Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Justin Who?

If any of you are still watching the New York Mets play you might notice that their lineup isn't particularly full of household names. Injuries have been the Mets nemesis this season, sidelining their starting first baseman, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder and two of their starting pitchers for most of the season. However, all the injuries have created opportunities for young players to shine. In the month of May, former Baltimore Oriole, Justin Turner has been one to step-up with most of the starting infield missing.

The second baseman has not only played out of position, filling in for an injured David Wright, but he has excelled making just one error in one hundred and eight chances. Turner leads all NL Rookies in batting average this season at a .308 clip. In May alone, Turner hit .325/.378/.458 with 20 RBI. He set a Mets Rookie Record by having an RBI in seven straight games (May 14-21) and followed that up with a six game RBI streak (May 25-30). By driving in runs in 13 games during a 15-game stretch, he became the first rookie to do so since 1930, and the third in major league history.

Turner became the first ever Mets Rookie to win the National League Rookie of the Month Award. The Red Rocket currently leads NL Rookies in hitting and is third in RBIs and Steals. If you have an empty roster spot on your fantasy baseball team be sure to pick up Mr. Turner. He's 2B and 3B eligible, and with both Wright and Davis out until July he will continue to get regular playing time.

Jay in May

After he won the NL Player of the Month award the other day, it is time to reflect on Jay Bruce's unbelievable month of May. The statistics are well documented (.342/.402/.739), as he ranked first in homeruns (12, one more than Jose Bautista), RBIs (33), 3rd in SLG (.739) and OPS (1.140) in the month. Jay Bruce, on the season, now leads the NL in homeruns and is fourth in RBIs.

Though Bruce is producing at a pace far greater than his average major league totals, his success should not be a big surprise to anyone. When Bruce came up in 2008 he was Baseball America's number one prospect, and coveted as a potential five-tool player. Fantasy owners could have also predicted a break-out year from Bruce, as he hit 15 homeruns in his last 35 games of 2010 (equivalent to a 69 homerun pace over 162 games). He has also done a decent job in the majors up until this point, hitting at least 20 homeruns in each of his first three seasons. After he inevitably hits 20 again this year (he is only three away) he will become one of the few major leaguers to do so in their first four seasons in the majors. While Jay Bruce may never be his MVP counterpart, Joey Votto, he is not too far off. I see Bruce matching Votto's power numbers (HR and RBIs), batting in the cleanup spot, but he will never be able to compete with Votto in AVG or OBP. If Bruce is on your fantasy team, do not trade him away because you think you would be trading him at his peak; the fact is that Bruce's production is legitimate, and could have him as an MVP candidate at the end of the year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Highest Paid Players on Each Team 2010

1. New York Yankees- Alex Rodriguez $31M
2. New York Mets- Johan Santana $20.145M
3. Detroit Tigers- Miguel Cabrera $20M
4. Chicago Cubs- Alfonso Soriano $19M
5. Houston Astros- Carlos Lee $19M
6. Philadelphia Phillies- Ryan Howard $19M
7. Boston Red Sox- John Lackey $18.7M
8. LA Dodgers- Manny Ramirez $18.695M
9. LA Angels- Torii Hunter $18.5M
10. San Fransisco Giants- Barry Zito $18.5M
11. Seattle Mariners- Ichiro Suzuki $18M
12. Colorado Rockies- Todd Helton $17.775M
13. St. Louis Cardinals- Chris Carpenter $15.841M
14. Toronto Blue Jays- Vernon Wells $15.688M
15. Atlanta Braves- Derek Lowe $15M
16. Chicago White Sox- Jake Peavy $15M
17. Minnesota Twins- Justin Morneau $15M
18. Texas Rangers- Michael Young $13.175M
19. Milwaukee Brewers- Jeff Suppan $12.75M
20. Cincinatti Reds- Aaron Harang $12.5M
21. Oakland Athletics- Eric Chavez $12.5M
22. Kansas City Royals- Gil Meche $12.4M
23. Baltimore Orioles- Kevin Millwood $12M
24. Washington Nationals- Adam Dunn $12M
25. Cleveland Indians- Travis Hafner $11.5M
26. Tampa Bay Rays- Carlos Pena $10.125M
27. Arizona Diamondbacks- Dan Haren $8.25M
28. Florida Marlins- Dan Uggla $7.8M
29. San Diego Padres- Chris Young $6.375M
30. Pittsburgh Pirates- Paul Maholm $5M

Not suprisingly, Alex Rodriguez's contract with the Yankees was the greatest in 2010. What is surprising, however, is the number of teams that doled out their biggest annueal salaries to mediocre-to-awful players. It would be one thing if these players were underperforming franchise players or held some kind of intangible value to the team, but most of these guys are just absolute duds. There is Kevin Millwood on the Orioles, who pitched to a 5.10 ERA with 16 losses; or John Lackey, who is in no way the face or ace of the Red Sox. Many of these players were also intended to be the face of the franchise, signed long, expensive deals, and got injured or turned out to be flop (e.g. Eric Chavez, Gil Meche, or Manny Ramirez). Another interesting thing about this list is that a few were traded very recently to dump their monstrous salaries on other teams that can afford them; Dan Haren and Vernon Wells were traded to the Angels, Dan Uggla was traded to the Braves, and Jake Peavy was originally traded to the White Sox from the Padres. These contracts depict the difficulty of signing players, especially to long deals. No team knows how a player will perform in the later years of his contract, or whether he will get injured. Teams can only try to get lucky with their signings and hope for no Pavano's or Oliver Perez's.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Most Wins/$ (Million) 2006-10

  1. Marlins - 2.640
  2. Rays - 1.688
  3. Pirates - 1.448
  4. Padres - 1.430
  5. Athletics - 1.289
  6. Rockies - 1.282
  7. Twins - 1.252
  8. Rangers - 1.219
  9. Nationals - 1.174
  10. Diamondbacks - 1.172
  11. Indians - 1.145
  12. Reds - 1.117
  13. Brewers - 1.066
  14. Royals -1.062
  15. Blue Jays - 1.012
  16. Cardinals - .919
  17. Giants - .916
  18. Orioles - .900
  19. Braves - .895
  20. Phillies - .865
  21. Astros - .841
  22. Dodgers - .813
  23. Angels - .812
  24. Tigers - .751
  25. Mariners - .743
  26. Cubs - .686
  27. Red Sox - .683
  28. White Sox - .672
  29. Mets - .671
  30. Yankees - .474

    Over the past five years the Marlins and Rays led the Major Leagues in cost-efficiency rating, combining for 4.328 wins per million dollars spent. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the two New York franchises finished in last with a combined rating of 1.145, the equivalent of the 11th place Cleveland Indians. What we determined from this list was that it is not an accurate way to measure the success of a franchise's spending. The Yankees may have finished last, but they also led the MLB in wins and won a World Series in this five year span. The bottom five teams on this list were also the same five teams on the top of the payroll list. This rating is largely due to market size as all top five teams exist in small markets. We were impressed, however, by the ability of the Twins to place 7th on this list. Most of the top ten teams on the list were in the bottom half of the Majors when it came to winning, yet the Twins were the 5th best team.

Highest Payroll 2006-10

  1. Yankees - $1,008.1 M
  2. Red Sox - $675.3 M
  3. Mets - $630.0 M
  4. White Sox - $621.9 M
  5. Cubs - $591.6 M
  6. Angels - $566.8 M
  7. Tigers - $564.6 M
  8. Dodgers - $528.0 M
  9. Phillies - $527.2 M
  10. Mariners - $502.2 M
  11. Astros - $464.9 M
  12. Cardinals - $461.5 M
  13. Braves - $460.5 M
  14. Giants - $435.8 M
  15. Blue Jays - $411.0 M
  16. Brewers - $380.1 M
  17. Orioles - $374.3 M
  18. Twins - $354.7 M
  19. Reds - $353.7 M
  20. Indians - $339.8 M
  21. Rangers - $337.2 M
  22. Diamondbacks - $326.9 M
  23. Rockies - $323.8 M
  24. Royals - $318.2 M
  25. Athletics - $310.2 M
  26. Padres - $283.2 M
  27. Nationals - $282.0 M
  28. Rays - $239.3 M
  29. Pirates - $221.7 M
  30. Marlins - $151.5 M


        As expected, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox place one-two on the highest payroll list for 2006-10. The average payroll a team gave out during this time was $434.9 M. The largest payroll ($1,008.1 M - NYY) was 232% of the average given out during this time and the smallest amount ( $151.5 M - FLA) was 35% of the average payroll. Opposed to the amount of wins in this time span where both the largest and smallest amounts were separated by about 40% of the average, the 297% gap in payroll is incredible. Obviously there is no salary cap in baseball but, when the Yankees paid out more than 6.5 times the amount the Marlins did over five years, it comes to question if one should be put in place.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Most Regular Season Wins 2006-2010

  1. Yankees (478)
  2. Red Sox (461)
  3. Angels (460)
  4. Phillies (456)
  5. Twins (444)
  6. Dodgers (429)
  7. Tigers (424)
  8. Cardinals (424)
  9. Mets (423)
  10. White Sox (418)
  11. Blue Jays (416)
  12. Rockies (415)
  13. Braves (412)
  14. Rangers (411)
  15. Cubs (406)
  16. Brewers (405)
  17. Padres (405)
  18. Rays (404)
  19. Marlins (400)
  20. Athletics (400)
  21. Giants (399)
  22. Reds (395)
  23. Astros (391)
  24. Indians (389)
  25. Diamondbacks (383)
  26. Mariners (373)
  27. Royals (338)
  28. Orioles (337)
  29. Nationals (331)
  30. Pirates (321)

    As expected, the New York Yankees won the most games over this five year span averaging 95.6 wins per season. The average amount of wins for a team was 405, as well as the median amount. In half a decade the Yankees won 49% more games than the MLB worst Pittsburgh Pirates, a whopping 157 game difference. It is worth noting that of the five World Series Champs in this time span, four of them were in the top ten on this list with the San Francisco Giants being the only non-top ten team to win a World Series at #21.

2006-2010 Rankings Full Spread Sheet (click)

Advanced Baseball Statistics: OPS

OPS (On Base Plus Slugging):
Purpose: To determine a players overall effectiveness at the plate, by adding his OBP and SLG.
Introduced: 1984
Explained: The best hitters in the majors will typically have an OPS of over .900, and the league leader will often have one of over 1.000 (Josh Hamilton's was 1.044 in 2010). OPS is considered to be perhaps the best indication of a players overall production, and in 2009 and 2010 all MVP award winners led their respective leagues in OPS (Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols in 2009, and Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto in 2010).


Advanced Statistics: BABIP

BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play):

Purpose: To determine how lucky a player is at getting hits after he puts the ball in play.
Introduced: 1999
Explained: BABIP is a good way of predicting whether a player's batting average will go up or down. If a player's BABIP is alarmingly high, he is most likely due for a decrease in batting average as soon as his luck runs out. For instance, Austin Jackson's BABIP was a staggering .396 in 2010, leading many baseball experts to predict a sharp decline in his batting average in 2011; sure enough, his batting average at the start of 2011 was an abysmal .226 (.314 BABIP, average), compared to his solid .293 batting average the year before. Essentially, Jackson is getting fewer lucky bloop singles and swinging bunts in 2011. BABIP is a slightly flawed statistic, however, as often times a player will have a high BABIP simply because he is a good hitter and hits a lot of line drives. It is not always a perfect indicator of a player's future performance, but it certain cases it does the job (i.e. Austin Jackson).

BABIP=(H-HR)/(AB-HR-K+Sac Flies)

Advanced Baseball Statistics: SLG

SLG (Slugging Percentage):
Purpose: To determine the power or extra-base hit potential of a given player.
Explained: A player's slugging percentage (or slugging average) is how many total bases that player gets per at-bat via hit. If a player were to get a single in every single at-bat, for instance, his SLG would be 1.000. A homerun every at-bat would result in a 4.000. Because extra-base hits count for much more than singles, power hitters typically have higher SLG than contact hitters (in 2011, Derek Jeter's SLG was .370, while Adam Dunn's was .536, even though Jeter had a higher batting average).
SLG=(Total Bases via Hit)/Total At Bats

Advanced Statistics: OBP

OBP (On Base Percentage):

Purpose: To determine how often a player reaches base, either by hit, walk, or hit by pitch.
Introduced: 1984
Explained: Assuming that a player has received a sufficient number of plate appearances, the differential between his batting average and OBP will often tell how patient that hitter is. In 2004, Barry Bonds's OBP was .609, while his batting average was .362, an indication of his incredibly high walk total of 232.
OBP=(Hits+Walks+HBP)/Plate Appearances

Advanced Baseball Statistics: WAR

WAR (Wins Above Replacement):
Purpose: Identify how valuable a player (position player or pitcher) is to his team. It calculates approximately how many wins he is responsible for over the course of the season, assuming his replacement was a slightly below average utility-type player.
Introduced: ?
Explained: WAR attempts to combine every aspect of a player's game into one concrete number. By this number, pitchers and position players can be compared. It also takes into account a player's position, and the performance of the league around here. It essentially ends the argument of who is more valuable to his team, Joe Mauer, Miguel Cabrera, or Cliff Lee; all can be compared through this one statistic. The equation for calculating it is incredibly complex, and I will not even try to attempt it, but if more information is needed, refer to Fangraphs.

Advanced Baseball Statistics: The Save

Baseball revolves around statistics, perhaps, more than any other sport. Consequently, baseball statistics are more numerous and intricate than those of other sports. As baseball transitions from being our national pastime to a primarily analytical pursuit, appealing less to the average American and more to the obsessed fantasy manager, the relevance of statistics is only increasing. Over the past 30 years, fanatical statisticians and baseball analysts have created a multitude of new statistics that may seem foreign to the casual baseball fan. We will periodically explain many of these statistics, here's the first:

The Save:

Purpose: To reward relief pitchers for closing a game under particularly stressful circumstances.
Introduced: 1969
Explained: Saves are awarded to the pitcher that meets all of the following requirements

  1. He records the last out for the game for the winning team

  2. He is not the winning pitcher

  3. He is records at least one out

  4. He satisfies one of the following conditions:

    1. He enters the game with a lead of ≤ 3 runs and pitches for at least one inning

    2. He enters the game with the potential tying run either on deck, at bat, or on base

    3. He pitches for 3+ innings

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Three Ways to Build a Team

    Major League Baseball has changed over the years from America's National Pastime to one of the largest entertainment businesses in the world. As the industry has changed, so has the way that teams are assembled. Each year thirty teams start off in November with the goal of churning out a profit by the following October. In order to do this, a winning product has to be put on the field. To assemble a MLB team a General Manager can use three types of players: Home Grown, Traded For, and Free Agents.

Home Grown: A home grown player is one who is either drafted in the First Year Player Draft or is an international signee as an Amateur Free Agent. To read more on International Amateur Free Agents check out SI.com's article.

Traded For: A traded for player is any player that is directly traded for from another franchise, claimed off of waivers, purchased from another team, or selected in the Rule V Draft.

Free Agent: A free agent player is any player that is not under contract with any franchise and is eligible to be signed by any club. To learn more about how to become a Free Agent click here.

    Small market teams like the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays focus on building from within, spending more money in the Amateur Draft and on Amateur Free Agents than in Free Agency. For big market teams such as the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, the luxury of having more money allows them to be competitive players in the Free Agency sweepstakes each year.