23 March 2012

ESPN 3 Who to Watch: Weekend of March 23-25, 2012


ESPN 3 Who to Watch: Weekend of March 23-25, 2012.
by Jeremy Strain
FRIDAY
3/23 7:00 PM EDT #1 Florida vs. #8 SouthCarolina
The pitching matchups to watch in this series feature Florida starters BrianJohnson, JohnnyMagliozzi , HudsonRandall and ace reliever AustinMaddox versus South Carolina hurler MattPrice. [NOTE FROM NICK: Randall, Maddox and Price all threw on Thursday night, and Price and Maddox are most likely unavailable again until Saturday.]

SATURDAY
3/24 1:00 PM EDT #20 NorthCarolina State vs. #5 NorthCarolina
This matchup doesn’t feature any of the BA preseason top100, but it features some young players to watch for 2013, and some youngoutstanding pitching.
3/24 1:00 PM EDT #1 Florida vs. #8 SouthCarolina
From abatting standpoint, led by Mike Zunino, Preston Tucker, and Nolan Fontana, Florida is sawing throughcompetition this season. [NOTE FROM NICK: Freshmen Taylor Gushue and Joshua Tobias are candidates for early-round attention come 2014.] For South Carolina at bat, the preseason top 100players to watch are Evan Marzilli, Christian Walker, and Adam Matthews, who is off to a bit of a slow startthis season [NOTE FROM NICK: but showed well in Thursday night's series opener].
3/24 4:00 PM EDT FloridaAtlantic vs. MiddleTennessee
This game doesn’t feature any of the BA preseason top 100.

SUNDAY
3/25 1:00 PM EDT #3 Arkansasvs. MississippiState
The players to watch for in this matchup are from numberthree ranked Arkansas featuring OF Nolan Sanburn and P D.J.Baxendale who areboth preseason top 30 players. [NOTE FROM NICK: Matt Reynolds is a fringe top 100 talent and 2013 early-round candidates Ryne Stanek and Dom Ficociello are worth a watch.]
3/25 2:00 PM EDT #20 NorthCarolina State vs. #5 NorthCarolina
As mentioned before this is a game more to watch for 2013than for the 2012 draft, but a tough ACC matchup.

22 March 2012

2012 Draft Coverage: Finding 1:4 (Introduction)

This year the Baltimore Orioles will have the fourth overall pick in the MLB Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft). As in years past, Camden Depot will roll out detailed scouting reports of the players we think should be considered for selection come June. Again as in years past, we will run a "shadow draft", whereby we make a selection for Baltimore for each slot in the first ten rounds.

Unique to our 2012 coverage, we'll be starting a weekly piece (most likely on Mondays) giving a current ranking of our 1:4 targets, and a summary of any noteworthy info relating to those players over the previous week. Below is our current "preference list", ranking the fifteen players we have selected as targets for the 1:4 pick. This list was based on scouting trips over the past nine months and some video review. One note is that Luc Giolito (pictured) was at the top of our off-season pref list, but has dropped down for now until we see the extent of the arm woes that have led to his shutting down for 6 - 8 weeks. Below the rankings we've also broken the list down by player type.

Current Preference List (March 22, 2012)
1. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
2. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)
3. Mike Zunino, c, Univ. of Florida
4. Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona St. Univ.
5. Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Univ. of San Francisco
6. Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS (Lake Charles, La.)
7. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
8. Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS (Lafayette, La.)
9. Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
10. David Dahl, of, Oak Mountain HS (Birmingham, Ala.)
11. Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
12. Max Fried, lhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
13. Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
14. Matt Smoral, lhp, Solon HS (Solon, Ohio)
15. Walker Weickel, rhp/1b, Olympia HS (Fla.)

Breakdown
College Pitchers
Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Univ. of San Francisco

College Position Players
Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona St. Univ.
Mike Zunino, c, Univ. of Florida

High School Pitchers
Max Fried, lhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
Matt Smoral, lhp, Solon HS (Solon, Ohio)
Walker Weickel, rhp, Olympia HS (Orlando, Fla.)

High School Position Players
Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)
Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS (Lake Charles, La.)
Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
David Dahl, of, Oak Mountain HS (Birmingham, Ala.)
Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS (Lafayette, La.)

I have seen all but Zimmer in person already (most multiple times), and will be seeing Zimmer and Appel this upcoming weekend in the Bay Area. Next weeked will be spent in Louisiana, where I plan to catch Gausman, Trahan and Cecchini. Full scouting reports will begin to roll out in April. Each report will contain player video. We strongly encourage reader involvement and hope to keep an ongoing dialogue in the discussion section of the weekly updates and the player reports. To whet your appetite, here is video of our current #1 target, Mark Appel, taken during his start this summer against Japan's collegiate national team:





We look forward to counting down with you to the draft, and the addition of the next Orioles top prospect. See you at the fields!

2012 Preseason Talent Ranking

This ranking system was based on the quality of talent on each team based on projected WAR.  The lowest team, Houston, was set at zero while the highest team, New York Yankees, was set as 100. 



It looks like it might be another rough year here in Baltimore.  Baltimore came in as the 26th most talented season.  The next best AL East team, Toronto, came in at 16th.

21 March 2012

Dontrelle Willis as a Reliever Could Be a Good Thing

It was announced yesterday that the Orioles have signed Dontrelle Willis (who was recently released by the Philadelphia Phillies) to a minor league deal.  Take a look at the following four lines:
21.0 IP  30 K   8 BB  2.13 FIP
44.2 IP  17 K  48 BB 7.27 FIP
17.0 IP  20 K   2 BB  2.01 FIP
58.2 IP  37 K  35 BB 4.71 FIP
All four of those lines are one created by Willis.  The first two are from his 2010 season for the Tigers and Diamondbacks.  The second two are from last year with the Reds.  The first and third lines are his numbers against lefties and the other two are his numbers against righties.

Willis' career lines?
vs L 10.5 k/9   2.92 bb/9   2.50 FIP
vs R  5.7 k/9   3.86 bb/9   4.61 FIP

Some Year-by-Year FIP?


A wrinkle in all of this obvious information about Willis' brilliance against lefties and symbol as a harbinger of the apocalypse when he faces right handed batters is that he has had only three relief appearances over his entire career.  He has been quite insistent in the past that he was a starter.  His change of heart will likely bring him a great deal of success, but it is not exactly something we can take for granted.  Relievers prepare differently than a starter.  Furthermore, a reliever who faces a couple lefties and sits down really needs to be someone who has a rubber arm.  A guy who can get up and down several times during a game and be able to pitch several nights in a row.  Otherwise, you have a near black hole in the bullpen with a guy who will give you about 100 southy outs in a season.

All that being said...it is somewhat interesting how so many of the things I have asked for in the past are being done with this team.  Yes, these moves are not deciding whether or not the team makes the playoffs, but it is helpful to find cheap upsides that can help the team down the road in terms of future performance or in acquiring talent.

18 March 2012

NL West FIP and Pitching xWARs by Slot

There is a series of articles by Jack Sackman that you can find here.  It is an idea I found interesting an often use when I describe pitchers as a certain type of slot pitcher.  I think in common use a person referring to a guy as a one slot pitcher is more or less actually saying that the guy is a one slot pitcher on a first division team.  In other words, an ace on one of the ten best teams in baseball.  In this series of posts, I am going through each division and describing what each slot means and how that relates to teams.
AL East | Central | West
NL East | Central | West
Methodology
For each team, slots were broken down in 32 starts per slot (for a total of 160 games).  Pitchers were ordered by FIP, lowest to highest.  They were then broken up into slots.  Their FIPs were weighted by inning allotment and a weighted average was calculated for each slot.

An example:
Chris Tillman had an FIP of 3.99 over 11 starts, Zach Britton had an FIP of 4.00 over 28 starts, and Jeremy Guthrie had an FIP of 4.51 over 32 starts.  For the purpose of this study, Tillman's 11 starts all counted for the Orioles slot 1 along with 21 of Britton's 28 starts.  The remaining 7 starts were put into the slot 2 position with 25 of Jeremy Guthrie's starts.  When a pitcher's starts are split between multiple slots, it is assumed that their FIP is equal for every inning thrown and that their IP are equal for every start.

NL West

FIP


The Diamondbacks look pretty awful here, but part of it has to do with how home run friendly their park is.

Below is the NL Central FIP by Slot Table.



1 2 3 4 5
Diamondbacks 3.22 3.28 3.79 4.68 5.88
Dodgers 2.47 3.65 3.82 4.07 4.34
Giants 2.67 2.90 3.15 3.68 4.67
Padres 3.16 3.56 4.01 4.10 4.21
Rockies 3.41 3.94 4.30 4.72 5.79

xWAR

The following graph is simply a predicted fWAR value using only FIP and IP as described in this post.  It serves as an approximation of fWAR worth.


Below is the NL Central xWAR by Slot Table.



1 2 3 4 5
Diamondbacks 4.42 4.31 2.45 0.70 -2.90
Dodgers 6.48 3.09 2.44 1.62 1.15
Giants 5.35 5.17 4.49 2.99 -0.13
Padres 4.23 2.95 2.02 1.85 1.36
Rockies 3.22 2.08 1.39 0.22 -2.54