A Future LF Alternative

Earlier this week, Moshe asked readers what kind of a deal they’d give to Carl Crawford. Obviously, it’s a fair question. He plays left field and, unless Brett Gardner totally blossoms this year, the Yankees may need a stronger left fielder next season. Extension talks between Crawford and the Rays have apparently stalled, so the likelihood of Crawford hitting free agency seems bigger now than it did even just a few days ago.

Let’s turn our heads from Crawford, though, and shift them to a somewhat familiar foe: Jayson Werth.

Jayson Werth

I briefly profiled Jayson before the World Series when I was back at Bronx Baseball Daily and he, like Crawford, is in the final year of his contract.

The definition of a late bloomer, Werth has flourished in his age 28-30 seasons with the Phillies. Since arriving in the City of Brotherly Love, Werth has been a .276/.376/.494/.870 hitter. His power is impressive, as marked by his .218 IsoP for the Phillies, and his speed is great too.… Click here to read the rest

Boston's Payroll Inching Upwards

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NoMaas did a post this morning about Boston’s “little engine that could” attitude and their 2010 payroll, which is slated to be about 170 million dollars. When I first saw that number, I thought that it was mistaken, and that it was simply the luxury tax number, which is based upon average annual value rather than actual salaries. However, Mike Axisa of RAB pointed me towards a Cot’s Contracts spreadsheet that puts Boston at about 166 million before pre-arb contracts are set, meaning they should finish at about 170M. They will almost certainly be paying the luxury tax, and will be forced to consider that when making moves during the season.

With the Yankees coming in at 212M at this point, that makes for a fairly sizable gap of 46 million dollars. However, the Red Sox have closed on the Yankees significantly this offseason, as the 2009 difference was 85 million (207 vs.… Click here to read the rest

Statistics: We Do Not Have All Of The Information

Matt wrote an excellent post this morning about bringing statistics into the mainstream, and I think Chris began to follow through on that with his fascinating post on breaking down UZR. Both posts illustrated that fans now have more information at their hands than ever before, and that we can educate ourselves about the very essentials of the game. However, an interview that I heard this morning on WEEI, with Theo Epstein, reminded me that as fans, we still do not have all of the information:

I think that he (Ellsbury) is an above-average center fielder now, who is going to be a great center fielder. I know there is a certain number we don’t use that is accessible to people online that had him as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball last year. I don’t think it’s worth anything. I don’t think that number is legitimate. We do our own stuff and it showed that he is above average.

Click here to read the rest

Burnett’s fly ball rate rising

In a recent piece from River Ave Blues’ Joe Pawlikowski, Joe points to A.J. Burnett‘s ground ball rate from 2009, noting it as problematic. Last season, Burnett posted a career low in ground ball rate at 42.8%, which is significantly under his career average of 49.5% (a mark that was subsequently dragged down as a result of the career low). This, obviously, is not a positive development, as pitchers are best served keeping batted balls on the ground. However, this specific percentage was not the only troubling number posted by Burnett in his first season with the Yankees.

Inversely connected to his career low in ground ball inducement was Burnett’s career high in fly ball percentage. His 39.2% mark – roughly 7% higher than his career mark of 32.0% – was actually the peak, thus far, of a four-year trend, in which Burnett’s fly ball rate has increased since 2006. In a ballpark such as Yankee Stadium, the fly ball rate, in particular, is rather disconcerting.… Click here to read the rest

Charting UZR can be useful…

Derek Jeter’s UZR at shortstop last season was 6.6 runs above average. Nick Swisher’s UZR in right field last season was -0.7 runs below average. Johnny Damon’s UZR in left field last season was -9.2 runs below average. From my own experiences, many baseball fans often toss around FanGraphs’ Ultimate Zone Ratings without much context or detail, citing UZR similarly to the way in which I have done just prior to this sentence, as if the numbers provide all that is needed in order to fully understand a player’s defensive impact on a given season. However, for those who rely upon FanGraphs for their UZR figures (most of us, it seems), it is very important to remember that each player’s rating can be broken down further into three distinct parts.

For outfielders, the three-pronged rating is the final sum of a player’s range runs (RngR), error runs (ErrR), and arm runs (ARM), whereas for infielders, a player’s UZR is based on on range runs and error runs, however, arm runs are actually replaced by double play runs (DPR).… Click here to read the rest

Posada: Vazquez More Complete Pitcher Now Than In 2004

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From Mark Feinsand:

Posada said Vazquez has matured as a pitcher since they played together in 2004, giving the Yankees a much stronger rotation than the one that captured the World Series crown last November. While Vazquez was primarily a fastball-curveball pitcher six years ago, Posada now feels that the changeup and slider are on the same level, making it much more difficult for hitters to find a comfortable approach.

“It’s easy for me to call his game,” Posada said. “He has four outstanding pitches, so you can’t go wrong with any of them when you call it.”

A look at the data at Fangraphs confirms that Vazquez has in fact changed his approach since 2004.

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The percentage of pitches that Vazquez throws as fastballs has been trending downward for his entire career, and dipped below 50% for the first time in 2009. Being that his fastball got knocked around in his one season in NY (wFB/C, which is fastball runs above average per 100 FB, of -.84), this is a positive development.… Click here to read the rest

The Numbers Game

A little over a week ago, Moshe posted a piece asking if sabermetrics have gone too far. Since that time, after reading the article itself and various responses to it throughout the Web, I’ve been thinking of ways that could help bring sabermetrics into the mainstream.

Perhaps I’m being too ambitious here; after all, I’m just a blogger who’s not deeply embedded in the metric community, nor am I someone who’s involved in developing new stats and metrics. Regardless, I regularly use advanced metrics in my posts here, and I attempt to use them in conversation with other baseball fans (so far, I’ve only had one conversation of memory in which the other party was also versed in said metrics), so I’d like to see them become a little more popular.

Briefly touching on something Moshe discussed at length, I’ll say this: there are a ton of stats out there. The “market”, so to speak, may not be completely flooded, but the water level is rising.… Click here to read the rest

Guest post: The future of Jorge Posada

I’m being harsh on Posada.  He hasn’t really declined yet.  Dude put a 133 OPS+ last season.  He was a large contributor to a World Series victory.  Replace Posada with his backup, Jose Molina, do the Yankees win? Probably.  One player won’t make a huge difference on a 103-win ballclub.  But, obviously the loss would hurt.  Hitters like Posada don’t grow on trees.

The point of this piece was to look into Posada’s future, and how better to do that then with Baseball Prospectus’ marvelous PECOTA system. PECOTA is, shall we say, bearish on Posada.  They peg him for a .263/.355/.445 line (hardly end-of-the-world, but a decline without question) and suggest he’ll be hurt again–only 348 PAs.

That isn’t surprising.  Posada’s got a lot going against him: age/wear and tear, position, his injury issues of late.

How much more can the Yankees reasonably expect out of Posada?  Another season like 2009 is unlikely.  The Yankees do realize he’s nearing the end, don’t they?… Click here to read the rest