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.