Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Optimism for Johan Santana

2012 proved to be quite the momentous year for Johan Santana. After missing the entire 2011 season following major shoulder surgery, the 33-year-old Venezuelan silenced critics with 5 shutout innings (and a no-decision) on Opening Day. While it wasn't a dominant start, El Gocho showed us that his stuff is effective at any velocity (his fastball in 2012 averaged 88.4mph, down from 89.6 in 2010) as he struck out five batters and escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth inning. 

In fact, Santana looked every bit the part of the ace the Mets lacked, averaging better than 6 innings per start and a 2.39 ERA through his first eleven starts. His eleventh start last year was especially significant. I don't want to be the one to tell you what happened, so I'll let Gary Cohen tell you here.

What immediately followed is, well, not so good. What you often hear is that Santana, well, stunk after that night. In the 10 starts that followed, Santana averaged under 5 innings / start and posted a Oliver Perez-esque 8.27 ERA. Because of this, the common theme is that Santana is now a question mark for 2013. But is he?

Let's look at some numbers [Note: "Pre" references starts up to and including June 1st, "Post" is everything after]

K/9, BB/9, K/BB, BABIP

Pre: 9.0, 2.78, 3.24, .259
Post: 7.90, 3.31, 2.39, .357

The biggest thing to note is that Santana's walk rate jumped 19%. The strikeout rate dropped 12% as well, but the 7.90/9 exactly matches his rate in 2009/10, so it isn't exactly a red flag. The most significant thing to note is the major increase in BABIP. Some of that is indicative of his struggles, but some does indicate some unfortunate regression (his career BABIP is .276). The numbers here do indeed indicate a major regression in his performance, but blanket statements here may be misleading. 

What is seemingly overlooked in analyzing his decline is the major ankle injury Santana suffered against Chicago on July 6th. I posit that this be used as the 'turning point' in Santana's season, and here's why (on a start by start basis):

June 8th, @NYY: 5IP, 7H, 6ER, 1BB, 5K
Santana certainly struggled against the Yankees here, but it was almost a perfect storm of factors that led to this. First, Johan was given an extra 2 days of rest which some argue threw off his schedule. Second (and perhaps, more importantly): Santana, who has always been a fly-ball pitcher (his career Ground-Ball rate is only 37.2%), started a game in a notorious home-run hitters' park, against a notorious home-run hitting team (the Yankees hit 245 home runs, breaking their own franchise record and totaling the 7th most all-time). Of the 10 balls put in play against Santana that day, 6 were hit in the air. 4 of them left the park.

June 14th, @TBR: 5IP, 6H, 4ER, 4BB, 6K
A sloppy start for Santana, in which he allowed 10 baserunners in 5 innings. That said, he did keep the ball in the yard. He did allow 1 fewer hit, and struck out an additional batter, but he walked three more than in his previous start. In all, an improvement. This wasn't a 'quality' start by any means, it is at least passable.

June 19, vs. BAL: 6IP, 4H, 0ER, 2BB, 5K
This was Santana's first 'good' start after the no hitter, and it came against a quality Balitmore Orioles team. He seemed to shake off his funk here, and it showed in his next few starts. 

June 25, @CHC: 6IP, 5H, 2ER, 3BB, 6K
Santana has thrown back-to-back quality starts, and seems to be getting back to where he was. His control was a bit shaky, giving up three walks, but he continued to have a good strikeout rate (22K in 22IP in these four starts, matching his pre-no-hitter rate), but the walks were definitely up (10BB/22IP). 

June 30, @LAD: 8IP, 3H, 0ER, 2BB, 3K
Not many strikeouts in this start, but very effective nonetheless. In fairness, it was against a depleted Dodgers lineup, but for Santana to go beyond 6 innings for the first time in a month was a good step forward. He was also much more efficient in this start, averaging just over 13 pitches per inning. He may not have been dominant (if you consider the low strikeout total) but he was about as close as it gets.

At this point, we can see that Santana was not nearly as bad after the no-hitter as we get told, he was still pretty good. His ERA in these five starts was 3.60 (12ER/30IP). Not great, but certainly respectable for someone supposedly 'worn out' following a 134-pitch no hitter following anterior capsule surgery (if you remove the start against the Yankees, his ERA in the other four was a paltry 2.19). His In his next start (vs. CHC), he started out fine (2ER in the first 4 innings, before having his ankle injured covering first base on a Reed Johnson groundout). After that moment, things turned for the much-much-much worse. In the 15 innings Santana would pitch following the injury, he gave up a total of 31(!) earned runs. 

Now, this is no guarantee that Santana will be in vintage form next year. What it is, however, is a theory - one at least as credible as any other - that Santana's ankle was the reason behind his decline. His shoulder, in the meantime, seemingly showed no long-term fatigue. Johan Santana can be fairly considered a variable going into next season. But he's a gamer, and has shown that he can work effectively with what he has. And many of us said these things a year ago. After seeing Santana pitch opening day this year, I'm willing to put my money on him going forward.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why the Pessimism Surrounding Ike Davis?

After an inconsistent 2012, many consider Ike Davis' future to be far cloudier than they did a year ago. Davis followed an impressive rookie campaign (.264/.351/.440, 19HR) with an excellent start to his sophomore season (.302/.383/.543, 7HR) that was cut short after only 149 plate appearances due to a freak ankle injury suffered on a pop up in Colorado.

After missing the last 126 games in 2011, Davis' health was further thrown into question after rumors surfaced of a valley fever infection. Ike (and Mets brass) insisted this would be a non-factor, and he finished spring training on a high note, homering in the Mets' final three spring games. 

Things would turn quickly south, however. It wasn't until his sixth game that Ike got his first hit of the season, and things did not pick up much after that. He showed flashes of his ability at times (he homered in 3 out of 4 games April 14th-18th), but largely seemed to be struggling. Those struggles were attributed to a combination of rust, his health, and his mental fortitude. Everything came to a head in early June, when the decision was made not to demote Davis; Sandy Alderson claimed that the first baseman would better benefit from hitting (or trying to) against Major League pitching. That was June 8th of this year. Perhaps coincidentally, things looked up for Ike Davis that very day.

Ike Davis on June 8th: .158/.234/.273, 5 HR
Ike Davis since June 8th: .263/.345/.560, 27 HR

Not only was Davis contributing again offensively, he became the player everyone hoped for. From June 8th to the end of the season, Davis' .905 OPS would lead all National League first basemen. His 32 home runs in 2012 were one shy of Adam LaRoche (who led NL first basemen in HR), and LaRoche had 63 more plate appearances. His 32 were tied for fourth overall in the NL (with Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran), and his 18.25 PA/HR was second in the National League, trailing only Ryan Braun. So the question here is, why so much uncertainty going forward?

1. Ike Davis has disparate platoon splits.

In 2012, Davis did show some bad splits, posting a .560 OPS vs. left-handed pitching compared to an .868 OPS vs. righties. His overall line vs. LHPs was .174/.225/.335, which is certainly nothing to hang his hat on. That said, that line on May 24th was .184/.200/.327. His OPS did ultimately improve, though his average dropped 10 points. Why bring this up? Well, looking back to the lines posted above, it shows that Davis managed a .905 OPS despite hitting so disparately. Frankly, were Davis able to do that over a full season, I doubt any Mets fans would complain (his turnaround stats, projected over all 584 of his 2012 PA's, would yield 41 home runs and 30 doubles against a respectable .263 batting average.

Further, Ike suffered from an abyssmal .193 BABIP against lefties (compared to a slightly-below-average .271 BABIP against righties), which suggests some room for progression to the mean, given his career mark of .277.  Also, worth noting, is Ike's .805 OPS against left-handed pitching as a rookie. Granted, this mark came against a rather high .388 BABIP (suggesting regression). Putting these two pieces of evidence together suggests Ike's true abilities lay somewhere in the middle. If he could manage an OPS between .650 and .700 against left-handed pitching, along with his consistent ability to hit right-handed pitching, Davis could develop into an elite first baseman in a league lacking them after both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder signed with American League ballclubs.

2. Ike Davis struggles against breaking pitches.

Again, this carries some credence, given that Ike saw curveballs or sliders on nearly 1/3 (31.6%) of all pitches he saw this year. Once again, I humbly (okay, okay. I do it smugly) point to the numbers above. I think that, while he may not fare exceptionally against them, he at least regained his ability to lay off breaking pitches out of the zone (his strikeout rate dropped a full 7% after June 8th).

In short, it seems foolish, to me, that people are now so unsure about the abilities of Ike Davis. The odds that his struggles could be attributed to being away from baseball for close to 10 months (as opposed to his abilities being 'exposed') seem likely. His distinct, and almost instant, change in June this year suggests that something specifically clicked again for him. His game in 2012 was not perfect, but the numbers suggest that there's a lot more positive to be taken than negative. Davis has shown the ability, in three separate, consecutive years, to be a top-notch power bat at first base. Don't insist on letting two months sway you, when the majority of evidence is stacked against them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 2012 Major League All-Mediocre Team!

In the spirit of awards season, I figured I should take a little time to recognize some of the outstanding performances of the 2012 major league season. But, everyone else has been doing that for months. So I'm gonna do something I find a little more fun. Which gives us:

The 2012 (First Annual!) Major League Baseball All-Mediocre Team!

In the interest of thoroughness, I've assembled not only a starting lineup, but a full 25-man roster!

First, some fun (and surprising) facts about this year's team:
- The 2012 MLB A-M Team earned $116,129,000 in payroll, which would represent the ninth-highest payroll in the MLB (6th in the AL, 4th in the NL).
- The team hit a combined 217 home runs in 2012, which would be second, behind only the New York Yankees.
- Using only RBI and ER as metrics, the all-mediocre team scored a whopping 846 runs, and allowed only 615, which would rank 1st and T-11th, respectively.
- 14 of the 25 players are in the American League (8 batters, 6 pitchers) compared to 11 in the National League (5 batters, 6 pitchers). 7/8 starting position players are from the AL.
- 17 teams are represented on this list. Atlanta, Chicago (AL), and Tampa Bay each have three representatives.

The rules for this were agreed upon by our all-star panel of judge, and are as follows:

Batters -

1. Using OPS+ measurements on Baseball-Reference, I've selected the players closest to an even 100, representing the league average.

2. Players listed must have qualified for the Major League batting title*, and can only be represented in their primary position (Hanley Ramirez, for example, would thus be ineligible at Shortstop this season).

*Based on the taxing nature of the position, the Plate Appearance minimum for Catchers is 400, instead of the necessary 502.

3. Because we're shooting for mediocrity here, those below 100 are selected over those equally above 100 (i.e. someone with a 98 OPS+ would be selected over someone with a 102 OPS+).

4. Also in the spirit of mediocrity, candidates who were closest to 100 overall were selected (i.e. someone with a 103 OPS+ would be selected over someone with a 96 OPS+).

5. In the event of a tie, salary was the next tiebreaker. What better gauge of mediocrity than the underwhelming bang for your buck?


Catcher - Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers - 100 OPS+
9HR, 48RBI

First Base - Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays - 94 OPS+
19HR, 61RBI

Second Base - Marco Scutaro, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants - 99 OPS+
3HR, 44RBI

Third Base - Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox - 99 OPS+
19HR, 60RBI

Shortstop - Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals - 98 OPS+
5HR, 52RBI

Left Field - Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays - 97 OPS+
13HR, 47RBI

Center Field - Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves - 99 OPS+
9HR, 57RBI

Right Field - Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers - 101 OPS+
24HR, 90RBI


Dan Uggla, 2B Atlanta Braves -- 98 OPS+
19HR, 78RBI

Jimmy Rollins, SS Philadelphia Phillies -- 98 OPS+
23HR, 68RBI

Hunter Pence, RF Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants -- 103 OPS+
24HR, 104RBI

Dayan Viciedo, LF/IF Chicago White Sox -- 96 OPS+
25HR, 78RBI

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox -- 95 OPS+
25HR, 59RBI

Pitchers -

1. Using ERA+ measurements on Baseball-Reference, I've selected the players closest to an even 100, representing the league average

2. Starting pitchers must have qualified for the ERA title; Relief Pitchers must have pitched a minimum of 50 innings.

3 - 5 are the same as above, substituting ERA+ for OPS+ as necessary.


Starting Rotation:

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays -- 100 ERA+
177.1 IP, 3.81 ERA
2.16 K/BB, 1.348 WHIP

C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels -- 99 ERA+
202.1 IP, 3.83 ERA
1.90 K/BB, 1.344 WHIP

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees -- 99 ERA+
191.1 IP, 4.23 ERA
3.59 K/BB, 1.265 WHIP

Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox -- 101 ERA+
168 IP, 4.29 ERA
2.29 K/BB, 1.363 WHIP

Edwin Jackson, Washington Nationals -- 98 ERA+
189.2 IP, 4.03 ERA
2.90 K/BB, 1.218 WHIP


Ryan Webb, Miami Marlins -- 99 ERA+
60.1 IP, 4.03 ERA
2.20 K/BB, 1.525 WHIP

Jamey Wright, Los Angeles Dodgers -- 102 ERA+
67.2 IP, 3.72 ERA
1.80 K/BB, 1.507 WHIP

Vicente Padilla, Boston Red Sox -- 97 ERA+
50 IP, 4.50 ERA
3.40 K/BB, 1.480 WHIP

Brad Brach, San Diego Padres -- 97 ERA+
66.2 IP, 3.78 ERA
2.27 K/BB, 1.245 WHIP

Cristhian Martinez, Atlanta Braves -- 103 ERA+
73.2 IP, 3.91 ERA
3.42 K/BB, 1.344 WHIP

Chris Resop, Pittsburgh Pirates -- 96 ERA+
73.2 IP, 3.91 ERA
1.92 K/BB, 1.425 WHIP

Steve Delabar, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays -- 105 ERA+
66 IP, 3.82 ERA
3.54 K/BB, 1.091 WHIP

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Should the Mets pay Scott Hairston? I say yes.

Scott Hairston had a career year in 2012, hitting 20 home runs and posting a career-high .803 OPS+. Conservatively speaking, he outplayed his $1.1 Million salary. Hairston's play will certainly earn him a notable raise this offseason, with many saying he's priced himself out of the Mets' wallet. For that reason, this post may be a bit naive/unnecessary. However, let's consider for a bit that Hairston were willing to sign a team-friendly contract.

Hairston hit .263/.299/.504 this year, which is an improvement to his career marks (.247/.302/.449), but not so much so as to suggest anomaly. He hit .286/.317/.550 against left-handed pitching, again not far from his .276/.325/.500 career marks. His .229/.288/.416 line against right-handed pitching suggests that he would be an ideal fit in a platoon, which could be a deterrent. The Mets, however, have a plethora of Lefty-batting outfielders with large platoon splits, all of whom are under team control and making Major-League minimum salaries. 2013 will likely feature an outfield starting Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Mike Baxter against right-handed pitching. Jason Bay will likely patrol Left Field against lefty-pitching. Having a veteran like Hairston to platoon with Kirk and/or Baxter would significantly improve the outfield offense, which has been targeted as a significant need this offseason.

For simplicity's sake, let's consider a strict platoon of Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston in right field next year. In 2012, Mikescott Baxston hit .287/.335/.504 in 388 plate appearances. Compare that to:

Nick Swisher - .272/.364/.473, 624 PA ($10,250,000)
Carlos Beltran - .269/.346/.495, 619 PA ($13,000,000)
Jayson Werth - .300/.387/.440, 344 PA ($13,000,000)
Josh Hamilton - .285/.354/.577, 636 PA ($13,750,000)

Baxston likely won't turn any heads, nor would he be lauded as a major victory for Sandy Alderson. However, it's a quiet move that could shore up a position of need, and do so relatively inexpensively. Compared to the short list above, would offering Hairston a 2-year, $9M contract not be unreasonable?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Quest For .500!

As of me writing this, the Mets are 50-53 on the curtails of a miserable 3-13 performance since the All-Star Break. They've scored 467 runs (putting them on pace for 734, or 16 runs more than in 2011)  and have allowed 476 runs (putting them on pace for 748, or 6 more than in 2011). They were 52-51 at this point last year, in the midst of a 5-game winning streak that started in game 102 (This year's Mets are in the midst of a current 2-game win streak that started in game 102).

Enough comparisons to last year. What I'm looking to do right now, is try and project where the Amazin's end up. Using Math!

The Mets have 59 games left. The winning percentage of their opponents in those remaining games is .491, which is slightly above the Mets' current percentage of .485. This is a little misleading, however.  28 of their remaining games come against teams over .500, who share a winning percentage of .568. The other 31 come against teams below .500, who share a winning percentage of .414.

Those are magic numbers: 31 and 28. A 31-28 record down the stretch yields an 81-81 record, which the Mets haven't achieved since 2008, when they went 89-73.

It can't be that simple though. Certainly, the Mets aren't going to win every game against the inferior competition, and lose every game against a winning team. So how likely *is* 31-28 from here?

Thanks to Baseball-Reference, I was able to get a breakdown of not only the Mets remaining schedule, but the number of remaining games against each, and how they've fared so far against each team. I broke all this down into this table:

Looking at this, we see that this (simple) model projects the Mets to go .... 30.638-28.362 from here! In a sense, it's fair and reasonable to say the Mets will finish very close to .500 this year. But that's also a rather simple way to look at it.

In my opinion, 31-28 represents neither the best nor worst case scenario, but a fair middle ground. Arguments can be made in either direction.


The Phillies have traded away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
The Marlins have traded away Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, and Anibal Sanchez (among others).

These two teams have arguably gotten worse since they've last played the Mets, and they represent 18 of the Mets remaining games. Based solely on their current head-to-head records, they project to go 12-6 in those games. Given the above changes, outpacing that projection isn't unreasonable.

The model above suggests that, because the Mets were swept in Houston, they won't win another game. I'm not a betting man, but if I were I would think it fair to say the Mets will take at least one of three.

Of the sub-.500 teams the Mets play going forward, only one (Miami) is within eight games of .500. After that, it's Milwaukee (-10), Philadelphia (-12), San Diego (-16), Colorado (-26), and Houston (-34). All of these teams have significant issues, and represent a prime opportunity for the Mets to fatten their record.

They also have left room for improvement against some opponents. The Mets have gone 4-17 against Cincinnati and Washington this year, and with 9 games remaining can look to improve upon that. If they even go a paltry 3-6 in those games, it represents a net gain against the projection.

The opportunity for internal improvement. It's no secret that the bullpen has been, well, terrible. But there are some bright spots - Josh Edgin has pitched great, giving up only a single earned run since his ML debut, and sporting a gaudy 16.2 K/9. Jon Rauch has quietly been solid, with a 1.32 ERA in his last 18 appearances (2ER/13.2IP). He struggled between mid-May and early June, but he has a 2.17 ERA otherwise to go along with his career best 1.062 WHIP.

On offense, Ike Davis' consistent resurgence has turned first base into a position of strength. His 20 home runs lead all players from the position, and his ability to hit somewhat competently against lefties has allowed additional flexibility for Terry Collins. Similarly, the improvement of players like Andres Torres and the out-of-nowhere-mashing of Scott Hairston both bode well for this team.


Their pitching. The bullpen has struggled. And struggled. And struggled. They could improve as the season wears on, but it's unlikely that they will make significant strides. The starting pitching has also been shaky lately, and plenty of uncertainty surrounds the vacancies left by Dillon Gee and Johan Santana. Can the Mets win with Hefner filling in? Is Matt Harvey as good as he looked? The jury is out right now, but these are questions that need answers soon, before it's too late.

The rest of the offense. The Mets are getting almost nothing from their outfield, outside Scott Hairston. Jason Bay is still lost, Andres Torres' OBP is high, but his .320 SLG undoes the bulk of that. Mike Baxter's return offers a glimmer of hope and solidifies a potential platoon in left field, but that leaves the Mets with, at most, 1.5 effective outfielders at any moment. The infield (Davis/Murphy/Wright/Tejada) has been collectively solid of late, but it's going to continue to hurt the Mets when 5-9 in the batting order are dragging.

Emotions. The Mets' last homestand saw the wheels fall off the wagon, and then the wagon combusted, and then the ashes threw a hanging curveball to Matt Kemp. The Mets have been, by most admissions, playing better than their talent would suggest. When their long-touted locker room chemistry began to lull, things just got worse. Pedro Beato's demotion is a step in the right direction, but after three terrible weeks it leaves one to wonder if they can regain the feel-good vibe from the spring.

The Mets had a .544 winning percentage in April, May, and June. They're .292 going into their last game in July. The level of competition going forward suggests that they could go either way. If they play the way they have so far this season, .500 is attainable. If they catch a few breaks, they could end up better than that. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A look at Wins Above Replacement: Ruben Tejada

When Ruben Tejada has been healthy, he's been a very good shortstop. So good, in fact, that Mets fans have begun to forget about the guy who used to play shortstop for them. See? Forgotten.

The old guy is currently hitting .264/.336/.378, with 22 RBI and 27 XBH in 384 PA's. 
The new guy is currently hitting .325/.381/.405 with 12 RBI and 13 XBH in 182 PA's. 

Though a smaller sample size, it's not very tough to see who's doing better at the plate. But let's make two further comparisons:

FIRST: How does Tejada at 22 compare to the old guy at 22?

Well, he won't play more games, because Jose (Who-se?) Reyes appeared in a career high 161 at age 22. In those games (733 PA's), he hit .273/.300/.386, with 58 RBI and 60(!) stolen bases. It is important to note here that many SABRmetricians discount the value of steals (an opinion I share. Argument: The Mets stole 130 bases last year, and scored 718 runs. They're on pace to steal 85 this year, and score 742, their highest total in five years). Anyway...

The people who spend their time collecting all these stats so people like me can whine about them have come up with a stat called Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which basically sums up the overall value of a player. The nice thing about it is that you can use it to compare seasons and careers of multiple players; its formulated to be consistent and comparable from year to year, and, to a limited extent, from position to position (If someone is a 5 WAR second baseman, it doesn't really hold that they would be a 5 WAR center fielder. Also, it isn't necessarily fair to say that a 4.0 WAR first baseman is a better or more valuable player than a 3.7 WAR shortstop, as first base is the far-easier defensive position). Also, it's important to note that WAR is a "counting" statistic; it doesn't fluctuate like batting average. It accumulates or subtracts based on a player's performance relative to "replacement-level". In other words, for a player's WAR to decrease, they would have to play worse than replacement-level.

There are two primary sources for WAR: Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Each site calculates it somewhat differently, so someone's WAR on Fangraphs (denoted fWAR) wouldn't compare directly to someone's WAR on Baseball-Reference (denoted rWAR). You can find more information on how they're calculated on their respective sites.

Jose Reyes' age 22 season earned him a 1.4 rWAR and a 2.3 fWAR. Ruben Tejada has a 1.6 rWAR and a 1.3 fWAR this year. According to Baseball-Reference, Tejada's play in 41 games alone contributes more value to the Mets' success this year than Jose Reyes' play in 161 games did in 2005! On Fangraphs it isn't yet, but Tejada is certainly on the pace to top Reyes' season. To provide a closer comparison, however, I'm going to modify these a little bit. I'm going to call this "Marginal WAR", or MfWAR and MrWAR. I'm going to do this by dividing their WAR by plate appearances, to calculate how valuable each player is on a direct proportion to playing time.

Jose Reyes:
MfWAR: 0.00314
MrWAR: 0.00191

Ruben Tejada:
MfWAR: 0.00714
MrWAR: 0.00879

Depending on which site you use, Ruben Tejada has been between 2.27 and 4.6 times more valuable than Jose Reyes on a per-plate-appearance level (NOTE: This does not mean that each Ruben Tejada plate appearance is so much more valuable than one from Reyes. I chose to use PA's as I feel they best represent a player's portion of offensive and defensive playing time.) Were Tejada to play at this level for an entire season, it would translate to roughly 5.5-6.0 rWAR (Baseball-Reference defines 6.0+ as "all-star"). Is this sufficient to say that Tejada is an all-star caliber short stop? Certainly not in itself, though it does provide a good context about his level of play. 

To consider his "all-star" eligibility, we should look at how he stacks up to other major league shortstops. Which brings us to...

SECOND: How does Tejada compare to other MLB Shortstops in 2012?

Ruben Tejada is currently the second-youngest everyday shortstop in the major leagues (He is older than Starlin Castro of the Cubs. He is also older than Atlanta's opening-day shortstop, Tyler Pastornicky, who last appeared as a pinch runner on May 30th and has been replaced by Andrelton Simmons.) Tejada presently ranks 14th in fWAR (tied with Jose Reyes and Alcides Escobar) and 9th in fWAR (tied with Zack Cosart) in the MLB. (Fun Fact: both sites rank him above Derek Jeter!). However, in both cases, the bulk of players above him have played significantly more. So, for fun's sake, let's break down the top 15 players on each scale by Marginal WAR:

(Click to enlarge)

[NOTE: National League shortstops are in bold, American League shortstops are italicized]

We can draw two quick and dirty conclusions from this chart:

1. The two sites do show inconsistency in their grading of shortstops. Troy Tulowitzki, for example, fails to even show up in the Baseball-Reference list.

2. Though his playing time has been limited, Ruben Tejada has the second-highest MbWAR and fifth-highest MfWAR among NL shortstops.

Certainly due to the uncertainties of baseball, and to his level of inexperience, it's unfair to use this data to say that Tejada is an all-star caliber shortstop. However, it does seem fair to say that Tejada, when on the field, has certainly played like one. Let's hope that it's a trend that continues, because he looks to be headed for a bright and prosperous future.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ike Davis is Once Again a Cromulent First Baseman

In honor of Ike Davis raising his batting average over the Mendoza Line for the first time this season, I decided it would be fitting to do a post about his recent hot streak, and his season as a whole.

Through 76 games, Ike has hit .201/.281/.376 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 41 RBI. When his "hot streak" began, he was hitting .166/.244/.276, with six doubles, five home runs, and 21 RBI. Let's look at what he's done since, with a bit of context:

In 149 plate appearances last year (which many considered to resemble a potential All-Star year), Ike Davis hit .302/.383/.583, with eight doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 25 RBI.  

Over his last 55 plate appearances, Ike has hit a whopping .347/.418/.755, with five doubles, five home runs, and 21 RBI. In the past 15 games (13 starts), Ike has pretty much matched what he did in 36 "breakout" games last season.

I think we can have a little confidence in Ike's "return".