In the past three seasons Jose Altuve has only unintentionally walked 81 times in 2068 plate appearances. This means that although his batting average is .313 in that time his OBP is only .349. Also in that time, Altuve has gotten out on base by trying to steal or advance extra bases 11% of the time. These were the reasons that in the past I have said that Altuve was somewhat overrated (This is an article I wrote about Altuve last year where I discussed his true value as opposed to how he was ranked). However his performance so far this year has caused me to completely rethink my previous assessment, because Altuve seems to have changed a lot.
Based on his unintentional walk rate in the past Altuve would only have 4 walks so far this year in his first 110 plate appearances, but, instead he has 12. The odds of this outcome not showing any real change in Altuve, but simply being because of luck, are 1 in 800, so I am fairly certain that Altuve really has changed. This not to mention the huge power surge Altuve has had, going from about 1 home run every 81 plate appearances previously in his career to 1 every 18 plate appearances now, this will probably settle down a little, as it already has with only 1 home run in the past 47 plate appearances, but he still has shown a change here that he will likely keep (to some extent) through the rest of the season. Although many may see Altuve's changes to be small, I would say he has gone from somewhere around 40th to 60th most valuable player in the majors to somewhere 5-15th most valuable with his new approach and new power.
The Nationals Lucas Giolito is now the number one prospect in all of baseball, and is nearly ready to make his Major League debut, but this article is not about why he should be called up it's about what should be done to the Nationals' rotation when he is called up. The obvious decision would be to send Tanner Roark back to the bullpen, same as occurred last season, when Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann where still in the rotation. However Roark has struggled with the back and forth between the two roles. So far in his career in his each of the times he had to switch in the first four starts back from the bullpen his ERA has been 4.63 whereas all the rest of the time it sits at a much better 2.59. Similarly in his first 8 games in the bullpen after starting his ERA was 3.12, but later it drops to 2.33. Roark seems similarly good at both roles, but the transitions are very difficult it seems to me that the nationals need to pick a role for him and keep it, so he can settle in and pitch well.
Instead of Roark it makes a lot more sense to put Gio Gonzalez in the bullpen. Of course it sounds strange to put a adequate starter that is paid $12 million in the bullpen, but based on his stats as a starter it appears that Gonzalez would thrive in relief. In his starts on average the first time through the opponents lineup his ERA was a phenomenal 1.67, but later on when going through the lineup the second, third, and fourth time his ERA is a well below average 5.02. Based on this evidence it seems clear that Gonzalez would do much better as a one or two inning reliever, in which case he would not have to go through the lineup more than once and would be a lights out reliever instead of a mediocre starter.
The Dodgers have lost the bidding war on Zack Greinke, and therefore they have lost one of the best pitching duos of all time. However I would hesitate before saying that they need to acquire a replacement for years to come. I would probably agree that they should try for a new starting pitcher, but I would like to see them sign someone who they will need to give minimum commitment to perhaps a two year contract with an option to someone like Hisashi Iwakuma, or Doug Fister. I would even like to see them going after someone like Neal Cotts for a 1-2 year deal because by 2017 or maybe even late next year (minus De Leon who will not be ready until 2017) the Dodgers rotation will look something like this:
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Julio Urias
3. Alex Wood
4. Hyun-jin Ryu
5. Jose De Leon (2016: Brett Anderson)
This still leaves Mike Bolsinger, and Brandon McCarthy in case of an injury or if either of those young players need more time. Below I have my analysis of the players I have mentioned above.
Wood was a valuable piece to trade for last year. The Dodgers traded Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez, and a few minor leaguers for Alex Wood, Jose Pereza, Jim Johnson, Mat Latos, and others. Alex Wood is still a year away from arbitration and despite a mediocre performance in his first 70.1 innings with the dodgers there is good reason to believe Alex Wood is going to be a solid piece in the Dodgers rotation. In the last three seasons Alex Wood has started 67 games and has the respectable ERA of 3.30. His career WAR is 7.2 which makes his average in a full eason 2.9. One statistical argument I've heard against him is that his win-loss in his career 26-26 which would suggest he is merely average, however there is great evidence that this is simply poor run support. Even in his 26 losses he still has a 5.65 ERA (the average ERA for the pitcher receiving the loss is 7.78). Among active players with 120 or more innings in losing games this ranks 10th only behind big name players including Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Jordan Zimmermann.
Ryu missed all of last year due to a shoulder injury. The main question about him is how will he recover from surgery. I think that his performance will not be lessened due to the injury. prior to the injury he threw a fastball in the low 90s I would guess that if anything changes it will be a slight drop in velocity (high 80s) however Ryu is not a power pitcher. His success is driven by his great changeup, which should not be greatly effected by the injury, and by his stunning accuracy. His BB/9 innings in 2014 was 1.7 which is well below league average (2.9) I doubt this will be effected by a shoulder injury. Due to his strong changeup and accuracy, I am predicting Hyun Jin Ryu to come back at around the same level he was at in 2013 & 2014, and for a fourth starter that is well above average.
Jose De Leon:
Like Urias he will not be on the roster opening day, but De Leon is the 7th best pitching prospect in baseball (according to MLBPipeline) and come 2017 he will probably be ready and if there are no injuries, and the Dodgers have another pitcher signed another pitcher it will be difficult to fit him in the rotation.
After this group the dodgers still have Grant Holmes (24th pitching prospect), and Walker Buehler in their deep farm system. As well as Mike Bolsinger (FA, 2022) and Brandon McCarthy (FA, 2019) under team control for years to come, so I really would not like to see them give them 4+ years commitment to anyone. I think the best course of action is a contract for Hisashi Iwakuma looking something like this:
2016: $20 Million
2017: $20 Million
2018: team option $20 Million with $3 Million buyout
I believe Iwakuma would accept this due to the fact that he's committed at least $43 million over two years. The dodgers are sacrificing a possible lower AAV to avoid commitment. For a 35 year old SP two years is a reasonable length. Iwakuma has averaged a 3.17 ERA in his four years in the majors and will be very helpful for the dodgers
As of today (November 30th 2015) my website is officially one year old. One year ago I finally got the hint that everyone in my life was a little sick of hearing me constantly talk about baseball, so I started my blog, working the count. I've had nearly 100 posts, and about 20,000 page views in the past year. My posts have changed a little bit, from mostly news with my take on it, which you can get anywhere, into mostly analytical articles which I find much more unique and interesting. I've made a few lists already, including my Underrated players list, and my free agent value list for the final list of my first year I have a list of the best entries I've written this year.
1. Sidearm pitchers
This entry is about the value of sidearm pitchers. I go in depth on why the most common arguments against sidearm pitchers are invalid. One common argument against them is that they are saved only for righties (if they are right-handed, or lefties if they are lefties), and this means that if they were pitched against everyone their numbers would be worse, and so because of this we shouldn't believe there numbers. I discuss why that point and a couple others are unimportant, and so we really should value sidearm pitchers more than we do.
2. Dodger's Duo: Greinke and Kershaw
I began writing this entry simply as a comparison between this pair and other great 1-2 pitching pairs, but as I wrote I realized that all the stats I found pointed to the possibility I had hardly considered which was that they actually could be the best pair ever. Perhaps the most stunning fact is that in 185 starts in the time that they spent as teammates the two allowed 1 or 0 runs in 105 of them (57%), and combined only allowed more than 5 once (that's 99.5% < 5 runs).
3. Busiest teams so far (in 2014 offseason)
This was written on my first day as a blog, so it has a few formatting issues with the mobile version (there are long spaces) however it is still fully readable, and the content is great. I basically summarized the biggest moves of the offseason at that point by the teams that had done the most (by this point last year there was more than enough o write about in terms of hot stove moves, who knows why there isn't now).
5. What the giants have to do for 2016
This is one of my more recent entries. I wrote about what the giants will need to do to be postseason or even world series ready for 2016 (another even year) and although I am not rooting for another Giants world series victory I enjoyed writing about what it might take to create one.
6. Why Nobody can Wait to See Giancarlo Stanton Again
In this entry I got into the physics of Giancarlo Stanton's swing, and what allows him to hit the ball so much harder than every other player in baseball.
After three no-hitters this year I decided to write an entry about the probability of a no-hitter. I answer the probability of a no-hitter in any given game, as well as the highest probability at any game. After I wrote this entry four more no-hitters occurred, making a total of seven in one season. The odds of having seven or more no-hitters in one year is 0.24% or 1/415.
8. Outfielders on the Move
This entry was about all the possible outfield trades in the middle of last offseason. including speculations on the trades of Matt Kemp, Yoenis Cespedes, and The Uptons. I was pretty impressed on how close I was to the actual results in this entry.
9. Kevin Kiermaier a defensive savage
This entry has one of the most impressive facts I've written which is that if every player saved as many runs with defense as Kevin Kiermaier did the typical ERA would be 1.36.
10. Jon Lester Race Heating up
This entry summarized the suitors for Jon Lester, and where I thought he'd end up last offseason.
This years free agent market is a pretty strong one. There are loads of talented pitchers, and outfielders, and also enough infielders and relievers, but there are very few available catchers. Catcher is a very difficult position, last year the average starting catcher only played 61% of the time this means that many teams split time between two or more catchers either due to injury or just general fatigue. 2015 catchers also spent 1,682 days all together on the DL. For this reason it's necessary to have at least two catchers good enough to be in the lineup and behind the plate 40% of the time. The only available catchers on the market are Alex Avila, Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis, Dioner Navarro,Brayan Pena, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Geovany Soto, and Michael McKenry. Altogether these players were in just over 3,000 innings last season, but the average team plays almost 1,500 innings. right now many teams still need a catcher these include the Angels, Reds, White Sox, Rockies, Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Yankees, and Blue Jays.
Top Tier Catchers:
Who's looking for one: Angels, and Tigers
Who's available: Chris Iannetta, or a trade
The Angels have lost Chris Iannetta to free agency and now they only have Carlos Perez so they most definitely need to get someone. I think that the most likely option is simply resigning Chris Ianetta. However Ianetta and his agent are certainly aware of this and now that Matt Wieters is off the market will probably be trying to get a huge contract. The tigers still have James McCann who caught most of last season, but he is one reason why the Tigers had a very disappointing 2015 season, and I believe they will go after someone on the trade market to make a difference. For example if they traded for Jonathan Lucroy it would earn them almost 3 more wins. However the Tigers do not have a lot of options for trade, so it's also possible they will just resign Alex Avila.
Last night the Red Sox traded Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje for one of the best relief pitchers in baseball Craig Kimbrel. Any time there is a trade the first thing people want to ask is, who won this trade? Well it's never that simple especially with trades of prospects for proven talent. Their are so many examples of trades like this, but if you are reading this you might be a red sox fan, and one great example that they were involved in was in 2005 when they trade Hanley Ramirez, andAnibal Sanchez for Mike Lowell, and Josh Beckett. move two years down the road and Hanley Ramirez is one of the most exciting young stars in baseball, and Anibal is a solid starting pitcher, but Josh Beckett lead the red sox to the world series with 20 wins and 2nd place in the AL Cy Young award, Mike Lowell was the World Series MVP in 2007. Although the red sox would have loved to keep Hanley, it is doubtful that they would have won the world series that season. However the Marlins were built around Hanley in the years following and I don't think they would have taken back this trade either. You can never really be sure, but I have a feeling that years down the road neither the red sox or the padres would want to take this trade back. I think that would mean that no one won or lost the trade. Here is what this trade means for the Red Sox and Padres.
Receive: Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje
The Padres tried to load up their team with proven talent before the 2015 season. They acquired, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Brandon Morrow, Derek Norris, Shawn Kelley, James Shields, Josh Johnson, and Craig Kimbrel. However all these players failed to help the padres, as they finished the season 74-88. The Padres are now losing most of these players to free agency, so they are returning to a rebuilding phase. I think we will probably see more trades, possibly including Norris or Myers later this offseason, but lets focus back in on this trade. Manuel Margot is the clear leading piece in this deal. He is the 25th best prospect overall right now and he is 21. He consistently makes contact, and could hit above .300 in the majors. His speed is well above average and will get him into the 20s and 30s in stolen bases. His bat is still developing so who knows how much power he will have. Javier Guerra is only 20 and already has more power than Margot. He is a defensive star and looks like he will be making it to the majors around 2018. Logan Allen is an 18 year old pitcher who could be great years down the road, and Carlos Asuaje is 24 and could be a back up in the padres infield as early as this coming September.
Many of the blog entries require a knowledge of baseball statistics click on the buttons below for descriptions of the stats used in the articles.