adjustment, mechanical or approach-wise, that brought you to this podium today?

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This Is the Best Johnny Cueto We’ve Seen

Remember when Johnny Cueto was viewed as a risk? I mean, he’s a pitcher, of course he’s a risk — all pitchers are risks. But even relative to other pitchers, Cueto was regarded this offseason as a rather large uncertainty. Between his underwhelming second half and ugly postseason with Kansas City, a right elbow that barked multiple times throughout the year, and his heavy workload in 2014 and 2015, expectations were tempered entering the 2016 season, and it seemed like folks were prepared for the possibility of a Cueto decline, or even collapse.

That preparation was for naught. Out of the gate, the Giants are getting peak Cueto. My preferred method of looking at pitcher WAR is using a 50/50 split of FIP-based WAR and RA9-WAR. It’s not perfect, but neither is looking at just one, and we know the ideal mix is somewhere in between. For now, I’m fine with simply splitting the difference. Do that, and this is your current 2016 top five:

  1. Clayton Kershaw, 5.6 WAR
  2. Johnny Cueto, 4.0
  3. Noah Syndergaard, 3.7
  4. Jake Arrieta, 3.5
  5. Chris Sale, 3.4

Nobody’s Kershaw. But this year, Cueto’s arguably been the next-best thing. Or at the very least, the next-most valuable. Cueto threw another complete game last night, already his fourth of the season, and this one came against the Rockies. When Cueto’s taken the mound this year, the Giants are 16-2. I don’t think too many folks are still viewing Cueto as an uncertainty.

Environmentally, there couldn’t be much more going in Cueto’s favor, and that’s got to be acknowledged. He spent the first seven years of his career pitching in Cincinnati, a bandbox of a ballpark that works against pitching, and then he moved to the American League, where pitchers are replaced in the batting order by dudes whose only job is to hit. Now, he’s back to facing pitchers, and not only that, he’s facing pitchers in baseball’s most pitcher-friendly stadium. Adding to that, Cueto’s a guy who loves to work around the edges of the zone, and while recently he’s commonly pitched to the likes of Brayan Pena and Salvador Perez, the latter of whom routinely grades among baseball’s worst pitch framers, Cueto this year is enjoying the pleasure of pitching to Buster Posey, who’s currently grading as baseball’s best. He’s also enjoying the pleasure of pitching in front of an elite defense, though he’s long enjoyed that pleasure.

He’s gone from small parks and designated hitters and poor catchers to a favorable home stadium, more easy lineups, baseball’s best catcher, and an excellent defense. Of course, we’ve got adjusted stats to account for most of that, and Cueto’s still in the top-10 in those. If it were that easy to succeed in San Francisco, everybody would do it, and yet no one’s doing it like Cueto.

For one, it sure seems like he’s taking advantage of his new environment. By the metrics, this year’s Giants have had, by far, baseball’s best infield defense. Baseball Info Solutions credits San Francisco’s defense with 39 runs saved on the season; only one other team cracks 20. And along with that, Cueto’s increased his ground-ball rate by more than nine points — the second-largest increase of any qualified pitcher from last season. Cueto’s been a ground-baller in the past, but this is the second-highest rate of his career, and its coinciding with a change in location.

Last season, only Jordan Zimmermann threw a higher rate of pitches in the upper-half of the zone and beyond than Cueto. With all his offspeed pitches and lack of top-end velocity, you might not think of him this way, but Cueto’s recently been one of baseball’s most extreme high-ball pitchers. Not anymore. Going from last year to this year, Cueto’s had one of the five largest shifts toward the bottom of the zone:

CuetoShift

Don’t get it twisted — Cueto still likes his high pitch. But there’s been an effort to more often work in the lower half of the zone in San Francisco. The lower half of the zone is where Posey works his receiving magic, and the lower half of the zone is where ground balls are generated, the ones that Brandon Crawford and the rest of the Giants defense routinely turn into outs.

And that relationship between Cueto and the infield defense? It manifests itself not only in quantity, but in quality as well. Among the 133 pitchers with at least 1,000 pitches thrown this season, Cueto’s average exit velocity of 86.8 miles per hour ranks fourth. His grounders have gone just 83.2 mph, also fourth. His two-seam fastball, with which he pounds the inner-half of the plate against right-handed batters, has generated an average exit velocity of 82.2 mph, baseball’s best. It gets swings that look like this:

Oh, yeah. Cueto can help himself out, too.

We’ve long thought of Cueto as something of a contact-manager, given his repeatedly low BABIPs and high strand rates, and now we’ve got the data to support that assumption.

There’s more going on here. Cueto’s going to his slider more often, and he’s truly solving right-handed batters for the first time in his career. He’s running a career-low walk rate and a career-high first-pitch strike rate, evidence that his command is sharper than it’s been in the past. And then he’s still doing all the things that have made him Cueto all along — the masterful mixing of all six pitches, the deception from his many deliveries.

It’s just all clicking right now. You can’t not give credit to Cueto’s surroundings, but you also can’t not give credit to Cueto for using his surroundings to his advantage. Cueto’s looked like an ace in the past, but that went away for a bit. Now, he looks like a better ace than ever before. The Giants are almost certainly going to make the postseason this year. This time, they won’t need Madison Bumgarner to throw 50 innings.


Who Will Hate Robot Umps the Most?

Ever since Eric Byrnes used a computer to help umpire an independent-league baseball game last year, and then Brian Kenny took up the mantle of #RobotUmpsNow on the MLB Network, I’ve been fascinated with the idea that robot umpires will soon call strike zones in baseball. The more I talk to players about it, though, the more I doubt that it’s an eventuality. Because the players, well, the players are going to hate it.

I can’t speak for all players, obviously. I haven’t talked to all of them. But I’ve talked to plenty on both sides, even ones I can’t quote here, and the biggest endorsement I could get was a tepid version of “It’s going to happen.”

So instead of asking each player what they thought about robot umpires, I changed the question a bit. Instead, I asked pitchers, catchers, and hitters, “Who will hate robot umps the most?”

The short answer? Everyone. The long answer? Much more interesting.

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Brandon Crawford, Jason Kipnis and the Flip Side of the Coin

Like any baseball stat, Wins Above Replacement provides the answer to a question. The question, in this case? Something like this: accounting for all the main ways (hitting, running, defense, etc.) in which a player can produce value for his team, how many wins has this particular player been worth?

There are, of course, criticisms of WAR. Some valid, others less so. One prominent criticism is how defensive value is handled in WAR. Some don’t understand how it’s calculated. Others understand but also question how well it represents a player’s defensive contributions. These criticisms shouldn’t be dismissed. As with all baseball statistics, though, it’s necessary to consider WAR in the context in which it’s presented — that is, to remember the question a metric is intended to answer and the method by which it attempts to answer that question.

On Monday, I completed one such reminder in a discussion of players whose WAR totals this year are probably low based on what we know about their defense. Today, I’ll make another attempt — this time, by examining players whose WAR totals are probably inflated by defensive numbers unlikely to be sustained over the course of a season.

In the comments of Monday’s post, one reader, Ernie Camacho, noted:

[T]here is a weird tension in this article between quantifying and estimating what has already happened, on the one hand, and evaluating player talent, on the other. I’m not sure we should be blending the two.

This is a good point. That tension most definitely exists, and it’s possible that some of that tension is what causes people to discount defensive metrics — and WAR as a whole. I agree that, in terms of calculating WAR, we should not be blending what has already happened with what we think will probably happen. Over time, in an ideal world, WAR captures both. In smaller samples, however, this is more difficult to do. In fact, there’s actually something that does capture the blending when we have smaller samples: projections. If we want to capture a player’s talent level at any given moment, projections do that very well.

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Madison Bumgarner’s Offensive Plan

Madison Bumgarner hit another home run. Sure, it was against Aaron Blair, and sure, this just keeps Bumgarner tied with Jason Heyward, but, Aaron Blair is a quality prospect in the major leagues, and this keeps Bumgarner tied with Jason Heyward. Bumgarner apparently figured out hitting in 2014. Maybe he got bored because he’d already mastered pitching. Since then, over just shy of 200 trips to the plate, Bumgarner has batted .234/.265/.451, good for a 101 wRC+. The next-best offensive pitcher has been Zack Greinke, with a wRC+ of 65. On the mound, Madison Bumgarner is Madison Bumgarner, and at the plate, Madison Bumgarner is Jonathan Schoop. The Giants’ advantage is that no other pitcher hits like a powerful second baseman.

This table is funny to me:

Homer/Batted Ball%, 2014 – 2016
Batter HR Batted HR/Batted%
Giancarlo Stanton 76 653 11.6%
Franklin Gutierrez 20 172 11.6%
Chris Davis 83 764 10.9%
Trevor Story 14 131 10.7%
Miguel Sano 29 272 10.7%
Zach Walters 10 94 10.6%
Chris Carter 74 699 10.6%
Gregory Bird 11 105 10.5%
Adam Duvall 21 204 10.3%
Madison Bumgarner 11 108 10.2%

The name right after Bumgarner is Kyle Schwarber. When Bumgarner has hit a ball between the lines, he’s had basically the same rate of home runs as Kyle Schwarber. You know the image you have of Kyle Schwarber. Bumgarner has made that kind of contact.

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Scouting the Dodgers’ Electric Cuban Righty, Yadier Alvarez

Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez was the $16 million crown jewel of the Dodgers’ 2015/2016 international free-agent class. It was the second-highest bonus ever given to an international amateur and reports on Alvarez prior to last July were so good that I ranked him #1 on my J2 board at the time. Alvarez ventured stateside this spring and has consistently pitched every fifth day, only missing one start to attend the birth of his child. Reports coming out of Camelback Ranch have been superlative. On Monday, I got to see it for myself along with a number of other interesting prospects.

Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Current Level: Extended Spring Training, Age: 20.2, Height/Weight: 6’3/180
Signed: IFA at age 19 on July 2, 2015 out of Cuba by LA for $16.0 million bonus

Alvarez was electric. After opening his start with a few fringe fastballs, he began to loosen up and was sitting 92-97 before long. He has been up to 100 this spring, which is especially notable given that there were rumors over the offseason that his velocity had been down. Mixed in along with the fastball was an 82-86 mph slider with late, two-plane bite. It flashed plus, but the line between that pitch and his 76-82 mph curveball was sometimes blurry. The curveball is a bit more vertically oriented than the slider and Alvarez decelerates his arm a bit to throw it, but it flashed average and it should solidify there once he becomes more comfortable with its release.

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Best Final Seasons, Part Two

Yesterday, we tackled the best final seasons for pitchers. Today, let’s tackle the position players, so we can get to the heart of the question of just how good David Ortiz needs to be to crack one of these lists. The rules and breakdowns are the same as before, so I would encourage you to read yesterday’s post to peep those. Once again, big ups to Jeff Zimmerman for data help.

30-39 WAR

Best Final Season, Position Players with 30-39 WAR
Player Final Season Age WAR Career WAR
Roy Cullenbine 1947 33 4.4 33.8
Chick Stahl 1906 33 3.7 33.1
Tony Cuccinello 1945 37 3.0 32.2
Gil McDougald 1960 32 2.8 39.7
Joe Adcock 1966 38 2.5 34.2
Elbie Fletcher 1949 33 2.4 30.7

The guys on this list are definitely not household names, but there are some interesting, if also tragic, stories here. Let’s deal with the tragic first. There are six players here because one of them, Chick Stahl, committed suicide during spring training of the 1907 season. He had been named the Americans’ (Red Sox) player/manager over the winter, and something drove him to take his own life. This was surely a big loss for the team, as they had been counting on him to help lead them. He was the fifth-best hitter in the game just a couple years earlier in 1904.

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Best Final Seasons, Part One

A few years back, I wrote a fourpart series about the worst final seasons for good players. It was inspired by Willie Mays, who very prominently had a bad final season, but was far from the worst season. Now, David Ortiz has inspired the flip side of the coin – the best final season. The Large Father is off to quite a hot start, and so some people have asked, how good does he have to be to produce the best final season of all-time? As you’ll see, the answer is he’ll have to do quite a lot.

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Let’s Watch a Pitcher Break the Rules and (Sorta) Get Caught

A a writer, you typically have an agenda when you approach a major-league hitter in the clubhouse. Literally. Even me! I try to keep it open-ended — and avoid the old “can you talk about how important player X is so that I can finish up my piece on him”-type questions — but I still have a (loose!) narrative sketched around some key stats when I step to a player. It’s called research.

Sometimes, the player has an agenda, too. Maybe that’s wording it too strongly. Sometimes, the player doesn’t want to answer your questions and has something else on his mind. That’s better.

That describes what happened when I talked to Josh Donaldson last night before a game against the Giants. He was obviously thinking about the night before, and when I brought up an old conversation about his two-strike approach, and the deception between Zack Greinke and Paul Konerko, he started talking about pitchers not following the rule book.

I let him run with it.

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The Rockies’ Blockbuster Night

In last night’s fifth inning, the Rockies threw punches and punches until the Giants were frontless. They scored 13 runs, which, as was noted at Purple Row, was a team record for runs scored in an inning. Oh, did I mention that this game was in San Francisco, and not in Denver? Because it was, which makes it all the more surprising. Let’s walk back through their blockbuster night, and use it to show what the Rockies are doing right this season.

First, let’s put this game into some context. Here are all the teams who have scored 15 or more runs in a game at AT&T Park, which as you probably know has been open since 2000.

15+ Runs Scored by Single Team, AT&T Park History
Date Tm Runs Opp Runs Barry Bonds?
5/6/2016 COL 17 SFG 7 No
7/10/2015 SF 15 PHI 2 No
9/13/2014 LAD 17 SF 0 No
8/31/2014 SF 15 MIL 5 No
8/24/2010 SF 16 CIN 5 No
9/24/2008 COL 15 SF 6 No
7/23/2005 FLO 16 SF 4 No
9/3/2004 SF 18 ARI 7 Yes
4/9/2003 SF 15 SD 11 Yes
5/24/2000 SF 18 MON 0 Yes
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference Play Index

As you can see, this doesn’t happen very often — happens even less when Barry Bonds hasn’t been involved. For reference, over the same time span, a team has scored 15-plus runs at Fenway Park 37 times. Across the bay at whatever Oakland’s ballpark is called now, it’s happened 16 times. At Camden Yards, it’s happened 27 times. Runs are simply harder to come by in games affected by the marine layer.

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Brandon Belt’s Annual, Awesome Adjustment

We’re here every year, it feels like. May rolls around, we notice that Brandon Belt has been doing new things in the early part of the season, and then we forget about it until the next season rolls around when we start all over again. Maybe it’s because he’s been the victim of a few impact injuries that have caused him to miss time in the second half of the past two seasons. Maybe it’s because he plays in the hardest park at which to hit home runs as a left-handed hitter for 81 games a year. Either way, it seems like Belt doesn’t really get his due. By all accounts, he should: by WAR, he was a top-five first baseman in 2013, and he was top-seven in 2015. Last season, he produced more offense by wRC+ than Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Abreu, or Eric Hosmer. What’s most impressive about Belt, however, is that he has always been evolving, and once again he’s showing some pretty significant adjustments so far this season.

We can trace a long line of Belt’s many evolutions. There was his breakout toward the end of 2012 and into 2013. There were his aggressive swing%/pull% adjustments in 2014. And finally, there was his plate coverage/opposite field power increase in 2015. Belt has obviously always been looking to improve on the craft of hitting, even if the overall results haven’t followed the perfect trajectory: removing an injury-marred 2014 that saw him play only 61 games, Belt has recorded wRC+ marks of 119, 140, and 135 in 2012, 2013, and 2015, respectively. Early adjustments brought him to a very high level, but subsequent ones haven’t quite vaulted him into the elite.

There’s not much that can compare to his wholesale improvements this year, however. I considered holding off on this article until the point at which we could get stabilization on a few more of his stats — ISO, in particular — but the changes are simply too glaring to ignore for another month or so. They’re exciting. We couldn’t wait. Let’s start with these few key offensive statistics:

Brandon Belt BB%/K%/ISO/wRC+, 2012-16
Season BB% K% ISO wRC+
2012 11.4% 22.5% .146 119
2013 9.1% 21.9% .193 140
2014 7.7% 27.2% .206 117
2015 10.1% 26.4% .197 135
2016 18.0% 14.8% .214 158
SOURCE: FanGraphs

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The Angels and Giants Are Making Unprecedented Contact

Is it still cool to talk about contact hitting, or are we past that? I don’t think we should be past that. Not yet, not as long as the Royals remain the defending champions. So, you remember all this stuff. It was a big part of the Royals conversation during last year’s playoffs. Yeah, the Royals had a really strong bullpen, and an incredible team defense, but they wound up mostly defined by their insistence on putting the ball in play. For better or worse, that’s the association. The Royals were the contact team. As a matter of fact, they were arguably the best contact-hitting team since at least 1950. I personally don’t care too much about what happened before 1950, not when I’m talking about statistics.

The Royals are a loyal organization, so they brought back a lot of their players. There’s been a little mixing up, but for the most part they’re still the familiar Royals, so it shouldn’t surprise you they’re again running a low strikeout rate. It’s a pretty sticky metric, strikeouts. As much as the Royals have put the ball in play, though, they’ve so far been surpassed in that regard. Filter out pitchers, and the Royals have baseball’s seventh-lowest rate of strikeouts. They’re a little higher than the A’s. They’re a little higher than the Marlins. And so on, and then there are the two standouts. To this point, at least as far as not striking out goes, the Angels and Giants have been on another level.

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Saying Nice Things About A.J. Pierzynski

A.J. Pierzynski has played baseball for a very long time. He’s one of the few players to predate not only the PITCHf/x era (2007-present), but also the Baseball Info Solutions era (2002-present). He’s one of just six active players who played in the 1990s — the others are Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. They are all well celebrated and beloved players. Pierzynski does not fit in that group.

If you’re familiar with Pierzynski, you likely know that his opponents generally have not been all that fond of him. A Google search for “A.J. Pierzynski hate” turns up plenty of results. Rather than focus on that, I thought it would be fun to find some nice to things to say about Pierzynski.

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What Pitchers (and Numbers) Say About Pitching in the Cold

Maybe it was the fact that she spent her formative years in Germany, while I spent most of mine in Jamaica and America’s South, but my mother and I have always disagreed about a fundamental thing when it comes to the weather. For her, she wants the sun. It doesn’t matter if it’s bitter cold and dry; if the sun’s out, she’s fine. I’d rather it was warm. Don’t care if there’s a drizzle or humidity or whatever.

It turns out, when we were disagreeing about these things, we were really talking about pitching. Mostly because life is pitching and pitching is life.

But also because the temperature, and the temperature alone, does not tell the story of pitching in the cold. It’ll make sense, just stick with it.

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We Might Already Have the Season’s Worst Called Ball

From time to time, every year, I like to look at bad called strikes and bad called balls. The availability of PITCHf/x information makes this fairly easy, and, when isn’t it fun to examine the extraordinary? The point generally isn’t to rip on a given home-plate umpire. It’s more about trying to figure out why what happened happened. What has to take place for a ball to get called a strike? On the flip side, what has to take place for a strike to get called a ball?

This is the post about last year’s worst called ball, as determined by distance from the center of the strike zone. The pitch was thrown by Jeff Samardzija, and it missed the very middle by 1.2 inches. Still, while it was down the pipe, it was ruled in the hitter’s favor. A distance of 1.2 inches is a very small distance, so you can see why that was extreme. Now skip to 2016! This season is only barely underway. They’ve played less than four percent of the games, but we might’ve already seen the worst called ball. A pitch was ruled a ball even though it was to about the same spot as Samardzija’s, and the pitch was thrown just last Saturday by Clayton Kershaw.

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Belt, Giants Avert Risk with Six-Year Extension

Contract extensions during arbitration seasons aren’t terribly common, especially when a player is just two seasons from free agency. Since Elvis Andrus signed his eight year, $120 million extension in 2013, there have been just three contract extensions handed to players who’ve recorded similar service time. One winter ago, Giancarlo Stanton signed his 13 year, $325 million deal. And over the last few months, the San Francisco Giants are the only club to take part in such an agreement. In November, the Giants signed Brandon Crawford to a six-year extension worth $75 million, and this past weekend they doubled down on their infield, signing Brandon Belt to a similar six-year extension for $79 million. While these extensions are uncommon, Belt and the Giants have achieved a reasonable common ground.

Without the new contract, Belt would have been eligible for free agency after the 2017 season heading into his age-30 season. That would have been Belt’s one big chance at a major contract. His new deal with the Giants will pay him $79 million over six years, which includes the roughly $6 million he was already expected to make this season. Now Belt won’t hit free agency until after his age-33 season, likely precluding him from signing a mega-contract given his age.

Signing a huge contract was actually never a certainty for Belt — with or without the present extension. Power pays and Belt has yet to hit more than 18 home runs in a season — although the raw power numbers are mitigated by San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Belt has recorded just 23 of his 64 career home runs at home, and San Francisco’s park factor indicates that it is the toughest park in which to hit home runs by a pretty wide margin. It isn’t that Belt lacks power; indeed, his .185 ISO since 2011 is among the top-third of all batters regardless of park. He has roughly the same amount of extra base hits at home (98) compared to the road (99), but when he is out of San Francisco a lot more balls leave the yard.

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The History of Madison Bumgarner vs. Clayton Kershaw

So you want the designated hitter in the National League, eh? Well, you’re going to have to talk it over with this guy first:

madison-bumgarner-ftr-gettyjpg_155j9bewlw8351sfz9t8uzi4e7

Jokes aside, I’m not even sure Madison Bumgarner would mind if the designated hitter took over. It doesn’t seem like he particularly enjoys hitting. He doesn’t work on it in the cages or in batting practice and he wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, as one might expect other #PitchersWhoRake would. And it would allow him to put more of his energy into what he actually does enjoy doing: pitching.

Bumgarner enjoys pitching, and we enjoy watching him pitch, but whether he enjoys hitting or not, we enjoy watching him to do that, too. Bumgarner’s actually a good hitter, and not your typical “good hitter for a pitcher.” No, he’s actually a good hitter. His career 47 wRC+ might lead you to believe otherwise, but between 2013 and -14, he seemed to flip a switch, and since then, he’s been the best-hitting pitcher in baseball. Consider:

That seems good.

There’s a reason I’m writing about Bumgarner as a hitter right now. This didn’t just come out of the blue. The reason is that, over the weekend, Madison Bumgarner faced Clayton Kershaw, undeniably the best pitcher on the planet, and Madison Bumgarner did this:

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Launch Angle, Matt Duffy, and Potential Power Surges

We have launch angle for all batted balls last year! We’re still in the infancy of Statcast, and there have been some wiggles in the wobble so far, but with the new update to Baseball Savant, it looks like we can search all batted balls for launch angle. I’m giddy.

This should give us the chance to all sorts of great things later, but for now I’ll do something relatively simple that’s relevant to the newest big slugger in the game, Matt Duffy. We all knew he’d bust out like this, and now we know why.

Turn back to Alan Nathan‘s excellent post on the long ball yesterday at The Hardball Times. It’s full of nerdy goodness, but there’s also a fun little factoid that runs through most of his analysis: the ideal launch angle for a home run is between 25 and 30 degrees. Given a certain exit velocity, that range is where distance on a batted ball peaks:

Nathan-Fig1

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KATOH Projects: San Francisco Giants Prospects

Previous editions: ArizonaBaltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati  / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles (AL) / Los Angeles (NL)Miami / Minnesota / Milwaukee / New York (NL) / New York (AL) / Philadelphia / Pittsburgh / San Diego.

Last week, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the San Francisco Giants. In this companion piece, I look at that same San Francisco farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Giants have the 26th-best farm system in baseball according to KATOH.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

EVALUATING THE PROSPECTS 2016
Angels
Astros
Athletics
Blue Jays
Braves
Brewers
Cardinals
Cubs
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Giants
Indians
Mariners
Marlins
Mets
Nationals
Orioles
Padres
Phillies
Pirates
Rangers
Rays
Red Sox
Reds
Rockies
Royals
Tigers
Twins
White Sox
Yankees

I’d say there are some surprises in the rankings here, but if you’ve been following the Giants’ player development successes the last few years, everything’s a surprise. They have found a niche that they have doubled down on in recent years of acquiring guys who are baseball players first and toolsy showcase darlings second, if at all. It’s hard to argue with anything they’ve done for a while now, as they continue to be a consistent winner despite changing expectations every season.

This system is really exciting for how many of the under-the-radar players I think can actually end up being solid major leaguers. Having Christian Arroyo as your top prospect isn’t exciting, but it becomes all the more gratifying if and when he becomes a major contributor to the parent club in a couple years. The same goes with a lot of the lesser-known pitchers who don’t have big velocity, yet are mowing right through the minor leagues on the way to a shot at cracking the Giants’ rotation. For evaluation’s sake, I really am intrigued by their collection of guys, both because of the collective thought that obviously went into its formation, and because I do genuinely like a good number of their chances going forward.

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