93 thoughts on “I goofed”

  1. Great article, Mac. I wish you had done it last year so you could have used the other Francoeur question. I know I’ve asked that question many many times.

  2. I’m afraid the Braves will screw up what shot they have by doing dumb things like this. They don’t have as much room for dumb things as the Mets do.


    Mike Hampton pitched today, and nothing fell off his body…..that is all

  4. He’s actually pitching well today, but is expected to fall up the stairs and sprain his groin after the game.

  5. Mac,

    Hampton is probably reading what you say and he is going to crawl out to the mound if necessary for his first start of the regular season. He will throw a pitch, yell out, “Take that Thomason” and then his arm will fall off.

  6. Completely off topic:

    I have my Roto auction coming up. We can keep 10 keepers from last year. The first 8-9 are easy. For the last slot. I can keep Chipper at $27, Scott Hatteberg at $5, Ryan Ludwick at $5, Rich Aurilia at $5, or Alex Gonzalez (CIN) at $10. I am leaning toward Chipper. Also, a guy offered me Rowand ($15) for Chipper. Thoughts?

  7. Is there a correlation between increased walks and increased BABIP? It would seem to make sense that if you’re looking for better pitches, the ones you do hit are more likely to go for hits. Just wondering if that had anything to do with Francoeur’s year. I hate to think he’s closer to a .260 hitter than a .293 one.

  8. anybody happen to hear why he went 4 1/3? Hoping he ran out of gas but expecting that something flew off of his person.

  9. I think that the .260 was the outlier more than the .293. BP projects .284 (and suspects he might do much better) and I think that’s probably accurate.

  10. Smitty,

    By the way, what’s going on in Chattanooga? I was there a couple of weeks ago and I saw several people with Red Sox caps. They’re infiltrating everywhere. You have to stop this! :)

  11. So what exactly is the LF situation? I’m still unclear… is Diaz gonna be the everyday guy? Is Anderson gonna be the one to earn my ire?

  12. It looks like Diaz, with Anderson or Blanco in spot duty. Watch it, Anderson will hit an empty .300 in a few games and start playing all the time against righthanders.

    Meanwhile, I’m reading BP, and it really is a fine annual, but they are taking this DIPS revolution thing too far. Matt Diaz has hit .315 and above basically everywhere. I don’t see any reason to think that he can’t continue to hit like he has. Yeah, he has a high BABIP, but he hit .315 over more than 2800 career minor league ABs, and better in the high minors. At what point do you admit that this is his real ability?

    I can just see BP in the 1980s saying that Tony Gwynn isn’t going to keep hitting, he doesn’t walk enough or have enough power.

  13. I’m sorry, but when someone starts talking about BABIP, I start slowly backing toward the nearest exit, smiling and nodding. There is nothing as absurd in all of stats as BABIP, which is a poor attempt to statistically deal with luck.

    This is not shooting electrons at a lead plate. There are countless things that go into whether a ball hit into play goes for a hit or not. Most of them are not random. The reason that a particular player has a very high BABIP may just be because he hits like Ike Turner. He just smokes the ball. Balls get through the infield quicker, they handcuff players, etc. It’s also a function of defensive positioning, pitch selection, etc. These are not laboratory controlled performances.

  14. I read that too. I was a bit surprised, but you’re right, they basically don’t have the framework to deal with a hitter like Diaz.

  15. The other guy they’re doubtful on, as has been noted, is Escobar. In this case, it’s largely because Escobar has a very short track record, so his problem year in Mississippi is basically all they have to use other than 46 games in AAA last year — you can’t read anything into a 22 year old pummelling rookie ball and low-A. He had a terrible year in Mississippi, but so did everyone else. Saltalamacchia was even worse there, but he had a much longer record behind him, so they were able to read that as an injury blip. Escobar hit in AAA last year, and hit at almost precisely the same level in the majors.

  16. And he’d better keep right on hitting if he wants to maintain his roster spot on D Price Is Right.

  17. Bledsoe, I’d say go with Chipper unless you’re running short on cash. None of those other guys is worth a red cent.

    Also, on Rowand, just say no. He’s moving from a great hitter ballpark to a bad one, and last year was an outlier to begin with.

  18. Well, it’s NL only and 12 teams, so we get down to the bottom feeders. Almost all the guys I mentioned are actually bargains in this league. If Aurilia or Ludwick hits 15-20 hrs, that’s a steal. But as I said, I am leaning CJ also.

  19. I thought the point was that BABIP varies from year to year and that’s why it is considered an indicator of luck, ie, that one year a guy hits a lot of seeing eye hits and another year, those balls are right at infielders. My impression was this was just an extension of the notion that batting average in general is misleading.

  20. bledsoe,
    I’d say it’s a close call between Chipper and Hatteberg at those prices. I’d probably lean Chipper, but you know Hatteberg’s gonna get plenty of ABs in a hitter friendly park with Dusty running the show. And he can still hit a little.

  21. Um… I agree with you that Hatteberg can hit “a little,” though I think we’re going for different meanings. On Aurilia, obviously, just stay away.

  22. This is why the people who have access to batted ball data make much better predictions.

  23. Dude, Hatteberg had 10 HRs, 47 RBIs and a 120 OPS+ in part-time duty last year. That’s more than 18.5%—Hatteberg’s relative cost—of Chipper’s production. At $5, Hatteberg is valuable.

  24. My point is that it has nothing to do with “luck.” These baseballs in play are not random observations of Brownian motion, and it’s silly to treat them like they are. The batter is seeing the ball well, or he isn’t. He’s “in the zone”or he’s ice-cold. He hits this pitcher well, or he doesn’t. The grass is long. The grass is short. The other team knows how to pitch him, or they are the Reds.

    Diaz will consistently have a high BABIP because he has great bat speed and hits the snot out of the ball. When his BABIP goes down, this is not so much a function of luck or regression to a mean as it is a reflection that he’s off his game. It may be what he ate last night, what time he went to bed, or aches and pains, or just losing his edge. It may be the league figuring him out. It’s not chaos theory; it’s baseball. BABIP is about as silly as a stat can get.

  25. Hatteberg doesn’t have a guaranteed job; the front office might make Dusty play Votto.

    There’s no way Dusty woulda taken a job in which a front office could make him do anything. It’s Dusty’s call. Now, as you say, Hatteberg’s job isn’t guaranteed, but I think he’ll get nearly as many ABs as he did in 2007.

  26. I’ve been following ST pretty closely, and Votto is laying an egg. Dusty also loves old guys, and Votto is making it an easier choice than it should be.

  27. I remember being surprised at how well, relatively, Hatteberg was still hitting last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit around the same this year.

  28. Hatteberg had, by OPS+, the best year of his career last year. But part-time duty doesn’t help at all if you’re in a week-by-week league, and I’m not convinced that he’s going to be able to keep that up. Dusty will probably give him at-bats, but he’s going to be 38 this year. That’s old.

  29. I tend to agree with Bledsoe. BABIP seems to be pretty bogus. There’s more things involved on top of what Bledsoe said: spot in order (is he seeing fastballs he can rip or is he seeing a lot of off-speed stuff?), size of ballpark outfield, quality of infield defense, etc. Good hitters hit balls hard, and hard hit balls find holes.

  30. Is it a weekly league? If it is, that would seriously weaken Hatteberg’s value and I’d agree with you about staying away, AAR. Most leagues are daily, though, and since bledsoe didn’t say either way, I’m assuming this one is, too, in which case, as is abundantly clear by this point, I think Hatteberg’s worth considering.

  31. That’s why batted ball data helps out. Line Drive percentage gives you an idea of how hard the hitter hits the ball. Generally speaking, a hitter’s BABIP tends to regress toward the line drive percentage plus an offset. It’s not perfect, but knowing line drives, fly balls, and grounders gives you an idea, in the numbers, of the quality of contact.

  32. He was one of them. Hatteberg was a catcher for the Red Sox, small for the position and not noted for defense or power, but hit for a pretty good average and drew walks. He suffered a major injury in 2001 that looked like it would end his career, but the A’s picked him up and made him a first baseman.

  33. #24

    Mac, as an M-Brave regular I have to agree with you that nobody hits that well in Mississippi of all the big time prospects. Its odd for me to watch these guys tear it up in Richmond and Atlanta when they hit so poorly here. (Especially Escobar. But then I’ve heard that a lot of that had to do with the translation gap between him and Blauser.)

    Well other than Matt Esquivel (who can’t stay out of trouble) and Diory Hernandez. I don’t know what that says about Diory other than that I’ve probably jinxed him forever.

  34. Diaz hit .820 on line drives. That’s high, but not remarkably so. Some other Braves:

    Francoeur .822
    McCann .765
    Escobar .690
    Chipper .788
    Johnson .776

    Everyone hits highest on line drives, and Diaz hits a few more line drives than most. If he was hit-lucky, it was on ground balls, but that’s caused because he hits a high share of his grounders up the middle, where averages on GB are much higher.

  35. I’m not sure what a daily league or weekly league is . This is old school Rotisserie, with whoever’s on top on Sept. 30 as the winner.

  36. I think we’re at the point where we know who Matt Diaz is, and what we can expect from him.

    Personally, I’d love to see him as the NL’s greatest #7 hitter.

  37. “If he was hit-lucky, it was on ground balls, but that’s caused because he hits a high share of his grounders up the middle, where averages on GB are much higher.”

    In other words…..

    He’s not lucky. He hits the ball up the middle.

  38. Yeah, and you said that once already. My bad. I believe PT players still have good value in Roto leagues.

    Would you be interested at all in joining the Auction Keeper League I’ve described on here a couple times? We need a 12th owner, and you are a knowledgeable baseball man.

    This is probably a bad question, because:
    (1) If you’d already seen the description and were interested, you’d have said so; and
    (2) If you didn’t see the description, you would need one now, which I’m not providing here.

    Anyway, your thoughts? It would require you to give up your whole Saturday, March 22nd, which at this late stage is probably a deal-breaker…

  39. Yup.

    Most hitters hit their ground balls to one side or the other, generally pulling them. And 80 percent of these are outs. Diaz hit about half of his grounders either to center or right, and hit over .400 on them. That’s a little bit high, but not extraordinarily so. he hit .286 on grounders to left, which is high, but that’s about four singles’ worth of hits.

  40. Jea, don’t know if you are talking to me but 2 leagues would put me in the unemployed.

  41. bledsoe,
    I, Stu, was talking to “jea”, who is a different poster on here. (See #s 2 and 37.) Sorry for the confusion.

  42. I would take Hatteberg on our bench right now, even if he can only play 1st. Thorman can leave the building.

  43. have to agree with you on BJ online Mac, unbelievable value for $3 month and I’d recommend it to anyone with even a fraction of interest. you can always cancel after a 3-month $9 investment if you so choose.

  44. Stu,
    I’d lovee to join, but unfortunately I do have plans for next Saturday. Had it been two days ago, I would have. Thank you, though. I did see the description, but either assumed it was full or just didn’t think in terms of joining.

  45. Curses. Next year, when we hopefully expand to 14 teams, I will remember to specifically invite you in a more timely manner.

  46. Boy, just poking around on the free stuff on BJonline made my brain grow. The Q&A had a question about BABIP:

    “It has been determined that you can determine if a pitcher has been pitching in “good luck” by using his strikeouts and home runs allowed. Could there be (or is there) a similar formula for hitters using the same two categories? Mike B
    Asked by: Anonymous

    I would think there would be more variables involved for the hitter. I mean, if a hitter hits .395 on balls in play, we certainly would be aware of that, and we would expect that that was an unsustainable performance. But on the other hand, a player CAN have a high ball-in-play average because

    1) He is fast,

    2) He has great bat speed, thus hits the ball very hard,

    3) He has great bat control, thus makes solid contact, or

    4) He has good karma.

    Thus, I would think one’s ability to infer luck for a hitter would be less than one’s ability to infer luck for a pitcher, given these same facts. . .strikeouts, walks and home runs.”

    I’d say it looks favorable for Diaz using those markers.

  47. If you page down on “Hey Bill” from there, you’ll find a couple of questions from me, including one on Chipper’s 0 on the Black Ink Test.

  48. I’m not trying to sound like a jerk (I swear I’m not jerk), but why does it take a statistical genius (which Bill James DEFINITELY is) to get that point across? It seems common sense that a guy like Diaz who really hits the ball hard will have a high BABIP. Diaz seems like the epitome of a guy who will continue to have a high BA: he hits the ball HARD, he hits the ball solid, and he’s not totally slow. As AAR has said, Diaz is the guy I’d have up (outside of Chipper) with the game on the line, because of those reasons. He’s got a flat-plane swing with a low finish, and since most fly balls are outs (unless they’re HRs), he’s going to be the guy to sustain a high BA and BABIP.

    He seems to be the inverse of what caused Furcal to not realize the potential he could have. Furcal was a groundball, line-drive hitter with extremely good speed, but he started lifting balls, killing his skill sets, and he ended up become merely a good player. Diaz seems have been able to avoid doing that.

    All this talking about Matt Diaz makes me like him more. He looks like a mix between Jack Black and one of my professors, and he’s just a normal Joe who just happens to be able to play baseball really well.

  49. I kept scrolling down because it is fantastic, obviously, and I’ll admit to not being totally surprised to see your questions. Great stuff. And at $3 a month, it seems the best bargain on the web after Metafilter.

  50. Rob,

    I’m not questioning his talent, or your ability to spot it. I’ve been a Diaz fan from day one. To me, it’s interesting to have further confirmation of why I think he will continue to do well. “Don’t believe your own lying eyes”, etc.

  51. seeing Mark Redman referred to as “a fiend from the depths of Hell” was probably the funniest thing I saw all day

  52. Mac, Great write up on THT. Funny as usual. Ok, I’ve been searching for answers to the Diaz regular thing. Is the DOB blog from Sunday our only evidence (besides BJones sucking up the place?)

  53. I literally laughed out loud when I read “a fiend from the depths of Hell.” Great stuff.

  54. I thought it was funny when Mac said some of the 4th and 5th starters did not have control of their limbs.

  55. BABIP is a fine statistic. The thing is, for hitters especially it is a somewhat repeatable skill. Guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, David Wright (etc.) all post BABIPs closer to .350 than .300. Sure, they’re not in the .380 range like Diaz has been, but they’re well above .300.

    I don’t think Diaz will be a consistent .330 hitter, but .310-.320 is likely given his past level of performance.

    I also agree with what Mac posted earlier about Escobar. There’s just not a lot of data on him at this point, especially when you consider his age. There just aren’t a lot of guys of his calibur who are playing in A-ball when they’re 22. Joe Sheehan tends to be a bit over-zealous in his comments about players. I mean, it’s good to have confidence in your methods, but at some point, you’ve got to acknowledge the shortcomings, and I think players like Escobar (who have short track-records and few appropriate comparables) fit this category.

  56. Chuck James pitched 3 scoreless innings in a minor league game today, 1 hit, no walks, 3 strikeouts.

  57. DOB reporting on James:

    “Bobby Cox told me this morning that James is scheduled to go three innings today, and also said it’s not certain Chuck will begin the season at Class AAA Richmond, as has been widely assumed (by me, among others).

    “Not necessarily,” Cox said. “We’re getting him ready. We’ll see.”

    If you ask me, I don’t see how James could open with the big league club, not unless there were an injury between now and opening day. Just can’t see them not keeping Jurrjens in the opening day rotation.

    And since a lot of you have asked, and the Braves have indicated a desire to have one reliever capable of spot-starting duties, I asked Cox if there was any possibility Chuck might be considered for the job (like many of you, I cringe at the thought of Chuck and his home-run propensity coming out of the ‘pen, but I had to, or wanted to, ask).

    Anyway, Cox’s reply: “I don’t know. He’s too good of a starter, maybe….”

    In other words, don’t be expecting James to open the season in the ‘pen.”

  58. The scouting report at 73 was pretty good. I don’t understand the ranking of Diaz (as noted) and Moylan’s ranking. If Moylan has anything close to the kind of year he had last year, he will be a huge plus. McCann’s defense also seems to be a little overrated in the article. Anyway, good stuff – thanks.

  59. re: 73, is Escobar really that much of a better defender than KJ to warrant being given .4 more points? If anything, I’d be more inclined to switch the two ratings.

  60. I’m going to say it now, but the Braves should have given KJ a longterm contract this winter. After he has a breakout year this year, it will be very hard to do so. Count it!

  61. #71 thanks Braves14

    Mac, I don’t think that Jeff Francouer is dumb. But I don’t think he is a member of Mensa either. But it was another funny line in a very funny write up.

  62. It’s been a few days and I know some of the Georgia hoops talk ended yesterday, but I want to say again as a Dawg fan how proud I am of that team for the miracle they pulled off to get into the dance.

    To not only watch the win over Arkansas on Sunday (with Jake R. in full Dawg ensemble on my lap) but then to find out an hour later that the Dawgs are coming to DC…well, just AWESOME.

    To that end, I managed to call and email enough people at the UGA Athletic Department yesterday that I secure 6 tickets behind the Georgia bench at a reduced cost for Thursday’s game at the Verizon Center! I am stoked that they are going to be here in my neck of the woods.

    re: Hampton

    Smoltz & Jurrjens coming off a bad start and Hampton pitching respectably well.

    That’s why this is Spring Training.

    re: Frenchy

    This of course would happen against the CARDINALS.

    I will take it a step further and say the bean ball was probably ordered by that nasty bastard, Tony “hateable face” LaRussa.

  63. re: 73, is Escobar really that much of a better defender than KJ to warrant being given .4 more points? If anything, I’d be more inclined to switch the two ratings.

    Agreed. This was what really jumped out at me in terms of errors with the team scouting report. There’s no way KJ should be rated below Escobar at this stage.

    And I agree that I would have loved to have seen the Braves sign KJ to a long-term extension this offseason. Doesn’t sound like that was even a consideration, whatever you want to make of that.

  64. KJ a breakout year? Not likely. He’s too streaky.

    Escobar will have the breakout year, count it. I think he’s much better than most on here want to give him credit for.

  65. The D-Day planners envisioned a “break through” or penetration of 10 to 20 miles that would open up the front for further offensive operations. They experienced a “break out” in which 3rd Army proceeded 200 miles in 20 days, followed by British Army advancing 190 miles in 5 days.

    KJ is likely to have a break through season. His career arc is eerily similar, but about 1 year ahead of, Chase Utley. Expect some defensive and some offensive improvement (maybe shorter bad streaks). Something like .290 / .400 / .490.

    Escobar will vastly exceed what his minor league numbers say. The question with him is it like .280 / .360 / .420 (break through) or .310 / .400 / .500 (break out). I think break through, but concede that break out is possible.

  66. @81,

    Alex, I assume you are kidding but I sort of doubt that LaRussa would order his pitcher to bean the guy with a changeup.

    But that sure shows why hitting is so damn hard and why baseball is such a difficult sport to play. I got hit my first at bat in Knothole League and was never really coomfortable hitting again. The idea that these guys are able to go up and focus on hitting against someone throwing essentially a deadly weapon at them really has me in awe. Anyone that says baseball players aren’t tough is full of it.

    Hampton had a nice outing and I have to say I am rooting for Hampton to make it, if for nothing else to spite the naysayers (one of which is me). You have to hand it to the guy–he could have just quit, he certainly has enough money to find good schools for his kids. Mac, if Hampton wins Comeback Player of the Year, will you do an addendum to your videos?

  67. I agree that KJ was streaky last season, but you must also consider that it was his first FULL season in the league. Given time, some of that will take care of itself.

  68. Marc, if for nothing else? If for nothing else than to help our team, is what you should be thinking.

  69. @Josh, true, but given it was his first season the league also was adjusting to him and might better know how to handle him from the start of the season.

    Out of curiosity, anyone know what KJ hit for the last month of the season?

  70. @87,

    Lando, you are right. Pretty silly for me not to mention that. :)

    Assuming Hampton is ok, I may be seeing him pitch in DC on April 12. Could be chilly then so he should be careful

  71. IMO, it is. I’d rather have a steady player you can rely on that might not hit quite as well than someone who might not hit anything at all for a couple weeks at a time, but has a little better season average.

    What happens when you get to the playoffs and your streaky player is in a slump and not hitting anything when you need him the most? I’ll take the steady player any day.

  72. The good with KJ is that he always keeps a good walk rate when he isn’t hitting. So he still gets on base, works the count. Those are still positive things.

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