Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Projecting 2012: Carlos Ruiz

This is the first part in a series of projections for the upcoming season.

Most projections have Ruiz fairly close to last year, rebounding in some categories(walks, isolated power) while regressing in others(strikeouts,BABIP). In 2011, he has a personal high for pitches swung at, despite seeing the fewest pitches in the zone than at any point in his career. That's not a good combination. When he did make contact, he pulled the ball less than usual, especially with grounders. The projections seem to weight those events as exceptions than the norm, but at his age, it's certainly possible he continues that trend.

With that weaker contact, he did manage a better than expected .308, which should be regress a bit, even if he does make better contact.


System  

G

PA

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

R

BB

K

SB

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BABIP

2011

132

472

410

116

23

0

6

40

49

48

48

1

.283

.371

.383

.100

.308

ZIPS

120

434

368

99

22

1

6

42

41

46

47

1

.269

.360

.383

.114

.294

Cairo

92

335

290

77

18

1

6

34

34

37

41

2

.267

.357

.389

.122

-

Steamer

-

497

430

112

28

1

8

43

53

55

57

1

.261

.352

.387

.126

.285

Bill James

132

497

442

120

28

1

9

54

50

55

58

1

.271

.360

.400

.129

.296

Rotochamp

-

453

395

107

24

0

6

46

53

50

50

1

.271

.364

.377

.106

.298

My own

128

458

397

108

24

1

7

42

46

52

51

1

.271

.364

.386

.115

.298

Notes:
Bill James' projections tend to be on the bullish end for most players, which you will see further on.

Cairo projects Ruiz saving 4 runs defensively, behind only Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, Lou Marson, and Ivan Rodriguez. ZIPS has him as an average defensive catcher.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ibanez signs with the Yankees. Brief look in the past and future.

One easy way to tell an unknowledgeable Phillies fan is when they describe Raul Ibanez as a good fielder, worth the contract they gave him, or cite his RBI total as proof of his worth. Of course there's always the triple whammies who think all three.

For over $12 million last year, he provided no value whatsoever. A .245/.289/.419 like in almost 600 plate appearances while providing some of the worst defense for a corner outfielder in the majors is not difficult to replace. No matter if you prefer Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs, he was worse than replacement level in both systems.

However, for how the Yankees will use him most of the time, he should provide value. With the Yankees, his role should be as a designated hitter, platooned to face right-handed pitchers.

ZIPS projected him at .255/.307/.430 player in 2012, but this was as an everyday player. Without having to face lefties(.211/.232/.353) much in 2012, I'll take the over in those projections. While he wasn't anything to write home about against righties either(.256/.307/.440), he did suffer from some slight BABIP(.270) bad luck. Tack on some walk rate regression(6.9% last year compared to 9.5% career vs. RHP) and the benefit of hitting in Yankee Stadium (143 HR park factor for lefties), and I'd expect a season somewhere between .335-.345 wOBA.

I can see it now when it happens- fans calling into WIP rabbling, "See, we should have kept Ibanez!"

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kudos to Daily News' David Murphy on calling out ex-GM Jim Bowden

Jim Bowden, former Reds and Nationals GM, recently wrote an ESPN Insider article about what he'd pay next year's free agents if he still had a job. Among the most noticeable was his six-year, $132 price tag for Matt Cain compared to just five years and $90 million for Cole Hamels.

If I had found this article sooner(or had ESPN Insider), I surely would have written about it, but Philadelphia Daily News' David Murphy beat me to it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking Myths: Citizens Bank Park, the "Bandbox"

First impressions are hard to let go. In its first few years, Citizens Bank Park was a clear hitters park, especially in aiding homers. The general consensus acted as if CBP was the next Coors Field. However, as time went on, the park has played much closer to neutral. Unfortunately, people's perception hasn't changed with it.

Websites have differing view in the way they calculate their park factors, but a general consensus does arise.

ESPN park factors in total runs. Rank in parenthesis.
2008: 1.029 (15)
2009: 1.028 (12)
2010: 0.991 (16)
2011: 0.997 (11)

For those who may not understand what the numbers mean, looking at the numbers after the decimal is the easiest way to figure it out. For example, in 2008 CBP induced runs scored 2.9% more than a neutral ballpark. In 2010, it reduced runs scored by 0.9% compared to a neutral park.

In Baseball-Reference's calculations for hitting:
2008: 102
2009: 102
2010: 100
2011: 105

According to Baseball-Reference, CBP has played from perfectly neutral(2010) to inducing 5% more runs than a neutral park(2011).

Seamheads.com does terrific ballpark database work as well. Their numbers are in line with the previous two.
2008: 1.03
2009: 1.02
2010: 1.01
2011: 1.00

While the home run factors at the park remain slightly higher than average than a neutral park, it performs a complete 180 for doubles and triples, which is why you see total runs so close to neutral.

Even today, writers still make jokes. Tim Brown from Yahoo and, unsurprisingly, Jack McCaffery are the latest examples. At least now when you read such nonsense you can be pretty certain their baseball knowledge isn't that great.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Breaking Myths: Jimmy Rollins first pitch swinging

A common complaint among Phillies fans is Jimmy Rollins' supposed high tendency to swing at the first pitch. Usually started by unknowledgeable radio hosts and writers, fans then regurgitate the myth blindly, without ever checking facts. But the facts would surprise many.

Last year, Rollins swung at the first pitch 19 percent of the time. The major league average was much higher at 27 percent. That 19 percent is also less than most other lead-off hitters. Amount of games led off are in parenthesis- minimum of 40 games.

Dee Gordon(46)- 39%
Erick Aybar(55)- 34%
Eric Young(40)- 33%
Coco Crisp(61)- 31%
Corey Hart(62)- 31%
Alex Gordon(89)- 30%
Ian Desmond(50)- 30%
Drew Stubbs(95)- 30%
Dexter Fowler(73)- 30%
Jordan Schafer(47)- 29%
Derek Jeter(96)- 27%
Michael Bourn(149)- 27%
Starlin Castro(72)- 27%
Will Venable(68)- 26%
Tony Gwynn(42)- 25%
Yunel Escobar(110)- 24%
Austin Jackson(140)- 24%
Ichiro Suzuki(161)- 23%
Jose Tabata(57)- 23%
Rickie Weeks(93)- 23%
Ryan Theriot(83)- 23%
Jose Reyes(124)- 23%
Andrew McCutchen(46)- 22%
Willie Bloomquist(75)- 22%
Jacoby Ellsbury(144)- 21%
Roger Bernadina(52)- 21%
Denard Span(67)- 21%
Chris Coghlan(59)- 21%
Kosuke Fukudome(68)- 21%
Emilio Bonifacio(97)- 21%
Andres Torres(78)- 20%
Aaron Rowand(46)- 19%
Jimmy Rollins(108)- 19%
Juan Pierre(154)- 18%
Desmond Jennings (61)- 17%
Ian Kinsler(143)- 17%
Jemile Weeks(85)- 16%
Maicer Izturis(89)- 15%
Shane Victorino(51)- 14%
Brett Gardner(57)- 12%
Martin Prado(53)- 12%
Ben Revere(90)- 10%
Alex Presley(43)- 10%
Michael Brantley(82)- 9%
JJ Hardy (64)- 8%

I'm not arguing that the amount of swinging at the first pitch is neither good or bad since you can be successful either way, but the data clearly shows the ignorance of people who insist he swings far too much. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bandwagon Fan Exhibit: Sanchezzzzzz! Peyton! YAYY Go Giants.

Coming from an Eagles fan who has never had the luxury of attending the Super Bowl parade, this example of bandwagonism makes me sick. Probably were fans for a whole three weeks and know they pretend to be die-hard fans. Although I can imagine a Phillies fan doing the same in October and cheering for Ibanezzzzzzz or even dumber such as Vickkkkkk.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pitch F/X review of new Phillie Chad Qualls

I've read several articles debating the merits of signing reliever Chad Qualls and in my opinion, some people are making too big of a deal about. I get that it further blocks Schwimer, De Fratus, and Aumont for longer period of time, but with a 1-year deal, just north of $1 million, it's hard to find major fault with the deal, especially with the health uncertainty of Jose Contreras. It could have been worse.

Unfortunately some fans will expect the Chad Qualls in 2008-2009 where he put up seasons of 2.90 and 2.82 xFIP, respectively. Since then, he's trending downward. His strikeout rate has plummeted from 23.7 percent of batters in 2008 to just 14.1 percent last year. At the same time, he's also walking more batters over the past two years.

With the biggest cause of concern being the drop in strikeouts, it's intriguing to figure out why considering his velocity has remained constant. To dig deeper, we have to look at Pitch F/X. Crashburn Alley recently touched upon it, finding Qualls' sliders lost some break since 2008. Certainly Qualls' deteriorating slider is a significant culprit, but there's other red flags.

While the percentage of swing and misses on his fastball have remain fairly constant over the years, his location has not, especially against lefties.
(Heat maps from Frangraphs.com)

You can plainly see the increased amount of his fastball/sinker outside the zone in 2011. Also, the pitches are much more concentrated in one area, meaning Qualls possibly got more predictable as well. Against lefties in 2008 and 2009, he walked 6.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Those numbers have jumped up to 8.9 percent the last two years.

However, as alluded earlier, his best pitch as lost its bite. Hitters are making more contact and aren't swinging at them as often. In 2008, batters swung and missed almost 38 percent of the time. In 2011, that number dropped significantly to just over 27 percent. Further hurting Qualls, batters swung at about 51.5 percent of his sliders compared to almost 58 percent in 2011.

On the positive side, he still induces grounders at an elite rate. So he's got that going for him....which is nice.


Helpful links:
Fangraphs
Joe Lefkowitz Pitch F/X
Texas Leaguers