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Aaron Sele And Other Hall Of Fame Thoughts

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Aaron Sele And Other Hall Of Fame Thoughts

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Oh boy. So much Hall of Fame stuff to talk about, so little time. I am not sure I have the time, or space , to fully extrapolate on all of my Hall of Fame thoughts right now, but I will do my best to get to some main points. I am not even sure I know where to start? Or end, for that matter. So my apologies if my stream of consciousness  goes on tangents that are hard to follow at times. Just, ya know, bear with me.


Am I surprised that no one was elected this year? No. From all of the straw polls, or whatevers, there seemed to be a general sentiment that no one would get in this year and if anyone had a chance it was Craig Biggio. Do I think it’s bad or sad that no one got in? Well, not necessarily? I think I am in an “on the fence” sort of gray area here. I understand the exclusivity of the Hall of Fame, but it seems silly that no one got in, just based on the fact that there are several players on the ballot who deserve to get in, including several who will definitely get elected at some point. So what makes their case any better one year to the next? Their statistics don’t change, right? Well, yeah, of course I am right. Hey, it happens from time to time. Really, it does. Scout’s honor! Alright, sorry, moving on. The way these statistics are looked at or which statistics are looked at can change, especially as the ballots change. As in, the votes can depend on who else is on the ballot as much as how good the players on the ballot are. What I mean is, there could be a crowded ballot of talented, Hall of Fame caliber, players on a ballot. Say, for the sake of argument, you are a voter and, for the sake of argument, the ballot you receive contains 12, maybe 15, players who, in your mind, are Hall of Famers. Okay, well you have 10 votes. So, someone is going to have to wait. But here’s the thing, how would you decide? Would you rank them by their qualifications, which seems to be the most logical? Or do you base it on how many years of Hall of Fame eligibility they have left? Or, better yet, do you base it on your personal feelings towards the player? Personally, I would use a bit from each column, I think. Truth of the matter is, I have no idea how the writers would handle this or what goes on in their heads. While this may not be the case for some writers, since some handed in empty ballots, it is some food for thought. Of course then there’s also that whole aura surrounding a first ballot Hall of Famer.

I understand that the first ballot club is something to be prided and exclusive. To get in on your first ballot you need to be the elitist of the elite, the cream of the crop, famiest of the famers. That makes perfect sense, I think?  In a way? Well let us loom on this. I mean should a person who is thought to be a Hall of Famer, not be voted for, just because he is not so great that he should be going in on his first try, as if it is a certain right of passage? Baseball, and many other sports really, but baseball more so, is a game filled with rituals, traditions, secret handshakes, inner circles, etcetera, etcetera. You know, kind of like the Stonecutters.  So while you may be thought of as a Hall of Famer, you may not be though of as the greatest of Hall of Famers. This actually made me a bit surprised that Biggio got such a high vote total, I didn’t think most writers would feel like he was a 1st balloter. Well, two of the best players of their, or maybe anyone’s, time (unless you live under a rock you know who I am talking about and it ain’t Royce Clayton or Woody Williams) were snubbed, and we all know why. Do we all understand why? I would say, yes, yes we do. They are being punished for tarnishing the sanctity of the game. The fact that we all know they will get in, makes it seem silly that they don’t get in now, right? I think most ( I said most, not all) of us can agree they were great players without the “help”, but nevertheless they will have to wait. How long? well only the writers know that I suppose. I guess the whole thing goes back to the precious “feel” that writers hold onto ever so tightly. Yep, gonna talk about that whole “feel” thing once again. Briefly. Well, briefly for me, that is.

Here’s a quick thought on feel. I think it is silly to a point. This is because there absolutely needs to be, at the very least, combination of using “feel” with using statistics, mostly of the advanced kind. Here’s my list of every player on the ballot and whether or not I feel like they are a Hall of Famer. Now, I am basing this, not on statistics, but my actual gut. I am taking away all my knowledge of any of their statistics and just gonna vote on how I felt about them and their careers as they were happening. Now, I have poured over many of their careers and stats, so you will just have to take my word on this:

Craig Biggio- Yes
Jack Morris- No
Jeff Bagwell- Yes
Mike Piazza- Yes
Tim Raines- Yes
Lee Smith- No
Curt Schilling- Yes
Roger Clemens- Yes
Barry Bonds- Yes
Edgar Martinez- Yes
Alan Trammell- No
Larry Walker- N0
Fred McGriff- No
Dale Murphy- Yes
Mark McGwire- No
Don Mattingly- Yes
Sammy Sosa- No
Rafael Palmeiro- No
Bernie Williams – N0
Kenny Lofton- No
Sandy Alomar, Jr- No
Julio Franco- No
David Wells- No
Steve Finley- No
Shawn Green- No
Aaron Sele- No
Jeff Cirillo- No
Royce Clayton- No
Jeff Conine- No
Roberto Hernandez- No
Ryan Klesko- No
Jose Mesa- No
Reggie Sanders- No
Mike Stanton- No
Todd Walker- No
Rondell White- No
Woody Williams- No

So, as you can see, I was in agreement, for the most part, with the writers. I do think  Biggio and Trammell are Hall of Famers, just never really felt that way when they were playing I guess. On the other side, I think Lofton and Bernie Williams deserve a little more conversation and with time and perspective, as much as I love him, I don’t now think Dale Murphy belongs in the Hall. But look at how many players I had as yes, just by feel. If I counted correctly, there were 11. Going by the statistical case, since Lofton and Williams deserve more consideration, you could say maybe 14-15 I think belong in the Hall, for this argument that is. Ten votes, how would I vote? Well if  I did feel Dale Murphy belonged in, he would get my vote this year, because it was his last chance. But with this, let’s bring it on back to that first ballot Hall of Famer stuff.

Does my reasoning there affect some first balloters? Sure. Look how many 1st ballot Hall of Famers I feel are Hall of Famers on this ballot. Would I not vote for ten names ( and I am okay with not submitting ten names, if you honestly do not think ten belong) , just because I didn’t feel like any first balloters deserved it? I wouldn’t, but writers do, just to keep that up on a pedestal as a holy grail for Hall of Famers. I mean it is a bit of farcical idea if you think about it, but many of the voting writers this year did vote for a fair share of 1st timers. But not seeing all the votes, although some writers do post or show their final ballots (I’m guessing who ever voted for Aaron Sele did, and will, not) we have no idea. I’m sure there are plenty of writers that did not vote for Biggio, because he didn’t feel like a first ballot Hall of Famer, but shouldn’t the crux of the argument be whether or not he is a Hall of Famer or not, period? Clearly it isn’t always the case. So when you see the final tallies, you wonder who lost one vote in favor of someone like, say, Aaron Sele. Actually in that instance, if you are like me,  you wonder how Aaron Sele got a vote at all, but I digress. We have no way of knowing, but it is possible that that voter had a slot and did not want Clemens or Bonds or any first timer in and instead, out of  bitter spite or whatever, jotted Sele’s name on his ballot.  The thinking being that there is no way this vote will be relevant. It was a safe bet that very few, if any, voters were voting for Sele, so no harm, no foul. Now again, I have no idea who that voter opted to not vote for instead of Aaron Sele, but I do know that Aaron Sele did not deserve a vote and therein lies part of the problem. Maybe that writer has a good anecdote about Sele or thought Sele was a stand-up guy and really deserved the vote. Stranger things have happened. But imagine if he was doing it as a “whatever” vote, thinking no one else would vote for Sele, so it did not matter. Now imagine, 75% of writers had a similar idea. In some sort of weird twist, Aaron Sele would be a Hall of Famer! Imagine if you heard that announced on Wednesday afternoon?! Okay, this is a ridiculous argument, I understand, because no one has to vote for ten players, but it still does not change the fact that someone voted for Aaron Sele. One more time. Aaron Sele! The voting process needs tweaking and I am not saying this because no one got elected this year, I swear. Although that does help point out to more people that said tweaking is needed.  It has needed tweaking for quite some time now.

I think Bill James has a pretty good idea on how to start the tweaking. Courtesy of Rob Neyer’s article over on SB Nation:

“In fact, Bill James was (I believe) the first significant writer to make a similar suggestion about the voting population, in The Politics of Glory (disclosure: I did a spot of work on that book). I suspect the following passage might be the most powerful in the whole 452-page book:

Let’s think for a moment about the people who can’t vote for the Hall of Fame. I can’t vote. Tony Kubek can’t vote. Tom Seaver can’t and Sparky Anderson can’t. Bob Costas can’t. Larry King can’t. Ron Santo can’t. Tommy John can’t. Keith Olbermann can’t. Ron Barr can’t. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays can’t vote. Tom Reich can’t vote. Bobby Cox can’t. Alan and Randy Hendricks can’t. Ted Simmons and Syd Thrift can’t vote. Jack McKeon can’t. Jerry Coleman can’t. Your local radio broadcaster, who sees 162 games a year and studies the media notes for an hour before the game so he’ll know what he’s talking about — he can’t vote. Skip Caray and Don Sutton can’t vote. Harry Caray and Steve Stone can’t, either. Carlton Fisk can’t vote. Tal Smith can’t vote. Doug Harvey can’t vote. Earl Weaver can’t. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan don’t get to vote. Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra don’t get to vote. Roger Angell can’t vote. Steve Wulf can’t vote. Craig Wright and Pete Palmer can’t vote. George Brett and John Roseboro can’t vote.

Well, pardon my asking but why the hell can’t we vote? What, none of us knows anything about baseball? Our opinions aren’t worth anything?”

Now, you will have to pardon Mr. James’ cussing at the end there, but he makes a good point. Now, as far as former players, managers and fans go, I am a little iffy on this. Not sure how the fan thing would be able to be done fairly and I feel like players and managers may have more grudges and bias than baseball writers. This, of course, would not go for all former players, but a good amount of them, I would reckon. But the idea, in essence that the voting should be expanded beyond tenured and ten-yeared (see what I did there?) baseball writers. There are plenty of other valued baseball minds that should get some input into who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. And I feel if you are a voter and do not turn in a ballot or turn in a blank ballot, then you should lose your privilege, unless you can make a valid argument that no one on the ballot deserves a vote. Maybe not forever, but you should be penalized, I think. Hey, maybe I am the only one that feels that way, I dunno? Maybe I am the only one who thinks whomever voted for Aaron Sele should also lose their vote, but who knows? What I do know is I am gonna wrap this post up with what I think you all want to see, the players I would have voted for, in no particular order (and yes Clemens and Bonds would be off by ballot just out of spite):

Schilling, Trammell, Raines, Mattingly, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, E. Martinez and of course…. Aaron Sele.

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Despite what the title may lead you to believe, this is not gonna be a touchy-feely, emotional, Dr.Phil-esque post. Or at least I don’t think it will be. We’ll see, I guess.

M13Dr. Phil


No, the feelings I am referring to in this case are those most commonly associated with evaluating someone’s value. In this case, those someones are baseball players considered for the Hall of Fame. You know what I am talking about, right? Those gut feelings that tell someone whether or not a player is a Hall of Famer. Now statistics can be poured over, analyzed, compared, etcetera, etcetera, but when there is doubt you can always think about the player and their career and ask yourself, “Did he feel like a Hall of Famer?” It is kind of the epic debate when we come down to Hall of Fame arguments. There are those who are old school and those who are new school. There are those who value your basic stats that have been around for forever and a day and those who value WAR and other Sabermetric goodies. Then there are those that will delve into every stat, every aspect of a player’s career and then there are some that will see the statistics and whatnot, but when push comes to shove, it is that gut feeling that will sway their decision.

For some, this is hard to determine, in a way. I mean, take me for instance. Now, I never saw a great deal of the current Hall of Famers play, so any “feeling” I have one way or the other on them belonging in “the Hall” is all based on stats I’ve seen and things I’ve read about them. Obviously player’s statistics and how they stack up against their colleagues of the time is always a good place to start and is really all you can go on if you have no way of seeing them play. So, for me, Hall of Fame candidates of recent years are players that I had the distinct pleasure of actually watching play the game. So, in a way, I should have a certain idea or “feeling” of whether or not they are Hall worthy, without even looking through their stats. Well, at least that is the gist of it.

Now, I’m not sure if any Hall of Fame voters, or just plain debaters, go solely on this gut feeling and I wouldn’t recommend going on solely that, but I feel there is some merit to going by “feel” here. However, with that being said, I feel like the “feel” argument or what have you, can hurt and help players. My feeling is that the “feel” argument is more often used to dismiss a player’s Hall of Fame case. I’m sure it may not work out that way. It could be 50-50, could be 70-30, but it just seems or feels like this is the argument used for players that writers deem unworthy. Although he overcame this, you have to admit that was the main qualm against Bert Blyleven making it. Bert Blyleven just didn’t feel like a Hall of Famer. For me I could see that as being valid, but by the time I was watching Blyleven he was at the end, not the prime of his career. Now that brings up another thing about this. Not only was Bert Blyleven at the end of his career as a pitcher, but I was really towards the beginning of my career as a baseball watcher, as it were, which will change perspective quite a bit. In that regard I thought it would be fun, just for a bit, to take that into consideration. What I mean is, wouldn’t it be neat (yes, I said “neat”) to look back at some players from my childhood and remember how I felt about them and their careers as I was watching them as small lad.

I mean there were some no-brainers, like Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg (who also happens to be one of my favorite players of all-time) and Tony Gwynn. But then there were some,  for one reason or another, maybe they made an All-Star game appearance or two or maybe I just saw them a lot and they performed well when I did. For whatever reason these players, in my young, naive eyes, were stars to me. You ready for this list of a few guys who I felt were superstars, perhaps Hall of Fame quality, when I was just a wee little scamp? For perspective purposes, I am talking about me being between the ages of six and 12 and talking about players I now would not necessarily think (cause I have perspective and actual stats to look into) were Hall of Fame material.

Frank Viola- So really not that ridiculous I suppose, since in the years I watched him as a kid, he was pretty darned decent. From ’84-’90 he was 126- 95 with a 3.36 ERA. he threw over 250 innings in all of those seasons except for 1990 when he tossed 249.2. He won 18 plus games four times in that span and won 20 or more games twice. He finished top 6 in Cy Young voting four times, including winning the award in 1988, when he was 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA and 193 strikeouts. So maybe not so far-fetched. By Baseball-Reference standards, for whatever it is worth, Sweet Music is the 144th ranked pitcher all time. Not bad, but not quite Hall worthy and Viola, as you probably know, is not in the Hall of Fame. He received  a mere two votes on his one and only ballot, which was, coincidentally, the same amount of votes received by…

Mike Greenwell- As good as I thought Gator was as a kid, I am actually shocked, looking at his numbers and resume now, that he was actually second in the MVP voting in 1988. A career OPS of .831 is very good and he also hit over .300 five times after becoming a regular. In fact in only two of his 12 seasons did he hit less than .295 and in those seasons he was plagued by injury. He had a career .303 average, but he did not offer much more than that statistically, which is probably why he did not have much of a Hall of Fame case.

Glenn Davis- Now with good ol’ Glenn, I guess he was just likeable and I probably saw his Topps All-Star card in 1989 and thought he was, well, an All-Star. In my head I feel like he was a yearly All-Star, but he only went to two All-Star games. He was top 10 in MVP voting three times though and even 2nd in 1986. He hit 30 or more home runs in three seasons and had twenty or more dingers in his first six full seasons. Wow! So, being a kid, maybe I was not that far off. Glenn Davis had superstar qualities and stats in some areas.  But the fact is, he had a short peak and did not even play more than 106 games in any of his last four seasons. In fact, in three of those last four seasons he played in fewer than 93 games and played in only 49 games in 1991 and 30 game in 1993. From ’86-’89 thought he was a slugging superstar. Hitting 122 of his career 190 home runs in those four seasons, but outside of this, he was above average for a couple of seasons, and not so much outside of that, which really does not a Hall of Fame case make. So much, or little, so that Glenn Davis did not even appear on a Hall of Fame ballot.

Jack Clark Nicknamed Jack the Ripper, I remember him being big and menacing at the plate. Four times he finished top 10 in MVP voting, with a third place finish in 1987. He appeared in four All-Star games and could certainly slug. He hit 20 or more home runs in 11 of his 18 seasons and three times led the league in walks on his way to a career .379 on-base percentage. That, his 340 career home runs and being10th in home runs in the 80s, was not quite enough to garner him more than seven votes.

Those are just a few who, at the time, I felt were lifelong  superstars, and they did definitely have their time in the sun, but hard to say they deserved much more consideration than they got, for the Hall. Maybe other guys, like Teddy Higuera, Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon,Von Hayes or Jim Presley would have been better examples, and while I would absolutely love to drone on and on about my boyhood heroes and delve into their statistics, I will refrain (for now), as I think you get my point. Now sure, I was a kid and perception then is most assuredly different as opposed to when you are older but, although extreme, sort of shows you what I am driving at. The “feel” has it’s time and place and I won’t say it is something to completely dismiss, but I feel like it’s somewhat silly. But think about it. Look at the active players and tell me off the top of your head, who feels like a Hall of Famer. I’m guessing a large percentage of these players, barring injury or something, will end up in the Hall. Of course I am sure a fair share won’t. Conversely, I am sure that there will certainly be plenty of players that don’t feel like Hall of Famers who will also get in. Doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t deserve it though. For this reason I feel like the “feel” argument is more for that small Hall that we have already seemed to have lost a chance at, some time ago. And this will more than likely be my record for the use of the word “feel” in one post. At least I feel like it will be.

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fake stats

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Starting Pitching Valuation (SPv) Leaderboard

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Dylan Cain

Loyal Full Spectrum Baseball readers may remember an article I wrote a while back about an innovative new stat, one I call Starting Pitcher Valuation (SPv).  For a brief introduction to the statistic for those who have not read the article, SPv is a stat that encompasses 1) the number of base runners a starting pitcher has allowed, 2) how many earned runs he’s allowed, 3) how many batters he strikes out as opposed to how few batters he walks 4) and how well he can lead his team to a victory.

I have taken all these stats and “blended” them together, creating a pitching stat that ranks starters (not relievers) on a scale of 100%-0%. This gives analytically-minded  fans like you the chance to see one stat that is “easy-to-digest” as opposed to reading a long line of the 10-15 most commonly used statistics.  I wrote this article in hopes of providing a weekly “leaderboard” of SPv and to also give my opinions and some notes about how they (starting pitchers) have done of late.  Here are your season-to-date SPv leaders (as of  August 12th). Enjoy!

1) Jered Weaver (84.87%)- The Angels’ ace has been dealing this year, even in an offensive powerhouse division like the AL West. He’s only lost one game this year and with the offensive production of the Halo’s lineup, he doesn’t seem to have that much pressure on him.  With guys like Mike Trout (.340 AVG) and Albert Pujols (Did you hear about his 24 homeruns?? Talk about coming back after a slow start…), any pitcher would feel relaxed on the hill.  His fastball isn’t Aroldis Chapman caliber but it’s enough to get the job done.

2) R.A. Dickey (81.19%)- The Tim Wakefield impersonator has looked slightly more human of late, with his ERA going up .74 points since his second consecutive one-hitter.  Remember, he still has the best SPv in the senior circut, meaning he is on track to have the best season a knuckleballer has ever had, statistically. His 15 wins are tied for the most in the the bigs, he still makes batters look silly, and he is still very likely in line to win the NL Cy Young Award.

3) Chris Sale (80.96%)- The lanky southpaw for the Chicago White Sox has given his rotation a big boost, even with his young, inexperienced arm.  He puts on a show with the radar gun and can shutdown powerful lineups.  He does have an advantage of facing some weaker offensive teams in the AL Central, however.  Six of his 13 wins have come against the Royals, Indians and Twins.  He is a great pitcher but needs a little more experience to convinced me. The addition of Jake Peavy helped him greatly and Francisco Liriano will give him more of an advantage.

4) David Price (79.77%)- The three-time All-Star is on pace to get the most wins of his career and as far as the AL Cy Young Award voting is concerned, he is breathing down the neck of Sale and Weaver.  The only thing he actually lacks is a big bat to support him offensively.  Evan Longoria coming back will hopefully help with that problem.  If any pitcher can help Tampa Bay get a playoff spot from the A’s it will be Price.  He WILL have a Cy Young Award on the wall before his career is done.

5) Justin Verlander (78.62%)- Finally on the list, Verlander comes in at fourth place in the junior circuit, quite surprising for the Detroit Tigers ace. In my opinion, he is the most overrated pitcher in baseball.  Sure, he has a blazing fastball. Sure, his ERA is under two and a half.  But, he has been inconsistent at moments and is on pace to have the most losses in his career since 2008.  I will give him credit, however, because he tends to dominate one of my favorite statistics (WHIP).

6) Stephen Strasburg (77.71%)- The Strikeout king is now on the list and he is very deserving.  In seven of his twenty three games this year, he has struck out nine batters or more!  That is 30.4% of the time.  Looking for a whiff?  He’s the guy you have to call.  His innings limit has been in the news lately and I think if the Nationals want to keep winning he must be in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out.

7) Matt Cain (76.7%)- “Mr. Perfect”, “Cain-O Insane-O”, “The San Fran Man”…regardless of what you call him, he is still a dominant force on the hill out on the west coast.  His ERA is under 3 for only the second time in his career but he’s currently regarded as the best pitcher in the Giants’ stacked rotation.  This is due mostly to Tim Lincecum‘s recent struggles, and the fact that most of the rotation is considerably “young talent”.  One of his statistics which catches my eye the most is the fact that his walks per 9 is the lowest in his career.

8) Felix Hernandez (76.44%)- “King Felix” is one of my favorite pitchers and I feel he is very underrated.  Although he may only have 10 wins, he already has 3 shutouts, leading the league.  He continues to strikeout batters (he is nearing his 1,500th strikeout) and his ERA is staying low.  His division rivals include the Texas Rangers and the LA Angels, two huge offensive teams.  Hernandez continually gets the job done, though.

9) Madison Bumgarner (76.4%)- When looking at the ERA leaders, you could easily think his fellow teammate Ryan Vogelsong has the edge. However, Bumgarner has a higher SPv for a couple of reasons.  One, he strikes out more batters and walks less, as opposed to Vogelsong.  And secondly, Bumgarner has a better WHIP.  Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched is a crucial statistic in the makeup of SPv.  The first round pick in the 2007 draft is off to a good start in his career and he makes a good #2 behind Matt Cain.

10) Kyle Lohse (76.27%)- I was very surprised when I realized Lohse had made the Top 10. When we look at his stats, he has the second most wins on the St. Louis Cardinals staff (12, just behind Lance Lynn‘s 13) against only has 2 losses.  He hasn’t had much popularity since 2008 when he had 15 wins but the baseball community should know that Kyle still has his stuff.  His WHIP and ERA are at career bests and along with Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn, they are filling the hole left by the Chris Carpenter injury quite nicely.

11) Johnny Cueto (76.18%)- I can truly say that in my mind, Cueto is the best pitcher in the packed NL Central.  I say this because he doesn’t allow many base runners, keeps batters guessing and even when things do get out of hand, he can still often get the win.  This is because of an offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips.  These athletes, led by Cueto, will help the Reds gain an even larger lead over Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates as the season winds down.

12) Jordan Zimmermann (76.14%)- I know I say the word underrated too often, but it’s one of the few words that describes Zimmermann accurately.  The reason I feel he hasn’t had instant stardom is due to the fact that, earlier in the year, he lacked run support.  At one point he had a losing record with an ERA under two and a half.  He doesn’t strikeout very many batters but he doesn’t walk many either. This keeps men off the base, keeping his WHIP low.  If anyone on this list will win the NL Cy Young Award in dramatic fashion, it’s Zimmermann.

13) Cole Hamels (75.75%)- This southpaw has been the talk of trade rumors year in and year out, but he remains in Philly, being the only pitcher to have double-digit wins for the Phillies.  He also has the most strikeouts, most innings pitched, leads in ERA+ and the lowest hits per nine innings.  Once the #2 pitcher to Roy Halladay, he is now the ace of the struggling team.  He just signed a huge, $153 million contract, so expect him to stick around for a while.

14) Clayton Kershaw (75.17%)- “The Claw” is the same man as he has been his whole career but isn’t quite as dominant as he was last year.  He is in the very pitching dominant NL, hurting his chances of winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards.  He strikes out a whole batter less per 9 inning than he did last year but he still has a WHIP of 1.027.  He leads the league in shutouts (2), is still the ace for the NL West leading (tied) Los Angeles Dodgers and no longer has to face Melky Cabrera due to a 50 game suspension.

15) CC Sabathia (75.06%)- CC has been on the DL for an extended period of time.  I think the Yankees are in a good enough position to where they can retain first place in the AL East without him.  If you asked me a year earlier, I would’ve told you that New York couldn’t have competed without Mariano Rivera and with Sabathia out, however, that’s exactly what they are doing.  Yankees’ fans just need to hope that C.C. can bounce back from the injuries, and continue on the pace where he left off.

16) A.J. Burnett (74.81%)- I would’ve expected the Pirate’s righty to be higher on this list, with 14 wins and a new beginning in Pittsburgh, however, he is not.  Like many of the pitchers ranked above him, he doesn’t possess a high number of K’s.  Through 21 starts, he already has the most wins in his career since 2008 in Toronto.  Not only does he have a career low WHIP (with 21+ games started), but he has a one-hitter under his belt.

17) Ryan Vogelsong (74.64%)- The reason this guy may not quite be a household name is because he hasn’t performed in the past, as he is just showing signs of greatness.  The last season that he had 25 or more starts before San Fransisco, he had an ERA of 6.50 with a 6-13 W-L record. He has redeemed himself, however, in his second stint for the Giants.  His two years back have been astounding, posting 249 strikeouts and a 23-13 record.  He does walk a few too many, but nothing to worry about. Expect him to have more than one all star selection in his career.

18) Scott Diamond (74.35%)- I consider this young man the only “stud” in the Minnesota Twin’s rotation.  He isnt like many of the guys on this list as far as strikeouts are concerned (5.0 strikeouts per 9 innings), but he makes up for it because he doesn’t walk many either (1.3 walks per 9 innings, a league lead).  He’s only pitched 18 games, and I really don’t expect the trend to continue, as he allows almost a home run a game.  That’s low enough to be a quality pitcher, but not to consistently be on this list.

19) Gio Gonzalez (74.15%)- Gio is one of the best parts of the Washington Nationals “Big 3″ (Strasburg and  Zimmerman included).  He has the most wins out of all of them (15, 2 away from a career high), he has the league lead in home runs per 9 innings (0.4), and the league lead in hits per 9 innings (6.9).  His wicked curveball is similar to those of fellow teamate Stephen Strasburg and Barry Zito.  With Strasburg supposedly being out of postseason play, Gio is the man who needs to step up even further, if possible.  This would be by walking less and staying consistent.

20) Ryan Dempster (73.62%)- The Texas new-comer is lucky to even be on this list.  His ERA has gone up 79 points in 4 games, but I think he still has some success in him.  He is aging, however, and is struggling to get wins.  He is a great #3 or #4 in the Rangers rotation, and run support won’t be an issue anymore, as it was with the Cubs.

Think one of your favorite pitchers deserved to be on the list or would you like to just discuss Starting Pitching Valuation, contact me on Twitter @pitchingstats or use the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about about this list, how to calculate SPv and/or how to apply its usage to fantasy baseball. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week.

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Playing the Name Game

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Playing the Name Game

Posted on 17 July 2012 by Daniel Aubain

We’ve all seen the fantasy baseball articles where the writer will compare one nameless player’s statistics to another nameless player’s statistics and then hit you with a ton of reasons why you should be looking past simple name recognition if you want to be winning your fantasy baseball league. And do you know why you see articles of this type all over the fantasy baseball blogosphere? Because they’re very helpful when evaluating your roster and the “who’s who” out there on waivers.

I’ll run through a few of my own comparisons (using standard 5×5 categories) for your fantasy baseball viewing pleasure and hopefully give you something to mull over as you assess your roster(s).

Player A: .275 BA (84/305), 48 R, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 12 SB
Player B: .292 BA (85/291), 42 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 1 SB
Player C: .249 BA (77/309), 48 R, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 5 SB
Player D: .279 BA (96/344), 59 R, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 15 SB

A quick glance at these statistics shows distinct advantages for one player over the others depending on which category you choose to compare but, overall, Yahoo! ranks these four players as having “similar” value; all four being separated by only 12 places in their rankings. To be fair, all four of these players qualify at the same fantasy baseball position for 2012: outfield.

Which of these four players would you guess is the most widely owned? Well chicks and fantasy baseball owners truly love the longball because Player C comes in at 97% owned yet has the lowest batting average of the group at .249. Player D is the least owned at 72% but leads this group in hits, runs and stolen bases. Player A seems to be the most balanced player in this group and, deservingly so, is also the highest ranked at #58 overall with a 93% ownership rate. Player B leads this group in batting average and RBI and eeks in at third place in ownership numbers at 73%.

Any idea of who all four of these players are yet? Drum roll, please. Player A is 58th-ranked Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves. Player B is 66th-ranked Jason Kubel of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Player C is 67th-ranked Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds. And Player D is 70th-ranked Alejandro De Aza of the Chicago White Sox.

My fantasy perspective: With ownership numbers of over 70% for each of these four players, they probably aren’t readily available on waivers in any league worth a damn at participating in here at the midway point. So let’s focus on what name recognition could do for you on the trade market. You’d probably think I was smoking something whacky if I offered you my Kubel for your Heyward in a deal. But think of the reverse for a moment. What if you owned Heyward or Bruce. You could possibly pry a Kubel or De Aza plus a second player from an owner who weighs a deal on name recognition rather than what truly counts in fantasy baseball…statistics! Obviously if your league is a keeper or dynasty format you may value certain players differently for their long-term value but the average fantasy baseball player ins’t in a league of these types. You may only have a few weeks left to make a trade in your league so start doing your homework. Now may be the time to trade away some of your “big name” players for multiple pieces to help you in your drive for a fantasy baseball championship.


Player A: .246 BA (82/334), 46 R, 12 HR, 44 RBI, 12 SB
Player B: .269 BA (88/327), 41 R, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 10 SB

For comparison purposes again, I picked two players who qualify at the same fantasy baseball postion for 2012: third base. Player A also qualifies at shortstop. A quick look at the statistics of these two players shows each are within a close enough margin to deserve comparison. Only 14 players have accomplished a 10 HR/10 SB or better line so far in 2012 and each of these players fall into that rare group at the midway point. Player A is the 110th-ranked player on Yahoo! while Player B is close behind at 115th. So can you explain to me why Player A is owned in 98% of all Yahoo! leagues and Player B is only 51% owned? I can. Name recognition and “potential”. Have you guessed the players yet? Well, Player A is Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins and Player B is Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres.

My fantasy perspective: Headly is a player possibly on the move before the July 31st Trade Deadline and now might be a good time to pick him up in fantasy baseball. If he is traded away from PETCO Park to a contender with a hitter’s park, his fantasy value instantly jumps. Come to think of it, a trade to any other team in any other park increases his fantasy value. HanRam, on the other hand, is probably NOT getting traded in real life (although the Marlins would be smart to explore all offers) but could bring in a haul if someone in your league believes he’ll have a big second half (I don’t). Play up that he was a second round pick with third base and shortstop eligibility. Unfortunately he’s been pretty awful lately (last 33 gmaes: .192 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI). If he gets hot, MOVE HIM!


Player A: .286 BA (98/343), 43 R, 6 HR, 46 RBI, 0 SB
Player B: .299 BA (59/197), 29 R, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB

In over 40% LESS at bats, Player B is providing comparable  offensive numbers to Player A. Unfortunately, Player A was ranked 9th overall on Yahoo! to start the season, cost you a 1st round pick to draft him and is currently ranked 162nd while Player B was ranked 494th overall, went virtually undrafted and is currently ranked 170th. Yet Player A is 98% owned while Player B is just 53% owned. Any guesses who these two players are? Player A is Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox and Player B is Tyler Colvin of the Colorado Rockies.

My fantasy perspective: In no way am I suggesting that you should drop Gonzalez and pick up Colvin off waivers if he’s available. But what we see here is a fantasy owner handcuffed by Gonzalez and his struggles. There’s not a lot of people out there willing to trade away Gonzalez at this point because you’d probably wind up having to accept less than market value. And if that’s the case, why not simply hold on to him in hopes he heats it up in the second half while you’re trying to make a run at a title. Colvin, on the other hand, is a player who should see more real-world opportunities in Colorado and continue to provide fantasy value in the second half and should continue to see ownership numbers rise. If only the Rockies had the huevos rancheros to trade away Todd Helton and Jason Giambi. IF ONLY…

Winning at fantasy baseball is determined by which team accumulates the most statistics to earn the most points in categories that matter not by collecting your favorite players or the players whose names you hear on Sports Center the most (PS, if you watch ESPN for baseball news you’re doing fantasy baseball wrong). If you’re able to look at the numbers it takes to get back into the race or keep your team ahead of the pack while removing the personal connection we all have to our perception of a player’s value based on name and/or past performances then there are opportunities to be had to be successful in building and maintaining a winning team.

Were you able to guess any of these players’ names while you were reading this article? If so, which ones? Leave me a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @DJAubain to continue the conversation.

NOTE: All statistics quoted are accurate through games played through July 15th unless otherwise noted.

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Factors and Indicators of Luck vs. Skill

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Factors and Indicators of Luck vs. Skill

Posted on 09 May 2012 by Ryan Bohlen

With the first month of statistics under our belt, it is a good time to start looking at a few different factors and to understand three things: those who are lucky, those who are unlucky, and those who are just plain good.

I myself am a big fan of indicators of future performance for both pitchers and hitters.  For pitchers, I generally look at a pitcher xFIP. Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of FIP, developed by Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times. It’s calculated in the same way as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s home run total with an estimate of how many home runs they should have allowed. This estimate is calculated by taking the league-average home run to fly ball rate (~9-10% depending on the year) and multiplying it by a pitcher’s fly ball rate.  I know, I know.  Scary stuff, I can hear you saying, “I just love to watch baseball, I don’t get this in depth.”  Or perhaps, “I just want to hear about what can help my fantasy team.” I hear you.  Let’s call xFIP a teaser for another time.  But trust me, it can help you predict future success and failure for both real life pitchers and your fantasy pitchers.  Nevertheless, on to hitting!

When it comes to hitters, there are three categories I find crucial to deciphering between those who are lucky and unlucky: BABIP, Contact% and Line drive %.


Let’s start with the basic concept of Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). As each hitter puts a ball in play only two outcomes are going to occur; the player either reaches safely or is out.  Please note, home runs do NOT factor in. While it is true that batters can reach base via an error or fielder’s choice, but the simple fact is that he is still safe.

BABIP indicates the rate of success (reaching base) after putting the ball in play. Generally speaking a high BABIP (above .310) will lead to a higher batting average. In addition, guys with speed will tend to have even higher BABIP numbers on average.

Contact Percentage (contact%) is simply the rate at which a player makes contact with the ball. The higher the percentage of contact equals more at bats where balls are put in play (instead of striking out). Interesting to note, players with higher contact rates (above 80%) tend to have greater fluctuation in the batting average based on their BABIP.

Line Drive Percentage (LD%) indicates the number of line drives that are hit by a particular batter. Simple enough.

Once you mix BABIP with Line Drive Percentage (LD%) you can begin to gauge how lucky, or unlucky, a particular batter is. Sure, there are other factors to consider, but let’s keep this simple.

  • Unlucky Batter = Low BABIP with high LD%
  • Lucky Batter = High BABIP with low contact%

Which Players Have Been Lucky?

Here are the top 10 hitters (ranked by BABIP) with at least 50 at bats this year(as of May 1st):






Bryan LaHair, 1B Cubs




Jason Kubel, OF Diamondbacks




Ryan Sweeney, OF Red Sox




David Wright, 3B Mets




Matt Kemp,    OF Dodgers




Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF Mets




Derek Jeter,   SS Yankees




Jose Altuve,   2B Astros




Jon Jay, OF Cardinals





Bryan LaHair, and his .600 BABIP is a big reason why he is currently posting a .390/.478/.779 line this season.  The .600 BABIP is absolutely unsustainable, and with a strikeout rate of 31.6%, it appears LaHair is getting ready to fall off considerably.  However, last year in AAA Iowa for the Cubs, LaHair did post a cool .361 BABIP, leading to a .331 batting average with 31 homers. It appears he may have turned his luck into a skill.

Fantasy spin: Though most websites and writers suggest sell, sell, sell on LaHair, even if his BABIP comes back to earth around .340 or .350 he should still be able to produce a .290-.300 batting average with 25-30 homeruns.  Not bad for a guy not drafted or drafted in the later rounds of most drafts.  Advice: Hold

This list also features a handful of stars who are obviously in the world of just being very good, no luck needed.  You know the Wrights, Kemps and Jeters of the world. The rest of this list strikes me as getting lucky with the exceptions of Jose Altuve and Jon Jay.  Both are making contact over 90% of the time and both have proven in the minors that making contact has not been a problem.  Fantasy wise, I would recommend Altuve in all leagues as he will absolutely play every day in a lineup that is desperate for production. Not to mention, a .351 batting average. He is for real kids.  As for Jay, my only concern is the return of Allen Craig and the impending return of Lance Berkman.  Playing time is my only quarrel here.

The Unlucky Ones..

The top 10 players currently with the lowest BABIP with at least 50 at bats (as of May 1st).






Eric Sogard,   3B Athletics




Casey Kotchman,      1B Indians




Geovany Soto, C Cubs




Xavier Nady,  OF Nationals




Eric Hosmer,  1B Royals




Clint Barmes, SS Pirates




Brendan Ryan, 2B Mariners




Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays




J.J. Hardy,     SS Orioles





For me, the two names that will stand out to most are Eric Hosmer and Jose Bautista.  Both players were expected to post strong numbers heading into this season and thus far it’s been ugly.  Hosmer is sporting a

Still trying to find his swing

.179/.252/.357 line after posting an impressive .293/.334/.465 line in 128 games last year for the Royals.  This year, his walk rate is up (8.9 compared to 6.0), while his strikeout rate is down (13.0 compared to 14.6) and his contact rate is right with all of his career averages.  So what gives?  Bottom line, Hosmer is getting extremely unlucky and a breakout is coming.

Fantasy spin: Hosmer is an extremely patient hitter who makes a lot of contact.  With a BABIP of .155 and a career BABIP (minors and majors) of .316, I fully expect Hosmer to return draft day value and finish with a batting average in the .280-.290 range with 25-30 homers.

Advice: Hold, buy low.

As for Bautista, he is a bit more concerning. Thus far, his walk rate has plummeted from 20.2% to 14.8%, showing that his patience has not there as compared to years past.  While he is making contact at a decent clip, he has been swinging at “pitcher’s pitches.” I do think Bautista will regain his patient eye and keep mashing homeruns, getting back to his .302 average from last year seems unreachable as it was inflated due to an inflated .309 BABIP. His previous three years, he never exceeded .275.  Look for the homers, not the average.

Think I’m crazy about a keeping LaHair or believing in a Hosmer turnaround?  Believe in the batting average side of Bautista? Feel free to comment.


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