We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 23. That's a little late, even for us. But given the spate of players going on the DL...

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Who's on First. What's on Second...

Cats
Cats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Josefa ortiz
Josefa ortiz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
... and Ortiz is also on first.

That is to say, it's time for our annual arguments about who qualifies where.  As BCL, it is my job to establish perspective, set parameters and in general herd the cats in the only way cats can be herded, by guessing in which direction they are headed and racing ahead to be there when they arrive.

Which can be a long wait.

Thus, I understand that these preliminary discussions are often reversed 'at table.' But what the hell. Better to light one little candle than curse the darkness or Marko, whichever comes first.

By team:

Boston: Ortiz is a first sacker. No problem there. Rusney Castillo will start the year in the minors, but Victorino in RF is the guy he'll most likely replace when he comes up.

Baltimore: DH Steve Pearce is listed as backup at 1B.

Chicago: DH Adam LaRoche is listed as backup at 1B.

Cleveland: DH Carlos Santana is listed as backup at 1B. Didn't catch or play 3B this spring.

Detroit: DH Victor Martinez is listed as backup at 1B. Didn't catch this spring.

Houston: DH Chris Carter is listed as backup at 1B.

Kansas City: DH  Kendrys Morales isn't listed as backup anywhere. So: 1B.

LA: DH Matt Joyce is listed as backup in LF.

Minnesota: DH Kennys Vargas (whom I've never heard of till this moment) is listed as backup at 1B.

NYC:  Aha. Room for argument here. DH Garrett Jones is listed as backup at 1B. DH Alex Rodriguez is listed as backup at 3B. Who actually plays where the first ten days will be suggestive.

Oakland: DH Billy Butler is listed as backup at 1B. Gentry and Fuld will platoon in CF once Cocoa Crisp returns to retake LF.  But Gentry will start the season in left, so I'd say draft him there along with fragile Cocoa.

Seattle: DH Nelson Cruz is listed as backup in LF.

Tampa: DH John Jaso is not listed as backup at C *but* he's a catcher. So Jaso: catcher.

Texas: DH Mitch Moreland is listed as backup at 1B.

Toronto: DH Edwin Encarnacio is listed as backup at 1B.

Any other position puzzles we need to chew on???

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Billy Butler, Canary in the Green and Gold Mine

English: French explanation of the baseball st...
English: French explanation of the baseball strike zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
from 538


The strike zone is (or was?) dropping

Offensive numbers are falling for a number of reasons, but none contributes more than a strike zone whose bottom edge is sinking lower and lower. Since at least the introduction of a PitchF/X grading system in 2009, umpires have been calling a larger and lower strike zone. Pitchers noticed, and have thrown an ever-greater proportion of their pitches at knee height. Meanwhile, the league’s hitters have been reduced to feebly hacking at low balls and producing an endless string of ignominious groundouts.
But a curious thing happened in the second half of last season: After years of sustained decline, the average pitch height bottomed out at about 2.25 feet. Soon after, during the playoffs, average pitch height suddenly rose to a place it hadn’t been since 2011. It was too drastic an increase to be the result of chance alone, and an analysis of ball/strike decisionsconfirmed that umpires were calling pitches in an unusually old-fashioned manner.
arthur-feature-mlbseasonpreview-2
Was this a playoff aberration, or the beginning of a correction? Keep an eye on Billy Butler to find out. Despite his entertaining playoff run last year, Butler struggled in the regular season, notching a -0.6 WAR, about equal to what some triple-A replacements might do. Part of his woeful hitting was due to his performance in the bottom third of the strike zone, where he hit .278/.307/.394 and grounded into 12 double plays. Butler is uniquely harmed by the low strike zone because of his poor plate discipline and sluggish speed, which turns most grounders into outs.
If the low strike evaporates, Butler may see his fortunes turn (this is a scenario Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, who signed Butler to a contract in the offseason, may be banking on). Balls higher in the strike zone can be more easily turned into flies, and that is where Butler does his damage (he slugged .472 on fly balls). If you don’t want to dive into a trove of Pitch F/X data, Butler’s early season production can serve as a barometer of the strike zone instead: If he’s launching balls high into the outfield, the strike zone may be rising. If he’s attempting to leg out infield singles to poor effect, the zone may still be at its low point.
So far this year, spring training has seen an average pitch height of 2.29 feet,2 lower than the playoff spike but higher than it was at any time in 2014.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Entirely Useless to Us But Interesting

Run Expectancy By Base-Out State, 1999-2002

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