Sunday, March 11, 2012

Player Profile: Salvador Perez

So Salvador Perez really is not a prospect anymore per se. He made his big league debut last year for the Kansas City Royals to relatively little fan fair and then signed a nice big contract extension recently this offseason. After arriving in the majors, he promptly hit .331 with a .361 wOBA in 158 PA. Obviously the low amount of plate appearances leaves little room for drawing conclusions about Perez’s ability. For instance, I can probably say pretty safely that he will not hit .331 or higher next season with more appearances. However, there is still plenty to like about the 21 year old catcher.

Even after a mini breakout in his 2010 minor league season, Perez still struggled for notoriety. He made it up to the 18th spot on Marc Hulet’s Kansas City Royals prospect rankings for 2011 but that was hardly awe inspiring even in a very deep Royals system. So his 2011 season both in the minors and majors may have caught more than one or two people by surprise.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fielder’s Fielding Impact on the Tigers

The recent acquisition of Prince Fielder has many present and future implications for the Tigers. One of the primary topics of conversation that developed from that signing and the subsequent reassignment of Miguel Cabrera to 3b is the Tiger’s defense. The fair assumption that most have been making is that the change from Cabrera to Fielder at first base hurts the team defense, that the change from Inge/Kelly to Cabrera at 3b hurts the team defense, and that generally, the team defense is now inferior to where it was a year ago.

Everyone seems to be expecting the worst with this change, specifically for Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, two groundball heavy pitchers. I have heard the sentiment expressed that the Tigers now have three DHs (Cabrera, Fielder, and Young). Highly respected baseball people have wondered aloud just how long the Tigers can ‘survive’ with this arrangement. Many have suggested that Cabrera is very likely to not last at 3B over the course of the entire season. Is it really doom and gloom for the Tigers this season?

Jacob Turner and the Tiger's Aggressive Approach

Recently, the current group of management with the Detroit Tigers has been given a reputation of rushing pitchers to the major leagues. This reputation seems to have been largely garnered on the back of Rick Porcello’s early debut several years ago and is being continued with the possible aggressive promotion of Jacob Turner. As a statistician, this label seems to be more than a little unfair. After all, rarely would I take two specific cases and extrapolate that into a ‘theme’ being displayed by a front office.

It is hard to argue that Rick Porcello was not ‘rushed’. He was dominant in his one full season in the minors in his first year in pro ball straight out of high school and saw full time major league action the very next year. However, his first year was high A ball, and he only threw 125 innings, and he averaged just over 5 k/9, and you get the point. Rick was highly talented compared to other A ballers, compared to other 19 year olds, but not really compared to major leaguers. He had a solid low 90’s four seam fastball, sinker, a slow looping curve and change up at 19, and about 4 years later he basically is the same pitcher with a par slider added to the mix. Porcello was a good prospect to be sure but it’s hard to imagine a guy who strikes out only 5 guys per nine inning in high A obtaining any kind of immediate or even long term success in the majors without seeing more at some point.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jose Valverde: Adjusting Value Based on Leverage

In an interesting week on, Jack Moore published several interesting and probably long overdue articles on reliever leverage and how it pertains to their value as indicated by their free agent salary (Overdue generally, not from Jack Moore specifically). Through these articles, Jack Moore analyzes WPA as a possible measuring tool for determining reliever salary as opposed to the conventional $/WAR measures because relievers, unlike other players, largely have their leverage determined for them by coaching decisions. As a result, relievers signed to be put in high leverage situations by their coaching staffs probably have their value unfairly determined to be albatross by traditional measures.

With this new and probably superior way of thinking of high leverage relievers available to us, it makes sense to analyze reliever performance incorporating both expected performance in terms of WAR and in terms of leverage. Jose Valverde, in particular, is an interesting case from a number of different perspectives. Valverde has outperformed his expected FIP and xFIP over the course of his career by a considerable margin, one that probably cannot be ignored. In addition, Valverde’s actual value to the Tigers must be analyzed in terms of his leverage as well as traditional value measurements.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Felipe Paulino Enjoys a Breakout Following Trade to Kansas City

Of all the acquisitions made in the AL Central this season the most meaningful might be one you never heard of, namely the Royals acquisition of Felipe Paulino from the Rockies for cash considerations. The move was made back in late May after Paulino, who was once a well regarded pitching prospect in the Astros system was traded to the Rockies for Clint Barmes, following the 2010 season.

Luke Hochevar's Hot Second Half - And What It Means For 2012.

Of all the unheralded story lines from the AL Central's second half, perhaps the most prominent would be the lack of discussion concerning Luke Hochevar's second half. Hochevar, who was a hard-throwing standout at the University of Tennessee where he was named SEC pitcher of the year in 2005, is probably best known for his refusal to sign after being drafted 40th overall by the Dodgers in 2005 before engaging in a rather epic signing process; playing hardball along with his agent Scott Boras, firing Boras, accepting a lesser offer with his new agent, then firing him and resigning with Boras while reneging on his previously agreed upon deal, and finally playing Independent league baseball until the 2006 draft where he was taken again.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doug Fister.....Ace?

When Doug Fister first came over from the Tigers for a package of Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and Francisco Martinez, it seemed at first glance that the Tigers may have paid a lot for a ground ball pitcher who could not strike anybody out and relied heavily on his home ball park for success. That recipe seemed dicey at best for the success of Doug Fister going forward as a member of the Tigers.

During the first couple of games that Doug Fister pitched for the Tigers, I was both surprised and encouraged by how effective Fister’s arsenal seemed to be. Fister features a both four seam fastball and a two seam fastball which he throws nearly as often and at virtually the same average velocity of 90 mph. The two seamer features a few additional inches of down and in run to right handers as opposed to his normal four seam fastball. The identical speed but different trajectories make things very difficult on opposing hitters. Furthermore, Fister features a range of off speed pitches including a very nice slow curve ball with 12-6 break at around 75 mph, a harder slider at around 86 mph with only moderate break, and a change up at around 83 mph with similar but slightly more downward movement as compared with his two seamer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adam Dunn: Mechanics, Age or a Little of Both?

I have somehow managed to avoid discussing Adam Dunn this season mostly because I usually like to talk about either positive things or at least somewhat intriguing negative things. Adam Dunn might come close to the latter but my “hunch” all season was that his issues this year have had mostly to do with a combination of bad luck and old age. I assumed early on that he would probably at least right his production enough to be considered a “productive” DH but at this point it is clear that ship has sailed.

Recently I encountered several intriguing pieces on Adam Dunn. The first, was Bradley Woodrum’s article entitled Adam Dunn Should Hit Better – But Not Much Better, which largely confirmed at least part of my first suspicion, that Dunn has been unlucky. Woodrum uses a predictive model entitled ShHAP which uses career BABIP and the players K, BB and HR rates to make predictions of expected player performance. Those of you who have read previous articles of mine know that I have done very similar analysis of other players. Seeing as how Woodrum’s work would likely completely mirror any work I could do on the subject, it suffices to say that I agree with Woodrum’s conclusion. Dunn has been unlucky to an extent but his drop in production has largely resulted from a dramatically increased K rate, lower BB rate, and lower HR rate on fly balls. Even with a luck adjustment Dunn would not be expected to be a serviceable DH.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burning Bridges with Kevin Slowey

At this point, there seems to be little secret that Kevin Slowey has fallen out of favor with the Minnesota Twins. It seems that everybody within the general vicinity of Kevin Slowey hates Kevin Slowey. I have to admit ignorance on this one; he seems like a nice enough guy when he threatens to murder people. However, I can see how Slowey time traveling, kidnapping and then murdering the Lindbergh baby would not win him popularity points with anyone.

A Look Back at the Ubaldo Jimenez Trade: Various Thoughts

After Ubaldo Jimenez was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians, various baseball writers offered up their opinions on the trade. Keith Law, for instance, seems to take the position the Indians were wrong to buy at the deadline when they acquired Jimenez because the club was really still in a rebuilding phase (at least that’s what I gathered from reading the first couple of paragraphs: I’m not an ESPN insider). Others at questioned the Rockies motivations for selling on Ubaldo while both considering injuries and value.

These articles make good points. The Indians really do not have a decisive direction to go in long term. Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall are too new and too inexperienced to say for sure that some of the Indian's young pieces are turning them into a contender while they have team control and it is hard (though not impossible) to imagine Matt Laporta turning into much more than he currently is at 1b. The pitching staff has enjoyed an excellent season. Staff leader Justin Masterson has pitched well but enjoyed some luck with his low BABIP and HR/FB rates. The team is very much in the middle ground, not quite coming or going. Much of their future success could hinge on how Jimenez adjusts to the AL and if Grady Sizemore can recover from his injury troubles by next season after which he is a free agent.