E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

Author Archives: EJ Fagan

Updated: MLBAM Has iTunes Remove Fan Podcasts from Directory, Including the IIATMS Podcast

I did not notice it until Stacey sent an email around, but I received this email this morning:

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 11.06.01 AM

Presumably, any podcast with team names in it were put on some ridiculous hit list by some incredibly stupid MLBAM employee, and given to iTunes. However, it’s unclear exactly what the criteria was, because Aaron Gleeman’s Gleeman and the Geek podcast was also taken down.

Rest assured, the podcast is still available on our publishing service, and embedded here on the blog. You can grab our RSS feed here.

We will absolutely speak more about this on the podcast tonight, but I’d like to add one quick thought right now: This is an incredibly stupid move by Major League Baseball. Someone over there just does not understand what makes their game a multi-billion dollar industry. Our podcast (and blog) is a passion project that makes no real money, provides free advertising for the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball, and (we hope) helps keep thousands of passionate Yankee fans engaged in the game they love.…

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Among AL Contenders, Yankees Among the Healthiest Out of Spring Training

Spring training statistics are so irrelevant that it is counterproductive to even look at them most of the time. Even doing so with full knowledge of their irrelevance threatens confirmation bias. Spring training is about trying new things, getting into playing shape, and tightening screws. With a few exceptions, the only thing that I really...

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Does Pitch Framing Make Brian McCann the Yankee MVP?

Baseball defense is hard to measure. Catcher defense is even harder. There are a lot of different aspects of catcher defense, including:

  1. Controlling the running game
  2. Actually fielding the ball
  3. Preventing passed balls and wild pitches
  4. Pitch framing and umpire psychology
  5. Game-calling and pitcher psychology

For the longest time, #1 was all we looked in stats like WAR. #2 a comparatively small part of the game while also being difficult to measure. #5 is anyone’s guess. Some work has been on #3, but I’m not sold on it yet. That leaves us with #4: getting umpires to call balls as strikes, and strikes as strikes.

Measuring pitch framing is actually pretty easy. We have Pitch/Fx data about where a ball ended up. We have a good idea of where the strike zone should be. Therefore, we can count up pretty large sample sizes of called strikes that should be balls, and called balls that should be strikes. Do the math, and you know how many more strikes a catcher was able to call versus the average.…

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Top Ten Young Latin American Yankee Prospects

It’s difficult to keep track of young IFA prospects. The Latin American pipeline is paramount to the future of the MLB Yankees. Somewhere, on some team’s DSL team, the next Robinson Cano or Mariano Rivera is playing baseball. History suggests that the higher profile, big money signings are less important than the dozens of small-to-midsize signings that rarely find their way even into a Baseball America roundup of IFA news. Trying to figure out what 16 year-old players will be major league baseball players is a giant crapshoot.

My instinct is that this group of players, particularly the top-4, are more talented than previous generations of Yankee IFAs, although they lack the presence of an automatic blue chip guy like Jesus Montero or Gary Sanchez. A similar list circa 2008 or so would go something like this: Jesus Montero, Jose Tabata, Abe Almonte, Jairo Heredia, Marcos Vechionacci, Carlos Urena, Eduardo Nunez, Zoilo Almonte, Prylis Cuello, and Manuel Banuelos.

Here are ten players to watch:


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AL Run Scoring Decreased Again in 2013 to the Lowest Level in Decades

AL run scoring was way down in 2013. Batters scored just 4.33 runs per game, their lowest level since 1992 [chart updated for added lusciousness]:


I find this this graph amazing. Except for a brief period in the late 80s, run scoring hasn’t been this low since Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry were winning World Series. A .275/.339/.437 hitter in 2006 was equivalent to a .256/.320/.404 hitter in 2013.

That’s crazy! I don’t think that I am the only baseball fan that looks at a stat line and makes an intuitive judgment. When I first started paying attention to OBP, a .300 OBP was unacceptable, even for a middle infielder. Now, its just barely below average. A player with the same batting line as an average AL hitter in 2006 is now very valuable. We all need to adjust our expectations.

Why has run scoring decreased? A lot of people have theories. BABIPs haven’t changed much. HR/Fly is down from its peak in the late 90s, but is still significantly elevated from the late 80s.…

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Why I’m Bullish on the Yankee Farm System

Yesterday, I decided to jot down a quick ranking of Yankee prospects. I was trying to think about how good Greg Bird was. Bird is an interesting prospect. People often (overly) fixate on his high on base percentage at Charleston this year, and write his skill set off as a walking machine. But given the ballpark (90 run factor, 92 home run factor), and his age (20, with less than a full season of experience), Bird’s 20 home runs in 127 games is pretty impressive. He is only going to get stronger, and there aren’t a lot of tougher power environments than Charleston. Bird is a very solid prospect with lots of major league potential.

But where is he in the Yankee farm system? Here are the players that I knew clearly ranked above Greg Bird: Sanchez, Heathcott, Austin, Williams, Murphy, Judge, Jagielo, Clarkin, Banuelos and Hensley. On top of them, I could see a case that I’d rather have any of DePaula, Andujar, O’Brien, Ramirez, Katoh and Turley over Greg Bird.…

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Rebuild, Not Reload

All offseason rumors point to a Yankee reload. You know by now: they’ve been connected to Beltran, Tanaka, etc, while also potentially resigning one or all of Cano, Granderson, and Kuroda.

I get it. They’re the Yankees! The solution to every poor-ish season they’ve had since 2001 was the same: go out and buy the best...

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3 Yankee Major Advantages in the Tanaka Bidding

Most baseball sources seem to agree that Masahiro Tanaka is a really good player. He may be Darvish-level, he may not be. But he’s 24 years old, dominant, and headed for the MLB posting process. Every team in baseball would love to have him on their team. A lot of teams, including the Yankees, are planning on bidding on him through the posting process. Instead of a more efficient auction, Japanese teams make sure the bidding is blind, in order to force prices up. Every team interested in Tanaka’s services is right now deciding how much they value exclusive negotiating rights with the young star.

Assuming every team values Tanaka’s talent the same (who knows what each scout is saying), the Yankees should value exclusive negotiating rights higher than any other team. Here’s why:

Higher Value per Marginal Win

In a purely profit-seeking world, teams value marginal wins at the amount of revenue each brings in. So, a team with a smaller revenue base (like, the Rays) gets a smaller revenue increase for each marginal win that they add.…

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