Eno Sarris


Recent Posts

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

Sometimes, finding nothing is interesting. It’s obviously not exciting as finding *something*, but it’s not a waste of time.

For example, Blake Murphy went looking for an expected walk rate for pitchers given different plate discipline peripherals. You’d think, if given a pitcher’s percentage of pitches in the zone, and batters’ propensity to reach (and miss) for pitches outside the zone, you might be able to get a sense of their future walk rate. After all, not walking a guy is as simple as throwing the ball in the zone, and getting batters to turn a couple walks into strikes for you, right?

Guess not.

Murphy couldn’t predict walk rate any better than previous walk rates. This, after finding some success predicting strikeout rates using velocity and swinging strike rates (FanGraphs’ Michael Barr had similar findings). That might be because there are confounding factors that aren’t easy to quantify — repeatability of mechanics, consistency of release points, and the severity of movement on the pitches — or it might be because we need to weight each of the variables differently to get there. Control (and command) is a difficult thing to suss. Even guys with similar walk rates have different levels of control and command.

But this wouldn’t be a good column if I just shrugged and said — eh, we can’t know! (Who knows if it’s a good column anyway, but there’s no need to give the opposition more evidence.)

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World Series - San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers - Game 4

Supposedly ladies love the long ball. But strikeouts are fascist. So it’s hard to figure out who’s happy and who’s not when it comes to the “strikeout or home run” state of the game today. Look at how crazy it’s gotten, thanks to Doug Niblock’s excellent work at High Heat Stats:

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Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

April is cold. We have rainouts and snowouts to prove it. Velocity and temperature are related. We have Mike Fast pointing to August as the velocity peak to prove it.

That said, April velocity loss is interesting to us. Velocity stabilizes very quickly, and the difference between April and August is on the order of a half mile per hour — some hurlers have lost more than that delta and aren’t getting it all back.

And now Bill Petti is adding two asterisks to April velocity loss that makes it even worse. Here they are:

Pitchers who are down at least 1 mph compared to April of the previous year will go on to finish the season down at least 1 mph about 38% of the time.

Pitchers that were down at least 1 mph in April had an arm injury rate of 11%. Compared to 4% for non-velocity decliners, that’s an increased likelihood of 2.6.

So, to recap: pitchers with April velocity loss are very likely to continue showing velocity that’s lower than they showed the year before, slightly likely to have the same or worse velocity loss all year, and slightly more likely to get injured. All of this sounds very relevant to fantasy owners.

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St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Five

We know some stats stabilize earlier than others, that’s well-traveled ground. But a recent chart over by Charlie Adams at Beyond the Boxscore depicts the race to significance visually for us:


It’s early in the season. The samples are short. Many stats won’t matter for a while. But! Players have made changes to their swing and contact rates that might hold steady. Of course, all we are saying is that we can learn more from the player’s rates than the league rates at this point — we aren’t saying these rates will hold steady all year. But we can learn from them.

So who changed their approach the most? Here are the top 15 guys who decided to swing more:

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Montgomery Biscuits v Pensacola Blue Wahoos

That’s a misnomer. We don’t need to project Billy Hamilton overall, that’s why there are projections systems. He won’t have much power, and he has elite speed, we can use his minor league walk and strikeouts and presto, bingo bango: projection.

Here’s the thing. Billy Hamilton has speed like you’ve never seen before. He set the record for minor league stolen bases. The real Billy Hamilton facts are so ridiculous you don’t even need to make up fake ones. The guy he beat out for the record, Vince Coleman, once rode the no-power, inconsistent-walks, too-many-strikeouts train to some seasons that any fantasy player today would love to own — even his first season, when he hit .267 and stole 110 bases (and he had better).

So perhaps, when Steamer projects Billy Hamilton to hit .245, perhaps it can’t account fully for Hamilton’s elite-elite speed. You don’t build a projection system to be right for the two dots way out out on the extremes, you build it for the heart of the bell curve.

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San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals - Game Three

Trying to figure out who will be the next closer is the bane/pleasure of the fantasy game. It’s enough to make some people hate fantasy baseball, full-stop. But if you’re a game player — and I love em all from Settlers of Cataan to Dominion to Backgammon — all you have to do is learn the rules of the games, the settings, and then try to win!

If saves are in your settings, you have to chase them. And since more than a third of the closers in baseball lose their job to injury or poor play in any given year, it makes sense to spend little up front and chase hard all year.

The problem with chasing saves is… well, it might be managers. Because, though we think we know what makes a good pitcher — lots of strikeouts, few walks, maybe some ground balls to help keep the homer rate down — most of these things correlate well with a change at the position.

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Kansas City Royals v Los Angeles Dodgers

Everyone’s got a list. Something something about buttholes and opinions, I know.

But when Chris St. John makes his prospect list, it’s a little different. He brings all of the prominent prospect lists together to make one list to rule them all. It’s a great way to do things if you want to know what the industry consensus is on a guy, and it’s the way a statistician would make a list.

Hidden with the folds of this list are some very interesting players, too. The players that defy consensus. The volatile prospects. And those players, well, there’s where our ‘research’ comes in this week.

St. John already wrote up a nice article about which players were notable in each list for their inclusion, exclusion, and ranking. Articles are nice and all, but tables and lists are better, right? So I took his article and made a pivot report of the article. That’s how much of a nerd I can be. What follows is a list of the players that were mentioned the most — positive, negative, whatever — and could therefore be thought of as the ‘non-consensus’ prospects, or the most volatile prospects.

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