Archive for the ‘Denver Rockies’ category

LG Twins to Sign Roberto Ramos

January 23, 2020

It looks like the last roster spot for a foreign player in the KBO has been filled.  The LG Twins are reportedly on the verge of signing former Colorado Rockies’ prospect Roberto Ramos.

On paper, it looks like a great signing.  At age 24 in 2019, he blasted 30 home runs and posted a .980 OPS at Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League.  It’s his second season in a row hitting at least 30 HRs in the minors.  It makes me wonder why Ramos wants to go to South Korea and why the Rockies sold away his rights.

The answer seems to be that nobody, including most importantly the Rockies, think Ramos is a legitimate major league prospect.  MLB.com ranks Ramos as only the 27th best prospect in the Rockies’ system, and fangraphs ranks him 31st.  That’s mighty low for a 25 year old player coming a full season at AAA like Ramos’ 2019.

Ramos played poorly in a brief 10 game stint in the Arizona Fall League and failed to impress in 48 games in Mexico’s Pacific League this Winter.  However, it’s quite possible he was simply tired, as he ended up playing in an exceptional 185 championship games this year across which he accumulated 731 plate appearances.  So long as he’s still healthy physically, all that play has to be good on the developmental end.

Initial reports are that Ramos will only be making about $500,000 playing in Korea in 2020, which is less than the major league minimum.  It’s likely SK had to buy his rights from the Rockies for about $500,000.

In theory, signing a player this young coming off a AAA season like Ramos’ 2019 looks like a great move by the Twins.  However, I can’t remember the last 25 year old foreign rookie to NPB or the KBO to become a great player there.  There are plenty of 26 and 27 year old foreign rookies who have become huge stars in Asia, but precious few 25 year olds, at least in the recent past.

Most players with enough talent to become big Asian stars going into their age 25 seasons are still seen a legitimate major league prospects.  It’s only when the player has reached the end of his age 25 or 26  season and still hasn’t established himself as a regular major league roster holder that the Asian majors become a better option.

I also think that 4-A players need that extra year or two of both mental and professional maturity in order to be able to adjust quickly to Asia’s very different way of playing baseball.  Foreign players have to hit the ground running in Asian pro baseball, because Asian teams are almost never interested in trying to develop the foreign players they bring in at major league salaries, and mediocre foreign players are easy to replace.

Ramos needs to hit like a star in the KBO in 2020, or he’ll be back in AAA a year older and even less of a prospect in 2021.

Yomiuri Giants Sign Veteran Outfielder Gerardo Parra

November 20, 2019

NPB’s Yomiuri Giants today announced the signing of Gerardo Parra for a guaranteed $2 million in 2020, plus $500,000 in performance incentives and a vesting option for a $3M contract for 2021.  The deal is a no-brainer for Parra, who was looking at a minor league contract from any MLB organization in 2020.  It’s a little less clear why Yomiuri is willing to make this significant a commitment to a player about to enter his age 33 season.

This signing definitely feels like a throw-back to 30 or 40 years ago, when NPB teams frequently signed successful MLB veterans at the ends of their careers, hoping they could squeeze another productive season or two out of them in Japan.  In recent years, however, we have seen fewer and fewer or these kinds of signings, as NPB teams now almost always sign players who will be 31 or younger in their first NPB seasons.  NPB teams are fully aware that the foreign players available to them are almost all on the steep decline starting with their age 32 seasons.

The Rakuten Golden Eagles brought in Andruw Jones in 2013 for his age 36 season and Kevin Youkilis in 2014 for his age 35 season, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.  The Yomiuri Giants got two strong seasons from Casey McGehee, starting with his age 34 season in 2017, but McGehee had already proven his NPB chops with a strong season for Rakuten at age 30 before returning to MLB for three seasons.

Parra has been a below MLB replacement level offensive player in three of the last four seasons.  He’ll add some power in Japan, at least if he’s fully healthy, but it is as yet unknown just how much.  His outfield defense is still good, but he’s going to be expected to hit to hold a job in NPB, particularly where teams like Yomiuri maintain a surplus of foreign players good enough to play regularly in the NPB majors just in case someone holding one of the four foreign player major league roster spots gets hurt or struggles to perform well.

Hiroshima Carp Sign DJ Johnson

October 25, 2019

The last few off-seasons I have been writing posts about 4-A stars who would be good bets for Asia’s NPB and KBO.  I’m not motivated to do so this off-season, but I will be noting some of the signings by Asian teams.

NPB’s Hiroshima Carp just signed former Colorado Rockies’ reliever DJ Johnson.  He’s a big right-hander who will be 30 in 2020.  He has major league stuff, at least based on his strikeout rates, but not enough command for MLB.

In recent years, we’ve seen just about every NPB team bring in relief pitchers like Johnson, guys with great stuff but not quite the command they need to be successful in MLB.  The NPB team’s hope is that the particular pitcher of this type will be able to take advantage of the wider NPB strike zone and will gain confidence by being able to get away with fastballs out over the plate more often in Japan than they can in MLB.

Sometimes it works out for the player and NPB team, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Needless to say, some pitchers can’t find the level of command they need to succeed in Japan, while some do.  The ones who do often are extremely successful.  Dennis Sarfate and Marc Kroon are examples of hard throwers who were record-setting relievers in Japan.

South Korea’s KBO and Taiwan’s CPBL only want foreign starters, so NPB is the only real option for 4-A relievers.  If they are not quite good enough for NPB, then the next best option is the Mexican League, which means the Mexican League usually has half a dozen high-quality closers every season.

However, NPB really loves its 4-A relievers.  Although there are only four major league roster spots for foreign players per NPB team, all NPB teams now sign an additional 2 to 4 foreigners to pitch at the minor league level.  These players can and will typically be promoted to the NPB majors as soon another foreigner gets hurt or is ineffective.

Also, NPB has a less than free-market salary scale under which top relief pitchers are relatively better paid than their MLB counterparts.  Every off-season in MLB features a large number of marginal major league relievers who won’t get major league contracts entering the upcoming season.  By going to Japan these players can make major league money while playing in a league where they are more likely to be successful.  They are also a good bet for NPB teams, because even if they aren’t great, they are usually adequate NPB major league relievers.

This is the time of year that 4-A relievers are starting to be non-tendered or electing free agency after being designated for assignment.  Aside from Johnson, former Detroit Tigers’ pitchers Daniel Stumpf and Victor Alcantara just became free agents.

Strumpf is a marginal MLB major league left-handed specialist who has the strikeout rates NPB teams prefer.  He’ll be 29 next season.  Alcantara’s strikeout rates aren’t as impressive, but he’s two years younger than Strumpf.  NPB teams love foreign players going into their age 27 seasons.

Of course, there is always the question of whether an individual MLB system player is willing to play in an Asian league, even for considerably more money.  Many Latin American born players go to Asia, because for them, it isn’t as big a deal to leave the United States.

The Best “Foreign” Pitchers in NPB History

October 9, 2019

This is the post-2019 season update on a topic I’ve been writing about and updating for the last few years, as the all-time leader boards I’ve compiled change. The post lists the best “foreign” pitchers (see discussion below) to have pitched in Japan’s NPB in terms of career NPB wins, ERA (800 innings pitched minimum), Strike Outs and Saves.

WINS

1. Tadashi Wakabayaski 237-144

2. Taigen Kaku (Tai-yuan Kuo) 117-68

3.  Genji Kaku (Yuen-chih Kuo) 106-106

4.  Gene Bacque 100-80

4. Joe Stanka 100-72

6. Randy Messenger 98-84

7. Jason Standridge 75-68

8. Nate Minchey 74-70

9. Jeremy Powell 69-65

10. Seth Greisinger 64-42

11. D. J. Houlton 63-39

One of the things you learn when blogging is that the answers to seemingly simple questions often aren’t simple at all.  Who exactly qualifies as a “foreign” player for NPB purposes?  For some players, it is an extremely complicated question.

Tadashi Wakabayashi was a Japanese American born in Hawaii. He played in NPB from 1936 until 1953. He originally held duel citizenship but renounced his Japanese citizenship in 1928, but then renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1941 and became a Japanese citizen again, shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

On the other hand, Victor Starrfin, who went 303-176 as one of NPB’s all-time great aces, while being born in Russia, emigrated to Japan after the Russian Revolution in 1917 when he was a small boy. He grew up in Japan and went through Japan’s education and baseball systems, before becoming NPB’s first 300 game winner.  And what about NPB’s all-time wins leader, Masaichi Kaneda (born Kim Kyung-hong), a Korean citizen born and raised in Japan who was not allowed to become a citizen?

Wally Yonamine, another great Nisei star of NPB, clearly seems more “foreign” to me for NPB purposes than Wakabayashi because Yonamine had a professional sports in the U.S. before going to Japan, and he died in Hawaii as well as being born there.

Wakabayashi played high school ball in Hawaii and then went on a playing tour in Japan, where his pitching earned him a scholarship at a top Japanese University (Hosei University). That certainly makes Wakabayashi less “foreign” than Yonamine — even today foreign players who play at Japanese Universities for four years before going pro are not considered “foreign” for NPB roster-limit purposes.

Is Wakabayashi more foreign than Micheal Nakamura, mentioned below, who was born in Japan, but graduated from high school in Australia, played college ball in the U.S. and then had a long U.S. minor league career before joining NPB?  A comment to the original post said that Nakamura was treated as “Japanese” for NPB roster-limit purposes, presumably due to his Japanese birth.

Ultimately, I have decided to continue treating Wakabayashi as a “foreign” player, because he was born and raised in the United States.  But I have left Starffin and Kaneda off my lists because, they were products of Japan’s baseball system, even if they were denied equal treatment due to their ethnicities.  I have left it up to you, gentle reader, to make your own determination on this perhaps not very significant question.

Tai-yuan Kuo and Yuen-chih Kuo, known in Japan as Taigen Kaku and Gengi Kaku, respectively, were Taiwanese pitchers both of whom starred in NPB in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  The two Kuos/Kakus were the best pitchers to come out of Taiwan prior to Chien-Ming Wang breaking through to have MLB success in 2005.

Gene Bacque and Joe Stanka were two Americans whose Japanese careers roughly overlapped in the early and mid-1960’s.  Stanka was a marginal major leaguer of the type typical among players from the Americas who try to make a go of it in NPB.  He pitched in two games for the Chicago White Sox in 1959 at the age of 27, and apparently realized he had little chance of future major league success, and somehow got a job with the Nankai Hawks (now the Softbank Hawks) in 1960.

Gene Bacque was a mediocre minor league pitcher who got cut by the Hawaii Islanders of the AAA Pacific Coast League after only two relief appearances early in the 1962 season.  What he had going for him was the fact that he was still only 24 years old and apparently the physical proximity to Japan when his minor league career ended.  Japanese Hall of Famer and Hanshin Tigers teammate Masaaki Koyama taught Bacque how to throw a slider, and he also improved his knuckleball and became a star.

Bacque and Stanka both had their best NPB seasons in 1964.  Bacque went 29-9 with a 1.88 ERA and 200 Ks in 353.1 innings pitched, while Stanka went 26-7 with a 2.40 ERA and 172 Ks in 277.2 IP.  Bacque was awarded the Eiji Sawamura Award, NPB’s equivalent of the Cy Young Award, becoming the only foreign player ever to win that honor.

Bacque and Stanka faced off against each other in the sixth game of the Japan Series that season, which Stanka won, throwing a complete game shutout.  Stanka’s team, the Hawks, won the series in seven games, and Stanka was named the Series MVP.

I was sad that Randy Messenger, the most successful foreign starter of his generation in career terms, wasn’t able to win his 100th NPB in this his final season.  He went 3-7 to finish at 98 NPB career wins, although he did add to his all-time strike out record for a foreign pitcher, as indicated below.  Messenger lasted long enough in NPB to earn his domestic free agent option with eight full seasons of NPB service, which is a tough feat to accomplish.  However, he had previously stated his intent to retire as a Hanshin Tiger, and that’s what he did.

ERA (800+ IP)

1. Tadashi Wakabayashi 1.99

2.  Gene Bacque 2.34

3.  Glenn Mickens 2.55

4.  Joe Stanka 3.03

5. Randy Messenger 3.13

6. Seth Greisigner 3.16

7.  Taigen Kaku 3.16

8.  Genji Kaku  3.22

9.  Jason Standridge 3.31

Messenger finished his NPB career with 1,475 Ks, making him foreign strikeout king, at least so long as I don’t consider Masaichi Kaneda (4,490) and Victor Starffin (1,960) as “foreign” pitchers.

STRIKE OUTS

1.  Randy Messenger 1,475

2.  Genji Kaku 1,415

3.  Taigen Kaku 1,069

4.  Tadashi Wakabayashi 1,000

5.  Joe Stanka 887

6.  Jeremy Powell 858

7. Jason Standridge 844

8.  Gene Bacque 825

SAVES

1. Dennis Sarfate  234

2.  Marc Kroon 177

3.  Chang-yong Lim 128

4.  Eddie Gaillard 120

5.  Rod Pedroza 117

6.  Genji Kaku 116

7.  Micheal Nakamura* 104

8.  Dong-yeol Sun 98

9. Tony Barnette 97

Foreign relief pitchers have had quite a bit of success in Japan, going back to the late 1980’s, starting with Genji Kaku who both started and closed at different times in his NPB career.  Marc Kroon was an American with a high 90’s fastball, who didn’t throw enough strikes in the U.S. to have MLB success, but was dominating in NPB.

Dennis Sarfate broke Marc Kroon’s career saves record and NPB’s single-season save record (among everyone) in 2017.  His 54 saves broke the old record by seven.  Unfortunately, Sarfate hurt himself badly a month into the 2018 season, tearing something in his right hip requiring surgery, and he didn’t pitch again in 2018 or at all in 2019.  He may still have one year left on his multi-year deal with SoftBank, so it’s at least possible, if unlikely, that he could pitch again in 2020.

Dong-yeol Sun and Chang-yong Lim, like Seung-hwan Oh who saved 80 games in NPB in 2014-2015 before jumping to MLB, are products of South Korea’s KBO.  Sun and Lim were probably good enough to be successful MLB pitchers, but ended up starring in NPB instead.

Kris Johnson (57 wins, 2.54 ERA in 752.1 NPB innings pitched), Rafael Dolis (96 saves) and Brandon Dickson (career 3.32 ERA in 800+ NPB IP) should or could be added to my lists a year from now.  With the lists as currently compiled, no one gets on the lists without topping somebody already there.

Slugging It Out in South Korea: The Best Foreign Hitters in KBO History

October 5, 2019

This is the second update on a piece I originally posted back in 2015 and the first since after the 2016 season.  South Korea’s KBO only began allowing foreign players in 1998, and it’s is a young league, starting play only in 1982.  This means the records for foreign players are very much in play.

Initially, KBO teams brought in mostly hitters; and the foreigners, at least at first, hit a lot of home runs.  As the league improved, KBO teams began to realize after about 2005 that foreign pitchers were worth more to them than the hitters — so much so that by 2012 and 2013, there were no foreign hitters in the league at all.

KBO teams expanded the roster space for foreigners from two to three beginning with the 2014 season, as the league was undergoing expansion, with the requirement that one of the three be a position player/hitter.  Foreign hitters have been back in the league the last six seasons and have fully taken advantage of what was until the 2019 season an extreme hitters’ league.  However, relatively few have lasted long enough in the KBO to challenge the foreign player records set before 2010.

Batting Average  (2,000 at-bats)

1.     Jay Davis      .313

2.     Tyrone Woods   .294?  (no stats on baseball reference for Woods’ 1998 KBO season, but he batted .305 that season and .291 for the rest of his KBO career.)

3.     Tilson Brito    .292

Hits

1.      Jay Davis   979

Jay Davis had far and away the best career of any foreign hitter in the KBO, with Tyrone Woods as the only other player in the conversation.

The problem is that very few foreigners have had long careers in the KBO.  Until the last ten years, when increased revenues made bigger salaries possible, the foreigners who played in KBO were clearly a cut below the foreign players who signed with Japanese NPB teams.  They tended not to maintain their initial KBO performance levels for long — three full seasons was and still is a long KBO career for a foreigner — or they moved on to greener NPB pastures or back to MLB.

Home Runs

1.     Tyrone Woods   174

2.     Jay Davis             167

3.     Eric Thames       124

4.     Cliff Brumbaugh  116

5.     Tilson Brito         112

6.     Karim Garcia      103

6.     Jamie Romak     103

8.     Felix Jose            95

In the early days (late 1990’s and early 2000’s), KBO teams paid foreigners to hit home runs.  The most prolific was Tyrone Woods, who blasted 174 dingers over five KBO seaons and then moved on to the NPB, where he blasted 240 HRs in six seasons.  Woods never played even one game in the major leagues, and there are some reasons to believe that PEDs may have had something to do with his tremendous Asian performance, at least by the time he reached NPB.

Eric Thames was the best of the hitters to join the KBO since the foreign player roster expansion in 2014, and he was the caliber of player who would have signed with an NPB team during the earlier era when KBO teams were signing foreign sluggers.  As I predicted in October 2016, Thames did return to MLB (I actually predicted he’d sign with either an MLB or NPB team that off-season), and his contract has been an absolute steal for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cliff Brumbaugh played briefly for the Rangers and Rockies in 2001 before starting a successful seven year career in South Korea and Japan.  You probably remember Karim Garcia and Felix Jose, who both had significant major leagues careers, and you may even remember Tilson Brito, who played in 92 MLB games in 1996-1997 for the Blue Jays and the A’s.

Jamie Romak is the latest slugger to etch his name on my lists.  He’ll almost certainly be back in the KBO in 2020, as his 29 HRs and .882 OPS were tied for second best and 11th, respectively, in the 10-team circuit, so he’ll have an opportunity to move up the HR list.  It’s also likely that former Philadelphia Philly Darin Ruf will return to the KBO in 2020, when he’ll have a chance to put his name on one or more of my lists.  Mel Rojas, Jr. is also good enough and young enough to have a real chance.

Runs Scored

1.     Jay Davis    538

RBIs

1.     Jay Davis   591

2.     Tyrone Woods   510

As you can see from the above numbers, the KBO records for foreign hitters are ready to be broken in all categories, because so relatively little has been accomplished by foreign hitters to date.  It’s mainly a matter of whether any of the post-2014 crop of foreign hitters hangs around long enough to add their names to my lists as the seasons pass.

Is It Worth Tanking to Improve Your MLB Draft Position?

September 25, 2019

My team, the SF Giants, are currently in line to get either the 13th or 14th pick in the 2020 June Draft.  Gints fans will remember that the team made deals at the trade deadline, but they were kind of push.  The team sold on a couple of relievers, but also made trades designed to help the team going forward in 2019.  The Gints still had an outside shot at making the play-offs at the trade deadline, and they play in a market large enough to make total rebuilds relatively expensive.

Is it worth tanking, at least once the team has realized it has no reasonable chance of making the post-season, in order to get a higher selection in the next MLB draft?

I looked at the first twelve draft picks from the June drafts starting with 1987 (the first year the June draft was the only MLB amateur draft conducted for the year) through 2009 (which is long enough ago that we should now know whether the players drafted were major league success stories).  Suffice it say, with the first 12 draft picks of each June draft, the team imagines it has drafted a future major league star in compensation for sucking ass the previous season.

In order to keep things simple, I used baseball reference’s career WAR totals to determine whether each drafted player was a major league success.  Not precise, I’ll admit, since what drafting teams really care about is the first six-plus major league seasons of control.  However, I don’t know how to create a computer program to figure out the years-of-control WAR for each drafted player, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend the time to do so even if I knew how.  Career WAR seems a close enough approximation.

Also, for purposes of my study, no player is considered to have lower than a 0 career WAR — you cannot convince me that a drafted player who never reaches the majors is worth more than a drafted player who played in the majors but had a negative career WAR.  A player reaches and plays in the majors 9 times out of 10 because he is the best player available at that moment to take the available roster spot.  The tenth time, he is worth trying to develop as a major league player because of his potential upside.

As a result, I did not bother with averages.  Instead, I looked at median performances (i.e., for the 23 players picked at each of the first 12 draft slots during the relevant period, 11 players had a higher career WAR and 11 players had a lower career WAR than the median player.

Also, if a player was drafted more than once in the top 12, because he didn’t sign the first time drafted, I still counted him as his career WAR for each time he was drafted.

Here we go:

1st Overall Pick.  Median player:  Ben McDonald (1989, 20.8 Career WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 1 pick: Alex Rodriguez (1993, 117.8 career WAR); Chipper Jones (1990, 85.3 WAR); Ken Griffey, Jr. (1987, 83.8 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 61%.  [Examples of 15+ WAR players are Mike Lieberthal (15.3 WAR); Gavin Floyd (15.6 WAR); Eric Hosmer (15.7+ WAR); and Phil Nevin (15.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 65%.  [Examples of 10+ WAR players are Rocco Baldelli (10.2 WAR); Shawn Estes (10.4 WAR); Todd Walker (10.5 WAR)  ; and Doug Glanville (10.9 WAR).]  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.  [Examples of 5+ WAR players are John Patterson (5.0 WAR); Mike Pelfrey (5.3 WAR); Billy Koch (5.4 WAR); and Sean Burroughs (5.5 WAR).]

2nd Overall Pick.  Median player: Dustin Ackley (2009, 8.1 WAR).  Best Players drafted with the No. 2 pick: Justin Verlander (2004, 70.8+ WAR); J.D. Drew (1997, 44.9 WAR).  Odds of drafting a 15+ WAR player = 35%.  Odds of drafting a 10+ WAR player = 43%.  Odds of drafting a 5+ WAR player = 70%.

3rd Overall Pick.  Median player:  Philip Humber (2004, 0.9 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 3: Evan Longoria (2006, 54.2+ WAR); Troy Glaus (1997, 38.0 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 22%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 43%.

4th Overall Pick.  Median player: Tim Stauffer (2003, 3.8 WAR).  Best Players drafted at No. 4: Ryan Zimmerman (2005, 37.7+ WAR); Alex Fernandez (1990, 28.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 17%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

5th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 5: Mark Teixeira (2001, 51.8 WAR); Ryan Braun (2005, 47.7+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 35%5+ WAR player = 39%.

6th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 6: Derek Jeter (1992, 72.6 WAR); Zack Greinke (2002, 71.3+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 9%10+ WAR player = 13%5+ WAR player = 26%.

7th Overall Pick.  Median player: Calvin Murray (1992, 2.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 7: Frank Thomas (1989, 73.9 WAR); Clayton Kershaw (2006, 67.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 30%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

8th Overall Pick.  Median player: zero value.  Best players drafted at No. 8: Todd Helton (1995, 61.2 WAR); Jim Abbott (1988, 19.6 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 39%.

9th Overall Pick.  Median player: Aaron Crow (2008, 2.6 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 9:  Kevin Appier (1987, 54.5 WAR); Barry Zito (1999, 31.9 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 26%5+ WAR player = 48%.

10th Overall Pick.  Median player: Michael Tucker (1992, 8.1 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 10: Robin Ventura (1988, 56.1 WAR); Eric Chavez (1996, 37.5 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 39%10+ WAR player = 48%5+ WAR player = 52%.

11th Overall Pick.  Median player: Lee Tinsley (1987, 1.7 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 11: Max Scherzer (2006, 60.5+ WAR); Andrew McCutchen (2005, 43.6+ WAR).  15+ WAR player = 13%10+ WAR player = 17%5+ WAR player = 22%.

12th Overall Pick.  Median player: Bobby Seay (1996, 3.0 WAR).  Best players drafted at No. 12: Nomar Garciaparra (1994, 44.2 WAR); Jared Weaver (2004, 34.4 WAR).  15+ WAR player = 26%10+ WAR player = 39%5+ WAR player = 48%.

What do I conclude from all of the above number-crunching and name-dropping (and my cursory review of the Nos. 13-15 draft picks during the relevant period)?  It’s worth tanking to get the first or second pick in the June Draft or to get one of the top ten picks.  Since teams bad enough at the trade deadline to have a reasonable shot to get the No. 1 or 2 picks will be tanking no matter what, the only real lesson is that teams that have the 11th to 15th worst record in MLB approaching the trade deadline and realize they have no reasonable shot to make the post-season should SELL, SELL, SELL in order to get one of the top ten draft picks the next June.

The second lesson I take from my study is that teams should ALWAYS draft the player they think to be the best available/remaining if they have a top 12 or 15 draft pick and PAY what it takes to sign the player, unless the potential draftee has made it clear he will not sign with the team under any circumstances.  After the two best players in any given draft, there is too much uncertainty for teams not to draft the player they think is the best available.  Drafting a player the team thinks is a lesser player in order to save $2 million to throw at a high school player drafted in the 11th round is going to be a bad decision in most cases, particularly in the current regime where teams get a finite budget to sign their first ten draft picks, and the draftees know the cap amounts.

I see no obvious difference in the results for the third through tenth rounds, because, I assume, after the first two consensus best players in any given draft, teams have different opinions about the merits of the next, larger group of potential draftees, to the point where it more or less becomes a crap shoot.  After the first two rounds, and with the notable exception of the 10th round, the median player drafted with the third through 12th pick isn’t really worth a damn, and the odds of selecting a 15+ WAR player, a true star, are considerably less than one in three.

As a final note, I don’t like the fact that post-trade-deadline waiver deals can no longer be made.  I don’t see the downside in allowing losing teams to dump their over-paid veterans after the trade deadline (but before the Sept. 1st play-off eligibility deadline) in exchange for some, usually limited, salary relief and prospects, while play-off bound teams get to add veterans so they can put the best possible team on the field come play-off time.  I hope MLB can find a way for these deals to resume in the future.

What Will Cody Bellinger End Up Batting in 2019?

May 18, 2019

After today’s game in Cincinnati, Cody Bellinger is batting a lusty .404 46 games into the 2019 Dodgers’ season.  What might he end up hitting when the year is out?

I’ll go out on a limb and say that Bellinger won’t hit .380 this season, let alone .400.  The last player to hit .380 in a season was Tony Gwynn in 1994 when Gwynn batted .394, the closest any player has come to .400 since Ted Williams last did it in 1941.  Since 1941, only three other players have batted .380 in a season: Ted Williams batted .388 in 1957, Rod Carew batted .388 in 1977 and George Brett batted .390 in 1980.

By my calculation, Bellinger would have to bat .372 for the rest of the season (assuming that Bellinger stays healthy) in order to hit .380 for the season.  Seems unlikely.

The last player to bat .370 or better in a season was Ichiro when he hit .372 in 2004.  While a great season and a great hitter, Barry Bonds had hit .370 in 2002 and both Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Helton had batted .372 in 2000.

To hit .370 for the season, Bellinger would need to hit about .356 the rest of the way.  Certainly doable, but I’d think certainly less likely than not.

The last player to bat .360 or better in a season was Joe Mauer when he batted .365 in 2009.  As with Ichiro’s 2004, Mauer’s 2009 was not wildly better than other batting leaders of the previous few seasons:  Chipper Jones had batted .364 in 2008, and Magglio Ordonez had batted .363 in 2007.

To bat .360 on the season, Bellinger would need to hit .344 the rest of the way.  That certainly seems doable, given Bellinger’s talent level and the facts that he is a left-handed hitter who runs extremely well.

The last player to bat .350 in a season was Josh Hamilton, who batted .359 in 2010.  To hit .350 for the season, Bellinger would only need to hit .328 the rest of the way.  I’d be willing to bet even money on Bellinger hitting at least .350 this season if he can stay healthy.