The Low-Contact, High-Power Orioles Offense

For my latest article, I analyzed the 2016 Orioles roster according to their contact and power-hitting abilities and created a scatterplot showing how the team’s hitters are distributed across these axes. It turns out Dan Duquette has a philosophy of some sorts. Check out the article here.

Manny Machado’s Hall of Fame Chances are Higher than you Think

This is a fun one. I used Bayesian analysis to demonstrate that, although he is very young, Manny Machado has been so good that he’s already on a Hall of Fame path.

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Adam Jones is Worth More than He’s Being Paid

Happy 2016! Towards the end of last year I snuck in an examination of Adam Jones’  contract relative to other multi-year extensions signed in the 2012-2013 timeframe. Turns out Jones has been worth his $85.5 million and then some. Read the full scoop here.

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My Best Analysis of 2015

Happy almost-New-Year! I’m going to send you off into 2016 with a recap of the best articles I wrote this year.

  • What does Adam Jones’ future look like? To find out, I gathered players comparable to Jones and examined how well they hit, relative to their peak offensive performance, through age 34.
  • Temper your expectations for Gerardo Parra’s second half. Here I showed how the Orioles’ trade deadline acquisition was unlikely to continue his hot offensive first half. Lo and behold, Parra actually hit much worse than I predicted.
  • What Happened to the 2014 Orioles? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3. In this series I examined how the Orioles’ offense, defense, starting pitching, and bullpen all conspired to turn the 2014 division champs into a 2015 .500 team.
  • Miguel Gonzalez wasn’t a disappointment. I used xFIP to show that Gonzalez improved since 2014 and his season didn’t deserve the poor reputation his high ERA would indicate. I got a lot of heat from people on Twitter and elsewhere thinking that I was calling Miguel a bad pitcher, which is only funny because that is the exact opposite conclusion I came to.
  • Adam Jones’ contract is worth the big money. I delve into the specifics of Adam Jones’ $85.5 million extension, how he’s performed on it so far, and how much he’s been worth while comparing his extension with those given to other players in the same timeframe.
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Chris Tillman Wants Some Strikeouts for Christmas

Chris Tillman’s strikeout rate has dropped precipitously the past three seasons while his walk rate has remained steadily worse-than-average. Over at Camden Depot I looked at whether this decline should worry fans. Going in, I assumed that only scrub pitchers experience such a decline. Boy, was I wrong …

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Should WPA Replace the Save Rule?

Phil Rogers,

Let’s change the save rule to say that in the games that generate a save under the current rules (margin of three runs or fewer), the save will now go to the reliever not getting the win who has the highest WPA, not the guy who gets the final out.

I commend Rogers for wanting to replace the save rule. I agree that it is an outdated way of measuring how effective a relief pitcher is. It’s an even more outdated way of determining a reliever’s salary in arbitration. In addition to the silly save examples he mentions, Wes Littleton earned a save during the Texas Rangers’ 30-3 blowout of the Baltimore Orioles in 2007.

But I don’t think WPA is the best stat to replace the save. It doesn’t get us what we’re really after, which (I think, anyway) is to reward the best relief pitching performance during the game. One component of WPA is leverage, which is naturally higher in the 9th inning because there is very little time for the team to come back. This means that relievers who enter in the 9th will have more opportunities to compile high WPA. We’ve simply replaced one 9th-inning stat with another.

I suggest using WPA/LI. This stat removes the leverage from the WPA equation, enabling comparisons across all pitchers regardless of when they pitched in the game. Dominance wins out; whether that dominance occurred in the 9th or in the 6th does not factor into the equation.

Rogers lists the top 10 WPA leaders in 2015, those who would be rewarded the most under his system:

  1. Mark Melancon
  2. Dellin Betances
  3. Andrew Miller
  4. Wade Davis
  5. Tony Watson
  6. Shawn Tolleson
  7. Brad Ziegler
  8. Jeurys Familia
  9. Hector Rondon
  10. Craig Kimbrel

The top 10 in WPA/LI:

  1. Wade Davis
  2. Dellin Betances
  3. Brad Ziegler
  4. Tony Watson
  5. Mark Melancon
  6. Andrew Miller
  7. Zach Britton
  8. Andrew Chafin
  9. Jeurys Familia
  10. Shawn Tolleson

The order of these lists tells you that Wade Davis did not get as many high-leverage opportunities as, to pick one reliever, Mark Melancon. The average LI when Davis entered a game this year was 1.53; for Melancon it was 1.69. But Davis’ FIP- was 57, whereas Melancon’s was nearly 50% worse at 75.

Why should Davis not get recognized for his dominance? He can’t control the fact that his team didn’t keep games as close as the Pirates did or that Ned Yost used him perhaps differently than Clint Hurdle used Melancon. What he can control is how he pitched, and he pitched brilliantly, much better than Melancon did.

Using WPA/LI would account for these facts. But even doing this will not change the fact that managers will rarely have their “closers” pitch before the 9th. Managers are humans and humans are afraid to break the mold because when that backfires in public, they have to justify their decisions to said public, a public that rarely takes the long and rational view when it comes to baseball or any us-vs.-them competition.

Whether you measure closers’ achievements by saves, WPA, or hoogleboogles (look it up!) you’ll still run up against the psychological aspect of managers wanting to take the safe route so they don’t get blamed if their team loses.


Sidearm Heat in the Orioles’ Bullpen

Watching Mychal Givens pitch for the Orioles is fun. He was one of only six pitchers this year to throw more than 10% of his pitches at 95+ MPH from a sidearm slot. He performed really well, striking out nearly a third of the batters he faced while giving up just one home run. Over at Camden Chat I compared this performance to other pitchers who throw similarly to him.

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Modeling the 2015 Orioles

No, I’m not talking about walking down the runway … I’m talking about statistical models!

What, no applause?!

I use one each year to predict how many games the Orioles will win. I recently reviewed the performance of this year’s model over at Camden Chat.

Zach Britton’s Historic Season

Zach Britton had an excellent 2015, but in at least one respect his season was better than anyone’s giving him credit for.

What was it? Read my recent article at Camden Chat to find out.


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A Trade Target for the Orioles

The Orioles’ production in left field and right field in 2015 was terrible. It was so bad that the team designated two entire outfields (six players!) worth of OF talent for assignment: Delmon Young, David Lough, Travis Snider, Alejandro de Aza, Nolan Reimold, and Chris Parmalee. That they ended re-acquiring a few of these guys speaks to the dearth of quality in the farm system.

Perhaps in 2015 they should consider acquiring some long-term talent at the corners. There is one particular guy, currently with the Miami Marlins, who may be available.

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