The Arizona Infield: Goldschmidt and the Gang

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, rotation, and bullpen) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

Between Yasmany Tomas’ attempt at third base and the messy catcher situation, this infield might look quite different once the season starts. Elsewhere, there’s an obvious star at first base and two players in the middle infield who could provide solid value.

Catcher
Tuffy Gosewisch
Oscar Hernandez
Gerald Laird

In the minors
Peter O’Brien

Gosewisch, 31, has 179 career plate appearances with a .213 batting average and one home run. He has three career walks. Hernandez was the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft last year. He is 21 and hit .249 in Single-A last season.

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The Cincinnati Reds Outfield: Counting Stats To Be Had

The 2014 version of the Cincinnati Reds outfield experienced some level of disappoint. Both Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick hit below league average in 400 or more plate appearances and Chris Heisey‘s 77 wRC+ in 299 PA’s didn’t help. Questions about Billy Hamilton‘s bat and contact skills turned into legitimate concerns as the speedy outfielder posted a poor 0.29 BB:K ratio, tied for 122nd among 146 qualified batters. There should be power to be had with Marlon Byrd joining the team and Bruce potentially bouncing back. Just be warned that the rate stats the Reds OF will put up won’t be too pretty.

Left Field
Marlon Byrd
Donald Lutz
Skip Schumaker

Center Field
Billy Hamilton
Jason Bourgeois

Right Field
Jay Bruce
Donald Lutz
Skip Schumaker

In the Minors
Yorman Rodriguez
Jesse Winker

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More Love for Cleveland’s Rotation

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

According to WAR, FIP and xFIP, the Indians rotation was one of the three best in the league last year, which is kind of amazing considering Trevor Bauer had the second highest innings total on the staff. But it certainly didn’t hurt that they had a guy with a 4.30 ERA as a starter prior to 2014 who more than delivered on the promise indicated in his peripherals by winning the AL Cy Young award. But one pitcher does not a good rotation make. In addition to their Cy Young winner, they got sub-3.00 ERA ball from another starter for just over 90 innings, and they had five starters throw at least 90 innings with an xFIP of 3.50 or lower. Assuming everyone is healthy come Opening Day, two of those five don’t figure to crack the rotation. I dare say this rotation might be good again. Read the rest of this entry »


Pitch Sequencing and Pitcher xBB%: We’re Getting There

I expected to follow up my xK% differential post from last week with a complementary xBB% differential post. For those who don’t enjoy surprises, I’ll let you know now that that didn’t happen. In its stead, I bring what I hope is good news — news that will not only influence a future xBB% differential post but also may impact general pitcher analysis henceforth and possibly international diplomacy.

The title of this post, however, is a tad misleading. I think I can say, with some degree of certainty — and I hope to demonstrate, with some degree of competency — that pitch sequencing indeed plays a role in a pitcher’s walk rate, as the devilishly handsome Mike Podhorzer has postulated. What I can’t describe, with any degree of certainty, is the magnitude of the role it plays. In truth, I desperately want to prove Mike wrong: there must be other factors, outside of pitch sequencing (and pitch framing, perhaps), that help explain a pitcher’s walk rate. For example, I have tried incorporating O-Swing% and Zone%, two PITCHf/x metrics provided by FanGraphs that I swore would fill in the cracks, but they offer little in the way of additional explanatory power.

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Nationals Infield: Potency Without A Pill

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

The Nationals are presently projected as the best team in the National League. Much of that can be attributed to their outstanding rotation and strong outfield. However, a potent starting infield also adds to the equation.

One issue for the club is depth. A few key personnel are flirting with the injury prone label. If anybody hits the disabled list, the fall back options appear to be questionable.

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The Brewers’ Outfield: Brawn and Braun

There is, potentially, a lot to like about the Brewers’ outfield this season. After a second straight season with a wOBA over .360, Carlos Gomez has settled in as a top-10 option in most leagues, and close to a sure thing as far as production. Ryan Braun, on the other hand, seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Much of the Brewers’ value in the outfield will be based on whether Braun can get back to his mashing ways, and whether Khris Davis can regain his midseason surge. There’s opportunity for a fantasy bonanza here, but it comes with a fair amount of risk.

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2015 Pod Projections: George Springer

The Pod Projections are back! My projections are based on the methodology shared in my eBook Projecting X, and the process continues to evolve and improve.

For Pod Projectionee numero tres, I decided to take commenter Cason Jolette’s (Jason Colette’s mysterious brother?) suggestion to discuss former uber prospect, Astros sophomore outfielder George Springer. His coming out party was cut short by a quad injury, which ended his season two months prematurely. But he was quite impressive at the plate, posting a .352 wOBA, while displaying excellent patience and elite power. But coming off a minor league performance a year prior that included 45 stolen bases, he disappointed with his speed in Houston, as he swiped just five bags in seven tries. Let’s figure out what’s in store for Springer in 2015.

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RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and the Bust 2/24/2015

Episode 198

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

In this episode, Paul Sporer and Eno Sarris discuss a potential position change for Kris Bryant, Joba Chamberlain back to Detroit, and Lucas Duda dealing with an oblique issue. Then they discuss Eno’s Pitcher Ranks and finish up by beginning the NL Central team-by-team previews with Chicago and Cincinnati.

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Play

Potential Playing Time Breakouts

I spend a lot of time looking at pitching in any given offseason. Doing the starting pitching guide every year makes me fully aware of the pitching pool from top to bottom. I don’t have a similar exercise for digging as deeply into hitters so one thing I like to do is take a look at the part-time players, level set them at 600 PA, and see what shakes out. Let me be clear: extrapolation is dangerous. There is a lot of noise in small samples as there just isn’t enough time for everything to stabilize.

The purpose of this exercise is to unearth some potential playing time breakout candidates. Sometimes opportunity is the only real thing fueling a player’s breakout. I don’t just pick from the top of every leaderboard and tab those as potential breakouts. First off, I use 200-400 PA as the threshold so this will include a lot of injury guys. I think Troy Tulowitzki is on it yearly. Obviously we know about those guys.

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The Pirates’ Bullpen: More Than Just Mark Melancon

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

The Pirates’ relievers finished among the top ten bullpens in the league with a 3.24 ERA, 48 saves and 90 holds in ‘14, but fell towards the middle-to-end of the pack in FIP (3.72), K-BB% (13.1%) and WAR (0.7). The bulk of last year’s bullpen remains intact, but a late-season call-up and an offseason acquisition may make the Bucs’ bullpen better than it was in their last 162.

The Closer:

Mark Melancon
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