Archive for March, 2014

FanGraphs 2014 Crowd Predictions: National League

On Friday, managing editor Dave Cameron published the various (and probably wrong) FanGraphs staff predictions for the American League and National League — shortly after which the present author provided the readership their own opportunity to make embarrassing predictions.

Below are the results of that same exercise for the National League. The results for the American League, published earlier this afternoon, are available here. Note that, owing to rounding error, percentages might add up to slightly more or less than 100%.

Division Winners

West: L.A. (89%), San Fran. (6%), Arizona (3%), San Diego (2%), Colorado (1%)
Central: St. Louis (87%), Pitt. (8%), Cinn. (5%), Milwaukee (1%), Chicago (0%)
East: Washington (82%), Atlanta (17%), Miami (1%), Phil. (1%), New York (0%)

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs 2014 Crowd Predictions: American League

On Friday, managing editor Dave Cameron published the various (and probably wrong) FanGraphs staff predictions for the American League and National League — shortly after which the present author provided the readership their own opportunity to make embarrassing predictions.

Below are the results of that same exercise for the American League. The National League will follow later this afternoon. Note that, owing to rounding error, percentages might add up to slightly more or less than 100%.

Division Winners

West: Oakland (49%), Anaheim (29%), Texas (18%), Seattle (4%), Houston (0%)
Central: Detroit (83%), Kansas City (10%), Cleve. (7%), Chicago (1%), Minn. (0%)
East: Tampa Bay (47%), Boston (37%), New York (8%), Toronto (4%), Balt. (3%)

Read the rest of this entry »


How The Angels Can Compete In A Tight AL West

If there’s one thing I like here at FanGraphs — well, there are many things, but this is just one of those things — it’s our Depth Charts, which are fueled by manual inputs of playing time (the NL West is my beat, so you know who to yell at if you’d like to argue about, say, Marco Scutaro’s projections) and get funneled as part of the input into our projected standings. And if you look at the projected standings, they’re more or less what you’d expect. The Dodgers are expected to be the best team, the Astros the worst. The Dodgers, Nationals and Cardinals are projected to win the three NL divisions. The Red Sox and Tigers look to win the most games in the American League. This all makes sense, even if that’s all but certainly not how it will really play out. Maybe that’s not exciting, but projections aren’t supposed to be exciting. It’d be a lot more interesting if the Twins were projected to win the AL Central and then face the Marlins in the World Series. It’d also be proof of a projection system that wasn’t worth looking at.

Like with any projection system, you can quibble around the edges, but in five of the six divisions there are clear leaders, ranging from projected leads of two games (Red Sox over Rays) to seven (Nationals over Braves, because like every media site, we are biased against the Braves).

Then there’s the American League WestRead the rest of this entry »


Five Things I Believe About the 2014 Season

The Major League season is, I guess, already three games old, but for basically everyone who isn’t the Dodgers, today is still the real Opening Day. We have a nearly full slate of games on the docket, and we’ll be live blogging throughout the day here on the site. But before we get to the actual games, let’s run through a few more preview-ish things I believe about the 2014 that you might not infer from my picks in the Staff Predictions (NL, AL) posts from Friday.

1. I believe that the Cubs might be better than we think.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Yasmani Grandal Stole Third Base

In the first 2014 regular-season baseball game played in the Northern Hemisphere, the Padres hosted the Dodgers. A 1-0 game became a 1-1 game late, and then Yasmani Grandal got on and stole third base. Moments later he scored the go-ahead run, and the Padres held on to win 3-1. That steal happened to be the first of Grandal’s major-league career. It also happened to be the first of Grandal’s professional career. Grandal is a slow-moving catcher and he’s coming off knee surgery. You’re right to identify this as an unlikely turn of events. It was also, in part, the consequence of an unlikely turn of events.

Not long ago I wrote a few posts about the challenge of bunting. Bunting, see, has the reputation of being something absurdly easy to do, but it’s really quite hard, even if certain position players don’t do it enough. Sunday night’s attempted bunting was a mixed bag. There were seven attempts overall. There were two successful sacrifices. There was one blown sacrifice, where the lead runner was thrown out. Two bunts went foul. Another bunt went foul into a glove on the fly. One attempted bunt was missed completely. That missed bunt, by the Padres, was instrumental in the Padres earning the win.

Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 417: Baseball Banter for Opening Day

Ben and Sam cover a range of topics, including Mike Trout, Hanley Ramirez, and who’s hitting cleanup for the Marlins.


FanGraphs Audio: Dave Cameron Previews All Baseball

Episode 437
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 provides something not unlike a preview of the 2014 season.

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 55 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Rangers, Dodgers, A’s, Tigers, Growing Up Baseball

Seth Rosin is a Texas Ranger. At least for now. The 25-year-old right-hander learned yesterday he’ll be on the opening-day roster, but as a Rule 5 pick he will have to be offered back to the Phillies if he doesn’t remain with the big-league team all season.

Rosin‘s suitcase has been kept busy. Originally drafted by the Giants in 2010, he was traded to the Phiilies two years later. The Mets took him in last December’s Rule 5 and proceeded to sell him to the Dodgers. Rosin pitched well in spring training, but with no room in a loaded LA bullpen, they cut him loose. The Rangers picked him up on Wednesday.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Nathaniel Stoltz, Live from Winston-Salem

Episode 436
Nathaniel Stoltz is a very thoughtful prospect writer for FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He’s also the guest on this edition of the podcast, recorded live on tape from Dave Cameron’s house in Winston-Salem, NC.

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 49 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


The Best of FanGraphs: March 24-28, 2014

Each week, we publish a lot of content here in the FanGraphs family. Between the main blog, RotoGraphs, NotGraphs, The Hardball Times and the Community blog, we publish well over 100 posts each week. It can be hard to sift through all that content, even for us! So, we’re here to help. Starting today, we’re going to put up this Best of FanGraphs post every Saturday, to help you catch up on all the great content you didn’t get a chance to read in the past week. Or, if you did, this post will serve as a reminder to go back to the comments and explain to us just how wrong we are. Either way, this should be a good cap to the week, and then David Laurila will ease us into the next week with his Sunday Notes feature on … you guessed it, Sunday.

We’ll pull from the whole FanGraphs family, picking 10-15 stories that we feel you really should read before the week draws to a close. The links are color coded — green for FanGraphs, burnt sienna for RotoGraphs, purple for NotGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community. They are listed in this order as well in each day, just for the sake of consistency. We hope you like this catch-up post. And if you don’t, or have suggestions on how we can make it better, let us know down below. Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »


Mike Trout, King of Trade Value Now and Forever

According to Alden Gonzalez, the Angels and Mike Trout are close to finalizing a six year contract that will pay Trout $144.5 mlilion over the 2015-2020 seasons.

Those six years cover Trout’s three arbitration eligible seasons and his first three free agent seasons. Instead of hitting free agency after his age-25 season, he’ll play for the Angels through at least his age-28 season.

Read the rest of this entry »


Joint-Drug Program Toughened, with Exception

Right around the eve of the meaningful beginning of the 2014 regular season, baseball has announced an enhanced Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. You can read the details right here, but the primary takeaway is that now a first-time PED violation will result in an 80-game suspension, and a second-time PED violation will result in a 162-game suspension. A third violation still earns a lifetime ban, since it’s not very easy to make that penalty tougher without breaking actual laws. Also, a player suspended for a violation will no longer be eligible for that year’s postseason.

Of course, there are other enhancements, too. And it should be noted that the majority of the players have been supportive of tougher penalties for users. Many of the players want to play within a clean game, and they’re not fans of what users do for the perception of themselves and everyone else. In that way, perhaps this shouldn’t be viewed as a concession, but one bullet point in there shows that the players got something extra for themselves in return.

Read the rest of this entry »


Miguel Cabrera’s Contract Not Close to Biggest Ever

According to IMDB, Gone with the Wind pulled in nearly $200 million at the American box office. The Sound of Music pulled in just over $163 million. This makes them two of the highest-grossing films in US movie history. Those numbers are also utterly trounced by Fast & Furious 6’s $239 million. It can be said, technically accurately, that Fast & Furious 6 has been a higher-grossing film than the other two mentioned. But that sort of technical accuracy is deceptive accuracy, and, of course, we need to make adjustments. The raw numbers don’t tell us anything of value.

Listen to Twitter and you’ll find out in a hurry that the baseball industry was shocked by news of the new Miguel Cabrera contract. Cabrera’s now guaranteed $292 million through 2023, and beyond that there are another two options. It’s a massive deal for the Tigers, and a massive commitment, and seemingly a massive risk, that the Tigers didn’t need to take right away. Everyone’s floored by the magnitude of the thing. But then, we’ve seen this thing before. Cabrera’s contract isn’t the biggest contract ever, and in fact it’s hardly even in the conversation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Crowdsourcing the 2014 Season: Submit Your Predictions

This afternoon, Dave Cameron has published in these electronic pages the results of the FanGraphs staff predictions both for the American League and also the National League. As Cameron notes, those predictions will be wrong — grievously so, in some cases.

In the spirit of egalitarianism that pervades this site, FanGraphs is giving readers the opportunity to be just as wrong as our staff — by allowing them (i.e. those same readers) to predict the various winners of baseball’s divisional titles and wild-card berths and end-of-season awards.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs 2014 Staff Predictions: National League

The 2014 Major League Baseball season kicks off for real on Monday — no, random days where the Dodgers play someone and it’s the only game of the day don’t count — and so, as a baseball site, we are compelled to offer our staff’s predictions for the upcoming season. We are compelled because you like to read our staff predictions, even though they are terrible. And boy are they terrible.

Among last year’s gems were things like Aaron Hicks, American League Rookie of the Year. Aaron Hicks did not get a single vote by any one voter on a Rookie of the Year ballot last year. We also had the Angels and Blue Jays making the playoffs. Predicting baseball is silly. Everyone is terrible at it, including us. But as long as you know that going in, it’s still kind of a fun exercise.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs 2014 Staff Predictions: American League

The 2014 Major League Baseball season kicks off for real on Monday — no, random days where the Dodgers play someone and it’s the only game of the day don’t count — and so, as a baseball site, we are compelled to offer our staff’s predictions for the upcoming season. We are compelled because you like to read our staff predictions, even though they are terrible. And boy are they terrible.

Among last year’s gems were things like Aaron Hicks, American League Rookie of the Year. Aaron Hicks did not get a single vote by any one voter on a Rookie of the Year ballot last year. We also had the Angels and Blue Jays making the playoffs. Predicting baseball is silly. Everyone is terrible at it, including us. But as long as you know that going in, it’s still kind of a fun exercise.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jason Collette – Baseball Chat

11:59
Jason Collette: bienvenue…let’s chat

12:00
Comment From AL Pitching Coach
Yordano Ventura, and to some extent Tanner Scheppers, have picked up a ton of fantasy buzz over the past week or two. Thoughts on what to expect from them in 2014?

    Jason Collette: Eno and I discussed both guys on the podcast that dropped overnight. I like Ventura more than Scheppers, but Ventura’s delivery worries me. “his arm looks like it is attached to a rubber band” is the phrase I got from a pitching guru and that’s not a good thing. 

12:01
Comment From Tony the Tiger
How badly does the loss of Iglesias affect the fantasy values of Porcello and Smyly?

    Jason Collette: It certainly does not help.I was really looking forward to seeing what that infield could do for Porcello. Knocks them down a round/round and a half and a $1 

12:01
Comment From Guest
Miggy’s contract is the n-th worst contract in baseball in the last 25 years. n equals???

    Jason Collette: Vernon Wells, Joe Blanton, Albert Pujols, 50 feet of crap, Ryan Howard….so maybe 6th? 

12:03
Comment From jocephus
swydan is not a fan of martinez/rosenthal going into BP without chance at starting…yer thoughts?

    Jason Collette: I side with him on this, to a point. You’ve already started down the path with Rosenthal, so if you’re going to stretch him out, do it in the minors. Martinez has drastic R/L splits and would be better served in the minors working on that as well, but I get putting both on the major league level in their current roles. 

12:03
Comment From Chris
What is your outlook on Jose Abreu? Does he have the ability to be an elite first baseman

    Jason Collette: He was a hot topic of discussion at Foley’s last Saturday night. Crowdsourcing his numbers gave me a .270 avg with 32-35 homers 

Read the rest of this entry »


Miguel Cabrera’s Terrible and Understandable Contract

Yesterday, the Tigers agreed to make Miguel Cabrera the highest paid player in baseball history. If you look at the entirety of their future financial commitments to him as one single entity rather than two separate agreements, then this is the biggest contract in U.S. sports history. Over the next decade, the Tigers have agreed to pay Cabrera $292 million, a staggering figure for any player, and even more stunning given the context in which it was handed out. Cabrera turns 31 in less than a month. He wasn’t eligible to hit the free agent market for another two years. The contract begins with his age-33 season, and yet, without the benefit of free agency as leverage, he got more for eight years than Robinson Cano got for 10.

As you might imagine, I have a lot of thoughts about this contract. They don’t all agree with each other. So, let’s just go through the things I believe about this deal.

Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 416: Listener Emails: One Miguel Cabrera, Many Mike Trouts

Ben and Sam answer listener emails about the Miguel Cabrera contract extension, bullpen usage, productive at-bats, multiple Mike Trouts, and more.


Ballpark Strike-Zone Factors

So, look, I feel like I need to explain why I’m looking at something you’ve probably never even thought about before. Obviously, I write a lot about pitch-framing, and about the different strike zones that different players get. Some time back, I was writing about Zack Greinke’s favorable zone with Milwaukee. As such, I wrote about Jonathan Lucroy’s receiving, and I wrote about Martin Maldonado’s receiving. Afterward, I received an interesting idea from a player:

I’m convinced the background in Milwaukee affects the home plate umpires’ depth perception and expands the zone down and away. Is there a home road split for both of the catchers? Maybe that will make some sense for my possibly distorted perception of balls and strikes in Milwaukee.

Not something I’d considered. Made sense, in theory. Perhaps a hidden park factor was inflating the framing numbers. Maybe Milwaukee is like the Colorado of expanding the strike zone. For whatever reason I never got around to researching this, until this afternoon, when I compiled the relevant data.

Read the rest of this entry »