Entering 2012, the Rockies were carrying three infielders on their bench: alleged first baseman Jason Giambi, alleged catcher Jordan Pacheco, and alleged hitter Jonathan Herrera. Herrera had beaten out players like DJ LeMahieu, Pacheco had outlasted superprospect Nolan Arenado to back-up Chris Nelson and Todd Helton, while Giambi had been given his roster spot on a silver platter.
Pacheco ended up performing more in a starting role, so he'll be covered in a later post, but in addition to Giambi and Herrera, LeMahieu made quite an impression as a reserve and will be covered here. While Josh Rutledge was in AA when the season started, I'd classify him more as a starter -- and though Troy Tulowitzki only got 203 PAs (less than Herrera or LeMahieu), I have trouble considering him to be anything other than a starter. Tommy Field also got a cameo in the middle infield this year before getting claimed off of waivers by Minnesota last week.
I'll be covering those four reserves in order of value according to fWAR:
DJ LeMahieu (1.2 fWAR)
In the Ian Stewart trade with the Cubs last off-season, Tyler Colvin was the player that got more press while DJ LeMahieu was a footnote. Colvin put up some great numbers, but LeMahieu was arguably the more pleasant surprise from the trade. LeMahieu ended up being one of the most productive position players Colorado had in 2012, ranking 8th in fWAR with 1.2 in only 247 plate appearances.
As a prospect, the 23 year-old LeMahieu was seen as a polished player known for his good contact tool albeit with a low ceiling due to his low power potential and middling OBP. To a large extent, 2012 bore this out -- LeMahieu's .297/.332/.410 batting line was the sort of high average, low production line (84 wRC+) you would expect from an effective reserve in that mold.
Defensively, LeMahieu comfortably handled 2nd base while also providing spot duty at all four infield positions. Unlike many of his fellow Rockies, DJ was rated as a plus fielder by both UZR and DRS, making him a rare bright spot on that side of the ball.
Going forward, LeMahieu profiles as a reserve player given his limited offensive ceiling and solid defense, though if he did get into games it would probably be at 2nd base. He'll be fighting with a roster spot with Herrera (see below) or Arenado next spring.
Jonathan Herrera (0.2 fWAR)
It's no secret that I've been befuddled by Jonathan Herrera's continued presence on this team over the last few years. He entered this year as the middle infield safety blanket for Jim Tracy and remained in that position for much of the year, two trips to the disabled list aside. It was an injury to Herrera caused by a wristwatch of all things that finally got Josh Rutledge his big league shot last year.
As is his wont, the 27 year-old Herrera provided very little offensive value with his .262/.317/.351 line (3 homers!!!) over 251 plate appearances (68 wRC+), while his defense at SS, 3B, and 2B was rated slightly negative by both UZR and DRS.
Herrera is arbitration eligible this year, meaning that his price to the Rockies ($700K-$1M) will far exceed his price on the open market (the minimum). That plus the fact that he's a marginal, easily replaceable player give me hope that Herrera won't be retained. If he is retained, expect Herrera to compete with (and probably beat out) LeMahieu for a reserve infield job next spring.
Tommy Field (0.0 fWAR)
Field appeared in two games and had three plate appearances without getting a hit in 2012. Once considered a potential utility piece, the 25 year-old Field was passed up by players like LeMahieu in the pecking order, meaning his days with the organization were numbered. When Colorado tried to outright him off of the 40 man roster last week, he was claimed by the Twins.
At least the former PuRP didn't actively hurt the team like the next player...
Jason Giambi (-0.2 fWAR)
Entering the season, many decried the presence of the 41 year-old Giambi on the roster, citing his lack of defensive utility and the roster squeeze that it created with the other bench positions. Unfortunately, those critics were proven right in 2012 as Giambi played in only 60 games (starting just 18) and getting only 113 plate appearances due to injuries and lack of a field position in a year where Colorado needed a durable first base back-up to Todd Helton.
Even when he was healthy and in the line-up, Giambi wasn't very productive, as his .225/.372/.303 line in mostly high leverage situations was below average (78 wRC+). Great walk rate though (17.7%). Giambi only actually played 13 games in the field in 2012, but he rated negatively in the small sample.
Let's face it, Giambi's had a great career and has been helpful to the Rockies at times (mostly off the field), but his time as a productive player is over. The free agent is not going to be the Rockies' manager in 2013, but I do hope that he considers becoming the hitting coach -- more specifically, I'd rather he not be a player for Colorado next year.
Next week, we'll review the catchers and the starting corner infielders.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Lee MacPhail, the former American League president who followed his father into baseball’s Hall of Fame and whose son became a top executive for several major league teams, has died at 95.
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What if the Hall of Fame was based solely on a player's statistics, after taking into account the league-wide factors? Well, Adam Darowski has been asking that question for years, often here at Beyond the Boxscore. Building off his work with the Hall of wWAR, Adam's now launching a brand-new, stand-alone website called the Hall of Stats.
The Hall of Stats site has player pages for just about every player to ever grace the field, making it a similar reference, at least in overall scope, to necessary sites such as Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. However, the HoS focuses on far fewer statistics. In short, it only cares about WAR, WAA, and adjusted variants. It then uses these to judge a player's overall worth with something called a "Hall Rating". If the Hall Rating sits above a score of 100, then the player earns entry into the distinguished Hall of Stats. If not, no dice.
If you're at all interested in the precise formula, look here.
Okay, so now that you know what the Hall of Stats is, basically, let's take a quick look at a player page, as shown below.
First of all, like everything about this site, I feel like the design is awesome. With the old-school photos of players, combined with the visualizations and color scheme, this looks clean and timeless. Major points there, and it makes it eminently readable.
There's a couple of really interesting things that jump out at me when you look at a player page. The first is a little bar at the top with gives percentage scores for "peak" and "longevity". As I understand it, this attempts to explain how much of a player's Hall Rating comes from career value (adjusted rWAR) and how much comes from peak value (adjusted rWAA). This ... is just awesome. I'd love to delve a little deeper into how accurate this is for specific players, but I think it's a phenomenal tidbit to examine.
Another special feature is the "similarity score" table on the right. Adam's similarity scores are a bit different than the ones developed by B-R and Bill James, in that they use adjusted stats instead of raw stats. The smaller the number (on the far right), the more similar two players are, in terms of statistical contributions. Honestly, I need more time to examine these similarity scores in depth, but for now it appears to be a fun toy to parse through.
Below is another player profile, but from someone who is less likely to make the Hall of Fame (or Hall of Stats), but is far, far more notable* in current events.
* Note: I guess?
As you can see, Maicer Izturis is no George Davis. Since the Hall of Stats formula is a little complex, if one wants a solid explanation of how a player stacks up, they need to refer back to the formula and see how things shape up.
Or, conversely, they could click the "About the stats" link in the player's Career Statistics table at the top.
Holy hell, does that make this easy to understand. Not only does it explain the process used to calculate a player's Hall Rating, but it does so dynamically for the player in question. Quite simply, this might be the best overall part of the player page.
My biggest issue with the site (and it's really not so much an "issue" as it is a matter of preference), is the dependence on rWAR as the WAR measurement of choice for all players, through all time. I'd advocate something closer to, well, my WAR Index, or some other scaled measurement that takes into account either or both of fWAR and / or WARP (for the eras it exists) instead of solely using rWAR. rWAR, like all the other WARs, has its faults, and perhaps spreading the WAR values over multiple systems may increase accuracy, at the risk of decreasing precision. Unfortunately, if a critic of baseball stats or objective analysis hates WAR as a metric, or has consistent issues with rWAR specifically, they may not have much use for the Hall of Stats.
In closing, I'd advise any stathead or baseball fan to check out the Hall of Stats ... ESPECIALLY if you love baseball's glorious black-and-white past. I've often used Adam's articles and discussions of the Hall of Fame to examine more closely forgotten players and seasons.* Since I'll never be able to go back in time and watch the games themselves (especially the pre-1900s era -- even if we invent time travel, I'm sure I'll still miss something), I like the opportunity to still learn as much as possible about the history of our game. The Hall of Stats is a fabulous resource for one aspect of historical examination -- the use of statistics to tell the stories of particular player careers.
The Hall of Stats is a welcome addition to the sabersphere, and is probably the finest work Adam's done yet, which is really saying something. Stop by, check it out, and leave any of your stray thoughts and comments below!
It's fairly obvious that they Marlins front office knows that they need to find a third baseman this offseason. Even after signing Kevin Kouzmanoff, the Marlins are likely going to use their limited spending money on a new third baseman. With no serious third base prospects rising up through the minor league system, the Marlins will have to turn to free agency or the draft. There are some decent veteran options out on the market, but no third baseman will draw more than $50 million from a team this winter. If the Marlins do decide to buy a new third baseman, which one should they choose?
First of all, the Marlins have absolutely zero third base prospects in their system. The closest player the Marlins have to a third baseman is probably Austin Nola, who would't provide any upgrade over Kouzmanoff or Solano. The other option is Austin Barnes who has a nice hit tool. However, Barnes has never played third base and he was drafted as catcher (The Marlins converted him to second base before 2012). In other words, there's no chance the Marlins are going to find their third baseman of the future from their current farm system. It's hard to be optimistic when there is nobody to get optimistic about.
Kevin Youkilis is not the same player he was in 2009 where he posted a 147 wRC+ and played above-average defense at third. Now thirty-three, Youkilis has lost a lot of his power and ability to hit for average. Nonetheless, after being traded from Boston to the White Sox at midseason, Youkilis proved he can be a valuable player on a contending team. In eighty games in Chicago, Youkilis hit .235/.336/.409 with fifteen homers. Believe it or not, in roughly the same amount of games, Youkilis outhit young Toronto phenom Brett Lawrie.
The White Sox smartly decided to decline Youk's $13 million team option for 2013. As Jon Heyman noted about a month ago, Chicago could still offer Youkilis a contract around two year, $15 million. I agree with Heyman and believe that Youkilis will sign with a team for around two years, $15-20 million. The Reds, and Phillies reportedly are interested so the Marlins won't be alone if they choose to pursue Youkilis. Youkilis wouldn't be a bad fit for Miami but I would surmise that he would rather play for a contending team.
Okay, I know Alex Rodriguez isn't a free agent. Still, with the trade rumors that have circled around him and the Marlins, it was impossible to resist bringing him up. Rodriguez, who is set to make $114 million over the next five seasons, is a Florida native who New Yorkers, and the majority of the country, can't stand. It's hard to imagine a situation where the Marlins trade for Rodriguez and everything works out. Not only would he have to produce like the best third baseman in the game in order to live up to his contract, but his shaky injury history is cause for concern. The Marlins should stay far away from Rodriguez despite the local connection and his immense potential.
Speaking more realistically, one name that should be tossed into the Marlins' wish list is Maicer Izturis. Izturis, who is "only" thirty-two years old, can play shortstop and second base as well as third. Izturis was not all that different from Donovan Solano last season, but he has proven in the past that he can play at a higher level. Izturis's best year was 2009, where he hit .300 and played tremendous defense at shortstop and second. Izturis has played on a lot of winning teams and his position flexibility makes him a valuable commodity. I would expect Izturis to receive a one or two year contract this offseason, worth no more than $1.5 million per year. While bringing in Izturis wouldn't be as big of a move as Youkilis or A-Rod, the Marlins could spend their money in different places and wait for the 2014 offseason which will feature David Wright.
The Angels have shown minimal interest in bringing Izturis back next season, so he'll likely be playing for a new team for the first time since he played for the Expos in 2004. It would be a smart and thrifty move if the Marlins decide to go after Izturis. That's not to say he is going to be an above-average producer, but he'll hold the spot down until they can find a better option.
Speaking of David Wright, why wait until next offseason? The Marlins could attempt to trade for Wright this winter, as the Mets might be shopping him. He's the youngest player on this list and probably the most talented. However, the Mets might be reluctant to trade with a division rival and I'm not convinced the Marlins would give up the type of talent that the Mets would require in a swap.
It's hard to be a contending team without a third baseman that can either hit or play defense. The Marlins chances of contending next season are slim, but they'll likely be nonexistent unless Miami can find a new option at third base. The farm system offers no reason for hope and the free agent class isn't particularly exciting. Look for the Marlins pursuit of a third baseman to be the main storyline that follows this team through the offseason.
Bob Gibson = World Series Hero While Gibson played on some pretty poor Cardinals teams during the begining and end of his career, he also starred on their dominant squads that played in the mid 1960′s. And during a span of … Continue reading →
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The Miami Marlins have two essential directions they can take given their odd predicament in 2013. As mentioned earlier today, one of the potential routes the team can take is the one in which they acquire talent with their remaining $12 million budget in order to supplement the 2013 squad to respectability. Then in 2014, the Marlins can utilize their infusion of prospect talent, highlighted by the likely additions of top prospects Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez, to propel them to potential contender status. The advantage of this plan is that it does not forfeit the 2013 season, thus not hurting the team's already tenuous relationship with the fan base.
But the problem with this plan is that, even with the Marlins making an addition or two with their modest remaining budget, the team will still not be in contention for the playoffs in 2013. Does making the Marlins a 75- or even 80-win team really help them in the long run, even when you include the effect of attendance into the equation? Would the Marlins be better off forgetting about fielding a "best product" in 2013 just to pick up a few extra wins if it is not the best move for the team in 2014 and beyond, when the club may actually be competitive?
The other argument for the Marlins is to essentially forfeit a competitive 2013 team in favor of trading their remaining short-term parts. This plan allows the 2013 year to go with essentially a weakened version of this current roster, primarily missing players like Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. In return, the Marlins would want prospects who are close to ready for the majors and can fill some of the holes they have in the roster at the moment. Remember, the Marlins have empty slots in third base, second base, and one of two outfield spots, and it would be ideal for the team to use one of their remaining trade assets to fill one of those positions long-term rather than continue to bandage the spot with short-term options like incumbent infielder Donovan Solano.
This aspect of the plan is important because of the relative weakness of the 2013 free agent class. The Marlins are well aware that, when it comes to the infield, there is not much in the way of depth in this year's free agent class. Combine that with their modest $12 million availability and it is reasonable to ask whether the team can make impact signings that will remain useful through 2014 or 2015, when the next core will kick in alongside Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes. Sure, Angel Pagan would not be a bad addition, for example, but is he a good use of $12 million a year over the next four or five seasons at his age? If the team has question marks about the free agents this year, even the deep outfield class, it may be worth passing on long-term offers. Remember, the team is coming off of a string of long-term signings and payroll additions in 2012, and one of them almost certainly was a failure. The Marlins may be more reticent to spend as a result of that.
The other important aspect regarding this trade is that the Marlins have questions about their remaining short-term trade assets, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. For the Fish, Nolasco is essentially a sunk cost, and it is unlikely they will be retaining him past this season or netting anything for him this year. But with Johnson, the team still has a decision to make with regards to how to deal with him. Keeping him through an empty 2013 season would be a mistake if the Marlins are not planning on signing him to a new contract when he becomes a free agent after the end of the year. If the Marlins are not looking to go long-term with Johnson, maybe it would be best to use his remaining trade value to garner future assets who could be ready to contribute at key positions when Yelich and Fernandez join Stanton and Reyes in the majors in 2014. This only theoretically sacrifices wins in 2013 while still building a competitive core for the future of the organization.
This plan allows the team to have team control over future assets who can be ready for when the team is truly competitive, rather than masking the club's deficiencies for a better, but still weak, 2013 season. Rather than giving up on the remaining assets the team has for a flicker of hope this season, the Marlins could truly build to the future by trading Johnson for future talent. In addition, a trade does not necessarily preclude a signing and may even open up even more room for the Marlins to try for a long-term deal with another player on the market who may be a surer bet at a higher salary. For example, the team could shed Johnson's salary, gain a future asset, and have enough money to be in the hunt for a premium starting pitcher like Zack Greinke.
While the latter may be an extreme example of what the Marlins would do should they trade Johnson and forego thoughts of respectability in 2013, the club may still undergo this general plan, especially if Johnson is not a part of the future of the organization. If the Marlins are uninterested in this year's free agent class and want to maximize their chances of winning starting in 2014, the team could pass on everything, trade Johnson, and build up for their potential window once the prospect reinforcements arrive the following season.
Approaching the 2012 trade deadline, there was reason to wonder if the Braves would be in the market for anything other than a bench bat. The team was performing well, was in a good place in the standings, and didn't have any egregious holes outside of the bench.
Then came the Ryan Dempster Saga, as Frank Wren (apparently) tried to pry Dempster and his expiring contract away from the Cubs by dangling Randall Delgado. Dempster held off on approving the deal until it fell apart, a result that many Braves fans greeted with a sigh of relief. Not to be deterred, Wren instead traded for Dempster's rotation-mate, Paul Maholm (along with that long-desired bench bat, Reed Johnson).
The cost was fairly high: Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino, despite currently being out with a major arm injury, is a major talent, and Chapman provided the Cubs with a major-league-ready relief arm. (Chapman got into 14 games for the Cubs, striking out a batter an inning but walking nearly as many.) Still, the price was much less than the Dempster deal, as Delgado is much more likely than Vizcaino to become a successful MLB starter (and also isn't hurt).
The Braves are likely glad they got Maholm instead of Dempster, even aside from the trade cost. For one thing, Dempster bombed after he was eventually traded to Texas. For another, Dempster is a free agent now, while the Braves were able to secure Maholm's services for 2013 at the very reasonable price of $6.5 million. Plus, Maholm pitched pretty well for the Braves.
In 11 starts with the Braves, covering 68.2 innings, Maholm posted a solid 3.54 ERA and a similar 3.76 FIP. He also struck out almost 21% of the batters he faced, which is a ton for him; his previous full-season best was 16.3%, and he struck out 16.1% with the Cubs in 2012. Those numbers were undone by two horrific outings in which he allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in 6.1 innings.
Maholm also had a lot of good outings. He went at least 6.2 innings in 8 of his 11 starts as a Brave and allowed 2 or fewer runs in 7 starts. He also had one of the best-pitched games by a Brave all year, a complete game 3-hit shutout of the Mets on August 10th.
Going forward, Maholm is fairly likely to be a decent 4th starter for the Braves in 2013. The big question is whether he can be better than decent, as he has been for the past two seasons. In his first 6 seasons, Maholm posted a mediocre 4.48 ERA (5% below league average) and struck out just 14% of batters while walking 8% of them. Since the start of the 2011 season, however, Maholm has a 3.66 ERA (5% above league average) with a 16% K rate and a 7% walk rate.
Even if he reverts to his pre-2011 form, Maholm will still make a serviceable back-end-of-the-rotation type. He'll also be easily worth his salary, barring a down year akin to his 2010 season. However, there's always a chance that Maholm has figured something out the past two seasons. If that happens, the trade will end up looking OK even if Vizcaino develops into a quality player for the Cubs.
The key to Maholm's improved performance, in my opinion, is his newfound success against right-handed batters. Before 2011, Maholm always had huge platoon splits. Left-handed hitters have never had better than a .310 wOBA against Maholm, but right-handed hitters had the following wOBAs in Maholm's first 5 full seasons: .376, .358, .337, .365, and .370. That's on an OBP scale, so basically, Maholm has always been good-to-great against lefties, but prior to 2011, he was always bad-to-terrible against righties.
The last two years, though? Maholm has had no platoon split at all. Righties have a .311 wOBA against him, and lefties have a .309 wOBA. This equivalent performance has come in different ways, however; Maholm has dominated lefties, striking out over 20% of them while posting low walk and homer rates (especially in 2012). Against righties, though, his strikeout rates have been much lower (under 15%) and his walk and homer rates have been higher.
In other words, Maholm's success against righties the past two seasons has been dependent in large part upon a low BABIP: .278 in 2011 and .268 in 2012. His career BABIP against righties is .312, by the way. That leaves us with two possibilities: either Maholm has gotten lucky against righties the past 2 years or he's learned a new way of getting them to make weak contact.
I have no idea which scenario is more likely. There does seem to be some evidence in Maholm's player card at Brooks Baseball that he's pitched righties differently the past 2 years, but it's hardly conclusive. As with so many other things, we'll just have to wait and see.
Bob Gibson Picked Up Another Cy Young Award In 1970… After securing his first Cy Young award in 1968, Gibson did it again just two years later. In 1970, Gibson started in 34 contests for the Cardinals. He amassed a … Continue reading →
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Last Tuesday millions of people all over America went to the polls to vote for their choice to be president of the United States for another four years.
Some voted for Mitt Romney while others voted for Barack Obama. Needless to say the incumbent won.
While some folks came away feeling sad others were elated. Whatever your preference we must now move on and heal our country's wounds?the problems that still face a hurting country in many ways.
Likewise, many baseball teams, Cubs, Marlins, Astros, and Red Sox to mention only a few, had a bad 2012 year. But with careful planning and good strategy, let's hope they have a better year in 2013. Good luck.
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