Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Outlook: Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They had problems everywhere, whether it be the horrid pitching staff or the atrocious batting. Mauer and Morneau struggled with injuries for most of, if not all of the season. They had some of their minor league talent give a glimpse of the future towards the end of the season, though.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Outlook: Houston Astros

Today we begin our team-by-team outlooks from the bottom of the barrel.  The 2011 Houston Astros were the result of win-now trades, which gutted the farm system, and trading their remaining talent to re-stockpile the minors.  The rebuilding has begun to take place with new ownership and their hiring of new GM Jeff Luhnow.  Winning this year will not be their goal, but a lot can be accomplished.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big Things Ahead

The writers here at Saber Analysis have been planning some exciting things for the blog in the near future. I can't give it all away but one thing I can tell you is that starting tomorrow we will begin season outlooks for every team in baseball. Be sure to check often for an analysis of your favorite team.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Appreciating Joe Mauer.

Joe Mauer is widely regarded as one of the games best catcher in all of baseball. Just how good is he though? In this post I am going to see how Mauer stacks up against some of the greatest catchers to ever play the game.

When Joe Mauer attended Cretin Derham High School in St. Paul, Minnesota he was widely regarded as a three sport star. He was the quarterback for the varsity team, played varsity basketball as a sophomore and was also a pretty good baseball player. During the 2001 draft the Twins had the first pick and were debating between hometown hero Joe Mauer and a pitcher out of USC named Mark Prior. Prior told the Twins he didn't want to sign with them and the rest is history.

What Happened to Francisco Liriano?

One of the most enigmatic pitchers in the game had a season he'd like to forget in 2011.  Francisco Liriano posted an ugly 5.09 ERA, and his 4.54 FIP and 4.53 SIERA showed the ERA was fairly deserved.  He had one shining moment, a no-hitter on May 3.  However, his 6 BB, 2 K performance was good for a 6.12 xFIP, one of, if not, the worst no-hitters of all-time.  Nearly every statistic declined for Liriano last year, so I hope you have some time on your hands.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dan Haren: Mr. Underrated

Throughout baseball no one has been more underrated than Dan Haren. Since 2008 Haren has been one of the games best starting pitchers, even better than his all-star teammate Jered Weaver. Based on wins above replacement (WAR) he has been better than Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels. All four of those guys are all regarded as some of the games best pitchers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can Prince Really Live Up to His Contract?

Many people, including myself, have shown shock at the deal the Tigers gave Prince Fielder earlier this week.  Most people in the sabermetric community do not believe Prince will produce at a level in line with his contract.  I do not think it is likely, but I can set up a plausible forecast that shows him producing nearly exactly market level.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lincecum Avoids Arbitration for Good

Tim Lincecum and the Giants have agreed to a 2 year, $40.5M deal to avoid arbitration.  Lincecum is set to make $18M this year and $22M in 2013, plus a $500K signing bonus.  Lincecum had put a $21.5M figure in for arbitration, and the team put in $17M, so the Giants get a bit of a deal for this year and likely next year.  The past 2 years, Lincecum has been a 4-5 win pitcher, after a couple 6-8 win seasons in '08 and '09.  If he continues to pitch at the same level, this is essentially a market-level deal.

Prince Fielder Cashes in

Today, it was announced that the Detroit Tigers and Prince Fielder agreed to a 9/$214 million dollar deal. First thought that comes to mind is that's a lot of money to give a future full-time DH. Fielder is really, really good, don't get me wrong but in the end this could really blow up for the Tigers in the end. The Tigers recently lost  C/1B/DH Victor Martinez to a torn ACL and desperately needed to make a move, for the immediate future they may have made the right one but for the future it doesn't look good.

Projecting Platoon Splits for Pitchers

When a team is looking for pitchers, especially starting pitchers, they are looking for the ability to get both left and right handed hitters out.  There have been plenty of LOOGY/ROOGY's who have had long careers, but their value to the team is not impactful, due to lack of innings.  There are two major factors which usually show the divide in results against lefties and righties: repertoire and ballpark factors.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Anatomy of an Underrated Player

Over the past seven seasons, Albert Pujols has been, by far, the best position player in baseball.  That should be no surprise to anyone with some sort of baseball knowledge.  While the experienced sabermetric crowd knows who #2 is, this player exhibits many skills that are vastly underrated by the mainstream media.  He's also not the great 5x5 fantasy type.  The only major category he's ever led the league in is runs scored one season.

Rays Outfield: Cheap, but Extremely Productive

Despite losing Carl Crawford to free agency last year, the Tampa Bay Rays had one of the best outfields in all of baseball. For the first part of the season, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton and Sam Fuld manned the outfield. During the second half, top prospect Desmond Jennings took away most of Fuld's time. At first glance you wouldn't think that a combination of these four would be a top outfield. If you dig a little deeper you will notice that they combined for a total of 13 WAR, which was good for 8th overall in all of baseball. Offensively, they had the 7th best wRC+. Defensively, the Rays came in second in UZR and first in DRS.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Panda Eats Up Arbitration Years

The Giants and Pablo Sandoval agreed to a $17.15M, plus incentives, contract over Sandoval's arbitration seasons.  Sandoval was projected to earn around $3.2M in his first year of arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.  The common rule for arbitration value is the 40/60/80 rule, where a player generally gets 40% of his market value his first arbitration year, 60% his second, and 80% his third.  By this standard and the MLBTR projections, Sandoval would have earned a total of $14.4M over the three seasons, so the Giants seem to have overpaid a bit, respective to the system.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hunter Pence and BABIP

Heading into the 2012 season Hunter Pence is coming off of his best season in the big leagues. He had 4.7 WAR,  and a 141 wRC+. Both areas were career highs. Pence was also a key member during the Phillies run to make the playoffs. In August, Pence had a 173 wRC+ and during September/October he had a 151 wRC+. At first one may think it was a career year, but if you look a little closer at the numbers you will see that Pence was helped a lot by his high BABIP. For the season Pence's BABIP was .361. That was his second highest total, in 2007 he had a .377 BABIP in 484 PAs.

There are four main factors that played a role in his unusually high BABIP this season. They are his GB/FB and his LD%. In this spreadsheet we can see how two of those statistics from this past season compare with his career statistics.

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The first thing we notice is the 2% difference in his LD% for his career and 2011. Line drives tend to fall as hits much often than groundballs or flyballs. In 2011 alone line drives had a league-wide BABIP of .713. Pence also had a 2% drop in FB%, the drop in his flyballs tells us that he didn't get as many outs, resulting in more hits. His GB% was relatively the same, so that doesn't tell us much. Looking more in depth at his batted ball profile we can tell that Pence 2 groundballs and 8 flyballs into 10 extra line drives. If we do a little math we find out that Pence had roughly 6 more hits than 2010. Pence also has above average speed, so naturally he's going to get more hits than someone who is slower.

All those factors put together we can come to the conclusion that Pence was really lucky last season. In reality Pence is probably closer to a .310-.320 BABIP player. With his  average defense he's probably closer to a 3-3.5 player than a 4.5-5 WAR player. Pence will still be a big part of the Phillies line-up the next couple of seasons but he may not be as good as his BABIP indicates.

Friday, January 13, 2012

PITCHf/x Primer

In 2006, Sportvision implemented their first camera system for baseball analysis, PITCHf/x.  Two cameras are set up in every stadium to record speed, movement, and location of every pitch.  While there are occasional flaws, it has become an extremely reliable source of evaluating a pitcher's "stuff."  The common values listed under PITCHf/x pages are pitch type percentage, average velocity, horizontal movement, and vertical movement.  The first two are self-explanatory for the most part, so I'll explain how the movement works.


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New Writers on Board.

Everyone, I'd like to give a warm welcome to two new writers. One of them is LeeTro. He has a very good sabermetric background and is an excellent addition to the blog. He will be bringing pitch f/x among many other things with him? I myself don't understand pitch f/x so that'll be something even I can enjoy. It's a pleasure to have him joining me. We are also welcoming AJP13237 who will be posting every now and than. AJ is also a fangraphs fan with sabermetric knowledge. Again, we'd like to welcome both to the blog!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kevin Brown, not Jack Morris Should be Inducted to the Hall

Tomorrow, we will be finding out which former baseball players are set to be enshrined into one of the most prestigious brotherhoods, the Baseball Hall of Fame. Lately there has been chatter throughout the baseball world regarding Jack Morris and his chances of being elected. Some are saying he should be, while others are saying he shouldn't. I believe that he shouldn't, there's at least one pitcher who deserves to be elected ahead of him. His name is Kevin Brown.

Throughout his career Brown pitched with a number of teams. His best was the '98 season when he was with the Padres, he posted a 9.3 WAR. Let's take a look at these two pitchers and see how they stack up side by side.

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The first thing I notice is that throughout their careers Brown was much better at limiting walks, he walked roughly 2% less batters than Morris did during his career. He also struck out more batters, while doing a good job at attacking the strikezone Brown managed to limit the amount of homers he gave up. He gave almost half of the amount of home runs that Morris gave up. If we take a look at FIP- we can see that Brown was clearly the better pitcher. Add the fact that he pitched during the time where steroids was its' peak and that makes it all the more impressive.

Brown was one of the best pitchers in the league during his tenure as a major league pitcher. Only five other pitchers had totaled more WAR during that span than he did. Those pitchers are as follow: Roger Clemens (133.9), Greg Maddux (110.6), Randy Johnson (105.4), Pedro Martinez (85.4) and Curt Schilling (77.8). Those five pitchers ahead of Brown are regarded as some of the greatest of all-time, combine that with the time that Brown pitched in and that makes his 77.2 WAR all the more impressive.

During Morris' tenure he was the fourth best pitcher according to WAR. The three pitchers ahead of him were Nolan Ryan (78.4 WAR), Roger Clemens (75.7) and Bert Blyleven (59.9). Morris comes in at 56.6 WAR but you can clearly see the pitchers weren't as good compared to when Brown pitched.

One other thing going for Brown is that he had the much better peak. From 1992 to 1998 Brown amassed 42.4 WAR. That averages out to 6.1 WAR per season. During that span he went over 6 WAR three times and reached over 9 WAR once. From 1998-2000 Brown was just as dominant, posting 13 WAR during that span. During that period there were only two pitchers that  were better than Brown in terms of WAR. Those two were Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, both of whom will be hall of fame members.

Morris didn't really have a true peak during his career. From 1983 to 1988 Morris had 26.4 WAR which turns into 4.4 WAR per season. From 1989-1990 Morris only had 4.3 WAR but from 1991-1992 he had 9 WAR. One could argue that Morris amassed his WAR due to longevity. In 22 years Morris averaged 2.6 WAR per year, putting at a little above replacement level per year. Brown on the other hand averaged 4.1 WAR per season, making him two wins above replacement per year.

In terms of career WAR, Brown is at number 10 overall in terms of pitcher WAR. Keep in mind though that many pitchers don't have WAR totals. That includes every pitcher who pitched before 1974. This is according to fWAR, rWAR does have WAR totals for every pitcher but I prefer fWAR.

Lastly,  Brown pitched there was speculation about him using PEDs but there is no statement proving he used or not. I for one am not sure when the rumors surrounding Brown started so I'd rather not touch on the subject.

Jack Morris was a very good pitcher but Kevin Brown was much better and deserves to be enshrined before the BBWAA even thinks about giving Jack Morris his turn.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda Alternatives.

This off-season starting pitching hasn't been as deep as past years. C.J. Wilson was the top prize, following him you have the likes of Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt. Buehrle signed with the Miami Marlins and Edwin Jackson is waiting for a monster contract. The last two are probably looking at 1-2 year deals with more than $9 million a year. There's a pitcher who's been just as good the last three seasons and he's much younger than both of these pitchers.

That pitcher is Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox. Since 2009 Floyd has been almost the exact same pitcher as these two.

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One common these three pitchers all share is that fact that they all are good at limiting the amount of walks that they give up. He also does a good job at getting strikeouts, even though he pounds the zone he limits the amount of home runs he gives up. According to Statcorner's park factors for last year, U.S. Cellular field was 32% easier to hit home runs compared to league average last year. Had it not been as easy to hit home runs, Floyd's HR/FB would have for sure been lower. Dodger Stadium had a park factor of 104 and Citizens Bank Park had a park factor of 118. Oswalt didn't pitch all three seasons with the Phillies but it still was a factor. Floyd actually does a slightly better job at getting groundballs than Oswalt. Since they have such similar peripherals, Floyd's ERA- should drop towards the same level as Oswalt and Kuroda.

Since 2009, Floyd has accumlated 12.4 WAR, averaging out to 4.1 per season. Oswalt has accumlated 10.2 over that period and Kuroda has managed 8.6 WAR. From this you can tell that Floyd has been the more valuable pitcher while being younger as well. Next season Floyd is scheduled to make $7 million dollars, he as a $9.5 million dollar club option for 2013, which is pretty team friendly for a 2.5-4 WAR pitcher.

I'm not sure if the White Sox or rebuilding or not, because of that they may not be willing to deal Floyd. If they were I would imagine they would want a decent haul for him. Prospects aren't exactly my thing so I can't say exactly what it would cost.

Kuroda and Oswalt are good pitchers but they are heading towards the tail end of their careers, if teams are looking for an alternative and they don't want to spend as much as they would by signing one those two than Gavin Floyd may be their best option.