What’s The Future Base Ball

It’s no accident that BeerGraphs launched and then I disappeared from these pages for three weeks. I just don’t have the time to maintain three sites.

So, in case I vanish again, I just wanted to give you easy links to my writing.

Mostly interviews with stats at FanGraphs

Fantasy stuff at FanGraphs

Silly stuff at FanGraphs

Fantasy stuff at RotoWorld

Fantasy stuff at Getting Blanked

Beer stuff at BeerGraphs

That covers most of your regularly scheduled programming.

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BeerGraphs Is Here Base Ball

After precious little sleep Thursday night, co-founder Matt Dennewitz and I pressed go on BeerGraphs Friday. Hoping to use big data to say big things about beer, we’re set to go on a statistical journey into the heart of suds. I feel like numbers don’t ruin our favorite adult sodas, they help us understand ourselves better. With leaderboards, a statistical, scientific and policy blog called BeerGraphs and a more writerly and celebratory blog called BarelyBeer, I’ll be plenty busy.

But I’ll also be writing about baseball, of course.

I took a long look at Matt Cain. With help from him and plenty of people around the park, I tried out each theory until I found a mechanical issue and a statistical issue that might be the cause of his struggles. I wouldn’t know how to fix it, but I think I can help spot it.

To celebrate BeerGraphs’ launch, I put beers to baseball players. Barry Bonds is *not* Pliny the Younger! Oh, and my pronunciation series continued….

I also broke down Nick Franklin, Yasiel Puig and Yovani Gallardo for the fantasy side. Like Franklin, want to see Puig’s contact rate, and am worried about Gallardo using his two-seamer so much.

And for Getting Blanked, I looked at ground ball rate changes, which just became stable. Not good news for Eric Hosmer.

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Any Day Now Beer Base Ball

The next time I write one of these things, I’ll have a new site to link to. BeerGraphs should be up next week — it has to be. We have a launch party next week — happy hour at The Public House in San Francisco (it’s a Giants away game) — and so we have to be up. No choice in the matter. BeerGraphs will have leaderboards with beer stats, reviews, and also analysis based on our numbers. Should be a lot of nerdery, all based on adult sodas.

In the meantime, I’m out there talking to players still. First up was Austin Wilson, a great player at Stanford that hasn’t quite lived up to his tools. Still, he’ll be a first rounder in the draft, and it was great to hear him talk about how he sat in on bullpens when he was hurt, just to see the spin on the ball. I went on a podcast to talk about it, and just talking about him unearthed some really interesting facets of scouting.

I also talked to Matt Cain, but that’ll publish next week. This week, I wrote about John Jaso and how he’s taken things that he learned from catching and used them on the basepaths and at the plate. As with Wilson’s standing in on bullpens, I loved hearing Jaso talk about running on pitches that he thought would be in the dirt before they even hit the dirt. He’s a smart guy.

I saw Tyler Skaggs a while back and was not impressed. 88-89 on the fastball, great curveball, nothing changeup. Thought he was a back-of-the-rotation guy. I saw him this week, and, well, the changeup looked better. And then I put him up against Kevin Gausman and still liked Gausman. And then Gausman threw two stinkers. Now I don’t know what to think.

Getting Blanked this week was checking in on some players that were injured last year and could have outproduced their projections this year.

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Long Weekend Base Ball

Enjoy your long weekend! I’ve got a beer case packed: Dupont’s Foret Organic Saison, Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse, Port Brewing Wipeout IPA, Lucky Hand Black Lager, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, and Knee Deep’s Tanilla. That’s two great saisons, two classic IPAs, and a couple dark beers for the end of the night. I also got Flying Dog’s Wildeman Farmhouse IPA and Goose Island Matilda, but I’m not sure those will make it into the car tomorrow. The wife claims she doesn’t like my fancy pants beers but soiffed all the Matilda pretty fast. I don’t love the Flying Dog Farmhouse IPA — tastes pretty much like a saison, with not enough sweet to make it an IPA — but I’ve been drinking it to keep my weekend case intact.

Over the past week, I’ve had some fun with balls in play.

The Royals talked to me about the ideal ground ball rate for hitters. Each hitter had a different idea about it — Alex Gordon made a tweak to hit more ground balls because of his home stadium and some iffy early-career results, Billy Butler just takes what the pitchers give him (mostly low balls and therefore ground balls), and Eric Hosmer seems more intuitive — and for good reason. Fly balls are conducive to power, but ground balls help you get on base. That’s why there’s no ideal ground ball rate for every hitter, but there might be fore *each* hitter.

Then I talked to Marco Scutaro about putting balls in play. He’s about the best in the business at making contact, but he had a couple negative things to say about his elite tool. So I tested out what he said. He should be more proud, I think.

Pretty sure Jason Marquis is shaking his catcher off as he’s pitching here.

My mother would not be proud — all those years of language education, and I’m bad at pronouncing names. I try! I promise I try. But I’m no good. So Carson Cistulli started a series of me trying to pronounce names for the upcoming draft: Here‘s Eric Jagielo. And here’s Trey Michalczewski. I hope not to offend. My name has been mispronounced a million different ways, so I know it’s not great. But it is kind of funny how bad this dude — who learned German, French, Jamaican and Japanese and writes for a living — can struggle with the English language.

And over at Getting Blanked, I tried to predict some in-season injuries to pitchers. Tried.

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Beer is Coming Base Ball

BeerGraphs is coming. Hopefully, we’re only two weeks away. We’re collecting content right now, and setting up the leaderboards. We’re ready to destroy another fun thing — beer — with nerdy numbers. I’m setting up meetups and editing, and trying to figure out nuts and bolts, but I’m still writing about baseball.

Dodgers Catcher A.J. Ellis let me into his brain. He talked to me about how supportive his wife has been over the years, while also getting into some of the nuts and bolts about how he’s become one of the most patient hitters in baseball. I took a look at his words and his stats, and added some pictures to boot. He finished with a memorable simile, which had him shouting a pitcher’s name in the Dodger’s clubhouse. Great guy.

Then I talked to Andrelton Simmons, mostly about defense. He combines research with a great sense of his strengths in order to get the most out of his athletic tools. Hearing him talk about where he positions himself was very interesting to me. One of his comments spawned a funny jokes piece ha ha. (I’m bad at those.)

With R.A. Dickey struggling, I took a look at his velocity. Turns out he might be a little bit more like a conventional pitcher than we thought.

Jason Marquis did something I’d never seen before in baseball.

It’s rankings week at RotoGraphs. I hate rankings week.

I did some research on old dudes that hit the DL with shoulder problemsRoy Halladay fits the bill. I found that after the season in which those 35+ year old pitchers hit the DL, they averaged another 59 innings the rest of their career. More than half were done done, as in never pitched again. ESPN picked it up a couple times and ran with it, with Jayson Stark giving me a couple paragraphs of credit, which was really nice of him. That was part of a three-day ESPN blitz for me, as I called that Junichi Tazawa was going to close for the Red Sox (most thought it would be Koji Uehara, but managers prefer velocity) and the Fantasy Focus guys were kind enough to give me credit. And my piece on Clay Buchholz and his spitball made the front page for a day. I love ESPN.

I don’t love Adrian Gonzalez, not in fantasy. The power is not coming back.

Over at Getting Blanked, I had a couple pieces. The first was about the rise of the strikeout and the home run and what that meant for fantasy baseball. The second was about a friend of mine failing to come up with an equation for expected walk rate for pitchers, and yet still providing interesting analysis for fantasy players looking for values.

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Irregular Regular Base Ball

I interrupt your regularly scheduled non-programming because I realized that I haven’t told y’all about my regularly scheduled programming. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do my radio show with Mike Podhorzer, which you can find here. On Wednesdays, I have a closer article on RotoWorld that you can find here. And on Thursdays, I chat, you just have to find me on FanGraphs at noon ET!

Back to nothingness.

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Affordability Base Ball

I’m trying to save up a bit to get to Chicago in July for PitchFork Fest (and some BeerGraphs/FanGraphs events), so I haven’t been buying beer as expensive as I’m used to. Thank god for Red Chair NWPA from Deschutes. I’ve written about the beer before, but it was $7.99 for a six pack at Safeway, and I thought that made it deserving of another shoutout. It’s helping save my pocketbook while also quenching my thirst!

We just updated four days ago, but I wanted to check in anyway.

I talked to Mark Trumbo about getting the most out of his skillset. He doesn’t walk much and he isn’t a great defender, but he works on both, and it looks like diligently. He impressed me enough that I went and traded for him in a dynasty league, even though it was an OBP league.

I made that trade using Josh Hamilton, who is swinging and missing way too much, and Jed Lowrie, who was coincidentally the subject of my second interview/profile of the week. Lowrie has been unfortunate with injuries, but talking to him about his statistical profile was also interesting.

If you get a little mad this week, don’t do this.

Even with velocities down in April, these pitchers are worse off. Weird thing is, it’s a pretty good list of pitchers, as in the pitchers on the list are excellent. But lower velocity in April does increase chances of injury and further velocity loss.

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