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September 29, 2006

Weekend Photo


Mapleton, Utah, 7 January 2004

Also, The Rundown passed one million hits a couple of days ago. Yeah, "hits" aren't "visits" and don't mean much of anything, but in any case, thanks for reading.

Posted by Lucas at 06:45 PM

Collapsible

What you may not have known about Philadelphia’s epic collapse in 1964:

After September 20th, the Phillies lost their 6.5-game lead in seven days flat and never regained it. In fact, by the end of Wednesday, September 30, their magic number for elimination was down to one.

Cincinnati blew it almost as badly as Philadelphia. The Reds, not St. Louis, initially overtook the Phillies, and for six of the last eight days they held all or a piece of the NL lead. They proceeded to lose four of their last five, including their final two at home against Philadelphia, and dropped into a second place.

The Giants finished only three games out of first but never really contended. A doubleheader sweep by the Cubs reduced their magic number for elimination to two with a full week yet to play.

As noted by Jim Baker in today’s Baseball Prospectus, St. Louis can’t surpass the ’64 Phillies in terms of worst collapses. The Phils were a fine team, St. Louis thoroughly average. Average teams don’t collapse, they just plain lose.

Go Astros.

Posted by Lucas at 05:18 PM

September 28, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

The Last Series
Texas will start Vicente Padilla, Kevin Millwood, and Robinson Tejeda in the final series of the season at Seattle. Both Padilla and Millwood pitched poorly in their previous starts, but either is a good play against the vanilla Mariners offense in a pitcher’s park. Tejeda is also a surprisingly strong play; he’s allowed only nine runs (just six earned) in his last five starts. If you need a last-day boost, pick him up. Odds are that Seattle (and Texas) will have plenty of backups in the lineup, and they’ll be swinging at everything so they can get home and forget their disappointing season.

Akinori Otsuka won’t pitch again this season because of persistent migraines. Wes Littleton stands the best chance of earning the save opportunities. If another save could affect your rank in the standings, grab him. Those outside keeper leagues can safely drop Aki. For those of you in giant AL-only leagues, Rick Bauer also won’t pitch again.

Hank Blalock is hitting .174/.224/.261 in September. This weekend won’t help. Mark DeRosa has also cooled off (.204/.295/.280) but is still more likely to help a fantasy team than Blalock. Three weeks ago I gave Nelson Cruz a qualified recommendation in AL-only leagues. He started off slowly but had batted .262 with 9 runs, 2 homers, 7 RBI and 1 SB in his last 11 games. He ought to start at least twice, so AL-only and large mixed-league owners ought to consider him.

Thanks For Reading
So concludes my fifth(!) year of writing about the Rangers for ESPN. I hope you’ve gotten some use out of it. Thanks to Eric Karabell for picking me back in 2002, and thanks to Courtney for being the best baseball wife ever.

Posted by Lucas at 07:01 PM

September 26, 2006

Grady Fuson Recycles!

During 2002-2004, Grady Fuson served as Texas’s Assistant General Manager and held primary responsibility for the draft. He is now the veep of scouting and player development for San Diego. Via Fuson, Texas drafted and signed 21 players during the first eight rounds of the 2002-2004 drafts. Where are they now?

Ten are still with Texas (Diamond, Hurley, Herren, Schlact, Boggs, Harrison, Danks, Littleton, Farnum, Meyer)
Two have retired (Barnett, Tisdale)
One is with the Mets (Nickeas)
One is with the Pirates (Lorenzo)

And the other seven are Padres:

Chris O’Riordan (drafted in 2002 / round 8)
Vince Sinisi (2003 / 2)
John Hudgins (2003 / 3)
Adam Bourassa (2003 / 6)
Jeremy Cleveland (2003 / 8)
Bill Susdorf (2004 / 6)
Mark Roberts (2004 / 8)

Any chance Texas could re-acquire Adrian Gonzalez for, say, Drew Meyer and Matt Farnum? How could Fuson resist?

Posted by Lucas at 03:55 PM

September 25, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 4: Bakersfield Blaze Pitchers

About the league and park: Click here. Very short version: The California League favors hitters, but the park slightly favors pitchers.

About the pitchers: 20% of the team's runs (1.14 per game!) were unearned. In Eric Hurley's case, 25%. In Daniel Herrera's, 50%. ERA is of limited usefulness but does a reasonable job of describing a pitcher's performance at higher levels. In the lower minors, not so much.

Between Bakersfield and Frisco, Hurley excelled at everything but keeping the ball in the park. He allowed sixteen homers in 138 innings between the Cali and Texas Leagues, about 25% more than the league-average rate. Should Hurley spend much time in Oklahoma City next year, keep in mind that Bricktown Ballpark ferociously supresses home runs. Any improvement by Hurley in that regard must be taken in context.

Yes, Jesse Ingram really did strike out over 40% of the batters he faced. Ingram, Hurley, and Kometani graduated to Frisco during the season. Herrera converted to starter in August and increased his strikeout rate. 2004 third-rounder Michael Schlact can't legally order a beer until December, but that's not his only problem: he struck out only five batters per nine innings during 2005-2006.

Player 
GS 
IP
RA
RA+
ERA
ERA+
WHIP
WHIP+
HRrate
HRrate+
BBrate
BBrate+
SOrate
SOrate+
Daniel
Herrera
14
5
53.3
2.70
198
1.35
336
0.96
153
0.0%
inf.
5.8%
157
29.3%
152
Jesse
Ingram
27
0
59.3
3.03
176
2.43
187
0.94
156
1.3%
155
9.7%
94
41.8%
217
Matt
Farnum
30
0
50.0
3.78
141
3.42
133
1.40
105
1.4%
146
8.9%
102
25.3%
131
Kea
Kometani
10
10
60.0
4.05
132
3.30
138
1.37
107
1.2%
174
5.1%
177
22.0%
114
Douglas
Mathis
26
25
150.7
4.54
118
4.18
109
1.37
107
2.2%
94
7.3%
124
16.9%
88
Eric
Hurley
18
18
100.7
5.36
100
4.11
110
1.23
119
2.9%
71
7.7%
118
25.5%
132
John
Bannister
18
18
96.7
6.42
83
5.87
77
1.68
87
2.0%
102
11.8%
77
24.3%
126
Edwin
Vera
35
11
93.3
6.46
83
5.21
87
1.85
79
1.4%
152
15.1%
60
20.9%
108
Jon
Wilson
31
0
53.7
6.54
82
4.53
100
1.77
83
1.6%
131
9.0%
101
14.5%
75
John
Lujan
38
0
69.0
6.65
80
5.74
79
1.71
86
2.5%
81
13.6%
67
18.3%
95
Michael
Schlact
26
26
138.3
7.29
73
5.99
76
1.73
85
2.4%
87
9.6%
95
12.7%
66
Broc
Coffman
19
18
83.3
9.18
58
7.24
63
1.80
82
2.8%
73
10.2%
89
17.2%
89
TEAM
TOTALS
140
140
1,241.7
5.97
90
4.83
94
1.53
96
2.2%
94
9.7%
93
20.6%
107
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
-
5.34
-
4.54
-
1.47
-
2.1%
-
9.1%
-
19.3%
-

About the stats: See the top of this post for explanations and caveats.

Posted by Lucas at 07:58 PM

September 23, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 3: Bakersfield Blaze Hitters

The League: Unlike the Midwest League, the California League favors hitters. The ten-team league had 23 players with an OPS of .800 or better; the thirteen-team Midwest had only eleven. Though not a slugger’s paradise, the league did permit batters to hit .275 and reach base at a .350 clip in 2006, both above American League levels to date. In terms of runs scored and batting line (average/on-base/slugging), the league most closely resembles the American League from 1937-1940.

California League vs American League
Runs Scored 8% higher
Runs Allowed 10% higher
ERA 2% higher
Batting Average .001 higher
On-Base Percentage .011 higher
Slugging Percentage .023 lower
Walk Rate 9% higher
Strikeout Rate 17% higher

The Park: Bakersfield’s Sam Lynn Ballpark is 328 down the lines and a mere 356 to center… and it’s (slightly) a pitcher’s park. The outfield fences are fifteen feet high, and the park faces the “wrong” way, with the sun setting in center field. Games often don't start until after 8:00pm, when the sun dips behind an auxiliary fence beyond center field.

Sam Lynn Ballpark,
1-Year Park Factors
Runs 0.99
Average 0.98
On-Base Percentage 0.99
Slugging Percentage 0.98
Walks 1.01
Strikeouts 1.06

The Team: All hail Emerson Frostad! The 376th pick of the 2003 draft switched from third to catcher and would have led the California League in OPS with an additional 48 quality plate appearances. Texas must now decide whether to add Frostad to the 40-man roster; if not, he’ll be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Fellow ’03 draftees Wes Littleton, Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman already occupy slots and John Danks will join them soon. Frostad turns 24 next January. ’04 seventh-rounder Ben Harrison also hit well, finishing fifth in the league in OPS and earning a July promotion to AA Frisco. He celebrated his 25th birthday this week, rather old for a prospect. Tim Hulett hit for average and showed ridiculous patience in both Bakersfield and Frisco. 22-year-old Steven Murphy doesn’t walk much but popped 38 doubles and 19 homers.

At the other end, Ian Gac hasn’t hit at any level, and Phillip Hawke and Justin Hatcher are out of the organization. Freddie Thon had a 101 OPS+ but stepped back from a nice 2005 in Spokane, losing his home-run stroke and walking one-third less often than Ozzie Guillen (no joke).

Player
POS
G
OPS
OPS+
AVG
AVG+
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
ISO
ISO+
BB%
BB%+
SO%
SO%+
Net Steals
Emerson
Frostad
C
79
.942
149
.320
119
.389
113
.553
136
.233
170
11.0%
117
18.9%
100
-11
Ben
Harrison
OF
87
.917
143
.293
109
.397
115
.520
128
.227
166
12.9%
137
20.4%
93
3
Tim
Hulett, Jr.
IF
77
.840
125
.291
108
.415
120
.426
105
.135
99
17.4%
186
17.4%
109
5
Steven
Murphy
OF
116
.842
121
.283
105
.335
97
.506
124
.223
163
6.2%
66
17.8%
106
-6
Jayce
Tingler
OF
56
.807
117
.330
123
.432
125
.375
92
.045
33
13.8%
147
6.7%
284
-9
Brandon
Boggs
OF
78
.795
111
.261
97
.352
102
.444
109
.183
134
12.3%
131
18.2%
104
5
German
Duran
SS
114
.778
106
.284
106
.331
96
.446
110
.162
118
7.1%
76
16.3%
116
-3
Freddie
Thon
1B
53
.757
101
.321
119
.335
97
.422
104
.101
74
2.2%
24
13.8%
137
-4
Adam
Fox
3B
77
.732
94
.256
95
.324
94
.408
100
.152
111
8.5%
91
15.0%
126
-1
Roberto
Valiente
OF
57
.712
90
.287
107
.340
99
.372
91
.085
62
6.0%
64
17.9%
106
-2
Micah
Furtado
2B
103
.710
89
.249
93
.333
97
.377
93
.128
93
10.3%
110
17.5%
108
-9
Luke
Grayson
OF
51
.699
85
.225
84
.289
84
.410
101
.185
135
5.3%
57
25.2%
75
-4
Mauro
Gomez
3B
59
.678
79
.258
96
.279
81
.399
98
.141
103
2.7%
29
25.0%
76
1
Juan
Gonzalez
SS
59
.633
69
.237
88
.311
90
.322
79
.085
62
9.4%
101
21.6%
88
5
Phillip
Hawke
1B
36
.621
67
.220
82
.318
92
.303
74
.083
61
12.6%
134
23.3%
81
1
Ian
Gac
1B
55
.588
55
.188
70
.242
70
.346
85
.158
115
5.9%
63
31.8%
59
3
Justin
Hatcher
C
32
.553
50
.228
85
.316
92
.238
58
.010
7
10.6%
113
20.5%
92
0
TEAM
TOTALS
140
.753
100
.268
100
.339
98
.413
101
.145
106
9.1%
97
19.1%
99
-30
Park-Adjusted League Average
.751
.269
.345
.407
.138
9.4%
18.9%
-11

About the stats: See the post on Clinton’s hitters for explanations and caveats.

Posted by Lucas at 02:20 AM

September 22, 2006

Weekend Photo


Golden Gate Bridge, 25 March 2006

Bakersfield stats coming soon.

Posted by Lucas at 02:18 PM

September 18, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 2: Clinton LumberKings Pitchers

Click here for a discussion of the league and park. Very short version: The Midwest League is a very low run-scoring environment, but Clinton’s Alliant Everygy Field slightly favored hitters.

On the pitchers: Players are ranked by park-indexed Run Average (similar to Earned Run Average except all runs are included). From what I understand, RA or ERA isn’t a reliable method of rating pitchers in the lower minors, but I didn’t want just to rank the players alphabetically. As with OBP+, WHIP+ tends to have lower variance among pitchers than most indexes. The homers allowed index has a huge variance because homers are infrequent relative to walks, strikeouts, hits, etc. For example, Jose Marte allowed one homer in 67 innings, giving him an HR+ of 465. That’s fantastic, obviously, but just one more homer allowed would have dropped his HR+ to 232.

I also don’t want to present others’ work as my own, so if you’re looking for averages on balls in play, ground/fly ratios, and other splits, visit the incomparable minorleaguesplits.com.

Pitchers ranked by indexed Run Average. Does not include those with fewer than 40 innings.

Player
G
IP
RA
RA+
ERA
ERA+
WHIP
WHIP+
HRrate
HRrate+
BBrate
BBrate+
SOrate
SOrate+
Julian
Cordero
27
68.0
4.10
117
2.91
137
1.34
101
1.0%
155
9%
92
17%
84
Josh
Giles
28
46.3
4.27
112
3.88
103
1.27
107
2.6%
63
8%
108
24%
118
Jose
Marte
39
66.7
4.45
108
3.51
114
1.40
97
0.3%
465
12%
70
25%
121
Joey
McLaughlin
15
32.0
5.06
95
4.50
89
1.38
99
3.7%
44
9%
94
21%
104
Kevin
Altman
34
85.3
5.17
93
4.85
82
1.37
99
1.6%
99
6%
132
21%
105
J.B.
Diaz
36
74.0
5.23
92
4.26
94
1.50
91
1.5%
106
9%
97
13%
61
Omar
Poveda
26
149.3
5.54
86
4.88
82
1.37
99
1.9%
86
6%
143
21%
102
Juan
Jimenez
22
116.7
5.63
85
5.25
76
1.42
96
2.6%
63
8%
98
14%
70
Kyle
Rogers
22
104.0
5.88
81
4.67
86
1.42
96
1.3%
123
13%
62
19%
93
Jacob
Rasner
27
144.7
6.35
75
5.41
74
1.42
96
2.2%
73
8%
100
19%
91
Zachary
Phillips
28
142.0
6.72
71
5.96
67
1.72
79
0.8%
212
10%
82
19%
94
Juan C.
Garcia
24
43.0
8.58
56
6.28
64
1.72
79
2.5%
66
11%
73
18%
89
Gerry
Oakes
30
42.3
9.35
51
8.08
50
2.01
68
2.3%
71
21%
39
14%
69
TEAM
TOTALS
139
1,205.0
5.68
84
4.81
83
1.46
93
1.7%
96
10%
85
19%
94
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
4.79
-
4.00
-
1.36
-
1.6%
-
8.3%
-
20.4%
-

Posted by Lucas at 06:09 PM

Austin City Limits Festival, Day Three

Saw most or all of:
KT Tunstall
Patrice Pike
New Pornographers (1)
Son Volt
Flaming Lips
BoDeans

Saw or heard a little of:
Sam Roberts
Jose Gonzalez (2)
Jack Ingram
Tom Petty

Best of the day:
Flaming Lips

(1) Plagued by sound problems. Frustrating.

(2) Would've seen more had he not played only thirty-five minutes of his hour-long slot. Don't know why he stopped.

Posted by Lucas at 04:59 PM

September 17, 2006

Austin City Limits Festival, Day Two

Saw most or all of:
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
Ben Kweller *
Nada Surf
TV On The Radio
Los Lobos
Calexico
What Made Milwaukee Famous
Brazilian Girls

Saw a little of:
Ghostland Observatory
Explosions In The Sky
Willie Nelson
Massive Attack

Best/worst of the day:
Can't decide. They're all winners!

* Set started late and cut short because Kweller had a horrific nosebleed. Literally bleeding on his guitar and piano. He played one song with a tampon stuck up his nose. I'm serious.

Posted by Lucas at 11:47 AM

September 16, 2006

Austin City Limits Festival, Day One

Saw most or all of:
Gnarls Barkley
Cat Power
Thievery Corporation
Van Morrison

Saw a little of:
Wolf Parade
Stars
Okkervil River
Tragically Hip

Best of the day:
Thievery Corporation, just like last year.

Worst of the day:
Van Morrison. Really? Van? Yep. His voice still shines, but the music was the kind of tepid, overly polite jazz-blues-rock amalgam that I despise. Also, too many solos. I'll take passion over instrumental prowess every day.

Posted by Lucas at 12:56 PM

More On Mayberry

Yesterday I mentioned that John Mayberry had performed better than his line of .268/.358/.479 would suggest because of the low-offense context of the Midwest League. Mayberry ranked sixteenth in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging, and third in homers among MWL qualifiers.

Only 26 Midwest League batters (an average of two per team) finished with an OPS of .750 or higher. Eleven of those 26 were drafted out of college in 2005. John Mayberry is the only first rounder. The others were drafted in the 3rd, 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th (3 players), 16th, 17th, and 18th rounds.

Interestingly, three of the MWL’s 26 top hitters were drafted prior to Mayberry in 2005: Justin Upton (#1), Cameron Maybin (#10) and Jay Bruce (#12). All were drafted out of high school and are nineteen years old. Nothing Texas could do about them, certainly.

So where are Mayberry’s peers, the other 28 first-rounders from 2005 with college experience? One didn’t sign (Luke Hochevar) and one was hurt (Wade Townsend). Five others topped out at the same level as Mayberry in 2006. The other 21 played at a higher level.

For a better comparison, let’s drop everyone selected prior to Mayberry. Of the remaining seventeen peers, eleven played at a higher level in 2006. Five played at the same level, and one didn’t play.

The list (grey shading indicates player selected prior to Mayberry):

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
4
Ryan Zimmerman 3b MLB
7
Troy Tulowitzki ss AA, MLB
9
Mike Pelfrey rhp high A, AA, AAA, MLB
25
Matt Garza rhp high A, AA, AAA, MLB
26
Craig Hansen rhp AA, AAA, MLB
27
Joey Devine rhp high A, AA, AAA, MLB

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
3
Jeff Clement c AA, AAA
18
Cesar Carrillo rhp AA, AAA

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
2
Alex Gordon 3b AA
5
Ryan Braun 3b high A, AA
6
Ricky Romero lhp high A, AA
14
Trevor Crowe of high A, AA
15
Lance Broadway rhp AA
23
Jacoby Ellsbury of high A, AA
36
Travis Buck of high A, AA
48
Garrett Olson lhp high A, AA

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
21
Cliff Pennington ss high A
29
Jacob Marceaux rhp high A
30
Tyler Greene ss low A, high A
35
Cesar Ramos lhp high A
45
Jed Lowrie 2b high A

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
19
John Mayberry of low A
24
Brian Bogusevic lhp short A, low A
31
Matt Torra rhp low A (hurt)
38
Eli Iorg of low A
42
Clay Buchholz rhp low A
43
Mark Mccormick rhp low A

Pick
Player Pos 2006 Levels
8
Wade Townsend rhp hurt
40
Luke Hochevar rhp unsigned

Of course, playing at a higher level does not in itself connote a better player. For example, Tyler Greene hopped from low A to high A and bombed out. Texas could have given Mayberry a few late-season weeks in Bakersfield or even Frisco just to see what would happen. In sum, there’s only so much to draw from this list.

Ideally, Mayberry will be primed and ready when Mark Teixeira signs his monstrous free-agent contract with Baltimore after the 2008 season. But because of his rather slow development, he’ll have to jump three minor-league levels in two years for that to happen.

Posted by Lucas at 12:02 PM

September 15, 2006

Minor League Review, Part 1: Clinton LumberKings Hitters

The League: The Midwest League favors pitchers by a considerable margin. Run scoring was 12% lower than the American League, and the league’s aggregate batting line was just .253/.325/.365. Cedar Rapids’ Jordan Renz led the MWL with only 24 homers. The depressed offense is probably also a function of the players themselves. Even in their early twenties, most men haven’t completely filled out or attained peak physical strength. They just don’t hit as many homers as the big-leaguers.

Midwest League vs American League
Runs Scored 12% lower
Runs Allowed 9% lower
ERA 18% lower
Batting Average .022 lower
On-Base Percentage .014 lower
Slugging Percentage .071 lower
Walk Rate 2% higher
Strikeout Rate 16% higher

Why is "runs scored" different than "runs allowed?" MLB's interleague play, in which the AL crushed the NL. Also, the Midwest League permits significantly more unearned runs than MLB (.36 runs per game).

The Park: According to data compiled by Dan Szymborski, Clinton’s Alliant Energy Field favored pitchers during 2003-2005. It favored hitters in 2006 per data I analyzed from minorleaguesplits.com. I’m using one-year park factors because I personally have only 2006 data. Also, the Field underwent substantial renovation in the offseason. The dimensions didn’t change, to my knowledge, but perhaps the upgrade affected game play.

Alliant Energy Field, 1-Year Park Factors
Runs 1.08
Average 1.03
On-Base Percentage 1.01
Slugging Percentage 1.04
Walks 0.97
Strikeouts 1.04

The Team: Mike Hindman (known as “mjh” on the newbergreport.com message board) recently had some interesting observations about minor-league performance and the Rangers’ farm system. Texas has revamped its selection and development process twice in recent years. The organization currently emphasizes younger, high-risk high-reward players (or at least doesn’t favor college players) and pushes them quickly up the ladder. Also, players may be working on new batting styles, deliveries and pitches that result in (temporarily, one hopes) poor performances as measured conventionally. Statistics don’t matter that much at low levels, and won-loss records mean even less. If a couple of 2006 LumberKing alumni blossom into quality Major Leaguers, no one will care how many games the team won.

Thanks goodness for that, because… good gravy, what a dreadful bunch. Clinton went 45-96 on the season, never won four consecutive games but had seven losing streaks of at least five. The team finished 16-48, during which time it scored 3.5 runs per games and allowed 5.5. Kansas City and Tampa Bay are presently trailing the AL with an OPS+ of 89. Clinton’s was 85.

On Mayberry: To mixed reviews, Texas drafted John Mayberry Jr. nineteenth overall in 2005. At age 22 and with three years of college ball to his credit, he ought to be tearing up low-A, but his line of .268/.358/.479 is a bit underwhelming. That’s where the league and park discussion provides context. Using a typical Major League hitter as a comparison doesn’t work. Using the Clinton’s park-adjusted league average of .260/.330/.380 reveals that Mayberry batted well above average, especially for power. An isolated power index of 177 and walk index of 135 give hope.

Players are ranked in order of OPS+. Those with fewer than 100 at-bats aren’t listed.

Player
POS
G
OPS
OPS+
AVG
AVG+
OBP
OBP+
SLG
SLG+
ISO
ISO+
BB%
BB%+
SO%
SO%+
Net Steals
John
Mayberry
OF
126
.838
135
.268
103
.358
108
.479
126
.211
177
11.4%
135
20.3%
92
3
Grant
Gerrard
OF
28
.775
119
.298
115
.371
112
.404
106
.106
89
9.6%
113
18.1%
103
0
Terrance
Blunt
OF
115
.709
101
.271
104
.355
108
.354
93
.083
70
11.0%
131
13.8%
136
-4
Joseph
Kemp
P
77
.709
99
.248
95
.316
96
.393
103
.145
122
7.1%
84
20.1%
93
-7
Freddie
Thon
1B
69
.710
99
.280
108
.308
93
.402
106
.122
103
3.7%
44
13.0%
144
-2
Matt
Smith
SS
124
.682
93
.267
103
.351
106
.330
87
.063
53
11.3%
133
16.3%
115
-6
Brian
Valichka
C
65
.666
87
.231
89
.299
91
.367
97
.136
114
7.1%
85
17.2%
108
0
John
Whittleman
3B
130
.657
85
.227
87
.313
95
.343
90
.116
97
11.4%
135
17.2%
108
-5
Truan
Mehl
OF
102
.619
74
.252
97
.280
85
.339
89
.087
73
4.0%
48
14.4%
130
5
K.C.
Herren
OF
87
.600
70
.221
85
.306
93
.294
77
.073
61
10.6%
126
21.1%
89
-9
Benjamin
Crabtree
C
62
.597
68
.245
94
.290
88
.306
81
.061
51
4.4%
52
21.3%
88
-1
Ian
Gac
1B
54
.583
62
.197
76
.227
69
.356
94
.159
134
3.7%
44
28.3%
66
-2
Jose
Vallejo
SS
127
.573
62
.234
90
.289
88
.284
75
.050
42
6.1%
72
17.3%
108
6
David
Peterson
2B
64
.548
55
.231
89
.269
82
.279
73
.048
40
4.6%
54
17.1%
109
-6
TEAM
TOTALS
-
139
.655
85
.243
93
.309
94
.346
91
.103
87
8.0%
95
18.2%
103
-26
Park-Adjusted League Average
-
-
.710
-
.260
-
.330
-
.380
-
.119
-
8.4%
-
18.7%
-
-

A few notes about the stats: You know OPS+. All the other “+” figures are similarly calculated. 100 equals the park-adjusted league average, and higher is always better. As you’ll see, indexes for stats like slugging and isolated tend to vary among players much more than OBP or batting average.

The walk and strikeout rates aren’t 100% accurate. Right now, nobody has team stats for hit batters or sac flies, both of which are part of total plate appearances. So, at the moment, they only way to compare players to the league would be for me to hit the web page of every single player in the Midwest league and compile the totals myself. Folks, that’s not going to happen. So in this case, the walk rate equals [ walks / ( at-bats + walks ) ], and the same applies to the strikeout rate. Unless a player has an outrageous number of HBPs or SFs, the walk and strikeout rates shouldn’t be overstated by more than about 0.3%.

Net steals are simply ( SB – 2*CS ). This assumes a break-even rate of 66.7%. The break-even rate in the AL hovers around 70% but would be lower in the Midwest because of depressed offense (stealing is more viable is a low-scoring environment). Whatever the actual rate, I’m just using a simple formula.

Where are the pitchers? Next post.

Posted by Lucas at 01:00 PM

Weekend Photo


Downtown Austin, 13 March 2006

Posted by Lucas at 12:35 PM

September 11, 2006

June 30, 2005

That was the last day in which Laynce Nix drew an unintentional walk. Since then:

106 plate appearances
11 singles
5 doubles
2 homers
1 walk (intentional)
32 strikeouts

Line: .178/.198/.287

Nix will miss the rest of the season after having surgery for turf toe.

Posted by Lucas at 04:26 PM

September 10, 2006

How About That… Local Sports Team!

I drove to Round Rock and watched the Express lose to Nashville in Game 4 of the PCL divisional series...

Then I drove to a friend’s house and watched the Longhorns lose to Ohio State...

Then I drove home and watched the Rangers lose in extra innings to Seattle...

But… the friend had Live Oak Big Bark on tap...

And my wife had brought home breakfast tacos from El Chilito this morning...

So the day was okay.

Posted by Lucas at 01:02 AM

September 08, 2006

September Call-Up Roundup

Between September 1 and September 8, Texas recalled pitchers SCOTT FELDMAN, JOHN RHEINECKER, and NICK MASSET from AAA Oklahoma, pitcher FRANK FRANCISCO from short-season Spokane, and shortstop JOAQUIN ARIAS from AAA Oklahoma. Texas also purchased the contract of catcher MIGUEL OJEDA and transferred outfielder BRAD WILKERSON to the 60-day Disabled List.

Francisco will see his first MLB action since September of 2004, when a thrown chair and Tommy John surgery suspended his career. The surprise is Arias, who batted a meager .268/.296/.361 in AAA as a (mostly) 21-year-old. I wouldn’t expect more than a couple of token appearances from him.

Posted by Lucas at 06:05 PM

Weekend Photo


The End Of The Road, Route 66, Glenrio, TX, April 1995

Five For Friday (Tom Hicks edition):

1. Husker Du – “I Apologize?
2. Richard and Linda Thompson – “For Shame Of Doing Wrong?
3. Sleater-Kinney – “The Drama You’ve Been Craving?
4. Neil Young – “F*!#in’ Up?
5. Peter Gabriel – “No Self Control?

Posted by Lucas at 11:47 AM

September 07, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

What September Brings
The Rangers have as much chance of winning the division as you do of winning the lottery, but for the most part they’ll continue to play their front-liners until they’re eliminated. Only two notable changes among position players have occurred.

First, Nelson Cruz, acquired as part of the Carlos Lee trade, has become an everyday player. Previously he’d started only against lefties. Cruz hit well in AAA (.302/.378/.528 with 20 steals in 104 games) but has shown little in the Majors except for a three-for-four, two-homer, five RBI afternoon against Oakland three days ago. Still, he’s worth considering in most AL-only leagues if only because almost every full-time player has value. At this point in the season, you should take a chance on him if you needed hitting. Pass if you’re satisfied with how your hitting has contributed to your place in the standings. The loser in Cruz’s ascension is Matt Stairs, who hasn’t started a game this month. Those in larger AL-only leagues probably have little choice but to keep him and hope he gets a few starts down the road. Those in smaller single-leagues and mixed leagues can waive goodbye.

Second, Gerald Laird has started six consecutive games at catcher. Unfortunately, his increased play is not a belated realization on Buck Showalter’s part that Laird is the better catcher right now and for the future. No, Rod Barajas just has a sore back. Though I suspect Laird still won’t start much more than 50% of the time once Barajas recovers, he’ll remain the better choice. Neither has value in typical mixed leagues.

Blalock’s Descent Continues
Hank Blalock briefly abandoned his second-half slump for a few weeks but has since resumed not hitting. Blalock has started 46 of 53 games since the All-Star break and has batted .261 with 23 runs, three homers, and 22 RBI. I would seriously consider dropping him in all but the largest mixed leagues. I’m not saying that because I’m in your league and ready to claim him off waivers. Here’s Blalock’s last three Septembers:

2005 -- .208/.259/.347
2004 -- .250/.346/.398
2003 -- .226/.245/.453

Blalock is batting .136/.136/.136 with no runs, homers or RBI in five games this month. He’ll should still earn a good number of RBIs simply because of his position in the batting order, but otherwise he could actually hurt your team. A minor injury has relegated him to DH lately, but he should continue to start against all righties and about 50% of lefty pitchers. Mark DeRosa may be available in your league and probably constitutes a better play. Really.

Pitchers
Kevin Millwood has overcome his home-park issues lately, making him a slightly better play in mixed leagues. Don’t bother with him if a small hit in ERA would cost you points. Wins and strikeouts are what he contributes. Vicente Padilla is nearly identical to Millwood statistically but isn’t nearly as widely owned, mostly because he’s not a “name.? If your mixed league is large enough for Millwood to help but he’s unavailable, consider Padilla. Simlar to Cruz above, he’s a choice for owners needing to take risks to catch up, not for owners maintaining a lead.

Adam Eaton had a career ERA+ of 92 in San Diego and has an ERA+ of 96 in Texas. Who would have guessed? Given that he’s allowed twenty walks and eight homers in just 42 innings, he’s lucky to have an ERA of 4.93. A weak play in all but the largest of AL-only leagues. Robinson Tejeda and Edinson Volquez round out the present rotation and are toxic in any league or format.

Posted by Lucas at 06:25 PM

September 04, 2006

John Hart, Destroyer of Worlds: The Giles and Hafner Trades

In which instance did John Hart cause more harm to his team: trading Brian Giles or Travis Hafner?

On November 18, 1998, Cleveland GM John Hart shipped 27-year-old outfielder Brian Giles to Pittsburgh for 28-year-old lefty reliever Ricardo Rincon. Cleveland’s bullpen had performed admirably in a six-game ALCS loss against the Yankees (seven runs in 28 innings), but the Tribe had only one lefty of note, 38-year-old Paul Assenmacher. With an abundance of fine OF/DH-types (Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, David Justice, Richie Sexson), Hart decided he could tolerate Giles’s absence. Giles had started only four of the six ALCS games and had begun the season in a platoon with Geromino Berroa.

Rincon pitched reasonably well for Cleveland, allowing just under four runs per nine innings in relief. On the other hand, injuries limited him to only 154 innings in three-plus years. At the 2002 trading deadline, the Indians traded him to Oakland for future Ranger Marshall McDougall, who did nothing from them.

Giles, on the other hand, became an elite player the moment he left Ohio, batting .315/.418/.614 and belting 39 homers in his inaugural Pirate campaign. Giles received modest consideration for the MVP award in four consecutive years, and he certainly would have earned more votes had the Pirates not been so exquisitely awful during his tenure.

Fast forward to December 2002, when Texas GM John Hart sent 1B/DH Travis Hafner and struggling pitching prospect Aaron Myette to his former employer for catcher Einar Diaz and similarly struggling pitcher Ryan Drese. Texas badly needed a catcher after management decided not to break the bank for Ivan Rodriguez, still an elite catcher but on the wrong side of 30 and seemingly injury-prone after missing significant portions of three consecutive seasons. Internal solutions consisted of Todd Greene, various organizational fodder, prospects who weren’t quite ready (Gerald Laird) and prospects who never would be (Scott Heard). Again, presumably dealing from a position of strength, Hart relinquished the promising but largely untested Hafner for what appeared to be a solid Major League catcher (to Hart, if not his observers). The pitchers involved were little more than throw-ins.

From 1999-2001, Diaz was a superior defensive catcher, and while by no means a good hitter, he could hit for a decent average and smack the occasional double. Injuries wrecked his 2002 (.206/.258/.284), and though may have fully healed by the time he joined Texas, he never recovered on the field. Diaz hit .257, walked a dismal 2.5% of his plate appearances, and provided only average defense. By season’s end, Greene and Laird had usurped most of his playing time. As for the throw-in pitcher, Ryan Drese suffered through another desultory season, then pitched remarkably well for the surprising ’04 club. Success proved fleeting, and only two months into 2005 Texas stunningly waived him. The Senators generously claimed him and his glistening-new two-year contract.

Just before Opening Day 2004, Texas dumped Diaz for yet another struggling pitching prospect, Chris Young. The deal also involved two minor-league pitchers of no consequence. After throwing 36 promising innings as a rookie, Texas signed him to a three-year contract rather than risk his departure to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Young pitched 165 above-average innings in 2005, but a late-summer slump raised questions about his endurance and long-term potential. Hart’s replacement, Jon Daniels, traded him, Adrian Gonzalez and Terrmel Sledge to San Diego last winter for pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka and a minor-league catcher.

Unlike Giles, Hafner didn’t immediately explode into brilliance after the trade, instead slowly developing into arguably the best hitter in the American League. Hafner presently leads the AL in both walks and slugging percentage and ranks second in homers and on-base percentage.

Back to the question at hand: Which trade caused more damage, Giles or Hafner?

Methods of comparing the value difference of the players in each trade include measuring by Win Shares and by Wins Above Replacement Player (the uninitiated can click the links for a description). For a uniform comparison, I’ll only used the first four years after the trade (actually three years and five months for the Hafner trade.).

Giles vs Rincon

WIN SHARES 1999 2000 2001 2002
TOTAL
Giles 27 27 29 32 115
Rincon 3 3 6 2 14
DIFFERENCE 101

Deficit in Win Shares: 101

WARP 1999 2000 2001 2002
TOTAL
Giles
10.2
10.7
9.0
11.3
41.2
Rincon
1.8
1.0
2.2
1.1
6.1
DIFFERENCE 35.1

Deficit in Wins Above Replacement Player: 35.1

A Win Share equals one-third of a win, so the deficit in wins equals approximately 34, nearly the same as the WARP deficit. The trade cost the Indians about 8.5 wins annually during the next four years. An epochal disaster.

Hafner vs. Diaz

Analyzing this trade requires more work. Texas traded Diaz and a fringy prospect for Chris Young and another weak prospect before 2004 and then traded Young with Gonzalez and Sledge for Eaton, Otsuka and Killian two years later. It’s safe to argue that prospects in the first Young deal contributed negligible value, but in the second trade Young was but one of three valuable players. For this analysis, I’m assuming Young comprised 45% of the value acquired by San Diego, with Gonzalez receiving 45% and Sledge 10%. From this estimates, I’ll use only 45% of the value of Eaton, Otsuka and Killian as part of the analysis. Perhaps you disagree with those estimates, but changing them doesn’t affect the results much, so don’t sweat it.

WIN SHARES 2003 2004 2005 2006
TOTAL
Hafner 7 21 27 23 78
Myette 0 - - - 0
CLE TOTAL 78
Diaz 5 - - - 5
Drese 0 17 1 - 18
Young - 2 11
-
13
Eaton
-
-
-
1 1
Otsuka
-
-
-
5 5
TEX TOTAL 42
DIFFERENCE 36

Deficit in Win Shares: 36

WARP 2003 2004 2005 2006
TOTAL
Hafner
1.9
7.3
8.0
10.0
27.2
Myette
(0.2)
-
-
-
-0.2
CLE TOTAL
27.0
Diaz
1.9
-
-
-
1.9
Drese
(0.1)
6.5
0.3
-
6.7
Young
-
1.1
4.8
-
5.9
Eaton
-
-
-
0.5
0.5
Otsuka
-
-
-
2.8
2.8
TEX TOTAL
17.8
DIFFERENCE
9.2

Deficit in Wins Above Replacement Player: 9.2

So far, the Hafner trade has cost the Rangers between two and three wins per season. Certainly those three wins would have come in handy in 2004, but the trade doesn’t rate as badly as I’d expect. Yes, Hart lucked into Drese’s 2004, and his belated implication that he traded Hafner for Drese was an obvious and embarrassing lie. Still, however improbably, Drese nearly equaled Hafner in value in 2004, a fact that can’t be ignored. Hart (or at least he and his staff) also consummated the Diaz-for-Young trade that has paid off wonderfully (even though I hated the second Young trade). Thanks to both serendipity and skill, the Hafner trade only rates as a severe fleecing, not a catastrophe.

Did either trade have any mitigating factors?

Notwithstanding the minimal return, trading Brian Giles actually made sense. Cleveland already had several powerful outfielders and designated hitters and received good-to-excellent production for them for the first three years after the trade. Not until 2002, when Russell Branyan, Milton Bradley and Matt Lawson all batted poorly, did Cleveland field an inadequate outfield. Again, trading Giles in and of itself wasn’t the problem. Settling on a situational lefty reliever for him resulted in a miserably lopsided trade.

Texas had a similar situation, if not so clear-cut. Texas had Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez signed for 2003; certainly their aged bodies would spend significant time at DH. Mark Teixeira had stormed through the minor leagues and was a strong candidate to break camp with the Rangers the next spring. With Hank Blalock likely playing third most of the time, Teixeira would crowd the field of 1B/DH/COFs of which Hafner was part. As with Giles, trading Hafner was understandable. The return was decidedly not.

Unlike Cleveland’s outfield minus Giles, Texas’s DH production suffered greatly. David Dellucci performed well in 2005, but the other DH “solutions” – Brad Fullmer and Phil Nevin – were replacement-level flops.

How did Giles and Hafner compare?

Giles would turn 28 before playing for Pittsburgh and had just over 1,000 MLB plate appearances when traded. Though rarely a regular and considered slightly dubious against lefties, he had established himself as a very good, if not elite, hitter with excellent on-base skills.

As a 25-year-old, Hafner had only 70 late-season appearances in 2002 to his credit when shipped to Cleveland. The results were uninspiring. However, he had dominated AA and AAA during 2001-2002 and was still considered an excellent prospect.

Player
Brian Giles,
MLB
Travis Hafner,
MLB
Travis Hafner,
AA-AAA
Position
Mostly LF
Mostly DH
Mostly 1B
Age 27.8 25.4
24-25
PAs
1,033
70
877
AVG .284 .242
.315
AVG+ 103 87
--
OBP .391 .329
.431
OBP+ 113 95
--
SLG .485 .387
.552
SLG+ 111 87
--
OPS .876 .716
.983
OPS+ 124 82
--
HR Rate 3.7% 1.7%
4.7%
BB Rate 15.0% 8.7%
15.7%

Posted by Lucas at 10:36 PM

September 01, 2006

Weekend Photo


Along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, September 1999

Posted by Lucas at 10:48 AM

Texas Rangers Organizational Tree

Idea ripped off from here, which was ripped off from here.

ACQUIRED IN TRADE

JOAQUIN ARIAS

---- Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)
NELSON CRUZ
---- Francisco Cordero
-------- Juan Gonzalez (undrafted free agent, signed 1986)
-------- Danny Patterson (47th round, 1989)
-------- Gregg Zaun (traded for no one, 1998)
---- Kevin Mench (4th round, 1999)
---- Laynce Nix (4th round, 2000)
ADAM EATON
---- Adrian Gonzalez
-------- Ugueth Urbina (Major League free agent, signed 2003)
---- Terrmel Sledge
-------- Alfonso Soriano
------------ Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)
---- Chris Young
-------- Einar Diaz
------------ Travis Hafner (31st round, 1996)
------------ Aaron Myette
---------------- Royce Clayton
-------------------- Mark Little (8th round, 1994)
-------------------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)
-------------------- Fernando Tatis(undrafted free agent, signed 1992)
-------- Justin Echols (11th, 1999)
FRANKIE FRANCISCO
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)
ARMANDO GALARAGGA
---- Alfonso Soriano
-------- Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)
FREDDY GUZMAN
---- John Hudgins (3rd round, 2003)
---- Vince Sinisi (2nd round, 2003)
DANIEL HAIGWOOD

---- Fabio Castro
-------- Esteban German [indirectly] (minor-league free agent, signed 2005)
JERRY HAIRSTON
---- Phil Nevin
-------- Chan Ho Park (Major League free agent, signed 2002)
JOHN KORONKA

---- Freddie Bynum
-------- Juan Dominguez (undrafted free agent, signed 1999)
GERALD LAIRD
---- Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
---- Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)
CARLOS LEE
---- Francisco Cordero
-------- Juan Gonzalez (undrafted free agent, signed 1986)
-------- Danny Patterson (47th round, 1989)
-------- Gregg Zaun (traded for no one, 1998)
---- Kevin Mench (4th round, 1999)
---- Laynce Nix (4th round, 2000)
AKINORI OTSUKA

---- Adrian Gonzalez
-------- Ugueth Urbina (Major League free agent, signed 2003)
---- Terrmel Sledge
-------- Alfonso Soriano
------------ Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)
---- Chris Young
-------- Einar Diaz
------------ Travis Hafner (31st round, 1996)
------------ Aaron Myette
---------------- Royce Clayton
-------------------- Mark Little (8th round, 1994)
-------------------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)
-------------------- Fernando Tatis(undrafted free agent, signed 1992)
-------- Justin Echols (11th, 1999)
VICENTE PADILLA
---- Ricardo Rodriguez
-------- Ryan Ludwick
------------ Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
------------ Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)
JOHN RHEINECKER
---- Juan Dominguez (undrafted free agent, signed 1999)
JOSH RUPE
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)
MATT STAIRS
---- Joselo Diaz (minor-league free agent, signed 2006)
ROBINSON TEJEDA

---- David Dellucci (minor-league free agent, signed 2004)
KIP WELLS
---- Jesse Chavez (42nd round, 2002)
BRAD WILKERSON
---- Alfonso Soriano
-------- Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)
MICHAEL YOUNG

---- Esteban Loaiza
-------- Warren Morris (5th round,1996)
-------- Todd Van Poppel (minor league free agent, signed 1997)

RANGER LIFERS

OMAR BELTRE (undrafted free agent, signed 2000)
JOAQUIN BENOIT (undrafted free agent, signed 1996)
HANK BLALOCK (3rd round, 1999)
JASON BOTTS (46th round, 1999)
SCOTT FELDMAN (30th round, 2003)
IAN KINSLER (17th round, 2003)
WES LITTLETON (4th round, 2003)
KAMERON LOE (20th round, 2001)
NICK MASSET (8th round, 2000)
DREW MEYER (1st round, 2002)
MARK TEIXEIRA (1st round, 2001)
EDINSON VOLQUEZ (undrafted free agent, signed 2001)
C.J. WILSON (5th round, 2001)

FREE AGENTS

RICK BAUER (minor-league free agent, signed 2006)
ROD BARAJAS (minor-league free agent, signed 2004)
MARK DEROSA (minor-league free agent, signed 2005)
RON MAHAY (minor-league free agent, signed 2003)
KEVIN MILLWOOD (Major League free agent, signed 2006)
GARY MATTHEWS (minor-league free agent, signed 2004)
ERIC YOUNG (minor-league free agent, signed 2006)

Posted by Lucas at 01:08 AM