Daily Archives: May 24, 2016
When it comes to the game of baseball, sure things come few and far between. However, there was one thing just about everyone was sure about heading into 2016: the Toronto Blue Jays would have an incredible offense.
With Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin back in the fold, along with a full season of Troy Tulowitzki, it’d be tough for anyone to stop them. Right?
Not so much.
Surprisingly enough, the greatest disappointment of all is how badly the lineup has performed through the first quarter of 2016. Using the same stats as the ones above, Toronto’s offense is basically average, which won’t help them return to October.
The offense not performing up to expectation has happened largely due to the lack of production from four very important pieces: Tulowitzki, Martin, Bautista and Encarnacion.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have baseball’s highest payroll, its best pitcher, its best prospects on both sides of the ball, and (arguably) its brightest front office star running the whole show. On paper, they should be the class of the MLB, competing for the best record in baseball en route to an awesome Clayton Kershaw– Jake Arrieta matchup in game 1 of the NLCS.
Instead, they are 23-23, 4.5 games behind the Giants for the lead in the NL West and losers of 6 of their last 10. With his dominance last night, Clayton Kershaw lowered his season ERA to 1.48 and lengthened his stretch of posting a sub-2 ERA to a staggering 1115 innings. If he doesn’t provide the team with a guaranteed win every 5th day, he comes closer than any body else in the game today. But past Kershaw, this is not a very good team.
In fact, without Clayton Kershaw, fangraphs says the Dodgers would be 3.8 wins worse, a below .500 team and one that might trail Colorado and Arizona in the NL West right now. I think it’s reasonable to say that so far this season, the difference between a 4th place Dodgers team and a 2nd place Dodgers team is Kershaw.
The Dodgers’ pitching staff is 3rd in all of baseball with a 7.3 WAR, but Kershaw accounts for 3.8 of that (for the non-mathematically inclined, that’s a full 50%). Without him, the Dodgers would fall to between 16th and 18th, right around where the Indians, Royals, and Marlins are.
Coincidentally, 16th is right where the Dodgers’ offense ranks in WAR with just 5.7. Of those wins, rookie Corey Seager, baseball’s number 1 prospect coming into the season, leads the team with 1.6. He’s followed by ancient second basemen Chase Utley with 1.3 and Joc Pederson, who strikes out in more than a quarter of his plate appearances, with 1.
Notably missing from those top 3 are Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig. Gonzalez, is striking out at a higher rate than at any point in his career, save for a cup of coffee he had with Texas more than a decade ago, and is a 0.1 WAR player, posting just a 105 wRC+, making him a below average first baseman. Puig’s streakiness this season has been well documented and he’s looking more and more like a super-talented flash in the pan than a real All-Star caliber player, which is a serious problem for LA because, despite their payroll flexibility, this is team built around just a couple stars and seriously lacking any real depth.
Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Here we are a quarter of the way through the 2016 baseball season and it’s been nothing short of exciting. On Sunday, we got more excitement than bargained for, in the form of an ALDS rematch between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.
We know how the scene is set: last year in the win-or-go-home ALDS game five, Jose Bautista hammered a go-ahead home run and hurled his bat. No one, especially not the Rangers, has forgotten this moment so in the top of the 8th inning, seven months after the bat flip – conveniently Jose Bautista’s last time at the dish against Texas this season – Joey Bats was plunked in the ribs. Justin Smoak was up next and with Bautista on first he grounded into a double play.
Here’s where things got hairy: From the moment of contact, there was no doubt that Bautista was going to be out at second, but to exact some revenge for the HBP, he slid hard and late, past the bag and into the path of Texas’ second baseman, Rougned Odor. In Bautistas’s own words, this slide was intentional, but he “could have injured [Odor] and chose not to.” Odor, unhappy with a slide that last year would have just been considered aggressive but under new rules is illegal, proceeded to punch Bautista square in the jaw.
he other day, I explored the slow start of Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano and I used a chart that outlined, as a percentage, how many home runs we would expect a player to have based solely on a hitter’s homer rate as it related to hard hit balls. The article is pretty good and you should definitely go read it if you care at all about me or Miguel Sano or climate change, but the mathy bits that I glossed over were arguably even more interesting than Mr. Sano. (Editor’s Note: I don’t think there’s any climate change stuff in the Miguel Sano piece, but it’s super important. After you read this go google some stuff about the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy. )
Can we use Statcast data to predict how lucky a hitter has been given their exit velocities and launch angles? What I’m working towards is something like the following:
The Set of Launch Angles and Exit Velocities = An expected number of Total Bases
Those two variables sure seem like they should predict something, and we’ve never had access to this granularity of statistical detail before. The set of launch angles and exit velocities should yield some insight into how lucky/unlucky a player has been. A batter can control little else than how hard and at what angle he hits a ball. With the idea that the baseball gods even everything out eventually, that level of knowledge should allow us to predict marginal breakouts that make all the difference.
The attempt here is to normalize those annoying defensive anomalies. How many flyouts should have been doubles, or even homers? How many line drives could have been triples if they were hit 5 feet further from a defender? That 390 foot blast that hit off the right-center wall at Turner Field for a double would have been a homer if only slugged in any of the other 29 parks. Or even if a batterbarely mishit a ball and it turned into one of those really high, really not so deep, yet really exciting flyouts (like what Bryce Harper did to Jose Fernandez earlier this year).
I’ll present a few graphs and then propose a new stat. The graphs are intended to prove to you that there are trends here. While there are roughly a bajillion variables at play here, I’m just trying to sift through the physics noise and bring some of what you care about.
To continue reading, including a link to the full leaderboard, visit the post about Slugging Percentage on Batted Balls