June 20, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Monday, July 27, 2009
Yesterday, the New York Yankees were dealt a blow with the news that centerfielder Brett Gardner would miss at least two weeks (and that's liberally conservative, if that even makes sense to you) with a broken left thumb.
Gardner, who is proving himself as an option as a longterm leadoff man, will have his thumb in a cast for a minimum of two weeks. Barring setbacks, he would probably need a week or so in the minor leagues before he could be activated. This keeps him out of commission until the end of August, at a time where the Yankees are dueling with the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, both on the field and in the standings.
25, Gardner is hitting .275/.354/.400 on the year in exactly 200 at-bats. He's notched 20 stolen bases, three home runs, four doubles and six triples. With a 31/23 K/BB ratio, he's also showing an ability to keep the ball in play to take advantage of his legs.
On defense, his legs clearly help him. He's posted a stellar 15.9 UZR/150, while contributing with the arm, posting a 3.5 Outfield Arms Above Average. Gardner wasn't starting full-time, as he had Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera all to contend with. However, he was immensely useful in his ability to keep Damon and Matsui rested while serving as a pinch-runner off the bench.
Now, his place is filled full-time by Melky Cabrera who at age 24 is still incredibly young. After posting a .280/.360/.391 line at age 21 in 460 at-bats, many people were high on him. Despite more than ample opportunities to succeed the next two years, Cabrera slid down to being a backup outfielder. He's surged back up this year to post the best OPS (.786) of his career and show developing power with eight home runs (tied for a career high) and 16 doubles (10 away from tying his career-high).
Cabrera's knock is his defense. He's posted a career -8.3 UZR/150 in center, although the last two years has balanced out to zero, with his 2007 season holding him back. He does have a proclivity to being able to play right field, but the small sample size and poor arm don't lend him long-term stability in that position.
The Yankees clearly downgraded with the loss of Gardner, to the point where it may cost them a win or two while he's out. In the American League (B)East, that can't happen.
Last week here at THT, I had some random notes about 10 game winning and losing streaks. Inspired by some reader, I have a new question: what is the worst team to ever lose 10 straight?
Turns out it was the 1890 Cleveland Spiders, who went 44-88. They had a two notable edges in that streak. First, a rookie pitcher who debuted in mid-season won three games in that streak for him. Some kid named Cy Young. Second, they played six games against Pittsburgh, who finished the year with a 23-113 record. Really. Nineteenth century baseball: it was a very different game.
The oddities of 19th century baseball also explain the second worst team to win 10 straight: the 1891 Louisville Colonels, who went 54-83. Please realize they did it in the American Associaiton, which was a league on the verge of collapse. The league actually contained nine teams, as one floundered mid-season and had to be replaced by another one.
In third place comes the first team since 1900, the 1976 White Sox. They were 64-97, the only post-1900 team with a sub-.400 winning percentage to win ten straight. They also lost ten straight that season. Added bonus: in the 33 years since, no Chi Sox team has won or lost ten straight. Weird.
Actually, the Sox have the lowest winning percentage for a post-1900 ten-straighter from a complete season. The 2009 Padres already won ten straight and at this moment have an even lower winning percentage than the Sox had in '76. I made a joke last week about the Padres saying that I wasn't sure which was more unlikely: the Tigers going 41 years without winning 10 straight or the '09 Padres doing just that. Well, I thought it was a joke. Turns out the Padres winning 10 straight truly is less likely than the Tigers going from 1968-onward without doing it.
The next worst teams with 10-game winning streaks, and their winning percentages on the year in question:
1987 BAL .414
2003 MIL .420
1953 CHC .422
1894 CIN .423
2004 TBD .435
Honorable mention: the 1999 Padres (.457 winning percentage) somehow. won 14 straight.
CBS News had a reporter team at the Pitch F/X Summit in San Francisco, and here's their report.
It's all stuff from the game afterward, not any of the presentations (the PowerPoint slides of which are available, though).
As a sort of counterpoint, Bruce Bochy mentioned "paralysis by analysis." Where I take issue with that is, we already have analysis. Teams are constantly trying to get the best and most recent look at their opponents - that's why they employ advance scouts, for instance. What this technology allows us to do is to deploy that sort of observational data - because all the F/X systems do is observe and record what actually occurs on the field of play - on a much broader scale. It's difficult for a single human scout to observe the positioning of all seven non-battery fielders, how they move on first contact - as well as track the baserunners, and track what pitch the pitcher is throwing, and track what the batter does with that pitch. But cameras can track all that at once.
Does that eliminate the need for baseball scouts? No! They're the people who best know what that sort of data means, after all. I think the way forward is probably in providing this observational data in a way that scouts can use it, because then the analysis of that data will be coming to people like Bochy in a comfortable way they can trust.
One of the hottest young prospects in baseball right now is Atlanta's Jason Heyward. The 19-year old was a first round pick in 2007 and has wasted no time establishing himself as a premier outfielder with a smooth left handed stroke. His arrival in Atlanta could come as early as next year.
Atlanta's young prodigy is already receiving high praise from across the baseball community. Dave Cameron ranked Heyward 39th in his annual major league trade value rankings, pretty high considering he is just two years removed from high school.
Heyward was recently promoted to Double-A and through 18 games is hitting .422 with 14 extra base hits and 11 walks. His combined OPS between Advanced-A and Double-A this season is a staggering .991.
Heyward projects as an elite hitter and although his power his still developing he had the frame (6'4 220) and ability to become a consistent home run threat. His 12 long balls this year already exceed his total (11 home runs) last season.
His plate discipline is highly advanced for a young player at his level. His career walk rate is 9.8 percent and this number has climbed to 11 percent this season. He has also cut his strikeout rate down considerably this year from 16.5 percent to 13.8. Heyward is able to get on base at a very high rate. His wOBA is Low-A last year was .393, in Advanced-A this year it was .401 and so far in Double-A it is .538 (not a typo).
He has also shown the ability to hit left handed pitching equally well, if not better, than right handers. His lifetime on-base percentage versus lefties is .448 and against righties it is .367. This adds even more value to his team.
Heyward's defense is also pretty solid. He has played all three outfield spots but he is most effective in right field. According to the TotalZone metrics used by http://www.minorleaguesplits.com/ Heyward has saved an estimated 13 runs in right field which is worth at least one win in the standings.
Oh, did I mention that he also stole 15 bases in 18 tries last year. What can't this kid do?
As many noted, including our very own Bruce Markusen, it was the highlight of the induction ceremony. You can see it here - just click where it says "Henderson's induction speech" on the right.
No, he doesn't refer to himself in third person.
Hat tip to Tom (and his broom) from BTF.