Projecting the College Players Taken on Day Three of the Draft

On Tuesday, I published a post projecting the players taken on day one of the draft. Yesterday, I did the same for the players taken on day two. Let’s take a look at what my math says about the players taken on the third and final day of the draft.

Below, you’ll find some quick thoughts on KATOH’s top-five hitters and top-five pitchers selected in rounds 11-40. Below that, you’ll find by a giant, sortable table with projections for all drafted players for whom I have projections. As a reminder, I only have projections for college players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced in a Division 1 conference. I do not have projections for JuCo or high-school players. Note: WAR figures are projected totals for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors.

Darren McCaughan, RHP, Seattle, 2.3 WAR

McCaughan allowed just 20 walks across 120 innings with Long Beach State this season, finishing up with a sparkling 2.50 ERA. He doesn’t rack up the strikeouts like many of the pitchers drafted before him but has three years of strong performance in the Big West to his name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sonny Gray Is a Mystery

“Grips are meaningless,” Oakland A’s starting pitcher Sonny Gray once told me. Maybe that’s why we haven’t yet had a good talk, despite calling the same clubhouse home half the time. He didn’t quite mean “meaningless,” it occurred to me, when we finally discussed his repertoire. But there’s another reason he’s found it difficult to talk the way pitchers often talk to me: He’s changing things from pitch to pitch, according to what he sees. That includes grips, finger pressure and pitching mix. It’s hard to say he’s been doing something different when he’s always doing something different.

It’s difficult to figure out the righty. His breaking balls, for example: One classifying system says he’s currently throwing more sliders than ever. One says he’s in a three-year high for curveballs. A third says he’s right about where he’s always been, but that his recent good stretch may have coincided with an increased use of his slider.

Is he throwing more sliders now that he’s healthy? Gray shrugs. “Even before I got hurt, I was throwing sliders, and I was throwing them at 88, 89 mph,” he says. No system has him throwing a breaking ball that hard. “Whatever people call the pitch is what they are going to call it. It’s a hard curveball, I guess. The grip is a little bit different, but it does have a curveball action.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Tony Wolters Experiment: The Making of a Receiver

Near the end of spring training in 2013, just days before the Cleveland Indians were to travel north, then-middle-infield prospect Tony Wolters was called into the manager’s office at the club’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

There, Terry Francona and a number of front-office members awaited. They offered Wolters a choice. One option was that he could remain a middle infielder, even though he might be unable to stick at shortstop and even though his .260/.320/.404 line the year earlier at High-A hinted at insufficient offensive production for second base. Furthermore, with Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis in the organization, his opportunities would be limited. The other option? He could try his hand at catching.

Wolter’s experience behind the plate, to that point, had been limited to catching one game at Rancho Buena Vista High, from which school the Indians had selected him in the third round of the 2010 draft. He was to turn 21 in June. He had not risen above A-ball.

“They gave me a day to think about it,” Wolters said. “It was kind of the end of spring, so I had to tell them. I couldn’t say ‘No’ to Tito [Francona]… The main thing was, I just wanted to do what they wanted me to do and I felt I could do it.”

Thus, one of the more unusual position changes — at least as measured by successful outcomes — in recent professional baseball began. A reverse Craig Biggio, a move from the middle infield to catcher. The Indians gave Wolters a brief tutorial. He borrowed a glove and caught his first bullpen. Who pitched? Pre-breakout Corey Kluber. “He was pretty good,” Wolters responded. “That day he wasn’t spotting up, so I kind of got messed up a little bit.”

As the Indians’ major- and minor-league teams departed to begin their respective seasons, the club held Wolters back for one week to receive a crash course in catching at their Arizona complex. After a week of experience, he was sent off to High-A ball to become the Carolina Mudcats’ starting catcher. Along the way, he worked with coaches like former major leaguer Sandy Alomar to learn some intricacies of the craft.

Now fast forward three years. Last season, as a member of the Rockies, Wolters ranked as the ninth-best framer and 10th-best overall defensive catcher in the majors, according to Baseball Prospectus’s catching metrics. Ever since Colorado claimed him off waivers on Feb. 16, 2016, Wolters has become one of the better values and under-the-radar additions in the majors. He entered play on Wednesday with a batting line just 10% shy of league average at one of the game’s weakest offensive positions. In 111 career games, he’s accumulated 1.5 fWAR and 2.2 bWARP. He’s helped the Rockies to a 42-26 mark, percentage points behind the Dodgers, entering Thursday.

But what is most interesting about the Wolters story, at least to this author, is how quickly he acquired the skills necessary to become one of the better defensive catchers in the game (even if he’s rated as more of a league-average catcher to date in 2017). Whatever the precise level of his skills, average or better than that, he reached that level quickly. It raises the question of how many other position players could have benefited themselves and their teams by making the move to catcher where the position’s collective wOBA (.307) is above only that of shortstop (.304) this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1071: I Would’ve Felt Silly Saying Boo


Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about position players pitching, another non-catcher catching, a Zack Cozart quote, and Ben’s latest home-runs research, then answer listener emails about Hunter Pence, better ways to make boundary calls, the number of plays at the plate, managerial aging curves, playing all nine positions in a game, the worst times to boo, the Freeze vs. Emilio Bonifacio, defining “moonshots,” MLB expansion, evaluating scouts and drafting, and more.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Era of Position Players Pitching

Yesterday, toward the end of an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Twins, the Mariners sent Carlos Ruiz to the mound. That’s notable for the fact that Ruiz is a catcher, and not a pitcher, and yet Ruiz pitched, and he even registered a strikeout! He also walked two guys and coughed up a homer. Not supposed to pitch. Did pitch. It happens.

It’s actually been happening kind of a lot. The day before, the tables were turned, and as the Mariners were maiming the Twins, the Twins sent out Chris Gimenez to pitch. A few days before, the Padres used Erick Aybar. The day before that, the Phillies used Andres Blanco. The day before that, the Twins used…Chris Gimenez. A week before that, the Twins used Chris Gimenez. And on, and on. It used to feel special when a non-pitcher would pitch. It’s still more fun in a blowout than the alternative, but some of the shine has come off the apple.

It’s not too hard to figure out why. These appearances were special because they were rare. They’re still not common, but they’ve become more common than they’ve been. Baseball right now finds itself within a number of eras, but among them, this is the era of position players pitching.

Read the rest of this entry »

2017 Top AL Contact Survivors

Last week, we took a look at the hitters who have been the most productive on balls in play in both leagues, and peeled back a layer or two of batted-ball data to see how much of it was real. This week and next, we’re going to do the same with pitchers. Today, the AL.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brad Ausmus on Analytics, Closer Mentality, and Pitch-Framing

Brad Ausmus is hard to label. Many see him as an old-school manager — and, based on some of his beliefs and actions, that’s perfectly understandable. On the other hand, he’s Ivy League-educated and well versed on most analytic concepts. From a knowledge standpoint, the manager of the Detroit Tigers is far from a troglodyte.

This interview doesn’t add much clarity to Ausmus’s identity. For one thing, it’s narrow in scope. While other subjects are touched upon, closer usage and pitch-framing comprise the bulk of the conversation.

Of note: this material actually comes from three separate conversations. The first two were in group settings with Detroit beat writers (with my questions eliciting most of these responses) on back-to-back days. I then had a shorter, one-on-one conversation with Ausmus to fill in a few blanks. Because of the manner in which these quotes were obtained, some have been resequenced for continuity.


Ausmus on analytics (intro): “Analytics are ubiquitous. I think the dangerous mistake people make — some member of the media make — is believing that they can’t be flawed, because they’re based on numbers. That’s absolutely false. Numbers do not always tell us the whole story. And there are certain things in baseball, because it’s played by humans, that numbers will never be able to put a value on.”

On leverage and closer mentality: “A lot of people in the analytics world think you should bring in your best pitcher in the biggest point of the game. Well, excuse my French, but who the (bleep) knows when the biggest point in the game is until the game is over? You don’t know. It may be the sixth. It may be the ninth. The problem is, if it’s the sixth and you use your closer, and all of a sudden you have a one-run lead in the ninth, who is going to close? You don’t have that guy anymore, because you burned him.

“Anyone who says you have to bring your closer in early, or in the biggest point in the game, has a crystal ball. That argument goes out the window for me. I don’t mind second-guessing, but second-guessing the biggest point of the game after the game? It’s easy to tell then. It’s not easy to tell in the seventh inning.

Please excuse Brad Ausmus’s French. (Photo: Keith Allison)

“If you’ve got another guy who is a closer, you’re fine [bringing your closer into a high-leverage situation early and not having him pitch the ninth inning]. But if you don’t have another guy who is a closer… closing a game in the ninth inning is not the same as pitching the eighth inning, or the seventh inning.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Patient Hitter in Baseball

It’s quite a title to throw on someone, “most patient.” It’s rewarding someone for not doing instead of doing. And, as a singular skill, unless you’re Eddie Gaedel, “not swinging” isn’t quite enough to make a major-league career. So maybe it’s not that surprising that the name here — Robbie Grossman, an outfielder for the Twins — isn’t particularly well known. And that he’s struggled to scratch out an everyday role. And that some of his good work this year has come from being more aggressive, even.

Nobody reaches at pitches outside the zone less than Grossman. Not this year, at least. And if you relax the requirements (1000 plate appearances minimum), he’s among the five best by out-of-zone swing rate since he entered the league in 2013. He knows the zone.

Let’s call him elite at that fundamental skill and admit that he has it. To the player, it’s no big deal. “A walk is a pitcher’s inability to throw three strikes,” pointed out Grossman. “That’s the biggest thing I’m trying to teach the young guys, that they can stand there and the pitcher couldn’t throw three straight strikes.”

While pictured running, it’s walking for which Grossman has distinguished himself. (Photo: Keith Allison)

But for a guy with an elite skill, it’s taken him a long time to get a regular role. Even on the way up, he wasn’t mentioned as a prospect, even if Carson Cistulli featured him in a series that served as a precursor to the Fringe Five. “I’ve always been that guy on the outside looking in, trying to prove myself,” confirmed the Twins outfielder, “and I’ve always used it as a chip on my shoulder, to kind of prove myself, that I belong among the best baseball players in the world.”

To provide a greater understanding of his approach, he discussed specifically a difficult lefty he’d recently faced, James Paxton. “I had an at-bat against Paxton the other day and I didn’t swing once,” he remembered. “He can’t throw three strikes in… He’s trying to throw the ball in to right-handed hitters, but he can’t consistently do it, so you look for the pitch away and get that pitch, because the one in is a low-percentage play for him and for you.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Angels Bullpen Is a Minor Miracle

The Angels outlasted the Yankees Tuesday night, walking off 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th. As a result, the Angels moved to 34-34, a record which is the very definition of neither good nor bad. Some people would argue that playing .500 baseball is actually the worst possible path, but the Angels should be counting their blessings. They’re within easy striking distance of a wild-card spot, and, oh, by the way, they’ve won more games than they’ve lost since losing Mike Trout.

It doesn’t hurt that Eric Young has *played like* Mike Trout. That’s just one of those things. There is no explanation. But let’s think about where the Angels are. Before the year, I thought the Angels’ chances of success would come down to Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs. They were projected for a combined 8.1 WAR. They’ve actually combined for a total of 1.0. So, that’s a bad look, and the rotation has had its predictable problems. What’s really astonishing to me, though, is the bullpen. Like the rotation, the bullpen has been made worse by injury. Unlike the rotation, the bullpen has still found a way.

This isn’t how this was supposed to go. The bullpen was supposed to be the liability, even when intact. A patchwork assortment of journeymen has helped to keep the Angels afloat.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Ball Is (Maybe) Juiced Again

Over the last couple of years, the massive home-run spike that began in the second half of 2015 has been the biggest story in baseball. Jeff just noted the other day that home runs are once again trending up quickly, even relative to the new recent norms, and the home-run era is showing no signs of leveling off.

In trying to find an explanation for the sudden and massive increase in home runs, the ball has always seemed like the most reasonable explanation. No one has done more work on whether the ball is at the center of the home-run spike than Ben Lindbergh, who did a deep dive on the issue at FiveThirtyEight last summer, then gotaccess to some results of MLB’s internal study on the issue a month ago, putting something of a damper on the ball as the culprit.

Today, though, Ben is back with a new piece, and based on some research commissioned by Mitchel Lichtman, there again appears to be some evidence that the ball has changed the last few years.

The newer balls have higher CORs and lower circumferences and seam heights, which would be estimated to add an average of 7.1 feet to their distance, equivalent to the effect we would expect to stem from a 1.43 mph difference in exit speed. Although those differences don’t sound enormous, Nathan has noted that “a tiny change in exit speed can lead to much larger changes in the number of home runs.” Last July, he calculated that an exit-speed increase of 1.5 mph would be sufficient to explain the rise in home runs to that point, which means that the 1.43 mph effective difference that Lichtman’s analysis uncovered could comport almost exactly with the initial increase in home runs. Lichtman calculates that a COR increase of this size, in this sample, falls 2.6 standard deviations from the mean, which means that it’s extremely unlikely to have happened by chance.

Alan Nathan, the foremost expert on baseball physics out there, did offer a response on Twitter that this is still not an open-and-shut case.

But with nearly every other reasonable cause for the spike in home runs, and the speed at which things changed after 2015, it’s still difficult to reconcile current home-run levels with anything besides some change in the ball. Ben and MGL’s data provides a bit more evidence that the ball is maybe at least part of the explanation. I definitely encourage you to read their entire piece, as it’s some of the best baseball research done in the public sphere.

Can the Rays Ever Achieve League-Average Attendance?

This is Michael Lortz’ third piece as part of his June residency at FanGraphs. Lortz covers the Tampa Bay baseball market for the appropriately named Tampa Bay Baseball Market and has previously published work in the Community pages, as well. You can find him on Twitter, as well. Read the work of all our residents here.

In my recent interview with Rays President Brian Auld, he stated that a goal of the Rays’ front office was to reach a league-average annual attendance mark. Last year, MLB average attendance was approximately 2.4 million per club. Rays attendance was 47% below that mar. Since Stu Sternberg bought the team in 2005, the Rays have never been close to league average. The closest they’ve been is 23% below in 2009.

Here’s the Rays’ attendance compared to league average since 2006:

And the following table illustrates how far the Rays have been from league average since Sternberg bought the team.

Rays Attendance as Percent of League Average
Year % of MLB Average
2006 54%
2007 52%
2008 68%
2009 77%
2010 76%
2011 62%
2012 63%
2013 61%
2014 59%
2015 51%
2016 53%

That’s obviously not encouraging. On the other hand, does it make sence for the Rays to set even the modest goal of “average” in a universe that includes major markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York? Since 2006, the Dodgers and Yankees, for example, have never been lower than 20% above league average in annual attendance and have been as high as 64% above average. The biggest markets in Major League Baseball skew the average for less populated areas such as Tampa Bay. Those teams would have to severely struggle over an extended amount of time to be anywhere near league average.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pitch Talks Tomorrow in Pittsburgh

The Pitch Talks tour is making its Pittsburgh stop Thursday night at Club Cafe at 56 S 12th St., located on Pittsburgh’s south side.

I will be on the 8 p.m. baseball panel along with Pirates broadcast voice Joe Block, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pirates beat writer Stephen Nesbitt, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel, and former Baseball Prospectus editor and present national writer John Perrotto. The club opens its doors at 5 p.m.

Read the rest of this entry »

Projecting the College Players Taken on Day Two of the Draft

Yesterday, I published a post projecting the players taken on day one of the draft. Between then and now, an additional 240 players have been selected. Eric Longenhagen considered some notable selections this morning from both the American and National leagues. Let’s take a look at what my math says about some of those players.

Below, you’ll find some quick thoughts on KATOH’s top-eight hitters and top-eight pitchers selected in rounds 3-10. Below that, you’ll find by a giant, sortable table with projections for all drafted players for whom I have projections. As a reminder, I only have projections for college players who logged at least 100 plate appearances or batters faced in a Division 1 conference. I do not have projections for JuCo or high-school players. Note: WAR figures are projected totals for the relevant player’s first six years in the majors.

Brian Howard, RHP, Oakland, 2.5 WAR

A senior out of TCU, nothing about Howard’s 2017 performance jumps off the page. He’s been quietly effective over his college career, however, allowing just 10 homers in over 250 innings and posting a 3.52 ERA. KATOH penalizes him for already having turned 22, but loves his 6-foot-9 build. Just a tall pitcher with a strong body of work in a good conference.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 6/14/17

Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Dave Cameron: With the draft almost in the rear view mirror, the summer trade season is about to get started.

Dave Cameron: Should be an interesting six weeks leading up to the deadline.

ChiSox: Do you see STL, PIT, MIL going for it at the deadline?

Dave Cameron: STL yes, PIT and MIL no.

Grate: How does draft pick compensation work now? Do you think the Reds would be better off trading Cozart or getting compensation for losing him this offseason?

Read the rest of this entry »

Day 2 Draft Standouts, American League

See also: National League.

Below are some notable selections from the draft’s second day. I chatted live for the first three hours of Day 2 here. If you missed any Day 1 analysis, the draft live stream is located here and analysis of the first day is available here for the American League and here for the National League. My top 100 with tool grades, scouting reports, etc., is here.

The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate the round in which the relevant prospect was drafted.

Baltimore Orioles

Michael Baumann (3), a right-handed pitcher from Jacksonville, was just off my draft top 100. He’s got a strong build, above-average fastball, potential above-average slider, and had enough of a curveball and changeup to project as a starter on basis of repertoire depth.

There are concerns about the length of his arm action and the way it limits his command. CF Lamar Sparks (5) from Seven Lakes HS (TX) has a projectable frame, above-average bat speed, and runs well enough to stay in center field for a while. He’s the athletic, projectable sort of athlete on which Baltimore’s system is currently short. He’ll have to overcome his swing’s length.

Read the rest of this entry »

Day 2 Draft Standouts, National League

Below are some notable selections from the draft’s second day. I chatted live for the first three hours of Day 2 here. If you missed any Day 1 analysis, the draft live stream is located here and analysis of the first day is available here for the American League and here for the National League. My top 100 with tool grades, scouting reports, etc., is here.

The numbers in parentheses beside each name indicate the round in which the relevant prospect was drafted.

Arizona Diamondbacks

High school pitchers Matt Tabor (3) and Harrison Francis (4) both have promising physical projection, and Tabor’s velocity was already starting to climb this spring.

Read the rest of this entry »

NERD Game Scores for June 14, 2017

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by sabermetric forefather Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game.

How are they calculated? Haphazardly, is how. An explanation of the components and formulae which produce these NERD scores is available here. All objections to the numbers here are probably justified, on account of how this entire endeavor is absurd.


Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles NL at Cleveland | 19:10 ET
McCarthy (57.2 IP, 86 xFIP-) vs. Kluber (49.1 IP, 77 xFIP-)
Despite currently trailing the Minnesota Twins by two games in the AL Central, Cleveland nevertheless retains about an 85% probability of winning that division. Despite occupying first place with basically two other clubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers possess roughly an 85% probability of winning the NL West. Talented clubs, is what one finds here. This alone seems like sufficient grounds for one, looking to hold terror at arm’s length for a moment, to tune in.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Cleveland Radio.

Read the rest of this entry »

What, Exactly, Is a Jam?

A short while ago, on the Effectively Wild podcast, Ben and I took a few minutes to respond to a listener email about jams. That triggered a conversation about what a jam actually is. In a sense, I think we could all agree we know a jam when we see one, but I long for greater precision. Where’s the line between a jam and a non-jam? I didn’t have the answer. Ben didn’t have the answer. This is where you come in.

The Wikipedia glossary of baseball defines a “jam” as a situation “when runners are in scoring position with less than two outs and good hitters coming up.” The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary defines a “jam” as “a difficult situation during a game.” It continues: “Usually it is said that a pitcher is in a “jam” when the opposing team is in a position to score, such as when the bases are loaded with no outs.”

Here’s a reference to Zach Davies being in a jam with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. Here’s Jameson Taillon in a so-called jam with two on in the bottom of the fifth. Here’s Brett Cecil in a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth. Here’s a random reference I found to a Brandon McCarthy jam in the third, when he kicked a frame off with a double and a walk.

Some situations are very obvious jams. Some situations are very obvious non-jams. I’m interested in the in-between, and this screams for a FanGraphs community polling project. As such, below, you will find 12 very simple polls. Each poll describes a different game situation. Assume, under all circumstances, that we’re dealing with average, regular players. Each poll then asks a yes-or-no question: Is the situation described a jam? Don’t worry about right or wrong answers. Just go with your gut. Your collective guts will lead us to some kind of truth.

I’ll analyze the results later on, if it indeed seems like they’re worthy of analysis, which I assume they will be. Thank you in advance, and, happy polling. It’s time to define the undefined.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Draft Could Use a New Date

Prior to covering professional baseball, I covered household expenses and built a meager savings by reporting on Clemson athletics for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier. Clemson has typically been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament and in early June of 2010 I covered a bizarre scene at the regional in Auburn, Alabama.

One of Clemson’s star players was Kyle Parker, who was also the starting quarterback for the school’s football team. While playing quarterback at Clemson was the higher-profile amateur position, he was expected to choose baseball professionally, as he’d shot up draft boards that spring and was regarded as a potential first-round pick. On the opening night of the draft, Parker found himself also playing an NCAA Tournament regional elimination game against Auburn in Auburn.

Parker was the starting right fielder for Clemson, and Auburn had something of a party deck just beyond and above the right-field wall, where a rowdy collection of loyal Auburn partisans gathered. As a sort of preemptive measure, Parker approached the section of fans before the game and suggested they heckle him in any manner they chose, but he made one request: he ask they avoid one subject matter in their taunts and that was anything related to the draft.

Parker envisioned a scenario in which the fans out there distracted him while his team was on the field. “Hey, Kyle, you just went fifth overall!” “Hey, Kyle you’re really sliding!” Imagine the NFL draft taking place the night of the national title game. This was nearly the baseball equivalent.

In the middle of the seventh inning, a cheer went up during a rather innocuous, low-energy point in the game. It was audible throughout Plainsman Park. It had been produced by the Parker family, seated in the grandstands on the first-base side. The yelps indicated that Parker had been selected 26th overall by the Rockies, who at the time had a thing for college quarterbacks (See: Helton, Todd and Smith, Seth.) Earlier in the game, Parker had smashed a three-run homer, so maybe the whole life-changing-moment, life-changing-money thing hadn’t been so much of a distraction. Or maybe Parker was smart to make a personal appeal to the Auburn’s rowdiest contingent of fans. A similar situation played out this past Monday night, as University of Florida Friday night starter Alex Faedo was selected 18th overall by the Tigers while his Gators were in the midst of an NCAA Tournament game.

Kyle Parker was drafted literally in the middle of a college tournament game. (Photo: Joel Dinda)

I will hardly be the first or last person to question the awkward timing of the amateur baseball draft. Baseball faces a number of challenges related to the draft given that it has its own feeder system (the minor leagues) to consider, while the NFL and NBA largely use colleges to develop much of their future talent. Major League Baseball probably has little interest in pushing back the draft and losing weeks of potential development time with minor-league seasons underway and short-season ball on the verge of beginning. College baseball, for its part, has shown little interest in changing its schedule. While the sport might benefit from holding its postseason when school is still in session and students are on campus, cool early-spring weather already puts Northern schools at a disadvantage.

While the timing of the draft isn’t the most pressing issue facing college or professional baseball, it is the most obvious portal through which to view the imperfect relationship between MLB and college.

Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Audio: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Effort

Episode 749
When Mike Trout slid headfirst into second base recently on a stolen-base attempt, he incrementally improved his odds of beating the catcher’s throw. He also increased the probability for injury. In the end, he did steal the base. He also did suffer an injury, one that’s likely to keep him out till mid-July and cost the Angels a couple wins. The cost, in this case, would appear to seriously outweigh the benefit. Does that mean that Trout shouldn’t ever attempt a steal if the play is likely to be close? Is there an argument for valuable players to avoid unduly exerting themselves? Managing editor Dave Cameron answers similar to these.

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 42 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »