• Prospect Performers: The NL East
    by Marc Hulet - 5/22 -  5
    At the beginning of the 2017 season, I wrote pieces reviewing the potential impact rookie hitters in each league for 2017. Today, we continue a semi-regular review of how those players are actually performing.
  • The Overshooters
    by Andrew Perpetua - 5/18 -  12
    Last week I touched on a few misconceptions about launch angles and exit velocity. This article is a Part II, so you may be interested in going back and reading Part I if you haven’t already.
  • Roto Riteup
    The most roto-relevant news of the previous day, recapped in a concise format for your morning coffee.
  • Bullpen Report
    Detailed daily updates and charts on every bullpen in the Major Leagues to help you manage your saves and holds.
  • Prospect Coverage
    Our prospect team mines the minors for top prospects and useful pieces alike.
  • MASH Report
    Award-winning in-depth injury report with analysis from Jeff Zimmerman.
  • The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast
    Eno Sarris, Paul Sporer, and Jason Collette lead the RotoGraphs staff in a regular fantasy podcast.
  • Daily Fantasy Strategy
    The RotoGraphs team discusses daily fantasy strategy and then makes picks for the day.
  • Ottoneu Strategy
    Strategy for the year-round FanGraphs Fantasy game.
  • Top 50 Fantasy Prospects
    Marc Hulet adjusts (and updates) his prospect list for fantasy purposes.
  • Field of Streams
    A contest to see who can make the better picks: streaming pitcher and hitter choices for every day of the season in a podcast hosted by Dylan Higgins and Matthew Dewoskin.
C  -  1B  -  2B  -  SS  -  3B  -  OF  -  SP  -  RP

Are The Cubs Pitchers Getting Unlucky?

Last season the Cubs pitching had a great BABIP, .255, the best in MLB by quite a margin.  This has been attributed to superior defense and great pitching. Both of these seem like good enough explanations. This season, with roughly the same team, their BABIP has dropped to .286, effectively league average.

Now, there is a lot you may assume from these numbers. You may think, of course, BABIP is so unpredictable. Of course a team that was above average one season would return to average the following season.  Fair enough, you could say that. Some argue their outfield defense has taken a step back. That might be true.

These are all guesses and assumptions, but fortunately we have a few more tools for evaluating quality of contact, so let’s see what they may tell us about this Cubs pitching staff. We can use Statcast to evaluate quality of contact. When we do so, it paints a bit of a different picture.

Cubs Pitching xStats
Year xAVG xOBP xSLG xBABIP xBACON xOBA
2015 .234 .290 .365 .296 .318 .286
2016 .233 .303 .373 .289 .314 .294
2017 .247 .320 .395 .305 .330 .311
SOURCE: xStats.org

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The Chacon Zone: A Few Relievers To Buy

The sheer amount of data points we have at our fingertips these days, while immensely useful, can be overwhelming. Seemingly, any one player, particularly this early in the season, can surge to the top of the leaderboard of your most trusted stat. One of my favorite heuristics for identifying sustainable breakout performances is very simple. Based on a handful of my favorite peripherals, I filter the leaderboards for those performing above average across all of them, in effect isolating standouts while hedging against the inherent volatility of performing well in a single stat. It’s not perfect but it’s a quick-and-dirty methodology that serves its purpose. 

Last week, I presented a list of pitchers who were better than average across K-BB%, swinging strike rate, Zone-Contact percentage, and ground ball rate. I focused on a few available starters while promising to cover some of the relievers this week. Lowering the innings threshold a tad (min. 14 IP), here are the relief pitchers all boasting better than average performances across the board in the aforementioned stats along with their ownership rates in Yahoo! leagues.

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Which Hitters Are Streaky?

I wanted to take a break from my Effective Velocity research, and so, in honor of Anthony Rendon, I decided to take a look at streaky hitters. Before this season, I did not have a perception of Rendon as streaky. But so far this season, he has produced 5 of his 7 total home runs, 7 of his 21 total runs, and 15 of his 28 total RBI in just two games. That’s insane. It may not mean anything in this case; however, it makes intuitive sense that some hitters would be more consistent than others. And beyond even the desire to roster consistent hitters over streaky hitters in weekly formats, I think it is at least worth exploring whether it is possible to identify hot and cold streaks as they are happening and make start-and-sit decisions with them in mind.

The first step toward that goal is defining what hot and cold streaks are. Rendon probably isn’t the best example of that. In general, I think of a hot hitter as one who produces well above his typical level of production for an extended period. As a starting point, I decided to look at players who produced a wOBA over seven consecutive games or more that was either 110 points above their seasonal line (hot) or 110 points below their seasonal line (cold). That 110-point threshold is fairly random, but it is based on the difference in the glossary markers for an excellent and awful player over a full season.

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Surprises Among AL SP SwStk% Laggards

Last week, I discussed five surprising American League starting pitchers sitting among the leaders in SwStk%. All of them had enjoyed surging versus 2016. Today, I’ll discuss pitchers on the other side of the coin, surprises toward the bottom of the SwStk% leaderboard, all of whom have suffered declines compared to last season.

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The Daily Grind: Definitive Proof of the Most Exciting Player

It’s a gross weather day. More on that below the fold.

AGENDA

  1. The Most Exciting Player
  2. Weather Reports
  3. Pitchers to Use and Abuse
  4. Hitters to Use
  5. SaberSim Says…
  6. TDG Invitational Returns!

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Roto Riteup: May 25, 2017

After in depth statistical analysis using unique metrics that can only be found within the inner workings of the Fangraphs private vault. The Roto Riteup has concluded that Billy Hamilton is fast. #Analysis

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Bullpen Report: May 24, 2017

It would appear the Padres may have a new closer.

With San Diego taking a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth inning against the Mets, manager Andy Green sent Brandon Maurer out for the bottom of the inning. It wasn’t a two-inning save for Maurer, who had allowed at least one run in each of his last three appearances and a total of 10 runs over his last five outings covering 3 2/3 innings. Instead, Brad Hand came out for the ninth. Read the rest of this entry »


The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 461 – Eight Buy Low Hitters

5/24/17

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 18, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER18!

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Strategy Section: Eight Buy Low Bats

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Velocity Decliners: Bundy, Triggs, & Kennedy

Note: I am using velocities from BrooksBaseball.net which has corrected their values from the 2016 to 2017 transition.

 

Dylan Bundy -2.5 mph (2016 FBv: 94.8mph, 2017 FBv: 92.3 mph)

Bundy’s decline is being obscured by the fact he relieved in 2016. Owners can see the 2017 drop and chalk it up to the normal velocity difference between starting and relieving. After removing the 2016 relieving values, his velocity is still down 2.5 mph.

For reference, here are his 2016 stats as a starter all of his 2017 ones.

Dylan Bundy’s Stats While Starting
Season ERA FIP xFIP K% SwStr%
2016 4.52 5.25 4.45 23.5% 10.8%
2017 2.92 3.95 4.69 17.9% 9.8%

Bundy’s approach and results are almost a textbook example of fastball velocity loss. The swinging strike rate on his fastball has dropped from 8.2% to 4.8% and therefore his strikeout rate dropped. Bundy realized his fastball isn’t the same, dropped its usage (61% to 50%) and relied on breaking pitches more.

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Jake Lamb’s Remarkable May & Continued Outlook

In the unlikely event that you follow me on Twitter dot com, you’re well aware of my…we’ll call it infatuation with Jake Lamb and his penchant for murdering baseballs. I’ve made no secret of it on here as well, which is why I went back and saw just how many times I had written about him in the last year, just to make sure that I wasn’t oversaturating the site with too much Lamb content. Luckily, I’ve only written about him once in 2017, so I feel comfortable discussing what has been an absolutely remarkable last month for the Arizona Diamondbacks third sacker.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a hot start on the offensive side, ranking in the top five in Major League Baseball in batting average, isolated power, and, more obviously, runs, while ranking eighth overall in on-base percentage. Lamb’s quick start is a heavy reason why, as he’s not only managed to duplicate his extremely impressive start from last season, but eclipse his output in numerous ways. This May has been something of a microcosm of the type of player that Lamb has shown flashes of becoming over the past calendar year.

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