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February 27, 2008

Botts vs. Cruz, Expanded

(This is what I wrote for the Newberg Report recently plus bonus material at the end.)

Last week, Evan Grant reported the not-surprising news that Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz were essentially fighting for one roster spot. Who’s more likely to win?

Cruz has the defensive advantage, to be sure, though Botts can narrow that advantage if he proves capable of handling first base this spring. Also, for the first time in a while, Texas appears to have above-average outfield defense. With Josh Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, David Murphy, and (eventually) Milton Bradley roaming the field, the need for another plus glove isn’t quite the high priority of previous years.

Both Botts and Cruz fared well in winter ball. Unfortunately, both Liga Dominicana and Liga Mexicana del Pacifico play roughly equivalent to AAA, which is to say their exploits were par for the course. With neither having established himself, the battle may come down to which player shows more in 50-or-so Spring Training at-bats. For a couple of reasons, that’s virtually a dice roll.

Here’s an example related to my “anything can happen in two weeks” math from last week. Say you know that in the long run, Michael Young will bat .300 and Ben Broussard will bat .250. What is the probability that Broussard will hit for a higher average than Young over the course of just 50 at-bats? The answer is 25%. If the “real” difference is only 25 points (say, .300 vs. .275), the weaker player will outhit the stronger one 35% of the time. If there’s a genuine difference between Botts and Cruz, 50 at-bats may not reveal the superior player, and they might wrongly suggest the inferior hitter is better. (These figures come via binomial probability distributions, in case you were curious.)

Also, especially in early March, Spring Training features a wider variety of competition than any regular-season league. You may see in a few weeks that Botts has outplayed Cruz statistically, but you might not know that Cruz faced Joe Saunders twice while Botts teed off against Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo. Back in my ESPN days, I pleaded with people to ignore spring stats, which are worthless in terms of predicting regular-season performance. Remember when Matt Kata batted .375 last spring, then had about 140 consecutive hitless at-bats when the games counted? Good times.

So, spring stats are nearly meaningless… unless you have two guys fighting for one job. Then they’re all-important.

Result after X at-bats
25
50
100
200
500
'True' .300 batter has higher average 59.5% 67.4% 76.3% 85.80% 95.9%
'True' .300 hitter and 'true' .250 hitter are tied 11.7% 7.6% 4.6% 2.30% 0.6%
'True' .250 hitter has higher average 28.8% 25.0% 19.1% 11.90% 3.5%




These are the results of binomial probability distributions. The “true” .300 hitter has a 30% chance of getting a hit in any particular at-bat. It’s interesting that even after 500 at-bats, almost a full season, the .250 hitter has about a 1-in-25 chance of equaling or bettering the .300 hitter. After about 900 at-bats, the chance falls to 1-in-100. Just goes to show how long the long run can be, statistically speaking.

Posted by Lucas at 06:43 PM

February 23, 2008

Puffery

El Paso, Texas, 22 Feb 2008

Posted by Lucas at 02:58 PM

February 16, 2008

Weekend Photo


The Springs Mill, Lancaster, South Carolina, December 1994. Originally constructed in 1895, was at one time the largest textile mill in the world. Both of my father's parents worked there. Closed in 2003, demolished in 2006.

Posted by Lucas at 12:42 AM

February 15, 2008

New Feature

Prospect Rankings. Also linked on "The Rundown" at right.

Posted by Lucas at 05:47 PM

Show Your Work

This is the longer version of what I’ll be writing about in the 2/15 Newberg Report email. Nothing earth-shattering. I just thought it was interesting. All data from 2007:

League
Team Errors per Game
Team HBP + PB + WP per Game
Total Team Mistakes per Game
% Runs Unearned
% Runs
w/o RBI
American
(MLB)
0.60
0.76
1.37
7.6%
4.7%
Pacific Coast
(AAA)
0.83
0.93
1.77
10.7%
6.7%
Texas
(AA)
0.79
1.05
1.84
10.6%
6.8%
California
(A-high)
1.14
1.38
2.52
14.5%
8.4%
Midwest
(A-low)
1.24
1.27
2.51
16.5%
10.8%
Northwest
(A-short)
1.35
1.91
3.26
18.1%
12.2%
Arizona
(Rookie)
1.88
2.34
4.22
21.8%
17.0%

Posted by Lucas at 09:59 AM

February 08, 2008

TEXAS RANGERS 40-MAN TREE

ACQUIRED IN TRADE

JOAQUIN ARIAS
---- Alex Rodriguez (Major League free agent, signed 2001)

BEN BROUSSARD
---- Tug Hulett (14th round, 2004)

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)

FRANK FRANCISCO
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)

KASON GABBARD
---- Eric Gagne (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

MATT HARRISON
---- Mark Teixeira (1st round, 2001)
---- Ron Mahay (minor-league free agent, signed 2003)

JOSH HAMILTON
---- Danny Ray Herrera (45th round, 2006)
---- Edinson Volquez (undrafted free agent, 2001)

GERALD LAIRD
---- Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
---- Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)

BRANDON MCCARTHY
---- John Danks (1st round, 2003)
---- Nick Masset (8 th round, 2000)

LUIS MENDOZA
---- Bryan Corey (minor-league free agent, 2006)

DAVID MURPHY
---- Eric Gagne (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

VICENTE PADILLA
---- Ricardo Rodriguez
-------- Ryan Ludwick
------------ Carlos Pena (1st round, 1998)
------------ Mike Venafro (29th round, 1995)

MAX RAMIREZ
---- Kenny Lofton (Major League free agent, signed 2007)

JOHN RHEINECKER
---- Juan Dominguez (undrafted free agent, signed 1999)

JOSH RUPE
---- Carl Everett
-------- Darren Oliver (3rd round, 1988)

JARROD SALTALAMACCHIA
---- Mark Teixeira (1st round, 2001)
---- Ron Mahay (minor-league free agent, signed 2003)

ROBINSON TEJEDA
---- David Dellucci (minor-league free agent, signed 2004)

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, 2000)
BRANDON BOGGS (4th round, 2004)
JULIO BORBON (1st round supplemental, 2007)
JOAQUIN BENOIT (undrafted free agent, signed 1996)
THOMAS DIAMOND (1st round, 2004)
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)
TRAVIS METCALF (11th round, 2004)
A.J. MURRAY (19th round, 2000)
C.J. WILSON (5th round, 2001)

FREE AGENTS

MILTON BRADLEY (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
MARLON BYRD (Major League free agent, signed 2007)
FRANK CATALANOTTO (Major League free agent, signed 2007)
KAZ FUKUMORI (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
EDDIE GUARDADO (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
JASON JENNINGS (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
WARNER MADRIGAL (Major League free agent, signed 2008)
KEVIN MILLWOOD (Major League free agent, signed 2006)
RAMON VAZQUEZ (minor-league free agent, signed 2007)

OTHER ACQUISITIONS

ALEXI OGANDO (minor-league Rule 5 pickup, 2005)

Note: Year of signing = season to which signing first applies. For example, Milton Bradley is listed as "signed 2008" though he signed in December 2007)

Posted by Lucas at 02:16 AM

February 06, 2008

And Again


Carlos Pimentel and Emmanuel Solis, 4 Oct 2007, Peoria, AZ

Posted by Lucas at 12:53 AM

February 05, 2008

Galarraga Traded

Texas traded pitcher ARMANDO GALARRAGA to Detroit for outfielder MICHAEL HERNANDEZ.

The good news is Hernandez hit 20 homers and slugged .469 in 116 games for high-A Lakeland last year. That’s legitimate power – the Florida State League smothers hitters, and Lakeland’s home park depresses homers even relative to the league. The bad news is he has a career OBP of .320 and has spent an alarming number of games at DH.

In truth, the genuine good news is that when he’s eventually released, it won’t be newsworthy enough for even an agate-type mention in the local papers. Thus, the A-Rod saga is effectively over, personnel-wise, as far as Texas is concerned. Said saga will likely be Tom Hicks’s epitaph in baseball unless the Rangers do some serious damage in the next few years.

Update: Duh. Joaquin Arias is still around. Penalty box for me.

Posted by Lucas at 12:35 PM

February 01, 2008

Wilkerson as a Mariner

My computer says .225/.317/.435. And then it says, "Don't make me think about Brad Wilkerson any more. Can we look at women in bikinis or something?"

Posted by Lucas at 01:38 AM

Rangers Salary Commitments

As with my salary calculations here, I'm assuming all options are picked up/exercised and ignoring deferred and incentive money.

Concept stolen from USS Mariner, whose pretty chart is here.

Posted by Lucas at 01:31 AM