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Updated: 2015-09-16T18:47:36.887-04:00

 



Beyond the BoxScore

2005-05-10T00:48:17.766-04:00

I'm now doing pretty much all my baseball writing on BeyondtheBoxScore.com, Marc Normandin's new site. So this is pretty much just going to not do too much for a while.

Thanks for your readership, though!



David Wright

2005-04-26T00:13:30.686-04:00

After a sort-of slow start, Wright has put together an exceptional first month:

4.20 P/PA
.270 BA
.395 OBP
.503 SLG

Just worth noting.



What's going on?

2005-04-24T16:00:37.260-04:00

I'm sure all 4 or 5 of my loyal readers want to know: where the hell are the posts? Well, here's a bit of a wrap of what's been going on:

1. I am now writing at Baseball Rants, Marc Normandin's site. He does a good job; he's thorough and writes very often.

2. I've written two things there: a look back at the Mets-Marlins deals in '98, and a small entry called "Romeo and Juliet and Calvin Pickering."

3. I will write Met entries (like Series Wrap-Ups) less frequently here, and they won't be as specific and formatted. They'll be longer than the last one, though, which was just a disgrace.

4. The Baseball Hour on WZBT 91.1 FM in Gettysburg (with my friend Craig Knox) saw its last broadcast of the spring. Finals start on Sunday here, and I don't think I'll have time for one more.

5. The Mets seem to be playing in a lot of laughers early on, so I'll take a look at that tonight after outlining a Chapter of my IR textbook.



Series Wrap-Up: Mets at Marllies

2005-04-22T15:22:01.346-04:00

Series Wrap Up: Mets at Marllies

Results of the Series

Splits all around.

Marlins: 9-7
Mets: 8-8
Phillies: 8-8

Top Performers
Coming soon
Mets: Victor Diaz
Marlins:
Phillies:

Worst Performers
Coming soon
Mets:
Marlins:
Phillies:

One sentence summary:

Two offensive explosions propel the Mets to a very acceptable split.

Longer summary:

Time constrains are going to prevent this entry from being particularly detailed, but a few observations:

- The Mets are an average team at this point. Injuries to the pitching staff have hurt, and they desperately need Benson to come back strong.
- The Marlins have underachieved thus far, considering how great their pitching has been at times.
- The Phillies can hit and will hit better than they have. Question is, will the pitching keep up?
- Heilman didn't have it, although he experienced some "bad luck" with some softly hit balls in the first. By the third, he was getting destroyed.
- Pedro's looking damn good.
- The BBboys both got hit hard in Philly. Zambrano still shows flashes, but not too impressive.
- 7 homers in a game in Philly? A couple were just fly balls, but Piazza's was a moonshot and Wright's was a laser.
- Speaking of David Wright, he's currently walked in 6 of his last 7 games, putting up a .220/.361/.440 line.
- Reyes is still walkless, now with a .278/.278/.458.
- Victor Diaz leads the NL in secondary average (.650), and his line is .325/.460/.675. I ask again: where did this come from? I'm still thinking that this is a bit flukish, but it's very, very intriguing.

So in other news, I posted an article on Baseball Rants. It was something I'd been working on, so it doesn't really fit in with much of anything. But it was an interesting little project.

Next series: Washington Nationals at New York Mets

Friday, 4/22, 7:10 PM - Esteban Loaiza v. Tom Glavine
Saturday, 4/23, 1:10 PM - Tomo Ohka v. ?
Sunday, 4/24, 1:10 PM - Livan Hernandez v. Victor Zambrano



Series Wrap-Up: Marlins at Mets

2005-04-18T12:06:05.393-04:00

Results of the seriesMets take 2 out of 3.Marlins: 6-6, 2 games backMets: 6-6, 2 games backTop PerformersMets: Aaron Heilman - 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 KMarlins: AJ Burnett - 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HRWorst PerformersMets: Wright and Reyes - .059/.158/.118Marlins: Carlos Delgado - atrocious defense, a lot of bitching about the strike zone, 3/11, 5 K, 0 EBHOne sentence summary:An excellent first two games from the Mets, but as the late and great George Harrison would say, "All Things Must Pass."Longer summaryI've been staring at this for the last hour or so, mixed in with the occassional sentence for my French homework:.278/.278/.407That's the current season's line on Jose Reyes, who has had 80 plate apperances since his last walk.This disturbs me greatly.But that's not the mood of this entry. The Mets took 2 out of 3 from the Marlins, which is pretty much the best you could have hoped for against Beckett, a vengeful Leiter, and Burnett.The key to this series was the determined and masterful performance from Aaron Heilman, whose brilliant performance and Game Score of 89 are currently the best of the young season. I would have voluntarily called Friday's game a throwaway, hoped for some offense against Leiter, and then flipped a coin for Sunday, hoping for 2 wins but tolerating 1. Heilman refused to pitch a throwaway game and Beckett didn't have it.Am I "drinking the Kool Aid" on this start? Well, not yet. I've got the packet of the Kool Aid powder on my desk, but it's not getting opened. This was one start which far exceeded anything he's EVER done as a professional. You'd have to go back to his days at Notre Dame to see anything like this from Heilman. But there were a few things that could portend well:- Heilman returned to his "natural" delivery, the one that he used in college. In the minors, the Mets changed his delivery for some odd reason and it didn't work all that well in the bigs.- Heilman LOOKED tough on the mound, from the few facial expressions I got from the highlights. He'd always looked scared out there, and I went to a game where I could see that from the upper deck behind home plate.- He worked both sides of the plate. One of the knocks on Heilman from the past is that he always seemed to shy away from working the inner half of the plate, and it hurt him a lot (the thinking was that this stemmed back to college and the aluminum bats).- He was pretty much untouchable in that game. There's obviously something there. It's a matter of putting it all together, which I guess is the major problem for most players that don't pan out.Heilman goes on Wednesday against the Marlins, again, so we'll see if they figured out some problems in his delivery. I'm still thinking that Heilman could be a really good reliever; the delivery and approach in that last start reminded me of Eric Gagne. But, who knows? This one's out of the realm of statistical analysis at this point.Pedro / Leiter on Saturday was an electric game. I was at work for most of it, but by the time I got back to the dorm to put it on, the crowd was rocking. (Yes, for some odd reason, I get the WB11 in Gettysburg, PA.) Pedro's stuff was so on that he fooled Piazza for 3 wild pitches, which was the cause of the Marlin run scoring. Looper blew another save, but anyone who expects elite closing from Looper's not realistic. He is what he is - a serviceable closer who is better suited for getting righties out than shutting the door every time.Tom Glavine didn't have it on Sunday, giving up a couple of runs before recording an out. David Wright bailed him out with a nifty double play in the first, but they were down 2-0 a bit too soon. Kaz Matsui didn't help out in the 3rd, when he botched a couple of plays that don't go into the book as errors, There, the Marlins added the decisive third run, and Burnett cruised to victory, save a few hiccups.Wright and Reyes have looked shaky over the last week, and they collectively earned the honor of "Worst pe[...]



Phillies

2005-04-18T00:31:51.326-04:00

The Phillies have two players who I think could be very good (or very valuable in trade) that are being somewhat wasted in their current roles.

1. Ryan Howard - Put me in the camp of "undecided" on Howard...here's his minor league numbers from last year:

AA Reading (Park Factor: 1029, League Factor: 1029): 433 PAs, .297/.386/.647
AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre (Park Factor: 1035, League Factor: 986) 127 PAs, .270/.362/.604
Majors: 42 PAs, .282/.333/.564

These are pretty outstanding, but 29.7% of Ryan Howard's plate appearances in '04 were strikeouts. That's an awfully high number of K's; I don't like that in the minor leagues. What will good major league pitchers do to him??

To put it into perspective, the highest K percentage in the bigs last year (among qualifiers) was Adam Dunn, whose was 28.6%. My fear remains about this guy....

To say that Howard doesn't have potential isn't fair; his power is unquestionable. But they're letting him sit in AAA and really wasting him there. I don't really know where they could stand to improve (centerfield? third base, perhaps?), but I'm sure they could, and Howard is a valuable way to do that.

Bottom line: I have my doubts, but that doesn't mean that I'm right, and that certainly doesn't mean that baseball people agree with me. I'm sure that someone rates Ryan Howard as a major prospect and power hitter....why not cash out now?

2. Ryan Madson - It seems that 1 game can really dictate what happens in a career:

2/3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 HR, 1 BB, 0 K

That's Madson's 1 career start. He's had 1 start and he pitched, well, horrendously. He was pretty well decimated by the White Sox at US Cellular.

But out of the bullpen, he was outstanding.

51 G, 76.3 IP, 17 R, 14 ER, 3 HR, 18 BB, 55 K, 1.65 ERA

One of the most overlooked players last year, he's graduated to being a middle reliever in their pen. I look at these numbers and some pretty solid minor league numbers and I say this:

1. This guy should be starting.
2. This guy could be closing.

I say he should be starting because I'm willing to give a guy a second chance...

(at this point, a lot of my entry was erased b/c instead of typing it up in notepad, I opted to just put it in Blogger. Shows how much I know).

Quickly, to wrap this up:

- His peripherals aren't as exceptional as his stats, but they're pretty good....
- He had very solid control numbers in his last two minor league seasons: in AA in 2002, he walked 2.8 per 9, and in AAA in 2003, he walked 2.4 per 9. This continued in the bigs in 2004.
- He's a groundball pitcher: 1.94 G/F ratio last year.
- He appears to be batter-neutral; lefties don't do much better than righties (subject to sample size).
- Tim Worrell is 37.
- He has limited homers very, very well throughout his minor league career: 40 homers in 733.3 minor league innings and only a few last year.
- He's only 24 years old.
- And, finally, he's started ONE game and was then relegated to the bullpen.

Madson's wasting away in middle relief, IMO.

I wish I knew a way to wrap this all up....but these two players DON'T have real spots on the team....Howard should be traded. Madson? I don't know....

Either way, I like him a lot this year and if he were tradeable, he'd be at the top of my list of low-cost guys I'd like on my team.

Series wrap coming tomorrow....



Series Wrap-Up: Astros at Mets

2005-04-15T15:17:25.253-04:00

Results of the SeriesMets sweep 3 games.Astros: 4-4Mets: 4-5Top performers:Astros: Roger Clemens - 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 77 GSMets: Kaz Ishii - 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 71 GSWorst performers:Astros: Jeff Bagwell - 3/15, 4 KMets: Mike Piazza - 1/10, 1 BB, 1 K, 14.2% throwing rateOne sentence summary:Quality starts, some lucky hits and some bad Houston defense propel the Mets to the sweep.Longer summary:This is cool:- The Reds swept the Mets.- The Astros then swept the Reds.- The Mets then swept the Astros.It's early.I don't get to watch the games, but from the few highlights I saw on SportsCenter and from the radio broadcasts via MLB Gameday, the Mets were NOT hitting it hard in this series.They did pitch well, though.29 IP, 23 H, 7 R, 14 BB, 22 K, 0 HR, 2.17 ERA, 3.13 FIPIf you'd like to see why they won these three games, it starts from those numbers. If you're allowing 2 runs per game, you're going to win a vast majority of your games. At this level, pitching IS extraordinarily valuable...but no staff could sustain a 2.17 ERA consistently.The hitting was....well, not good, as the team put up a .238/.300/.267 line on the series. Additionally, a LOT of those hits were not hit well (the Reyes run scorers in Games 2 & 3, pretty much everything in the 8th inning in Game 1). No homers hit. There was a stiff wind blowing in at times; quite a few home runs died on the way to the track. It's difficult to park adjust at this point in the season, but that made pitching so much more enjoyable.Zambrano allowed 13 baserunners in 6 innings in Game 3, and only 3 of them scored. Now, either Zambrano is particularly good as stranding runners somehow, or the weather kept a few balls in the park and made it tougher to hit. I'll take the latter; from what I've heard, Z didn't have it. I'm still a Zambrano supporter, though....I feel partially vindicated for my pessimism about the Astros this season; they did not play well at all in this series. Their defense was weak, their bullpen sucked, and, more importantly, they didn't hit at all. If they go anywhere this year, it's going to be the rest of the team tugged to an exhausting run by the starters. This offense just isn't going to produce enough (especially while Berkman's out), and this pen is garbage + Lidge. Not a great formula for success. But we'll see what the future holds for them; I think that they'd be best off trying to unload some guys at the deadline and build for the future. But where do you start? The 'Stros aren't exactly stacked with major league caliber talent in the minors....Back on the Mets. Some things I noticed with the hitters, with an emphasis this time on P/PA:- Wright's cooled off a bit since his hot start. But he's seeing pitches and has walked 5 times in the young season; he's averaging 4.08 P/PA.- Reyes may not be walking yet, but he IS seeing more pitches in this young season, bringing up the P/PA to a respectable 3.79. If he keeps it there (I doubt this), I would not be as vehemently opposed to the lack of walks. Speaking of which, it's been 68 plate appearances since his last walk....- Kaz Matsui! Scratched cornea! Contact lenses? What? I still think that Kaz can have a nice year for the Mets at second. His defense is not as bad as the 2 early errors would seem; he's got solid range at second. And some nice hits of late. He's also proven himself to be an astute bunter, which worries me, actually. I get the feeling that Randolph will fall in love with the sacrifice whenever Reyes is on base....3.50 P/PA so far, but a very nice 3.97 last year.- Piazza looks lost at the plate / sounds lost. I can only imagine how hard it must be in the early going. Out of 106 qualifying hitters in the NL, Piazza ranks #91 in P/PA. (Wright ranks #29, and Reyes is a bit below the median at #57.) Such a change from the past.And with some pitchers:- Tom Glavine got the strike calls on the corners, it seemed, and po[...]



Bullpen Usage

2005-04-14T17:57:18.993-04:00

Another solid debate on Primer:http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/primer/discussion/27542/This one's about an article on FoxSports.com, stating that the 9th inning might actually be harder to pitch in than the seventh. As usual, the discussion brought up the 2003 Red Sox bullpen experiment. People like to refer to that as "closer by committee.""Closer by committee" was not a flawed philosophy, IMO. It didn't work b/c the Red Sox had a crappy bullpen. Here's what Epstein did throughout that season to fix it:May 29, 2003: Traded Shea Hillenbrand to Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Byung-Hyun Kim.July 2, 2003: Todd Jones signed as a free agent.July 22, 2003: Traded Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez to Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Mike Gonzalez and Scott Sauerbeck.July 30, 2003: Traded Phil Dumatrait to Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Scott Williamson.OK, so the Sox added Sauerbeck, Williamson, Kim, and Jones to their pen...their pen was BAD to start the year. Usage didn't matter; ability did.Anyway, to me, there are a few "flaws" in bullpen usage that could be pretty easily fixed:In extra inning games on the road, some managers insist on saving their best reliever for the save situation. This is a completely illogical mindset, IMO."Closer by committee" is a bit of a misnomer. Let's bring out the best pitcher for the toughest batters. Example: 3-4-5 up in the 8th, up by a run. Who do you go to if you're, say, the Astros? Chad Qualls? Or Brad Lidge? I'd bring in Lidge for the big bats.Based on the guys in the pen, I would also pitch my closer on fewer days but for more innings. Say the starter goes 7 and I'm in a tie game. My relief ace hasn't thrown in a couple of days....maybe it's best to give him 2 innings there instead of one.If up by 3 in the 9th against the bottom of the order, don't waste your closer. It just adds unnecessary wear to his arm and could hurt you for the next day's game.Ideally, you'd want to go to your closer with the bases loaded in the 7th rather than with the bases empty in the 9th....but "warming up" a pitcher makes that difficult (that's a point I try to ignore when pitching that philosophy). If trouble starts down the stretch, get the closer up. I have no statistical basis for my opinions on this one, but I think that there IS a better way than what we see now. Even yesterday with the Red Sox-Yankees. Psychologically, it made sense to go to Rivera there (b/c Rivera was desperate for a save against those guys). But I'd want to save Rivera for a closer (no pun intended) affair.I think that the reason that the closer system has become the preferred model is because it leaves the fewest questions for the manager to answer at the end of the game. Wille Randolph had it easy after Looper blew the save on Opening Day. I mean, who else could he have turned to, there? How can a reporter criticize him for going to his closer in the 9th? Only the rabid lunatic fans and those who fear The Wrath of DunnTM (me) were pushing for Koo to stay in the game, and for me, that was partially Met-fan paranoia seeping through. Without a true closer system, you'd lose a few more games in the 9th, one would think. And those are the toughest losses to swallow....the ones where the opponent gets to jump around home plate in a synchronized manner (never understood that ritual, btw).The point was made in the thread a lot, though, and it shows: managers have little creativity when it comes to bullpen usage. If you've only got 1 really good reliever (or even good reliever), why not use him for more than an inning but on fewer days? With a team like the Dodgers, it makes a bit less sense, b/c Brazoban and Gagne is pretty potent in the 8th and 9th. But the scariest games for the opponent are the ones that are over by the 7th. I want the manager in the other dugout to be pressing during the whole game, worrying that it's a 7 i[...]



Phil Garner

2005-04-13T22:42:45.516-04:00

Strikes again!

He failed to bring in Lidge without a lead and loses the ballgame....

Clemens goes 7 strong. 0-0 is the score.
Goes to Chad Qualls for 2.
Then John Franco for a batter!
Then Dan Wheeler!

But no Lidge. Mets win in 11. Lidge hasn't thrown a pitch.

The object should be to GET to the later innings. Then worry about the win....this is so intuitive and it gets screwed up so often, it just boggles my mind.



1999 Draft - Top 10

2005-04-12T00:25:26.816-04:00

1. Devil Rays - Josh Hamilton2. Marlins - Josh Beckett3. Tigers - Eric Munson4. D'Backs - Corey Myers5. Twins - B.J. Garbe6. Expos - Josh Girdley7. Royals - Kyle Snyder8. Pirates - Bobby Bradley9. A's - Barry Zito10. Brewers - Ben SheetsI see three bona fida star pitchers in that Top 10. The reason why I bring this up is that I was thinking about Moneyball and how it was referenced that Beane opted for Zito over Sheets, even though the "scout pick" was Sheets.When Moneyball was written, it was quite obvious who the better pick had been. Zito was in the midst of a Cy Young season and one which made losing Giambi and Damon easier to stomach. Sheets was breaking into the bigs and experiencing some growing pains (although showing some potential). Beckett had shredded minor league hitters, but he hadn't yet established himself in the bigs and I think had been injured already.So where are we now (as of Opening Day)?Josh Beckett - 26 wins, 430.3 IP, 9.22 K/9, 3.45 BB/9, 116 ERA+, .136 ISO allowed, 3.54 FIPBarry Zito - 72 wins, 981 IP, 7.10 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, 132 ERA+, .127 ISO allowed, 4.01 FIPBen Sheets - 45 wins, 825.7 IP, 7.47 K/9, 2.10 BB/9, 107 ERA+, .160 ISO allowed, 3.78 FIPIn terms of career accomplishments, the nod goes to Zito, who has already won a Cy Young and, if he turns it back around this year, will have 100 wins by the age of 28. That's fairly incredible.Sheets has made the biggest strides, putting up a Cy Young caliber season last year. His 264/32 K/BB is quite outstanding. His career numbers don't show how improved he was last year.Beckett may be the best of the three if he ever fixes his blister problems. My so-called "scout's eye" thinks that Beckett has the best stuff of the three of them, but that's entirely too subjective. You can make a case for any of them on that account, and Beckett's the guy I get to see the most often b/c he pitches in the NL East. In other news, he's also the youngest of the three.FIP is NOT park adjusted, and I think that accounts for Beckett's very low FIP to start out his career. I would take those numbers with a grain of salt, and I can't find good 3-year average park factors to adjust for park.I went into this without an opinion I was trying to prove; I'm merely trying to formulate one right now. I don't know which guy will be the best draft pick in the long run. Steve Phillips, former Met GM and current ESPN writer, said in a chat:Barry started showing signs of weakness in 2004. Left handed hitters dominated him during the season. His velocity has dropped off some and he has difficulty throwing the curve for a strike. Hitters have realized they should take the curve and sit on a mediocre fastball. Zito has become very hittable and very ordinary.I don't know how much I buy into this. Zito's Ks went back up last year, and it's two bad starts. I'll give him time.I think, as of now, Barry Zito was the best of the draft picks based on the speed with which the A's got their returns. Zito, again, already has 72 wins. Wins are fairly useless as a pitching evaluator, but that's an awfully high number for a young guy. If Zito's career has peaked, then the only error in that pick was not maximizing returns on Barry through trade. Beane doesn't think it is; he cites Zito's flawless injury record, among other things.The best of the three when it's all said and done? I don't know. Sheets did make major strides last year, and his DIPS were spectacular. Zito's already had a nice little career. And Beckett already has a World Series ring, one which he was instrumental in acquiring for the Marlins.If I had to pick one skill among these three that was best, it's Sheets' control. It has improved markedly over the last 3 years, including last year, when he posted a 1.2 BB/9, which is incredible for such a power pitcher. Randy Johnson has never approached th[...]



Series Wrapup: Mets at Braves

2005-04-10T17:31:42.126-04:00

Results of the SeriesBraves win 2 out of 3.Braves: 4-2Mets: 1-5Top PerformersMets: Jose Reyes - .500 BA, 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 R, major baserunning error; Pedro Martinez - 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 0 HRBraves: John Smoltz - 7.3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 15 K; John Thomson - 7 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 5 KWorst PerformersMets: Aaron Heilman - 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 HR, 3 K; Victor Diaz - .000 BA, 2 K, poor defenseBraves: Rafael Furcal - .071 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBIOne sentence summary:Pedro and Beltran prevent near disaster and a sweep.Longer summary:What's the significance of 1 game?It's difficult to determine. One game doesn't go a long way in the long run. But for the Mets, there might be something to that "demoralized" theory. The Mets hadn't seen a lead for 43 innings and were being dominated by a fantastic John Smoltz, who had one of the best outings I've ever seen. But he kept a slider up in the zone, and Beltran pulled it. Out.I'm happy to say that I offered a first guess, during the game, that the Braves should've taken Smoltz out after 7 because of a rising pitch count. But he was frankly overwhelming until the Beltran at bat.I give credit to Reyes for redeeming himself for his baserunning blunder with his critical at bat in the eighth. He saw 5 pitches and roped a single to right. Cairo bunted Reyes over to second, and then Beltran earned his paycheck. Floyd followed, and Wright hit a bomb as well. And the Mets got the elephant off of their backs.Friday and Saturday, the team looked lethargic and hit that way. In fact, here are some stats on the first 25 innings of this series for the Mets:94 AB, 22 H, 4 BB, 30 K, .234/.265/.319Pretty atrocious from the Mets, and I don't care what you hit with RISP; you're not going to score runs that way.The 8th inning for the Mets:7 AB, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K, .714/.818/2.143You can see the difference.Give credit to John Thomson, who was not a bad pitcher with the Mets and who has really figured it out, it seems. He's a groundball guy and was impressive.Also due credit is Victor Zambrano, who continues to show flashes of potential, even in a mediocre outing. He was hurt by his defense but can be unhittable at times.Not due credit is Aaron Heilman, who grooved a horrendous pitch with the bases loaded that Jordan sent to dead center. I think we've seen enough of Heilman as a starter, but I was doing some reading, and I came across this:Big East pitcher of year has excellent control, good mechanics and could be first college pitcher drafted. Overpowers hitters with sinking fastball that hits 92-94 mph and induces lots of groundouts. Has been one of nation's top strikeout artists past three seasons. Future as major league closer likely. Needs to continue development of slider and changeup.He DOES have good stuff. He was hitting the mid-90s with his fastball, and his breaking pitches were "disappearing" at times. Let's put him in the pen. See what happens. He can't be much worse than what's out there.Game Three's Bullets:Pedro Martinez was superb today. Not just good, superb. As I've said, he's a treat to watch, and it's great to be able to see a future Hall of Famer every 5th day before he's completely washed up. DIPS is a very valid system, but Martinez was jamming hitters all day and "inducing" pop-ups. I wonder what kind of control he has over that....David Wright's catch in the second will get overlooked, but it was one of the most outstanding catches I've seen in a very long time...into the sun, over the shoulder. They're a much better team defensively this year; it's evident in the early going, in most places...John Smoltz was as good as John Smoltz has ever been today, and his first seven innings were as dominant as any seven innings I've ever seen. The number of swings at splitters that just fell off the table and the number of 0-2 coun[...]



Brad Wilkerson

2005-04-09T23:06:56.900-04:00

Brad Wilkerson has improved in categories consistently over the last 3 years:

Adj. Isolated Power (using PECOTA's method of counting 2Bs and 3Bs as the same):

2002: .187
2003: .188
2004: .240

BB/PA

2002: .134
2003: .148
2004: .154

K/PA

2002: .267
2003: .257
2004: .221

SecAvg

2002: .361
2003: .379
2004: .441

Aaron Gleeman wrote an article last year that I thought of when I looked at these numbers (I linked the article right before posting).

So, is Brad Wilkerson on the cusp of eliteness? Is this the year? Gotta love those trends, though, and his fantastic first week.....
--------------------------------------
(written after the Mets game)

I do think that Wilkerson is a very, very good player, and he could take another step forward this year (cut down on his K's again, hit a few more homers). He's also a prototypical stathead draftpick, before it was really fashionable (I have no idea why the 'Spos picked him...but here's what SI.com has from a while back, all the way back in 1998):

37. Brad Wilkerson, of-p, U. of Florida, Owensboro, Ky., 21
(L-L, 6-0, 193, .347, 196, 68, 21, 63, 18)
Pitcher vs. player ?'s still exist; some fear another Drew situation.
He pitched in college, too, but he was an overwhelming hitter. Here are his three seasons:

1996: .407/.547/.635
1997: .386/.507/.767
1998: .347/.538/.743

Yeah. Fantastic college numbers, in an age where the stats weren't as scrutinized. He went to AA in 1999, where in a full season, he demonstrated....a below average season. His only real plus was his walk-rate; he walked 42 times and struck out 38 times in 422 at bats, leading to a .370 OBP.

In 2000, Wilkerson smoked the ball for half a season in AA, crushing AA pitching for 36 doubles in 229 at bats, putting up an impressive .336/.441/.590 line and earning a midseason promotion to AAA. He didn't hit as well, but the walks remained throughout the next two years of minor league ball. (I'm curious where he was listed in 2002's top prospects lists. I don't have any with me here.) In 2001, he got 117 at bats in the bigs for a relatively long cup of coffee (call it the Venti at your local overpriced Starbucks), and again, put up an on-base of 99 points above his very low batting average. Necessity or faith got him a spot in the lineup in 2002, where he did not disappoint. He's improved steadily since then, and he's starting out 2005 on a high note.

I like Wilkerson a lot. He was one of the first guys I saw when I'd seriously started to look at walks and such as important, and when rumours (I love the British spelling) surfaced of his name going to the Mets, I was hopeful. They never did materialize. Can you blame the 'Spos? They've got themselves a heck of a ballplayer now....

I do expect Wilkerson to improve again this year, partially due to his second half stats:

First half: .232/.354/.464
Second half: .280/.394/.534

We don't know how RFK will play, but Wilkerson's improvements from 2003 are greatly magnified b/c 2003 was a very hitter-heavy year, and 2004 was more of a pitcher's year. I'd tab him for a 140 OPS+ and at least to become a more common name around baseball for this season. I just hope he saves his best games for the Phils, Marlins, and Braves....



The Sabermetric Transformation

2005-04-09T01:14:46.956-04:00

At some point, it happens...for some reason, we ask the question: are we evaluating this right?It happpened to me a bit differently, and it was almost 4 years ago that it happened. But I'll give some background.I'm 18 years old now, a college freshman. I started watching baseball in 1994 (at the tender age of 7). So you can imagine how depressing it was to have my first season cancelled by something I barely understood and only could decipher with the help of my dad's disappointment and WFAN.But there was nothing I looked forward to more than the opener in 1995. It was April 27, I think, and the Mets were playing the Rockies. I listened to most of that game, as I listened to Gary Cohen and Bob Murphy paint the ageless Brett Butler's leadoff at bat...it was a nice thing. And I was hooked.The next few years weren't "die-hard." I was still a young guy then, but by 1996, I'd deciphered a lot of what was happening. The Yankees weren't going to beat the Braves that year! The Braves were really good....oh wait. Got that one wrong, there.I was good at math in those days (while I'm still OK at math, I hate it, unless it has to do with baseball), so I loved reading the box scores. Numbers telling the results. Batting average was king for hitters. Steals were great, too.The next step in my evolution was a text-based simulator: Baseball Mogul. My friend bought it, and, luckily, you didn't need the CD to run it. So I played it very frequently (usually in spurts). I best remember the game for it's usage of great names like "Bytch Honry" instead of Butch Henry.I got a newer version of Mogul two years later, and that one, I took very seriously. Two stats ended up catching my attention in that game: "Production" (which is known more commonly as OPS) and "Team Defense" (which is either DER or 1-BABIP). My friend Craig (who is as into this stuff as much as or more than I am) and I would play that frequently as well, sitting at the computer for hours. One of the interesting things was a fictional league from the 1940s and 50s that we did. I was the Giants and played my games at the Polo Grounds....and I lost a lot of games b/c of bad defensive outfielders in the corners. I replaced them, my Defense score went up, and my pitching improved. I found that interesting.The turning point, though, was certainly high school. As an eighth grader in 2000, I boldly predicted that the Mets would go to the World Series. They did, for reasons much different than the ones I thought would get them there. But that was cool, and I really thought I'd figured the game out. I remember not being too happy with who won the MVP in 2000 (I think I wanted Piazza to get it, but Kent won. This persuaded me to do the next part of this....).Come spring, the teachers were describing our options for summer reading. The list of books we had was OK, and I was pretty settled on reading April Morning and 3 other books for sophomore year. But the other option was the "Independent Summer Learning Experience," where we'd pick a topic that interested us, do some research, and then write 10 journal entries describing the process. I spent a week or two trying to come up with a topic to no avail, but towards the end of Biology, I came up with one. I presented it to the teacher, and he said it was good."To devise a statistic to determine the league's most deserving MVP winner."I was young and stupid with this stuff in those days (now I'm just older and stupid), but I had no idea about the field of sabermetrics being so involved and scientific. I just thought that there were numbers and no one ever bothered to adjust them. I was quite wrong.So there were two main places that really swayed me, and it wasn't reading or finding Bill James that did it (that came after[...]



Series Wrap-up: Mets / Reds

2005-04-10T17:32:09.780-04:00

I'm going to try this for a bit....this'll be the series-wrapup feature, and I will do all my Met stuff here. Other entries will be more on random baseball.Results of the seriesMets: 0 W, 3 L (0-3 season record)Reds: 3 W, 0 L (3-0 season record)Top performersMets: David Wright, 4 for 9, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, .625 OBPReds: Joe Randa, 5 for 11, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, 1 2B, 1 BBWorst performersMets: Mike DeJean and Braden Looper, 1.3 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, 2 BB, 1 Ks, 3 HRs allowedReds: David Weathers, 1.3 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 BB, 0 K (and left with the bases loaded today).One sentence summary:It's going to be a long year, Met fans.Longer summary:I don't know how much stock you can put into the "demoralizing ballgame" theory, but if there ever were one, it was Monday's season opener for the Mets. Taking a 6-4 lead into the 9th, if you blinked, you missed Adam Dunn tie the game. If you got a quick snack, you came back and saw the Reds mob Randa at home plate. The one supposedly dependable guy in this bullpen blew it, too; it wasn't Heredia or Aybar or Koo or anyone else that Met fans fear pitching.With some reservations, I put a great deal of stock in second half numbers. It was the reason that I took Santana in the first round in both fantasy leagues I'm doing; while his DIPS numbers and stuff weren't as exceptional as his typical stats, his second half was other-worldly. Looper went the other way in the second half, and most lacking was his strikeout rate....First half: 7.88 K/9Second half: 4.54 K/9The drop there is over 42%. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on.The other two games weren't as close or compelling. In Game 2, Glavine didn't pitch well, and the 'pen was shaky again. The damage this time was from Mike DeJean, who somehow defaulted into a setup role this offseason, and he all of a sudden was getting credit for being a good reliever. He pitched well for a small stretch last season, that was it. I don't understand where that came from.In Game 3, we see a completely normal and expected outcome when Kaz Ishii pitches:1. Walk a few guys early.2. Give up a few runs on a hit or two.3. Walk more guys, but work around it.4. Strike out a solid amount of batters.5. Give up another run or two before getting taken out with a runner (or two) left on.6. Watch runner(s) score.7. Repeat every 5th day.As far as the Mets go, the oversight that is witnessed here was not in the fact that the bullpen is weak. It's that they're wasting roster spots on journeymen, rather then pitchers with potential. The results would most likely be similar.The five journeymen that the Mets are carrying and some career info:Mike DeJean: 34 years old, 4.31 career ERA (114 ERA+), 1.51 WHIP, 6.34 K/9, 4.18 BB/9. Dejean looks like an OK option for middle relief. He can be plagued by inconsistency; his games in Baltimore were very poor, especially control-wise. After coming to NY, he became a different pitcher, striking batters out at a very high rate and avoiding walks for a 4.8 K/BB. Very nice last year. But this was in 21.3 innings; the sample size is awfully small.Manny Aybar: 35 years old, 5.05 career ERA (87 ERA+). Enough said. Aybar earned this spot solely on his spring training, which didn't bother me too much b/c of the alternatives. He has shown flashes in the past, but he's never put it together. A guy like Aybar shouldn't be wasting a roster spot, even on a good spring.Roberto Hernandez: 40 years old, ERA rising since 1999, yearly. Walk rate jumped to 4.61 last year. I believe he still has a job because he closed at one point in his career.Mike Matthews: 31 years old (young blood!), career ERA 4.41 (93 ERA+). Not particularly good with walk rate, had a solid year in 2001. I think he's in the major[...]



Follow up to yesterday's proposal....

2005-04-07T00:50:37.170-04:00

Sportsline logs the pitch data on a day-by-day basis! So I think it will be enough to do what I'm looking to do; by combining the play-by-play data and the "Game Charts," I can synthesize some numbers on a game-by-game basis. The sample game will be Game 2 of the New York Mets' season, the April 6 game against the Cincinnati Reds. This is entirely based off of Sportsline's judgement of where the pitches were (and a called strike is a called strike, even if Sportsline had it out of the zone).Click here for tonight's informationI ended up recording the following numbers:TFP% - Taken First Pitch Percentage - percent at bats in which the batter took the first pitch.P/PA - Pitches per plate appearanceAF - Aggression Frequency - Swings on pitches out of the zone divided by total pitches.CF - Contact Frequency - Swings with contact divided by total swings.PTF - Pitches Taken Frequency - Number of pitches taken divided by number of pitches seen.CSF - Called Strike Frequency - Percentage of pitches taken for strikes.There are a lot of other derivations you can get from the information....these are the five I chose for this particular version. (I considered doing a "pitch judgement" feature, comparing balls taken to total pitches taken, but taking strikes isn't necessarily a bad thing.) As of now, I think that the best thing here to have would be to evaluate all hitters based on their aggression frequency, with the lowest AF being the "most disciplined." I'm still fooling around with comparing things to total pitches seen or total swings.....but getting the information is most important.Anyway, I recorded every plate apperance for the Mets with the following numbers, using the Sportsline data:First pitch result? (swing / take)Strikes lookingFoul balls (in the strike zone)Foul balls (out of the strike zone)Strikes swinging (in the strike zone)Strikes swinging (out of the strike zone)BallsBatted Balls in Play (in the strike zone)Batted Balls in Play (out of the strike zone)Total PitchesTotal StrikesI then combined each player's plate apperances into one line and took the percentages. I think that this information would be best with a large sampling rather than one game, but this is what I'm looking at. It takes around an hour to do one team, though, using the Sportsline information....it's very involved, unfortunately. I could theoretically track the Met starters for the year b/c that wouldn't be too involved....I could even record it while listening to the ballgame. I doubt I could keep up for a full season, though.And I did this from around 11-12 tonight, while I should have been studying for bio.Oh, so what were the observations from this?- Wright, Matsui, and Beltran made contact each time they swung.- Only Matsui did not swing at anything outside of the zone.- 3.13 P/PA is extraordinarily low for a team. The NL average last year was 3.75...only AJ Pierzynski's 3.08 was lower.- In his first four at bats, Reyes seemed really, really predictable (from listening to the radio broadcast and looking at the numbers). He took the first pitch each time, and then he hacked. Reyes is far, far too aggressive at the plate. His fifth plate appearance showed this clearly; he was overanxious and attacked the first pitch.- I'm going to keep monitoring when Wright swings and misses at his first pitch.....I think that frequent contact in swings demonstrates excellent bat control....Wright and Beltran seem very good in that already.I do want to keep looking into this....I'll see how it goes.[...]



Plate Discipline, Again

2005-04-06T09:50:43.346-04:00

I looked at the concept of plate discipline a few weeks back, and I hypothesized that P/PA is not the best indicator of plate discipline (although it is the best existing measure) because of the fact that strikeouts add to the P/PA, and, theoretically, the most disciplined hitters would not strike out too often. I had the problem of weighting each part of this little stat that I was thinking about, but last night, at a very late hour, I had some ideas.First and foremost, I decided to make it a sum of ranks, rather than an actual score. This was inspired by rotisserie-style fantasy baseball. That has its obvious flaws; Barry Bonds is not incredibly rewarded for his walks, but, in reality, Bonds's amazing walk totals are less a product of plate discipline than opponents' fear; he was intentionally walked a ton last year.So this system essentially sums a player's ML ranks in lowest K/PA, highest P/PA, and highest (BB-IBB)/PA. There were 156 qualifiers for the comparison. The best score possible was a 3. No one got a 3 (A 3 would be #1 in all three of those categories). The worst score possible was a 468, I think, and no one got that, either. Here are some ranks, though.1. Todd Helton - 592. Barry Bonds - 623. Johnny Damon - 704. Luis Castillo - 735. Scott Hatteberg - 756. Jason Kendall - 767. Rafael Palmeiro - 968. Ray Durham - 969. Bobby Abreu - 10010. D'Angelo Jiminez - 110It's an interesting spread of hitters, but most of them have a reputation for being very patient and disciplined hitters (especially a guy like Scott Hatteberg, whose OPS last year was one of the lowest among AL first basemen. You can see some additional value in this).The worsts?1. Corey Patterson - 4202. Alex Gonzalez - 4083. Pedro Feliz - 3924. Geoff Jenkins - 3745. Alfonso Soriano - 3676. Aaron Rowand - 3587t. Angel Berroa - 3557t. Rocco Baldelli - 3559. Torii Hunter - 34710. Marquis Grissom - 344Honorable mention goes to AJ Pierzynski, who scored dead last in two categories, but second in a third (he's tough to fan, but he doesn't walk or see pitches at all).Plate discipline does not correlate with production, I don't think. While the trend line is negative in a graph comparing RC and plate discipline (as discipline decreases, so does production), the R2 value is only .14, which is not particularly significant, I don't think (I've never taken a stat class, so I'm trying to remember this from pre-calculus, calculus and high school math).So now I have a plate discipline score to work with, which is what I was looking for. It's crude but it's another number to have around.This is not the end, however.I think that plate discipline is a skill that is not rated / scored correctly, even with a pretty simple little tool like this one. And I think I know how to fix that......there's a wealth of data out there that we don't keep, and it's important information. I want to know how a hitter responds to pitch location. I think that there are numbers to be made of a hitter's pitch selection. Does he tend to chase balls low and away? Does he not chase pitches at all? Does he foul off a lot of pitches? Does he swing at pitches out of the zone? What about if we take out the first pitch, which many batters take intuitively? A few sample numbers:"Aggression frequency" - percentage of pitches considered balls that he swings at."Hack frequency" - percentage of balls that are substantially off the plate that he swings at."Contact frequency" - percentage of swings that make contact."Pitches taken frequency" - percentage of pitches taken."Called strikes frequency" - percentage of pitches taken for strikes."Called second and third strikes frequency" - percentage of pitch[...]



MLB Gameday

2005-04-05T22:35:36.426-04:00

I bought the MLB Gameday radio package this year, which is a great deal for $15. I love listening to radio broadcasts, and this makes it quite easy.

I'm currently listening to Johan Santana get battered in the 1st inning of the Twins-Mariners game.....1 down, 4 runs in, runner on first....this does not bode well for my fantasy team, but it's good to listen to this stuff. Keeps me interested while I'm taking notes and studying for this week's large biology test.



Baseball can be a funny game.....

2005-04-04T17:21:51.853-04:00

It certainly can.

The Mets get 15 hits today. Pedro Martinez strikes out 12 in 6 innings. Carlos Beltran comes within a triple of the cycle. Reyes hits two doubles. Wright scalds a line drive at third base and comes within 3 feet of a homer. Aybar is serviceable, giving up a run due to a pseudo-drop in center by Beltran, and Dae-Sung Koo looks solid in the 8th.

This looks like a win, right? 6-4 Mets, going into the 9th, in a game that they'd thoroughly dominated.

I can't fault the Mets for strategy today (I strongly objected to having Kaz Matsui sacrifice bunt Reyes from 2nd to 3rd in the 7th, but they did come out with 3 runs), and I can't fault them for pitcher choice (Looper's the closer, right?). But the results of the 9th inning bring a different question....how much do matchups have to do with anything?

I actually said outloud, "they should leave Koo in to face Kearns and Dunn" because I was scared of what Dunn would do against a righty like Looper, who struggles against lefties. He's similar to Scott Strickland in this sense, just a little better and with much better control. Then again, normally, I'm really opposed to working the lefty/righty crap, but there are some cases where it's worth considering.

Coincidentally, Looper just "didn't have it" today, and when Dunn stepped in, I remembered one of the many stat lines I looked at in the offseason:

Scenario 1: .227/.264/.279
Scenario 2: .311/.348/.417

This is Looper's righty / lefty split, in terms of what opponents did against him. When Dunn stepped in, I said, "he's going to go deep again," mainly because Dunn is a great hitter and he's a lefty. Sure enough, he did. He assaulted a merciless pitch to right center, his second jack of the game. Now, while this helps my fantasy team, it was quite depressing. But you can't do anything about that, except maybe get some better bullpen help. And, FYI, righties today against Looper went 1.000/1.000/2.500, so is there really a difference?

Looper is best suited to be a righty specialist. He's out of place as a closer, unfortunately. Today doesn't change that too much, but it just shows the facts. He's a serviceable closer who will probably get a big raise next year, but he's not one of those guys I'd want to commit to for the long-haul.

All in all, it doesn't mean much, but it makes for a damn disappointing opening day. One loss isn't a killer, but it's tough to give up these games, especially with that pitching matchup.



Mets-Tigers Trade and Other News

2005-04-02T18:08:52.130-05:00

Mets trade P Matt Ginter to the Tigers for P Steve ColyerI remain baffled about this trade after reading it an hour ago.While I'm not too high on Ginter, I do think that he earned a spot on the big league roster with his solid spring. He's also a valuable spot starter to have around.So what do they do? They trade him for their third Victor Zambrano acquisition of the last 8 months: Steve Colyer (I say this because of Coyler's mind-numbing BB/9 of 5.66 in the minors). Colyer will start the season in AAA.The Tigers picked up a guy who might slide into their rotation, and they didn't give up too much. Gotta say that they made a pretty nice deal, on their end.This article from last night explains the bullpen pitchers that the Mets have decided to carry:- Braden Looper- Mike DeJean- Manny Aybar- Roberto Hernandez- Mike Matthews- Felix Heredia- Dae-Sung KooGinter was not one of the 7, so I figured that something was happening with him. I will now join the naysayers against the Met bullpen. Bartolome Fortunato (sore back) and Heath Bell, two who I thought would be in the 'pen to make it at least interesting, are not there (Moreno's not in the mix b/c shoulder surgery has him sidelined until at least June, according to Yahoo). Manny Aybar (Aybar earned it with some real solid pitching this spring) and Mike Matthews are ahead of Bell, not to mention Heredia (who had a disastrous spring). And they couldn't find a spot for Ginter.So, yeah, Colyer strikes out a lot of guys and throws with a left arm, which seems like the only reason he is in baseball these days. I read this deal as the best they figured that they could get for a player who couldn't fit on the roster, not as much of an endorsement of Colyer as getting something for Ginter. And I guess that when Minaya saw that he could get this guy, this lefty who strikes guys out, he said, "OK."For the curious, Colyer gave up 7 home runs in Detroit in like, 18 innings there. I don't know what to say about that....sample size? Bad luck? Or just....bad?In the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly meaningless trade, but Minaya loses points for not finding a way to keep Ginter. And he also loses points for not keeping Bell in the 'pen, who has certainly earned a spot in the bullpen.The ideal Met bullpen, in my eyes:- Braden Looper- Mike DeJean- Manny Aybar- Heath Bell- Matt Ginter- Dae-Sung Koo- Mike Matthews / Felix Heredia, not both.Aybar wasn't even in baseball last year, but he's looked real good this spring, so I'm OK with him in the pen.The other news is:- Rich Harden signed a 4 year deal with the A's and terms have not been disclosed. [edit] Terms have since been disclosed.- Billy Beane is now a partial owner of the A's in addition to their GM until at least 2012.- Bruce Chen is Baltimore's 5th starter.The Harden signing is wise. I think that Harden will be superb this year. He had a very good season in the majors at the age of 22, and his control improved in the second half, too:1st half: 4.71 BB/92nd half: 3.03 BB/9That goes a long way.The Beane thing is interesting, too....you rarely see this kind of a committment to a GM. Then again, GMs don't tend to lose their jobs that often (except in New York). How long has Allaird Baird been with the Royals? Ed Wade with the Phils? And they really haven't earned their continued employment, right? So yeah, in that sense, this isn't all that big a deal. Beane's a great GM, though, and it's very interesting to see the "personality cult" that has kind of developed around him there.I mentioned Chen in another entry, and I definitely like that move. I was r[...]



McDaniel v. Gettysburg

2005-03-31T23:33:07.220-05:00

So I went to a ballgame today....the home opener for the Bullets as they took on West Virginia's Maryland's own Green Terror from McDaniel. Gotta love D-3. I took score and made a box score after the fact with a bit of a twist.....

McDaniel Green Terror v. Gettysburg Bullets, 3/31/05

So here are a few things:

1. McDaniel's starting pitcher, Jimmy Dahlgren, would be a pretty good pitcher if he could cut back on his walks. He made 9 hitters look bad on the strikeouts he had in fewer than 6 innings.
2. Ross Hempel, Gettysburg's starter, went the distance, throwing a solid 102-pitch complete game. He scattered 6 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4 en route to the win.
3. Gettysburg took a lot of walks today....as a team, they on-based .395.
4. The guy who followed Dahlgren wasn't on today, unfortunately....Tom Marshall struggled against the Burg.
5. My sympathy to Ben Carey, who struck out in his first 4 at-bats and looked very annoyed on a called-third strike in the 6th. He grounded into a run-scoring fielder's choice in the 8th, accounting for the 1 of the Burg's 2 RBI.
6. The highlight of the game was a sharp defensive play for the 'Burg in the 5th. With a run in and a man on second, Chad Keller hit a ground ball between first and second. The first baseman dove and couldn't reach it, but the 2nd baseman, Austin Ball, made a nice pick and gunned it to first to the Hempel, the pitcher. Keller dove head first into the bag, the ump hesitated, and punched him out. Excellent defensive play.
7. Jimmy McNamara lined out in his first two at-bats, one was a lunging grab by the right fielder Weinrich, and the other was a neat catch from Szerlick at first.
8. The crowd behind home plate started out as just me, but there were probably about 15 people in the stands by the time it ended.
9. Defensive mistakes killed Dahlgren, but I think we learn a little about the value of not walking people today. If you put that many guys on, you're tempting fate, and it hurt.
10. Um, I just wasted some time: Official box score. Lots of stuff there, but not the individual pitch counts, which is what I really wanted.
11. Gettysburg's stats are here, and McDaniel's are here.
12. As I would have guessed, Kevin Salamone is on-basing well with no power, with a season line of .304/.407/.391 through 7 games. The 'Burg has played a lot more games than McDaniel. Salamone was the most interesting player to me today, simply because he saw so many pitches. I counted 102 pitches (the box counts 103, but I'm pretty certain that I was right) and 23 of those were to Salamone. That's like 22.5% of the pitches that Hempel threw.
13. Whatever software they had there compiling these stats, I want it....I saw a guy on a laptop putting in all this information......the data they have is pretty nice.
14. Ah! I forgot to put these in:

Ross Hempel: 12/9 G/F ratio
Jimmy Dahlgren: 3/3 G/F ratio (lots of line drives and Ks)

That's a quick journey into Division-III college baseball. Enjoy.



Two Trades

2005-03-30T21:03:36.696-05:00

Baltimore Orioles trade P Matt Riley to the Texas Rangers for OF Ramon NivarMatt Riley is an intriguing player, one of those highly rated guys who never panned out. A few reasons:1. He's been a bit of a problem in the clubhouse, getting into fights and occassionally leaving early.2. He's walked over 6.5 batters per 9 innings. That's like....worse than Zambrano and Ishii.3. After two fantastic minor league seasons, he was hit hard in limited action in the bigs in 1999, didn't play much in 2000 and 2001, was smacked around in AA in 2002, and didn't really get himself back together until 2003. In 2004, he was dominant in AAA, but then, in his first real big league action, got hit hard.I think that he's awfully, awfully interesting, though.1. He struck out 11 batters per 9 innings in AAA last year. Anytime those strikeout rates are that high, a guy is worth a look.2. His K-rates were evident in the majors last year....he still almost struck out a batter per inning.3. The wildness kills him. It's been getting worse, too.Ramon Nivar hit well in AA and AAA in 2003, but then did horribly last year in AAA, putting up a .264/.290/.374. With only 14 walks in 462 at bats, I don't think that Nivar will ever develop into much of a player, just on the walk rate.I think that this is a nice little deal for the Rangers. This trade seems awfully low-risk to me for Texas, and on the off chance that Riley ever straightens himself out, they might have one heck of a find. Riley's not much right now and I'm sure the Orioles were happy to get rid of him, but from Ramon Nivar, this seems like a nice little deal.In other news, Bruce Chen is vying for a spot in that rotation after pitching well in 2004. Here are some combined numbers from AAA and the bigs (these are very rough / not adjusted):152.3 innings, 148 Ks, 51 BBs, 23 HRs allowedNot horrendous. Not great, but interesting enough for a 5-starter option.Boston Red Sox trade P Byung-Hung Kim to the Colorado Rockies for C Charles Johnson and P Chris NarvesonWell, Epstein finally caved. Kim pretty much imploded last year. Kim was always a tough pitcher to hit and his delivery helped that a lot. But last year, it all changed. Kim started 19 games and only went 60 innings in the minors. I don't understand this. His ERA was over 5. He wasn't striking anyone out, he gave up a LOT of unearned runs for only 60 innings of work. This was not normal from Kim. I don't know what happened. So Kim is gone, exchanged for Johnson (who, to me, seems like just a salary dump at this point) and the more intriguing Chris Narveson.Narveson's cumulative AA stats resemble a full season from a major league starter, so let's post 'em.9-16, 3.75 ERA, 37 G, 37 GS, 204.3 IP, 18 HR, 90 BB, 169 KI'm not all that impressed. Most of that came in AA-Tennessee, which is a hitter's park, but the Southern League tends to depress hitting. So it's close to evening out. These are AA-stats from a 22 year old, so they're not bad. Considering that this looks like a "let's dump Kim on anyone" deal, getting a guy with remotely interesting credentials isn't bad. He's also had Tommy John surgery, so we'll see if he can continue to recover.I won't criticize / credit anyone here.....Kim has had success in the past, so I guess he's the so-called "best player" involved. But it's not much of a prize, at this point.[...]



Quintero / Redding Trade

2005-03-28T17:16:01.180-05:00

Houston Astros trade P Tim Redding to the San Diego Padres for C Humberto Quintero.I looked at this and I said, "Finally! They're looking to make an upgrade!" Brad Ausmus is a disaster for the 'Stros at catcher. He hit .248/.306/.325 last year, which is just abysmal...He's also getting old and is not a great defender. Quintero, in the bigs last year, hit .250/.295/.375 in limited time (which is better than Ausmus), but, more importantly, he has a cannon behind the plate. I've never seen him play, but that's what I've read.In about half a minor league season in a pitcher's park, he hit for the first time ever, putting up a .318/.347/.471, propelled by a lot of doubles. I personally don't think that Quintero's going to be worth too much in the long run, but I do think that he could produce at least equally to Ausmus and provide some better defense.The article from MLB.com says that Quintero is going to AAA. So much for that. I guess he could continue to make strides in hitting; if he hits well in the minors this year, his stock rises a great deal.Tim Redding is more interesting, I think, suffering a major dropoff last year in most categories. I find Redding interesting, though, because his high strikeout rates from the minors haven't translated yet. I don't know why this is the case, but there are some very large differences in a few stats for Redding on his career, minors v. majors: Minors Majors K/9 10.8 6.43 BB/9 4.45 3.71 Redding's BB figures are intersting; they've actually dropped for him in the bigs. The strikeouts have been lower, though, especially last year, when he struck out just over 5 batters per 9 innings. Redding was not good last year, following up a real nice 2003.A couple more things:2003: .82 HR/92004: 1.34 HR/9Redding's homer rate jumped up a lot last year, but the 2003 interests me more. Redding only gave up 16 homers on a full season while pitching in a heavy home-run hitter's park. There's something there....I don't know what happened to him last year. Last set of numbers, DIPS ERA:2003: 4.152004: 5.15Something went wrong for Redding last year and I don't know what. Moving to Petco Park could be a big help for Tim Redding. Plus, he's still young.Summing up my thoughts:1. Quintero would be an upgrade over Ausmus and could be a very solid player, but Quintero's not all that good, IMO.2. Redding's a nice gamble for the Padres but probably wasn't going to contribute for the Astros.I guess that makes it a good trade on both sides. I'd give the Padres the higher upside, but this isn't an earthshaking deal.[...]



Update + Pitching Stuff

2005-03-27T01:02:58.990-05:00

I haven't updated in a while for the following reasons:1. I am on Spring Break right now. I find myself on the computer at school more often than when I am at home for various reasons.2. I traveled on Tuesday and Wednesday.3. I've been working on something.The "something" was inspired by the question: what was the best pitching staff of all-time? (This idea was getting thrown around on the Baseball group on LiveJournal.) I'm not answering that question. I decided, however, to take some pitching figures from the last 25 years and make some lists, so the following data is applicable from 1980-2004. Some questions I wanted to answer.1. Which pitching staff had the best ERA+ (I chose this b/c it's normalized to park and league)?2. Which one had the worst?More questions will be answered in future installments.The questions really have no bearing on anything except for the fact that I was curious and that I'm still having loads of fun with Excel's "Text to Columns" feature. I've just been C/Ping stuff in from Baseball-Reference.com and sorting.Best ERA+, 1980-20041. 1997 Atlanta Braves - 1322. 2002 Atlanta Braves - 1313. 1998 Atlanta Braves - 1304. 1993 Atlanta Braves - 1295. 2003 Los Angeles Dodgers - 1286. 1985 Toronto Blue Jays - 1287. 1999 Boston Red Sox - 1278. 2002 Oakland Athletics - 1269. 1996 Atlanta Braves - 12410. 2003 Montreal Expos - 124Worst ERA+, 1980-20041. 2004 Cincinnati Reds - 772. 2001 Texas Rangers - 783. 1997 San Diego Padres - 784. 1996 Detroit Tigers - 795. 1998 Florida Marlins - 796. 1984 San Francisco Giants - 807. 2003 Detroit Tigers - 818. 2000 Chicago Cubs - 819. 2003 San Diego Padres - 8110. 1994 St. Louis Cardinals - 81Best ERA (unadjusted): 1981 Houston Astros - 2.66Worst ERA (unadjusted): 1996 Detroit Tigers - 6.38You can see the value in adjusting the numbers simply by looking at the team with the best ERA. Houston's ERA then was a 3.01, but 1981 was a fluke year for statistics (I think this had something to do with a labor problem). The NL's ERA was a 3.49 as a whole....it's probably good to just discard 1981's seasonal results from the typical trends of baseball. It was a weird season.I was quite surprised to see Cincy's 2004 top the worst pitching staffs. People are actually picking this team to go to the playoffs this year (rarely, but I have seen it) in some circles. So on that note, what team had the worst ERA+ in one season who made the playoffs the next? And, perhaps more interesting, what team had the worst ERA+ to make the playoffs at all?The answer to the first question is the 1991 Oakland A's. They had an ERA+ of 84 in 1991, then responded with a big year in 1992, losing to the Blue Jays in the ALCS. (In 1992, they had an ERA+ of 101.)The worst ERA+ team to make the playoffs was the 1997 San Francisco Giants. They lost to the Marlins in the NLDS, and the ERA+ was 93.From 1980-2004 (excluding 1981), 12 teams have made it to the playoffs with an ERA+ below average. This is 12 out of 132 teams. Quite simply, it is very, very difficult to make the playoffs with below average pitching; that's a frequency of 9.09%. This isn't groundbreaking.Anyway, getting back to the original issue, using the ERA+ standard, I would say that the best pitching staff in at least recent memory is one of the Braves' staffs of the '90s. Original? No, but it's a tough argument to beat.The next step would be to normalize other things to the league, like strikeouts, walks, homers allowed, and then look into calculating som[...]



Phillips for Ishii

2005-03-20T22:43:27.863-05:00

Dodgers trade Ishii to Mets for catcher Phillips

This is a typical Met-panic move.

No, I'm not going to turn around on Phillips at this point. I don't think he's very good, and, regardless of the Hardball Times' study of luck in players, I can't see Phillips ever approaching what he did in 2003, which was a very solid season.

Phillips seemed lost at the plate at times last year, and while I hate to revert to scouting impulses over statistical and objective information, he wasn't good at all. Most of his hits were on the ground (it seemed), and his rare doubles seemed to always be little grounders that managed to sneak between the third baseman and the line.

But enough of that....here are some numbers for those interested:

2003: .298/.373/.442
2004: .218/.298/.326

Major drop-off across the board....somewhat inexplicable. I guess that DePo saw that OBP from 2003 and liked what he saw there. Somewhere between those two figures is likely (I'd guess that he'd be closer to 2004 but more respectable), but that would still probably be an upgrade over a David Ross.

Ishii, on the other hand? Mindnumbingly inconsistent, as the general consensus is that some days, he's untouchable, and on other days, he's similar to Ryan Vogelsong. Walks everyone. He was third in walks last year, behind Victor Zambrano and someone else. Dan Symborski's statement on Primer was probably the best description in terms of the walks that you'll see from the Mets.

I always try to paint Met trades in a reasonable light, like, why on Earth would they do this? I guess I can see why on this. It's relatively low-risk; they're trading a backup catcher and possibly bolstering their rotation. But I don't get why you'd even pay that for a 5th starter-type. I'm sure that you could find a minor leaguer somewhere who could be a competent 5th starter that wouldn't require trading anyone from the big league team. Enter Justin Reid. I've never heard of him, but he put up some respectable AAA numbers last year, and I don't think he's in the mix in terms of grabbing a job in Pittsburgh. And I know there are many others like Justin Reid who could come close to Ishii's level without giving up Phillips.

The Mets need a competant offensive backup b/c Piazza will miss some time this year due to age, catcher-type injuries, and typical days off. I don't know if Jason Phillips was that guy, but I'm pretty sure that he'd be better offensively than Ramon Castro. That all said, if Ishii turns around and has a real solid year, I can't fault the Mets for being worse at catcher....but I won't Monday-morning QB on this one.

I don't think that not having Jason Phillips is going to be the difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team. But they say that it's these moves that define a GM, and, I dunno, very little creativity from Minaya.



Roberto Alomar: Hall of Fame?

2005-03-19T16:33:03.676-05:00

ESPN.com - Roberto Alomar Retires

I'm somewhat surprised by this, but, these days, when former superstars retire, we break out the HOF debates immediately. So, it bears the question: is Robbie Alomar a hall of famer?

Similarity scores seem to favor him: Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Charlie Gehringer, and Frankie Frisch are 4 of his top 7.

"Most similar batter" looks good, too: he was most similar to Robin Yount for most of his 30s.

Two Bill James stats: HOF Monitor and HOF Standards, have him in the Hall.

Looking at career stats, to me, is an unfair way to evaluate a player's Hall of Fame credentials. Eligible players, in my mind, are players who were probably the best or second best in the league at their position and who were legitimate stars for an extended period of time. Then you evaluate their peak.

I'll put Alomar's career peak from 1991-2001. Here are some stats from those 11 seasons:

BA: .313
OBP: .389
SLG: .477
SB%: 82.4%
Gold Gloves: 10
MVP Top 10s: 5

That's the career peak. His last 3 years were pretty devastating to a lot of these numbers. The counting stats, on the other hand:

Alomar's career declined 2 years early for him to be a "lock," considering the 3,000 hit mark to be a "lock" level. Another standard holds that 2500+ hits and a .300 BA gets you in, too. Alomar's right there, with 2,724 hits and a .3003 (not a typo) batting average.

For some reason, 2nd basemen tend to have very steep drop-offs. Here's one....

Year A (33): .288/.417/.478
Year B (34): .236/.347/.385

That's Joe Morgan, from 1977 to 1978. He established a new norm for himself in those years....1979, 1980, and 1981 were very similar to that. (For some reason, he had a major resurgance in 1982, but the drop-off at Age 33-34 happened.)

Another one:

Year A (33): .318/.384/.511
Year B (34): .247/.337/.380

That's Robin Yount, in 1989 and 1990. Another Hall of Fame second baseman falling apart at the 34-year old cliff.

And a final one:

Year A (33): .336/.415/.541
Year B (34): .266/.331/.376

That's just Robbie Alomar in 2001-2002. I don't know what it is about turning 34 as a second baseman, but it hurt these three guys a lot. All three started playing in the bigs at very young ages, too....it could have something to do with wear and tear.

Alomar was a perennial All-Star and arguably the best second baseman in the game from 1991-2001. I'm pretty tough on my HOF picks, but I've gotta say that Robbie Alomar gets in, as a dominant player for that coveted 10-year stretch. I'll cut him some slack on those final years....players get old. It happens.