Monday, July 15, 2013

Best and Worst of MLB's First Half

The Major League Baseball All-Star break is upon us. It's a good time to take a deep dive into a specific analysis because first-half stats are set for a few days. We'll likely get into something this afternoon that might take us a few days to complete. For now, we intend to point out interesting outliers by looking at the best and worst performers of certain metrics. Loyal readers may find this familiar to an almost identical exercise from last May.

Just like last time, our intention isn't to simply go through stats and list the best and worst. We are looking for something surprising, interesting, or at least mildly amusing.

All stats through July 14, 2013 and exclude non-qualifiers:


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Everyone is Now Dumber for Having Listened

I don't think I've ever done this before. So, I'll get on the soapbox without apology, as I have to vent at the stubborn establishment of baseball media. Put me in the group of those fed up with these statistics that so-and-so is setting a record for most whatever-stat before the All-Star break. Any baseball fan in search for the truth knows this year's All-Star Game is a week later than in year's past. Look at Chris Davis. His 37 home runs are the second most all time before the break, trailing Barry Bonds, who hit 39 in the first half of 2001. Chris Davis has played 95 games this year, 14 more games than Bonds played in the first half of 2001. What's the point of celebrating these worthless "records"?

Aside from this minuscule pet peeve, there is way too much bad information propagated by Mitch Williams, Hawk Harrelson, and other neanderthal, closed-minded good ol' boys. For example, each weekday on a TV show called MLB Now, Brian Kenny is the voice of reason in the face of Harold Reynolds's arguments against proven sabermetric facts. Case in point: on Friday, Reynolds was arguing that Zack Cozart, and his .263 On-Base Percentage, is the best #2 hitter for the Reds' lineup. What's worse is that a majority of fans on social media actually thought he was correct. We won't get into it now, but Harold Reynolds was wrong. The value of "taking pitches" and "productive outs" falls short of the value of actually making fewer outs.

In time, people with an enlightened perspective will reach the masses on mainstream media. I'm not sure how quickly, but eventually it'll get there. Of course, there are wonderful baseball blogs out there, like the brilliant stuff we find at Baseball Think Factory. The problem is that fans need to seek that out, while the mainstream media lags behind. At least there are signs of progress. Jay Jaffe is making a destination. Rany Jazayerli is on Grantland. Lastly, we'll all be better off when Joe Posnanski gets back from vacation.

It's as if MLB Network executives don't watch their own channel.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trade Deadline Dreaming is Believing

We took a look at the trade target for contenders a bit earlier last year, at the start of June. We are only three weeks from this season's non-waiver trade deadline, which gives us a different perspective. Let's see if we can pick out the best players available to team's competing for the pennant.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Manny Machado's Throw in Yankee Stadium

The Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado turned 21-years old yesterday, while in New York for a weekend series with the Yankees. On Manny Machado's 21st birthday, he received word that he made the American League All Star team. The day after many 21st birthdays is ordinarily a lazy, hazy day filled with rest and recovery after a night of drinking and debauchery. Today, Manny Machado evoked memories of Brooks Robinson.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chicago Cubs and The Gleyber Allstars

The Chicago Cubs had a banner day retooling their farm system. In a few years, when the Cubs are looking good and have a surplus of power arms in the organization, we can look back on July 2, 2013.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Colletti Bets on Marmol

The Dodgers traded for exiled Cubs closer Carlos Marmol this morning, sending Matt Guerrier to Chicago. Today is a somber day for Cubs' fans. The team DFA'd Marmol a few days ago, but many expected him to simply end up in Iowa because no-one would claim him on waivers. No-one claimed Marmol's massive contract, but the Dodgers traded for him and cash before he had any chance at rebuilding his value in Triple-A.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Carlos Marmol was an ineffective starter and low leverage reliever in his rookie season of 2006. He was a converted position player just trying to figure this whole pitching thing out. With the aid of a low-to-mid 90's fastball and one of the best sliders in baseball history, Carlos Marmol was a lightning bolt out of the Cubs bullpen for the next four seasons.

In 2010, his first full season as Cubs closer, Carlos Marmol struck out 42% of the batters he faced. People seem to forget he had four really good season; the lows have been just that low. Carlos Marmol always struggled with control. For a while, it worked to his advantage, as batters couldn't get comfortable in the box. In time, Major League hitters realized they only needed to be comfortable enough to not swing. Cubs fans suffered as Marmol morphed into the wildest pitcher in baseball.

Since the start of the 2011 season (over 2.5 seasons), Carlos Marmol walked almost 1 out of every 6 batters he faced, achieving the highest walk rate in the league* at 16.2%.

*minimum 100 innings pitched

What does Ned Colleti mean when he says that they fixed League?

Brandon League is not flawless. I don't want to nitpick League's peripheral stats, just point out one extreme fluctuation.

Since joining the Dodgers, Brandon League's Inherited Runners Scored have gone from one extreme to the next...

Brandon League Inherited Runners Scored
Year Age Tm G IR IS IS%
2012 29 LAD 28 6 0 0%
2013 30 LAD 31 5 5 100%
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/2/2013.

This is our ridiculous stat of the moment. It's a tiny sample and doesn't mean anything. I'm just finding it odd that Ned Colletti would point at Brandon League as a success story.

On the bright side for the Dodgers, Carlos Marmol's diminished strikeout rate since the start of 2011 still ranks in the top 20 among pitchers with at least 100 IP. His 28.9% strikeout rate places him 19th, between Vinnie Pestano and Tyler Clippard, and the Dodgers couldn't have traded Matt Guerrier for anyone like Pestano or Clippard.

The Dodgers are the most exciting team in baseball, and it's not just because of Yasiel Puig. With the revenue pouring in, and projected revenues looking even better, the Dodgers have no problem supersaturating their system with high-priced stars and other team's mistakes. They may as well go ahead and get Jonathan Papelbon and Jonathan Lucroy while they're at it.