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JABO: Is the Astros Bullpen for Real?

by Owen Watson - 6/1/2015 - Comments (0)

The Houston Astros are 31-20 and on top of the AL West by four games. They’ve been winning in a signature way: by striking out a lot (the most in the league), hitting a lot of home runs (the most in the league), and recording a string of solid starts (10th-highest WAR among starting staffs). One way we didn’t expect the Astros to dominate this season, however: their bullpen. After two months, the Houston bullpen is ranked first among all major-league teams by strikeout and walk rate, and they also have the second-best ERA. Is this just a run of early-season success? Or, like the Royals, have the Astros built a relief corps that only a select few clubs have?

The bullpen was a major focus of the Astros’ offseason plans before the start of the 2015 season, as they added Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Joe Thatcher to a group that finished dead last in bullpen ERA in 2014. Neshek and Gregerson were brought in as high-pressure help, with Gregerson installed immediately into the closer role. Gregerson has struggled (relatively speaking) to the tune of a 3.74 ERA, but he’s really been the only one in the bullpen who hasn’t been lights out, and he’s chosen great times to be bad, blowing only one save.

What’s been the key to the success for the Astros bullpen? First of all, they’re striking out an incredible rate of opposing batters. Houston relievers have struck out 28.8% of the hitters they’ve faced — a figure which would be the most ever for a bullpen in history. They’ve also limited walks, only handing out free passes to 6.2% of opposition batters. That walk rate would be good for 25th-best in baseball history if the season ended today. Looking at these two figures, it’s not hard to see why the Houston bullpen has been great: success usually follows pitchers who strike out a high percentage of batters while keeping walks to an absolute minimum.

This mostly unexpected domination out of the Astros bullpen has come from a few unlikely places. First, there’s newcomer Will Harris, who’s struck out 29 batters in 24 innings of work while posting an elite ground-ball rate (58.3%). As the most-used pitcher out of the Houston pen, his two pitch, hard cutter/curveball combination has been very effective in two parts of the strike zone: 10 out of his 13 strikeouts with the cutter have been in the upper half of the strike zone and above, while all but one of his 11 strikeouts with his curveball have been in the lower half of the zone and below. This is what success in changing eye levels looks like:

Harris_Combined

 

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Joe Panik: The Other Brandon Crawford

by Jeff Sullivan - 6/1/2015 - Comments (14)

Strictly based on WAR, the top middle-infield tandem so far has been playing half the time in Miami. The season hasn’t been a complete disaster for the Marlins, because they’ve observed steps forward by Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria, and that bodes well for the future, if the present is a little bit shot. Also based on WAR, the Marlins’ lead is about as small as it gets. Right on their heels is the Giants’ tag-team of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik. The difference is something like one-tenth of one point. Let’s not split figurative hairs.

It’s a really interesting evolution that’s taking place in San Francisco. Crawford’s offensive development has been something to behold, starting out as a glove-first shortstop with a better bat than most pitchers. Crawford, now, is one of the best shortstops in baseball, provided the season doesn’t wear him down. But any attention paid to Crawford is attention not paid to Panik. And while Panik didn’t begin his big-league career in the same sort of way, he’s also reaching a level at the plate few would’ve imagined. Joe Panik isn’t just a slap hitter. Joe Panik is a genuine threat!

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FanGraphs Audio: Draft Prospect Michael Matuella

by Carson Cistulli - 6/1/2015 - Comments (0)

Episode 566
Michael Matuella is both (a) a junior right-hander at Duke and also (b) among the upcoming amateur draft’s likely first-round selections. Lead prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel spoke with him — regarding his recovery from a recent Tommy John procedure, among other topics — for this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

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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Brian Dozier Has Been Key to Twins' Surge

by Craig Edwards - 6/1/2015 - Comments (9)

The first-place Minnesota Twins have 30 wins on the season and sit 11 games above .500 as we enter June. Questioning Minnesota’s sustainability as a first-place team is going to be a topic of discussion for as long as Minnesota remains in the race. Jeff Sullivan detailed the Twins’ performance a few weeks ago and not much has changed since then aside from more Twins’ wins. Dave Cameron warned this morning about being mindful of the future when considering potential mid-season moves. Even mainstream statistics makes it easy to see why there are questions about the Twins. The team is 13th in batting average (excluding pitchers), 24th in on-base percentage, 23rd in slugging percentage, and their ERA for both starters (14th) and relievers (17th) are merely average. While there are questions about the Twins sustainability as a winner, there are fewer questions about the short-term sustainability of the performance of leadoff man Brian Dozier, who has played excellently in May and should have another good year after a five-win 2014 season.

While Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter are the poster boys for non-prospect players who have excelled at the major-league level, Brian Dozier is cut from the same mold. An eighth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in 2009, Dozier was a senior sign who received just a $30,000 signing bonus. Dozier played well in the minors, but starting his professional career made him older than most of his competition. Dozier performed poorly when called up to the majors in 2012, hitting .234/.271/.332 in 340 plate appearances. That performance carried over into the first two months of 2013, but Dozier rebounded to post a wRC+ of 117 from June through the end of the season.

Dozier’s mini-breakout carried over to 2014 with a five-win season, as he hit 23 home runs with a 13% walk rate that was fifth in the American League. That performance earned him a contract extension for four years and $20 million, buying out his arbitration years but keeping his time to free agency intact. Dozier got off to a slow start this season, hitting just one home run in his first 90 plate appearances despite decent walk and strikeout numbers. Since that time, Dozier has had a run of good play coinciding with the Twins good fortune. He’s hit eight home runs since his slow start and his 170 wRC+ in May is seventh among AL batters.

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On Rotation, Part 1: The Effects of Spin on the Flight of a Pitch

by japem - 6/1/2015 - Comments (31)

My last article was a look at the effects of pitch location on batted balls. While it ended with on somewhat disappointing note, showing that the results couldn’t really be applied to individual pitchers, it did make me think more about which components of a pitch affect the pitch, and in which ways.

So I decided to examine spin. Spin is captured by PITCHf/x in two measurements: rate (in revolutions per minute) and direction (the angle in degrees). As it turns out, the spin of a pitch has quite the effect on its outcome, much like location. Different spin rates make the pitch move differently (obviously) and get hit differently. (For a look at this topic from a physics standpoint, check out this infographic and this much more complicated article, both from the excellent Alan Nathan. And, to make sure everybody knows: I know little about the actual physics of this past what I can infer from my baseball playing and watching experience. I am just looking at the PITCHf/x data.)

Before we get right to the graphs, a quick note about my methodology. I grouped each pitch from 2009 onward — which is the year PITCHf/x started to record spin rate consistently — into buckets based on spin rate (pitches were rounded to the nearest 50 RPM) and pitch type (I included four-seam fastballs, curveballs, changeups, two-seam fastballs, cutters, knuckleballs, and sliders). I then found a multitude of stats for each bucket: contact rate, average speed, average movement, ground ball rate, and many more. I also did the same with spin angle, grouping pitches into buckets by rounding to the nearest 20 degrees, but the results weren’t particularly meaningful.

I also combined two-seam fastballs and sinkers when I was doing this. There has been some discussion in the past about whether there is a difference between those two pitches. While PITCHf/x classifies them separately, they are more or less indistinguishable, and when I first did this without combining them, they overlapped on nearly all of the various graphs.

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The Traps That the Twins Need to Avoid

by Dave Cameron - 6/1/2015 - Comments (62)

It’s June 1st, and the best record in the American League belongs to the Minnesota Twins. As winners of seven of their last eight games — all against teams who expected to contend coming into the season — the Twins now stand at 30-19, a half game ahead of the Royals in the AL Central; they’re also three and a half games ahead of Detroit and six and a half ahead of Cleveland. That’s a pretty great start for a team that we gave basically no chance of contending this year, as our pre-season forecasts had them as a 74 win team, and gave them just a 3% chance of reaching the postseason.

After two months of playing .600 baseball, our projections now expect the Twins to finish with 81 wins, and give them a 27% chance of reaching the postseason. On the one hand, that’s a huge jump, and a roughly one-in-four chance of making the playoffs in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year is quite the accomplishment. On the other hand, those 27% odds still put them behind eight other teams, and those odds are buoyed by their chances of reaching the less-valuable Wild Card game; Minnesota’s estimated 12% chance of winning their division ranks just 10th in the AL.

The Twins strong start is both a blessing and a curse. Watching winning baseball is a lot more fun than losing baseball, and surprising playoff runs can invigorate a fan base, driving significant revenue gains from increased attendance and television ratings. Even just putting a watchable product on the field can help a franchise avoid a financial death spiral, and even if the Twins cool off in the second half, their strong start should help keep people interested in baseball through most of the summer.

But there’s a potential downside here too, because while the Twins front office should absolutely be enjoying their strong start to the season, they need to be realistic about what it does and does not mean. And it does not mean that the 2015 Twins are actually a good baseball team.

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Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat - 6/1/15

by Dave Cameron - 6/1/2015 - Comments (7)

11:43
Dave Cameron: It’s a Monday, but you’re stuck with me this week, as Dan Szymborski and I flipped days this week. You can bug Dan on Wednesday, but today, you get my hazy post-vacation musings.
11:43
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open, and we’ll get started in about 15 minutes.
12:01
Dave Cameron: (And after I typed all that out, I forgot to actually open the queue. So now we’ll push the start time back a little bit to let you guys get some questions in while I finish this piece about the Twins.)
12:12
Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s get this party started.
12:13
Comment From dom
Is becoming Joe Panik a best case scenario for Rob Refsnyder’s development? How likely is that to happen
12:14
Dave Cameron: Panik is a weird comparison for Refsnyder, who might actually have some power but probably is a negative defender at the position. I’d guess he’s more Kelly Johnson or something.

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Checking in on Last Year's First-Round Pitchers

by Chris Mitchell - 6/1/2015 - Comments (14)

Last week, I took a look at some of the hitters taken in the early portion of the first round of last year’s amateur draft. Today, I’m going to repeat this exercise for pitchers, and examine the first eight arms taken in last year’s first round. I’m going to skip over last year’s first-overall pick, Brady Aiken, who wound up not signing with the Houston Astros due to a dispute centered around an issue with his elbow.

At this point, most of these players have something close to a year’s worth of games under their belts. Obviously, all these players are very early on in their respective careers, and still have plenty of developing left to do. Their futures are far from set in stone. Still, their stats from the last calendar year should be able to give us a general sense of how good they are now and, by extension, how good they might ultimately become.

Tyler Kolek, RHP (Profile)
Team: Miami Marlins   Age: 19
Stats: 4.65 ERA, 4.28 FIP between R, A

Kolek came with a lot of hype when the Marlins selected him seconf overall. He was tall, athletic, his fastball touched 100 and he had an impressive curveball, as well. Yet, despite his blazing stuff, he’s endured a rough transition to pro ball. Kolek held his own in Rookie-ball last year, where he pitched to a 3.92 FIP with an 18% strikeout rate. However, he’s really scuffled this year following a promotion to Low-A.

The most disappointing part of Kolek’s 2015 has been his lack of strikeouts. His strikeout rate currently sits at 16% — well below the South Atlantic League average of 20%. His 12% walk rate is also worse than his league’s average. At 19, there’s still plenty of time for Kolek’s performance to catch up with his stuff, but the early returns haven’t been what many had hoped for.

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NERD Game Scores for Monday, June 1, 2015

by Carson Cistulli - 6/1/2015 - Comments (3)

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
New York AL at Seattle | 22:10 ET
Pineda (64.1 IP, 63 xFIP-) vs. Hernandez (70.2 IP, 67 xFIP-)
The reason faux science has identified tonight’s Yankees-Mariners contest as Monday’s most compelling one is not a product of how the starter for the former of those clubs was previously employed by the latter of them, but mostly just of how that first starter (Michael Pineda) and also his opponent (Felix Hernandez) have produced among the league’s best numbers by an assortment of measures. That Pineda not only was employed by the Mariners, however, but also traded by them (for a player who currently resides at Triple-A) certainly establishes a foundation for a revenge narrative. Although, the extent of Pineda’s vengeance is likely to skew mild, resembling less the slaughter of numerous Trojan soldiers by a grieving Achilles and more just a solid athletic performance on a Monday night.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Seattle Radio.

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Let's Watch Bryce Harper Face Aroldis Chapman

by Jeff Sullivan - 6/1/2015 - Comments (33)

Sometimes, I feel like I have to set these things up. This isn’t one of those times. The other day, Bryce Harper batted against Aroldis Chapman. Who wouldn’t want to examine that plate appearance in detail? We’re talking about the game’s premier one-inning pitcher, a guy who does something that might never have been done before, and then you’ve got the hottest hitter on the planet, a guy whose at-bats are worth setting alerts for if you’re not already tuned the hell in. Yeah, they’ve matched up before. Yeah, Chapman struck Harper out all three times, on a combined 10 pitches. That was that Bryce Harper. This is this Bryce Harper. Or, as you might know him, Bryce Harper.

The evening: Friday, May 29. The setting: nobody cares. This is about the individuals, not the circumstance, and while the leverage could’ve been higher, the game was close enough everyone was trying their hardest. This was about something other than deciding the score. This was arguably the game’s most watchable hitter and arguably the game’s most watchable pitcher. So you know they had to combine for a watchable matchup.

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NERD Game Scores for Sunday, May 31, 2015

by Carson Cistulli - 5/31/2015 - Comments (2)

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Kansas City at Chicago NL | 14:20 ET
Ventura (54.1 IP, 94 xFIP-) vs. Wada (10.0 IP, 64 xFIP-)
This past Wednesday in the electronic pages, contributor Jeff Zimmerman examined the relationship between pitcher velocity and a number of batted-ball types. One revelation from that post: that, as velocity declines, a pitcher is likely to concede more home runs per batted ball. Or, rendered into the form of the graph, this:

The discovery is both (a) not shocking but also (b) of some assistance to understanding the relationship between the gap (whether positive or negative) which certain pitchers exhibit between their expected FIP (xFIP) and ERA numbers. While xFIP relies on the supposition that home-run allowance will regress to a league-average rate, what Zimmerman’s work suggests is that pitchers who feature higher than average fastball velocities are likely to outperform their xFIPs; those who feature lower than average velocities, to underperform them. Of some relevance, is this, to Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada, who (a) is a candidate to produce impressive fielding-independent numbers, but also (b) sits at only about 89 mph.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Chicago NL Television.

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Sunday Notes: Featherston, Bass, Knucklers & Eddy R

by David Laurila - 5/31/2015 - Comments (1)

Financially, being on the Angels roster is a plus for Taylor Featherston. The major league minimum is $507,500 and he’d be making a fraction of that down on the farm. Developmentally, it’s a different story. Being in Anaheim is a minus for the 25-year-old infielder.

Featherston is languishing on the end of Mike Scioscia‘s bench. He has just 31 plate appearances on the season. That’s what happens when you can’t be sent to the minors without first passing through waivers and being offered back to your old club. A fifth round pick by the Rockies in 2011, the former TCU Horned Frog was claimed by the Cubs in last December’s Rule 5 draft and subsequently swapped to the Angels for cash considerations.

“For 30 minutes I thought I was going to be a Cub,” said Featherston, who had 53 extra-base hits last year for Colorado’s Double-A afilliate. “My phone was blowing up. I was working out, and my trainer was yelling at me to put it down and focus on my lift. I had hundreds of texts and calls saying, ‘Congratulations, Chicago.’ The next thing I know, the script was flipped and I was in LA. It’s been a fun ride.”

It’s also been an exercise in frustration. Featherston has but a lone base knock in 27 at bats. It’s easy to picture him removing splinters from his backside when Scioscia calls his name. To his credit, he’s taking a glass-is-half-full approach.

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NERD Game Scores: Carlos Frias Against a Sea of Troubles

by Carson Cistulli - 5/30/2015 - Comments (2)

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Los Angeles NL at St. Louis | 19:15 ET
Frias (28.2 IP, 102 xFIP-) vs. Wacha (57.2 IP, 107 xFIP-)
Dodgers right-hander Carlos Frias suffered the slings and arrows less of outrageous fortune during his most recent start and more of the San Diego Padres batsmen (box). Facing 25 hitters, Frias recorded zero strikeouts, conceded two walks, and allowed 10 runs on 12 hits. One, in his most generous mood, might note that the Padres recorded hits on nearly half their balls in play against Frias. That same one, however, would find it difficult to ignore how Frias exhibited little feel for his release point over the duration of four mostly unpleasant innings. Despite those innings, Frias still owns slightly above-average fielding-independent numbers as a starter — plus also a swinging-strike rate and average fastball velocity that place him roughly 1.0 and 1.5 standard deviations, respectively, above the starting-pitcher mean.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: St. Louis Radio.

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The Best of FanGraphs: May 25-29, 2015

by Paul Swydan - 5/30/2015 - Comments (0)

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times, orange for TechGraphs and blue for Community Research.

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FanGraphs Audio: Craig Edwards' Inaugural Appearance

by Carson Cistulli - 5/29/2015 - Comments (6)

Episode 565
Craig Edwards has contributed and/or still contributes to SB Nation Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos and Yankees blog Pinstripe Alley. He now definitely contributes every day to FanGraphs. He makes his inaugural appearance here on FanGraphs Audio.

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 54 min play time.)

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Jeff Hoffman Surprisingly Polished in Return from Surgery

by statsking - 5/29/2015 - Comments (11)

The Blue Jays’ farm got stronger last week, as last summer’s first-round pick, right-hander Jeff Hoffman, made his pro debut for High-A Dunedin. Hoffman was in the mix to go #1 overall last year until he underwent Tommy John surgery just before the draft and slid to ninth overall. The 6-foot-4 righty has the size and athleticism to support his frontline starter stuff, which was already back in his first regular season after surgery.

Fastball – 65/75

Hoffman came out establishing his fastball and showed his premium arm speed, sitting 95-98 and touching 99 mph early on. The pitch had life up in the zone and, when located down, the heater had good run and sink. It’s a heavy pitch that has the ability to swallow up opposing hitters’ barrels. In the second inning, Hoffman was leaving the pitch up and out over the plate, causing it straighten out. He was hit hard and loud that inning, but that was the only bump in the road.

Hoffman allowed four runs on four hits that inning, but put up zeros in the other four innings, scattering another four hits. He also showed the ability to hold his premium velocity while working out of the stretch, sitting 93-97 mph. The fastball command was better than I anticipated, as well. Even though he was getting squeezed a bit, Hoffman was regularly working the fastball to both corners and moving it up and down in the zone. Fastball command is usually one of the last traits to return after an injury like his, so it’s an encouraging sign to see glimpses of it this early.

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Cal Poly Pomona's Cody Ponce Still in Play for First Round

by jesse.burkhart - 5/29/2015 - Comments (1)

Cody Ponce entered the spring as a potential first-round pick following a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League. That’s still the case now just two weeks before the draft, and I saw why during his Sunday start against Tampa in the Division II World Series, which was played at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

In the Cape, the Cal Poly Pomona right-hander sat 92-94 mph, touching 97, and combined his fastball with a hard cutter, curveball and changeup. That’s the same four-pitch mix he’s working with now, although the stuff wasn’t as sharp in my look compared to the reports from the summer. Still, he’s logged 62.1 innings this spring on his way to a 1.44 ERA with 54 hits allowed, 14 walks and 67 strikeouts so far this season, albeit against inferior competition.

At no point over the last 10 years has Cal Poly Ponoma produced a player that was drafted inside of the top-10 rounds. Ponce, who ranks No. 23 on Kiley’s latest draft board, will certainly end that streak and likely become the program’s highest-drafted player since 1983, when the Dodgers selected left-hander Mike Munoz in the third round.

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Noah Syndergaard's Big Day and the Six-Man Rotation

by Craig Edwards - 5/29/2015 - Comments (36)

On Wednesday, Noah Syndergaard had a day he is likely to hold onto for quite some time. The 22-year-old Mets rookie pitched into the eighth inning, struck out six players, didn’t walk a single batter, allow an extra base hit, or allow a single run to cross the plate while he was on the mound. It was an impressive outing, and Syndergaard’s first four starts have gone well, also. To wit: the right-hander has averaged just over six innings per outing with 22 strikeouts against five walks, and is currently sporting a 2.55 ERA and equally impressive 2.60 FIP. Big things are expected of Syndergaard as the Mets try to make the most out of potential contention this year while simultaneously limiting the number of innings he pitches to save his arm both for October and also the years to come. Determining how to keep pitchers healthy can be challenging, especially when Syndergaard has outings like he did against the Phillies.

Syndgergaard’s last start against the Phillies was impressive because of fastballs like this:

Curves like this:

The start will be most memorable, however, because of this:

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JABO: The Pirates' Terrific Budget Offseason

by Jeff Sullivan - 5/29/2015 - Comments (12)

With Thursday’s 11-5 drubbing of the Padres, the Pirates have won seven straight games. It’s a well-timed winning streak, on the heels of what were previously mounting concerns. And the Pirates are very much in the thick of it, if you can say there’s even a thick of anything when it still reads “May” on the calendar.

The Pirates are 25-22. Not bad. Also potentially a bit misleading. Based on their runs scored and allowed, their record should be better than that. Based on their expected runs scored and allowed, their record should be better than that. I know that’s a weird thing to think about, since runs are runs and wins are wins, but trust me that wins and losses aren’t the only indicators of team performance and ability. We can also say this: at FanGraphs, the rest of the way, we have the Pirates projected as a top-five team.

Which is all to say, hey! The Pirates are pretty good. Not only have they been pretty good, it looks like they ought to remain pretty good, especially now that Andrew McCutchen has rediscovered his swing. Now, these days, times are different. Suddenly, it’s not strange to think of the Pirates as being a good team. But there was some concern here because between 2014 and 2015, the Pirates lost Russell Martin to free agency. They didn’t want to; he just got too expensive. Martin was one of the team’s best players. To say nothing of other guys they also lost, including Edinson Volquez, Ike Davis and Travis Snider. Martin was certain to be difficult to replace, and the Pirates understood that from the start.

So how did the organization conduct itself over the winter, with a key piece leaving for $82 million in the other league? The Pirates are anything but a big-budget franchise, so they focused, as always, on efficiency. And while it’s been only two months — so no chapters are closed — it looks like the Pirates had themselves an excellent offseason. An offseason that cost them less than what the Blue Jays invested in a catcher.

Let’s run some of this down. I’ll highlight some individual acquisitions.

Read the rest at Just A Bit Outside.



Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat -- 5/29/15

by Jeff Sullivan - 5/29/2015 - Comments (10)

9:14
Jeff Sullivan: Boy! It’s a chat

9:15
Jeff Sullivan: And you’re invited!

9:15
Comment From Trader Joe
Is Strasburg broken or a good buy low opportunity?

9:16
Jeff Sullivan: While I recognize this as a fantasy question, it’s also a real-baseball question, so I’ll let it slide. The stuff is there. There’s no clearly obvious indication of injury, and the Nationals do have some depth to use if they were more genuinely concerned. I think what we’re seeing is mechanical, and I think Strasburg straightens it out. Look for a far, far better second half

9:18
Comment From Jeff
A lot of people probably expected more out of Phil Hughes this year, just based off what he did last season. Safe to assume he won’t return to last years form? Ks are down, and HR/FB % has doubled from last year. Time to drop, and move on?

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: He is still doing the same thing in one way: he’s getting ahead in the count crazy often. He’s pounding the zone with strikes, like never before, save for 2014

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WAR: Batters
Bryce Harper3.8
Josh Donaldson3.2
Jason Kipnis3.1
Paul Goldschmidt3.0
Todd Frazier3.0
WAR: Pitchers
Max Scherzer3.0
Corey Kluber2.4
Sonny Gray2.0
Chris Archer2.0
Michael Pineda2.0
WPA: Batters
Nelson Cruz4.00
Anthony Rizzo3.90
Paul Goldschmidt3.30
Kris Bryant2.77
Matt Carpenter2.69
WPA: SP
Dallas Keuchel2.62
Zack Greinke1.92
A.J. Burnett1.79
Sonny Gray1.75
Max Scherzer1.57
WPA: RP
Joakim Soria1.97
Andrew Miller1.79
Tony Watson1.76
Glen Perkins1.64
John Axford1.61
Fastball (mph): SP
Noah Syndergaard96.7
Yordano Ventura95.9
Joe Kelly95.8
Matt Harvey95.8
Nathan Eovaldi95.8