Wrong Again!!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:16
Mar 272017

The Yankees won again yesterday, bringing their spring record to 22-7. With only 6 games left before the season starts, they are near a lock to finish with the best record for the spring: the Cardinals are 18-8, the Pirates are 18-9 and the Mariners are 19-12, but they would basically have to lose every game (always possible in spring training games) for one of those teams to catch them. Assuming (too lazy to check) that all these teams play 6 more games, their magic number to finish ahead of each team: Cardinals 5, Pirates 4, Mariners 2.

The wrong again part was my earlier assumption that no one ever wins the spring and then the season. It IS very rare, but the 2009 Yankees actually did it, winning 24 games in the spring and the world series. So, go Yankees!

No decision has been made about the Yankee SS hole, but I learned some new information that makes one of the good options even less likely: None of Wade, Kozma, Tejada nor Torres is on the 40-man roster, which is full. This means that to use one of them as a fill-in would be to expose one of their kids to waivers (in order to remove him from the 40) or someone on the 40 needs to go to the 60-day DL (Didi is or can be on the 15-day DL, freeing a 25-man spot but not a 40-man spot). So they seem almost sure to go with Torreyes, Refsnyder, Castro (Refsnyder replacing Gregorius) to start the season, and will play at SS/2B a rotation of Torreyes/Castro, Castro Refsnyder and possibly Castro/Torreyes. Not so much fun but a sound business decision. I guess if Tejada or Kozma had impressed, they might have bitten the bullet, but they did not.

SIX DAYS to REAL baseball! For the first time in several years, I am legitimately excited for the season to start.

SS Analysis

Posted by Baseball Bob at 11:12
Mar 242017

No, this isn’t a comparison between Hitler’s die-hard supporters and Trump’s, though that might be interesting, too.

This is my 2 cents about the Yankees and Didi Gregorius’ injury while playing for the Netherlands in the WBC (again, I DON’T blame the WBC, injuries happen). Current word is he will be out at LEAST until May 1, which by Yankee standards means that May 15 is probable, and June 1 is possible. So 1/6 to 1/4 of the season with no MLB shortstop is a frightening prospect (Didi is a 3-4 WAR guy, so we are talking 0.5 wins (1/6 of 3) to 1 win (1/4 of 4) if the replacement is, well, replacement level.

Apparently teams with a SS to spare are circling like vultures, eyeing the Yankees top-2 farm system: the Tigers have floated their walk-year, starting SS Jose Iglesias (and fresh off a down year, to boot), and other bad options have been offered, as well. 26-year-old Arizona SS is a slick-fielding semi-regular (459 PAs in 2015, injured for part of 2016) but his bat is REALLY bad (career OPS+ 58). He is an option ONLY IF 1) he has a minor-league option left, so you could stash him at AAA after Didi returns and 2) The cost is minimal. On the latter subject, the D-Backs have a rule 5 pick from the Yankees, which means they have to keep him on the 25-man all year (I don’t remember his name): if the trade was to outright him to Arizona, removing the rule 5 restriction, and possibly a mid-level, low-minors lottery ticket, it might be worth pursuing.

Internally, the Yankees have a number of not-good options, one of which they are almost sure to take:

1) Ronald Torreyes – Yankee utility player in 2016, worth 0.5 WAR for the year. He is an OK hitter for a bench guy (81 OPS+ in 2016, he is young (24 this year) and a marginal glove at SS (he played more 3B than Short). He is a true utility player, have logged time last year at every IF position except 1B, and both corner outfield positions as well. This SEEMS like the most probable option, but as a starter he is likely not much more than a replacement level player.

2) Ruben Tejada – 27-year-old former Met, who played SS for them (and some 2B) for parts of 6 seasons (!) from age 20 to 25. His career OPS+ is 83, his career fWAR 3.0. But he was cut loose (non-tendered?), and played a bit last year for St. Louis and San Francisco and was truly awful: bad defensively, OPS+ 35 (!) and was below replacement. And he hasn’t exactly dazzled this year in spring training, where he is on a minor league contract. I doubt that he has options left, but he could play out the injury at ML minimum and be released. Ugh.

3) Pete Kozma – a poor man’s Ruben Tejada, Pete Kozma, also on a minor-league contract, has had exactly ONE real season in the majors (2013 with STL, OPS+ 53) but at least he can field the position. While Tejada’s .258 with one extra-base hit has kind of underwhelmed this spring, he is a MONSTER compared to Kosma’s stellar .179 in essentially the same playing time. Likely BELOW replacement (and 28 years old). Double Ugh.

4) Donovan Solano – not really a SS, he has played more than 10 games in a season there only once, and the Yankees would feel LUCKY if he were replacement-level (0.0 WAR).

5) Tyler Wade – NOW we’re talking! 22-year-old prospect, training to be Ben Zobrist (super-utility man) he played last year at AA and manned 2B, 3B and all the OF positions (NO SS though). In 2015 SS was his main position – the problem is that the Yankees have TOO MANY SS prospects, and they are beginning to sort them out by training them at other positions. So far this spring Wade has again not manned SS, but he HAS hit .351 (13/32 with 3 doubles) and played all over the diamond (but not SS). The buzz is that he was a solid if unspectacular glove at SS, and was open to learning new positions because he looked up and saw Didi Gregorius only a few years older than he is, and BOTH Jorge Mateo AND Gleyber Torres a year or two younger, and all solid shortstops, and said SURE. With NO AAA experience and a year removed from his last fielding chance at SS he seems a long-shot, but I personally LOVE this option, sort of (see Castro, below)

6) Jorge Mateo – he is a better prospect than Wade (who is pretty good) but even farther down the ladder, as he played in 2016 in High A. He was not in Major League camp, but he can play. He is likely to move off SS though, and he missed 2016 altogether due to injury. Not really an option, though it could be fun. He is 21.but (sort of) a 6-year veteran (soon 22).

7) Gleyber Torres – (what kind of a name is Gleyber??? He says he doesn’t know, and neither does his dad!) THIS is what the fans want, and IT ISN’T HAPPENING. He is the Yankees top prospect, acquired for 1/3 of a year of Aroldis Chapman, and he plays a pretty good shortstop (though not as good as Didi). Invited to ML camp after playing 2016 at High A, he has 13 hits in 29 at bats, and those 13 hits include 6 doubles, a triple and 2 HRs, which works out to a SLG of 1.000 (BA .448) for an ISO of .502. He already has a couple of errors, and has been reassigned to Minor-league camp and to AA to start the season. I suppose the danger of asking him to do too much too early (see: Melky Cabrera) is real, but he would add EXCITEMENT, FAN INTEREST, etc. and it COULD launch a HOF career, becoming to SS what Manny Machado was to 1B (20-year-old sensation). Do it, Cashman. I dare you. He won’t, though. Sigh.

8) Starlin Castro – the 8th option could be the first. Castro is the Yankees’ 2B, and he wasn’t great there with the glove nor (despite 21 HRs) with the bat. A two-time (!) all-star SS with the Cubs and still only 27, he has a league-average glove and a career OPS+ of 97, pretty good for a SS (93 last year). But the real point is that if you move Castro, THEN you can play (say) Wade at 2B, or possibly Refsnyder (not a SS so not in this analysis, but a bat-first utility guy who can sort-of play 2B). Refsnyder is 26 and no longer really a prospect, but while his brief stints with the Yankees have not been fruitful he HAS hit in the Minors (career OPS 807) and he is not awful at 2B.

MY WISH LIST: 1) Torres, 2) Wade 3) Castro/Wade 4) Castro/Refsnyder

MY ACTUAL PREFERENCE: 1) Castro/Refsnyder

MY PREDICTION: 1) Torreyes 2) Tejada 3) Castro/Refsnyder

Not Guilty

Posted by Baseball Bob at 14:03
Mar 232017

My loyal readers will have detected a familiar pattern: I resolve to blog often, do so for a few days, and then go silent. Days, weeks, months can pass with no word at all. I then wake up, renew my resolve, rinse and repeat. Not this time, though: I didn’t miss – the server stopped processing my site. I contacted my son, Mark, who generously piggy-backs my site onto his account (with Google, I think) and after some effort has me back up again. If you tried to go to Baseball-Bob.com you got the site not available message, but of course if you follow by RSS feed it just went silent.

Anyway, I followed the WBC avidly, and even stayed up to watch some of the west coast games. I admit that I failed to get to the end of any of them, because the Pool F games started at 10:15 my time, and the semi-finals and finals at 9:15, and I teach a religion class at 6:00 am, so it was just a bit too late. Anyway, in case you (along with 99% of America) missed it, the US qualified second in their first round pool, losing to Dominican Republic, squeaking by Colombia 3-2 and crushing Canada. In the second pool they squeezed by Venezuela, were beaten by Puerto Rico, and met Dominican Republic (the defending champion) in a winner-take-all rematch, which they managed to win.

On to LA they played undefeated Japan in the semi-final in a steady rain (in LA!) and the sloppy field ultimately gave them a break in the 8th inning when, with a runner on 3rd, a ground ball would have allowed a play at the plate, but the wet conditions caused a momentary bobble and the only play was to first, allowing the winning run to score in a 2-1 win. Puerto Rico, conquerors of USA in Pool F, beat Netherlands to set up a USA at PR final, with PR undefeated in the tourney. But Marcus Stroman decided to face only 18 batters in 6 innings (not perfect – a walk and a DP) and USA got their revenge and cruised to an 8-0 win and their first WBC title. It was so fun that I haven’t watched a single minute of the NCAA tourney, though now that it is over I may take a look ;-}

One casualty of the WBC: Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius, playing IN AN EXHIBITION GAME for team Netherlands, hurt his shoulder and will not be available until May 1 at the earliest. 4 years ago Mark Teixeira was hurt in the WBC and basically was never the same player again. Fortunes of war. Players get hurt in spring training all the time – there is no real reason to think that it happens in the WBC any more often. But people still say it. Sigh.

Opening day is barely more than a week away (well, 10 days I guess, Sunday April 2). I expect to blog about that in the coming days.

I love this game!

HRs, anyone?

Posted by Baseball Bob at 07:51
Mar 092017

My playing around yesterday with Kershaw’s chances to get 300 wins (low) got me to looking at other career accomplishments (like 500 HRs) and looking at the leaderboards, I must admit that I had missed that Pujols now has 591 HRs – wow! His chances by the James tool are 99% (there is always a small chance of a career-ending injury). Oddly, though, his chance for 700 is not as large as you would think (24%) and he has NO established chance to break Bonds’ record. NOTE: I should have clarified yesterday, the tool doesn’t say “no chance” but “no established chance”. Obviously, we have no idea what Aaron Judge will be – he may mash 60 HRs a year and blow by Bonds in a dozen seasons, but the tool says it can’t see that happening on evidence to date.

This got me wondering (about HRs): Does ANYONE in the game today have an established non-zero chance to break Bonds’ record (762 HRs)? I of course didn’t run the numbers for all the players, but I did find this:

Chance of 763 HRs:

Mike Trout 5%

Wow! An established 5% chance after only 168 HRs. We know that Trout is a special player, but who knew? I don’t really even think of him as a super power guy, but he had 29 this year, down from 41 and 36 the two previous years, and he is just 24. Of course a 5% chance to do it is a 95% chance to NOT do it, but it is pretty remarkable none-the-less. Bryce Harper, if you were wondering, has no established chance to break the record.

Meanwhile, Israel completed its undefeated pool play, beating group runner-up Netherlands 4-2. Japan has emerged (no surprise) as the pool leader in the other far-east pool. Tonight’s game between Australia and Cuba may well decide the other spot: Japan has beaten them both, and Cuba has beaten China (Australia has yet to play them. The probable outcome is that the winner of this game will have two wins and second place in the pool, with Japan in first place.

Winning the pool carries no ACTUAL benefit, though: both teams go into a second-round pool, in which they will again play round robin, with two teams going into the knock-out, medal round. So China and Netherlands will join Japan and (probably) the Cuba-Australia winner for the next stage.

And play begins today in our own hemisphere. The USA is in a pool with Colombia, Dominican Republic and Canada – The USA should be one of the two best of these four (along with the Dominican) but neither Canada nor Colombia is a true pushover, and a loss to either puts our advancement at risk. We play 3 games in 3 days starting tomorrow, so by Sunday the next round will finalize.

No real news from spring training – no major injuries or other calamities. Many of the ML teams played against WBC teams yesterday, with some fun results (Venezuela beat the Royals 11-0, and the Twins beat USA 3-2).

I love this game!

Go Israel!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 12:01
Mar 082017

After beating host Korea 2-1 in 10 innings, Israel all but assured their entry into the second round with a 15-7 win over Chinese Taipei. And with Netherlands 5-0 win over Korea, Korea is in danger of not advancing for the first time (in 4 WBC). For Korea to advance now, Israel has to beat Norway and Taipei has to beat Norway also (with, of course, Korea beating Taipei). Weirder things have happened, but this has to be even more odds-against than Israel winning two games in the first place. and for Israel to fail to advance, Israel, Norway and Taipei all have to be 2-1 (all beating Korea), and Israel’s loss to Norway and Taipei’s win over Norway have to be so large as to wipe out their runs-differential over Taipei, currently at +17. So welcome to the second round, Israel!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: my final post of 2016 should probably echo this spring: I don’t KNOW that the Baby Bombers will actually be good: young players can break your heart. But it is MUCH more exciting to have an unknown team than a known one, unless the known one is like the Cubs (young AND proven) or includes a not-old player (Kershaw?) who is so good that he is chasing history.

Kershaw has 126 career wins, and is entering his age-29 season. Is he on pace to be a 300-game winner, in an era in which that is deemed essentially impossible? I would say it’s still odds-against, but then again so is he. His injury last season, limiting him to 12 wins, damages the Bill James estimation tool, since he still needs 174 wins and his current “rate” is only 15 wins per year (calculation: 3 x current + 2 x prior + previous all divided by 6) which means that he needs 11.73 more years. Bill James gives him only 6.6 more seasons (24 – .6 x age) so his “expected” wins is only 15 x 6.6 = 99, or 225 for his career. The formula for Kershaw’s 300 win chance is (99 – 174/2)/174 = 12/174 = 7%. If you think this is low, then so do I, but remember that he won only 12 games last year: the system doesn’t take into consideration injuries or rather it does: it counts them exactly like bad years!

Doing the same calculation for Kershaw LAST year, he had 114 wins, was 28, and had an established win rate of 17.66. Thus his expected future wins was 127 (instead of 99) and his chances for 300 wins were 127 – 186/2)/186 = 44/186 =24%. THAT seems more reasonable, but it ALSO seems reasonable that getting only 12 wins in your age-28 season has to hurt your chances. How much he bounces back this year, assuming he remains healthy and dominant, will determine how much progress he makes toward the goal. Just to bore you with more numbers, let’s assume that Kershaw wins 20 in 2017 (note: that would be only his third 20-win season ever). This makes his established win rate 18.33, his needed wins 154 and his years remaining 6, so the formula becomes (110 – 154/2)/154 = 33/154 = 21%. 300 wins is a tough goal!

I love playing with this system, but it is important to note that it estimates the chances that a great player will achieve a hard (counting) goal. If you want to estimate the chances that Brett Gardner will get 1500 career hits (he has 950) I suppose the method would work, but it is not designed to do so. The problem is the “years remaining” calculation. The formula 24 – .6 x age is an approximation of how many more years a good player can expect to play. It puts a 33-year-old at 4.2 which is reasonable for a very good player, but not necessarily for an OK player. And remember that this 4.2 is FULL YEARS – we are assuming that he can be expected to get 4.2 x 144 more hits in his career.

Thus you can’t project the number of HRs that Gary Sanchez will his in his career: he has NO established HR rate, NOR do we know how long he’ll play. But if you want to do career hits for Miguel Cabrera, well there is some history there to make some kind of an educated guess.

Enough rambling. The USA plays its first WBC game on Friday, and plays defending champ Dominican Republic on Saturday. The Yankees continue to win spring games (they are a spring-best 10-3) and not only doesn’t that matter AT ALL: I did a study once on the correlation between spring wins and regular season wins (very close to zero) and also when the last spring wins leader won the world series (I couldn’t find a single instance) but winning is still more fun than losing, and most of the Yankees under the microscope are playing will this spring.

More tomorrow, with any luck at all.

The WBC is under way!

Posted by Baseball Bob at 09:42
Mar 062017

Exciting times. The first game of the WBC has been played, and we already have our first upset. Lowest-ranked (41st in the world; every other team in the tourney is no worse than 20th) long-shot Israel somehow outdueled Korea 2-1 to win the opening game of the 2017 WBC. in case you missed it, which you almost surely did, Israel was the final team to qualify for the WBC, winning the final 4-team play in by beating Great Britain (4 years ago they lost that same game to Spain in extra innings). They are 200-1 to win the WBC, which most analysts consider very generous odds (1000-1 is probably more realistic). In fact, they WERE 60-1 against advancing, though with this win they will surely have much lower odds of making the next round.

There are 3 games today (that game was played today, our time, but yesterday in the far east), but the US doesn’t play until Friday, where we are home against Colombia.

This year is the USA’s best team ever, though many of the brightest stars (Mike Trout anyone?) still are missing in action. The 1992 Dream Team (Olympic Basketball) this decidedly ISN’T but at least our roster is major league players, a step forward from past WBCs. I think the Dominican (defending champs) is loaded, Japan is always dangerous, and Cuba a perpetual mystery. USA is in a 4-team bracket with the Dominican, so we can’t afford to lose to Colombia or Canada, or we risk not advancing (basically you have to win 2 of 3, so a loss to one of the others means we have to beat Dominican).

The games are available on mlb.tv and also the mlb cable network (if you get cable) but of course the far east games are played at an inconvenient hour. mlb.tv, which is effectively a dvr, solves this problem.

March Madness will be under way before the WBC is half over, so I may be the only American paying attention, but at least they have ONE fan.

Go USA!!!

Mar 052017

Hi Friends, if any

I had an inconsistent start and no finish at all last year, really, and it wouldn’t surprise me if I actually have no one at all read this post. Serves me right. (by the way, if you DO read this post, a 1-line comment saying so might help me decide to keep going). This post will probably have no real information at all, it is mostly a reminisce as I try to decide if I am going to keep going at all. But, as you will see, I will in fact probably try and may well do better than last season. Reasons below.

This blog started life as an email correspondence between me and my late friend Brian Hitchcock, sadly gone now for many years. Brian was so funny, and I was such a good foil for him, that the exchanges were pretty entertaining and one by one my three sons asked to be added to the list, and it became an email group, which simply meant that we did reply-all so everyone else could read the exchanges. My sons very rarely chimed it, but they enjoyed the posts. After Brian passed away, Mark decided to do a spring-review of all the MLB teams, in his honor. It was VERY well-done and it encouraged me to make almost daily emails to my boys, again somewhat in Brian’s memory.

Then something a bit odd happened: some of us showed some of the emails to other baseball fans, friends of ours, who asked to have their names added. At one point the list was about 15 readers, with half a dozen of them (you) making at least occasional contributions. We continued like this for several years. Then, a few years ago, it was suggested we make it a blog, the modern successor to an email group, and Baseball-Bob.com was born.

The problem, for 68-year-old me, is that there is even less feedback than there was with the email group. And my life got messy in other ways. And the Yankees got less interesting to me (important note: I HAVEN’T lost interest, either in the Yankees or in baseball, but I lost some interest in WRITING about it). All of my sons have pretty much moved on from baseball, and I doubt if any of them actually read the blog any more (if I’m wrong, guys, say so if you like). I do know that a few of the original group have faithfully followed the blog, and a couple of other friends/relatives began to follow the blog. With last season’s meltdown, though, and NO off-season at all, it is possible that there is no one left. If this is the case, thanks guys for your past support.

Meanwhile, 2017. I find that for the first time in a number of seasons, I am actually excited for the season to start! This ALWAYS used to be the case, but has not been for perhaps 5 years. The reasons for the past I won’t go into, but the reasons for this year I think I’ll outline here briefly:

1) The Yankees are exciting again. I have been optimistic in the recent past about their chances, but that is NOT the same as excited. Just two years ago the Yankees AMAZED me when A-Rod and Tex rose from the dead and played baseball (64 HRs between them!), and when Girardi coaxed 87 wins and a wild-card spot out of a roster projected to win about 75. But it was NOT an exciting team; it was a grind-em-out team, with old players with no upside and young players with no upside and players who held no interest for me (Stephen Drew, really?) I watched and I rooted and I marveled but I still wasn’t excited.

The 2017 version may well not win as many games as the 2015 team did – they project better than that team projected, but not better than it performed – but their upside is MUCH higher (of course, their downside is much lower – young players can break your heart). But they are EXCITING: even as A-Rod was WAY exceeding expectations in 2015, we knew that it was only a final death-rattle. But Aaron Judge could be ANYTHING from Giancarlo Stanton to Dave Winfield, To Cecil Fielder to Joe Schlobotnik (don’t get the reference? Think Charlie Brown). Gary Sanchez could be Johnny Bench or Thurman Munson or Shane Spencer (OK, Spencer was an outfielder, but a one-year, late-season sensation). Is Didi Gregorius for real (his rep: can’t hit lefties AT ALL – last year he hit .320 against them. His rep: good field no power – last year he hit 20 HRs). Greg Bird made a strong debut in 2015 for the injured but effective Teixeira, and then missed all of last year due to injury. it’s exciting to wonder who he will be.

2) The WBC, which excites only one fan in the entire country, apparently, is here again. And I am that fan. While I considered giving up my mlb.tv subscription last year, no way am I giving it up this year – they are going to carry every WBC game, and I may just watch them all. Followers may remember that 4 years ago I astounded them by admitting that I was following the WBC much more closely than the NCAA basketball tourney.

3) The historic number of superstar young players. Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball for years. Manny Machado could beat out Mike Schmidt to be known as the best third-baseman of all time. Bryce Harper is playing to become the first $400M ($500M?) player of all-time. All are not yet 27. And that doesn’t even count Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogarts (all Red Sox, BOO!) or Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, et. al.

4) NO curse stories! I am done with feeling sorry for the Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, etc. The REAL curses are broken, The Indians are the oldest but they went to the 7th game LAST YEAR, so their fans get no gripe. If you want to feel sorry for a city, try Houston (when is the last time they won a championship in anything?) but maybe we can talk about baseball instead?

SO bottom line, I am going to try to more consistently post. If you care about that, which for the most part I understand that you don’t, you can encourage it with an occasional comment. Even a comment that just says “I’m here” is helpful, but something that might get me commenting or analyzing is of course even better.

I love this game!

 

Oct 072016

This was the year, well almost. Various stuff happening in my life, minimal interest in my team, not very exciting pennant races overall. I had decided not to by mlb.tv, a big step for me as I don’t get cable TV, so this would mean watching NO Baseball on TV. My wife encouraged me to get it, and I did, and I watched the early season with some interest. There were some interesting early stories (Kershaw’s dominance, the return of Jose Fernandez, the fabulous Cubs, reemergence of Cleveland as a contender, early play of the Phillies), I blogged a couple of times.

But the Yankees were old, boring, and bad, and there were almost literally no players who held my interest. Once the likely became certain, that A-Rod and Teixeira were NOT the players they were in 2015, and that, in turn, Ellsbury, Headley and McCann WERE exactly the players they were in 2015, the Yankees really no longer held my interest. I doubt I watched a single complete game after May 31st, and really parts of not that many others. Yes, the 3-headed bullpen was pretty fun (and pretty unhittable) early on, and yes, the Yankees thus were winning the close ones and kept near .500 despite a negative run differential.

Starlin Castro was (I guess) a positive addition, though a player with a sub-.300 OBP is not my kind of player, despite the home runs. Didi Gregorius was having a good season, and Carlos Beltran was reborn, but the team overall was old, slow, and uninteresting, and by July 1 I had stopped watching, stopped reading the box scores, and mostly stopped following the sport at all! 60 years of fandom was fading away, and I was not analyzing, not blogging, etc. Bye, bye, baseball.

At the deadline the Yankees threw in the towel, and I cheered: they traded Miller, Chapman and Beltran, along with Ivan Nova, and got a collection of semi-exciting prospects in return. I applauded the practical decisions, especially as they weren’t really that far out of a playoff spot, and I wondered if they would have the guts to go for it. Then, more significantly, they cut A-Rod, convinced Tex to retire, brought up their top prospects Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin, Chad Green and Luis Cessa.

And SUDDENLY there was energy in the clubhouse and on the field. Sanchez had a start like no other rookie ever, really. Judge and Austin both homered in their first at bat, and what’s more back-to-back. And I was watching: Sanchez (who came up first) had energized me to extent of at least watching the news, so I knew of the debuts, and they didn’t disappoint. In reality, of course, the rookie hitters (except for Sanchez) did not do that well (next most productive, probably, was Mason Williams) but watching the Yankees was FUN again. For the last 45 days of the season I saw a part of nearly every game. They surged for a while (mostly due to long home stands), went on the road in the thick of the wild-card race, fell on their faces in Boston and Toronto, and were eliminated on September 30 – third to last day of the season.

Will the Yankees be good next year? Who knows? A rotation of Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, Green and Cessa doesn’t scare anyone, but it could be fun. A lineup with Ellsbury, Gardner, Headley, and McCann still sounds old. But not as old as adding A-Rod, Tex and Beltran. Bird was hurt and missed the whole year, but he looked real at the end of 2015. Torreyes was there all year as a utility infielder, and when he got more playing time showed that he could really field and could hit some. They won’t, of course, but the Yankees COULD field this lineup in 2016:

Catcher – Sanchez

First – Bird

Second – Castro

Short – Gregorius

Third – Torreyes

Left – Austin

Center – Williams or Hicks

Right – Judge

DH – Refsnyder

In this (fantasy) lineup, Didi Gregorius at 26 is the OLDEST player!

Rotation: Tanaka, Green, Cessa, Mitchell, Kaprelian

Tanaka at 28 (29?) is the old man here.

And of course EVERYONE can staff a bullpen with 20 somethings – Betances qualifies and he can pitch!

So I’m NOT quite ready to give it up. Baseball is fun again. Hooray!

Home Grown Talent

Posted by Baseball Bob at 10:29
May 272016

Since the news about the Yankees is discouraging (achieving the heady heights of .500, they stopped hitting again, and lost twice despite good pitching) I thought I would try a bit of ad hoc analysis. During the Yankees’ recent heyday, the presence of the “Core Four” caused them to lead all baseball in value derived from their own system. I was noticing this year that this is not really true at present: the Yankees sport relatively few players who were developed by them. I found an easier way to do this analysis, but it changed the definition of home-grown.

For the present post, i define home-grown as a player who was DRAFTED BY THE ORGANIZATION in the Amateur draft, and is still with them. Minor league free-agents, rule five acquisitions, and trades for minor leaguers no longer count: if a player only played for you in the majors, but was acquired in trade, then he is not home-grown. This is a practical definition: Baseball-Reference lists “how acquired” and Amateur draft is a category. Minor-league free agent is also a category but potentially misleading: for example, this season Nick Swisher is a minor-league free agent!

So what i plan to do is to ask the question: what percentage of the team’s bWAR (WAR according to Baseball Reference) was acquired in the draft? I may look at last year as well, since this year is barely 25% complete.

SO: Yankees

The ONLY players with actual WAR this year, and acquired via the draft, are: Gardner 0.9, Nova 0.8, Betances 0.6, Goody 0.3 and Romine 0.1. This is 2.7 of 9.4 which is 28.7%, higher than i would have guessed. There are two caveats to this number: 1) Nova was actually lost to the Rule 5 draft, then returned (because they didn’t want to keep him on the 25-man, as rules require). 2) the 9.4 total includes negative WAR, so the total of positive WAR is higher. The latter caveat will hold true for all teams, though, so i’ll stay with 27.8.

2015:

The Yankees got positive contributions in 2015 from the following position players who were drafted by them:

Gardner 3.3, Bird 0.9, Murphy 0.5, Refsnyder 0.3 and Williams 0.1. (Note: Bird is hurt and Murphy traded) This is 5.7 of their total 26.5 WAR

On the pitching side:

Betances 3.7, Warren 2.7, Pindar 0.6, Whitley 0.4, Pazos 0.3 (Note Warren and Whitley traded). This is 7.7 of their total 19.4 WAR

Adding it up, 13.4 of 45.9 is 29.2% essentially identical.

And of the 13.4 WAR from drafted players, 3.6 was traded away.

Is this number high or low? I have no idea, but it FEELS low. Let’s try the Yankees’ rival Red Sox, who came out MUCH lower than NY a few years ago.

BOSTON

2016 Bradley 2.2, Shaw 2.1, Betts 2.1, Pedroia 2.0, Vazquez 0.3 Swihart 0.1 Total 8.8/18.6 47.3% Here there is one BIG caveat: Buchholz was drafted, and is currently -0.8 WAR. Adding him in would make 8/18.6=43%

2015 Hitters Betts 6.0, Bradley 2.2, Shaw 1.1, Pedroia 0.6, Swihart 0.4 10.3/21.9 = 47%

Pitchers Buchholz 2.7, Owens 0.6 3.3/15.1 = 21.8%

Total 13.6/37 = 36.8%

So the same drafted Red Sox who did well last year are all back at it (though Buchholz is NOT doing well). With the exception of Buchholz, the team is maintaining the almost 50% value from drafted players.

Let’s do another team. I choose the Astros, for the following reason: the two “rebuilt” teams are the Cubs and the Astros. I suspect that both are built by ACQUIRING minor league talent, rather than DRAFTING it – the team with the rep to draft that talent is Tampa Bay, and i’ll probably do them next.

2016: Springer 2.5, Castro 1.1, Correa 0.8, White 0.5, Kemp 0.1, McCullers 0.1 4.1/7.7 53.2% (The also have Dallas Keuchel, currently negative but a big part of the rebuild)

2015 Hitters: Correa 4.1, Springer 3.8, Castro 1.3, Tucker 0.3, Duffy 0.1 9.6/26.2 = 41.4%

2015 Pitchers Keuchel 7.2, McCullers 2.4, Velasquez 0.2, Buchanon 0.2 10/20.4 = 49.0%

Total 20/46.6 = 42.9%

Fun stuff! I have to stop for now, and I don’t promise to get back to this, but I WILL say this: if you like this, and put in a comment, I am much more likely to do some more. Feel free to suggest teams to do – the Angels come to mind, as Trout is 10 out of a limited total, all by himself!

May 232016

Life at our house is complicated at the moment, and blogging about baseball is not high on the priority list. It may change; it may not. I really don’t at the moment have time for baseball analysis, which is where my interest lies and where my three (or so) loyal readers expect me to go. Comments about yesterday, while interesting, are available from a myriad of sources.

BUT: the Yankees completed a 4-game sweep of the awful A’s, and their 5-in-a-row streak is their best since early June of last year. And all of this puts them still BELOW .500 (21-22). I fear that .500 is likely a viable aspiration, and a wild-card berth likely out of reach. One thing, though, makes better a possibility: all 5 starters pitched well in this stretch, each going 6 innings, and none allowing more than 3 runs – thus, a “quality start”. And four of the five (all but Pineda) allowed only a single run.

Actually the above statement is true, but misleading: Luis Severino, one of their season-opening starters, is on the DL and hasn’t come close to a quality start all year. Ivan Nova, who replaced Sabathia and then Sabathia, replacing Severino, are among the 5 mentioned above. Not clear if Severino will get his job back, or if Nova is now the 5th starter.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are 5 over .500, and have improved their postseason chances from 0.1% to 0.4%. Go Phillies! Maybe more on that another day; today i have non-baseball stuff to do. Again.

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