Disco Hayes theorizes

If you’re like me, you rarely click on links to MLB and minor league player blogs. Even in the cases where the players write for themselves, entries are often nothing more than longer versions of your typical post-game interview boilerplate.

Not so with Royals prospect Disco Hayes. (Not everyone would categorize Hayes as a “prospect,” but (a) he gets outs, (b) he’s got a cool nickname, and (c) you gotta root for this guy.)

Yesterday, Disco posted a mammoth blog entry presenting some out-of-the-box thoughts on defensive positioning. In the post, he

  • cites the rulebook multiple times
  • uses a greek character to represent a variable
  • uses the phrase “batted ball trajectory”
  • repeatedly uses precise batted ball type and direction numbers
  • cites run values for base-out situations

Seriously, did you ever expect to read something like this, from an active ballplayer:

So, late in the game, if an opposing team’s batting order goes righty, lefty, righty, why take O’Day out of the game when the lefty comes up and not stick him at first base with the idea of putting him right back on the mound for the next batter? If he’s twice as bad as the worst first baseman–let’s say -0.00112 runs per batter, which is two times the runs the worst first baseman costs his team–in the league and is replacing the best, for that one left-handed batter, he will cost 0.00228 runs, but then for the next batter, the righty, he will return to the mound and save 40 times that, or 0.09239 runs, a net 0.09065 positive runs. To begin with, he was only worth 0.09239 runs, and he just added .09065; you could say he has doubled his value. And this makes sense, have him pitch to two batters instead of one and he’s twice as effective.

Now, this doesn’t quite compare apples to apples, but it’s an interesting elementary look into the idea. We would have to look at O’Day’s RE24/BF splits against righties and lefties, and then look at how many runs the left handed pitcher you brought in to face the lefty would save. Plus we didn’t take into account how many runs the next righty out of the bullpen may save or what if a pinch hitter bats? Not to mention, a first baseman’s value is undoubtedly magnified with a lefty at the plate and we haven’t taken into account the weighted value a fielder would have in, say, a bases loaded situation rather than bases empty. I will leave all that to the guys who get paid to have this stuff left to them. But all these caveats aside, the fact a pitcher can save runs more effectively than the first baseman by multiple orders of magnitude should make sense and should make you think.

Disco: You’re now my favorite prospect. If, years down the road, you decide to hang up the spikes, I think we can find a spot for you with THT.

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