Archive for August, 2009

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Disco Hayes Doesn’t Advertise

August 31, 2009

I’m apparently on a kick of linking minor league blogs that have been passed on to me this week, but here is another: Disco Hayes, submarining right handed reliever for the Royals AAA affiliate. This is probably the most entertaining and fun blog I’ve ever seen from a ballplayer, and if the Royals ever wise up and give him a major league chance I will buy one of his jerseys.

Artist's conception of the origins of Disco.

Artist's conception of the origins of Disco.

Although the way things are run in KC we may have to wait it out, as Disco seems to be getting the Chad Bradford treatment. No one trusts a guy who can’t crack 90 mph on his fastball, regardless of the results. Plus this is the same team who are keeping Kila Kaaihue banished in AAA while they run out Mike Jacobs to patrol first base with an OBP around .300. Oh and as a reward for the brilliant trade to bring in Jacobs, as well as the terrific signings of Kyle Farnsworth (2 years, $9.25 million, 5.40 ERA) and Jose Guillen (in year 2 of a 3 year, $36 million contract; .688 OPS), Royals GM Dayton Moore is about to receive an extension through 2014. Royals Baseball, catch the fever*!

*May be lethal.
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Exceliraptors

August 30, 2009

Tonight I have a sort of dual purpose project. My first reason for getting into it is that I am trying to learn Excel basics. The second is that I was curious at to how well runs scored by MLB teams correlated with runs created. Runs created is a sort of simple catch all offensive term. It includes power numbers, on base skills, and speed as well. Caught stealing takes away from the on base portion, because obviously you have wiped away the appearance on base. Stolen bases contribute to the base advancing half, which also includes total bases to encompass doubles, triples and homers. That wiki link explains it better than I do in any case, and while it is far less advanced than wOBA and other new metrics it is still a surprisingly accurate formula for the expected runs an offense will output.

Also note that there are several versions of runs created. I am using a semi-basic one that still includes SB and CS:

rc

Now if anyone would like to check out the excel workbook it can be seen here. On to the nerdery!

The first describes the total number of runs scored (blue) against runs created by the team (red). The teams are ordered from least prolific offense to most, with the league and MLB averages at the top. Click for a more readable size.

rc v rs

It’s impressive how accurate these formulas are. The team outperforming their expected runs the most are the A’s. The Yankees are actually underperforming. They should realistically have even more runs than they currently have scored. I’m not about to go into any deeper calculations today to figure out the exact cause, but reasons for a difference in actual runs and runs created can be double plays hit into, running into outs on the bases, or simple failure in clutch situations. That last one is a possibility for the Yankees, as they hit 12 points lower with runners in scoring position than they do overall.

The second graph levels out team totals, since every team has not played the same number of games. It compares runs per game (red) with runs created per game (blue).

rg v rcg

Same idea as the last graph, just slightly more accurate. In all likelihood the two values will get closer to each other as the season goes on. The larger the sample size the lower the probability of an outlier (such as the Yankees bad luck, which is astounding to see being that they are second in MLB in runs per game).

I have a few other projects of varying depth I’ll be messing around with, but I shall try and keep everything on here updated with new info. Stay tuned!

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Brains and Brawn

August 28, 2009
At 6'8" he's as tall as he looks.

At 6'8" he's as tall as he looks.

Phillies prospect Michael Schwimer posted an awesome article detailing the thought process he puts into pitching. He links video of his two-inning save and goes through a pitch by pitch analysis of how he tries to get batters out, telling you what worked and didn’t work both physically and mentally.

He’s currently in A+ Clearwater and has 83 strikeouts against 19 walks with an ERA of 2.90 in 59 innings. He obviously puts a lot of effort into his work (both his pitching and his write up), so good luck to him!

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The Conundrum of A.J. Burnett

August 27, 2009
The only appropriate caption for this legendary photo is "Fuck Yeah!"

The only appropriate caption for this legendary photo is "Fuck Yeah!"

I could probably write this post about half of the Yankees pitching staff, and the same thing has probably been written by one thousand Blue Jays bloggers (and the one Marlins blogger), but is anyone more mind boggling than A.J. Burnett? There are few guys who can match the repertoire he boasts: a mid-to-high nineties fastball and a truly great curveball. It isn’t obscene to compare him to Nolan Ryan in regards to the stuff he has, and the strikeout and walk numbers are both fairly comparable. Of course, while Ryan pitched for approximately half of the twentieth century with remarkable durability Burnett has found himself on the DL several times over his career, including Tommy John surgery back in his Florida days.

The injuries are not the frustrating aspect of Burnett’s career, however. I should be fair to him, he pitched over 200 innings last season for the first time in his career and is likely to do the same this year, so it would seem those issues are behind him. No, the pattern that has emerged to Yankee fans watching him regularly for the first time, and to anyone who watched him regularly in the past is present in his game log.

Now the most troubling part isn’t so much that every few weeks he’ll have a meltdown of a game (though that is still troubling). Rather, look at his walk numbers and you’ll see just why he can be incredibly dominant one night and brutal the next. Every few games A.J. will lose all sight of the strike zone, and just on his natural skill he can make an okay start out of a lot of these games. Of course, if you play a patient team like Boston and you have no control they’ll simply wait you out and take all the walks they can get (like what happened last week) and your team gets thoroughly abused.

Just because I think it looks hilarious, here is Burnett’s strike zone scatter plot from the game in April I linked earlier in which he walked seven batters (Curtesy of Brooks Baseball as always):

burnett strike zone 4-19

It’s hard to get mad at the guy who I like watching more than any other pitcher the Yankees have (when he’s on, anyway), and I am really nit picking complaints here. But if Burnett pitched the way he is capable every start he could get Cy Young Winner tattooed along side his variety of other pieces.

I think I just wanted to post that bad ass Nolan Ryan picture and he seemed like a logical comp with Burnett. And if Burnett ever drills someone in the back (he’s fifth in the league in hbp’s with 9 by the way, behind #1 Carlos Marmol who has 11 in only 59 innings!), watches them charge at him, puts them in a headlock and beats the hell out of them he will be my favorite Yankee ever.

Yes, even cooler than Mickey.

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David Robertson and Jonathan Papelbon Are Not As Different As You Think

August 19, 2009

Jonathan Papelbon is in the midst of his fourth full season in the majors, and has made the All-Star team in each of those years. He is generally regarded as being one of the top closers in baseball, boasts intimidating velocity, and seems like he’s a pretty big douche. Now before I get any further, I agree with the consensus that he is a fine reliever (though I still think it’s dumb that the Red Sox didn’t give him more of a chance to start instead of shoe horning him into the closers role, minimizing his potential right off the bat). He has a great strikeout rate (10 per 9 inings) and a good opponent’s batting average (.231 this year, which is actually a career worst).

You earned it Pap, you save the game about as often as Eddie Guardado.

You earned it Pap, you save the game about as often as Eddie Guardado.

But, whether it is because he is plays the most over hyped role in sports or because he is over the top on the mound and plays for the Red Sox, Papelbon has evolved into a very over-valued player.

Papelbon has a career number of 141 saves, against 18 blown saves. That comes to 88.6% of the time that he saves the game, which is only slightly ahead of Eddie Guardado’s career rate, and pretty near Matt Capps (sicne he has been closing). Now, the point here isn’t to put Paps down, it’s to compare him to a guy on the Yankees who’s getting his first extended look in the majors, David Robertson.
Let’s compare a few key numbers between the two this season:

Robertson Papelbon

D-Rob: Just as valuable as Papelbon?

D-Rob: Just as valuable as Papelbon?

ERA+        142                    216

FIP            2.98                  3.47

WHIP        1.34                   1.24

k/9            13.11 (!!!)         9.95

k/bb          2.63                  2.80

hr/9          .79                    .89

babip        .339                  .304

A lot more similar than I expected. The two of them seem to pitch with the same ulcer inducing style of putting men on base more often than they should via walk before finishing innings with strikeouts or weak contact. Oddly enough Robertson has an OAV of .218 even with the high babip. I think both are great relievers, and of course Papelbon has been at this a lot longer than Robertson. It’s still amusing to see how closely they compare this season (and there’s no reason to think Robertson can not continue to succeed after the way he’s pitched his minor league career). Papelbon will be making $6.3 million this season (and will be getting a raise before next year in arbitration), while Robertson is pitching on a league minimum deal. Papelbon will also continue to get the bulk of the fan fare (nationally, anyway), while Robertson quietly pitches in increasingly important games for the Yankees (setting up for the best relief pitcher in history of course).

If I were Theo Epstein I would be cashing in on the inflated value Papelbon has, there are a lot of teams that would pay a pretty penny for a closer with as big a name as he has. He might be a fan favorite at the moment but it isn’t like the Sox can’t alter that at their will (Nomar and Manny were two of the most popular Red Sox ever, and they got the the boot as the team saw fit).

Stay tuned for some in depth coverage from the Yankees/Athletics game tomorrow. I will be in attendance and I will try and steal an interview with the man I just wrote about. Read the rest of this entry ?

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