Author Archives: Mark Smith

Enjoyment and Analysis

Now, responding to the second question, RBIs do indicate a positive contribution from the batter. To get the runner in, the batter must have done something to get him in—hit, sacrifice fly, groundout, walk, HBP, etc.—and that led to a run for the team, which by definition is a positive contribution to the team. Considering that runs are the ultimate way in which a team wins, it’s understandable that we be attached to this statistic. The problem, however, is how we assign credit. Subconsciously or maybe consciously, we give the batter all the credit for run—that’s why it’s its own separate statistic—but unless the batter hits a home run, there had to be another party involved. While we realize that, it doesn’t help that we’ve always preferred the “run-producers” than the “table-setters”. The phrase “run-producer” itself gives RBI more power as the term is “active”—the person is making something. “Table-setter”, on the other hand, is a “passive” term—while the person is technically acting, the audience knows there is another action, probably more important, about to happen.…

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Dealing with Rafael Soriano

But if there’s one thing you realize after a few years of Rafael Soriano, it’s that he’s focused. His MFIKY face on the mound should tell you just about everything you need to know, but in case it isn’t enough, let me tell you a bit more. Soriano always seemed to be a pragmatist. He didn’t pitch early in Spring Training because he realized it wouldn’t take him all month to warm up to pitch one inning. He accepted arbitration because it made financial sense. He doesn’t show emotion because it doesn’t exactly help. None of this, of course, makes him very personable, but it’s helped make him a good ballplayer. When he’s on the mound, that stare let’s you know where his attention his–on the mitt, on the hitter, and on what he’s throwing next.

The focus is an indication that he cares, and here is where I think he gets misunderstood. Why else would someone focus so intently? We can argue over why they care or who they ultimately care about, but as long as he cares about pitching well, he helps the Yankees as long as he’s talented, which he is.…

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Yankees and Age

But how is this possible? The starting rotation is a good place to start. CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova have replaced Kevin Brown, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, etc who pitched for the Yankees in their late 30s and early 40s. With possible new additions of Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos in the future, the Yankees look to stay young (and talented and cheaper) in the rotation. The Yankees will probably add a vet to offset the risk of inserting a rookie or two into the rotation, but the focus on the farm system is trying to pay dividends.

The lineup, however, is ticking upward. Hovering around 32 years old on average, the Yankee lineup is getting older, and it’s likely to continue doing so. 2012 might see a small decrease in age when they swap Jorge Posada for Jesus Montero, but Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira aren’t getting younger.…

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Should SLG Be the Next Stat to Go?

And what about home runs? Do they require double the power? No. The difference between some doubles and home runs are mere feet. Why does a home run hit 405 feet receive twice the points as a 395 foot double? If we’re measuring power, the ratios don’t seem to work out. Yes, a home run requires more power—250 foot line drives can end up in gaps, but they don’t end up over the fence—but does SLG accurately reflect the difference? Again, I think not.

If we’re looking at measuring power, total bases seem to be a poor way to measure it. Sure, it makes some sense, but total bases are dependent on defense, park, etc. in many of the ways that wins are dependent on other things. Hitters are still primarily responsible, but there are other factors that lead to extra bases than a hitter’s power. Instead, it might be more accurate to figure out the average distance a ball is hit—total feet covered by batted ball/number of batted balls.…

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An Overly Early Look at Cano’s Future as a Yankee

Decline, of course, isn’t guaranteed. The above graph shows an optimistic projection of the rest of Cano’s career. Jeff Kent remains at an All-Star level of production through his age 37 season, and Lou Whitaker is able to stave off baseball senior citizenship through his age 36 season. If Cano is able to hold on until a similar age, a new contract will be well worth it.

But life isn’t always so ideal. The above graph is a sign of how things could be for Cano. Ryne Sandberg was a basher through his age 32 season, which happened to be his best, and he precipitously fell to being average. Roberto Alomar made it another season before he plummeted to the depths. Joe Morgan made a slightly easier drop, from 10 WAR at 32 to 6 at 33 to 2 at 34 before recovering a little for the next few seasons. Utley could be seeing a similar drop in production as he approaches his mid 30s.…

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Prospect Fatigue Spectrum

Baseball, as we all know, is much different from other major sports when it comes to young players. NBA and NFL teams draft players, and those players are almost instantly on the team’s roster. Baseball teams, however, draft players and stick them in the minors for 3-5 years. Football and basketball college sports are more popular than baseball, which places more pressure on those prospects, but because they are immediately on the rosters and playing (at least the top ones), it’s easy for fans and experts to watch them, evaluate them, and move on if you have to. With regard to baseball prospects, you can’t do that. The Yankees signed Montero 4 ½ years ago, and the anticipation began, though only by the most fanatical of prospect gurus. Two seasons later, he was on the national radar, and he’s remained ever since, continuing to perform at high levels. The perception of him, however, has changed.

When he first broke on the scene, Montero had just obliterated A-ball as an 18-year old, and he was a catcher.…

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Guide to Spring Training Performance

3) If you are going to look into stats, make sure you take them into context. Keep track of how well the player is doing against MLB players and close-to-ready top prospects. Otherwise, they are just taking advantage of lesser players (if they suck against them, that might be a slight cause for concern, but I wouldn’t even worry that much). Next, give more weight to end of ST stats because the players have finally become acclimated to the game and the routine again. I’ll mention this again—be careful about doing even this as the samples become much smaller and less able to indicate a player’s ability.

4) Instead of stats, pay attention to the scouts. OMG! Idk that sabermetrics guys were allowed to say that?! Yes, I can and did. Stats are essentially meaningless here, but performance can still be evaluated. When you read articles about the team for the next month and a half, listen to the scouts.…

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Long-Term Extensions, the Reds and Rockies, and the Yankees

The deal for Cueto seems less of a win but one nonetheless. Cueto appeared to take a step forward this past season with an ERA of 3.64, and while his FIP showed an improvement from past seasons, his xFIP remained similar to 2008 and 2009. A $3.4 MM reward in 2011 was probably pretty high for a first arbitration salary, but it’s not outlandish. He’ll receive $5.4 and $7.4 (how do you get .4 in the salary? Seriously, couldn’t someone just round up to .5 to make it cleaner?) during his final arbitration seasons, and while pitchers carry more risk, it seems reasonable and maybe low if he continues to refine his control and regain some of that K rate. Where Cincinnati wins is the free-agent seasons. He’ll make $10MM in 2014, and the Reds hold a $10MM option for 2015. Both seem to be deals for the Reds as long as Cueto continues to perform near his 2010 level, and they’ll be better if he improves.…

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