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FanGraphs Top 50 AL Prospects

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Keep in mind it's just the AL when you're reading it. No Royals in Top 10: Montgomery #15 Moustakas #22 Hosmer #25 Duffy #50 not sure whether I missed anyone

Free Talent Alert

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With too many outfielders and a full 40-man roster, the Rockies have designated corner outfielder Matt Murton for assignment. While no future star, Matt Murton is a nice player who can hit for average, take a walk, avoid strikeouts, hit the ball in the gaps, and play an average to slighly above average corner outfield. A right-handed hitter, he has mashed LHP (career: 306/374/483, 857 OPS) while holding his own against RHP (career: 276/340/412, 752 OPS). Only 27, he is under club control for four more years (although he may qualify for arbitration next year as a Super 2). There is not a lot of upside, but with regular playing time, he could be a league average (~2.0 WAR) player -- maybe a little more with an age 27-29 peak bump -- for near the league minimum. At the very least, he would make a very good fourth outfielder, especially for a team with two left-handed hitters starting in the corners (like say David DeJesus and Mark Teahen). And yes, a right-handed (and cheaper) Mark Teahen is a fair comparison. This would be a little move, but one that could push the Royals back in a positive direction at little cost.

When Is A Small Sample Size No Longer Small?

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Eric Seidman at Fangraphs has a nice article summarizing research on when sample sizes become (somewhat) reliable for hitters. The research suggests that the following stats begin to stabilize with the corresponding number of plate appearances: 50 PA: Swing % 100 PA: Contact Rate 150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA 200 PA: Walk Rate, Groundball Rate, GB/FB 250 PA: Flyball Rate 300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB 500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate 550 PA: ISO Did not stabilize by 650 PA (the cutoff): BA, BABIP The underlying work was done by a well respected analyst who goes by the handle Pizza Cutter at the Statistically Speaking blog. His research on pitchers is here.

Greinke is Unhittable

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Short blog/write-up on why Zack has been so good during his 34IP zero-run streak.

This Week in Totally Adequate Sample Size Theater: Royals UZR/150 through one week

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FanGraphs will be updating UZR every Sunday. Since we now definitely have enough of sample to get at each player's defensive skill, we can project that over a full year using UZR/150. DDJ: +12.9 Billy Butler: +62.0 Alex Gordon: +13.6 Mike Jacobs: +5.9 Alberto Callaspo: +11.9 Mark Teahen (RF): -0.3 Coco Crisp: -7.1 Mark Teahen (2B): -27.6 Mike Aviles: -18.1 Jose Guillen: -92.0 Willie Bloomquist: -148.4

Fangraphs adds Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

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Also dollar values per year. Obviously, it's not perfect -- not everyone will agree with the defensive stats, market value, or the replacement level. wRAA (wOBA Runs Above Average) isn't yet park adjusted there. bUZR needs to be completed (in the works), arm ratings are needed, as well as baserunning, catcher defense, and so on. It also seems they haven't done pitchers yet... But it's still pretty cool. I like(d) doing it myself and pretending to be an analyst. There goes 85% of my posts, which is probably a relief to you all. You don't need me anymore, if you ever did (although I'm happy to see that many of their evaluations met my own). Hmmmm... since fangraphs also usually carries the James, CHONE, ZiPS, and other projections... well, let's just say it's a good thing BP does fantasy and has EqBRR. Here are some Royals (and others of interest) WARs/$ values (in millions) from 2008. Remember that for position players, "2" is about average: Alex Gordon: 2.7/$12.1 David DeJesus: 3.8/$17.1 Mike Aviles: 4.4/$19.8 Jose Guillen: 0.2/$0.9 Emil Brown: 0.5/$2.1 Coco Crisp: 1.1/$4.9 Mark Teahen: 0.3/$1.2 Mark Grudzielanek: 1.6/$7.0 Alberto Callaspo: 1.2/$5.2 Ross Gload: -0.5/-$3.5 Justin Huber: 0.2/$0.9 Tony Pena, Jr: -1.3/-$5.8 Ryan Shealy: 0.7/$3.2 Billy Butler: 0.1/$0.5 Mike Jacobs: -0.2/-$0.7 Mathew Tupman: 0.1/$0.3

wOBA Positional Averages 2008

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At the request of a party who shall remain anonymous, I have constructed a spreadsheet to give pseudo-Fangraphs-style positional wOBA averages by position for 2008 MLB, AL, and NL. I still think the best general model for such averages is something like this (see my related FanShot here), but it is interesting to see how closely the empirical data from last year matches up. I've even included a silly wOBA-fied version of baseball-reference's OPS+. Since I'm guessing Fangraphs' version of wOBA will become the most frequently cited, I've used a formula that I think they are using -- that is, one that excludes reached base on error (this makes sense for them, since I assume they are using the baseball databank data, which doesn't include that information). They also use custom linear weights for each year, which I don't use here. However, Tom Tango (the creator of wOBA) notes that the weights since 1956 don't stray all that far from the generic formula. I think Fangraphs is great, and is quickly becoming the best source for sabermetric data on the internet -- free or pay. Personally, I prefer that ROE be included in wOBA, since I do think it at least partially reflects player skill. Stat Corner does so (and they also have park-adjusted wOBA*). I would also prefer that both sites includes stolen bases and caught stealings in the formula (I don't think they do -- but correct me if I'm wrong). But they have their reasons. I have a sheet ready with SB/CSs and also one with ROEs if people are interested. Update: Thanks to the coment below, I now realize that Fangraphs does include SB/CS in their wOBA figures, and have corrected the spreadsheet.

Average wOBA by Position

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Yes, the dastardly Sox site has done something that was asked about last week when Fangraphs added wOBA -- the offensive stat we should all be using. Thanks to Sky for pointing it out and also for agreeing with me that Colin made a mistake with the 3B adjustment. The methodology isn't perfect (to be more precise one would need to judge each position in relation to league average wOBA year-to-year) but it isn't meant to be. It's rough. He has a little chart that includes adjustments for defense, but I'm not going to deal with the headache of arguing about that here (the positional adjustment thing is bad enough, sometimes). So... here are the averages Colin has, and then how some Royals (and new Royals) did in relation to those averages in 2008 -- this is retrospective, not predictive. I'm using StatCorner's version of wOBA because, among other things, it's park-adjusted (wOBA*). Some guys are listed in more than one position for obvious reasons. C .306 Olivo .313 (+.07) Buck .300 (-.06) SS .326 TPJ .189 (-.137) Avilanche .364 (+.038) 2B .335 Grudz .345 (+.010) Callaspo .341 (+.06) German .294 (-.041) CF .335 DDJ .361 (+.026) Gathright .277 (-.058) Crisp .334 ( -.01) MITCH .288 (-.047) 3B .335 Gordon .351 (+.016) Teahen .315 (-.020) RF/LF .354 Teahen .315 (-.039) Guillen .329 (-.025) DDJ .361 (+.07) 1B .364 Gload .304 (-.060) Butler .326 (-.038) Jacobs .342 (-.022)

Fangraphs, now with wOBA

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Fangraphs has added wOBA (weighted On-Base Average), one of the stats that improves on OPS by essentially weighing the relative value of on-base and slugging more accurately and scaling it to league average OBA (.335 is average, .400 is awesome, .300 is virtually replacement value). The link above explains the basics in more detail. The Fangraphs version of wOBA does incorporate SB/CS. The Royals last year were 25th in MLB with a team wOBA of .314. Mike Aviles led the Royals (100 PA min.) with a .360 wOBA, with only David DeJesus (.355) and Alex Gordon (.344) also above average.

Jeremy Affeldt, Free Agent Bargain (No, Seriously)

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I was kicking around drafting a post on impending free agent Jeremy Affeldt based on his surprisingly good numbers this year (in a hitter's park), but Fangraphs beat me to it. Affeldt added a couple miles per hour to his fastball and curve, which resulted in a jump in his strikeout rate and drop in his walk rate without affecting his high groundball rate. While his past struggles might keep the price down, hard throwing lefty relievers who can get righties out tend to do well on the free agent market, so he will not come dirt cheap. But paying a high-leverage reliever mid-leverage reliever money could make for a nice bargain. Relief pitching is obviously not an immediate priority for the Royals, but if the Royals are not going to spend big elsewhere, this is the type of moderate deal that makes the team better without breaking the budget. Plus, adding bullpen depth would allow the Royals to move a reliever for help in a different area of need (which the free agent market likely overvalues).

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