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A new market inefficiency to be adopted? And the mysterious quality of PNC Park

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Billy Beane is a pretty remarkable guy.

He helped bring sabermetrics to the masses through the book Moneyball. He’s made the low-budget A’s a consistently competitive through unearthing market inefficiencies. He’s made analytics cool and he’s been played by Brad Pitt. And he is apparently ahead of the pack again in finding what might be the next considerable market inefficiency: fly-ball hitters

Now Beane is hardly the first to understand there is a preference for  fly balls. After all, there’s never been a ground ball home run, fly-ball hitters produce far fewer double plays, and fly-ball hitters match up better against the increasingly popular two-seam/sinkerball pitchers. But the A’s might be the first team to consciously try and collect as many fly-ball hitters as possible.

 

The Pirates have their own encouraging fly-ball case study in Pedro Alvarez.

 

Alvarez has rare power as evidenced by his home run/flyball percentage, which ranks among the best in the game. Any HR/FB number of 15 percent is considered very good and Alvarez’s  rate of  26.3 percent is elite.

 

Part of Alvarez’s problem earlier in the career — beyond his swing-and-miss and pitch identification — was  that he was pounding the ball in the ground too often, eliminating his power. His flyball-groundball ratio has increased each of the last three seasons, and so have his home run totals.

 

Year    GB/FB ratio

2011 – 2.18

2012 – 1.36

2013 – 1.18

I asked Alvarez about this trend during the season and is typically for the reticent third baseman he did not reveal much about his approach, and didn’t seem to think the increase in flyballs was due to a conscious approach. Still, Clint Hurdle thought it was indicative of growth and if Alvarez can again increase his ability to hit flyballs he might have a 40-45 home run campaign in 2014.

 

There’s one other point I want to discuss regarding fly-ball tendencies.

 

A lot of characteristics in baseball are innate and cannot be taught – or are at least very difficult to acquire: plate discipline, batspeed, pitch velocity, breaking ball depth, etc. But perhaps flyball/groundball tendencies can be learned.

 

Alvarez is an example. Atlanta’s Jason Heyward is another player who has changed from a dramatic groundball hitter to a flyball hitter.  Jose Bautista learned to better lift the ball. Players can learn to hit more flyballs throughout their careers.

 

Just as the Pirates had a comprehensive approach in becoming a more groundball-oriented staff in 2013, perhaps Jeff Branson and Hurdle could, if they chose, create more of a fly-ball profile. We think of baseball as a team game played by individuals but there are times when a collective, planned approaches can be implemented and can impact.

 

THE MYSTERIOUS QUALITY OF PNC PARK

 

We know PNC Park is a pitcher-friendly park.

 

We know its deep dimensions in left-field make it an awfully tough place for right-handed power hitters. It’s also the seventh most difficult park for left-handed hitters to homer in over the last five years. It’s not on the Pacific Coast. It doesn’t have the marine layer. But it’s still one of the game’s more run-depressing environments.

 

What’s interesting about Jeff Sullivan’s five-year Three True Outcome (Homeruns-Walks-Strikeouts)  park factors study is that PNC Park has collectively reduced those three stat rates more than any other park.

 

 Team HR SO BB TTO
Pirates 90 95 96 281
Giants 89 99 99 287
Marlins 89 99 101 289
Twins 93 98 99 290

 

The low home run totals make sense, they are tied to dimensions. But the low strikeout and walk rates? Perhaps we can explain the low walk rate by surmising that pitcher’s are more comfortable throwing strikes – and not nibbling – because of the park’s dimensions. The strikeouts? That’s harder to explain and somewhat mysterious. Keep in mind this was a five-year study and Francisco Liriano and AJ Burnett and the Shark Tank bullpen represent only  a portion of the data collected.

 

While some of the walk-strikeout numbers are mysteriously tied to park factors what is clear is PNC Park is a pitcher’s dream and it should continue to be a recruiting tool for front office’s present and future.

- TS

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Comments

  1. Jim S. says:

    I would think the lower strikeout rates may be occurring for similar reasons to what you suggested for the low walk rates, Travis. Just as pitchers are comfortable throwing strikes because they know the park yields a below average # of HRs, they are also comfortable allowing batters to put the ball in play.

    I would also say that, prior to 2013, and I could be wrong about this, but my recollection is the Pirates had a pitching staff that did not strike out many batters year after year. Since the Pirates played all of the games in PNC, I would think their pitching staff helped suppress the strikeout numbers.

    To your point about building a flyball hitting team, is Oakland training guys to hit flyballs as much as they are procuring guys who already possess this skill? Some guys should not be flyball hitters because they don’t hit the ball long enough. No matter how much emphasis you put on hitting flyballs, the Pedro Alvarezes of the world are suited to employing that skill, and the Billy Hamiltons of the world are not. I remember during the playoffs this year seeing a graphic of Holliday of the Cards. There was a pronounced difference in his batting avg vs. slugging % when he pulled the ball vs. going the opposite way. In short, he slugged much higher when he pulled the ball, but hit for a much higher avg. when he went the opposite way. My conclusion was that Holliday put the ball on the ground to RF/RC, and looked to drive the ball to LF/LC. I assume most players would profile similarly.

    Interesting topic.

  2. NMR says:

    “Since the Pirates played all of the games in PNC, I would think their pitching staff helped suppress the strikeout numbers.”

    I believe park factors are based on home and road splits for both the home AND away teams. Statistically factors out specific player skill, or lack there of.

    Interesting stuff.

  3. NMR says:

    Pedro! Fly balls! Sing it, Travis. Been saying all winter that 40% FB rate equals 40 homeruns for Pedro, easily. Good chance he’d he .250, too.

    This isn’t just in a macro sense, but also micro. Pedro’s four worst months in the last two years – based on OPS, wOBA, wRC – coincide with four of his five highest groundball rates.

    This issue ties into one of Travis’ recent posts on Pedro and changeups. Since 2012, Pedro has put 60% of the changeups he’s put in play on the ground. This is 12% higher than any other pitch type.

    Also consider Pedro almost exclusively pulls ground balls (into the shift) while he actually uses all fields well on fly balls and line drives.

    Really incredible to see how much batted ball type makes a difference.

  4. Foo says:

    NMR…good stuff!

  5. Foo says:

    Travis…you mentioned Wolf of Wall St, as a good movie to see. I stated that I rarely watch movies in theaters. Now, I have another reason NOT to see it (EVER). I just read in USA Today, that it has the second highest number of F-bombs of any American movie. Almost 600!!! That is about 595 too many for me. I am not a prude, but 600 seems like a bit too many for me!!

    But, I digress….Back to to your regularly scheduled baseball blog

  6. Foo says:

    A good read this morning (from JAL’s great links on DK’s blog) is Rumbunter’s “Why is Andrew Lambo Not Enough?”

    Those are my sentiments, exactly. Yeh, we could possibly do better on the trade market, but I would sure like to see what AL can do.

    Jmho

  7. One of Clemson Travis’ wiser sentences composed here (from yesterday’s entry):

    “I think Lambo deserves a look, though I’m a skeptic.”

  8. Foo says:

    I hate to say it, but this little cartoon describes me (and perhaps a lot of folks here?) to a ‘T’

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  9. Jim S. says:

    I wondered that as I was typing. Good catch, NMR. I think that is the case.

  10. Jim S. says:

    Yikes! That is a bit excessive.

  11. Jim S. says:

    That is awesome, Foo. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Jim S. says:

    I have always assumed batting average is highest for line drives, followed by ground balls, followed by flyballs. And slugging % is highest for flyballs, followed by line drives, followed by ground balls.

    But, I don’t know if this is true or not. I’m sure it is different for each player, but I wonder how it shakes out for the league overall.

    Anybody know?

  13. NMR says:

    On average, you got it.

    2013 BABIP by batted ball type:

    Line drives: .683
    Ground balls: .232
    Fly balls: .124

    I could not find batting average on fly balls, however. It would be considerably higher.

  14. Jim S. says:

    Didn’t you say batting avg on flyballs is .124, NMR?

  15. NMR says:

    Ha, I made this same mistake first time I looked at the data.

    I said BABIP (batting average on balls IN PLAY) was .124, Jim. Batting average on ALL fly balls would include homeruns.

    For example, Pedro’s 2013 flyball BABIP was .133 but his flyball batting average was .346. Big difference, right? This is why I believe switching grounders for flies will inevitably raise his batting average.

  16. NMR says:

    And yeah, times like this are why I understand some people’s reluctance to follow advanced metrics. You REALLY gotta love statistics.

  17. LeeFoo says:

    Strangeglove…I never said he was a sure thing, but compared to what is out there, who IS a sure thing.

    Sure, I have some Lambo doubts, but I sure would like to see what he can do with some regular playing time.

    Between his immaturity and injuries, he wasted a lot of time in the minors. Last year he was healthy and finallt ‘grown up’.

    I think he deserves a shot!

  18. LeeFoo says:

    ‘finally’ not ‘finallt’……..stupid IPad…:)

  19. LeeFoo says:

    you’re welcome Jim….

    Now…just remember…if you want to keep me away, just agree with me…. :) :) :)

  20. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for that follow-up. Where did you get that info? Why wouldn’t they just include HRs in the BABIP for flyballs?

  21. NMR says:

    Homeruns are not included because they represent a definable skill as one of the three true outcomes. Somebody else could probably explain that better.

    And I found those numbers reading an article on Atlanta Braves expected BABIP.

    BTW, Travis, would love to see a blog entry on 2013 Pirates xBABIP. Warm up your calculator.

  22. NMR says:

    I liked that article up until the Polanco straw man.

  23. brendan says:

    Hard to say it’s excessive, if you haven’t seen the film, no?

    As a filmmaker the idea of counting how many times a profanity is used in a film, as USA Today did, also seems pretty silly to me. A film should be truthful to the world and characters it depicts.

    I’ve not seen the film yet, so I can’t say whether TWOW is but when you’re spending three hours with a number of debauched Wall Street traders–often on quaaludes I expect there will be more than a few F-bombs flying. Perhaps that’s a world you don’t want to spend time in, which I would certainly understand. Luckily there are a number of other interesting films out there this year as well.

  24. Andrew says:

    From 2013: AVG/SLG,
    Linedrive: .690/.883 (156 HRs)
    Groundballs: .232/.250
    Flyballs: .218/.621 (4504 HRs)

    I never realized that Fangraphs has splits by batted ball type. Not sure if you seen this or its your cup of tea, but here is an older article talking about batted ball type and run value. (Hardballs times has some great references articles.)

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/pictures-of-batted-balls/

    While it is definitely true that Alvarez average will go up while hitting more flyballs, I just do not think a shift in his batted ball profile is likely. Even when Bautista and Heyward where hitting ground balls, they had league average contact rates around 78-80%, and low swinging strike rates, both their career highs SwStr% are lower than Alavrez career low.

    Over last three seasons Alvarez is swinging more, and making less contact. And while two years is hardly a trend, other than counting stats Alvarez did nothing better offensively than last year. I’ll gladly be wrong, and I’ll take Alvarez’s current production, but I don’t hope out much hope for sweeping improvement.

  25. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for the info., Andrew.

  26. Jim S. says:

    Lambo is definitely not a sure thing. But, I would also like to see him get a shot, as a platoon with Tabby at the start of the season preferably. If they don’t acquire a 1b, I guess he will get a shot there. As I said, he’s no sure thing. But, he’s definitely not a certain failure, either. He did hit a lot of HR last year, and he maintained and maybe even improved from AA to AAA. That is intriguing.

  27. Cardinals had a shortstop——Kozma——who hit about what Clint Barmes did and got them to the World Series.
    Cardinals went out and signed Peralta to big money because he hits.

    Cardinals had a center fielder——John Jay——who was fast and performed moderately well in the past.
    Cardinals went out and traded for Bourjas because he is the best fielding Center Fielder in baseball, pushing Trout to LF.

    Pirates had a decent platoon at 1B——lefty Jones and righty Sanchez.
    Pirates released Jones to save $$, and replaced him with a player who spent parts of 6 SEASONS in AA and has 1/2 SEASON of success in AAA, (plus, or course, Magic McGuiness and Retread Ishikawa).

    Pirates, had the starting pitcher with the best K/9 ratio and best ground ball ratio in National League.
    Pirates, to save $$, did not offer Burnett a qualifying offer and, because he has not announced retirement, seems to not be signing over what money he is being offered by Pirates.
    Pirates appear to be playing “chicken” with Burnett over whether he will return to Bucs because that’s where he wants to play, or sign with Orioles for more $$.

    Which of these similarly sized market teams, in the same division, seems to be pushing toward a Division Championship?

  28. Foo says:

    The team who let their potential HOF RFer walk and now has to replace him.

    The team that, when Matt Adams plays first, will have four average to below average infielders.

    The team that has a LFer who is only going to get worse as a fielder and is already declining at the plate?

    The team that will have extreme difficulty repeating their .330 average with RISP?

    THAT club?

  29. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t think they released Jones to save money. He was beyond awful in the second half and looked to me like he aged very quickly. I don’t believe they could have gone into 2014 with him.

    Nobody in the history of baseball has accepted a qualifying offer. My theory is they didn’t extend one to A.J. out of respect/goodwill or at his request.

  30. The team that let a past-his-prime poor fielding right fielder walk and replaced him with the #1 Minor League Prospect in right.

    Perhaps you prefer the team who, when Lambo plays 1st and Jordy SS, will have 4 average to below average fielders WHO CAN’T HIT.

    Perhaps you prefer the team that has 2 RFers who seem to get worse as fielders each season, each needing defensive replacements, and neither of whom can consistently hit.

    Perhaps you prefer the team who should have no trouble finishing 12th again in National League in runs scored.

    THAT club?

  31. I’ll bet Santa Claus was good to you.

    And the Easter Bunny will be hopping along soon.

  32. 21sthebest says:

    Could you be a little more condescending?

  33. 21sthebest says:

    In 2013, the Pirates finished 9th in runs scored in the NL.

    Who are the 4 average to below average fielders?

  34. Clemente’s the Best,

    Let me treat your comment not with humor but respect.

    Neal Huntington has spoken out saying that the $14.2 million QA is/would be too big a percentage of Pirates’ overall budget. That has nothing to do with respect or goodwill.

    1/ AJ Burnett led baseball in some significant pitching categories.
    2/ AJ Burnett mad $16.5 million each of the last 5 seasons.
    3/ Travis tells us that according to WAR, AJ Burnett should earn $18 – $22 million (if I recall correctly) in 2014.
    4/ Neal Huntington appears to be holding out to offering AJ Burnett $10 mill or less for 2014.
    5/ In case you have not noticed, AJ Burnett is a rather competitive guy, and doesn’t back down from anybody.

    I see no goodwill or respect here. Saving face would have been offering a QA and allowing AJ to take it for good of team, while at the same time keeping the wolves (Orioles) away.

    Garrett Jones had a bad season. I did not see him falling down or slowing down. He hit the longest ball in the history of PNC.

    Andrrew Lambo had a terrible season in 2012. Yet you are willing to consider him an alternative because of 2013. Jones was let go because of $$$.

  35. Neil Walker average fielder.

    Pedro, Jordy, and Lambo below average fielders.

  36. See my reply below. Sometimes what would be humorous in a face-to-face comes out poorly in print. My bad!

  37. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve never really cared about what Neal Huntington says in public on these matters. What he’s doing here is negotiating and posturing, IMO. I think by not offering the Q.O. it’s a show of respect or goodwill or at A.J.’s request so that A.J. can keep his options open as much as possible, which may have been limited had he been given the Q.O. because of the loss of draft choice.

    I don’t care what A.J. was making or what WAR says he could make. A.J. was awful his last couple of years with the Yankees, revitalized his career here, and I think he possibly feels like he owes the organization something in return for bringing him here, if he chooses to keep playing. At the twilight of his career, maybe he’ll accept an offer lower than the Q.O. I really don’t know. Or maybe he’ll just retire. But he’s established here as both a quality pitcher and a respected team leader and I’m not sure at this point of his career that he wants to prove himself all over again elsewhere. I would think that he doesn’t need the money.

    Just food for thought.

  38. NMR says:

    “While it is definitely true that Alvarez average will go up while hitting more flyballs, I just do not think a shift in his batted ball profile is likely.”

    May I ask why?

    Seems odd to dismiss something that has already been happening before our eyes.

  39. 21sthebest says:

    I think Walker and Pedro are above average.

  40. NMR says:

    Groat needs a Trib fact checker for every one of his posts.

  41. LeeFoo says:

    Brendan…”Perhaps that’s a world you don’t want to spend time in, which I would certainly understand.”

    You hit it on the head. I never said the use wasn’t ‘appropriate’, just that I don’t enjoy movies with “F-Bombs” every 30 seconds. Just a personal preference.

  42. LeeFoo says:

    21s……..I’m with you on the fielding rebuttal and the AJ rebuttal to DrS.

    Foo

  43. NMR says:

    “…other than counting stats Alvarez did nothing better offensively than last year.”

    Career high line drive rate, fly ball rate, and home run rate.

    But maybe you don’t consider those skills.

  44. LeeFoo says:

    DrS….do you know what UZR is? Look it up for our infielders. Then, look it up the Cardinals.

    Btw, and not being condescending in the least, I suggest you go onto some Cardinal blogs. They are moaning more than you are about they’re losses/’gains’. So who is correct? You or, you know, people who actually follow their team daily?

  45. NMR says:

    Cardinal fans are more spoiled than Steeler fans if they’re moaning at all about this off season.

  46. 21sthebest says:

    With respect to A.J., it’s just my theory. But when no player in history has ever accepted a Q.O., not extending one isn’t a reason to complain, IMO.

  47. LeeFoo says:

    Jim S…be like Jones? 1b/RF?

  48. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….IF not, they’re pretty close to Steeler fans…lol.

  49. LeeFoo says:

    21S….Personally, I think it was smart not to do it. As NH said “We can’t afford to pay $14 mil to one player”.

    And, if we upset poor AJ, I hear the O’s need him. (altho, I don’t think he WAS upset).

    I still think they’ve already agreed on a price and AJ’s wife is making his mind up for him.
    :) :) :)

  50. According to Fielding Bible stats:

    2B — Neil Walker finished 10th of 21 ranked 2nd basemen == “Average”
    SS — Jordy Mercer was not ranked of 19 SS in Fielding Bible . . .
    . . . his 16 errors (13 @ SS, 3 more at 2B) would rank him tied for 15th of the 21 on MLB Fielding stats. His .965 Fielding % ranks him 20th of 21
    3B — Pedro did not rank at all in top 16 in Fielding Bible
    . . . In MLB Stats Pedro Alvarez ranked 21 of 22 third basemen/his .941 Fielding % beat only Pablo Sandoval’s .940
    Pedro Alvarez’s 27 errors led every Major Leaguer at every position on the field in 2013 season

    Pirates for 2014 season project 1 Average infielder (at 2B), and 3 poor fielders (at 1B, SS, and 3B) according to Fielding Bible stats and MLB Stats on ESPN

  51. Bizrow says:

    AJ hasn’t signed anywhere, yet, there has been no public rhetoric on negotiations.

    I agree with 21s thoughts, there is a chance he will return

    One thing is though, he might be worried that there is no starting spot there for the full season?

  52. LeeFoo says:

    Dr S….you’re not using Fielding % as your guide, are you?

  53. NMR says:

    Is there anybody on the blog that exagerates more than Groat? Lord!

  54. NMR says:

    Hey Biz, what do you think the Orioles being involved says about the situation?

    We know they obviously have greater financial resources than the Pirates, they desparately need another starting pitcher, and AJ is their top target.

    Seems like either AJ truly doesn’t know whether he wants to play, or he’s demanding a BOAT load of money to do it.

  55. Steelkings says:

    Two things:

    1. Go on Brother Groat. Tell it like it is.

    2. Note the color of no# 34′s new plow. It aint orange!

    http://instagram.com/p/itvncqiVPR/#

  56. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking, Foo. I still have hope they will trade for a lefty-hitting platoon partner for Gaby. But, if not, I think Lambo will get his shot at 1b. I think he profiles as a GIJ type. He may even hit for a higher average. But, not everyone jumps in and excels in this league. Some guys take a bit of time. I think Lambo may be like that. Of course, he may be playing for another team when he gets it.

    Let’s face it, though, if Lambo is playing much RF beyond July or so something has gone wrong with the Polanco trajectory we all hope for.

  57. Jim S. says:

    You can look at it as either smart or cheap, but the fact is the Pirates decided GIJ is not nearly worth the salary he was going to command this year + next.

  58. Jim S. says:

    “Seems like either AJ truly doesn’t know whether he wants to play, or he’s demanding a BOAT load of money to do it.”

    +++

  59. LeeFoo says:

    “Seems like either AJ truly doesn’t know whether he wants to play, or he’s demanding a BOAT load of money to do it.”

    NMR….what does one have to do with the other. Maybe….just maybe, the O’s ARE offering a lot of money to AJ.

    Maybe………just maybe, AJ and NH have decided on the amount he’s to be paid and AJ (or his wife) just aren’t ready to make a decision. AJ has said that he has more than enough money, so that isn’t the issue. I know athletes, coaches, GMs, etc, lie a lot, but for some reason, I think AJ is telling the truth.

    IF he IS demanding lots of money (which I don’t think so), then let him go to the O’s.

    Foo

  60. It makes sense to me that low walk rates and low strike out would go hand in hand. Pitchers aren’t afraid to pitch to contact at PNC. The question I have is how much the park factors at PNC come into play with the players they are acquiring. Some of the pitchers they’ve acquired make a lot of sense. On the flip side there has never been a hitter less suited for PNC than Rod Barajas. http://hiddenvigorish.com/2014/01/finding-the-perfect-hitter-for-pnc-park/

  61. Andrew says:

    I do not find it apparent that we are seeing a change, you can plot a trend line with an upward slope if you leave out 2010 when his GB/FB was 1.15, and his FB% 39.6%. Coming into this season is LD/GB/FB rates were 17.6/48.2/34.2 this year 20.5/43.1/36.1, these numbers do not convince me, I like the increased LD% but LD% are inherently unstable, and a 2% point uptick in FB% is within normal variation. This is a league average batted ball profile with elite power.

    Do not get me wrong I will welcome Pedro the fly ball hitter, additionally I will take the current version of elite power and average defense at third, and I think the Pirates might be best paying Alvarez through arbitration and getting a draft pick. However, given his low contact rates, poor pitch recognition, high swing strike, I do not think Alvarez is capable of Adam Dunn, Bautista like FB%.

    These are just observations and I cannot prove anything, maybe his contact rate ticks up, and looking at his GB% rate against pitch type, he appears to have improve at not driving fastball and curves into the ground this year, but I’ll take the under on 40 homeruns.

    I think hitting .250 is more likely his xBABIP last year was .311 (yes I pulled out my calculator). Oddly the shift did not drive down his BABIP, Alvarez had a BABIP of .303, with the shift on and .279, without the shift, not sure what to make of that. I agree some BABIP luck will raise the average, I am just a skeptic that any sweeping changes are likely.

  62. Andrew says:

    Most people recognizes that pitchers can come to the Pirates and play half their games in PNC and benefit because it suppresses homeruns and offense. Why then sight the raw run total of the Pirates offense? The Pirates offense was 7th in OPS and 4th in wRC+ in the NL, park factors matter.

  63. Buckeyehba says:

    On the subject of a Lambo/ Tabby platoon….. Not my preference. You really have to take the first two months of the season to see what you have with a post surgery Snyder.

  64. Steelkings says:

    Exactly the problem with Jeff Locke. He nibbles at the plate too much.

  65. RobertoForever says:

    Travis,

    Happy New Year! This year is looking up because we will have you for the full 2014 season. And Happy new Year to the rest of the blog commenters.

    Travis, wondering if you saw the report on the Pirates offering the 3 years & $21 million to Loney. If they did what are your thoughts on that vis a vis, the Pirates intent vs the result so far this off season.

    And what happens if you go to a gold mining claim auction and get outbid on every claim? :)

  66. NMR says:

    Andrew, you keep mentioning Pedro’s contact rate in relation to batted ball profile? What do these two have to do with each other?

    And fwiw, I don’t consider a fly ball rate of 40% “sweeping changes”. You can find any number of players who’ve had they’re batted ball profiles evolve with experience.

    I don’t Pedro’s career path can be forgotten, either. Guy has gone through massive change and failure since 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s still finsing the hitter he’ll be as a major leaguer.

  67. NMR says:

    Foo, I never said they have anything to do with one another. I specifically used the conjunction “or” to differentiate two ideas.

  68. NMR says:

    People may laugh, but I agree with you in principle. Travis Snider had a hell of an April. And he had a pretty damn good month of baseball after being traded in 2012 (also before getting injured).

    Even if that is all Snider can give you, a month of good baseball is still a month of good baseball.

  69. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks, Roberto. Happy New Year.

    It was my understanding the Pirates made a similar offer in annual average value to Loney but weren’t willing to go to three years … do you have a link to the report?

    As for their offseason to date, I think they’ve had one of the less impactful ones among NL contenders. The biggest thing, to me, is AJ Burnett remains unsigned.

  70. LeeFoo says:

    Travis…it was posted on MLBTR

    Foo

  71. LeeFoo says:

    P2 has started their annual Top 20 Prospects look. First up Michael De La Cruz, OF

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/pittsburgh-pirates-2014-top-prospects-20-michael-de-la-cruz.html

  72. LeeFoo says:

    I found this interesting from MLBTR

    A variety of current and former big-league front-office types with Western Pennsylvania roots meet every December in Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Attendees have included Pirates president Frank Coonelly, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, Marlins assistant GM Mike Berger, Indians senior director of scouting operations John Mirabelli, Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield, Royals special assistant Tim Conroy and Pirates national scouting supervisor Jack Bowen. “It’s open to anyone in the area with even a loose affiliation to major league baseball,” says Berger. “It’s neat to see the different guys who roll in, from part-time scouts to team officials, young guys just getting their start, interns. You’d be surprised how many of us call Pittsburgh home.”

  73. 21sthebest says:

    As an aside, I played youth baseball with Pittsburgh native Mike Berger!

  74. LeeFoo says:

    kewl!!!

  75. Andrew says:

    The reason I bring up contact rate is, Alvarez’s contact is awful, 19th worst of any hitter who has taken 300 PAs over last four years. Combine this with his, high whiff rate, low walk rate and I conclude in his present form he is not a very discerning hitter.

    I view it as very unlikely that a hitter of his quality can significantly increase fly ball rate, especially when there is a small tradeoff between contact and fly ball rates. Given the rate Alvarez has put balls in play he is going to need a fly ball rate of 44%, some 25% increase over career average, in order to hit 40 HRs, (this assumes 25% HR/FB.)

    It is possible, my point is it is not very likely.

  76. Travis Sawchik says:

    Interesting thoughts, gents.

    Heyward is another player with a lot of swing-and-miss who has had changed his batted ball profile.

    Eric Hosmer is a player who has a relatively modest K-rate who is struggling to produce flyballs.

    Does a discerning eye correlate to batted ball type? Any studies on this?

 
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