The Flyin’ Hawaiian Heads West

After acquiring Hanley Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and acquired outfielder, Shane Victorino, from the Philadelphia Phillies. Victorino is a free agent after the season, and the Dodgers got him relatively cheap. He won’t finish as good as last season, but he’s still on pace to have +3-3.5 WAR by the time the season ends. Continue reading

2012 Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

Heading into the 2011 season many people penciled in the Phillies as the world series winners. They had a rotation that was straight out of a video game, three of their starters could have been aces on any team in baseball. As a result they had arguably the game’s best rotation. Their offense was good as well, ranking in the upper half of the league. Continue reading

Anatomy of an Underrated Player

Over the past seven seasons, Albert Pujols has been, by far, the best position player in baseball.  That should be no surprise to anyone with some sort of baseball knowledge.  While the experienced sabermetric crowd knows who #2 is, this player exhibits many skills that are vastly underrated by the mainstream media.  He’s also not the great 5×5 fantasy type.  The only major category he’s ever led the league in is runs scored one season. Continue reading

Hunter Pence and BABIP

Heading into the 2012 season Hunter Pence is coming off of his best season in the big leagues. He had 4.7 WAR,  and a 141 wRC+. Both areas were career highs. Pence was also a key member during the Phillies run to make the playoffs. In August, Pence had a 173 wRC+ and during September/October he had a 151 wRC+. At first one may think it was a career year, but if you look a little closer at the numbers you will see that Pence was helped a lot by his high BABIP. For the season Pence’s BABIP was .361. That was his second highest total, in 2007 he had a .377 BABIP in 484 PAs.

There are four main factors that played a role in his unusually high BABIP this season. They are his GB/FB and his LD%. In this spreadsheet we can see how two of those statistics from this past season compare with his career statistics.

The first thing we notice is the 2% difference in his LD% for his career and 2011. Line drives tend to fall as hits much often than groundballs or flyballs. In 2011 alone line drives had a league-wide BABIP of .713. Pence also had a 2% drop in FB%, the drop in his flyballs tells us that he didn’t get as many outs, resulting in more hits. His GB% was relatively the same, so that doesn’t tell us much. Looking more in depth at his batted ball profile we can tell that Pence 2 groundballs and 8 flyballs into 10 extra line drives. If we do a little math we find out that Pence had roughly 6 more hits than 2010. Pence also has above average speed, so naturally he’s going to get more hits than someone who is slower.

All those factors put together we can come to the conclusion that Pence was really lucky last season. In reality Pence is probably closer to a .310-.320 BABIP player. With his  average defense he’s probably closer to a 3-3.5 player than a 4.5-5 WAR player. Pence will still be a big part of the Phillies line-up the next couple of seasons but he may not be as good as his BABIP indicates.

Phillies Vastly Overpay for Papelbon.

Yesterday we learned that the Phillies and all-star closer Jonathan Papelbon agreed to a 4 year, $50 million dollar contract with a vesting option in 2016 worth $10 million dollars giving him the potential to earn $60 million dollars making him the richest relief pitcher ever in baseball. Papelbon is a good closer but no closer, no reliever for that matter is worth $50 million dollars.

Last year Papelbon did have one of his best seasons posting 3 WAR and a 2.16 xFIP. Papelbon’s .309 BABIP was slightly above his career .275 BABIP, the other two years where his WAR was at 3 or above he had BABIPs of .224 and .293 so he might not be a 3 WAR closer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Papelbon regress and post a BABIP similar to his career BABIP next season. In 2009 when Papelbon posted a .278 BABIP he had a 3.91 xFIP and when he had a .287 BABIP in 2010 his xFIP was 3.56. Just two seasons ago Papelbon posted his highest HR/9 and BB% of his career. .94 per 9 and 9.8% respectively.  

Over the life of the contract I expect Papelbon to post WARs of 1.5, 2, 1.5 and 1 making him worth $30 million dollars. That doesn’t mean Papelbon should get that big of a deal but it does mean the Phillies could lose $20 million dollars in this deal if not more.

In 2005 the Toronto Blue Jays made B.J. Ryan the highest paid reliever in baseball paying him $47 million dollars over 5 years. His first season he did very good posting 2.9 WAR and a 2.94 xFIP. After that it went downhill. And fast. In May of 2007 B.J. Ryan got Tommy John Surgery and missed the rest of the year. In 2008 he had a 4.26 xFIP and only .9 WAR. In 2009 he pitched in only 25 games and had a 6.48 xFIP and -.6 WAR. The Blue Jays thought they were getting a premium closer but in the end they got nothing. In fact the Blue Jays actually lost $35.3 million dollars in that deal. Ryan only gave the Blue Jays $11.7 million dollars in value.

Last off-season the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to a 3 year, $35 million dollar deal and Soriano hasn’t lived up to that either. In 2010 Soriano had a 3.62 xFIP and only 1.5 WAR. In 2011 Soriano’s xFIP was 4.18 and he posted an abysmal .3 WAR.

As you can see giving big dollars to closers can be a big problem. With that $50 million dollars the Phillies could have improved an area of need such as third base or their outfield. The Phillies are rumored to be interested in Michael Cuddyer, with some of that $50 million and a cheaper closer such as Jonathan Broxton. The Phillies will hope that Papelbon will help anchor a bullpen that probably won’t need to work as much due to their amazing rotation but history is defiantly not on their side.

Jim Thome signs with Phillies

It’s a one year deal and I imagine it’s no more then 3 million dollars. He’s one of the best power hitters of all time and had some of his best seasons in Philedelphia. He’ll mainly come off the bench as a power lefty when needed. Even though he’s 41 he still has massive power. Overall it should work out well for Philedelphia.