Effectively Wild Episode 1244: Moving on From Matheny

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Mike Trout and marketing, the surprising Rays and the unsung Jake Bauers, the AL wild card race, Willians Astudillo’s pitching appearance, the results of a 21-question player survey, the Royals’ recent performance, and a tariff on baseball gloves, then (24:24) bring on man-of-many-bylines Will Leitch to discuss the long-awaited end of the Mike Matheny era in St. Louis, how Cardinals fans feel to be free of him, what Matheny taught us about managers, the lowlights of his tenure, what did him in, and what’s next for the Cardinals.

Audio intro: Ray Davies, "Things Are Gonna Change"
Audio interstitial: Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Change Partners"
Audio outro: Matt Costa, "Strings of Change"

Link to player survey
Link to Will’s Matheny article
Link to Ben’s Matheny bullpen management article

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The A’s Are Being Led From the Back

Last Tuesday, the A’s played probably the most frustrating game of their season. Facing the first-place Astros in Houston, the A’s erased a 4-0 deficit in the top of the ninth. In the 11th, they pulled ahead on a two-out home run, getting the chance to hand a lead to Blake Treinen. The tying run scored on a fielder’s choice, with Jonathan Lucroy unable to handle a throw home. The losing run scored on a tapper that went about five feet, after Lucroy threw the ball away. It was a tough inning for Lucroy, and it was a rough game for Oakland to stomach, because they’d had the Astros just where they’d wanted them. While the A’s had been hot, you never know which loss might get under a team’s skin.

The A’s came back and beat the Astros the next day. They beat them again the day after that, and then they took two of three in San Francisco. Where just weeks ago it looked almost impossible, we’ve gotten to the All-Star break and now we have a wild-card race. The A’s are catching up to the Mariners, and while every run is a function of a number of players, Oakland’s two standouts are at the back of the bullpen.

Read the rest of this entry »


Previewing the 2018 Home Run Derby

With apologies to the 1960 television show that became a staple of ESPN Classic, the Home Run Derby has been around since 1985, but it wasn’t until the last few years that Major League Baseball found a format that was vastly entertaining: a head-to-head single-elimination bracket setup with timed, four-minute rounds and 30 seconds of bonus time added for hitting two 440-foot homers, as measured by Statcast. In 2015, the first year of that format, Todd Frazier, then of the Reds, became just the second player in Derby history to win in his home park; the Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg was first in 1990. In 2016, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton won at Petco Park, and last year, rookie Aaron Judge beat Stanton on his home turf in Marlins Park — a pair of ideal results that will be tough to top.

Indeed, one of the big drawbacks of the Derby has been its failure to attract a full complement of the game’s elite sluggers; to the extent that complaints about MLB’s failure to market its stars to full advantage rings true, here’s a very good example. Mike Trout has never participated, and Bryce Harper has just once, in 2013. With the Derby and the All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC, Harper is back, but he’s the only member of the eight-player field who has participated in a previous Derby. There’s no Judge this year, no Stanton, and no J.D. Martinez or José Ramiréz either. In fact, according to the Washington Post, this is the first year since at least 2008 without a player from among the majors’ top five in homers participating. Just two of the current top 10, the Brewers Jesus Aguilar (sixth with 24, but leading the NL) and Harper (tied for seventh with 23) are involved, and of the eight contestants, just one is from an AL team, the Astros’ Alex Bregman. Let’s call it what it is: a comparatively weak field.

Perhaps that’s because the myth of a post-Derby curse persists; what fall-off there is generally owes to regression in players’ rate of home runs per fly ball, which can owe something to luck. Anyway, these dinger displays are still fun, even in this homer-saturated age, and the timed format is much, much, much better — so much so that I’d even be willing to call Chris Berman out of retirement to repeat that phrase — than the previous slog, during which a batter might take pitch after pitch looking for the right one, and an hour in the competition might go by before somebody was eliminated. That wasn’t compelling television.

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Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 7/16/18

2:00
Dan Szymborski: And we are here!

2:00
Dan Szymborski: Maybe.

2:00
Dan Szymborski: I made the chat myself so it may not actually be working and each and everyone of you is already dead.

2:00
The Decadent Moose: Since last June…

2:02
Go A’s!: What is Miguel Sano still doing in the minors?  How is this going to shake out?

2:03
Dan Szymborski: They’re taking their time, realistically speaking the 2018 season is over, so they’re being cautious.  Really, he should be slugging 1200 or something down there!

Read the rest of this entry »


2018 Trade Value: #41 to #50

Max Scherzer’s contract renders him an option only for big-market clubs.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the four to follow, I’ll present a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ll also include all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the final 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +16.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +2.2 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +3.7 Pre-Arb
2022 25 +3.7 Arb1
2023 26 +3.7 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

This last spot, as I’m sure was true on all of the versions of the list Dave did, was a tough to decide upon. As you can see from the honorable mentions, basically every type of player has a solid candidate for this spot. One could argue on behalf of Matt Olson, for example, that he’s a similar player to Tucker, has just one fewer year of control, and has already posted 3.6 WAR in his first 167 games. That said, Tucker seems to get a bit of a boost from the industry because of his recent call-up and that isn’t all nonsense: calling a top prospect up to a contending team before there’s any incentives by way of service time suggests the things non-Astros people know about Tucker (mental makeup, etc.) are positive.

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Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat – 7/16/18

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Happy All-Star Break, folks

12:02
Travis Sawchik: And more important, happy Trade Value Series Week

12:03
Travis Sawchik: I know who is ranked No. 1 but I can’t tell you

12:03
Mookie Betts: I have to be one of the favourites/if not the favourite for AL MVP? Right?

12:04
Travis Sawchik: You’re in the discussion but you’re actually behind Trout AND Jose Ramirez in fWAR and Lindor is not far behind you

12:04
Travis Sawchik: The AL MVP race (and Cy Young race) are shaping up to be more interesting than the actual AL postseason races, since they don’t really exist outside of the AL East

Read the rest of this entry »


The Real Work Is Just Beginning in St. Louis

On Saturday evening, the Cardinals made the necessary — though arguably tardy — decision to fire manager Mike Matheny. The now-former Cardinals skipper was at the helm of some successful teams, but after two consecutive playoff misses and a mediocre 2018 season, Matheny was shown the door. While managers often receive too much praise for success and too much criticism for a club’s failures — Matheny certainly benefited from inheriting a World Series champion and might ultimately have been fired for piloting this year’s club to just a .500 record — the last few weeks shined an unwelcome light on the Cardinals due to communication issues with Dexter Fowler and the defense of Bud Norris and old-school antics.

While Matheny’s poor bullpen management and recent internal troubles will get a lot of attention, his biggest deficiencies as a manager were (a) an inability (or refusal) to discern his players’ present talent levels and (b) his related preference of managing with his gut. While the latter quality might function as a virtue in some situations, it most famously caused Matheny trouble in the 2014 NLCS when he turned to Michael Wacha after weeks of rest. It has also forced the Cardinals front office to make roster moves around Matheny’s weaknesses instead of playing to his strengths.

When Matheny was provided with depth, he would neglect it, exiling useful players to the bench. When he was provided with clear starters, those starters would receive so much playing time that they were exhausted by late summer. Prospects were sent to Memphis not because they had something to prove in Triple-A but because playing time was at a premium in the majors. Veteran relievers were required because younger options were ignored, and Matheny’s need for fixed roles led directly to the acquisition of Greg Holland, whom Matheny persisted in using even when all indications suggested that such a thing was hurting the club. Mike Mayers drew raves in spring training but, due to Matheny’s insistence than an eighth reliever ought to be reserved for emergencies, was ignored once the season began. The front office is, of course, complicit in accommodating Matheny’s wishes, but they apparently desired to be free from the restrictions the manager put on their decisions. Now they can turn to other, fundamental questions.

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Five Players Who Ought to Be Traded (But Probably Won’t Be)

A Michael Fulmer deal could help the Tigers rebuild their system.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

While the result isn’t always a poor one, the decision to wait for an exact perfect trade is a dangerous game for a rebuilding/retooling team. Greed can sometimes be good, yes, but a player’s trade value can also dissipate with a simple twinge in the forearm.

For every Rich Hill who lands at a new home in exchange for an impressive haul, there’s a Zach Britton or Zack Cozart or Todd Frazier or Tyson Ross whose value declines dramatically — sometimes so dramatically that they become effectively untradable. Even when waiting doesn’t lead to disaster, such as with Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana, teams frequently don’t do that much better by waiting for the most beautiful opportunity for baseball-related extortion. Regression to the mean is real. For a player at the top of his game, there’s a lot more room for bad news than good; chaos may be a ladder, but it’s not a bell curve.

With that in mind, I’ve identified five players who might be most valuable to their clubs right now as a trade piece. None of them are likely to be dealt before the deadline. Nevertheless, their respective clubs might also never have a better opportunity to secure a return on these particular assets.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Profile)

There seems to be a sense almost that, if the Orioles are able to trade Manny Machado for a great package, get an interesting deal for Zach Britton, and procure some token return for Adam Jones, then it’ll be time to fly the ol’ Mission Accomplished banner. In reality, though, that would simply mark the beginning of the Orioles’ chance to build a consistent winner. After D-Day, the allies didn’t call it wrap, shake some hands, and head home to work on the hot rod. (Confession: I don’t actually know what 18-year-olds did for fun in 1944.)

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2018 Trade Value: Honorable Mentions

The industry places Javy Baez and Manny Machado just outside the top-50 players by trade value.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

All-Star week has arrived, which means a lot of things, like that the races for the 2018 postseason have begun to take shape (at least in the NL, where postseason races exist) and also that many of those who work in baseball are currently taking rushed, abbreviated vacations. Around here, though, it marks the time for a different tradition — namely, the start our annual Trade Value series.

The inimitable Dave Cameron did this list for 13 years, 10 of them for this website. He’s now moved on the Padres, though, and FanGraphs has somehow ended up with me in his place. This list wouldn’t be possible without the model established by Cameron, nor the help of Sean Dolinar, Dan Szymborski, and Carson Cistulli in putting together this year’s series. A special thanks is also due to industry friends who put up with much rougher early versions of this list, were generous with their time, and helped whip it into shape.

For those new to the series, it marks an attempt to answer the question “Who would bring back the most in trade if he were put on the market before the deadline?” What’s notable about this list — as opposed to the prospect types I assemble with Eric Longenhagen — is that it’s the only one for which my opinion doesn’t matter. The goal here isn’t for me to project anybody’s future value but rather to capture the opinions of the industry and how they value players in reality, right now.

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Job Posting: Pirates Data Architect

Position: Data Architect

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Description:
The Data Architect is responsible for putting into place and maintaining the processes and systems to efficiently integrate and effectively make available baseball related data from both external and internal sources in order to provide the backbone of evidence based decision making.

Responsibilities

Primary:

  • Responsible for the daily operation, performance, and maintenance of the data assets used within Baseball Operations. Makes use of Pirates’ standards and industry best practices to implement efficient and high performance access to data.
  • Design, create, and extend processes for data extraction, transformation, cleansing, and load to and from internal and external data sources for both structured and unstructured data.
  • Evaluate potential data providers and design and implement data models for storage and access to new types of data that integrate with the existing data and application architectures.
  • Design, create and maintain reporting structures using SQL Reporting Services and Tableau and participate in one-off research projects to answer specific questions.
  • Design and implement data mining processes as a part of predictive modeling in conjunction with the Quantitative Analyst and other staff members.
  • Design and implement data mining processes as a part of predictive modeling in conjunction with other staff members.

Secondary:

  • Departmentally: Participate in gathering and documenting user requirements for existing and new systems. Understand business processes and required outcomes of the system and creates requirements definition document defining the business use cases.
  • Organizationally: Acts as a resource for database and SQL coding projects within the organization. Assist other staff developing SQL scripts, stored procedures, and other database objects where required.
  • Industry: Acts as the point of contact with MLB in understanding and planning for future infrastructure needs and changes as the structure and breadth of information changes over time.

Position Requirements

Required:

  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Computer Science, Information Systems, or equivalent.
  • Two years experience administering enterprise level data structures using SQL Server technologies including SQL Reporting Services and SQL Server Integration Services.
  • Expert knowledge of SQL and database administration tools. Knowledge of SQL Server replication topologies. Understanding of database documentation and design tools.
  • Experience with cloud based architectures and tools including Amazon S3, EC2, Databricks required.
  • Experience participating in multiple aspects of the software development life cycle including requirements definition, design, development, testing, and implementation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with users to understand business processes, document system requirements, and develop data structures that meet business objectives.

Desired:

  • Experience with Python, .NET..
  • Experience with statistical analysis software such as R, SAS, SSPS.
  • An understanding of sabermetric techniques for player evaluation strongly preferred.

The Pirates are an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.

To Apply:
Please apply here.


Mike Matheny Fired by the Cardinals

“And just like that, as mysteriously as he arrived, he was gone.”

– Oscar Martinez, The Office

It wasn’t quite Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, but after the Cardinals lost to the Cardinals 8-2 Saturday night, dropping to just a skosh above .500 at 47-46, manager Mike Matheny was dismissed from his managerial duties. The Cardinals remain in the playoff race, but it’s been a tumultuous month behind the scenes in St. Louis, from normal run-of-the-mill struggles to public friction with right fielder Dexter Fowler to the latest report — written by the tireless Mark Saxon of The Athletic — of Bud Norris’s old-school clubhouse antics with rookie reliever Jordan Hicks.

While Matheny’s role in the Norris-Hicks situation probably wasn’t the main factor behind his dismissal, I have few doubts that it was a contributing factor. Saxon received a lot of pushback publicly about his reporting on the issues, but these types of wagon-circling denials from teams when a story becomes embarrassing isn’t just common, it’s practically de rigueur. That doesn’t necessarily negate the veracity of the original reports.

In the end, though, it usually comes down to winning. Like most managers, Matheny lived by the win before he died by the win, the extremely successful Cardinal seasons at the start of Matheny’s tenure making him as unassailable at the time as he was vulnerable by 2018.

In a piece for ESPN in 2013, Anna McDonald reported on the relationship between the analytics-friendly front office headed by then-general manager John Mozeliak (who’s since been promoted to team president) and the more traditional Matheny.

“I believe how [Matheny] puts a lineup together is that he is utilizing things we give him from upstairs, but we don’t want to bury him with having to overthink things. Most importantly, we hire a manager to make that lineup. I do think one thing that Mike and his staff have done a very good job of is embracing anything we can put together as far as advanced scouting for them. Trying to eliminate small sample sizes and make them accept larger ones for probabilities has been helpful. Mike, he is a young manager that is very interested at looking at the best ways to be successful, so that’s always a good sign when you have that in an employee.”

Few analytics types, myself included, really thought much of Matheny as an in-game tactician. But that’s only part of the job of a manager. I’ve talked a lot about admiring Joe Torre as a manager for the Yankees not because of his in-game acumen but simply because, unlike a lot of managers, he didn’t stand in the way of his team’s success. Sometimes, keeping the team from killing each other is what a manager is there for, which is why I praised Dusty Baker’s hiring by the Washington Nationals as the right move at the right time for that particular club.

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Sunday Notes: Nick Markakis Has His Timing Down

Nick Markakis is having a marvelous year. Now in his 13th big-league season — his fourth with the Atlanta Braves — the perennially-underappreciated outfielder is slashing .323/.388/.489, and he leads the senior circuit in base hits (119) and doubles (29). On Tuesday, he’ll take the field as an All-Star for the first time.

With the possible exception of a splashy 2008 campaign in Baltimore, this has been the lefty swinger’s best season from a statistical standpoint. (Given the Braves’ better-than-expected record, it’s been a boffo one from a team perspective, as well.) The secret to his age-34 success hasn’t been a springboard so much as it’s been cumulative. Fifteen years after he was drafted out of Young Harris (GA) College, he’s finding himself in full stride.

“My timing has been really good,” Markakis responded when I asked why he’s been swinging such a hot stick. “Hitting is all about timing. What I’ve learned over the years is that this game is constantly about adjustments, and timing is everything. If you’re not on time and can still hit, you’re a pretty damn good hitter. If you can figure out timing, you’re going to be a great hitter. Being on time with the fastball and being able to adjust to off-speed pitches is really the key for me right now.”

Markakis hasn’t radically changed his timing mechanism — there is no new leg kick, for instance — but there are some nuanced adjustments. According to the outfielder, they’re equal parts subtle and continuous. Read the rest of this entry »


Utley’s Chase for Cooperstown

Joe Mauer got there, but Chase Utley won’t. By there, I don’t mean the Hall of Fame, at least not directly, but the 2,000 hit plateau, which has functioned as a bright-line test for BBWAA and small-committee Hall voters for the past several decades. As I wrote back in April after Mauer collected his milestone hit, voters have effectively put an unofficial “Rule of 2,000” in place, withholding election from any position player below that level whose career crossed into the post-1960 expansion era, no matter his other merits. For anyone holding out hope that Utley would stick around long enough — while playing well, of course — to reach that marker, Friday was a rough day.

At a press conference at Dodger Stadium on Friday afternoon, the 39-year-old Utley announced that he would retire at the end of the season, forgoing the second year of a two-year, $2 million deal he signed in February. With “only” 1,881 hits over the course of his 16-year career, and less than half a season remaining, he’ll fall short of the marker.

After beginning the press conference by deadpanning that he’d signed a five-year extension, Utley said:

“I transitioned to a part-time player, something new for me, but I took it in stride… Also, a part-time strength coach, part-time pitching coach, occasionally part-time catching coach as well as a part-time general manager. The thing I’m having the most difficult time with is being a part-time dad. So that’s really the reason I’m shutting it down. I’m ready to be a full-time dad.”

While evolving from Phillies regular to Dodgers reserve/elder statesman, Utley has collected at least 100 hits just once in the past four seasons, and has just 30 this year. As injuries to Justin Turner, Corey Seager and Logan Forsythe decimated the Dodgers’ infield this spring, he appeared in 36 of the team’s first 40 games, 22 as a starter, and as of May 11 (through 38 games, selective endpoint alert!), he was hitting .271/.370/.412 with a 13.0% walk rate and a 114 wRC+ in 100 plate appearances. With Forsythe and Turner both back in the picture, however, and with Max Muncy hitting his way into regular duty, Utley went just 1-for-26 without a walk from May 12-29, after which he missed 20 games due to a sprained left thumb. Since returning, he’s made just four starts in 20 games, going 7-for-20 in that span, albeit with some big plays off the bench.

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The Best of FanGraphs: July 9-13, 2018

Each week, we publish in the neighborhood of 75 articles across 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 and blue for Community Research.
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On Liking Jean Segura

There are few things that can make us feel more anxious than when we realize that people we consider our friends don’t enjoy the same things we do. Music, comedy specials, how much to go outside. There’s a little daring in liking things, especially when we like them deeply. By professing that we like something, we invite someone else to say that they don’t like that something, and then suddenly, there is one less thing that knits us to that someone.

Not liking the same little somethings is fine; I like eggplant and I have friends who don’t and it has never mattered, not even one time. But it can be hard to suss out in advance which little things, when pulled open, will lead to the bigger somethings that do matter. And so sharing the things we like can make us feel nervous. Perhaps you, the eggplant disliker, don’t care for its texture. That’s fine; eggplant has divisive mouthfeel. But maybe you don’t like it because you prefer the meaty taste of the human persons you have folded up in your basement freezer. That’s considerably less good! I went in liking eggplant and came out knowing you’re a murderer. Friendship can be dicey in this way, but I guess we have to risk it.

So here’s what I like. I like watching Jean Segura play baseball.

I liked this single, on a ball just above the zone.

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Broadcasters’ View: Who Have Been the Top Players in the Midwest League?

Who have been the best players in the Midwest League so far this season? I recently posed that question to some of the circuit’s broadcasters, with an important qualifier: I requested that they base their selections on what they’ve seen with their own eyes and not on reputations. I also asked for snapshot observations on each player named, which the respondents graciously took the time to provide.

As noted in last season’s year-end survey, the Midwest League comprised two divisions, with an unbalanced schedule. Couple that with the fact that this is a midseason look, and the respondents will have seen some players more than others (or not at all). For that reason, notable prospects may not appear on a particular list.

Six broadcasters participated, three from the Eastern Division and three from the Western Division. Their respective lists were put together within the past month.

———

Nathan Baliva, Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals)

1. Royce Lewis: Smooth in the field when we saw him in April. Hit the ball hard and to all fields. Consistent and you can see why he went 1-1.

2. Hunter Greene: So raw but so much fun to watch. His first 20-some pitches, and 45 of the first 46, were fastballs against us, so he wasn’t working on offspeed stuff that game — but when the fastballs were all 97-101, it was fun to watch the radar gun. He threw strikes — no walks, two hits, five Ks in four innings against us — and seems to have figured things out after a rough start. Will be fun to watch how he grows.

3. Alex Kirilloff: At least we aren’t the only team he crushes. What he has done coming off injury is awesome and very impressive after missing a full season of development at his age.

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The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects

Fringe Five Scoreboards: 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013.

The Fringe Five is a weekly regular-season exercise, introduced a few years ago by the present author, wherein that same author utilizes regressed stats, scouting reports, and also his own fallible intuition to identify and/or continue monitoring the most compelling fringe prospects in all of baseball.

Central to the exercise, of course, is a definition of the word fringe, a term which possesses different connotations for different sorts of readers. For the purposes of the column this year, a fringe prospect (and therefore one eligible for inclusion among the Five) is any rookie-eligible player at High-A or above who (a) was omitted from the preseason prospect lists produced by Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, John Sickels, and (most importantly) FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel* and also who (b) is currently absent from a major-league roster. Players appearing Longenhagen and McDaniel’s most recent update have also been excluded from consideration.

*Note: I’ve excluded Baseball America’s list this year not due to any complaints with their coverage, but simply because said list is now behind a paywall.

For those interested in learning how Fringe Five players have fared at the major-league level, this somewhat recent post offers that kind of information. The short answer: better than a reasonable person would have have expected. In the final analysis, though, the basic idea here is to recognize those prospects who are perhaps receiving less notoriety than their talents or performance might otherwise warrant.

*****

Austin Davidson, 2B/OF, Washington (Profile)
Davidson first appeared among the Five in August of 2016, at which point he was a 23-year-old producing strong indicators at High-A. Somewhat problematically, though, he passed all of last season as a 24-year-old still at High-A and producing less strong indicators. This is not what one would characterize as a “promising trend”; ideally, as a prospect’s “age in years” increases so does his “ability to play baseball.” Davidson’s 2017 season, quite to the contrary, appeared to suggest that Davidson’s ability to play baseball was declining. Discouraging, that.

When he began the present campaign at High-A once again this year, the implication — if not by the Washington Nationals, then at least the abstract concept of Reason — appeared to be that Davidson was unlikely ever to become something greater than organizational filler. Based on his pedigree (he was a 13th-round pick in 2014), that’s not so surprising. Based on his 2016 campaign, however, it seemed like a missed opportunity.

A path to the majors has become somewhat viable again, though. After hitting very well in the Carolina League to begin the season, Davidson has continued doing that same thing in the Eastern League. So far, for example, he’s produced a .450 isolated-power figure over 22 plate appearances in July while recording walk and strikeout rates of 9.1% each.

Here, in conclusion, is video of Davidson homering either on or around June 29th:

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Effectively Wild Episode 1243: Scoreboard!

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Daniel Descalso, Alex Blandino, and the ongoing onslaught of position-player pitchers, Jacob deGrom’s updated WAR vs. wins status, Kyle Schwarber’s two-strike bunting, the death-ray potential of the Rays’ proposed stadium, Jordan Hicks and Bud Norris, and two baseball blobs, then (31:17) talk to Seattle Mariners senior marketing director Gregg Greene and marketing director Mandy Lincoln about the in-stadium decibel meter, the King’s Court, player walk-up songs, promotions gone wrong, Turn Ahead the Clock Night, stats on the scoreboard, Jerry Dipoto’s marketing potential, and more. Lastly, Ben provides updates on scoreboard fun facts, the Rays’ stadium, Hicks and Norris, Mike Trout’s non-baseball hobbies, Willians Astudillo, James Paxton, Garrett Richards, etc.

Audio intro: Beulah, "Burned By the Sun"
Audio interstitial 1: Joel Plaskett Emergency, "Make a Little Noise"
Audio interstitial 2: Phish, "Crowd Control"
Audio outro: Sloan, "Burn for It"

Link to Jeff’s Kyle Schwarber post
Link to Blandino knuckler
Link to Mark Saxon article about Hicks and Norris
Link to Derrick Goold article about Hicks and Norris
Link to first baseball blob sighting
Link to second baseball blog sighting
Link to 2013 Trout hunting article

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How Ken Giles Became a Minor Leaguer

Ken Giles did not have a good night on Tuesday. Called upon in the top of the ninth inning to protect the Astros’ 4-0 lead over the A’s, he served up three straight singles over the course of eight pitches, allowing one run and bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Matt Olson. On the heels of a visit from pitching coach Brent Strom after back-to-back hits by Mark Canha and Jed Lowrie, manager A.J. Hinch didn’t like what he saw, and after a first-pitch single by Khris Davis, came out to get Giles, who… didn’t like what he saw either. The closer appeared to have some choice words as he handed over the ball.

The A’s wound up tying the game in the ninth, with all three runs charged to Giles’ room, and they went ahead, 5-4, in the top of the 11th. The Astros nonetheless rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning, scoring the winning run in bizarre fashion, when A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy made a hash of Alex Bregman’s swinging bunt:

Giles was reportedly not in the clubhouse after the game, and by Wednesday afternoon, he was a Fresno Grizzly. He’d been optioned to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in what general manager Jeff Luhnow called “a baseball decision.”

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 7/13/18

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: To my knowledge Manny Machado still hasn’t been traded

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: If it were to happen during the course of this chat, well, I probably wouldn’t know

9:08

Carl: Which Austin would you rather, Barnes or Hedges?

9:08

Jeff Sullivan: For a game today, Barnes. For the longer term, Hedges, since Barnes is three years older

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