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:


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?

Updates – New Leaderboards and Release Point Variance

A few updates got finished today (more on the way). Thanks to Darrell for doing the coding. Let us know if anything looks wrong.

New leaderboards

For Hitters:

For Pitchers:

Additionally, total and vertical release point variance with baselines were added to the pitcher injury factors output.

Player Makeup Important for Baseball Prospects

I just got done re-reading one of the best articles on scouting called Best Tools (link). It contains some amazing information from actual scouts on what they are looking for in a prospect’s makeup. With so many prospects equally matched in talent, makeup plays a huge role in deciding who gets scholarships and/or draft and who doesn’t.

First, I just can’t rightfully cut and paste a whole section of the article, so the Scouting Makeup section (about 2/3 of the way down) should be read in full. It is a great how-to on what to and not to do on and off the field. Here are some quotes from the section.

I’m going to go talk to the bus driver, I’m going to go talk to the cafeteria lady, I’m going to talk to the janitor—the people who are around the kid the most but have no horse in the race and find out exactly what this kid is all about.


Obviously there’s always exceptions, but the good students, from a scouting perspective, are going to be able to retain instruction and figure it out.


Every guy, whatever the story is behind them, is going to hit a tough spot and you want to see how he’s going to deal with adversity, so hopefully you do see him in some sort of spot in a game where you can figure out if he’s going to rise to it or if he’s going to shrink from the moment. You see how the guy interacts with his teammates and you talk to his coaches to see what kind of work ethic the player has.

Besides the entire section on makeup here are some notable quotes from the infield defense section.

You want to get there early and watch him take groundballs and infield practice. While they’re taking batting practice, see how he shags them off the bat—if he does shag them off the bat. Maybe he’s the type of guy that doesn’t do that. That tells you a little bit about the guy, too. But maybe he’s power shagging out there, taking all kinds of balls off the bat in the infield or outfield. And then, of course during the infield practice, you really bear down on him to look at his instincts and his actions and his range and his arm strength to get a feel for the glove.


What I don’t like as a scout is when the infielders just half-ass the ball over to first and don’t show any arm strength. We’ve got to see the arm strength. When we don’t see it, we have to project it.

Every potential prospect needs to understand they are being looked at under a microscope and the little things will make a huge difference on which players will be offered college scholarships and/or drafted.

High Walk Rate Aging Curve

Over at, MGL asks if the following statement is true.

“Of all of the skills to sign up for past a players prime, however, plate discipline is probably the best one.”

I decided to create an wRC+ aging curve of high walk players.  I know the quote is for high plate discipline, but I am not sure how exactly plate discipline should be defined. The article focused on Shin-Soo Choo, so I waned to players with similar walk rates. Over the past three seasons (age 28 to 30 seasons), Choo has walked (NIBB) 12% of the time. So for the curve, I used players since 1980 who had less than or greater than a 10% walk rate between their age 28 and 30 seaons (min 300 PA).

While the high walk players plateau sooner, they begin to decline at the same rate around age 28. High walk players don’t really age any better than lower walk players.

Cano Contract Success Rates

Just a quick take here. Cano has 19 fWAR over the past 3 seasons. Since 1970, 16 players have had between 17 and 21 WAR.  Three are still playing, Zobrist, A-Rod and Matt Holliday. Here is how the rest of them performed.

Name Total WAR PA Last Seaon Total Seasons
Chipper Jones 39.8 5203 2012 10
Rickey Henderson 37.7 5452 1999 10
Brian Giles 28.6 4814 2009 8
Rod Carew 28.4 4915 1985 9
Tony Perez 24.4 5420 1982 10
Carlton Fisk 23.9 4657 1988 10
Mike Piazza 19.6 3670 2007 8
John Olerud 16.3 3356 2005 6
Todd Helton 15.4 4652 2013 9
Alan Trammell 15.3 2904 1996 8
George Foster 12.8 3744 1986 7
Devon White 12.4 3572 2001 8
Andruw Jones 2.5 1388 2012 5
Alex Rodriguez 29.8 3570 2013 7
Matt Holliday 14.0 1806 2013 3
Ben Zobrist 11.3 1366 2013 2

Using 10 years, $240M, $6.5M/WAR, 5% inflation in my contract calculator, I have Cano needing to produce 30 WAR for the Mariners to break even on the contract. Here are the possible chances of the contract vs his possible results:

Contract vs Results Success Rate
> Value 15.4%
At value 15.4%
75% to 100% 15.4%
50% to 75% 30.8%
<50% 23.1%

Truthfully, I expected worse.

Doug Fister Injury Risk

David Laurila stated the following about the Doug Fister to the Nationals trade.

I responded to his tweet with any possible injury factors, but I wanted to go into more detail here. I examined as many factors I have seen with other injured pitchers (declining velocity) and I could only find two possible indicators, inconsistent release points and low Zone%. Both of them are relatively small and shouldn’t be a deterrent to trading for Fister.

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