Archive for Head to Head

Bullpen Report: April 30, 2016

Zach Britton left a tied game with a lower body injury and took the loss. Britton struck out the first two batters he faced, and then left the game after Adam Eaton bunted towards him. Vance Worley came in to replace Britton and gave up the inherited run with two walks and a single. We don’t know the severity of Britton’s injury yet, but certainly monitor that situation moving forward. A potential replacement if he were to be shelved for any time would probably be Darren O’Day, who earned his first blown save of the season. O’Day pitched the 8th gave up three hits including a three-run homer by Todd Frazier.
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2016 First Base Tier Rankings: April Edition

So a month has gone by since I tiered the first basemen for the preseason, which you can check out here:

2016 First Base Tier Rankings: Preseason Rankings

I tried not to be too reactionary by making massive changes unless somebody has garnered more playing time than expected, or suffered an injury or lost their role. In other words, my list is similar to my initial one since one month is not enough of a sample to make significant changes.

In honor of the NHL playoffs and my love for the New York Islanders, I have ordered my tiers by the players with the highest points per game in Islanders history. I welcome and encourage all feedback, but do note that these are subjective and still predictive in nature, as opposed to being reflective of one month. Enjoy!
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Knuckleball Hangovers

WAR might tell you otherwise, and won-lost record certainly does, but so far this season, the ace of the Red Sox’s staff has been knuckleballer Steven Wright. Last night, Wright allowed just three hits while striking out seven batters in seven innings. Sure, it was against the Braves, so that might not count, but even before that start, Wright had a 1.40 ERA and had faced the Blue Jays twice and the Astros once in Houston. With all of the problems the Red Sox have elsewhere in their rotation, Wright seems to be earning himself a job for the rest of this season.

This post isn’t about Wright. It’s about the batters who will face Wright. Earlier this week, ESPN’s Eric Karabell wondered on his podcast whether hitters experience a hangover effect in the days after they face a knuckleballer, a question I thought would be fun to try to answer.

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Pineda and Severino and Buchholz and Fiers, Oh My

Let’s begin our discussion of a foursome of American League starting pitchers saddled with inflated ERAs by presenting two tables first:

Pitching Metric YoY Correlations
Metric YoY Correlation 2002-2012
WHIP 0.430
ERA 0.373
LOB% 0.238
BABIP 0.235
HR/FB -0.029
SOURCE: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/basic-pitching-metric-correlation-1955-2012-2002-2012/

Pitching Metric Stabilization Points
Metric Stabilization Point
HR/FB 400 fly balls
BABIP 2,000 balls in play
SOURCE: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/principles/sample-size/

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AL Tiered Outfielder Ranks: April 2016

Here we go again! It is time for the monthly update to the AL Outfield tiers. These tiers reflect my rest of season rankings. Just a warning: I am not extremely reactionary in the first month of the season. So, if you think I should have Colby Rasmus in the first or second tier, don’t be offended if I don’t respond to your comment with much more than a “come on bro!” Of course you can see my preseason tiers here:

AL Tiered Outfielder Rankings: Preseason Read the rest of this entry »


Mike Zunino & Jerry Sands: Deep League Waiver Wire

Let’s go deep down into the depths of your free agent pool. It’s where the risks are great and hidden treasures may emerge. Today’s theme is speculating on two guys that could remain worthless, but will cost you next to nothing to find out.

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Hitter Strikeout Rate Improvers

Last week, Eno discussed swing rate and ground ball rate changers as we finally started hitting the stabilization points of certain offensive metrics. Now, many hitters have reached the point at which strikeout rate become reliable, which has been found to be at 60 plate appearances. Obviously, all else being equal, a better strikeout rate will lead to better results. More balls in play equals a higher batting average, more home runs, and additional opportunities to drive in and score runs, and steal bases. So who has improved their strikeout rates the most so far compared to 2015?

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Bullpen Report: April 23, 2016

Keone Kela had surgery to remove a bone spur and will miss around three months. The closer and set-up roles remain intact for now, but the next in line is a little foggy. Jake Diekman seems like a solid option to fill that role based on his numbers so far. I put Anthony Barnette in that role for now since he was given the 7th inning today with a 2-1 lead, and had a clean inning. Not saying that he is better than Diekman, but simply based on potential usage, it looks like Barnette will at least be given a shot to be next in line. As I write about Barnette, Sam Dyson lets up a home run to Todd Frazier that ties up the game. Then gives up the go-ahead run through a series of walks, HBPs, and hits. Dyson is still strong enough to keep the set-up role and is still in line for saves if Shawn Tolleson falters. Speaking of blowing the lead, David Robertson blew his first save of the year. After allowing a lead-off walk to Desmond, Desmond advanced to third on an error during his stolen base. He would then score on a sacrifice fly. Robertson also allowed a single, but also had two strikeouts.

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Hanley Ramirez: Time to Sell?

One of the players I struggled to rank to start the season was Hanley Ramirez. He is kind of an enigma in fantasy because the talent has always been there, and for a SS, has put together some strong years outside of injuries. The move to the outfield and to Fenway Park seemed like it would work well for his value, but instead turned out to be nothing short of a disastrous first season, despite just missing twenty home runs. Writers were all over the place with where to put Ramirez, and some writers thought injuries and the new scene played a significantly negative role and he was worth taking a flyer on this year. There is still a lot of season to play, but based on some of the rate stats I’ve seen so far, I’m selling big time.

First, let’s look at his BB%, K%, ISO and BABIP. One of the reasons I was down on Ramirez this season was the drop in his walk rate. One reason to be optimistic was that his ISO was not far off his career average and strikeout percentage was right in line. Additionally, his BABIP was much lower than his career rate, so it’s easy to chalk up his troubles to pressing and injuries. Then I looked at the past two seasons versus his career rate with those stats and turned this up:

Hanley Ramirez Rate Stats
Season BB% K% ISO BABIP
2015 4.90% 16.50% 0.177 0.257
2016 3.30% 25.00% 0.14 0.333
Career 9.20% 16.70% 0.198 0.327

The walk rate continues to drop, his strikeout rate has risen, his ISO has dropped, yet his BABIP is around where it should be for his career. The number that really jumps out at me as an issue is the drop in the walk rate. If he had a strong walk rate last season and just started off low, that’s one thing. Now, though, after last season and to still continue to drop has me concerned. Is he just not seeing the ball as well? Is he being overly aggressive? That’s where I looked at his plate discipline numbers.

For this table I’ve included his plate discipline numbers for the last two seasons and his career. This is the table created:

Hanley Ramirez Plate Discipline
Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% F-Strike% SwStr%
2015 Red Sox 34.30% 71.70% 50.90% 69.40% 89.30% 81.80% 44.30% 59.30% 9.10%
2016 Red Sox 36.80% 65.00% 53.10% 50.00% 87.20% 76.40% 58.00% 71.70% 12.10%
Total – – – 26.80% 66.40% 45.80% 65.60% 89.80% 82.40% 47.80% 60.10% 7.90%

He’s swinging outside the zone more than he used to, but that percentage began to increase when he went to the Dodgers, so although the increase is a concern, it doesn’t explain this much of a drop-off fully. He is swinging more than he used to, but he is also seeing a lot more balls in the zone, so that can explain some of that.

These are the numbers that worry me for this season: his Contact% and his Zone%. He is making less contact than he ever has, yet is seeing more pitches in the zone than he ever has. His swinging strike percentage is at a high and is falling behind in the count over 70% of the timejust after the first pitch.

In short, Hanley is having a rough start that other players have gone through and eventually came out fine. My concern is that the struggles aren’t suddenly new to him this season and appeared last year in some of these areas. I don’t have a clear explanation for why Ramirez is on this slide, and based on what I’ve seen this year and last, I’m staying far away and advise you do the same. Sure, there’s a good chance he’ll hit a hot streak and things could go back to the way they were. The lack of a disciplined approach is what worries me most and I just don’t see him suddenly turning that around with all the pressure surrounding him. He may need some time in a low stress environment to fix his approach, which he certainly won’t get in Boston.


Chris Archer Needs Target Practice

After a breakout 2015 campaign (2014 wasn’t a legit breakout, as it required a 6.9% HR/FB rate), this was not the start Chris Archer owners were expecting. He has posted an ugly 7.32 ERA and a rather hilarious 2.08 WHIP. That’s not a typo — his WHIP is above 2.00! It has only been four starts, but since he has already allowed six runs in half of them, it’s logical that there would be some concern. So let’s try to figure out what, if anything, is wrong.

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