Rollie Fingers 1984 Topps – I Love Those Old Brewers Uniforms!!! Like many baseball fans that enjoyed the sport in the 1980′s, one of the standout memories for me is the style of uniforms that were popular during that era. … Continue reading →
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Coming into the 2012 season, almost everyone cited the Braves' depth in the starting rotation as a major strength. With Brandon Beachy, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Minor in the rotation, the Braves knew that they had insurance in Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Because of Tim Hudson's surgery recovery at the beginning of the season, Delgado was forced into action immediately as the Braves 5th starter. An injury to Beachy and Jurrjens' remarkable ineffectiveness forced Delgado into the rotation for a large part of the season, but with mixed results.
No one expected Delgado to replicate his 2.83 ERA for 7 starts in 2011, but in 2012 his ERA ballooned all the way up to 4.37 in 17 starts. Delgado pitched decently, but not well enough to convince the Braves that he should remain in the rotation for the entire year. The trade for Paul Maholm meant that Delgado was the odd man out, and he was demoted to AAA in the second half of the season. He came back up in the bullpen during September call-ups, but didn't start again.
Though his ERA rose, was Delgado that much different of a pitcher? A quick look at Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) shows that Delgado actually improved from 2011 to 2012. While his FIP was 5.14 in 2011, he lowered it more than a full run, to 4.07 in 2012. While he vastly outperformed his FIP in 2011, he actually under-performed it this past year. Delgado increased his K/9 from 4.63 to 7.38 and upped his groundball percentage from 38.4% to 50.2%. His home run per flyball percentage was virtually identical. All in all, it appears Delgado continued to develop in 2012, even if his ERA and record wasn't where most fans would have liked it to be. The offseason should help us to see how Delgado will be used in 2013 - he could be reinserted into the Braves rotation, traded for a bat, or sent back to AAA to start the year.
After being named the International League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 at age 20, Julio Teheran was sent back to AAA to start the 2012 season. His struggles in AAA this year, after dominating it so thoroughly last year, were well documented. Teheran basically doubled his ERA, going from 2.55 in 2011 to 5.08 in 2012. His FIP rose from 3.06 to 4.83, an alarming spike driven by an increased rate of home runs and a decreased rate of strikeouts. Teheran made one start with the Braves in 2012, and flashed promise. Unfortunately, a quick hook from Fredi Gonzalez and Chad Durbin doing Chad Durbin things made Teheran's final line uglier than it should have been. Nonetheless, Teheran showed off the fastball and curve that have made scouts drool over the past few years. Teheran, like Delgado, has many paths in front of him for 2013. He could start in the Atlanta rotation, end us as trade bait, or head back to AAA.
If I had to guess now, I'd imagine that Teheran heads back to AAA again, in an attempt to help him work things out and develop consistency. At this point, I think Delgado may be traded for a bat, as Wren has already shown us in the Dempster no-deal that Delgado is on the table.
Ron Wotus. Dave Martinez. Sandy Alomar Jr. Tim Wallach. Manny Acta. All five are available for a managerial gig this offseason, and three of them were even linked to the Rockies. As far as we know, none were interviewed, but O'Dowd, Geivett and company are confident in their identification of their Final Four.
Of the four, only one - Tom Runnells - has managerial experience at any professional level. Walt Weiss is coaching high school baseball in the Denver area. Matt Williams is the third base coach for the Diamondbacks. And Jason Giambi - well, he's still a player. This collection of individuals has done little to silence the critics that the next manager of the Rockies will have less input into the field product than Ahmed the Terrorist.
Of the four, my preference is for Williams, the only candidate from outside the organization. Williams spoke with Patrick Saudners about the position:
"I look at Coors Field it as a unique opportunity, as something that should be an advantage. I think you have to be familiar with all of the intricate aspects of the ballpark. You have to use it to your advantage, not just on offense, but defensively as well."
He is saying the right words about the challenge of Coors Field, the very message the young players should have pounded into them. Williams is currently managing the Salt River Rafters, the Arizona Fall League team including Rockies prospects Corey Dickerson (All-Star), Coty Woods (All-Star), Kent Matthes, Cory Riordan, Isaiah Froneberger, Mike Marbry, Lars Davis, and Jose Gonzalez. The final game of the AFL is today, with the Rising Stars Game taking place tomorrow.
The position is likely to be filled within the next week.
Lefty Jorge De La Rosa exercises option to return to Rox in '13 | ColoradoRockies.com: News De la Rosa's player option was a lock to be picked up in 2013 the moment he signed it, barring one or two Cy Young caliber seasons. With the Tommy John surgery, he's glad to cash in.
Chicago White Sox News: New GM trades Kenny Williams Jr. to Rockies - Chicago Tribune - This falls into the All-Stale-Nepotism Trade Hall of Fame. One week after Kenny Williams was replaced as the White Sox GM, new GM Rick Hahn dealt Williams' son for one of Jim Tracy's sons, one month after Tracy stepped down. The Tracy dealt was Mark, a 24yo 1B/DH drafted in the 22nd round in 2010 and has hit .244/.300/.393 who hasn't reached AA yet. Williams has hit .233 in five minor league seasons. In other words, if not for their fathers, not only would we not have heard of this trade, it probably never would have happened.
This looks to be the year that Dayton Moore finally puts the finishing touches on "The Process," taking the next step and going for the playoffs.
Kansas City has recently acquired starting pitchers Chris Volstad and Ervin Santana, via waiver claim and trade respectively. The Volstad waiver claim was met with universal confusion, as many considered him to be an obvious non-tender candidate. I don't mind it, as it appears that the Royals have opened up the checkbook, so the $3 million (roughly) that he'll make next year should not be too big a problem.
Ervin Santana is a bit of a different case, as the $12 million he is owed for next season is a sizable amount for any team. He had a horrible year at the surface, posting an ERA of 5.16 and allowing 39 HRs in 178 innings. Santana should be due for some favorable regression as his 18.9% HR/FB rate should be lowered significantly.
As you can see above, of the top 20 outlying seasons in HR/FB rate (not including 2012) since the stat has been kept, a decent amount of those pitchers rebounded the next season, and some of those pitchers saw a jump in their WARs as a result. Ervin Santana is as good a bet as any to come back from his dismal 2012 season, with 2012 AJ Burnett not being a bad comparison to look at for him.
Volstad on the other hand, is a peculiar case. He saw his K/9 drop to 4.93 (career rate of 5.68/9), despite a fastball velocity increase up to 91.2 (90.4 in 2011). He struggled with his control, seeing his percent of pitches in the zone drop to 45.6% (48.7% career), and allowed contact 85.3% of the time.
As the chart above shows, Volstad's slider has been moving less and less since he first came into the league, and this may have led to a very high contact rate on the pitch of 74.2%, as opposed to a career number of 71.7%. This coupled with opponents chasing it less, swinging at just 33.7% of sliders he threw out of the zone (36% career). The thing that gives me pause on blaming the low k-rates on the slider, is that he was able to induce a 13% SwStr% on the pitch, meaning that he got a good amount of whiffs.
Next, looking at Volstad's change-up, we can see if we have a problem. The pitch cost Volstad -7.16 runs last year, and he allowed 10 home runs off the pitch. Furthermore, he posted an alarming 2.8% SwStr% on the pitch, with opponents hitting it for line drives 21.9% of the time. Opposing batters made contact with the pitch 93.4% of the time.
It looks like Kansas City made out very well in these deals, giving up nothing but a replacement level at best reliever, and acquiring two guys, one should be an automatic upgrade, and the other a viable five starter. They added two quality arms to their rotation in 2013, helping to move the team towards respectability. While it is easy to take shots at Dayton Moore, it is also important to give credit where credit is due. It will be interesting to watch how Kansas City continues to try and build towards a playoff birth.
Data courtesy of Fangraphs
The Miami Marlins had to employ a number of other starting pitchers to fill in for the absence of Anibal Sanchez due to trade and Carlos Zambrano due to ineffectiveness. Surprisingly, however, the three starting pitchers that primarily filled the gap for those two at the tail end of the season each delivered decent performances on their way to successful first years with the Marlins. In the case of the two young pitchers, Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi, the Marlins have to be excited that the team has already witnessed solid play from two guys whom they expect to help anchor the future Marlins rotation.
LeBlanc was the first pitcher to begin filling in for the Marlins' absences in the rotation, and he did a good job to start following a successful stint as a long reliever for the team. LeBlanc's success came while mostly doing what he usually does, which is to limit walks as much as possible in order to best utilize his low-strikeout skillset.
The other aspect of his game that remained was his staggering fly ball rate (45.8 percent in 2012) along with a low home run per fly ball (HR/FB) rate of 45.8 percent. When LeBlanc does well on home runs, he can look like a passable pitcher, but the problem is that his home run skill is usually worse than this, and as a result his 4.56 SIERA and 4.79 xFIP, both statistics that regress home run rate based in part on fly ball rate, show the picture of a pitcher who could very well struggle if he continues to pitch the way that he has.
In 2012, LeBlanc was one of many pitchers who took advantage of the spacious walls in Marlins Park, as he allowed four of his seven homers on the road in similar innings. However, it is questionable whether he can continue to suppress homers like this, but at least in 2012, it was a success and his remaining skills were good enough to post decent run totals.
As has been mentioned many times before, Jacob Turner's season with the Miami Marlins has to be considered a relative success. He answered the questions about his ability to induce strikeouts. While the low walk rate was a major positive, it is less likely that it was due to legitimate control but perhaps more due to an unusually high number of contacted balls in play versus foul balls. The reason why that did not affect Turner was because he had a .220 average on balls in play, indicating that he should perform a little worse going forward.
Turner's primary problem with home runs persisted while he was with the Marlins, and that issue remains to be resolved. The ongoing theory is that his lack of command has led to one too many meatballs down the middle of the plate that were sent over the fence. If Turner can reel that in, he may be an effective pitcher as early as next season.
Nathan Eovaldi has also been covered a good amount this season, as his problems versus lefties continued for much of the season. However, as the season progressed, Eovaldi improved slightly, even putting great strikeout numbers thanks to his fastball in a career game. His strikeout rate improved over his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his control got better as the season progressed with the Marlins. He still has platoon issues about which to be concerned, but his late-season burst (22.5 percent strikeout rate and 3.72 ERA in September) left just enough confidence to have Eovaldi fill in a back-of-the-rotation spot for next season at least.
The Marlins were lucky to have a few solid replacements for their lost starters over the season. Anibal Sanchez put up 1.4 WAR for the Detroit Tigers the rest of the way this season, and Eovaldi put up half of that production in 10 fewer innings this year for the Fish. Add on Turner and LeBlanc's performances, and the Marlins perhaps evened out their production versus what Carlos Zambrano would have done. What the team lost in Sanchez and Zambrano, they received more than a few years of two young starters and one decent performance by a surprise replacement starter.
Last week, I delved back into one of my favorite baseball research topics: The wacky world of single season BABIP (batting average on balls in play).
In that article, I discussed how randomness (luck) has the greatest effect on a BABIP on a per season basis. I also noted the fact that both defense and pitching skill have some (substantially) smaller effect on the number.
I tested both strikeout percentage (K%) and ultimate zone rating (UZR/150) for pitchers who threw at least 20 innings from 2003-12 in an attempt to find out how much each of those factors explained the variation in BABIP.
I came up with these two correlations (r):
Neither correlation was very strong, but both relationships were significant, which was interesting and backed prior research done on the subject.
This study was not perfect, thus some suggestions were made for changes with the study, as well as other research into the issue.
The first suggestion came from Tom Tango of the Book Blog. In Tango's response to my piece he made this comment:
Glenn's study is subject to his sample, and unfortunately, his sample included everyone with at least 20 IP (ostensibly 60 BIP). So, that more than anything is going to drive the results. Remember, the larger the number of trials, the higher the r. That’s because the larger the number of trials, the less random variation has an impact, and the more signal can rise above the noise.
I'd like to see the study redone with pitchers with at least 300 balls in play.
I made a few changes to my sample to oblige Tango's request.
First, the goal of this piece was to look primarily at the relationship between strikeouts and BABIP, so I only tested strikeout percentage, and left UZR/150 for another day. Secondly, I made the sample only 2005-12, because as Tango noted, "more trials leads to higher r".
I ran a linear regression for pitchers who did not change teams with at least 300 BIP over the years 2005-12 (n=1034) with this result:
As should probably be expected, the smaller sample resulted in a reduction in r (.20 to .10). The reduction was larger than I expected personally, but maybe I am overestimating the negative effect that strikeouts can have on BABIP.
Not all BABIPs are created equal. I found the idea of comparing different pitchers' BABIPs across seasons, leagues, teams and parks into one large sample, to be rather silly.
Wouldn't it make more sense to run this test against the team they played for in a given season?
What I mean by this, is that I would expect a pitcher who had a higher K% to induce a lower BABIP than their team's (excluding that pitcher) BABIP, or a pitcher with a low K% would have a higher BABIP his team's BABIP. For example:
In 2012, Justin Verlander had a very high strikeout percentage (25 percent) and his BABIP against (.273) was 34 points lower than the Tigers' team BABIP (.307), which included Verlander! When Verlander is excluded, their team BABIP rose to .313, 40 points higher than Verlander's.
So, I used the same sample from earlier in the article to see if this relationship between K% and the difference between individual and team BABIP was, in fact, real:
Much to my surprise, strikeout percentage did not explain this difference very well. The correlation between the two numbers was just .05; which is much lower than I would have expected. However, there is one underlying factor that could be confounding things here.
An individual pitcher has zero effect on his team when he is not on the mound.
Using just a pitcher's ability to strikeout batters out to explain the difference between his BABIP and the BABIP against his team when he is not on the mound, may be an extremely foolish venture.
Why should there be a correlation between those things?
This result brought me to a suggestion that came from Beyond the Box Score's very own, James Gentile. In the comments of my original piece, James asked what the simple correlation was between a pitcher's BABIP and his team's BABIP (excluding that individual pitcher).
I expected the result to be fairly high, partly because I've heard this argument for years:
Zack Greinke's BABIP was higher than average in most years, because the defense playing behind was not very good. His team as a whole had a high BABIP; thus, we should expect Zack's to be as well.
So, I tested James' idea using the same sample, which yielded this result:
The correlation between an individual's BABIP and the team's BABIP (excluding him) was only r = .16. That result is still significant, but not nearly as high as one would expect.
The largest finding that came out of these results was not even the correlation, though.
I found that on average a pitcher's individual BABIP is .019 away from his team's. This number would sound small, except when you're discussing something like BABIP.
In a sense, it means that from 2005-12 a pitcher who yielded at least 300 balls in play would have a BABIP either 19 points below or above his team's on average.
For example, if a team's BABIP, excluding one starter,was .300, it'd be just as reasonable to expect that starter's BABIP to be .319, as it would be to expect it to be .281; which is a pretty large difference.
The goal of this piece is not to get people to move away from their thinking that pitchers, like Greinke, who play in front of really good (or bad) defenses, should have BABIPs that move with that defense.
Instead, my goal is to reiterate a point that has been made time and time, again.
It's impossible to explain one season of BABIP. The number is affected by way too many factors, and the main one, of course, is random variation; LUCK!
How do you explain luck?
You cant. And maybe we should stop trying to explain the unexplainable.
But for me, it's at least fun to try.
All statistics come courtesy of FanGraphs.
You can follow Glenn on twitter @Glenn_DuPaul
Happy Birthday Willie McGee!!! Willie McGee turns 54 years old today. A true baseball star that consistently excelled for the duration of his career, McGee put on quite a show for 18 major league seasons. A player with all-around skills, … Continue reading →
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November 2, 1972 - Phillies hurler Steve Carlton wins the NL Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote[...]
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Center field seems to be coming full circle in Atlanta, although maybe it’s not a complete circle. The Braves claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros on Thursday, giving Atlanta an option for fourth/fifth outfielder or Triple-A depth. After getting sent to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal, Schafer returns to the Atlanta organization [...]
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1974 Headline: Hank Aaron Traded On this day in 1974, the Atlanta Braves traded Henry Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers for Dave May and Roger Alexander. The aging Aaron was nearing the end of his major league career, and played … Continue reading →
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