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Two approaches to signing guys.

January 14, 2015

Evil Empire blog “River Ave Blues” put an interesting piece out yesterday:

The executive summary is as follows:

–The strike zone has been expanding  (FanGraphs links provided) ands specifically it has been expanding lower.

–Purposely or not, Garrett Jones and Curacaoleni Didi Gregorius are two of the new pick-ups who hits low balls disproportionately well. Beltran, Ellsbury, and even A-Rod are low-ball hitters.

–The Jays are given a kind word for scooping up low-ball hitter Josh Donaldson.

Roster flexibility is limited to 12 or 13 bats on a team, but this writer wonders if managers will try to squeeze out extra value not just with pitcher matchups, but umpire matchups. I presented to an MLB team last summer and pointed out that 10-15 years ago the hot gambling angle was home plate umps on over-unders: the smaller the strike zone, the more likely it was that more runs would be scored. I suggested that if the team had a bench player we needed to get 10 AB a week, pitcher-handedness aside, we should look to put the hitter in against umpires that matched his style: if the hitter was patient, we put him in against small strike-zone umps. If the hitter was a free swinger, the big strike-zone ump is the day to give our patient regular a breather.

Once it came time for roster turnover, I argued that we not just need to find guys who can hit a pitcher throwing 95, but who can hit pitches at the knees. I argued that as we bring guys through the minors, we teach them to look low.

On the other hand, meet Diamondbacks’ GM Dave Stewart, who believes that “true” baseball teams have no time for all this analytics shit:

The post gets in a bit of a dig at Dave, wondering if he’s bitter that he never won a Cy because his peripherals weren’t that great. (Stewart won 20+ in each of 1987, 88, 89, and 90. Bad WHIP, no Cy.) Quoth Stewart, courting free agent James “Big Inning” Shields:

“I think James is a throwback guy by the way he goes about his business and the innings he pitches. I think the fact that Tony (La Russa) is here and that we have more baseball people – he probably sees us as a true baseball team vs. some of the other teams out here that are geared more toward analytics and those type of things.”

This space laughs at Stewart the neanderthal, but now it’s clear, why, in another interview the same day, Stewart said the Snakes weren’t looking for catching help before the season starts. They’re going to go with current #1 Tuffy Gosewisch until some prospect makes his way through the high minors.

“Tuffy’s 31 and and has only had 179 AB in the majors,” Stewart didn’t say. “He has an OPS of .512. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds pretty fucking good. Plus, c’mon man, his name is Tuffy for fuck’s sake. What more could you ask for?”


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