Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fielders catch 99.99% of flies hit near them. So why pay big bucks for a running catch?

Duh. Well if outfielders knew where to stand, then, obviously, they would catch almost everything. Only the pitcher, who is not even a baseball player, and the catcher are required to be in specific positions when a pitched ball is put into play. The other seven players, who do most of the fielding, may play anywhere in fair territory. (Why is it called territory?).

So now that teams are placing those seven fielders in nontraditional locations, the better that teams do that, the less skilled the fielders need to be and the less teams must pay big bucks for fielding. Reviewing a recent conventional wisdom:

Baseball’s Data Revolution Is Elevating Defensive Dynamos
By BEN BERKON APRIL 17, 2017 nytimes.com

When the Tampa Bay Rays gave outfielder Kevin Kiermaier a six-year, $53.5 million contract extension last month, they were not rewarding him so much for his prowess at the plate. He is a career .258 hitter who hits few home runs.

What most compelled the Rays to hang on to Kiermaier was his ability to field his position.

Kevin Kiermaier will turn 27 Saturday and his career OPS+ is 105 (5% better than league average) so he's better at the plate than the Times writer suggests but, hey, why ruin a good story line? But he's hardly Willie Mays, perhaps the best combination ever of a great fielder and great hitter, one who hits and hits for power (660 career home runs).

In 1954 Mays returned from nearly two years (34 games in early 1952) in the Army and played his second major league season. Mays hit 41 home runs and led the National League in batting average (.345), triples, SLG, OPS, OPS+. Mays was voted NL MVP for leading his New York Giants (97-57) to the pennant.

In the World Series the Giants swept the Cleveland Indians (111-43). In those four WS games Mays batted OK: four hits, including a double, and four walks for an on base average of .444. But his SLG was only .357 for OPS .802 compared to OPS 1.078 in the regular season.

Mays is remembered in that WS for a great clutch catch and throw in deep center field in the Polo Grounds in game one in the 8th inning tied 2-2. The ball was hit by cleanup batter Vic Wertz. The old black and white film was shown on TV for years and still shots were printed many times. Mays was chiseled onto the Mount Rushmore of great fielders. You can read more details here:


... the Polo Grounds was larger than average, and Mays, who was playing in shallow center field, made an on-the-run, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track

Now consider that Wertz drove in Cleveland's only runs of the entire game with a long first inning triple to deep right center with two outs. Why didn't Mays simply move back in the 8th inning when Wertz again batted with two runners on base? Had Mays been playing back just a few steps, he would have caught the ball easily. Was it that Mays played in the same spot pretty much all the time? Was it because starting pitcher Sal Maglie had been replaced by lefty Don Liddle to pitch to lefty batter Wertz? Was Mays shallow to prevent Larry Doby, who was on second base, from scoring on a single?

On the other hand, there were no outs, so any hit could have led to multiple runs scoring. The Giants eventually won 5-2 on a three run pinch hit home run by Dusty Rhodes. Mays had walked and stolen second and scored the winning run.

Mays had 18 plate appearances (PA), including his four walks. In each PA Mays needed all his batting skill. However, in the field Mays needed his super powers only on that one play and that opportunity might not have happened at all while the odds that Mays would bat in a critical situation were pretty good considering that Mays was the Giants cleanup hitter.

By rule the pitcher is required to throw pitches in the strike zone or suffer the penalty of the batter getting a base on balls, a walk. But there is no requirement that batters hit the ball anywhere other than in fair territory. In fact, it's in the batter's interest to hit fair balls where fielders are not standing.

Even with lots more fielding stats than fielding percentage (errors per play) we still tend to be overly influenced by the few spectacular plays, particularly since they are replayed so often that they seem much more numerous. Most plays are routine and most difficult plays occur because the fielder starts far from where the ball eventually nears the ground. Other than that, most other difficult plays are when the ball takes a bad hop, which is usually in the infield. This post was really considering fly balls to the outfield.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Does a major league manager need to be able to speak English? ESPN doesn't think so.

Yadier Molina was shown in an interview during yesterday's Sunday night game between the Yankees and Cardinals.

What was that nonsense showing the Molina interview at length taking up half the screen with the game in progress and, most absurdly, asking him about becoming a manager? The guy didn't speak English. He spoke Spanish. He had subtitles. What planet is ESPN on? I watched the rest of the game with the sound off.

Is this some form of open mindedness?

I've thought for some time that it might make sense to consider a person's ability to speak Spanish as an attribute when considering that person for the job of field manager. But that was Spanish in addition to English, not in place of English.

Hideki Matsui played for the Yankees for seven seasons. He seemed like a good guy but never spoke more than a few words in English and used an interpreter. Would anyone in his/her right mind think that the Yankees should consider Matsui as a candidate to replace field manager Joe Girardi?


That's the Spanish language website for ESPN. ESPN also broadcasts games on a separate channel with announcers speaking Spanish. Would it make sense for ESPN to have announcers speaking English on those broadcasts?

So what sense did last night's interview make, except to provide some silly attempt for some silly ESPN employee to be silly?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Yankees: first two innings zero balls in play. The apocalypse approaching?

The horror. The horror.

St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees Box Score, April 15, 2017
Yankees 3, Cardinals 2

Bottom of the 1st, Yankees Batting, Tied 0-0, Cardinals' Carlos Martinez facing 1-2-3
b10-00---7,(3-2) NYYBrett GardnerCarlos Martinez3%58%Walk
b10-001--5,(3-1) NYYAaron HicksCarlos Martinez5%64%Walk; Gardner to 2B
b10-0012-3,(0-2) ONYYChris CarterCarlos Martinez-5%59%Strikeout Swinging
b10-0112-2,(1-0) NYYJacoby EllsburyCarlos Martinez5%63%Passed Ball; Gardner to 3B; Hicks to 2B
b10-01-236,(3-2) ONYYJacoby EllsburyCarlos Martinez-7%56%Strikeout Swinging
b10-02-231,(0-0) RNYYStarlin CastroCarlos Martinez8%63%Wild Pitch; Gardner Scores/No RBI; Hicks to 3B
b11-02--35,(3-1) NYYStarlin CastroCarlos Martinez1%64%Walk
b11-021-36,(3-2) NYYChase HeadleyCarlos Martinez2%66%Walk; Castro to 2B
b11-021235,(0-2) ONYYGreg BirdCarlos Martinez-6%60%Strikeout Looking
1 run, 0 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB. Cardinals 0, Yankees 1.

Bottom of the 2nd, Yankees Batting, Ahead 1-0, Cardinals' Carlos Martinez facing 8-9-1
b21-00---4,(0-2) ONYYKyle HigashiokaCarlos Martinez-2%64%Strikeout Swinging
b21-01---3,(0-2) ONYYRonald TorreyesCarlos Martinez-1%62%Strikeout Swinging
b21-02---5,(3-1) NYYBrett GardnerCarlos Martinez1%63%Walk
b21-021--6,(3-2) NYYAaron HicksCarlos Martinez2%65%Walk; Gardner to 2B
b21-0212-3,(0-2) ONYYChris CarterCarlos Martinez-4%61%Strikeout Swinging
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Cardinals 0, Yankees 1.

All walks and all strike outs. No fielders involved. Baseball is devolving.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Showing posts with label Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson day is here again. I may take the day off. Watching all the players in the same number is mind numbing. This may be the final lunacy of the previous commissioner, Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, still annoying us. May Jackie Robinson rest in peace.


There are 18 posts. When you get to the bottom of a web page, click "Older Posts" to see the next ones.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Clint Frazier: OPS under .700 in AAA in both 2016 and 2017.

Small sample size!

Small sample size!

Yeah, yeah, we know. But it's not encouraging. Minor league plate appearances (PA):
Aaron Judge 1,513  Born: April 26, 1992 (Age: 24-353 days)
Clint Frazier 1,875  Born: September 6, 1994 (Age: 22-220 days)

Judge is about 2.5 years older and starting in right field for the Yankees. Through his first nine 2017 games Judge seems to have adjusted to major league pitching, which Frazier has yet to see.

Why is Clint Frazier rated 34th best prospect by fangraphs.com? How valuable are "prospects"? Sunday, March 19, 2017

Frazier OPS in 158 AAA PA: .664
Frazier OPS in 2017 in 29 AAA PA: .693; zero home runs

So, is Frazier still a kid? Yankee fans should hope that Frazier has a career as good as Brett Gardner.

Aaron Judge has cut his strike out rate in half but has he turned the corner?

In a dozen days Aaron Judge will be 25, hardly a kid as often described by Yankee fans too long deprived of real kid wonders.

2 Yrs36128113162330717011349.204.289.416.705894741011

So far in 2017 Judge has cut his strike put rate in half, which is a big deal since he was striking out in half his at bats (AB) in 2016.

In 2017 Judge has played 9 games. In games 6 through 8, Judge had one single and one home run in each. OPS through 9 games: .984.

In 2016 Judge homered in his first plate appearance (PA) and again in his second game. Home run number three did not come until game 15. Through his first five 2016 games his OPS was 1.228 but through his 9th it was .793. Judge then plummeted to .572 in game 22. He finished at .608.

So the obvious question is: has Aaron Judge turned the corner or is he due for yet another fall?