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

Paging Mike Cameron

And before anyone screams about how our biggest need is a pitcher–when you improve defense, particularly outfield defense, you improve your pitching as a matter of course. With that configuration, fly balls will turn into outs significantly more often than they did this past season, leading to lower ERAs, pitch counts, etc.

And while I’ve only got a moment or two left to post before running off again, I need to get some things off of my chest:

  1. For those of you bemoaning the loss of Phil Coke in this trade–in all 60.0 (!!) innings that he pitched this past season, he added a grand total of 0.1 wins above average. For some reason, people (I’m looking at you, Girardi!) think he’s a good pitcher. A reliable pitcher, even. I’m here to tell you that he’s reliably lousy. His BABIP at the major league level is a miniscule .222. League average this past season was .303. That makes Phil Coke a ticking time bomb, and thankfully we’ve passed him off to another team.

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About those arbitration decisions

Each offseason, free agents are ranked based on their previous two years’ performance. The top free agents are classified as Type A, and the second tier are classified as Type B. These, together, make up a small percentage of the total free agent class. If a team offers a Type A free agent arbitration and he refuses, the team that signs him (assuming one does) then has to give up its first round pick (or second round pick, if the signing team’s first round pick is in the top 10) to the Type A free agent’s former team. The former team also gets a “sandwich” pick, in between the first and second rounds (though the signing team doesn’t give anything up for this). For Type B free agents, his prior team gets a sandwich pick, and the new team doesn’t give up anything.

Before 2008, it was rare for a team to not offer a departing Type A free agent arbitration.…

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Johnny Damon Doesn't Want a Pay Cut

Probably more important is the perception (some would say reality) that Johnny Damon’s performance at the plate this season was largely a function of the stadium he played half his games in (.915 home OPS v. .795 on the road). Clearly Damon doesn’t agree with this given the quote above, which is perfectly fine. However, information like that displayed on the hittracker.com chart below are becoming more and more easily available, and this picture is pretty telling.

It also doesn’t help that LF is the most ‘stacked’ of all positions in this FA class–Damon is instantly behind Holliday and Bay, and gets to fight over scraps with the likes of Jermaine Dye, Vladimir Guerrerro etc. (and don’t be surprised if the Yanks consider Mike Cameron for their sizeable LF).

In the end, Johnny Damon was about a 3 win player this year (per fangraphs.com), which made him roughly worth the $13 million he was paid. I don’t see anyone betting he keeps that up, though–and especially not over a multi-year contract.…

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Really? The Hank Aaron Award?

Name Team OBP
Joe Mauer Twins 0.444
Kevin Youkilis Red Sox 0.413
Derek Jeter Yankees 0.406

For instance, looking at a more evolved version of OBP:

Name Team wOBA
Joe Mauer Twins 0.438
Kevin Youkilis Red Sox 0.413
Ben Zobrist Rays 0.408
Alex Rodriguez Yankees 0.405
Mark Teixeira Yankees 0.402
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 0.402
Jason Bay Red Sox 0.397
Adam Lind Blue Jays 0.394
Derek Jeter Yankees 0.390

How about offensive value this season?

Name Team Batting
Joe Mauer Twins 56
Mark Teixeira Yankees 43.8
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 40.9
Ben Zobrist Rays 40.2
Kevin Youkilis Red Sox 39.1
Derek Jeter Yankees 37.4

Don’t get me wrong–he’s 10th by wOBA, 7th by batting value, and 3rd by OBP. That’s an amazing player–especially when you take into account that Jeter plays a competent shortstop. But this is the offensive player of the year for the AL. There’s one guy who owns everyone else on those lists, and he’s Joe Mauer. If you go on the assumption that he’s winning the MVP, and they don’t want to give him both, there are still a number of players who are head and shoulders above Jeter offensively.…

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Pitching Profile: Joe Blanton

Some comparisons merit deep analysis. This one really doesn’t. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything will happen as the statistics say they should. Baseball has a way of reminding us stat geeks that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. So, a quick look at the pitch values, to see how Blanton will attack the Yankee hitters:


FB SL CB CH
% Thrown 56.4% 16.9% 9.1% 17.6%
Value per 100 -0.8 1.22 -1.15 1.95

To compare apples to apples, below is the Yankees’ performance this season on these pitches as a team.


FB SL CB CH
Value per 100 0.95 -0.25 0.83 0.61
MLB Rank 1st 7th 1st 3rd

Phillies fans will have to hold their breath each time Blanton sees the catcher put down number one. He’s got a below average fastball (clocking in 88-91), and the Yankees are the best team in baseball against fastballs. He’ll need to rely on his slider and changeup, which match up much better against the Yanks batters than his heater does.

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Pitching Profile: Cole Hamels

Combine that with the fact that Hamels’ best pitch is his changeup, and the fact that Yankees were the 3rd best in MLB as a team at producing runs versus changeups (per fangraphs.com), and it looks rough for the Phillies. That said, the Phillies are above average against the cutter, and rank as the best team in the majors against sliders, two pitches Pettitte relies on.

And it should be pointed out that while it’s not an elimination game, it might as well be a must-win for the Phillies– Sunday brings a rather unfair matchup between CC Sabathia and Joe Blanton. If Hamels wants another ESPN commercial in 2010, it’s time to man up.

Recommended related reading: World Series head-to-head: Starters, where we noted the following:

  • One thing to note–the Yankees are very good at hitting changeups (3rd best in the league by pitch values), and Cole Hamels best pitch is his changeup.

What the other side thinks: Crashburn Alley’s preview of Andy Pettitte

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Why AJ was The Good AJ

He did this armed with one of the best curveballs he’s had all season, locating on the outside corner to lefties, and burying it below the knees of righties. He threw the curve over 40% of the time, compared to his season average of 31%, which may have contributed to how poorly the hitters were reacting to his fastball. Interestingly enough, he also varied the spin on the curve, as can be seen on the following chart:

The curve is represented by the bottom group of pitches on the above chart. The concentric circles represent spin–the further from the center the circle is, the more spin (and thus more break) Burnett threw curves tonight ranging from 1000 RPM to 2000 RPM. The big breakers dropped a full 100% more than the lesser breakers, and they’re all around the same speed. Also, note the yellow circles amongst that group–those represent swinging strikes–and you can see that they’re spread across the range of break shown.…

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World Series head-to-head: Starters


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CC Sabathia Cliff Lee AJ Burnett Cole Hamels Andy Pettitte Joe Blanton Pedro Martinez
FIP 3.39 3.11 4.33 3.72 4.15 4.45 4.28
ERA 3.37 3.22 4.04 4.32 4.16 4.05 3.63
K/BB 2.94 4.21 2.01 3.91 1.95 2.76 4.63
HR/9 0.70 0.66 1.09 1.12 0.92 1.38 1.41
LD% 19.8% 22.2% 18.0% 20.8% 19.3% 20.1% 26.6%
BABIP 0.284 0.326 0.302 0.325 0.301 0.302 0.315
LOB% 71.4% 76.2% 75.9% 72.1% 70.2% 78.9% 83.7%

As discussed in my relievers post–FIP is a fielding independent version of ERA constructed from K, BB and HR, that is a significantly better predictor of future ERA than current ERA is. That’s because it strips out the luck associated with (amongst others) BABIP and LOB%. K/BB is how many strikeouts a pitcher gives up per walk issued, HR/9 is how many HR each pitcher allowed per 9 innings pitched, LD% is line drive percentage allowed (which, combined with BABIP, gives us a good idea of whether a pitcher was lucky on balls in play), BABIP is the percentage of balls put into play become hits, and LOB% is what percentage of a pitchers runners are left on base (otherwise known as strand rate).…

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