The newest baby bomber

June 4, 2012 | 20 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

With the 30th pick in the 1st round, the Yankees selected 6’4″ right-handed high school pitcher Ty Hensley from Edmond, Oklahoma.

Here’s some video:

And it’s worth remembering, when we interviewed Yankees SVP Mark Newman in November about how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would affect the Yankees’ draft, he said this:

SJK: Back to this big market-small market argument again, if you look at spending in drafts, the small market teams dish out the most money. Granted, some of this is due to landing the top picks of the draft which demand higher bonuses, but they still have gone over-slot in other rounds. The argument is that the new rules will limit the aggressiveness of small-market teams who can’t compete with teams like the Yankees and Red Sox when it comes to free agency.

MN: Well, those teams are still going to draft high. They will have more money allocated to them to pay. We’ve been declawed. We don’t have the ability to pay over-slot now. Our ability to respond creatively to the landscape has been reduced.

SJK: Do you think these new rules essentially eliminate “signability” cases?

MN: Certainly. I think they’ll severely limit the amount of players who fall in the draft. At the same time, we’ll have a better understanding of all this in two years. There’s a whole bunch of TBD [to be determined]. There will be a lot of trial and error in how we respond to the new environment. Everybody will try to game the system. Nothing wrong with that, that’s competition.

SJK: Do you think the draft will start to look more like the NBA and NFL drafts, where the perceived talent level decreases with each pick?

MN: Yes, the perceived talent level will more closely follow the order of the draft. Now, of course, the key is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and nowhere is that more true than in baseball. There will always be opportunity to evaluate more accurately. Our guys aren’t obviously going right to the NFL and NBA. In baseball, there is more room for projection and more room for error.

You can re-read that interview in its entirety here. And here’s a list of how much each team can spend in the first 10 rounds.

We’ll be talking to Mark Newman when the draft is over to see how it all actually played out.

Welcome to your new room, kid*.

*assuming he signs.

Minor League Players of the Week, The ‘Tyler Austin does it again’ edition

June 3, 2012 | 9 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

– Covering May 28th – June 3rd games —

Adam Warren, 24, RHP, AAA
13.1 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, 12 H, 2 ER, 1 HR
Notable: June 3rd start was a complete game shutout (7 IP – 1st game of double-header

Over the last year, Adam Warren’s name has always been mentioned as one of the three pitchers who would give the big club depth at the back end of the rotation (David Phelps and DJ Mitchell being the other two). He auditioned in spring training and was ultimately sent back to AAA.

Up until this past week, this season has not been kind to Warren. His ERA finally went below 5.00 after these last two starts (now at 4.33). However, what’s peculiar about Warren’s season is that his strikeouts and walk rates (6.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9) are identical to his 2011 AAA numbers. In 2011, he had an ERA of 3.60 and FIP of 4.05.

The difference this year is the big increase in hits he’s allowing. He’s gone from 8.6 H/9 in 2011 to 11.7 H/9 in 2012. One of the main culprits looks to be a career-high BABIP of .348. The highest BABIP he’s had at any stop in the minors was .309 (at AA). So, Warren’s either experienced so bad luck or he’s getting tattooed. Without batted ball data, it’s tough to tell…but that BABIP seems abnormally high.

Tyler Austin, 20, RHB COF/1B/3B, A
.555/.636/.851 in 33 PAs (6 BB, 2 SB)
Notable: Went 5-for-5 with a 2B, 3B, BB, and SB on May 28th!

We’ve had seven editions of MLPW so far this season, and Charleston Riverdogs OF Tyler Austin has won three of them. We’ve said it already, and we’ll say it again: he’s the best hitter in the organization. He had 15 hits this past week, and now has a line of .333/.409/.671 on the season. He’s also stolen 13 bases in 14 attempts.

Austin leads the South Atlantic League in HRs (14), SLG, and OPS.

Honorable Mentions:

DJ Mitchell, 25, RHP, AAA
6 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 3 ER

4.42 ERA, but 3.52 FIP

Vidal Nuno, 24, LHP, AA
7 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 0 ER

Recently promoted to AA

Gary Sanchez, 19, RHB C, A
.413/.452/1.034 in 31 PAs

Would have won if not for Austin, 5 HRs on the week

Hughes sends message to haters

June 3, 2012 | 40 comments | in Featured | by SJK

First complete game of the season for a Yankee pitcher. 8 K, 3 BB, 4 H, 1 ER — and silencing all those who said he should be removed from the rotation.

Performance anxiety

June 3, 2012 | 23 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Another game, more squandered opportunities. 1-12 with RISP.

Cano can’t get up for the big spots.

Looks like he picked the wrong time to have a contract year

June 2, 2012 | 43 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Nick Swisher will be a free agent at the end of the year. Nick Swisher is hitting .241/.304 /.459.

There’s two main contributors to Swish’s lousy year. The first is some good ol’ fashioned bad luck. There’s been some notable times this year when he’s hit the ball very hard and it’s found the gloves of fielders — example here. And the stats back this up. His BABIP of .262 is the lowest since his 2008 White Sox season. However, also like in the 2008 season, he’s seen no notable decrease in his line drive rate (which is why the Yankees traded for him). In fact, his line drive rate of 21.6% is nearly identical to last season.

However, there’s a big portion of Swisher’s disappointing season-to-date that we can’t chalk up to bad luck, and that’s his big decrease in walks. He’s only walked in 7.9% of plate appearances, which would represent a career-low. He’s seeing 3.96 pitches per PA, which would also be a career-low. He’s swinging at 46.8% of pitches, which according to PitchFX is a career-high — and most notably he’s swinging at a career-high of pitches outside the strike zone (26.7%).

Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Swisher has a plate discipline problem, which we’re seeing clearly in his walk rate and ultra-low OBP.

Curtis captures Grand Slam, Detroit gets served

June 2, 2012 | 15 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Granderson’s .385 wOBA is tied for 9th in the AL

Girardi: Bloop singles > line drives?

June 1, 2012 | 41 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

A very weird quote from Joe Girardi that we came across on Lohud:

“Everyone gets caught up in home runs,” Joe Girardi said. “I get caught up in runs and RBI. That’s what I get caught up in. You go out and try to swing for the fences every time and hit .200, that’s not what we want. We want him to get on base, and we want him to be productive. However that happens, I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s bloop singles with the bases loaded every time. I really don’t. I get on K-Long when guys line out. I say, ‘So?’ Bloop singles, I’ll take them.”

He gets on Kevin Long when players hit line drives that get caught for outs?

Now, we may be reading this wrong or taking this one sentence out of context, so we could be way off here. But, how can you fault a hitter or a coach if a player hits a line drive that happens to land in a fielder’s glove? Line drives falls for hits more than any other type of batted ball.

So this quote is really confusing. As we said, we may be taking this sentence of context, and if so this post is meaningless. If he was actually serious though, then that’s some messed up sh*t.

More proof that these tubs of lard need to go

May 31, 2012 | 43 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK


Yankees catcher Russell Martin said he was “mystified” by the behavior of home-plate umpire Laz Diaz during Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over the Angels, saying that Diaz would not permit him to throw new baseballs to the mound during the game.

Martin said that he likes to throw the ball to keep his arm loose following foul balls but was told by Diaz — a full-time Major League umpire since 1999 — that it would not be allowed because it is, as Martin said, “a privilege that I have to earn.”

“At the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck [by a foul tip], I was like, ‘Can I throw the ball back now?’” Martin said. “He was like, still, ‘No.’ I was like, ‘You’re such a [jerk].’ Like, for real, unbelievable.”

We just penned a post about how home plate umpires are terrible at calling balls and strikes. This is just icing on the cake for our argument.

VOTE: Is hitting with RISP a unique skill?

May 30, 2012 | 64 comments | in Featured | by SJK

So much MSM ink has been dedicated to covering the Yankees’ struggles with runners in scoring position, and we typically go to bed before West Coast games end (we all sleep in the same bed)…so here’s your post.

Let’s stick with basic OPS and where the Yankees rank in the AL…

RISP: .715, 8th out of 14 (league average .741)
RISP with 2 outs: .661, 10th out of 14 (league average .711)
Bases loaded: .524, 11th out of 14 (league average .730)

It’s been a struggle, obviously. But did you also know that the Yankees have an MLB-low .228 BABIP with RISP? And they’re last by a significant margin. The next one up on the list is San Francisco at .245. So how much of this is the Yankees actually sucking versus just some bad luck?

This leads to a series of other questions…

Does it really take a special skill, separate from a player’s normal abilities, to hit with runners in scoring position? Do hitters swing differently or change their thought-process when there’s a runner on second or third waiting to be knocked in?

Or if a player is a good hitter, will his prowess with RISP eventually catch up to his natural ability? Will the approach that a player takes into his non-RISP at-bats carry over into his RISP at-bats?

We ask you, the NoMaas reader…

Axe the umps (Part Deux)

May 29, 2012 | 53 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by Vizzini

Back in April, we’ve talked about how faulty umpiring is significantly affecting the outcome of games. It’s crazy that Major League Baseball allows umpires to be dramatically incorrect in calling pitches inside and outside the strike zone. In that first article, we highlighted Joe West and his calls on an April 6th game between NYY & TAM:

So that’s 27 pitches that West clearly got wrong out of the 182 points we counted on the chart. That’s 15% of total called pitches in the game. Fifteen percent of West’s calls were incorrect! That right there is enough to change the course of a game. It screws up the count, it causes hitters and pitchers to change their approach in response, and it alters the outcome of the plate appearance. How is this acceptable for a professional sports league?

The ’1986 Topps Baseball Card Crowd’ will just dismiss this as “It’s part of da game!!”, but for those who possess a sliver of independent thought, here is more proof how umpires are unfortunately influencing the standings.

Did you know that sportsbooks actually track umpires and the amount of runs scored when they are behind the plate? It’s true. You can find all types of data. It’s very eye-opening if you think about it. If umpires actually enforced the rules, would sportsbooks be keeping all this information?

Let’s take a look at 2011. Games called by Phil Cuzzi and Lance Barksdale had a total of 7.15 and 7.36 runs scored respectively last year. The great Jim Joyce oversaw contests where the run environment was a full run higher at 8.21. The aforementioned Joe West, the umpiring giant who thinks games are too long, supervised an average of 8.92 runs scored. It gets even loopier. Tim Welke’s strike zone allowed for 9.56 runs per game. Tim Tschida was at 10.19, and Dana Demuth was at a whopping 10.38.

Now, you might be asking — maybe some umps just happened to call more games with two low scoring teams, while other umps drew more potent offenses? Well, this data isn’t just an artifact of Phil Cuzzi umping a bunch of Padres-Pirates games and Tim Tschida drawing the Yankees vs Red Sox all the time. You can see their records against the over/under line varies in accordance with their tendencies. This shows that the umpires likely had a significant effect on the runs actually scored versus what the market expected. In other words, if umpire A got a bunch of high scoring teams and umpire B got a bunch of low scoring teams, the umpire A’s games would have a higher over/under line and umpire B’s games would have lower over/unders.

For example, Dana Demuth’s games only underperformed the market’s run expectation 8 times, and overperformed the line 26 times. Joe West hit the over 22 times in 2011, while hitting the under only 11 times (so much for keeping games short in time, Joe).

From these numbers alone, it’s obvious to see that an umpire’s tendencies have a significant influence on total runs scored in a game. It shouldn’t be this way, but umpires are not held accountable and create their own imaginary strike zones.

Let’s anticipate another likely counter-argument. Some people will say: “Well it’s the same for both teams in the game, so it’s fair.” Even conceding that umpires call games evenly between two teams (which they don’t), there are two problems with that argument.

1) Each year, a few teams will randomly draw a bunch of tight strike-zone umps and a few on the other end will draw a bunch of umps who are pro-pitcher. Depending on the construction of the team (wild pitchers, patient hitters, etc) it’s possible that some teams will benefit or lose out based on the umpires’ bias. It’s also likely that teams who draw a more consistent rotation of umps will benefit relative to those who are figuring out a different strike zone every day.

2) Moreover, it is decidedly not fair to change the parameters of the game from day to day just because both teams have to deal with it. Was it fair when a swarm of midges changed the course of the Yankees playoffs fate in 2007, just because relievers on both sides had to deal with them? Would it be fair if Bud Selig decided that both teams should play on a sheet of ice for one game? These are extreme examples, and we can accept marginal changes in game environments. But, the varying strike zones and incorrect calls by umpires are the equivalents of playing in the dead ball era one game and the steroid era the very next day.

What We Would Like to See

At the least, players ought to be able to challenge a certain number of ball and strike calls, like in tennis. The PitchFX system could give an immediate response, either holding up the call or overturning it. It’s ridiculous that everyone watching the game can see from FoxTrax that there was a missed call, but that the people playing the game get tossed for mentioning it.

It’s time to improve the game by phasing out this obese lot of cataract patients and replacing them with a more reliable technology.

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