Sunday Notes: Ross Stripling is a Nerd and Jesse Chavez Couldn’t Get High in LA

When I approached Ross Stripling at the All-Star Game media session, I knew that he was in the midst of a breakthrough season. The 28-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander went into the midsummer classic with a record of 8-2, a 2.08 ERA, and a 10.2 K-rate in 95-and-a-third innings.

I didn’t know that he was a nerd.

“Are you taking about things like spin rate and spin efficiency? I’m a believer in that for sure,” was Stripling’s response when I asked if he ever talks pitching analytics with anyone in the organization. “When I got called up in 2016, I thought that what made me good was my high arm angle leading to good downward angle on my fastball, so I should pitch down in the zone. But I tried that, and I was getting walloped.”

Then came a conversation that jumpstarted his career. Optioned to the minors in midseason to help limit his workload — “I was basically down there sitting on innings” — Stripling picked up a ringing cell phone and was soon standing at rapt attention. The voice on the other end belonged to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Read the rest of this entry »


Oakland A’s Add to the Familia

Whereas the first notable reliever acquisition of the trade deadline saw Cleveland receive, in Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, two pitchers who will remain with the club for future seasons, the Athletics this afternoon have performed a swap with a more traditional rent-a-player flavor, getting Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets in exchange for right-handed reliever Bobby Wahl, third baseman William Toffey, and an unspecified pile of international slot money, the 2018 version of a player-to-be-named-later.

There’s an argument to be made that, at this point, Familia may be slightly underrated among relievers. The extra couple of walks per nine that Familia picked up in a 2017 season mostly ruined by surgery to remove a blood clots from his shoulder have disappeared in 2018. Familia’s not relying on his hard, heavy sinker as much as he has in the past — especially against lefties — but given that the A’s have an infield whose four primary players, Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Matt Olson, and Jed Lowrie have all been above average by UZR (Lowrie a couple of runs in the negative in DRS), I’d be happy to see him go to that well a bit more often again. Even without relying on the sinker, Familia’s pitching as well as he was in 2016, which was enough to earn him an All-Star appearance and a rather odd MVP vote. Familia is in the top 20 of relievers in WAR and among the top 30 in FIP, so it’s a real upgrade to the A’s bullpen. Blake Treinen will remain the closer, which I believe is absolutely the right tack to take.

ZiPS Projection – Jeurys Familia
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
ROS 2018 2 1 3.00 25 0 24.0 21 8 1 10 25 137 0.7

Despite Sandy Alderson’s insistence earlier this season that the Mets have no plans to go full-scale rebuild, the team’s at least been listening to offers on pretty much the entire roster. Familia doesn’t necessarily indicate a stronger organizational willingness to go that route, of course, as he was likely to be traded anyway given his contract and the team’s position in the standings.

Bobby Wahl is an interesting flier for the Mets to take. It’s hard to characterize a 26-year-old reliever as some kind of top prospect — and I won’t — but Wahl throws in the upper 90s, has an effective slider (that really feels more like a slurve to me), and can change speeds at least tolerably well. His control’s been an issue at times, though not on the Bobby Witt scale, and one of the reasons he’s not been a bit higher in the pecking order is that he has a long history of injury, losing parts of most years with varying ailments, most recently surgery for a thoracic outlet issue last season. He was fine by spring training and, as far as I know, hasn’t had any significant issues along those lines since.

ZiPS Projection – Bobby Wahl
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
ROS 2018 1 1 4.58 15 0 17.7 21 9 3 10 23 85 0.1
2019 3 3 4.07 45 1 48.7 37 22 6 30 71 98 0.3
2020 3 2 3.97 40 0 43.0 32 19 6 26 63 101 0.3
2021 3 2 3.85 40 0 44.0 32 19 6 27 65 104 0.4
2022 2 2 3.98 35 0 38.7 28 17 5 24 57 101 0.3
2023 2 2 4.03 33 0 35.7 26 16 5 22 53 100 0.3
2024 2 2 4.01 31 0 33.7 24 15 5 21 50 99 0.3

Prospect-watchers tend to like Will Toffey more than Wahl, and ZiPS agrees that he’s a bit above-average defensively, placing him at about two runs per 150 games better than average based on the rough estimates ZiPS makes from play-by-play data. I’m really not sold on his bat: 23 is just too old for a player not in the middle infield or catching to not be killing the ball in the California League. While there’s obviously more time for Toffey to develop into something more than Wahl, I think the latter is more likely to actually contribute to a major-league team. The Mets’ squadron isn’t that deep in relief pitching and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him in the back end of the team’s bullpen in April (or even this year!) depending on what other moves the Mets make.

ZiPS Projection – Will Toffey
Year AB BA OBP SLG H 2B 3B HR BB SO SB CS OPS+ DR WAR
ROS 2018 189 .217 .267 .289 40 7 1 2 15 50 1 2 52 1 -0.3
2019 508 .211 .276 .297 107 19 2 7 44 138 3 5 56 2 -0.8
2020 488 .209 .280 .307 102 20 2 8 46 137 2 4 60 2 -0.6
2021 490 .208 .281 .310 102 20 3 8 48 140 2 4 61 3 -0.5
2022 486 .208 .284 .313 101 20 2 9 50 142 2 4 63 3 -0.3
2023 482 .205 .285 .311 99 20 2 9 52 144 2 3 63 3 -0.4

It’s interesting to see Oakland positioning themselves as buyers, at least in the bargain section. To find the last time Oakland was the team trading prospects for a veteran rather than vice-versa, you actually have to go back to the 2014 Jeff Samardzija trade, which saw the team give up Addison Russell, Dan Straily, and Billy McKinney to the Cubs for Samardzija and Jason Hammel. (They picked up Jon Lester later in that month, but you’d be hard-pressed to describe Yoenis Cespedes as a prospect.) While one doesn’t really think of the A’s as front-line, top-tier contenders, the fact is they’re essentially in a two-team race for the second Wild Card with the Mariners, a team that only has a Pythagorean record of right around .500 and likely isn’t as good as their seasonal record when you talk the rest-of-season projections. Even four games back, that it’s a two-team race is quite important: I’d rather be four games behind one team than two games back and fighting with seven other teams. But the 2018 National League is highly competitive one and the American league, the bifurcated stars-and-scrubs league, a flip of the situation a few years ago.

I’m not a believer in going all-in for a Wild Card unless it comes with a significant chance of also capturing the division title, but with what Oakland is giving up, they’re not going all-in, but simply making an incremental addition to enhance their Wild Card odds. Being less risk-averse with Familia is better in this situation than rolling the dice with Wahl would be. In all, the A’s add a significant part of their present without giving up a significant part of their future.

Wins on both sides here, with both teams getting what they need from this trade. I daresay that I’d be happier with Familia at this price than Zach Britton at the price he eventually fetches.


The Best of FanGraphs: July 16-20, 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.
Read the rest of this entry »


On Shin-Soo Choo and the Charity of a Hit

It’s so funny, the things that stick with us from when we were kids. I don’t remember learning to read, but I do vividly recall the time my father told me I shouldn’t eat raisins because they are actually roly-poly bugs. I’ve since come to learn that Dad was fibbing, but I still don’t care for raisins. I carefully pick them out of trail mix in favor of M&Ms and peanuts. Part of it is the taste and some of it is the little seeds, but at least a bit of it is a concern that one of them will start moving around in my mouth as I chew. I know I’m not appreciating raisins as I should, but I just can’t shake what my dad said. And I think baseball types, so long enamored with batting average, might be similarly stuck when it comes to on-base streaks, even though our tastes have matured past thinking we’re eating bugs.

Shin-Soo Choo has a 51-game on-base streak, and we aren’t really talking about it much. We are talking about it some, of course. Back on July 6, when Choo’s streak was 44 games long, Jay Jaffe checked in on the venerable company Choo could soon be keeping if he kept streaking. The Rangers have mentioned it on their broadcasts. But a search of MLB’s twitter account for “Choo on base” since May 13, when the streak began, doesn’t return any results. I don’t recall any At-Bat notifications about it. It seems to have gone largely unremarked upon, which suggests it isn’t thought to be that remarkable, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I should say, hitting streaks have a greater degree of difficulty. After all, there is only one thing you can do to extend a hitting streak — which, most obviously, is to get a hit. No player has really come close to challenging Joe DiMaggio’s famous 1941 56-game hitting streak; the next closest batter, Pete Rose, tapped out at 44 hits during in 1978.

But it’s more than just the degree of difficulty. I think it’s that we see too much charity in the walks and hit by pitches that find their way into on-base streaks. We tend to think of hits in terms of action and, importantly, in terms of having earned something. They’re about the hitter doing. Walks, or a pitch that plunks a guy in the ribs, on the other hand, seem to carry with them the generosity of strangers. Sometimes it’s the pitcher’s, for being unable or unwilling (undoubtedly the worst sort of charity in this calculus is the intentional kind) to locate. Sometimes it’s a fielder, who doesn’t get an error but really ought to have gotten that ball. Or else it’s the umpire’s, for balls that really ought to be strikes. Even though we know that patience is a skill — a skill we prize! — we can’t shake the sense that the batter has been given a little gift. Has done a little less doing. And while that’s partly fair, I would assert that how we seem to think of Choo’s streak suggests that we see too much of the charity in walks and hit by pitches (a rather mean sort of present!) and too little of the charity in hitting.

Read the rest of this entry »


The One Ball Keon Broxton Didn’t Catch

On July 10th, the Brewers were in Miami to face the Marlins in a game that didn’t seem to have anything of note going into it. Jhoulys Chacin was facing Pablo Lopez, there were no stats leaders in the game, and playoff spots weren’t directly at stake. After both teams put up a run in the first inning, J.T. Riddle stepped in and whacked a slider in the middle of the zone to center field.

Okay, “whacked” might be an exaggeration. It exited the bat at only 71.1 mph and, with a launch angle of 30 degrees, represented a pretty standard short fly ball. Fortunately for Riddle, it was well placed and landed in front of the center fielder for a single. Despite Starlin Castro coming around to score and giving the Marlins an early 2-1 lead, it would ultimately go for naught: the Brewers put up four in the top of the second and went on to an easy 8-4 win.

Seems like a throwaway single in a relatively meaningless game, right? On the one hand, yes. On the other, there’s something interesting in that moment, and it has nothing to do with Riddle or the Marlins. Rather, it’s an interesting event for Brewers center fielder Keon Broxton. “But why?” I hear you say. “He didn’t catch the ball. Sure, it looks like he considered diving there for a brief second, but he didn’t and let the ball land.” However, the fact that the ball landed is what’s notable. That bloop single is the only ball hit to Broxton in 2018 — with a catch probability greater than 0% — that he didn’t catch. And he was only a couple of strides from reaching it at that! In a part-time role, necessitated by his poor hitting and the Brewers’ very crowded outfield, Broxton is putting up an unprecedented defensive season.

Read the rest of this entry »


Kole Calhoun Is Cold No More

For all intents and purposes, the Angels are having a disappointing season. Not every club that begins the season as a contender is able to end it in the same way, but somehow the organization has been remarkably consistent in their path to disappointment. For the third year in a row, they’ve been swarmed by numerous debilitating ligament injuries to the arms of controllable starting pitchers — seven in the last three years and four this year alone. This season, that list is headlined by Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards.

Craig Edwards recently discussed the team’s competitive positioning and outlook following the news of Zack Cozart’s season-ending labrum surgery, noting that, at the time of publication, the Angels had just a 4.5% chance of reaching the postseason. Edwards advocated that, with little to sell and hopes of contending in the near future, the club’s best course of action may be to do nothing, to bet on positive regression, and to hope that Seattle falters before the end of the season.

With numerous players’ failing to reach their projected levels, one might say underperformance is the team’s middle name. (Well, one of them.) Platoon specialist Luis Valbuena sports a 57 wRC+ against right-handed hitters, fanning a whopping 34% of the time. Ian Kinsler boasts a measly .214 BABIP en route to a batting average just five points higher, and Cozart had a rough albeit inconclusive go in learning the hot corner (-5 DRS in 278.1 innings). Kole Calhoun’s year, however, is the most incomprehensible roller coaster of them all.

Read the rest of this entry »


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 within Longenhagen and McDaniel’s most recent update — and the updates published by Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus and John Sickels at Minor League Ball — 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.

*****

Tony Gonsolin, RHP, Los Angeles NL (Profile)
Gonsolin debuted among the Five last week following a series of increasingly impressive starts that culminated in an 11-strikeout effort against just 20 batters on July 10th. While he failed to overwhelm his opponents so decisively in his lone appearance over the past week, his July 16th start was notable for another reason — namely, that it occurred against the Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League and represented the right-hander’s debut at Double-A.

The former ninth-round pick was still quite strong, recording an 8:0 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 26 batters over 6.0 innings (box). One account indicates that Gonsolin touched 98 mph, which is roughly in line with previous reports.

Gonsolin’s slider is naturally effective against same-handed batters, but he appeared to have some strategies for dealing with lefties, as well.

Here, for example, is a back-foot breaking pitch at which Beau Amaral offered hesitantly:

And a changeup that, despite suboptimal location, nevertheless elicited a swing and miss from Logan Taylor:

Read the rest of this entry »


Jesse Chavez Is Here to Pitch, Not Walk People

All things considered, the Chicago Cubs were in a pretty good place headed into the All-Star break. Their NL-leading offense had carried the team to a 13-4 record in the 17 games before the break, scoring 6.82 runs per game in that span and effecting a net five-game swing in the standings. The starting pitching, though — whose shortcomings were examined earlier today by Craig Edwards — had recorded an unimpressive 4.67 FIP coming into the break (ranked 14th in the National League) while benefiting from strong defense and perhaps, yes, a measure of good luck to record a 3.88 ERA that ranked seventh league-wide. Critical to the Cubs’ success, then, was the bullpen, which posted an 3.09 ERA (2nd) and 3.74 FIP (5th) on the back of strong performances from Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop, and Justin Wilson.

The twin problems for Cubs relievers were that they were, in the main, pitching a little bit more often than you’d like (their 3.7 innings pitched per game ranked fifth in the National League coming into the break, due to some early exits from Cubs starters) and that they were walking too many people while they were at it (their 11.3% free-pass rate as a relief corps was the worst in the game). These were problems even before the Cubs announced on Thursday that Morrow, their closer, would be placed on the disabled list with a “right biceps inflammation,” which does not sound pleasant even at the best of times and was particularly inconvenient for Chicago at this time. With that announcement, the Cubs’ public quest for relief depth acquired a more urgent flavor, and they sent A-ball starter Tyler Thomas, who’s having a nice season, to the Rangers for Jesse Chavez.

The good thing about Jesse Chavez, insofar as the Cubs are concerned with him, is that he’s used to throwing more than one inning at a time (averaging, this season, about 1.5 innings in his 30 appearances and on five occasions going at least three) and that his 5.1% walk rate is among the very best in the game. The Cubs had two problems with their relievers, and Jesse Chavez helps to address both. Joe Maddon has not particularly enjoyed having to cast about, each game, for a reliever to bridge the gap from the fifth inning to the seventh, and in Chavez he probably has someone who can take a little bit of the pressure off of folks like Wilson, Anthony Bass, Brian Duensing, and Randy Rosario early in games.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 7/20/18

9:05

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:05

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:06

Jack: Who would you take for the rest of their career, Greg Bird or Jake Bauers?

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: Bauers. Even though I think they’re both perfectly fine right now, Bird is 25 and Bauers is 22

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: That’s an impossible age gap to overlook

9:07

Ross: So all within the last few weeks, the Kings got Ilya Kovalchuk, the Lakers got LeBron James, and the Dodgers got Manny Machado. Has any city ever had a better month than L.A. just did in terms of exciting acquisitions by their sports teams?

Read the rest of this entry »


The Cubs Are on Pace for Their Worst Rotation Ever

So far this season, Cubs starters rank 10th in WAR as a group. For a club hoping to win a tough Central division, that might be less than ideal. Still, it seems workable. Fine for a contending club.

Unfortunately for Chicago, 10th is not the rotation’s rank relative to other rotations — by that measure, they place 24th — but rather compared to other, individual starters. Stated differently: as a group, Cubs starters have been outperformed by nine major-league pitchers. That seems less workable. Less fine for a contending club.

Only six clubs (the Orioles, Padres, Rangers, Reds, Royals, and White Sox) have received less production from their rotation and none of them are threatening to win a championship this year. It’s true that the Cubs have some pretty good starters — Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana have all authored multiple above-average seasons — but Darvish has been hurt or pitched poorly, Hendricks and Quintana have been inconsistent, and Lester appears to be benefiting from a combination of luck and defense rather than his own skill. Mike Montgomery has been solid as a fill-in, but free-agent signee Tyler Chatwood has been a disaster, with nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

As it stands now, the Cubs are on pace to field their worst rotation ever. The graph below shows both the Cubs’ pace as well as their projections compared to full-season totals over the last 45 seasons.

Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 1246: A Brad in the Hand

EWFI
Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about beard grooming, the indy-league exploits of Rafael Palmeiro, Patrick Palmeiro, and the Chinese national team, the Padres-Indians trade involving Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, and Francisco Mejía, the Orioles’ commitment to rebuilding, post-publication regrets about articles, the worst example of umpiring they’ve ever seen, and the state of the standings as the second half starts, then answer listener emails about what (if anything) is wrong with Gary Sánchez, Nick Markakis’s timing (and fashion choices), calling fractional balls and strikes, round-number bias and the 100-pitch limit, paying Mike Trout for promotion, a .500 team without injuries or fatigue, and why certain teams try to tread water rather than rebuild, plus a Stat Blast about the durability of relievers and a reminder about listener Michael Mountain’s 35-day, 30-ballpark road trip.

Audio intro: David Bowie, "Never Get Old"
Audio outro: Smash Mouth, "Road Man"

Link to article about the Texas AirHogs
Link to Dan Duquette quotes
Link to video of awful umpire call
Link to Ben’s article about the playoff field
Link to Markakis’s outfit
Link to original interview about ballpark road trip

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The Easiest and Hardest Rest-of-Season Schedules

Not all opponents are created equal, nor has that ever been truer than in baseball’s current era of imbalanced schedules and interleague play. While strength of schedule can be a modest factor for a club, it has the potential to influence rest-of-season results. Now, with the All-Star break about to conclude, seems like an appropriate time to check in and see which teams can expect scheduling headwinds and tailwinds in the second half.

Many in the audience are probably familiar with FanGraphs’ projected standings and playoff odds. Many might also wonder what the difference is between the two. Briefly stated, the latter accounts for strength of schedule, while the former is presented independently of scheduling. The projected standings attempt to measure true talent based upon projections and our best guesses at playing-time distributions. Art and science. Click here for a full explanation of the secret sauce.

To understand what kind of bump teams can expect from schedule strength in the second half relative to their present level of talent, we can simply calculate the difference between the rest-of-season, projected-standings wins and rest-of-season projected wins from the playoff odds. That difference is presented in the following chart. (Note: data doesn’t reflect the Manny Machado or Brad Hand trades, so numbers might vary slightly now.)

While these projected-win advantages are relatively modest and most strength-of-schedule adjustments don’t exceed a single win in either direction, scheduling often has a bigger impact on second-half performance than any trade-deadline addition. The impact of the trade deadline is often overrated. The deadline quite possibly matters less than ever. There have been only seven players traded over the past five seasons who have added two or more wins to their new clubs in the second half. Not all of them are negligible, of course. The addition of Justin Verlander last fall was integral to the Astros’ world-championship season. The quality of competition is typically a significant factor, however.

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2018 Trade Value: #1 to #10

Jose Ramirez has considerable value even without his bat.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while (some of) the industry pauses for 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 others in this series, I’ve presented 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’ve also included 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 top 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +26.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #35
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +5.3 Arb1
2020 26 +5.5 Arb2
2021 27 +5.5 Arb3
2022 28 +5.0 Arb4
Arb

Severino bests Kluber for the top spot amongst pitchers on this year’s list. He is eight years younger than Kluber with an additional year of control and has been at least as good as the Cleveland right-hander this season, depending on how you measure it. Predictably, though, execs are concerned — as they are with basically any pitcher — that Severino’s next pitch could lead to a year-long DL stint and uncertainty after that. As a 24-year-old who averages 97.7 mph on his fastball, Severino is still a bit of a risky bet compared to comparable hitters. There’s a tier here from Nos. 7 to 13 that you could shuffle in a few different orders depending on your personal preferences or evals of these players.

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Job Posting: Cincinnati Reds Baseball Operations

Please note, this posting contains two positions.

Position: Data Scientist

Reports to: Manager of Baseball Analytics

Description: The Data Scientist will work with the Manager of Baseball Analytics to implement the department’s research and development efforts within new and existing applications. The Reds envision the person in this position to play a major role in the creation of new baseball analytics concepts with the ultimate goal of enhancing on-field performance.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design, develop, test, implement and maintain predictive models and metrics utilizing appropriate tools and techniques.
  • Work with the Reds Baseball Analytics and Systems staff to integrate new statistical analyses, models and data visualizations into existing and new applications.
  • Keep up to date on new predictive modeling techniques and evaluate their potential for application to baseball data sets.
  • Collaborate with Major League Operations, Player Development and Sports Science departments to design and implement statistical analyses.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • 3+ years of experience in computational field, such as Statistics, Biostatistics, Data Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Quantitative Social Sciences or Analytics.
  • Strong knowledge of statistical analysis and predictive modeling.
  • Demonstrated experience with statistical software (e.g. R, Python) and database querying (SQL).
  • Ability to communicate effectively with all aspects of Baseball Operations, Scouting and Player Development staffs.
  • Experience with Bayesian statistics. (Preferable, but not required)
  • Understanding of typical baseball data structures.
  • Knowledge of current baseball research, traditional baseball statistics and strategy.

Work Environment:

  • Remote working accommodations are available.
  • Work is normally performed in a typical interior/office work environment.
  • Hours may periodically include nights, weekends and holidays.

Expectations:

  • Adhere to Cincinnati Reds Organization Policies and Procedures.
  • Act as a role model within and outside the Cincinnati Reds Organization.
  • Performs duties as workload necessitates.
  • Demonstrate flexible and efficient time management and ability to prioritize workload.
  • Meet Department productivity standards.

To Apply:
To apply, please visit this site.

Position: Baseball Analytics Developer

Reports to: Manager of Baseball Analytics

Job Purpose: The Analytics Developer will develop and maintain software to assist with the dissemination of analytics information throughout Baseball Operations.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design, develop, test, implement and maintain software solutions.
  • Work with the Reds Baseball Analytics and Systems staff to integrate new statistical analyses, models and data visualizations into applications.
  • Keep up to date on new software tools and evaluate their potential for internal use.
  • Work closely with Major League staff to convert requirements into usable applications.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • BS degree or equivalent experience in a computational science or technical field with 3 years of development experience.
  • Proficient in web development languages/standards including HTML5, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Demonstrated experience with databases and query development/optimization.
  • Knowledge of UI/UX on web and mobile platforms.
  • Ability to communicate with coaching and baseball operation staffs to understand their software needs.
  • Understanding of typical baseball data structures, knowledge of current baseball research and traditional baseball statistics and strategy.
  • Experience with statistical software in R or Python is a plus.
  • Ability to be a self-starter and manage ones workload to meet deadlines.
  • Demonstrated ability to quickly adapt to a variety of programming environments (frontend, backend, Windows, Linux) and identify the best tools and libraries for new tasks.

Work Environment:

  • Work is normally performed in a typical interior/office work environment.
  • Remote working accommodations are available for strong candidates.
  • Hours may include nights, weekends and holidays.

Expectations:

  • Adhere to Cincinnati Reds Organization Policies and Procedures.
  • Act as a role model within and outside the Cincinnati Reds Organization.
  • Performs duties as workload necessitates.
  • Demonstrate flexible and efficient time management and ability to prioritize workload.
  • Meet Department productivity standards.

To Apply:
To apply, please visit this site.

The Cincinnati Reds are an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is the policy of the Cincinnati Reds to ensure equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion or creed, sex, age, disability, citizenship status, marital status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.


FanGraphs Saberseminar Meetup: August 3rd

Saberseminar, the excellent annual baseball research conference, is just a few weeks away and that can only mean one thing: it’s almost time for FanGraphs’ Saberseminar meetup at Meadhall in Kendall Square in Cambridge! As we have in years past, we’ve reserved space on the bar’s mezzanine level and ordered some tasty snacks to share. We’ll kick things off at 7 p.m., just in time to have a beer and watch the Red Sox and the Yankees continue their battle for the AL East.

Event Info
Friday, August 3rd from 7 to 10 p.m.
Meadhall, Upper Mezzanine
90 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

In addition to many of Saberseminar’s presenters, there will be a number of FanGraphs folks in attendance, including David Appelman, David Laurila, Jeff Zimmerman, Sean Dolinar, FanGraphs alum Paul Swydan, and yours truly. Seminar organizers Chuck Korb and Dan Brooks generally make an appearance, as well. It should be a fun evening of good beer and good conversation, and we hope to see you there. Until then, please enjoy this GIF of the Red Sox outfield goofing around!


How Well Do Good Relievers Hold Up?

Many of us went to bed thinking about the Dodgers’ trade for Manny Machado. Many of us then woke up and turned our attention to the Indians’ sudden trade for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Travis Sawchik just wrote about the trade at length. Read that, if you’re looking for specifics. Read that, if you’re looking for an explanation of why the Indians gave up a consensus highly-rated prospect. I don’t know what’s actually going to be left for the trade deadline itself, but this has all made for a delightful All-Star week.

From the Indians’ side, this isn’t just about 2018. It’s about 2018 and beyond, because, this coming fall, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen will become free agents. Hand is under contract through 2020, and there’s a club option for 2021. Cimber only just made his debut on March 29. The Indians are thinking both short- and longer-term, and they believe they now have a couple bullpen stalwarts. This is a huge boost for this coming October, but this also reduces the team’s urgency to build out the pen over the winter. The most important pieces might already be in place.

Thinking about the Indians’ side has made me wonder something. Is there actually such a thing as a long-term good reliever? My instinct for a while has been that teams out of the race should try to cash in their good relievers, because the position is just so volatile. I’ve been thinking about nearly every reliever as a short-term value. I wanted to see what the numbers actually say. So here are the results of a quick little study. It didn’t go exactly how I thought.

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Good Scouting Was Behind the Hand/Mejia Trade

The Indians traded blocked top prospect Francisco Mejia to the Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber today. It’s worth noting that the Dodgers, Indians, and Padres have all swung important deals within the past 24 hours and all have one thing in common: each has created depth by turning low-risk investments into real trade assets, via multiple avenues.

The Dodgers filled out the Machado deal with four prospects who weren’t touted until the last year or so. The Padres got Brad Hand on a waiver claim, while Cimber was completely off the radar until this year. The Indians, for their part, could afford to trade Mejia with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez representing superior options behind the plate. These aren’t the only instances of these clubs turning nothing into something, but a couple instances ended up driving these big deals.

The Orioles have announced they will create better infrastructure to do this sort of thing more often going forward. There’s also been buzz in scouting circles today that at least one of the clubs that attempted to land Machado believes their package ultimately fell short because of substandard scouting and/or development.

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The Indians Did What They Had to Do

On the Tuesday prior to the All-Star break, at a game which this author observed from the Progressive Field press box, Trevor Bauer left his start after eight innings with the Indians holding a 4-0 lead. Then a call to the bullpen, complete with a miscommunication error, followed. Dan Otero faced Joey Votto. The Indians lost. It was not necessarily a great surprise: so often something has gone amiss for Cleveland this year after such calls to the bullpen.

As readers of this Web site are likely aware, the Indians’ bullpen has struggled mightily this season, sitting in the bottom quartile by many notable bullpen skill metrics.

The group ranks 28th in WAR (-0.9), 23rd in WPA (-1.07), 29th in ERA (5.28), and 29th in FIP (4.85). There has not been any positive regression, either. Over the past 30 days, the Cleveland relief corps has posted a 4.87 ERA, a 5.10 FIP, and a -0.15 WPA.

Bullpens are fickle beasts. The Indians’ 27th-ranked left-on-base percentage (68.7%) suggests some poor first-half fortune was bound for second-half positive regression. Oliver Perez and Neil Ramirez have been useful finds, with Ramirez perhaps building on his physical talents by learning more how to harness his high-spin fastball and breaking ball in concert. But the Indians had a clear manpower shortage in their bullpen, particularly with Andrew Miller still sidelined and out for much of the first half.

As the All-Star break approached, it felt like the Indians had to do something. Baseball knew the Indians had to do something, so if the Indians were to do something, it was not going to be done cheaply. And on Thursday, the Indians did something.

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2018 Trade Value: #11 to #20

Corey Kluber lurks menacingly… in the hearts of major-league batters!
(Photo: Erik Drost)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while (some of) 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 others in this series, I’ve presented 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’ve also included 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 next 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +17.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +2.3 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +3.8 Arb1
2022 25 +4.0 Arb2
2023 26 +4.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Torres was our 12th-ranked prospect entering the year and, while that top tier has mostly stayed where they are (except for party-crashed Juan Soto), there’s been a shuffle of the name up top. Torres is one of the players to whom I refer in the introduction who wouldn’t have appeared on this list before the season began (although he would’ve been in the mix for an honorable mention) but whom it would be insane to exclude now. The difference? Just 63 big-league games. If Torres had no pedigree and was pulling some Shane Spencer or Bo Hart business, this wouldn’t be the case, as his age, pedigree, and track record have all suggested this sort of thing was on the table.

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Cleveland Acquires Brad Hand, Adam Cimber for Francisco Mejia

The Manny Machado trade will not be the only big deal to go down during the All-Star break. Cleveland, in desperate need of relief pitching with Cody Allen struggling and Andrew Miller hurt, have made quite the move to shore up their bullpen in one fell swoop. Jon Heyman was the first to report that Brad Hand would be heading from San Diego to Cleveland in the deal. Ken Rosenthal added that reliever Adam Cimber would also be on the move. As for the return, The Padres are set to receive catching prospect Francisco Mejia. The deal looks like this:

Cleveland receives:

San Diego receives:

The 28-year-old Hand is in the middle of another very good season. After totaling 3.2 WAR across nearly 170 innings the last two years, the lefty has put up an ERA and FIP right around three this season. He’s struck out 35% of batters and walked just 8% as the Padres closer. Hand signed a contract extension before the season started that will pay him a bit over $1 million the rest of this season and $13.5 million over the following two years, with a team option of $10 million for 2020 that can be bought out for one million dollars.

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