Archive for April, 2011

The past decade has seen some amazing baseball, some amazing performances and some amazing advances in the way we view and analyze the statistics that make the game so great.  I thought I would have some fun and do some top ten “WAR” (Wins Above Replacement) lists for hitters, pitchers and fielders.

I am pretty sure a lot of the following names won’t create many surprises but some might stick out a bit when you go ten deep.  Let’s start with the hitters, the most valuable players on most rosters as they have the ability to play and produce value to the club day in and day out if they can manage to stay reasonably healthy.

Top Ten Position Players from 2001 to 2010

*I included Fld (fielding runs) to see how much value a player derives from their defense and positional adjustment/value.

  WAR AVG OBP SLG wOBA HR RBI Fld
Albert Pujols 80.6 .331 .426 .624 .434 408 1230 62.4
Alex Rodriguez 70.7 .299 .394 .577 .413 424 1236 -1.4
Lance Berkman 53.4 .297 .412 .547 .405 302 1017 4.4
Ichiro Suzuki 50.7 .331 .376 .430 .354 90 383 SB 126.1
Chipper Jones 50.7 .308 .412 .536 .402 247 856 -23.1
Scott Rolen 50.1 .284 .367 .492 .368 195 826 117.1
Carlos Beltran 49.0 .283 .366 .509 .379 251 903 37.4
Derek Jeter 46.2 .310 .380 .445 .366 156 721 -59.4
Todd Helton 45.6 .321 .428 .539 .410 226 871 27.7
Chase Utley 44.3 .293 .380 .514 .388 177 650 84.3

 

Any surprises for you when you look at this group?  For me I am surprised to see Lance Berkman check in at number three and as you can see he has derived nearly all of his value with the bat, ditto A’Rod.  Ichiro Suzuki is on the other end of the spectrum, gaining value with speed and defense as well as a high batting average.  Scott Rolen is another guy who gets a lot of value from his stellar defense but his overall body of work is pretty impressive and an underrated guy over the past decade.

Derek Jeter got no help from his well documented poor fielding skills and though he is oft-injured Carlos Beltran has produced great value over the past ten seasons.  Todd Helton might have seen a lift from his home park of Coors Field but his overall body of work is also impressive and the most valuable second basemen over the past decade Chase Utley rounds out the top ten.

Top Ten Pitchers from 2001 to 2010

  WAR IP W-L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Roy Halladay 60.5 2066.1 156-72 3.05 3.18 6.9 1.6 0.7
CC Sabathia 49.6 2127.0 157-88 3.57 3.58 7.5 2.8 0.8
Roy Oswalt 47.6 2015.0 150-83 3.18 3.34 7.4 2.1 0.8
Randy Johnson 46.1 1636.2 124-71 3.44 3.22 10.0 2.2 1.0
Johan Santana 46.0 1822.2 131-66 2.94 3.31 8.9 2.3 0.9
Javier Vazquez 43.8 2102.2 127-117 4.07 3.81 8.2 2.3 1.2
Mark Buehrle 41.8 2220.0 144-109 3.84 4.15 5.0 2.0 1.0
Andy Pettitte 41.7 1806.1 140-83 3.80 3.57 7.0 2.5 0.8
Curt Schilling 40.9 1359.0 106-51 3.50 3.15 9.1 1.4 1.1
Mike Mussina 38.1 1553.0 123-72 3.88 3.50 7.4 1.8 0.9

 

Roy Halladay is a stud, plain and simple.  You already know my absolute love for “Doc” if you have read any of my past work, twitter posts or baseball rants but just look at his utter and sheer brilliance over the past decade.  Halladay easily outpaces CC Sabathia in overall WAR and has less innings pitched- that is incredible.  Roy Halladay would also rank as the third most valuable player (WAR) in ALL of baseball, including everyday players.

It was pretty amazing to see Randy Johnson’s name so high on this list given his age and lack of overall IPs but it does show just how dominant ‘The Big Unit’ was over his career, even in the latter stages.  Curt Schilling also finds himself in the top ten and he easily has the lowest total IPs on the list but just look at his K/9, BB/9 and FIP – the dude was a stud, bloody sock and all.

Top Ten Fielders from 2001-2010

*total UZR

  POS UZR Plays OOZ UZR/150 RZR
Adrian Beltre 3B 125.0 1647 523 15.3 .728
Andruw Jones CF 119.1 1643 430 19.1 .852
Carl Crawford LF 116.2 1949 409 15.0 .783
Scott Rolen 3B 107.1 1486 402 14.7 .746
Ichiro Suzuki RF 98.7 1820 361 13.0 .793
Chase Utley 2B 80.1 1886 297 13.7 .843
Albert Pujols 1B 63.3 1267 446 7.5 .804
Joe Crede 3B 59.3 1174 326 10.8 .732
Ryan Zimmerman 3B 57.1 968 335 13.1 .718
Alfonso Soriano LF 56.2 951 212 13.6 .878

 

 Adrian Beltre is the Roy Halladay of fielding, he is consistent as they come and continues to be an above average fielder with the Texas Rangers.  Andruw Jones was a marvel in centre field for the Atlanta Braves for many years and his awesome work there still allows Jones to rank so highly even though his defensive skills were seriously eroding late in the decade (and he was playing left field).

If I would’ve used the Fielding Runs in the WAR calculation to see who got the most value from their glove not much would have changed in the rankings.  The top three would’ve been Andruw Jones, Ichiro Suzuki and Adrian Beltre.  Nice to see Albert Pujols on this list as it shows just how valuable a player he really is and why he will likely sign the biggest contract of all time in the coming offseason.

There you have it a small snapshot of the past decade in MLB baseball and some of the names that led the way in the batter’s box, pitcher’s mound and in the field. 

Can’t wait to do this again in 2021, any guesses as to who will be amongst the leaders in the three categories?  Given the way he has presumably turned his career around a full 180 degrees, maybe Jose Bautista?

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Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball and while his stats are obviously on par with any of today’s elite pitchers (170-86, 2310.1 IPs, 3.20 xFIP, 3.55 K/BB, 62.3 WAR) I think the biggest factor for Halladay’s success is his unmatched focus, determination and passion for his craft. 

Halladay who will turn 34 years old in May, throws a two-seam fastball that he can sink and cut to either side of the plate, a deadly cutter that moves in to a lefty and away from a righty, a very solid overhand curveball and a budding change-up that he will throw 2-3 times per inning.

I think he is being incorrectly coded as throwing a four seam fastball but as a fan who has literally watched almost all of his starts I can honestly say I don’t see a pitch he throws that could be classified as a classic “straight” four-seam fastball.  The blog title was a facetious way of saying Halladay has a simple approach but nothing this man throws is straight.

The most impressive thing about Roy Halladay (besides everything) is the fact that even the opposing hitters, managers, fans, umpires, ball boys (point made?) all know exactly what “Doc” is trying to do but for the most part cannot do anything about it. 

Halladay doesn’t rely on changing speeds and he isn’t a deceptive pitcher in any sense of the word.  Doc Halladay is a methodical master who pounds the same areas of the plate with the precision of a surgeon.  He basically tells you what he is going to throw given his obvious game plan and pitch selection(s) and you still have a slim chance of making solid contact.

Having a look at some Pitch F/X data will illustrate exactly this point. 

There you see it, he is going to be pounding the zone at will, you know (almost) what is coming but you cannot make the needed adjustments to make solid contact.  One pitch (the cutter) has basically transformed him from a solid sinker ball pitcher vulnerable to a left handed hitter to the best pitcher in baseball.

I like this graph as it shows you the pitch speed, pitch type and at the bottom is the “Pitch Event ID” so basically it shows Halladay’s pitch selection and utilization inning by inning (seperated obviously when the Phils are hitting).  Halladay went seven strong innings versus the New York Mets on Thursday afternoon (April 7th, 2011).  This again completely illustrates the point I was trying to make, Halladay is predictable, almost to a fault and it basically means nothing to the hitter.

Roy Halladay will throw 2-3 curveballs per inning, 1-3 changeups per inning and everything else is hard (and cutting) in the 89-93 MPH range too all sides of the plate.  In that sense he is tough to get a pattern on, but depending on what side of the plate you are standing you have a good idea of what he is trying to do, and are defenseless.

Well I always knew Kyle Drabek was going to be amazing and after his impressive 2011 season debut on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 against the Minnesota Twins I think I have been proven correct.  Ok, so actually I was a bit rough on him in my Top Blue Jays prospects piece based on his so-so minor league resume and while one game doesn’t make a season and certainly doesn’t make a career his performance on Saturday was a step in the right direction.

The Minnesota Twins quite frankly looked lost against the relatively unknown major league commodity Kyle Drabek and Drabek took advantage carving up the Twins with a wide assortment of two and four seam fastballs and an effective cut fastball.  The cut fastball was especially effective on the outside corner of the plate against left-handed batters as Drabek caught a few Twins looking for strike three – though it appeared the strike zone at times was slightly favouring the pitcher. 

The Twins took feeble hacks most of the game during Drabek’s seven strong innings and his final line was pretty impressive – 7 IPs, 1 hit, 1 earned, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.  It took him 101 pitches to get through seven innings and while his defense picked him up at times he was clearly in total command for most of the outing.

The seven strikeouts are extremely encouraging and although the league will adjust to Drabek as they learn his nuances a bit better an even better sign was the amount of worm burners he was inducing – 11 ground outs to only one fly out.  A look at the pitch f/x data will give us a more complete picture and I was especially curious to see how the cutter would look in terms of movement, velocity and placement. 

According to Brooks Baseball Drabek threw 14 cutters (9 for strikes, only 1 swinging) and the average horizontal break was 1.41 inches with an average speed of 90 MPH.  For comparison the wicked cutter of Mariano Rivera can move 2.5+ inches away from a righty, but that isn’t fair to any pitcher as he has made a living on one pitch and has obviously mastered it.

Here is another chart plotting horizontal movement with speed and pitch type.

Drabek changed speeds well, threw a variety of different fastballs to each side of the plate and flashed a pretty solid curveball at times as well.  Have a look at the vertical movement and horizontal movement of each pitch as well.

We have to temper our excitement and expectations given his age, lack of experience and in my mind still a suspect minor league track record but to not come away totally impressed with Kyle Drabek’s season debut is extremely imprudent.  Drabek’s next start should come Friday night (April 8th, 2011) against the L.A. Angels, I am sure a lot of eyes will be on that game to see just how he will follow up his stellar debut.

Let’s talk about Kyle Drabek and the Jays on TWITTER, follow me @tdotsports1

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