Friday, August 22, 2014

The Cubs and Pitchers

Yesterday, Dave Cameron kinda said what we're all starting to think:

Besides Jake Arrieta — who continues to pitch like a legitimate front-line guy — the Cubs rotation might not be full of potential aces, but there’s nothing wrong with having one good starter and four decent guys.

I have never hidden my affinity for NPB and Cuban exports (those league feel so exotic and unknown!), and so I accept the accusation I might be overly optimistic on Tsuyoshi Wada. That being said, was good -- if not great -- in Japan, and now even Dave Cameron lists him among the positive surprises in the Cubs pitching universe.

Add to that: Jason Hammel, Scott Feldman, and Paul Maholm. Since 2012, the front office has managed to add at least one low-risk, medium-reward starting pitcher to each rotation. If nothing else, this means they've learned to how to make smart gambles on pitching (because, let's observe here, free agent pitchers are gambles, and there is no guarantee the next Jason Hammel they sign will do anything but plop a big ol' turd on the staff ERA).

So do the Cubs need Jon Lester? No, but that'd be huge if they got him. Do they need to trade Javier Baez or Jorge Soler? Nope. Not at all, unless they're getting a whopping doozy in return.

In fact, given a few prudent acquisitions here or there, I think we could be seeing a really good team on the northside. World Series good? Maybe not. A winning team though?

Definitely next year.

Friday, March 28, 2014

In Praise of Jose Quintana

I'm glad to see Jose Quintana getting some love from Jeff. Moreover, Rick Hahn is building a solid team here. He's got Quintana locked down for a bevy of seasons at a very reasonable discount. He's turned some vets into prospects and added a sexy international free agent in the form of Jose Abreu.

But let's look at Quintana because he's the most surprising part to me. He's this lefty who kind of signed out of nowhere (or, rather, out of a dark cloud of PED murkiness) and then, just as the White Sox farm league was earning Minor League Razzies, he appears to help a White Sox rotation in desperate need of help.

Look at him in comparison to some other Chicago hurlers:

Source: FanGraphs -- Jeff Samardzija, John Danks, Travis Wood

I have him on my Scoresheet roster this year, and I look forward to much of this in 2014:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Hope of Tsuyoshi Wada

So long-time NPB ace Tsuyoshi Wada still has an outside shot at the fifth rotation spot for the Cubs. I have a penchant for Wada's type of player -- a foreign talent, late-ish in his career, fighting against long odds. Here's a taste of his statistics from Japan:

Year Age Tm IP ERA- FIP-
2003 22 Daiei 189.0 73 83
2004 23 Daiei 128.1 93 99
2005 24 Daiei 181.2 81 83
2006 25 Softbank 163.1 82 95
2007 26 Softbank 182.0 79 83
2008 27 Softbank 162.0 93 84
2009 28 Softbank 84.1 101 97
2010 29 Softbank 169.1 80 77
2011 30 Softbank 184.2 51 77
9 Seasons 1444.2 79 85

In my article in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual, I proposed the "10- and 20- rule of thumb" for players transitioning from the NPB to the MLB. In short: We can expect to add 10 points to a pitcher's FIP- and 20 points to a hitter's wOBA+.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Keys to Baseball Success, as Demonstrated by the Rays

Will sent me this drawing today. It reminds me of something Dave Cameron, friend and boss, once said to me. In essence it was this: The cat's out of the bag for most advanced analytical teams. The process for creating a winning team is basically a known process: Invest in scouting, invest in international talent (especially amateur international talent), and extend your own superstars.

Friday, July 5, 2013

De-Lucker X: Buy Navarro, Sell Machado

The De-Lucker X needed a new home, and I've decided to give it a couch here at Cubs Stats. The following article was written for a broader audience, so pardon the limited Cubs-slant.

Players who began the season as starters are losing playing time; bench players are earning playing time; rookies are flopping and popping. It's the 2013 MLB season midpoint.

For a little over a year now, I have been crunching a sort of FIP for hitters -- the De-Lucker X -- that adjusts a player's wOBA based on their periphery stats. Now, behold!, the results from the first half are in! And if xBABIP can be fully, blindly trusted (and it can't), then it's time to bench Manny Machado before things get worse. Just kidding. I don't things will ever get that bad for Machado.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Will To Ignore

White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson recently appeared on MLB Network, where he and Brian Kenny discussed / yelled about sabermetrics. The kerfuffle has become somewhat of a sensation, as Hawk insisted on the glory of TWTW: His freshly minted statistic called "The Will To Win." Watch here, if it pleases you:

But here is the problem: Hawk is trying too hard in a couple of areas. First, he is trying to transmute intangibles into the sphere of sabermetrics, a world dedicated to tangibles. His TWTW is moot because no sabermetrician should ever discount intangibles. To suggest sabermetrics ignores TWTW is to firstly imply TWTW is an objective quality or quantity that observers can detect with a little prudent watching.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Updating On The 5 Most Exciting Cubs

In the winter, I declared my affinity for five players entering the season, five stories worth following. They were, in order of interest:
  1. Kyuji Fujikawa: The former Hanshin Tigers closer is injured, on the 15-day DL, and apparently hurting since spring training. Despite that, he posted a 2.62 FIP and 2.98 SIERA, but his 12.48 ERA does perhaps the best job of illustrating his lack of control. His stuff never seemed not-filthy, but he fell behind hitters quickly and had to toss meatballs because the only strikes he could throw were meatballs. When he comes back, which will hopefully be soon, he will be the closer. I expect he will be impressive, too, unless he dogs it again and tries to pitch through pain.
  2. Nate Schierholtz: Two homers and a .361/.425/.667 slash?! There's no way he maintains this 187 wRC+, but this whole experiment, this whole Free Schierholtz endeavor, is off to a wonderful start. Nate is on fire.
  3. Edwin Jackson: I believe I've watched each of Jackson's three starts so far, and his pitching slash does a good job of showing his mixed results: 6.06 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 3.72 SIERA. I am excited about him developing into an innings-eating No. 2 or 3 starter, and I would not be surprised for all three of those numbers to normalize around 3.50 ERA/FIP/SIERA through 200+ IP.
  4. Scott Feldman: Hoo-boy. Maybe I should have put Carlos Villanueva in this list instead? Feldman has a 6.00 ERA, 6.64 FIP, 6.12 SIERA line. His strikeout rate (8.0% K-rate) is below his walk rate (14.0% BB-rate). He will be better than this. Sooner would be better.
  5. Ian Stewart: Naturally, Stewart got injured in the spring, like minutes after I wrote about him, and he's still yet to swing a bat or wear a glove in a game.

Okay, let's change and update this list.