August 23, 2018
Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about a listener-created tool to determine the first big leaguer to be born after and the last big leaguer to be born before any given date, the waiver-claim process, the Nationals’ trades, disastrous season, and hazy outlook, the Cubs acquiring Daniel Murphy and the Rockies opting not to, the Mariners’ second annual Women in Baseball Night, and Michael Kopech’s turnaround, plus listener emails about Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s talent and future, adjusting stats for position players pitching, the disadvantage of hitting at altitude, Chris Davis with fewer fielders, and the cost to a team of an NL manager managing like an AL manager, plus Stat Blasts about the adjustments Mike Fiers has made in Oakland and the Cubs’ historic solo-homer streak.
- Minor league projections
- Mike Fiers
- Solo home runs
- Hitter stats against position player pitching
- Hitting in altitude
- Chris Davis
- Managing in the opposite league
Koufax, "Younger Body"
Poco, "Flyin’ Solo"
- Baseball end cap tool
- The Nationals
- Explaining the waiver trade process
- Women in baseball night recap
- Michael Kopech
- Raphael Palmeiro update
Email Questions Edit
- Kurtis: Steamer’s current projections have Vlad Jr. as the 18th best hitter in the major leagues, tied with Francisco Lindor and just ahead of Matt Carpenter (Ty Berry's tweet). Is there any precedent for minor to major league projections at this level? How did guys with elite minor league numbers project according to these projection systems and are they more or less accurate than a typical major league projection? Safe to say the Vladdy hype train is at full steam here north of the border, just wondering if there is any validity to a projection system’s minor league scouting?
- Eric: Today marked the 5th game in a row where the Cubs scored only a single run. In all 5 cases the run came via a solo HR. Furthermore, each HR was hit by a left-handed batter or a switch-hitter batting lefty. What is the record for most consecutive games where a team's only run comes via a solo HR? What if you restrict it to solo HRs from the same side of the plate?
- Joe-Joe: As a follow up to your chat the other day, I wondered with all hear position players pitching, is there a statistical adjustment for that? If teams are throwing games away, surely this allows some players to pad their batting stats. Does it also affect catchers and framing? Is there any difference in numbers if you adjust for non-pitcher pitchers? It's probably still a small sample, but at what point do we see a distortion of the data (which is used to decide careers etc)? Fifty players? One team doing it a lot in one division?
- Jacob: Do teams who regularly play at altitude have a hitting disadvantage? I know that normal stats would appear to show the opposite, but there are only two teams in the majors who have never had a wRC+ of at least than 100 in their history and they both happen to play at the two highest elevation ballparks in baseball, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. Every other team has had a wRC+ of at least 100 since 1997 (and every team besides the Padres has since 2007). The highest the Diamondbacks have ever had was a wRC+ of 98 in 1999. The Rockies seem particularly affected by this as their highest is 97 in 2007 and 2014, but they've also been at 90 or lower in 15 of their 26 seasons, including this season. When I look at these stats it seems to say that either the Rockies and D-Backs have some sort of disadvantage, park neutral stats don't do a good job accounting for altitude, or neither team has ever had an above average hitting season as a team. Which do you think is most likely? I personally think it is probably a combination of a disadvantage and an over-correction of park neutral stats.
- Segev: I am watching the Orioles Blue Jays game and have just watched Chris Davis strike out 3 times in a row and it made me wonder: How many fielders would teams have to have been missing for each of his ABs this year for him to be an average hitter this year? You could obviously get rid of the 3B (or whatever infielder stays opposite field in the infield shift) and it wouldn't change much. You could probably even lose one OF and manage to keep him way below average. But if you left the four infielders and just removed the entire OF, has he done enough to say that he would actually be an above average hitter in that scenario? (I am assuming that Davis doesn't know the defenders are missing and all of his ABs happen as normal.)
- Ari: If an NL manager managed like an AL manager, how many games would it cost him? In other words, the manager lets the pitcher pitch as long as he would if there was a DH, and lets the pitcher just take his PA whenever they come. He never double switches, doesn’t pinch hit except when the pitcher was coming out anyway, and generally doesn’t let the fact that the pitcher has to hit influence his bullpen management. How many games (if any?) would this cost over a season?
- Mike Fiers average fastball is risen by about 5 inches with the A's
- Mike Fiers average curve ball has dropped by 5 inches with the A's.
- When Mike Fiers joined the A's, they said they had plans for him. We appear to be seeing the results of this plan.
- Rob Mains wrote an article about solo homers, and he did the research for Ben's StatBlast.
- Rob notes that we're living in the golden age of solo homers. Home runs are up, and all other ways of getting on base are down.
- The record for the most games in a row with a team's only scoring coming from a single solo home run is now the 2018 Cubs with 5, the previous record was 3, held by 11 teams, most recently the Indians in 2016.
- Restricted to one side of the plate, the previous record was 3, held by the Dodgers in 1979 and the Giants in 1957. Both were right-handed.
- No team going back to 1908 has had five games in a row where all runs were due to solo homers (possibly more than one per game), until the Cubs did it this year.
- It's surprising for the Cubs to own this record because they don't hit a lot of home runs and do get on base by other means.
- Baseball Prospectus's Guillen Number is the percentage of a team's runs due to homers. For the Cubs, only 34.3% of their runs are from homers, 26th in the MLB. Yankees lead with 49.9% this season. The all-time record is the 2010 Blue Jays at 53%.
Waivers explained Edit
Editor's note: Jeff's explanation and analysis no longer apply due to rules changes in 2019. As of 2019, no trades of major league players are permitted after the trade deadline. Waivers are used for other things, but starting in 2019, they are no longer revocable.
Jeff explains that fans read too much into a player being put on waivers.
- The trade deadline of July 31 isn't really a trade deadline. It's just a deadline for "easy trades".
- To offer to trade a player after the deadline, a team puts the player on waivers for 48 hours. If no claims are made, then the offering team is free to trade the player with any team.
- Priority for claiming a player from waivers goes to the teams within the same league. Within a league, priority goes to the team with the worse record.
- If a player is claimed, the offering team can revoke the waiver, canceling the trade. The second time a player is put on waivers, the waiver is irrevocable.
- If the teams cannot come to an agreement, then the player is ineligible to be put on waivers again.
- The offering team has the right to hand the player to the claiming team and receive nothing in return.
- Sometimes a team will claim a player to deny another team access to that player. This can backfire if the offering team dumps the player, leaving the claiming team stuck with the player's contract.
The Baseball Reference page on Waivers goes into more details, and includes examples of waivers that backfired for both the offering and claiming teams.
- The idea for the end caps tool came about in episode 1257.
- “You wrote about the Rockies perspective, which ensures you get the least clicks possible.” - Ben
- There is very little precedent for minor leaguers as strong as Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., so it's hard to assess Steamer's evaluation of his talent.
- One reason a minor leaguer may have excellent numbers is that they are getting lucky and overperforming their true talent. They aren't getting promoted because the team recognizes this and is keeping the player in the minors to improve. (Holding a pitcher in the minors is riskier than a batter, because a pitcher is more likely to suffer a serious injury.)
- In Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.'s case, Ben and Sam believe that he's being kept in the minors for service time reasons: Bringing him up would count as a year toward free-agent eligibility in a season the Jays don't really need any help from him.
- Jeff posted an article about run differential when position players pitch. There should, in principle, be a filter to ignore statistics for position players pitching (and, to be intellectually honest, pitchers batting), but nobody has done it.
- Sam wrote about position players pitching and found that their performance is not as bad as you might expect, but only if the game is a blowout. But in games where the outcome is in doubt (e.g., because the bullpen is exhausted), they are terrible. Even after adjusting for the fact that lower-quality players are usually used in blowouts, batters don't appear to take full advantage of position player pitchers, perhaps due to an unwritten rule. There is a similar effect with pitchers batting, but nowhere near as pronounced.
- Ben can't tell whether the Rockies have a home-field advantage or a road handicap. Jeff wrote an article where he tried to find out whether the Rockies improve on road trips as they adjust to not being at home. Others have tried to figure it out and haven't come to any conclusion.
- The Cubs pitchers have a −45 wRC+. Negative 45.
- "I feel almost bad answering this question [about Chris Davis]." - Ben
- Sheryl Ring wrote an article comparing Chris Davis to Rafael Palmeiro (now age 54).
- Ben notes that Chris Davis is the most-shifted-against hitter this year, facing the shift 91.1% of the time.
- Jeff does a lot of math find a way to give Davis 26 more runs, since he is currently 26 runs below average. Eventually, he concludes that you'd have to take away more than one fielder, but not quite two. "I am too upset about him and for him to want to run the math."
- Jeff does a lot of math to calculate the cost of managing an NL pitcher as if it were the AL. There would be 223 extra pitcher PAs. NL pitcher wOBA is .131, and the average NL PH wOBA is .287, for a wOBA loss of 223 × (.287 − .131) = 34.788. Jeff mis-enters the value as .267 into his calculator to come up with 30.328 wOBA. He then converts wOBA to runs using wOBAScale, arriving at around 25 runs, or 2½ wins. He figures it's around 3 to 4 wins after adjusting for high leverage, plus a half-win for double switches, and then rounding up comes out to five wins. "So that would be bad," says Ben.
- "I don't want to have to do so much math on the fly again. As the listener, you're not aware of how annoying this was." - Jeff
- Episode 1260: Waiver? I Hardly Know Her!
- MLB Endcaps calculator
- Jeff’s Murphy/Rockies post
- Craig’s post about Vlad Jr. batting .400
- Jeff’s post about position players pitching
- Sam’s post about position players pitching
- Purple Row post about the Rockies’ home/road splits
- Jeff’s post about the Coors Field hangover
- Rob’s article about solo homers
- Sheryl’s post about Davis vs. Palmeiro