Archive for Site News

We Upgraded Our Site’s Search Bar

At last week’s Winter Meetings, we redesigned our search bar functionality, and we are launching it today. The search bar location and the main function haven’t changed. The search bar is in the same place, and by default has the most-viewed players. It allows you to search players and blog articles. We did a pretty significant under-the-hood update that returns more relevant results, and while we were at it, we made some interface updates.

If you are interested in the details:

  • Players results are weighted by a combination of name match and the number of recent views.
  • Active players are in bold. The partial match of a search term is also underlined the player’s name.
  • Articles can be searched in a separate window. They are weighted by term matching, number of views, and recency.
  • For now, we’ve only included main page articles, not articles from all of our the blogs. The other blogs will be added in the future.
  • We included Team Pages in the results!
  • The search is also available as a full page: fangraphs.com/tools/search

We’re Relaunching the Community Blog

If you have ever wanted your writing to appear on the pages of FanGraphs, do we have good news for you!

After a brief hiatus, we are relaunching the Community Research page, a blog that features articles from our readers. This means you, your friends, your grandma, basically anyone with a (free) FanGraphs account can submit some baseball words to be run here on the site.

There are a few rules, of course. There are always rules:

  • Every article is subject to approval. While submitted works represent a range of topics and exhibit varying degrees of polish, they do need to be appropriate, and meet a baseline of readability and relevance.
  • Your submission must be your original work. Please only send us pieces that you have written.
  • That said, your article does not necessarily have to be exclusive to FanGraphs. Have a piece from your own blog that you think would fit well here? Send it on over for approval. Just let us know where else it has appeared.
  • You may submit a maximum of one article per week. We’d love to run every worthy article we receive, but realistically, we can’t. We appreciate your understanding.

That’s about it. If you have submitted pieces in recent months while the blog was on hiatus that did not run, and you still feel they are relevant, feel free to submit them again. We are starting with a fresh slate of submissions going forward.

If you don’t have a FanGraphs account (seriously, it’s free), you can register here.

Once you have an account, you can submit a post here.

We’re looking forward to sharing your research.


Hello, Again

By now, you’ve no doubt heard the news that current managing editor of FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli, is departing the site for the chilly northern climes of Toronto and the Blue Jays’ pro scouting department. Carson is a great editor and baseball mind, as well as a generous writer, friend, and podcast host, and while we’ll soldier on ably in his absence, I doubt we’ll ever hire anyone with exactly his same delightful perspective again. The Blue Jays will be richer for that, FanGraphs poorer.

You also may have heard that I will be stepping into his shoes as managing editor. What does that mean for you, the reader? Not much, as it turns out.

Since its inception, FanGraphs has delivered sabermetrically driven analysis that asks interesting baseball questions and tells interesting baseball stories, and it will continue to do so in the future. You, the reader, will still get to read the same smart, funny, incisive writing. You’ll enjoy the same rigorous statistical work, the same insightful prospect coverage, and the same thoughtful player and industry analysis as you always have, though I hope you’ll learn to tolerate a less fanatical devotion to hyphens.

My work as a writer here and as the managing editor of The Hardball Times had been animated by a desire to understand the game from the seams out; to bring the rigors of social science and statistical analysis to bear on baseball questions; to color the answers to those questions with philosophy and humor. To pick at, until we are satisfied, the “why” as much as the “what” and the “how.” To challenge what we assume we know about the game, those who run it and those who play it. All of that will inform my work as FanGraphs’ managing editor.

I’ll still be writing, chatting, and (for now) managing The Hardball Times. One thing that will change: I will serve as your new host of FanGraphs Audio. Chatting with folks about baseball is one of my favorite things to do, and I look forward to getting to do just that with members of our staff, as well as a few guests. But don’t you worry: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass aren’t going anywhere.

Every editor brings with them their own vision and quirks, but each one’s success is largely the result of the writers with whom they work and the readers who consume all those good words. Our staff of full-time writers and contributors is in terrific shape, and you, our readers, are as thoughtful in your comments and generous with your reading hours as ever. We’ll miss Carson dearly, but we’ll press on. This is the new FanGraphs, same as the old FanGraphs. I couldn’t be more excited.


An Unexpected Development

In April of 2009, FanGraphs CEO David Appelman announced that his growing site would be adding two part-time writers effective immediately or something like immediately. Having produced some vaguely analytical work for my own weblog, I sent a collection of story ideas, a CV, and an overwrought cover letter to the email address provided in his announcement. In a turn of events that speaks both to Appelman’s discretion as a leader and his capacity for identifying talent, he made a decision that would benefit FanGraphs for some time — which is to say, he hired someone else.

As if to prove, however, that even the most towering intellects aren’t immune from errors in judgment, Appelman and his future managing editor Dave Cameron would undo their good work just a few months later. Acting on a recommendation from Jonah Keri, who’s culpability in this process can’t be overstated, Appelman and Cameron invited me, at the beginning of August 2009, to begin contributing twice a week to fangraphs dot com.

To suggest that my first posts at the site were met with a “mixed response” would be to make full use of the rhetorical device known as “euphemism.” While I received no actual threats of bodily harm to my person, that didn’t prevent my person from crawling into the fetal position and weeping like a child. And while the vigor with which some readers expressed their dissatisfaction was probably unnecessary, the basic gist of their comments — namely, that I was single-handedly ruining whatever goodwill FanGraphs had cultivated with the public — seemed, at times, to possess merit.

When I asked Appelman if I should stop, lest I topple his fledgling empire, he suggested I not do that. “Keep going,” in fact, was more or less the tenor of his message. And whether that was the soundest advice or not, it seems in retrospect to have worked out. I have kept going for over nine years, enjoying (like other FanGraphs writers) an editorial freedom and collaborative spirit that is rare for any publication. One of Appelman’s great strengths as this site’s guardian has been to trust his writers. It’s an ethic from which I’ve benefited as a contributor and which I’ve attempted to preserve as an editor.

Starting today, however, I will no longer serve as a writer or editor for this site. After a tenure that has lasted far beyond even my most optimistic projections, I’m leaving FanGraphs to become a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

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THE BOARD! Updated for 2019 Team Lists

As the FanGraphs prospect team starts to roll out team lists this off season, we’ve updated THE BOARD! to include team lists as they are published. You also might notice we did an update on the interface.

Important Notes:

  • Team Lists will be added as they are published. Once all 30 lists and the Top 100 prospects are published, the Team Lists will just become the preseason 2019 list.
  • The Scouting section for 2019 is split into position players and pitchers. This is to accommodate the addition of columns for Tommy John surgery date and spin rate for pitchers.
  • The MLB Organization and Position selection now behaves like our splits tool. If you select one team, say the Padres, it will only show players in the Padres organization. If you were to click on another team, say the Braves, it will show you players in both the Padres’ and the Braves’ organization.
  • You can now search for players within a board using the search box. The search function is limited to the current board, so it won’t find a player on the 2018 International board if you have the 2019 Team Lists loaded. It’s effectively a custom filter that filters on the player’s name and signing/college information.
  • A .csv data file of the current board with associated filters can be exported from the top right corner of the data grid.

2019 Free Agent Tracker Is Up!

Our 2019 Free Agent Tracker is now live, housing the results from our crowdsourcing effort from the last two weeks. It will update with new contract data as free agents sign.

You might notice a new interface: readers are now able to filter the board choosing multiple teams and multiple positions. Also, in the top-right corner, we’ve put links to leaderboards and projection boards for the free agents.

The crowdsourcing numbers include both the average values and the median values for prospective player deals. The projected WAR uses the Depth Charts projections available on the projection page and player pages. At this point in the offseason, the Depth Charts projections closely reflect Steamer, but the playing time might differ slightly. ZiPS will be added at a later point in the offseason.


FanGraphs Mugs Are Here!

In our never-ending quest to put a FanGraphs logo on everything, mugs are the logical next step. So, here they are!

They come in both black and white to match your preferred aesthetic and, at 15 oz., are also on the large size. These have quickly become the go-to mugs in my own household, to the point where certain unnamed spouses have attempted to monopolize them.

They are available now for $25, which includes shipping and handling. Supplies are currently limited. Quite honestly, these may be the first and last mugs we make, so get them while you can!


Interface Updates to Splits Leaderboards

We’ve rolled out some interface updates to the Splits Leaderboards.

The biggest change is the addition of quick splits and a ribbon control interface. The quick splits represent the most frequently used splits: home/away, handedness, and starting pitcher/relief pitcher. To keep the control area of the board condense, we implemented a ribbon / tabbed interface for the controls. If you would still like to see everything at once, you can click “Show All”.

The data export button has been moved closer to the data grid and will now export only the data and stats on the current board.

We are in the process of designing more data features and stats for this board. And if you notice any bugs or errors, please let us know.


Fans Scouting Report: Ballots Needed!

We are currently seeking additional ballots for a handful of teams for the Fans Scouting Report.

If you follow the Royals, Twins, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Pirates or Padres it would be a great help if you took a short amount of time to fill out a ballot.

We could also use ballots for the Orioles, Mets, Rockies, Brewers, White Sox and Dodgers, but these are in a little bit less of dire need.

The compiled results of these ballots end up on the player pages and the leaderboards.

In addition, if you have filled out a valid ballot (at any time this year, ballots before today included), we are going to be randomly selecting 20 users for a free year of FanGraphs Ad Free Membership! These 20 members will be selected when the ballot closes. If you are selected and already have an Ad Free Membership, your membership will be extended for 12 months.

Thank you for your help!


There Will Be Chats

In Canto IV of his Inferno, the poet Dante — led by other, more dead poet Virgil — enters a level of hell reserved predominantly for those people who had the misfortune of predating Christ. One can ask reasonable questions about the justice of this arrangement — is it the fault of Socrates, for example, that he was died before the arrival of an unborn prophet? — but neither Virgil nor Dante nor even the occupants of this region appear to be lodging any serious complaints.

While this intermediate state, known as Limbo, is technically situated within the first circle of hell, it doesn’t feature any of the punishments typically associated with the underworld. No fire or rivers of fire or anything involving fire, really. It’s mostly a bunch of guys sitting around.

Today, we find ourselves in a kind of baseball Limbo*, occupying a place on the schedule that’s technically situated within the regular season but possessing all trappings of a postseason game. It is very strange.

*It’s possible that Dante’s Purgatorio actually serves as a more apt metaphor for these Game 163s, but the author hasn’t read it and has no plans to do so for the moment.

Indeed, the purpose of post is less to meditate on the finer points of a long Italian poem and more to announce that a number of FanGraphs writers will be attempting to understand the strangeness of baseball Limbo in real time today during an extended “live chat” that will start around 1pm ET and continue for the duration of this afternoon’s divisional tiebreakers. Chats for the Wild Card games on Tuesday and Wednesday will follow, as well.

Here’s the playoff chat schedule for the next few days. Times in ET and presented in sophisticated 24-hour format. (Note: prospect and fantasy chats not included here.)

Monday
13:00 Game 163s Live Chat Jubilee

Tuesday
20:00 National League Wild Card Game

Wednesday
20:00 American League Wild Card Game


There’s a Whole Page Now Just for Our Prospect Coverage

Whatever their flaws as human people — and there are too many to catalog in this brief post — lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen and lead prospect analyst emeritus Kiley McDaniel have nevertheless acquitted themselves well in their attempts to analyze all prospects.

Within the last year, they have evaluated every player with a 40 FV or better, ranked and re-ranked the top rookie-eligible players in the game, examined the next three draft classes in as much depth as is reasonable, provided daily notes on in-season developments for pro prospects, both introduced and updated THE BOARD, and (most recently) launched a weekly podcast dedicated to prospect evaluation and air-horn sound effects.

Given the volume of content produced by Messrs. Longenhagen and McDaniel, it makes sense to create a space where readers can find it. Accordingly, we’re introducing today the FanGraphs Prospects landing page.

From the Prospects page, one can access the site’s most recent prospect-related posts, podcast episodes, and rankings. Accompanying the addition of the Prospects page are also a couple new features — namely, a statistical leaderboard featuring only those players who have appeared on a prospect list, a graduation tracker to monitor which players are about to exhaust (or have recently exhausted) their status as a prospect, and a miniature version of THE BOARD.

In addition to hyperlinks like this one, the FanGraphs prospects page is also accessible via the Blogs drop-down menu on FanGraphs’ main page.

Finally, it would be foolish and also very rude not to mention the contributions of Sean Dolinar to the construction of the Prospects page. Dolinar’s work on the project has been invaluable.


A New Type of Leaderboard: Season Stat Grid!

We are debuting a new leaderboard today, the Season Stat Grid. It’s a little different than most of our leaderboards. Instead of having multiple stats in columns for each player, we are showing just one stat on the page and displaying multiple different seasons across the columns. This will allow readers to compare players to other players and themselves across several years.

You are able to select from most batting and pitching stats available on the player pages. There is a “Popular” stat menu which will always contain WAR along with other frequently used or otherwise important stats.

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We Have Live-Updating Daily Leaderboards

We have a new feature on the site: live-updating daily leaderboards! These leaderboards update as games are played without having to reload the page, providing live-updating daily stats for every player along side our existing live scoreboard, win probability graphs, box scores, and play log.



These leaderboards are aimed specifically at showing single-game stats, including ones not available on our traditional leaderboards such as swinging strikes, called strikes, and foul balls for pitchers, and granular batted ball stats for batters.

The live leaderboards also offer the option to filter by different position types, a feature geared toward fantasy owners. They include categories like infielders, middle infielders, and corner infielders.

Finally, these leaderboards allow you to filter by multiple teams. Just click “Filter by Team” and pick the teams you’d like to see. This makes it easy to compare opposing starting pitchers side-by-side, since each team is listed above/below the team they’re playing that day.


This Week’s Chat Schedule Is Slightly Different

The purpose of this post is to announce that this week’s chat schedule — because of the deadline and also because of Kiley McDaniel’s extensive contract rider — is slightly different than during other weeks of the year. The amended schedule appears below, with times presented in the more sophisticated 24-hour format to reflect the sophistication of this site’s readers.

Monday
14:00 Dan Szymborski

Tuesday
12:00 Justin Mason
15:00 Kiley McDaniel and Travis Sawchik Deadline Chat
16:00 Brad Johnson

Wednesday
12:00 Jeff Sullivan

Thursday
12:00 Jay Jaffe
14:00 Eric Longenhagen

Friday
12:00 Meg Rowley
15:00 Paul Sporer


Joining the Fray

Journalism is necessarily a job in which many need to act as mercenaries, but as mercenaries go, I make a rather poor one. Going back to 2001, there are only two places for which I’ve primarily written: ESPN.com and Baseball Think Factory née Baseball Primer. I joined both of these places not just because they were interested in my work or, in the case of the former, also wanted to give me money, but because I believed in their mission statement.

Starting today, I’ve taken a new role in another project I believe in, joining the FanGraphs team as a full-time, senior writer.

I’ve always been a fan of FanGraphs and, even more importantly, the group of people that David Appelman has assembled over the last decade. (Even Carson, at least until I find the rest of his horcruxes.) I haven’t had the opportunity yet to meet everyone involved — baseball analytics is a much larger world than when I first became involved 20 years ago — but I consider many of the FanGraphs writers personal friends and all of them valued colleagues.

What cemented FanGraphs for me in my mind as a great place to work was at Sabermetrics Day for the Staten Island Yankees in 2016. For those who weren’t around or just don’t remember, the Staten Island Yankees had a special theme day in June of that year, inviting Carson, Dave Cameron, Jonah Keri, Ben Lindbergh, Meg Rowley, Emma Span, and myself for a panel and a barbecue. Apples brought the whole crew along, so while I was familiar with FanGraphs writers, many of whom I had known for a very long time (20 years in the case of D-Cam), I had never seen FanGraphs work together as a unit.

One thing I noticed was how much this group of writers enjoyed working with each other, respected each other, and even if they don’t all come to the party with the same point-of-view, have this incredibly collaborative vibe. My traveling companion, who is not at all into baseball and has never quite figured out what it is I do — a full story for another time, but she was once under the mistaken impression that I was part of a composite of characters that Jonah Hill played in Moneyball — came into that weekend feeling a bit of an outsider. Despite this, the FanGraphs crew made a real effort to make her feel included in the festivities, completely unasked, something which has always touched me.

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Auction Calculator In-Season Updates!

The FanGraphs Auction Calculator now calculates in-season values and values off Rest of Season projections.

Some Notes:

  • Rest of Season auction value calculations are available for Steamer, Depth Charts, ZiPS, and THE BAT projection systems.
  • Dollar values for Rest of Season projections are pro-rated for how many days are remaining in the season.
  • In-season auction value calculations are pro-rated for the number of days into the season.
  • Positional eligibility for in-season calculations is determined via positions played in 2018. Please adjust your position qualifications accordingly.

Our Playoff Odds Have Win Distributions Now

Much like the update last month, nothing in how we calculate our playoff odds has changed, but we’ve added a new feature to the page. We are now reporting the distribution of wins from the Monte Carlo simulation.

Specifically:

  • The 25th percentile;
  • The 75th percentile; and
  • A histogram of projected wins.*

*The average is already reported as expected wins.

You can find this if you select the new display option in the dropdown of the same name.

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Updated Combined WAR Leaderboard

Within our Leaders menu there sits a Combined WAR Leaderboard under the WAR Tools sub-header. It has pitchers and position players on one leaderboard to compare their WAR. We’ve made an update, so the leaderboard now displays “Total WAR”, and not just WAR from their primary role. This was necessary because a certain two-way player started playing in the league this season.

We retained the old WAR values from the previous version and labeled that “Primary WAR”, so a traditional NL pitcher will only have his pitching WAR in the “Primary WAR” column. The “Total WAR” column will display his batting (position player) WAR + pitching WAR. This is particularly interesting for pitchers like Madison Bumgarner.

The primary role is determined by looking at all the appearance the player has made, it works well with players in the traditional roles. Shohei Ohtani’s primary role is displaying as a position player. The primary role only affects the which WAR is reported to the “Primary WAR”. “Total WAR” is unaffected by roles. (As of 4/21/2018, you’ll find Shohei Ohtani on the second page of the leaderboard.)

This leaderboard is a candidate for additional overhaul and expansion, so let us know if there are additional features that would be useful for a combined WAR leaderboard.


Introducing THE BOARD

Eric and I have been working hard the last few months to rank everything that we can, including produce at the grocery store and our friends and family. As far as the rankings that appear on FanGraphs, we’ve had Prospect Week, headlined by the annual top-100 prospects list and complemented by nine other associated pieces, including preseason draft rankings that were updated yesterday to account for what’s happened in the last 10 weeks.

In that spirit of ranking and constantly updating, along with the desire to show our work and give readers tools to make decisions, today we are introducing THE BOARD.

This represents just the first pass at a feature that is likely to be modified and improved upon. Feel free to submit any suggestions in the comments. (I, personally, have a list of about a dozen additions for the coming months.) While we could have continued to develop this before releasing it, we felt this was something from which readers could benefit ASAP. It also serves as a bit of an apology for the team prospect lists taking so long. We’ll still be releasing an article for each team as planned over the next couple weeks. In the meantime, though, every organization is included in THE BOARD, updated with full tool grades. Readers, for example, can check out some of those to-be-published audits, like the record-breaking Padres’ list featuring 43 prospects.

A big hat tip is in order to dark overlord David Appelman for making our crazy ideas a reality.

Click here to see THE BOARD.

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Our Playoff Odds Have a New Look

The Playoff Odds page looks different! The playoff-odds data and simulation method remains the same; however, we have revamped our reporting page to make it easier to understand and more powerful.

The most noticeable changes are the table layout and the mobile layout. We’ve tried to make it easier to understand what the columns mean for users who are new to the site. The goal of the mobile layout is to allow users to reach the most important information more quickly. Every column on the desktop page is viewable on the mobile layout by clicking the “Full” button.

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