Will is a lifelong New Yorker and Yankees fan who splits his time between finance, music, and baseball. He was one of the early contributors to IIATMS, though life took him away for some time. He is very excited to be back.

Author Archives: Will@IIATMS

Something to Get Excited About

masahiro-tanaka

So, we’re eight starts into the new legend of Masahiro Tanaka, 58 innings, and history is already being made. Per Michael Kay/David Cone of YES: No pitcher in major league history has struck out as many as Tanaka has and walked as few in his first eight starts. Taking down 6 wins over that time frame is outrageous as well. But looking more granularly, over that time frame, he’s had the fourth highest strikeout rate of any AL starter, AND the second lowest walk rate of any AL starter (combining for the 2nd best K/BB, behind David Price). Let that sink in for a second. All that adds up to the lowest xFIP of any qualifying SP in the majors (2.19) – the only thing that hasn’t been working for the Yankees’ new ace has been his HR/FB which is an outrageous 16.7% (second highest in the league – miles behind the 23.3% of CC Sabathia). Looking at now often quoted-SIERA (skill interactive ERA) we find that Tanaka is the best pitcher still going this season – Jose Fernandez put up an outrageous 2.22 before being sidelined for Tommy John surgery, but Tanaka is a few inches behind at 2.28, and the next best is David Price….all the way back at 2.54.…

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Say It With Me Now

But hey, if the team’s pitchers are actually getting hit harder, they should give up a higher BABIP right? Well, yes — BABIP tends to stabilize between 100 and 120 points above LD% — if you give up line drives 25% of the time (a very high rate), you would expect to give up a BABIP of somewhere between .350 and .370. And that makes sense, right? Line drives are just a lot harder to get to when compared to fly balls or ground balls, both of which turn into outs more often than not.

Well, turns out that the Yankees are smack dab in the middle of the pack, having given up line drives 20.8% of the time, good for 16th place out of the 30 major league teams.

So what does it all mean?

Means that the Yankee pitching staff has been very unlucky this far this season. And to take it a step further, most of the Yankee pitching staff has been very unlucky.…

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Is Jorge a Hall of Famer?

There are two groups we have to consider Posada against: Those already enshrined, and his peers during his playing days. Let’s consider those who already made it in as the first test.

Player OPS+ HR BA OBP SLG wOBA WAR
Johnny Bench 126 389 0.267 0.342 0.476 0.361 81.5
Carlton Fisk 117 376 0.269 0.341 0.457 0.354 74.4
Gary Carter 115 324 0.262 0.335 0.439 0.341 72.5
Yogi Berra 125 358 0.285 0.348 0.482 0.370 71.4
Bill Dickey 127 202 0.313 0.382 0.486 0.394 63.8
Gabby Hartnett 126 236 0.297 0.370 0.489 0.390 56.1
Mickey Cochrane 128 119 0.320 0.419 0.478 0.411 55.9
Jorge Posada 121 275 0.273 0.374 0.474 0.366 47.6
Roy Campanella 123 242 0.276 0.360 0.500 0.385 43.1
Average BBWAA 123 281 0.286 0.362 0.476 0.376 64.8
Posada’s Rank 7 5 6 3 7 6 8

 

Looking at the above table (which is made up only of the players who were voted into the hall of fame by the BBWAA, thus excluding Ewing, Bresnahan, Schalk, Ferrell, and Lombardi) we see that Jorge is not in the top echelon, but he fits in the group.…

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Bring on the Tigers

The Headliner

Justin Verlander turned in a tremendous season atop the Tigers’ rotation, going 24-5 with a 2.40/2.99/3.12 pitching slash line (ERA/FIP/xFIP). Amongst pitchers who reached the 200 IP plateau, his 4.39 K/BB was second in the AL (behind Dan Haren) and his whiff rate of 10.2% was third (behind CC Sabathia and James Shields). He was also the owner of the highest average velocity amongst AL starters this year, clocking in at 95.0 (CC was third at 93.8). He has four legitimately nasty pitches—fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup; all four were working in 2011, with his wFB/C and wCB/C coming in at career highs (the value in runs ascribed to 100 of each pitch thrown). I won’t get into the CC/Verlander argument here—Brian’s work on the topic can stand pretty well on its own—but I’ll highlight Verlander’s one bugaboo: his BABIP of .236 is ridiculously low, nearly 50 points below his career average. What’s that mean? Well, it means he’s had a good deal of luck on his side.…

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Bartolo silencing his skeptics

Of course, we have to repeat the old mantra, this is all compiled over a fairly small sample size. But don’t make the mistake that so many do, when dealing with SSS–discount the results rather than discarding them. I’m not telling you Colon is going to end the season striking out a batter per inning, nor do I expect him to have an ERA below 3.00. But if he’s above average for the league, the Yankees will have made a startlingly good pickup at a cost of roughly nothing.

I’ll leave you with another good datapoint. Often times, when you see a middling pitcher throw a great game, you can look to the umpire,  whose strike zone can play havoc with the outcome of the game. Tom Glavine made a (likely HOF) career off of this dynamic. So it’s always worth checking to see if the pitcher deserves all the accolades he’s getting, or if he just owes the umpire dinner.…

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What does 18 wins buy you these days?

I arrived at Yankee Stadium about 15 minutes earlier than the friends I was meeting with a clear goal. I was finally going to shell out the cold hard cash  required to net myself a Phil Hughes jersey. I’m not one to buy the jerseys of the long gone stars–I wasn’t around when Ruth or Mantle were playing, and so feel little kinship with these stars of the past (which doesn’t mean I don’t get all tingly watching their highlights on the jumbotron). When I make such a purchase, it’s because I honestly think that the player whose jersey I am purchasing will be around 5, 6, 7 years from now (and that I’ll actually enjoy wearing their number that far into the future!)

So, at 12:15, I arrived in the Bronx and started walking from store to store, seeking a Hughes jersey (without a name, thanks). In my travels I stopped into maybe eight different stores. I saw Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, even Marcus Thames jerseys…but not a single Phil Hughes jersey.…

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And The Rich Get Richer

Read through the article–there’s all sorts of shadiness around this deal, and you have to imagine that it’ll lead to some loopholes in the process being closed. This, of course, is nothing new for the Yankees, who signed Alfonso Soriano after he retired from the NBP (the Japanese league) at the ripe old age of 22, prompting MLB and NBP to create the posting system we’re all so familiar with today. To go one step further, I wonder whether Cashman had any qualms about this signing, given that he’s essentially screwing the GM of the Diamondbacks, Kevin Towers (reportedly one of his closest friends).

What’s more, it turns out the Yankees doubly benefited from this loophole. Carlos Martinez, previously calling himself Carlos Matias, signed with the Red Sox before being similarly annulled. He then ended up with a $1.5 million contract from the Cardinals–and a ranking of 52 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list (which Law himself calls extremely conservative).…

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Fit him for pinstripes? Michael Young edition

Compare that to the table below, made up of the alternatives we considered back in December.

Young’s career numbers:

Year Age BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Awards
2000 23 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100  
2001 24 .249 .298 .402 .699 80  
2002 25 .262 .308 .382 .690 78  
2003 26 .306 .339 .446 .785 97  
2004 27 .313 .353 .483 .836 109 AS,MVP-8
2005 28 .331 .385 .513 .899 131 AS,MVP-11
2006 29 .314 .356 .459 .814 108 AS,MVP-30
2007 30 .315 .366 .418 .783 106 AS
2008 31 .284 .339 .402 .741 95 AS,GG
2009 32 .322 .374 .518 .892 128 AS,MVP-16
2010 33 .284 .330 .444 .774 105  
11 Seasons .300 .347 .448 .795 105  
162 Game Avg. .300 .347 .448 .795 105  
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table; Generated 2/6/2011.
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Young looks a whole lot better than any of the names on that board (which has thinned considerably since, as a number of these  players have been snapped up by teams looking for cheap utility players).

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