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  1. Except, Bumgarner threw a slider 20% of the time and a cutter 13% of the time. At least according to…

    Bumgarner calls the pitch a cutter even though it behaves like a slider. It is physically possible to get slider-like movement from a cut fastball grip. So he might actually be throwing a cutter.

    Comment by Brad Johnson — February 29, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  2. I think the bottom line with Bumgarner is that we really can’t be sure.

    Comment by Brad Johnson — February 29, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  3. Thanks for the heads up. I will look into it a bit more.

    Comment by Jeff Zimmerman — February 29, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  4. I sure hope you’re wrong on #7

    Comment by Codylee — February 29, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  5. “…pitchers are going to be challenging him quite a bit since they would rather face him then either Cabrera or Fielder.”

    I think what you are implying is that he will see pitches to hit because they won’t want to walk him, but based upon what you said one could conclude he will struggle since pitchers will be challenging him (ie pitching better against him).

    Comment by Randy — February 29, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

  6. “8) At least 3 of the following 6 pitchers will end up on the DL in 2012”
    You cannot know that. It’s pretty lazy just to speak in such definitives.

    Comment by Lllama — February 29, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

  7. Looking at historic numbers. 46% is close to 50%

    Comment by Jeff Zimmerman — February 29, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  8. It is a Bold Prediction. Bold as in ballsy, Prediction as in educated guestimate.

    And based off Jeff’s own research, it’s not even actually bold. Unless it’s bold to believe in one’s research.

    Comment by Brad Johnson — February 29, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  9. Supporting Zimmerman’s argument about sliders and the DL: the great pitcher Jim Palmer said in the 1970’s that sliders will help you get Ks, but there’s no quicker way to end up on the DL. (He attributed his arm problems in 1974 to an over-reliance on the slider.)
    Anderson of Oakland; Josh Johnson of Miami–both of these pitchers have thrown sliders more than 30% of the time. We know the results.
    Not all pitchers who throw sliders a lot end up on the DL, obviously, but a disturbing number do.
    Norris threw his slider 38% of the time in 2011; if he doesn’t bring that number down, I wouldn’t want to own him, despite the allure of the Ks.

    Comment by balticfox1917 — February 29, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  10. Jeff: since you’re so pessimistic about Morneau and Mauer, do you think Chris Parmalee is a sleeper candidate at 1B this year? He demonstrated great plate discipline during his call-up in Sept. and showed some pop.
    Worth a late round pick in deeper leagues?

    Comment by balticfox1917 — February 29, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  11. I guess you call them bold predictions but I find the logic (should be a fangraphs strength) behind a few of them questionable.

    Cozart is a .270 MiLB hitter. His ability to hit for avg is based entirely on last season. He is a nice sleeper that can notch double digit HR’s and SB’s late in the draft.

    Jackson and Dempster have always thrown a lot of sliders and they have shown good durability. I’m not concerned about them but I am concerned about younger pitchers that throw a lot of sliders. Or ones that have an injury history like Ervin. Or pretty much every young pitcher that hasn’t thrown 200 innings a few times. Some pitchers can handle the workload and some can’t.

    Willingham leaves pitchers paradise Oakland and arrived in pitchers paradise MN. Not sure how this will help him. His HR/FB rate has fluctuated between 11-17% for his career but he is hitting more FB’s. The thing that will hold Willingham back is his ability to stay healthy. You could almost throw him into your Mauer/Morneau/Doumit prediction since he’s missed 26-60 games each of the last 4 years.

    Comment by kab21 — February 29, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  12. That is indeed a bold prediction on Ellsbury! Predicting a better season for him in 2012 is essentially predicting a 10 WAR season, possibly even with some UZR regression… wow!

    Personally I split the difference between “ZOMG Jacoby is the best evah” and “he sucks, he’ll be lucky to hit 5 homers, and btw he’s definitely going break 10 ribs and 3 limbs in April”. I think the power is “real” in the sense that he is probably more likely to be a 20 HR guy than a <10 HR guy, but even with a true improvement in that department it is asking a lot for a guy with his profile to sustain at 17% HR/FB rate, let alone improve on it. And despite concerns about his durability, really he's only ever missed extended time due to a fluky injury, not something chronic like hamstring problems.

    So I guess I'm saying that even with regression he might legitimately be a top 10 fantasy player for the foreseeable future, which is pretty damn good even if he never duplicates 2011.

    Comment by mcbrown — February 29, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  13. Not seeing the Willingham projection.

    I predict injured back, 110 games played.

    Comment by philosofool — February 29, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  14. The one note I’d add is he went to Minnesota. Oakland for that isn’t much of a difference. In fact, I’d push it one step further and bring up how cold it is up there to start the season by comparison to the bay area. Seriously, why didn’t that sucker at least get a moveable roof?

    Comment by Oregon Nut Cups — February 29, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  15. Minneapolis in April isn’t that much different than Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New York, Boston, etc. No need to have a roof on Target Field.

    Comment by MFG — February 29, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

  16. In my keeper league this season should I go with Willingham or Boesch?

    Comment by Ty Cogdill — February 29, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  17. He’s not really implying anything; it’s a pretty common baseball expression. It means he’ll get stuff to hit, since pitchers aren’t going to risk putting him on in front of the boppers.

    Comment by davisnc — February 29, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  18. I actually agree with the prediction and like Cozart, but you may want to rephrase that one. His “great season” was 38 PA. Granted, he had 38 good PA, but it’s still misleading.

    Comment by davisnc — February 29, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

  19. Traded Boesch for a 2nd this year ( K. Wong) & 2ND next year…. I really hope he doesn’t become a top 30 player.

    Comment by rickeycanstillplay — February 29, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

  20. Can’t help but notice that there’s no FG+ write-up for Boesch . . .

    Comment by DavidJ — March 1, 2012 @ 12:20 am

  21. Why am I reading about protection theory at Fangraphs?

    Comment by JDanger — March 1, 2012 @ 8:25 am

  22. So wait… getting out of Oakland and going to Minnesota, an even more prohibitive hitters park, with the three best offensive players “not playing 162 games between them” to give him protection will help Willingham how? Seems more incongruous than bold.

    Comment by cory — March 1, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  23. Jeff,

    These loess plots are really bad news with the significant spacing in between. They are being affected at a high level by one or two points at the edges of each year. I really can’t discern anything meaningful from them. They really don’t do well with large spaces between, and really the fact that there is a line there is really misleading. Why should we have any estimate at all in the off-season? I know there’s a better way to do this sort of plot.

    I do hope your Zach Cozart prediction comes true, though. Would be a boon for my keeper league :-)

    Comment by Millsy — March 1, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  24. Cozart had TJ surgery in August. Now, yes, position players return from that sooner than pitchers, but I doubt he’ll play much before June or so at the earliest. I can’t see him as a top 5 SS this year.

    Comment by geo — March 1, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  25. Think he is just saying he will see more fastballs, rather than a 3-2 slider in the dirt to see if he chases, he still has to hit them no matter who is behind him. Which is where I think the whole protection tehory fails and for great hitters w/ no one behind I think the only effect may be a slight increase in walks but people love to say oh he has no one behind him so suddenly he will become bad..

    Anyway love the Greinke prediction and latos. Cant count how many times I’ve read that LAtos’ road numbers are not that much worse than his Petco numbers, which I think totally misses the point, latos is still going to be pitching on the road but now replace the 15 petco starts w/ 15 GAB starts which you could probably safely say will be worse than his career road numbers, so don’t see Latos as a top 30 starter this year at all.

    Comment by tvators — March 1, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  26. Geo – Cozart had the TJ surgery on his left elbow, not his right. He’s already at spring training and expected to be the Reds’ starting SS on Opening Day/

    Comment by Gregg — March 1, 2012 @ 11:44 am

  27. He’s back playing already w/ no limitations and on track for opening day start

    Comment by tvators — March 1, 2012 @ 11:53 am

  28. As someone who played college ball in St. Paul, April is a good bet for a couple snow outs every season.

    Comment by The A Team — March 1, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  29. Meh. I’m not sure protection is as settled as we tend to think it is. I tend toward thinking mainstream analysis overrates it significantly. Especially for hitters who are great to begin with. Boesch isn’t that, and there’s the complicating variable of TWO very scary hitters behind him to contend with. Does that have an effect? I can’t say.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about in a fantasy article. Most of the analysis I’ve read (and I’m by no means an expert on this) about protection looks at OPS or wOBA, which is fine for a real-world discussion, but lacking for fantasy. Maybe a “protected” hitter walks less, but hits more HR/XBH. These could, in effect, cancel each other out and make wOBA look similar. It would certainly be a hell of a coincidence that the effect was consistently close to net neutral, but again, not outside the realm. It’s totally possible that there are studies that render what I just said nonsense; if so, I’d like to see them so I can understand the game better.

    This is an interesting sabermetric argument for protection:

    It reminds me a bit of the DIPS orthodoxy that sabermetrics is starting to back away from (think about how much more nuanced SIERA is than FIP). I’d read tons of stuff about Matt Cain being the luckiest human being on the face of the earth, but as we started to understand it better, we accept that there are pitchers who are better at inducing weak contact than others. This finding has the benefit of conforming with common sense.

    Anyway, I’m not a protection apologist. I’m really not. I just don’t think we always know as much as we think we do.

    Comment by davisnc — March 1, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  30. @tvators – On your Latos point… really confused. No one says going to Cincy won’t impact some of his numbers, but the point about road stats is that he is still an excellent pitcher and the home park does not overly affect his stats. The road numbers are extremely significant! Plus, the small dip in numbers will be countered by his increase in wins on a better team. In fantasyland, decreasing Latos rank due to the ballpark move, makes me very happy… I will draft him at a bargain!

    Comment by SKob — March 1, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  31. @skob -Just saying if he is basically the same pitcher (little worse on the road) with about 1/2 run higher ERA away from Petco. He will still have that 3.50+ ERA away from home, but now instead of countered with a 2.90/3.00 ERA, it may be countered with a 4.10 ERA at home or so. I just think people think they”ll just get his road numbers over a whole year rather than road numbers plus worse than road home numbers. Im not saying he’s going to be a bust, but Im def. not buying, everyone sems to just assume he’s going to win 17 games w/a 3.00 Era and 200Ks….I see 14 wins era closer to 4, same pitcher who can llok grreat for 4IP and then blam gives up 5 ER in the 5th,,,,,just not a big latos fan and the move scares me a whole lot,

    Comment by tvators — March 1, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  32. Because Tax payers like me didn’t want to pay an extra 200 million dollars

    Comment by adohaj — March 1, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  33. I believe he had the surgery on his non-throwing elbow and this is the reason why it won’t hinder him at all this season

    Comment by Vegemitch — March 2, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  34. Zack Grienke hasn’t had a BABIP under .303 since 2004, so you can’t count on much ‘luck’.

    Those who place their faith in xERA are all over him, but I just can’t count on him to produce the great WHIP necessary to be a top-3 pitcher (he’s had a WHIP below 1.20 only once since 2004).

    Comment by Travis — March 5, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

  35. I like Boesch as well, but I fear Leyland. The guy will always find a way to platoon any less-than-MVP-caliber player. I see Boesch sitting against a lot of lefties, even though he already shown he can hit them pretty well.

    Comment by evo34 — March 6, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  36. I agree that Cozart isn’t typically a high average hitter – but the logic about him batting in front of Votto and Bruce means he should get better pitches to hit. I expect a better than .270 average but without many walks to get the obp up. His strength will be a lack of weaknesses and his WAR should look solid at year end. And yes, so far so great.

    Comment by Matt McWax — April 9, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

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