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Daily Notes for the Ides of March

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

1. Featured Game: San Francisco at Seattle
2. SCOUT Leaderboard: Spring Training Batters
3. Graph: Home Run vs. Walk Rates, 2002-11

Featured Game: San Francisco at Seattle
Regarding Seattle’s Starting Pitcher
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will start for the Mariners, reports MLB.com Chris Haft. As a 21-year-old last season, Ramirez struck out 17.4% of batters while walking only 4.8% over 152.2 innings between Double- and Triple-A. In terms of velocity and walk rate last season, he approached the accomplishment that was Michael Pineda‘s 2010 minor-league season.

On Seattle’s Maybe Third Baseman
Starting at third base tonight for Seattle could maybe be Vincent Catricala. Catricala slashed .349/.421/.601 in 600 plate appearances as a 22-year-old last season between High- and Double-A. The .318 wOBA that ZiPS projects for him is the fourth-highest figure among Mariners hitters. Catricala entered play last night with two homers in 19 spring plate appearances.

Briefly, Regarding Melky Cabrera
As you will note below, on the entirely infallible SCOUT batting leaderboard, Melky Cabrera is having a terrific spring so far — where “so far” means about 30 plate appearances.

Broadcast Information
Mariners Television at 22:05 ET (MLB.TV)

SCOUT Leaderboard: Spring Training Batters
A Note on the SCOUT Batting Leaderboard
Below is the SCOUT batting leaderboard for spring training (ST). SCOUT represents an attempt to derive something meaningful from small samples and is the average of a player’s standard deviations from the ST mean in (regressed) strikeout rate and home-run rate. (Click here for more on SCOUT.)

A Note on How Walks Have Been Removed from SCOUT
For this edition — and, perhaps, for future editions — of the SCOUT batting leaderboard, I’ve removed walk rate. Speaking anecdotally, there seems to be a significant-enough population of hitters who’re able to post high-ish walk rates against minor-league (and, presumably, spring-training) pitching based largely on selectivity, but whose walk rates decline considerably when they face more talented major-league pitchers. Dan Szymborski, proprietor of the ZiPS projection system, has confirmed that high minor-league walk rates do not necessarily beget high major-league ones.

A Note on What Might Else Inform Major-League Walk Rates
Probably power. Hitters with power definitely walk more than those who lack it (i.e. power). See the graph below, for example.

A Final Note, Regarding the Significance of These Numbers
While the intention of SCOUT is to derive something meaningful from small samples, it should be noted that these samples are very small — which is to say, readers should proceed with due caution. That said, the following leaderboards are a preferable alternative to those which list slash stats or the like.

Batting Leaderboard
Here’s the SCOUT batting leaderboard for spring training thus far.

Name Org PA* K% HR% xK% xHR% Kz HRz SCOUT
Melky Cabrera SF 30 3.3% 10.0% 14.8% 3.4% 0.31 0.20 0.26
Eric Sogard OAK 35 8.6% 5.7% 15.5% 3.1% 0.23 0.10 0.16
Aubrey Huff SF 27 7.4% 7.4% 15.8% 3.1% 0.20 0.12 0.16
Jaff Decker SD 25 8.0% 8.0% 16.0% 3.2% 0.18 0.12 0.15
Mat Gamel MIL 22 13.6% 13.6% 17.1% 3.5% 0.06 0.22 0.14
Hector Luna PHI 22 9.1% 9.1% 16.4% 3.2% 0.14 0.13 0.13
Norichika Aoki MIL 25 0.0% 0.0% 14.7% 2.5% 0.32 -0.06 0.13
Danny Valencia MIN 20 10.0% 10.0% 16.6% 3.2% 0.11 0.14 0.12
Domonic Brown PHI 21 4.8% 4.8% 15.9% 2.9% 0.20 0.04 0.12
Martin Prado ATL 30 3.3% 0.0% 14.8% 2.4% 0.31 -0.08 0.12

*Estimated.

Batting Laggardboard
By way of curiosity, here are the 10 worst batters so far, per SCOUT.

Name Org PA* K% HR% xK% xHR% Kz HRz SCOUT
Chris Heisey CIN 26 42.3% 0.0% 21.9% 2.5% -0.47 -0.07 -0.27
Jason Heyward ATL 30 33.3% 0.0% 20.8% 2.4% -0.34 -0.08 -0.21
Chris Gimenez TB 23 39.1% 0.0% 20.9% 2.5% -0.36 -0.06 -0.21
Jai Miller BAL 23 43.5% 4.3% 21.6% 2.8% -0.43 0.03 -0.20
Josh Donaldson OAK 38 26.3% 0.0% 19.9% 2.4% -0.24 -0.10 -0.17
Adam Loewen NYM 22 40.9% 4.5% 21.1% 2.9% -0.37 0.04 -0.17
Mike Carp SEA 24 33.3% 0.0% 20.2% 2.5% -0.27 -0.06 -0.17
Michael Bourn ATL 27 29.6% 0.0% 19.8% 2.5% -0.23 -0.07 -0.15
Ezequiel Carrera CLE 20 35.0% 0.0% 20.0% 2.5% -0.25 -0.05 -0.15
Bryan LaHair CHC 20 35.0% 0.0% 20.0% 2.5% -0.25 -0.05 -0.15

Notes
• The sample for this SCOUT leaderboard includes the 136 batters who’d recorded at least 20 spring-training at-bats as of Wednesday afternoon.
• Jason Heyward’s numbers omit Wednesday’s game, during which he recorded a home run, zero walks, and zero strikeouts — and looked quite good, it must be said.
• Baltimore outfielder Jai Miller has 29 strikeouts in 73 career major-league plate appearances (39.7%), and 1,154 strikeouts in 3,750 career minor-league plate appearances (30.8%).

Graph: Home Run vs. Walk Rates, 2002-11
Here’s a graph of the relationship between home-run and walk rate for 1,542 qualified player season from 2002 to ’11.