This week we’re looking at Win Probability Added (WPA), which measures how an individual[...]
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Yesterday it was announced that nobody was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame for the first time since 1996. This class was arguably one of the deepest ever, and the fact that nobody got elected is flabbergasting. As a result, many people are arguing that the voting system needs to be changed. Richard Justice of MLB.com discusses why the Hall of Fame needs to seriously look into some changes.
This isn't just about the most recent Hall of Fame voting, but if it prompts an assessment of voting procedures, that's a good thing. Rather, it's an acknowledgement that the world has changed, that maybe, just maybe, some of the best and brightest men and women have been excluded from the process.
There are over seven hundred writers that are currently members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. The most important requirement is that the writer has to be a part of a newspaper or other major news outlet that covers baseball on a major basis. This year five hundred and sixty nine voters cast ballots. There are many voters who haven't covered the sport in many years yet still get the chance to vote.
On the contrary there are tons of people out there that deserve to vote yet can't. Two prime examples are Brian Kelly, and Rob Neyer.
It's no secret that the Hall of Fame voting needs to be fixed, but how we go about that hasn't been determined yet.
Question for the community:
1) How would you go about changing the Hall of Fame voting process?
While anxiously awaiting the day pitchers and catchers report, I came up with what I think is a brilliant idea. During Spring Training, each major league team should form a prospect All-Star team, filled with their top prospects not at major league spring training. While I have no say with the commissioner, it is fun to dream about something like this happening. Anyways, I came up with the idea to compare the Marlins prospects with other teams in the N.L. East and their top prospects. I've already looked at the Mets, now the Atlanta Braves.
DISCLAIMER: This is in no way to determine which team has the better farm system.
Catcher: Christian Bethancourt is one of my favorite catching prospects in the minors. However, I did not get a chance to watch him during his, by all accounts, extremely disappointing 2012 season. Bethancourt has long excited scouts around the league with his outstanding pop times and his arm that rivals every catcher in the game right now. If Bethancourt becomes the catcher some believe he can, he will rival Travis d'Arnaud as the best catcher in the NL East. However, his bat is a serious question and he has never translated his batting practice power into results. Rob Brantly and J.T. Realmuto both have a chance to become above-average catchers. However, neither of them have tools and potential close to Bethancourt's. Advantage: Atlanta
First Base: Mark Canha is the only real prospect in the Marlins' farm system that is currently playing first base. This is not a cause of concern because first base is an easy position to play, as long as you can hit. William Beckwith and Joey Terdoslavich are the top first base prospects on their way to Atlanta. Beckwith is 22 years old and hit .291/.360/.478 in 426 plate appearances for Rome last season. Terdoslavich, 24 years old, has posted solid numbers in the minors in previous year, but had a terrible 2012 season. He might not be able to hit enough be a first baseman long-term. Beckwith and Terdoslavich are not prospects who look destined for greatness in the major leagues. However, both of them are better prospects at this point than Canha. Advantage: Atlanta
Second Base: In this category, Noah Perio and Austin Barnes of the Marlins run into a interesting challenge, as Tommy La Stella shares a lot of things in common with both of them. Tommy La Stella is a long ways to go, but he is a great hitter and a smart baseball player. La Stella hit .302/.386/.460 with thirteen stolen bases in 2012 at Low-A Rome. La Stella is undersized, standing well under six feet, but height is not very important for a second baseman. Austin Barnes is one of my favorite prospects in the Miami farm system due to his athleticism and plate approach. Barnes and Perio just barely edge out La Stella of the Braves at second base. Advantage: Miami
Shortstop: Jose Peraza brings speed and defense to the table, but he is no match for Adeiny Hechavarria and Derek Dietrich of the Marlins. Peraza, 18, will likely begin 2013 in Rome, after spending 2012 in rookie ball. Nick Ahmed is another shortstop to watch in the Braves system. I am not the biggest fan of Hechavarria, but he has already reached the majors and he plays tremendous defense, which has great value because it can be very difficult to find a slick-fielding shortstop. Even if Hechavarria never learns how to hit, the runs he saves at shortstop could make him a valuable asset. Advantage: Miami
Third Base: Third base is not a positional strength for either of these two teams. For the Braves, Kyle Kubitza and maybe the aforementioned Joe Terdoslavich are the only prospects. Kyle Kubitza had a horrendous month of July, but other than that, I believe his debut season in Rome was very successful. Still, Kubitza is years away and he tends to get more attention than he deserves for the type of player he is. Zack Cox isn't a favorite of mine and due to Kubitza's potential, I give the advantage to Braves at third. Advantage: Atlanta
Outfield: Evan Gattis and Matt Lipka come nowhere close to taking the throne from Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jake Marisnick of the Marlins. This category is an easy win for the Marlins, as they have a couple of middle-of-the-order outfield prospects on their way to Miami. Gattis, who also plays catcher, has great raw power, but he needs to find a way to stay healthy to show how he can use it. Matt Lipka is a player to dream on, but ever since being drafted in 2010, the chances of him reaching his potential have appeared to have gotten smaller and smaller. The Marlins win this category and it's not even close. Advantage: Miami
Pitching: Both of these teams have a bountiful array of highly touted pitching prospects. Miami obviously has Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley, and others. Atlanta has Julio Teheran, J.R. Graham, Zeke Spruilli, Luke Sims, and a couple more pitchers that can match up with pretty much any team in baseball. Miami has so many talented starting pitching prospects, studs like Chad James and Jose Urena often get overlooked. For Atlanta, Julio Teheran has had a frustrating last few years, but he still has one of the best repertoire's of pitches in the minors. Sims has a high ceiling, thanks to his plus fastball and curveball. Still, Miami's array of pitching prospects has yet to have been matched by the two teams I've looked at so far. Advantage: Miami
Final Tally: Miami 4, Atlanta 3
It Is Not His Fault, But Willie McCovey’s 1960 Topps Rookie Card Is Far From Fantastic… I love vintage baseball cards. I appreciate vintage baseball cards. I just wish that this was a better example of a vintage baseball card … Continue reading →
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So the Hall of Fame vote came out yesterday... Okay okay, I know you have all had enough of this already so I'll segue past it after the first link and some minimal commentary.
Beyond the Boxscore says to look past home/road splits when evaluating Larry Walker's case for the Hall of Fame. It's about a month or so late on this argument, but it's excellent that SABR types are taking his case more seriously now. Because next year's ballot will be a colossal train wreck, Walker will need all the help he can get if he were to survive.
Kenny Lofton may not have actually been a Hall of Famer, but he deserved a far closer look than he was given. Along with Lou Whitaker and Kevin Brown, this makes three players in the last few years that I feel were prematurely dumped from the ballot by baseball writers. The Rockies and Walker fan inside me, however, is kind of glad Lofton's no longer on the ballot, though, as next year's picture for Walker is already muddy enough.
Thinking of Lofton also makes me think of Juan Pierre. Lofton was a far more complete player, but Pierre may be passing his career mark this year in the one category both outfielders are most likely thought of, stolen bases. Pierre's currently and 591 career SB's with Lofton at 622. Pierre had 37 SB's in 2012, so it's not out of the realm of possibility to see him passing Lofton for 15th on the all-time MLB list. See what I did there? Segued right off the Hall of Fame voting travesty and right into somewhat underrated but still not that great former Rockies players.
Speaking of which, of Rockies drafted and originally signed players, Pierre still ranks in the top 10 in r-WAR, a list which I think gets kind of surprising in a depressing way after the top three:
The Rockies most golden era of drafting for impact seems to have come in between the 1995-1998 seasons, as six of the team's top ten draft choices of all time were chosen then, including the top two in Helton and Holliday. If they can stay healthy for three more seasons, Dexter Fowler (7.3 r-WAR) and Chris Iannetta (8.9 r-WAR) will almost certainly replace Thomson and Westbrook and pass Barmes eventually, scoring two for the 2004 draft, and Jeff Francis (10.0 r-WAR) seems at least somewhat likely to gain what's needed to get on this list as well. So I'm thinking by 2015 the bar of entry for the Rockies top 10 draft picks ever will be closer to Aaron Cook, which will make me sleep a bit better at night (quick fact: Rox Girl's likeliness of insomnia is directly correlated to the ease of getting onto the Rockies top ten draft picks ever list.) What's still depressing is that after Tulo, there's going to be a bit of a gap before the next challengers to this list. It seems there's still potential in the 2009 and later drafts, but 2006-2008 is a dead zone.
Helton's getting ready for a rebound with improved health, and I wouldn't put it past him either, as players of his caliber often will put up solid late career foothill seasons in between more typical decline years. This still reads of typical Spring hopes eternal, however, and we can probably expect more of "player X is going to have the bestest season of his career ever after learning a new slider and putting on 23.6 pounds of muscle" articles in the next month. Of course, sometimes the breakouts/rebounds turn out to be true, see Dexter Fowler last season, for instance, and on a team like the 2013 Rockies that should regress up to the middle a bit, we'll probably see a lot more of the sunshine articles proving themselves somewhat right even if it still leaves the team as a whole far off a contending pace.
With every day that passes, the odds of the Atlanta Braves making a substantial move to improve their outfield decreases. There's still time to get something done, but it isn't looking probable.
For a team that entered the offseason with nearly $30 million to spend and multiple holes on the roster to address, the thought of the club going with a super platoon at third base and left field may be somewhat of a letdown.
Should it be? Maybe not.
Someone like Jordan Schafer or Jose Constanza could also steal a start or two, although that seems unlikely unless injuries arise. And given that we have no real estimate to what Evan Gattis will do should he reach the Major Leagues, counting on his impact seems silly.
Against right-handed pitchers, Francisco would play third and Prado would man left field. Against lefties, Prado shifts down to the hot corner and Reed Johnson handles left.
Over the course of his career, Prado is a .295/.345/.435 hitter with a .341 wOBA.
Against righties, Francisco has batted .272/.320/.487. He has a .346 wOBA in 319 plate appearances.
Against lefties, Johnson is a .311/.367/.461 hitter with a .362 wOBA over the course of 1400+ PA.
If you average out the production from Francisco and Johnson, you get a player that'll hit about .285 with decent on-base skills and some pop. Both players are regarded as pretty average defensively, although Francisco's recent weight loss could pay dividend down the road.
Granted, these are just career averages and are no way guarantees moving forward, but if history repeats itself, the Braves could have a nice little platoon brewing. They will earn a combined $2.2 million in 2013.
Prado and Francisco should continue to improve their offensive production as they near and/or enter the primes of their career. Johnson is on the downside of his tenure in MLB, although he showed last year he's more than capable of hitting left-handed pitching with a .311 average and .798 OPS.
Going with this option would also allow the club to save about $8 million. That could go towards many things; a contract extension for Prado or Jason Heyward, a big deal at the trade deadline or extra cash to spend on next year's free agent crop.
Is it guaranteed that the super platoon in Atlanta would work? No, and a lot of things could throw a wrench into these plans. But if it's what Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez decide to go with, it might just work out.
Willie McCovey’s Classic Signature Not very artsy, but there is a solid flow to it, Willie McCovey offers us up a very solid signature. And while not the most clear, especially his last name, the auto is still unmistakable. And … Continue reading →
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I used to try my best to ignore Hall of Fame season. Every year it seems like the same vague, contrived arguments about 'character' and 'intestinal fortitude' based on cherry-picked stats over cherry-picked lengths of time. When discussing Hall of Fame worthiness, it's as though we're all playing a game where everyone was given a different rulebook. Some of us are playing poker, some are playing go-fish, some Uno, some Skip-bo, and some lick-em and stick-em.
This year is different for me, however. This year, I've found myself with a fresh, revitalized attitude towards the Hall of Fame debate and it has everything to do with Adam Darowski's wonderful new Hall of Stats website. At HoS, Adam has devised a "Hall Rating" for each individual player using Baseball-Reference's WAR, taking into consideration peak value, longevity, position, era, and a whole host of other considerations with extremely pleasing results.
It's not so much the Hall of Fame that has become more interesting to me this year, but rather the idea of a Hall of Fame, or what a Hall of Fame should be.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I've spent quite a bit of time scrolling through HoS's pages upon pages of ballplayers in MLB hstory. In that time I've realized two things about my general attitude towards a Hall of Fame.
1. I may be a "small hall" guy.
2. I certainly value 'peak' over longevity.
3. There are many sizes of 'peaks'
It's that second and third realization that have inspired this post today.
The predecessor to Adam's Hall Rating formula was something he called wWAR, and it incorporated two variations of WAR designed to measure peak value, rather than crediting players with long careers of average production. These two measures are Sean "Rally" Smith's "Wins Above Excellence" (WAE), which measures all Wins above 3.0 in each 3+ WAR season (and disregards any seasons below that threshold), and one of Adam's own designs dubbed "Wins Above MVP" (WAM), which measures all WAR above six. I prefer to add yet another facet to this concept, creating a WA3/WA5/WA7 'slashline'-- one that rates players by their Wins Above 3, Wins Above 5, and Wins above 7 WAR respectively.
This way, we're eliminating all of a player's garbage seasons that may be contributing to his WAR totals, and instead focusing on his 'peak' by three different definitions. If you value simple longevity of a career more than anything else, this may not be the post for you.
I was curious, then, what if we only judged players by these methods? In other words, what if we threw out all seasons where a player posted pedestrian numbers (compiling seasons) and judged them only by the strength and frequency of their their All-Star and MVP-caliber seasons? Which players would suffer the most?
For instance, there have been 33 starting pitchers in baseball history to log over 60 WAR over the course their career. Two of them, Don Sutton and Ted Lyons, never posted a season above 7 WAR.
In fact Lyons, Sutton, and even Atlanta Brave legend John Smoltz spent very little time in what Baseball-Reference refers to as "All-Star" territory, with under 3 "WA5" for each of their careers. Compare that to a Kevin Brown, who achieved just as much WAR in his career, but spent much more time at the All-Star level with an impressive WA5 over 10.
We also see that several other highly-revered pitching greats, like Nolan Ryan and Tom Glavine, rarely ever reached the +7 WAR heights. Ryan's career in particular was very much lacking in 'peak' value for a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If you ignore all his below-average seasons (WAR < 2), his career very much resembles that of a Mike Mussina-light:
This graph provides an excellent way of visualizing the similarities and differences between the two careers, but by looking at both players' WA3/WA5/WA7 slashline, you can see the relationship just as easily:
Both players have a WA7 of .9, which is represented by their two best seasons on the far left in the graph. Mussina then edges out Ryan in WA5, but runs away from Ryan in the WA3 comparison (29.6 to 22.6). Yet, with similar WAR numbers, we have to assume Ryan makes up all that ground with sub-average seasons (all 11 of them).
But perhaps you feel 7 WAR is too high of a standard by which to judge a player? For Position Players, then, let's instead look at all careers with at least 60 WAR sorted by the lowest WA5.
Willie Randolph spent 18 seasons racking up 63 WAR with only having 3 seasons of +5 WAR performance. He is essentially the quintessential example of a very good player with an impressive, long career, whose greatness was extremely fleeting. A modern day example might be Johnny Damon, whose 50 WAR puts him ahead of Hall of Famers like George Sisler, yet he still only managed two seasons above 5 WAR with Kansas City and a WA5 of just 1.1 in 18 seasons.
We also find that recent retiree Manny Ramirez has basically the same Career as first-ballot Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Both had 0 WA7, an eerily similar WA5, and Manny with the slightest edge in WA3 22.3 over 19.2).
I should note, also, that with Catchers receiving less playing time over the course of the season than other position players, Adam has devised a simple adjustment for their WAM, relaxing the Wins threshold. I haven't added that adjustment to these tables, so Catchers like Ivan Rodriguez and Carlton Fisk at #9 and #10 will certainly be underrated by this system in it's raw format.
I've compiled WA3/WA5/WA7 totals for the top 250 pitchers and 250 hitters in baseball history. Feel free to download if you'd like to play along at home:
Much in the same way that a hitter's AVG/OBP/SLG slashline will tell you the type of hitter he is in addition to his overall performance, I believe a WA3/WA5/WA7 juxtaposition can help us visualize the type of career a player has had in addition to his overall WAR value. We not only can see the size and scope of a player's career, but also it's shape. But what do you think?
All data courtesy of Baseball-Reference. Special thanks to Hall of Stats and Hall of wWAR for inspiration.
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Josh Hamilton surprised a lot of people by signing a five year contract with the Anaheim Angels recently. While there was no doubt that he was going to sign somewhere for a lot of money, most people assumed that he was going to stay in Texas. There were many good reasons for him to do so. Can he be productive next year in Anaheim?
Who Will Watch Over Him?
It was thought that the Texas Rangers had at least one employee who was devoted to making sure that Hamilton was staying on the straight and narrow. It has been well chronicled that Hamilton has had issues with alcohol addiction throughout his life. He has even succumbed to his addiction on at least two separate occasions. If he is not able to keep his demons in check with someone watching him, will he be able to do so if the Angels don't afford him that same treatment?
How Will He Adjust To His New Team?
Albert Pujols was a player that many thought would put Anaheim over the top last season. However, he struggled from the plate early in the season. Those struggles put himself and the team in an early hole that they were not able to climb their way out of. Will Hamilton have the same type of slump to start the season that Pujols did? The answer to that question is still relatively unclear. For starters, Pujols was still adjusting to pitchers in a new league who he had little experience with. Hamilton will have the luxury of facing the same pitchers for the most part.
He Won't Have To Be The Man
The good news is that he won't have to be the main star on that team. The Angels will have Pujols, Mike Trout and players like Jarrod Weaver to go along with Hamilton. This means that he will have protection in the lineup as well as other faces that fans will be able to take out their anger on if things go bad. That alone should allow him to relax and play like the superstar that he is. Another factor working in his favor is that there may be a honeymoon period where fans allow him to struggle as he finds his role on the team.
The Division Won't Be As Strong This Year
Even if he doesn't play well, he may not need to approach the levels of last year to help out the team. The Mariners are not going to be a contender yet again this season, the Rangers have been decimated by free agent defections and the A's have to prove that they can win again next season. 90 wins or so may be enough to win that division. Therefore, playing in a weaker division may actually help him put up good numbers next season.
When all is said and done, Josh Hamilton will be worth the $125 million that he is being paid over the next five seasons. While some say that he is past his prime, it is inconceivable that he will suffer a significant drop in production over the next two years when his salary is actually going to be less than it will be in the final years of his deal. Overall, he should be a great value for the Angels in 2013.
Author Bio: Don Phan is a part time sports blogger and works full time for Fanatics, Inc. as a marketing associate. His company boasts a large selection of MLB fan gear for all 30 major league teams.
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FanGraphs today released the 2013 ZiPS projections for the Royals. ZiPS is one of the best projections systems available and was created by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory. Hi Dan. Some of the highlights.
Of some interest will be how the club handles second base this year. Despite having posted just a 64 wRC+ and -0.8 WAR in his first 376 major-league plate appearances, 25-year-old Johnny Giavotella‘s profile - according to ZiPS - remains that of league-average player. To his credit, he posted one of the best regressed offensive lines in the Pacific Coast League last year among prospect-aged batters.
I am a little surprise to see Johnny so high. He projects to be better than the other 2B options
The big push for the Royals this off season was with acquiring some real starters. Here is how the 4 players brought in compare to the old guard (ranked by ERA+):
Some huge improvements at the top of the rotation and then it gets pretty muddled. A big shout out to Royal-Fan who stated a few weeks that Santana and Hockevar are the same.
Finally, I like to see where the pitching prospects project. These have to be taken with a grain of a salt, but a couple of years ago, the projections liked Duffy over Montgomery when everyone was raving about Monty.
Not a ton of love, but nice to see Ventura with a +6 K% in the majors. The biggest issue across the board looks to be walks.
Not a ton of surprises. Maybe besides some IP or PA everything, besides Johnny's projection, seem right. Your thoughts?