Archive for March, 2011

ERA-, FIP- , xFIP-

Last night I rolled out ERA-, FIP-, and xFIP- to the site. These are all park and league adjusted and basically your pitching equivalent of wRC+, except that lower is better, with 100 still being average.

You can read more about ERA- (or as it’s called in the article, aERA) here.

These are now available in all the player pages and leaderboards.

One other quick addition was adding Shutdowns (SD) and Meltdowns (MD) to the player pages.

Opening Day Notes: Kershaw vs. Lincecum

Opening Day’s most anticipated matchup is that of the Kershaw vs. that of the Lincecum. How anticipated you ask? The latest issue of Dodgers Magazine was appropriately dubbed “explosive openings” and will only be on sale at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day. And it features both Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum on its front cover much to the ire of many (or a very few) Dodgers fans.

To help you out when you watch the game tonight, let’s take a look at the pitch selection of both aces, as Kershaw and Lincecum mix their repertoires very differently. Kershaw relies heavily on his low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball, hurling it on at least 70% of pitches throughout his Major League career. His 12-6 low-70s curve ball was the talk of Tinseltown a few years ago, but Kershaw has since developed a low-80s slider. It has become his favorite secondary pitch, used almost 20% of the time in 2010. His straight changeup hovers in the mid-80s range.

By contrast, Lincecum’s out pitch is his sinking changeup, which he adds a split-fingered grip to. Combined with his mid-80s hard slider and high-70s curve, Lincecum’s repertoire also consists of fastballs that cut, break, and rise in all sorts of directions. Timmy breaks out the fastball on 55% of pitches with varying speeds and movement, anywhere between 87 and 95 mph, then throws the changeup, curve, and slider in that order of frequency.

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Replacing Brad Lidge

The offseason may have brought lofty expectations upon the Philadelphia Phillies, but recent preseason injuries have put a damper on that excitement. The latest Phil to fall victim to the injury bug is closer Brad Lidge, who will miss 3-6 weeks before he can begin throwing again. When healthy, Lidge has proven to be one of the most dominant relievers in the game. To replace that dominance, the Phillies have annointed Jose Contreras as their interim closer. With Ryan Madson reprising his role as a top set-up man, will the Phillies even miss Lidge?
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One Night Only! (Opening Day 2011 Edition)

Just as last year, I’ll be previewing the most notable games of the day, where notable means something like, “interesting, for one reason or another, for the smarter baseballing fan.”

The NERD scores that all of America has come to love will be available at the end of April, probably.

Milwaukee at Cincinnati | 2:10pm ET
Starting Pitchers
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo
159.7 IP, 9.92 K/9, 3.83 BB/9, .313 BABIP, 3.29 FIP, 117 ERA+ (ZiPS)

Reds: Edinson Volquez
108.1 IP, 9.56 K/9, 4.57 BB/9, .293 BABIP, 3.80 FIP, 115 ERA+ (ZiPS)

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Opening Day Chat (Also)

Opening Day Chat

2011 Organizational Rankings: #1 – New York

The big dog of big dogs, the Yankees continue to show what an organization can do with access to massive amounts of cash and the understanding of how to use it. They’re not perfect, but they’re still the gold standard for clubs in Major League Baseball. The Yankee brand has never been stronger.

Present Talent: 94.00 (1st)

Yankees Season Preview

Future Talent: 90.00 (t-3rd)

Yankees Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources: 93.18 (1st)
Baseball Operations: 87.00 (3rd)

Overall Rating: 91.40 (1st)

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #2 – Boston

At this point in the ratings, there aren’t any surprises. I imagine there weren’t too many surprises about the top few spots even before this series began. While I imagine few would see the Red Sox as anything other than one of the top organizations in baseball, the particulars of the rating do hold some interest.

Present Talent – 89.55 (3rd)

Red Sox Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (t-5th)

Red Sox Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 90.83 (2nd)
Baseball Operations – 89.55 (2nd)

Overall Rating – 89.25 (2nd)

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #3 – Philadelphia

It’s hard to argue with sustained success, and the Phillies have experienced just that. They have won the NL East in each of the last four seasons and have turned that into two World Series appearances and one title. It’s also arguable that they were the best team in the NL in 2010. The FanGraphs staff thinks they’re the best NL club in 2011 and beyond.

Present Talent – 92.50 (2nd)

Phillies Season Preview

Future Talent – 90.00 (t-3rd)

Phillies Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 88.08 (3rd)
Baseball Operations – 84.17 (t-7th)

Overall Rating – 88.71

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #4 – Tampa Bay

Already ranking near the bottom in terms of financial ability, the Tampa Bay Rays took a hit on the field with the loss of several key players this offseason. On the other hand, having a smart baseball operations department, a talented major league roster, and a loaded farm system will go a long way in offsetting the mass exodus from Tampa Bay this winter.

Present Talent – 89.17 (4th)

Rays Season Preview

Future Talent – 95.00 (T-1st)

Rays Top 30 Prospects

Financial Resources – 72.69 (T-22nd)
Baseball Operations -91.67 (1st)

Overall Ranking – 85.72 (4th)

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #5 – Atlanta

The top five teams on our list are all in the AL East or NL East, so four of them are likely to make the playoffs every year. After their first playoff appearance in five years, the Atlanta Braves jumped from #8 in last year’s rankings to #5 this year. They’ve rebuilt themselves into another perennial contender after a few years in the wilderness amid the departures of three Hall of Fame pitchers, a Hall of Fame manager, a Hall of Fame General Manager, and a borderline Hall of Fame center fielder. (Not to mention the departure of Dayton Moore, the man who built the best farm system in the history of whatever.)

They’re a solid fifth, though, ranked behind the Yankees and Red Sox in every category we tracked, and behind the small market Rays in all but financial resources and behind the Phillies in all but baseball operations. (Yes, we hate the Ryan Howard extension that much.) The Atlanta Braves look like the kind of team that could make the playoffs every year but get bounced in the first or second round — just like old times. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, y’all.

Current Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Braves Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Braves Top 10 Prospects

Baseball Operations – 86.82 (4th)
Financial Resources – 81.67 (T-9th)

Overall Rating – 84.45
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FanGraphs Audio: More and Wronger Predictions

Episode Sixty-Seven
In which the guests tell the future, but tell it slant.

MVPs and Cys Young — Predicted!
Good Taste — Transgressed!
Podcast — Destroyed!

Dave Cameron of the American South
Matt Klaassen of the Frozen North
Joe Pawl of the Biggest Apple

Finally, you can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio on the flip-flop. (Approximately 50 min play time.)

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Enter Andrew Cashner

In the previous episode of the Carlos Silva Chronicles, our hero exited stage left, no doubt brooding over his dramatic return. Meanwhile, in the stead of our intrepid and silver-tongued protagonist, a young and handsome right-hander — a prospect highly touted, mysterious and oft-cloaked in shadows — has emerged. Enter Andrew Cashner.

Having won the spring’s now-contested fifth starter competition (“It’s a farce!” cries our hero), the youthful Cashner now aims to prove he can begin and maintain a career as a Large League starter on the 2011 Cubs roster and avoid the scouts’ runic portents of a transition to the bullpen.

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #6 – Minnesota

Something tells me this year’s #6org will be slightly less controversial.

Current Talent – 84.09 (7th)

Twins Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Twins Top 10 Prospects

Baseball Operations – 84.09 (9th)
Financial Resources – 81.67 (9th)

Overall Rating – 83.50

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Toronto’s New Defensive Alignment

In a surprise, the Blue Jays announced yesterday that Jose Bautista would not start at third base this season, but rather in right field. As a result, Edwin Encarnacion slides into the third base slot, and Juan Rivera becomes the team’s designated hitter. In a related move, the team also added Jayson Nix as a reserve infielder. The moves should make for a better defensive alignment for the Jays, and while the timing is a bit wonky, the outcome should not be.
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2011 Organizational Rankings: #7 Texas

After reaching the World Series last season, it’s easy to forget about all the struggles the Rangers have had in the past 11 years. After winning the AL West in 1999 with an impressive 95 wins, the Rangers spent the next the next nine seasons wallowing in mediocrity. They always had a good offense and never lost more than 91 games in a season, but until 2009 they only had one season where they finished with above a .500 record.

Over the past few years, though, the Rangers have gone through a transformation: their major league team is the strongest in the AL West, their minor league system is much improved, and they finally have a new ownership in place that has already expanded their payroll.

Present Talent – 83.33 (8th)

Rangers Season Preview

Future Talent – 80.0 (16th)

Rangers Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 83.46 (5th)
Baseball Operations – 84.17 (8th)

Overall Rating – 83.08 (7th)

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FanGraphs Chat – 3/30/11

2011 Organizational Rankings #8: Toronto

After that last assignment, I’m glad I got something that won’t get readers too worked up. A general manager with one full season… what could possibly go wrong?

Present Talent – 79.55 (13th)

Blue Jays Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (t-5th)

Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 81.67 (t-9th or t-12th, depending on how you think)
Baseball Operations – 85.91 (5th)

Overall Rating – 82.59 (8th)

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2011 Organizational Rankings: #9 – Cincinnati

After 10 years below .500, and 15 years without a playoff berth, the Cincinnati Reds surged to 91 wins, won the NL Central, and earned an MVP award for their homegrown (and Canadian!) star first baseman.

Present Talent – 83.33 (T-8th)

Reds Season Preview

Future Talent – 85.00 (T-5th)

Reds Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources – 77.31 (16th)
Baseball Operations – 82.50 (10th)

Overall Rating – 81.56 (11th)

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xFIP Seasonal Adjustment

I made a change last night to xFIP that adjusts the major league HR/FB rate on a seasonal basis. Previously, the average was set at 10.5%. In recent years the average HR/FB has been somewhat lower than 10.5%, which is what prompted the change.

2007 – 9.7%
2008 – 10.1%
2009 – 10.1%
2010 – 9.4%

Overall a player’s 2010 xFIP will tend to be a little bit lower, at most around 0.20 runs, but generally more in the 0.05 to 0.10 range.