Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Offseason Notes.
Three Notable College Series
College baseball began last weekend, and, in the absence of the professional game, it actually serves as a reasonable proxy — for the present author, at least.
Below are three notable weekend series. For each entry, I’ve provided the broadcast times (ET) for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games, respectively. All games are available streaming on CBS Sports ULive unless otherwise noted. (In the event that you’re curious about ULive, I wrote a review earlier this week on it.)
Texas (12) at Stanford (2): 8:30pm, 4:00pm, 4:00pm
Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and third baseman Stephen Piscotty both appeared in Albert Lyu’s recaps of college baseball’s opening weekend (pitchers, hitters). Texas features sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss, whom the OLIVER projection system already basically regards as a major-league hitter.
St. John’s at Texas Tech: 6:00pm, N/A, 2:00pm
St. John’s Kyle Hansen, the younger brother of one-time relief prospect Craig Hansen, recorded nine strikeouts in just four innings in his season debut — while sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball, according to Lyu’s report.
Oregon at Vanderbilt (17): 6:00pm, 3:00pm, 1:00pm
Vanderbilt center fielder Connor Harrell hit two home runs this past Saturday against — one of which I definitely saw and was definitely well struck. Vandy also offers an interesting weekend pitching combo in Tyler Beede (a first-round pick by Toronto in this more recent draft) and Sam Selman, a left-hander who sits in the mid-90s.
Projecting: Steamer Projections for Pitchers
In the not very distant past, Matt Swartz wrote a piece for these electronic pages on the performance in 2011 of some well-known projection systems. Or, mostly well known, I should say. For, one of the systems was new (to me, at least) — specifically, the Steamer Projections. This is relevant to the present document because (a) per Swartz’s work, the Steamer Projections were more effective than all others at projecting pitcher performance and (b) the Steamer Projections for pitchers were released this week.
A full spreadsheet of 1266 pitchers (including reliever Joe Mather!) can be found at the Steamer homepage. In the meantime, I won’t hesitate to make some entirely superficial observations about same.
Superficial observations like these:
• Of all pitchers, Dodger reliever Kenley Jansen is projected to post 2012’s lowest SIERA, at 2.72. Nor is this entirely surprising: Jansen struck out a full 44.0% of opposing batters in 2011, and his 16.10 K/9 was the highest ever recorded strikeout rate in major-league history for a pitcher with at least 50 inning thrown.
• Of all starting pitchers, Stephen Strasburg is projected to post 2012’s lowest SIERA, at 2.89.
• Pittsburgh right-hander Jared Hughes is (a) likely someone you’ve never heard of and (b) projected to post the second-highest ground-ball rate (56%) after Jonny Venters (58%) in 2012. Hughes induced grounders on 65.5% of balls in play during 11.0 September innings last year. He throws a heavy sinker at about 93 mph that appears to play up considerably in relief. Moving to the bullpen last season following a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, Hughes posted a 68.5% ground-ball rate in 42.2 innings (per Minor League Central).
• Angel right-hander Garrett Richards is a pitcher for whom the present author has what the French call “high hopes.” That Steamer projects him for an entirely mediocre 4.90 SIERA has me in a mind to dismiss said projection system altogether!
• New-ish-ly acquired Oaklanders Tom Milone and Brad Peacock are both rated pretty favorably by Steamer: the former is projected to post a 4.15 SIERA in 135.1 innings; the latter, a 3.96 mark in 159.0 innings. That’s roughly 300 innings of average to slightly above-average pitching. Gio Gonzalez, who went to Washington in the deal that saw Milone and Peacock go the other way, is projected for a 3.80 SIERA.
Video: Kenley Jansen Strikes Everybody Out
Here’s footage of Kenley Jansen facing four Washington Nationals last July and striking them all out. It was pretty easy to find: all I did was put my lips together and blow — and, while blowing, googled “mlb.com kenley jansen”.