Saturday, December 21, 2013

BBA Linkfest - General holiday greetings

I have not done this in a while and it is time to get back at it. I am the president of the General Chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. General is such a bland word. I think of generic when hearing the word. But that is far from the case as you see the links below. General simply means that the writers of this chapter write about everything baseball and are not specifically a site about one team or fantasy baseball or something like that. They are a great group of people writing about baseball because they love it. This post is about their work.

What I do is go to each site and pick out one of the posts I find there. It is a time-consuming thing to do, but there is a lot of rewarding reading that occurs because of it. I have done the work for you, so all you have to do is click the link and enjoy yourself. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from this Flagrant Fan to you wherever you are.

The links:
A radio personality has issues with Matt Harvey. The Hall of Very Good rightly pokes a few holes in the stupidity of what the radio guy said.

In its most recent post, Off Base Percentage's Mike Hllywa took a look at the Yankees' spending spree this off season.

Over at The Golden Sombrero, Mike Rosenbaum posted some video from the recent Arizona Fall League featuring Austin Hedges, a Padres' prospect catcher.

This post from Grubby Glove is the oldest of the link list, but it was such a fine piece and such a noble thing, that I linked it anyway.

If podcasts are your thing (and I like them a lot), Eric and Jana from #Off the Bat presented by Number One Baseball had a great time discussing the off season.

TheNaturalMevs of Diamond Hoggers has some real juicy gossip for you concerning the Tigers and Prince Fielder. I needed a napkin for this one.

My friend, J-Doug is a brilliant, brilliant guy. His most recent post at Rational Pasttime gives us a real cool win probability map of the most recent World Series and David Ortiz's role in it.

Mike, over at The Sports Banter left a blueprint of what the Mets' off season should look like. At least one of his suggestions has already come true.

Our German entry, Dugout 24, has an interesting article (once translated - thank you Internet!) about aluminum bats.

Ben, of Ben's Baseball Bias, gave his thoughts on the trade between the Cardinals and Angels that swapped David Freese and Peter Bourjos.

Did you know that the Mets have a Santa Claus curse? Just ask David Wright. Michael Clair of Old Time Family Baseball has all the details.

I don't always agree with Sully of Sully Baseball. But he is easily one of the most entertaining podcasters in baseball today. Here is one of his latest.

The Sisco Kid put a lot of thought on the recent mega-contract of Robinson Cano for his most recent post at Baseball Sisco Kid Style. Definitely worth the read.

I met Dan, the author of Left Field, over the summer at a minor league game. He is not only a multi-talented writer and beer connoisseur, but a great family man and a terrific guy. And he is making head way in the baseball writing world and now writes for High Heat Stats and has his articles featured in a major newspaper. This post I have linked is also his work and it caps the year in music. Awesome stuff.

A lot has happened in the past year for my good friends at MLB Dirt. They are now part of the Field Rush network and are teeming with great writing talent. I am still a part of their roster, but haven't had time to write for them in forever. Here is one of their latest and greatest from Andrew Martin.

Mario Salvini of Che Palle! has some fun with the Matt Kemp gossip that has been keeping TMZ happy.

A lot has also happened with Call to the Pen over the last year as they have become a part of the Fansided network. They also have a large crew of talented writers. Here, one of them reports on the latest Jonathan Papelbon rumor.

One of my favorite buds, Daniel Day of The Ball Caps Blog, has some perspective of our weird money distribution in light of the Robinson Cano deal.

Through the Fence Baseball has to be one of the hardest working baseball blogs in our chapter. One of their terrific team of writers, Jake Mastroianni, has a fine piece on the rebuilding of the Chicago White Sox.

I also met Bryan at a minor league game this past summer and I came away so impressed. In one of the best posts I have read this year, Bryan talks about the 2013 Red Sox and his son. An amazing piece of writing over at Replacement Level Baseball Blog. Like Dan, Bryan also now writes for High Heat Stats.

Chuck Booth of MLB Reports (one of the most faithful #FF guys on Twitter!) has a terrific piece on Tommy John Surgeries over the years.

For the last three years, Graham Womack has invited the public to list the greatest 50 players not in the Hall of Fame. Theo of Hot Corner Harbor has a very interesting post about his selections.

In a really enjoyable piece, Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please has a great run down of free agent signings. I was torn between picking this piece or the previous one on what all second place teams needed. Cool idea!

Christopher Carelli has neared the big time as he is writing for Yahoo Sports. He deserves every success. His The Baseball Stance blog is a good place to keep up with his various writings and this one shows that he has been watching closely at what the Yankees are doing this off season.

Of all the links here, and I love them all, you HAVE to read this one over at The Baseball Enthusiast. You just HAVE to. Unbelievable writing.

Nik of Nik's Baseball Corner made all his free agent signing predictions back in November. It is fascinating to look back. Nik hits the nail on several and was way off on several. But it's all fun.

The heading of this piece about the Braves acquiring Ryan Doumit (or Dumbmitt as I call him) drew me in immediately. And it gave me a good laugh. But the article is good except for the part about Doumit being a respectable catcher. Check it out at Off the Bench Baseball.

A discussion of the 2013 season's best pitchers is the topic of the latest post over at Payoff Pitch.

Radical Baseball is one of our newer sites and is written by Kenneth Matinale. I love posts like this one on the worst left-handed batters against left-handed pitching over time. Great job.

Another of our newer sites is not happy with the Seattle Mariners' off season and not for the reasons you'd think. Check out Ben's entertaining post over at Know Hitter.

Dave, over at Baseball Roundtable has some Hall of Fame predictions and thoughts.

Did the BBA really get High Heat Stats!? In my chapter!? Woo! That site is the bomb! They used to be the blog for until that site stupidly cut it loose. This post by Doug on Seth Smith shows why the site is so great.

Another great new site to the BBA is Baseball Hot Corner. Here is that site's take on the Rangers' new deal with Shin-Soo Choo.

There you have it. Phew! I had forgotten how much time that takes. I was a young man when I started this post. Have a wonderful holiday season and here's to a very good baseball New Years to all of us.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nick Franklin and his 50/50 future

One thing I learned a long time ago was not to make sweeping statements that I cannot back up with facts. Doing so is one reason that Tim McCarver was so often skewered by the Twitter crowd. Facts are much harder to argue about. I have been curious about Nick Franklin ever since Robinson Cano signed his mega-deal and made Franklin moot for the Mariners. That team has been taking trade offers and his market appears to be a strong one. If a team is successful in obtaining him, that team has about a 50/50 chance Franklin will improve on his rookie season.

I have a blessing and a curse in that I am very, very curious. That is a good thing in this day of number analysis in baseball. The curse is that I was very good at math when I was young, did not do anything with it and now do not have the chops today's market requires to boldly state number observations. But I dug in with Franklin anyway.

I saw that he was a first round draft pick for the Mariners back in 2009. I noted his more than respectable .819 OPS in the minors. I also noted that much of his minor league career was playing for teams in Arizona and California and includes two years in the PCL, a noted offensive league. So the two facts sort of equaled themselves out.

But I did note him making several top 80 prospects lists from 2011 to 2013. So people have been high on him. His team, which took him in the first round, now has no regular spot for him because it signed Cano and likes Brad Miller better as a hitter.

I dug a little deeper into his rookie season. I, naturally, figured that his home ballpark would have put some dent on his offensive numbers. I found just the opposite. Nick Franklin hit much better in Seattle than he did on the road. That was weird. Those away games do feature a lot of games against the Angels and A's, two teams that play in tough hitting parks.

I also noted that he slid hard in the second half of last season and had a major slump in August. I mused a little bit on Twitter about my confusion about Franklin and a very good follow that I follow piped in to my musings. Here is the brief discussion:

I like Howard Cole a lot and I respect him even more. But even respected people make those sweeping statements I was talking about. The "count him among thousands..." caught my attention the most.

So I did a search using's Play Index. I searched for players since 1961 (53 years) who played their first year at the age of 22 and in their first year had more than 350 plate appearances (both true of Franklin). Doing so led to only 44 players since 1961. Nick Franklin's OPS finished 32nd among those 44 players. Using OPS+ would have been better, but I used OPS.

Of those 44, Franklin was joined in 2013 by fellow rookies, Arenado, Puig and Myers as new members of the start-at-22-and-get-350-plate-appearances club. So that leaves us 40 other players we can look at.

Of those 40, only thirteen players had a career OPS significantly higher than their rookie OPS. By significantly higher, I meant at least 20 points higher. They included guys like Pete Rose, Ellis Burks, Omar Vizquel and Will Clark. Just as many (13) finished with a career OPS that was lower than their rookie season OPS.

That leaves 14 players whose career OPS was very close to what they did in their rookie seasons. So maybe the 50/50 was generous.

That is not to say that Nick Franklin cannot be a useful player. He can. The Oliver projections for him show an OPS that does not move significantly at all over the next five years, but shows solid defense making him a two and a half to three WAR per season player for the next five seasons. Many teams would take that.

But those projections are based on his fielding holding up well and his batting being about as mundane as it was in 2013. That is hardly a clarion call for teams wanting to take a look at him. But, he is young and controllable (read: cheap) for a while and that is attractive in itself.

 I would certainly like someone to check my data as, again, it is not my strength. But from what I am seeing, the player some Mariners fans and other teams pine for has just as good a chance at panning out as he does of crapping out as a baseball player. As always, time will tell.

Player 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Career vs first yr
Austin Kearns 0.907 0.819 0.740 0.785 0.830 0.765 0.627 0.641 0.746 0.764 -0.143
Evan Longoria 0.874 0.889 0.879 0.850 0.896 0.842 0.870 -0.004
Andrew McCutchen 0.836 0.814 0.820 0.953 0.911 0.869 0.033
Gordon Beckham 0.808 0.695 0.633 0.668 0.694 0.694 -0.114
Nick Markakis 0.799 0.848 0.897 0.801 0.805 0.756 0.834 0.685 0.801 0.002
Will Clark 0.787 0.951 0.894 0.953 0.805 0.895 0.860 0.799 0.932 0.880 0.093
Pete Incaviglia 0.783 0.829 0.788 0.745 0.721 0.643 0.749 0.848 0.716 0.758 -0.025
Robinson Cano 0.778 0.890 0.841 0.715 0.871 0.914 0.882 0.929 0.899 0.860 0.082
Andy Van Slyke 0.777 0.723 0.774 0.795 0.866 0.851 0.677 0.832 0.801 0.792 0.015
Rafael Furcal 0.776 0.691 0.710 0.794 0.758 0.777 0.814 0.687 1.012 0.749 -0.027
Jason Kendall 0.773 0.825 0.884 0.939 0.882 0.693 0.706 0.815 0.789 0.744 -0.029
B.J. Surhoff 0.773 0.611 0.626 0.706 0.691 0.635 0.709 0.821 0.870 0.745 -0.028
Ellis Burks 0.765 0.848 0.836 0.835 0.736 0.744 0.793 1.066 0.856 0.874 0.109
Steve Kemp 0.765 0.778 0.941 0.851 0.809 0.808 0.718 0.771 0.664 0.797 0.032
George Scott 0.757 0.839 0.473 0.716 0.821 0.758 0.746 0.858 0.777 0.767 0.010
Chris Chambliss 0.749 0.724 0.732 0.645 0.770 0.765 0.781 0.703 0.764 0.749 0.000
Oddibe McDowell 0.735 0.767 0.751 0.666 0.724 0.652 0.718 -0.017
Ron Hunt 0.730 0.763 0.635 0.711 0.689 0.667 0.702 0.776 0.759 0.715 -0.015
Gerardo Parra 0.729 0.679 0.784 0.727 0.726 0.731 0.002
Blake DeWitt 0.728 0.633 0.709 0.718 0.705 -0.023
Garry Maddox 0.725 0.810 0.720 0.750 0.833 0.772 0.741 0.729 0.664 0.733 0.008
J.J. Hardy 0.711 0.693 0.786 0.821 0.659 0.714 0.801 0.671 0.738 0.740 0.029
Pete Rose 0.705 0.645 0.828 0.811 0.808 0.861 0.940 0.855 0.793 0.784 0.079
Everth Cabrera 0.703 0.557 0.347 0.648 0.736 0.672 -0.031
Chuck Knoblauch 0.701 0.743 0.699 0.841 0.911 0.965 0.800 0.765 0.848 0.783 0.082
Dave Collins 0.700 0.699 0.613 0.536 0.765 0.736 0.735 0.646 0.671 0.689 -0.011
Bernie Williams 0.686 0.760 0.734 0.837 0.878 0.926 0.952 0.997 0.957 0.858 0.172
Dale Sveum 0.682 0.757 0.621 0.560 0.685 0.570 0.620 0.538 0.676 -0.006
Mark Bailey 0.661 0.787 0.590 0.674 0.013
Mariano Duncan 0.633 0.589 0.589 0.641 0.821 0.699 0.680 0.721 0.713 0.688 0.055
Jerry Remy 0.622 0.615 0.633 0.671 0.697 0.700 0.706 0.661 0.639 0.656 0.034
John Bateman 0.583 0.543 0.637 0.781 0.495 0.635 0.578 0.658 0.623 0.621 0.038
Jack Brohamer 0.565 0.597 0.660 0.639 0.688 0.748 0.612 0.644 0.637 0.633 0.068
Enzo Hernandez 0.545 0.492 0.512 0.562 0.539 0.640 0.550 0.005
Omar Vizquel 0.534 0.593 0.595 0.692 0.618 0.650 0.684 0.779 0.715 0.688 0.154
Hector Torres 0.510 0.400 0.633 0.550 0.436 0.295 0.633 0.533 0.628 0.542 0.032


Monday, December 16, 2013

Ellis a perfect puzzle piece for the Cardinals

It is difficult to turn to the MLB Depth Charts page for the St. Louis Cardinals and find any holes on the team. While defense might be the only big "if" for the Cardinals, the addition of Mark Ellis will not hurt the defense while solidifying every position on the field. And the fact the Cardinals got Ellis on just a one year deal works perfectly with Kolten Wong being either ready for a bit more seasoning or to spend a year learning from Ellis on the Major League roster.

The Cardinals' off season has been darned near perfect. Last year, they had holes in center field and at shortstop. You could probably add third base to that list depending on how David Freese was going at the time. The additions of Peter Bourjos, Jhonny Peralta and now Mark Ellis solidifies all of those positions.

Jon Jay's weakness in center became manifest in the post season. He was just slightly above average at the plate and a liability in center. Bourjos should be the same kind of hitter as Jay with more speed and has the ability over the course of 150 games to be one of the top fielding center fielders in the game.

And to be honest, he is going to need to be with Allen Craig in right and Matt Holliday in left. While both of those players are excellent offensively, they can be cringe-worthy on defense.

Big Matt Adams has power, something that has become a bit of a shortage in the Majors and thus, he is worth keeping at first for now. I think eventually, he will become a trade chip and Craig will play first with the monster talent of Oscar Taveras coming up by mid-season. Tavaras is one of the most exciting offensive talents in the minors right now.

Matt Carpenter can now follow up his breakout season by playing third base full time, which is his natural position. He held his own at second, but should be better over at third. Peralta will give up some range over Kozma, but the offensive production will be like night and day and Peralta makes all the plays hit at him at least.

But with Ellis, the Cardinals have two viable options at second. They can choose to delay the clock a bit on Wong and have Ellis put in 150 games or they can start Wong at Triple-A and come up for the second half of the season.

Ellis has been one of the most underrated second basemen of his generation. For one, he is not flashy at the plate and while much better than Kozma there, he will come in under league average with his bat. But defensively, Ellis has been consistently excellent and should provide solid up-the-middle defense whenever he is on the field.

Wong has hit at every level in the minors and struggled a bit in his brief tour at the Major League level last year. But if you look at his minor league stats, he should hit in the Majors if given the opportunity. Ellis gives the Cardinals choices on how fast they want to introduce Wong to that opportunity.

People get very annoyed when experts talk about how smart the Cardinals are with their organization. But gosh, the proof is in the pudding (cliche alert!). They came up just short last season and lost the World Series to the Red Sox. With six viable options in the rotation and a great bullpen, with Ellis, Peralta and Bourjos on board, the Cardinals are in even better shape heading into the 2014 season.