Daily Notes: Concerning Rainer Maria Rilke and J.J. Hoover

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. A Note Regarding the Data in This Post
2. SCOUT Leaderboards: Spring Training
3. Notable Spring Performance: Cincinnati’s J.J. Hoover

A Note Regarding the Data in This Post
While, until now, the author has been painstakingly copy-and-pasting the raw data for these conspicuously absurd spring-training posts from ca. 50 pages’ worth of leaderboards at MLB.com, he has (read: I have) since found that Baseball Reference offers almost precisely the same data by means of just two such pages — that is, an entire one for hitters and also one for pitchers.

While Rainer Maria Rilke advises — in his important Letters to a Young Poet, which the author has totally read — while Rilke advises in that text to do a thing because it is difficult, it’s very likely that he (i.e. Rilke) was not accounting for pre-existing medical conditions such as Ulnar Claw or Terrifying and Painful Ulnar Claw while so doing. As such, the author has taken the liberty of utilizing BR’s data for the purposes of this post. (Note: a second liberty the author has taken is to compose the present document while drinking from a magnum of Marcus James’ Malbec — i.e. the sexiest of the Malbecs.)

SCOUT Leaderboards: Spring Training
SCOUT Leaderboard: Spring Hitters
Below is the current SCOUT batting leaderboard for spring training. SCOUT+ combines regressed home-run, walk, and strikeout rates in a FIP-like equation to produce a result not unlike wRC+, where 100 is league average (in this case, for all spring hitters) and above 100 is above average. xHR%, xBB%, and xK% stand for expected home run, walk, and strikeout rate, respectively.

Player Team Pos PA HR BB K xHR% xBB% xK% SCOUT+
Freddie Freeman ATL 1B 63 7 3 7 4.4% 7.1% 15.1% 124
Domonic Brown PHI COF 71 6 6 8 4.0% 8.2% 14.8% 123
Ryan Raburn CLE UT 43 4 7 4 3.6% 9.9% 15.5% 122
Jose Bautista TOR RF 46 4 7 5 3.6% 9.8% 15.8% 120
Christian Yelich FLA LF 51 5 6 7 3.9% 9.1% 16.5% 120
Lonnie Chisenhall CLE 3B 45 4 5 4 3.6% 8.8% 15.2% 119
Josh Reddick OAK RF 36 3 5 1 3.3% 9.2% 14.3% 119
Paul Konerko CWS 1B 49 5 3 5 3.9% 7.6% 15.4% 118
Jason Castro HOU C 33 5 4 6 4.0% 8.8% 18.0% 118
Gaby Sanchez PIT CIF 37 4 3 3 3.6% 8.1% 15.5% 117

SCOUT Leaderboard: Spring Pitchers
Below is the current SCOUT pitching leaderboard for spring training. SCOUT- combines regressed strikeout and walk rates in a kwERA-like equation to produce a number not unlike ERA-, where 100 is league average (in this case, for all spring pitchers) and below 100 is better than average. xK% and xBB% stand for expected strikeout and walk rate, respectively.

Player Team G GS IP TBF K BB xK% xBB% SCOUT-
Julio Teheran ATL 5 5 20.0 74 25 6 25.8% 8.1% 81
Stephen Strasburg WSH 5 5 19.1 82 26 6 25.5% 8.0% 81
Matt Harvey NYM 5 5 18.1 73 24 4 25.3% 7.8% 81
Alex Cobb TB 5 5 19.1 73 23 2 24.6% 7.4% 82
J.J. Hoover CIN 7 0 8.0 34 14 1 23.3% 7.8% 86
Donnie Joseph KC 9 0 9.0 34 14 2 23.3% 8.0% 87
Michael Wacha STL 5 0 11.2 44 15 1 22.8% 7.6% 87
Greg Burke NYM 9 0 10.1 40 14 0 22.6% 7.5% 87
Raul Valdes PHI 6 1 13.1 53 16 1 22.3% 7.5% 88
Rick Porcello DET 5 5 18.0 68 18 0 21.9% 7.1% 88

Notable Spring Performance: Cincinnati’s J.J. Hoover
Cincinnati reliever J.J. Hoover places fifth among spring pitchers on the leaderboard above after having struck out seven consecutive batters over his last two appearances — one on March 15th against Colorado and the other on March 18th, also against Colorado.

Originally a 10th-round pick by Atlanta in 2008 out of Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama, Hoover was acquired by Cincinnati in the deal that sent third baseman Juan Francisco to the Braves last April. He’s pitched 30.2 innings in the majors now — all of them in 2012 with the Reds — and has struck out slightly more than a quarter of the batters he’s faced.

According to PITCHf/x data, Hoover relied heavily on his 91-94 mph fastball last year, throwing it over 70% of the time. Curiously, it was that pitch — and not his slider or changeup — which produced the highest swinging-strike rate among his repertoire, at 13.6%. Dusty Baker suggests, by way of MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, that Hoover’s fastball has largely informed his spring success, as well. Both the Steamer (9.30 K/9) and ZiPS (10.11 K/9) projection systems suggest that Hoover is qualified to get major-league outs right now.

Here’s mostly unhelpful footage of Hoover recording three outs for the Reds last year against the Pirates. The pitch sequence appears to be fastball (0:22, 94 mph), changeup (0:33, 87 mph), fastball (0:44, 92 mph).



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