Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Newsletter Excerpt, July 6, 2022 -- "Mariners Worse, But Better"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

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"That’s not been the case in 2022. A team that was 39% better than its baseline in high-leverage spots in ’21 is 9% worse in them this year. As statheads have long preached, clutch hitting isn’t a skill over and above hitting, and outlier performances in those spots, good and bad, will always regress."

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Newsletter Excerpt, July 5, 2022 -- "The Market"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Kansas City Royals: Getting the Royals to act in their own best interests is the challenge. Whit Merrifield should have been traded two years ago; now he’s 33 with a .291 OBP. Andrew Benintendi is the most likely prize, as he’s bounced back from a lost 2020 to hit .290/.345/.427 as a Royal with strong defense in left field. He’s basically Alex Gordon Lite. Michael Taylor is having a career year and would be a big upgrade in center for a number of contenders, even a couple of World Series favorites. He’s signed through 2023. Hunter Dozier is just in the way here, has bench-bat value on a good team and is signed inexpensively through 2024 with an option for 2025.

 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Newsletter Excerpt, July 1, 2022 -- "Players' Weekend"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"I retired the “my guys” conceit a while back, but had I done it this year, Luis Arraez would have been high on the list. I have Arraez in both Mixed LABR and AL Tout, valuing his bat-to-ball skills and positional flexibility. Arraez leads the AL with a .340 batting average thanks in part to being one of the best contact hitters in baseball: an 8% strikeout rate this year, 9% in his four-year career. Since his debut in 2019, Arraez is one of just three players, with Alex Bregman and Juan Soto, to walk more than he’s struck out."

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Fun With Numbers: The Yankees' Pitching

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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Last night in the Bronx, the Yankees allowed their first unearned run in more than a month. With two outs in the ninth, Sean Murphy reached on catcher’s interference and came around to score on an Elvis Andrus single. Clay Holmes got the final out in the Yankees’ 2-1 win. The Jose Trevino mistake cost the Yankees their 12th shutout of the season, but in the end the game was the team’s 21st, in 75 games, in which they allowed no more than one run. As you might expect, the Yankees are 21-0 in these contests. Surprisingly, that does not lead the league.

Shutdown Games (most games allowing zero or one run, 2022)

           G     Rec
Dodgers   24    23-1
Astros    22    22-0
Yankees   21    21-0
Twins     20    19-1
Angels    20    18-2



It would have taken me a lot of guesses to peg the last team on that list.

The Yankees’ run prevention has been incredible this season. Even while losing a number of stalwart relievers to injury, with Chad Green out for the season and both Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga missing time, the Yankees have allowed the fewest runs in baseball, 229. They have the lowest FIP and xFIP in the game. Their starters are in the top three in ERA, FIP, and xFIP, and they’ve thrown the second-most innings in the game, behind only the Padres. The team’s bullpen has the lowest ERA and third-lowest FIP. Yankees’ relievers lead MLB with a 49.9% groundball rate, and they have a chance to be one of the few bullpens to have at least a 50% groundball rate since we started tracking in 2002.

Ground and Pound (single-season GB% by RPs, 2002-2022)

               Year     GB%
1. White Sox   2015   53.4%   
2. Giants      2012   52.6%
3. White Sox   2014   52.1%
4. Pirates     2013   52.0%
5. Athletics   2002   51.9%
19. Yankees    2022   49.9%



A big part of this is the emergence of the reliever who closed out Tuesday night’s win, Clay Holmes, Holmes has become a right-handed Zack Britton, someone whose pitches are hard to hit and nearly impossible to elevate. Here’s how Statcast would put it.

Worm Burning, Pt. 1 (Lowest Launch Angle allowed, 2022, min. 50 batted balls)

                          LA (degrees)
Clay Holmes      NYY   -10.0
Framber Valdez   HOU    -3.9
Tim Mayza        TOR    -3.7
Sam Hentges      CLE    -3.5
Andre Pallante   STL    -3.1



That’s breaking the scale. The difference between Holmes and Framber Valdez, 6.1 degrees of average launch angle, is the difference between Valdez and #19 on the list.

We’re nearly halfway through the season, and Holmes has allowed seven fly balls and nine line drives, total. I mentioned Zack Britton above...see if you can figure out why.

Worm Burning, Pt. 2 (Highest GB%, 2002-2022, min. 30 IP)

                        Year     GB%
Clay Holmes      NYY    2022   81.8%
Zack Britton     BAL    2016   80.0%
Zack Britton     BAL    2015   79.1%
Zack Britton     NYY    2019   77.2%
Aaron Bummer     CHW    2021   76.1%



It’s all about the sinker. With the Pirates, Holmes was a three-pitch pitcher, using a two-seamer, slider and curve. Since being traded to the Yankees last summer, he’s junked the curve and turned the slider into a secondary pitch, leaning more and more on that sinker. In 2022, he’s thrown the sinker four out of every five pitches, and gotten more ground balls than any pitcher in recorded history.

You know what’s crazy? The Yankees could get Britton himself back late this season and for the playoffs. The two best groundball pitchers in recorded baseball history might be coming out of the same bullpen this fall.

All of this puts the Yankees in position to be the best run-prevention team ever in a DH league. Through 75 games, they have allowed 229 runs. With a good week, they could top this list...

A Good Start (fewest RA through 81 games, DH leagues only, non-strike years)

           Year     RA
Astros     2018    246
Angels     1989    261
Angels     1973    274
Yankees    1976    276
Orioles    1973    277     


...which would position them to top this one:

A Good Start (fewest runs allowed, DH leagues only, full seasons)

           Year     RA
Astros     2018    534
Athletics  1974    551
Orioles    1975    553
Mariners   2014    554
Orioles    1973    561  



The Yankees actually have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done since 1972, and hasn’t been done in a non-shortened season since the Year of the Pitcher in 1968. Since the first expansion in 1961, which brought with it 162-game seasons, just eight teams have allowed fewer than 500 runs. Two did it in 1972, when the players’ strike lopped a week from the season. (The 1972 Orioles allowed 430 runs in 154 games and somehow finished third in the AL East.) Six others did it from 1966 through 1968, when the strike zone was defined as “if the ball gets here intact, it’s a strike” and pitchers were airlifted to the top of the mound.

We still have quite a ways to go, but as they take the field in the Bronx today, the Yankees are putting together one of the best pitching seasons in baseball history.
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Newsletter Excerpt, June 28, 2022 -- "No Longer LOLrioles"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"Orioles relievers have thrown more innings than any other team’s. Of the five teams who have asked at least 300 innings from their relievers, the Orioles have the lowest ERA and by far the lowest FIP. They’re getting both volume and run prevention from a group of pitchers who, even today, wouldn’t get recognized across the street from Camden Yards."

 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Newsletter Excerpt, June 23, 2023 -- "Guardians Partyin'"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider. Joe Sheehan is a founding member of Baseball Prospectus and has been a contributor to Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. He has been writing about baseball for 25 years.

Your subscription gets you the newsletter and various related features two to five days a week, more than 150 mailings (more than 200,000 words) a year full of smart, fun baseball writing that you can't find in the mainstream. Subscribers can also access the new Slack workspace, to talk baseball with me and hundreds of other Newsletter subscribers.

You can subscribe to the newsletter for one year for $59.95 using your PayPal account or major credit card.

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"The 17-4 run coincides with some roster decisions that have stabilized the defense. After using Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario all over the diamond for 200 games, Francona has settled in on the two as his double-play combination. Rosario has started 21 of 22 games at short, and in 17 of those he’s been paired with Gimenez at second. (Owen Miller is still getting some starts against left-handers, though he’s also now getting some of them at the expensive of Josh Naylor.) Just before the winning stretch began, the Guardians promoted outfielder Oscar Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who looks a little like Franmil Reyes’s more athletic brother, has hit .333/.363/.500, and the Guardians are 18-6 when he starts."