Julien's Faster than Light Blog

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Saturday, March 20, 2004
who are these people?
they're prospects!

27. jeff francoeur, 20, of, braves

there was a time when i trumpeted the glory of the scientist. but now i am much more impressed by those who know.

francoeur has power, contact, and a little speed. he needs to improve his patience. if i had known about him, i would have put him at 32, between gonzalez and crosby.

36. kyle sleeth, 23, p, tigers

a great dinger-shunner in the homer-happy ncaa, kyle excelled in a tough conference. however, he may not have the strikeouts required to make it to the top.

37. sergio santos, 21, ss, diamondbacks

i'm assuming he's a great defender, because there's nothing that suggests he can hit.

38. john van benschoten, 24, p, pirates

low home runs, low strikeouts.

39. hanley ramirez, 21, ss, red sox

decent contact, decent power, fast. i'd probably put him in the 40's.

44. jeff allison, 20, p, marlins

his professional record tells us nothing. high school numbers are fun: in 63.2 innings, jeff struck out 142 and walked 9. his era was 0.14. i wouldn't rank him this year, but i bet i will next year.

47. blake hawksworth, 21, p, cardinals

blake threw 86.2 innings innings last year, and only allowed 2 home runs. strikeouts will be a challenge.

48. brad nelson, 21, ??, ??

there are two brad nelsons, and they're the same age. maybe they figured if either one made it, they could take credit. neither of them will.

50. taylor bucholz, 23, p, astros

he looks like a little kid in the picture, but he's 6'4", 225. there's nothing in his numbers. don't tell him i said that.

53. jeremy guthrie, 25, p, indians

0 hr in 62.2 innings in akron, then he got rocked in buffalo. not gonna make it.

55. kris honel, 22, p, white sox

he's probably a smart player, but his arm is nothing special.

56. justin jones, 20, lefty, cubs

lots of strikeouts, very few home runs. keep an eye on him.

57. ian stewart, 19, 3b-l, rockies

good power in the pioneer league. needs work with contact.

58. clint everts, 20, p, expos

nothing special yet. we'll see.

59. denny bautista, 22, p, marlins

61 strikeouts in 53.1 innings for the carolina mudcats, but also 35 walks, 5 hr.

60. michael hinckley, 22, lefty, expos

decent home run limitation. could have lefty mojo.

63. travis blackley, 22, lefty, mariners

too many walks, not enough strikeouts. (ag 36)

65. ryan harvey, ??, of, ??

there are two ryan harveys. one of them is 25 and can't hit in the sally league. the other was the sixth pick of the 2003 draft. in the arizona league, he struck out 21 times in 51 at-bats.

66. jd durbin, 22, p, twins

he may not have major-league stuff, but he'll always have 2002 with the quad city river bandits.

67. scott olsen, 20, lefty, marlins

lefty mojo. needs control.

68. chris lubanski, 19, of-l, royals

in his first year in the minors, he struck out a bunch.

69. manuel parra, 22, lefty, brewers

pretty good control, but he must increase the mojo.

71. alberto callaspo, 21, 2b, angels

good patience, great contact. a rare combination. must increase the power. i like his chances.

75. bubba nelson, 23, p, braves

lots of strikeouts at low levels, but control is a problem.

76. fausto carmona, 21, p, indians

in 2003 he made a deal with the devil, and went 17-4 with a 2.06 era.

77. andy sisco, 21, lefty, cubs

don't you love it when i say lefty mojo? you have no idea what i'm talking about, do you?

80. john danks, 19, lefty, rangers

22 strikeouts in 13 innings in the arizona league, followed by 13 strikeouts in 12 innings in the northwest league.

81. matt moses, 19, 3b-l, twins

65 at-bats in the gulf coast league, with 9 strikeouts and 6 extra-base hits.

82. dan meyer, 23, lefty, braves

158 strikeouts in 160 innings last year, with 32 walks and 13 home runs.

83. dustin nippert, 23, p, diamondbacks

96 strikeouts in 95.2 innings, with 32 walks and 4 home runs.

84. mike jones, 21, p, brewers

63 strikeouts in 97.2 innings, with 47 walks and 4 home runs.

85. felix pie, 19, of-l, cubs

borderline ability in patience, contact, power, and speed. i'd trade for him.

86. lastings milledge, 19, of, mets

ask me next year.

87. francisco rosario, 24, p, blue jays

143 strikeouts in 129.2 innings, with 39 walks and 8 home runs.

88. matt peterson, ??, ??, mets

too much information.

90. nick markakis, 21, of-l, orioles

33 strikeouts in 205 at-bats, with 18 extra-base hits and 30 walks. so far, so good.

91. matthew cain, 20, p, giants

90 strikeouts in 74 innings, with 24 walks and 5 home runs.

92. bobby brownlie, ??, p, cubs

59 strikeouts in 66 innings, with 24 walks and 2 home runs. not sure which hand he throws with.

93. jeff francis, 23, lefty, rockies

153 strikeouts in 160.2 innings, with 45 walks and 8 home runs.

94. jayson nix, 22, if, rockies

131 strikeouts in 562 at-bats, with 54 walks and 67 extra-base hits.

95. joey gathright, 22, of-l, devil rays

69 strikeouts in 425 at-bats, with 46 walks and 10 extra-base hits. that's right, he's a slap-and-run speedster! he stole 69 bases. he'll be on major-league rosters.

96. aaron hill,

i'd tell you about him, but the baseball cube shut down.

97. bryan bullington, 24, p, pirates

113 strikeouts in 142.2 innings, with 38 walks and 8 home runs.

98. brent clevlen,

99. jake dittier,

100. jason lane, 28, of, astros

wow, he beat the crap out of the ball in the minors. but he struck out a lot. then last year he really reduced his strikeouts. there was some power loss, but it wasn't terrible. he may yet make it.
the joy of google
as you've probably noticed, most of the names in my top 50 prospect list are taken from lists by baseball prospectus and aaron gleeman. imagine my delight when i discovered, among other lists, the baseball america top 100! here are the guys i haven't talked about:

13. adam loewen, 24, lefty, orioles

adam went to chipola junior college, where he was a 900-lb gorilla. then he jumped directly to a-ball and performed well.

if you're me, you're sitting there going ". . . high school . . . then one year of college . . . then pro ball in the same year . . . how the hell is he 24 (in april)?"

the answer is the whalley chiefs. in 2002, he had a 0.27 era with 90 strikeouts in 52 innings.

then you find out that he was 17 in 2001, and you realize that the toronto star fucked up.

i was gonna say he's too old to be that far from the majors, but now i gotta say something else.

go get em, kid. the world is yours.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
congratulations, boy, you've made it!
aaron gleeman's getting seriously playa-hated on baseball primer. it gets good around message 50.

found the link on futility infielder.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
top 50 prospects
many are called. few are chosen:

1. alexis rios, 23, cf, blue jays

he hits, hits, runs, fields, and throws. what else do you want? he turns it on in june, makes the jays by the end of the year, and starts in 2005. next to vernon wells. (bp 15 ag 17 ba 6)

2. prince fielder, 20, 1b-l, brewers

he hits, hits, hits, hits, and hits. gonna make poppa proud. (bp 4 ag 10 ba 10)

3. scott kazmir, 20, lefty, mets

must get a handle on control, but he's got the stuff. (bp 12 ag 8)

4. rickie weeks, 22, 2b, brewers

does everything, and does it well. (bp 9 ag 3 ba 5)

5. cole hamels, 21, lefty, phillies

destroyed the sally league. not stopping there. (bp 21 ag 7)

6. guillermo quiroz, 23, c, blue jays

things are looking good for the jays. this kid crushes the ball. (bp 17 ag 27)

7. jeff mathis, 21, c, angels

young and strong. hits it hard. (bp 18 ag 9)

8. casey kotchman, 21, 1b-l, angels

great talent. will progress quickly. (bp 14 ag 14)

9. jeremy reed, 23, of-l, white sox

contact, speed, power. cup of coffee this year, job in the show by the end of 2005. unfortunately, his team will suck. (bp 2 ag 4)

10. ryan wagner, 22, p, reds

set the ncaa record for strikeouts per nine last year. also struck out 25 major-leaguers (21.2 ip). (bp 16 ag 21)

11. david wright, 22, 3b, mets

he'll take his time, but he'll kill the ball along the way. (bp 5 ag 16)

12. jj hardy, 22, ss, brewers

triple happiness for the brew crew. good contact, decent power. ready in 2005. (bp 20 ag 29)

13. edwin jackson, 21, p, dodgers

throws hard. needs more control. everybody loves him. (bp 6 ag 11 ba 4)

14. grady sizemore, 22, of-l, indians

all the tools. believe in the indians. (bp 24 ag 22 ba 9)

15. dioner navarro, 20, c-s, yankees

the yankees have a prospect? you're damn right they do. (bp 30 ag 18)

16. kevin youkilis, 25, 3b, red sox

obp is still the most important thing in the game. (bp hm ag 40)

17. david dejesus, 25, cf-l, royals

injury in 2001 slowed his progress. patience, contact, power, speed. ready for the majors. (bp 26 ag 38)

18. joe mauer, 21, c-l, twins

he's got everything except power, which he's got time to develop. should have a long career. (bp 1 ag 1 ba 1)

19. delmon young, 19, of, devil rays

gotta put him somewhere. (bp 31 ag 30 ba 3)

20. greg miller, 20, lefty, dodgers

it's a hunch, but i think his shoulder surgery will turn out fine. he has what the kids call stuff. (bp 33 ba 8)

21. justin morneau, 23, 1b-l, twins

had some contact problems last year, but he'll work it out. (bp 11 ag 12)

22. andy marte, 21, 3b, braves

he'll have growing pains, but i think he'll make it. (bp 3 ag 5)

23. clint nageotte, 24, p, mariners

he's big and strong. he's got it goin on. yo clint, you're dead wrong. (bp 38 ag 39)

24. bj upton, 20, ss, devil rays

like mauer, an easy guy to overrate. he plays good defense, runs fast, and has potential with both contact and power. but he's got work to do. (bp 8 ag 2 ba 2)

25. bobby jenks, 23, p, angels

wild and crazy. should make a good reliever. (bp 45)

26. dustin mcgowan, 22, p, blue jays

in 2003, he allowed 1 hr in 75.2 ip in dunedin, then 1 hr in 76.2 ip in new haven. and he struck out 138 people. (bp 23 ag 26)

27. felix hernandez, 18, p, mariners

struck out 73 in 55 innings in the northwest league. (ag 25)

28. jesse crain, 23, p, twins

no home runs allowed in 111.2 professional innings. also 143 strikeouts. (ag 34)

29. edwin encarnacion, 21, 3b, reds

has power. working on contact. (bp 34)

30. joel zumaya, 20, p, tigers

172 strikeouts in 127.2 innings. granted, it's low a-ball, but i think it's safe to say he'll be in a major-league bullpen one day. (ag 49)

31. adrian gonzalez, 22, 1b-l, rangers

showed power in 2001--2002; worked on contact in 2003. he's got time to put it together. (bp hm)

32. bobby crosby, 24, ss, a's

defense. speed. power. what's he missing? contact! he'll swing and miss a lot this year. (bp 13 ag 6)

33. jeremy hermida, 20, of-l, marlins

runs real fast. bats left-handed. needs more contact. needs more power. (bp 46)

34. michael aubrey, 22, 1b-l, indians

skipped rookie ball and mashed. regular in 2006. (ag 35)

35. jose lopez, 21, ss, mariners

the rangers are fucked! all three division opponents are better than them for the foreseeable future. this guy has good contact and developing power. he'll be a shortstop or a second baseman or a third baseman or an outfielder. (ag 45)

36. joe blanton, 24, p, a's

knows how to pitch. does he got the stuff? good shot as a reliever. (bp 41 ag 15)

37. chin-hui tsao, 23, p, rockes

i feel for this kid. he's got what it takes, but colorado can kill any pitcher. if he throws strikes and shakes off the dongs, he'll be alright. (bp 27)

38. khalil greene, 25, ss, padres

like crosby, he has trouble with contact, and he's in an extreme pitcher's park. the padres are gonna learn to appreciate ramon vazquez. (bp 28 ag 32)

39. john maine, 23, p, orioles

struck out 108 batters in 76.1 innings last year for the delmarva shorebirds. (ag 24)

40. chad gaudin, 21, p, devil rays

23 strikeouts and 16 walks last year in 40 innings for tampa bay, of the american league. good luck, chad! (bp hm)

41. james loney, 20, of-l, dodgers

he's young. he's got a good shot. (bp 25 ag 37)

42. zack greinke, 21, p, royals

it's great that he's poised. and dedicated to self-improvement. but you gotta have stuff to pitch in the majors. (bp 7 ag 13)

43. david bush, 25, p, blue jays

he has the control. if he continues to limit home runs, and maintains his strikeout rate, he's got a shot. (bp 39 ag 42)

44. adam wainwright, 23, p, cardinals

a wainwright is one who repairs carriages. this one has ok stuff, decent control, and decent home run limitation. if he keeps it together he could be a back-of-the rotation starter one day. (bp 43 ag 31)

45. brendan harris, 24, 2b/3b, cubs

brendan can hit pretty good. with a little more improvement, he'll make it. (bp hm)

46. merkin valdez, 23, p, giants

166 strikeouts in 156 innings for hagerstown last year. keep it up, merkin! (bp hm)

47. jeremy brown, 25, c, a's

the star of the famous moneyball draft, jeremy was everyone's favorite after a .310/.444/.545 performance in visalia. but what they didn't consider was that he struck out 26% of the time. he moved up a level, went .275/.388/.391, and everyone took him off their lists. but his strikeouts decreased to 16%. if he can consolidate his skills, he'll play in oakland.

48. matt riley, 25, p, orioles

an arm injury killed his 2001 season, but he seems to be fully recovered. he has just enough to make it. (bp 29 ag 48)

49. scott hairston, 24, 2b, diamondbacks

he hits the ball hard but with his contact he's a ways away. (bp 44 ag 28)

50. chris snelling, 23, of-l, mariners

our last prospect on the list is a guy who realized his dream only to lose it to a nasty knee injury. he's still young. here's hoping he gets it back. (bp 35)

well, that's it. it gets pretty arbitrary at this point, and you gotta stop somewhere. players who just missed the cut include ervin santana, russ adams, sean burnett, and franklin gutierrez.

now, take this knowledge and destroy your enemies. if one person---just one person---absolutely mercilessly destroys her opponents, then this was all worthwhile.
pinch the major leagues
nobody wears green! is this a conspiracy? the brewers used to, didn't they? a little?

oakland. that's it. there's some greenish teal-y bullshit, but that doesn't count.

pinch everyone but the a's.
turn this mutha out
let's do this.


49. gavin floyd, 21, p, phillies

he's young. balanced skills, nothing spectacular. we'll see.

50. charlie zink, 25, p, red sox

i really don't get this one. maybe he's a knuckleballer or something.

honorable mentions

chad gaudin (devil rays) made the show at age 20 and didn't get killed. seems to be able to keep the ball in the park.

adrian gonzalez (rangers) is a 22-year-old left-handed hitter who has a very good shot. he killed the ball in 2001--2002 before completely losing his power last year. i don't know what happened, but you gotta figure it'll come back.

angel guzman (cubs) is a 23-year-old pitcher with balanced skills. if he makes it, it'll probably be as a reliever.

brendan harris (cubs) is a 24-year-old 2b/3b with decent contact and decent power. he can hit but if defense is a problem that could hold him back.

justin huber (mets) is a 22-year-old catcher who strikes out way too much. he's got a lot of work to do. gleeman doesn't think so.

that's twice tonight i've seen a sabermetric type say "he strikes out more than you'd like to see." does that mean anything to these people?

adam laroche (braves) is a 25-year-old left-handed first baseman who is not ready for the majors, and never will be unless he improves his contact.

akinori otsuka (padres) is a 32-year-old pitcher with ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratios. in 2001, he struck out 82 batters in 48 innings for the kintetsu buffaloes, walking 15. if japanese players count as prospects, he's a better one than kazuo matsui. bp says he's left-handed, but other sources say different.

kelly shoppach (red sox) is a 24-year-old catcher who strikes out a ton. he'll never make it.

terrmel sledge (expos) is a 27-year-old left-handed outfielder who hits the ball hard and strikes out too much. the expos are fucked.

jason stokes (mets) is a 22-year-old first-baseman with power who strikes out too much. 40% chance.

merkin valdez (giants) is a 23-year-old pitcher who struck out a bunch of people in 2003. he's a ways away, but could make it as a reliever.

kevin youkilis (red sox) was once the hottest thing in sabermetrics. he's apparently lost his glow, but there's nothing wrong with him. he'll hit the bigs later this year, and start in 2005. he plays third base. he's 25.

my task is complete.
sickels is clueless too
these guys are never gonna make it.

what do i mean by "make it"? i'm intentionally vague on that definition. it's because some players who are good enough to make it don't and some guys who aren't do. let's say a guy makes it if he's a major-league regular for a few years.

we don't even really care about those guys, even. they're not gonna make much of a difference to a team's won-loss record. what we really wanna know is who's gonna be a star?

let me also say a little more about scouts. i am not one of those numbers guys who thinks scouts are useless. i think scouts are vital to a major-league organization. that said, i don't pay much attention to scouting, because i think it's important to develop numbers-based analysis independently. then, we'll have two complementary ways of knowing things that can be used in tandem.

and there is a lot of work to be done with numbers. the scouts are still way ahead of us.
click on this
new site. new ball.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
shut up asshole i know what i'm doing
strong rebuttal from aziz:

the advantage i have is i get to respond immediately.

touche on burnett: i was in too much of a hurry.

glavine, maddux: every year we see guys that are "the next tom glavine" or "the next greg maddux". but there ain't but one tom glavine. and there ain't but one greg maddux. and remember: late 80's numbers are way different from early 2000's.

remlinger, holmes: both of these guys made it at a very late age. so as prospects, they were horrible. also, braves fan, for all these guys so far, we can't discount the effect of leo mazzone.

i have not been clear about what i'm trying to do. now is my opportunity. what i'm trying to do is tell, by looking at the numbers, who's a prospect and who isn't. for minor-league pitchers, the only reliable predictor of success is k/ip. once we get pow and park factors we'll be able to say more; there are a lot of fine points that escape a fast-and-loose analysis.

the other thing is i'm not a scout. i did get to see kyle farnsworth pitch when he was young, and i can tell you i thought he was a killer. but i don't think there's any way to look at his stat line and predict that. if you know he throws 98, maybe you can say something. but we don't have pitch speeds for people.

projecting relievers is tough, then. scouts are in a much better position to evaluate them. but scouts have trouble, too: a lot of these guys come out of nowhere.

there will always be exceptions. exceptions can be telling, and we of course want to limit them as much as possible. personally, i have to first understand general principles. our thinking is complementary.

thanks for the insight.
the long and winding road . . .
. . . that leads to the show!

some prospects disappear
i've seen them go and go
still others have no fear
we get to watch them grow

the wildest pitchers don't
often gain control
they throw so many years
trying for the day
but some figure it out
and make it all the way

many hitters make contact and many more have tried
i just want to understand but now my brain is fried
but still they struggle on to the long and winding road
who'll make the major leagues? we really want to know
we'll never know for sure, till they make the show . . .
Monday, March 15, 2004
i dig ya, c.c.
city of cleveland got a new blogger: milton bradley. i guess jody talked him into it.

found the link on the blog with by far the best name around: betty's no good clothes shop and pancake house. it's about mets baseball, pro wrestling, and "other things that are a bit unsettling!"
Sunday, March 14, 2004
the big, wide blog world
i just red this whole blog, so i figured i'd link it.
food for thought
there's an article on baseball musings that discusses the common idea that catchers make the best managers. it is exploded as a myth.

the data are pretty startling. catchers have by far the worst winning percentage of all former positions of managers. they also have by far the most games managed.

i suggest a new interpretation: there is no difference from position to position on who makes the best managers. further, the players who have become managers have tended to be the best qualified among their position. catchers are the most deeply-dipped talent pool; therefore, there are more bad managers who were catchers than any other position.

whatever it is, it's fun to think about.
the incomparable pecota system
you know, nate silver went to my college. them economics majors is smart. i wonder if he took allen sanderson's economics of sports.

maybe that's the problem with a good forecasting system, like pecota (i think it's an acronym): it looks at too many indicators. cut down on your indicators, nate!

he's a scientist.


43. adam wainwright, 23, p, cardinals

adam was a much higher prospect a year ago. i don't have the list. his main problem is that he sucks.

44. scott hairston, 24, 2b, diamondbacks


45. bobby jenks, 23, p, angels

it's his birthday! happy birthday, bobby! bobby had 103 strikeouts last year, in 83 innings. so that's good. but he walked 51. that's bad. he only allowed 2 home runs. that's good. he's what you call a good/bad player.

46. jeremy hermida, 20, of, marlins

jeremy's got a long way to go. he needs a lot more contact, and a lot more power. what he's got going for him is left-handedness, and speed. you can't teach speed. but he's gonna need annie sullivan to teach him to swing.

47. sean burnett, 22, p, pirates

ok, i give up. why is he a prospect?

nate silver knows. there is real science behind these things.

48. jj davis, 26, of, pirates

well, he's made a lot of progress. in 2000, he struck out 171 times in 485 at-bats in a ball. in 2002, he struck out 101 times in 348 at-bats in double-a. then, in aaa, he struck out a mere 85 times in 426 at-bats.

maybe in the majors he'll improve again! if so, he's a killer: he had 59 extra-base hits in those 426 at-bats. what's more likely, though, is he's reached his limit, and he's not gonna make it.
once i start something . . .
39. david bush, 25, p, blue jays

control freak. not gonna happen.

40. gabe gross, 25, of, blue jays

he was looking good until he struck out 56 times in 182 at-bats at syracuse last year. not gonna make it. left-handed.

41. joe blanton, 24, p, a's

well, he struck out 144 in 133 innings for the kane county cougars, but that's a long way from the majors. he only walked 19. not gonna make it.

42. russ adams, 24, ss, blue jays

decent contact, but not enough power to make it in the majors. left-handed.

wow, that was a disappointing run.
more more more!
you're never satisfied, are you?


34. edwin encarnacion, 21, 3b, reds

decent contact, mild power, good speed. he's gonna make it.

35. chris snelling, 23, of, mariners

a shooting star until a knee injury derailed him in 2002. hasn't yet returned to his previous level. maybe it was an ankle injury. something nasty and leg-related. left-handed.

36. jason bay, 26, of, pirates

20 hr in 307 ab for portland in 2003. also 71 strikeouts. has the speed to play center, but maybe not the arm. he'll be usable for a couple years.

37. clint nageotte, 24, p, mariners

214 strikeouts in 164.2 innings for san bernardino in 2002. then moved up a level and struck out 157 in 154, with only 6 hr. in the texas league! must be some kind of nasty sinker/slider combination. i'd like to see him pitch. underrated at #37, assuming his arm holds together. needs to work on control.

38. ervin santana, 21, p, angles

130 strikeouts in 124 innings for the quakes last year, with 36 bb. got a little shook up by the long ball. aa this year. the world is his oyster.
i'm a regular dick vermeil
vinny and scott have made up.

i think i'm gonna cry.
hope and faith (youth and hope?)
rob neyer wrote about greg miller, so you don't have to listen to me.

i've been critical about rob in the past. who cares?
here we go round the mulberry bush . . .
pop! goes the weasel!


31. delmon young, 19, of, devil rays

don't confuse him with this guy. in 61 ab for adolfo camarillo high school last year, delmon hit .541 with 7 hr and 28 rbi. baseball america has him at #3. can we have a little sanity here?

for more meaningless data, click here.

32. josh barfield, 22, 2b, padres

i used to think the padres were smart, but now it seems they're just fascinated by strikeouts. by hitters.

he's got power. what else is new?

33. greg miller, 20, p, dodgers

here he is! . . . just kidding. he's the good 6'5", left-handed greg miller. ok that was mean. good luck to you with the rest of your career, greg! looks like he was rolling along pretty good: 146 k in 136.2 ip, then a trade to houston (with adam everett for his brother carl), and injury. the life of a young pitcher.

greg miller, the #8 prospect in baseball america, is also injured. it doesn't sound that bad, though. for a more pessimistic viewpoint, go here.

what? you wanna know how good he is? i already wrote about that.
can't we all just get along?
scott and vinny, once so close, are tearing eachother apart:

i think it's terrible what you guys are doing. after so much harmony, to destroy it like this, is just thoughtless. to show you what a bad example you're setting, i'm gonna . . . join in!

vinny's right. baseball in mexico isn't economically feasible. but i agree with scott: they should do it anyway!

monterey? fuck that shit! mexico city! they should build a 100-thousand-seat stadium, sell out every game (5 pesos per seat), and watch the home runs fly! it'll put coors field to shame.

they could subsidize contracts to make up for the lack of revenue. they could probably negotiate a tax break.

major league baseball in mexico? hell yeah!
Saturday, March 13, 2004
do you have a question for eric byrnes?
if so, send it to ericbyrnes.com

be sure to read the elephants' guidelines. those guys stay up late. that has no relation to anything.
the midnight maniac
this guy is a hoot!
in other news . . .
alex rodriguez is apparently not gay. maybe it's a scam. piazza should try it.

thanks to this grand american ballgame for the link.
pray for rain . . .
a quick look at the raindrops shows why the mets are gonna finish in last place. they got no pitching.

scott kazmir will help. in 2005. til then, it'll be bad.

it won't look bad, because shea is a canyon. also they got a good fly shagger. and some grounder gobblers.

grounder gobblers. where do i come up with them?
counting down . . .
where this list came from (your subscription has expired)

people get mad at me because i don't back up what i say. who do i think i am? who are you? i don't care if you agree with me.

you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

16. ryan wagner, 22, p, reds

in 2003, he threw 79.1 innings for houston, of the ncaa, and struck out 148. then he threw 9 innings in the minors, striking out 10. then he threw 21.2 innings for cincinnati, of the national league, and struck out 25.

i don't think he's a prospect anymore. i think he made it.

17. guillermo quiroz, 23, c, blue jays

he's got strikeout issues but damn this kid hits the crap out of the ball. i'm optimistic.

18. jeff mathis, 21, c, angels


19. dallas mcpherson, 24, 3b, angels

super ditto.

actually, this one's not gonna make it. if you can't make contact in rancho cucamonga, you sure as hell can't make contact in the majors.

20. jj hardy, 22, ss, brewers

this one i like. good contact, power that should develop. how's his defense?

21. cole hamels, 21, p, phillies

2003 was his first professional season. i think he came straight out of high school. anyway, he started 13 games for the lakewood blue claws, packing 74.2 innings with 115 strikeouts. his era was 0.84. then he moved to the florida state league and struck out 32 in 26.1 innings. he has yet to allow a home run. he's a lefty.

22. franklin gutierrez, 21, of, dodgers

strikeouts, strikeouts, and dongs. he's young yet.

23. dustin mcgowan, 22, p, blue jays

nothing special in the stats. maybe he's a groundball pitcher. if he is, he's good.

24. grady sizemore, 22, of, indians

killed it in akron last year. lefty. underrated at #24. baseball america has him at #9.

25. james loney, 20, 1b, dodgers

decent contact, decent power. lefty. i like his chances.

26. david dejesus, 25, cf, royals

good contact, mild power. lefty. patient. the more i look at him, the more optimistic i get.

27. chin-hui tsao, 23, p, rockies

cooks with gas. got shook up pretty good in coors. needs to settle down and throw strikes. easier said than done.

28. khalil greene, 25, ss, padres

lots of hype, but the numbers aren't that great. he's got potential, but he's not getting any younger.

29. matt riley, 25, p, orioles

i'm not really sure why bp has him on the list. he's a lefty, which is nice, but his strikeout numbers don't blow you away, and he walks too many people.

30. dioner navarro, 20, c, yankees

first i heard of this guy was in a trade rumor for adrian beltre.
it's so easy
the numbers say so much, but no one knows how to look at them.

11. justin morneau, 23, 1b, twins

i think we've figured out what the twins like: young lefties with a quick, sweet swing. this kid can hit. the other thing he can do is hit. must improve patience.

12. scott kazmir, 20, p, mets

145 strikeouts in 109.1 innings at two different levels in a-ball last year. 44 bb, 6 hr. left-handed. is there any analysis required here? best prospect i've seen so far.

13. bobby crosby, 24, ss, a's

tejada's designated successor. i hate to say this (i don't know why), but he's gonna bust. he can field, he can run, and he hits the ball a long way, but he can't make contact. i wonder if he reminds beane of himself. he even looks like him.

14. casey kotchman, 21, 1b, angels

young lefty with contact and power. the magic 8-ball says yes.

15. alexis rios, 23, cf, blue jays

kazmir is now my number two prospect. i'm gonna go on record and say alexis rios is the best prospect in all of baseball. he makes contact, hits for power, runs, fields, and throws. what's not to like? baseball america has him at #6. and he was born on the 51st anniversary of the discovery of pluto.
note from aziz
i like letters. they give me a chance to clarify things. not retract, clarify.

.230 with no power is worse than sucking: it's unusable. mauer won't embarrass himself in a jack cust way, it'll be more of a neifi perez way. neifi has had a long, lucrative career, though, so who am i?

i think mauer's got a good shot; i just think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves.

i haven't seen him, but i heard he slimmed down. either way, what i meant by "total package" was "total hitting package". it's a good thing you pointed that out. i wouldn't want to anoint young prince a star of speed or glove. but a bat that big will get in the lineup.

unmentioned, but not forgotten. mini-raffy is a special player, but he's not yet clearly better than matsui.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
it used to be top 40. they've increased the quantity. let's see about the quality.

age = 2004 - year of birth.

1. joe mauer, 21, c, twins

what a coinkidink, he's baseball america's top prospect, too. look, this kid has talent, but he also has a grand total of 276 at-bats above a-ball. am i the only one who noticed this? he is gonna suck in the major leagues, for a while. he makes decent contact, but he has no power. if the power develops, he'll be a good major leaguer, but until then, leave him in the minors. why start someone's arbitration clock if he can't even contribute? this is turning into a rant. i can't believe how ridiculous everyone's being. at least he's in the al central, which is kinda like aaa. lefty.

maybe the twins are trying to justify not drafting prior.

2. jeremy reed, 23, of, white sox

i've never heard of this guy. which doesn't really mean anything. bp likes him because of his ridiculously high batting averages last year. course, we all know batting average is the most variable stat out there, which means that young master reed was, yes, lucky. bp talks the talk about hit luck, but pecota (tm) (r) (iyf) doesn't walk the walk. i'm sorry, i mean "the incomparable pecota system (tm) (r) (c) (fyou) (gotohell)". it looks like jeremy will make it, due to contact, speed, and left-handedness, but he's overrated at #2. and he's a couple of years away.

3. andy marte, 21, 3b, braves

now here's a more typical bp prospect. andy is your classic strikeout machine. he rakes, and he's young enough to get his whiffs under control, so he could be somebody. we'll see. overrated at #3.

4. prince fielder, 20, 1b, brewers

this kid is the total package. he's the best guy on the list so far. course that's not really saying much. baseball america has him at number 10. ten is the most they'll show us. he's left-handed.

5. david wright, 22, 3b, mets

speed, power, patience. looks pretty good. needs to work on contact, but he's shown improvement so far.

6. edwin jackson, 21, p, dodgers

i talked about edwin jackson in a december 22 article about dodgers prospects. he's good. he'll have trouble with control, though. baseball america has him at #4.

7. zack greinke, 21, p, royals

retarded control. needs more strikeouts. not ready for the majors.

8. bj upton, 20, ss, devil rays

there's almost no data here. let's give him some time and see what he does. baseball america has him at #2.

ok, i'll comment on the data we have. he needs to cut way down on his strikeouts and way up on his power. he has speed, which is nice, and patience. so that bodes well. but he's a long way from being able to hit major-league pitching.

9. rickie weeks, 22, 2b, brewers

he ran all over the bases and beat the crap out of the ball at southern a&m university. he won the rotary smith and golden spikes awards (best player in the country). he's probably pretty good. baseball america has him at #5.

10. kazuo matsui, 29, ss, mets

strikeouts are a problem. doesn't walk enough. will not have the power numbers he had in japan. switch-hitter.

matsui was the subject of one of the few good rob neyer articles of the past few years. rob is good at history. analysis, on the other hand, has passed him by.

baseball america has him at #7. they say he'll be "one of the best" shortstops in the national league. people like to say this, because the big guns are in the al (arod is still a shortstop). but the nl's no joke. furcal, renteria, cabrera, and cintron are clearly better. so he's somewhere between 5th and 16th. one thing's for sure, he's the most overpaid shortstop in the national league. he's not the most overpaid shortstop in new york, though. that title belongs to a man destined to play second base.
what the hell was i thinking?
i was reading this blog and they announced a fantasy baseball site they were running and i thought, "what a dumb idea."

so i went and started one of my own.

nobody signed up. it's gone.
Monday, March 08, 2004
spawn of baseball pod
have you ever wanted to participate in a fantasy baseball league with correct scoring, and a message board centered around true analysis? well now you can! you lucky, greasy urchin!

spawn of baseball pod is a free yahoo fantasy league with point scoring and automatic draft. if you don't know what that means, join anyway! it'll be fun. and the winner earns a spot in the keeper league of the baseball pod inner circle. you didn't know you wanted that, did you?

go to fantasysports.yahoo.com to sign up. they try to trick you into signing up for fantasy baseball plus (tm). don't fall for it. go for regular free fantasy baseball. the id # is 244458 and the "p" word is podling.
the theory
the baseball pod project
the algorithm
the simulator
the database

we don't have every pitch of every game, which makes it difficult to do research on pitch selection, wildness, etc. but we do have a record of every ball hit into fair territory. hence goeth our investigations.

what does that mean? here at the baseball pod project we identify three main skill areas, represented by our favorite stats wal, con, and pow. but these stats are merely approximations of our final model. none of them will actually be used. for now, we're stuck with wal and con, but pow is imminently break-down-able.

the sons of pow are hrp, xbp, and 1bp.

we thus have six statistical measures to sink our teeth into. the first thing to do is establish exactly what the representative sample sizes are. we have a good sense of them, having swum in the data, but it's time to be precise.

the next thing is park effects. yes, there are various park effects out there, but to us they are useless. we need to predict what every player will do in every park. ie, how much does each park affect each skill. then we can have park-neutral right-now profiles (pnrnp's). we'll be park-neutral right-now profile pimps!

rnp's are still a long way off. after park effects, we want to find the peak age for each skill. and we want to see how it differs from player to player, for prediction purposes. the theory that a player peaks at 28 is mostly true, but some players improve their skills well into their 30's. breaking things down will give us more information.

then we perfect the current system. we use hrp to predict xbp. there will be a formula. then, every player can be examined to see how much above or below the predicted value he is. this analysis will help us deal with less-than-optimal sample sizes. there will be a new stat: extra-base percentage above expected (xae).

similarly, we can use hrp and xae to predict 1bp. single percentage above expected (1ae) will be a good measure of speed to first.

is that enough for you, adam?

once we get parks, peaks, and sample sizes nailed down, we will be well on our way toward predicting the pretty career paths that are so many smooth bell curves in our mind's eye.

in reality, of course, there are gorges, chasms, and cliffs.

what a bummer. to end on an optimistic note, let us remember the occasional player who begins as a mortal, then sails off into the heavens, taking his place among the gods.
the database
the baseball pod project
the algorithm
the simulator

if the simulator is the brain, the database is the guts. the algorithm, then, is the musculoskeletal system, and the theory is, um, the pulmonary system. yeah, the pulmonary system.

we grabbed sean lahman's baseball archive and loaded it into sequel server. this has been nice, as we now have wal con pow's for every player in history. we would like to have minor-league data, and the holy grail is every pitch of every game. we have ripped 2003 pitches from espn.com, but still need to parse them.

the next big project is the creation of the right-now profiles. the right-now profiles will be a statement of every player's current abilities. eventually, a report from the right-now profiles will be the input for the simulator as it crunches games.

what do we need to consruct rnp's? theory. that's the next post. reports from the historical profiles will inform the statistical work that needs to be done. once that work is done . . . the work is never done, but once it is good enough . . . we'll have formulae through which we can put historical data. throughput.

rnp's will contain all the data the simulator needs to answer the questions asked by the algorithm. these data will include: pitch frequencies by count, chance it's hittable (by pitch), chance he swings, chance of contact, mean and standard deviation of angular postition (fair or foul?), the other angle (up/down) and the distance, speed to first, chance of extra bases, base-stealing properties, and baserunning tendencies.

these data will be kept for pitchers and batters. except the baserunning ones, which will be for fielders and batters.

all data will be park-adjusted. we need to do park tables. that'll be theory.

all your base are belong to us.
Friday, March 05, 2004
the simulator
the baseball pod project
the algorithm

the famous simulator. the simulator follows an algorithm of its own, obviously; that's what programs do. it's a larger algorithm that includes the smaller algorithm we lovingly call "the algorithm". at this point it uses a simplified version of the algorithm, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

no we're not. the sim as it is now takes as input a comma-separated file whose first line is a pitcher and next nine lines are batters. then it takes another comma-separated file whose first line is a pitcher and next nine lines are batters. i could have said that more efficiently. the lines contain the following five pieces of information:


as it develops, each line will contain many more pieces of information, each of which helps answer one or more questions in "the algorithm". or in the larger, all-encompassing algorithm that cradles "the algorithm" like a baby. oops, it burped.

wal is walks per plate appearance. con is contacts per at-bat.

"contacts isn't a word."

"yes it is. you put them in your eyes."

"no i don't. i wear glasses."

hrp is home runs per contact. it's good if it's large. unless you're a pitcher. xbp is extra-base hits per ball in play. home runs are not balls in play, so they are not included. 1bp is singles per non-extra-base-hit-ball-in-play. ain't it great? in other words, it's singles over singles plus outs in the field.

we're doin science here! the batter steps to the plate. imaginary batter. imaginary plate. check for a walk:

batter v pitcher wal = (bwal*pwal/lwal)/(bwal*pwal/lwal + (1-bwal)*(1-pwal)/(1-lwal)),

where bwal = batter wal, pwal = pitcher wal, and lwal = league wal.

then it's a simple percentage. generate a random number. presto bingo.

did he walk? he's on first. did he not? check for contact:

batter v pitcher con = (bcon*pcon/lcon)/(bcon*pcon/lcon + (1-bcon)*(1-pcon)/(1-lcon)),

where bcon = batter con, pcon = pitcher con, and lcon = yo mama (watch out for dickie.)

no contact? strikeout. contact? check for home run:

batter v pitcher hrp = (bhrp*phrp/lhrp)/(bhrp*phrp/lhrp + (1-bhrp)*(1-phrp)/(1-lhrp)).

i think you see the pattern.

home run? great. no home run? check for extra bases. you know how to do that. no extra bases? check for single. no single? out.

fielding is included in the pitcher's xbp and 1bp, but that's an imperfect system. we are ever-evolving. also we don't do any baserunning. hits move runners over as many bases as they move batters. there are no stolen bases. these things will come in time. as will pitcher changes, manager tantrums, and fans charging the field (look for version 173.0).

propigate through the lineups zappa-dappa you got a game. do it 10,000 times. who's the winner?

we are. with correct baseball prognostication, everyone wins.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
the algorithm
the baseball pod project

the algorithm asks a series of questions. the answer to each question is based on certain aspects of the right-now profile and informs both what questions will be asked next and what their answers will be. as it now stands:

1. what type of pitch does the pitcher throw?

the count, the pitcher's preferences, and the batter's strengths and weaknesses are the main factors in the answer of this question. manager and catcher come into play, as well as which pitches have been working, in the game overall, and in previous matchups with this batter. park also has an effect.

the answer to this question will inform all subsequent questions. batters have different abilities with respect to each type of pitch. eg: batter a swings at high fastballs 75% of the time, parking 3%.

2. is the pitch anywhere near the strike zone?

for some batters, the answer will almost always be yes. nobody is afraid of the power stroke of neifi perez. for others, the answer will frequently be no.

if the answer is no, the possibilities are (1) ball and (2) hit-by-pitch. if the answer is yes, go to question 3.

3. does the hitter swing?

pitch recognition and tendencies with each pitch are factors here. a general picture of questions 2 and 3 can be seen in each player's wal stat.

if the answer is no, the possibilities are (1) ball and (2) strike. if the answer is yes, go to question 4.

4. does the hitter make contact?

here we use a pitch-by-pitch version of the con stat. different players will have different contact abilities with different pitches.

if the answer is no, the result is a strike. if the answer is yes, the possibilites are (4.1) foul ball and (5) ball in play.

4.1 foul ball

possibilities are (1) strike, (2) out, and (3) nothing.

5. what kind of contact is it?

this is our current focus of research. there are three main categories: deep drive, line drive, and weak contact.

deep drives result in home runs, doubles, triples, and outs. factors are power, fly ball tendencies, and outfielders.

line drives result in doubles, triples, singles, and outs. main factors are power and fly ball tendences. fielders have less effect, varying chiefly in the ability to prevent extra bases. most double plays come from this category.

power and fly ball tendencies, incidentally, are influenced by hitters and pitchers. power is more of a hitter thing, but pitchers do have an effect. park has an effect on everything and is assumed to be a factor always.

weak contact includes bloops and ground balls. the infield and the speed of the runner are main factors. handedness affects speed to first. pop flies are included here as well.

that's it in a nutshell. i'm gonna eat breakfast.
the baseball pod project
there are four parts. four is square.

1. the algorithm. the algorithm is a model of the matchup between batter and pitcher, and the possibilities that result. all possibilities are considered. every fielder is taken into account. the designer is yours truly.

2. the simulator. the simulator predicts outcomes of games. 10,000 copies of each game are played, with the results giving a distinct picture of the possibilities. simple statstical measures such as mean and standard deviation can then be applied for a variety of purposes. the programmer is paxton mason.

3. the database. the database has two sections: historical and right-now. the historical section is the cache of data that we use to refine the algorithm, develop the simulator, and inform the creation of the right-now profiles (rnp's). every player has a right-now profile, which tells you what the player would do in a game played tomorrow. the builder is aziz al-doory.

4. the theory. the theory is what we use to convert a player's historical data into his right-now profile. for every question that the algorithm asks, the profile answers it. the formation of the theory is informed by all those statsistical tools that we know and love, viz significance tests, regressions, and correlations. the statistician is adam lindstrom.

you can see that the four parts of the pod project are intimately connected. the purpose of this blog is to organize said connections. it will also serve to make public the progress of the project. the baseball pod project is still in fetus form. you will see its development. all are invited to contribute.

descriptions of each part will follow.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
apply your sauciness elsewhere
the other day, i said "if you're feeling saucy, (take the under on) the tigers." i now demur. i feel like the brewers will be worse than the tigers. the line for both teams is 66 wins.

i certainly wouldn't take the over, but the tigers will not lose as many games this year as last year. so that's a lower bound. considering their schedule, 66 is too close to that lower bound. the brew ha's, on the other hand, play the cubs and the astros a million times, as well as three other teams that are better than them.

hell, they're both gonna suck. i'm being a pussy. i hope that amuses you.
Monday, March 01, 2004
what's your favorite pitch?
jeremy heit says barry zito's curveball. i say greg maddux's fastball.
ridin the pine
i made the 25 man roster over at only baseball matters, which has the best links in the business. i know because it's where i got most of my links. i like to think of myself as a pinch runner/emergency catcher.
new link
i was considering whether to add this site to the sidebar, and the giant japanese monster clinched it. also, the text is the correct size.
it's easier to let others provide content
thugler is also known as "dickie".

the royals do probably suck balls, but as you mentioned in point #5, dickie, their division is craptastic. funny that our two points of disagreement are from said division. the disagreement is symmetric.

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