Friday, July 29, 2011

Bonds' Season for the Ages

There is an excellent article on Fangraphs by Chris Cwik about Barry Bonds' 2004 season. The amazing thins is that with Bonds you could write something this like this nearly everyday and have enough material to last a few months.

Here is an excerpt but be sure to read the full thing:
Barry Bonds terrorized major league pitchers and managers in 2004. The proof: He walked 232 times — 120 of which were intentional. Both numbers are single-season records, which, to this point, no one has come close to touching. Needless to say, Bonds’ 2004 was a pretty unique year...

Bonds posted one of the most unique seasons of all time in 2004. The fear and intimidation he instilled in managers around the league may never be replicated. In 162 regular season games, Barry Bonds was handed 120 intentional base on balls; a truly staggering number. No player has ever come close to reaching those heights, and it’s nearly impossible to predict another player who can come along and duplicate the feat. Today, even the best hitters in baseball don’t receive the respect managers gave Bonds in 2004. What we have here is truly one of the most bizarre seasons in baseball history; one that we — as fans — will likely never experience again.
Some more amazing facts, he walked in 37.6% of his plate appearances, so even if he never got a hit he would have posted on base percentage of .376 which would have made him tied for 37th best without getting one single hit!

Yeah I really doubt we are ever seeing anything like this ever again. Simply amazing.

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Giants vs. Reds Series Projection

The Giants hot off a very nice (and to me unexpected) series victory over the Phillies head to Cincinnati to face the reeling Reds. With a tonight and tomorrow the Reds who are already 6.5 back and 5 games under .500 could be out of contention enough that they are willing to part with catcher Ramon Hernandez who would be very interesting to the Giants.

Getting a catcher with the offensive firepower of Hernandez could be as big of a boost to the Giants as getting Carlos Beltran. He doesn't have the same name cache but the marginal improvement would be on the same level. I get butterflies in my tummy thinking about a trade like that.

I built a projection tool before the Phillies series and I liked it so much that I want to keep using it so here we are and I will try to do this before every series.

Overall this was a little difficult because the Giants are not cooperating and letting us know ahead of time who the starter for Sunday's game will be. For the purposes of this projection I plugged in Barry Zito even though the Giants say they are skipping him, when a starter is announced I will update the projections.


Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
2 out 3
1 out 3
0 out 3
Win Series
Loose Series

The Giants pitching is superior but not overwhelmingly so with the inclusion of Zito in the projection. The Reds offense is far superior to the Giants which is what makes tilts this series in their favor and I haven't figured out a way a good way to account for the added offensive boost that comes with adding in Beltran. So take all of this with a healthy dose of salt.

Anyway, Giants I humbly request that you knock the Reds out of contention as a condition of their surrender demand Ramon Hernandez as payment. Make it so.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Brandon Belt vs. Aubrey Huff Statistical Cage Match

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. The Crazy Crabbers proudly present our main event! The Brandon Belt vs. Aubrey Huff Statistical Cage Match.

The rules are simple, two first basemen enter the cage and only one can leave with the starting job! Lets meet our competitors.

In the orange corner is the incumbent, standing 6 foot 4 weighing in at 225 pounds out of the University of Miami, AUBREY HUFF!

In the black corner the challenger, standing  6 foot 5 weighing in at 220 pounds out of the University of Texas, BRANDON BELT!

Let's lock the cage and see who comes out alive! We are going to break this down into categories and the contestant with the most wins will be crowned our champion. Let's get it on.

Hitting for Average:

Our first face off is comparing each players ability to hit for average. In the major leagues so far this season things haven't looked great for either.

Huff leads off the battle with his paltry .239 and ZIPS rest of the season projection of .263 the rest of the way. For Belt he counters with his .232 average this year and ZIPS rest of the season projection of .261 the rest of the way.

So it is pretty dang close but with a slight edge to Huff by the slimmest of margins. I guess this round goes to... WAIT WHAT IS THIS! BELT IS PULLING OUT SOMETHING FROM UNDERNEATH THE RING! IT'S HIS MAJOR LEAGUE EQUIVALENCY!

When we add in his MLE to his MLB line Belt's total batting average improves to .258.


With the turn of events Belt edges ahead in this category. It was a little shady but you don't emerge from a match like this without slightly moving into the gray area.

Getting on Base:

Huff's still a little woozy from the blind side of the MLE to the head but we will move on to the next category, getting on base. Huff who posted a career high walk rate of 12.4% last year has falling to below his career norms this season which has taken his on base average down with it. Sitting at .294 it is one the lowest in all of baseball among those that qualify for the bating title.

Belt on the other hand has been a bastion of patience (maybe to a fault). Even with a below average batting average he has still managed to get on base at a rate better than league average. With a MLB walk rate of 12.5% and an on base average of .338 he takes this in a cake walk.

If he decided that he wants to choke slam Huff on to his MLE's he can really hurt him with a combined MLE plus MLB on base average of .365 which is 70 points higher than what Huff has given the Giants this season. With Huff weakened Belt lands some more serious punishment this round.

Hitting for Power:

With our incumbent stumbling he really needs to land some punches to get back in this thing. Luckily his ring manager says he just needs a little bit longer to get it going.

Our third round turns to power. Huff finds a little bit of a second wind, jabbing with his 9 home runs to Belts 2 and an isolated power of .123 to Belts .116 and .145 MLE plus MLB. Neither contestant really landed anything of value in that trade off.

In the second flurry of punches each brings out their ZIPS rest of the season projections. Huff lands a solid blow with his .160 but Belt counters with a .174.

The incumbent finally holds his own against the challenger. The judges grade out this round as a draw. The match is looking like it is Belts to lose going into the fourth and final round.

Overall Production:

Huff is desperate and comes out swinging. He has stripped to just his thong now. It's not a pretty sight folks. His first punch is his above average defense the last 2 seasons. He lands a solid blow with back to back UZR/150's above 6.

He takes a chance with a low blow and throws out his team leading RBI total at 47. Belt took that blow right in the groin as his 7 RBI pale in comparison.

Huff throws out one last hail marry with his intangibles and veteran clubhouse presence. This one lands solidly on Belt's chin but the challenger refuses to go down.

Having withstood the best that Huff can muster. Belt throws a viscous combination of his .320 wOBA and .362 MLE + MLB wOBA against Huff's .284. Down goes Huff.

Belt climbs the to the top of the ropes and comes down hard with his ZIPS rest of season projected wOBA of .350 to Huff's .328. It lands squarely.

Finally he moves in for the cover with his youthful energy and athleticism. 1.... 2.... 3.... AND THAT'S IT THE REF HAS COUNTED HUFF OUT! BELT HAS EMERGED AS THE CHAMPION!!!



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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who's Going to Drive Them Home?

RBIs must be the snipe hunt of this summer's Giants camping trip. They seem impossible to come by. The Giants are currently ranked 28th in RBIs, ahead of only San Diego and Seattle. It's no surprise that it's been a struggle to score runs this year, but what does tonight's lineup looks like through the rose colored glass of average with runners in scoring position. It doesn't look that good, really.

Nate Schierholtz is the big surprise on this list. He's the leader of the team for clutch hitting if you don't include Belt's .333 average wRISP in only 6 ABs. Nate's been the breakout of the year, and I'm hoping he doesn't get his playing time reduced if the Giants pick up Beltran. The only downside on Sheirholtz's production is his dismal .185 avg. when he's hitting fifth. With some luck, the guys ahead of him tonight will get on against Hamels and he'll be able to drive them home from the seven spot.

As the lineup jumble begins to settle down, it's easy to point to hitters that are not pulling their weight with runners on. Aubrey Huff's numbers have been the most worrying this year, as he's dropped from a near .300 hitter with RISP down to just above his weight. That's detrimental to run production when it's any hitter, but doubly so when it's your clean up man.

If the rumors hold true and Carlos Beltran was in the lineup tonight, he'd lead the team with a prodigious .340 avg. w/RISP. I know Dan Murphy's hitting behind him, but Pablo's just as effective. With a middle of the order that includes Schierholtz not in the five spot, those slippery RBIs just might start piling up. And the pitching staff would appreciate those runs even more than Giants fans. Now we just wait to see if they can score more than two runs and if they end up with Beltran.

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Carlos Beltran Trade Analysis

The Giants are making a big push, maybe not quite all in but they are doubling down on winning this season. They went out and got their guy Carlos Beltran. The bidding was tough and probably raised his price but the Giants decided in the end it was worth while and pulled the trigger.

In the deal the Giants sent pitcher and top prospect Zack Whe the other way and my first inclination is that this is a solid trade with the Giants slightly overpaying but lets take a deeper look on how this one grades out.

Beltran's value:

Beltran is having a bounce back season after missing a ton of time with injuries. He has a .289/ .391/ .513 line, it is good enough for number 10 in the NL with a wOBA of .392 which would make him the best hitter by wOBA in the Giants lineup. He has a very good walk rate ( 14.3%) and keeps the strikeouts at roughly the same level (14.6%).

Beltran was the best hitter available on the market and will slide in to the middle of the Giants order at either 3rd or 4th (probably 4th because he is a proven run producer!).

His defense was once elite in center field but with knee injuries he is now a corner guy hopefully sliding over to left filed with the Giants. He has rated as a neutral defender this season and I think that is pretty fair, in 2 months his defense isn't going to give him much value nor will it hurt him much. Let's call this a wash.

Taking all of this into account and I think you have a 5 to 6.5 win player. Over the remaining 55 games he will probably be worth about 1 to 2 wins and will be paid approximately $2 million by the Giants (the final numbers haven't been announced yet). That leaves a surplus value of about $5.5 million. There will also not be in chance of getting compensatory draft picks even though he would be a Type A free agent because of a clause that says he cannot offered arbitration after his contract is up.

All said the Giants will get about $5.5 million in surplus value in this deal.

What they gave up:

The Giants gave up their top rated prospect not named Brandon Belt. Zach Wheeler is a right handed starter currently in high A San Jose. He has a plus fast ball, a developing but likely plus curve ball and a change up that is still a project. He was there 6th round pick and has a high ceiling that the scouts really like.

He has put up excellent strikeout and ground ball numbers but is lacking in the command especially to left handed batters who have hit well against him this season.

Here is his career stat line:

2 Seasons1083.9929146.212165785168111.4057.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2011.

As a top 50 pitching prospect his worth would be approximated at around $15 million. I am inclined to push this number down because with the Giants brass willing to part with him he is less of a sure thing so lets call him a top 100 pitching prospect which has a surplus value of about $10 million.


After running the numbers I am a little more disappointed on the trade than when I first started. Beltran is good but the Giants gave up something worth at least twice (maybe even three times!) what he was worth to get him. With the bidding war and the Giants desperation to get him that was bound to push up the price but the Giants gave up atleast $10 million in value and got $5.5 million in return, which isn't great.

What really kills me on this is that the Giants gave up the prospect but than still had to pick up $2 million in salary. In addition the fact that this is a pure rental with no chance of replenishing the farm system with compensatory picks also hurts.

I guess the Giants decided that going for it now was the best option, part of me wanted to not give away a chance at a longer term window of Championships for a 2 month rental but I understand that there are no guarantees that the Giants will keep getting the same performances from the young pitchers forever.

If this puts the Giants over the top to win a Championship I don't care all that much about what it cost to get here because a second Championship would be another huge cash cow for the team. The thing that scares me is that his wasn't a huge upgrade (by my earlier calculations this helps the Giants score an additional 0.15 runs a game or about 7 or 8 runs over the rest of the season) and this cost a lot.

I hope this is another "I am not an idiot moment" for Brian Sabean.

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Carlos Beltran's Offensive Boost

According to Henry Schulman the Giants and the Mets are "very close to completion" on a trade to bring over Carlos Beltran.

The thing that stands out to me in his brief blog post is this:

Beltran, a switch-hitter who is eligible for free agency after the season, would give the Giants' offense a significant boost for the rest of the regular season, particularly during the current stretch of 19 games against playoff contenders.
Would he really be a "significant boost" for the Giants? Sure he would come in and be arguably the best hitter on the team but the player who would be replacing would be Cody Ross or Nate Schierholtz who have both been better than league average hitters.
To try to figure out how much this does boost the Giants offense I used the lineup analysis tool and the rest of season ZIPS projections to figure out the runs scored with and with out Beltran.

Without Beltran the lineup tool says 4.018 runs per game.

With Beltran and Schierholtz moving to the bench the Giants improve to 4.169 runs per game.

With Beltran and Ross moving to the bench the Giants improve to 4.136 runs per game.

Over the last 55 or so games (it all depends on when the trade goes down) this would translate into about to 7 to 8 runs extra. The big question is what position he would play, I have heard things that he doesn't want to move away from right field, which is not an easy position at AT&T park and he might cost the Giants some runs there.

If he is willing to play left field I think that would be the best position for him and then the Giants can do a platoon of Torres and Ross in center with maybe Cody giving the occasional day off to Schierholtz and Beltran during the stretch run.

I am not sure that is a significant boost but it is something. I wouldn't expect an overnight change in the offense from worst in the league to best in the league but maybe with this move they can be mediocre.

So, yeah for mediocre.

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Barry Zito Throws Batting Practice

For the sick souls that want to relive last nights beating let's take a look at the meat balls that the Phillies hammered against Barry Zito.

First Inning:

Ryan Howard hits a double. This pitch wasn't too bad but an 84 mph inside fastball isn't gonna fool too many guys and Howard turned on the pitch. The Giants made him look like he was worth the $20 million plus the Phillies will be paying him next hundred seasons.

Raul Ibanez cranks a 81 mph cutter/change up a long way for a 3 run homer. This one was just a fat pitch, belt high with almost no movement (just 3 inches horizontal break and 5 inches vertical). This one was put on a tee.

Fourth Inning:

John Mayberry Jr. got himself a hanging curve ball and got full extension and took it way out of here. This was definitely a hanger as it got about 2 inches less vertical break than his average curve ball last night and at belt high and 71 mph the margin for error was very small.

Sixth Inning:

Chase Utley hits an inside the park home run (he may or may not have been out, but it really didn't matter in the end). Utley took a outside fastball at 84 and drove it off the center field fall. The pitch wasn't horrible but when you put something fat thigh high against a hitter like Utley you shouldn't be surprised when something bad happens.

Zito would go on to give up another double to Mayberry in the seventh but it didn't hurt him. His final line was 7 innings (honestly who have thought that it is a good thing he didn't walk many) giving up 6 hits (5 extra base hits) and 6 runs. This is a start that we would all like to forget.

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