Archive for Reds

KATOH Projects: Cleveland Indians Prospects

Previous editions: Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati .

Earlier this week, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Cincinnati Reds. In this companion piece, I look at that same Cincinnati farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. There’s way more to prospect evaluation than just the stats, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Dan’s piece in addition to this one. KATOH has no idea how hard a pitcher throws, how good a hitter’s bat speed is, or what a player’s makeup is like. So it’s liable to miss big on players whose tools don’t line up with their performances. However, when paired with more scouting-based analyses, KATOH’s objectivity can be useful in identifying talented players who might be overlooked by the industry consensus or highly-touted prospects who might be over-hyped.

Below, I’ve grouped prospects into three groups: those who are forecast for two or more wins through their first six major-league seasons, those who receive a projection between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR though their first six seasons, and then any residual players who received Future Value (FV) grades of 45 or higher from Dan. Note that I generated forecasts only for players who accrued at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last season. Also note that the projections for players over a relatively small sample are less reliable, especially when those samples came in the low minors. Read the rest of this entry »


KATOH Projects: Cincinnati Reds Prospects

Previous editions: Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL.

Last week, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Cincinnati Reds. In this companion piece, I look at that same Cincinnati farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. There’s way more to prospect evaluation than just the stats, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Dan’s piece in addition to this one. KATOH has no idea how hard a pitcher throws, how good a hitter’s bat speed is, or what a player’s makeup is like. So it’s liable to miss big on players whose tools don’t line up with their performances. However, when paired with more scouting-based analyses, KATOH’s objectivity can be useful in identifying talented players who might be overlooked by the industry consensus or highly-touted prospects who might be over-hyped.

Below, I’ve grouped prospects into three groups: those who are forecast for two or more wins through their first six major-league seasons, those who receive a projection between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR though their first six seasons, and then any residual players who received Future Value (FV) grades of 45 or higher from Dan. Note that I generated forecasts only for players who accrued at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last season. Also note that the projections for players over a relatively small sample are less reliable, especially when those samples came in the low minors.

1. Jose Peraza, 2B (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 14.9 WAR
Dan’s Grade: 55 FV

Peraza burst onto the prospect scene in 2014, when he hit .339/.364/.441 between High-A and Double-A. His high BABIP came back to earth a bit in Triple-A last year, but was still roughly a league-average hitter. His .293/.316/. 378 showing wasn’t bad at all for a 21-year-old. Peraza is an interesting prospect due to the outlier-ness of many of his attributes. For example, both of the following sentences are accurate. One: he’s a 70-grade runner who makes tons of contact, is a strong defender up the middle, succeeded in Double-A as a 20-year-old, and held his own as a 21-year-old in Triple-A. And two: he’s a second baseman with minimal power who never walks and has been traded twice in the past seven months. There are clearly pros and cons to Peraza’s profile, but when fed into KATOH, they yield a very favorable projection. I’m always skeptical of the projections for outlier cases like Peraza, so let’s turn to the Mahalanobis comps for more clarity.

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Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Cincinnati Reds

Other clubs: Braves, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Red Sox, White Sox.

I share the view of many fans in wondering if the return from the Todd Frazier deal was justified, even though I do think Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler are valuable prospects. Even if all three (Brandon Dixon being the third) were busts, the Reds have amassed quite an assortment of high-upside and -floor prospects who could the club competitive in a short time frame. And that’s without including Nick Howard and Jonathon Crawford as promising assets, both of whom were highly thought of as recently as last offseason before their lost 2015 years.

The Reds have an uphill road to climb this season to contend, with the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates all looking like present contenders. Depending on how their young players respond at the major league level, we could see an influx of talented players turn them into a contender akin to the way the Cubs did last season. Most likely they still have a year or two to expect the results to resemble their collective potential, but this crop is an exciting group to monitor this year.

They may lack a sure thing top-of-the-rotation starter or cornerstone shortstop, but you can’t help but be interested in seeing where pitchers like Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Amir Garrett settle in. And between Blandino, Peraza and Blake Trahan, at least one of them should be able to supplant Zack Cozart at short, allowing Eugenio Suarez‘ likely move to third base.

This was a hard organization to cover, due to the endless amount of legitimate bench and bullpen pieces behind a sizable list of 50+ future value players. The system boast a ton of mid-level talent to go along with their solid top talent, and is a team I’ll be following closely this year to see how everyone’s stock improves.

As usual, there are a few rankings here that differ from popular opinion. I have Winker ranked number one, since I maintain confidence in his hitting ability while also expecting his power to come on strong. Ian Kahaloa and Gavin LaValley are too newer additions to the organization whose futures I am higher on than what I have heard elsewhere. I am not as bullish about Eric Jagielo‘s bat progressing, and am also lower on Antonio Santillan, Yorman Rodriguez and Aristides Aquino. Admittedly, Santillan and Kahaloa are so early in their development that you could make a case for either of them moving up or down ten spots, and I wouldn’t argue with you.

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The New Members of the 40 WAR Club

If you go to our leaderboards and click on “career,” you’ll get a sample of 3,879 qualified position players, and 2,988 pitchers. If you lower the playing time threshold down to zero on each, you end up with 16,824 and 9,127. Now, obviously there’s some overlap in those numbers, but the point is that at least 16,000 players have suited up for a major league game. In that context, when I note that only 472 players total (314 position, 158 pitcher) have crossed the 40 WAR threshold, you can see it’s a big deal. It’s more or less the top-500 players in the game’s history (you can fill in the gaps — and probably then some — with Negro League players for whom we don’t have WAR or any advanced metrics).

That’s not to say there’s a lot of fanfare with getting to 40 wins. No one throws you a party, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything to the person. But since we know that 50 WAR is sort of the dividing line for whether a player can be a Hall of Famer (as I noted recently, there are plenty of players in the Hall of Fame who barely cracked the 50 WAR plateau, and I believe there are even some in who are below it), then 40 WAR is sort of the dividing line for whether we’ll argue about a player being deserving of the Hall of Fame. Well, for everyone except relief pitchers, anyway.

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2016 Breakthrough Candidate: Raisel Iglesias

In 2015, there were fewer pitchers (74) qualifying for the AL and NL ERA titles than in any season going back to 1995 (70). In any given season, the number of first-time ERA qualifiers is about a quarter of that population. This last year was no exception, as 18 pitchers qualified for the ERA title for the first time.

What was unique about 2015 was the high quality of those first-time ERA qualifiers. AL first-timers included Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Taijuan Walker, Collin McHugh, Trevor Bauer and Marco Estrada. Their NL counterparts included Jake Arrieta, Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. There are some heavy hitters on those two lists; you might have to go back to the Class of 1984, which boasted Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Mark Langston, Mike Moore and Oil Can Boyd among its members, to find a comparable group at the top.

Beginning last week, I have reached reach into the large population of zero-time ERA qualifiers to identify the top breakthrough candidates for 2016 in both leagues. Last week, we took a look at the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman. This time around, we’ll switch over to the senior circuit and hone in on the Reds’ Raisel Iglesias.

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Projecting the Prospects in the Aroldis Chapman Trade

A couple of days ago, news broke that the Yankees had traded for uber-reliever Aroldis Chapman. In exchange for Chapman’s services, the Bombers coughed up four prospects: Starting pitcher Rookie Davis, corner infielder Eric Jagielo, second baseman Tony Renda and reliever Caleb Cotham. Here’s what my fancy computer math says about this quartet.

Rookie Davis, RHP (Profile)
KATOH Projection Through Age 28 (2015 stats): 2.6 WAR
KATOH Projection Through Age 28 (2014 stats): 0.7 WAR

The Yankees took Davis in the 14th round out of high school in 2011, but he soon proved to be a steal at that spot. In 2013, he dominated Short-Season A-Ball with the help of a mid-90s fastball. He continued to establish himself in 2014 by posting a sub-4.00 FIP as a starter in Low-A.

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Yankees Build Laugh-Out-Loud Bullpen With Aroldis Chapman

At best, Aroldis Chapman is unstable. A manageable sort of loose cannon. At worst, he’s violent, a danger not only to himself but to others. There’s a lot to try to handle here — more than we want to have to handle when we’re dealing with baseball players and baseball trades. We don’t want to have to consider this stuff, but here we are, and it can’t be avoided. Aroldis Chapman has been traded to the Yankees, for Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, and Tony Renda. Chapman would’ve been a Dodger by now, or maybe a member of the Red Sox, but for an off-field incident involving alleged violence and gunfire. Chapman wasn’t arrested, but he might still be suspended under MLB’s new domestic-violence policy. That part of this story is front and center. Were it not for the incident, Chapman wouldn’t be on the Yankees. Were it not for the incident, Chapman would’ve commanded a higher price.

I can’t tell you how you’re supposed to feel. I can’t tell you what Chapman did or didn’t do. At this point I bet even the parties involved couldn’t tell you exactly what Chapman did or didn’t do, given the memory’s tendency to warp. All that’s known is there was something ugly, and Chapman was in the middle of it, and the details caused some teams to back off. If you love the trade for the Yankees, that’s fine. If you don’t want to root for Chapman anymore, that’s fine. If you feel like it’s getting harder and harder to be a sports fan these days, that’s fine. The more we know our athletes, the more we know them as real people, and real people are complex, where sports are supposed to be simple. This isn’t what a lot of us signed up for.

Your job is to figure out how you feel. And how you want to feel, if it’s different. My job is to tell you about the baseball. I’m not qualified to do the other stuff. And here’s the reality of baseball: no team likes off-the-field concerns, or potential pending suspensions. Every team wants its 25 players to be saints. But character is only part of it, and when the talent level is high enough, teams will overlook everything else. Aroldis Chapman is one of the greatest per-inning pitchers on the planet. Of that there is zero question. There are questions about his character, but teams know this stuff blows over. And beyond that, you could say Chapman’s off-field problems created a market inefficiency. Just ask Brian Cashman:

“Given the circumstances that exist, the price point on the acquisition has been modified,”Cashman said. “We felt this was an opportunity to add a big arm to our bullpen.”

There you go. Sometimes executives are reluctant to share the whole truth. Cashman is more of a straight shooter, and that excerpt tells you everything. Chapman’s got some troubles. Those troubles scared off other teams. And that made it appealing for the Yankees to strike. As far as roster management is concerned, Chapman’s incident is practically a good thing. Value value value. Below, I’m going to write more about baseball. After all, there’s a transaction to analyze, and I have a job to do. Read, or don’t. I’m not here to judge you or anybody. I’m here to judge statistics, and Chapman has some awesome statistics.

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How Billy Hamilton Stole Joey Votto Five Bases

Little less than a year ago, I wrote a post here called What Happens When Billy Hamilton is on Third Base? Answer: not much! Slightly more detailed answer: less than I was expecting!

What I’d expected, rather, what I’d hoped for the sake of an interesting post, was that every time the Reds had runners on first and third with Hamilton being the guy on third, that the guy on first would just take off every time. Like, no matter what, no matter who you are or what situation the game’s in, just run. It’s Billy Hamilton on third base for crying out loud. If they throw down to second, we’ve got ourselves a run. If they don’t, hey, free steal!

It happened less often than I wanted it to. Which, I thought was kind of peculiar. Couple other things popped up — teams altered their defensive alignments slightly, it made a rundown between first and second turn into a run and a runner on second — but for the most part I came away empty-handed and sad.

I understand this isn’t relevant to anything that’s going on right now. I also understand that my first two post ideas this morning failed miserably and around noon I started to panic, so I opened up the TextEdit document on my laptop titled “rainy day topics.” It isn’t raining outside, but I do need to get my Christmas shopping done today, so this is what you get. “joey votto stealing with hamilton on third” it says here next to this bullet point. Not sure where this came from. Guessing someone tipped me off on this. Wasn’t totally sure what it meant, but I had a pretty good idea.

The last time Joey Votto played a full, healthy season before this most recent one, he stole six bases. Over his previous three seasons, he’d average six steals a year. In 2015, Joey Votto stole 11 bases. Eleven minus six is five. That’s some math. Hey, what’s up with those extra five steals?

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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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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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2016 ZiPS Projections – Cincinnati Reds

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 Cincinnati Reds. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Atlanta / Kansas City / Philadelphia / Toronto.

Batters
In terms of results, Cincinnati’s 2015 season was unambiguously poor. In terms of indicators, it was much more ambiguously poor. By BaseRuns, the club ought to have won nine more games than they actually did in 2015 — and most of those potential wins appear to have been conceded by the offense. Sequencing was largely the culprit: despite producing the ninth-best park-adjusted batting line (92 wRC+) in the National League with the bases empty, the Reds recorded the very worst batting line (72 wRC+) with men in scoring postion.

Entering the 2016 campaign, the starting corps of the Reds’ offense actually appears to be quite strong. It isn’t surprising to find that Todd Frazier (624 PA, 3.6 zWAR) and Joey Votto (574 PA, 4.6 zWAR) are both projected to produce comfortably above-average seasons. But Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, Billy Hamilton, and Brandon Phillips all profile as roughly average players, too.

Of some interest is how the Reds will manage left field. Eugenio Suarez (607 PA, 2.3 zWAR) would appear to represent a legitimate solution to the problem. There’s also Adam Duvall (536 PA, 1.7 zWAR), though, too. In both cases, the projected numbers are more optimistic than one might have otherwise supposed. Omitted from the tables below — because damn Szymborski submitted the relevant forecast as the author was shuffling off to bed — is Rule 5 selection Jake Cave. ZiPS projects Cave to slash .223/.274/.319 and record a -0.4 zWAR in just over 600 plate appearances.

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Managers on the Evolution of their Role

Though baseball’s Winter Meetings seem like the playground of the front office executive, there is one other baseball man who’s ubiquitous: the manager. Semi-required to attend media events and an annual luncheon, most of the sport’s managers descend on the meetings to make their mark.

For the most part, they field questions about next year’s lineup, and try to deflect queries about front-office moves. They’ll do a little reminiscing about last year, and a little looking forward to next year. It’s a bit of a dance, since most of the reporters are looking to find out how the roster is going to look on paper, and the person in front of them is mostly in charge of putting that roster on the field.

Still, it’s a great moment to get access to many managers at once. This past August, I asked a collection of players and writers how Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon — managers with distinctly different approaches and pasts — could both find great success. I thought it would make sense to ask the managers gathered here about their craft, as well.

What has changed about managing? How are the demands on the modern manager different than they once were?

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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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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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Trading for Aroldis Chapman

Sometime soon, Aroldis Chapman is going to get traded. But don’t just take my word for it:

I mean, yeah, on the one hand, nothing close. But on the other hand, how often do front offices establish public timelines? The Reds want to trade Chapman, and they want to do it soon, and they want to get a certain type of package back:

That’s not surprising. Every team wants more big-league-ready young players. Those are some of the game’s most valuable assets. Nick Cafardo, meanwhile, offered something that raises the eyebrows:

The Reds listened to Boston’s pitch for Chapman but required more than the Red Sox offered for Kimbrel, and the Sox weren’t comfortable going the extra mile for a pitcher who can become a free agent after 2016.

That’s too much. It’s unconfirmed, but regardless, that’s too much. Still, it brings to mind the question: what’s the right price? If you’re looking to trade for Aroldis Chapman, how far should you go before things stop being reasonable?

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Dick Williams on Transitioning the Cincinnati Model

The Cincinnati Reds front office underwent a makeover a few weeks ago. Dick Williams, a 44-year-old former investment banker, was appointed the club’s general manager. Walt Jocketty, who is heading into the final year of his contract, moved from GM to President of Baseball Operations.

Williams, who had been the assistant GM, will continue to work under Jocketty until the latter steps down at the end of the 2016 season. Not a lot is expected to change over the next 10-11 months, but it will be interesting to see how differently the Reds operate once Williams is handed the decision-making reins. Jocketty has a business background of own, but he’s also 64 years old and cut his teeth on scouting. By today’s standards, he’s very much an old school executive. Professionally speaking, Williams was weaned on analytics.

Williams talked about his philosophies during last week’s GM meetings in Boca Raton.

——

On working with and learning from Walt Jocketty: “It’s hard to work for a guy for eight years and not learn from him as you go. Walt has been an executive of the year for a couple of different teams. He’s been here for 20-plus years and has a ring. I’ve learned a lot from Walt.

“I got into baseball a little later in life. I was in my mid 30s. I had close to a 15-year business career in investment banking and private equity. My background isn’t totally unique in baseball front offices, but it’s somewhat unique, and it’s shaped a lot of who I am and how I think about problems.

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The Reds’ Plan, Rebuilding, and Team Volatility

The Reds rumors are coming in hot and fast, or at least hot and fast for the weeks right before Thanksgiving, when most of baseball seems to be watching football. Mostly, it’s the obvious scuttlebutt: Aroldis Chapman and Brandon Phillips are available, for packages of varying quality, and mostly for players close to the major leagues.

Depending on what you think of the Reds and their current competitiveness, you’ll read “listening to any and all offers” differently. If you like the Reds’ young starting rotation, you think you might sell anything that’s not nailed down for 2017, meaning the focus is on jettisoning Jay Bruce and getting a haul for the Cuban closer. If you think there’s no hope and the division is too awesome for the Reds, you think they should probably trade Todd Frazier, and maybe even Joey Votto.

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Joey Votto Is the Best at Another Thing

Think of some facts about Joey Votto.

Chances are that your brain just made a number of connections. The first things that came to mind were an image of Votto, the fact he plays first base for the Reds, and perhaps his number and his contract. He’s also Canadian, which you may have known. Once your brain had covered some basic personal data regarding Votto, you probably moved to a summary of him as a baseball player. His elite on-base skill, his patience, his power (when healthy) and the whole controversy about how aggressive he should be at the plate. Beyond that, perhaps you considered his WAR, his freakish ability to avoid pop ups and maybe even the fact he’s known as a contemplative guy.

The preceding paragraph is a flyover view of Votto. It’s the kind of thing an average fan of an American League team might be able to recite about him. He’s the Reds’ really good left-handed-hitting first baseman who has a big contract and is known for his high on-base percentage.

So while I hardly expect the average person or even the average FanGraphs reader to be a Votto scholar, there is one significant component to his game that doesn’t seem to receive enough attention: Joey Votto is extraordinarily good against lefty pitching.

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The Worst Called Strike of the Season

The worst called ball of the season was literally a fastball in the middle of the strike zone. That makes it genuinely the worst called ball imaginable, with the consolation being that it at least didn’t matter very much. When I’ve written these posts in the past, I’ve noted that the bad called balls look worse than the bad called strikes. There is no called-strike equivalent of a ball on a pitch down the middle. You’ll never see a called strike on a pitch at the eyes. You’ll never see a called strike on a pitch in the dirt. I think the default is to call a ball, unless the pitch does enough convincing, and there are limits to that. Still, one post has to be followed by the other. Writing about the worst called ball means I have to write about the worst called strike. That’s below, and I’m sorry it isn’t more visually hilarious, but this is still the worst of something, over seven months of baseball, and the devil is in the details. The devil loves details.

The second-worst called strike of the season? I’ve already written that up, because it was the worst called strike of the season’s first half. It was a lefty strike, thrown by Max Scherzer to Odubel Herrera to open a ballgame. The pitch measured 11 inches away from the nearest part of the strike zone.

Unsurprisingly, the worst called strike of the whole season is similar, in that it’s a lefty strike away off the plate. Over time, we’ve grown kind of used to the lefty strikes getting called, but the thing about this is lefty strikes are balls. The zone shouldn’t extend off the plate in either direction, for anyone, but it has and it does, and hitters have to live with that. The second-worst called strike was 11 inches away from the zone. The worst called strike was 12 inches away from the zone. That’s 9% worse. Pretty big gap when you’re at an extreme.

The good news is nobody cared.

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The Relationship Between Pace and Power

Sam Fuld was checking out his FanGraphs page the other day, and noticed that he’s a fairly fast-paced guy at the plate. He produced in 2011 the 36th-fastest pace between that season and the present one (minimum 300 plate appearances), and he’s the 20th-fastest paced batter this year. He also noticed something about the guys around him. “They’re all slap hitters!” he told me before a game against the Rangers.

He wondered if pace was correlated to power, and if this slower pace came through the mechanism of confidence. “I’m the star here,” he said, mimicking a step back out of the box and a shrug of the shoulders that’s a little foreign to the Athletics outfielder with 12 career home runs spread over nine years and 1500-plus plate appearances.

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