Thursday, December 19, 2013

No Mo #YoLough

                Dayton Moore strikes again. Another trade, this one an exchange of David Lough for Danny Valencia. Lough, despite accruing 2.4 fWAR in 96 games, was not likely to factor in to the Royals 2014 plans after they acquired Norichika Aoki. With Aoki, Gordon, Cain, Maxwell, Dyson, and Lough, someone had to go. Like the Will Smith-Aoki trade, the Royals have traded from a position of surplus to fill a position of need. I support this line of thinking. Lough’s value came from defense; he was merely average-ish at the plate but has poor plate discipline. Since Aoki offers good defense with better offense, Lough wasn’t going to play much, so it makes sense to trade him.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Optimism for 2014 and Caution for 2015 and Beyond

                The Royals continued their “spending spree” this offseason by signing 2b Omar Infante to a four year contract worth $30.25M with a team option for a 5th year at $10M with a $2M buyout. Infante is coming off a season in which he batted .318/.345/.450 and accrued 3.1 fWAR, which if you were watching last year, would have been a massive improvement over what the Royals had at 2b. Infante is a solid player who has a fairly good chance of outperforming his contract over the first two years and underperforming the contract in the last two years to produce something like fair value over the life of the contract. The Royals managed to secure a good player to a good contract despite the current condition of the free agent market and competition from the Yankees for his services, and Dayton Moore deserves some credit for this. The team option seems like a waste of $2M, but the Royals somehow believe he will still be effective in 2018.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dayton Moore Makes a Good Trade!

                Apparently channeling his inner good GM, Dayton and the Royals have acquired RF Norichika Aoki from the Brewers in exchange for SP/RP Will Smith. The instant reaction from the Twitterverse is that this deal is good for the Royals. My instant reaction? The same. While the Royals had to give up several years of control over a cheap, young pitcher, the Royals had depth at the position and can replace Smith. This deal should position the Royals well for 2014 in RF offensively, defensively, and financially.

The Effects of the Non-Tenderization of Chris Getz

Of the players eligible for arbitration, which is the contract negotiation process for players without enough service time to be considered a free agent, the Royals kept all but one. The Royals have finally cut ties with Chris Getz. Getz was often praised for “doing the little things” like sacrifice bunting and other such things. Unfortunately, Getz didn’t do the big things, like hit. Not giving a contract to Getz complicates the 2b situation for the Royals, but it absolutely had to be done.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dayton Moore Is Probably Not As Bad As Most Think

With the offseason fully underway, there has been a substantial amount of activity. Normally, this amount of activity isn’t seen until the winter meetings of all the GMs next week, but this offseason appears to be different. The market for catchers, specifically, has been very interesting so far. With Dayton Moore being extended, I’d like to offer a ray of hope that while he isn’t the best GM in the game, he most likely isn’t the worst. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

David Lough is a Poor Royals' Version of Manny Machado...For Now

This could turn out to be a rambling post. The impetus for writing this one was just through exploration of FanGraphs’ leaderboards rather than through something structured and well-conceived. David Lough became relevant for the Royals in 2013 after Jeff Francoeur was shown the door (thankfully). Lough showed an ability to play all 3 outfield positions with slightly below average offense. In order to show that David Lough might be underrated, I will compare him to Manny Machado. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Offseason Move 1: Jason Vargas

            With the first notable move of the offseason, the Royals signed Jason Vargas to a 4 year, $32M contract*. GM Dayton Moore cited things like “he always gives you a chance to win” and that he has a “mindset that [he’s] going to compete”. These kinds of phrases give no real information; if a player makes it to the major league level, he’s a competitor in some way. GMDM always makes these kinds of comments when referring to players, which suggests that he doesn’t value advanced statistics very much. However, when looking into Vargas’ stats and this deal, I think it could turn out to be a good partnership.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Comparing Ranges of K% and BB%

Recently, I’ve begun comparing pitchers based on their K% and BB% going back to 2002, which is when batted ball data begins to become available on FanGraphs. My thought is this: pitchers have pretty good control over their K% and BB%, so those reflect true skill. What I want to see is a range of effectiveness for pitchers in the MLB within a set range of K% and BB% to compare players. I recently looked into John Lamb, who is a pitching prospect in the Royals minor league system. What follows is not a rigorous analysis but just something interesting I observed. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Where Escobar's Poor Offense Is Explained

Alcides Escobar started 2013 almost right where he left off in 2012. In March and April, Escobar hit .286/.330/.439 with a .287 BABIP. Things were looking great. It appeared that his good offensive performance in 2012 would continue in 2013. However, that's not how the rest of 2013 turned out. Escobar's season went downhill very quickly after the initial start. Escobar's BABIP did decrease after that initial month, but it did not decrease very much. Escobar's horrible offensive season had other factors behind it. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Positional Flexibility and Salvador Perez

According to a statement by Ned Yost in late September, Salvador Perez is going to play first base in winter ball. Yost wants to see if Perez’s glove could work there, and he believes that Perez has the defensive talent to play there. This could easily be nothing; for the conspiracy theorists, this could point even more toward a Billy Butler trade. Theorizing aside, why would Yost want to see if Perez can play first base? 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free Agent Target: Phil Hughes

Continuing along the theme of finding cheaper free agent SP targets, Phil Hughes presents another opportunity. Hughes, like Haren, is a fly ball pitcher whose fly ball tendencies might play well with the Royals’ outfield defense and home stadium. Hughes has been a Yankee, which means his fly ball tendencies do NOT translate into good results since that stadium is a home run haven. What kind of pitcher is Hughes? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Billy Butler and Trade Scenarios

Like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler had a down year. While his overall batting average and OBP remained near career values, his SLG and ISO were WAY down. He hasn't had a worse year of power since 2008, his second year in the league. However, his walk rate was its highest ever. Butler swung at fewer pitches outside the zone, and he was given fewer pitches inside the zone. He also had a lower swinging strike rate, which all combine to say that at least some of the increased BB% is for real. His GB% was above his career rate, and his FB% was below his career rate. For a man of Butler’s body type, he really should be hitting fewer ground balls. His HR/FB% also declined back down to career levels, which means that 2012 was probably a random outlier.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alex Gordon's Down Year

Alex Gordon is up for another Gold Glove, which is great. While the Gold Glove historically may not represent who is actually the best defender at each position, the 3rd consecutive nomination at least represents that Gordon is appreciated and recognized for what he does. On the other hand, appreciation and recognition can sometimes disguise actual results. On the offensive front, Gordon again experienced a decline and put up a performance that was only slightly above average. Unfortunately, slightly above average was good enough for 3rd best (behind Hosmer and Butler) on the Royals. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Free Agent Target: Dan Haren

               The Royals will need to sign a free agent starting pitcher sometime this offseason (if they don’t go the trade route). They are losing Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen, and Wade Davis was not very good and needs to see a lot of improvement before providing value. The only guarantees for the rotation are Shields and Guthrie. Bob Dutton of the KC Star has said that Yordano Ventura has a spot in the rotation that’s his to lose. Danny Duffy will probably get a spot. That leaves 1 more spot for a 5 man rotation, but injuries happen. They’ll need more than 5 starting pitchers to get through the season. Due to the Royals’ stated budgetary limitations, if they go for a free agent starting pitcher, he’ll have to come cheap. My first free agent starting pitcher target is Dan Haren.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Starting Pitching Review

GMDM and Yost declared before the 2013 season began that they wanted and would get 1000 IP from their starters. I laughed; an absurd claim, I thought. By the end of the season, the starters threw 986.2 innings, good for 4th of 30 teams. Pretty close; I was happy. The starters had done their jobs in 2013. This was in stark contrast to 2012, when the starters pitched 890 innings, good for 28th of 30. What worked, and what didn’t?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Magic Santana

Magic. Ervin's season was definitely not lacking in it. I wrote at the beginning of the season that Santana needed to reintroduce his sinker and rely more on his off-speed stuff in order to have a successful season. Santana's slider was deadly this season, so it was easy to rely on that for strikeouts. Santana did indeed re-introduce his sinker, and he used it at a greater proportion than he ever has before (21%) at the expense of his 4 seam fastball. He had about a 58% GB% with his sinker. The reintroduction of his sinker allowed his pitch mix to be more unpredictable and to keep the ball on the ground more than he did in 2012. In addition, his slider's effectiveness increased. The combination of his pitch mix and pitch usage tells me that Ervin figured out how to pitch this year, rather than try to throw.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Wade Davis Issue

If you look at his ERA, Wade Davis was abysmal, Kyle Davies-esque even. However, his FIP and xFIP were in fact less than abysmal; one might say they were slightly below average, which they were. They were actually his best FIP and xFIP as a starter since 2009, which not coincidentally is his greatest fWAR season prior to 2013. So, why the difference? One reason, and a big reason, is that his BABIP was way out of control. Davis had basically the highest BABIP of all starting pitchers. He also walked a few too many guys. Beyond his BABIP and BB%, doing some research is revealing; all data following are from Brooks Baseball.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trade Deadline MADNESS!

           The Royals executed a deadline trade today, giving Kyle Smith, a pitching prospect in High A ball, to the Houston Astros in exchange for Justin Maxwell, an outfielder. The reaction on Twitter was swift, fierce, and scathing. I am going to try to give some perspective on the trade, and perhaps a more calm reaction.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jeremy Guthrie and the Value of Defense

           Jeremy Guthrie seems to be an interesting person. His Twitter feed is often full of shoe giveaways and other assorted things. As a baseball player, and from a statistical perspective, he is equally interesting. Throughout his career, he has maintained a below-average K% and yet has remained an effective “innings eater”*. He doesn’t generate ground balls more than other pitchers, and he doesn’t strand more baserunners than other pitchers. He is roughly average in those categories. However, he does have a below average (or above average, depending on your perspective) career BABIP; essentially, fewer balls in play go for base hits against Guthrie than the league average, which is odd because the vast majority of pitchers have little to no control over their BABIPs.

*Innings eaters. A nice way of saying, “You’re not very good, but you’re not bad, and you’re healthy, which is valuable”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Revisiting Predictions

           While I’ve been gone, the Royals have gone on a rollercoaster of ridiculousness, waffling from 1st place to last place and now, as of tonight, back to .500.  I haven’t been able to keep up as much with the team as I graduated from school and started a fantastic new job.  However, today I’d like to revisit some of my earlier posts of the season to check up on any predictions I made.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Royals and Expected Strikeout Rate

          The Royals experienced their first sweep of the season at the hand of the Yankees over the last weekend.  It is crazy that the Royals went this long into the season (midway through May!) without being swept.  After last year’s 12 game losing streak at the beginning of the season, this is welcome.  However, the Royals have lost 6 of their last 7 games.  I don’t think the Royals will sustain this kind of losing for long, though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Alcides Escobar Deserves Your Attention

            Amid the overall admirable performance of the starting rotation, one position player having a fantastic season of note is Alcides Escobar.  You might think to yourself “Hey, he’s not Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, or Frenchy, so I don’t know him”.  Or, you might know him because he’s our every day shortstop.  If you don’t know him, you will.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Offensive Philosophy of the Royals

            There are two major aspects of winning a baseball game: scoring runs and preventing runs.  There are obviously many different components of each of these aspects, but everything in baseball comes down to one of these two things.  Given that the Royals pitchers are doing their share of run prevention so far, I am going to write about scoring runs.  However, since the season is only 17 games in, I am going to write about the Royals run scoring capabilities since 2002, giving me a much larger sample to analyze such that conclusions may be more meaningful.

            In this analysis, I will be looking at some of the components of scoring runs, but certainly not all.  These are ones that jumped out at me whilst perusing FanGraphs.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's Wrong with Mike Moustakas?

           As Dayton Moore’s Process matures, the Royals need their young players to develop into stars, or at least above average players, in order to make the playoffs.  Mike Moustakas, one of the most prominent alumni of the Best Farm System in the History of the Universe and Everything, is one of the young players who MUST improve for the Royals to have a shot.  There’s just one problem with that so far.  Over 1,000 major league plate appearances, Mike Moustakas’ offense has been terrible.  I’m going to show you some career numbers to back up that statement while comparing them to the league average numbers for third basemen in 2012.  Keep in mind that league averages fluctuate from year-to-year, so the comparisons might be slightly different if I compared his career numbers to all third basemen in 2011.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Evaluating the New-Look Starting Rotation

             In 2012, after 10 games, I looked at how the starting pitching was doing using various statistics.  In 2013, after 10 games, I'm going to do the same thing, since that will give an interesting comparison to how the starting rotation has improved since last year.  Keep in mind that the small sample size rule applies here, and one game can change statistics drastically.  Like Mendoza's start last night.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thoughts on Ervin Santana

            In their quest to improve the starting rotation, the Royals traded for Ervin Santana and his $13 million contract.  The Royals gave up Brandon Sisk, a AAA reliever who did not factor into the Royals’ plans.  In addition, the Royals are on the hook for $12 million of his contract.  Santana was arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball last year*, and reportedly the Angels were going to cut him if they couldn’t swing a trade.  In their desperation, the Royals obliged the Angels.  If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a big fan of this trade.  Santana likely would have gotten less on the open market, but Dayton Moore feels the need to make moves early in the offseason period before the market develops.  Regardless, the move was made and Santana will pitch.

*And Francoeur was arguably the worst position player in baseball last year.  The new market inefficiency; collect them all!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Predicting Home Runs

            So after a very long hiatus due to graduate school (which is almost over!), I have come back to this blog.  The fact that Opening Day has just passed has really renewed my interest in statistical analysis of baseball, so I hope not to have another 7 month layoff between posts.

Also, my NCAA brackets aren’t doing well, so there’s less interest in that…