Archive for September, 2013

Game 163 Live Blog

7:59
Dave Cameron: It’s Game 163! These are great. This should be fun.

8:00
Dave Cameron: If you haven’t been in a live blog here before, these are a little different than our regular chats. We won’t do as much Q&A, and this will be more of us reacting to the game as we watch it, interspersing your comments and questions when we can.

8:01
Dave Cameron: \’

8:02
Dave Cameron: Also, this is my first live blog during the puppy ownership era, so if there are sudden bouts of random letters appearing, my apologies in advance. She’s excited about snuggling with me though.

8:02
Comment From Bango
Jeff late as usual

8:02
Comment From Tom
I don’t have TBS! WTF do I do?! Postseason.tv? Dave you mentioned you were in the same boat…how are you watching tonight?

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A First Last Word on Strengths of Schedules

In just a short while, the Rangers and Rays will begin determining the American League’s second wild card. In a less short while, the second wild card will have been determined. One of these teams is going to live to play the Indians, while the other will not live, which I guess means it dies. It will subsequently be revived, in time for offseason roster maneuvering. One-game wild-card playoffs were introduced last year as a means of increasing excitement. Because of those wild-card playoffs, this particular one-game playoff feels a little less dramatic, but even so, a lot is resting on 9+ innings. Whole seasons, and their fates.

So why is this game being played? Because, of course, the Rangers and Rays finished with identical 91-71 records. It’s not the sort of tie you break by looking at head-to-head record. This has to be sorted out on the field, and as luck would have it, Monday was otherwise a scheduled off day. There’s no arguing that the Rangers and Rays have achieved an identical number of wins. There’s something to be said, though, about their respective paths.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Analyzes All Play-In Games

Episode 383
Dave Cameron is both (a) the managing editor of FanGraphs and (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses the play-in game for the play-in game for the play-in game for the play-in game for the play-in game.

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 36 min play time.)

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Analyzing the Umpires: Play-In Games Edition

Here is a quick look at the called strike zone and strikeout and walk rates for the three home plate umpires over the next three nights.

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Contract Crowdsourcing 2013-14: Carlos Ruiz

Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating this offseason a contract-crowdsourcing project, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2013-14 free-agent market.

Note that, this year, in addition to asking readers to estimate the years/dollars each free agent is likely to receive, FanGraphs is also requesting that readers make note of how much they’d pay each free agent were they, themselves, actual GMs.

In this edition: Carlos Ruiz.

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David Price Against the Rangers

Today marks, basically, the beginning of the postseason, as it’s now that good teams begin being eliminated. There are fewer games each day than before, with every game being more and more important, and there will be a corresponding level of daily analysis. People are going to try to find keys to individual baseball games, because this is how it’s always been, and it’s with that in mind that I’d like to issue you a quick reminder. Last year, MLB debuted the one-game wild-card playoffs. People tried to analyze Orioles vs. Rangers. They tried to analyze Cardinals vs. Braves. In the former game, Joe Saunders bested Yu Darvish. In the latter, the hosts were undone in large part due to errors by Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, and Andrelton Simmons. The point of the lead-up is to try to know; the magic of the game is that there is no knowing. This is forever going to be the truth.

But it’s still fun to try, to pretend like we could figure things out, and tonight the Rangers host the Rays as the teams battle in a one-game playoff for the right to make another one-game playoff. The starters are going to be Martin Perez and David Price, and there’s something about Price people have honed in on. Price, see, has an ugly history against Texas, and this information is presented to make people think he could struggle again in another big game.

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Accomplishments of 2013

Sure, Game 163 is looming, and it counts as part of the regular season, but aside from some tweaks, the numbers are pretty much in for the 2013 season. We are close enough for at least some simple retrospectives on certain numerical accomplishments from the almost finished season. Some of the metrics involved are more meaningful or useful than others, but this post will not focus on analysis. As long as one does not confuse the listing of some metric below with an endorsement — or a criticism, for that matter — of its value, it is fine to simply take pleasure these accomplishments..

Some of these achievements have more historical resonance than others (and to a certain extent that is in the eye of the beholder). This is not presented as an exhaustive list, either. To begin, though, we do have two all-time marks set by relief pitchers this season.

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Contract Crowdsourcing 2013-14: A.J. Pierzynski

Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating this offseason a contract-crowdsourcing project, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2013-14 free-agent market.

Note that, this year, in addition to asking readers to estimate the years/dollars each free agent is likely to receive, FanGraphs is also requesting that readers make note of how much they’d pay each free agent were they, themselves, actual GMs.

In this edition: A.J. Pierzynski.

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The Value of Hunter Pence

Over the weekend, the Giants made the first big signing of the off-season, even though it wasn’t technically the off-season yet. Rather than let Hunter Pence get to free agency and potentially start a bidding war for his services, the Giants chose to sign him to a five year, $90 million contract before he got to test the market. I did a very short post in the aftermath of the deal, noting that Pence has pretty similar numbers over the last three years to what Nick Swisher did in his run up to free agency, but that the price to sign the two was pretty different. However, no decision on contract pricing is ever that simple, so let’s take a closer look at what the Giants are paying for in Hunter Pence.

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Contract Crowdsourcing 2013-14: Brian McCann

Free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series. As in other recent offseasons, FanGraphs is once again facilitating this offseason a contract-crowdsourcing project, the idea being to harness the wisdom of the crowds to the end of better understanding the 2013-14 free-agent market.

Note that, this year, in addition to asking readers to estimate the years/dollars each free agent is likely to receive, FanGraphs is also requesting that readers make note of how much they’d pay each free agent were they, themselves, actual GMs.

In this edition: Brian McCann.

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A Minor Review of 2013: Rangers

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

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Player’s View: One Pitcher, One Game

I recently posed a question to 12 players. 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 have to win one game, who do you want on the mound?

Players could not choose a teammate and only active pitchers were eligible. Their responses are listed below in alphabetical order. Read the rest of this entry »


Daily Notes: Misusing Projections to Mildly Amusing Ends

Sunday features three games of particular note — each of those games featuring one of the three clubs presently contending for the American League’s two wild-card spots.

An excerpt from our wild-card playoff odds page allows one to examine the present state of affairs.

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A Very Quick Note on Hunter Pence

On Monday, we’ll have a more thorough write-up of Hunter Pence’s new $90 million contract with the Giants. For now, though, I figured this comparison was kind of fun: Here’s Nick Swisher in the three years leading up to the free-agent contract he signed last winter, compared with Pence’s performance during the past three seasons.

 

Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
Nick Swisher 1894 0.274 0.366 0.478 0.367 129 -8.8 55.1 -8.0 11.4
Hunter Pence 2034 0.283 0.342 0.469 0.352 125 7.2 64.4 -22.8 11.2

Swisher got 4/56. Pence got 5/90. Pence is a hitting free agency a year younger and is coming off a significantly better walk year season, so it’s not a surprise that Pence got more than Swisher. Plus, with baseball’s economic strength, salaries should be expected to inflate every year for the foreseeable future. This is still a pretty big gap though.


Daily Notes: Saturday’s Notable Games of Note

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

1. Saturday’s Notable Games of Note
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game(s)
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Saturday’s Notable Games of Note
Introductory Note
As the table below indicates, stolen entirely from the playoff odds located elsewhere on this site, three American League teams enter play on Saturday each with a reasonable opportunity of qualifying for the league’s two wild-card spots.

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A Reason the Pirates are Right Where They Are

The Pirates have done us the favor of getting better gradually. Four years ago, they were absolutely dreadful. The next year, they were fine through July. The next year, they were fine through August. Now they’ve been good through September. We’ve been able to see the Pirates coming, to some extent, and so this 2013 success hasn’t taken us by complete surprise. We were prepared for this, and we can make sense of this, and we’re not fighting whiplash as a consequence of watching the Pirates blow by. The Pirates are evidence that a good plan takes time, and that time can bear fruit.

But it’s still weird seeing the Pirates in the neighborhood of baseball’s best record. They’re still, technically, in contention for the National League Central entering the last weekend, and they’re in line to play at home in next week’s one-game NL wild-card playoff. And you notice something, in the standings: the Cardinals have a +172 run differential. The Reds are at +119. The Pirates are at +47. We know that run differential isn’t everything, and we’ve been over this so many times, but it’s still worth quickly examining one thing the Pirates have been doing in particular to allow them to amass all these wins. In one category, the Pirates have been blowing baseball away.

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On Winning the Right to Not Play the Dodgers

With one weekend left in the regular season, there are some important things still at stake. In the American League wild-card race, for example, the Rangers are still alive, one back of the Indians and two back of the Rays. The Pirates and the Reds will go head-to-head, basically to decide who gets home field in next week’s likely one-game playoff. And the Braves and Cardinals will figure out who finishes with the National League’s best record. They’re not about to play one another, but they’re each about to play three games, and the team with the best record will face the not-Dodgers in the NLDS.

And that would be nice, since the Dodgers have gone 61-26 since they started 30-42. Right now, the Braves and the Cardinals have the same record. The Braves, also, hold the tiebreaker, having won the season series against St. Louis, so at this point we’re looking at Braves vs. wild card and Cardinals vs. Dodgers. But it’s not set in stone, so, clearly, the teams have something left to play for as they prepare for October. No team would ever admit it’s afraid of another team, but the Dodgers don’t look like a favorable draw.

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Five Moments From Todd Helton’s Final Five Seasons

When I worked for the Rockies, we spent a lot of time talking about Todd Helton’s hall of fame candidacy. When Helton recovered from a hairy intestinal issue in 2006 to post the seventh four-win (or better) campaign of his career in 2007, the going thought was that if he was able to just to do that a few more times, he would be a shoo-in for the Hall. He stood at 51.1 WAR through the end of his age-33 season, and had plenty of other accolades on his resume — five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, four-time Silver Slugger, one of just 10 players to play in the Integrated Era to be a career .300/.400/.500 hitter, 10th all-time in on-base percentage, etc. Honestly, some of the debate was which statistical markers were the most impressive. And with the Rocktober run in the books, Helton was no longer the longest tenured player to not have played in the postseason.

But then age caught up to Helton in a big way. In the past six years, he has been able to add just 5.1 WAR to his ledger, and now after a poor swan song he stands in the gray area from a hall perspective. However, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom these past few years. So rather than wallow in what-ifs, I thought today we could look at five of the best moments from the final five seasons of Helton’s career.

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FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry, Live from America

Episode 382
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books, now — one of them serviceable and one of them, against all odds, something more than serviceable. He’s also the guest on this wholly American edition of FanGraphs Audio, live from America.

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 54 min play time.)

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A Minor Review of 2013: Athletics

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

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