Who is really the best baseball team in the majors? I honestly don't know but I try to figure that out by using basic and advanced statistics. I live for talking about baseball, it's my biggest drive in my life and I will jump on the opportunity to talk baseball with anyone, even with people who I don't really like. For me, Baseball is a piece of art that sits in my mind all day, ready to be painted on at any point of the day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michael Pineda and Jesus switch places

By Mike Moritz

There has been so much talk around the league, blogosphere and everywhere in general about the recent deal in which the Seattle Mariners sent Michael Pineda and colleague Jose Campos to New York in exchange for long time top-prospect Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. I find this trade so hard to analyze. I don't know why but I just can't tell who got the better part of the deal.

Well, let's break it down...or at least attempt to.

The Mariners are getting, in my opinion, one of the most over-hyped prospects in recent years in Montero. I can say with confidence that his ceiling is Miguel Cabrera; smooth swing, similar body build *at the time of their respective call-ups*, a fantastic set of hit placement skills, good but not great power and a minimal walk rate. That's Montero's ceiling. And while I do indeed think that Montero is over hyped, that doesn't necessarily mean that he's bad, or that his prospects status is bad. No, not at all. That being said, what I think is more likely to happen is that he settles into more of a Carlos Lee type of hitter simply because it would be extremely ballsy to predict that kind of career from him.

It's also worth noting that Montero is already likely the worst defensive catcher in baseball and we haven't really seen him catch in the majors. Scouts hate him defensively so much so that he is likely already a full time DH. I looked for some vocal evidence and needed to look no further than former Baseball Jungle contributor Simon Stracher when he said of Montero in the first ever Baseball Jungle quote, "David Ortiz had a wRC+ of 153 and he only had 4.2 WAR. So for Montero to be as valuable a player as many scouts think he is going to be, he's going have to be a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera." 

Just to put that statement into context, Ortiz's 153 wRC+ and 4.2 WAR included just 13 innings in the field this year. Yet, Adrian Gonzalez had the exact same wRC+ while producing 6.6 WAR and defensive value (10.7 UZR).  

And again, even though I think Montero is over-hyped, that doesn't he's bad-far from it- and it also doesn't mean that the Mariners are getting a bad deal either.

The Yankees are getting a really good pitcher in Pineda, that's for sure. But I'm not so sure that Yankee Stadium is the best fit for him. He's also an injury risk of a couple sorts.

Pineda is mainly a fastball-slider pitcher; he throws one of the two pitches 93.7% of the time while throwing his lousy change up just 6.3%. My immediate reaction to that is: injury alert. In a Fangraphs article from over the summer, Eno Sarris observed Brett Anderson's elbow problems. What he found was that pitchers who threw, on average, 28% sliders or more as a starter, generally report the dreaded...elbow soreness. And in a few cases, Tommy John surgery. Now, you would think that pitchers who have TJ come back even better, but I feel that that is not the same case with hefty-slider-pitchers; the elbows will probably just keep getting injured...and when your injured, you can't really pitch. Sure enough, Brett Anderson had Tommy John surgery on July 14th.

Pineda? Well, he throws a slider 31.5% of the time. He also just generally has a jerky motion. I'm a little frightened by the injury bug with him down the road. Pineda isn't just some stop-gap for the Yanks, he's a legit number 2 man behind C.C. and should be in the Bronx for a while.

As for Yankee Stadium, well that park increases home runs by 29% in total. Pineda is, as of right now, a fly ball pitcher; he allowed a 44.8% fly ball rate last year. Well, lucky for him, Safco Field decreases homers by a total of about 12%. Not only that, but Pineda has created success living up in the zone; he often gets a lot f his strike outs by throwing the heater up and getting hitters to chase it.

Fastballs are green. We can see by just looking that his fastball lives upstairs. This chart is against righties but the same can be said for lefties as well.
But then there's a little whacky number issue: he had a 1.05 HR/9 in Safco but a .86 HR/9 clip AWAY from home. That's weird. Just based on how either stadium plays and how he pitches (up in the zone) and what the general majority-of-the-time result is when the ball is hit (fly ball), I can say with a fair amount of confidence that this was just another example of randomness in baseball and some wonky luck.

But! As weird as Pineda's home run situation is and as scared as I am for the injuries that could be lurking in the hopefully-not-near-future, Pineda had a great year last year and is a great pitcher. His 9.11 K/9 was the third best rate in the majors among rookies and the best in the AL for rookies. On top of that, he posted the fourth best FIP among rookies with at least 100 innings pitched: 3.42 and his xFIP was third: 3.53. His fastball clocks in at an average of 94.7 mph, the fifth fastest in the majors overall. So there's no doubt that this young man has talent, that's for sure. And he's only going to get better skill wise. He might be getting better but the problem now becomes whether or not his performance will show that; injuries, Yankee Stadium and a move to the AL East could slow him up (although being that he's on the Yankees rather than the Orioles or Rays so he doesn't have to face the Yankees lineup).

For the sake of the length of this post, I'll keep it short and say that Hector Noesi's value will probably come as middle reliever with some upside for high leverage situations.

Jose Campos, on the other hand, could very well be the man who decides this if this trade is equal or better for the Yanks. I didn't know Campos before the trade so I decided to do my usual routine when looking at a new player: dissect hours of film. Not really. But I did find things. And I loved what I found. If you are reading this post I want you to know that Jose Campos has Verlander-upside. I truly believe that. Campos posted a 9.32 K/9, 3 BB/9, 3.16 ERA and a 2.29 FIP in Rookie Ball in 2010. He only got better in Low-A ball in 201l; 9.41 K/9, 1.44 BB/9, 2.32 ERA and a 2.38 FIP. Campos has a 91-94 mph fastball with good control. His slider sits in the 83-85 mph range and his curve ball is in the 73-75 mph range. Obviously I haven't really been able to get to know Campos (I've never seen him in person) but it's said that despite the fact that his curve isn't great, he still throws it a lot and understands that it can be used effectively. Hitters seem to buckle just by the velocity change so one can only imagine what it would be like if his curve was a good one. That brings me to his next great thing about him: his mental game. His understanding of his own curve ball is amazing off the bat especially for a 19 year old. He has presence on the mound, the kind of confidence you would see from a top flight pitcher as if he were to say "I'm going to get you out" and then have a sly smile on his face, and then he would actually do it. I guess that's what happens when you give up just 32 walks in 138.1 career pro innings. Better yet, he has a work horse body at 6'4" and 200 lbs and still a little more room to fill out. I'm serious, this guy can determine the trade by himself. The only catch is that he's so young and we can't guarantee that his ceiling is a Justin Verlander ceiling so don't hold me to that if he implodes. But if he doesn't implode, and were going to assume he doesn't, then take my word for it, he's a beast.

Winner: Push.

Both teams got what they needed. Mariners finally got a guy who can hit as an all around hitter and someone they can build around and the Yankees got a young pitcher to help the thin pitching rotation...and an amazing potential starter in Campos.

The reason I say "push" is because we are going to have to wait a few years to see what happens. We need to see how Pineda adjusts to Yankee stadium while avoiding injuries; we need to see if Montero lives up to the hype; we need to see if Noesi can bring at least a little value from somewhere whether it be the rotation or bullpen; and finally, we need to see if Campos can reach Verlander-ism.

(Statistics and information in courtesy of: fangraphs.com, baseball-reference.com, statcorner.comhttp://baseballinstinct.com and http://www.yankeeanalysts.com)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Looking at the Carlos Quentin trade

By Mike Moritz

This trade is very, uhh, interesting for Carlos Quentin himself. Quentin has been a pretty big fly ball hitter for his career; he has a 46.6% fly ball rate and the only reason his ground ball rate is as high as it is at 38.2% is because of his 15.2% line drive rate. I'll be honest, and I'll get it out of the way: Carlos Quentin's career is about to go down the drain.

Alright, let's get all geeked up in here. According to statcorner.com, U.S. Cellular Field increases home runs by 38% for a right handed hitter while Pecto Park decreases homers by 5%, also for right handed hitter. And yes, Quentin is indeed a right handed hitter and not only that but he is a big time pull hitter, as shown:

Just one opposite field homer for Carlos last season and that wasn't an outlier, just 16% of his homers have been hit to the opposite field in his career-19. U.S. Cellular inflates homeruns by left handed hitters by 26%, or right handed hitters going oppo. Pecto park decreases homers by 41% for lefties (or rightys going oppo). If we take Quentin's 19 opposite field homers for his career and subtract 26% of them to simulate him playing in a nuetral park, we get 14. 14 is our "nuetralized" number but we still have to find the year-to-year average, which is 3.5. 14 homers divided by 4 total major league seasons. But since he is going to Pecto, we have to subtract 41% from 14: 5.74 divided by 4 is 1.44 or 1 rounded down. So we can confidently expect Quentin to hit around 1 opposite field homer in 2012.

Back to the left side of the field. When we use the same method again, we find that Quentin averages about 26 homers per year when pulling the ball. As mentioned before, U.S. Cellular increases homers by 38%. 38% of 26 is 9.88 or 10. 26-10=16. Pecto decreases left field homers by 5%, which is .8 or 1. So 15 left field homers plus 1 opposite field homer is just 16 homers for next year. We can project that kind of power from him with a pretty good amount of confidence in 2012.

He'll probably also struggle to hit for average next year as well. He's never been a good pure hitter. He has a career 15.2% line drive rate. His .253 average is supportive of that and his .252 BABIP for his career suggests that he also has horrible hit placement skills. We can also look at the above chart for same conclusion about hit placement skills. And to back that up even further, his line drive rate going opposite field is just 11.8% and 4% last year. That combined with that fact that his power is going way down; he's probably in line for around a .220/.300/.350 line.

And that's not all. His defense will probably end up being among the worst in the league considering he is already horrible in the outfield and now he's moving to a spacious park like Petco.

This is a guy who we should feel really bad for because his career is about go out the window this year unless he makes some remarkable change over the winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A look at the recent Mat Latos trade

By Mike Moritz

Yonder Alonzo
On Saturday, we found out about the minor-blockboster-deal that sent Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds and in return, they would flip Edison Volquez, Yonder AlonzoYasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger back to the Padres. The ladder three players were three of Top 10 Reds prospects.The Reds have been known to have been looking for a pitching upgrade for most of the off-season and they essentially got a good fit.

Since coming up to the majors in 2009, he has produced 7.3 WAR, while posting a 3.37 ERA and 3.28 FIP. On another note, he has struck 8.65 per nine while walking 2.83. With the right handed pitcher moving from an extreme pitchers park to an extreme hitters park, we should take a look at his splits.

Surprisingly, Latos does not see much of a difference between his home run rate whether it be at home or away. Home career: .81 HR/9. Away career: .83 HR/9. That's a little bit relaxing that he won't be giving up many more dingers. On the other hand, he isn't an EXTREME ground ball pitcher- his 42.8% ground ball rate is right around average- which might hurt him a little bit, albeit not much. 

Great American Ball Park does increase homers by a lot (statcorner.com) but doesn't seem to do so for doubles and triples. The catch is that while it doesn't increase extra base hits relative to the league, it is greatly enhanced compared to Petco Park, where doubles were depressed by 14% and 28% for lefties and righties, respectively. So now, while Latos isn't necessarily moving to a extra-base-hit-haven, he is moving out of a stadium where any hitter goes to die. As it turns out, Latos gave up 1.5 doubles/9 on the road and just 1.09 doubles/9 at Petco. Not a huge deal but it is definitely something that will probably drive his ERA up a little but should not be by much.

Latos started the year on the DL. He didn't miss much time but it was shoulder  that sent him there. Normally, I wouldn't worry about this very much; it would normally be a little blimp on the radar but as we know, Reds manager Dusty Baker is notorious for ruining pitchers-especially young pitcher's-arms. So now all of the sudden, that shoulder soreness injury becomes a concern, at least in my eyes.

On the other side of the flip, the Padres are getting a really good deal. Personally, I think they are the winners in this trade.We've heard about Yonder Alonzo for a while now and as sad as it is- since he is a damn good player- I expected him to be traded. And so did the average baseball fan seeing that there's some dude named Joey Votto blocking him at first and Alonzo can't really play the outfield. He projects to be a 25 homer hitter on a year to year basis but that is completely up for change because we (or at least I don't) know exactly what kind of hitter he is in terms of hit placement. If he is dead pull hitter than 20 homers is probably his max on the other hand if he has more of a hitting skill set of Adrian Gonzalez, where he can spray the ball all around the field, then we might see 30ish homers from him.

As for Boxberger, he is probably the Padres' future closer. In terms of JUST statistical comparison, Mike Gonzalez seems to be a good comp.

Yasmani Grandal could actually end up being the best part of the deal. The switch hitting catcher can hit power from both sides of the plate while playing above average defense. He also has a 13.3% walk rate in the minors. The potential is DEFINITELY there to be a Jorge Posada but with good defense. Which means there is a shit ton of potential in terms of WAR value. Posada had a .258 career minor league batting average with an .804 OPS. Grandel: .303 and .888. You can also compare to Victor Martinez, another switch hitting catcher: .319 and .881. Just throwin' it out there. Grandal is legit. The Real Deal.

Overall, this trade is a certain Padre win. I wouldn't say by a land slide, but there is no doubt in my mind that San Diego go the better part of the deal.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com and baseball-reference.com)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What does Aramis Ramirez bring to the Brewers?

By Mike Moritz

The hiatus is over, I will now attempt at making a comeback to the blogger world but I can not guarantee that I will be able to write consistently.

And with that said, I have decided to start with the Milwaukee Brewers signing of Aramis Ramirez. As we just found a few days ago, the third basemen has signed a three-year deal worth $36 million with a mutal option for 2015. A lot of people this off season have been saying that Milwaukee is a perfect fit for Ramirez, and that the Brewers need a third basemen. But is that really true? Yes, the chances of resigning Prince Fielder were and still are very slim, and now they are out of the running for him anyways. So they lose a big bat, they have money to spend, they need a short stop and have a third basemen...This is why Jose Reyes would be the perfect fit for them.

I have nothing against Ramirez, really, I don't. I think he is a real solid player that can help any ball club. But it just seems to me that the Brewers underestimated Casey Mcgehee. There are a few asepects that I would like to explore in this post and we will try to break them down.

Okay so let's start with Casey.

I wanted to figure out if McGehee just had a bad year or if he is not going to produce at the previous level caliber that he did.

When playing in the Cubs organization, he was not a power hitter, his highest ISO was .148 while playing in AA in 2007. After he moved to the Brewers for the 2009 season, he was able to put some power onto his resume: he had a .197 ISO and a .499 SLG in 355 at-bats. The next year, he had another solid offensive year but his ISO dropped to .179. And for good reason because his line drive and fly ball rate both dropped considerably between the two years:


Looking a little deeper, I found that he started getting a little too swing happy. His walk rate dropped from 8.6% to 7.5% but even further down, we saw his O-Swing% spike from 19.8% in 2009 to 29.5% in 2010. 

The more and more we look at it, it just seems like 2009 was not a fluke but rather just a good season. (So a different kind of fluke.) Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that the player had a good season. No statistical element involved, it just might be that 2009 was a good season for Casey. Chances are that pitchers didn't know how to pitch to him and just pitched to his strengths without knowing. Not their fault. They didn't know any better at the time.  

So that's probably why 2010 is much more an indicator of his true talent. And then he got BABIP'd in 2011. His ISO dropped to .123 this year, that is more like what he did in the minors so I am convinced that a .130-.150 ISO is his range, which is around the league average. And apart from that, he is about a .270-.280 hitter with an average walk rate. So all told, and I am just estimating here, that is about 2 WAR. That's nice production, for sure.

So keep him at third or move him to first but what ever position he would have taken, Mat Gamel would take up the unoccupied one. (Gamel will actually be getting the job at first base this year with Prince gone and Aramis at third.) We can expect Gamel to be a 25-30 home run hitter with a .260ish average with a nice walk rate.

Gamel hit a bump in the road when he got called up in 2009 and struck out 36.7% of the time then got sent down only to have a 27.8% strike out in AAA for the rest of the season. 19.4% was his previous strike out high in the minors so this strike out rate came out of nowhere suggesting that he probably had some sort of injury or perhaps his mechanics were just out of whack.What ever the case, he has fixed it now and has just about returned to his previous Top Prospect Status. An adequate player for positive production? Hell yeah.

So now they would have Mcgehee and Gamel at the infield corners. Not too much money for solid to potentially great production. That's a deal. And they would not have had to even spent money on a big name free agent yet. But along comes Reyes. A clear glaring hole at short stop. Brewcrew has money to spend. I am telling you, Reyes would have been a perfect fit.

But not only for his offense.

For his defense too! Now, I am not saying that Reyes and Rickie Weeks are good fielders. They are actually just about average. But still, it would be a huge upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt. To be honest, the same cannot be said for the new Brewer Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez can field and brings about the same value in terms of defense as Reyes. But does he bring the bat? No way. And no where near the ability of Reyes. So who I would rather have? A stop gap solution for a contending team who, sure, can field but can't hit very much? Or a long term solution with a great all around skill set, defense and offense included? Don't know about you but I'll take the ladder part of that deal.

But what about Ramirez? Well Aramis brings good offense. Below average defense. That's about all there is to him. He is really solid player. But when you are trying to sign Zack Grienke and Shawn Marcum to long term deals so you can contend longer, why would you sign a 34 year old?

On the other hand, if Braun is booted for 50 games, then Ramirez is a nice bat to have for that time, being that there would not be much power in that line up with Braun and Fielder.

I'm just throwin' it out there. Just saying. Reyes would have been a perfect fit. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Who will win that big, gold trophy with all the flags around it?

By Mike Moritz

What happened in Tampa Bay? And how about Baltimore? And how about Houston? And what about Atlanta?

Jesus Fuck! The last night of the regular season solidified the fact that baseball is the craziest, most absurd and weirdest sport in the world.

But I'm not here to talk about any of those things. Sure, they were crazy, indeed. But I rather spend this time before the playoffs start to attack the blogosphere with some analyzing on who the best playoff team is.

But first, I have some explaining to do. In the book Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything you know about the Game is Wrong (a book that my friends and I refer to as "the bible"), there is a chapter called "Why Doesn't Billy Beane's Shit Work in the Playoffs?" This chapter explains what kind of teams are well equipped for the playoffs. Nate Silverman and Dayn Perry, the authors of this specific chapter, did a little research. I'll save you the time and only put a little segment of the chapter:
"After any number of permutations of the twenty-six variables in our database, we identified three factors that have the most fundamental and direct relationship with Playoff Success Points. The variables are as follows: 
  • Closer WXRL (Wins Expected over Replacement Level; in other words, WAR) 
  • Pitcher strikeout rate 
  •  FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average; in other words, UZR)
Striking batters out, catching the ball, and having a good closer wins championships. It makes a good deal of sense why each of these variables is so important in the postseason."

Okay, so while you that in mind, let me explain the thing about offence in the playoffs. Baseball Between the Numbers often uses a way of telling if something has some sort of correlation with something else. This system is on a scale of -1 to 1. When something is calculated and comes out to 1, that means that when something happens to X, something also happens to Y. When you get to -1, that means that there is an inverse relationship (so when something happens to X, something of the opposite variety happens to Y). When you come to a 0, that means that the two things have have no correlation. You can also get a decimal, for example, if you get .29, that means that there is relativity small correlation. Hopefully you get my rift.

So going back to what "the bible" proved, they found that runs scored in the regular season compared to the postseason has a correlation of 0, yes, straight up ZERO, in other words, no correlation. They also found that batting average, ISO, and walk rates for hitters have a .04, .01, .02 correlation, respectively, again, essentially ZERO correlation. And just to back up what the book explained in the quote that you read, I will now list the correlations between starting pitching WAR, closer WAR and defense UZR:

Strike out rate for starting pitchers: .14
WAR for closer: .22
Defense UZR: .16

So looking at these three numbers, they don't look to convincing because the highest correlation we have is .22, which is, as we know by now, a small correlation. They key here is that we must put them all together in order to get a well suited play off team. Well, if you know math, then you would know that .22+.16+.14=.52. So together, these factors have a .52 correlation with winning a championship, just like the book stated. (If you do not believe my numbers, find the book yourself and read the chapter, page 352.) The .52 correlation obviously is not going to be a 100% lock for the team to win the World Series because playoffs consist of such small sample sizes, and we know that sample sizes can be crazy enough to make Sam Fuld a legend. There is a difference between a good regular season team (2006 Yankees) and a good playoff team (2010 Giants) Basically, if you want the best chance at winning, your team should focus on those three things. We need to look no further than 2010's World Series champion San Fransico Giants.The Giants had an 8.57 K/9 from their starters in the regular season that were on the playoff roster. The closer, Brian Wilson, was clearly elite: 1.81 ERA, 2.19 FIP and 2.6 WAR in 74.2 innings. And the defense? Their 64.7 UZR led all of baseball last year.

Now let's put all these numbers to work. So what about this year? What team has the most suitable playoff squad of 2011?

So we will start in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks sport an MLB best 60.2 UZR. The starting rotation on the other hand, has a 6.39 K/9, which is far below the 7.13 K/9 MLB average. The closer J.J. Putz has a 1.7 WAR, that is the forth best among all playoff closers. The defense is there, for sure, but there is a huge flaw in the pitching with the strike outs and Putz isn't the best October closer, but merely average. They are not my team.

Next, we'll do the New York Yankees. The Yankees hold the 7th best UZR in baseball, with 22.9. It was just announced that Bartolo Colon will be left of the roster and A.J. Burnett will be in the bullpen. Not including Colon or Burnett, the Yankees rotation have a 6.95 K/9, again, below the 7.13 mark for the league. As for the closer, they obviously have Mariano, who by the way, has a 2.5 WAR which the best of all the postseason closers this year. Maybe the Yanks.

Next up: Texas Rangers. The Rangers have the 6th best UZR in baseball: 30.6. So that's good. Colby Lewis is probably going to be the odd man out on this one, sorry Colby. The Rangers starting pitching has a 7.2 K/9, a little better than average. Neftali Feliz , .9 WAR, is not the same pitcher he was last year; his strike outs dropped by almost 2 and his walk rate spike by almost 2. His BABIP was very low this year but his peripherals won't hold. He's risky. But I still think the Rangers are a good bet.

Next: Detroit Tigers. Detroit's defense is decent. UZR dislikes them enough for -2, 14th in baseball. The pitching on the other hand is great: 7.54 K/9. Jose Valverde led baseball in saves with 49 but has a 1 WAR, 6th best among playoff closers. I don't see the Tigers winning.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays. The UZR was 2nd best in the Bigs with 50.3. The Rays have announced that they will be leaving Jeff Nieman off of the ALDS roster and that Matt Moore will be starting Game 1 (Isn't baseball great like that?). I have used Moore's strike out numbers from the minors this year to be included in the K/9. With that said, the Rays have an 8.48 K/9 but again, since Moore's numbers were gaudy in the minors, you might have to take a little bit off of that number. Still amazing though.  Kyle Farnsworth has .9 WAR, the worst out of all of 'em. That's a problem, but the pitching is so incredible and the defense is so good that I can see them making a World Series appearance, for sure.

Next: Phillies. Bad defense; the UZR is -15.5 and is 22nd in baseball. But the pitching, o my: 8.17 K/9. Easily the best in October. And Ryan Madson has the third most WAR at 1.8. The pitching is so dominate that they actually have a good chance despite horrible defense.

Next: Brewers. So even though the Brewers have Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt on the defense, they still managed to rack up 10.2 UZR, 11th in baseball. It looks like they are going to leave out Chris Narveson out of the rotation. And the rotation has a great 7.95 K/9. John Axford has the second most WAR of all postseason pitchers, 1.9. These guys seem to have a great chance; good defense, great pitching and a great closer.

Finally: the Cardinals. The defense is so bad, it's funny. 4th worst UZR (-30.8) in baseball. And the pitching is almost as bad, the 6.29 K/9 is the worst of all the playoff teams. And the closer? Jason Motte has been the closer of late so I'll go with him as the closer for the playoffs. His 1.6 WAR is 5th. There is no way the Cards are getting out of the first round and with all do respect, they are probably the worst playoff team this year. But hey, the playoffs are very crazy.

And in order to quantify exactly how good these teams are for the postseason, I came up with a simple math formula. I call this formula Playoff Quality by Correlation Weighted (or: PQCW). There are three different formulas because of the three different correlations but basically it's like this:

PQCW= average of correlation X stat

NOTE: You must perform this equation three times and use all three stats (K/9, Closer WAR, and UZR).You must then add up all three numbers for in order to get your final PQCW. The average correlation is .17. Think of this kind of like a point system.

I would like to say that this is probably completely wrong but I am just trying to get a sense of what each teams chances are in the postseason.

So let's find out who has the best PQCW.

Arizona: Pitching: .17 X 6.39= 1.09
              Closer: .17 X 1.7= .289
              Defense: .17 X 60.2=10.23
Total: 11.609. So Arizona's PQCW is 11.609.

Yankees: Pitching: .17 X 6.95= 1.18
               Closer: .17 X 2.5= .425
               Defense: .17 X 22.9= 3.89
Total PQCW: 2.73

Texas: 1.22
PQCW: 6.57

Tigers: 1.28
           .17 (.17 X 1)
PQCW: 1.11

Rays: 1.44
PQCW: 10.14

Phillies: 1.39
PQCW: -0.94

Brewers: 1.35
PQCW: 3.4

Cardinals: 1.07
PQCW: -3.86

 So there you have it. And yes, I do think that it is surprising that PQCW does not like the Phillies very much and loves the D-Backs but as I said before, this could be completely wrong.

The playoffs are a crazy time. Absurd things happen. You can't stop it but that is why baseball is such a crazy sport.

Personally, I predict the Phillies versus the Rays, a rematch of 2008 with the same result: Phillies win, only this time, I predict in seven games.


(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alex Gordon was not and is not a bust (especially not this year)

By Mike Moritz

After being drafted second overall in the 2005 draft, Alex Gordon started his first season in pro-ball in AA and in 576 PAs, he hit .325/.427/.588 with a .268 ISO, while also posting a 12.5% walk rate, 29 homers and stealing 22 bases.We should also note, and probably put more consideration into his .452 wOBA and 172 wRC+, both of which were outstanding. It could be deemed that he was just about destined for greatness. The fact that he was able to hit that well in his first year of minor league ball in AA was amazing! Now rewinding a little bit, before the 2006 season started, he was already ranked as the 19th best prospect in baseball as rated by Baseball America, and he hadn't even picked up a bat in pro-ball. Impressive right? And sure enough, after that monster season in AA, he earned the #2 prospect rating by Baseball America, behind only the then highly touted Daiskue Matsuzaka. Not only did Gordon earn a higher ranking as a prospect, he also earned himself a spot on the 25-man roster, skipping AAA entirely.

So here's what happened next: He turned in what seemed to be a disappointing offensive season as he hit .247/.314/.411 with an 88 wRC+, with only 15 homers as his walk rate basically cut in half, down to 6.8%. On the other hand, he had a pretty nice .164 ISO and 36 doubles. But nontheless, it all added up to -8.1 RC. But UZR did like him enough for an 8.7. He turned in 2.1 WAR. His BABIP was .303. His LD/FB/GB slash line was 19.5%/43.6%/36.9%. So he had a little more pure power (FB%) and seemed to be a good pure hitter (LD%). So maybe he got a little unlucky. Let's say his BABIP should have been something like .325ish. So his average should have been around .272, his OBP should have been around .339 and etc. So the fact that he was able to post a 2.1 WAR in his rookie season despite not living up to offensive expectations at all is okay. He just got a little BABIP'd, nothing you can do about it.

Now, the next year, he started to put it together. He hit .260/.351/.432, .172 ISO, 106 wRC+. He hit 16 homers and 35 doubles but this time, his walk rate spiked back up to near his minor league levels: 11.6%. His batted-ball-slash-line was 21%/47.6%/31.4%. So he showed improved pure hitting ability and increased pure power, something that should have led to a break out year the next season.

Instead, Gordon got shot down by injuries in 2009. He missed 79 games, if my sources are correct, to a hip injury which, I believe, required surgery. He ended up only getting 189 PAs, a point in which the vast majority of statistics are not stabilized. So that was sort of a lost season for him.

And then, in 2010, he started the year on the DL. He came back after his rehab assignment and the Royals sent him back down after he was hitting .194 but in only 37 PAs. This is where the Royals started to  mess with Gordon. Fans thought he was a bust. In 321 PAs in AAA, he, predictably, hit the shit off the ball: .315/.442/.577, just to keep it short. He was re-called in July and hit just .215/.315/.355 with a .140 ISO in 281 PAs, which added up to be -.4 WAR. Now, most conventional baseball fans don't know what WAR is, so all the Royals fans were just saying straight up that Gordon was a bust.

But if you know advanced stats well and you were into them since Gordon got called up for the first time back in 2007, then you might have noticed that after his injury plagued 2009 season, his batted rates went back to normal, more specifically his line drive rate. It rose back up from 14.3% in 2009 all the way back to 23.2% in 2010. So he was BABIP'd to death in 2010 in those 281 PAs, so be it. As I said before, you can't do anything about BABIP. It can be a harmful thing, it really can. But people should have also taken note of his growth as a pure hitter. As what happens to most great hitters who have multiple tools (in this case, I'm referring to hitting for average and hitting for power), Gordon started to hit more ground balls and less fly balls  while also keeping his line drive rate up, which shows an improved set of hit-placement-skills, or the ability to place balls in certain spots, whether it be in the air, on the ground and to left or right field, or going back up the middle. Again, the reason that we did not see the results was because of the Holy BABIP.

So sure enough, Gordon has put it together this year at age 27, right at his prime. And yes, he been able to maintain the ability to keep hitting ground balls while also squaring up the ball for a home run now and then. His batted-ball-slash-line this year has been 21.8%/39.9%/38.4%, very good. So his stats for 2011, you ask? Well....305/.378/.505, .383 wOBA, 141 wRC+, .200 ISO, 30.6 RC, 7.9 UZR (keep in mind he made a position change before this year to left field from third base). He also has 41 doubles (which ties him for second in baseball) and 19 homers. He has 6 WAR this year. Sure his walk rate has gone down a bit (9.5%, still above average) and his O-Swing% has jumped, but based on his past performances with base on balls, I think he bring that walk rate back up, hopefully. And sure, his .365 BABIP is pretty high and due to regress, I wouldn't expect to regress all that much based on his batted ball this year and through his career.

Do I think that Gordon will be the 6.5 WAR guy for the rest of his career that he's on pace for now this season? No. But he should be a 3.5-4.5 and maybe 5 WAR through his prime and once his BABIP returns to normal. Gordon has not been a bust, in fact, he's far from it, it's just taken him a while to find his groove/get healthy/the Royals to give another chance/for the BABIP Gods to be kind to him for once. Some players take a few years to live up to the hype, Gordon is one of them. His career path has been a little sketchy but his peripherals tell the truth. Royals fans, Alex Gordon is pretty legit.

(Statistics in courtesy of: fangraphs.com, baseball-reference.com and baseballprospectus.com)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Derek Jeter Resurgence

By Mike Moritz

Right now, Derek Jeter is hitting .295. Okay, now anyone who thought that Jeter would come within 10 points or less of hitting .300 or better this season by the near-end of August raise your hand. I can see that a lot of you people did not think so, and rightfully so: Jeter hit .270/.340/.370 and a .100 ISO in 2010 en route to his worst offensive season of his career. His line drive rate (16.1%) and fly ball rate (18.2%) were both career lows while his ground ball rate reached 65.7%, which was the highest in baseball. All of this happened at age 36, at which point he is past his prime.

So coming into this year, sure he was expected to get his 3,000th hit but let's be honest, he was deemed just about at the end of his rope. And so, as expected, for the first three months at least, he struggled, as his line drive rates for April, May and June were 9.6%, 14%, and 9.5%, respectively. Jeter had new hitting mechanics that he flirted with for spring training and a few weeks into the season but ditched that plan early on.

July was the start of a resurgence for Jeter, which included his 3,000 hit and home run (which I was unable to watch because I was away; which is why you haven't seen a new post in a while). His line drive rate hit a season high 19.7% without a change in his mechanics. This month has only been better for Jeter; his line drive rate has sky rocketed to a heady 33.8%. Even when Jeter is at-bat, I just have the confidence that he is going to get a hit, hopefully you feel the same way.

The thing is, this resurgence might just only last for this season. Look, he's 37 years old now and has been in decline for a little while now so I find it highly doubtful that he can turn it completely around before he retire. I find it even harder to believe that he can really flip the switch back on because he really just has no power left basically.

I would love it if Jeter could become a .300 hitter again until he retires, but it's just not all that realistic. BUT! We could very well see Jeter finish with a .300+ average, and that would be very nice, even if he finishes with an ISO under .100 and his wOBA is almost 25 points less than his OBP.