Archive for Mets

The Market Value of Post-Hype First Basemen

Logan Morrison came up with glove, power and patience and a big twitter presence. It was exciting. Then he was injured, the power waned, and he used that twitter account to upset his franchise. Now he’s a Mariner, traded for Carter Capps. And all of this means something for the Mets and Ike Davis.

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Mets Sign Unreliable Workhorse Bartolo Colon

It’s an oxymoron, the unreliable workhorse. Maybe it doesn’t make sense. But Bartolo Colon has thrown over 340 innings over the past two years, and that’s 62nd in the league. Seen in total, the results have been great — his ERA was sixth-best among qualified starters over the last two years. Using available research on the cost of a win, the deal — two years and $20 million — looks like a good one for the Mets.

And yet the risk markers are large.

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Never Mind the Bays — Mets Take Granderson

If you think wins are worth closer to seven million dollars a year, and that Curtis Granderson is a three-win player next year — reasonable assumptions, given the work of some, and the projections we have on our site — then giving him four years and $60 million is not a problem. It’s almost dead on. The problem comes when you realize that this is almost the exact same deal that the team gave Jason Bay. When he was two years younger. Mets’ fans might feel a chill go down their back right now, as I did when I heard the comparison.

Maybe the comparison won’t hold up to inspection, though.

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How To Shop In the Non-Tender Market… Successfully

I imagine that, for a front office exec, there’s nothing quite like the buzz you get from picking up another team’s non-tender and getting value from that player. Maybe it’s just ‘one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor,’ but in a business where one sector of the market has to continually work to find value in surprising places, it’s an important moment.

But is there much success to be found in the bargain bin? These are players that their own team has given up on — and we have some evidence that teams know more about their own players than the rest of the league, and that players that are re-signed are more successful. What can we learn from the successes and failures that we’ve seen in the past?

To answer that question, I loaded all the non-tendered players since 2007 into a database and looked at their pre- and post-non-tender numbers.

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Mets Land Bargain in Chris Young

Before free agency began, I ran down five potential bargains that I thought had a good chance to be worth more than the contracts that the FanGraphs Crowd projected them to sign for this winter. On that list was Chris Young — the outfield version — who the crowd forecast for $7 million per year over two years. Today, the Mets have signed for him $7 million for a single year, and I continue to believe that this will likely go down as one of the best free agent signings of the off-season.

It is very easy to focus on Young’s warts. He hit just .200/.280/.379 last year. He doesn’t hit right-handed pitching all that well. Now 30, his defense probably isn’t what it used to be. These statements are all true, but they simply explain why Young was signing for 1/$7M instead of 5/$75M like B.J. Upton last winter. If Young was coming off a good year, and had historically better numbers against right-handed pitching, and was still in his defensive prime, he’d be signing a big money long term deal. For 1/$7M, you get warts. You just pick and choose which warts you’re okay with.

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2013 Disabled List Team Data

The 2013 season was a banner season for players going on the disabled list. The DL was utilized 2,538 times, which was 17 more than the previous 2008 high. In all, players spent 29,504 days on the DL which is 363 days more than in 2007. Today, I take a quick look at the 2013 DL data and how it compares to previous seasons.

To get the DL data, I used MLB’s Transaction data. After wasting too many hours going through the data by hand, I have the completed dataset available for public consumption.  Enjoy it, along with the DL data from previous seasons. Finally, please let me know of any discrepancies so I can make any corrections.

With the data, it is time to create some graphs. As stated previously, the 2013 season set all-time marks in days lost and stints. Graphically, here is how the data has trended since 2002:

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Best Bunts of 2013

Everyone understands that not all bunts are a bad idea, right? The auto-sacrifice has (I think) mostly fallen out of favor with fans and teams, but as a nice illustration of sabermetrics’ infinite task, the analysis of bunts continues to evolve. The bunt as a piece of traditional baseball strategy was (and in some circles, continues to be) a target for early sabermetric analyses. But as the field grew more sophisticated, the analysis grew more subtle: a bunt may or may not be a good idea depending on the base/out/game situation, the skill of the bunter, and the position of the fielders.

A more sophisticated analyzing which bunts represent the best process (as opposed to results) would take, well, days of searching through game logs. Analyzing which bunts were the best executed would be an even more onerous burden. For this particular annual tradition, I have chosen the much simpler task of which bunts of the 2013 regular had the best result as measured by Win Probability Added.

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Changes Coming to the Posting System in Japan?

The posting system — the agreement that governs player movement between the teams of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and Major League Baseball in America — looks like it’ll be changing this winter. We tackled the reasons why this might happen during the first round of rumors, but it’s worth revisiting now that more particulars are coming to light.

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The 2014 Mets, Stuck In A Tough Place

If you squinted hard enough, you could have seen this winter being the beginning of the road back to success for the Mets. Matt Harvey was establishing himself as a superstar in his first full season, highly-touted rookies Zack Wheeler & Travis d’Arnaud were getting their feet wet, and they’d be finally free of the disastrous contracts handed to Johan Santana, Jason Bay, & Frank Francisco. With what appeared to be a talented starting rotation and more prospects on the way, if they could just add another bat or two around David Wright, well, maybe they’d have something going.

But then Harvey’s elbow blew up, and d’Arnaud looked overwhelmed in his first crack at the bigs, and Ike Davis & Ruben Tejada proved that they probably aren’t part of the future, and even the team’s COO is saying that there are only four players who they “are sold on” right now (Wright and pitchers Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, & Wheeler). Suddenly the road back appears delayed by at least a year, if not two. Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing the Interactive Spray Chart Tool

I’ve been working on an interactive tool that allows you to create spray charts using Game Day data from the past two years for a few weeks now. I’ve always loved the Katron Batted Ball tool, and it’s been a great resource of mine for years. However, I wanted to put something together that was a bit more interactive, allowed for more filtering, and made side-by-side comparisons easier.

Our writers here at FanGraphs have been kind enough to play around with it and offer suggestions. After some tweaks I am ready to officially release the tool into the wild so that anyone can use it.

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Catching Billy Hamilton

The big secret isn’t much of a secret. As a base-stealer, Billy Hamilton has seemed automatic — but he did get thrown out in the minors. In fact, he got thrown out a whole mess of times.

Since debuting in 2009, Hamilton was thrown out stealing in the minors on 84 occasions, and his overall success rate was right around 82%. Granted, that’s excellent. Granted, maybe Hamilton has improved his ability to pick spots and read pitchers. Granted, who knows the contributions made by minor-league umpires or minor-league field conditions? But Hamilton had been thrown out stealing before. Plenty. It was going to happen to him eventually in the majors. That was inevitable. Major-league players are better than minor-league players.

But most people didn’t expect Hamilton’s first caught-stealing to come on Sept. 25. No one would’ve expected the opposing battery to consist of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Juan Centeno. Hamilton’s first steal came against Yadier Molina. People don’t even know who Juan Centeno is. More people know about him now. Centeno is the first big-leaguer to throw out maybe the next generation’s best base-runner, and Centeno himself might not be long for the big-league spotlight.

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Juan Lagares: Assassin of Runners

For baseball professionals and amateurs across the globe, the dream is to reach the major leagues, and every single year, there are dreams fulfilled that belong to players I’ve never heard of before. Like most baseball writers, I know something about most players, but there are a lot of players, and I have only so many brains. Some months ago I didn’t know a thing about Scott Rice. Scott Rice is the major-league leader in appearances, for pitchers. Usually, the players I don’t know are relievers, but every so often they’re utility infielders or versatile outfielders. Generally, they tend to be relatively unremarkable. I’m supposed to know the guys with big talent. Generally, I don’t expect the players I don’t know to go on to rank among the league’s best at something.

It took me a little while to recognize the name “Juan Lagares.” I’d never heard of Lagares when he started getting playing time with the Mets, and I was left unimpressed by a glance at his statistical track record. But, at the plate, Lagares has gotten better, and at the plate isn’t where Lagares is at his most interesting. See, Lagares has been his most remarkable defensively. Just Wednesday, he robbed the Braves of at least one run with a diving catch at a sinking liner. And while Lagares has demonstrated his ability to move around the outfield, range hasn’t even been his strength. His range has been good, but his arm has been outstanding. Juan Lagares’ arm has put him on a leaderboard.

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Pirates Land Marlon Byrd, as Upgrade, in 2013

Every baseball season is crazy, and the crazy can never be completely summed up in one sentence. There’s just too much of it, in too many places, and no one wants to read that long of a sentence. But here’s a sentence that captures some of the 2013 crazy to date: on August 27, the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded for Marlon Byrd. Suggested, by that sentence, is that the Pirates are in the playoff hunt, hence their desire to make an upgrade. Suggested, also, by that sentence, is that Marlon Byrd is an upgrade, in this season. It’s been weird. It’s always weird, but it’s been weird.

If you’d like all of the details, Anthony DiComo has many of them. The Pirates are adding Byrd, John Buck, and some cash from the Mets. The Mets are adding Dilson Herrera and a player to be named player from the Pirates. The Pirates recently put Starling Marte on the disabled list, and they recently lost their backup catcher for the season. They’re still in great shape to at least play in the one-game wild-card playoff, and by making this swap in August instead of September, Byrd and Buck will be postseason-roster eligible. It’s easy to understand the Pirates’ motivation, and it’s easy to understand the Mets’ desire to get something young for a month of two veterans.

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The Odds of Matt Harvey Breaking Down

Yesterday, it was reported Matt Harvey may need Tommy John surgery because of a torn UCL in his right elbow. Some people may say they saw the injury coming and the Mets were crazy to let him throw over 175 innings this season, but the evidence doesn’t really support those ideas. After looking over the history of other 24-year-olds, it appears that the pitcher’s ability to throw hard and recent small velocity drop were the only identifiable injury indicators.

Myself and others have looked at many indications of a pitchers chances of getting hurt. High increase in innings for a young pitcher (Verducci Effect). Velocity and Zone% drop (PAIN Index). Inconsistency in release points and velocity late in a game. High breaking ball usage. Bad Mechanics. High fastball velocity.

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Carlos Delgado at the Top of His Game

Carlos Delgado‘s official retirement in 2011 sort of slipped under the radar. It was understandable, since it came in April right after the beginning of the season. It was a bit unfortunate, though, because Delgado had an wonderful career. Yesterday at the Rogers Centre, the former Met and Marlin slugger was recognized by the team he was most closely associated with, the Blue Jays, during a ceremony in which he was inducted into the Jays’ “Level of Excellence.”

[It's a tremendous name, isn't it? I can imagine the brainstorming that went into it. Team President: "You need to come up with a name for our version of a Ring of Honor that is a bit different. Something like, 'Level of Excellence,' but, you know, better." {President leaves rooms.} Marketing Person to others: "'Level of Excellence' okay with everyone?" {Others shrug in assent.}]

Delgado was outstanding, but he was no Hall of Famer. He move from catcher to first base early on, and even that position was a stretch, no matter how hard he tried. He was bad on the bases. But the guy could hit. From 1997 to 2004, he was one of the best hitters in the American League. His 148 wRC+ over that span was the equal of Alex Rodriguez and better than Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas.

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Getting Strikes on the Edge

The last time I wrote about Edge% it was in the context of the Tampa Bay Rays using it to get their pitchers into more favorable counts on 1-1. But now I want to take that topic and drill a little deeper to understand how often edge pitches are taken for called strikes.

Overall, pitches taken on the edge are called strikes 69% of the time. But that aggregate measure hides some pretty substantial differences. Going further on that idea, I wanted to see how the count impacts the likelihood of a pitch on the edge being called a strike.

Here are the results:

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Bobby Parnell: More Than Captain Fastball

Bobby Parnell hasn’t been pitching long. As he puts it, he “played a position” when he was little, and hit the mound for the first time in college. Because he threw hard, he kept climbing that mound for three years, was drafted, shuttled through the Mets minor league system, and plunked into his role as a late-game reliever in New York.

Some things — like that gas — stayed the same throughout, but there are a few aspects to his game that have weaved in and out of his game as his career has progressed. Now that he’s getting comfortable at the big league level, it’s all coming together.

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The Mets and Twins Should Remember Joakim Soria

Glen Perkins has, somewhat quietly, become a dominating relief pitcher. He currently sits 5th among qualified relievers in FIP (1.84), 4th in xFIP (2.21), and he has 14 shutdowns against just two meltdowns. He’s into advanced statistics and knows what FIP and xFIP are. He’s going to represent the Twins in the All-Star Game next week, the team he grew up watching as a kid in Minnesota. And he’s signed to a well below market contract, one that pays him just $2.5 million this year, $3.75 million for the following two years, and then gives the Twins a $4.5 million option on his 2016 season. Because of all these things — okay, probably not the nerd part — the Twins are reportedly not willing to trade Perkins, as their preference is to keep him while they rebuild a new core of young players around him.

The Mets might do a similar thing with Bobby Parnell. He has also been excellent (2.16 FIP, 3.16 xFIP) since moving into their closer role, and as a 28-year-old under team control via arbitration for the next two seasons, the Mets are apparently disinclined to trade him. Neither team wants to send the message that their rebuilds are going to take years, and both are showing a preference to retain their young, cost controlled assets and simply move older pieces on larger contracts instead.

Here’s the problem. Closers — relief pitchers in general, really — are simply not worth building around. Today’s asset is tomorrow’s liability, and the Twins and Mets should learn from the mistake that the Royals made with Joakim Soria.

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Zack Wheeler Is Tipping His Pitches

Apparently, Zack Wheeler is tipping his pitches, and it’s so obvious that the Mets manager Terry Collins got ten text messages on the subject during the game in Chicago on Tuesday. Is it obvious enough that we can tell?

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Putting Hitters Away with Heat

In his Major League debut for the Mets, 23-year-old Zack Wheeler struck out seven hitters in his six innings of work. Of those seven strikeouts, six came on fastballs — and of those six, four came on whiffs induced by fastballs.

This got me wondering, what pitchers this year have generated the largest percentage of their strikeouts off of their fastball? And how many generated those strike outs on swings and misses on fastballs*?

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