FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel Analyzes All Prospects

Episode 473
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect writer for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses how to discuss prospects.

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 43 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Play

The Best of FanGraphs: August 18 – August 22, 2014

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, purple for NotGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community.

MONDAY
Brian McCann Probably Couldn’t Be Given Away For Free, by Mike Petriello
It hasn’t been the best first year in the Bronx for the All-Star catcher.

Mike Trout’s Other Slump, by Drew Fairservice
Drew lays out how Trout has largely been an innocent victim of circumstance.

How Pitchers are Pitching to Javier Baez, by Jeff Sullivan
Something tells me we’re going to be talking about Mr. Baez for quite some time.

Trying to Measure Contact Management, by Brett Talley
Brett applies Tony Blengino’s presentation from Saber Seminar and applies it to fantasy baseball both in this post and in a follow-up post on Wednesday.

TUESDAY
Dazzy Vance, The Ultimate Outlier, by Tony Blengino
A great trip back in time to one of baseball’s most unique pitchers.

Rebus of Death, by Mississippi Matt Smith
I’m not going to lie, I still have no idea what this is, even after reading the comments. But a lot of you did, and it has pretty pictures, so boom.

WEDNESDAY
Evaluating the Prospects: Texas Rangers, by Kiley McDaniel
Kiley drops his first prospect list — which he previewed/primed on Monday — and my oh my, are we in for a treat with these reports.

I’m Buying Low On Allen Craig, by David Wiers
David makes his case for the new Red Sox corner player getting back to business.

THURSDAY
Jonathan Lucroy, Catcher Framing, and the NL MVP, by Dave Cameron
Dave had defense on the brain this week. On Tuesday, he wrote about Alex Gordon, and in this post he ponders the dilemma defense will pose for him when he votes for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Games I Wish To Protest, by Patrick Dubuque
There’s really no other way to put it — Patrick has been killing it lately. I would also like to protest Games One and Four of the 1999 American League Championship Series, because Chuck Knoblauch was gifted two outs he never made.

The most 1776 player of 2014, by Jeremy Blachman
The first of two posts this week about Ben Revere.

Remembering Sandbox.net, by Michael Barr
A great reminder of what could have been, how much fantasy baseball has grown, and how we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

FRIDAY
MASH Report – PAIN, HURT and SLOW Reports, by Jeff Zimmerman
Nearly one stop shopping, as Jeff updates his valuable reports.

Dear Cubs Public Relations, by Eno Sarris
KyleZ says it best.

Ben Revere and the Emptiest Batting Average Ever, by Alex Vigderman
And somehow, the second of two posts this week about Ben Revere. I don’t know either.


NERD Game Scores for Saturday, August 23, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet 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. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Pittsburgh at Milwaukee | 19:10 ET
Edinson Volquez (146.0 IP, 115 xFIP-, 0.2 WAR) faces Wily Peralta (157.0 IP, 98 xFIP-, 1.0 WAR). While at least two of the clubs involved would disagree, the best sort of thing that can happen at the moment in the NL Central — to the end of Maximum Pleasure, that is — is what happened last night, on which night Pittsburgh defeated Milwaukee while St. Louis also lost.

Regard, the effect on the odds of qualifying for the divisional series for each of the three relevant clubs before and after Friday’s games (in order of current place in division):

# Team Before After Diff
1 Brewers 59.7% 59.6% -0.1%
2 Cardinals 68.7% 65.0% -3.7%
3 Pirates 13.9% 19.6% +5.7%

After entering the day 55 points behind the Cardinals, the Pirates exited it (i.e. that same day) trailing by only about 45 points.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Milwaukee Radio.

Read the rest of this entry »


Game Pace and the Mark Buehrle Effect

We’re talking about pace-of-game again, in light of the recent vote to identify the next commissioner. Baseball games are taking longer and longer, with replay and constant shifting only adding to the length, and while certain fans believe it’s no issue because that’s just the beauty of baseball, this is one of those areas where you need to look at the big picture, and most people would prefer that games take less time. Baseball games now have a greater duration with the same amount of action, and that’s not the stuff of anyone’s dreams.

Cutting down on game length isn’t as easy as identifying that baseball should want to cut down on game length. The commercial breaks are always going to be there, because they need to be. Teams aren’t going to be real receptive to ideas that limit bullpen usage and flexibility. Every so often someone brings up the idea of a pitch clock, and maybe that’s the sort of step that needs to be taken. The best target for time reduction are all the seconds that pass between pitches. At least, that’s how people frequently feel. They don’t feel like that so much when Mark Buehrle‘s on the mound.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Good Is Aaron Nola Already?

When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades.  There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.

The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades.   -Kiley

Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (AA – Reading)

Nola was a standout all three years at LSU before going 7th overall to the Phillies in June.  Nola is an interesting pitcher to evaluate because his size (6’1/185) and slot (low 3/4) both aren’t typical for first rounders, with only a handful of starters in the big leagues throwing from that low of a slot.  Nola flashed three plus pitches (90-94, hitting 96 mph with arm side life), at least above average command and a rubber arm with no injury history to go with numerous big game performances.  Understandably, in the longest season of his life (Nola didn’t throw last summer), the stuff Nathaniel saw isn’t quite as sharp, but Nola still has a chance to be in the Phillies’ rotation in 2015 with #2/3 starter upside if he can successfully neutralize left-handed hitters. 

Fastball: 60/60, Curveball: 55/60, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 50/55    -Kiley

The seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft has already reached Double-A and has acquitted himself reasonably well there. I took in his third start at the level this past Monday in Bowie, attempting to get a feel for how much of his quick ascent stems from sheer overwhelming talent and how much should be attributed to polish.

Fastball: 50/55+

Nola worked at 89-93 mph in this outing. Given that he threw 116 innings with LSU this year and an additional 40 in pro ball so far, it’s fair to wonder if he’s a little fatigued; pre-draft reports typically had him a tick higher (mostly 90-94 and touching occasionally up to 95+). There’s some deception in his delivery that helps him sneak the pitch by batters, and he can throw it to all four quadrants of the zone. While he comes from a fairly low 3/4 arm slot, he didn’t show too much action on the pitch–it occasionally had a touch of running life at 89-90, but the pitch was mostly straight otherwise. He added and subtracted from the pitch, sometimes following an 89 with a 93, but held his velocity through the outing. Without big movement or projection, it’s not going to be an out-and-out plus offering in the future, but if it picks back up a tick after an offseason of rest, it’ll be an above-average pitch that should work well if he spots it.

Curveball: 55/60

Nola’s breaking ball is his money pitch, a 76-79 mph sweeper with big tilt. Because of his low arm slot and extended release point, the pitch starts behind right-handed hitters’ backs, only to cross through the zone late. He gets a lot of called strikes with it because righty batters just can’t get the bat off their shoulders at the late juncture that they realize it’s going to find the zone. It’s a bit loose and could use some tightening into more of a true slider, but should be a clear plus offering in the future that enables Nola to finish off righthanded bats. He lacks confidence in it to lefties and needs to find a way to at least show it to them to keep them more off balance.

Changeup: 40/50+

Nola’s change often earned credit for being an average or better offering in college, but that sort of quality was nowhere to be found in this outing. Easily Nola’s weakest pitch, it appeared playable but hardly interesting, arriving at 80-84 mph–a credible 9 mph of speed separation–and showing a bit of fade and sink at times. Neither the pitch’s movement nor his arm speed on it is consistent, and he didn’t show it to righthanded batters in the outing. Without the context of its former performance, I would’ve gone 45+ on the future grade, but with that knowledge, I’ll split the difference between that and the future 60 that Kiley (and many predraft reports) have pegged for its future. There are a wide variety of potential outcomes for the pitch.

Command: 45/55

As one might expect from a pitcher who made it to Double-A after just seven pro appearances, Nola has a good idea of what he’s doing on the mound and can spot his pitches well. While his mechanics are unconventional, they are relatively simple and he’s coordinated enough to repeat his motion. He didn’t command his off-speed pitches particularly well in the outing–they tended to either be get-me-over offerings or chase pitches far out of the zone–and he’ll need to get more precise in that area as he advances, but there’s no reason he can’t have solid-average command in the future. As noted above, the fact that he works just fastball-slider to righties and fastball-change to lefties is a bit of a concern–Nola may not have the raw stuff to find big success with such a predictable and narrow approach, especially when it comes to combating opposite-side hitters with his low arm slot and below-average changeup.

Summary

With an average fastball, above-average slider, and sound control, Aaron Nola could probably play a Todd Redmond role in a major league bullpen right now. That’s obviously quite impressive for a man who wasn’t a professional three months ago, but he’s obviously going to have to improve and surpass the Redmonds of the world if he is to make the Phillies look smart for picking him so high. There are plenty of reasons to like him–showing an above-average pitch, a second average pitch, and a third fringe-average pitch in his fatigued state is quite impressive–but there are also reasons to be skeptical that he’ll justify his selection, and they center on his lack of overwhelming attributes and his fairly weak profile against left-handed hitters (for what it’s worth, in a small professional sample, they’re hitting .286/.338/.443 off him, so it’s not as if his stuff is playing better against them than you’d expect from the raw descriptions).

Even with the assumption that Nola gets a tick back on his fastball next year and settles in at 90-94, it’s hard to see him having more than a #3 starter’s ceiling. If he settles in at a #3/#4 level quickly, that won’t be the flashiest of payoffs, but it’ll also be hard to really take issue with his selection–it’s not as if Mike Leake is thought of as a massive draft bust, after all. There’s a solid chance he could get to that level of performance, but the line between it and interchangeable back-of-the-rotation, Kyle Kendrick sort of output is fairly thin, and he’s not guaranteed to end up on the right side of it. While that might sound like a criticism, there aren’t exactly many players three months removed from amateur ball who are already clearly set up to be MLB-average regulars or starting pitchers, so it shouldn’t be taken as cause for alarm. Exactly how far Nola can get his changeup to come will be a big part of determining where he falls, as well as how he’ll learn to sequence his pitches and locations to keep hitters off balance.


Ongoing and Overzealous Coverage of Zach Walters

One way — perhaps the main way — in which a prospect is capable of producing enthusiasm among the People is by exhibiting signs that he’ll be a valuable major leaguer at some point in the near or less-near future. Another way in which he can do that (i.e. produce enthusiasm) is by demonstrating a skill set otherwise non-extant (or nearly non-extant) in the majors.

While the likelihood of Zach Walters parlaying his skills into a major-league career of consequence remains distinctly uncertain, he’s at least indicated that the aforementioned skill set is likely to be a unique one. Just hours after the present author noted here yesterday that the 24-year-old belonged to a select group of hitters this season — hitters, that is, who’re both (a) particularly inclined to striking out and hitting for power while also (b) capable of occupying the more demanding area of the defensive spectrum — Walters proceeded to demonstrate the entirety of skill set (the offensive part, at least) in three plate appearances against Minnesota (box).

Here, by way of illustration, is the conclusion of Walters’ first plate appearances on Thursday:

Walters 1

And then the second:

Walters 2

And, finally, the third:

Walters 3

In the wake of that game against the Twins, Walters now possesses a 37.2% strikeout rate and .306 isolated-power figure. Of the 43 batted balls he’s hit into fair territory, seven of them (16%) have been home runs.

Here are the top-10 players this season by that inconsequential measure who have also recorded 50-plus plate appearances. (Note that HRC% denotes home runs on contact.):

# Name Team AB AB-K HR HRC%
1 Zach Walters 72 43 7 16.3%
2 Javier Baez Cubs 70 40 5 12.5%
3 Nate Freiman Athletics 47 33 4 12.1%
4 Chris Carter Astros 395 257 30 11.7%
5 Mike Olt Cubs 187 103 12 11.7%
6 George Springer Astros 295 181 20 11.0%
7 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 465 323 32 9.9%
8 Juan Francisco Blue Jays 275 163 16 9.8%
9 Jose Abreu White Sox 436 330 32 9.7%
10 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays 348 288 27 9.4%

FG on Fox: Who’s Been Helped and Hurt the Most by Pitch-Framing?

Let’s watch some baseball! Rewind to Thursday night, in Boston, where the Angels were playing the Red Sox. The story of most of the night was Matt Shoemaker, but for our specific purposes, the story didn’t really involve Shoemaker at all.

We’ll pick things up in the top of the sixth. Ahead in the count 2-and-1, Albert Pujols took a high slider, but it got called a strike, much to Pujols’ displeasure. The pitch was received by Christian Vazquez, who seems to be an elite-level pitch-framer.

Read the rest of this entry »


Leaderboards: Active Roster Changes

The active roster button on the leaderboards has undergone a change in how the results are presented. The team displayed in the results will now only show the player’s active team. This goes for the teams section of the leaderboards as well.

For instance, if you check the active roster box, Jon Lester’s team will appear as only the Oakland Athletics, since that is his current active team. When you look at the team leaderboards and you check the active roster box, Jon Lester’s stats with both the Red Sox and the Athletics will be attributed to the Athletics line of data.

Previously, the team displayed in the results was the team(s) the player had played on during the selected time period.


Nicholas Minnix Baseball Chat – 8/22/14

11:38
Nicholas Minnix: Hello, folks, and welcome. I’ll be with you at the top of the hour!

12:00
Comment From Matt
Do you think Maikel Franco has turned it around over the past month? Still someone to be excited about?

12:00
Nicholas Minnix: He’s kind of slowly turned it around, period, I’d say. Yes, still.

12:00
Comment From AL Pitching Coach
Hi Nicholas. Hope you had a great week! In an AL-only league, any worries starting Gausman @ Cubs, Smyly @ Jays and Gray vs. Angels today? Thanks!!!

12:03
Nicholas Minnix: Thanks, you too! Generally speaking, I wouldn’t worry. Having said that, Smyly and Gray face two of the top MLB offenses. Having said THAT, if those teams are susceptible to one arm more than another, then it’s the type they face today. This is more of a “where are you in the standings?” question. In general, esp. in AL league, I’d throw the guys I’ve been riding all year, as you likely have with them.

Read the rest of this entry »


Red Sox Sign Rusney Castillo

After getting outbid for Jose Abreu, the Red Sox apparently weren’t going to let that happen when they had another shot at a young Cuban defector, and today, they’ve agreed to sign outfielder Rusney Castillo for a reported $72 million over six years. This beats Abreu’s total by $4 million, and is almost double the contract that Yasiel Puig got a couple of years ago. There’s little question that the massive success of those two players has forced teams to reevaluate their assessments, and as I pointed out on Wednesday, the international free agent market has been significantly underpriced of late.

Of course, the success of Abreu and Puig doesn’t mean that Castillo’s going to be a monster. Here’s what Ben Badler reports that scouts have told him about Castillo’s potential:

Read the rest of this entry »


NERD Game Scores for Friday, August 22, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet 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. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Pittsburgh at Milwaukee | 20:10 ET
Jeff Locke (91.2 IP, 96 xFIP-, 0.4 WAR) faces Yovani Gallardo (154.2 IP, 96 xFIP-, 1.7 WAR). Owing to Pittsburgh’s recent series of losses, the identity of the NL Central champion this season appears to be a matter for Milwaukee and St. Louis to settle between themselves: indeed, as of Friday, there’s a ca. 95% chance that one of the latter two clubs will win the division. The Pirates’ postseason odds remain something better than immaterial, however — which is more than one can say of the author’s dignity, who just minutes ago exited the front door of his apartment holding a dog that was in the act of evacuating its bowels.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Milwaukee Radio.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Angels Bleak Search for Pitching

In less than a month, the Angels have been dealt some two deadly blows to their starting rotation. Neither Tyler Skaggs not Garrett Richards will be pitching any time in the foreseeable future. Jeff detailed the devastating blow that their losses may have on their World Series chances yesterday. Today, I thought we could take a look at the potential pitchers that the team could acquire for the stretch run.
Read the rest of this entry »


Library Update: xFIP

Last week, we updated our Library entry for Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). This week, FIP’s sister-stat Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) got the same treatment. If you’re looking for a defense independent pitching statistic that also tries to strip out some of the inherent fluctuation in home run rate, xFIP is for you. Head over to the full entry to learn more about it.

If you missed it last week, there’s also a blog post in the Library that breaks down the basics of why using metrics other than ERA will help you develop a better understanding of how well a pitcher is performing.

As always,  please feel free to pose questions or comments below or find me on Twitter @NeilWeinberg44 if that’s more convenient. Also remember to stop by our weekly FanGraphs Q&A chat (Wednesdays at 3pm eastern) to learn more about our stats and our site.


The End of Charlie Morton’s Run at History

As of this writing, the Pittsburgh Pirates have a better than one-in-four chance of making the postseason. One of their pitchers, Charlie Morton, was recently placed on the disabled list with hip discomfort. Morton’s value is not necessarily reflected in his win/loss record, but he’s been an extremely serviceable pitcher this year, worth over a Win Above Replacement. Morton is the type of pitcher one would want during a playoff push as a reliable starter or a very effective reliever.

Depending on the severity of Morton’s injury, the Pirates may not have that luxury. Morton is being replaced for the time being by Gerrit Cole, a young pitcher with promise who, if healthy, should fill in quite admirably. But there’s an underlying cost to Morton’s injury that doesn’t involve Cole or the Pirates or the playoff race in general. It has to do with Morton’s place in baseball history — specifically the amount of batters he plunks.

Morton already has a hold on the record books, as it happens. In 2013, he hit 3.25% of the batters he faced with a pitch. That is good for a modern-era record. This season, he averaged a hit batsman 2.94% of the time. That averages out to about 3.1%. Pitchers are less likely to walk Adam Jones than Charlie Morton is to hit a batter. If Bartolo Colon were to bat against Charlie Morton, Colon would have almost the same chance of getting hit as he would of getting a hit. (Note: Colon did face Morton twice this year. Neither a hit nor HBP was recorded).

So Charlie Morton hits a lot of batters, is what I’m saying. He’s drilled likely candidates like Jon Jay and Anthony Rizzo, as well as less likely candidates such as Kyle Lohse and Tim Hudson. Morton doesn’t discriminate, it seems. It could just be that he’s a product of his time. I mean, batters are still getting hit at a pretty good rate, historically speaking.

hbpovertbf

But here’s the leaderboard sorted by HBP/TBF (minimum 115 IP) for the past 30 years.

Pitcher Season HBP%
Charlie Morton 2013 3.25%
Jerome Williams 2004 3.04%
Charlie Morton 2014 2.94%
Byung-Hyun Kim 2007 2.85%
Bronson Arroyo 2004 2.62%
Justin Masterson 2014 2.59%
John Lackey 2011 2.56%
Chan Ho Park 2002 2.55%
Jamey Wright 2000 2.51%
Casey Fossum 2005 2.48%

This is to what the title of this post was alluding. Morton is one tenth of one percent away from holding the two most plunk-happy seasons in recent memory. Depending on his timetable and workload he still may have a chance, but if Pittsburgh falls further out of contention or Cole proves himself to be a worthy replacement (and the Pirates look at Morton’s win/loss record as a proof of performance), we may not see Morton pitch again in 2014.

This is admittedly a weird record and one that causes pain to batters, so perhaps I shouldn’t be rooting for Morton to pull this off, but I still am. Because when pitted against the Clayton Kershaws and Felix Hernandezs of the world, guys like Morton need to carve out their own little notch in history.

I really wanted to end this with a George Clinton funk/plunk reference that didn’t sound forced or hokey, but I just couldn’t. Feel free to add your own attempts in the comments. I’m sure they’ll be lovely.


Where the Orioles are Beating the Projections

Seems to me the most fun you can have as a sports fan is when your team exceeds expectations. It’s fun when a known good team plays like a good team, too, but then you don’t get the same kind of magic of surprise. You’re already planning ahead for the playoffs, and you’re more likely to be disappointed by anything short of a title. It’s always the best to pull for someone people didn’t see coming, and a team most people didn’t see coming this year was the Orioles. Orioles fans, then, ought to be enjoying this, yet it seems an awful lot of them are spending their time ripping on FanGraphs. See, FanGraphs projected the Orioles for last place. Ergo, we’re maroons! Fans apparently don’t love it when you ascribe surprising success to random variation. I guess that shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

So let’s consider what we have here. The Orioles are in the running to finish with baseball’s best record. They were projected to be something like a .500 team on true talent. Obviously, then, they’re exceeding the preseason projections. The roster hasn’t really changed all that much. So where are the Orioles beating the forecasts? We already know they’re doing better than they were expected to do. Why is that, in 2014?

Read the rest of this entry »


Jonathan Lucroy, Catcher Framing, and the NL MVP

Three years ago, the BBWAA opened their doors to FanGraphs; currently, four of our writers are members, including David Laurila, Eno Sarris, Carson Cistulli, and myself. Having that access has allowed David and Eno to do really interesting work in combining data with comments from the players, including Eno’s piece on Jacob deGrom from this morning, but being in the BBWAA also comes with other privileges, including voting on postseason awards. For the first time this year, I’ve been selected to represent the Atlanta chapter in the NL voting, and I’ll be casting a ballot for both Manager of the Year and Most Valuable Player.

As part of the conditions of being invited to participate, this means that I won’t be able to talk about who I’m planning on voting for until after the ballot is announced in November. However, I can talk about the questions I’m going to have to answer for myself when deciding how to vote, and no player is going to force me to come to a decision on what I feel is an unanswered question more so than Jonathan Lucroy.

Read the rest of this entry »


Brothers from Likely a Different Mother: Baez and Walters

While the author has referenced the birth records neither of Cubs infielder Javier Baez nor Cleveland infielder-outfielder Zach Walters for the purposes of composing this brief post, circumstantial evidence — like how they were born in different countries and also exhibit little physical resemblance — circumstantial evidence suggests that they are not brothers.

What they’ve demonstrated in terms of baseball performance, however, invites comparison. Both have shown considerable power. Both have also exhibited a proclivity for striking out. Overall, their collected offensive skills have produced slightly above-average batting lines in a limited sample.

Indeed, among all batters to have recorded 50-plus plate appearances this season, here’s a list of all the ones to have produced an isolated power greater than .250, a strikeout rate above 30%, and simultaneously a wRC+ of 100-plus:

Name Team PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG ISO wRC+ Off Def WAR
Chris Carter Astros 433 7.9% 31.4% .230 .298 .514 .284 126 11.4 -12.5 1.4
Javier Baez Cubs 68 4.4% 36.8% .231 .265 .492 .262 107 1.1 0.7 0.4
Zach Walters 75 8.0% 36.0% .203 .267 .478 .275 108 0.7 -0.4 0.3

Three players, is how many that is: Baez, Walters, and Houston’s Chris Carter. If the former two are brothers from a different mother, then Carter is the issue of a third mother still — a mother who, for all her probably many virtues, doesn’t offer much in the way of defensive value.

Baez and Walters, meanwhile, have both recorded major-leagues innings at shortstop this season. Yes, the former has played more second base; the latter, a number of other positions. That an organization has considered deploying them towards that end of the defensive spectrum, is the point.

None of this is to suggest that Baez and Walters will certainly become the same player. The former’s superior pedigree and younger youth suggest the possibility of a higher peak. That the pair have been mostly indiscernible in the very earliest parts of their major-league careers appears to be a factual thing, though.


Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 8/21/14

11:45
Eno Sarris: Be here now. Also, I’ll be here soon.
11:45
manofonetitle:
12:00
Comment From Billy Beane
Is something wrong with Sonny Gray?
12:01
Eno Sarris: Nah. Wasn’t a mid-twos ERA guy. The change has graduated to okay but isn’t great.
12:01
Comment From American League Hustle
Assuming he can remain a full-time regular, prediction on Mookie Betts, both ROS and 2015?
12:01
Eno Sarris: I think he’s probably a .275/7/20 true talent guy right now, but next year I think if he can get out of the bottom of the order, .280+/10/30 is possible.

Read the rest of this entry »


NERD Game Scores for Thursday, August 21, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet 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. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
San Francisco at Chicago NL | 20:05 ET*
Madison Bumgarner (169.0 IP, 81 xFIP-, 3.0 WAR) faces Travis Wood (144.1 IP, 123 xFIP-, 1.2 WAR). Today’s games don’t scale the heights of intrigue like some recent contests have. In this case, however, one finds a Giants club that is among the closest of all major-league clubs to possessing exactly 50% odds of qualifying for the divisional series. As for the Chicagos, their virtues at the moment are less conspicuous. That said, very powerful infield prospect Javier Baez is likely to recorded four or five plate appearances, which means four or five opportunities for him to demonstrate his strong strength.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Basically Any of Them.

*The author, an idiot, originally assigned Detroit left-hander David Price to his former team, thus creating a matchup of Tampa Bay at Tampa Bay. The corrected version reveals that the Tigers and Rays’ game is actually today’s most highly rated.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Jacob deGrom is Better Than We Thought

During his minor league career, Jacob deGrom had a 3.62 ERA and struck out batters at about a league-average rate. Those are OK numbers, but without the context of his actual stuff, it’s not surprising he’d never been featured on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list — or that he’d rated no higher on the New York Mets’ prospect list than Marc Hulet’s No. 7 ranking coming into this season.

Now that the pitcher with the hair and the command and the fastball and the changeup is dominating the major leagues, it’s fair to ask: How did we miss this?

Read the rest of this entry »