Archive for Injuries

Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Hitter Shoulders & Injury Updates

• Strikeouts = Shoulder Injuries?

Lindsay Berra discussed the increased risk of a shoulder injury to Ohtani because he hits.

As a left-handed hitter, Ohtani’s pitching arm, his right, is his front shoulder when he is at the plate. In recent memory, we’ve seen several players battle injuries to their lead shoulder — Aaron Judge and Michael Brantley included.

When a batter makes contact, the counterforce from hitting the ball activates the stabilizing muscles around the shoulder. If he misses, the lack of counterforce means that all the forces generated by the swing are absorbed by the shoulder. And as Ohtani adjusts to Major League pitching, it is likely he will swing and miss more than he did in Japan.

“Imagine a left-hander swinging out of his shoes and missing,” says Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Mass. “The right arm continues to come back, and when the arm goes into external rotation or horizontal abduction, the ball tends to fly forward in the socket, which can irritate the front of the shoulder and cause anterior shoulder instability.”

Ohtani will put slightly less stress on his front shoulder, because he has a two-handed finish — at least at the moment — but there will be stress on his pitching shoulder nonetheless.

First, go read the whole article or at least this section. I listed just some highlights but there are more details on hitter shoulder injuries in the full reading.

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Miguel Cabrera: Creating a Personal Drafting Plan

The projection systems love Miguel Cabrera. To them, he’s a hitter who performed decent in the first half and struggled in the second half. The projections don’t know that he has two herniated discs in his back. Because of the injury, his wOBA dropped from .339 in the first half to .274 in the 2nd half. Using projections, he’s the 54th highest ranked player but owners have pushed his ADP closer to 100th. It’s time to determine why the disconnect.

It was definitely a tale of two halves for Cabrera.

Miguel Cabrera’s 2017 1st & 2nd Halves
Monthly AVG OBP SLG BABIP BB% K%
1st Half .264 .357 .440 .307 12.1% 20.4%
2nd Half .230 .288 .342 .272 7.4% 21.4%

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Using Curveball Spin to Predict Blisters

Pitching blisters were an afterthought just two years ago but the reported instances have jumped the past two seasons. Detailed accounts were written by Eno Sarris here at FanGraphs and Ben Lindbergh at the Ringer.

Throwing a curveball may be to blame according to Sarris:

But we can’t dismiss that chart completely. The players who have gone down with blister problems have thrown curves 14.9% of the time, far above the 10-11% baseball as a whole averaged over that timeframe. The players who ended up on the list more than once averaged 18.9% curveballs. Enough to say there’s some smoke here.

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2017 Disabled List Information

I’ve finally compiled the 2017 Disabled List (DL) information. The main change from the last few seasons is the transition from the 15-day DL to 10-day DL and the subsequent increase in DL trips. With the total trips up, the number of days lost is down which makes it tough to draw any major conclusions. It’s time to dive into the numbers.

First off, I collected the information from MLB.com’s transaction list. I like to use this list because it is easy to go back and check. I waded through it and it wasn’t pretty. It took me twice as long to compile the data compared to previous seasons. I would just like to give a big thank you to ProSportsTransactions.com for having most of the missing data.

With my venting out of the way, here is how the days missed for pitchers and hitters compare over the previous 4 seasons.

Days Lost to the Disabled List
Season Hitters Pitchers
2013 11996 18455
2014 10016 16295
2015 10491 18442
2016 12797 22139
2017 12268 19565

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Help Needed: Hitters Playing Through Injuries

(10/9: Thanks to everyone for the additions.)

One player class I target for potential bargains are hitters who played through injuries. These injuries drag down a player’s production as they and their team struggle with the tradeoff of a regular player at 80% or a replacement at 100%. With the season just ending and drafts months away, I want to create a draft season reference list while people still remember parts of the 2017 season.

A few years back, I examined the negative effects of playing through injuries, mainly power. In the following season, those effects are gone for hitters.

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Dear Disengaged Owner

Dear Disengaged Owner,

This has been hard for you in the past, but please read carefully.  Today, we are officially ending our relationship.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but I think we both know this is long overdue.  As good as your original intentions may have been when you first joined our league, this is no longer meant to be.  But don’t worry, it’s not me, it’s you.  

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What To Do With the Other Two Aces: Bumgarner & Syndergard?

The great, powerful, and unbelievably handsome Justin of Friends With Fantasy Benefits (and of course, RotoGraphs) is hosting four early mock drafts. I am participating in one of them.

In each draft, the following four pitchers went first without exception.

Mock Draft’s Top Four Pitchers
Name Draft 1 Draft 2 Draft 4 Average
Kershaw 11 4 8 8
Scherzer 12 12 14 13
Sale 13 15 19 16
Kluber 15 27 15 19

Last season in NFBC drafts, these four were included with the first six pitchers drafted on average. While Kershaw and Scherzer were 1st and 2nd in each draft, Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard were taken, on average, before Chris Sale and Corey Kluber. Both Bumgarner (bruised ribs, strained shoulder) and Syndergaard (torn lat muscle) missed most of the 2017 season. Because of their current injuries and unknown future health, their ADP has fallen in these four mocks.

Bumgarner’s & Syndergaard’s 2018 ADP
Name Draft 1 Draft 2 Draft 4 Average
Bumgarner 31 38 24 31
Syndergaard 36 33 37 35

The trepidation about owning them is understandable but owners still need to value the pair. It’s not going to be easy.

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Mike Trout’s Trade Value

In last night’s chat, Paul Swydan and I got a ton of questions on Mike Trout’s trade value because of his recent injury. It’s a simple yet loaded question with so many different league types and possible roster construction rules. I will discuss some basic starting valuations for Trout which owners can use.

When looking at possible trade options, I like to start with Yahoo!’s Trade Market page. It lists the most recent trades involving any player. It just lists the last 25 trades so the page can be refreshed with updated information. Here are some post-injury one-for-one trades from the page:

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Velocity Decliners: Bundy, Triggs, & Kennedy

Note: I am using velocities from BrooksBaseball.net which has corrected their values from the 2016 to 2017 transition.

 

Dylan Bundy -2.5 mph (2016 FBv: 94.8mph, 2017 FBv: 92.3 mph)

Bundy’s decline is being obscured by the fact he relieved in 2016. Owners can see the 2017 drop and chalk it up to the normal velocity difference between starting and relieving. After removing the 2016 relieving values, his velocity is still down 2.5 mph.

For reference, here are his 2016 stats as a starter all of his 2017 ones.

Dylan Bundy’s Stats While Starting
Season ERA FIP xFIP K% SwStr%
2016 4.52 5.25 4.45 23.5% 10.8%
2017 2.92 3.95 4.69 17.9% 9.8%

Bundy’s approach and results are almost a textbook example of fastball velocity loss. The swinging strike rate on his fastball has dropped from 8.2% to 4.8% and therefore his strikeout rate dropped. Bundy realized his fastball isn’t the same, dropped its usage (61% to 50%) and relied on breaking pitches more.

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2017 Home-To-First Times

Last week, I analyzed the 2016 home-to-first times for hitters. With the background information out of the way, I’ll examine at the 2017 speed data to find who’s running the faster and slowest, who’s changed the most since 2016, and how home-to-first times compare to Bill James’s speed score.

With all the Statcast batted ball data getting analyzed, I continue examining the home-to-first times. Fantasy owners may believe speed is mainly used to determine stolen base threats. It’s more than that.

It’s an input to many other fantasy related factors which can help explain a player’s age-related decline. Faster players will beat out a few extra ground balls for hits thereby raising their batting average and on-base percentage. Speed allows a player to score more once on base. It can add to a hitter’s power profile. Also, speed can help keep a player maintain their fielding range at a premium defensive position instead of moving to a statue-like position (e.g. first base). Finally, a drop in running speed may point to an injured player.

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