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Archive for the ‘Infield’ Category

It is well known that Ryan Howard is one of the power hitting offensive forces of the past 4 years in the National league.  The Phillies have 18 million reasons they like the lefty slugger coming into the 2009 season. But, one thing I touched on a few weeks ago about Ryan Howard:

Every now and then you hear the whispers that Howard is simply just a good platoon hitter.

So, lets take a look at Howard’s track record with the righty lefty splits.

Name Year vs Lefty (AB) vs Righty (AB) vs Lefty  (HR) vs Righty (HR) vs Lefty (AVG) vs Righty (Avg ) vs Lefty (SLG) vs Righty (SLG)
Howard 2008 237 373 14 34 .224 .268 .451 .601
Howard 2007 209 320 16 31 .225 .297 .493 .644
Howard 2006 197 384 16 42 .279 .331 .558 .711
Howard 2005 61 251 1 21 .148 .323 .246 .645

So,  in the red columns we see Ryan Howard’s production against left handed pitching. In his three full seasons, in the rate categories against lefties he has continued his decline in batting average and slugging. His home run production against righties just about doubles his production against lefties.  To be fair, the Phillies are aware of the situation and he has received less at bats against lefties. The question remains though, would the Phillies be better off platooning him at first base.

I am certain they could find a right handed batter who could do better than a .224 batting average  against the southpaws.  Better yet, in fantasy leagues that allow for daily transactions, would you be better off sitting Howard against lefties.

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The Rays could of taken a high end catcher in this years draft , as they held the first overall pick and Gerald “Buster” Posey of Florida State was a name making the rounds. But, there is a new sheriff in Town. Dioner Navarro is his name. It is several years after the trade with the Dodgers, Navarro is finally looking like a talent both with his bat and his leadership skills behind the plate. I am not sure what has transpired with him, but the Rays are certainly well stocked at the catcher position with Shawn Riggins a young capable catcher baking him up.

The Rays also took a chance on Willy Aybar taking him from the bargain basement bin of the Braves. In Aybar, they have a valuable backup who can fill in all over the field. The Rays were patient with Aybar, and are now being rewarded. Seems like another score for the Andrew Friedman who also got infielder Chase Fontaine in the deal.

In other news. Here in North Carolina where are regional teams are “supposed” to be the O’s and the Nats, we are blacked out seeing their games by a cable dispute. So unless we drive over 250 miles, we can not see a game from either of those teams. Gone are the Braves on TBS for the most part. Thus, unless you buy some games over the air in media packages like Extra Innings, or MLB.TV, our only avenue for watching games is Fox’s game of the week, or games on ESPN.

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In 2007, Jake Peavy was rewarded with his first Cy Young award as a 19 time game winner, while pitching most of his games in pitcher friendly Petco Park. His progression from one of the best best power pitching prospects in baseball, to one of the best pitchers in all of baseball seemed to have started in 2005. But, after the impressive 2005 season, his 2006 season was slightly a disappointment. But, fantasy owners who showed him the faith got to witness a Tom Seaver like season. With the 19 wins, an ERA of 2.54, a WHIP at 1.06, strikeout rate of 9.67 per 9 innings (which amounted to 240 Ks), these pitching numbers were the equivalent of a hitter winning the triple crown.

One thing I thought is interesting about Peavy, is he is a balanced flyball/ ground ball pitcher.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
Peavy 254 .266 253 68 13 9.67 2.76 2.54 1.06 .7125 (6th)

For example, his teammate Chris Young who had a real nice season in 2007 had only 131 ground balls (GB) on the season, where as two other very good pitchers in Brandon Webb and Hudson had over 400 ground balls on the season.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
Hudson 441 .281 298 53 10 5.30 3.40 3.33 1.22 .7188 (7th)
Webb 431 .277 295 72 12 7.39 3.18 3.01 1.19 .7066(10th)
Lowe 398 .278 293 59 20 6.64 3.89 3.88 1.27 .6991 (16th)
Oswalt 361 .300 324 60 14 6.54 3.51 3.18 1.33 .6997(15th)
Maddux 359

.297

326

25

14

4.73

3.55

4.14

1.24

.7125(6th)

The balls that are put in play on the ground are much harder to turn an out with than fly balls are as indicated by higher BABIP.

Name GB BABIP TB BB HR SO/9 DIPS ERA WHIP TEAM DER
James, C 157

.264

295 58 32 6.47 5.19 4.24 1.38 .7188 (7th)
Young, C 131

.235

183 72 10 8.69 3.43 3.12 1.10 .7125 (6th)

With Ground ball pitchers, the success the pitcher exhibits depends highly on the defense. Where as, fly balls are easier to make an out with. If a pitcher that is balanced like Peavy, he gets the benefits of getting the easier outs with the fly balls, and have the infield defense to help you out on the ground balls. A stat that measures this is Defensive Efficiency Ratio (DER ) :

measures the percentage of times balls in play are turned into outs by the team’s fielders, not including homeruns. There are different versions of the formula for DER but one most commonly used is (BFP-H-K-BB-HBP-0.6*E)/(BFP-HR-K-BB-HBP) where BFP = batters faced pitcher, H=hits allowed, K=strikeouts, BB=walks allowed, HBP=hits batsmen and E=errors

Thus, for these ground ball pitchers in 2007, How did their defense help them is worth taking a look at.

Projection GB BABIP TEAM DER
Hudson 441 .281 .7188 (7th)
Webb 431 .277 .7066(10th)
Lowe 398 .278 .6991 (16th)
Oswalt 361 .300 .6997(15th)
Maddux 359

.297

.7125(6th)

So, all these pitchers with the high number of ground balls, are backed with defenses that are good at making outs when the ball gets in play. Take some of these pitchers, and place them with a bad defense, it would be interesting how there numbers would turn out.

One last thing I decided to do was take a look at the Range of the infielders involved in these good ground ball pitchers. I used Dave Pinto’s PMR:

uses play-by-play data to determine the probability of a ball in play being converted to an out based on six parameters: Direction of hit (a vector), The type of hit (Fly, ground, line drive, bunt), How hard the ball was hit (slow, medium, hard), The park, The handedness of the pitcher, The handedness of the batter.

Arizona (99.87 19th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
96.26 (24th) 99.98 (14th) 104.12 (4th) 100.82 (11th) 94.61 (28th)

Braves (100.66 10th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
115.67(2nd) 104.28(7th) 97.70 (22nd) 99.22 (17th) 99.90 (15th)

San Diego (100.08 17th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
95.97 (25th) 105.21 (5th) 96.61 (27th) 98.44(22nd) 98.37 (18th)

Los Angeles (99.87 20th)

C 1B 2B SS 3B
108.91 (5th) 97.07 (19th) 96.99 (25th) 105.60 (3rd) 100.85 (14th)

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Even before their was the legend that is growing in David Wright, just about every publication was calling Andy Marte the best overall prospect in the land. But, there was this sleeper prospect named David Wright. He slugged his way through the minor leagues that year, and has gone one to become one of the stars of the game. Aside from his NL title of time on base in 2007 (that he shared with Todd Helton) , his off the field leadership does not go unnoticed. What he has accomplished on the field thus far, sure says Superstar. He knows batting average, slugging, getting on base, and stolen bases. The gold glove that he added last year continues to add to the resume.

This post on Ryan Theriot by Fire Joe Morgan is exactly why we visit the site. I could see Joe Morgan making similar claims in a broadcast that John Mutka does. Seems like Mutka should be up for deadspin’s “why your hometown columnist sucks” award.

John Rocker on Roids? His behavior on and off the field never fit the profile .

Seems Athletics Nation has a new look. But, seems other bloggers now getting a chance to interview Billy Beane.

I loved Kiner’s Corner growing up ON Mets in 1970’s.

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It’s preview season at Beyond the Boxscore and people are taking notice . I had the opportunity to ask R.J. Anderson, Columnist at Beyond the Boxscore and DRaysBay a bunch of questions. Anderson has also appeared at Deadspin and just completed a book on the Tampa Rays called Lamar-itis.

With the loss of 40 year old Tom Glavine to Braves, how much of an impact to the Mets pitching staff of the Mets be affected? To what extent will this help or hurt the Braves in the N.L. East?

It won’t hurt or help either team as much as his name would suggest, last year he was below average and I’m not sure I really can see him responding like he did in 2004 with a 119 ERA+, but who knows, maybe he has one last run in that left arm. It certainly can’t hurt the Braves to have him as their third starter at least it’s not someone like Mark Hendrickson.

The Mets are rumored to be considering surrendering a ton of minor league minor league talent to the Twins to land Johan Santanta. The package of Fernando Martinez , Philip Humber , Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Mike Pelfrey to land the Ace of its staff. Would you make this deal to win now?

No, the deal reeks of short-sightedness and frankly I don’t trust either Omar Minaya’s prospect valuing skills or the idea that Johan will simply re-sign with the Mets without at least fishing on the open market for a few days. Do I think the Mets will end up with Johan? Wouldn’t surprise me, this is the same general manager who went for a “win now” approach with the Expos and Bartolo Colon, how’d that end up?

Chipper Jones has been a household name for the past decade for Braves. Would you consider him a Hall of fame player. Is he worthy of a gold glove at this point of his career?

I really don’t get into either the Hall of Fame or Gold Glove arguments since both are pretty arbitrary, but at first glance I’d assume he’s pretty close to being a HOFer, I’m not sure if he is or not though.

The Royals have made a alot of moves the past few years. How do you see the moves working out this upcoming season?

Dayton Moore has done a solid job, but I didn’t really like the Jose Guillen signing, it seemed like he was their third choice – at best – and they decided to write a large paycheck to get their “man”. I’d like to see them finish in front of the White Sox, but even that might be a bit of challenge.

How much of an impact offensively will Mike Cameron be aided by his move to the Brewers ?

I’m not sure how much it’ll help him with his bat – although moving from PETCO elsewhere can’t hurt. If nothing else it gave the Brewers a reason to move Ryan Braun to left.

The Mets obtaining a defensive minded catcher Brian Schneider and Ryan Church for youngster Lastings Milledge, how sweet of a trade was this for an up and coming team like Nationals?

Very sweet in a vacuum; the market for “troubled” young outfielders is non-existent and the Nats took advantage in both the Milledge and Elijah Dukes deals. If neither work out people will mock the Nationals, personally I don’t blame them for either deal, consider they essentially acquired two players who would be top prospects in their organization for a top 10 in their system and two major league players who I don’t think they’ll miss too much given their glutton of outfielders.

Is Rockies Chris Iannetta worthy of playing time in Colorado or should Torrealba be given most the work at catcher?

I think they should give Iannetta more playing time, it’s not like he could do much worse than Yorvit Torrealba did with the bat last year.

Tell me about Michael Bourn and what he may be able to do now that he gets a starting job in Houston . Is he Juan Pierre II?

He’s a young lefty bat who went to the University of Houston and was actually drafted by the Astros in 2000 but didn’t sign. I suppose he’s Juan Pierre like, and I don’t doubt he’ll produce better than Willy Taveras as soon as next year.

Who got the better end of the Troy Glaus / Scott Rolen Trade?

I think the Cardinals, Glaus is younger, lately a little more consistent, and not nearly as volatile. He has his own issues, but at least he’s not gun powder waiting for a spark.

Is Josh Hamilton going to stay healthy and break out this year?

Didn’t he break out last year? Health wise I have no idea, two seasons in a row ended by injuries, eh it’s a trend that can be broken at least.

When Dan Haren was last in the NL, he was not special the way he is today. Why was he successful in Oakland and not under LaRussa?

Well he barely had over 100 innings in St. Louis , and remember Oakland ’s ballpark dimensions include a ton of foul room, there probably isn’t a correlation between Haren’s success and his departure from St. Louis.

Tell me about Brian Barton who came to St. Louis in Rule V draft. Was he the best talent made available in the Rule V draft?

He’s a rocket scientist, seriously. I’d like to think he wasn’t the best talent in the draft because he slipped and I’d like to believe the teams picking would’ve taken the best talent. Speaking of the Rule V isn’t it a bit amusing that the purpose is to prevent farm system monopolies yet in theory the teams with the highest potential to have a good farm system – bad teams with high draft picks – are the ones who pick first?

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The Mets SS Jose Reyes in his young career has evolved into highly coveted player because of his ability to get on base, score a bunch of runs, a .300 batting average, home run ability, and his bread and butter the stolen bases. It was partway through last season, I made the statement calling Hanley Ramirez as a Jose Reyes Lite . A funny thing happened along the way. From July 24, 2007 to end of the season Reyes went into a funk. His numbers over that period gave him .245/.312/.383 with 6 HRs and only 17RBIs which amounted to a .695 OPS. In, that same period, Hanley Ramirez managed a .325/.381/.573 with 13 HRs and 35RBIs for a .954 OPS. In a telling sign, H-Ram managed to almost double Jose Reye’s production, all while playing with a bummed shoulder that resulted in the Marlin’s SS having off-season surgery.

Now, I am not sure that the Marlins Ramirez will continue to be a better version of Jose Reyes. Some of the things on the horizon for Hanley Ramirez:

  • The loss of protection in the lieneup with Miguel Cabrera now in the American League. With less good pitches thrown his way, he likely will see his power number decrease, as you might see his OBP as good or better.
  • How he responds to offseason surgery will be an issue. He is not expected to be available at beginning of spring training. How he is able to prepare and be ready will not be the same.
  • His defense is the middle of the pack according to PMR . With the Marlins lacking a 3B, its not out of the question down the road the team performs some defensive rel-alignment. If that means, a move to the outfield or possibly at the hot corner, we’ll have to see how this plays out. At the moment, the Marlins are choosing between a couple of second baseman for 3B
  • With the loss of Willis and Cabrera over money concerns, how long is Hanley in the Marlins future? Sure, the team holds the upper hand in the cost containment of Hanley over the next few years. But, you don’t see the Marlins locking him up like the Rockies are doing with Troy Tulowitski

I think Hanley will continue to be one of the better young players in baseball. If the Marlins were smart, they would consider doing like many of the other teams have done with their young players and buy out his arbitration years. Otherwise, the Marlins become the new Montreal Expos if they have not already become them.

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It was last week that rumors were flying from the blogosphere that 2B Brian Roberts to the Cubs was a done deal. The young players the Cubs were rumored to give up in Cedeno, Gallagher, Marshall and Murton was quite steep. That deal would eliminate any added depth that the Cubs would need over the course of the 2008 season. The player in question is Brian Roberts who would supply an upgrade over DeRosa certainly. However, at what cost? I decided to check in with what DeRosa provided for the Cubs in 2007. DeRosa moved all over the place on the field playing six positions, but at looking at his overall numbers:

Mark DeRosa‘s 2007 data with Cubs:

  • OPS : .792 (Utley 0.976, Kjohnson 0.831 , Weeks .805)
  • OPS -PrOPS : 0.16 (Utley 0.115, Kjohnson 0.33 , Weeks 76.7)
  • RC: 76.7 (Utley 121.3, Kjohnson 91.2 , Weeks -0.140)
  • VORP: 21.3 (Utley 68.8, Kjohnson 33.1 , Weeks 26.1)
  • GroundBalls:176 (Utley 170, Kjohnson 177 , Weeks 122)
  • Fly Balls:136 (Utley 187, Kjohnson 161 , Weeks 123)
  • G/F: 1.29 (Utley 0.91, Kjohnson 1.10 , Weeks 0.99)
  • Win Shares : 17 (Utley 28, Kjohnson 19, Weeks 15)
  • PMR(defense) : 95.08 (Utley 105.95, Kjohnson 97.27, Weeks 93.93)

He is the least of the Cubs problems. With an unsettled closer situation, a new outfield alignment, and depth in the rotation, It seems they should focus their efforts elsewhere. As of now, it still appears DeRosa is in the plans:

You win games with Mark DeRosa. We would not have won the division last year without Mark DeRosa.” Hendry spoke highly of DeRosa and even used the word “love”. Hendry went on to say what he is trying to do is not a reflection on what DeRosa has or has not done.

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