You Actually Will Believe Who Signed Derek Norris

Earlier this offseason, the Rays signed the player who served as last year’s starting catcher for the Washington Nationals, Wilson Ramos. Ramos & Co. produced 4.4 WAR from the catcher spot last season for the Nats, the position’s second-most production.

Over the weekend, the Rays reportedly agreed to terms with Derek Norris, a player with whom the Nationals recently cut ties for an arguably inferior catcherMatt Wieters. (Wieters projects to produce 0.7 bWARP — a metric that includes framing value — in 2017, Norris 1.1 bWARP.) As to why Washington might make such a curious decision, there are a number of theories. One possible explanation, however, is the relative chumminess of Wieters’ agent with Nationals ownership.

So, in summary, the Rays now have the Nationals’ starting catcher from a year ago, and one of Nats’ top replacement options for Ramos as recently as a month ago.

The Rays’ interest in Norris was one of the more seemingly inevitable news items in recent weeks, as the devoutly analytical club otherwise appeared ready to enter the season with only inexperienced catchers — a combination of Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Jesus Sucre — from which to choose as they patiently wait for Ramos to return from the torn ACL he suffered last September.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the one-year deal is worth “less than $2 million.”

Writes Topkin:

Signing Norris gives the Rays a more experienced option behind the plate …. Norris has made 446 big-league starts for Oakland and San Diego, Casali has made 116, Sucre 77 and Maile 43.

He chose the Rays over several other teams based on the opportunity for more playing time.

Perhaps the signing also speaks to the team becoming more conservative — or pessimistic, perhaps — regarding Ramos’s timetable to return behind the plate. MLB.com reported last month that Ramos might not be able to catch until August.

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2017 Positional Power Rankings: Bullpen (#16-30)

The positional power rankings continue. If you’ve come across the 16th- through 30th-ranked bullpens by accident or are otherwise unfamiliar with these power rankings, feel free to read Dave Cameron’s introduction. If you’re interested in any other positional rankings, use the links above this paragraph. For the start of the relief-pitcher portion, read on.

The graph below contains half the major-league teams. If you don’t see your favorite team below, congratulations: you cheer for a club that ranks in the top half of baseball when it comes to relievers. Those teams will be covered in short order, and if there’s a link at the beginning of this post to them, that means they’ve already been published.

While this post covers the bottom half of the rankings, the first few teams included here are extremely close to the teams just ahead of them, and there are a few bullpens whose projections potentially underrate them. Add in some reliever volatility and random fluctuation, and we could see a number of these clubs among the league’s top 10 at the end of the year.

A note: while you won’t find Andrew Miller’s club here, you’ll find his name invoked with some frequency. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about deploying elite relievers in non-traditional but high-leverage situations. Cleveland’s use of Andrew Miller in last year’s postseason is about the purest expression of this concept in some time. While that sort of usage isn’t sustainable over the course of a full regular season, there are times when it represents the best option for a team.

To that end, I’ve provided a rating (out of 10) of every team’s capacity to use a reliever in these non-traditional situation. I refer to this as the Andrew Miller Situation Scale. The ratings are subjective and somewhat arbitrary, but tend to be higher for clubs whose best reliever isn’t also their closer. Secondary considerations include the club’s motivations for using the strategy (if it’s financially motivated, for example) as well as the actual quality of both the “elite” reliever and closer. Basically, the higher the number, the more the situation resembles an Andrew Miller situation.

Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Roberto Osuna   65.0 10.3 2.3 1.1 .297 77.8 % 3.13 3.34 1.5
Jason Grilli 65.0 10.9 3.8 1.3 .305 76.4 % 3.82 3.92 0.6
Joseph Biagini 55.0 8.0 2.8 1.0 .314 73.4 % 3.89 3.96 0.4
J.P. Howell 55.0 7.4 3.4 0.9 .316 74.0 % 3.90 4.04 0.2
Joe Smith 45.0 7.8 2.9 1.0 .306 73.9 % 3.77 4.07 0.2
Aaron Loup 40.0 8.6 3.1 1.0 .309 74.1 % 3.76 3.94 0.2
Ryan Tepera 35.0 8.7 3.5 1.1 .309 73.8 % 3.99 4.13 0.0
Danny Barnes 30.0 9.8 2.4 1.1 .311 74.3 % 3.63 3.55 0.2
Christopher Smith 25.0 8.3 4.2 1.3 .324 69.1 % 5.10 4.74 0.0
Bo Schultz 20.0 6.9 3.1 1.3 .305 70.5 % 4.57 4.54 0.0
Matt Dermody 15.0 6.5 2.5 1.2 .313 69.1 % 4.59 4.37 0.0
Mat Latos 10.0 6.6 3.0 1.3 .309 70.2 % 4.77 4.69 0.0
Glenn Sparkman   10.0 7.6 2.5 1.4 .312 71.1 % 4.47 4.43 0.0
The Others 15.0 8.3 4.2 1.3 .324 69.1 % 5.10 4.74 0.0
Total 485.0 8.7 3.1 1.1 .310 73.7 % 3.93 4.00 3.3

The list of relief pitchers with a better projection than Roberto Osuna isn’t long. None of the other pitchers I’m covering today are superior, in fact, and he ranks 10th overall. Osuna is just 22 years old and is entering his third MLB season. He struck out nearly 30% of batters and walked just 5% last season, and led American League relievers with a 21% infield-fly rate. The Blue Jays rank this low not because of Osuna, but because of the rest of the pen.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry, Reluctant Teetotaler

Episode 727
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the old man on this dry edition of FanGraphs Audio.

A reminder: FanGraphs’ Ad Free Membership exists. Click here to learn more about it and share some of your disposable income with FanGraphs.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 9 min play time.)

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The Other Young Power Threat on the Yankees

We spent the latter half of last year drooling over Gary Sanchez, and rightfully so. The phrases “raking” and “mashing” and “laying waste to all that stand before you” were all invented by Greek philosophers to describe what Sanchez accomplished last year. When he first arrived, though, Sanchez’s success caused us to recall the 2015 success of one Greg Bird.

Bird had been called up to replace Mark Teixeira, and he hit well enough to help get the Yankees to the Wild Card game. He started that game at first base — partly because the Yankees lacked a legitimate right-handed option at the position to play against Dallas Keuchel, but also because Bird had acquitted himself well in his 46 games in pinstripes. Sanchez obviously far surpassed Bird’s own accomplishments. And because Bird missed all of 2016 while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the memory of those 46 games faded into the mist.

This spring may have been a good reminder of what Bird can do.

Spring-training statistics aren’t a good indicator of what will happen once we hit Opening Day. Batters are facing pitchers who either aren’t ready to be in the big leagues just yet or big-league pitchers who haven’t yet fully ramped up to being ready for the long haul. We’re going to throw out Bird’s high batting average and the handful of home runs that he’s hit, at least partially. We’re throwing them out in the sense that you can’t extrapolate them out over a full season (pay no attention to the Sanchez thing I just wrote, nothing to see there) and use them as the basis of a projection.

But certain metrics become reliable in a sample of one. A pitcher who throws a single 100-mph fastball is likely to throw another one — or, at least, another of similar velocity. A pitcher who throws five consecutive 90-mph fastball is unlikely to hit 100 mph on the sixth. In each case, the number is a manifestation of physical ability.

One equivalent to fastball velocity for batters is power on contact. Every one of Giancarlo Stanton‘s improbably giant home runs is a testament to his impressive physical capacities, something he’s likely to replicate in the future. Likewise, one recognizes that Dee Gordon — who record one of the lowest peak exit velocities last year — is unlikely to cobble together a 30-homer campaign based on the evidence of his best effort.

In other words, one or two batted balls can provide a great deal of information about a hitter’s true talent. One or two batted balls like this one:

And this one, as well:

Again, this isn’t a matter of Bird launching dingers off half-prepared pitchers still trying to refine their mechanics. It’s a matter of how well the man is driving the ball. Bird’s shoulder injury was a labrum tear, and those can be tricky. There was reason to be concerned about Bird’s capacity to drive the ball, even after going to the Arizona Fall League for a tune-up.

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Rangers Invest in the Highly Unusual Rougned Odor

Any day now, the Rangers and Rougned Odor should finalize a six-year contract extension worth about $49.5 million. A club option at the end could boost the maximum value up to $62 million, and the deal would be effective immediately, buying out two or possibly three of what would’ve been Odor’s free-agent years. Even when it’s all over, Odor would be going into his age-30 season, so he could conceivably make another splash. Jon Heyman was the first person I saw with reports.

This time of year counts as extension season, as teams and players try to avoid having negotiations spill into the summer. And as a general rule, long-term extensions for young players tend to be more team-friendly than player-friendly. That is, at least, relative to what might count as “fair” terms. This is in part a consequence of differing incentives — teams are trying to save future money, while players are eager to sign their first impact agreement. The first millions of dollars for a player mean more than subsequent millions, for a variety of reasons, and Evan Grant highlighted what this contract should mean for Odor’s family. The MLBPA is no fan of these deals, but you can understand why they exist.

For business reasons, the Rangers are probably going to like this. They’ll get to keep Odor’s costs down even beyond those first six years. I also don’t think Odor is going to find himself regretting a $50-million contract. Just like that, he’s a massive success story, as a guy who just turned 23. There’s nothing atypical about this arrangement. What’s most atypical here is simply Odor himself. His is a very unusual profile.

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Shelby Miller is Trying to Salvage the Shelby Miller Trade

The Shelby Miller trade. Those four words haunt the Arizona Diamondbacks, and that one deal probably cost the last Arizona front office their jobs. It’s the worst transaction any team has made in recent history, and it was widely panned before Miller fell apart last year; having him fail so spectacularly certainly didn’t help the perception of the deal.

But Miller apparently isn’t content to just let his name become synonymous with bad decisions. Coming off the worst year of his career, Miller looks like he’s trying to change his narrative, and the easiest way to do that is become a wholly different pitcher.

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2017 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Rotation (#1-15)

The positional power rankings continue with an entry that should be most strongly correlated to regular season, and postseason, success: the top-15 starting pitching depth charts. Paul Sporer began the starting pitching countdown with rotations No. 16-30 here, and we now advance from the Toyota Corolla to Cadillac class with this post.

The distribution of projected WAR is not much different than a year ago, with seven instead of six teams predicted to receive more than 16 WAR from their starting pitchers. The Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Indians and Cubs again project to rank among the top six of starting-pitcher production, with the Dodgers and Mets flip-flopping positions.

While there’s been a lot of focus on the home-run spike that began in the second half of 2015 and carried over to last season (starters allowed a record 13.3% HR/FB rate last year) and while run-scoring has increased across the league and while we’ve focused this offseason on the new swing philosophies of some players who might further increase offense, there’s still plenty of quality starting pitch. Starting pitchers produced record strikeout rates and strikeout- and walk-rate differentials (K-BB%) last season, and our forecasts call for starting pitchers to produce record collective WAR totals in 2017. Much of that value resides in the following depth charts.

Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Clayton Kershaw 208.0 11.0 1.5 0.7 .302 79.6 % 2.33 2.34 7.4
Rich Hill 140.0 10.0 3.3 0.9 .298 76.6 % 3.21 3.48 2.8
Kenta Maeda 154.0 8.5 2.3 1.0 .303 73.8 % 3.57 3.64 2.8
Brandon McCarthy 121.0 7.2 2.3 1.1 .305 72.7 % 3.95 4.09 1.5
Alex Wood 94.0 8.0 2.7 1.0 .306 73.1 % 3.77 3.82 1.4
Julio Urias 102.0 9.1 3.1 0.9 .307 74.9 % 3.49 3.61 1.9
Scott Kazmir   73.0 8.4 2.8 1.1 .301 73.3 % 3.91 4.00 1.1
Hyun-Jin Ryu 47.0 7.2 2.1 1.0 .309 71.7 % 3.83 3.74 0.7
Brock Stewart   19.0 8.5 2.5 1.3 .305 72.3 % 4.07 4.06 0.3
Ross Stripling 9.0 7.3 2.7 1.1 .306 70.4 % 4.21 4.11 0.1
Total 967.0 9.0 2.4 1.0 .303 74.9 % 3.36 3.45 20.0

After ranking second a year ago in these preseason rankings, the Dodgers advance to the No. 1 spot. Not only do the Dodgers have the top starting pitcher in the game to lead their rotation, they have the deepest rotation in the majors. Arms like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Scott Kazmir might not be able to crack the Dodgers’ starting rotation — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Sunday that Kazmir would not begin the season in the rotation — but they would start for just about any other club. The Dodgers are eight deep with quality options, eight pitchers that project to produce sub-4.00 ERAs. Finding places for them is a good problem to solve, and it’s in part why the Dodgers top FanGraphs’ projected wins forecast. Not only are they talented but they have margin for error.

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Effectively Wild Episode 1037: Season Preview Series: Pirates and Yankees

EWFI

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about a Robbie Ray ejection, Tom Hamilton’s Brody Chernoff interview, a quote about Mike Trout, a Takuya Nakashima shift, and a Terry Francona comment about Ryan Raburn, then preview the Pirates’ 2017 season with Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs and the Yankees’ 2017 season with Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal.

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Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Hey, how about that last episode of Homeland … and how about those South Carolina Gamecocks …

12:06
Travis Sawchik: OK, let’s chat …

12:06
Erik: What player is the fewest adjustments away from being Mike Trout? Could it be Christian Yelich? They seem to have fairly similar skillsets except for Trout’s obvoius advantage in power.

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Carlos Correa could put it all together and be an absolute beast at SS …. I don’t think Yelich can ever be a best-player-in-the-game type of talent, but if he could get some batted balls off the ground he could be pretty great.

12:08
Pete: Vince Valesquez….what kind, if any, progress do you see him making this year?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: While his ERA took a dive in the second half, his underlying skills remained intact. If he can trim his walk rate a little bit, there’s more there

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Aaron Judge Has Found the Right Track

TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge knew what his offseason objective must be. Everyone did. While his power is obviously rare among even major-league players — Jeff Sullivan recently detailed how difficult it is to exaggerate — so are his contact issues. Over his first 95 plate appearances with the Yankees, he posted a Joey Gallo-like strikeout rate (44.2%).

As the table below illustrates, Judge also recorded one of the lowest in-zone contact rates among players with 90-plus plate appearances.

Lowest Zone Contact in 2016
Name Team G PA K% Z-Contact%
Madison Bumgarner Giants 36 97 44.3% 67.7%
Alex Avila White Sox 57 209 37.3% 71.4%
Melvin Upton Jr. – – – 149 539 28.8% 72.8%
Preston Tucker Astros 48 144 27.8% 73.5%
Mike Zunino Mariners 55 192 33.9% 73.7%
Tyler Austin Yankees 31 90 40.0% 73.8%
Aaron Judge Yankees 27 95 44.2% 74.3%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia Tigers 92 292 35.6% 74.5%
Tim Beckham Rays 64 215 31.2% 74.8%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis Brewers 125 392 33.9% 75.0%
Min. 90 PA.
Z-Contact% denotes in-zone contact per PITCHf/x.

While Judge posted these numbers in a relatively small sample, some of the players who accompany him here illustrate the challenges a batter faces when he has trouble making in-zone contact. His plus-plus raw power won’t matter if it doesn’t translate to game action.

So this winter, Judge did what many 25-year-olds do: he spent much of the day staring at his phone, and spent much of that time searching through videos. But unlike most 25-year-olds, this YouTube-ing (mostly YouTube research, he said) was done with a professional purpose in mind: to find ways to better keep his bat in a position to make quality contact.

“I was usually on my phone before bed or before I went to hit. It could be anytime, anywhere,” Judge said of his video research.

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2017 Positional Power Rankings: Starting Rotation (#16-30)

We continue our positional power rankings today. Dave Cameron’s introduction plus all the batting-related installments of the series can be accessed using the navigation bar above. Now, it’s time for pitchers. Specifically, I’ll cover the 16th- to 30th-ranked rotations. (Travis Sawchik will have Nos. 1-15 later today.)

First, the obligatory graph:

What we have here is a little bit of the leftover wheat from the top group and then a whole lot of chaff. I’m not even sure what chaff is and yet I’m certain that it accurately describes Jered Weaver at this point. Fear not, Padres fans, he was simply suffering through some dead arm (for what, the last two-plus years?!) when he posted that 2.44 ERA in the Cactus League. Wait nevermind, that 2.44 was his WHIP.

There is some fun in knowing that one or two teams within this set of rotations will emerge as top-10 rotations, just as the Blue Jays and Phillies did a year ago. Now the Phillies are already in the top 15 and the Blue Jays vacillated between 14 and 16 as the updates rolled through while I wrote this. My predictions to rise up are the Diamondbacks and Braves.

Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP WAR
Aaron Sanchez 205.0 7.9 3.2 0.9 .302 73.7 % 3.69 3.86 3.4
J.A. Happ 181.0 7.8 2.8 1.2 .303 72.5 % 4.11 4.15 2.6
Marcus Stroman 169.0 7.5 2.4 0.9 .313 71.3 % 3.85 3.64 3.2
Marco Estrada 167.0 7.0 2.9 1.4 .277 71.6 % 4.31 4.62 1.9
Francisco Liriano 149.0 9.6 4.1 1.2 .310 74.3 % 4.11 4.22 1.8
Casey Lawrence 37.0 5.1 2.4 1.5 .312 67.9 % 5.20 5.04 0.2
Mat Latos 38.0 6.6 3.0 1.3 .309 70.2 % 4.77 4.69 0.3
Mike Bolsinger 9.0 8.5 3.5 1.3 .317 71.7 % 4.51 4.36 0.1
Conner Greene 9.0 5.8 4.6 1.4 .311 67.6 % 5.77 5.63 0.0
Ryan Borucki 9.0 5.8 3.8 1.6 .310 68.3 % 5.59 5.54 0.0
Total 973.0 7.7 3.0 1.1 .302 72.3 % 4.11 4.18 13.4

December 17, 2012: Noah Syndergaard traded by the Toronto Blue Jays with Wuilmer Becerra (minors), John Buck and Travis d’Arnaud to the New York Mets for R.A. Dickey, Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole.

Sorry, Jays fans. That’s mean, but just imagine a Thor-Sanchez-Stroman top three in Toronto. Aaron Sanchez converted to the rotation full time, packed on some muscle, and simply led the AL in ERA over 192 innings. Originally facing an innings limit, the Jays relented and kept Sanchez in the rotation all year. He leans heavily on an elite power sinker that befuddles lefties and righties with aplomb.

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Sunday Notes: Dombrowski, Nola, Ngoepe, Kokubo, Knuckleball Release Points, more

When it comes to acquiring relievers, Dave Dombrowski hasn’t had much luck in recent seasons. He’s made a lot of great signings and trades over the years, but as of late it’s as though someone has been following him around with voodoo dolls and pins.

Prior to the 2014 season, as GM of the Tigers, Dombrowski signed closer Joe Nathan to a free agent contract. Nathan proceeded to log 35 saves, but he had a 4.81 ERA and a number of implosions. The following April, he had Tommy John surgery.

In July 2014, the Tigers traded for Joakim Soria, hoping he could bolster their underperforming bullpen. Instead, the former Kansas City closer had a 4.51 ERA over 13 appearances, then allowed five runs in one inning of work in the ALDS.

In December 2015, in his first big move after taking over as president of baseball operations in Boston, Dombrowski dealt for Craig Kimbrel. The all-star closer suffered six losses, had a career-high 3.40 ERA, and his 31 saves were his fewest in a full season. His walk rate was an ugly 5.1.

Later that December, Carson Smith was acquired via trade from Seattle. Instead of being the shut-down setup man Boston was counting on, Smith had Tommy John surgery after making just three appearances. Read the rest of this entry »


The Best of FanGraphs: March 20-24, 2017

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community Research.
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Effectively Wild Episode 1036: Season Preview Series: Tigers and Rays

EWFI

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Jered Weaver, David DeJesus, and Dan Duquette’s comments about Jose Bautista, then preview the Tigers’ 2017 season with Jason Beck of MLB.com and the Rays’ 2017 season with David Roth of Vice Sports.

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Yoan Moncada Deserves the Kris Bryant Treatment a Year Early

Two seasons ago, Kris Bryant was regarded by many as the top prospect in all of baseball. After having dominated all levels of the minors, he appeared to be a candidate to begin the season on the Cubs’ 25-man roster. The conditions were nearly ideal. Not only had Bryant proven himself in the minors, but the club possessed no one of consequence to start at third. Furthermore, the Cubs intended to contend in the NL Central.

Despite all the arguments in favor of Bryant breaking camp with the Cubs, he was sent to Iowa. He waited a week and a half, at which point the team called him up. He proceeded to have a great season. By waiting to promote him, though — a decision that wasn’t without some controversy — the Cubs ensured that Bryant wouldn’t be a free agent until after 2021 instead of 2020.

The Chicago White Sox’ Yoan Moncada, named the top prospect in baseball recently by Eric Longenhagen, deserves (and doesn’t deserve) the same fate. Allow me to explain.

The Chicago Cubs “generously” gave Kris Bryant a $1 million dollar salary this season when they could have given him close to half, but that is nothing compared to the potentially tens of millions of dollars they stand to gain by having Bryant’s services in 2021. One year of a great player in his prime — and Bryant will be 29 years old in 2021 — is incredibly valuable. The cost of six wins on the free-agent market is roughly $50 million. Such a large figure might seem improbable at first: no players receive $50 million salaries and some six-win players (David Price and Max Scherzer, for example) do hit free agency. However, those players sign multi-year deals, often receiving the same salary in Year One as Year Seven despite the fact that expected production in that first season greatly exceeds that of the latter years of a contract. The production and salary are expected to average out by the end of a deal, with overpayments in later years compensating for underpayments in the earlier ones. The point here — and one that makes sense even in the absence of the math — is that one extra year of a player’s services can be incredibly valuable.

As for what such a young and talented player deserves in terms of compensation, there are a lot of ways to attack the concept. Kris Bryant deserved to be on the Opening Day roster in 2015 due to his play. Unfortunately, that play — and the promise it suggested — rendered Bryant too valuable for the Cubs not to manipulate his service time. Therefore, they waited those 10 days.

That isn’t a great system. It creates disincentives, even if very small, to putting the best team on the field. But it’s the system under which MLB is operating presently. And it matters right now because of Yoan Moncada.

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Do the Twins Already Have a Budding Ace?

Though it started with a strikeout and a ground out, the World Baseball Classic appearance by Jose Berrios Wednesday didn’t end well. He allowed a single to the scuffling Nolan Arenado, then hit Eric Hosmer and walked Andrew McCutchen before he was replaced. In essence, the outing encapsulated the ups and downs of Jose Berrios as a pitcher: tantalizing stuff, near-fatal flaws. If you focus on the former, though, maybe the latter is just an adjustment away from being a faded memory.

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Jung Ho Kang Reportedly Denied Work Visa

According to a Naver Sports report out of South Korea, Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a visa to enter the United States putting his 2017 season and future with the Pirates very much in doubt.

Kang has had a myriad off-the-field troubles. After a Dec. 2 incident in Seoul in which Kang fled the scene of a crash, Kang was convicted of a third DUI this winter in South Korea. The two previous DUIs came before he was signed by the Pirates prior to the 2015 season, and the club claims to have had no knowledge of those incidents. For his most recent DUI, Kang was sentenced to eight months in prison, but Kang has appealed the sentence. He has missed the entire spring due to his legal issues. There was also a sexual assault claim made against Kang last year, alleged to have occurred in a Chicago hotel. But Kang was not charged and Chicago Police said last fall they have not been able to locate his accuser.

Off-the-field, Kang has his troubles and now the Pirates have on-the-field issues at third base.

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Terrance Gore Doesn’t Chop Wood

Terrance Gore can fly. The 25-year-old outfielder is as fast as anyone in the game, and he’s especially lethal on the base paths. Gore has 19 steals in 21 attempts as a Kansas City Royal, and he is 251 for 275 down on the farm. He takes his leads with a green light.

There is one thing holding him back: Gore has yet to invent a way to steal first base.

Hitless in seven big-league at-bats (his thefts have come as a pinch-runner), Gore has slashed .243/.342/.273 in 1,806 minor-league plate appearances. The OBP number in that slash line is acceptable, but given his SLG and his size — he’s listed at 5-foot,7, 165 — anything resembling Giancarlo Stanton-like respect is little more than a pipe dream. To earn ABs at the highest level, he’ll need to hit his way on.

He’s working on that, and — feel free to raise an eyebrow — launch angle plays a part in the process.

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2017 Positional Power Rankings: Designated Hitter

For reasons no one can fathom, you’ve clicked on a post about all the designated hitters in baseball — one of the most absurd installments in our ongoing positional power rankings for 2017. Would you care to read an introduction to the entire series? Dave Cameron has authored one. Would you care to read about other positions? My colleague Sean Dolinar, whatever his many flaws, has created the navigation bar above.

As with the other posts in this series, the current one begins with an illustrative graph:

Here one finds the projected WAR totals for each of the American League’s 15 designated-hitter spots, calculated by combining the Steamer and ZiPS projections hosted at this site with playing-time estimates curated by FanGraphs authors.

Unlike some of the other graphs in this series, this one has been altered slightly to allow for a negative value on the Y axis — in order to accommodate the Chicago White Sox, that is. As the author has noted elsewhere, the White Sox actually rank 30th in the majors on the DH charts before the NL clubs are removed. This isn’t what’s known as an “ideal” state of affairs.

If one is searching for a unifying theme here, I advise you to stop immediately: the relentless human need for patterns and meaning distorts reality! That said, many of the players included here do possess one quality in common, which is that they’re older than the average ballplayer, many of them in their mid-30s.

Those cursory remarks having been made, I invite you to an even longer collection of cursory remarks.

Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Edwin Encarnacion 525 .259 .353 .500 .362 16.8 -0.7 0.0 2.1
Carlos Santana 105 .251 .368 .458 .357 2.9 -0.2 0.0 0.4
Michael Brantley 56 .292 .356 .442 .342 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.2
Brandon Guyer 14 .269 .349 .408 .333 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .261 .356 .487 .359 20.8 -0.7 0.0 2.7

The Toronto Blue Jays appeared at the top of these DH positional rankings in both 2015 and 2016. That’s relevant to the present incarnation of the Indians insofar as Edwin Encarnacion, who was previosly employed by Toronto as their DH, is now a member of the Clevelands, with whom he signed a three-year, $60 million deal this offseason.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 3/24/17

9:03
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:03
Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:03
Bork: Hello, friend!

9:03
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friend

9:03
Bork: Hello Friend

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: Impostor!

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