Archive for Second Opinion

Marlon Byrd and Trading Contact for Power

Nine months ago, Marlon Byrd could not secure a major league deal from any team leading him to sign a minor league deal with an invite to camp with the New York Mets. Two days ago, he parlayed a 136 wRC+ into a guaranteed two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. As Dave Cameron pointed out, Byrd reinvented himself in 2013 at age-35 by swapping contact for power. The result of of this change was a .220 ISO, which was both a career-high and the first time he eclipsed the .200 plateau for his isolated power. After seasons of a relatively firm baseline for Contact% and Z-Contact%, Byrd changed his ways and made himself more attractive on the free agent market. 30 clubs were not willing to guarantee him money as a high contact batter with a good batting average, but one was quick to give him a guaranteed contract after one season of a grip it and rip it approach.

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Why Strikeouts Secretly Matter for Batters

I got my start at FanGraphs by writing Community Research articles. As you may have noticed, community authors have been very busy this season, cranking out a lot of interesting articles. One that caught my eye the other day was triple_r’s piece on the importance of strikeouts for hitters. The piece correctly pointed out, as other studies have, that there’s basically no correlation between a hitter’s strikeout rate and his overall offensive production. Strikeouts don’t matter; case closed, right? Well, not exactly.

Let me present a hypothetical situation. Say there’s a group of players who go to an “anti-aging” clinic in Florida and pick up some anabolic steroids. Let’s say these hypothetical players are named Bryan Raun, Ralex Odriguez, Tiguel Mejada, Phonny Jeralta, Celson Nruz, and Barry Bon… nevermind. Yet, after using the steroids, it appears that the group of them, on average, has not improved. The steroids didn’t improve their performance, right? But, wait — let’s also say that while visiting Florida, some of them contracted syphilis, which spread to their brains, causing delusions and severely impacting their judgment, strike-zone and otherwise. The players whose brains aren’t syphilis-addled have actually improved quite a bit, but their gains are completely offset by the losses suffered by those whose central nervous systems are raging with syphilis. So, the fact that the steroids actually do improve performance has been completely obscured by another factor that is somewhat — but not necessarily — associated with the steroids.

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My Simple(ish) Playoff Chances Simulator

A month ago, I submitted an article with something I came up with that I thought was pretty cool.  It was a simulator similar to the Coolstandings sim, except that it would use Steamer and ZiPS rest-of-season (RoS) projections instead of year-to-date statistics as the measure of each team’s true talent.  Well, as you may have noticed, the boss, David Appelman, must have thought it was a pretty cool idea too, as unbeknownst to me, he had been working on the same sort of thing since long before the idea popped into my head.  But my duplication of effort will hopefully not go entirely to waste, as I’ll be sharing and explaining the simulator I created.  You’ll be able to use it to analyze your own “what if” scenarios, if that’s your sort of thing.  Think ZiPS and/or Steamer is overly optimistic or pessimistic about some teams?  You can fix that by running your own simulations with this.  Or you can apply it to past or completely hypothetical teams.  Go nuts.

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Simulating the Impact of Pitcher Inconsistency

I thought Matt Hunter’s FanGraphs debut article last week was really interesting.  So interesting, in fact, that I’m going to rip it off right now.  The difference is I’ll be using a Monte Carlo simulator I made for this sort of situation, which I’ll let you play with after you’re done reading (it’s at the bottom).

Matt posed the question of whether inconsistency could be a good thing for a pitcher.  He brought up the example of Jered Weaver vs. Matt Cain in 2012 — two pitchers with nearly identical overall stats, except that Weaver was a lot less consistent.  However, Weaver had a bit of an advantage in Win Probability Added (WPA), Matt points out.  WPA factors in a bunch of things, e.g. how close the game is and how many outs are left in the game when events occur.  Because of that, it’s a pretty noisy stat, heavily influenced by factors the pitcher doesn’t control much.  It’s not a predictive stat.  For that reason, I figured simulations might be fun and enlightening on the subject.  They sort of accomplish the same thing that WPA does, except that they allow you to base conclusions off of a lot more possible conditions and outcomes than you’d see in a handful of starts (i.e., they can help de-noise the situation).

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An Unsolicited Follow-Up Study of Pull%

I’m always looking for new angles to unlock the mysteries of BABIP, so I was intrigued by Jeff Sullivan’s exploration of pull rates against pitchers.  So I grabbed the data from baseball-reference.com, and set to work subjecting it to my usual rigmarole of correlations and multiple regressions.  You know how they say if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail to you?  Well, plug your ears — there’s about to be a lot of wild, uncontrolled pounding going on in here…

I’ll cut right to the chase — did I find anything interesting relating to pitchers’ overall effectiveness when it comes to their Pull%, Middle%, and Opposite%, as I’m calling them?  Well, I found one decent connection that will seem obvious and stupid after you think about it, and a slight but kind of interesting connection.  I’ll provide you with some correlation tables that have left few stones unturned.  But, mainly, the research might help to set some things straight about how important this stuff actually is for pitchers.

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MLB Drops Alfonzo’s Existing PED Suspension

According to a baseball source, Major League Baseball has dropped the 100-game suspension levied against Eliezer Alfonzo last season due to the same procedural issues that surfaced during the Ryan Braun case over the offseason.

The specific procedural issues were yet again not specifically outlined in this report, but the important aspect to note is that this was not an appeal case that Alfonzo and his team won. This suspension was not brought before an arbitrator. Instead, Major League Baseball re-examined the procedural facts of the sample collection and simply dropped the suspension.

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Second Opinion Player-Profile Game: Question #3

This edition of the player-profile game is appearing at 11:30am Central Time because the author is an idiot.

As announced Wednesday, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion. We’ll have more details on the guide — set to be released on Monday — very shortly.

In the meantime, however, we’re playing the player-profile game I intoduced in these pages a couple offseasons ago.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

Today’s entry comes in form of three shorter profiles. To answer correctly, respondents must identify all three players.

Because of the difficulty of this round, multiple attempts are allowed. If no one has the correct answer by 1pm ET, we will select the closest answer.

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Second Opinion Player-Profile Game: Question #2

Play the player-profile game again tomorrow (Friday) at 11:30am ET. We’re giving away a free copy of the 2012 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As announced yesterday, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion. We’ll have more details on the guide — set to be released on Monday — very shortly.

In the meantime, however, we’re playing the player-profile game I intoduced in these pages a couple offseasons ago.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of Mr. Patrick Dubuque.

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Second Opinion Player-Profile Game: Question #1

Play the player-profile game again on Thursday and Friday of this week at 11:30am ET. Each day, we’re giving away a free copy of the 2012 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

Next Monday (or so says my colleague Eno Sarris), FanGraphs will release the third annual edition its very useful and even more affordable fantasy companion, The Second Opinion. Thanks to the vision of Mr. Sarris, along with the hard work of many of FanGraphs’ own contributors, this year’s edition promises to build upon last season’s sophomore effort, while still maintaining the white-hot analysis that is FanGraphs’ trademark.

We will have more details on the guide very shortly. In the meantime, however, it makes sense to offer some previews of what readers can expect from this year’s Second Opinion. These peeks promise to be especially sneaky as they’ll come in the form of the player-profile game I intoduced in these pages not so long ago.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

For the first reader who guesses correctly (in the comments section below), we offer you, if you can even believe it, a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy the unbearably handsome Mike Axisa.

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Winner(s), Question #5, Second Opinion Game

This morning, I posed to the readership the fifth and final player-profile question ahead of the release of this year’s Second Opinion.

Unlike the previous four, this question required the reader not to submit the correct answer before all other readers, but to (a) submit the correct answer and then (b) also submit a worthy epithet for said mystery player.

The answers were many and varied — and greatly enjoyed (with one notable exception!!!) by this author. In fact, owing the enthusiastic response and great efforts of the commentariat, I’ve decided to supplement the Dark Overlord’s offer of one free copy of the Second Opinion with two more copies.

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Second Opinion Player-Profile Game, Question #5

Note: The 1:30pm ET deadline has passed. All submissions time-stamped at 1:30pm and before will be considered for the 2011 Second Opinion. Those after the deadline will still be considered in the heart of this author.

A winner will be announced this afternoon. Thanks, everyone!

As announced recently, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion.

In the meantime, we’re playing the player-profile game that I intoduced in these pages last offseason.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

***

Today’s question must be answered in two parts, as follow. In your reply in the comment section below, please include:

1. The name of the player in question.

2. What you consider to be the most appropriate epithet for said player. Homer, for example, mostly only ever refers to the “wine-dark sea” or “loud-thundering Zeus” or “Achilles, breaker of men.”* What ought to be this player’s epithet?

*More awesome Homeric epithets here.

To win, you must provide the correct name and also the sweetest epithet.

The submission window runs until 1:30pm ET. Limit one entry per person. Winner receives free access to the 2011 Second Opinion.

Note: The 1:30pm ET deadline has passed. All submissions time-stamped at 1:30pm and before will be considered for the 2011 Second Opinion. Those after the deadline will still be considered in the heart of this author.

A winner will be announced this afternoon. Thanks, everyone!

Can you catch a rainbow and put it in your pocket? Can you snatch a butterfly out of the sky, and say to it, “Hey, stop being a butterfly for a moment will you”? No! Such is the [BLANK]… Even for those who weren’t necessarily swept up by [BLANK] Fever, it’s hard to deny the righty’s accomplishments in 2010. In his first season back from Japan, [BLANK] surprised almost every baseball pundit by throwing 200-plus innings of sub-4.00 ERA ball. Nor was it smoke and mirrors: [BLANK’S] xFIP (3.93) and FIP (3.55) suggest that the ERA is real. While [HIS TEAM’S] offense wasn’t necessarily a juggernaut (sixth in the AL by park-adjusted batting runs), [BLANK’S] 12-13 record was undeservedly poor. Come 2011, there’s every reason to expect a similar performance from [BLANK]. For fantasy owners, the major difference will be perception: [BLANK] entered 2010 a virtual unknown; he enters 2011 as a pitcher with a 1.71 ERA in four high-profile postseason starts.


Second Opinion Player-Profile Game, Question #4

Note: Tomorrow’s question will be IN TWO PARTS. Get ready to rumble answer a kinda nerdy baseball question.

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:30am ET. Each day, we’re giving away a free copy of the 2011 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As announced recently, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion.

In the meantime, we’re playing the player-profile game that I intoduced in these pages last offseason.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

***

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of Second Opinion mastermind Marc Hulet.

Who is it?

[BLANK] surprised a lot of people in 2010. The former first-round draft pick had some disappointing minor-league seasons and had one foot out the door before a solid 2010 showing in Triple-A gave him one last shot. [BLANK] isn’t going anywhere now and he’s the odds-on favorite to start at second base for the [BLANKS] in 2011. His value is still down a bit from when he was drafted, simply because he doesn’t catch anymore. However, he will likely serve as the club’s third-string catcher and an injury to one of the top two could increase [BLANK’S] fantasy value significantly depending on the games-played requirement in your fantasy league. He may already have third-base eligibility in some leagues after making six appearances there in 2010. Like fellow rookie [BLANK], [BLANK] has the potential to hit .280-.300 but he’ll hit for more power and could slug about 15 homers. He could potentially reach the 20-homer mark if his line drives (22.4%) get a little more loft.

Former first-round pick. Quasi-catcher. Breakout-ish 2010.

Also: MUST BE SPELLED CORRECTLY.


Second Opinion Player-Profile Game, Question #3

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:30am ET. Each day, we’re giving away a free copy of the 2011 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As announced recently, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion.

In the meantime, we’re playing the player-profile game that I intoduced in these pages last offseason.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

***

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of Malcolm Gladwell Look-Alike and Fantasy Expert Eno Sarris.

The numbers are clues, but you probably don’t have time to look them up.

Who is it?

Looking back through [BLANK’S] minor-league history, it’s hard to find a harbinger for last year’s double-digit strikeout rate. He only once struck out as many as one batter per inning on the farm. But [BLANK] was a starter for most of that time, and his move to the pen played up his velocity (his fastball averaged 98.8 MPH) and simplified his repertoire down to that booming fastball and a useful slider. An above-average swinging-strike rate (13.3%) seems to suggest that he can continue to strike Major League batters out, but for fantasy uses, the real question is his proximity to the closer’s role. With [TEAMMATE #1], [TEAMMATE #2] and [TEAMMATE #3] in the pen around him, though, [BLANK] has too many veterans to pass to be considered a real sleeper for saves in 2011. [BLANK’S COACH] likes his veterans, as mediocre as some of his other options might be. [BLANK] is best used for strikeouts and holds out of the pen.


The Second Opinion Player-Profile Game, Question #2

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:30am ET. Each day, we’re giving away a free copy of the 2011 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

As announced yesterday, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion guide, The Second Opinion. Man-in-Charge David Appelman will have more details on the guide — set to be released this week — very shortly.

In the meantime, however, we’re playing the player-profile game I intoduced in these pages last offseason.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

First reader to guess correctly (in the comments section below) gets a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion — approximately a $1000 value!

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of Matt Klaassen. It’s a trifle more difficult than yesterday’s, but not impossible.

Who is it?

If you’re reading a fantasy profile for [BLANK], then you’re either lost, incredibly bored, or in something like a 38-team NL-only league. [BLANK] won’t even help you much in a Bizarro league, as he’s been signed to back up [BLANK] in [BLANK]. It’s really too bad, since [BLANK] can’t run, hit for average or power, and yet used to get marched out there almost every day in [BLANK] (to be fair, he’s a good defender). He’s a Jason Kendall in training, except without the playing time. If that appeals to you, go nuts. Otherwise, go to bed, it’s [BLANK].


The Second Opinion Player-Profile Game, Question #1

Play the player-profile game every day this week at 11:30am ET. Each day, we’re giving away a free copy of the 2011 Second Opinion to the first reader who guesses correctly the identity of that day’s mystery player. (Limit one copy per customer).

After last year’s success with it, FanGraphs will once again be offering to the public its fantasy companion, The Second Opinion. Thanks to the vision of Marc Hulet, along with the hard work of many of FanGraphs’ own contributors, this year’s edition promises to build upon last season’s rookie effort, while still maintaining the white-hot analysis that is FanGraphs’ trademark.

Man-in-Charge David Appelman will have more details on the guide — set to be released this week — very shortly. In the meantime, however, it makes sense to offer some previews of what readers can expect from this year’s Second Opinion. These peeks promise to be especially sneaky as they’ll come in the form of the player-profile game I intoduced in these pages last offseason.

The game is easy: one person (me, in this case) offers the text of single player profile, being careful to omit any proper names that might reveal the identity of the player in question. The other person (you, the reader) attempts to identify the player using only the details provided in the profile.

For the first reader who guesses correctly (in the comments section below), we offer you — if you can even believe it — a free copy of this year’s Second Opinion. That’s probably, like, a $1000 value!

Today’s entry comes to us courtesy of David Golebiewski. (Note: Dave Cameron says it’s too easy, so just know that it’ll be especially embarrassing if you’re unable to get it.)

Who is it?

As a late-20s player who blasted big-league pitching in 2009 after half a decade of undistinguished Triple-A work, [BLANK’S] 2010 regression was more predictable than the plot of a Two and a Half Men episode. Splitting his season between first base and right field, [BLANK] didn’t really stand out as a power hitter (.167 ISO) and his walk rate fell from 11.2% in 2009 to 8.1%. He was a little unlucky, with a .274 BABIP, so he’s likely to hit closer to .270 than .250 moving forward. But even so, there’s not much reason to recommend him — [BLANK’S] secondary skills aren’t great for a guy playing positions where offensive excellence is expected. Also, [BLANK’S TEAM] might look for a platoon partner for [BLANK] at first base, as the lefty batter has a .210/.249/.381 line versus same-handed pitching in 350 PA and a .282/.359/.495 slash in 746 PA against right-handers. That [BLANK] figures to get most starts at first base again in 2011 says more about [BLANK’S TEAMMATE’S] disastrous season than anything else.


Jay Bruce and Batted Ball Distance

Yesterday, our own David Golebiewski, looked at how Jay Bruce was progressing at the plate. In the comments, Jason461 noted that Bruce broke his wrist last season on July 12th and the injury could be the cause of some of his problems. Also, Jason461 stated that it takes about a year for a player to return to previous production when recovering from a wrist injury.

I have always followed players with wrist injuries after breaking my own wrist at the ripe old age of 20. Fourteen years later, my wrist is still not right. I, personally, don’t believe players can come back 100% after being off only one month for a broken wrist like Bruce.

I have previously looked at the effects of wrist injuries on individual players using spray charts. I have extended that analysis to Bruce. Here is a look at Bruce’s 2009 (pre-injury) and 2010 spray charts (images courtesy of texasleaguers.com):

2009 pre-injury:

2009beforeinjury

2010:

2010

One noticeable difference is the lack of of deep power in 2010 to all fields compared to 2009.

I decided to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and look at the average batted ball distance of all his batted balls (excluding bunts). I used a process I documented previously for determining the batted ball distance. The data is from MLB and marks where the fielder gets the ball, not where it lands. Though this data is not perfect, it is the best I have available to me. Here is a chart of the batted ball data for 2009 and 2010, including the monthly data for 2010:

bruce_dist

As it can be seen, Bruce is hitting the ball 6 feet less in 2010, vice in 2009 before the injury. In 2010, the batted ball distance has gone up ~10 feet from the beginning of the season to now. In the month of June, Jay started hitting the ball like he did back in 2009, so the claim of one year recovery time seems to be correct for Jay Bruce..

I am just beginning to look at the effects of injuries on players, but hopefully in the near future I have more information to publish. Please let me know if you have any questions and if there are any other players you want me to examine.