• Manny Machado: Bad Luck or Something Deeper?
    by Randy Holt - 7/19 -  3
    A quick comparison between the tailspin of the Baltimore Orioles and the stat sheet of Manny Machado would seem to indicate that the third baseman is heavily responsible for the woes of the O's over these last few months.
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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 479 – Closing Time & Deadline Talk

7/20/17

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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Leading Off: Question of the Day

  • Brewers interested in Justin Verlander: does he get traded by the deadline? (4:45)

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Jeff Zimmerman’s 2017 Bold Predictions Mid-Season Review

It’s time to check in on my preseason bold predictions.

Note: For all the rankings, I used ESPN.com’s Player Rater.

BOLD prediction #1: Trea Turner will perform 20 spots worse than his ADP suggests.

I’m going to luck into getting this one eventually. Turner was going way too early compared to my projections. I saw him more as a 2nd to 3rd round talent.

He was proved me wrong by stealing 35 bases until he fractured his wrist in late June and will likely miss all the 2017 season. He currently ranks 7th overall but his value will continue to drop as others continue to rack up the counting stats.

Batting 1.000

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Roto Riteup: July 20, 2017

Stanton pops his 30th HR:

It might finally be happening! The super elite Stanton season might finally be upon us!!! Stanton is just 10 homers away from his first 40 HR season and the way he’s smashing homers of late (9 in 15 July games), he could drop a 50 burger on the league. I’ll say he hits 52.

On the Agenda:

  • Arenado pops 3 HR
  • Sanchez Blistered Again
  • Meyer Masterful v. Nats
  • Rodon Rocked
  • Dyson’s Resurgence
  • Other News
  • Whiff Watch
  • WTWT

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Pitcher Strengths of Schedule

I’ve always been interested in the contextual differences of player seasons. Take two random starters. Over the course of a season, they will have subtle differences in their frequencies of starts in pitcher-friendly parks and their frequencies of starts versus various teams and divisions. If the two starters are from different leagues, they will face a major difference in the number of designated hitters and pitcher batters that they face. Most of those factors are small on their own, but it feels like they could snowball on each other in extreme cases enough to make a noticeable difference in the difficulty of the pitchers’ strength of schedules.

It has taken me a while, but I think I’ve finally found an elegant way to test for those types of differences. It involves result frequencies and is best illustrated with a specific example. Stephen Strasburg started the season with a game against Miami. The first batter he faced was Dee Gordon. At that time, Gordon would reasonably have been expected to hit a single on 22.9 percent of his plate appearances versus a right-handed pitcher. He would have been expected to hit a double 3.2 percent, a triple 1.5 percent, and a home run 0.7 percent of the time.

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The Daily Grind: Mutant Power

Everybody says I have good words – the best words – prepared for you on a daily basis.

AGENDA

  1. Mutant Power
  2. Weather Reports
  3. Pitchers to Use and Abuse
  4. SaberSim Says…
  5. TDG Invitational Returns!

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Let’s Talk AL SP, Brls/BBE Allowed, & HR/FB

Earlier this year, I introduced the new xHR/FB rate that uses Statcast’s Brls/BBE (barrels per batted ball event) metric. While the equation was for hitters, Brls/BBE is still a useful data point for pitchers. Luckily, the Statcast leaderboard has the exact same metrics for pitchers as hitters, including Brls/BBE. Let’s lets discuss some American league starting pitchers from a Brls/BBE and HR/FB rate perspective. Given the hitter xHR/FB rate formula, you know that Brls/BBE and HR/FB rate correlate rather strongly. A mismatch will typically mean some sort of regression in either of the stats.

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Fantasy Implications for Recent Trades (DET-AZ & NYY-CWS)

Within the past 24 hours, two substantial trades have occurred. The Yankees sent Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin, Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo to the White Sox for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. Additionally, the Diamondbacks sent Dawel Lugo, Jose King, and Sergio Alcantara to the Tigers J.D. Martinez. Here are the players who will likely see their fantasy value change because of the move from the most value gained to least gained.

Yoan Moncada: The game’s number one prospect gets called up to replace Frazier. The 22-year-old switch hitter has the chance to post both double digit home runs and stolen bases over the rest of the season. I could see him post 20 stolen bases as the White Sox may let him run wild with nothing to play for.

Now, Moncada does come with some batting average and on base concerns. Steamer has him projected at a .230 AVG and a .310 OBP. These values, especially the batting average, could be a drag on a team. His owners may want to consider moving him as his value may never be higher and he could bring back a more rounded player.

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Manny Machado: Bad Luck or Something Deeper?

A quick comparison between the tailspin of the Baltimore Orioles and the stat sheet of Manny Machado would seem to indicate that the third baseman is heavily responsible for the woes of the O’s over these last few months. However, the story of Machado’s 2017 isnt necessarily one of immense struggles, as his numbers might indicate, but rather one that remains something of an enigma. Despite numbers that pale in comparison to what he’s posted in two consecutive seasons of 6+ WAR, Machado hasn’t been nearly as bad as those figures might indicate.

The following represents Machado’s production over the last three years, with 387 plate appearances to his credit thus far in 2017:

AVG OBP OPS ISO K% BB% wRC+ WAR
2015 .286 .359 .861 .216 15.6 9.8 134 6.8
2016 .294 .343 .876 .239 17.2 6.9 129 6.5
2017 .239 .307 .753 .207 19.6 9.0 96 2.1

His park-adjusted offense alone seems to indicate that he’s been a touch below average compared to his big league counterparts. It’s his defense almost exclusively that has him in the top ten among third basemen in WAR, given that his Off rating is just 0.2 to this point in the season, which ranks 17th out of 24 qualifying players at the position. That isolated power figure also represents a relatively significant disappointment, with Machado coming off of a year in which his power potential finally manifested itself in something statistically significant.

Interestingly enough, though, there isn’t a whole lot that should indicate Machado is as bad as his production would indicate. Obviously an average where it is and an OBP barely lingering above .300 is not representative of a player that is very likely among the top three at the hot corner. With that in mind, it’s certainly worth pondering if Machado’s 2017 is one that warrants any type of concern or can largely be attribute to bad luck more than anything. Especially considering how similar his contact trends are to his strong showing in 2016:

P/PA Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Soft% Hard% BABIP
2015 3.91 43.2 70.2 91.1 84.3 16.5 33.1 0.297
2016 3.69 49.7 66.5 87.3 79.7 21.7 35.4 0.309
2017 3.73 48.1 63.6 86.0 77.2 18.9 40.4 0.253

Obviously there’s the slight dip in his contact rate, with his whiff rate also slightly rising from 10.0 to 10.9%, but there isn’t anything outlandish that should indicate why Machado has experienced such a significant decline in overall production from one season to the next. Except that BABIP. In fact, Machado’s .253 average on balls put in play is the 13th lowest among 168 qualifying position players in Major League Baseball. With his soft and hard contact rates each trending in the ideal direction, it’s extremely difficult to account for the cause of such a startling fall in the BABIP game.

One potential explanation of where that drop comes from is where Machado has been swinging within the zone. Even if his overall swing rates and whiff rates have remained relatively constant, he has demonstrated something of a penchant for swinging at pitches on the outer part of the strike zone, something that wasn’t quite as prevalent in 2016.

Here’s his heatmap from 2016:

…Up against that of his heatmap from those almost 400 plate appearances to this point in 2017, which demonstrate the trend previously discussed:

This is significant because Machado has put the ball on the ground far more this year than he did in 2016, with a 43.2 GB% against a 37.6 mark from last year. It likely cannot be attributed as entire source of his woes, but such a rise in groundballs, in conjunction with a pull percentage that is actually higher (44.0% 41.9%) likely serves as some foray into the woes that Machado has experienced, at least to an extent. Trying to swing at those outside pitches and maintaining such a high pull rate is likely leading to some semblance of rolling over, hence the increase in groundballs.

The good news is that there are two encouraging things related to Machado’s output. For one, if this is, in fact, the source of at least some of his statistical shortcomings this year, it would appear to be an easy fix. Approach and zone awareness are far less concerning than if Machado were experiencing some sort of mechanical flaw that developed over the offseason. So perhaps we see an adjustment from Machado moving forward to get that GB rate back down and get back to the linedrive ways that he demonstrated last year.

Additionally, Machado has been far better in the month of July than he had been in the previous months. After months in which he hit .224, .191, and .242, Machado is off to a .351 start in July, through 62 plate appearances in the month. He’s putting the ball on the ground just a touch less, at a rate of about 40%. Perhaps more importantly, though, his BABIP for the month is sitting at .378.

And that’s more reflective of the type of output we should expect from Manny Machado moving forward. While he’s never been an extremely high BABIP guy, he isn’t doing anything that should indicate his BABIP, or overall production, should be as low as it is. Things tend to even out over time, and assuming Machado continues to make the type of contact that he is and perhaps get the ball on a line with any more regularity, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to be legitimately concerned about Machado moving forward in 2017.


Justin Vibber’s 2017 Bold Predictions- In Review

‘Tis the season for reviewing bold predictions, let’s check in and see if my second year of predictions is going any better than my first did (1 for 10):

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Roto Riteup: July 19, 2017

Bryce Harper smacked a homer in top of the 1st on Tuesday night and Mike Trout responded immediately:

Harper went on to have a 4-for-4 game in Washington’s 4-3 win. Trout gets a chance at the Nats againt today in short two-game set.

On the Agenda:

  • Correa Out with Thumb Surgery
  • White Sox with Another Big Deal
  • Moncada’s White Sox Debut is Set
  • Martinez headed to the Desert
  • Clevinger Strong in Tough ND
  • Wacha Wonderful; Carpenter Crushes
  • Other News
  • Whiff Watch
  • WTWT

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