Earlier I wrote about how you could validate voting for each Giant on the MLB All Star Ballot, now it’s probably an appropriate time to list my actual All Stars. Since voting doesn’t close until the 4th of July, there’s going to be plenty of room for hot streaks, and hot piles of slumps. As with the online ballot itself, I’ll give you my players for each position, and we’ll leave it at that for now.
1B – Chris Davis (14 HR, .420 OBP, .458 wOBA, 190 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR)
SS – Jhonny Peralta (4 HR, .379 OBP, .364 wOBA, 127 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR)
OF – Mike Trout (9 HR, 9 SB, .400 wOBA, 157 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR)
OF – Jose Bautista (11 HR, .408 wOBA, 158 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR)
DH – David Ortiz (7 HR, .397 OBP, .429 wOBA, 168 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR)
C – Buster Posey (6 HR, .395 OBP, .385 wOBA, 152 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR)
OF – Carlos Gonzalez (11 HR, 8 SB, .390 OBP, .413 wOBA, 154 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR)
OF – Justin Upton (14 HR, .387 OBP, .410 wOBA, 165 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR)
Feel free to put your ballot or changes in the comments because I can see how you might like player B over player A. Short season so far, lots of time left before I have to decide who I’m voting in 35 times.
Every fan has their own strategy for voting for choosing whom they would like to don the All Star patches in New York in July. The strategies I know of are:
- Voting for the statistically best on both leagues (usually that’s pretty subjective though)
- Voting for the best in the league of the team you support, voting for the worst on the other league
- Voting for the players you want to see play
- Voting for only your team in one league, and then a variety of choices for the other league (e.g., just the Astros, nobody, etc.)
Of course, every team wants you to vote for their players, so now for Giants fans that want to justify their all-Giants ballot, how will you do that from a statistical point of view? All stats are within the context of their position within the National League:
- Buster Posey: tied for the NL lead in fWAR (1.8), leads in OBP, wOBA, wRC+. Possibly the easiest vote for the ballot within the Champs’ roster.
- Brandon Belt: According to Fangraphs fielding value, is the very best. Also, number of baby giraffe hats to other headgear of NL 1B very much in favor of Belt.
- Marco Scutaro: Leads in highest BABIP, lowest K%, AVG, Contact% (making contact with the pitch — 95.3), lowest rate of swinging strikes (1.4%)
- Brandon Crawford: Tied for having the highest positional value on Fangraphs. Most handsome.
- Pablo Sandoval: T-most HR (8), leads in RBI (see if you can sneak this one past somebody), AVG, WPA all despite seeing the lowest ratio of pitches in the strike zone.
- Gregor Blanco: Because he makes great catches in the outfield to save the game, that’s why you vote him in. You may also use the fact that he’s been much better than replacement level overall this year
- Angel Pagan: Makes the highest rate of contact on balls outside of the strike zone. Also could have the best hair of all NL center fielders.
- Hunter Pence: T-most SB (8), has seven dingers, and his defense hasn’t been all that bad.
I’m just glad I did this with the Giants and not some really awful team. Pitchers get selected by people that wear the uniform, except for that Final Vote stage. Even if you’re not voting for the Giants, and voting for the best in the NL, they still have some pretty good options to choose from. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on that someday.
I knew among qualified relievers on the Giants, George Kontos had the lowest Left on Base % of all of ‘em. I thought this was going to be a rant about how his LOB% was horrible and that in 2012 he probably was a lot better and I was going to turn it into a “hopefully he gets better?” type of post. Then I started stumbling upon numbers. Numbers that will make you think, that will get you down to the basement and crave whatever mom’s cooking in the kitchen upstairs. At the beginning of the season, we held out hope that Kontos could be a good RHP to have as a set-up man, and despite his overall numbers, it’s not crazy to suggest he still could be that, but as a ROOGY (Right-handed one out guy). You wouldn’t think so from the numbers he threw out there in 2012:
|vs RHB as RHP||42||115||25||7||2||2||6||28||.231||.270||.389||3||.291|
|vs LHB as RHP||28||62||9||0||0||1||6||16||.164||.242||.218||0||.205|
Better numbers against LHH than RHH, he was doing some reverse-platooning, but what he was doing against RHH was still pretty acceptable, so I guess it wouldn’t have been a crime to have him in the 8th. Turn the page to 2013 and you get:
|vs RHB as RHP||21||58||9||3||0||0||5||15||.173||.241||.231||3||.237|
|vs LHB as RHP||13||27||9||2||1||2||2||5||.360||.407||.760||0||.389|
An explosion of success from LHH against Kontos, but a pretty good line against RHH. Maybe he is getting killed by BABIP and that’ll even itself out, or maybe he’s already been trying to figure out ways to adjust to the way LHH have been hitting off of him. Here’s some other stuff that you can either take as not encouraging, or just interesting:
- Kontos’ 21 appearances lead the team, one ahead of Sergio Romo
- He does not lead relievers in innings pitched (21.0). That belongs to Chad Gaudin (21.1).
- Kontos had a 51.3% ground ball rate in 2012.
- It’s 25.0% in 2013
- His 63.1% LOB% this year is 21st-worst of all 169 qualified relievers
The ground ball rate worries me a bit, and it’s no wonder why his xFIP is 4.10 while his FIP is 3.35 this year (too bad for him he’s unable to keep the ERA down like Matt Cain could). I would like to know who the real George Kontos is though. Is it the ROOGY in 2013, or the good reliever in 2012? No one would be surprised if it were the former, since it’s pretty difficult to be very good at the minor leagues, and I mean the Yankees gave the Giants Chris Stewart for him, but it wouldn’t be the first time an organization was wrong about a player. I’d love for Kontos to revert back to 2012 form, but his ground ball numbers and performance against LHH will be something to keep an eye on. Yes, and his LOB%, too.
The Giants lost to Cliff Lee and the Phillies 6-2 tonight, their largest margin of defeat since their last game in Milwaukee on April 18th, and their first loss since last Sunday. The Giants have started a trend with their winning and losing, and in the picture below, you might be able to spot it yourself — the green being wins, and the red equalling losses:
If you’re curious what the “Height” is the beginning of, it says, “Height of bar is margin of victory up to 10 runs,” but that’s not what we’re worried about.
The trend is from just after that really long green bar of a win and starts with the little red bar. It goes like this from that game on April 12th:
- Giants lose one,
- Win two in a row,
- Lose three in a row,
- Win four straight,
- Lose five consecutive,
- Win six in a row
That 6-2 loss has snapped that six game losing streak, and that can only mean one thing for what wil happen next… if you believe in those kinds of patterns.
What do I believe? I believe the Dodgers just lost tonight and the Giants are in first place in the NL West and the Dodgers are in last place.
Luis Cruz has been the target for complaints from many Dodger fans for his poor performance at the plate this year. Defensively, he’s fine, but when you’re struggling to bat .100 and get on base more than 12% of the time, that’s pretty hard for anyone to defend. His popping out in the infield has given him perhaps the most attention, and I wanted to investigate how much his infield fly ball (IFFB) % was thus far. I was surprised that he was not leading, but he’s actually fifth (worst) at 28.6% among players with at least seventy plate appearances. This made me feel bad for picking on the guy so much, so it’s time to set the record straight on what he has been the worst at, and what he hasn’t. Continuing the field of players with at least seventy plate appearances…
AVG and SLG — .091, worst
OBP — .116, worst
BABIP — .109, worst
wOBA — .089, worst
wRC+ — -54, worst (yes, that’s a negative sign)
BB% — 1.4, third-worst
Win Probability Added — -1.39, third-worst
fWAR — -0.6, seventh-worst
K% — 17.1, tied for 140th-worst
So you see, he’s not the worst player out there… but yea, his start at the dish has been pretty awful.
Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.
Win and Losses Division
The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.
Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.
Position Players Division
Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.
This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.
Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?
Starting Pitchers Division
Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.
In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.
Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.
Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.
I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”
If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.
So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?
That title may seem obvious, that when the Giants are leading to begin an inning that they will win, but I find it fascinating both how good the records are for leads early in the game, and amazed at the near spotless record of leading late in a game. Take a look:
That left column seems pretty amazing to me for a team that is 13-9: get a lead, and chances are it will be held on to. Only one time in the sixth inning or later have they let a game go, but for the most part when the offense helps out, the starters and the bullpen have been able to keep the doors mostly shut on any thoughts of an opponent rallying. Naturally, don’t expect that undefeated trend to continue, but you should expect them to keep winning. Their chart from 2012:
That win percentage for the sixth inning on is exceptional, fans would definitely be happy with that should that repeat in 2013. So far, unlike the futility that seemed to begin in the 6th inning in terms of sub-20% chance of winning in 2012, this year it is starting at the 7th inning, but I’m going to blame that on the number of games played thus far. The Giants will have plenty of fresh arms coming into games and looking to hold leads against them to take that % down as the season goes on, especially if they lose 65-75 games like most competitive teams do.
Still can’t believe that team lost less than seventy games.
If you’re wondering when the Giants score, they have scored most of their runs in innings that are a multiple of 3. Whether it’s the bottom of the order, the top of the order getting their next look a starting pitcher, or the opposing bullpen is blowing it, so far, there is something a little different about those innings.
For some reason, Baseball Reference wouldn’t let me share this table so I had to screen shot it, but Giants pitching has been doing excellent so far in the fourth and seventh innings. There was that one nightmare inning against St. Louis for Matty Cain, but we’re trying to forget that.
If you’re a big fan of run differential, the Giants are +5 and see the Giants lucky to be 13-9. If you’ve watched the Giants all season, watched their starters struggle or find bad luck while the offense hit into double plays or was slumping, you know that they have been a little lucky to start the season. With this team, you expect them to be competent on offense, but the pitching has already seen its share of bumps and bruises that’s probably going to lead to some fan freakout if it continues.
The Giants continue their stretch of NL West opposition tonight in San Diego before they head off to Arizona, and then come home to face the Dodgers.
MLB Now featured a “Hawk” Ken Harrelson vs. Brian Kenny segment days after Harrelson, the Chicago White Sox announcer said that were people that lost their jobs because of sabermetrics, so immediately that’ll tell you he might not be the biggest proponent of the use of advanced equations evaluating players. I’m sure they’ll have an embeddable video highlight of this interview later, but you want your news fast, and you want it now. Highlights from what was said:
HH: “Was there anything in Moneyball that struck you as odd?… Pitching is the first line of defense.”
BK: “Did you read the book?”
HH: “No, I promised my wife I wouldn’t.”
Hawk then used a Ken Burns “Baseball” quote talking about the beauty of the game. We all love baseball, that I can agree with the man on.
HH: “There is a place in baseball for numbers, but it is the most overrated thing in baseball… Maybe in 40-50 years it’ll be ready. When [a stat called] ‘TWTW’ comes along, then I’ll approve. ‘TWTW’ is ‘The Will to Win.’”
BK: “Are you basing your critique on Moneyball?”
HH: “No. [Sabermetrics] has got people fired, scouts, managers, general managers.”
BK: “Wouldn’t you want to play the percentages? Wouldn’t you want as much information possible”
HH: “No! The more numbers you bring into the game, the more you can take out of the game. Sometimes you get bogged down.. this is a kid’s game, and all about the ‘TWTW.’”
BK: “Don’t you want to measure the performance [of players]?”
HH: “The measure is the ‘W.’”
HH: “You didn’t mention the most important characteristic — leadership.”
Hawk on pitcher wins: “How can the team get their ‘W’ if the pitcher doesn’t get his ‘W’”
HH: “The first rule in baseball is catch the ball, not hit the ball.”
On Brian Kelly saying sabermetrics helped the Tampa Bay Rays and their success, Hawk says, “You keep believing that.”
There was plenty more that I couldn’t catch the exact quote about, but I think Hawk has put up a pretty thick wall against the advanced numbers, and if he put that wall down, he might like it more than he thinks he would. Brian Kenny acknowledges, and we know, too, that defensive metrics have a ways to go, but the pitching metrics aren’t too bad, and the offensive ones are pretty good. What would be a nightmare is if Hawk was the play-by-play guy for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Anyway, this was a pretty funny segment, and Kenny seemed like he was getting pretty angry, so for his sake, I hope they don’t do it too often. It also is a shot of the dynamics of the intangibles vs. the numbers schools of disagreement, but it really feels like they are on two very opposite sides. While some intangibles are important, if you ran your club based off of it, as time goes on, chances are you’re probably going to face more opposition than you would have 40-50 years ago.
If you hang out on the internet long enough, you get to observe conversations between between people. Many people. The internet is a beautiful thing because it connects me to so many people that have such a variety of knowledge of different things. This is what I observed today
@crawfordchrisv Historically terrible, yes.
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) April 25, 2013
They were talking about the weighted runs created plus (wRC+) stat after Cameron had mentioned that the Astros were 8th this year. The link takes you to the Fangraphs page where it describes wRC+ better than I probably can, and to summarize it, the stat tries to measure a player’s production in runs, where 100 is league average, and every point above/below it is one percent better/worse than that. The page notes that wRC+ is also park-adjusted so you may compare players (and a group of players — a team) across eras. This is relevant to the discussion at hand because the 2013 Miami Marlins come up. I wanted to check out how “historically terrible” this Marlins number was. Their number is 59, so 41% less runs created than league average. That sounds pretty bad, and the closest to them are the White Sox at 74, the Cubs at 81.
I decided to stretch the time back to the year 1900 since the seasons by then were longer than they were in recorded organized baseball’s earliest days. I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include the 1884 Brewers that had a wRC+ of -100 in 109 combined games (not to mean they played 109 games, but that if, for example, ten players played in one game, that would mean one game totaled ten games on this stat sheet). But in the worst twenty wRC+ numbers in baseball history since 1900, the Marlins have the lowest number, with the 1920 Philadelphia Athletics next in line at 66. Interesting that the White Sox crack the bottom twenty tied at number 17! Before the Marlins and White Sox were able to make this bottom twenty list (or tied for a place in it), the 2004 Diamondbacks but up a dismal 74, and then there was a four decade break between that and the 1964 Colt .45′s whom are tied for the eleventh at a wRC+ of 73 (actually repeating their number from the previous year).
So, yes, the Marlins wRC+ is historically bad, even more so than the White Sox. The Marlins wOBA is also historically bad (worst again at .258), and I tried to find players I knew with a wOBA of .258 but it’s full of position players I’ve never heard of.
It’s only April 25th, though. Maybe the Marlins will get better and get out of that historically bad hole, or maybe wRC+ will end up dubbing them history’s greatest monster.
It seems like everyone I follow on twitter either has been to a “42″ premiere or saw it on Opening Day, so I’m late to the party, but I will be seeing the Jackie Robinson story today, and I could not be more excited for it. I’ll also be at the giveaway day at Dodger Stadium on Monday, where I’m sure the Dodgers and Padres will at least tolerate each other while they all wear the number 42.
Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to glance over some of the numbers Robinson put up, leaving everything else he did and worked for to the people that know his story best, and that is a huge chunk of his legacy no doubt about it.
Played from 1947-1956, a ten year career at the MLB level that wouldn’t be all too uncommon in our day, but as we know, his career should’ve started earlier for sure. Primarily manning second base in the early part of his career, this is a guy you’d love to have on your fantasy team.
|162 Game Avg.||162||680||178||32||6||16||86||23||.311||.409||.474||132||8|
Those 1949-1954 seasons were especially impressive, getting on base at a high rate, a good isolated power (SLG-BA), a solid OPS+, and over 100 SB. A 200 hit, 124 RBI season like in 1949 would drive scribes crazy in today’s world, as it probably did then, although he had the peripherals to justify his win over Stan Musial of the Cardinals. He may have deserved a better look for the award in 1951, and 1952, as the graphs show he was among the very best in his class those years.
|6 Yrs (6 Series)||38||160||22||32||7||1||2||12||6||0||.234||.335||.343||.679|
Postseason numbers really are dangerous because you can fall into the small sample size sinkhole to evaluate a player, and is it really their fault their numbers are lower when they’re facing better pitching staffs than the cellar dwelling teams they’d play throughout the year? His infamous stolen base of home came in the 1955 World Series.
Six trips for the Brooklyn Dodgers to the World Series during Jackie Robinson’s ten seasons. Even though it is only one ring, it’s a pretty special run of dominance within the National League.
I included the other Brooklyn teams once for learning purposes only since I honestly didn’t know that the Dodgers were known as anything else. Mr. Robinson was on teams where he was (by rWAR) the best player on the team five times, and helped the club have at least ninety wins eight times, and had six different managers.
Like I said, this is only a slice of the greatness that Mr. Robinson did for the game, and only a small sample of what he did to help the nation advance as a people. I’ve been hearing lots of good things about “42″ thus far, so if you’re a baseball fan, this is definitely a movie you’re going to have to check out.