Archive for May, 2011

Jo-Jo Reyes Wins

Jo-Jo Reyes will not go down in history as the starting pitcher with the longest winless streak. As it stands, his 28 starts in between victories is tied for the longest stretch in MLB History. After last tasting victory on June 13, 2008, Reyes was a winner last night.

In addition to getting his first win since 2008, Reyes tossed a complete game for the first time in his big league career. The lefty scattered eight hits over nine innings against the Cleveland Indians, allowing a run on a solo-blast by Shelley Duncan. He struck out four batters while walking an equal amount, but induced 13 groundballs – including three double-play balls. While Reyes earned the victory against the Indians, it was not his best game of the season.

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Fitting an Average Adam Dunn into the White Sox Lineup

It’s not as bad as it was a month ago. Then the White Sox were 10-19 and were scoring just 3.9 runs per game, which put them near the bottom of the league in most respects. Since then they’ve gone 15-12 and have scored 4.22 runs per game. That mark is second in the division only to Detroit, and has the Sox inching back into contention. As you can imagine, the Sox have seen many improvements on offense, going from a .295 wOBA in April to a .329 wOBA in May. That includes an improvement from Adam Dunn, who in creased his wOBA from .271 to .299 in the month of May. But he’s still well below expectations. Considering his spot in the Sox lineup, he really is holding them back.

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Trade Targets: Middle Infield

Continuing our Trade Targets series, here are five middle infielders who could be available at (or before) the deadline.

PLAYER: Jose Reyes
TEAM: Mets
POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): Giants, Reds, Brewers
CONTRACT STATUS: $11 million, free agent after the season
PROJECTED WAR: 3.3

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Arizona’s Secret: No Scrubs

The hottest team in baseball are the Arizona Diamondbacks, winners of seven straight and nine of their last 10. Their run has vaulted them into first place in the National League West, and as we head toward June, they head up the list of surprising contenders throughout baseball. How have they managed to go from abysmal failure last year to early season success story this year? Essentially, it comes down to one word — balance.

They aren’t being carried by an MVP candidate having a monster season; in fact, it might be hard to identify who their best player has been this year. Ryan Roberts leads the position players with +1.9 WAR, but the team has also gotten +1.2 WAR or better from the starters at every other position on the field besides first base, and even that “weak spot” is now being manned on a daily basis by Juan Miranda, owner of a .250/.370/.490 batting line.

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Jack Moore FanGraphs Chat – 5/31/11


One Night Only: Hot Game Previews for May 31st


Someone’s excited to watch the Rays tonight.

This edition of One Night Only contains:

1. Expanded previews for three games: Texas at Tampa Bay, Cleveland at Toronto, and Milwaukee at Cincinnati.

2. Brief, but no less charming, previews for four more games: San Francisco at St. Louis, San Diego at Atlanta, Astro Jordan Lyles’ major-league debut and Florida at Arizona.

3. Names like Jose Bautista, Zack Greinke, and then Jose Bautista, again — just for fun.

4. Pitcher and Team NERD scores for every one of tonight’s games.

5. Five numbered points!

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Trade Targets: Corner Outfield

Continuing our Trade Targets series, here are five corner outfielders who could be available at (or before) the deadline.

PLAYER: Andre Ethier
TEAM: Dodgers
POSSIBLE DESTINATION: Phillies
CONTRACT STATUS: $9.25M, arbitration-eligible after this season (free agent after 2012)
PROJECTED WAR: 1.6

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The Morning After: Game Recaps for May 30th

Sorry for the lack of screen cap. MLB.com now allows video embedding, but it’s apparently not working here.

Angels 10, Royals 8

Moving the Needle: Torii Hunter caps the late comeback with a go-ahead homer in the ninth, +.640 WPA. For the home team, the above graph ranks among the saddest. The Royals built up a 6-1 lead after two, and even after seven innings they led 8-5. A pair of solo homers in the eighth put the Angels to within one, and then Hunter’s two-run shot gave the Angels the lead. It was Hunter’s second of the game, and his fourth RBI. Joakim Soria continues to struggle. He has just six 1-2-3 innings in his 23 appearances this year.

Notables

Bobby Abreu: 4 for 5, 2 2B. He drove in two and scored following both doubles.

Eric Hosmer: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 HR. He drove in half the Royals’ runs. It appears as though selectivity is the only thing holding him back from monster numbers right now.


Also in this issue: White Sox 7, Red Sox 3 | Diamondbacks 15, Marlins 4 | Tigers 6, Twins 5 | Padres 3, Braves 2 | Astros 12, Cubs 7 | Yankees 5, A’s 0 | Reds 7, Brewers 3 | Mariners 4, Orioles 3 | Dodgers 7, Rockies 1 | Rangers 11, Rays 5 | Phillies 5, Nationals 4 | Blue Jays 11, Indians 1 | Mets 7, Pirates 3 | Giants 7, Cardinals 3

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Trade Targets: First Base and Designated Hitter

The month of June marks the unofficial beginning of the trade season, and so we thought it would be helpful to run down a list of which players might be for sale at some point this summer. But, rather than just run down a list of potential trade targets, we thought that we would spend the week discussing the most interesting players at each position and have compiled a list of the best players available at each spot, along with their expected production going forward and notes about which teams might be possible fits as buyers. We hope you enjoy the series.

Kicking off our week of looking at trade targets are the players who will be acquired primarily for their work with the bat: first basemen and designated hitters. Note that there might be some overlap across the posts as some players can handle multiple positions.

Here are five realistic trade candidates at the position(s), based on projected WAR over the rest of the season, contract status, the state of their current employers and the needs of various potential contenders.

PLAYER: Billy Butler
TEAM: Royals
POSSIBLE DESTINATION(S): Angels, Rays
CONTRACT STATUS: Four-year, $30 million deal through 2014
PROJECTED WAR: 2.1

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FanGraphs Power Rankings – 5/30/11

The American flag still may not contain the word “Jordache,” but we are still proud of those who have served our country in the armed forces. Thank you to those who serve, who have served and especially to those who have died in service to our country.

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The Amateur Draft: Buying in Bulk

Three teams are set to dominate the first day of the 2011 amateur draft. The Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, and Toronto Blue Jays will all make multiple picks during the first and supplemental round during the evening of Monday, June 6.

The picks, which will feature 60 names called in total on Day 1, will break down like this for the three clubs:
TB – 24, 31, 32, 38, 41, 42, 52, 56, 59, 60
SD – 10, 25, 48, 54, 58
TOR – 21, 35, 46, 53, 57

The supplemental first round will consist of 27 picks. Tampa Bay, San Diego, and Toronto will account for more than half of that total with 14 selections combined. The end of the day will be pretty boring for the other 27 clubs; eight of the final nine picks will be made by the Rays, the Padres, or the Jays – (picks 52-60 with Minnesota being the only other club to get in on the fun).

All three organizations clearly have an excellent opportunity to infuse talent into their ranks – assuming the organizations don’t cheap out on some of their picks. However, history will tell us that a bountiful draft does not always mean you’re in for future riches. The 2007 draft is an excellent lesson in not counting your chickens before they’re hatched. Four clubs had multiple picks in the first and supplemental round, including Texas, San Francisco, as well as our good friends in San Diego and Toronto.

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The Giants Are Doing It Again

Quick, guess which team’s pitching staff has the lowest HR/FB rate in baseball. Okay, the subject probably gives away the answer, but even if it didn’t, the smart guess would have been San Francisco. After all, they’ve been dominating this category for the last decade.

We spent a decent amount of time this winter talking about the Giants ability to prevent home runs. It started off talking about Matt Cain, moved on to a broader discussion, and then shifted towards looking at whether Dave Righetti might be the key to understanding why San Francisco continues to keep the ball in the park better than any other team in baseball. While we don’t have a concrete answer yet, as more data piles up, three oft-cited factors are seeing their potential influences diminished – the pitchers themselves, sample size of the data, and park factors.

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One Night Only: Game Previews for Memorial Day


This is a day for remembering.

This edition of One Night Only is celebrating Memorial Day, and is, as the French say (after translating the expression into English), “very brief.”

Nevertheless, please find Pitcher and Team NERD scores for every one of today’s games after the jump.

Please also find that Rodrigo Lopez — despite the fact that he’s making his Cub debut — receives only a NERD of 5 (instead of 10, as season debuts usually receive).

“Because he’s Rodrigo Lopez,” is the answer to the question you needn’t actually ask.

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Rays’ Defense Continues to Impress

A few weeks ago, with his team streaking back into contention, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon tweeted about a key to his team’s success:

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Eating (Aaron) Crow

If, during Spring Training, you predicted Aaron Crow would make the Kansas City Royals 25 man roster, it’s likely people would have laughed at you. After all, he was coming off a poor season at Double A; in which he posted a 5.66 ERA and a less than spectacular 4.74 xFIP. If, once he made the team, you predicted he would be the Royals best reliever two months into the season, people would have had you committed to an institution. Well, we’re two months into the season and it looks like you should be the newest member of Mensa. Aaron Crow has already far surpassed expectations in his rookie season. Can he continue his dominance going forward, or does his current performance scream small sample size fluke?
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What Battling at the Plate Actually Means

I wrote a post yesterday on Lookout Landing concerning Luis Rodriguez and his perception as that of a “battler” at the plate. I had seen and heard that adjective tossed about for him quite often and decided to try to come up with a reasonable definition for the term as I interpreted it and then check to see if Rodriguez did in fact deserve the praise. I also wanted to see if others agreed with what I came up with for a formula equivalent of battling and nobody seemed to object, so I am willing now to subject it to another audience for feedback.

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FanGraphs Audio: Fantasy Friday for May 28th

Episode Seventy-Six
In which every day is Friday.

Headlines
Loose Ends — Hella Tied!
Buster Posey — Considered Closely!
The Reds Rotation — Demystified!
Various Young Pitchers — Mentioned Briefly!

Featuring
Justin Merry, Reasonable Gentleman
Eno Sarris, Left Coaster

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

Audio on the flip-flop. (Approximately 55 min play time.)

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Buente Can’t Beat Rays, Joins Them

On Sunday, Jay Buente was the starting pitcher who ended up on the losing end of James Shields’ masterpiece against the Marlins. Now, Buente will have his check issued by the same organization as Shields. Buente, 27, made his starting debut this past weekend against the Rays. Following his poor outing (3IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1K, 18 BF) he was designated for assignment by Florida and claimed by the same Tampa Bay team that roughed him up three days earlier.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned Buente as a possible alternative to Javier Vazquez in the Marlins’ rotation. Instead of replacing Vazquez, Buente followed him in the spot that opened up as a result Josh Johnson’s injury. Although the Marlins said he would take another turn through the rotation, he was quickly replaced on the roster by reliever Steve Cishek. With Johnson on track to return on June 1, Buente’s time appeared limited in any event.

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Trouble in Rockieville

Since starting the season 11-2, the Colorado Rockies are just 13-23. They are a Major League worst 7-17 in May, and haven’t won more than two in a row since the 11-2 start. In 21 of those past 36 games, they have scored three runs or less. Last night’s loss dropped the team below .500 for the first time since they were 0-1. The team has responded with a series of personnel and lineup changes that show more than a hint of panic, even though at this stage, that is still not warranted.

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The Slow Decline of Alex Rodriguez

“Time waits for no man.” ~ Age-old aphorism or, alternatively, Jasper Fforde.

Getting old sucks. Regardless of what we do, we can’t stop our bodies from aging and slowing down. Muscles get weaker, it gets harder to get in shape, and our reflexes slowly fail us. Time cares nothing for our fond remembrances or youthful delusions; in the words of Joe Posnanski, age is undefeated.

It can be difficult enough to accept that we’re slowly getting older and losing our physical skills, but in some ways, it’s more painful to watch your favorite athletes age. These guys are supposed to be living gods: chiseled, millionaire athletes that are impervious to many of the daily cares and concerns that plague us. In my mind, that’s a large part of what gives sports their charm – they’re a form of escapism from the rest of the world. Athletes aren’t supposed to be like the rest of us; kids grow up believing that they exist in their own world, where their largest concern is the batting slump they’re in right now and their team’s position in the standings. We can watch the game at night and escape from our lives, being pulled into baseball’s universe instead.

Or at least, that’s what I think baseball starts out as when we’re young. When we grow up, we find out that this delusion isn’t true; baseball players are people, too, each with their own flaws, and some of them are jerks (or just plain stupid). And hey, baseball players get old, too… even the really, really good ones. But still, even though we realize this, I think everyone feels a punch in the gut when they watch one of their favorite player’s struggle toward the end of their career. We root for our favorites to stay eternally young, so that way we don’t have to be reminded that we’re getting old, too, and that we know what it feels like to fail.

But anyway, enough with that digression: I’m here to talk about the Yankees, and no, not Derek Jeter or Jorge Posada. While both players have dominated the tabloid headlines this year, there’s one player whose decline is hiding in the background: Alex Rodriguez.

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