Saturday, September 30, 2006

Defensive projections

There's still two games left in the season, but the final numbers aren't going to change anyone's projection by more than a fraction. Here are the defensive projections for 2007 for all players who were active in 2006 and met my playing time criteria.

Aramis Ramirez is a below average 3B at -6, but then Maicer Izturis (-5) isn't that great either. Some of the other free agents talked about, Soriano is +1 after one year in left, and Carlos Lee is -4. Barry Bonds is only at -1. Somehow the old fart still catches most of what's hit to him.

Red Sox fans will be less up in arms on Manny Ramirez's rating. He's at the bottom at -16 after a park adjustment. That may still be unfair to him since zone rating doesn't say "STOP" when a ball hits high off the green monster, but if its off its probably by 5 runs instead of by 20.

Defensive projections

Friday, September 29, 2006

Where was this defense when we needed it?

Angels leading the A's 4-0 after back to back great defensive plays - Maicer Izturis staying with a grounder that Frank Thomas just killed - I'm glad I wasn't playing 3B there - and Howie Kendrick grabbing another hard ground ball headed down the 1B line.

Earlier Tommy Murphy made a nice sliding catch in right. Tim Salmon gets an RBI single (still waiting on HR #300) and then tags and moves to 2nd on a deep fly to right.

We're a better team than the one we're playing. We can absolutely beat these guys. Not to say they didn't earn the AL West - they did, and the Angels can only blame themselves with the mistake prone ball they played for much of the year.

I'm looking forward to 2007 though. Maybe next year the Mariners won't misplace their testicles when they play the A's.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What will Mike Napoli hit?

Mike Napoli sure started out strong. He hit .327 in May, then .281 in June, with a 1.055 OPS. Since the All Star break, though, he's hit only .148. His power has dropped off as well (.296 SLG), but he's still taking walks, giving him an OBP of .298 which, while bad, is not that far away from what the Molina brothers put up in their good years.

I am confident that Napoli is not a .148 hitter, or anything near it. I know he strikes out a ton, and often looks like he's swinging with his eyes closed (maybe he's listening to coach Kenobi and trying to use the force). During his slump however, he's struck out slightly less than 1/3 of the time - not much different than when he was going good. The difference is in batting average on balls in play (BABIP). In the slump, his BABIP is a mere .176 - and that is just not sustainable.

BABIP, among all the components that make up a player's batting line, needs to be regressed to the mean the most. Walks and strikeouts need much less regression. What this means is we're fairly confident in how much Napoli will walk and whiff, but his BABIP is still up in the air.

I looked at career BABIP for all players with 2000 or more AB since 1980. The average for all players is generally around .295-.300. The top 10 players are between .345 and .360, and include Reggie Jefferson and 9 of the top hitters of the last quarter century (Jeter, Abreu, Ichiro, Boggs, Kruk, Helton, Gwynn, Puckett, Carew). The bottom group is around .240 to .260 and includes low average sluggers like Kingman, Darrell Evans, Gorman Thomas, and Graig Nettles. Even with these players, its likely they weren't true .250 BABIP players - even with long careers you still have to account for some regression.

With Napoli, my projection system has him at a .286 BABIP for next year. Marcel is at .281, and he's at .277 this year (including his April MLE). If that's correct, he should hit between .220 and .235 next year. At this level, with his other skills, he's a very good catcher.

If however, he's one of the real low BABIP guys (and as a contact challenged, slow moving uppercutter that's a real possibility, then he might have a BABIP around .265, and an overall average of .210-.220

Worst case scenario is that he's a historically bad BABIP guy, around .250. At that point he's a .200-.210 hitter. If that's the case, he's still probably our best option at the position, and probably helps you more than Jeff Mathis would hitting .260 (not that Mathis has convinced anyone he can do that yet).

Goals for our top prospect

Brandon Wood didn't really live up to expectations this year. Perhaps they were too high to start with, given that he's still a 21 year old SS slugging around .570.

He did this in an extreme hitters park, and his strikeouts jumped from a little too high to very worrisome.

Here's what I'd like to see in 2007, where he'll play in another good hitters park in a good hitting league:

1) strike out in no more than 25% of at bats
2) bat .330
3) slug .600
4) make anyone who wants to move you off SS STFU by continuing to make all the plays.

Nice job, Angels

We took care of business where we needed to, sweeping 2 from the Royals. But Oakland is not cooperating. 6.5 games out with 10 to play. Anything less than a 7 game sweep of Oakland eliminates us. Even 6 of 7 won't be good enough, because the A's in between play 3 games against their bitch, Seattle.

Just call it a rebuilding year. In 2007 we can vanquish their evil forever.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fat lady is getting ready

Its getting pretty close to over. The A's have defeated the White Sox twice in a row, which sucks, but at least the White Sox should miss the playoffs too.

The A's can still be caught, mostly because there are 7 games left head to head, but the Angels are just not playing like a team that can catch anyone. Tonight they've already committed 4 errors, a problem that we are all too familiar with. At this point they will have to sweep the A's in 7 straight. Anything less is just not going to be good enough.

This season has had its ups and downs, some times of great promise and times of great frustration. At this point I'm just ready for the damn thing to end - both the Angels and my all star laden fantasy team that has slipped into 4th place (out of the money) because 14 all stars collectively are giving me 4 hits per night.

Time to plan for next year.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nice finish

I think I know who the Rev picks for Panther of the game tonight.

Just like the 2002 playoffs against Minnesota, Homerun Kennedy could not get the bunt down. He should try bunting early in the count more often.

Reggie Willits sure can get that bunt down. He's been quite the patient hitter in AAA this year. I kind of doubt he can take walks at anywhere near that rate (77 in only 352 AB) since he presents no power threat, just as Eckstein never walked like he did in the minors. He deserves a shot to prove he can't, though, and may be our leadoff hitter of the future. He could be a real pest.

Only 5.5 back of Choakland now. It would be nice to make up a few more games, obviously, but if we can just stay even until the final week and a half, it will make those last 7 against the A's meaningful. At the very least we can prevent them from getting rest and setting up their playoff rotation.

Oh yeah - Erstad may not have much in the tank, but he sure is clutch.