The Weird World of Baseball Stats

It is raining quite hard here today, so I am housebound and about to rant a bit.

 

I love baseball. I love the Dodgers. I am in love with minor league baseball. However, the game now frustrates me. Every little move on the field it seems is a pre-calculation (if that is a word), before something even happens. Dave Roberts is ready to come striding out briskly to take a pitcher out almost before he has completed his out pitch to his one batter. It makes no difference that the pitcher in question just destroyed his one batter faced. A hot hitter is primed to be removed because he hits from the wrong side of the plate. A pitcher can’t face a lineup for a third time although he has doused them twice already. Freaking platoons run rampant even though a hitter is hot and is a stellar fielder. Fortunately, such is not so, at least in the lower levels of the minor leagues. There, restricting innings pitched and getting reps at bat are the more predominant stats.

 

Baseball, among all of the major sports, is the one most closely linked to statistics. There seems to be a stat for just about every circumstance one can imagine. Each year the game becomes more and more saturated with statistics. The time may be approaching, and maybe has arrived, where the manager has a white board and is designing the next play with X’s and O’s as they do in football, basketball and hockey.

 

WAR!!! How can it be a creditable stat when it is so subjective and is not consistent in its derivation by different stats geeks?  Whose WAR is correct – FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Prospectus?   WAR calculates the total number of wins that any player adds to his team over the course of a season by comparing the player’s performance with that of a fictitious replacement. A what –  a fictitious replacement.? Of course, one player will have a greater impact on the game because of his skill set. He will also have a greater impact because of other conditions not so much related to his skill set – the stadium in which he plays his home games, the skill set of his teammates, the climatic conditions. Are his age, his physical health, his drive, determination taken into account? There is not, and cannot be, a standardized formula for WAR among all its proponents. With the present political climate in full view, I am going to declare WAR a fake stat.

 

The use of statistics in the greatest game of all is not new. The practice of keeping records of player achievements was started in the nineteenth century by Henry Chadwick. Based on his experience with cricket, Chadwick devised the predecessors to modern day statistics, including batting average, runs scored, and runs allowed. There is even a Dodger connection to the evolution of baseball statistics. During the early 1950s, Allen Roth (pictured), a statistician for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Branch Rickey, developed the formula for on-base percentage.

 

We might say the modern era of statistics took off, beginning in the sixties. In 1964, Earnshaw Cook, a John Hopkins engineering professor, published, “Percentage Baseball”, one of the first sabermetrics essays. Then in 1977, the renowned baseball historian and statistician, Bill James, wrote his first Bill James Baseball Abstract in which he featured: “18 Categories of Statistical Information “That You Just Can’t Find Anywhere Else”. Moneyball followed in 2003 and FanGraphs in 2005.

 

So, what should we, as baseball fanatics, make of all this sabermetric invasion into the game we love? What are our own personal favorite statistics by which we measure players, one to another? I really don’t understand sabermetrics and have not read nor seen “Moneyball,” However, I do have a few favorite stats that I think predate the sabermetric invasion. Simplicity is the requirement for me.

 

On offense, my favorite is on base percentage (OBP). It is so simple. If you got on base, then you didn’t make an out. The sole purpose, the only purpose, of the hitter is to get to first base, hopefully beyond, but first base as a minimum. If the home run was the objective there would simply be a home plate and no first base. There is no other purpose to be standing at the plate. Every time the hitter gets to first base, he has the possibility of scoring a run. The greater his OBP, the greater chance he will score a run. In addition to that, being on base changes the dynamic for the pitcher. I understand that scoring a run depends on other factors on the field, but so do most, perhaps all other stat categories, so those factors are a constant with all statistics. They do not stand alone. I also really appreciate batting average with runners in scoring position and two out runs batted in (see Red Sox), but my top category is OBP.

 

On the mound I prefer ERA and WHIP as a measure of a pitcher’s performance. That is perhaps old school, but I think ERA is the more important. It demonstrates how a pitcher battles during his innings, with so much happening around him, and ultimately what kind of a chance he gives his team to win the game – the lower his ERA, the better chance the game will be won while he is on the mound, or when he is replaced in the later innings by a reliever. My favorite stat for a reliever is inherited runners stranded. Quite often that is when the game is saved. A game in which a closer comes in with no one on base and has more than a one run lead is not in need of a save because it is not in jeopardy. A one run game always is in jeopardy as the hitter may hit a home run.

 

WHIP is in essence a defensive statistic determined by a combination of walks and hits per inning pitched. Once again, it is simple. The fewer runners that the pitcher allows to get on base, the fewer possible runs there are to be scored against his team. WHIP too cannot stand alone, although the walks part of the statistic is about as close to standing alone as any statistic can be, since the walk is under the pitcher’s control (and/or umpire’s), or lack of it, as is the strikeout. WHIP naturally is affected by the defensive acumen of the team behind the pitcher.

 

In determining Cy Young awards, wins is a huge category. However, I submit wins is not a pitching statistic, but is a team statistic, garnered by a team, combining pitching, hitting, and defense. A win is arbitrary and can have very little to do with the pitcher’s performance. That is, a pitcher can pitch a gem and lose 1-0, or pitch very poorly and win 12-11. The win or loss is not a measure of either pitcher’s performance. That performance is more accurately measured by their ERA and WHIP. If wins are to be used as a pitching statistic, then a more accurate tally of wins would be how many wins the team secured in the games a given pitcher started. That would be a measure of how many games the pitcher gave his team a chance to win, depending on his ERA and WHIP, and they succeeded in doing so.

 

My least favorite stat in all of baseball is the strikeout. Don’t even start talking to me about home runs/ strikeouts ratios. A strikeout is totally useless with one exception. In the National League it may keep a pitcher from grounding into a double play. Otherwise it is a waste of a plate appearance if valued in the context of home runs. That is, an all or nothing scenario. It accomplishes absolutely nothing and doesn’t have the possibility of accomplishing anything.  Put the ball in play. First base is only 90 feet away. Walking back to the dugout after being punched out seems longer than that. Give me a sacrifice bunt any day because it moves a runner up just as a “productive out” does in moving a runner up, especially to third base. Both are an out so why is a bunt not considered a “productive out”? It sure knocks the stuffings out of a “K”.

 

A quiz. Now I know I am cherry picking, but it is still raining here. Which team in 1965 had the fewest home runs in MLB (78), most sacrifice hits (103), second lowest slugging percentage (335) and had the fourth fewest strikeouts (891)? Of course, it was the World Champion Dodgers. Now I know there were other major factors like Koufax, Drysdale, Podres, Perranoski, Maury Wills but the least powerful offense in MLB still scored enough runs to win it all.

This article has 89 Comments

  1. Good stuff. I dont have much to add other than the two things that for me are affecting my enjoyment of the game: strict platooning and taking the starting pitcher out early.

    1. Agreed, this totally drives me crazy. The lack of stolen bases and hit and runs is also bothersome. And don’t forget the shift!

      1. The shift ticks me off but only because hitters persist in hitting into it. I know it is difficult to take an inside pitch to the opposite field but some guys inside-out that pitch. Why not just bunt it to death or don’t swing at the first pitch. Sooner or later the pitcher will have one that isn’t inside. I understand it is difficult but these are the best hitters in the world.

        1. Some have said all defensive alignments are shifts, but I’m like you: why can’t hitters exploit them more? I’m fairly certain tony gwynn, wade boggs, & ichiro could do it. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but it does appear to change the randomness of the outcomes.

  2. Imagine how large baseball cards would have to be to list each player’s individual stats.
    ERA,WHIP, BA, OBP, RBI are enough for me. Thank you DC for your rain-soaked wisdom.

  3. OPS also drives me crazy, but it is the go to that I use to evaluate a hitter. The problem is that it considers a walk as good as a hit, which it isn’t, and that’s one of the problems with our current Dodgers. The problem with a walk is that you have no chance to advance a base runner beyond one base. Also, you are rewarding a player statistically for setting up a double play with first base open. Would you rather have an 800 OPS player with a 330/470 or a player with a 380/420? I would trade 2 walks for a double any day of the week. As such, I think batting average is currently devalued much more than it should be. No one cares or talks about batting average these days. Guys that make a ton of contact move runners along. 1978 Bill Russell wouldn’t have a job today with an OPS of less than 700. But, he was a World Series SS, batting second all year. You know what team had a bunch of guys with high batting averages? 346, 330, 290, 288 yep, the Red Sox.

  4. And who the hell labeled 6 IP/3 ER a “Quality Start”???
    I think player’s agents came out with it…
    Could you imagine, as a manager going out to the mound to take the ball from Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale because they reached a QS and the 3rd time thru the lineup???
    Better call Sgt. Joe Friday..
    P.S. I’m a OBP and RBI guy…

  5. My wife and I spent yesterday with our two sons, celebrating their October birthdays. And as we often do when we get together, I got a chance to talk with my oldest about baseball. It was the same day that I read the Dale Murphy article in The Athletic that Dodgerrick alluded to and posted some salient snippets from. It was the same day as the Dodgers Chief Analyst/algorithm nerd/GM moved to the Giants as President of Baseball Operations. It was the same day that I heard Al Leiter make comments that were not flattering with how the game is evolving.
    .
    I want to repost what Dodgerrick posted yesterday from Dale Murphy with a couple of other paragraphs with respect to launch angle:
    .
    From Dale Murphy,“But the obsession with launch angle has got to go, if for no other reason that it’s teaching bad fundamentals. These days, seemingly every pitcher throws gas. Well, if you’re trying to hit a faster pitch, you shouldn’t lift your swing; you should flatten it. You should get on the same plane with the ball to make more consistent contact.
    .
    Do me a favor. Watch Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run. Watch Hank Aaron’s 714th. If you watch closely, they didn’t swing up. They swung down and through the ball with a high finish.
    .
    You see, launch angle isn’t created by swinging up; it’s created by where you make contact on the ball. If you make contact with the center of the ball, you’ll hit a line drive. If you get too far under it, you’ll pop up.
    .
    Launch angle is a result, not a technique. If you want to hit fastballs, you need a flatter, compact swing.
    Alex Bregman and Mookie Betts have two of the best swings in the game. Twenty-seven players hit 30 or more home runs this season, and Bregman and Betts were two of only three to have fewer than 100 strikeouts. José Ramírez, who also has a good swing, was the other.
    .
    Your players can do that, too. But first, you need to assess your organization’s hitting philosophy. Odds are, you’re overvaluing home runs and undervaluing making contact. High-strikeout teams typically aren’t suited to the playoffs. The Red Sox had the fifth-fewest strikeouts in baseball this year. The Indians had the fewest, and the Astros had the second-fewest.
    .
    Focus on swing path and end the obsession with launch angle. Please.”

    .
    But what does Dale Murphy know about hitting?
    .
    My son did not read the Murphy article, but he said the exact same thing when it came to fundamentals. Most on here know that my son played MLB and was with the Red Sox in 2004. My son could hit, and it was recognized by his playing peers and management. He has been asked by former teammates to help them with their swing when they were in slumps. He has been offered multiple hitting coach jobs at the professional level, including from a manager who has won a WS.
    .
    He says today the kids are learning incorrectly. They are not learning how to hit, they are learning how to uppercut with their lead forearm going up instead of level. The bat flight to the ball is much more difficult. Too many youth hitting instructors today are not former players but are smart people with a love of baseball who teach what is preferable today…launch angle. And parents who want those scholarships and potential professional careers want their kids to hit the way that gets them noticed. He told me that he does not know how to teach that way. He believes he will become obsolete as a hitting instructor. He believes the reason there is less situational hitting is because most of the hitters do not know how to hit. They can no longer control the bat to the ball. They have one purpose in mind when going to the plate…hit a HR.
    .
    He played with Turner Ward while they were both with the Phillies. He said that the way the Dodger hitters were approaching hitting was not how he remembered Ward. He also said that this was not how Dave Roberts learned how to play the game. It is his contention that field management is being handcuffed by directives from above “on what works”. He does not have any evidence of that being true, only that his memories of Roberts, Ward, Woodward, Lombard (all former teammates) did not include launch angles, multiple lineups/platoons, defensive shifts, overuse of the bullpen…He started to get upset and stated very loudly in a restaurant, that there is no way that Doc Roberts put Kike’ Hernandez batting third in Game 5 of the WS. He was told to. But he said it much more colorfully, and again with no proof, just conjecture. Baseball was the love of his life, and it has taken a huge bite out of him physically. He now has a medical condition in that we do not like for him to get agitated, so we ended the conversation. His final comment on that subject was “Pop, the game is not fun anymore. I do not enjoy it.” And he knows how that hurts me.
    .
    Mark alluded to the loss of viewers from the 2018 WS compared to others, and suggested the game needs to be changed in some fashion to get the viewers back. Some of us dinosaurs are not going to be around forever, and the owners who are paying billions now to own and operate a MLB organization need to keep the pump primed with younger viewers. You can have an electronic strike zone, add 1 or 2 to the roster, make the DH universal…The problem is (IMO) that the game is being run by computer geeks and not baseball people. I believe that the money people believe by making the game more analytical it will entice today’s computer generation to love the game. But those kids are not getting out and playing the game, they are playing a computer version. It was very telling to hear Al Leiter comment on what he would change. He said that he would require GM’s and Baseball Operations people coming up with these schemes to go down to the after-game pressers and force them to say why the manager had that lineup and strategy, because it was not the manager’s idea. Without saying it specifically, he was saying that Farhan Zaidi should explain why Kike’ was batting third in Game 5 of the WS, because it was his directive and not Doc’s.

    1. Very thought provoking post AC.
      It is a great shame about your son, and his loss of love for the game that drove him while he was growing up.
      I was reflecting on the 18 season, and tbh, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, which seems ridiculous considering we got to our 2nd WS in as many years.
      I was happy to see us there of course, but still didn’t enjoy watching us play.
      I certainly prefer the Baseball that I used to watch, before all the analytics.

  6. Hasn’t this already been discussed and written about (538, ESPN, FanGraphs…) Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner are very good reads on this subject matter.
    `
    The motivation behind this is two-fold.
    `
    Pitchers are so talented, and defenses are so reactive that in modern baseball it is extremely unlikely that you will string together three consecutive hits in order to manufacture a run.
    `
    Because pitchers and defense are so refined outs are at an extreme premium. That’s why bunts and steals are never seen, they are too close to giving away 1 of 27 outs.
    `
    Shifts, and positioning data have made ground balls (or classically struck balls) exceptionally difficult to escape the infield.
    `
    So, as a batting coach or a hittter how do you counteract this?
    `
    Rather than swinging on a downward plane looking to hit the top-half of the baseball and drive a ball through the middle, batters are attempting to hit climbing line drive that will be extra-base hits (doubles, triples, home runs).
    `
    I’m sure AC’s son is perplexed, I know many “old-school” coaches/fans/players (not that AC’s son is old-school, he’s a young chap!) cannot stomach the idea that their hitting philosophies are wrong (wrong is probably the wrong term, how about disincentivized) . After all, if you invested decades of your own blood, sweat and tears into refining your craft, would you feel useful if that theory was proven inefficient and out of favor?

    1. Again, this is not just the hitting coaches and executives.
      `
      Here’s a wonderful article by the ridiculously talented Jonah Keri. It has a great bit by Donaldson (my excerpt: Donaldson walks DeRosa through basic concepts like weight transfer in describing his prodigious power. But all of it starts with a basic approach. Donaldson’s goal is to never, ever, ever hit a groundball. Hit everything in the air, and let strength and technique do the rest.)
      `
      https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/home-runs-are-back-in-baseball-why-were-going-to-see-more-homers-and-strikeouts/
      `
      And here is the espn.com (why hitters can’t beat the shift) article with Murphy:
      `
      http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/24049347/mlb-hitters-explain-why-just-beat-shift
      `
      Again, this is players driving the change: “It’s really difficult to get three hits in one inning. If you hit three singles, it’s one run. If you get a walk and a double, you might get one run. If you get a double and a single, you might get one run. So my goal is to touch second base every single time I step to home plate. If I’m not mistaken, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 percent of ground balls go for extra-base hits. “

  7. Today’s game might be new school but all I see is today’s baseball players becoming less and less skilled in the fundamentals of the game. I’ve said a few times that this year watching the Dodgers play, for me was not much fun, but it was very frustrating. The game is changing and at this time it is not for the better.
    Very nice DC.

    1. making players pawns instead of active agents. forcing them [especially pitchers] to do certain things instead of playing to their strengths. i like to watch players play.

  8. Not everyone is Mike Trout and I don’t necessarily like Mike Trout. But I do know when he plays he is skilled enough that coaches and managers basically let him play his game because he is so good that he should be allowed to express himself on the field. Obviously he needs to follow positioning and obey hitting directions but for the most part he is a talented ballplayer playing the game as part of a team that has a shared goal: winning. When the managers and front offices get too involved in pushing data to the forefront of what players should do, it takes away the human element. It’s like players have become cogs in a vast wheel of bureaucracy. Sometimes I’m not even sure they know what to do because they are trying so hard to DO something instead of flowing and letting the game come to them. The best sports (Mixed Martial Arts, college basketball) have a distinct element of “anything can happen”–baseball is slowly losing that aspect. It’s about systems and philosophies rather than performance and individual excellence. I don’t know whether to quote Ayn Rand or Terry Gilliam to cap off this rant but we’re getting stuck in an endless loop of feedback. To think that all DJ LeMahieu amounts to is the sum total of his batting average against LHP somehow lessens the game for me. We can search through all that data and it still can’t tell us, “Is he a ballplayer?” I don’t need to look at a single stat to know Jose Altuve is or Nolan Arenado or Max Scherzer. Those guys ooze baseball and that’s why we watch the sport after all, because we enjoy the game itself.

  9. Free agent market seems a little slow to get started. What will spark it up? Q.O. offer decisions? Management/coaching openings? GM meetings ending?

    1. I am of the opinion that most GM’s are figuring out that dope-fiend deals involving big $$$ and long-term committments to Free Agents is not the path to success… maybe failure. I think you will see some signings, but it will be pretty quiet until we know which QO’s are accepted or rejected. Harper and Machado won’t get anything close to what is predicted.

  10. Change is inevitable. Combat is optional.

    When change occurs, the pendulum swings from one extreme to another. However, it usually swings back… somewhat.

    JD Martinez, Justin Turner and many others have had success in re-tooling their swings with “launch angle” being critical. However, that doesn’t work for everyone, nor should everyone try it.

    I do know that Zaidi was a micro-manager who was the link from the Front Office to Roberts. He has strong opinions (not all of which are shared by Friedman) as to matchups, etc. I’m sure Roberts will be pestered less with any new GM, than he was with Zaidi.

    With Turner and Zaidi leaving, I am sure we will see somewhat different philosophies at play. How much different remains to be seen, but if LaMahieu is truly being courted, then that is a philosophical change.

  11. Bottom line in life, moderation is probably the healthiest way to approach life, and right now in baseball saber metrics can be over used to the extreme.

    And that is understandable with the A’s and the Rays, that are having to work around the margins just to be competitive with all the big market teams.

    But why would a team like the Dodgers, that have so many resources to work with, only have a one dimensional approach, like these above teams?

    I do have hope because of the way both the Astros and the Red Sox, are now playing the game.

    Because obviously, what these two teams are doing is working, and these two teams do use saber metrics, but they use saber metrics more as just another tool.

    Because they have not forgotten how the game has been played in most of baseball’s existence.

    And because of that, they do use the smart things that have been used in baseball for sometime, that has made teams successful, along with saber metrics.

    And not only did both of these teams have historic regular seasons where they went so far ahead of the rest of the teams in their division, they have won the last two World Series too.

    And both of these teams won the last two World Series against a Dodger team that seemed to use saber metrics as an all in compassing way to manage the team, instead of using saber metrics as just another tool, like the Astros and the Red Sox.

    And in both of these World Series, it seemed like the Dodger management had their heads in the numbers, instead of looking up and watching what was happening in the game, that same day.

    Because it seemed like there was no feel, or common sense used, when the Dodgers made big moves, or even made out their line ups, for that day.

    And because of all this history, I think teams will be looking more at the way the Astros and the Red Sox are playing the game now, so I think there is some hope here, that baseball will have some balancing out, in the next few years.

    Because there is nothing like success, that brings imitation.

    AC just as I am writing this now, the guys on Hotstove on the MLB Channel, are talking about all the constraints Roberts has been working under from some,
    in the front office.

    So now that Zaidi is gone, and we have lost another World Series, hopefully the Dodger’s management might take another look at their process, and take in, what has not worked, in the last couple years, like the team’s inconsistent offense, and especially in the last couple World Series.

    1. I think it’s good that we have some organizational change after the last two World Series flops. Zaidi certainly left us in better shape than he joined us, but I’ve always felt that Friedman was the idea man and Zaidi was an able #2. Perhaps Friedman will take on more responsibility himself; perhaps he’ll add an independent thinker to counteract some of the ideas already in place. While consistency can lead to steady improvement (Kershaw./Roberts), change can also affect dynamics positively and lead to new insights and heights. Onward and upward!

      1. Dionysis

        Maybe now that Roberts has that multi year contract, he won’t be afraid to make moves based on his baseball history, and the knowledge he gained as a player, once and a while.

        And he will speak up more to the guys in the front office, if he doesn’t think that something they are suggesting, just doesn’t make good baseball sense.

    2. MJ, former baseball players know. They also know that Doc Roberts is not the guy that we see putting out the lineup and making all the changes. At least they think they do. I know my son does not think he is that guy. But it is the Brian Kenny stat driven philosophy that is taking over. Most current players hate the shift because they cannot hit out of it. They are not taught bat control. That was my primary concern with how the minor leaguers were/are being developed. But until there is accountability for their plate discipline they is no reason to change. Why should DJ Peters change? He gets more plate appearances than anyone else. There is no accountability for a 34.3% strikeout rate (192 K’s) for someone who hits 29 Texas League HR’s . For comparison Cody Bellinger had 23 at Tulsa.
      .
      You do not have to be a Cy Young candidate to exploit a team that is so willing to expand the strike zone. I am going with my son and believing that this was not Turner Ward’s methodology of hitting. I for one am glad that Zaidi is gone. I cannot wish him luck because of where he is going. I am in the camp that believes that while Andrew Friedman is a stat geek, he is not to the extreme of Zaidi. IMO his next GM will be somewhat stat driven (that is not going to change), but leave the game in the hands of the manager more. Hopefully the next GM will not micro manage as much as Zaidi and choreograph each potential situation and game plan a solution. Hire a manager, and let him manage.

      1. AC

        I was going to ask you how did you get John Morosi to put out the news, that the Dodgers are looking at DJ LeMahieu?

        The timing was perfect!

        I thought it was telling that Zaidi was so defensive at the after World Series, news conference.

        And like I said yesterday, good luck with that HR only offense, in AT&T park.

  12. Bryce Harper rejected a 10/300 deal with Wash. That tells me Boras is quite confident he can get more, or that Harper really doesn’t want to return to Wash unless it comes with a massive payday.

    I do NOT want to offer him 10/300. He can make a lot more endorsement money in LA so if he really wants to be here, take a bit less, help us win rings, and make your money as one of the few faces of baseball.

    As far as Lamaheiu, I don’t like his splits whatsoever. I see more Forsythe and less All Star if he comes here. Let Kike or CT3 take 2b for now, unless Lux is the wunderkid come spring training.

    1. Benjamin Graham said, “In the short run the market is a voting machine, but in the long run it is a weighing machine.”
      *
      I think a lot of people are scared away from the total value of a 10y/$300m deal because they are focused on the overall number and not the AAV. To me, $30 mil is not an unreasonable yearly salary for a player like Bryce Harper given current market conditions.
      *
      I would take him at 10y/$300 in a heartbeat and I think he will end up beating that AAV. I’ve mentioned a potential player opt-out that could guarantee him an even higher yearly salary by front-loading the contract. Even though I am normally not in favor of these kind of big ticket purchases, what do we have to lose? Honestly, what is the danger here?

      1. None; Barring injury he’s really good with potential for MVP. Granted he’s another leftie hitter in a lineup full of big leftie hitters, and his defense is gross. But that bat in LF can make up for it.

        Perhaps you’re right, $30mil a year for this guy is solid. $30 guaranteed for 10 years? Wow.

        We stayed under the lux tax in 2018 for this very reason. So we can go get an impact guy. Whether that’s Harper, resign Machado, or trade for a high priced stud.

        1. Revised prediction: 10y/$330m. First five years are at $36m per year with a player opt-out after the 5th year. Next five are at $30 mil. Value of contract if he opts out = 5y/$180.

          1. That will probably be considered because it meets three of Boras’ conditions.
            .
            1. – Higher AAV than Miggy Cabrera who has the highest AAV of any position player ever ($31MM).
            2. – It beats Giancarlo Stanton’s $325MM contract, the most of any single contract ever.
            3. – It gives Harper an opt out, but Boras is going to require two.
            .

  13. On the MLB Channel they just said, Harper turned down the Nat’s offer, because the Nats wouldn’t give him any opt outs.

    That offer by the Nats was not a serious offer, it was more about making themselves look good with their fans, because they already knew Harper wouldn’t take that 10 year offer, with no opt outs.

    But now the Nats can tell their fan base, that they offered Harper that contract.

    1. I totally agree with this. In fact, I was trying to think of a recent comparable situation where a team gave a half-hearted out-the-door offer to save face. I think it was to a pitcher . . . oh yeah, arrieta.

  14. I read this elsewhere and don’t think I’d do it:

    Kemp for Sal Perez straight-up no money changes hands.
    *
    Dodgers save some money this year (3y/$36m for Perez vs. $21.5m this year for Kemp) but are on the hook for two more years of financial obligations.
    *
    I personally don’t us in a money pinch for this year. Maybe if the money is made even . . . Kemp for Perez & $14.5 mil.
    *
    But why would KC want that?

    1. It is not the Dodgers that would not do that deal. It is KC that wouldn’t. What is wrong with being on the hook for 2 years at a $26MM for a 29 year old (for 2020) AS GG catcher who has a career CS % of 35%. 48% last year.
      .
      Again maybe it is old school thought, but it has always been a team looks to be strong defensively up the middle. You take what offense you can get from C, SS, 2B, CF but those are the key defensive positions. Most are only looking offensively in evaluating a potential Dodger position player. Admittedly I am old school and Salvy Perez behind the dish, DJ at 2B, Corey at SS, and Ender Inciarte in CF make the Dodgers extremely tough defensively. Plus, Corey and DJ are legit .300 hitters. That is especially true when their “offensive” position players, JT (3B), Belli (1B), Verdugo (LF) and currently Puig (RF) are not bad defensive players. In fact JT and Belli are among the very best, and Verdugo has the ability to get their in LF. While Puig has a tendency to misjudge fly balls at times, his arm is a weapon. You can win a game defensively just as you can offensively.

      1. Perez caught stealing numbers are staggering. Now granted guys don’t steal as much so perhaps his strength isn’t as valuable as before. But either way those stats sure are impressive!

    2. The Dodgers would jump at that deal. If they could offload Kemp and pick up Perez at such a small commitment they wouldn’t think twice. However, Dayton Moore is going to want to reload with prospects. He isn’t going to offload the leader of that ballclub just to dump money and only get Matt Kemp back. Sure, he might take Kemp or part of Kemp’s salary but the Dodgers would have to sweeten that deal. 2 years for 14.5 million is what the difference would be for the Dodgers. They just offered Grandal $18 million for 1 year and he’s a much inferior defensive catcher.

  15. Regarding DJ LeMahieu. First let me preface that I would not sign LeMahieu to anything more than a 2 year deal. But for those that are concentrating on last year’s numbers, you might just miss out on a very good player. Here are his CAREER stats:
    .
    RHP – .292/.343/.391/.734
    LHP – .313/.369/.445/.814
    .
    Home – .330/.387/.448/.835
    Away – .264/.311/.362/.673
    .
    No change from 1st half to 2nd half, so he is very consistent.
    .
    Career RISP – .291/.348/.398/.746
    Career RISP w/2 outs – .275/.349/.361/.710
    .
    There is nothing similar to what Logan Forsythe put up career wise or as a Dodger. Not even close.
    .
    Neither CT3 or Kike’ have that offensive ability, or at least they have never shown it, and neither are 3 time GG winners who had 18 defensive runs saved last year at 2B. I have seen FA contract projections of 2 years at $16MM and 2 years at $18MM for LeMahieu.
    .
    He turns 31 in July. CT3 turn 29 in August, and Kike turns 28 in August.
    .
    Yesterday Mark remarked about Verdugo, what if he hits .300 with a .360 OBP? Well DJ has done better. In 2016, he hit .348/.416/.495/.911. I agree with Mark that Verdugo may in fact be that hitter, but so is DJ.

    1. And look at those home and away splits. It could be when this guy comes to LA (or anywhere that isn’t Colorado), and realizes that his regular swing he used in Colorado isn’t working, he starts to change things. Who knows what we get at that point. No, the numbers you posted aren’t Logan Forsythe in LA, but they are Logan Fosythe-like from Tampa. Or Dozier like in Minnesota.

      Getting LaMaheiu may mean we get a great defensive 2b who has a .311 obp away from Coors field, which is horrendous. I”m quite certain CT3 could mimic LaMaheiu’s away-from-Colorado numbers.

      1. I hope you’re right because all CT3 could mimic last year was a fly swatter.

        If LaMaheiu is available, I think you have to get him. I think we have to say enough with the idea of CT3 or Kike being everyday players… they are both fine as bench players / role players… but they cannot be counted on to produce over an entire season. I don’t mind the team hanging on to one of them to use as a utility / back up type of guy… but I it’s time to get rid of the other.

      2. You are only concentrating on last year. His away stats for the three previous years:
        .
        2017 – .294/.352/.401/.753
        2016 – .303/.353/.395/.747
        2015 – .281/.337/.358/.694
        .
        CT3 has only started 45 games (31 starts) at 2B, and has a career -2 DRS. DJ had +18 last year and has a career +66.
        .
        DJ LeMahieu has led the league in hits and batting average (2016).
        .
        I am not going to disagree that .311 OBP away from Coors is bad. But leading the league in strikeouts with 178 is acceptable? DJ has struck out 100+ only one season while CT3 is 142 and 178. Plus he has never shown the ability to hit RISP or RISP w/2 out, something DJ has. I believe that is an area most of us consider a problem area. DJ has much better bat to ball skills than CT3, and if that is not of value to you, that is okay. We just see things differently. That does not make either of us right or wrong.
        .
        Bobby we are just going to have to agree to disagree on the value of DJ LeMahieu. I have no way knowing for sure, but I doubt that there are more than a couple of managers who would start CT3 over DJ at 2B. You may be right and CT3 will become a great hitting 2B next year. With his current swing, I just do not see it.

    2. Othern than K’s, Taylor did put up a better year than DJ. DJ scares me. I agree with your assessment that Taylor isn’t going back to his AAAA swing. What really caused him to regress though was that he lost control of the K zone. Swinging at too many balls and the amount of times he looked at strike 3 was maddening.

      1. Don’t look at what DJ did last year, because he was out twice on the DL, for the first time.

        DJ’s numbers in the previous three years away from Coors, were not bad.

        In two of those years away from Coors DJ hit 300, and in the other season, he hit 291.

        His OBP was about 350 in those previous three years away from Coors, and his OPS was about 750 in those previous three years away from Coors, too.

        And he had 18 defensive runs saved last year.

        1. And most of Forsythe’s problem was that he came from the American League, to the National League, with all new pitching.

          It seems like only really good hitters, make that transition well from the American League to the National League, when it comes to hitting.

          I am glad they are looking at a player in the National League, after Reddick, Forsythe, and Dozier.

        2. Obviously AC’s numbers are right, and my numbers are off.

          But do remember DJ was out on the DL twice last year for the first time, so I wouldn’t look to much at the numbers he put up last year.

      2. But strikeouts are part of CT3’s DNA. We cannot look past them. LeMahieu scares a lot of people. Nobody really knows what he will be like with his home field becoming something other than Coors. I just happen to believe that with his bat to ball skills he will adapt away from Coors better than CT3 can adjust his swing. Plus he would be facing the Rockies pitchers 19 times vs the Dodger pitchers. That is going to raise his average as well.
        .
        I know that it may be coming across that I am anti CT3. If that is who the Dodgers select to start at 2B next year, I will be okay with it. He is not my first choice, but he is far better than 95% of the other potential 2B’s available. Would I take CT3 over Forsythe or Dozier? Absolutely, and without question. It is just that I believe that DJ would make the team better than CT3 at 2B. I think CT3 is good defensively, just not at the level of DJ. CT3 is much more valuable to a team as a utility player who can play a good SS, 2B, LF and CF. DJ cannot do that.
        .
        My actual #1 choice for 2B would be Jean Segura, but he would cost prospects and a lot of them. DJ is only money.

        1. I feel the same way about CT3 this year. I’m just wary of all the 30+ second baseman who haven’t produced in LA. DJ would be an upgrade, but would it be enough. Segura is also my first choice.

      3. Hawkeye

        Don’t you think it would be hard to hit in Coors where balls don’t break well, and then go to another stadium, where off speed pitches break well, and make that transition throughout the season?

        1. It could be. I’ve always found him to be the biggest benefactor of that ballpark. He’s a solid ball player and no doubt he would do better than what Forsythe and Dozier did, but I’m very wary of DJ. I think the Dodgers have to be in on Harper or Machado if they want to win it all next season or in the near future. The Dodgers offense wasn’t consistent enough this year and were a bat short in the World Series against the Red Sox this year. For those who put value in defensive metrics, Harper in CF wasn’t too good and even worse in RF. I would be on board a Harper-Bellinger- Puig OF and they all three should play everyday.

          1. Hawkeye

            That is how I see DJ a solid player, but I don’t think he will cost that much.

            And I don’t think this front office will give him more then two years, so I don’t think he will kill us, like Forsythe did.

            I am warming up to Harper, after Dionysis brought him up.

            Because I looked at his numbers, and he has pretty good numbers, where you want to see good numbers.

            I am only afraid of he might be a product of that terrible National League East.

            But I think we could easily get both players, because I don’t see DJ getting many years, because of his age, and being out on the DL twice last year.

            And I think both Harper and Machado, won’t be close to the number they are predicting, especially after how slow last year was, in the off season.

            And they both have issues, that have probably brought down their prices.

        1. I just think Taylor’s swing, is not easy to repeat.

          There is nothing smooth about Taylor’s swing, and because of that, he can’t adjust his swing as easily, as a hitter with a smooth swing.

  16. My preference would also be Segura, simply because I remember how impressed I was with him in 2016 when he played 2B for the DBacks. But like AC noted, Segura comes at a high cost in prospects, and DJ costs only money. And I firmly believe that DJ would adjust to playing the vast majority of his games at sea level.

    And depending on cost, I’m all in on Harper. Of course, I am not privy to the Dodgers finances, so all I can say is that I hope the Dodgers can find a way to get it done without compromising the team.

  17. What does Freidman do? Clarity might come after he knows if Grandal stays or opts out. 2nd base is a need, but it seems catcher is the biggest issue. But beyond obvious needs will Freidman be serious about adding some major talent? He already has stated he likes the present team. Has ownership put some restrictions on what he can and cannot do? If Freidman is already talking to DJ (rumors) possibly that is a portent of more to come.

    1. We should have resolution to the Grandal situation by Monday, but I assume they feel he is moving on. I don’t see us offering him a multi-year deal after the events of the postseason where he lost his job again but this time with no viable excuse like a difficult childbirth for his wife. If he takes a one-year deal, problem solved.
      *
      We need some offensive consistency. I guess we could upgrade 2b and hope that’s enough. Or we could go after a big fish and sign a stop-gap at catcher. I’m almost certain we have a surprise trade or two in our future so there’s no point in even guessing what that might be.
      *
      I say damn the torpedoes and spend in free agency. It doesn’t cost prospects and we can still be smart and selective and not harm our future. Nobody signs early contracts anymore so it’s not like we need to save up for Seager or Buehler extensions. Hell, even Bellinger’s liable to go year-to-year for us.
      *
      We’ll be creative with relievers but I don’t think we need to make a big splash in the rotation. I do like Kichuki and would be thrilled to add him to the stable. Even though we don’t tend to spend much on the bullpen [aside from Jansen], I think a co-closer for one or two years might be smart. Zach Britton comes to mind.

  18. “Folks see Ryu as possibility to take 17.9M qualifying offer. Grandal, Pollock seen as not as likely. Harper, Kimbrel, Keuchel, Corbin will decline QO.”

    — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 7, 2018

  19. Some random thoughts:
    1 – JD Martinez got 5 years/$110MM after the Sox waited him out. No way Machado or Harper get $300MM contracts. I personally wouldn’t try to sign either of them.
    2 – There is a long parade of players leaving Colorado who didn’t have good numbers after leaving there. (Think Vinnie Castilla for example – there are many others I could mention.) Given DJ LeMahieu’s road splits, I wonder how well he’d hit. A guy with bat to ball skills would be great at 2B, but I wonder if he’s the guy.
    3 – The Dodgers absolutely have to do something at catcher. I expect a placeholder though, someone to play until one of the wunderkinds are ready.
    4 – I have read at least 1 article saying that Zaidi was very involved in constructing lineups and batting orders. Some of these have openly wondered what Bruce Bochy will do when Zaidi tries to tell him whom to play.
    5 – I still expect the Dodgers will probably trade one or more OFs, and maybe sign a rehabbing reliever but I really don’t expect any great splashes.
    6 – The Dodgers have won 6 straight division titles and have been in 2 straight Series, so why would anyone think that Friedman is going to make big changes to the roster? They will bank on 1 or more of the kids in the minors coming up and making a difference. Maybe this is Verdugo’s year, or Urias’, just as Seager, Bellinger and Buehler have been difference makers the past 3 seasons.
    7 – Other than Realmuto, there are probably no difference makers out there at catcher. I think the Dodgers are looking at a placeholder there. At 2B, the question is whether a rotation of Kike, Taylor and Muncy will get the job done and get it done the way the Dodgers want it (ie., hitting HRs). I would be surprised in light of recent experience if the Dodgers sign or trade for a new 2B. I like Segura a lot too but he would be costly.
    8 – Look at Baseball Reference.com. They don’t like Sal Perez’ defense – he ranks 42nd in overall defense, 112th in pitch framing, but 1st in stopping the running game. Given the Braintrust’s emphasis on framing, I doubt he’s a fit although I’ve always like him.
    9 – I don’t expect any new GM will be less committed toward a statistically-oriented approach to building a baseball team. That’s how Friedman is wired. Whether he will be inclined to micromanage as Zaidi is reputed to have done is another matter.

    1. 1) I will absolutely own up if Harper gets less than 10y/$300m
      6) Yes we were in two straight WS but we blew the first one and got stomped in the second. This is absolutely the time to ramp up. Those teams in the AL aren’t getting worse and some in the NL are on the rise too.

      1. Dionysis

        Go read that article in the LA Times about the Dodgers going after Harper.

        It doesn’t have the particular lean you think it would have, but I still think you would enjoy the article.

        Mark has the La Times listed below with the other Dodger sites, and if a pop up comes up, to subscribe to the LA Times, just wait, because an X will appear in the top right hand corner of the pop up, so you can release the pop up and continue to read the article.

    2. Realmuto also has terrible numbers when it comes to pitch framing. I wonder how much longer Bochy will even be there to tell you the truth. As far as constructing lineups, I do think the front office has their hands all over it when we see Kike hitting 3rd in the World Series. Unless he’s facing Bumgarner then he shouldn’t be anywhere near 3rd in the batting order. Matt Kemp takes Chris Sale deep in his first WS AB, but can’t get on the field vs David Price even though Kike had done nothing all post season long? I don’t think the front office is calling down to the dugout like some have insinuated, but there’s no doubt that they give Roberts a glut of information that points him a certain direction. Information that might suggest they really like Alex Wood vs. Nunez as a matchup which then leads Roberts into making a bonehead of decision and removing Pedro Baez unnecessarily. Bochy may be open to all that information, he may not want to deal with it, but if he does expect him to not be a yes man to it all.

      1. preach, my Iowa brother! Matt Kemp should have played some more in the World Series, and Kike should have played much less. Any analytics that say otherwise need to be re-programmed

      2. Hawkeye

        On the MLB Channel today they said the front office told Roberts he couldn’t use Baez that day Hill started that game, when Roberts used Alexander and Madson instead.

        It wasn’t like Baez was over worked, and that second possible win, would have made a huge difference in that World Series, after winning that game the night before.

        What happened to this is the World Series, and Baez would have the entire off season to rest?

        Our pitchers were not over worked, but the Red Sox pitchers sure were, at that point.

        No wonder our former GM talked about having our starting pitchers in the minors pitch in relief, to have that experience.

        The Red Sox sure improvised the way they used pitchers for their pen.

        Where was our creativity, or common sense to still use Baez in such an important game in the World Series?

        I also either saw on the Dodgers pregame show, or read, that Kike is a favorite of this front office.

        1. Why wouldn’t that assessment be between Rick Honeycutt/Doc and Baez? That is why you have coaches. Seriously, I cannot see Bochy putting up with this micro-managing. Mike Scioscia would have bolted long before he put up with that.
          .
          Kike’ should be a favorite of sorts. It is between him and Marwin Gonzalez who are the best utility players in the game. Some like Marwin more, while others like Kike’. Both players can play defensively well at SS, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, and RF. And both are decent hitters, while Marwin had a tremendous 2017 season along with all of the other Astros. He had a much more pedestrian season in 2018.

          1. AC

            That decision made me crazy!

            This decision was made before the game started I believe, but I am not sure.

            It makes sense about Kike, because our front office made that move to bring Kike to the team.

            How about the Red Sox’s utility guy, he seems to be a much better hitter then Kike, except for power?

            But we know these major sabers metric guys, love to save expenses, by using utility players.

            I think Bochy has to much experience and credibility, so our former GM, won’t be micro managing him.

            After all, Bochy has been a part of three World Series, and he will be an instant induction, into the Hall of Fame.

          2. MJ, Brock Holt is a better bat to ball hitter than Kike’, but lacks his power. But where I think the real difference comes in is defense. While I did not see him the entire season, I saw enough of him during the year to recognize that Holt is not the defensive player Kike’ is. I do not think there is a defensive position where Kike’ is not good. Okay except pitcher.

        2. Who would have thought we would see the day we were lamenting over the lack of use by Pedro Baez in a post-season game after years of letting inherited runners score in the post-season?

          1. AC thanks, I couldn’t remember his name last night.

            Maybe if HRs were not over stressed, Kike might work to be a better over all hitter.

            Because I believe both Kike and Joc get caught up trying to pull everything out, and because of that, their bat disappears for quite a while during a season.

  20. First “name” trade of the winter. Seattle traded defensively gifted catcher Mike Zunino and CF Guillermo Heredia to Tampa Bay for CF Mallex Smith. This has questions written all over it. Seattle now has 1 catcher on their 40 man, David Freitas, who is a backup at best. They will need a new catcher. But Seattle will get the CF they have wanted and can leave Dee Gordon at 2B. Smith is only 25 and cannot become a FA until after the 2022 season. This still plays in their strip down mode if they want to.
    .
    For Tampa Bay, they get a good defensive catcher who is controlled for two more years. They need a good catcher to work with their young pitching staff. Smith was extra as Kiermaier is their CF. They lose Wilson Ramos’ bat but they have enough potential offense to offset that loss.
    .
    It is not a trade for either fan base to get excited negatively about. The M’s get a good you CF , and the Rays get a good defensive team controlled C. Both teams can now look at other needs.

      1. Yes. Or DH replacing Cruz and leaving Healy at 1B. If Cano goes to 1B, then Healy and Vogelbach can platoon as DH, but I think they would want to give Healy the chance to stick at 1B. Career wise, Healy is pretty equal with hitting against LHP and RHP. Let him grow at 1B.

      2. After the Dodgers lost that last game of the World Series, Baez was really upset, because he was crying, and I had never seen Baez that way.

        I wonder if that decision not to use Baez, really hit home for Baez?

        Not that is was Baez’s fault, but I could see Baez being very frustrated, because he was never given that chance.

        And he would have pitched in a heart beat, if he was asked.

        Because he had finally really got his act together this year, and like you said, he was abruptly taken out in that first game in the World Series.

        And that game didn’t end well either.

    1. Curious as to why the Dodgers were not in on Zunino. Power hitting, good framing catcher who has a strike out tendency with two years control. He seems a perfect fit.

  21. the statistics in baseball are false because they fail in a basic principle: you must compare the same in the same circumstances. a left-handed hitter can hit a lot of home runs in the Yankees ‘little stadium while at the Dodgers’ stadium soloserian outs. It is not the same to hit and shoot in Colorado than in San Francisco. . each stadium has different dimensions. so they do not have any basis … the memeticists worship a false God

  22. So officially, we’ve picked up the option of $1.1mil on Roberts’ contract. But both sides are still negotiating an extension.

  23. Apparently, the Dodgers offered Puig for Harper when they tried to claim him on waivers. That’s opposite of any rumors that the Dodgers were just trying to block other teams from claiming him. Puig’s contract must have been close enough to a match to keep them under the luxury tax at the time . If not there must have been more offered unless they felt so strongly that Harper would have put them over the top. As hot as Puig got in September and as hot as Harper was down the stretch it would have been more fun to see them together. Harper has stated in the past that Puig is one of his favorite players to watch.

    1. That would mean Puig went unclaimed on waivers. I can’t imagine how that would occur, given Puig’s talent, age, and cheap contract

  24. What does Freidman do?
    Now that is how we get to problem with the Dodgers!!
    No, really we’ve addressed that numerous times!?!?
    Do not let that deter you Wild Bill E., from continuing to share these pearls…
    If it’s about the money and Segura, why don’t we let Dozier get healthy and sign him again???
    I know I’ll get hit with comments closed, but here goes anyhow… AC, DC, MT, what about Kim Ng as GM??? Great experience with multiple levels with the Dodgers and the MLB FO…

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