Baseball News

  • Two Start Pitchers, Week 25: If Yu Don’t Know, Now Yu Know

    Posted sometime

    No Doubt

    Player Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2 Player Rater ERA 2nd Half FIP 2nd Half
    Justin Verlander HOU TEX LAA 39.3 1.93 1.94
    Stephen Strasburg WSH @STL @MIA 23.9 3.25 3.27
    Yu Darvish CHC CIN STL 8.3 2.44 3.06

    Raise your hand if you passed up a Darvish trade, or even waiver wire pickup, earlier in the season. *Raises hand and puts head down in shame.*  K rate is over 36% in the 2nd half and the walk rate down at 2.4%; it’s like I don’t even know who Yu are Darvish.

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  • Sunday Notes: Tigers First-Rounder Riley Greene Does What Comes Naturally

    Posted sometime

    Hitting a baseball comes naturally to Riley Greene. That’s not to say the fifth-overall pick in this year’s draft doesn’t work on his craft — he does— but at the same time he likes to keep any tinkering to a minimum. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Prior to the Detroit Tigers’ calling his name on June 3, Greene had been labeled “the best pure hitter in the prep class” by Baseball America.

    He hit the road running in pro ball. Greene scorched the Gulf Coast League to the tune of a 1.039 OPS in nine games, quickly earning a promotion to short-season Connecticut. While not nearly as prolific against New York-Penn League pitching — a .766 OPS in 24 games — he did show enough to get moved up to low-A West Michigan in early August. Playing against much-older competition in the Midwest League, Greene slashed .219/.278/.344 in 118 plate appearances.

    When I talked to the 18-year-old Oviedo, Florida native in mid-August, he made it clear that his swing is already well-established.

    “My dad has been doing baseball and softball lessons for 24 or 25 years, and he taught me to hit,” said Greene. “Growing up, most of my coaches never touched my swing. It was just my dad. He’s a simple A-to-B guy, not much movement, and that’s how I try to be.”

    Greene told me his front foot is his timing mechanism, and that his setup at the plate has remained essentially the same. He “might be an inch taller with his body,” but that’s a matter of feel and comfort, not because of a calculated adjustment. He’ll maybe spread out at times, but “only by a centimeter or two.”

    Greene has the raw strength to propel pitches long distances — at six-foot-three and 200 pounds he projects to hit for plus power — but clearing fences isn’t his main objective.

    “I feel I have more of a contact swing,” Greene said. “I don’t really think it’s a power swing. I’ll get the barrel out every once in awhile and hit one far, but I’m just trying to hit line drives. I guess I’d call it a contact-on-top-line-drive kind of swing. My main focus is to let the ball get deep, and if it’s inside just react with my hands.”

    His approach against professional pitching is the same as it was as an amateur.

    “I was facing better arms in the summer-ball circuit than I am here,” Greene told me. “It was 95 to 100 [mph] and hammer curveballs. So my hitting philosophy is pretty much the same. Again, I’m just trying to be on time and think up-the-middle-back-side. That’s what I do. Hitting is a mental game. I feel that once you get the mechanics down, it’s mostly mental.”

    Comping prospects to established big-leaguers is a common practice — Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper likened Greene to a young David Justice (!) — and the players themselves are frequently asked for own thoughts on the subject. Detroit’s first-round pick wasn’t having any of it.

    “A lot of people ask who I compare myself to, and it’s really no one,” Greene told me. “I’m my own person. I just do my own thing; what comes naturally.”

    ——

    Matt Gorski is a promising young hitter. He’s also very much a work-in-progress. Drafted in the second round this year by the Pirates out of Indiana University, the 21-year-old outfielder scuffled to the tune of a .643 OPS with short-season West Virginia. His collegiate track record had appealed to Pittsburgh. In three seasons with the Hoosiers, Gorski slashed .306/.378/.491, with fully half of his 24 home runs had come in his junior campaign. The tools are clearly there.

    Drew Saylor is among those entrusted to turn that raw talent into professional production. Along with having been West Virginia’s manager this year, Saylor is Pittsburgh’s minor league hitting coordinator. He understands the adjustments the right-handed-hitting Gore needs to make as well as anyone. And while some of them are currently being addressed in instructional league, the process was already well under way.

    When I recently asked Saylor for a snapshot of the youngster’s development priorities, he began by saying Gorski “hits the ball significantly hard; he had one of the upper-tier exit velocities coming out of college.” He proceeded to point out a mechanical imperfection, and the manner in which they’re correcting it.

    “What we saw was a bit of a hip-slide,” Saylor explained. “’Gore’ wasn’t really giving himself an opportunity to get on plane with pitches — it was a steep entry point as he was hitting the baseball — and a as result there was some swing-and-miss, and a lot of ground balls in his profile. What we did was show him some video of the slide. Most importantly, we showed him how there’s not a real connection with his back elbow and his torso.

    “We told him, ‘Hey, we feel that if you lower your center mass as you’re in your loading phase, your gather phase, that’s going to give your body time to get your elbow in a slot position. Once you do that you’re going to be able to read pitches better, and on top of that you’re going to be able to move your swing-arc up to where you can get to those fastballs inside. You’ll be able to get the ball up in the air more to the pull side. Basically, we started with the objective and got to the subjective. We were able to show him, ‘Hey, if you can do this, all these other dominoes should — in theory — start to fall.’”

    We’ll hear more from Saylor on the subject of hitting, including how it’s being taught in the Pirates organization, in the weeks to come.

    ——

    RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

    Will Clark went 8 for 8 against Julio Santana.

    Paul DeJong is 7 for 9 against Mike Montgomery.

    Mike Trout is a combined 11 for 14 against Daniel Mengden and Ross Stripling.

    Christian Yelich is a combined 11 for 15 against Kenley Jansen and Will Smith.

    Dom and Joe DiMaggio went a combined 12 for 15 against Bump Hadley.

    ———

    At the outset of spring training I asked a number of baseball executives about the growth of hitting analytics. More specifically, I wanted their thoughts on whether hitting analytics will ever catch up to the advancements being made in pitching analytics. As the saying goes, “Time flies.” I haven’t shared any of those perspectives to date, but I do plan to present at least some of them in the weeks to come. I’ll start here with Arizona Diamondbacks Executive Vice President & General Manager Mike Hazen.

    “I’m not sure it’s going to get to the level we’ve seen with pitching,” Hazen told me. “The biggest separator is that one person has the ball and one person is reacting. To some degree there’s a natural limit there. So, there’s probably a ceiling to it, but at the same time, if your swing is out of whack and you have to go out there and hit against Clayton Kershaw, versus if your swing is in a very good, consistent place and you have to go out and hit Clayton Kershaw… [the latter] puts you in a better spot. I don’t think when hitters get hot it’s all random. There is some degree of randomness to it, but having a consistency to your swing can only help. “

    ——

    All ten pitchers who appeared in Thursday’s Royals-White Sox game recorded at least one strikeout. How uncommon is that? Surprisingly — at least to me — it’s not uncommon at all. According to FanGraphs number-cruncher Jeff Zimmerman, since 1974 there have been over 200 games in which 10-or-more pitchers have appeared in a game with every one of them logging at least one punch-out. A notable near-miss came on July 7 of last year in a 16-inning game between the Diamondbacks and Padres; of the 19 pitchers to see action, only one failed to register a K.

    ——

    A clue in yesterday’s New York Times crossword puzzle was: “One of 23 for Matt Stairs (an MLB record).” Do you know the answer? If not, it can be found after following section.

    ——

    NON-MLB NOTABLES

    Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Randy Romero slashed .376/.418/.495 this year in the Dominican Summer League. The 20-year-old (as of Aug 10) outfielder from Mexicali, Mexico stole 35 bases in 36 attempts.

    Israel Puello, an 18-year-old right-hander in the Philadelphia Phillies system, posted a 1.92 ERA over 15 starts covering 65-and-two-thirds innings in the Dominican Summer League. A native of Santiago, Dominican Republic, Puello was born on 10-10-2000.

    Luke Heimlich is 8-7 with a 4.58 ERA in 118 innings with Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos in the Mexican League. The 23-year-old left-hander went 36-13 with the Oregon Beavers from 2015-2018.

    Seiya Suzuki, a 25-year-old outfielder for the Hiroshima Carp, leads NPB’s Central League in batting average (.337) and OBP (.452). The right-handed hitter has 27 home runs and more walks (96) than strikeouts (80).

    Pierce Johnson has a 1.16 ERA in 54 relief appearances with NPB’s Hanshin Tigers. The 28-year-old former Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants right-hander has fanned 82 batters and allowed 33 hits in 54-and-two-thirds innings.

    ——

    The answer to the crossword puzzle clue is “pinch-hit home runs”.

    ———

    Per Jim Allen of The Kyodo News, Randy Messenger has announced his retirement. The 38-year-old Hanshin Tigers right-hander’s 98 wins are fifth-most by a foreign-registered player in Japanese baseball history. The top five are: Kuo Yuen-chih (Kaku Genji) 117, Kuo Tai-yuan (Kaku Taigen) 106, Joe Stanka 100, Gene Baque 100, and Messenger 98.

    This was Messenger’s 10th season in NPB. Prior to playing Japan he pitched for the Florida Marlins, Seattle Mariners, and San Francisco Giants from 2005-2009.

    ———

    Perusing RIP Baseball, I learned that former Orioles, Padres, and Cubs pitcher Tom Phoebus passed away earlier this month at the age of 77. The 5-foot-8 righty had double-digit-win seasons for Baltimore from 1967-1969, with an April 1968 no-hitter against the Red Sox standing out as the signature moment of his seven-year career. Phoebus notably also threw a four-hit shutout in his MLB debut, which came with the Orioles on September 15, 1966.

    ——

    Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. is one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, not only because of his excellent range, but also because of his strong arm. How he ended up playing that position, rather than pitching, was explained in Alex Speier’s new book, Homegrown: How The Red Sox Built a Champion From The Ground Up.

    Bradley, who grew up in Prince George, Virginia, was a catcher at a young age. In time, he became a shortstop and a pitcher. Then, when he was in eighth grade, his coach made a decision that shaped his future.

    As Speier explained, Bradley’s team was about to play against a juggernaut on a field that lacked that an outfield fence. Looking out at “the endless expanse of outfielder grass,” and knowing that his best pitcher was also a terrific all-around athlete, his coach, Donnie Brittingham, had a thought: Could Bradley play center?

    “The answer was immediate and dazzling,” wrote Speier. Quoting Brittingham, [Bradley] ran down everything. Nothing — nothing — got past him.”

    Bradley fell in love with the position. As legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

    ———

    LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

    Minor League Baseball posted an attendance increase of over one million fans this year. Specifics, including which leagues and teams posted the best numbers, can be found here, courtesy of our friends at MiLB.com.

    Brian O’Neill of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about how Pirates owner Bob Nutting has taught us all a valuable lesson about enjoying baseball without putting very much money into it.

    At FiveThirtyEight, Travis Sawchik explored the idea that player development off the field could be rendering farm systems irrelevant.

    At MLB.com, Mike Petriello delved into whether Daniel Palka is experiencing the worst sophomore slump in MLB history.

    Donnie Walton was the 65th player used by the Seattle Mariners this season, and Lauren Smith wrote about the record-setting event at The News Tribune.

    ———

    RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

    Per Rochester Red Wings broadcaster Josh Whetzel, the Tacoma Raniers used 89 players this season. The Rainiers are Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate.

    This past Tuesday, T.J. Zeuch became the 20th different pitcher to start a game for the Toronto Blue Jays this year. Only the 1915 Philadelphia Athletics (24) have used more starters in a single season in MLB history. (per Blue Jays broadcaster Ben Wagner.)

    Bruce Bochy, whose managerial career has spanned the 1995-2019 seasons, had a record of 1995-2019 following the Giants loss to Pittsburgh this past Monday. Ten managers have reached the 2,000-win mark — Bochy is three short of that number heading into today — and all are in the Hall of Fame.

    Ned Yost’s .474 winning percentage is lowest among the 61 MLB managers who have been at the helm for 2,000-or-more games. Yost’s teams — one of which captured a World Series title — have gone 1,199-1,332.

    Eddie Yost had a .406 OBP from 1950-1960 and made one All-Star team over that 11-year span. The first nine of those seasons were with the Washington Senators, the last two with the Detroit Tigers. Yost had a .425 OBP in his 1,311 plate appearances with the Motown nine.

    Miller Huggins had a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage in all 13 of his big-league seasons. He led the NL with a .432 OBP in 1913 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Don Kessinger, a six-time All-Star shortstop with the Chicago Cubs in a career that spanned the 1964-1979 seasons, averaged 22.2 points per game as small forward at the University of Mississippi from 1962-1964. His grandson, Grae Kessinger, was a second-round pick by the Houston Astros out of Ole Miss this year.

    On September 13, 1964, the St. Cardinals scored in every inning while beating the Chicago Cubs 15-2 at Wrigley Field. Mike Shannon-struck balls plated runners in the third, fourth, sixth, and ninth frames.

    In the first game of a September 16, 1936 doubleheader, Mike Ryba pitched four innings of relief for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Philadelphia Phillies. In the second game, Ryba came in to catch the last two innings. Overall, Ryba had 240 pitching appearances and was behind the plate in 10 games.

    Don Slaught anagrams to Sandlot Hug (per Don Lee at Baseball Think Factory).

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  • FanDuel: Show Us How, Wojciechowski

    Posted sometime

    Good Sunday to you. We have a relatively small 8-game FanDuel Main Slate, providing us only some 250 billion possible lineup combinations, without salary cap considerations, compared to our usual 1-10 trillion. It’s quite the lack of options we’re facing.

    But, there are actual limitations we face today, not just exaggerated ones, as the majority of games provide us with far better hitting conditions than pitching, leaving us little in the way of potential starting pitcher value, and an abundance of potential value for hitters. More than usual today, we’d like to reach for cheaper starting pitching in order to pay up for hitting.

    Our preferred reach is Asher Wojciechowski, SP: $6,700, who has flashed high upside over the past couple months and has a favorable matchup today against Detroit. While he can struggle with control, which results in his higher than average hard contact and walk rates, the Tigers are near the bottom of the league in both measures. Pair that with this game being played on the road, virtually guaranteeing a more favorable pitching environment than the bandbox of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and it’s reason enough to confidently deploy him. We do not need to rely on a world-beating performance here, above average will do us perfectly well, as the scoring fireworks today are likely to be predominantly hitter-driven.

    Keep on keeping on, and read below for additional Razzball picks.

    New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well, be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays. Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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  • Sabermetrics news: There are silver linings for the Pirates

    Posted sometime

    John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

    The loss of Christian Yelich; the Twins’ rotation options; Pirates silver linings

    FanGraphs | Jay Jaffe: The loss of Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap was a crushing blow to the flailing Brewers, who have about a one-in-five chance of making the postseason. Putting aside an NL MVP that will likely go to Cody Bellinger, the Brewers themselves will have issues overcoming this deficit without their best player.

    Baseball Prospectus | Matthew Trueblood ($): With Michael Pineda out of the Twins rotation through the postseason, the other options are… lackluster, to say the least. Kyle Gibson is still shut down, and lower-tier options like Lewis Thorpe or Ryne Harper don’t exactly inspire confidence in a playoff run.

    The Athletic | Eno Sarris ($): While the Pirates’ season was far from a success, there were still quite a few silver linings. Rookies Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman have been revelations, and both Josh Bell and Adam Frazier have been fantastic. It’s also been bolstered by an organizational hitting philosophy that stresses low line drives to make quality contact.

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  • You’re Probably Underrating Yordan Alvarez

    Posted 2 hours ago

    Quick: Who are the best five hitters in baseball this year? Take a quick gander at the leaderboards, if you’d like, before answering. There’s the WAR leaderboard:

    Top 10 Batters by WAR
    Player wRC+ WAR
    Mike Trout 179 8.6
    Christian Yelich 173 7.7
    Cody Bellinger 163 7.1
    Alex Bregman 163 7.1
    Ketel Marte 150 6.9
    Anthony Rendon 160 6.8
    Marcus Semien 132 6.4
    Mookie Betts 134 6.2
    Xander Bogaerts 140 6.2
    George Springer 158 6.0

    That’s not what you want, though, because defense gets involved there. How about a wRC+ leaderboard instead? That should keep the Xander Bogaerts’s and Marcus Semien’s of the world from intruding on our hitting party:

    Top 10 Batters by wRC+
    Player wRC+ WAR
    Mike Trout 179 8.6
    Christian Yelich 173 7.7
    Alex Bregman 163 7.1
    Cody Bellinger 163 7.1
    Anthony Rendon 160 6.8
    George Springer 158 6
    Nelson Cruz 157 3.5
    Ketel Marte 150 6.9
    Juan Soto 148 4.9
    Pete Alonso 147 4.6

    Trout, Yelich, Bregman, Bellinger, and Rendon. That’s a pretty solid five. It’s also missing an obvious name: Yordan Alvarez, quite possibly the best hitter in baseball this year.

    Why isn’t Alvarez on the list? It comes down to the tyranny of the qualified hitter. Setting a plate appearance minimum is a reasonable idea: without it, the best wRC+ this year would belong to Oliver Drake, who singled in his only plate appearance. No one wants that, except perhaps Oliver Drake.

    That doesn’t mean that it’s always right to ignore everyone who falls short of the qualification minimum, though. Alvarez has 320 plate appearances this year, a far cry from Drake territory. Because he wasn’t called up until June, he won’t qualify for the batting title this year, but that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that he’s one of the best hitters in the major leagues, full stop.

    I won’t belabor the Yordan Alvarez origin story, because it’s been told many times. He was signed by the Dodgers, traded to the Astros for Josh Fields, and hit a ton at every stop in the minors, finally forcing his way to the majors by hitting a dizzying .343/.443/.742 in Triple-A this year. That’s the past — the present is essentially all home runs and doubles.

    When Alvarez came up, Dan Szymborski lauded his all-fields power. He hit more home runs and more doubles to left field than to right in the minors this year, and combining that huge natural power with Minute Maid’s short porch in left felt like it might be borderline unfair. That hasn’t happened at all, as this spray chart attests:

    In fact, he’s visited the Crawford Boxes only once, on this harmless-looking swing:

    Rather than using left field, Alvarez has tapped into his power by doing damage on the pull side. Pulled line drives and fly balls are the most valuable batted ball type in baseball, and Alvarez is a standout even given that high baseline. He has the fifth-highest hard-hit rate on pulled balls in the air, and that might undersell the amount of damage he’s doing.

    Here’s a random, tossed-off statistic for you. When Alvarez pulls the ball in the air, he bats .868 with a 2.421 slugging percentage. Percentage doesn’t make much sense for a number like 2.421, but nothing about Alvarez’s production does. That’s good for a 768 wRC+, best in the majors by 103 points. As I mentioned, production is high across baseball on pulled air balls, but not like this; the league as a whole has a 384 wRC+, with an OPS lower than Alvarez’s slugging percentage.

    Your mind will logically go to small sample sizes and regression here, and that’s not unreasonable. Consider this, though: Alvarez’s xwOBA is a robust .963 on these balls, second only to Joey Gallo. He hits them, on average, 100.3 mph, good for sixth in the league. He’s barreling up nearly half of them, 43.2%. In other words, Alvarez might be getting marginally lucky when he pulls the ball in the air, but for the most part he’s hitting the ball too hard to need luck.

    About the only negative thing you can say about Alvarez is that he hasn’t tapped into the pull side as often as would be optimal. For the season, he’s pulling 31.7% of the balls he puts in the air, higher than the major league average of 29.8% but only in the 62nd percentile among all batters. For someone with so much raw power, he still has room to optimize his swing to get to it more often, a scary thought for someone with a 177 wRC+ already.

    Even without more pulled balls, however, Alvarez deserves his gaudy statistics. Earlier this summer, I looked into expected home run totals based on exit velocity. Alvarez has turned 30% of his 15-45 degree launch angle hits into home runs, far higher than the big league average of 15% (the number diverges slightly from HR/FB rate due to slightly different balls being included). It’s not luck, though — based on how hard he’s hit them, he should be turning nearly 27% of them into home runs. That 3% divergence is tiny, amounting to just over two home runs, which means that he’s earned the vast majority of his dingers.

    By now, I’ve probably painted a picture in your mind. Alvarez is the second coming of Joey Gallo, a slugger so powerful that he destroys everything he hits. He gets the ball in the air more than average, pulls it more than average when he gets it there, and has power to all fields in addition to the hilariously over-the-top pull power.

    But if that’s how you picture Alvarez, as the most recent incarnation of Dave Kingman or Joey Gallo, you’ve left something out. Alvarez has the raw power of those guys, but he’s getting to all that pop without the tradeoffs they have to make. Gallo broke out this year by getting his swinging strike rate down to a still-awful 16.2%, a sizable improvement from the near-20% rate from his career before 2019. Nelson Cruz, a more reasonable sort of slugger than Gallo, comes up empty on more than 13% of pitches. Not Alvarez — he’s running a 10.4% swinging strike rate, better than league average.

    Think about that for a second. The player with arguably the most power in the major leagues has a lower swinging strike rate than Jeff McNeil, king of batting average. He accomplishes this by making an average amount of contact and having a roughly average batting eye. When you hit the ball as hard as Alvarez does, that’s all you need, because pitchers will stay away from you as much as possible — he has a 15th-percentile zone rate, as befits someone of his extreme power.

    In this recent era of superstars and home runs, it’s easy to gloss over the fact that Alvarez combines better-than-average plate discipline with otherworldly power. Mike Trout and recent-vintage Christian Yelich have normalized combining awesome power with enviable batting eyes, but it’s simply not that common. What’s more, Alvarez is 22, and he’s only four days away from this being his age 21 season, as he was born on June 27th.

    Even at 22, though, Alvarez is in near-uncharted territory. He has a K-BB% four points better than league average and an ISO 88% better than league average. Since 1970, how many players have had better-than-average K-BB% and ISO’s at least 50% higher than league average by age 22, using a 300 PA minimum? Exactly 17, and that 17 is a nice list to be on:

    Young, Disciplined, and Powerful
    Player Year Age K%-BB% ISO
    Yordan Alvarez 2019 22 11.3% .344
    Bryce Harper 2015 22 1.1% .319
    Albert Pujols 2001 21 3.5% .281
    Juan Soto 2019 20 4.6% .279
    Alex Rodriguez 1996 20 6.6% .272
    Albert Pujols 2002 22 -0.4% .247
    Mike Trout 2012 20 11.3% .238
    Mike Trout 2013 21 3.6% .234
    Carlos Correa 2015 20 8.8% .232
    Jack Clark 1978 22 3.3% .231
    Barry Bonds 1987 22 5.6% .230
    Ken Griffey Jr. 1992 22 3.7% .226
    Cesar Cedeno 1972 21 1.0% .216
    Jeff Burroughs 1973 22 3.5% .207
    Ken Griffey Jr. 1991 21 1.7% .201
    Eddie Murray 1978 22 3.9% .195
    John Milner 1972 22 5.4% .185

    Raise the minimum for ISO to 75% better than league average, and that list drops to five. You know Ken Griffey Jr. and Bryce Harper, but Jack Clark and Cesar Cedeno had monster seasons as well. Cedeno was one of the best players in baseball when he first came up. From 1972, his age 21 season, to 1977, he averaged 5.5 WAR a year. His 1972 season in particular was a masterpiece, a 7.8 WAR gem with solid defense and a 163 wRC+.

    Alvarez can’t match the defense, but he’s an even more fearsome hitter. You’ve probably heard of the only batters to record a higher wRC+ at age 22 or younger:

    Best Young Hitting Seasons
    Player Year wRC+ WAR
    Ted Williams 1941 221 11.0
    Bryce Harper 2015 197 9.3
    Ty Cobb 1909 188 9.7
    Joe Jackson 1912 186 9.1
    Joe Jackson 1911 184 9.3
    Stan Musial 1943 180 9.9
    Yordan Alvarez 2019 177 3.3

    Though Alvarez doesn’t have the full-season batting line or defensive value to have historically great counting numbers, his expected stats don’t exactly tell a story of regression. He has the sixth-highest xwOBA in baseball, the fifth-highest xSLG, and even the 21st-highest xBA. He’s eighth in barrels per batted ball, fifth in barrels per plate appearance, and has the eighth-highest maximum exit velocity in baseball despite not having a full season of plate appearances. There’s no number that doesn’t support his status as an elite hitter.

    Alvarez will almost certainly win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He’s not some completely undiscovered gem toiling in anonymity. People think of him as a pretty good rookie, though, not one of the best young hitters of all time. Why is that, when he has the statistics to enter the discussion? It’s the tyranny of the qualified filter. Let it go, though, and focus on the sheer mastery we’re seeing. Yordan Alvarez is putting up one of the best young hitting seasons of all time. Don’t discount it just because he didn’t manage 3.1 plate appearances per Astros game.

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  • Sabermetrics news: The Diamondbacks have been a revelation

    Posted 3 hours ago

    Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

    The transformed DBacks; the unprecedented Dombrowski fire; a justification for trading Mookie Betts

    FanGraphs | Ben Clemens: The Diamondbacks, despite nominally rebuilding and shipping off both Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt, have improbably done better, thanks to quite a few excellent transactions from Mike Hazen: trading for Ketel Marte, signing Merrill Kelly, and trading for Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver.

    Baseball Prospectus | Rob Arthur ($): Even with all of the legitimate arguments as to why the Red Sox fired Dave Dombrowski, the fact remains: it was a largely unprecedented fire, and there is almost no history of a team firing an executive directly after a World Series win.

    The Ringer | Michael Baumann: There’s very little justification for trading Mookie Betts, really. Despite Boston’s insistence on staying under the luxury tax, they still have enough room to wiggle out from under it without even dealing him or JD Martinez, not like they can’t afford the slight overage anyway!

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  • Sabermetrics news: Half of the league is breaking home run records

    Posted 4 hours ago

    Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Sandy Alcantara’s new sinker; Christian Yelich’s kneecap injury; home run records

    FanGraphs | Jake Mailhot: There are few bright spots on the 2019 Marlins, but Sandy Alcantara is thankfully one of them. After a blah first half he’s actually been incredibly good since the end of July, thanks to a new emphasis on the now-maligned splitter, which has given him enough downward movement to be successful.

    The Ringer | Ben Lindbergh: With one swing of the bat, Christian Yelich broke his kneecap and shattered many of the dreams of baseball and Brewers fans who hoped to see an MVP, or a 50-30 season, or his heroics in September or the postseason. Sad, sad news.

    ESPN Insider | Bradford Doolittle ($): With the juiced ball, teams are naturally breaking their home run records. The Yankees, Twins, Dodgers, and now many others have set or will set home run records for their franchises or leagues.

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  • Nico Suave

    Posted 5 hours ago

    Cubs rookie Nico Hoerner hit his first career home run Friday night going 2-for-5 with 4 RBI. He started off the Chicago onslaught with a 2-run shot in the first inning and added a 2-run single in the fifth! He was a BUY and here’s what Grey had to say about him, “Hoerner is the Cubs’ top prospect, which is more of an indictment about the Cubs’ farm system. He doesn’t strike out, and possesses decent on-base skills, so maybe some short-term value.” And that’s me quoting Grey! If that’s not a high endorsement, I don’t know what kind of waiver adds you’re looking for in mid-September but Nico might be your best bet. Does he make you Hoerner, baby? Woah, sick reference, bro, how old even are you? Nico is slashing .350/.435/.600 through his first 20 at-bats with a home run and 8 RBI, he’s also still available in most leagues, which is important since I don’t know how many of you are even left reading this at this point in the year. Just my mom and my stalker, most likely (hi mom, hi Gordon!). My stalker Gordon’s wondering why I had to stop playing WoW Classic for 4 hours to do other fantasy things. I’ll be right back, Gordon, I swear, please don’t send my family death threats again! Nico could be worth an add for any team in need of some runs and average, especially if the Cubs plan on scoring 17 every game from here on out.

    Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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