Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quick Hits from the Minors

With the Olympics over, guys like Matt LaPorta and Brett Anderson are back to work in the minors.

  • Matt LaPorta -- While the Olympics weren't a smashing international debut for LaPorta (3 for 19 with 2 home runs), he's back to clubbing AA pitching going 3 for 6 with a home run in his first 2 games since leaving China.
  • Brett Anderson -- Anderson also faced some difficulties in China (4.97 ERA in 12.2 IP), but he's back with a vengeance, posting a 59% GB% while striking out 9 and walking just 1 in 6 innings Thursday night. 92.3% of the batters that Anderson faced either struck out or hit a ground ball.
  • Chris Davis -- The Rangers are pretty much toast for the season, but Davis is heating back up. Since August 18th, he's 13 for 38, with 3 home runs, 5 doubles, and 7 RBI.
  • Andrew Lambo -- Does Lambo have a cool nick name yet? Maybe something like "Rambo"? In 5 games at AA, Lambo is holding a .409/.435/.864/1.299 stat line, with 3 home runs.
  • Madison Bumgarner -- In low A ball where defense can be sketchy at times, it's amazing that an 18 year old (he actually turned 19 on August 1st) has done so well (1.40 ERA) in his first year of professional ball. Mad Bum is lighting it up this month, with 48 strikeouts in his last 32.1 IP and an ERA of 0.28. I wonder if he's beginning to mix in a decent breaking ball, or if he's just doing it all on his fastball still. Either way, he's had an historic season. On a side note, Bumgarner's shrinking GB% suggests that he's letting his fastball drift up high in the zone. For now, those high pitches are helping his strikeout rate, but once he gets to AA ball, those pitches will often find their way into the outfield bleachers.
  • Angel Villalona -- At 17 years old, he's posting a slugging percentage (16 home runs, 29 doubles) higher than Miguel Cabrera at 17, and an average in the same vicinity as the 17 year old Miggy. Watching Villalona, it's obvious that he's a great hitter, but I don't think he's a great batter. By that, I mean that Villalona has exhibited a very poor pitch selection, with a 23.6%/4.2% K%/BB%, while posting an OBP of .306 on the year. I expect Villalona to hit for more power than Cabrera, but I don't think he'll match Cabrera's OPS production.
  • Michael Bowden -- The Red Sox loss is Bowden's gain. With Josh Beckett visiting Dr. James "Death" Andrews, Bowden will face the White Sox to make the first major league start of his career Saturday. I don't expect great things from him right away, but he has lots of potential and could be a very reliable starter alongside Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester in 2 or 3 years.
  • David Price -- Price continues to underwhelm me, and I really doubt the Rays will consider using him as a starter this year. Thursday night Price went 5 innings with 5 strikeouts and 3 walks. His August GB% is sitting at 55%, which is good, but he has a just 17 strikeouts in 18 innings at AAA, with 9 walks. It's becoming increasingly obvious that Price's stuff isn't very deceiving to advanced hitters, and his control isn't that great. If you compare his AAA stats to those of Tim Lincecum, Joba Chamberlain, or even Brett Cecil, you can see that for his age, Price isn't doing anything out of the ordinary.
  • Brett Cecil -- Speaking of Cecil, how about his start on August 23rd? No hits over 7 innings, with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks. Since moving up to AAA, Cecil has a GB% of 69% in 30.2 innings, with a total of 92% of hitters either striking out or hitting a ground ball (compared to the 75.7% posted by David Price).

...Read more

Friday, August 29, 2008

Baseball America Hot Sheet for the Week of August 22nd-28th

Hey guys, I apologize for not posting lately. I'm trying to balance a lot of stuff right now, but I haven't forgotten about you!

Anyways, here's the Hot Sheet from the past week as well as my comments.

1. Brett Wallace, 3b, Cardinals
-- Everyone knew this guy could hit, but I was almost certain that the move to AA would slow him down a bit. Guess not. 14 for his last 35, with 3 home runs, and 4 doubles. I thought he would walk more than he has, but it's a small sample size.

2. Kyle Blanks, 1b, Padres
-- Blanks is still putting up some very good numbers, but he has a huge road block in the way of his future career with the Padres who goes by the name Adrian Gonzalez. I'd love to see Gonzalez get traded to a team with a more hitter friendly ballpark and then watch Blanks take over at first base for the Pads.

3. James Darnell, 3b, Padres
-- Good numbers, but I'll still not sure about Darnell. Wait until we see him against A or AA ball pitching.

4. Brian Bogusevic, CF, Astros
-- Why was this guy pitching for so long when he could swing the bat like he has over the past couple of weeks? Maybe he's just on a hot streak, but maybe not. The next Rick Ankiel? Who knows (but probably not).

5. Pedro Baez, 3b, Dodgers
-- A few good weeks of production don't compensate for being 20 years old and struggling to escape rookie ball.

6. Buster Posey, C, Giants
-- Posey will hit where ever he goes, but why didn't the Giants start him at low A instead of the AZL League?

7. Ivan DeJesus, 2b/SS, Dodgers -- The Dodgers need young middle infield talent, but I'm not real high on DeJesus. Good skills, but he won't be a star.

8. Kris Medlen, rhp, Braves
-- There isn't much to look forward to if you're a Braves fan, so let's hope Medlen keeps up the good work and makes it to the big leagues in a year or so. My only concern is his GB%, which has dive-bombed since moving to a starting role.

9. Brad Holt, rhp, Mets -- Why is Holt still in short-season rookie ball? Move him up already so we can see him against some better competition.

10. Neftali Soto, 3b, Reds -- Good stick, but will he play at third? If I'm the Reds, I'm looking for more power.

11. Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Giants -- Bumgarner absolutely owns the Hot Sheet. It should be called the "Bumgarner Sheet."

12. Wade Davis, rhp, Rays -- Glad to see Davis pick it up in AAA.

13. Wilson Ramos, C, Twins -- Joe Mauer need not fear Senor Ramos.

That's it folks. I'll post more tomorrow if I get a chance.

...Read more

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Washington Nationals Top 5 Prospects

I usually like to find the top 5 pitchers and the top 5 hitters from each team for these lists, but the Nationals have such limited talent that I think a top 5 overall list is sufficient. Of all the teams out there, I can’t find many that can match the Nationals lack of young talent in the minors. While they have 2 power hitters in Michael Burgess and Chris Marrero, there’s not much pitching depth, and they failed to sign pitcher Aaron Crow out of Missouri, their top pick from the 2008 draft. All these things combined make for a really weak farm system.

1. Chris Marrero – Right now Marrero is rehabbing a broken leg he sustained in a collision at home plate earlier this year, but he should be back and ready to go by next spring. I’m beginning to have my doubts about him, however I think he still has a lot of potential, so I’ll stick with him for now.

Projection:.255-.290 average, 25-40 home runs, .750-.850 OPS
Comparable player: Jeromy Burnitz with more power

2. Michael Burgess – If Marrero fails to show signs of development next season, Burgess will take over the #1 spot on this list. I guess if we went purely by possible ceiling, Burgess would be ahead of Marrero, but right now he’s being held back by an inflated strikeout rate, which usually sits in the 25-30% range. He has tons of power and could be a real beast one day, but he’s too raw right now to warrant a #1 ranking.

Projection:.260-.290 average, 30-45 home runs, .850-.950 OPS
Comparable player: Mark Reynolds with a bit more power and more strikeouts

*There are a few other hitters that are just beginning their pro ball careers in the Nationals’ system that could prove to be solid players. However, without any substantial amount of stats to go by, I won’t include any of them on this list. Otherwise, there really aren’t any other above average hitters in the system right now.

And now, on to the pitchers…

3. Jordan Zimmermann -- While not the most talented pitcher out there, Zimmermann still has solid numbers all around and good potential. He’s still at least 2 or 3 years from being a productive major league pitcher, but he’ll have some very good years in the future.

Projection: Good #2, possible #1
Comparable player: Mike Pelfrey

4. Jack McGeary – While it’s true that McGeary has only pitched in rookie ball this year, he has shown significantly more potential than all the other pitchers the Nationals have at the moment. I’m going to go with McGeary at #4 on this list for now and hope his numbers aren’t a fluke.

Projection: Unknown, possibly top of the rotation
Comparable player: Unknown

5. Josh Smoker – I’ve been a little disappointed in Smoker thus far, but he’s still got a lot of time, so maybe he’ll come around. With only about 40 innings under his belt there isn’t much to go on, but his low ground ball numbers and average strikeout rates don’t warrant much excitement.

Projection: #3-5 starter
Comparable player: Ian Snell

Honorable mentions: Ross Detwiler, Colton Willems

...Read more

Quantum Physics Jinxed Josh Vitters

Yesterday I included Josh Vitters in my Quick Hits from the Minors post, referring to his current hitting streak (which was up to 25 games according to one helpful reader). Turns out I should've kept my mouth shut. Last night Vitters went 0 for 5 and was unable to squeeze out a hit for the first time in almost a month. Playing and following sports (especially baseball) lends itself to little superstitions, and it's my opinion that by calling attention to Vitters' hitting streak, I inadvertantly jinxed the young man and caused his 0-fer.

Could this have been avoided? Yes. Did I do it intentionally? Certainly not. It happens all the time in baseball, whether it be a hit streak or a no-hitter, and it's just one of those things that comes with the territory.

However, I am curious as to why things like this happen. It could be argued that such random events are simply coincedences, but I have another theory. It's my opinion that this type of thing occurs due to basic princples in quantum physics. Once you observe an event, you also change the outcome, so that every time you measure or quantify something, you also change the nature of what you are measuring, thus rendering your analysis obsolete. In this case we tried to measure Josh Vitters' hitting streak, and ultimately rendered it completely obsolete. So, my apologies to Mr. Vitters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick Hits from the Minors and Around the Web

With the Olympics going on and the approach of football season, there hasn't been a lot of chatter about baseball around the internet, but there's still plenty to talk about.

  • The U.S. Olympic team has had some interesting moments in Beijing, especially against the Chinese national team. Between the 2 teams, there were 7 beaned batters (including a shot to Matt LaPorta's head), 2 flattened catchers, and 3 ejections.
  • Speaking of the U.S. Olympic team, last week I had the chance to watch Trevor Cahill pitch against the Cuban national team. He started out a bit shaky, but once he settled down he looked pretty good. He kept most of the Cuban hitters guessing, and ended with a few strikeouts, lots of ground balls. Cahill pitched 3 scoreless innings this morning against Japan, and teammate Brett Anderson got the win against Canada last Friday. If you're interested in box scores or overall stats, you can check out the U.S. Olympic team's website for more.
  • Back here in the U.S., the A.L. Rookie of the Year race came to a standstill after Evan Longoria suffered a fractured wrist earlier this month. He should be back around the beginning of September, but it's difficult to say if he'll continue his pre-inury level of play.
  • With Longoria on the DL, Chris Davis had a wide open opportunity to steal the spot light and make a run at the A.L. ROY. Unfortunately for him and the Rangers, Davis has seen a dramatic drop in his power prouction, with only 2 home runs and 2 doubles in August and an OPS of just .627 for the month. Overall, he's still hitting for a .275 average, with 12 home runs in 189 plate appearances, but unless he jumps back on the torrid pace he was on in July, he doesn't have a shot at the 2008 ROY.
  • For any card enthusiasts out there, the release of 2008 Bowman Chrome is currently sweeping eBay. Other than a few good auto cards, there isn't much to this year's list of prospects.
From around the web (click the link to read the article)...
From the minors...
  • Matt Wieters -- After 200 plate appearances at AA, Wieters has a .352/.452/.605/1.057 line with 12 doubles, 9 home runs, 32 walks, and 23 strikeouts.
  • Mike Moustakas -- Over the last 2 months, Moustakas is hitting .316, with 9 home runs and an ISOP around .250.
  • Hank Conger -- When Conger started the year with a shoulder injury, I never expected that he'd be able to bounce back and put up the numbers we've seen from him this year (.297/.328/.480/.808). Not stunning numbers, but very good for a young catcher with Conger's potential.
  • Madison Bumgarner -- In 21 innings, Bumgarner has a 39.7% K% rate for August, with a 2.7% BB%.
  • Lars Anderson -- I wasn't a big believer in Anderson at the start of the season, but he has flat out raked at A+ and AA ball this year. After 114 plate appearances at AA, Anderson is hitting .347/.447/.611/1.058, with 5 home runs and 10 doubles. His .483 BABIP suggests that those numbers will come down a bit in the near future, but he still has the potential to be a Boston version of David Wright at first base.
  • Dellin Betances -- In his last 18 innings, Betances has 28 strikeouts with a 54% GB% rate.
  • Josh Vitters -- I've been looking for game logs on Vitters to see how far back his hitting streak goes, but the search has been unsuccessful. For August, Vitters has a .373/.407/.573/.980 line.

...Read more

Monday, August 18, 2008

Prospect Smackdown: Brett Cecil vs. David Price

Hey everybody, sorry for the long lapse in posts. I took a bit of a vacation up to the North Carolina mountains, and then I had some family business to tend to, but it's time to get back to business, so let's get to it. For today's post I want to take a look at Brett Cecil -- one of the most overlooked pitching prospects in the minors -- and compare him to David Price, the most hyped pitching prospect in the minors.

I think most people would be very surprised to learn that not only has Cecil matched Price's stats, but he's done so at a younger age and has generally outperformed Price. To get things started, let's just look at the basics.

I don't want to spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting scouting reports or opinions about the 2 pitchers that are bouncing around the internet, but I would like to take a detailed look at each pitchers' stats and performance records over the last year or so.

For the record, Price was at advanced A ball earlier this year, which is a bit more difficult than regular A ball. But it's pretty obvious that Cecil performed very well, and perhaps even better than Price. The 18 months difference in age is quite significant as well.

The above AA ball stats are probably the best numbers to use in comparing these 2 pitchers. AA ball tends to be fairly uniform in terms of difficulty, and both pitchers had 50+ innings while at that level. Once again, the age difference between Cecil and Price is fairly significant, indicating that while their stats seem relatively similar, Cecil is in fact on a more advanced developmental curve than Price. Another interesting point to make is the difference in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), which is an adjustment of ERA that takes into account a team's fielding percentage, park factors, and luck. Cecil's FIP was over a point lower than Price's, suggesting that Price wasn't nearly as dominant as he looked.

I'm not going to spend much time on AAA stats since both pitchers have under 20 innings at this point. Their numbers are a bit skewed, but the general trends are still apparent. Cecil continues to strike out more hitters at a younger age, while also inducing more ground balls. His control isn't quite as good as that of Price, but it's still very good for his age (speaking of his A and AA ball walk rates, and not so much his AAA stats). While their respective ERAs are very high, their FIPs indicate that they've both been a bit unlucky, and their allowed run totals should drop back to about 3 runs per game.

I don't really have much more to say about these 2 pitchers, except that while they are both very good, Cecil is the more talented of the 2. He has some very good comparables, including Roger Clemens and Phil Hughes, and his future looks very bright. I'll try and come up with some projections for him this week, but he easily ranks as one of the top 5 pitching prospects in the game right now, and will likely surprise a lot of people over the next few years.

...Read more

Sunday, August 10, 2008

S.F. Giants Mid-Summer 2008 Top 5 Pitching Prospects

In a way, the Giants have all the young pitching talent you could ever ask for. With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain both in the majors and under 25, and Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson in the minors and both under 20, the future looks very bright. However, once you get past those 4 pitchers, there isn’t much else to look forward to for Giants fans. That’s not to say that the Giants don’t have any other above average pitching prospects, they just don’t have anyone else that compares to the likes of Lincecum or Bumgarner. But enough talk, let’s get down to business.

1. Madison Bumgarner – I know that a lot of people feel that Tim Alderson is the top pick, but Bumgarner has just been too dominant at an early age to not give him the #1 ranking. His control has been absolutely amazing, and power lefties can be priceless in the majors. Don’t worry so much about the breaking ball. It’ll come.

Projection: #1 starter
Comparable player: C.C. Sabathia with better control.

2. Tim Alderson – I considered giving Alderson the #1.5 ranking on this list. The age difference between him and Bumgarner comes down to a matter of only 9 months, but those 9 months are enough to just barely set them apart. I realize that Alderson has been pitching at a higher level than Bumgarner this season and the 2 of them have posted similar stats, but he doesn’t have quite the ceiling that Bumgarner has. Regardless, he’ll be an amazing third or fourth starter behind Lincecum and Cain, with the potential to be a great #2 or even average #1 starter.

Projection: Great #2, possible #1
Comparable player: Adam Wainwright

3. Clayton Tanner— Here’s where the list begins to drop off. Unless I completely overlooked someone in the Giants’ farm system, Tanner is pretty much all there is after Alderson and Bumgarner. He’s a decent prospect, and would be a fantastic back-of-the-rotation guy in the future, but his upside is limited. Good stuff.

Projection: #3-4 starter, possible #2
Comparable player: Mike Pelfrey

4. Benjamin Snyder – I think Snyder has above average talent and some decent comparables, but I can’t find anything really great about him. Like Tanner, Snyder could make a great #4 or #5 starter in the future.

Projection: #3-5
Comparable player: Jon Garland

5. Henry Sosa – I realize this won’t be a popular spot for Sosa, but I gotta’ go with the facts. At his age, Sosa really hasn’t done much, and his progress seems to be stalling. Most 23 year olds with average numbers at A+ don’t get much attention, so why should Sosa? Some may argue that injuries have set him back, and his high-90’s fastball will get him to the top, but don’t expect it to happen in the next 5 years. He may eventually put it all together, but the odds are very much against him by now.

Projection: #4-5 starter, good closer
Comparable player: Boof Bonser

...Read more

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays Top 5 Hitting Prospects

The Rays have done a great job drafting and developing position players, and consequently all of their great young talent is currently in the majors. That leaves some pretty big gaps in the minors, filled mostly by over aged AAAA players. However, there are a few decent prospects, and of course the constant influx of #1 draft picks to keep the Rays going.

1. Tim Beckham, ss, 18 – Can’t bet against a #1 pick with Beckham’s skills. I have no idea how good he’ll actually be, but I trust the Rays enough to believe they knew what they were doing when they selected him.

Projection: ?
Comparable player: ?

2. Desmond Jennings, of, 21 – When you mix speed and an above average on-base percentage you usually can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, Jennings sustained a shoulder injury that will keep him out of action until 2009.

Projection: .290-.320 ave., 15-25 home runs, .775-.850 OPS, 40+ steals
Comparable player: Ron Gant with more speed

3. John Jaso, c, 24 – While not necessarily young, Jaso is at least talented. His greatest asset is his knack for picking up lots of walks wherever he goes without posting giant strike out rates. I’m not sure how many pitches he averages per plate appearance, but I would guess that it’s relatively high, making him a great asset to any team that likes to wear down opposing pitchers.

Projection: .285-.310 ave., 15-20 home runs, .820-.860 OPS
Comparable player: Sean Burroughs, Michael Barrett

4. Reid Brignac, ss, 22 – As long as Brignac can hang at shortstop, he’ll be fine. Even if he has to move somewhere like 2nd base he should be able to stick in the majors. However, his strike out rates aren’t going to translate well at the plate, and his power will lag as a result. Expect some good years, but definitely not right away.

Projection: .275-.290 ave., 25-35 home runs, .810-.875 OPS
Comparable player: Dan Uggla with a little more pop

5. Reid Fronk, of, 21 – I haven’t seen much about Fronk, but I like his skill set and I think he could be a solid fourth outfielder in a few years with a shot at starting in his prime. Above average speed, decent power, and an acceptable plate approach.

Projection: .275-.300, 25-35 home runs, .870-.910 OPS
Comparable player: Rickie Weeks in the outfield

...Read more

Ground Ball Grafix: The F/X of the GB

When my dad called to tell me his thoughts on the website last week, we had a conversation that resulted in the creation of the TPC Reference Guide I posted last night. After we covered some of the basics, he wanted to know why I was so obsessed with ground ball rates and why I gave ground ball pitchers so much credit. We went back and forth on the benefits and shortcomings of ground balls from a defensive standpoint, but I'm not sure I explained my reasoning to him all that well.

One of my dad's primary objections to ground balls was that fly balls are so much easier to turn into outs. I couldn't really argue with him on that point, since fielding a grounder involves several steps and multiple players before an out is recorded. I remembered that somewhere between 70-80% of ground balls resulted in an out, but I had no clue what percentage of fly balls turned into an out. My dad guessed about 90% or more, and I guessed somewhere just south of that. After a bit of research, here's what I found.

I only used numbers from the American League (all stats from 2007), but the National League is pretty much the same. On average, a major league team will turn 74% of ground balls into outs, and 83% of fly balls into outs. So, in a way, my dad was right. Ground balls don't create as many outs as fly balls. Here's a graphical representation of the above stats for those of you who like to see instead of read things.

Now that we have the basic numbers nailed down, we still have to figure out why ground balls are better for a pitcher than fly balls, despite the fact that fly balls are easier outs. In order to answer that problem, we have to look at this from a different angle.

In a general sense, a pitcher's job is to create outs. But in more specific terms, his job is to eliminate the creation of runs by the other team. That means that anything that could produce a run becomes the common enemy of all pitchers, including hits, walks, errors, home runs, and so forth. However, it is quite obvious that just as a strikeout will produce an out 100% of the time, a home run will also produce a run 100% of the time. And just like a ground ball doesn't always produce an out, a single or walk doesn't always produce a run. So, there are essentially a variety of levels of enemies a pitcher must deal with, and they are not all created the same.

What does this all mean? It essentially means that fly balls and ground balls don't generally result in the same number of runs. In fact, there's quite a difference between the 2, as you can see in the following chart.

Once again, the graphical representation of the above chart.

On average, a fly ball results in almost 4 times the number of runs as a ground ball. And if you think about it, it makes sense. Most extra base hits (like home runs, doubles, etc.) are the result of fly balls, while ground balls rarely create extra base hits.

If we translate the above numbers into real life, we can see more clearly why fly balls are such a bad thing for pitchers. Let's say we have a group of 7 pitchers, each exactly like the other in every way. They have the same pitching repertoire, the same velocity and movement on every pitch, the same strikeout rates, the same walk rates, the same defense behind them, and so forth. However, they all have a different ground ball rate. The best of them has a 65% GB%, while the worst has a 35% GB%. Per 100 batted balls they allow, how many runs will each of them give up if we go by the MLB average of runs created per ground ball and fly ball?

With a 30% drop in ground ball rate, the a difference of almost 4 extra runs is allowed by the 35% GB% pitcher as compared to the 65% GB% pitcher per 100 batted balls. It may not sound like a lot, but it's a difference of 40.8% more runs allowed by the worst pitcher than the best pitcher on our list. In a season of 162 games, the difference in runs allowed becomes a major issue.

Using a rough estimate, if a pitcher gives up 500 batted balls over the course of a season, that could be a difference of 20 extra runs over 20 to 30 starts. That means our 35% GB% pitcher is giving up an average of close to 1 extra run per start compared to the 65% GB% pitcher. The Braves, who were 4-21 in 1 one run games through July 1st, could certainly have benefited this season from a Chuck James with a 65% GB% instead of the ghastly 28% GB% they've seen from him.

In conclusion, ground balls don't always create the same number of immediate outs as fly balls, but they certainly reduce the numbers of runs an opposing offense can create. Not to mention the fact that by giving up fewer runs a ground ball pitcher can stay in games longer, allowing relief pitchers to carry a lighter load throughout the season, while also giving their team a greater chance to win day in and day out. And that's why if given a choice between 2 seemingly identical pitchers, I always go with the pitcher with the higher ground ball rate.
...Read more

Friday, August 8, 2008

TPC Reference Guide and Definitions

Last week my dad called to tell me that he had stopped by to check out the site, and though he liked what he saw, he didn't understand all the terms used in my posts. So, for the next 15 minutes we discussed things like BABIP, WHIP, GB%, and what they all mean. After our chat I realized that casual baseball fans like my dad might need a simple reference guide for terms and definitions. I'll try to list commonly used terms and definitions in this post, and if you all think of any I should add, let me know. If I can figure out a way to do it, I'll try and make this post a side bar link or something.

  • AB -- At-bat. Plate appearances minus walks.
  • BA -- Batting Average
  • BABIP -- Batting Average for Balls In Play. (Total Hits - Home runs) / (At-bats - Strikeouts - Home runs - Sacrifices). Shows how often a hitter reaches base after making contact during an at-bat. Generally, a BABIP of .300 is considered the norm, while a BABIP extremely above or below .300 indicates good or bad luck on the hitter's part.
  • BB -- Bases on Balls, or walks
  • ERA -- Earned Run Average. (Earned Runs) / (Innings Pitched / 9)
  • GB% -- Ground Ball Percentage. The percentage of all batted balls in play that result in a ground ball. Applies to pitchers and hitters.
  • FIP -- Fielding Independent Pitching. Essentially a modified ERA for pitchers. Eliminates the effect that defense has on ERA by only counting the stats that a pitcher has direct control over, i.e. walks, home runs, and strikeouts. FIP is usually considered a more accurate determination of a pitcher's ability than ERA. The formula for FIP is ((HR * 13 + (BB + HBP) * 3 - SO * 2) / IP) + League Factor (which is generally between 3.0 and 3.5 depending on the league and strength of competition). It should be noted that FIP does not compensate for a pitcher's fly ball to groundball ratio, which directly effects run production, and is usually considered a pitcher controlled ratio.
  • ISOP -- Isolate Power. (Slugging Percentage - Batting Average). Helps define a hitter's power isolated from his contact rates. Power hitters usually post an ISOP above .250.
  • LD% -- Line Drive Percentage. The percentage of all plate appearances that result in a line drive. Applies to hitters and pitchers.
  • OBP -- On Base Percentage. The percentage of a hitter's plate appearances that result in that hitter reaching base safely either through walks and hits.
  • OPS -- On Base Plus Slugging Percentage. Combines a hitter's ability to reach base with his power totals.
  • PA -- Plate Appearances.
  • SLG% -- Slugging Percentage. A hitter's total bases from hits divided by his total at-bats.
  • WHIP -- Walks or Hits per Innings Pitched. A statistic to help track how many batters a pitcher allows to reach base per inning.

Baseball America Hot Sheet: Week of August 1st-7th

It's here! The Friday afternoon Hot Sheet! There are some good names on the list, so let's get to it.

  1. Mike Moustakas, 3b, Royals -- Perhaps Moustakas is finally living up to the hype. He certainly has been very productive lately 7 extra base hits in 26 plate appearances. I'm not sold on Moustakas quite yet, but he's beginning to grow on me.
  2. David Price, lhp, Rays -- After going 12 innings with 17 strikeouts, 4 walks, and only 1 earned run, Price deserves to be at the top of this list. But, his numbers still aren't as great those posted by younger pitchers in AA this season. Here's the stat line of 21 year old pitcher in his last 3 AA starts of the year (I'll let you guess who it is...): 15 IP, 21 K, 3 BB, 2 ER, 56% GB%.
  3. Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox -- I know I don't share popular opinion on this one, but I like Anderson over Travis Snider. Anderson has such a better plate approach, and I think he'll succeed faster in the majors than Snider.
  4. Chris Tillman, rhp, Orioles -- Have the Orioles had solid pitching prospect over the last few years? I haven't taken the time to look into it myself, but I think Tillman is probably the best they've had in a long time.
  5. Logan Morrison, 1B, Marlins -- Another great hitter coming up through the Marlins system. What a surprise. Morrison has a lot more power than people give him credit for, and he's got a fantastic approach at the plate. But now the question is, would I take Lars Anderson or Logan Morrison?
  6. Ivan DeJesus, 2B, Dodgers -- Not a bad hitter, but not enough upside at second base to make me take a closer look.
  7. Yamaico Navarro, SS, Red Sox -- It's amazing what playing in the Cal League can do to a player's stats. From .280/.341/.412 at A ball to .379/.400/.589 at A+ ball, all in the same year? I hope Red Sox fans aren't drinking the water.
  8. Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Giants -- Baseball America now has Bumgarner listed as a 19 year old, but he spent almost the entire year pitching at A ball as an 18 year old, while posting a 1.62 ERA and a 125:18 K:BB ratio. Absurd. I am concerned about his depressed GB% compared to earlier in the year, but it's not a major issue when you're striking out 30% of the batters you face and most of them are a couple of years older than you.
  9. James McDonald, rhp, Dodgers -- At 23, McDonald would have to put up some insane numbers to impress me. He's not bad, but his stuff isn't good enough to make him much more than a #3 or #4 starter in the majors.
  10. Carlos Santana, C, Indians -- Another player performing well, but just a bit too old to make me want to know more.
  11. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees -- Here's the kind of prospect I like. Succeeding at a level well above his age, and power to boot. Montero is 6'4" and 225 lbs at 18 years old! What are they feeding this kid?
  12. Tyler Flowers, C, Braves -- I still don't know where Flowers fits into the Braves future plans. On any other team, he would be a prime catching prospect. But the Braves tend to be knee deep in catchers at the moment, and Flowers doesn't really have the bat to play first base, so what do you do with him?
  13. Brandon Erbe, rhp, Orioles -- I spoke too soon about Chris Tillman. Erbe is better. So, when was the last time the Orioles had 2 good pitching prospects?
And that's it. Now it's time for Olympic baseball.
...Read more

Rookie Ball Sluggers

I don't put a lot of weight in rookie ball numbers, and I still haven't found any significant indicators that rookie ball offensive production translates into future production at higher levels. But, I do like to look down the list of rookie ball participants now and again, and make note of any stand out players.

  • Wilmer Flores -- Of all the young hitters in rookie ball, I probably like Flores the best. He just turned 17, has 7 home runs, 9 doubles, and 3 triples in 183 plate appearances, with only 20 strike outs. A young shortstop with his power usually finds their way onto a major league roster without much trouble.
  • Angel Morales -- The stats Morales has put up are almost unbelievable, and in several ways. In 156 plate appearances, he has 54 strikeouts, and 45 hits, including 10 home runs, a triple, and 9 doubles. At 18 the power production is impressive, but his strike out totals are astounding. Since he has only 18 walks, it's almost like Morales either misses completely, or he drives it over the fence, yet oddly enough, his OBP is still at .436. That puts his BABIP at an amazing .473! Who knows what will happen with this guy at higher levels, but I'm guessing that the contact rate will suffer at the expense of his strikeouts.
  • Evan Bigley -- At the age of 21, Bigley is a bit old for rookie ball, and it shows. He has 21 extra base hits in 149 plate appearances, and a slugging percentage of .624. However, he also has 30 strikeouts and only 8 walks.
  • Jon Gilmore -- With a league leading 18 doubles and a .325 average, Gilmore has put up some good numbers all around. At 19 years old, he's not exactly playing above his age, but he looks to be ready for a new challenge. Maybe not much star potential here, but an above average infielder is a good thing to have on any team.

So those are the rookie ball sluggers. I'll be interested to see how these guys do in A ball and above, but I think we'll being hearing more about them in the future.

...Read more

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Felix Hernandez vs. Nolan Ryan

I know exactly what some of you are thinking right now. And you're probably right. It's way too early in Felix Hernandez's career to draw comparisons to a guy like Nolan Ryan, especially when Hernandez is only 22 years old, and Ryan pitched until he was in his 40's. But, once I started looking at their similarities, I decided to just go with it.

Just to clarify things, when I draw comparisons between players, I'm not saying that one player is going to duplicate the career of another player. A comparison is just an attempt to find players that have performed similarly at certain ages, and then hopefully put a rough estimate on expectations for the younger player. When creating comparisons, I always hope that the reader will keep in mind the idea that the purpose is to draw similarities between 2 players progression curves, and not to say that one player will match or exceed another player's career accomplishments. This seems to be lost on some people, so maybe one day I'll type up a post dedicated solely to progression curves and player comparisons.

Anyways, I generally like to find 3 to 5 comparisons for a player before I begin to determine any kind of projections, but to make things simple I try to refine the list until I have a solitary comparable player that best describes the potential of that prospect. In this case, there are very few pitchers that have demonstrated the same skill level as Hernandez, so we'll have to work with what we've got. And what we've got is Nolan Ryan.

It's a huge leap to say that any young pitcher is like Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest pitchers of all time. I don't really want to go too far with this, but of all the pitchers out there, I think Hernandez comes closest to Ryan, and here's why.

While the numbers are a little bit different - particularly the BB/9 stats and GB% - the general trend is amazingly similar. It's almost as if the numbers Hernandez put up over the last 4 years are just extensions of what Nolan Ryan would have put up previous to his numbers from the age of 21 to 24 years old. To make things a little clearer, here's a graphical representation of what Hernandez has done versus what Ryan did in his early 20's. The first graph displays their K/9 and BB/9 rates, while the second graph shows their WHIP and ERA.

Ryan's walk rate was substantially higher than what we've seen from Hernandez, but once again, the general trend is obvious. Both pitchers had extremely elevated K/9 rates for their age, solid to excellent ground ball rates, and a WHIP that floated around the 1.50 range.

I don't think Hernandez will be able to match Ryan's strike out totals over the course of his career, but he has displayed much better control and a better tendency to keep the ball on the ground. Those 2 skills should help make up the difference in strike outs, and if Hernandez can stay healthy, his career should be very exciting to watch even into his mid to late 30's. Of all the pitching prospects I've looked at, Hernandez probably has the absolute best skill set out of any pitcher in the last 20 years, and if I had to pick one pitcher under the age of 24 with the best chance of being in the Hall of Fame, it would be Hernandez. I know I'm not saying anything about him that hasn't already been said, but when I started looking at him compared to Ryan, there was nothing else I could say.
...Read more

N.Y. Yankees Prospect Match-Up: David Robertson vs. Mark Melancon

After posting my top 5 Yankees pitching prospects at The Baseball Think Factory, one individual commented that there was no mention of Mark Melancon who they thought was much more talented than David Robertson. So, without spending too much time on this, here are both pitchers stats as well as Jonathan Papelbon and Huston Street's stats.

Unfortunately for the sake of this comparison, Street only pitched 10 innings at A ball before being called up to pitch for the A's. But I think we have enough information here to see that not only is Robertson more talented than Melancon, there really isn't much of a comparison at all that suggests that they're even close.

If anyone is interested, here's how Robertson and Street match up as far as their MLB stats for 2008.

The sample size for Robertson is only 16 innings, but I think his stats are about where they should be. His walk rate is a little bit inflated, but as a rookie it's not surprising. Street's strike out rate is a bit down from last year, but seems in line with previous stats. The same goes for his walk rate and ground ball rate. If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on Robertson to be the better reliever in a couple of years, but that's just my opinion.

Edit: Melancon underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2006, so it could be argued that he has not fully recovered and his current stats don't reflect his true potential. However, he would have to increase his strikeout rates by 50% in order to compare well with Robertson, and I don't see that happening. A 25% increase may be possible, but 50% is unreasonable.

New York Yankees Mid-Summer Top 5 Pitching Prospects

The Yankees are on the verge of creating one of the more talented groups of young pitchers in the nation (of course, the recent struggles of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain’s latest shoulder concerns could put a damper on the whole process). They have some very talented pitchers coming up through their system, and the Yanks could have a very strong rotation in 5 to 8 years.

Rank, Player, Age.

1. Jairo Heredia, 18 – Between Heredia and Madison Bumgarner, it’s hard to say which 18 year old had the better year. I think most fans would give Bumgarner the edge statistically speaking, but Heredia’s ground ball rates will be a very valuable asset once he gets a major league level defense behind him. Comparisons to Pedro Martinez aren’t a stretch by any means.

Projection: Solid #2, possible #1
Comparable player: Pedro Martinez

2. Zach McAllister, 20 – Not dominant, but plenty of talent to make it in the majors. Good control, good strike out rates, advanced ground ball rate, and time to develop.

Projection: #2-3
Comparable player: James Shields

3. Dellin Betances, 20 – Perhaps more upside than McAllister, but also much less polished. He’ll be unhittable at times, but wildly inefficient at others. Should be a very gifted back of the rotation starter early in his career.

Projection: #1 when he’s hot, #3-4 when he’s not
Comparable player: Kerry Wood (the pre-injury starter)

4. David Robertson, 23 – On the verge of losing his prospect status, Robertson has 21 strike outs in 16 innings, and a ground ball rate that hovers in the low 50% range with the Yankees. While not as young or as talented as Joba Chamberlain, Robertson will provide enough depth in the bull pen to keep Chamberlain in the starting role for years to come.

Projection: Excellent relief pitcher, possible closer
Comparable player: Huston Street

5. Ian Kennedy, 23 – Kennedy is also a soon to be non-prospect, but he’s still working his way back up through AAA, so he qualifies even if just for a few more months. I did an extensive write up on Kennedy earlier this year in hopes that Yankees fans would realize that he’s more like Tom Gorzellany than Greg Maddux. Average talent, and a very low ceiling.

Projection: #4 or #5, with a shot at #1 or #2 on a very, very bad team
Comparable player: Tom Gorzellany

Honorable mentions: Alan Horne came into the season with a solid history of success, but a bicep injury has proved to be a significant setback. If he succeeds in his comeback, he might take the #4 or #5 spot on this list by next spring.

Side notes: Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle -- the Yankees best pitching prospects from the 2008 draft – have yet to sign with the team, and there is information indicating that neither will be signed before the deadline. Had either pitcher signed, they would probably get the #4 and 5 spots.
...Read more

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays Top 5 Pitching Prospects

Hey guys, I've decided to break up the top 5 pitchers and top 5 hitters for each team as separate posts. Depending on how things work out, I might post the pitchers one day, and then the hitters the next day or later, and vice versa. If you all would like me to keep them together, just say so, but I think this way I can knock out several teams' pitching prospects at once, and then turn around and do the hitters second. Shifting gears between the two can sometimes slow things down.

Anyways, here are the Tampa Bay Rays top 5 pitching prospects...

Besides the Oakland A’s, the Rays could have the best young arms in the game. They have drafted well and done an excellent job developing their pitching talent, with the only set back being the recent injury of Jacob McGee. Imagine a starting rotation of Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, David Price, Jacob McGee/Wade Davis/Jeremy Helickson all in their prime. Absolutely ridiculous and sickening all at once.

1. David Price, 23 – We all know about Price. We just don’t all agree on how good he actually is.
Projection: Great #2 or 3, possible good #1
Comparable player: Justin Verlander

2. Jeremy Helickson, 21 – Nobody wants to talk about it, but Hellickson’s numbers are actually pretty close to Price’s numbers right now. Obviously, there are some differences between the 2 pitchers, but I’ll be interested to see how they compare in 5 or 6 years when the age difference doesn’t matter anymore.
Projection: #2 or 3 with #1 potential
Comparable player: Erik Bedard

3. Wade Davis – Jacob McGee would have been given the #3 spot, but his recent Tommy John surgery will put him on hold for another 18-24 months. Subsequently, Davis gets the nod for #3. He’s had some ups and downs in AAA, but he’s still a very solid pitcher.
Projection: #2-4
Comparable player: Jeremy Bonderman

4. Nick Barnese, 19 – The kid could be a killer, but it’s a bit too early to say for sure. Has good breaking stuff, a live fastball, and very nice groundball numbers all at the age of 19. Be sure to keep an eye on him in 2009.
Projection: Unsure; possibly #3 or better
Comparable player: Unsure

5. Jeff Niemann, 25 – I think Niemann will drop out of the top 5 by the end of the year. He really doesn’t have much more than decent #3 potential, and he may never have a spot in the Rays rotation the way things are going.
Projection: #3 at best, likely #4 or 5
Comparable player: Ian Snell

Honorable mentions: Jacob McGee

...Read more

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quick Hits from the Minors and the Web

Hey guys, I only have 2 more finals and then I'm done for 2 weeks! So far, my exams have kind of been a mixed bag of good times and bad, but I guess it all works itself out in the end.

Anyways, I just wanted to point out a few recent performances in the minors (and maybe a couple from the majors), as well as some stuff on ground ball rates I found.

David Price - 7 IP, 10 K, 0 BB, 1 R, 62% GB% - Perhaps the best start of his minor league career. If he repeats these numbers over the next month, he'll be deadly, but I have a feeling he won't.

Matt LaPorta - As part of the U.S. Olympic team, LaPorta hit something like 3 home runs in 4 games against Team Canada. I still haven't been able to locate any score boxes for the games, but I have to admit that I haven't tried very hard to do so. However, I will be following the games very closely once the Olympics start.

Billy Butler - Since August 1st, Butler is 8 for 17 with a home run, a double, and only 2 strike outs. He's still not exactly crushing the ball, but he's doing much better than anything he did prior to the beginning of July.

Josh Vitters - In his last 10 games, Vitters is 18 for 48, with 7 doubles and 2 home runs.

Francisco Liriano - I've already posted his numbers from Sunday night, but I think it's still worth pointing out that the Twins basically gained a #1 starter at the trade deadline to add to a team that is already very good.

Ground Ball Article

Yesterday, a classmate and I were talking about why some pitchers seem to have a natural ability to induce ground balls, while others just can't. We agreed that ground ball pitchers must be able to throw pitches that have a later downward break than non-ground ball pitchers, thus leaving the hitter with less time to change his swing plane to follow the drop of the ball through the strike zone. Then, last night I read an article at The Hardball Times about Brad Ziegler, the 28 year old rookie relief pitcher for the Oakland A's. Long story short, the article confirmed our thoughts about ground ball pitchers, and I thought it would be worth while to post some of the graphics and videos from the article.This first graph shows the difference between a Joe Blanton (a non-ground ball inducing pitcher) fastball and a Ziegler (an extreme ground ball pitcher) fastball from the 3rd base side. The black lines indicate the true path of the ball, while the blue lines indicate what the hitter's mind anticipates the path of the ball to be. Essentially, Ziegler's pitch looks like it's going to come in about a foot higher than it actually does, while a traditional fastball like Blanton's only drops about 6 inches past the hitters anticipated path. As a hitter, it is much easier to anticipate and then compensate for 6 inches than for a whole foot, and the result is usually a swing that under compensates and either misses the pitch altogether or hits the top of a ball, causing a ground ball to occur. Ziegler creates this problem for the hitter by coming from a side arm angle, while other pitcher's can create this scenario simply by creating extra downward movement on their pitchers. But the path of the pitch isn't the only problem hitter's face against a ground ball pitcher.

The first clip is a view of a Joe Blanton fastball from the hitter's perspective. The frame that the ball turns yellow indicates the moment that a hitter must begin his swing in order to make contact, and at which point said hitter must initiate his swing plane that his brain has pre-calculated to intercept the pitch. Any change in direction of the pitch after the yellow ball frame must be anticipated by the hitter in order to create a swing plane in the same path as the pitch.

This next clip is a view of a Brad Ziegler fastball from the hitter's perspective. Yellow ball frame is the same as before.

From the clips above, you can see that a Blanton fastball essentially drops 3 feet straight down (compared to an anticipated 2.5 foot drop) after the yellow ball frame. It's a simple vertical drop with no lateral aspect to it. But if you look at Ziegler's pitch, after the yellow ball frame it drops about 1 to 1.5 feet (compared to a 0.5 foot anticipated drop) and moves laterally about 0.5-0.75 feet. So, if you're a major league hitter, you have been trained for years to anticipate a 0.5 drop vertically, and very little lateral movement. Instead, you get a pitch that comes in at an odd angle, drops a lot more than you anticipated, and has a lateral slide. If by some chance you manage to swing at the correct vertical height, you still have to anticipate the correct lateral movement or else you get jammed inside or hit the ball off the end of your bat.

In basic terms, you have to go from a 2-D hitter to a 3-D hitter with almost no practice and just milliseconds to adjust. Possible? Sure. Likely? Apparently not, judging by Ziegler's 0.00 ERA in his first 30 innings pitched.

Anyways, if you're interested in reading more, just click the link provided The Hardball Times. Also, I've got some more information on ground ball out rates vs. fly ball out rates I'll be posting in the next few days.

Ok folks, it's back time to get back to school stuff. Let me know if there are any other minor league performances you'd like to point out.
...Read more

Monday, August 4, 2008

A.L. R.O.Y. 2008: Chris Davis vs. Evan Longoria vs. Joba Chamberlain

It looks like the A.L. R.O.Y. will come down to 2 players, Joba Chamberlain and Evan Longoria. The early favorite is Longoria since Joba only has a 4-3 record and spent a part of the season as a reliever, but I also think Chris Davis will be part of the conversation once the end of September rolls around. I've filled out an Excel sheet with stats from both Longoria and Davis, and I'll be tracking both of them through the end of the season. While I won't have charts for Joba (it's a bit useless to compare a pitcher's stats to a hitter's stats on the same chart), I will post his stats as season totals.

So, here it is.

Joba Chamberlain
84.1 IP, 4-3 record, 2.41 ERA, 99 K, 34 BB, 1.21 WHIP

Evan Longoria
408 PA, 21 HR, 27 2B, 2 3B, .279/.352/.536/.887

Chris Davis
129 PA, 11 HR, 9 2B, 1 3B, .295/.333/.656/.989

As you can see, I've added a trajectory line for Davis and Longoria's home run totals. If they stay on their current paces, Davis might end up with just 4 or 5 fewer home runs than Longoria.
...Read more

Refractor Tracker 1st Edition

Alright folks, I stayed up a little bit late last night working on this, so let me know what you think. I have a few more players I'll be adding later today, but if there's a particular player you'd like to see, just let me know.

Update: For those of you unfamiliar with baseball cards these days, but are still interested in following prices, here's a quick reference guide for some of the terminology used in the following charts. (If you have other questions you'd liked anwered about card terminology, feel free to ask).

Refractor - all refractors (X-fractor, blue refractor, gold, etc.) are just normal cards, but printed in limited runs (usally 500 cards or less) and in different colors. Some colors are more rare than others.
Au - autographed card
BC - Bowman Chrome card brand
BS - Bowman Sterling card brand
/199 - card was numbered to only 199 copies
Donruss EEE - the most recent Donruss printed card brand

...Read more

Liriano Gets the Win, Twins in 1st Place

Not much to talk about here, just a great start from Liriano. 6 innings, 5 stikeouts, 3 walks, 3 hits, and 0 runs. Liriano also had a 54% GB%. Very nice numbers all around. Still, the question remains. What took the Twins so long?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fausto Carmona: Comparisons and Career Projections

Thursday Indians fans saw a much improved Fausto Carmona, as he bounced back with a win and 6.1 innings of solid pitching. He struck out 3, walked only 1, gave up 2 runs, and had his ground ball rate back up to a more "Carmona-ish" level. He wasn't perfect, but much better than a week ago. In honor of Carmona's return, here are some of his comparable players and how they fared over the years...

Actually, let's have a little more fun before we get into all the details. Without looking, what comps would you suggest for Carmona? If you need to, take a moment to check his stats at your favorite stat site. I promise I'll wait right here while I eat a plate of cheese nachos with baked beans on top (one of my favorite nacho combinations)...

Ok, ready? Who'd you come up with?...Seriously? You think Carmona compares well to Goose Gossage? Is this a joke?...Well, I guess you have a good point. Put a mustache like that on Carmona, and they would look pretty much like twins.

Ok, seriously, who'd you come up with? Here's who I found along with their minor league averages.

Greg Maddux and Brandon Webb. Pretty nice comps for Carmona. You can see that there's a bit of an age difference between Carmona and Webb, but in linear progression terms, Maddux, Carmona, and Webb all match up pretty well. Of the 3, Webb had the higher strike out rates and ground ball rates, but his control wasn't so good. Maddux comes in with the lowest ground ball rates, but he played a year ahead of Carmona and 4 years ahead of Webb, so the strike out rates and walk rate are very respectable. As for Carmona, his ground ball rate and control were very advanced even in the minors.

Now that we have some comparables for Carmona, let's see how each of them did (or is doing) in the majors. We'll start with K/9 and BB/9 rates.

Very solid progression trends for both pitchers. Just as with their minor league stats, Maddux had better control, while Webb relied on a better strikeout rate, but overall they were very similar. I added the little orange stars to indicate the years that each player won the N.L. Cy Young Award, and we'll get back to that in a second, but before we do let's check their ground ball rates.

Once again, both pitchers displayed very solid trends in their ground ball rates. I wrote an article a while back discussing the value of high ground ball rates so I won't spend too much time on them here, but you can see that in general ground ball rates don't see the heavy declines during the transition from AAA to the majors like we see with strike out and walk rates. They might fluctuate a bit, but a great ground ball rate can almost immediately be applied in the major leagues, and make a ground ball pitcher very valuable early in their career.

Anyways, let's move on. I mentioned the Cy Young Award years for each pitcher, so we'll take a moment to see what kind of production a ground ball pitcher has to reach in order to have a Cy Young type year.

So, if Carmona is going to be a Cy Young caliber pitcher, he'll need to come somewhere close to the numbers above (notice that I threw in Webb's stats from this year since it looks like he has a very good chance of winning the Cy Young this season). If we apply the same trends displayed by Webb and Maddux to Carmona's minor league numbers, then we can determine if and when Carmona might be able to compete for MLB's top pitching award (I also project Webb's stats along the same lines of Maddux to make things a little cleaner).

The first thing to point out about Carmona's stats is that the giant spike you see at the age of 24 are his actual stats from this year. It seems completely out of line with Webb and Maddux's numbers, but Carmona has only appeared in 12 games this year, and injuries have also been an issue, so I'm not really concerned about him or the inflated stats.

What I am interested in is the numbers projected for Carmona from the age of 25 up to 32 and possibly beyond. Between his walk rates and ground ball rates, Carmona should be a Cy Young caliber pitcher even with slightly lower strike out rates than Maddux and Webb. That doesn't mean he'll definitely win a Cy Young Award during those years, but he'll likely perform at a level equivalent to a ground ball inducing Cy Young Award winner. Once again, it's not a guarantee, but he has the potential to do so.
...Read more

Francisco Liriano Call-up! Finally!

The Twins have finally come to their senses! Livan Hernandez was released yesterday (just as he was approaching several incentive benchmarks in his contract), and Francisco Liriano was finally called up from AAA to be with the team. I'm still not sure when they have Liriano slated to start, but it should be a very exciting debut.

This still seems like a move partially motivated by money. The Twins waited until after the trade deadline to cut Hernandez, right as he was about to rake in a few more dollars on his contract. Meanwhile, Liriano has spent the last 4 weeks making pocket change and delaying his opportunities to make some serious cash at the major league level. Everywhere you look, there's dollar signs and I really don't think it's a coincidence.

But, whatever. Good luck to Liriano and congratulations on making it back to the Bigs.

Update: Liriano will make his first start Sunday against the Indians.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thanks for the Best Month Ever from The Prospect Corner

The Prospect Corner's (TPC) blog traffic has been steadily increasing over the past few weeks, and July turned out to be a very good month. In fact, it was the best month ever!

Total visits: 7,525
Daily average: 243

Previous to this month, TPC had 7,858 all-time views over 6 months! I've tried really hard to improve the site and make it more interactive friendly, and I've also tried my best to have new content on a daily basis. I really appreciate all the comments and feedback I've received, and am glad that people find my posts worth reading.

Some of you might have noticed that I added a few ads to the site about a week ago, so I thought I'd inform everyone as to what kind of cash the site is bringing in.

Total: $1.66
Daily average: $0.18

Obviously, this site isn't much of a cash-cow, but hey, it's better than nothing.

Anyways, I hope everyone is enjoying the site, and please leave suggestions if you think of any improvements I could make. Also, the site should display in a 3 column format (a central column with 2 small columns on the left and right). If it doesn't display properly on your screen, please let me know and I'll try to fix it so that everyone gets the best viewing display possible. Once again, thanks for visiting, and hopefully the best is yet to come.

Adam G.

Baseball America Hot Sheet: Week of July 26th - July 31st

The list is out! It's Friday! I'm halfway through finals! It's a good thing!

So, let's get down to it, and do this thing. Here are the top 13 for this week...

  1. Brandon Wood, 3B, Angels -- I was really hoping the Braves could pry Wood away from the Angels in the Teixeira trade, but I guess the Angels realize that Wood is just too good. He's been ridiculous the past few weeks, and he certainly has power to spare, but his strikeout rates are still a problem.
  2. Matt Wieters, c, Orioles -- Need a catcher? How about the best catcher since Mike Piazza? Then Wieters is your man.
  3. Mark Trumbo, 1B, Angels --While still a bit of an unknown, Trumbo is definitely on the way up in the Angels system. Good power, but the defense and OBP will keep him from being stellar.
  4. Tim Alderson, rhp, Giants -- I'm working on a Top 10 Giants Prospects list for next week, so I'll hold my comments on Alderson until then.
  5. Travis Snider, lf, Blue Jays -- What if the Pirates had landed Snider in a trade for Jason Bay? An outfield of Snider, Andrew McCutchen, and Steve Pearce would have been a sight to behold in a few years. Still, too many strikeouts, and not quite enough power to make up for it right away. Believe the hype, just not all of it.
  6. Shooter Hunt, rhp, Twins -- Do the Twins really need another superb pitching prospect? Why can't they share the love with the Royals, or some other team that really needs a good group of young pitchers?
  7. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals -- I've ragged on Moustakas a little bit, but I have to admit that his July numbers are pretty good. Could he be better? Yes, absolutely. Will he be a big time slugger in the majors? My gut says no, but maybe at some point.
  8. Jharmidy DeJesus, 3B, Mariners -- The Mariners have a good history of spending big bucks on international talent, so I trust that they knew what they were doing when they dropped $1 million on this kid out of the Dominican Republic. It's way too early to make any projections for DeJesus, but it'll be fun watching him over the next few years.
  9. Elvis Andurs, ss, Rangers -- The Rangers have put together a nice group of prospects, and Andrus will make a solid every day player in Texas. Decent all around skills, but nothing that really jumps out.
  10. Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Giants -- I've already said a lot about Bumgarner, and he'll also make an appearance on the upcoming Giants Top 10 list.
  11. Peter Kozma, ss, Cardinals -- Congrats to Kozma on making the list, but I'm actually more interested in his teammate Brett Wallace.
  12. David Price, lhp, Rays -- Like Bumgarner, I've already said a lot about Price. My biggest question is why a guy with a 99 mph fastball isn't racking up more strikeouts in AA?
  13. Zach McAllister, rhp, Yankees -- Good numbers all around, and way better than Ian Kennedy.
So, that's it for this week. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to let them be heard. I'll be done with finals Wednesday morning, and then I'll be free to focus on baseball 100%.

...Read more