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He opened his career whiffing roughly six batters per game, but that has risen to eight. I would...

He opened his career whiffing roughly six batters per game, but that has risen to eight. I would expect his BB/G to drop significantly next year. In 2004 he had a 1.7 BB/G, but it hasn't been lower than 2.5 since, although he's been far more effective in decreasing line drive percentage and increasing groundball percentage than in his formative years. This is a kid on the cusp of stardom. Sit back and appreciate his talent while you can.

Evan Brunell at The Hardball Times on Zack Greinke and his extension.

Scott Boras and Ethics

An interesting potential discussion piece at The Hardball Times by Jack Marshall, a professional ethicist. Worth reading for anyone who has strong opinions about Boras and his critics, on either side. As I understand it, he argues that Boras' negotiating tactics, as we know them (and which so many loathe), are not unethical. However, he does make an interesting case that I have not seen made elsewhere by defenders of our national innocence (probably because they don't really think about it very carefully) -- that Boras, by representing so many high profile clients who effect each other's value on the free agent market, may be engaging in unethical conflicts of interest. I'm not sure what I think, but it's an interesting and informed approach.

A New xBABIP Model

Over at The Hardball Times, Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix have come up with a new model for establishing xBABIP. It goes beyond just line drive rate to include speed, general location of hit, plate discipline, contact rate, park, handedness, and more. You can read the article for all the thrilling details. I wonder how it compares with the work done by our own ZeppelinDZ here and here. There's also a download of all the data they ran from the last four seasons and comparison with the Studeman's older (and still useful) LD% + .12 model. For those of you have have lives, I'll list some of the Royals 2008 "luck rates" here. Positive numbers indicate they were lucky, negative, unlucky. I guess that Callaspo, German, TPJ, and MITCH didn't make the cutoff point. Avilanche 10.73 Grudz 3.11 G-Load -.74 Butler 2.15 DDJ .45 Guillen -1.53 Teahen -3.79 Olivo 4.87 Buck -4.87 Gordon 3.73 Gathright 43.92 Not too many surprises here. Aviles shows up as lucky on every "luck neutralizer" I've seen. Gordon is a bit of a surprise, but when you realize that's 3.73%, it's not that different (and keep in mind this has little to do with power hitting). If you buy this model, then Olivo's speed doesn't explain his greater BABIP success than Buck this year -- I'm still betting that given equal playing time next year (wherever they end up), Buck has a better offensive season. This is Gathright when he's lucky? He, Aviles, and perhaps Olivo are the only ones who really stand out as exceptionally lucky this past season to me.

Gordon vs. Zimmerman vs. Braun

Interesting article comparing the "big three" third basemen from the 2005 draft: Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ryan Braun. While nominally a fantasy article, that doesn't really come in until the end, and the comparisons as far as how each player was handled and their possible futures are interesting. While I do think there is something to the notion that the popularity of fantasy baseball has negatively effected baseball fan loyalty or whatever, I think articles like this show that fantasy ball also can increase fan intelligence, since it shows the interest that somewhat serious fantasy players have in projecting players in general -- which, in a period in which the development of young players is paramount (especially for small market teams like the Royals) should be of interest to any more-than-casual fans. Of note in this article: -- Makes a good point that Braun was handled the most "sensibly" in the minors. I think that Royals fans should keep in mind that Gordon only had one year in the minors, and that was AA. I'm not basing this on anything, but I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful to think of at least the first half of Gordon's 2007 as his AAA time, and the second half of 2007 plus the first half of 2008 as his rookie year. It wouldn't help in terms of service time, but it might increase the level of patience fans have with young Alex. -- Given the universal hype for him pre-2007, Gordon has been the biggest disappointment so far (although he doesn't make much of the fact, particularly from a "real baseball" standpoint, that Gordon so far remaining at third base is one big plus he has versus Braun), but also notes that he is making important improvements this year. Would have been better if he had looked at Gordon's left-right splits (as did our own NHZ earlier this season, which show that, in fact, Gordon's abilities versus RHP improved markedly from 2007 to 2008. Indeed, what's really holding him back is his struggles against lefties. I do think he got better against them the last few weeks of the season. We'll see next year. -- He sees Gordon as continuing to improve, but probably not breaking out until 2010. I'm not sure I agree with that, but discuss amongst yourselves.

Your Wednesday Morning Bullet Points

I had one of those "where is my car?" moments this morning in the parking lot of Target. I was visiting this particular quality department store because part of me keeps stubbornly insisting on the...

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