MASH Report (4/18/13)

From now on I am not going to look at individuals heading to and from the DL, but a more detailed look if an injury is affecting a player with the MASH Report. If any reader wants an opinion on a player, let me know. I am going to start by looking at a request from KMen in yesterday’s Roto Riteup.

Question 1:

Mat Latos has decreased velocity from 93 to 91mph over first 3 starts. Apparently velocity is pretty much stabilized after 3 starts, so that’s a significant drop. However, his SwStr% is just as good as always, and he’s definitely still getting the results (off to best start in his career). What do we make off all of this?

The velocity is an concern, but probably more important is his Zone%. It went from around 46% in 2012 to almost 52% in 2013. The jump has made a huge difference. His K/9 went from 8.0 to 8.8. His BB/9 halved from 2.8 down to 1.4. Maybe, Latos needed to take a little off his fastball to throw more strikes, but only he knows for sure. I am not concerned about any possible injury for now.

It is really no surprise to see him getting hit a little harder with both his HR/9 (1.1 to 1.4) and BABIP (.266 to .321) both up up. Pitches hit in the strike zone are more likely to go for hits than those out of the zone. As long as he can keep his walk rate down, I don’t see the extra hits as a problem.

Question 2:

Carlos Beltran is off to a slow start, and playing through a toe injury. However, his plate discipline so far seems to actually be pretty good (people were worried about his bad plate discipline in the 2nd half of last year). His O-Swing% is a bit high, and he seems to be making more contact on pitches out of the zone rather than in. However, he is sporting about a 35% LD%, good for top 5 in all of baseball (or so), and therefore although his BABIP is low right now, I did a quick calculation of his xBABIP and it sits around .370 or so right now. It’s still all a small sample for now, but do you think he’s just making weak contact on pitches out of the zone, or is he actually making good contact and getting bad luck, or is his toe injury playing a role here?

I believe the 36-year-old’s fractured right toe is just killing his value for a couple of reasons.

2. He can’t run fast and the speed deficiency hurts him in two ways. First, he is non-threat to steal. Second, it will limit the number of hits and extra base hits he generates. For example, here is a video when he should have beaten out a double play while “sprinting” with an obvious limp (maybe MLB will make the videos available for sharing at some point).

His Speed Score confirms this decline in speed. It is down near 1.0 after hovering around 4.0 over the past few seasons.

2. He has no power. So far in the season, he has one extra base hit, the following home run.

The home run at least gives him a positive ISO (.073). Sluggers Jamey Carroll and Jemile Weeks put up similar 2012 ISO values. As KMen pointed out, he has a decent LD% (32.4%) and figured is xBABIP to be at .286. Not great, but better than his current value of .257.

The biggest key for me is where his batted balls are being fielded. Here is 2013 distribution.

2013 spray

Not one of his 30%+ line drives have made to the wall. Only two hits have made it past the outfield line of defense, the home run and a fly ball near the warning track.

To see if he has turned the corner, I would look at a trending ISO in at least .150 to .200 range. Also, examine his batted ball data to see if a few more of his batted balls are making it to the deeper part of the ball park.

Player Return Timetables

(*) 15 Day Disabled List
(**) 60 Day Disabled List
(***) 7 Day Concussion List

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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MLB blocking the embedded videos.