Tag Archive | "Blip"

Sabermetric Mining: FB%, HR/FB, “Lucky” Homers

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sabermetric Mining: FB%, HR/FB, “Lucky” Homers

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Blake Murphy

Finding ways to leverage sabermetric statistics for the purposes of finding Home Run value can be a tricky game. Where batting average allows us to delve into BABIP, batted ball type, and more, and there are plenty of peripheral indicators for pitching stats, Home Runs tend to be a stat that most people look at as having been earned, with less luck involved than others. However, that view can be detrimental to our analysis, as we can look to three indicators to aid us in mining for power over- and under-performers: Fly Ball Rate (FB%), Home Runs Per Fly Ball (HR/FB), and the Hit Tracker tool.

My apologies for no DOTF or Sabermetric Mining piece last week. I was driving from Kitchener, ON to Vancouver, BC and then settling in to a new place.

The Stats
FB% – Fly Ball Rate is the percentage of batted balls that a player hits in the air. When we analyzed hitter BABIP, FB% was thought to be a negative as fewer fly balls drop in for hits than ground balls or line drives. For power hitters, however, fly balls are of grave importance. After all, ground balls cannot clear the fence. FB% can help us to determine whether a player has the right batted ball profile to succeed in hitting home runs, but it is the rate at which those fly balls leave the park that is key.

HR/FB – this is the percentage of fly balls that clear the fence. HR/FB is the key item we will examine when trying to determine over- or under-performers, as HR/FB stabilizes at about 300 plate appearances. This means it can help to both identify lucky and unlucky players and players demonstrating a legitimate change in skill. It is important to compare a player’s HR/FB to his career norms, as we must judge if a drop in HR/FB is a blip or a trend, and vice versa. As a reference, an average HR/FB rate is about 10% in recent history. I should note that there is a lot more research done on pitcher HR/FB, if you are interested in further reading, as it is generally thought that a hitter has more control over his rate than a pitcher.

Hit Tracker – Thanks to the great Hit Tracker Online tool, we now have a resource for determining lucky homeruns. That is, a ball that clears Petco would likely clear any park, while a ball leaving Coors may not leave most stadiums. The key areas to view on this site are “No Doubts,” or balls that would cleared the fence by 20 vertical feet and 50 horizontal feet, “Just Enoughs,” or balls that cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet or just past the fence horizontally, and “Lucky Homers,” or balls that would not have been home runs on a neutral weather day. Obviously, Lucky and Just Enough homers are less indicative of a power skill than No Doubt homers or other, unclassified home runs somewhere between those end points. It is a lot to take in at once, but I highly recommend exploring the site as it has a ton of interesting information that extends beyond fantasy use.

Park Factors Affecting HR/FB
Park Factors should always be kept in mind, as HR/FB does not control for parks. Again referencing Petco and Coors as our polar examples, a HR/FB of 15% is far more impressive at spacious Petco than it is at the bandbox in Colorado. If you are interested in further and much more specific information on the topic, Jeffrey Gross of The Hardball Times tackled park factors extensively in June of 2011.

How To Use
It is difficult to just provide a link or a chart to help utilize these stats, as they do not all indicate over- or under-performance. The best means of approaching the analysis may be to scan the home run leaders for names that do not intuitively make sense or look out of place, both at the high and low end, and then use these tools to confirm or reject your initial thoughts. Additionally, using the Hit Tracker tool and subtracting “lucky” homers from totals, or simply looking for extreme performances at either end of the HR/FB spectrum, can provide a good starting place.

Edwin Encarnacion – Let’s begin with the league’s leader in FB% and one of the more surprising home run providers of the season, the hitter formerly known as E5. With a 49.7% FB%, you could employ hyperbole to say “he hits everything in the air” and you would hardly be wrong. Because his FB% is so large, even a modest HR/FB rate would lead to a large number of long balls, but Edwin also sports a 17.9% HR/FB rate, a near-elite rate. Edwin has 34 home runs, 8 more than his previous career high, and in less at bats (thus far) to boot. Looking at prior seasons, Edwin displayed an above-average HR/FB every year but 2007 and 2011, with an above-average 12.8% career mark. He also has a 45.2% career FB%. Add it all up, and Edwin has made a modest improvement to his HR/FB, increased his FB% to make the impact exponential, and received consistent playing time, making his home run surge only a moderate, and likely sustainable, surprise.

Billy Butler – People have been waiting for Butler to turn his 240lbs+ into home runs for some time now, and his previous career high of 21 bombs was nearly maddening. Butler had essentially been a monster who hits like a lead-off man. So what’s changed? In terms of batted ball profile, Butler has actually gone in the opposite direction of what you would expect given his homer surge, as his ground ball rate is at a stand-still and he’s traded fly balls for line drives. His home run total of 25 has been fueled entirely by a 22.5% HR/FB rate that is nearly double his previous career high. While Butler’s body type might lead one to expect an elite HR/FB rate, this kind of an extreme jump has to be cause for concern. I would expect Butler to slow down on the long-balls down the stretch, and his 2013 first half rate will be worth watching.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera was in the Butler/Encarnacion break-out class last year with 25 home runs, but he has fallen back to just 14 this year. When we consult his batted ball data, we see that he has hit slightly fewer fly balls (35.3% compared to 38.7%) and had a fewer percentage clear the fence (10.1% compared to 13.3%), neither of which is surprising given the magnitude of his 2011 breakout compared to his established norms to that point. Even still, we find that he might be over-performing in the category, as he is tied for second in baseball with 4 “lucky” home runs, while just 3 of his 14 have been of the “no doubt” variety. Last year, he came second in the league with 15 “just enough” home runs, indicating that he was getting lucky last year as well, which I’m sure many assumed. It seems likely Cabrera is not even an above-average power hitter, though at shortstop he obviously still holds fantasy value.

Ryan Ludwick – Ludwick technically does not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboards in FB% and HR/FB, but he sure has enough power to qualify as a leader in the counting stats. In just under 400 plate appearances, Ludwick has smashed 25 homers, a total he hasn’t touched since 2008 when he hit 37. So what happened to Ludwick between then and now, and how did he get back here? Well, Ludwick has always had good HR/FB rates, except last season, but this year he’s setting a career-high mark of 21.2%, a mark that would be top-15 in baseball if it qualified. Ludwick has always hit a lot of fly balls, and though his rate has declined to 43.1%, he’s still in the Edwin mold of ‘hit everything in the air and hope it flies.’ What is even more encouraging is that Ludwick leads the NL in “no doubt” shots with 9, and while he gets some benefit from playing in Great American Ballpark, 20 of his homers (80%) would have left at least half the parks in baseball.

I should note here that the ‘candidates’ section this week might be more useful for those in keeper or dynasty leagues, as the month of September may not be a large enough sample to see appreciable correction for any of these players.

Potential Sell Highs and Buy Lows – Instead of identifying both separately like most weeks, this week I will instead show the home run leaders with their relevant statistics heat-mapped, as discussed. Some may have unsustainable HR/FB rates, be getting lucky on home runs, or be legitimate sluggers.

Home Runs are not always spread nice and evenly throughout the year, and power hitters tend to be streakier than contact hitters, it seems. Thus, we must be careful when looking at short-term blips in home run-related statistics, using all three of these tools together to identify the Edwin-like breakouts and the Asdrubal-like over-performers. While September may not be long enough to see full correction to the totals, those lucky enough to be in tight races will want to leverage any potential advantage available to them.

Come get to know me on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.
All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Hit Tracker, for games through August 29.

Comments (2)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Fred Wilpon throwing in towel?

Posted on 23 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

The Baltimore Orioles acquired infielder Omar Quintanilla from the New York Mets for cash on Friday. Normally, this would be a blip on the screen. Nonetheless, for a franchise that declared they would not be spending money in no way, shape or form, a move like this can make a gal nervous.

Could the Wilpons be backing up the truck even though the team isn’t even out of the running yet?

It’s not an outrageous idea. This is a franchise that has done stupider.

The Mets designated Quintanilla for assignment by the Mets on Tuesday. They needed to make room for outfielder Jason Bay who was about to come off the disabled list.

Jason Bay? I rest my case.

The 30-year-old Quintanilla batted .257 with a homer, four RBIs and a .350 on-base percentage in 29 games for New York this season. He was called up from Triple-A Buffalo to fill in at shortstop while Ruben Tejada and a pair of backups were injured.

”He knew coming in what his job was, and that was to play as well as he could until Ruben came back, and he did,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”When I talked to him when we sent him out the other day, I told him: ‘This team owes you a tremendous thank you for the job you did.’ Not just because, hey, he was our last resort. That was not it. He came up and played as good as anybody we’ve had. So he has a lot to do with where we sit today.”

But cash considerations? There was seriously no pitcher to be named later?

Quintanilla is expected to join the Orioles on Saturday when a corresponding roster move will be made. A .218 career hitter in 592 big league at-bats, he also has played for Colorado and Texas.

The New York Mets also announced that they will not sign their second-round pick in the 2012 First Year Player Draft, RHP Teddy Stankiewicz.

Seriously, another pitcher?

According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, the Texas high school right-hander has elected to go to Seminole Junior College in Oklahoma instead. Does it take a high school senior to see the writing on the wall?

The deadline for signing Stankiewicz and the rest of the players selected in last month’s draft was at 5:00 PM EST Friday.

This brings me to my point. Every time that bullpen gate opens, no matter who emerges from it, the odds that they will protect any size lead is a little bit better than 50/50.

Was this the revamped bullpen we were promised at the beginning of the year?

The Mets saw fit to expend 75% of their available $14 million dollar offseason budget on relievers Ramon Ramirez, Jon Rauch and of course the big enchilada – Frank Francisco. The problem is they have provide no relief and mostly grief.

“We’re down there to eat innings, to come into situations and get guys out and preserve leads,” Jon Rauch said after another blown save. “We just haven’t done it well.”

Yes Jon. Ya think?

Last season the bullpen went downhill fast after the team decided to trade Francisco Rodriguez. So far this season it’s been even worse and it has become the team’s death knell.

I’m not saying to go get Cole Hamels. I’m not even asking for Huston Street. I’m asking the Mets to at least look like they’re trying. If the Wilpons throw in the towel mid-July in the name of the all mighty dollar, this will have an irrevocably negative effect on the franchise for years to come.

Comments (1)

Finding Keepers:  New York Mets

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finding Keepers: New York Mets

Posted on 11 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The New York Mets find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding year, after finishing 4th in the NL East in 2011. However, with low expectations comes lower perceived value, which means more opportunities for Finding Keepers.

Here is a look at some Mets players who could be undervalued in 2012 and end up keeper worthy.

After a strong rookie year, in which he hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 homers, 1B Ike Davis missed most of the 2011 campaign with an ankle injury. Add to that the speculation that he may have Valley Fever and many fantasy owners will steer clear of him. However, in 36 games last year, he did hit .302/.383/.543 and looked like he was well on his way to a breakout year before the injury. If he proves healthy this spring, snatch him up before someone else does.

2B Daniel Murphy is not a flashy guy, he will not get you a bunch of homeruns or stolen bases, but he did manage to hit a quiet .320/.362/.448 last year, while qualifying at 2B, 3B and 1B. His multi-positional eligibility might make him a bit more valuable to some, but moderate numbers in the counting stats might just keep his value low enough to be considered keeper material.

SS Ruben Tejada is another player who will not carry a team and will barely raise a blip on most owners radars. He offers no power and little speed, but his .284/.360/.335 line last year and multi-positional eligibility (2B/SS) make him valuable in deeper, NL only leagues. A couple bucks or a late round pick could net you a quality UT player.

OF Lucas Duda got some regular playing time last year and played well, earning the starting right field job for 2012. He has some power and with a .292/.370/.482 slash line in 2011, he showed that he can handle big league pitching. This might be the last chance to get him cheap, because I expect bigger and better things from him this year and into the future.

C Josh Thole is another under-the-radar kind of guy. He is not going to provide a lot of homeruns, but he will hit for a good average and will likely be undervalued in most leagues. He is your typical won’t hurt you second catcher and could be a good keeper in deeper leagues.

2B Reese Havens has been the second baseman of the future for the Mets ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft. Problem is, he has not been able to stay healthy for a full season. He owns a career .269/.366/.463 line in 4 minor league seasons, but has hit .301/.379/.505 in AA. For those of you with reserve or minor league spots, you might want to consider taking a flier on Havens.

SP Johan Santana is coming off shoulder surgery, an injury that has felled many a quality pitcher, such as Brandon Webb. That alone will scare many owners off. However, he pitched well in his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, topping out around 92 mph. If his changeup is still working, he could start back up where he left off in 2010. He should come cheap and, at age 32, he should still have a few good years left in him.

I am not sold on the rest of the Mets starting pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee have shown some flashes, but have not been consistent enough to be considered keepers. R.A. Dickey had a strong 2011 season, posting a 3.28 ERA, but at age 37 his better days are probably behind him.

Finally, OF David Wright is one guy who will likely be overvalued based on his name alone. His 2011 season was marred by back issues, which may keep his value down, but should also make you reconsider drafting him.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here