Archive for August, 2013

Daily Notes: Ft. High-Quality Games for All Your Baseball Needs

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. High-Quality Games for All Your Baseball Needs
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

High-Quality Games for All Your Baseball Needs
Introduction
What the author takes for granted, so far as the reader is concerned, is that he or she is looking for a high-quality baseball experience with no muss and even less fuss. To that end, the author has prepared below a curated list of three of the day’s games.

St. Louis at Pittsburgh, 7:05pm ET
It’s not necessarily a fact, but probably should be, that more men died in the construction of these two cities, combined, than in all of World War I. Uncooperative, history is. What is a fact, however, is how both these clubs are presently deep within the agonizing throes of Playoff Hunt Fever, a condition so mysterious the CDC won’t answer the author’s daily phone calls about it that he’s been making for either three weeks or a month now.

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My Simple(ish) Playoff Chances Simulator

A month ago, I submitted an article with something I came up with that I thought was pretty cool.  It was a simulator similar to the Coolstandings sim, except that it would use Steamer and ZiPS rest-of-season (RoS) projections instead of year-to-date statistics as the measure of each team’s true talent.  Well, as you may have noticed, the boss, David Appelman, must have thought it was a pretty cool idea too, as unbeknownst to me, he had been working on the same sort of thing since long before the idea popped into my head.  But my duplication of effort will hopefully not go entirely to waste, as I’ll be sharing and explaining the simulator I created.  You’ll be able to use it to analyze your own “what if” scenarios, if that’s your sort of thing.  Think ZiPS and/or Steamer is overly optimistic or pessimistic about some teams?  You can fix that by running your own simulations with this.  Or you can apply it to past or completely hypothetical teams.  Go nuts.

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Relief Pitching in Context

If you recall, last week, I talked about one approach that we can take for evaluating starting pitcher performance. Today, I’d like to continue on that vein, this time taking a look at relief pitching.

With regards to evaluating both player performance and player talent, relief pitching is one of the least understood aspects of baseball. There are a few factors that lead me to believe this, but the only one I’d like to talk about today is the problem of mid-inning pitching changes.

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Taijuan Walker, and the Rookie Hurlers Who Came Before Him

The list of compelling rookie seasons for Seattle pitchers is a short one.

Mark Langston debuted in 1984 with a 4.1 WAR. Freddy Garcia managed a 3.7 WAR in his freshman season in 1999. The flame-throwing Michael Pineda tossed up a 3.2 WAR in 2011. Felix Hernandez managed a 2.3 WAR in his somewhat brief debut season, the exact same mark that a 28-year-old rookie southpaw by the name of Bobby Madritsch managed in 2004 when he came out of no where to to appear in 15 games (11 starts).

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Daily Notes: Taijuan Walker to Debut on This Day in History

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Taijuan Walker to Debut on This Day in History
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Taijuan Walker to Debut on This Day in History
The Purpose of This Post
The purpose of this post is to announce that today — a day which has, until now, belonged to the future, but which, in short order, will reside entirely in the past — that today right-handed Seattle prospect Taijuan Walker is scheduled to make his major-league debut at 8:10pm ET against the Houston Astros.

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Marc Hulet Prospects Chat – 8/30/2013

11:46
: Happy Friday… We’ll get started in about 15 minutes so get your prospect and general baseball questions in now!

12:00
Comment From greg
carson cistulli, drop or keep?

12:01
: Keeper all the way. He’s the life of every party…

12:01
Comment From LarryA
If all goes great, when could we see Glasnow in the Majors, mid-2015?

12:02
: That sounds about right, assuming he stays healthy and continues on the same development path.

12:02
Comment From Tripp
Do you see Jonathan Schoop ever becoming an impact player for the O’s?

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When Will The Astros Start Spending On Major League Payroll?

This week started with some hullabaloo when a Forbes contributor published a column claiming that the Houston Astros were the most profitable team in MLB history. Contributor Dan Alexander did some pretty simple math in concluding that the Astros would clear $99 million in “operating revenue.” “They have become so profitable thanks to slashed payroll expenses and soaring television revenues,” Alexander wrote.

But another Forbes contributor —  Maury Brown, of the Biz of Baseball — refuted Alexander’s column. Brown explained the Astros “soaring television revenues” aren’t so soaring because CSN Houston — the new regional sports network the Astros and the NBA’s Houston Rockets own — isn’t carried on any cable or satellite service in the Houston area other than Comcast. Indeed, we reported last month that cable and satellite companies are using new technology to determine how many customers tune into local sporting events and for how long. AT&T U-verse used that information in deciding to forgo carrying CSN Houston. That’s left CSN Houston well short of projected viewership and revenue from carriage fees.

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FanGraphs Audio: Very Powerful Nats Prospect Zach Walters

Episode 376
Washington Nationals prospect Zach Walters is (a) a shortstop playing at Triple-A in just his age-23 season and also (b) one of the minor leagues’ top home-run hitters. He’s also the guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 15 min play time.)

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Player’s View: Lead the League in an Offensive Category

I recently posed a question to 12 hitters. It was a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Given the subjectivity involved, it doesn’t even have a right answer.

If you could lead the league in any offensive category, what would it be?

Their responses — some less serious than others — are listed below in alphabetical order. Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 277: C. Trent Rosecrans on Sabermetrics, the Reds, and the Hazards of Beat Writing

Ben and Sam talk to Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans about the Reds, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, and the trials and travails of beat writing.


Pitching Ahead: A Baseball Fundamental

Every so often, I get the sense people under-appreciate the importance of pitching ahead in the count. These phases are usually followed by other phases in which I conclude I’m simultaneously over-appreciating it, and then I return to baseball normalcy, but right now I’m in one of them first phases. And whenever I’m here, it’s weird. From a very impressionably young age, we’re told how important it is to throw strike one. We know, when we think about it, that it’s much better to be ahead than behind, as a pitcher. But it doesn’t come up that much in conversation or analysis. People talk about proxies, but then almost everything is a proxy for pitching ahead in the count. When you’re pitching ahead, you’re pitching in control.

Obviously, it makes a difference with regard to walks and strikeouts. More strikes mean more strikeouts, more balls mean more walks. But it also makes a difference with regard to quality of contact. Just looking at this year’s league-wide splits, pitchers have allowed a .303 BABIP when behind in the count, with a .198 isolated slugging. Meanwhile, they’ve allowed a .287 BABIP when ahead in the count, with a .092 isolated slugging. On contact, when behind in the count, pitchers have allowed 4.7% home runs. On contact, when ahead in the count, they’ve allowed 2.5% home runs. Yeah, there’s some selection bias — better pitchers pitch ahead in the count more often — but that doesn’t explain the gaps. Common sense explains the gaps, mostly.

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Paul Maholm and Greatness

Last night, Paul Maholm started the 238th game of his career, twirling six one-run innings on the way to a 3-2 Braves victory. You may not realize it — perhaps because you didn’t realize that he’s from Mississippi, or don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about Paul Maholm — but Paul Maholm has the fourth-most starts of anyone ever born in Mississippi. (Roy Oswalt is first, of course.) After nine seasons as a more or less slightly-below-average starting pitcher, it’s safe to say that Paul Maholm is one of the greatest baseball players in the history of his home state.
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Free Agent Leaderboards

With the regular season winding down, half the teams in baseball are already beginning to shift their focus to the off-season. If you root for one of those teams, you may already be looking forward to the winter and the roster changes it may bring. To help kick start your speculation needs, the guys over at MLB Trade Rumors have created four free agent leaderboards using the custom leaderboard tools here at FanGraphs. Here’s what Steve Adams wrote when he introduced them last week:

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AFL Prospects: Dodgers, Marlins, Reds, Twins, White Sox

The preliminary rosters were recently announced for the impending Arizona Fall League. If you’re not familiar with the AFL, all you really need to know is that it’s an off-season league that offers addition innings/at-bats to prospects from around baseball. Some of the names you’ll know quite well. Others, well, you’ll probably never hear from again. And, frankly, a lot of players fall under that latter grouping.

Because there is such a wide range of talent in the league — as well as for a smattering of other reasons — any numbers produced in the league should be taken with a grain of salt. Oh, and each organization is responsible for providing a specific number of prospects to play in the league.

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Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 8/29/13

11:48
Eno Sarris: Top of the hour!

12:00
Eno Sarris: lyrics of the day from a band I liked from the opening sounds of this song

Hey, what’s the matter? Nothing’s the matter.
That’s why I can’t leave my house.
You must get lonely. No. I don’t get lonely. So…
That’s why I can’t leave my house.
Well… Head into the city? Well, I guess it can’t hurt.
Nothing’s on the television. On the networks.

12:01
Comment From Jeremy
In a dynasty: Choo and Rendon or E5?

12:02
Eno Sarris: E5 even if he doesn’t have the long-term upside. I saw some behind the scenes decline in Choo’s numbers last year and he’s not the most athletic guy.

12:02
Comment From Bkgeneral
Will Matt Kemp provide any value this year? Or will he play just enough to tempt me to put him the lineup and then continue to disappoint as he has all season?

12:02
Eno Sarris: I think he’ll play every day fairly soon. They’ll need him to be hitting on all cylinders in the postseason, and the time off for his ankle probably helped his shoulder some.

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How A Shoulder Injury May Have Improved Swisher’s Swing

We don’t really have full information on the shoulder injury that has been bothering Nick Swisher this season. We do know that it’s bothered him off and on, that he’s missed a handful of games, and that he’s had a cortisone shot recently. And from a results standpoint, we know that his power is down… and yet he’s showing the best line drive rate of his career. I set out to ask the Indians’ slugger about those two things in particular.

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Daily Notes: Feat. Every Entirely Above-Average Repertoire

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Every Entirely Above-Average Repertoire
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Every Entirely Above-Average Repertoire
Introduction
In yesterday’s edition of the Notes, the author published a leaderboard of the top-10 pitches this year so far in terms of runs prevented relative league average, with Clayton Kershaw’s fastball finishing first by that measure and Kenley Jansen’s cutter making the list despite the reliever’s relative paucity of innings.

In the present edition of the notes, the author has endeavored to consider a different but related idea — in this case, not with a view towards finding the league’s best pitches, but rather of identifying those qualified starters who have the most complete repertoire, where “complete repertoire” is defined as one which includes pitches only of positive (i.e. good) run values.

One finds, by Kerhsaw’s omission alone, that the list here isn’t necessarily a proxy for a list of best starting pitchers. Still, there’s likely some value in identifying those pitchers who’ve had success with three or four pitches reliably.

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Joey Votto: Run Producer

As I’m writing this on Wednesday night, the Reds are clobbering the Cardinals, 9-0. All those runs, incidentally, were charged to Adam Wainwright, which means both Wainwright and Felix Hernandez imploded on the same day. Joey Votto, so far tonight, has batted three times against St. Louis. He’s drawn three walks, as Votto is wont to do. He walked with two on in the first inning, and later scored a run. He walked with one on in the second inning, and soon thereafter scored a run. He walked again in the fourth, but the bases were empty — and that’s not what this is going to be about.

If you haven’t read the arguments, you’ve probably at least heard about them. Votto has been a polarizing player for the Reds, because he’s drawn a ton of walks in run-scoring situations. With runners in scoring position, he’s walked more than a quarter of the time. The end result is that Votto has an underwhelming RBI total, and he’s supposed to be in the lineup to produce runs. In theory, run-producers are supposed to swing the bat. Run-producers like Brandon Phillips. One’s instinct is to think this is absurd — and it is pretty silly — but we might as well dig in for a few minutes. Are people warranted to be frustrated by Joey Votto’s patient approach?

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Effectively Wild Episode 276: How Would Wladimir Balentien Hit in the Majors?/Oakland’s Second-Half Success Narrative

Ben and Sam discuss how Wladimir Balentien’s explosive season in Japan would translate to the majors, then examine the notion that Billy Beane’s teams play better in the second half.


The Pirates and History Before History

A few weeks ago, late in July, Bryce Harper beat up on the Pirates. In a game his Nationals won 9-7, Harper finished 3-for-5 with a double and a dinger. For good measure, he reached on a hit by pitch, and his homer was a walk-off bomb. Every hit in the major leagues is difficult, but maybe in his head, Harper felt like he had more of an opportunity; Harper hasn’t been alive to see the Pirates finish with a .500 record. Two days after the Pirates were eliminated from the 1992 playoffs, Harper was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. His entire life, the Pirates have been a joke.

On Tuesday, the Pirates traded for Marlon Byrd to make themselves better, which is a sentence that makes sense in 2013. And it wasn’t an attempt to improve a lackluster on-field product — the Pirates have their eyes on the playoffs, and they’re currently in an excellent position. They’re right behind the Cardinals in the National League Central, and they’re eight up on the Diamondbacks in the wild-card standings. If and when the Pirates qualify for the postseason, it’ll be an historic moment. But there’s another historic moment they’ll probably have to pass through first: the occasion of their 81st win.

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