Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- Baseball teams use in-depth data to win (Democrat and Chronicle) – Sean Lahman, of Lahman’s Baseball Database fame, pens a thoughtful piece on the current state of analytics in MLB and where it is headed next. As Houston Astros front-office staffer Sig Mejdal notes, “Sabermetrics used to give teams a competitive advantage. Now it’s just table stakes.” Of particular interest is how the Pittsburgh Pirates have used statistical analysis to inform their defensive positioning, pitch selection, and more. This is a fascinating read, as Travis Sawchik’s Big Data Baseball–referenced in the article and due out in May–also promises to be.
- Pre-Season Predictions (Baseball Prospectus) – The Washington Nationals are the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series, though Jeff Long casts a vote for the Padres. Justin Upton and Matt Kemp receive minimal MVP support, while James Shields gets one third-place tally for the Cy Young award. FanGraphs has predictions as well, which you should also read.
- Most Extreme Ballparks In The Minors (Baseball America) – Two California League locales make Matt Eddy’s list. The first is High Desert, home of professional baseball’s most extreme environment. I once asked a guy who had played in the league (he posted a sub-600 OPS over parts of two seasons) what his favorite ballpark was. He said this one, because he could hit a pop fly to shortstop and it would leave the yard. The other to make Eddy’s list is Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, which serves as an excellent example of how not to build a stadium.
- Ho-Hum, Another Preller Blockbuster (Padres Public) – Dustin gives his take on the last-minute deal that brought stud closer Craig Kimbrel to San Diego. As Dustin notes, A.J. Preller loves hard-throwing right-handed relievers. Kimbrel fits the bill and might be the best in baseball. The downside is Melvin “Kimbrel Tax” Upton Jr., who hit .198/.279/.314 over the last two seasons and is owed $46.35 million over the next three. Dustin also slings this sobering thought: “The future payroll commitments are getting a bit scary — $75 million is already locked up in the 2017 payroll, and almost all of it goes to three over-30 players and a flame-throwing closer.” Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs also weighs in on the deal, as do Baseball Prospectus ($) and Baseball America. Oh, and now the Padres have another pair of brothers.
- Matt Vasgersian talks MLB Network, Padres, and chili fries with GLB (Gaslamp Ball) – I miss Matty V.: “2004 was fun because it was the first year at Petco, but 2006 was a blast. Having veterans like Mike Piazza, Boomer Wells and Woody Williams made the team feel legit… Chris Young had an amazing year, Mike Cameron was amazing to watch, that team was a lot of fun.”