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A Saber-Slanted Baseball Community

Updated: 2017-09-19T09:00:02-04:00


Vassar and beyond: Women and baseball in the 1800s


In the early days of baseball, women’s participation in the game was both a way to encourage fitness and a fraught political act. “The progress of feminine fashion is becoming positively alarming,” wrote a Cleveland newspaper on December 18th, 1865. “And now,” it continued, “as we pass the irresistible damsels, wearing our own identical hats, boots, and collars... we shrink within our innermost fastnesses, and cling to our last remaining treasure, our beloved pantaloons.” As women began to plot out paths of independence following the end of the Civil War, men became incensed and frightened that the all-male world would suddenly belong to women. When women began to seriously play baseball, the fear spawned a slew of articles like the one above, declaring that doing so disrupted feminine sensibilities, but asserting that so long as women continued playing in skirts, they, thankfully, could not be taken seriously. From there, men became determined to exclude women from baseball. The beginning of the suffrage movement With the advent of industrialization in the late 1700s, women began entering the workforce, leaving behind lives of pure domesticity. Throughout the 1800s, groups of women formed various labor unions and political groups, intent on not only proving they were capable of the same things as men, but also set on ushering in a total civil rights movement, linking anti-slavery with women’s rights, an effort welcomed and supported by abolitionist leaders. The progress toward both was languid, though, hampered by a strong resistence and a growing belief among white women that they should focus on less radical concepts, restricting their efforts to domestic equality and rebuking the strong language and policies of Susan B. Anthony. By the mid-1850s, six years after the Seneca Falls Convention, women in various states had won equal divorce rights and began entering educational institutions in greater numbers. In the few years prior to the Civil War, however, women’s rights movements gave way to abolition efforts, which they believed would also lead to women’s suffrage. Over 400 women, many of whom disguised themselves as men, fought in the Civil War. Those who remained home experienced more freedom and amassed more power than they ever had before. Following the end of the Civil War, women were disappointed to learn that their efforts were for naught, as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments applied only to men. This stinging loss emboldened the women’s rights movement, pushing it further toward total economic and social equality, with the main goal being suffrage. Both white and Black women refused to return to domestic lives, instead clamoring for increased freedoms and rights. Men quickly sought to counter these movements, asserting that women belonged in no place but the home. Activities from which they wished to bar women were labeled “masculine” and assigned the potential to crush feminine sensitivities and invite evil into the family dynamic. Men stressed the need for women to return to their homes and not engage in activities geared toward “manly virtues,” to fulfill their “feminine duties” in rebuilding the country.[1] Women’s rights movements were viewed by many, including a number of well-to-do women, as selfish acts aimed at destroying America for good. Now, more than ever, it was crucial for women to embrace their femininity, to put away hopes of being like men, to eschew bloomers in favor of full skirts and dainty corsets. All aspects of women’s lives were scrutinized and women in large were pushed toward quiet, feminine activities that left no room for politics. The rise of women’s baseball Unsurprisingly, women’s involvement in baseball during this time followed a similar pattern. Since the sport became popularized in the 1830s, women have played it, but with the creation of organized teams and the professionalization of the game, men began asserting it as something masculine, far too difficult for women to play. Nonetheless, women continued to par[...]

Launch angles — September 19, 2017


All the baseball nuggets you need to start your day. The MLB season lasts half the year, and it can be hard for the average fan to keep up. That’s where we come in. Every day during the 2017 regular season, Beyond the Box Score will be recapping all the biggest action from the previous day — with a sabermetric slant, of course — and looking ahead to what today will bring. Yesterday’s biggest play Aaron Altherr belts a grand slam off Clayton Kershaw — .532 WPA GIF via As the Phillies look back on their miserable 2017 — they’ve piled up 91 losses this year, equaling their total from last season with 12 games still to go — they’ll likely place the blame on the young players who have regressed. My colleague Jeremy Klein noted in July that Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, and Odubel Herrera had, to varying extents, fallen short of expectations, dropping the club from “respectably subpar” to “irredeemably terrible.” But Philadelphia has had some young hitters blossom this year. While Rhys Hoskins’ blazing start has garnered most of the attention, another slugger has excelled this season. Before last night, Altherr had a batting line of .276/.348/.514 for the season, which translated to a 123 wRC+. That’s pretty good for a guy with virtually no profile entering the season. Against Clayton Kershaw — who had never before allowed a grand slam — Altherr didn’t want to settle for “pretty good.” Two walks and a single had put Ty Kelly, Freddy Galvis and Hoskins on base for Altherr, who had to face the best pitcher on the planet. Said pitcher worked the count to 1-1, then tried to front-door a breaking ball for strike two: Image via Brooks Baseball Altherr has mashed inside pitches this season, and he didn’t disappoint here, sending this slider 418 feet into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park. As you’d expect, such a big hit completely changed the direction of the game: Image via FanGraphs The Phillies won’t be this bad forever. They have one of the best farm systems in the game, and as that talent — like Hoskins — graduates to the majors, the team will improve to respectability, if not contention. While Altherr never showed up on any major prospect lists, he’s been a core piece for Philadelphia this year. If he keeps demolishing the best pitchers in MLB, he’ll stick around for the light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday’s best game score Jaime Garcia — 72 Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance. The score begins at 50, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, and runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding. GIF via This game wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Garcia was supposed to finish the 2017 season with the Twins, anchoring their rotation and helping them make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. But after trading for him in late July, Minnesota decided it would be better off without him, so he headed to the Bronx. On Monday night, Garcia got a little revenge on the team for which he pitched one game. He allowed one unearned run over 5 2⁄3 innings, striking out nine Twins and not walking any. Garcia’s always been a ground-baller — in this game, seven of the 11 balls in play against him were worm burners — so when he does well with Ks and BBs, the other team tends not to score. Garcia’s arsenal might be the most balanced in the majors — this season, he’s thrown all five pitches at least 6.5 percent of the time. The Twins got assaulted with four-seamers, two-seamers, sliders, curveballs, and changeups, and in pretty even proportions, too: Image via Brooks Baseball Garcia used those offerings efficiently — he required only 85 pitches to record 17 outs. With 57 strikes, 15 called strikes, and 17 whiffs, he was able to both get ahead in the count and put the Twins away once he[...]

Marty’s musings: Two more divisions clinched


The Royals finally give the Indians an “L,” and the Dodgers get back on track with two series wins. Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide to an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and a preview of some of this week's starting pitching matchups. In this week’s Musings: we have two more streaks to discuss (one great, one terrible), another two divisional leaders clinch, and Kevin Kiermaier puts on a defensive show against the Red Sox. News in Numbers 22 - Consecutive wins for the Indians, who set the modern record. The streak had a bit of everything including blow-out wins, sell-out crowds, and a come-from-behind walkoff. Despite losing to the Royals on Friday, the Tribe took the series, winning Saturday and Sunday. 2 - Teams that clinched their division over the weekend. The Indians may have lost a game to end their streak, but all that racking up of wins helped them clinch the AL Central early with a victory over the Royals. Meanwhile, the Astros clinched the West behind a strong outing by Justin Verlander, who shut down the Mariners 7-1. It’s the first division win by the Astros since 2001. 35 2/3 - Scoreless innings streak by Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg effectively shut down the Dodgers but did allow a small rally in the second inning of Sunday night’s game in which LA managed one run, the only run of the night allowed by Strasburg. 11 - Consecutive losses for the Dodgers, who finally broke their cold-streak with a 5-3 win over the listless Giants. The Dodgers were recently proclaimed to be able to challenge the 116-win Mariners for the most victories in a season. While they’ll no doubt win the West, that record seems out of the question at this stage. Despite the Diamondbacks’ 12-game winning streak and the Dodgers losing streak, LA still leads the division by double-digits. 2 - Amazing must-see catches by Kevin Kiermaier, who did his very best to keep the Rays in a game they ultimately lost on Friday night. The Red Sox defeated the Rays in 15 innings despite two gold-glove quality catches and a ninth inning game-tying home run. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, like the rest of Tampa’s season. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> 115 - Walks for Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who set the rookie record last week. Judge is rapidly becoming the latest of the three-true-outcome hitters. Judge strikes out ⅓ of the time, walks nearly 20 percent of the time, and has 43 home runs in only 624 plate appearances (nearly seven percent), leaving not a lot of room for balls in play. 82 - Wins for the Colorado Rockies, who clinched their first winning season since 2010. The Rockies have had their high and low points over the course of the season but still control their own fate and are currently in line for the second wild card spot. 1968 - The last time all MLB teams opened their season on the same day. Last week MLB released the 2018 schedule, which has every team opening up on Thursday, March 29th. Prepare for some potential wacky weather as the Tigers, Orioles, and Mets all open at home. Matchups to Watch Monday, September 18 Ervin Santana (MIN) v. Jaime Garcia (NYY), 7:05 ET The way things are shaping up in the AL, it is highly likely this will be a “dress rehearsal” for Ervin Santana’s wild card start in the Bronx next month. The Twins have a couple games between them and the Angels but are quite a distance away from the Yankees, who look likely to host the AL wild card game. Wednesday, September 20 Chris Sale (BOS) v. Wade Miley (BAL), 7:10 ET Sale has been one of baseball’s best starters to this point, but his most recent outings have looked as if he’s showing signs of fatigue. He’ll take on a potent Orioles lineup that generally plays [...]

Joe Mauer is having his best season as a first baseman


One of the best players in Twins’ history is finally having an offensive season worthy of a first baseman. Joe Mauer used to be one of my favorite players. My favorite position is catcher, and he was one of the best pure hitters in baseball while playing the position. In fact, he is arguably the best pure hitter to ever play the position of catcher. To be clear, what I mean by “pure hitter” is what you get if you ignore power and focus solely on the hit tool. He was one of the best contact hitters in baseball during his prime. He even walked more than he struck out! Catchers who can hit are usually poor defenders. Think Jorge Posada, or Mike Napoli back when he was a catcher. But that did not apply to Mauer. He was not just passable, either. He was actually a good defensive catcher. He led the league in caught stealing percentage twice, and he was a good pitch-framer on top of that. So in his prime, he was a good defensive catcher, with great plate discipline, and an even better bat. That is pretty awesome even if you do not have an affinity for catchers. Despite his success, everything started going downhill for Mauer as a catcher starting in 2011. He only played half the season due to multiple injuries and medical ailments (including numerous head injuries and concussions). It was not even a good year at the plate for him, as he was only a league-average hitter. His catching duties decreased in 2012 and 2013 until he was made a full-time first baseman in 2014. I was pretty disappointed when it was announced Mauer would not be catching anymore. Don’t get me wrong, his concussion history made it the right decision, it just stunk that one of my favorite players would no longer be playing my favorite position. I was also concerned about how this move would affect Mauer’s Hall of Fame case when the time came (we’ll discuss that next time). Obviously going from one end of the defensive spectrum to the other wreaks havoc on a player’s value. Per the WAR model, that is a drop of 25 runs per year. In reality, the actual drop is considerably less than that because the positional adjustment is dependent on the number of innings played at a position. If we take Mauer’s average yearly positional adjustment when he was a full-time catcher, and compare that to his yearly positional adjustment as a full-time first baseman, the difference turns out to be 14 runs. Had I written about the Twins’ decision to move Mauer to first base in 2014, I probably would have written something like this: “Mauer has the OBP to play anywhere, but he does not have the power to play anywhere. However, if the position move results in less time lost to injury and an even better bat due to decreased wear and tear, that could do wonders in making up the loss of positional value. This also assumes that he will be at least an average defender at first, which is probably a safe bet. What is not a safe bet is that Mauer will still be worth 5-6 WAR. That is a best case scenario that probably will not happen.” Obviously the best case scenario did not happen. From 2014-2016 he hit .267/.353/.380, which made him roughly a league-average hitter during that time. That is not a disaster, but that is also not good for a first baseman making $23 million a year. His .113 ISO ranks as the 39th worst over that three-year span. Taking a look at the bottom 50 in ISO, Mauer is one of the the few on that list that is not a bench player nor a player at a premium position. If we look at just the first basemen, only James Loney and Chris Johnson had a lower ISO, and they played in over 50 fewer games. After averaging only 2.0 bWAR per year from 2014-2016, Mauer is already at 3.0 bWAR for 2017. He is hitting .304/.384/.414, which is far from vintage Mauer, but is a solidly above-average line nevetheless. The power is still absent, unfortunately, as he only has 6 HR and .110 ISO. Still, that is not bad value for an excelling Twins team that currently has the second W[...]

Who should be the Nationals’ left fielder in the postseason?


Assuming the Cubs win the NL Central and Bryce Harper returns, who should the Nationals start in left field for the Division Series? Well, it depends on the starter. Assuming Bryce Harper rejoins the Nationals’ lineup for the postseason, the Nats will find themselves with an outfield logjam. Michael A. Taylor is penned in at center just as Bryce will be Sharpied into right field. That leaves Jayson Werth and Howie Kendrick to battle it out for the chance to start in left. When I was first posed this question, I answered without hesitation. Jayson Werth is a seasoned postseason veteran. He “sets the tone for the whole organization,” so what would it say if he was out of the starting lineup? Removing emotion concerns from the equation, though, is it really best to have him start over Kendrick in the Division Series? There isn’t a single insurance agency that would cover the Washington Nationals’ outfield. Everyone has landed on the DL at one point. Once, in a game in which Bryce Harper was ejected, they ran out of outfielders. And that was before Bryce landed on the disabled list. It necessitated the Nationals’ acquisition of Howie Kendrick. Compare his 2017 season to Jayson Werth’s: If you’re just looking at average, Howie Kendrick starts without question. I imagine, looking at the batting average, there is temptation to call it quits and put Jayson on the bench. It only increases once you factor in the wRC+, which puts Kendrick at 28 percent above the league average offensively and Werth at basically average. Take a look at their on-base percentage, though, and you’ll see the disparity shrinks significantly. (This is because Jayson Werth has a 12.6 percent walk rate, while Howie Kendrick hovers at 7.0 percent.) When it comes to actually getting on base, these two are pretty even. Should Jayson Werth or Howie Kendrick start in left field in the playoffs? @saraperlman takes a closer look. #IBackTheNats A post shared by MASN Nationals (@masnnationals) on Sep 14, 2017 at 1:16pm PDT If the season ended today, the Nationals would play the Cubs in the Division Series. As the Cardinals fall further away (yet somehow still keep hope alive) and the Brewers clamber toward the top, the Cubs are holding on. The Nationals have won the season series 4-2, which is a good sign, but it takes more for a team to advance to the Championship Series. Normally, batter stats against individual pitchers aren’t particularly meaningful. But the margin between Werth and Kendrick is so small that we might as well look for any edge the Nationals can get. Look at the career stats of both hitters against each of the probable pitchers in this matchup: Jake Arrieta Jayson Werth has nine career plate appearances against Jake Arrieta, with two hits and a walk. One of those hits was a homer. This is a bit deceptive, however, since neither of those hits has come since 2013. Jake Arrieta wasn’t this Jake Arrieta back in 2013, so that .222 average turns into .000 over his most recent five plate appearances (and we get into extreme small-sample territory). Howie Kendrick has eight career plate appearances against Arrietta since 2010. He only has one hit and, like Werth, it wasn’t this Jake Arrieta back when he got it in 2012. He worked two walks and has one stolen base. That’s a .167 average and Howie did not see him at all in 2017. My pick: Jayson Werth. The average is slightly higher with a comparable number of plate appearances. Neither of them have good numbers recently, so I go with Werth because of history. There’s not much to go on, though. Kyle Hendricks Werth has five plate appearances versus Kyle Hendricks, all from the 2016 season, and does not have a hit. However, he did work two walks against Hendricks. That is his specialty, anyway: foul off pitches and don’t bite at the borderline ones. Howie has only seen Hendricks three times this season, but he has two hits and a stolen base. My P[...]

Launch angles — September 17, 2017


All the baseball nuggets you need to start your day. The MLB season lasts half the year, and it can be hard for the average fan to keep up. That’s where we come in. Every day during the 2017 regular season, Beyond the Box Score will be recapping all the biggest action from the previous day — with a sabermetric slant, of course — and looking ahead to what today will bring. Yesterday’s biggest play Joey Wendle’s grand slam puts the A’s on top — +.475 This is the second straight day in which the biggest play of the night came in a game between the A’s and the Phillies. I know everyone was paying close attention to the outcome of this three-game set, so I’m happy to give it the spotlight. In the previous game, Philadelphia got the best of Oakland with a late-inning home run; in this, the rubber game, the tables were turned. Phillies starter Henderson Alvarez put a couple runners on base to start the 6th before being pulled in favor of lefty specialist Hoby Milner (who struck out Matt Olson) and, after him, Edubray Ramos. Ramos got the second out with a strikeout of Matt Chapman, but another walk loaded the bases for Wendle. The A’s second baseman hasn’t displayed much power in his career—in more than 100 major league PAs prior to this one, he had one home run, and he averaged about 12 per season in the minors (despite some of his development coming in the PCL). Ramos probably wasn’t feeling to threatened before throwing this pitch. And while he doesn’t miss his spot by much, you can see that Cameron Rupp sets up a little further away from the lefthanded Wendle than where the pitch actually comes in. Those additional few inches of inside run allowed Wendle to get a hold of this pitch and yank it out to right. The A’s took a 6–3 lead that they never gave up. Rationally, I know there’s nothing particularly special about a grand slam. Four runs is four runs, and whether they score on four straight solo shots or with a single swing of the bat is basically irrelevant. But there’s something about grand slams that feels special, something that drives kids in their backyards to pretend they’re always hitting grand slams instead of solo shots. Anyways, this is a long-winded way of saying: look at Rupp die inside a little bit when Wendle makes contact. These games might not matter much to MLB as a whole, but they certainly feel like they matter in the moment. Yesterday’s best game score Matt Boyd — 95 Game Score was developed by Bill James as a quick way to evaluate a starting pitcher’s performance, and recently updated by Tom Tango. The score begins at 40, with points added for outs and strikeouts, and subtracted for walks, hits, runs, and home runs. A score of 70 is very good; a score of 90 is outstanding. It’s weird to be disappointed by such a dominant performance—nine shutout innings, five strikeouts, one walk, one hit—but when that one hit came with two outs in the ninth inning, it’s impossible not to think of what could’ve been if Boyd had been able to delay that hit by one more batter. As in every near-no-hitter, Boyd got some help from his fielders in this one, but not that much. While his five strikeouts might look somewhat unimpressive, they were backed up by a whopping 17 whiffs; while Boyd wasn’t always closing out batters with a K, his stuff was on, and he was firmly in control all afternoon long. And according to the Statcast data, Boyd’s fielders didn’t do anything too crazy; only two Detroit batted balls—a 388-foot fly ball by José Abreu and a 109mph line drive by Matt Davidson— had a hit probability greater than 50 percent, based on their launch angle and exit velocity. Both were estimated to fall for a hit 81 percent of the time, and both were caught, but Boyd didn’t need to be bailed out on any of the other contact he allowed. And on the hit that [...]

When Cleveland was closest to losing their streak


A lot could have gone wrong in 22 games, hypothetically! In reality, Cleveland was almost always in control, and that says a lot about the caliber of this team. Now that Cleveland’s historic streak is over, it’s easier to fully appreciate just what an incredible thing it was. Twenty-two games! That’s so many! Nearly 15 percent of an entire season spent continuously winning. So many opportunities for something to go wrong, all successfully avoided. Today we’re going to look at some of those opportunities: the close calls and tight spots that Cleveland still managed to work itself out of. These are the five points — organized chronologically — where, by FanGraph’s win probability, the streak was most in danger of ending: August 28 Streak length: four games Opponent’s maximum win probability: 72.4 percent The streak came pretty close to ending before it even started. Coming off a win against the Red Sox and a sweep of the Royals, Cleveland rolled into New York for a three-game set, and gave the ball to Corey Kluber for the opener. While Kluber had a great night — eight innings, seven strikeouts, one walk, and two runs — an offense that was slow to get going had him on the hook for most of the game. Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot in the top of the first, but Chase Headley responded with a home run of his own to tie the score in the third. The Yankees strung together a pair of hits in the bottom of the fifth—a Jacoby Ellsbury double and a Todd Frazier single—to take a 2–1 lead. When Luis Severino struck out two batters to start the sixth, the Yankees had nearly a three-in-four probability of closing the game out and winning. But Cleveland made good use of its ten remaining outs. Jose Ramirez homered again, tying the score at 2 and bringing the win probability back to nearly even. Then in the seventh, Carlos Santana hit a solo shot of his own (the fourth of the game) to take the lead, which they wouldn’t give back. The Yankees couldn't put together any more offense, and Cleveland ran up the score to a final mark of 6–2. Admittedly, that doesn’t look very close, but as it turns out, this was a tight game by the standards of this streak. September 5 Streak length: twelve games Opponent’s maximum win probability: 64.5 percent The next semi-close call came after twelve straight Cleveland wins, long enough for the streak to be referred to as such. This was an ugly game against the White Sox, in which Cleveland jumped out to a early 3–0 lead against Carson Fulmer, but coughed it up just as quickly. Danny Salazar couldn’t make it out of the first, allowing four runs via two walks, a HBP, and a Matt Davidson dinger. With two outs in the top of the second, Cleveland faced an uphill battle, and their win probability of 35.5 percent reflected that. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images But does it count as an uphill battle if it’s against the White Sox? Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to tie it, his second of the game — apparently, Cleveland trailing activates some kind of ultra-focus in Jose Ramirez — and they never looked back. The bullpen also put in an admirable effort, holding the White Sox in check for the entirety of the game. Their collective final line: 8 1⁄3 innings, nine strikeouts, three walks, no runs. Again, the final score of 9–4 makes this look like it wasn’t a close game. And honestly, it wasn’t really a close game! Cleveland never trailed after the top of the second inning! But this is what passes for a close game in the midst of this streak. September 9 Streak length: 16 games Opponent’s maximum win probability: 61.2 percent These are getting more and more mundane as we get deeper into the streak. That’s part of the reason that, around this point, passing the Athletics’ 20-game streak seemed like not just a possibility but almost expected—Cleveland was not just winning ev[...]

Why the Dodgers might avoid an offseason shopping spree


With a lot of dead money coming off the payroll, could the 2018 Dodgers be even better? The new CBA tried its best to stop something like this. Will it? Since the Dodgers continue to struggle and definitely won’t win the World Series, it’s time to think about the offseason. Losing streak or not, it’s not controversial to say that the Dodgers are stacked this season. At 96–52, the team is still on pace to win 105 games, and they should be able to clinch the National League West division sometime next week. Obviously, for Dodgers fans, it’s not the time to be worrying about the offseason. Despite being consistently good for the past 15 years or so — especially including the last five, in which they’ve captured the NL West title every year — the Dodgers have not appeared in a World Series since 1988, when they beat the Athletics in five games. The Dodgers’ Opening Day payroll this season was $227.8 million. Although this was a decrease from their 2016 figure, in-season additions have upped their current estimated payroll to around $276.1 million, per Baseball-Reference. With that said, however, the team has a ton of dead money coming off the books at the end of the year, potentially allowing them to once again make big splashes in free agency and build upon a squad that could end up winning the World Series anyway. There’s a lot to unpack here. Most of the money coming off the Dodgers’ payroll for 2018 are players that they acquired during the season, so their salaries would not have been reflected in the team’s Opening Day payroll. On the other hand, Crawford, Either, Utley, Forsythe and Gutierrez all were on the Opening Day payroll; their salaries for 2017 were for a combined $50.96 million. That was almost a quarter of the Dodgers’ payroll coming into the season. Crawford didn’t play a single game for Los Angeles; he is “practically retired.” Ethier has been hurt pretty much for the entire year. Forsythe, Utley and Gutierrez all played, but none of them made a significant impact on the team. The Dodgers’ main core of Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen is relatively cheap comparatively, and none of them are in line for big contracts anytime soon, either. (Some of them have already received such deals, while others are still years away.) According to Baseball-Reference, the Dodgers currently have $177.7 million in guaranteed contracts for next year. This could give them the opportunity to make a splurge in free agency. They could try and re-sign Yu Darvish. Johnny Cueto could be on their radar. Maybe they could go for an outfielder, like Justin Upton or J.D. Martinez — who could be an especially attractive option if they believe the Diamondbacks will also be in the running to keep him in uniform. While all this sounds good, the new CBA could push the the Dodgers toward a conservative approach to the offseason. Here is the skinny on that: Luxury Tax: $197 million will be the luxury tax threshold in 2018 Penalties: 20 percent for first-time offenders, 30 percent for second-time and 50 percent for third-time or more. Surcharges: 12 percent surcharge when payroll is $20 to $40 million above the tax; 42.5 percent surcharge when payroll is more than $40 million above the tax; 45 percent surcharge when payroll is more than $40 million above the tax in consecutive years or longer. It’s important to note that the surcharges only apply to money that is beyond the $20 million above the tax. If a team is $21 million above the luxury tax, then they will only pay the surcharge on $1 million. Draft Picks: Teams with a payroll that is $40 million or more above the luxury tax will have their highest selection move 10 spots down in the draft. The top six picks are protected, and those teams will have their second-highest selectio[...]