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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Stanton and Judge: 2017 Home Run Proficiency relative to league among all time leaders.

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge led their respective "leagues" in 2017 in home runs with 59 and 52 respectively. Rather than simply looking at the totals, let's see where they fit in among other sluggers all time. Read this for context, then the results for Stanton and Judge below.

Home Run Proficiency relative to League. Thursday, December 13, 2012

Babe Ruth dominates as do other batters of the 1920s and 1930s. Ruth took spots 1 through 9, 11, 13. Of the top 19 spots, the only one later: Hank Greenberg 1946: 4.43 time more proficient at hitting home runs (HR) than the other batters in his league that season. Best position after Greenberg: Mike Schmidt 21 (1980).

To see the data click this link.  Criteria: HR >= 35 and (AB/HR) < 12.  That produced 116 seasons.

Schmidt hit 48 home runs in 1980, 3.81 times better than non-DH NL.

Judge has already been examined:

Ruth, Mantle, Judge: HR relative to league. Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Judge came out a modest 1.54 times more proficient. In the study below that was done for seasons through 2012, Judge would be number 159 of the 166 seasons. The only 50 homer season lower in that group was number 162, Brady Anderson: 50 homers in 1996, 1.51 times more proficient than AL.

Stanton's 59 tied Babe Ruth for the ninth most home runs hit in a season. The only players with more than 59: Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris and Ruth himself, who hit 60 in 1927 breaking his 1921 record of 59.

Season Home Run record 1: Bonds, McGwire, Maris, Ruth, Craveth. Saturday, December 8, 2012

Roger Maris 1961 61 2.81    expansion year ...

Maris has the least ...

Yankee teammate Mickey Mantle was 2.96 times better than the AL in 1961 with his 54 home runs in 540 at bats.

Stanton was 1.82 times better than the NL in 2017, a "league" which requires the pitcher to bat. That would reduce the NL Home Run Proficiency and make Stanton's number better than in a DH "league". Once again, Judge was 1.54 better than AL in 2017.

Ranked 147 among the 166 seasons in the 2012 study was Luis Gonzalez of NL Arizona at 1.82 in 2001. Gonzalez hit 57 home runs but was third behind Barry Bonds 73 (3.67 better than NL) and Sammy Sosa 64. In that study the season right behind Gonzalez was Ken Griffey: 1998, 56 homers, 1.816.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stitches on the ball: why?

A couple of days ago on MLB Network they interviewed a scientist, a Dr. Lawrence Rocks, and a baseball player, Paul DeJong.

Cardinals’ DeJong Joins Renowned Scientist To Test Effect Of Heat On Baseball report by Steve Overmyer newyork.cbslocal.com November 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Don't know if Rocks is a rocket scientist. He said something that stuck out: how does the ball react when hit on the stitches?

I had never thought of that. Does the ball go farther? Does it move more radically? We had been assured in a previous interview with league official and Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre that the (obviously juiced) balls made in recent seasons have been hand sewn the same way.

Hand sewn. How quaint. And what a ridiculous way to ensure quality control and consistency. But then I wondered further: in 2017 why are stitches needed to create a ball? Wasn't that the reason that stitches were used originally, to sew cow hide as the cover? Can't some modern method be used in which there are no stitches?

The reaction of 99% of baseball fans would be: well, how can the pitcher throw all those different pitches without stitches? Duh. Who gives a rat's ass if the pitcher can throw Bugs Bunny pitches? Just lay it over the plate and let the batters put the ball in play. That's what baseball is all about.

I thought of one concession: one short stitch for a grip, analogous to the stitch on a football. The thrower can touch the stitch and become comfortable in releasing a ... well it wouldn't be a four seam fastball. Whatever. The throwers can figure that out. Maybe with no or one stitch, the batters can finally achieve balance: .500 batting average. We can only hope.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Brian Cashman messing up third base 2014-2017: Yangervis Solarte, Chase Headley, Josh Donaldson.

Yankee general manager 1998-2017 Brian Cashman was named 2017 executive of the year by Baseball America. Cashman is looking for a third baseman ... again.

Yangervis Solarte Born: July 7, 1987 (Age: 30-159d)
Bats: Both, Throws: Right, 5-11, 205 lb

January 14, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.
July 22, 2014: Traded by the New York Yankees with Rafael De Paula (minors) to the San Diego Padres for Chase Headley and cash.

Chase Headley Born: May 9, 1984 (Age: 33-218d)
Bats: Both, Throws: Right, 6-2, 215 lb

July 22, 2014: Traded by the San Diego Padres with cash to the New York Yankees for Rafael De Paula (minors) and Yangervis Solarte.
October 30, 2014: Granted Free Agency.
December 15, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.
December 12, 2017: Traded by the New York Yankees with Bryan Mitchell and cash to the San Diego Padres for Jabari Blash.

Josh Donaldson Born: December 8, 1985 (Age: 32-005d)
Bats: Right, Throws: Right, 6-1, 210 lb

July 8, 2008: Traded by the Chicago Cubs with Sean GallagherMatt Murton and Eric Patterson to the Oakland Athletics for Chad Gaudin and Rich Harden.
November 28, 2014: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Toronto Blue Jays for Franklin BarretoKendall GravemanBrett Lawrie and Sean Nolin.

After the 2014 season Cashman was looking for a third baseman. Note the sequence:

Donaldson: November 28, 2014: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the Toronto Blue Jays for Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman, Brett Lawrie and Sean Nolin.

Headley: December 15, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.

Cashman completely missed the boat on Donaldson, who was voted AL MVP in 2015, his first season in Toronto. For seasons 2015, 2016, 2017 Headley was paid the most of the three, 10.6 times more than Solarte, who was traded by Cashman for Headley. Yet Solarte performed comparably well to Headley.

Today Cashman traded Headley back to San Diego to reduce Yankee payroll for 2018 by the $13 million on the final year of the contract that Cashman gave to Headley only a couple of weeks after Donaldson was traded by Oakland to Toronto right under Cashman's nose.

WARSolarteHeadleyDonaldsonDonaldson MVP
OPS+SolarteHeadleyDonaldsonDonaldson MVP
$$$SolarteHeadleyDonaldsonDonaldson MVP

Money ($$$) is in millions.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ellsbury may be better than Gardner for Yankees 2018 payroll.

Say what? Doesn't EVERYBODY think the opposite? Ellsbury and Gardner are basically the same player except for salary, which is why it was so stupid for Yankee general manager Brian Cashman to sign Ellsbury as a free agent center fielder before the 2014 season when he already had Gardner who was also a natural center fielder.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Born: September 111983 (Age: 34-093d)

201430New York Yankees$21,142,8576.037contracts
201531New York Yankees$21,142,8577.037contracts
201632New York Yankees$21,142,8578.037
201733New York Yankees$21,142,8579.037contracts
201834New York Yankees$21,142,85710.037
201935New York Yankees$21,142,857
202036New York Yankees$21,142,857
202137New York Yankees*$21,000,000$21M Team Option, $5M Buyout
Earliest Free Agent: 202

Brett Gardner
Born: August 241983 (Age: 34-111d)

201430New York Yankees$5,600,0005.072contracts
201531New York Yankees$12,500,0006.072contracts
201632New York Yankees$13,500,0007.072
201733New York Yankees$12,500,0008.072contracts
201834New York Yankees$11,500,0009.072
201935New York Yankees*$12,500,000$12.5M Team Option, $2M Buyout
Earliest Free Agent: 2019

For the 2018 season the Yankees want to get under the soft team salary cap imposed by the league. Removing the $21 million owed to Ellsbury would help a lot. Except that no team will take Ellsbury in a trade and pay him $21 million for each of the next four seasons. They would, however, trade for Gardner.

The only way for the Yankees to trade Ellsbury is to get very little value in return AND the Yankees pay most of Ellsbury's salary for him to play for another team.

Let's say that the Yankees pay 2/3 of Ellsbury's salary. That would be $14 million. In 2018 they will pay Gardner $11.5 million. That's about half of Ellsbury's annual salary.

So for the crucial 2018 payroll, which would reset the Yankees status for the luxury tax in subsequent years, it would actually make more sense to trade Gardner instead. The Yankees could get a player of some value for Gardner and be in about the same financial position.

Ellsbury is a better fielder and a better base runner than Gardner. In the batter's box they were about the same in 2017:
Ellsbury (409 PA): .264/.348/.402/.750  OPS+ 97
Gardner (682 PA): .264/.350/.428/.778  OPS+ 104

It's at least worth considering.

J.D. Martinez signing with Red Sox would help offset Yankees getting Giancarlo Stanton.

J.D. Martinez is the best free agent hitter now. If the Boston Red Sox want to make a dent in the euphoria the Yankees have with their trade for 59 home run NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, the Red Sox should sign J.D. Martinez to be their designated hitter (DH).

Martinez: born 8/27/1987:
Houston: 2011-2013, 975 PA: 88 OPS+
Detroit 2014-2017, 1,886 PA: 146 OPS+
Arizona 2017, 257 PA: 168 OPS+

Martinez hit 45 home runs in 2017 in only 432 at bats (AB) (166 OPS+) with two teams:
Detroit: 200 AB, 16 HR
Arizona: 232 AB, 29 HR

Stanton: born 11/8/1989:
2017: 59 HR, 597 AB, 165 OPS+
2010-2017: 267 HR, 3,577 AB, 146 OPS+

2017 AB/HR (lower is better):
Stanton: 597/59 = 10.2
Martinez: 432/45 = 9.6

This is not to suggest that Martinez is better than Stanton but the Red Sox could sign him for less money and maybe half as many years.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yankees need a lefty bat: Kyle Schwarber DH against righties.

Giancarlo Stanton adds to a Yankee batting order in 2018 in more than one way. Stanton is another righty batter in a righty dominant lineup led by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

Yankee lefty batters in 2017 were about league average:
1Didi Gregorius10653425570201727NYYAL136731532708725170307731.287.318.478.796*6/HD
2Brett Gardner10459421682201733NYYAL15196157264637221228534235.264.350.428.778*78H/D
3Jacoby Ellsbury973567409201733NYYAL112659420439413635207223.264.348.402.750*8H/D
4Greg Bird841479170201724NYYAL482028702819042202200.190.288.422.710*3/HD

First baseman Greg Bird was injured most of the 2017 season but hit well in the 2017 tournament as he did in the 2015 wild card game, which the Yankees lost. In 57 tournament plate appearances (PA) Bird has three homers and .921 OPS. Ironically, in 2017 Bird hit much better against lefty pitchers:
vs RHP48138119162060620001635.168.275.370.64544220103.1778371
vs LHP2032284810380037.286.344.643.98718000102.263172159

Ellsbury is likely to be phased out. And despite initial talk about where Stanton will play, including DH, in 2018 what makes the most sense is for Stanton to remain a right fielder and for Judge to move to left. Stanton is the one who will be in an unfamiliar situation and he's never played left. Plus, Judge covers more ground and left in Yankee Stadium is much bigger than right. Forget about either spending much time at DH unless there's an injury.

2017 splits:
vs RHP129415390531152302270211947.295.325.523.848204510517.285112123
vs LHP7715514420384031710623.264.299.354.65351220206.2926876

vs RHP1435134468312622319512355794.283.367.473.840211343324.318115124
vs LHP83169148133141212001528.

Aaron Hicks, switch hitter:
vs RHP8123519239461101033753745.240.363.453.81687421300.25793118
vs LHP50126109153470519301422.312.389.514.90356410200.345113142

Among those three only switch hitter Hicks hit well against lefty pitchers but he was on the DL twice and had never hit that well overall in any previous season. So while Hicks may get ample consideration for playing center field along with Gardner, Hicks is not likely to be DH very often.

Well before there was any indication that Stanton might come to the Yankees I had been telling friends that it made sense for the Yankees to trade for Cub lefty batter Kyle Schwarber to be the Yankee DH in 2018.

Schwarber started 2017 so badly that he was sent to the minors. But he returned and rebounded and hit 30 home runs in only 422 at bats (AB). Here are his 2017 splits:

vs RHP121388340587513027511143116.221.317.497.814169650012.244107114
vs LHP6298829143138001634.171.306.341.64828000000.2447075

Schwarber can't hit lefties but he hits quite well against righties, who throw at least 70% of the pitches. With the Yankees best hitters being righty, they are likely to face a lot of righty pitchers. The Yankees need more balance in their lineup in order to put even more pressure on opposing pitchers to wear them down.

There are these added benefits:
1. Catcher Gary Sanchez takes most of the remaining DH games against lefty starting pitchers.
2. Sanchez gets ample rest and catches no more than about 120 games.
3. Schwarber, who had been a catcher and is now a weak left fielder, can be the Yankees emergency catcher, giving new Yankee manager Aaron Boone more latitude in using Sanchez as DH.

The Cubs would consider a reasonable offer, maybe young righty hitting outfielder Clint Frazier, who is now expendable with the addition of Stanton. Schwarber is a fielding liability for the Cubs and he only hits righties. But Schwarber would be a valuable asset for the 2018 Yankees.

What do you think?