Tag: Gleyber Torres Page 1 of 14

The 2019 Yankees and RBI

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve at least dipped a toe into the waters of analytics, sabermetrics, whatever you want to call it. Even if you haven’t done more than that–or even that at all–you likely know that RBI isn’t exactly an ‘in vogue’ measure of a player’s performance. And, really, it shouldn’t be. While getting a hit with a man on base is great, that hitter didn’t do the work to put the men on base. At best, a high RBI total shows us a combination of skill–getting the hit–and chance–hitting while there happened to be men on in front of you. 

Stil, RBI tells us a story–who scored when and courtesy of whom. Without that story, the story of the game itself can’t be told. Earlier in the week, I saw a story about RBI that caught my attention. 

In a Facebook group, someone mentioned Luis Castillo’s 2000 season, in which he notched 17 RBI in 626 (!) plate appearances. Curious as to how that happened, I went to Castillo’s game logs page on Baseball Reference and looked up this handy chart:

Despite how shockingly low that is, especially when you see it compared to the average, it makes sense. Castillo was mostly a leadoff guy who was on a below average (79-82) team, so he routinely had bad hitters and the pitcher in front of him to drive in. The whole thing, though, got me curious about the Yankees. How good were they at driving in runners? Let’s take a look, using some charts. I included only those who had 300+ PA. 

Gary Sanchez

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
44629677265426321+5

Luke Voit

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
51032062196130020+1

DJ LeMahieu

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
655343102307938620+10

Didi Gregorius

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
34421561284120220+8

Gio Urshela

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
47630474245728020+4

Gleyber Torres

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
60436890247335621+3

Brett Gardner

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
55030574246632420+4

Aaron Judge

PAROBRBIRBI %AVG RBIAVG ROBAVG RBI %+/- RBI%
44724955225426321+1

This isn’t too surprising, is it? The Yankees get a lot of men on base–not one player had fewer than expected runners–and drive a lot of them in–not one player had fewer than expected RBI. As such, all of them are above the average expected RBI% by at least 1%, with DJLM smoking everyone else at 10% above average. 

Are these players good because they have high RBI totals and percentages compared to the average? No. They have those things because they are good players and they play with good players who get on base. RBI don’t tell the whole story, but they tell part of it. In this case, it’s another way of telling us the the Yankees are good at hitting. Plain and simple.

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Mailbag: Season Delay, Happ’s Vesting Contract, Gleyber’s Defense, New Rules

Come back soon, baseball. (Via Bryan Hoch)

Happy Friday, everyone. Or, maybe not so much. Day 1 of the post-sports reality is going to be interesting to say the least. There’s a lot to unpack about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the baseball world, and I’m sure we’re all collectively working through our thoughts about all of this. I know I am. It’s weird and it puts this site in a bit of a bizarre place, but we’re going to keep plugging ahead. Season previews, thoughts, updates on the ever-changing reality, the like. It will keep some sense of normalcy and hopefully serve as a good distraction (As an aside, the podcast is TBD – it probably does not make sense for us to travel to the studio to record Monday night, but we’ll announce something either way).

To that end, we’re doing a mailbag this week and each week going forward. We’ve got four good questions today. As always, send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll answer our favorites each week.

Chris Asks: What teams benefit the most the most and least from the delayed season start? My thoughts: With less strain on the bullpen and a higher percentage of games played by Paxton, Hicks, Stanton, and Judge now, it has to be the Yankees, right? I would think the 2nd and 3rd best teams in each division would also benefit a lot – with a smaller sample size of games, there should be more variation.

I have to be honest: the impact on the Yankees’ health was the first baseball-related thought I had about all of this. It’s pretty clear that, when considering only the on-field impact, this is a huge boon to the Yankees. That would be true even if this was only a two week delay. (That’s the plan right now.) I think we should all accept a dose of cold hard reality, though: this is going to be much longer than two weeks. We should not expect to see Major League Baseball until May at the earliest, in my opinion. Maybe even June. That is just how things are trending right now, although it’s an obviously fluid situation.

So, with that in mind, that’s good news for Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, and Aaron Hicks. They were slated to return in April, May, and June, respectively. I think they should all be healthy – or close to it, barring setbacks – right around the time games get going again, in the best-case scenario. (As for Judge, let’s just hope he doesn’t exacerbate his injury since the guy doesn’t know how to take it easy for one day, apparently.) A fully-healthy Yankees roster is the best in the league, in my opinion, and this should make that a more likely possibility come Opening Day. That’s good news (I guess).

There are other downstream impacts, too. The higher rate of variance in the shortened season is a real one. It benefits the Astros in a meaningful way, I think. Do we really think fans are going to care about the sign-stealing stuff in a few months? I think it’s possible that the fervor has died down and people will want to just get back to normal. Then again, maybe fans will redouble their efforts when games come back, to get to normal? This is really uncharted territory. Nobody knows what is going to happen or when.

Iron Mike Asks: Lets say the season gets shortened to 130 games. How do you think this would affect vesting contracts? For example Happ needs to pitch something like 165 innings (don’t quote me on that number) this season in order for his 2021 contract to be activated?

Second confession: I also thought about this almost immediately. Happ’s contract vests for 2021 in one of two ways: 1) he throws 165 innings or 2) he makes 27 starts. Neither of those outcomes feels very likely right now. They did feel likely a few days ago. If he reaches either of those milestones, he will be back in pinstripes for 2021.

I really have no idea what the hell to make of this. I’m not an expert in contract law. I do wonder if his agent would try to renegotiate the terms of the vest once we hear more about the plans for the season. That’s what I would do. There may even be some clauses in there for catastrophes or other unforeseen events. Again, though, I have absolutely no idea. I can’t wait to hear more about this once things get back to normal, because I do think this is an interesting baseball implication.

Rafi Asks: I know that spring training stats are meaningless, but at what point should we worry about Gleyber’s error total (5 errors through 10 games so far)? Haven’t been watching the games, so not sure if he’s been making routine plays etc.; worth a deep dive/analysis?

No, not yet. I wrote about this the other day in a thoughts post, but I don’t think we’re there yet. I don’t feel good about it by any means. But we don’t have enough information yet. All I’m going off is tweets, and we all know how reliable that can be. (Not very reliable.) Only a few of these errors have been in televised games. That really matters! Seeing the errors, obviously, allows us to determine what kind of errors they are and how worried we should be.

Anyway, here is one of those tweets:

Those seem bad? I don’t know. Gleyber has a penchant for making mistakes defensively, even on otherwise routine plays. It’s been that way since he was a rookie. I always make excuses – he’s a rookie, it’s a new position, etc. – but maybe time is running out? For what it’s worth, as I noted the other day, the advanced stats rate him a better shortstop than second baseman. I think that’s true, too. I’m not worried but we should all be monitoring this again, as soon as we can. I’m sure the Yankees are.

Bob Asks: I was thinking about the new rule regarding having a relief pitcher face at least three batters which, as I understand it, is a pace-of-play thing. However, it seems that if a pitcher comes in and has an off-day (or night) there is the potential for a big inning, which then could lead to a longer game, defeating the purpose of the rule. Or is the rule just designed to reduce trips to the mound and game length is not a factor?

It’s all about pace-of-play. That’s what Rob Manfred is all about these days: making baseball games end faster. I don’t get it, but maybe I’m just in the .001% of baseball fans? I actually like the sport, after all. It’s true that this plan is dumb and poorly thought out. I don’t think a player getting smacked around changes much though. It’s only three batters. It should not add that much time. (As for the mound visits, they should have handled sign-stealing better. That was definitely why teams were visiting the mound so much.)

I gotta say, though, I just wish there were baseball games on. Who cares if they take 4 hours? It was the right decision to suspend the league for now. It really was and I think it’s foolish to pretend otherwise. But even a 4 hour game is better than no game. Even baseball fans who have whined about pace of play for the last decade would surely agree with that.

Reviewing the Yankees’ 2020 Projections: PECOTA

Embed from Getty Images

Steamer and ZiPS have had their days in the sun, but today, it’s PECOTA‘s turn. In continuation of our series reviewing the Yankees’ projections, let’s take a look at Baseball Prospectus’s projection system du jour.

Betting the over

Hitter: PECOTA is definitely the projection system lowest on Gleyber Torres. It still gives him a solid forecast — .257/.323/.464 with 28 homers in 595 plate appearances (111 DRC+, 2.9 WARP) — but that seems very beatable. Such a performance would be a step down from his career 123 DRC+, and I can’t imagine predicting the 23 year-old to regress at this point of his career. On the bright side, Torres’s top comps is pretty nice: Carlos Correa.

Pitcher: I feel like projection systems are sleeping on Adam Ottavino, PECOTA included. Now, PECOTA isn’t quite as low as Steamer is, but I expect better than a 3.49 ERA and 4.01 DRA for Otto. As I wrote in the Steamer post, it’s pretty clear that these systems are very conservative on the right-handed reliever because of his high walk rates.

Betting the under

Hitter: Kyle Higashioka is in line for the backup catcher role this year, and by PECOTA’s evaluation, he’ll be pretty good at it. BP’s system doesn’t have a spectacular offensive projection by any means (89 DRC+), but does foresee a bit of power (9 homers in 175 plate appearances). Much of Higashioka’s 1.3 WARP projection is tied to his defense (+8 FRAA), as expected. My expectation: he won’t hit quite that well. He has a nice minor league track record offensively, but playing sporadically will make things a little more difficult for him and I just don’t see a 31 homers per 600 plate appearances pace.

Pither: I can’t see Domingo Germán recording a 3.47 ERA in 2020, which is what PECOTA forecasts. His 4.48 projected DRA is a bit worse and seemingly more reasonable, but I find it very difficult to be that high on a pitcher’s run prevention skills after he surrendered 30 homers in 143 innings last year. PECOTA also has German pitching more often in relief (34 games, 8 starts) which perhaps accounts for a lower ERA, though it’s anyone’s guess as to what role Germán plays when his suspension for domestic violence ends.

Push

Hitter: I picked DJ LeMahieu for the over against Steamer and could have done so again with ZiPS. But when it comes to PECOTA, things look much more sensible from my perspective. PECOTA projects DJLM to be the Yankees’ best position player (5.2 WARP) and expects him to slash .303/.359/.456 (119 DRC+) with 16 HR in 595 PA. Perhaps there’s a little more power in there than that, but I’m not going to quibble with this projection.

Pitcher: Sign me up for Luis Severino’s PECOTA. A 3.19 ERA and 2.9 WARP in 156 innings? Yes, please. Sure, a little more in terms of innings would be nice, but better to be safe than sorry after a lost 2019.

Biggest Surprises

Hitter: Last year, I wrote about Luke Voit’s terrific preseason PECOTA projection for BP. It was an eye opening forecast for a hitter with a limited, abeit terrific, major league track record. This year, Mike Ford has virtually the same preseason forecast under similar circumstances. It expects Ford to slash .255/.342/.502 (126 DRC+) with 12 dingers in 210 plate appearances after a 125 DRC+ in 2019. Voit wound up falling short of his 2019 projection (118 actual vs. 128 projected DRC+), but much of that was due to injury.

Pitcher: I can’t say I expect much from Jordan Montgomery this year. However, PECOTA foresees a solid first full season back from Tommy John surgery. In 89 innings, it calls for 1.0 WARP buoyed by a 3.48 ERA and 4.58 DRA. The DRA projection looks reasonable, but the ERA is much lower than I anticipated.

Personal Favorites

Hitter: Has Luke Voit’s second half slump resulted in some people sleeping on the first baseman? That’s my impression, at least. Bobby dispelled that in Voit’s season review, and now PECOTA reminds us that Voit is still potent at the dish. The first baseman is projected to bat .263/.354/.471 with 25 bombs in 560 plate appearances. That’s good for a 119 DRC+ and 2.0 WARP.

Pitcher: PECOTA adores Chad Green. He didn’t start off 2019 so hot, but he was excellent down the stretch after returning from a minor league stint. In 2020, PECOTA says we can expect Green (68 DRC-) to be the Yankees’ best reliever not named Aroldis Chapman (66 DRC-). In 65 innings, PECOTA projects Green to post a 2.66 ERA and 3.33 DRA. Should he hit those marks, it would be Green’s best season since he burst onto the scene in 2017.

The “inevitable” Mookie Betts trade and the Baby Bombers

Time to pay up.

Like many others, I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea of the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts. Sure, it’s going to make the Yankees’ lives a lot easier in the short-term. Still, I would be furious if I was in a Boston fan’s shoes. Boston hasn’t produced anyone of Mookie’s caliber in about two decades. He’s the face of the team and should be kept around for years to come, not shipped off in a money saving move in advance of his free agency.

Let’s fast forward a few years. Imagine that the Yankees have won title number 28 and perhaps even number 29. Now, imagine the idea of trading away Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres thereafter. Not great, huh? Well, that’s what the Red Sox are in the midst of doing. And make no mistake, this isn’t a move to recoup some of Betts value before he departs in free agency. Even worse, it could be precedent setting for other big market clubs looking to line their pockets even more.

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are one of the highest-valued sports teams in the world. In 2002, John Henry paid $380 million to purchase the Red Sox. Nowadays, the club is now worth approximately $3.2 billion per Forbes. Nice rainy day fund, huh? Clearly, that the Red Sox are going to trade Betts isn’t because of an inability to keep him. Rather, it’s an unwillingness to pay up. Sure, the two sides may be off by over $100 million in negotiations, but that shouldn’t make Boston go “aw, shucks”. But hey, when you hire a ex-Rays front office executive to run your team, this is what you’re gonna get.

So, back to the Yankees now that I got that rant out. If someone like Judge or Torres continue to perform (while being underpaid, I might add) before hitting free agency and the Yankees decided to trade them, I’d be livid.

Let’s take Judge, who’s under the Yankees’ control through 2022. He and the Bombers settled on an $8.5 million salary for 2020, his first pass through arbitration. That’s not too far off from what Betts got in his first eligible season. We know what Betts got in years two and three, and if we do some lazy math to project the same percentage increases on Judge’s 2020 salary, here’s what we get:

Arbitration YearMookie BettsAaron Judge
1$10.5M$8.5M
2$20.0M$16.2M*
3$27.0M$21.9M*

Those are big raises for sure, but merited and frankly underselling Judge’s abilities in his age 28 through 30 seasons. But more important than his arbitration earnings is how how the Yankees treat him thereafter. After paying a pittance for Judge’s services pre-free agency, the Yankees need to keep him around. Fortunately for the Steinbrenners, it should come at a lower price than Betts.

By the time Judge hits free agency, he’ll be approaching his age-31 season. Or, three years older than Betts will be when he hits the open market after this campaign. Even with inflation and growing contracts, it’s hard to imagine Judge topping Betts’s deal just because of age difference. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Yankees have a $4.6 billion valuation per Forbes, so the Yankees have no reason to trade Judge down the road.

Perhaps a better comp to Betts than Judge is Torres. Just like Betts, Gleyber will be entering his age-28 season when he’s a free agent. And if the ZiPS long-term projections tell us anything, he’s going to get paid. So, just imagine five years down the line when Torres has racked up multiple 40 home run seasons as a shortstop along with 25 WAR while *still* being just 28. For the Yankees not to pay him at that point would be infuriating.

Ultimately, I have to admit that I’m fearful of the Betts situation setting a precedent for other big market teams like the Yankees. I mean, I’ve previously complained about the Yankees not spending commensurate to revenues and team value, but the Bombers have never quite done anything like trading its best player in the prime of his career during a championship window. Moving Betts would be like the Yankees trading Derek Jeter instead of re-signing him to a $189 million extension a season before he became a free agent.

The owners have already won the “players are overpaid” battle in the public eye in spite of unconscionable behavior by management (trafficking of international amateurs, poverty-level pay of minor leaguers, outlandish prices for tickets, concessions, merchandise, etc.). Yet, far too often we see fans enraged with players for asking for their share of the pot, which simply enables something like a Betts trade to happen. Let’s just hope the Yankees do better when the time comes. Is that so much to ask?

Tinkering With the Lineup

(Keith Allison – CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s January 26th. We’re under a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. But it still feels like we’ve got forever to go and aside from Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame election, there isn’t much going on in Yankee-land. So let’s do something fun, if futile: think about the Yankee lineup.

As we well know, lineup construction doesn’t matter that much over the course of the season, so long as you’re not putting the worst hitters up top and the best hitters down low. In the best possible way, it’s very hard to tell the good and bad hitters from each other in the Yankee lineup. This makes it difficult–again, in the best possible way–to figure out exactly what the best configuration is. What a wonderful problem to have, right?

The following lineup is pretty ‘standard,’ what I think Aaron Boone will trot out most days.

  1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  2. Aaron Judge, RF
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, LF
  4. Gary Sanchez, C
  5. Gleyber Torres, SS
  6. Luke Voit, 1B
  7. Miguel Andujar, DH
  8. Gio Urshela, 3B
  9. Brett Gardner, CF

This lineup is more than fine by itself. You could make a few tweaks, I suppose–swap Urshela and Gardner, if you want; swap Stanton and Sanchez, too, if you please. No matter what, a combination of these nine guys is gonna score a lot of runs.

Here’s a slightly more than slightly altered version.

  1. Brett Gardner, CF
  2. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  3. Aaron Judge, RF
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, LF
  5. Gary Sanchez, C
  6. Gleyber Torres, SS
  7. Luke Voit, 1B
  8. Miguel Andujar, DH
  9. Gio Urshela, 3B

This lineup has a slightly more traditional twinge with a fast, OBP guy at the top and a contact hitter second. Given Gardner’s on-base ability–and occasional power–it’s not hard to imagine DJLM’s contact skills driving in a few runs or putting a runner in scoring position in the first inning. New conventional wisdom says to put Judge second to get him more plate appearances, but this still guarantees him a first inning PA and gives him a decent chance to have guys aboard. This does, however, bury Gleyber a bit, which he probably doesn’t deserve. Maybe you swap him and Gary, depending on who’s hot. Again, this lineup is gonna produce no matter what.

Here’s one last lineup that’s maybe a touch different, a little friskier.

  1. Brett Gardner, CF
  2. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  3. Gleyber Torres, SS
  4. Aaron Judge, RF
  5. Giancarlo Stanton, LF
  6. Gary Sanchez, C
  7. Luke Voit, 1B
  8. Miguel Andujar, DH
  9. Gio Urshela, 3B

This lineup puts all the more contact-oriented players up top (minus one) and gives Gleyber his deserved spot at the top. This lineup is also just a power onslaught after the first three batters–who are capable of power themselves!

Regardless of how the Yankees line up this year, there will not be many landing spots, if any. There are questions, sure. Can DJLM keep tapping into power? Will Gardner keep up his production at an advanced age? How will Luke Voit and Miguel Andujar bounce back from their injuries? Hell, we don’t even know what the baseball is going to be like! But even with those (not very vexing) questions and whatever happens with the baseball, the Yankees are going to score. Often.

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