Off Day Ruminations: The Albies Extension

As promised last week, I want to put my economist hat on for just a minute to discuss the Albies extension, in which people argue that Albies and his agent are leaving $100 million or more on the table.  There is nothing in economics that makes this impossible, but there are good reasons to think it is unlikely. 

One way to see this is just to look at market comps, as Ken Rosenthal does here.  Christian Yelich, Andrelton Simmons and Anthony Rizzo all signed similar buyout contracts for around $50 million.  While Albies’ deal is well short of those deals, none of those deals is anywhere near $135 million.  But that’s not really economics… it’s more in the realm of real estate valuation.

To an economist, each of Albies’ earnings for the next seven years assuming he doesn’t sign a deal is a random number, which, because economists are uncomfortable not using mathematical symbols, we can call Si, where S means salary and i ranges from 2019-2025.  We know a lot (though not everything) about 2019-2020 and have some reasonable knowledge about what will go into the compensation for 2021, but the years after that, which will played under a new CBA are really hard to predict.

But to an economist this isn’t really a problem.  Looking at markets to value uncertain streams of income over time is what economists do.  But is this really a market?  After all, it’s a negotiation between two entities: Albies and the Atlanta Braves.  Where’s the market?  Normally, when we think of markets, we think of Albies (who owns his labor) facing multiple bidders to buy his labor – it’s the multiplicity of bidders (or at least potential bidders) that makes a market.  In the absence of multiple bidders, we have the situation known as (to economists, who like categories nearly as much as they like equations) bilateral monopoly.  Albies owns his labor and he can only sell to the Braves.  Economists have studied questions of bilateral monopoly for a very long time, and I’m here to tell you they haven’t come to any real conclusions about it that stand up robustly against real-world situations.  So if there ain’t a market, economists have (IMO) little to say.

But as economists, we aren’t done.  The next step to ask is: why isn’t there a market?  Even though a deal for 2019-2025 can only be signed between Albies and the Braves, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be options for others to provide salary competition for the Braves.  To abstract from some of the issues of uncertainty, let’s say that we know Albies’ salary for the next seven years assuming he is capable of performing at a major league level and that we further have a firm estimate of his probability of being major league quality in each of the next seven years.  (In so doing, we are sweeping under the rug variations in how valuable Albies is, but you’ll have to take my word on it that these variations change the method I’m about to propose only in a technical way.)  So every year, Albies would be paid, in the absence of a buyout, either Sci or 0, and the probability in each year of nonzero salary is pi. (I switched from S to Sc to point out that Sc is certain.) Per Szymborski above, we are trying to figure out if the sum of pi x Sci over the years (i) is $135 million, or anywhere near it.  (Actually Szymborski seems to adjust for risk by subtracting 18 WAR from ZIPS which doesn’t really get at all the risks, but I’m not really trying to debate Szymborski except insofar as he thinks Albies left more than $100 million on the table.)  As economists, we would then use some interest rate to discount this to present value and use a lot more notation to do so, but I’ll spare your browser’s weariness over Greek fonts.  Note that this value could be as low as zero (ignoring the fact that he already made the team this year) and as high as the sum of Sci, which Szamborski seems to peg at $282 million.

It is an observation in economics that most people prefer certainty to uncertainty, and that Albies would therefore be willing to give up some expected pay to sign a deal which eliminates this uncertainty.  This gives Albies some minimum number that he must get to forego his uncertain stream, and we know the deal he signed must exceed that number, but that doesn’t tell us anything about how the market would value his services.  A lot of people have argued that Albies is willing to take this deal because he didn’t get a big bonus, he doesn’t come from wealth, yadda, yadda, yadda.  This is all true, and perfectly well explains why he’d sacrifice a lot of potential upside.  This little piece isn’t about Albies’ incentives to accept a deal like this, so long as he had negotiated the best deal the Braves could offer.  And to get them to give their best offer, he has to explain why, whatever his inclination to get certainty, he’s not going to take less than a competitor for paying him is available.

So who are these hypothetical competitors?  They aren’t baseball teams.  They are financial firms who could invest in Ozzie Albies or who could profitably pay him not to accept the Braves offer, maintaining the certainty, but making Albies better off.  Suppose blazon, inc. (a hedge fund I just made up) looks at Albies’ future pay and think he’s very likely to earn at least $135 million in expectation over the next seven years even without an extension.  Then they can cut him a deal.  We’ll pay you more than the Braves… considerably more.  In return, you agree to give whatever the Braves pay you to us.  Let’s say we agree to pay you, say $60 million, similarly structured.  You do better than you do under the Braves offer and we pocket the (uncertain) difference between what the Braves pay and what we pay you. 

There is a further wrinkle here.  Since this deal with Albies is only a small part of the hedge fund portfolio, and they can take many other risks that aren’t correlated with the risks of this contract, they can afford to offer up to the expected value of the contract (less interest and profit).  The uncertainty doesn’t cause them to discount much at all.  (Albies can’t similarly diversify without signing a deal like this.)  So why would blazon, inc. offer close to $135 million if that is the correct expected value?  Well, first they need to leave room for profit.  But mainly because they are in competition with other similarly well-heeled hedge funds.  If they don’t offer this, someone else will outbid them.

So Albies valuation of what he is willing to take as a certainty equivalent of his uncertain stream (a little more econ jargon – why not?) doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter because he isn’t really in a bilateral monopoly situation.  He’s in a real monopoly position, charging whatever the market will bear.

OK, I hear you mutter (because economists can hear under-your-breath muttering over the Internet) but isn’t this a little hypothetical?  No one has ever signed such a contract.  So this market I’m saying Albies can use doesn’t exist.

Well, if the mere nonexistence of a market could dissuade economists from characterizing it we’d just be accountants.  First, we have no idea whether such markets exist or not.  We don’t know what deal Bryce Harper might or might not have signed six years ago.  He might have taken exactly just such a deal.  So might’ve Jason Heyward.  Unless they talk about it, how would you know?

Certainly, it would be entirely unsurprising if Heyward or Harper borrowed against their free agent payday.  Borrowing is not exactly the same, because the lender gives up the upside.  If Harper borrowed $5 million after his rookie season, the lender can’t do any better than get back the loan with interest.  But borrowing is an interesting case.  If you were a bank, would you lend Albies $100 million?  Or even $35 million?  Well, it depends on the interest rate.  Suppose you lend Albies $10 million every year for seven years at an annual interest rate of 20%.  At the end of seven years, he pays you back the $70 million plus another $59 million.  Where does he get this money?  Well, we figured that his expected payment over this period was $135 million, so he’s got $6 million left over. And if he doesn’t earn the money, he spends the $70 million and declares bankruptcy.  (This is a little flippant.  There are various things a real lender would do to keep Albies from frittering away the money if he got injured in year 2, for example, but ignore that for the moment.)  And the lender’s 20% return compensates them for the risk.

But even beyond the lending market, the equity market (my hedge fund example) is certainly starting to take off.  See, for example this Tyler Cowen article, (which mentions income pooling for minor league baseball players, a related concept I’ll discuss below) or this article from the New York Times.  They do this in the context of equity investments in college students in lieu of college loans.  This is a real market, although it’s different than the market I’m talking about because when you do these deals in bulk you aren’t really concerned with precise estimates of value from each student who takes them.  Much closer are these sorts of deals for musicians.  It started with paying David Bowie for the rights to his back catalog but has morphed into markets to invest in the future income of new artists.

There are real problems with investing in the future income of individuals.  The big problem is what economists call moral hazard.  Once Albies is paid, what’s his incentive to put in the hard work to earn the money?  For pre-arb baseball players, there’s an obvious answer: they need to do the hard work in order to earn the next contract. While this isn’t a guarantee (I can guarantee that there will be some slackers) it’s really no different than the problem the Braves have: they only offer these contracts to people they are pretty sure won’t slack off.

So it’s hard to figure circumstances in which the Braves are willing to pay Albies for a long-term buyout and some third-party financier is not.  (Not to say there are no such circumstances.  In particular, the Braves can presumably monitor their investments better than our hedge fund could.  But remember Jeff Kent.)  But here’s the lesson in economics: a financial firm might have to discount a deal with Albies by even $20 or $30 million, but the more money you think Albies left on the table, the higher the incentive would be for someone else to do this deal.  But this means that the true value of Albies contracts must be much lower than $135 million, or Albies would not have signed the extension.

In addition, the deal need not be for all of Albies’ income.  Suppose our hedge fund offered $35 million for half of Albies’ income over the seven year period.  Albies now gets no less than he would have gotten in the Braves deal and he keeps half the upside above that.  And if Albies is really expected to earn $140 million, the hedge fund can expect a profit (not counting the opportunity cost of money) of $35 million.    

The labor pooling concept mentioned above doesn’t address the time structure of compensation, but it does address the uncertainty.  In pooling, a group of minor league players with similar prospects agree to share to some degree their joint salaries.  So guys who never make the majors (and arguably earn less than the minimum wage, but that’s another essay for another time) can be at least partly subsidized by those who made it and got a big payday.  This helps to cushion the uncertainty of not knowing how far your skills will take you.  You get some money back on the downside but sacrifice income on the upside.  Deals like this won’t help the guys with the big pay days, but demonstrate that internal markets to allocate the extraordinary risks of trying to be one of the best 750 baseball players on the planet can be hedged.

But labor pooling does bring the most obvious indication that Albies’ expected value can’t be anywhere near $135 million.  While the equities markets I’ve talked about above are speculative, there’s an actually existing market right now that Albies could use to create competition: the insurance market.  We know teams routinely insure their long-term contracts.  There’s nothing to stop players from doing so as well. (To be fair, the moral hazard problems are more intense, but there are ways around it.)  I could go to Lloyds of London today and ask them to ensure that I will earn at least $135 million in the next seven years playing baseball.  The only problem is that the insurance premium would be about $137 million.  Albies can go to Lloyds during negotiation with the Braves and say: how much to guarantee the difference between what I make in baseball in the next seven years and, say, $100 million?  They’ll give him an answer, say $25 million (I’m making this number up because I’m an economist, not an actuary.)  When the Braves offer Albies a $35 million contract, he says to them: “Pound sand.  For $25 million (which someone will surely lend me) I can guarantee $100 million over the same period.  That’s $75 million net to me, which beats your piddling little offer.  Match it (ie $75 million) or I’m not extending.”

Since we know this market exists, it forms a lower bound on any acceptable Braves extension offer.  So we know Albies’ net insurance offer can’t be any higher than the $35 million.  (I’m ignoring the buyouts here.)  So either his expected value isn’t really $135 million, or the cost to insure that is in excess of $100 million, which is sort of saying the same thing.

So, the upshot is that either Albies and the financial markets refused to do a deal that would profit them both, or the amount of expected value of Albies’ future contracts through 2025 is well under $135 million.  I suspect the latter, mostly because (a) economists believe that people don’t usually miss profitable opportunities to make beneficial trades when the payoffs are large; (b) the people who have estimated this $100 million lost are people with an ax to grind and no skin in the game; and (c) no one seems to think that Albies has poor representation – what is it exactly they do in negotiations other than explain why it would be irrational Albies to accept the deal on the table irrespective of his level of desire for certainty. (Obviously, they can deny Albies has much of a desire for certainty, but economists have a jargon-y name for that as well: cheap talk.)

Returning to the real-estate-valuation comps above, this doesn’t mean that the Braves might not have shorted Albies by $10 or $15 million.  Their position as the direct beneficiary of his services (his labor creates wins and wins create attendance) means that they have a direct profit position that Albies has to pay to induce financial equivalents.  That profit means that the Braves can always afford to offer somewhat more than others, and that therefore Albies’ best competing offer will be lower than the Braves can afford.  But by $10 or $15 million, not $100 million. And just ask Le’Veon Bell: $20 million is chump change.

A famous economics joke is that two economists are walking down the street when one of them sees a $20 bill on the sidewalk.  The other one says: that can’t be a $20 bill, because if it were someone would have picked it up already.  I can confidently state that (a) this joke is only mildly funny; and (b) factually untrue, since I once found a $20 bill in the back of a cab while I was riding with another economist.  But I can also confidently state that if Ozzie Albies saw an additional $100 million lying in the street, he’d probably scoop it up.  So it’s probably not there.  That’s no joke.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

82 thoughts on “Off Day Ruminations: The Albies Extension”

  1. My views are pretty much the same as JonathanF’s.

    No kidding though, that was fantastic.

  2. This is amazing. The only thing that would make it better is if it were in threaded-tweet format.

    15,637 characters — thanks, Word! — translates to something like 60 tweets.

  3. Jonathan F
    to all your entreaties I’m deaf
    at blazon inc. we know one when we see one
    the option taken better be the free one.

    Jonathan F…masterful. Crime disguised by long lines of archaic skill, you devil!

  4. Thanks, JonathanF! It sounds like we’re agreed that Albies probably forewent somewhere between $20 million and $50 million of potential contract value.

    But there are two pieces here that you’re eliding:

    1) It is possible that the Braves’ willingness to take a negotiating hard line is driven by an information asymmetry, e.g., the Braves know that the market for players is smaller than players think it is, perhaps due to ownership collusion. The likelihood of this is perhaps no more than mild, but it is clear that multiple players badly misread the market this offseason, and Mike Trout signed his multiyear extension (even though many people seemed to think he was leaving cash on the table) because he was badly spooked by those players’ experience.

    2) Szymborski isn’t talking about the actual market so much as he’s talking about Albies’s actual value. You’re talking about Albies’s rational contract expectations; Szym is talking about the contract that Albies should have gotten, which means that the assumptions that he’s making are all based around his own first-order calculations of Albies’s likely future baseball production, whereas your assumptions are all based around Albies’s second-order calculations of other people’s calculations of his own likely future baseball production. So he’s not responding to the market (or nonmarket baseball economic context) in the same way as you are.

    That said I think we can all agree that Ozzie deserves lots and lots and lots of money and I personally would like our billionaire owner to give him more.

  5. This. Was. Awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I struggled with a few points, and I’ll enjoy re-reading.

    And as someone always benting towards “comping” out these deals considering my line of work, this was as comprehensive of the other angles as I think anyone in the Internet is going to make. Really, great work.

  6. Szymborski isn’t talking about the actual market so much as he’s talking about Albies’s actual value. You’re talking about Albies’s rational contract expectations; Szym is talking about the contract that Albies should have gotten

    Yes. Dan was moralizing rather than discussing any actual economics. As is generally his want.

  7. From the last thread:

    Foltynewicz is a nutcase and will likely never be the pitcher that Clevinger is for the rest of his career. He has a 3.26 career ERA and his career FIP is much lower than Folty. K/BB is about the same.

    I’m not a long term believer in Folty the way that many of you are. He’s amassed 5.4 WAR pitching in 5 (parts of) seasons.

    Clevinger is by far the superior pitcher and not crazy/immature. Take off the Glasses.

  8. @10 3.8 of those 5.4 came in his age-26 season, just last year. It’s almost like pitchers get better as they get older, some more inconsistently than others.

  9. By the way, we should totally do this exercise through Jacob deGrom and Jake Arrieta’s age-26 seasons.

  10. Well he hasn’t pitched yet this year, and Clevinger was putting up Bob Gibson like numbers in his three starts so he may be improving as well… Granted he’s hurt too, but its not TJ or elbow or anything like that.

    To me, the choice isn’t really close.

  11. My layman’s take from JonathanF’s treatise is that it’s not probable (or possible even) for there to be a $130M gap in real value, because if there were, a hedgie would have stepped in and made serious low-risk bank on the arbitrage. Am I close?

  12. Thanks all.
    AAR: you’re saying the Braves took a hard line here. Maybe. Like I said, I don’t really have a theory about how Albies and Atlanta split the difference between his next best alternative and what Atlanta is maximally willing to pay. But I doubt Atlanta has any inside information about the next CBA regarding management’s position that Albies doesn’t have regarding the MLBPA. I suspect all either of them know is that this next negotiation is going to be messy.

    And I agree that Szymborski’s method isn’t really a method of estimating pay that makes much sense, but that doesn’t stop people from citing the estimate.

  13. Followup to @14, But maybe that’s exactly what happened, and all 3 parties involved are happy??? We have no way of knowing unless Albies blabs about it.

  14. Oh… and here’s my highlight email exchange of the day:

    Good morning Jonathan,

    I have sent you a few messages to see if we could get you more information about our flexible 2019 ticket packages. I haven’t heard back yet and am worried I have the wrong email address.

    If you receive this message, would you mind letting me know if you have interest in setting up a call?

    Have a good morning and thank you,

    Sarah Brooks
    Fan Relations Specialist
    New York Mets

    Dear Sarah:
    Please stop sending these to me. As I have explained many times, my “interest in the Mets,” as a Braves fan, is to see them lose as many games as possible, but I don’t want to attend to watch them do it. I’m not that sadistic. I have tried many times to get off all Mets mailing lists, but I have failed. This makes me wonder whether your CRM systems are anywhere near up-to-standard, but I wonder a lot of things about the Mets. It’s not your fault, Sarah, but please stop.

    PS: I will probably buy tickets to Mets-Braves games in the future. I am sad to report that this will probably start this merry-go-round again. Very sad.

  15. If it makes you feel any better (or worse), there’s like a 0% chance that Sarah is a real person.

  16. Honestly, I read @10 and all I hear is “Folty annoys me because reasons, and I drafted Clevinger in fantasy and got good seasons out of him.”

    How many games have you seen Clevinger pitch?

  17. If Clevinger doesn’t pitch for the rest of the year — as his injury suggests he won’t — Folty will pass him in WAR *this year*, and quite handedly. And then Clevinger will have to successfully recover from his injury and catch back up. Oh, and Clevinger is a year older. If you’re looking at it objectively and wondering who will have the better career, the smart money is simply on Folty.

    There are so many pitchers to rail on. Julio. Newcomb. Kyle Wright’s short sample walk rate. Gohara’s inability to stay healthy. Allard has lower velo than when he was a HS sophomore. But why rail on a guy like Folty whose K, HR, and H rates continue to improve, highly suggesting that he’s following a standard — if not slightly delayed — trajectory towards reaching his peak.

  18. I don’t get it. He’s been our best pitcher for a couple of seasons. There’s bigger fish to fry. Who cares if he’s a jackwagon. Just hope his arm stays in one piece.

  19. @23 He has certainly looked the part so far this year. A top 3 of Folty, Gausman and Fried looks pretty fair to me with Julio as our #5. Who steps in to the #4 is the big question, be it Soroka, Newcomb, Touki. Somebody has to start eating some innings there

  20. Personal, Birthday Boy.

    2 1/2 years ago diagnosis was aggressive Prostate Cancer. Looked at a calendar, decided my 80th birthday would be a worthy target to aim for. That has arrived today. Cancer disappeared after 2 year treatment, reappeared but currently is at a pain free low ebb. Those who had concerns here previously please make contact, most happy to talk. 937/365/1710

    Meanwhile on to GABP tonight.

    Weighty matey,
    blazon’s eighty
    though entering the ninth decade
    leaves little chance of getting laid.

  21. Great news Blazon and Happy Birthday. From your posts I would have never guessed you were anywhere close to 80. Here’s to many more youthful years!

  22. Well, for lack of anywhere better to report on this… it’s sounding like Liberty Media/MLB aren’t in the lead to buy the Fox Sports regional networks. I’m seeing a couple of sources reporting that Sinclair Broadcasting appears to be the likely buyer at this point.

    I’ve also seen a couple of media outlets reporting that most bidders were only in with low ball offers for the networks — this comes as no surprise to anyone who has had to suffer Liberty Media, of course.

  23. blazon reaches four score!
    not done … two score more?
    Ten past bible’s lifespan
    With prostate in the ashcan.
    Don’t wanna bamboozle ya,
    But you’re gaining on Methuselah.

  24. If I’m the Braves, I’m loving what’s going on with Fried not only because that means we’ll win more games, of course, but it does provide clarity of who we should and should not trade. And it further incentivizes them, IMO, to go get a legit front-line starter if you can then pick from Fried, Folty, Gausman, etc. for who starts playoff games. If the Braves land a Greinke-type addition, that starter starts game 1. Then you’d have Gausman making a game 4 start instead of the hypothetical Greinke-type acquisition coming back on short rest, or Folty coming back on short rest if you didn’t make that trade.

    If you go into the playoffs with “only” a top 3 of Folty, Gausman, and someone like Fried emerging, you’re not winning a playoff series. But if you get that frontline guy, Gausman is about as good of a 4th starter in a series as you can find. And this all assumes Soroka, Touki, Wright, and Gohara don’t emerge as better options and/or aren’t traded.

  25. If they can get Wright’s head put back on, I’d love to see the trio of Fried, Soroka, and Wright pushing us down the stretch (plus Folty and Gausman). A formidable five when they’re all dealing.

  26. Happy birthday, blazon. You’re weird but an interesting kind of weird and I dig your verse. Keep on keeping on. And, no, I never would have guessed you were 80. Goodness gracious! Perhaps I’ll live that long.

  27. lucky old me to have a bunch of guys like you…thank you all

    blazon the weird
    has just reappeared
    in his very newest guise
    hard to believe, he’ll be even more wise.

  28. Bowman says that later this week, we’ll be deciding between Soroka and Newcomb on who to keep in the rotation. Does anyone on this blog have any doubt which one is more likely?

  29. I wonder why Newcomb is even being given a shot yet, hasn’t he struggled in AAA?

    Edit: Checking, he has one start where he walked 4 in 5.2 innings.

  30. To be a fly on the wall in whatever discussions the team has with Newcomb… I wonder what, if any, adjustments they’re trying to get him to make. I feel like we all saw Newcomb starting the season about where he left off last year, which wasn’t encouraging. And it’s not just about walks surrendered, either. Fried gave up more walks than I’d like to see from our guys, but his pitch count was still pretty good. With Newcomb it’s a double whammy of lots of pitches to get the out compounded with losing battles to hitters after lots of pitches already made.

    Like, if he’s going to pitch for the Braves, he ought to have to do a burpee every time he throws a wasteful pitch.

  31. Definition of a barrel:

    The Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.

    Max Fried has had 78 batted ball events, which is 36th in baseball, so that’s obviously a good amount of sample. He is the only SP EDIT: who has made all of his starts* with 0 barrels on those batted ball events. Second-most amount of batted ball events with ZERO barrels? Good ole Sean Newcomb. He’s had 0 in 45 BBEs.


  32. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Soroka deal through the lineup 2, 2.5 times, then have Newk come in and throw two pitches once through the order.

    Also, did you know that Mike Soroka is 10 days older (August 4, 1997) than Godspeed! You Black Emporer’s “F♯ A♯ ∞” (August 14, 1997.)

  33. Highest average pitch velocities by pitch type (MLB ranking in parentheses, minimum 250 pitches):

    Gausman (37th)
    Fried (39)

    Folty was 3rd last year, minimum 3000 pitches (the highest it goes).

    Gausman (17th)

    Average spin by pitch type and ranking (minimum 250 pitches):

    Teheran (20th)
    Fried (28th)

    Fried (10th)
    Teheran (25th)

  34. With no minimum (so he gets in there), Touki’s curve spin rate is 146th, so he’s not exactly ripping off the curves in his big league action.

  35. Wright has the highest average 4-seamer velocity of any pitcher who has started for the Braves. Sobotka is 34th in all of MLB, minimum 50 pitches. Minter 59th. Carle is 107th, so he’s third in the pen in highest average 4-seamer velo.

    Ok, I’m done.

  36. DOB says that Bryse Wilson is another option to start Thursday if he hasn’t been used in relief. Personally, I want to see them try Wilson in relief.

  37. I’ve kind of wondered why the Braves don’t try tandem starts with some of these young guys. It’s occasionally used effectively in college. Have a Soroka/Newcomb game where both guys are different handed and show you very different stuff, would keep hitters off balance, limit innings, save the bullpen and keep the other team from stacking righties or lefties.

  38. Kyle Wright is going to be really good for the Braves one day, despite his early ML struggles. He’s still super young.

    I’m not sure Newcomb ever harnesses his potential. He’d be the guy I’d try to trade, if I could get a bite. He might figure it out, but it’s hard to keep running him out there on the mound if you’re trying to earn a playoff spot. I wonder if a trade of Newcomb to Baltimore for Mychal Givens is too light? Givens has a good track record, aside from a meh-ish start to this season.

    Sororka is probably the best best for the last rotation spot at present, though.

  39. Folty has good enough stuff that he can be really effective even with a 3.5 BB/9. In fact, of all the stats he improved from 2017 to 2018 (H, HR, and K rate), his BB rate got no better. The Braves gotta be feeling like if Newcomb can even improve his walk rate from this 4.5 to 5 BB/9 he’s been at down to where Folty is, that’s going to mean that he’s consistently hitting his spots, obviously decreasing his walks, but also increasing the amount of weak contact and racking up even more K’s. One and a half less walks per nine may not mean *that* much, but I think the ripple effect of him just consistently hitting his spots more can basically turn him into a TOR overnight.

    Of course, that probably won’t happen.

  40. @59 By the way, you can basically take the comment I just wrote, use Find and Replace to switch out Newcomb for just about every other starter in our system, and it would be accurate.

  41. I don’t think there are any stats available to confirm or disprove my thoughts, but seems to me that when Folty or Fried walk guys, they are usually right there around the zone at least throwing competitive pitches. For example Fried’s 1st inning with 3 walks Sunday. When Newcomb is wild (and Touki and half the pen for that matter) they seem to be way wild with non competitive pitches that even Frenchy in his day could lay off of.

  42. Per Bowman: From MLB Network’s research team: •According to Statcast, 54% of batted balls by Donaldson this year have had an exit velocity of at least 95 mph—his highest hard hit rate over the last five years, including the 2015 AL MVP season.
    Matches the eye test with the 4-5 games I’ve watched. Some on here have been very down on him but I think he is going to be just fine

  43. Now would be a great time to let Newcomb work it out in the minors and see if taking a little off his velocity can correct his not having any idea where the ball is going to end up…

  44. @61, check out the visualizations on the statcast pitch arsenal section here:

    I haven’t really explored it extensively, but those statcast tools are amazing.

    Also, I read a thing Sports Info Solutions is doing about command, tracking catcher glove position and pitch location, but I don’t know if the data is available. Would love to see the data on Newk.

    (Also, catching up from earlier great post, JonathanF, and great news, Blazon — these are the things that keep BJ special!)

  45. @66

    Kinda sorta in the middle, at the highest point. There’s this little rubber bar thingie he stands on for some reason.


  46. Felix cumpleaños, blazon. There was a time I thought of 80 as ancient. Although I’m not quite there yet, it now doesn’t seem so far off at all. You’ve given us all something to shoot for.

  47. At least he left Biddle in long enough to really screw this up,. We shouldn’t be shocked

  48. I’ve been out all evening. I turn it on to see Biddle on the mound with a runner on second and one out. Then wild pitch and three consecutive walks.
    I’ve seen enough of Biddle. Why let him pitch to someone with the bases loaded? He pretty clearly has a mental block at this point.

  49. The difference in this game is 9 free passes given by Braves hurlers. One by the Reds. Unbelievable this is so bad again this year

  50. I am not sure Newcomb ever harnesses his potential. he had been the guy I had to try to trade if I could get a bite. the difference in this game is 8 free passes given by braves hurlers. Kinda sorta in the middle, at the highest point. there’s this little rubber bar thingie he stands on for some reason. It’s occasionally used effectively in college.

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