Is Sliding Head First Faster? (via Tweets)

Yesterday, Norberto Rivas at baseballciencia explained via video and words why sliding head first is faster into first base. Here is the explanation in tweets. I figured I would put the relevant information all in one place for future reference.

 

 

 

Quick Study: BB/9 Regression for Tanner Roark

Tanner Roark has a 1.78 BB/9 in one and half seasons for the Nationals. Currently, he has a Steamer projection of 2.26 for his 2015 BB/9. This value seemed a bit high to me. I went back and looked at the next season’s BB/9 for pitcher who threw at least 160 inning and had a BB/9 between 1.5 and 2.0.

Looking at all pitchers, the average BB/9 was 1.77 and jumped to 2.07 the next season. Since Roark is not as established, I limited the search to pitcher 27-years-old or younger and got a 1.77 BB/9 in season one and it jumped to 2.10 the next season. I looked at the median values to see if one high BB/9 was messing with the average, but the values were almost identical.

So if a pitcher does have an BB/9 between 1.5 and 2.0, historically they should expect a decent sized jump in their prediction for next season.

Baseball Material from The Sports Gene

I just got done reading The Sports Gene by David Espstein. The books looks at how science is helping to understand and find great athletes. It had a couple of sections on baseball players with some interesting quotes for future reference. The first quote deals with the great eye sight baseball players inherit:

Over 4 years of testing, and 387 minor and major league players, Rosenbaum and his team found an average visual acuity around 20/13. Position players…had better vision than pitchers, and major league players had better vision than minor leaguers. Major league position players had an average right eye visual acuity of 20/11 and an average left eye visual acuity of 20/12. In the test of fine depth perception, 58 percent of the baseball players scored “superior,” compared with 18 percent of a control population. In tests of contrast sensitivity, the pro players scored better than collegiate baseball players had in previous research, and collegiate baseball scored better than young people in the general population. In each eye test, pro baseball players were better than nonathletes, and major league players were better than minor league players. “Half the guys on the Dodger’s major league roster were 20/10 uncorrected,” Rosenbaum says.

The two largest population studies of visual acuity, one from India and one from China, give a sense of just how rare 20/10 vision might be. In the Indian study, out of 9411 tested eyes, one single eye had 20/10 vision. In the Beijing Eye Study, only 22 out of 4438 eyes tested at 20/17.

The next quote deals with baseball players taking ADHD

Pitchers Shutdown for the 2014 Season

I am going to key a list of pitchers who will be shutdown or likely to be shutdown for the rest of the 2014 season. I will be adding to the list as more name become available. I am not going speculate on who may or may not. I want some comment from the player or team. Next to each name is a link to an article which states why the pitcher as been shutdown. Feel free bookmark this page as I will add to it as more names become known to me.

Officially Shutdown
Homer Bailey – Reds – injury without starting rehab (link)
Yu Darvish – Rangers – injury without starting rehab (link)
Drew Smyly – Rays – maybe one more start (link)
Brad Ziegler -D-backs – needs knee surgery (link)
Mat Latos – Reds – Bruise bone (link)
Daniel Hudson – D-backs – resting for 2015    (link)
Dallas Keuchel – Astros – no reason given (link)
Oliver Perez – D-backs – dead arm (link)

Likely to be shutdown
Chase Anderson – D-backs (link)
Jake deGrom – Mets – innings limit (link)

Aging Curve for RH and LH Hitters

I spent some time trying to figure out if LH or RH hitting prospects had more of a learning curve in the majors (I have been watching too much of Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas). I thought LHH would struggle more, but I just ran into some sampling size issues and ditched the project.

One item I did find interesting was an aging curve for all hitters divided my handedness from 2007 to current.

handedAC

 

RHH have a bump in talent at their age 24 to 25 season while LHH just decline. I am not sure why, but it happens.

2014 NBC Tournament: Weekend One Thoughts

I watched six games this weekend at the NBC World Series in Wichita KS. I have covering some teams for Baseball America (Jayhawk and MINK teams) which will be published at a later date. Here are some players who stood out to me on some teams I am not covering.

Scott Merrill (Prev. Neosho County CC, AR Little Rock) is going to be a SR at King College (Tenn). While having some control issue, he flashed a 88-91 mph fastball and curve with a great break. If he could find a way to just throw the two pitches consistently, he could be a good bullpen arm.

Timothy Williams on the San Diego Force stood out for his speed. The small left-handed hitter made several great diving catches in the outfield. He could hit with line drive power and I timed him at 4.3 to 1B. He will be a Senior at George Fox University (CA) this fall. He has hit .351/.441/547 for career at GFU.

Tyler Staub (University of Texas, San Antonio) is 6’4” 205 right handed Junior this up coming season who played for the Albuquerque Dialbos. He was the person who looked the part of a ball player more than anyone else I saw over the weekend. Batting 4th and playing shortstop helped to stereotype him. That was about it though. He was smart enough to lay down a perfect bunt which stopped on the line half way to 3B when the infielders were playing in the outfield grass. Nothing else.

Ryan Baca for the Greeley Grays was my favorite pitcher to watch over the weekend. He is heavy left-handed pitcher who just attacked the El Dorado Broncos. A David Wells clone. He threw almost exclusively a 82-84 mph fastball (73 mph curve missed in), which kept El Dorado off balanced the whole time.

Marco Blanchard of the Puerto Rico National Collegiate Team. The left-hander used a Johnny Cueto like twisting pitching motion with his back to plate. His fastball was 86-91 mph straight fastball with a 84-86 mph slider and 80 mph change. While he will be a freshman at Ecclesia College, he is already 22-years-old.

Abdiel Alicea is a switch hitting freshman (uncommitted) who played short stop for the Puerto Rico National Collegiate Team. While he wasn’t challenged in the field, I timed him at 3.85 to 1B on a bunt from the left side.

James Gutierres is another uncommitted freshman for the Puerto Rico National Collegiate Team. He is all field and no bat… at least of what I saw of him. Probably the best outfield defender. I timed the right hander at 4.55 to 1B.

ZOBRIST Update – Unappreciated Hitting “Prospects”

In my pre-season’s FG+ article at FanGraphs, I created at a method to help find unappreciated hitting talent in the high minors like Ben Zobrist. I won’t go through the methodology (FG+ is one of the few bargains online at $6 and contains all previous articles and player profiles), but I do have an updated ranking for the 2014 season. I have included the last season the player appreached on Baseball America Top 100 Prospect Ranking.

Name Position Team ZOBRIST Age Last Season Ranked
1 Travis D’Arnaud C Mets (AAA) 285 25 2014
2 J.B. Shuck OF Angels (AAA) 146 27
3 Jermaine Curtis 3B Cardinals (AAA) 135 26
4 Mookie Betts 2B Red Sox (AAA) 126 21 2014
5 Eric Campbell 1B/3B/OF Mets (AAA) 112 27
6 Cole Figueroa 2B/3B Rays (AAA) 110 27
7 Jemile Weeks 2B Orioles (AAA) 110 27
8 Jordany Valdespin 2B/SS Marlins (AAA) 108 26
9 Ty Kelly 2B/3B Mariners (AAA) 106 25
10 Luis Flores C Cubs (AAA) 106 27
11 Tommy La Stella 2B Braves (AAA) 105 25
12 Allan Dykstra 1B/DH Mets (AAA) 104 27
13 Jorge Soler OF Cubs (AA) 95 22 2014
14 Didi Gregorius SS Diamondbacks (AAA) 87 24 2013
15 Shawn Zarraga C Brewers (AAA) 87 25
16 Justin Bour 1B Marlins (AAA) 84 26
17 Jake Goebbert OF Padres (AAA) 83 26
18 Jason Krizan OF Tigers (AA) 82 25
19 Rey Navarro 2B/SS Reds (AAA) 81 24
20 Kike Hernandez 2B Astros (AAA) 81 22
21 Christian Colon 2B/SS Royals (AAA) 80 25 2011
22 Kevin Pillar OF Blue Jays (AAA) 79 25
23 Steven Souza Jr. 3B/OF Nationals (AAA) 79 25
24 Johnny Giavotella 2B Royals (AAA) 79 26
25 Logan Morrison 1B Mariners (AAA) 76 26 2010
26 Mike O’Neill OF Cardinals (AA) 76 26
27 David Cooper 1B Indians (AAA) 74 27
28 Jace Peterson SS Padres (AAA) 74 24
29 Ramon Flores OF Yankees (AAA) 71 22
30 Ronald Torreyes 2B Astros (AAA) 70 21
31 Dario Pizzano DH/OF Mariners (AA) 70 23
32 Charlie Cutler C/DH Cubs (AA) 70 27
33 Tyler Holt OF Indians (AAA) 67 25
34 Cedric Hunter OF Braves (AA) 65 26
35 Austin Wates OF Astros (AAA) 64 25

Two-Seam vs. Four-Seam Fastball Groundball Rates

Yesterday, pulled some data for Eno Sarris on pitch type and groundball rates. He was looking for the average groundball rates for different pitch types. I stole a bit of the data and ran a query I have wanted to for a while: What is the average groundball rate difference for a pitcher who throws both two-seam and a four-seam fastball. For those who don’t know, a two-seam fastball has more movement than a four-season. And what I found was:

Pitchers will see a 9.5% point increase in their groundball rate when they throw their two-seam fastball compared to their four-seam fastball.

Grit Redefined?

I have used and written on grit in so many different ways over the years. My usage includes a stat to find gritty players and a fantasy league which had only grit based stats (e.g. hit-by-pitch and complete games). I have always considered grit to be “giving as close to 100%, 100% of the time” especially related to under talented players. Recently, I ran across the following definition of grit by Kyle McDonald which defines it differently:

the perseverance and passion required for long term goals.”

The first part, perseverance and passion, generally fits my implied grit definition. I see grit has a more short term trait. For example, McDonald says coaches and player state:

we need to be gritty” or “it was a gritty effort.”

Those statements do not seem like long term goals, they are more game based. When a coach says, “it was a gritty effort” after a game, there is no implication to the team working towards long term goals. Instead the coach is only talking about the game effort.

Also, the grit I know means physically going the extra yard by diving for a ball or playing through pain. By just using the author’s definition, a player like Miguel Cabrera can have the drive to achieve long term goals and is therefore gritty. I would not consider Cabrera to be gritty like Willie Bloomquist is considered to be. Am I off on my grit definition? Thoughts?

Two Views on Pre-Game Player Engagement

I have been slowly working my way through the Mental Game of Baseball. It focus’s on players being more into the game. The following book quote is on pre-game fielding ritual:

Infield

It seems the book authors and Ozzie Smith imply infielders should be concentrating 100% during pre-game practice.

The Diamondback Head Trainer, Ken Crenshaw, has taken a different philosophy to the pre-game ritual. It should be low stress and focus on player rest and recovery.

And for baseball, recovery is imperative.

“We want to create the environment where they can recover because the game is so monotonous and the repetitiveness of it all. We have a lot of different methods of rest and recovery that we focus on. It is one of the most important things that we do for our players.”

A baseball season is filled with many factors that can affect a player’s health. Travel, time-zone changes and changes in altitude are three things Crenshaw says “will really turn a player’s nervous system haywire if they are not careful.”

I am not sure which one is right. I am guessing it really depends on each player, but I am sure teams will either go fully engaged or not at all. Thoughts?