MLB Notebook Gets Great New Blogger

So, while you can find all my super-awesome Orioles coverage here at Camden Crazies, Zach Sanders has kindly given me the opportunity to write about other baseball content over at MLB Notebook. I already have a post there looking at Wieters and patience at the plate in general, comparing swing rates, pitches per plate appearance, and walk rate (as an extension of a previous post about Wieters here); another about the rebuilding going on in Pittsburgh; and finally a short bit in a roundtable discussion about the trade deadline moves. Some parts from each piece are below, but feel free to check out the full versions.

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“I suppose that, unrelated to walk rate, another relevant group would be the guys who, like Wieters, swing more than average but still see more pitches than average. There are 21 of them, including Longoria, Pena, Russell Branyan, and Luke Scott (plus Bobby Crosby and DeWayne Wise), and they’re averaging a .323 wOBA. Also, they’re average walk rate is 9.1% – almost exactly the same as the average walk rate for all of the hitters.

Conclusions? Well, guys that walk tend to see a good number of pitch and not swing at too many of them, and vice versa. Players that had an above average P/PA held a very slightly bigger edge over their below average counterparts (.341 wOBA to .317) than did the players who swung less (.339 wOBA to .319). I guess I partially owe Heath an apology, as Wieters’ solid P/PA takes a lot of the wind out of any concerns that he’s swinging too much. On the one hand, he’s doing things that good hitters generally don’t do.  On the other hand, he’s doing something that good hitters generally do do.  Since it’s still possible to be successful with the former scenario, I guess the latter takes some precedent. Wieters walk rate should go up, but it’s unclear as to whether or not he’ll be above average with it. I still maintain that not swinging is more indicative of “patience” than generally seeing more pitches per plate appearance (and I’d still like Wieters to display more), but now that argument is mostly about semantics. Certainly not a really detailed or definitive study, but it gave me some perspective”

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The Pirates have only 5 players left on their roster that were there at the start of the 2008 season.

“There have been some complaints that these deals have been much more about quantity than quality, but given the Pirates pervious lack of depth quantity was vitally important. The farm system is still weak – bet Huntington really wishes his predecessor hadn’t passed on Matt Wieters in favor of Daniel Moskos (sorry to rub it in) – but it’s certainly improving (top pick from 2008 Pedro Alvarez is hitting .302/.352/.534 at Double-A).

The oldest starting position player is Doumit, the switch-hitting catcher, at 28 years old. The oldest pitcher is 27 year-old reliever Joel Hanrahan. The team is still not very good (45-58), but they’re younger and cheaper and definitely trending in the right direction.  I imagine it’s hard for many fans to see the few established big leagues the team has be traded fro “no name” youngsters. As Billy Beane wrote in Moneyball though, once the team starts winning the fans will come back and the “no name” players will become the stars.  [Note: I don't know if that last part is completely accurate, because I follow the lead of my baseball analysis hero - Joe Morgan - by not reading Moneyball.  Also, Huntington has been pretty consistent as the Pirates GM. And luckily for him, there are no more great teams anymore - especially in the NL.]”

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“In almost every instance in which a team traded a veteran for prospects they came out ahead in the deal, so you could say that the sellers were winners. The Red Sox (V-Mart) and Phillies (Lee) did well picking up impact players without giving up their top prospects. The Blue Jays came out well in the Rolen trade, but not dealing Halladay as well was likely a mistake. I don’t get that deal from the Reds perspective, nor why the Braves traded Casey Kotchman for Adam LaRoche – or the Royals in general. The most credit might go Neal Huntington of the Pirates, more for having a plan and being willing to follow it through than any one deal in particular.  The Pirates have been losing for a while, and a full rebuilding was a long time coming.  It’s painful now to completely tear down the team, but it’s the right move for the franchise. The O’s did well with the Sherrill trade, but I would have liked to have seen a couple more (Huff, Baez). Still have the waiver trades available though.”