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    Monday, May 20, 2013

    How David Ortiz Ranks from 2000 to 2013

    I saw an article the other day (at ESPN) commenting on David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame chances. The basic conclusion was that he’s not there yet, which I agree with. But this got me wondering; Ortiz’s chances will be based entirely on his hitting. How does he stack up?

    Well, went to Fangraphs and looked at 2000 through 2013 hitting stats, which includes almost all of Ortiz’s productive playing time. Then, I sorted by adjusted weighted runs created (wRC+). Basically, the stat accounts for home park and league averages and determines how productive a player was compared to league average (it works like OPS+; 100 is average, 120 is 20% better, and so on).

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Is Albert Pujols on His Way to a Bounce Back Year?

    Much has been made of the Angels’ struggles, particularly Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The major signings of the last two off seasons, the pair or them has disappointed. Josh Hamilton’s struggles appear to have started last year, and stem mainly from his declining ability to control the strike zone.

    Similar claims were made last season about Pujols after his early struggles. For the fourth straight season, his walk rate and his isolated slugging declined, while his percentage of swings on pitches outside the strike zone increased.

    For his struggles then, it appears he may be on to something now. All of those trends have reversed. Pujols has swung at fewer pitches outside of the zone, and his walk rate (10.9%) is greater than either of the past two seasons (7.8%, 9.4%), although not quite as high as it was back in 2010 or 2009 (14.7%, 16.4%). Still, it’s encouraging to see. Combine that with a .228 batting average on balls in play and you can see why his .237/.319/.407 line might improve, even if his isolated slugging is at an all-time low for him.

    Except has Pujols really regained his patience? It’s interesting to note that his strike out percentage (11.6%) is second only to his rookie season as his career high. That seems to go against the earlier statement. Until you break down his numbers further, that is.

    Pujols batted in front of Hamilton for most of the season to date, and amassed 6 intentional walks in that time. That seems right for his peak, but the past two seasons, he’s only been intentionally walked 15 and 16 times over a whole season. Pitchers definitely seemed to be pitching around him to face the weakened Hamilton.

    Taking out his six intentional walks drops him down to 9 walks on the year total, which, through 132 plate appearances (again, removing those six), puts him at 6.8% walk rate, below even last year’s low. That would also drop his in-base percentage down from .319 to .287. Even halving his intentional walks (to put it more in line with the last two years) leaves him with marks of 8.9% (better than last year, but still below two years ago) and .303.

    Overall, it looks like he hasn’t worsened from last year too much, but he’s still not on pace to return to being the Pujols of old.

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    Out of the Park Baseball 14 and the 2001 Astros: Part 2

    Last time we checked on the 2001A Astros in Out of the Park Baseball, they were preparing to head into the season with a newly revamped lineup and rotation. At least, I wasn’t considering making any more moves, and it was only January. So, I kept an eye on the trading block and waiver wire while slowly moving towards opening day.

    2001A had some divergences from our time stream, beyond me combining the 2001 Astros, 2001 Pirates, and 2004 Cardinals. For example, Brian Roberts retired in February to become a professional golfer, the Red Sox traded away future captain Jason Varitek for a minor leaguer and bench depth, and John Rocker injured himself in a freak treadmill accident. A few small deal went on across the league. I myself turned down an offer or two to swap bench players while making a small minor league signing or two. R.A. Dickey and Juan Rivera were among my minor league moves; although both wouldn’t establish themselves until well past 2001, I figured it couldn’t hurt to add them.

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Out of the Park Baseball 14 and the 2001 Astros: Part 1

    Out of the Park is one of the all time great baseball games. So, when they came to a deal with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I jumped at the chance to try Out of the Park Baseball 14.

    Out of the Park is a baseball simulator, and a giant of the genre. You can simulate this year, create an entirely fictional league, or run a past season as the GM of any team. As tempting as making a fictional league and reporting on it sounded (I still may do this some day though), I wanted to try something out using a real team.

    A past year especially would be interesting-could I take a great team in history to a championship? And since I’m a big fan of teams without World Series victories yet, how about taking one of them. I thought about using the Mariners or Expos, but eventually settled on the Houston Astros. I have some ties to the team, most notably being that I have lived in Houston, so I have a soft spot for them.