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Nathan Eovaldi: Bartolo Colon Meets Yordano Ventura

by Jeff Sullivan - 4/23/2014 - Comments (2)

While there’s a chance you have your own personal anecdotes, most of us are familiar with Nathan Eovaldi for one thing: He’s a starting pitcher who throws super hard. I guess that’s two things. But so far this year, he’s got baseball’s second-fastest average fastball among starting pitchers, behind only Yordano Ventura. Eovaldi has been doing this since he first reached the majors, and he’s one of those live arms on the Marlins that leads people to think the staff has enormous upside. There’s all kinds of sex appeal in a starter who can throw 98 mph.

Most people equate good velocity with good stuff. And I think good velocity leads to one of two assumptions . Either the guy is an unhittable ace, or he’s tough to hit but wild. Basically, there’s the thought that good velocity means a low contact rate, and then it’s just a matter of how many strikes get thrown. But this year, Eovaldi’s been doing something different to the extreme — pitching like a guy with a very different profile. Nathan Eovaldi has been blending Ventura’s fastball with Bartolo Colon‘s approach.

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The Most Improved Pitchers Thus Far by Projected WAR

by Carson Cistulli - 4/23/2014 - Comments (1)

Since nearly the first day of the season, each player page at FanGraphs has featured — in addition to the assortment of 2014 projections made available during the preseason — both a rest-of-season and updated end-of-season projection for both the Steamer and ZiPS systems. In what follows, the author has utilized that data to the end of identifying five pitchers whose end-of-season projections have most improved since the beginning of the season.

Depending on what question one is specifically hoping to answer, there are a number of ways to attempt such an endeavor. What follows is the methodology I’ve used, however, with a brief explanation of certain choices.

What I’ve done is to:

1. Find the preseason projections for each pitcher according both to Steamer and ZiPS.

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat - 4/22/14

by Paul Swydan - 4/22/2014 - Comments (4)

6:04
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

Jeff is off tonight, so I’ll be flying solo. So fill up the queue and we’ll talk some baseballs at 9 pm ET.

9:02
Paul Swydan: OK, let’s do this!
9:02
Comment From Matt
I just traded Xander Bogaerts, Michael Pineda for Mark Trumbo. We use R/HR/RBI/SB/OBP/Slugging….My HR/RBI are worst in league by a lot already and I have both Choo and Votto to offset OBP. Good trade?
9:03
Paul Swydan: I guess that depends on how much we should buy Pineda. And if it’s a dynasty league. If it’s a redraft league, I think you did a good job of filling needs. If it’s a dynasty league, I don’t like it very much. Esp w OBP as a category.
9:03
Comment From TheGoodPhight/David
What are the odds that Cliff Lee’s FA contract is the best large contract (100MM+) ever?
9:04
Paul Swydan: I think it’ll be up there. It’s definitely an area where I would like to see more research. IIRC, Manny Ramirez’s deal was pretty good. And A-Rod’s FIRST deal was more than worth it. I’m sure there are others. But Lee is definitely going to be up there if he keeps this up.

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Cliff Lee is Still Awesome

by Dave Cameron - 4/22/2014 - Comments (35)

Last night, Cliff Lee dominated the Dodgers, throwing eight shutout innings, while striking out 10 batters without walking anyone. In other words, it was just your normal Cliff Lee start. For the season, Lee now has 38 strikeouts against two walks; this is just what he does. But just because we’re used to Cliff Lee’s ridiculous command doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember to appreciate it.

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Lineup Genius in Cleveland

by Brad Johnson - 4/22/2014 - Comments (27)

The Cleveland Indians weren’t supposed to make the playoffs in 2013. They did, briefly, thanks to a 10-game winning streak to end the season. But analysts, pundits and other words for sports bloggers were not impressed enough by the Indians come-from-behind success to predict a return engagement in 2014. Maybe they’re right. As of this writing, Cleveland resides in the basement of the American League Central, but they’re also just two-and-a-half games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers.

One thing seems certain: Some very smart people are working for Team Cleveland. In addition to their focus on those intangible things we’ve had such a hard time measuring — like manager influence and chemistry — the club has also made some smart decisions about the roster’s composition.

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The Baseball Equivalent of Hitting on 16

by Blengino - 4/22/2014 - Comments (78)

Fairly early in life, I’d venture to guess that many of us learned to play basic card games, from poker to rummy to blackjack. These games were often learned at home from parents or other older relatives, in a family bonding type of setting. At an early stage in this process, someone likely sat us down and handed down some helpful hints as to how to play the game well – if the dealer is showing a face card in blackjack, for instance, it might make sense to take another card – a hit – if you are holding 16, otherwise a scenario in which you would almost never take another card. Playing the game thusly doesn’t mean you’re always going to win, of course – it simply tilts the odds ever so slightly in your direction.

Whether you’re playing bridge, Scrabble, Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, there are “little things” you can do within the rules that enhance your chances of winning. It’s called game theory, and understanding it is vital to success in any endeavor that includes an element of chance. Odds are that utilization of data has become more commonplace in your workplace, and is integral to the management of businesses of all types. For some reason, despite the proliferation of data and its increased usage in baseball today, basic tenets of game theory continue to go unheeded by managers/organizations, and unnoticed by announcers/traditional media/bloggers. Case in point – this past weekend’s Mariners-Marlins series.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat -- 4/22/14

by Jeff Sullivan - 4/22/2014 - Comments (2)

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Hello there friends and enemies!

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: I have been later than this in the past!

9:05
Comment From TigersFan
Are we witnessing the beginning of the sharp decline of Miguel Cabrera?

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: Miguel Cabrera has sucked. But Robinson Cano has sucked, Matt Holliday has sucked, Prince Fielder has sucked, Allen Craig has sucked…

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: I’m most willing to believe Cabrera’s still just trying to piece everything together coming back from injury. But we can at least probably conclude that Cabrera isn’t going to get any *better* than he’s been in his MVP seasons

9:07
Comment From Vliet
Jeff – your thoughts on Drew Hutchison. Thks!

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Prospect Watch: Early Fallers

by Nathaniel Stoltz - 4/22/2014 - Comments (29)

Each weekday during the minor-league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on multiple rookie-eligible players. Note that Age denotes the relevant prospect’s baseball age (i.e. as of July 1st of the current year); Top-15, the prospect’s place on Marc Hulet’s preseason organizational list; and Top-100, that same prospect’s rank on Hulet’s overall top-100 list.

***
Bubba Starling, OF, Kansas City Royals (Profile)
Level: High-A   Age: 21   Top-15: 8th   Top-100: N/A
Line: 74 PA, .133/.284/.250, 1 HR, 9 BB, 24 K

Summary
The former fifth-overall pick continues to struggle with his swing, leading to increasingly poor output as he climbs the ladder.

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Charlie Blackmon and Mike Trout in the Same Sentence

by Jeff Sullivan - 4/22/2014 - Comments (42)

Funny thing about the WAR leaderboard is, as much as it’s still very early in the season, familiar names are starting to find their places. There’s Mike Trout. Of course there’s Mike Trout. If “WAR” didn’t sound so damned good, the stat might be called Wins Below Trout, and one would reasonably expect him to lead baseball from now through the end of the year. There’s Chase Utley, and as much as the Phillies have fallen apart around him, Utley remains one of the better all-around players in baseball, despite the injuries he’s been through. There’s Troy Tulowitzki, and of course Tulowitzki is one of the elites for as long as he can stay on the field. There’s Justin Upton, who has flashes of superstardom. There’s Freddie Freeman, who’s young enough to have this much upside. There are good players, and real good players, and some early surprises, and among the early surprises is Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon.

If you read FanGraphs, you’re more than a casual baseball fan, so you’re more likely to have heard of Charlie Blackmon. Also, if you read FanGraphs, you’ve read Carson Cistulli, so you’re more likely still to have heard of Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon has long been one of Cistulli’s crushes, but the thing about Cistulli’s crushes is that he deliberately falls in love with the fringey and unheralded. Those players aren’t supposed to blossom into stars, not anywhere outside of Cistulli’s head, but here we are and we have to acknowledge what Blackmon’s been up to since winning a job with the Rockies out of camp.

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FanGraphs Audio: The Dave Cameron Abides

by Carson Cistulli - 4/21/2014 - Comments (2)

Episode 443
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he endures the slings and arrows of outrageous internet connectivity.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 31 min play time.)

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When Should You Be Allowed to Bunt?

by Jeff Sullivan - 4/21/2014 - Comments (69)

Quick answer: whenever you feel like it. Longer answer: to follow.

You’ve already had the entire weekend to forget about last week, and over the weekend, there was an incident involving Carlos Gomez and Gerrit Cole that cleared the benches and that will lead to suspensions. So you’re forgiven if you don’t remember much from Friday, but from Friday, I’d like to present to you a sequence of events. Prior to the Gomez sportsmanship incident, there was a sportsmanship incident in a game between the A’s and the Astros with Jed Lowrie and Bo Porter right in the middle.

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An Early Look at wOBA Differential

by Dave Cameron - 4/21/2014 - Comments (61)

The season is still only three weeks old, and basically anything can happen over the course of 20 baseball games. The Brewers aren’t the best team in baseball, the D’Backs aren’t the worst, and Jesse Chavez isn’t going to win the Cy Young Award. But, at the same time, the most recent data is also the most informative data, and there are some numbers that can have meaning quicker than others. While you shouldn’t care too much about a team’s Win-Loss record on April 21st, we can boil down early season team performance into numbers that a bit more heavily represented by skill rather than randomness.

One of my favorite ways to look at team performance is wOBA differential. It’s basically the same concept as run differential, but strips away the heavy factor that sequencing can have on runs scored and runs allowed. The order of events matters in the outcome of past results, but holds little predictive value, and by looking at non-sequenced results, we can get a better idea of how a team has performed than if we also introduce the timing of those events into the mix.

wOBA differential isn’t perfect, of course; it doesn’t include baserunning, for one, and teams can move the needle a little bit by how often their baserunners advance, but that portion of the game is fairly small relative to everything else. By and large, wOBA differential gives you a pretty good idea of how teams have played thus far. So, let’s get to the numbers.

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The Most or Least Important Pitch-Framing Question

by Jeff Sullivan - 4/21/2014 - Comments (89)

I’d say it isn’t often we run polls here on FanGraphs. It’s not really the sort of thing we specialize in, but then, what are the FAN projections but polls, in a sense? What is the Fan Scouting Report? We’re big supporters of crowdsourcing, if you’ll allow me to speak for the whole company, and in this instance I have a genuine interest in the tallied opinions of the many. What follows is not an analytical investigation. What follows is the lead-up to a question I ask of you.

At this point, some of you are probably approaching pitch-framing fatigue. It’s still new research and exciting research, but it’s also been heavily cited and we’re all familiar with the basic principles and various standouts. We don’t even know the extent to which it makes a difference. But, here, let me throw a couple things at you from the last few days.

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Game Log Feature: Totals!

by David Appelman - 4/21/2014 - Comments (15)

The game log section on the player pages will now give you an extra line of data that displays the totals for the dates you selected.

leaderboard_totals

For instance, if you wanted to see all of Mike Trout’s games since September 1st, 2013, you’d see he’s had a wRC+ of 172 over that same time period.

This feature is available for the minor league game logs too.



The Information You Require: Colby Lewis, 2012 vs. 2014

by Carson Cistulli - 4/21/2014 - Comments (0)

While it’s true that, not unlike snowflakes, all baseball players are unique, it’s also the case that most of them (i.e. most of those baseball players) follow somewhat predictable career paths. First, they are young and merely promising. Then, they are less young but something more than just promising — at which point they’re perhaps capable of playing in the major leagues. Then they are progressively worse until they retire, take work as a scout or manager or broadcaster, and then die.

It’s entirely possible that Texas right-hander Colby Lewis will take work as a scout someday — and is a certainty that, barring considerable advancements in medical technology, that he’ll also die — however, his career path to date has been unusual in most other regards.

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Ivan Nova's Injury a Big Blow To Limited Yankee Depth

by Mike Petriello - 4/21/2014 - Comments (32)

You most likely heard over the weekend that Yankees righty Ivan Nova walked off the mound in the fifth inning of Saturday’s start in Tampa shaking his right arm, and now we know that he’s got a partially torn UCL in his elbow. While he’s yet to decide whether he’ll rehab or opt for surgery, this is the kind of thing that almost always, always ends in Tommy John surgery, and it seems more likely than not that we don’t see him again in pinstripes before mid-2015.

In and of itself, this is actually smaller news than it seems, if only because we all know by now that this is the year that elbows are popping at an alarming rate, with Nova — assuming he does choose surgery — becoming the 21st professional pitcher (including minor leaguers) to get a zipper this year alone. 14 of those are major leaguers. He is, depending on how you look at such things, only the fifth or sixth or seventh most accomplished of the afflicted. If you could make a starting rotation of 2014 Tommy John pitchers, he might not even be in it. (Why one would do such a thing is another question entirely. That rotation might still be better than Arizona’s, though.)

So this is really less about Nova than it is about what the Yankees will…  oh, hang on:

nova_vertical_release_2014

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FG on Fox: Zack Greinke's Tinkering

by Eno Sarris - 4/21/2014 - Comments (6)

Over the course of a career, every starting pitcher has to deal with change. As the velocity on their pitches wanes or the league figures out what they throw, they have to continually adapt; feature secondary pitches more often, develop new pitches, add wrinkles to old pitches, or mix up their pitch selections to keep hitters off balance. If you want to get 600 outs per year, every year, you can’t do the same thing every time out.

For Zack Greinke, much of that story of adaptation revolves around his slider.

There were the heady times, of course. The 2009 season with Kansas City brought a Cy Young Award. His slider? “It was amazing, the best pitch I ever had,” Greinke said before a game with the Giants last week. That pitch was a big part of how he posted a 2.16 ERA and struck out 242 batters.

Unfortunately, time comes for all pitchers. For Greinke, he saw it in the slider. The pitch “slowly got a little worse,” Greinke said — it was “coming out real good, but the hitters weren’t really reacting to it.” Why? Greinke shrugged. That 2009 slider “was just better, it just happens.” Watch the rates on the pitch drop.

Read the rest at FoxSports.com.



Prospect Watch: The Mets' Return for Ike Davis

by JD Sussman - 4/21/2014 - Comments (24)

Each weekday during the minor league season, FanGraphs is providing a status update on rookie-eligible players. Note that Age denotes the relevant prospect’s baseball age (i.e. as of July 1st of the current year); Top 15, the prospect’s place on Marc Hulet’s preseason organizational list; and Top 100, which is that same prospect’s rank on Hulet’s overall top 100 list.

***

Last season, the Pirates finished second in the National League Central. Their playoff run was to be the beginning of something special in Pittsburgh, but they’ve stumbled early. Currently, they’re fourth in the National League’s toughest division, six games behind the surging Brewers. While it’s too early to be concerned, the Pirates acquired Ike Davis from the Mets to platoon with Gaby Sanchez. After years of illness, injuries, and ineffectiveness, Davis was in need of a change of scenery, so the Mets shipped him to Pittsburgh for a relief pitcher (Zack Thorton) and a Player To Be Named Later (PTBNL).

What follows is an examination both of Thornton and two potential candidates for that PTBNL.

Zack Thornton, RHP, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Triple-A   Age: 25   Top 15: N/A   Top 100: N/A
Line: 7.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 1.23 BB/9, 0.0 HR/9, 1.55 FIP

Summary
Attacking hitters from a low arm slot, Thornton has been a statistical darling.

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Scouting Dean Anna as a Pitcher

by Brad Johnson - 4/21/2014 - Comments (29)

Saturday was not the best day for the Yankees. Ivan Nova was shaky throughout his first three starts. The Yankees really needed him to eat his share of innings in preparation for a Vidal Nuno-led bullpen day on Sunday. Instead, Nova got spanked. He lasted just four innings, allowed eight runs, four home runs, and partially tore his UCL. The latter item is the worst of an ugly list. Dellin Betances stretched out to 1.2 innings, burning him for Sunday. Matt Daley threw 1.1 innings and allowed six runs. Rather than burn another reliever, the Yankees turned to Dean Anna.

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Sunday Notes: Blue Jays, Orioles, Mets, SABR BioProject

by David Laurila - 4/20/2014 - Comments (16)

Mitch Nay is one of the top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. A supplemental first-round pick in 2012, the 20-year-old third baseman combines raw power and an advanced approach. His grandfather deserves a lot of the credit.

Nay grew up learning the game from Lou Klimchock. A journeyman infielder who spent parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues, Klimchock played for five teams and counts multiple Hall of Famers among his former teammates. He’s passed along much of what he knows to his grandson.

“He’s been a big influence on me,” said Nay, who is playing with the low-A Lansing Lugnuts. “He’s helped with instructional stuff, like hitting and throwing. He’s pretty much been my teacher since a young age.

“My grandpa is also the president of the Arizona Major League alumni, so I’ve been able to hang out with a lot of big names – historical figures in baseball – like Brooks Robinson and Bob Feller. I’ve been around the game my whole life, which makes being in pro ball almost second-nature.”

Nay is already older than his grandfather was when he debuted with the Kansas City Athletics at the end of the 1958 season.

“He played his first game at age 18,” explained Nay. “Last year when Jurickson Profar came up and hit a lead-off home run they were talking about the youngest guys ever to do that. My grandpa was on the list.”

Can he imagine what it would be like to play in the big leagues at such a young age?

“There’s so much I need to learn before that time comes,” admitted Nay. “It would definitely be a challenge, but my grandpa has talked to me about what it’s like. He’s told me to visualize it, to think of myself in some of these guys’ shoes. He says stuff like, ‘Imagine yourself getting on a plane in the middle of the night, going to a new city and waking up there to play a game.’”

Surprisingly, Klimchock practiced visualization in the 1960s. Less surprising is that his grandson does so now.

“When he played, he used to be on deck visualizing himself hitting a line drive over the shortstop’s head,” said Nay. “He says your mind doesn’t know the difference from what your body does. I do that sometimes too. If I’m facing a sinkerballer, I’ll visualize him getting it up and me hitting it in the gap.”

Nay describes his hitting approach as looking for a pitch that’s middle to middle-away, focusing on the right-center field gap, and having a good two-strike approach. You can probably guess where that comes from.

“My grandfather’s approach was pretty simple,” said Nay. “It was basically to stay up the middle and have a good two-strike approach. Growing up, he’d always talk to me about the importance of not giving away at bats. Don’t strike out; put the ball in play. I’ve come to realize you can sometimes hit the ball farther with two strikes, because your approach is better. You can still have power with two strikes.”

Klimchock has taught his grandson more than approach. He’s taught him about the past.

“He’s talked about facing pitchers like Don Drysdale,” said Nay “He’s told me about guys he played with, like Roger Maris and Hank Aaron. I’ve learned a lot about baseball history from him. He even played for a few teams that don’t exist anymore.”

——

Here is a description of the home run Klimchock hit as an 18-year-old, excerpted with permission from the SABR BioProject. It was written by Chuck Johnson.

“When he stepped to the plate as the leadoff hitter for the Kansas City Athletics on the final day of the 1958 season, 18-year-old second baseman Lou Klimchock was looking for his first major-league hit, not to make modern major-league history. Playing in just his second major-league game, Klimchock achieved both. On the mound that day for the homestanding Chicago White Sox was 19-year-old Stover McIlwain. A tall, lanky right-hander, McIlwain was also making his second major-league appearance, and, as fate would have it, his last. Klimchock picked out a McIlwain offering he liked and drove the pitch into the Comiskey Park right-field stands for his first major-league hit and home run. It was the first time in modern major-league history that a teenager had homered off a teenager.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Baseball Biography Project, it is an invaluable and rapidly-growing resource. The Society for American Baseball Research [SABR] champions the game’s rich history, and the BioProject committee, headed by Mark Armour, is an ambitious part of those efforts. A primary goal is to publish a full-life biography of every major league player in history. Klimchock’s is one of 2,770 that have been completed as of this date.

According to Armour, it took close to six years to reach 1,000 bios, and another 3.5 years to get to 2,000. At its current pace the third 1,000 will take just over two years. The committee is currently producing 400-450 biographies annually, which is roughly twice the rate that new major league players are debuting. If you’re interested in becoming involved, please contact  bioassign@sabr.org.

——

Harry Chiti is still awaiting his biography. It needs to be written. A catcher for four teams from 1950-1962, Chiti broke into the big leagues with the Cubs as a 17-year-old bonus baby. His biggest claim to fame is that he was the first player ever traded for himself.

His son, Dom Chiti, was a minor league pitcher for six seasons before becoming a coach, scout and special assistant. He now serves as the Orioles bullpen coach. I asked Dom about his late father.

“My father was a huge influence on my baseball life,” said Dom. “I was probably more advanced mentally because of him. I learned to change speeds at an earlier age than most guys. He would talk about the game inside the game, like the cat-and-mouse that happens between pitchers and hitters.

“He’d relate stories about players and how to pitch to them. Ted Williams was one. He said Ted Williams used to walk to home plate and say ‘If you can throw three balls on the outside corner you can have my strikeout, but don’t miss.’ He also told me how he’d be going to catch a ball – it was right there – and Ted would take it right out of his glove. His bat speed was that ridiculous.”

In April 1962, the fledgling New York Mets acquired Chiti from the Indians. Two months later he was sent back to Cleveland.

“When he got traded for himself it was actually a cash deal,” said Dom. “I don’t know how many people know this, but the money went to pay for the Chief Wahoo that went up in right field at the old ballpark. That’s what the money was used for. My dad wasn’t so much traded for himself as he was traded for a sign.”

——

Many players excelled in multiple sports before settling on baseball. Orioles outfielder David Lough played two in college and could have played a third. His primary youth sport is the one he gave up first.

“I loved soccer,” said Lough, who came of age in Akron, Ohio. “I played my whole life. It was my No. 1 go-to sport in high school, and I received a lot of D-I offers, but I kind of grew out of it. I never grew out of baseball. I’ve loved being on the diamond from the time I was a little kid playing tee ball. I knew in college it was what I wanted to keep playing.”

Football replaced soccer as Lough’s second sport, despite him having played it only one year in high school.

“My senior year, I grew a real liking for football,” said the speedy 5-foot-10, 175-pound fly-chaser. “I ended up going to college to play both football and baseball. I went to Mercyhurst, a Division-II school in Erie PA, and was a receiver and kick returner. We were in the [Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] when I played, with schools like Grand Valley State. It was good quality football.

“I started putting it together my junior year — I had a couple of touchdowns – but my first few years of college football were a real growing period. In high school, I’d go to the huddle and our quarterback would tell me what to run. I didn’t know the plays. I would go from football practice to soccer practice, and would have soccer games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Friday I’d have a football game. I was a busy guy and missed a ton of practice time, mostly because of soccer.”

——

Tommy Hunter excelled in a less-traditional sport. The Indianapolis native was a two-time judo champion.

“I was young when I did judo, only 10-12 years old,” said Hunter “I didn’t have any special moves, or anything like that, but I was pretty good. I won the Junior Olympics in judo. It’s basically a national tournament, so while it’s not something you’d call prestigious, it was pretty big for me.”

The Orioles closer is 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. I asked how big he was as a preteen judo champion.

“I wasn’t big when I was 12,” said Hunter. “I wasn’t big until I was a sophomore in high school. I was a normal kid. I wasn’t abnormal.”

My response was, “Unlike now?”

“You think I’m abnormal?” answered the affable-but-large hurler. “Wow. That’s pretty [bleeped] up. But that’s alright. You’re entitled to your opinion. I think I’m pretty [bleeping] normal.”

His home state of Indiana is a hoops hotbed. What about basketball?

“I played in high school, but I wasn’t very good,” said Hunter, who wryly added “I was a white kid and played the token minutes. I kept the GPA up for the team.”

——

Matt Bowman will elevate the GPA on most teams he plays for. The New York Mets pitching prospect majored in economics at Princeton University. Pro ball hasn’t been a steep learning curve for the 2012 draft pick. Last year he went 10-4 with a 3.05 ERA between low-A Savannah and high-A St. Lucie. This season he’s allowed just one run in 12 innings at Double-A Binghamton.

Bowman has a future in a big league front office when his playing days are over. The 22-year-old right-hander’s senior thesis had general manager written all over it.

“It looked into how much a win is worth in free agency,” said Bowman. “I looked into projected wins and what a team thinks they’re paying for a win as opposed to what they end up paying for a win. Why is there a discrepancy between the two? I looked at players and evaluated them basically as stocks paying off dividends in the form of WAR. What is their variance season to season, and based on that, what value do they hold?”

I asked him if any other players in the Mets’ organization speak the same saber-economic language.

Jeff Reynolds, who is in St. Lucie right now, graduated from Harvard,” said Bowman. “I spoke to him a little bit about it. There are certainly players who like to play GM and will talk about who’d they’d want to acquire in free agency, but I think the numbers aspect might make me a little unique.”

Bowman’s approach to his own stats is more mainstream.

“When it comes to my personal experience, I’m the complete opposite,” admitted Bowman. “As a starter, I think the most important stat is innings pitched. It’s the old-school opinion that starting pitchers should be workhorses and eat up a lot of innings. I’m aware if certain other stats are good or bad, like my strikeouts-to-walks ratio, but I mostly try to avoid them. Getting caught up in stats can lead to complacency, or getting a little too involved if things are going poorly.”

Bowman had eye-popping numbers in this last start. Pitching against New Hampshire, he allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings with one walk and 11 strikeouts. Preparation played a big role in his overpowering outing.

“I got to scout them in the stands a few days before,” explained Bowman. “I talked to Kevin Plawecki, my catcher, and we came up with a game plan. I basically told him what I wanted to do with each hitter and asked him to remember it. Once I’m on the mound, I don’t like thinking about that. Whatever he put down, I threw. My fastball and slider were working and I sprinkled in my other pitches as well.”

The Princeton product keeps notes on batters he faces, but not on himself.

“I feel that breaking down your personal performance too much can be detrimental,” opined Bowman. “There’s a feel to pitching and the simplest numbers are the most important. How deep did you go into the game and did you put up a zero? If you’re trying to do more than that, I think you’re trying to be a pitcher you’re not.”




WAR: Batters
Mike Trout1.7
Charlie Blackmon1.6
Chase Utley1.5
Troy Tulowitzki1.5
Devin Mesoraco1.3
WAR: Pitchers
Jose Fernandez1.3
Cliff Lee1.3
Jon Lester1.2
Felix Hernandez1.2
Adam Wainwright1.1
WPA: Batters
Giancarlo Stanton1.38
Devin Mesoraco1.31
Ryan Braun1.17
Michael Brantley1.12
Jayson Werth1.09
WPA: SP
Yovani Gallardo1.17
Mark Buehrle1.10
Aaron Harang1.07
Johnny Cueto1.04
Jason Vargas0.99
WPA: RP
Francisco Rodriguez1.10
Sergio Romo0.98
Grant Balfour0.86
Junichi Tazawa0.83
Huston Street0.78
Fastball (mph): SP
Yordano Ventura97.0
Garrett Richards96.0
Nathan Eovaldi95.9
Gerrit Cole95.5
Jose Fernandez95.3