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The New World of Metrics

 

MLBTradeRumors wrote this on Evan Longoria:

“as he carries a solid .242/.331/.462 line through 151 plate appearances. That’s obviously not at the level he showed at his peak with the Rays, but it’s a second straight season of decidedly above-average power production.” (Bold emphasis mine).

When did we start calling batting .242 as solid?

Without talking to the evaluators, IMHO, the above-average power production is one key reason as to why Andy Pages (#48) was rated a better prospect than Miguel Vargas (#72).

  • Miguel Vargas at AAA 2022 – .292/.379/.498/.877 – 13 HR in 315 AB
  • Miguel Vargas at AA 2021 – .321/.386/.523/.909 – 16 HR in 327 AB
  • Andy Pages at AA 2022 – .245/.353/.487/.840 – 15 in 269 AB

This year, Vargas is hitting better in every metric.  Vargas is doing it in AAA while Pages is doing it in AA.

Vargas is almost a year older than Pages.  But in 2021, Vargas was the same age as Pages in 2022. Again, Vargas hit better in every metric in 2021 at Tulsa compared to  Pages in 2022.

Clearly Pages’ batting metrics do not connote a better hitter in any capacity than Vargas.  But his HR/AB does connote that he has more power potential.

So what other baseball skills move Pages ahead of Vargas.

 

Andy Pages’ has more speed and a better arm.  If Pages is going to be a RF, his arm will be more impactful than in LF.  His speed will allow him to cover more ground in the OF.  Pages’ has solid OF instincts which makes him a potential above average OF with his run and arm grade.

Vargas is not really considered quick-twitchy athletic, which makes his ability to defend 3B at the ML level more suspect than not.  His arm is good enough to make the throws, but his footwork is lacking making it difficult for him to get into the hole.  Once the shift is gone, that will be even more important.  Per MLB, in 2021, he played better at 3B than Kody Hoese and better at 2B than Michael Busch.  But that bar is really not that high.  Most evaluators see Vargas as a 1B.  And as Eric Logenhagen at FanGraphs evaluated him, he does not possess the necessary power to play 1B.

Vargas is getting more time in the LF, and he made a fantastic running catch of a deep ball in the gap (more towards CF) that he ran down.  He could be an adequate LF if necessary.

Vargas has improved his range at 3B every year, and there is no reason to believe that level of improvement will not continue.  His work ethic is not questioned.

I think Vargas has a much better shot at breaking with LAD than does Pages.  However, I do think Pages will be a fine regular MLB OF, but his best position is RF, and he is not going to dislodge Mookie Betts.  Vargas could get a callup at some time this year, and could be the starting 3B next year.  I suspect the Dodgers will exercise the option on one of JT or Max Muncy, and they can be the backup 3B when not DHing.

The other options for LAD at 3B:

FA 3B in 2022-2023:

Third Basemen

Ehire Adrianza (33)
Hanser Alberto (30)
Matt Carpenter (37)
Aledmys Diaz (32)
Brandon Drury (30)
Matt Duffy (32)
Wilmer Flores (31)
Maikel Franco (30)
Brock Holt (35)
Jake Lamb (32)
Evan Longoria (37) – $13MM club option with a $5MM buyout
Rougned Odor (29)
Travis Shaw (33)
Justin Turner (38) – $16MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Jonathan Villar (32)

In other words, there are no 3B in the system to usurp Miguel Vargas, plus they will need to spend $$$ on pitching and a SS.  Thus 3B should  be his job to lose.

I have seen the same comment for ERA’s in the low 4.00’s as being solid. That was undoubtedly due to some other peripheral stats.  The new “flavor of the month” pitching ratios are FIP, SIERA, SO/W, and GO/AO.  Then hard hit %, barrel %, spin rate, yada, yada, yada.

Today, with the limited number of IP by starters, I readily acknowledge that W-L stats are not meaningful (except to the pitcher).  It used to be W-L, ERA, and strikeouts were the go to stats for pitchers.  Thus, the Triple Crown for pitchers.  Since 1945, 14 different years a pitcher earned a Triple Crown.  Sandy Koufax three times and Roger Clemens twice.  All other were one time recipients.

 

 

I have no idea what their FIP or SIERA or GO/AO ratios were, or barrel percentage, or hard hit percentage.  But I can guess they were very good by the numbers above.  Outside of Jake Peavy, every one of those pitchers was considered elite.

There is no such thing as the back of a baseball card anymore.  It is now Baseball Savant charts.  I suspect every clubhouse and broadcast booth have notebooks full of these charts for every conceivable scenario to manage by and to comment on.

Here is a typical Baseball Savant Pitching Movement Chart.  This one is for the 4-Seamer Fastball.

 

You can get the same chart for sinkers, changeups, curves, cutter, sliders, and splitters.  You can manipulate the chart for horizontal and vertical movement.  Below the chart is a list of the all pitchers who throw a 4-seamer, ranked with the best movement on their 4-seamer.  Per this list, Matt Bush (Texas) has the most vertical movement, and Hoby Milner (Brewers) has the most horizontal movement.  How that movement translates into outs probably requires even more algorithms.

Alex Vesia has the most vertical movement for LAD pitchers (#11 overall), while David Price has the most horizontal movement for LAD pitchers (#59 overall).  Ryan Pepiot has the 2nd most vertical movement (#47) and horizontal movement (#86) of any other LAD pitcher.  This is why his fastball is graded at 70.  Now…if he can command it.

I was confounded by Brusdar Graterol who throws his 4-seamer and sinker in the 99th percentile, and yet he has problems with K% and whiffs.  Below is his Baseball Savant Percentile Rankings:

 

 

You can see all of the great percentiles, but then an average K% (48th percentile) and a poor whiff% (23rd percentile).  I expect that his spin rate would be down as his sinker is his most offered pitch.  The sinker does not have much spin as the general point of a sinker isn’t necessarily to miss bats, but to miss the barrel of the bat. He throws more sinkers than 4-seamers.  If you review his movement charts, you will see his fastball is relatively flat.  But so is Josh Hader’s sinker, and yet he is in the 100th percentile in K% and 99th percentile in whiff%.  So it is not just the drop or break, but the timing of the drop and break.

We amateurs can make multiple false assertions on the meaning of much of these metrics.  Only 1 pitcher throws the sinker harder than does Bazooka (Aroldis Chapman), but he is not getting the whiffs and Ks the elite relievers are getting. But again, the purpose of the sinker is to produce soft contact more than whiffs. But to be a closer, Ks are important and that is important because many believe Graterol is being groomed to be a closer.  Josh Hader’s career SO/9 is more than twice that of Brusdar’s.  My amateur sleuth inner person tells me that Hader’s sinker looks like a strike longer than does Graterol’s, producing the whiff’s.  Graterol produces soft contact, but often times that results in hits.

Maybe to better illustrate here are actual spin movements and observed spin movements for both Graterol and Hader.  It becomes much more apparent as to why Hader’s whiff% and K% is so much better than Graterol’s.

 

 

 

There are so many more comps to be made.  I get lost in Baseball Savant’s leader boards.

Here is a synopsis of one more:

Will Smith and Austin Barnes to other catchers.

  • Arm – #1 – J.T. Realmuto (Philadelphia) – 87.8
  • Will Smith – #26 – 82.2
  • Austin Barnes – #64 – 75.4
  • Exchange – #1 – Tyler Heineman (Pittsburgh) – 0.62
  • Austin Barnes – #8 – 0.67
  • Will Smith – #18 – 0.71
  • Pop Time – #1 – JT Realmuto (Philadelphia) – 1.82
  • Will Smith – #10 – 1.93
  • Austin Barnes – #51 – 2.03
  • Framing (Run Value) – #1 – Jose Trevino – 8
  • Austin Barnes – #11 – 3
  • Will Smith – #47 – (-2)
  • Framing Strike Rate – #1 Jose Trevino – 54.4%
  • Austin Barnes – #4 – 50.9%
  • Will Smith – #34 – 46.5%

And you can get framing metrics from 8 different zones.

I do believe that it is fair to measure the metrics for arm, exchange, and pop speed in evaluating a catcher for SB/CS.  However, so many times the stolen base is more of a factor on the pitcher’s inability to hold the runner or slow delivery to the plate (right Kenley Jansen?).  But for grins, Smith has a 19% CS % (6 out of 32), while Barnes has a 33% (5 out of 15).  League average is 25%.

I am a retired baseball fanatic that recognizes that advanced metrics are dictating who gets to the ML and who stays.  Thus, I am caught quite a bit of time going through Baseball Savant.  Often times, I have my computer open to Baseball Savant during games so I can see pitch type, pitch MPH, exit velocities and launch angles for each batter.

Finally, the Future’s Game will be played at Dodger Stadium next Sunday as part of the All-Star Festivities.  Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller, and Miguel Vargas have been selected to the roster.  The game will be broadcast July 16 at 4 pm PT live on Peacock and SiriusXM, and later at 5:30 PT on MLB Network.  There is no Dodgers game that day, so make this your daily regimen of baseball watching.  😂😂

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Bumsrap

Let’s trade Stone’s skinny ass to the Expos for a second baseman.

Michael Norris

Mike Brito passed away at age 87. Also lost James Caan at age 83.

Bumsrap

Thanks for the head spin Jeff.

Savant explains the why and might predict the future. Predicting the future is needed. Explaining the why is not because we already have the results, IMHO.

A grip can be tweaked. An arm slot might be changed. Savant tells us what the effective pitchers are doing with spin and movement. The Dodgers develop pitchers maybe better than all other teams. In the end though a pitchers ERA, WHIP, Ks and BBs are who he is.

Michael Norris

I hate metrics.

Badger

No you don’t Bear. You may think you do, but you’ve been reading the back of baseball cards for over 60 years. Those are metrics. The science has taken it places most old geezers don’t really want to go. Remember Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man on SNL? “That’s the way it was AND WE LIKED IT!” I think that’s a lot of us.

Great read Jeff. Thanks. More than any other site I visit, this one is, for me, the most educational.

Graterol. From what I see it’s command. He still makes too many mistakes in the strike zone. I think he also needs less speed and more spin on his fastball, and he could use a straight change. Just my grumpy old man opinion. By the way, is he ok today?

The pitching stat I first look to is WHIP. With hitters I’ve learned to appreciate OPS. I’ve valued OBP since Little League. Don’t make an out. And even then, sluggers were always feared. I think all of us can remember those kids who could clobber a baseball to and over the fences more than others. Slugging is THE stat in today’s game. I get it. And I’m ok with it. But I have to admit, I miss the value we usta give to .300 hitters. Anybody remember Harvey Kuenn? He had 167 singles in his rookie year. (Rookie of the Year) He hit .308, scored 94 runs, struck out only 31 times in 731 plate appearances, but had an OPS+ of only 102. Put up only 1.7 WAR. Those stats weren’t available then of course. He OPS’d .900 one year (out of a 15 year career) but it was the year he hit .353. I wonder what a player with his skills would be worth on the market today?

Fred Vogel

Kuenn had the dubious distinction of making the final out in two of Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters—in 1963 and 1965. In the former, the final out was on a ground ball back to Koufax. In the latter, he struck out for the final out in Koufax’s perfect game, the last no-hitter pitched against the Chicago Cubs to date.
From Baseball.fandom.com

Michael Norris

Nope, I still hate metrics! I liked the old way better, easier to understand and much easier to put on the back of the cards. Although today the writing is so damn small I can’t read it.

Fred Vogel

Embarrassed to say I have never heard of Ryan Helsley.

Singing the Blue

I haven’t either. We don’t deserve to call ourselves fans.

Badger

I hadn’t either. Know of him now.

Bowden, The Athletic. Moves Division leaders could make:

Dodgers:

Biggest weakness: Outfield and closer depth

Solution: Acquire RHP Scott Barlow and OF Andrew Benintendi in trade with Royals for OF Andy Pages, RHP Gavin Stone, OF Jake Vogel and cash considerations

Badger

I’d like to have both players. But, not at that cost.

Badger

I voted for McGovern.

Don’t care about All Star voting. Don’t care about the game either. Used to. Years ago. Since it’s in LA I suppose it’s a good thing to have Dodgers represent. Would rather all our pitchers went home and slept for 3 days.

Bumsrap

Someone said about Giants season. Surprised these stats were mentioned.

Beane Count is simple. It measures how many home runs and walks a team has both earned and allowed, then ranks teams in accordance to those two factors. For analytically savvy clubs — and observers — home runs and walks are among the most important stats because they’re said to be controllable (compared to balls in play). 
Home runs and walks tend to indicate success. In 2021, the Giants had the best Beane Count in baseball — 5 — twice as valuable as the next highest team in the Dodgers. Right behind Los Angeles was the Tampa Bay Rays. All three clubs won at least 100 games. 
This year, the Giants rank second in the NL, and third overall, in Beane Count. Giants pitchers have allowed the fewest home runs and the second-fewest walks in the NL. Hitters have slugged the sixth most dingers and taken the second-most free passes. 
Live ball luck could turn in SF’s favor. A strong Beane Count position at the midpoint should be encouraging for the Giants.

Badger

Dodgers are 9-1 and have often, like last night, looked terrible doing it. 6 for 33, 11 Ks and 1 for 9 WRISP. Mookie, Trea, Muncy, Bellinger all 0fer with 7 Ks. And they win. Amazing.

Beane count? I wonder where teams with the most hits fall on the success chart. Just looked. Of the Top 5, only the Twins are in first place.

Last edited 4 months ago by Badger

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