Archive for August, 2014

NERD Game Scores for Sunday, August 31, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Milwaukee at San Francisco | 16:05 ET
Kyle Lohse (165.2 IP, 109 xFIP-, 1.7 WAR) faces Madison Bumgarner (185.0 IP, 78 xFIP-, 3.5 WAR). While the Giants have won the first two games of their series against the Brewers, the Dodgers have lost their first two games in San Diego. The result: a net gain of over 10 percentage points for San Francisco to their chances of winning the division — a gain which is perhaps most effectively depicted by the GIF below featuring the standings and playoff odds for all NL West clubs both from two days ago and then also this morning. (Click to enlarge instantly.)

Giants Giants

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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Sunday Notes: Olson’s Pop, Porter, McClendon, Carter, Dahl, Beimel Revival

Matt Olson epitomizes power and patience. The 20-year-old Oakland Athletics prospect leads the California League in home runs (36) and walks (116). Playing first base for the Stockton Ports, he has a .260/.403/.540 slash line going into the final two days of the minor league season.

Olson has fanned 136 times, but he projects as more than an all-or-nothing slugger. Drafted 47th overall in 2012 out of a Georgia high school, Olson has a smooth left-handed stroke and an advanced approach for someone yet to take his first legal drink. The former Parkview prep acknowledges his pop, but temperance is his M.O.

In the opinion of Stockton manager Ryan Christenson, Olson “is a very patient hitter” and “has done a better job of refining his strike zone and isn’t missing his pitch when he’s getting it, which is why his power numbers have spiked.” The young longball specialist isn’t letting his moon shots go to his head.

“I don’t look at myself as a power hitter, but I’m going to get that label because of the power numbers,” said Olson. “I have that capability, but I’m just trying to put up good ABs and if I get a pitch in my zone, I put a good swing on it. I’m not necessarily set on one specific pitch, but I’m also not up there whaling at everything.”

Christenson was Olson’s manager in low-A Beloit last year, where the youngster hit .225 and finished second in the Midwest League in home runs (23) and strikeouts (148). This season Christensen is seeing a player who is a year older and wiser, and doing a better job handling the inside fastball. According to scouts, Olson has struggled when busted inside. Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry Plumbs Myriad Depths

Episode 477
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which episode Perry engages both in figurative and actual plumbing.

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 53 min play time.)

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NERD Game Scores: An Evening with Mike Fiers

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

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Most Highly Rated Game
Milwaukee at San Francisco | 21:05 ET
Mike Fiers (35.0 IP, 78 xFIP-, 0.9 WAR) faces Jake Peavy (163.2 IP, 111 xFIP-, 1.3 WAR). Since his early August promotion back to the majors, Fiers has been excellent over four starts, recording the second-highest strikeout rate (33.3%), third-lowest park-adjusted xFIP (63 xFIP-), and second-lowest park-adjusted ERA (32 ERA-) among the league’s 116 qualified starters in August. He is, for example, the sort of pitcher a club with the fourth-best odds of qualifying for an NLDS might want starting against the club with the fifth-best odds of doing that.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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The Best of FanGraphs: August 25 – August 29, 2014

Each week, we publish north of 100 posts on our various blogs. With this post, we hope to highlight 10 to 15 of them. You can read more on it here. The links below are color coded — green for FanGraphs, brown for RotoGraphs, purple for NotGraphs, dark red for The Hardball Times and blue for Community Research.
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De Leon and Beras: Extreme Youth in the Rangers System

When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades. There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.

The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades. -Kiley

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Different Process, Same Results for Andrelton Simmons

“With his defense, he doesn’t need to do much at the plate” is a common refrain heard in regards to the best defensive players in the game. Elite players at premium positions get a lot of rope, so valuable is their glove work. Especially at key, up-the-middle positions, the offensive bar is set so low that any contribution from the game’s best defenders can be considered a bonus.

In 2013, Andrelton Simmons was among the most productive players in baseball, thanks to his beyond-superlative defense. To the surprise of many, Simmons also slugged 17 home runs, offsetting his struggles to get on base to produce a nearly-league average season. His 91 wRC+ surpassed the average shortstop last season, which is a recipe for a successful season. If you hit better than most of the peers while definitely fielding better than most of your peers, you’re doing something right.

As 2014 began, Simmons and the Braves were clearly not content with his production levels and vowed to change him, to bring his swing under control and make him a more complete hitter. In June, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker explained to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was a matter of identity for Simmons, one he needed to adjust. “You’ve got to make a decision on what type hitter you want to be. Do you want to be low-average guy, a power guy, and deal with a lot of failure?”

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Alex Gordon, UZR, and Bad Left Field Defense

Since Alex Gordon moved into first place in position player WAR (although he’s now second again), quite a bit of back-and-forth discussion has occurred on if he is this season’s best position player. Most of the talk revolves around how much stock  should people put into defensive statistics. Our own Dave Cameron has already taken a stab at the subject earlier in the week. Alex Gordon is getting close to two wins of value from his defense, a considerable jump from his previous seasons. After looking at the inputs used for UZR, it is not Alex Gordon’s performance going to new levels, but the lack of talented defenders in left field making him seem better.

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Nicholas Minnix Baseball Chat – 8/29/14

11:39
Nicholas Minnix: Hello, folks! Hope you’re doing well. I’ll be with you at the top of the hour.

12:01
Comment From Tom
Votto droppable in an eight-team league?

12:01
Nicholas Minnix: Yes. But you waited this long! :D

12:02
Comment From Vic
Does Syndergaard deserve some Sept starts?

12:02
Nicholas Minnix: Deserve is a heavy word. Don’t think it’d hurt to give him one or two.

12:03
Comment From Guest
You ok with starting Peavey and Lackey this weekend?

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NERD Game Scores for Friday, August 29, 2014

Devised originally in response to a challenge issued by viscount of the internet Rob Neyer, and expanded at the request of nobody, NERD scores represent an attempt to summarize in one number (and on a scale of 0-10) the likely aesthetic appeal or watchability, for the learned fan, of a player or team or game. Read more about the components of and formulae for NERD scores here.

***

Most Highly Rated Game
Milwaukee at San Francisco | 22:15 ET
Wily Peralta (162.0 IP, 99 xFIP-, 0.7 WAR) faces Ryan Vogelsong (150.0 IP, 108 xFIP-, 1.1 WAR). Despite a 1.5-game lead over the latter, Milwaukee currently possesses almost the exact precise chance of winning the NL Central as St. Louis, featuring odds of 44.5% (according to the methodology used by FanGraphs) against the Cardinals’ figure of 44.3%. The Giants, meanwhile, are among a small group of clubs whose odds of making the divisional series continue to hover around 50%. Not grounds for Highest Possible Drama, the aforementioned circumstances, but at least Reasonably High Drama.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: San Francisco Radio or Television.

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What Christian Yelich Hasn’t Done Once

I’m not gonna lie to you — there are a lot of things Christian Yelich hasn’t done once. Uncountable things. Infinite things. He hasn’t eclipsed 20 home runs in a season. He hasn’t hit a triple on the road. He hasn’t signed an eight-figure contract. He hasn’t grown to six and a half feet tall. He hasn’t attended Oberlin College, and he hasn’t been drafted by the Phillies. He hasn’t survived an accidental fall from the Golden Gate bridge, nor has he survived an intentional fall from the same. Depending on how you look at it, Christian Yelich hasn’t lived much of a life. But he is doing pretty well at his job at an unusually young age, and let’s talk about something specific he has yet to include in his numbers. You can think of this as an indicator of success, to go along with the other, more traditional indicators of success, like, batting average.

We’ll make use of batted-ball information! We’ve got that on FanGraphs stretching back to 2002. Since 2002, 790 batters have put at least 500 balls in play. Yelich is now among them, as of not long ago. Within the sample, no one’s hit more infield flies than Vernon Wells, at 376. He has a 41-pop lead on Albert Pujols. No one’s hit a greater rate of infield flies than Eric Byrnes, who’s just in front of Tony Batista. At the other extreme are known pop-up avoiders. You know about Joey Votto. Joe Mauer doesn’t hit pop-ups, either. For all his faults, Ryan Howard belongs in this same group, as does Derek Jeter. As for Yelich? He’s at 0. He doesn’t have an infield fly to his name. He is currently the only such batter in the given player pool.

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How Much Extra Credit Should We Give a Young Lefty Starter?

Edwin Escobar, who came from the Giants in the Jake Peavy deal, debuted with the Red Socks on Tuesday. One inning of work is not enough to know much other than perhaps velocity, but that point alone started a discussion. He sat just under 92 mph, and once you correct for his appearance coming out of the bullpen, you might say he had average velocity. I even said this, on twitter. And Mike Newman responded:

I’ve heard this before. I’ve thought it maybe untrue, for whatever reason. So I decided to check out a few splits among starters this year.

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Effectively Wild Episode 525: Oakland’s Swoon and the AL West Race

Ben and Sam talk to Jason Wojciechowski about how Oakland’s lead evaporated and how the AL West will be won.


FanGraphs Audio: Kiley McDaniel Mostly on Rockies Prospects

Episode 476
Kiley McDaniel is both (a) the lead prospect writer for FanGraphs and also (b) the guest on this particular edition of FanGraphs Audio — during which edition he discusses his Rockies organizational list and all of the Chicago teams.

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 47 min play time.)

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Let’s Watch Aroldis Chapman and Javier Baez

Prospects are babies. They’re eagerly anticipated, they’re evaluated by their ceilings, their arrivals are memorable and frequently painful, and these days they’re traded for goods less than ever. They continue to be interesting for a handful of months, but then they start to develop into more fully-formed people, and the magic of limitless possibility disintegrates. Sometimes they turn into remarkable things, more often they turn into unremarkable things, and regardless, it doesn’t take long before they’re taken for granted. Toward the beginning, everything is celebrated. Later on, mistakes aren’t so novel, they aren’t so easy to explain away.

Javier Baez still counts as a prospect, even though his big-league career is weeks underway. He’s among the most exciting prospects we’ve seen in baseball in some years, and though it’s a certainty that he’ll be less compelling a year or two from now, at the moment everything he’s involved in can be turned into a highlight. If he were a real baby, all his activity would be posted on Facebook. Some people might already be getting Baez fatigue, but I’m not one of them, and even if I were, I’d probably make an exception for a showdown between Baez and a similarly extreme sort of pitcher. A pitcher like, I don’t know, Aroldis Chapman. Who Baez faced for the first time on Wednesday night in the top of the ninth of a close game.

Earlier this season, people paid a lot of attention to an at-bat between Kenley Jansen and Miguel Cabrera. It was compelling, because both Jansen and Cabrera are extremely talented. Chapman vs. Baez is compelling because both players are extremely powerful. There’s no one who throws harder than Aroldis Chapman. There might be no one who swings harder than Javier Baez.Who wouldn’t want to watch them go head-to-head over and over? They haven’t yet gone head-to-head over and over, but they have gone head-to-head once. Let’s put that at-bat under the microscope.

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Evaluating the Prospects: Colorado Rockies

Evaluating The Prospects: Texas RangersColorado RockiesArizona Diamondbacks & Minnesota Twins

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

The Rockies have a solid system with some depth and some high-end talent spread across different levels.  There’s been some chatter there may be a regime change in Denver and while altitude creates some unique problems for executives, the farm is in a good position to produce some talent in the coming years. Here’s the primer for this series and here’s a disclaimer about how none of us really know anything, perfect to read before I attempt to tell you everything about the Rockies farm system.  Here’s the Rangers list, the first in the series.

Most of what you need to know is at those links, but I should add that the risk ratings are relative to their position, so average (3) risk for a pitcher is riskier than average risk (3) for a hitter, due injury/attrition being more common. I’d also take a 60 Future Value hitter over a 60 FV pitcher for the same reasons. Also, risk encompasses a dozen different things and I mention the important components of it for each player in the report.  The upside line for hitters is the realistic best-case scenario (in general, a notch better than the projected tools) and the Future Value encompasses this upside along with the risk rating for one overall rating number.

Below I’ve included a quick ranking of the growth assets Colorado has in the majors that aren’t eligible for the list and Dave Cameron shares some general thoughts on the organization. Scroll further down to see Carson Cistulli’s fringe prospect favorite. The next team up in the series, working from the bottom of the standings on up, is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Michael Brantley: Stealth AL MVP Candidate

As we head down the season’s home stretch, the AL MVP race isn’t shaping up to be the neat, two-horse race it was in both 2012 and 2013. Miguel Cabrera hasn’t quite been Miguel Cabrera, and though he still could win the award, Mike Trout hasn’t exactly been Mike Trout. As occasionally happens when there is no slam dunk position player candidate, the leading contender might be a pitcher, in the person of Felix Hernandez. In such a circumstance, sleeper candidates lacking the typical statistical “oomph” often possessed by MVPs can often emerge from the position player ranks of contending clubs. The Mariners boast two worthy contenders in Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, the A’s have Josh Donaldson, and the Royals boast Alex Gordon, just to name a few. The Indians are not too far off of the wild card pace, and are one hot week away from injecting the name of Michael Brantley into the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »


Effectively Wild Episode 524: Deep Thoughts About Beating the Shift

Ben and Sam banter about the latest in Andrelton Simmons defense, then discuss why hitters don’t often go the other way against the defensive shift.


Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 8/28/14

11:47
Eno Sarris: I’ll be here a the top of the hour

11:47
grahambop:

12:01
Comment From John Stamos
SWING

12:01
Eno Sarris: well maybe around 40% of the time.

12:01
Comment From Chad
Do you expect the Cubs to become players for Giancarlo this offseason? Almora, Edwards, McKinney, and a 4th, maybe a lower level arm anywhere close enough for the Marlins to agree?

12:03
Eno Sarris: When I tried to put together a package that equaled Stanton’s surplus value last year, it needed to be a top-10, a top-25 and another top 100 or two. I don’t think that satisfies the requirements, but he does have one less (fewer?) year of control.

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Zack Wheeler’s Historic Two-Strike Streak

We’ve reached the point in the regular season where, moving forward, a lot of our posts will be focused on the playoff race and teams within the playoff race. This is simply a natural shift of attention that occurs as the season progresses. Everything throughout the regular season builds up to the playoff race and now we’re here, so everything that happens which directly affects the playoff race becomes all the more noteworthy.

That doesn’t mean much for the New York Mets. They’re playing without their best and most exciting player, are currently eight games below .500, just two games out of last place and all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, with a a 0.1% chance to make the wild card.

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Looking beyond this season, the Mets have a lot to be excited about, thanks to some combination of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese, Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee making up one of most promising young pitching staffs in baseball. Looking towards the rest of this season, there is less to be excited about, as neither Harvey or Syndergaard will pitch in the majors this year. But deGrom is still enjoying an unexpected breakout year and Wheeler is living up to the hype of being really, really good.

And there’s something else about Zack Wheeler that will make the rest of his starts this season a little more interesting.
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