Archive for the ‘General’ Category

GirlieView (01/08/2015)

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2014-2015 Offseason = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • Apparently, it just isn’t the substance of the comment but how it is delivered, or framed, that matters. Dork has this all on a spread sheet and Noah_I , a.k.a Theo is keeping a watchful eye from the front office as Jswan goes along his happy go lucky flippant way
  • ホワイトソックスはゴミである
  • 多分カブスは2009年にアダム·ダン署名している必要があります
  • I actually appreciate John Dewan’s insightful posts, and think he should write a book one of these days.
  • The book of John, Fielding Bible. My pastor references the book of John often.
  • I’m not touching that with a 10 cubit pole.
  • I understand that the Dominican Republic is his home and that the people he was with are his friends, but you have to make smart decisions with the people you associate yourself with or you put yourself in a position to lose the things you’ve worked hard for.
  • Happy New Year! Six weeks and pitchers and catchers report. Who will be attending the VFTB spring training dinner in Phoenix?
  • Inked D-norf. Nice.
  • Was it a tramp stamp?
  • You could ask ‘norf next month over dinner. You know, at Subway.
  • Have a blog post go live about every Cubs game this season.
  • I am going to log every cubs game into the spreadsheet again this year I have it all set up and ready to go already.
  • Teach my son how to throw 95 with movement.
  • You can do it – how old is your son now?
  • He turns 3 in a week.
  • Dave Buss got 13 votes last year, let’s see if he gets any this year.
  • Don’t you remember the first time you got to touch a boob? It was all you thought about. My guess is he’s doing a little motorboating.
  • I’m pretty jazzed that we have 2 Chris’s in the outfield. Perhaps Alcantara and Soler should changes their names. An All Chris outfield should get a lot of free steaks on the road.
  • Chris is the new Carlos.
  • What are you most excited for in 2015? My Answer? The Chicago Cubs.

Lizard

  • On a baseball note, “wait ’til next year” hasn’t been this exciting for quite awhile, let’s go Cubs!

Shout Outs

  • Big shout out to Chet West for his first 2014-2015 off-season Lizzie!!!! Way to go Chet!

MVL

  • Congratulations to jswanson, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Yay jswan!

Top 10 of the 2014-2015 Offseason (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie Von White
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Seymour Butts
5. Dork
5. Doug S.
7. Noah Eisner
8. Jedi
8. Jerry in Wisconsin
10. SBardo

Chit Chat

As things stand right now, who are your three favorite Cubs? You might not know the newer guys too well, in that case who are you the most excited about?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Looking Forward, and Liking It?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

It was New Years Eve, and to be honest, I don’t get up for it as much as I once did.  I rarely go out of the house on New Years Eve anymore.  Maybe it’s my age,  or maybe it’s being married with two kids under five and the desire to sleep and not stay out until 2 am and dump a mortgage payment on the babysitter+dinner+drinks+Uber? Another reason is it may very well be the single largest amateur drinking night of the year (your chances of being thrown up on go up by at least 40%) or maybe it’s the resolutions and the resolution-esque questions?

Are you going to eat better food?

Are you going to workout more?

Are you going to be more financially responsible?

Are you going to be nice to people?

And then of course they give you their super grand dazzling New Years resolution that nobody would ever think of on the face of the earth, because they are just such an overachiever and awesome and 2015 is going to be their year! Fast-forward 11 months and they will be the same miserable sod on Thanksgiving that they were exactly one day prior to the previous year ending.  If anybody actually remembered your terrible resolution this far into the year they could throw it back in your face for completely failing at life.  However, nobody ever remembers ’cause nobody cares!  But by all means post it all to Facebook so the world now knows how awesome your going to try to be.  I’ll be the first one to offer up a cheeseburger and fries at your weakest moment…promise!

So anyway, this year, I went out on New Years Eve. It wasn’t bad, Minneapolis tends to be more tame than Chicago and the spots we picked were full but not annoyingly so. The booze flowed freely and so did the questions but I got one that I actually answered with a little better than a canned answer…..What are you most excited for in 2015?

My Answer?

The Chicago Cubs.

I know, I know, it’s not like the promised land is, well, promised.  But at least the land we will live off of will be brighter and sunnier with a little lest decay.  I guess what I am trying to say is the season will mean more past April and maybe, just maybe into August?  To compete would be good, and I think we will to some degree.

I do however have just three wishes for 2015 in regards to the Cubs….

1) Please don’t let Kris Bryant be a bust.  He won’t be, but I would be sad if he is less than awesome.

2) God, help Javier Baez find plate discipline. It does not have to be military grade discipline, maybe we start with not setting a record for strikeouts?

3) Keep Jon Lester healthy and let him prosper in the NL.

 

There, see I don’t ask much.  Really these things should be expected, right?

And your wishes are?

 

 

 

 

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

A Look at the Current Cubs OF

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Jorge Soler – The twenty two year old will be manning right field for the 2015 season after getting a September call-up last season. In 24 games, Soler managed to put up a slash line of .292/.330/.573 good enough for a .903 OPS. His wOBA was at .386 above the league average and proved through his small sample size that he can handle the major league level. After signing a 9 year thirty million dollar contract in June of 2012 I had my doubts of giving that much money to someone that just turned 20 years old. However, over the course of the past two year Soler has put together two solid seasons in the minors totaling 151 games over two plus seasons. The big question is can he stay healthy and continue to provide at a high level. When, Soler is healthy he is force to reckon with as he had video game like numbers with a slash line of.307/.383/.551 for an OPS of .935. According to Fangraphs: Steamer Projections are that he will play in 130 games obtaining 560 at bats with a slash-line of .262/.322/.463 for an OPS of .785. In my personal opinion I actually agree with these numbers as I still have questions about his health and adjusting the league after playing a full season at the major league level. As I move through the post you’ll see the importance of depth the Cubs are building at multiple positions.

Arismendy Alcantara – Alcantara like Soler was called up the big leagues last season and he was the first to be called up on July 9th. Alcantara had some early success as he posted a .253 batting average through his first 75 plate appearances while registering a slash-line of .253/.337/.427/ for OPS of .764. Although, as the season wore on pitchers began adjusting to Alcantara as his batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage had significant drops. A troubling stat in September was that his strikeouts grew to 36 while only walking twice. His power numbers we’re a high point as he had 10 home-runs in limited plate appearances. Alcantara came up as an infielder playing with Baez at Iowa at second-base but as time has went on it’s become a position of strength for the Cubs. He committed five errors in centerfield last year but with working in spring training solely on developing his fielding in center and developing his instincts I don’t see him as a liability in centerfield. Alcantara and Soler both are twenty two years old and will cost 2,000,000 and 500,000 respectively which is 1/7 of Alfonso Soriano’s old contract.

Chris Coghlan – After winning the Rookie of the Year in 2009, Coghlan struggled the past four seasons with his first home the Florida now Miami Marlins. He spent some time in the minors but predominantly played in the majors playing in 125 games registering 42 extra base hits and a slash-line of .283/.352/.452 for an OPS of .804. The question is was his 2014 season a fluke well if we dive into the numbers we see he had a .337 BABIP which is line with his career numbers. His Weighted Runs Above Average via Fangraphs is 14.2 which is calculated by wRAA = ((wOBA – league wOBA) / wOBA scale) × PA. I bring this statistic up because in his 2009 season he had an elevated wRAA at 21.2 while all of his other seasons (minors included) he has been negative in that category. It’s worth keeping an eye on as with both of the mentioned players to see if they can adjust to the scouting

Chris Denorfia – I conclude with the latest free agency signing Denorfia as he is 34 years old and is the veteran on this predominantly young roster. Denorfia has played for five teams in his career spanning both leagues and has played mostly in corner outfield positions for his career totaling over 76% of the 4,255 innings he has played. His best season was in 2012 with the San Diego Padres totaling a .796 OPS in 348 at bats. He also had thirty three extra base hits, thirteen stolen bases and .5 BB/K ratio. I don’t see a lot of power coming from Denorfia but I do see some extra base hit potential and a guy who knows how to get on base. If you don’t include 2014 Denorfia from 2010-2013 had an OBP of .330 or higher while also having at least a .5 BB/K ratio.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Brian Rzeppa’s 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Happy New Year, everyone! The 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class is set to be announced tomorrow and with a 10-player limit on each writer’s voting card, there could be some big names left off yet again. We’ll also hear the debates regarding players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire, but there’s almost zero chance that they’ll get in. While my opinion may differ, I left them off for this exercise just because the card was pretty packed as it was. Without further adieu, let’s get to the picks.

Craig Biggio

After being 0.2% shy of the required 75% for induction, there’s no doubt that Biggio will get in this year. With 3,060 career hits, multiple Gold Gloves and multiple Silver Sluggers, Biggio was a consistent threat for his two decades in the game. While he wasn’t necessarily a dominating force, he certainly deserves a spot amongst the game’s greatest. 

Pedro Martinez

As one of the most electric pitchers (or players in general) that I’ve ever seen, Pedro should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. His peak is up there with anyone who has ever played and I can’t see any reason why he would be held out. 

Randy Johnson

Much like Martinez, Randy Johnson was lights-out during a time when offense was at an all-time high. His strikeout totals won’t be surpassed in the foreseeable future and the longevity that he displayed was impressive in itself. Also like Pedro, “The Big Unit” should be in on the first ballot.

Mike Piazza

Coming in with 62% of the vote on last year’s ballot, it’s really more of a matter of “when” rather than “if” Mike Piazza gets in the Hall. He was one of the best offensive catchers of all-time, as his 427 home runs put him far ahead of Johnny Bench’s second place total of 389. 

Jeff Bagwell

We’re coming up on Bagwell’s 5th year on the ballot and much like Piazza, it’s really just a matter of time before he gets the required amount of votes. His teammate Biggio will likely get in before him, but it can be argued that Bagwell had a better peak. His career numbers compare well to fellow first basemen and he doesn’t have any off-the-field issues that should hold him out. 

John Smoltz

Smoltz is an incredibly interesting case, given that he doesn’t have the counting numbers that voters like from starters (wins, strikeouts) due to his stint as a closer, but he also doesn’t have the save totals due to his time as a starter. Regardless of his role, though, Smoltz was a top pitcher for a very long time. It may not be this year, but he’ll get in.

Edgar Martinez

There are many baseball purists that would never vote for Martinez to get into the Hall, but I’m not one of them. Why penalize a player for playing a position that each American League is required to fill? Why overlook some players’ far below-average defensive play to let them into the Hall? The fact is that Martinez was an imposing hitter and the best DH of all-time and I don’t see any reason that he’s not in there yet.

Alan Trammell

This was one of my toughest calls, and probably is at least slightly influenced given that I live in Michigan. Trammell was one of the best defenders in his era and he was no slouch with the bat. With over 2,000 career hits, nearly 200 home runs, 236 stolen bases and multiple All-Star appearances, his game was very well rounded. He probably won’t get in within the 15-year limit, but I can see him getting in via the Veterans Committee. 

Curt Schilling

Not unlike Smoltz before him, Schilling is a relatively borderline induction candidate this year, but he should get in at some point. He doesn’t have a Cy Young which hurts him, but his postseason performances and consistent regular season will be enough to put him over the top in my mind.

I wound up only using 9 spots for my ballot, but I’m sure there are a few names that could have filled the 10th spot. Mike Mussina and Tim Raines come to mind, but for one reason or another I left them off. What are your thoughts on my ballot? How do yours compare?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

My 2015 Sports Resolutions

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

I had planned on having my 2004 vs 2015 Cubs post go live today but as I was working on it last night, I wasn’t happy with it just yet so I want to work on it a little more. Instead, I want to talk about resolutions a little as we end our week and begin 2015.

I’m not a resolution type of guy. I’m a goal guy. Whether or not you think there is much of a difference is up to you. For the sake of the post, though, I decided to make some resolutions for this year in regards to sports. I’d encourage you to do the same and share them in the comments section.

My 2015 Sports Resolution List

  1. Watch every Cubs game in 2015 – Usually I check out sometime in August after the trade deadline, but this year I want to watch every game. Granted some of them may be the condensed game that is offered on MLB.tv, but I’m going to watch every game.
  2. Attend at least one game this season – For years, when I was living in Chicago I would go to multiple games a year. Since moving to NC, I’ve tried to make it a priority to go to at least one, whether it be in Atlanta or DC. Over the last three years, I’ve failed in that quest. This year, I’m going to head back to Washington in June.
  3. Have a blog post go live about every Cubs game this season. – It has been easy in the past to be slack on this, but I’m making a commitment this year to do it.
  4. Be more active in the comment section of the posts – I tend to stay out of there, but I want to be more engaged this season with the readers.
  5. Watch all the 30 for 30 documentaries - I have seen so few of these and it’s been on my list for awhile. I started last night by watching “A King’s Ransom”, the story about the Wayne Gretzky trade.
  6. Read the entire Bill James New Historical Abstract – It’s an 800+ baseball reference / history book. It’s interesting, but easy to get bogged down with. It should be an endeavor.

I’m sure there are more I will think of as the year goes on, but we’ll start with this list. I’d love your feedback as well as your lists as well.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Catching Up on Cubs News & Notes

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

On Monday, I had surgery on my eye lids to raise them up to give me better field of vision. I had horrible peripheral vision when it came to the upper part of my eye. As a result, I’ve been struggling with some discomfort and bruising and the idea of sitting at a computer any longer than I had to was not appealing. I’m doing better now, aside from looking a little like Boy George due to the eyes being bruised, so it’s time to catch up a little on the news.

Starlin Castro‘s Recent Conversation With the Authorities - I just happened to be on my phone when all of this broke on Twitter as a result of a tweet from an ESPN Deportes reporter. The biggest takeaway now that Castro has been cleared once again, is that he needs to surround himself with better people and commiserate in better places. I understand that the Dominican Republic is his home and that the people he was with are his friends, but you have to make smart decisions with the people you associate yourself with or you put yourself in a position to lose the things you’ve worked hard for. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can cost you. Castro’s agent has come out and said that he and Theo and Jed have discussed the sitiaution and that Castro is in the process of looking at a move to the US. You can listen to the interview with Castro’s agent here.

A lot of people want to just give up on Castro, but I’m not one of them. I see him, at his peak, as a hitter with 200 hit capability (we’ve seen that before), 20+ home run power, and average to above average defense in the field. I don’t give up on a player this young with that kind of talent.

Stephen Drew Rumors – Jon Heyman mentioned that the Cubs were one of a few teams interested in the services of Drew to play second base. I don’t see the point as you have a potential star in Javier Baez ready to blossom and take over the position. To block him with an over 30 veteran that, really, isn’t all that good is absurd. I don’t give much credit to this rumor.

Chris Denorfia reportedly signs with the Cubs – His former teammate, John Baker, tweeted the news out, so take that with a grain of salt. As of right this minute, the signing has not been announced by the team. The deal is reported to be one year for $2.5 million. Denorfia figures to be a platoon outfielder with Chris Coghlin in LF, which signals to me that as of right now, a big bat in the OF is not coming. In the meantime, if we find something available, eating small contracts like that of Coghlin or Denorfia is not a big deal.

That will do it for today. I plan to have a post going up tomorrow comparing the 2004 Cubs, the first team I blogged about, to the 2015 projected Cubs. It’s been interesting to work on, so keep an eye out for that.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Are Defensive Runs Saved Predictive?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

 

by John Dewan

Defensive analytics have grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade. At Baseball Info Solutions (BIS), we eat, sleep and breathe defense, but there is always more to learn. A recent research project uncovered some remarkable new information.

One of the public perceptions has been that a player needs three full seasons before his defensive metrics provide a true indication of his defensive abilities. That has been my own personal rule of thumb, though I’ve known there is some reliability to sample sizes smaller than three years.

Based on the new research, BIS has found that Defensive Runs Saved based on as small a sample size as 350 innings in the field (about a quarter of the season) produces reliable results. This is a very significant finding.

The research produced another significant finding. Defensive Runs Saved is a better predictor than many other statistical measures in baseball even over limited samples. Most notably, DRS is a better predictor of future performance than batting average and OPS with partial season data.

We’ll have more on this in the upcoming book, The Fielding Bible—Volume IV, but here is a table that summarizes the results. We use the statistic called the correlation coefficient to show how predictive each statistic is—it produces a number between -1 and 1, with numbers near zero meaning no predictability and numbers near -1 and 1 meaning high predictability.

Correlation Coefficients of AVG, OPS, and DRS
Statistic 350 Innings 700 Innings
Batting Average 0.46 0.47
OPS 0.52 0.51
DRS 0.55 0.59

 

As you can see from the table, DRS is more predictive than batting average and OPS after just 350 innings. The same is true if you increase the samples to 700 innings.

In the study, we ran correlations of three years of defensive data versus the subsequent year’s DRS totals for position players. The first used 350 innings for DRS and 175 at-bats for batting average and OPS—both about one fourth of an MLB season—over both samples. The second used 700 innings and 350 at-bats. The full explanation of the study of the predictive power of Defensive Runs Saved as well as the rest of our latest defensive research can be found in the upcoming Fielding Bible—Volume IV, which will be released in early spring of 2015.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Prospect Watch: Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

I’ll admit it: this is the first offseason in half a decade that I am more excited about the Chicago Cubs’ Major League team than the prospects in their minor league affiliates. However, that does not mean that prospects should be ignored. To the contrary, the Cubs near unanimously considered top farm system in baseball is the primary reason so many analysts are so high on the team, and even after Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler are no longer considered prospects due to losing rookie eligibility, the Cubs will still have one of the best systems in baseball.

Our first look goes to two of the three first round selections by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, and company: 2012 first round pick Albert Almora and 2014 first round pick Kyle Schwarber.

Albert Almora (CF, 20 years old)

2014 Stats:
Dayt0na (High A): 385 PAs, .283/.306/.406, 11.9% K rate, 3.1% BB rate, .123 ISO, .305 BABIP, 100 wRC+, 6 SB, 3 CS
Tennessee (Double A): 144 PAs, .234/.250/.355, 16.0% K rate, 1.4% BB rate, .121 ISO, .267 BABIP, 64 wRC+, 0 SB, 1 CS

Analysis:
There are two camps on Almora, the optimists and the pessimists. The optimists see an elite defensive center fielder who strikes out very little and generally at least held his own in the minor leagues, with the sole exception of his Double A promotion last season, while being very young for each league he played in. The pessimists see Josh Vitters without the power at the plate, a guy who does not strike out but with no discernible approach, resulting in a lot of weak contact. They also see a guy who will have average power at best and doesn’t walk, leaving it hard to see how a guy with a low OBP and mediocre slugging rate can be a Major League regular, much less someone worthy of the sixth pick in a pretty strong draft.

I split the two, but fall more into the pessimist camp at the plate. I am very concerned about the complete lack of approach that Almora has shown to date. He is too much of a see ball/hit ball hitter without having the sort of power to make that approach work. It is pretty simple: he has to walk more to be successful. He does not need to be an above average walk guy; if he gets the walk rate into the 7-8% range that will also likely mean he is waiting for pitches he can drive more, and he can succeed with that sort of walk rate and a low K rate. But he cannot succeed walking in less than 3% of his plate appearances over a season.

Everyone appears to agree he is an elite defender in center field, a premium defensive position, which should at the least give Almora more opportunities to find success at the plate. You can live with Josh Vitters’s bat if the player is also providing elite defensive value. You cannot live with that bat when it’s also connected to Josh Vitters’s glove.

The few reasons I remain somewhat optimistic about Almora at the plate, though, are his young age and reported makeup, which is supposed to be among the best in baseball. However, if he is as eminently coachable as his makeup would infer, he needs to show it this season. Almora will likely slide into the back half of most Top 100 prospect lists, although I would expect to see him closer to 51 than 100. He has the ability to make a huge jump, but could also slide off the lists entirely and be precariously close to the dreaded “former prospect” status if he does not improve.

Likely 2015 Starting Spot: Double A Tennessee

MLB Debut: Mid-2016 to mid-2017.

Kyle Schwarber (C/LF/1B, 21 years old)

2014 Stats:
Boise (Short Season A): 24 PAs, .600/.625/1.350, 8.3% K rate, 8.3% BB rate, .750 ISO, .533 BABIP, 397 wRC+, 0 SB, 1 CS
Kane County (Low A): 96 PAs, .361/.447/.602, 17.7% K rate, 11.5% BB rate, .241 ISO, .419 BABIP, 197 wRC+, 1 SB, 1 CS
Daytona (High A): 191 PAs, .302/.393/.560, 19.9% K rate, 13.6% BB rate, .258 ISO, .328 BABIP, .166 wRC+, 4 SB, 0 CS

Analysis
Many analysts were surprised when the Cubs took Schwarber with the 4th pick in the MLB draft because they felt Schwarber was, in the long run, a first baseman in the Major Leagues. This would mean he is blocked by the Cubs’ current best player, Anthony Rizzo, and it is a huge risk to draft a first baseman that high because the bat has to be so good for the player to provide elite value. The Cubs, however, felt that Schwarber was the best available college bat, had a shot to stick at catcher, and could at least play a survivable left field.

Schwarber’s bat provided all that could be hoped for and more, dominating three levels after participating in a full college season. He lapped the other 2014 draftee in the argument for best college bat, Michael Conforto (selected by the Mets with the number 10 pick), and the only question in regards to his bat is if he will be able to keep this up as he enters the upper minors next season. Most firmly believe he will continue to mash.

The real question with Schwarber is “what is his MLB position?” The Cubs sent him to instructs at their Mesa, Arizona, facility in October to determine whether they wanted to keep him catching or end that experiment now. Of course, if Schwarber could catch even half the season he would massively increase his value, as very few catchers can hit like Schwarber, particularly from the left side of the plate. But he is a work in progress there, so that will also slow down his ascent to the Majors.

After one week, the Cubs decided Schwarber can catch well enough that they will keep working him at the position next season. What exactly Schwarber’s breakdown between catching and left field will be in 2015, I am not exactly sure, but I would bet you’ll mostly see Schwarber catching and then getting truly rested by DHing on the majority of days he doesn’t catch.

If Schwarber continues to stick at catcher, you probably will not see him in the Majors until at least late 2016, with early 2017 being more likely. If he is moved to left field permanently, he could be up as early as late 2015 if the Cubs contend and think his bat could help the club.

Likely 2015 Starting Spot: Double A Tennessee

MLB Debut: Late 2015 (if not catching anymore ) to early 2017 (if sticks at catcher).

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

3 Players Set For Big Regression In 2015

Monday, December 29th, 2014

With the offseason coming to a bit of a lull (although top names like Max Scherzer and James Shields are still available) it’s safe to say that we can start looking towards next season already. Last year, we saw some surprising names jump onto the scene, but we may see some of those fade away as quickly as they came.

Alfredo Simon – SP – Detroit Tigers

After looking at last season’s basic statistics for Simon, 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA, many lauded the Tigers for their acquisition. He’s coming off of his first All-Star season at the age of 33, but it appears that last year might have been a case of fool’s gold.

Throughout the first half of last year, Simon pitched to a 12-3 record with an impressive 2.70 ERA, so you can easily say that his All-Star appearance was well earned. With that being said, his numbers fell off of a cliff during the second half, as he went 3-7 with a pedestrian 4.52 ERA.

If you look into the advanced statistics, the picture becomes even clearer. He was the beneficiary of the league’s 10th lowest Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) at .265, a number that is typically around the .285-.295 mark for most pitchers. Along with that, he managed to strike out just 5.82 batters per nine innings, which was the lowest for a full season in his career.

His 3.44 ERA looks impressive on the surface, but his 4.33 FIP tells a much different story. That number placed him 10th worst among qualified starting pitchers and is definitely not indicative of someone who will maintain success in the future. Making the move to Comerica Park will help, but I don’t see any situation in which Simon replicates his 2014 success.

Casey McGehee – 3B – San Francisco Giants

Last season, McGehee came out of nowhere to steadily produce for a Miami Marlins team that was barren on offense. This was his first truly productive season since the 2010 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers. Since then, he had spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Yankees and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

While his surprising comeback was certainly a feel-good story for fans around the league, his resume from last year has some holes in it that are just too glaring to overlook going into 2015.

After being slugging his way to a .319/.386/.391 slash line during the first half of the season (assisted by an astronomical .369 BABIP), McGehee started to fall off the table in the second half, with his numbers dropping all the way down to a paltry .243/.310/.310. Along with the drop to a regular BABIP in the second half (.284) McGehee saw his strikeout numbers jump from 55 in 93 games to 47 in just 67.

The second half that McGehee produced is more than likely what we are going to see out of him for the entirety of the 2015 season. He’ll be a passable option for the Giants at third until they can find a long-term solution, but we likely won’t see a repeat of his .287/.355/.357 line that he posted in 2014.

Josh Harrison – 3B – Pittsburgh Pirates

In talking about breakout players from the 2014 season, there aren’t many guys that burst onto the scene quite like Harrison. After spending his first three years with the Pittsburgh Pirates going up and down between the majors and the minors and largely being considered a role player, Harrison exploded and wound up finishing 9th in MVP voting.

His versatility in the field was incredible, as was his bat. He anchored the leadoff spot for the Pirates and slashed .315/.347/.490 line for the season with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases and wound up posting 4.9 WAR, which was good for 25th in all of baseball.

At just 27 years old, many consider Harrison to be an important piece of the team moving forward, but that may not be the case upon closer consideration. His numbers at the plate were impressive, but they were aided by a .353 BABIP (9th in baseball) and while that alone doesn’t equal regression, it can be a telling sign especially considering his career number of .313.

Harrison’s success last season was almost completely predicated off of murdering fastballs, but beyond four-seamers he was a very average hitter. With pitchers likely to notice these trends, you can guarantee that he’ll be seeing a lot more off-speed stuff in the 2015 season. While he won’t completely fall off the table, a WAR of in the 2.0-2.5 range (still solid) should be expected.

What other players do you expect to come down to earth next season?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: