Archive for November, 2017

FanGraphs Audio: Results of the Over/Under Game with Dave Cameron

Episode 788
Back in February, managing editor Dave Cameron consented to participate, with the host of FanGraphs Audio, in a series of 10 over/under wagers regarding the 2017 season. With that 2017 season now complete, both host and guest review those wagers to determine who’s the best at baseball.

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 57 min play time.)

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Oakland Has Drawn Two Dots to Connect

It was easy enough to understand the Ryon Healy trade on its own. Healy is a good hitter but not a great hitter, and he doesn’t come with much defensive value. The A’s wanted to free up the DH spot so they could move Khris Davis out of the outfield. Emilio Pagan is a talented young reliever, and the A’s organization also picked up a 17-year-old prospect. Pretty normal value exchange, even if it’s fairly uncommon to see division rivals swap so many team-control years. Different needs were met.

Now the A’s have also signed free-agent reliever Yusmeiro Petit. It’s a modest two-year deal with a third-year club option, and the deal was announced later Wednesday. Taken on its own, again, it’s unremarkable. The A’s have said they wanted bullpen help, and now they’ve added bullpen help. Petit just had a very good season. Simple. The kind of move you forget about two days later.

But I’d like to quickly connect the dots. There are two dots. Perhaps they’re meant to be unconnected. I’m going to read into this anyway. What does it mean that the A’s have picked up both Pagan and Petit? The two have a specific similarity.

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Why the Diamondbacks Might Have Their Answer

There are two ways of looking at this. One, the offseason has been so slow that this is a full-length article devoted to a Diamondbacks trade for Brad Boxberger. Baseball needs to get going. Under ordinary circumstances, this might not get much attention at all. Two, thanks to the baseball offseason being so slow, this trade can get the attention it deserves. Every major-league trade is interesting, because every major-league player is talented. And Boxberger in particular could answer the Diamondbacks’ biggest problem.

Both angles have some truth to them. If things were moving faster, this might not be written as it is. But I’m still glad to be able to shed some light on what the Diamondbacks might be thinking. So: the trade!

Diamondbacks get:

  • Brad Boxberger

Rays get:

For the Rays, it’s a matter of cashing in a player running out of team control. You know how they operate. For the Diamondbacks, it’s about trying to upgrade on the cheap. As you don’t need to be told, there’s no such thing as a truly reliable reliever. Everyone comes with a certain amount of risk and unpredictability. Boxberger might be more unreliable than average. Still, the promise is legitimate.

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MLB’s Middle Class Has a Free-Agency Problem

The middle class is embattled in America. Wages have stagnated. As a result, the percentage of people residing in the middle tier of income has declined over the past 40 years.

Baseball isn’t exempt from this problem. While even those players receiving just the minimum salary wouldn’t be classified as “middle earners,” context matters in this case. And in the context of baseball’s wages, the middle class is shrinking, too.

There are common obstacles facing baseball’s player pool and workers at large: a willingness among owners to pay a premium for top talent but an effort to replace other areas of the labor force with cheaper alternatives. Efficiency is king.

The ice-cold stove at the beginning of the present offseason, this period of little activity, is perhaps related and of interest.

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Eno Sarris Baseball Chat — 11/30/17

7:02
Eno Sarris: dedicated to Giancarlo Stanton, this is how much I got on his contract

12:00
Xolo: Please tell me why signing Hosmer isn’t a terrible idea for the Padres.

12:01
Eno Sarris: Can’t imagine why it *would* be a good idea.

12:01
Hannah Hochevar: At this point I’d be sad if the O’s resign Chris Tillman but also sad if they don’t resign Chris Tillman. What’s a fan to do?

12:01
Eno Sarris: Be sad, I guess.

12:01
CubFan: With the Cubs saying they are willing to use Ohtani in the OF as well as pitching how much have they improved their chances of landing him?

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Which Team Can Keep Shohei Ohtani the Healthiest?

When Travis Sawchick asked you which question was most important on Shohei Ohtani‘s questionnaire, you answered overwhelmingly that the team capable of keeping him healthy — or of convincing Ohtani that they’d keep him healthy — would win out. Travis went on to use a metric, Roster Resource’s “Roster Effect” rating, to get a sense of which team that might be. The Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, and Tigers performed best by that measure.

Of course, that’s just one way of answering the question. Health is a tough thing to nail down. To figure out which team is capable of keeping Ohtani the healthiest, it’s worth considering the possible implications of health in baseball. Roster Effect, for example, considers the quality of the player and seems to be asking: which rosters were affected the most by poor health? That’s one way of approaching it. Let’s try a few others and see who comes out on top.

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Top 22 Prospects: Chicago Cubs

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Chicago Cubs farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH (stats-only) statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Cubs Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Aramis Ademan 19 A SS 2020 50
2 Adbert Alzolay 22 AA RHP 2019 50
3 Jose Albertos 19 A- RHP 2020 45
4 Oscar De La Cruz 22 A+ RHP 2019 45
5 Brendon Little 21 A- LHP 2020 45
6 Alex Lange 22 A- RHP 2020 45
7 Victor Caratini 24 MLB C/1B 2018 40
8 DJ Wilson 21 A OF 2020 40
9 Miguel Amaya 18 A- C 2022 40
10 Alec Mills 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
11 Jeremiah Estrada 19 R RHP 2021 40
12 Thomas Hatch 23 A+ RHP 2019 40
13 Nelson Velazquez 18 R OF 2021 40
14 Brailyn Marquez 18 R LHP 2021 40
15 Cory Abbott 22 A- RHP 2019 40
16 Wladimir Gallindo 21 A 3B 2020 40
17 Dillon Maples 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
18 Jose Paulino 21 A LHP 2019 40
19 Jason Vosler 24 AA 3B 2019 40
20 Mark Zagunis 24 MLB OF 2018 40
21 Bryan Hudson 20 A LHP 2022 40
22 Eddy Julio Martinez 22 A+ OF 2019 40

50 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic
Age 18 Height 5’11 Weight 160 Bat/Throw L/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/55 40/45 30/45 55/50 45/55 55/55

Far too advanced for the AZL, Ademan made his U.S. debut in the Northwest League with Eugene. He hit .286/.365/.466 there, played great defense, and earned a promotion to the Midwest League for the final month of the season. He turned 19 a week and a half after South Bend finished their year.

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Effectively Wild Episode 1143: Giancarlohtani

EWFI

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter, as always, about Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, as well as the slow start to the offseason and baseball takeaways from news about basketball and football. Then they look for players who performed better in team losses, talk about two twins, and answer listener emails about the most valuable memo writer, robot bloggers, Stanton’s opt-out clause, two Ohtani hypotheticals, Mike Trout’s defensive position and spot in the batting order, Steve Matz’s future and starter-reliever conversions, Aaron Judge’s maximum contact rate, the best team superpower, and more, before wrapping up with a brief aside about Bitcoin.

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Don’t Trade Jackie Bradley for Jose Abreu

If there’s been one fairly easy prognostication this winter, it’s that the Red Sox are going to sign one of the expensive free agent hitters available in this class. Dave Dombrowski has historically not been shy about spending big to upgrade his roster, and has also shown a propensity for building rosters around power. The Red Sox ranked 27th in home runs last year. This is probably not something he wants to repeat.

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Mike Moustakas Is the Former Royal You Want

The other day, FanGraphs alum and MLB.com stalwart Mike Petriello looked at possible fits for Mike Moustakas. This author agrees with many of the potential landing spots.

Petriello boiled down the list to nine teams that could use Moustakas:

Giants
Pirates
Mets
Cardinals
Angels
Yankees
Royals
Phillies
Braves

Due either to payroll considerations (the Pirates) or their projected finish in 2018 (the Braves, Phillies, and Royals), a number of the clubs here might appear to be unlikely candidates to court Moustakas, although I argued on Monday that at least one of those teams ought to consider signing Moustakas.

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Peter Moylan on Being from Sports-Mad Australia (Where He’s Not Famous)

Peter Moylan is known for being from Australia as much as anything. That and the tattoos and the fun-loving personality. The fact that he’s a pretty decent relief pitcher tends to get lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t. The 38-year-old side-winder has just four career saves, but he’s 24-9 with a 3.00 ERA since debuting with the Atlanta Braves in 2006. This past season, he made a league-leading 79 appearances with the Kansas City Royals.

Moylan originally came over in 1996 when the Minnesota Twins signed him at the age of 17. That didn’t pan out. After two tumultuous years of Rookie ball, Moylan found himself back in Australia working day jobs. Unable to cut the mustard as a pitching prospect, he became a laborer, a glass installer, a pharmaceutical salesman. Baseball became more or less a hobby.

He turned the hobby into a second chance. Moylan attracted the attention of Atlanta scouts while pitching in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and was inked to a make-good contract. He did just that. Despite a plethora of surgeries — back, elbow, shoulder — he’s still wearing a big-league uniform a decade later. Does that mean he’s a household name down under? Not so much.

———

Moylan on making his mark in MLB: “Am I surprised I’m still playing? No, but I feel like I’m playing with house money. In everyone’s eyes, I was never going to be a guy who comes over here and goes very far. I was 27 when I was a rookie. I came out of the World Baseball Classic and it was more of ‘Let’s take a chance on this guy.’ The fact that I’ve turned that chance into an 11-year career… I’m really grateful.

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Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 11/29/17

2:01
Dan Szymborski: It begins.

2:02
The Average Sports Fan: Is Piscotty a real trade piece?  Does his contract help or hurt?

2:02
Dan Szymborski: After his 2017, it probably hurts a bit.  I don’t think he’s a real trade piece at this moment.

2:02
Nate: Give us a hypothetical return if the Giants trade Bumgarner this winter, pretty please?

2:03
Dan Szymborski: Given two years, I think he’d land a top 20 prospect and a second somewhere in the top 100 and some lotto tickets.

2:03
Ubaldo Jimenez: Should the Orioles resign me to a 100 million dollar contract?

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MLB Pace Has Never Been Slower. Who’s to Blame?

Pitch clocks are likely coming to an MLB stadium near you in 2018, according to a report by Buster Olney from earlier this month.

There’s a practical reason for the introduction of the clock and for the commissioner’s interest in it: the game keeps slowing down. In fact, in the pitch-tracking era — and likely in the history of the sport — the pace of game has never been slower than it was in 2017.

While pace of game and time of game aren’t entirely the same thing, they’re certainly connected, and the average length of game was a record three hours and five minutes last season. That’s up from three hours and 42 seconds in 2016.

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Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 11/29/17

12:04
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone.

12:05
Dave Cameron: I’m gettting a little bit of a late start today, but we’ll fire this thing up in a couple of minutes.

12:11
Andrew : Will Stanton be traded by the Winter Meetings and too what Team?

12:11
Dave Cameron: Since we’re dealing with a guy who has never run a team before, it’s hard to know what Jeter is going to do.

12:11
Dave Cameron: My guess is the teams that are interested will eventually tell the Marlins that they’re moving on if they don’t get an answer.

12:12
Dave Cameron: And I wouldn’t be shocked if that happened next week.

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2018 ZiPS Projections – New York Mets

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the New York Mets. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Batters
Mets position players actually put together a pretty strong campaign in 2017, recording the 11th-best WAR in the majors among their peers. That would normally represent some cause for optimism in terms of next season — would, that is, were the current roster to feature the same personnel as this past year’s. An inspection of that roster, however, reveals that four of the club’s top seven players by WAR from 2017 are no longer employed by the organization. Curtis Granderson (2.3 WAR for the Mets in 2017), Jay Bruce (2.0), Jose Reyes (2.0), and Neil Walker (1.4) have all departed either by way of trade or free agency.

The exodus of talent might pose some challenges to the 2018 edition of the Mets. According to Dan Szymborski’s computer, however, it also might not. ZiPS calls for over seven wins combined from Yoenis Cespedes (projected for 500 PA and 3.4 zWAR) and Michael Conforto (513, 3.7), which would go some distance towards mitigating the losses of the club’s departed outfielders. The projections here also suggest that young shortstop Amed Rosario (594, 2.2) and young first baseman Dominic Smith (652, 2.5) could produce nearly five wins as a pair — this, after recording -0.3 WAR collectively in 2017. Those sorts of return would likely place the Mets’ field-playing contingent among the league’s middle third again.

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The Other Major Second-Half Turnaround

The Rays need stars. It’s all well and good to come up with a bunch of league-average plugins, but without stars, a team is stuck. A team is trapped, being okay without being good, and there’s a reason people are beginning to wonder whether the Rays should tear it all down. Without enough stars, what chance do they have of getting over the top? What chance do they have of keeping up with the Red Sox and Yankees? There’s a certain amount of appeal in pressing the reset button. And no one could blame the Rays, given the reality of their circumstances.

I’m not sure if the Rays will throw in the towel. They understand the process better than most, and they’re forever thinking about the longer-term, but conceding the present is never easy. It’s a major decision that asks an awful lot of the roster and the fan base. So maybe the Rays will blow it up, or maybe the Rays will tinker. Should they opt to keep trying, that could reflect organizational confidence in the development of Blake Snell.

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FanGraphs After Dark Chat – 11/28/17

7:11
Paul Swydan:

Which player acquisition do you care most about?

Giancarlo Stanton (6.9% | 11 votes)
 
Shohei Ohtani (59.4% | 94 votes)
 
Both equally! (11.3% | 18 votes)
 
Neither, I just want them to move so other stuff starts happening!!!!!!! (22.1% | 35 votes)
 

Total Votes: 158
7:13
Paul Swydan:

What is your favorite Star Wars movie?

Episode I: The Phanton Menace (3.8% | 6 votes)
 
Episode II: Attack of the Clones (1.9% | 3 votes)
 
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (4.4% | 7 votes)
 
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (5.1% | 8 votes)
 
Episode IV: A New Hope (12.1% | 19 votes)
 
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (30.7% | 48 votes)
 
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (15.3% | 24 votes)
 
Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2.5% | 4 votes)
 
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (even tho I haven’t seen it yet!) (3.2% | 5 votes)
 
NONE, STAR WARS IS TRASH! (20.5% | 32 votes)
 

Total Votes: 156
9:00
Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

9:01
Paul Swydan: Just me tonight. Jeff is out of pocket.

9:01
MattyB: Does Keynan Middleton have a reasonable shot at taking over the Angels’ closer role during the 2018 season?

9:02
Paul Swydan: His chances probably depend on 1) can he cure his home run problems? and 2) Who gets hurt in front of him. But certainly not impossible.

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The Best Reliever Available Might’ve Pitched in Japan

Dennis Sarfate is now 36 years old, and he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since 2009. In terms of just the general profile, fans of every team have experience with their own Dennis Sarfates. It’s maybe the most familiar reliever profile there is: hard-throwing righty who doesn’t throw strikes. Most of the time, those pitchers don’t blossom. When they’re in the minors, they’re viewed as future closers, but the strikes never come, and they bounce around on waivers. They get replaced. There are always replacements.

Sarfate blossomed. He didn’t do it in the majors, nor did he do it with a major-league affiliate. You might argue that Sarfate blossomed quietly. But in fact, that would reflect a biased perspective, because Sarfate went and became a dominant reliever in Japan. Sarfate was so good he was just voted as his league’s MVP, and although it’s not often the true MVP works out of a bullpen, the results send a message. Pitching in another league, Sarfate has turned into something overwhelming. He set Japan’s single-season record for saves, and he worked three innings in the decisive game of the championship. I used to make fun of Sarfate, when I was younger and he was bad. Sarfate now has maximized his talent. He might be the best reliever available.

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We Don’t Really Know How Giancarlo Stanton Will Age

Predicting Stanton’s age curve is difficult because predicting any player’s age curve is difficult.
(Photo: Corn Farmer)

In the midst of a slow beginning to the offseason, the big slugger in Miami keeps hitting homers — at least when it comes to providing content. Even after I made the case for acquiring Giancarlo Stanton — particularly for a team like the Giants — and Craig Edwards pointed out how an opt-out lowers Stanton’s value, the NL MVP remains a source of inspiration. Because, while all of those posts regarding Stanton feature assumptions about his ability to produce years from now, none of them focus on how well or poorly he’ll age, specifically. How he ages, though, is super important to how one thinks about his contract. It’s a matter worth unpacking further, in other words.

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Third Base Looks Like a Buyer’s Market

Yesterday, I suggested the Blue Jays and Cardinals should consider making a swap centered around Josh Donaldson. Unsurprisingly, many of the comments felt the return for a true superstar was less than it should be. Historically, the public expectation of what elite players will return in trade is less than they actually bring back when traded. But beyond just a difference in expected market value for one year of an elite player, I think that the Jays might want to consider that, if things go south this year, they’ll be tasked with trading a third baseman in a buyer’s market.

Let’s start by just looking at the teams that we can reasonably expect to be buyers this summer. There are 10 teams that currently project for 84+ wins in 2018; here are their third base situations.

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