Crashbag Vol. 36: The Future Infield

Last night the minor league regular season ended, the IronPigs are still in playoffs and sending a AA rotation to the mound. Oh and the major league club has Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro up with Odubel Herrera back from injury.

@totommit: Kingery’s K% has risen to 20.3% and BB% has dropped to 4.5% at AAA. Is this just a blip, or does he have plate discipline problems?

In 2016:

Clearwater: 7.9% BB% 12.9% K%
Reading: 3.0% BB% 21.7% K%

In 2017:

Reading: 8.8% BB% 16.1% K%
Lehigh Valley: 4.5% BB% 20.3% K%

Kingery does have some approach issues. He is an aggressive hitter at heart, and at each new level pitchers have been able to make him expand the strikezone. That said I am not really worried about him. He is never going to walk like Hoskins, Crawford, or Cesar Hernandez, but he also isn’t Nick Williams or Jorge Alfaro. He has always made the adjustment at each level, it just has taken him some time. This is part of why there haven’t been any rumblings about promoting Kingery to the majors, he hasn’t made the AAA adjustment yet. He will also only be 23 on opening day next year and should be on pace to compete for a major league spot should the Phillies trade Hernandez this offseason or ready as soon as the Phillies can move Hernandez during the season. So not a blip, as much as it is part of a pattern of struggle and adjustment.

@ethan_witte: Let’s say Franco isn’t on the team next year. Rank your personal options you’d like to see manning 3B in 2018

I am probably missing someone, but I am going to go with this.

  • Freddy Galvis: My philosophy on third base is that I just am not going to devote a ton of resources to it. If the Phillies aren’t going to keep Franco, my first bet would be to just move Freddy to third and prep for 2018.
  • Eduardo Nunez:  Eduardo Nunez is essentially the FA version of Freddy for me. He will be 30 years old on opening day and has hit .295/330/.441 over the past 3 seasons while playing all over the field. If it takes a 2 year commitment he could be the super utility player that everyone is clamoring for.
  • Chase Headley: Headley is not a free agent, but he does only have 1 yr $13M left on his deal so he is a low commitment option. He is hitting .279/.361/.432 this year and is on pace for a second straight 2+ WAR season after a down 2015. His salary coupled with some of the players coming up in the Yankees system probably makes him completely expendable and a cheap acquisition.
  • Todd Frazier: Todd Frazier is a fine but flawed baseball player. In the tight market he might get paid, but there is also a chance he gets a 1 year pillow contract, and I would be fine giving that to him.
  • Eugenio Suarez: Suarez is the first real long term option I would go for, but he might be expensive in trade. He has three more years of control left, but also enough positional flexibility to be move around should a better 3B come along. His .377 OBP this year would fit in with what the Phillies are trying to build.
  • Mitch Walding: He is literally the only 3B prospect in the system above shortseason ball and there might not really be prospects there anyway.
  • Jesmuel Valentin: Valentin can play 3B, and it would not harm is development.
  • J.P. Crawford: Crawford is the future shortstop for the Phillies, he should also be their current shortstop. Just trade Freddy for pitching and solve another problem without creating one.
  • Manny Machado: He isn’t going to sign an extension, so unless the market craters there is no point in breaking the prospect bank for a rental.
  • Mike Moustakas: I don’t want to be the team committed to 5+ years of a player with a career .306 OBP entering their age 29 season.

@MELKasinkas: What’s a realistic return for either Hernandez or galvis this off season given a perceived lack of market?

I don’t think you get much back for Freddy Galvis, but it will be something. I brought up Eduardo Nunez earlier. He is a better hitter than Freddy, but a worse defender. In 2015 at the deadline he was traded 1 for 1 for Adalberto Mejia who was a fringe Top 100 prospect with moderate upside. He was just traded as a pending free agent for Shaun Anderson (2016 3rd rd pick) and Gregory Santos (low minors lottery ticket). I would think Freddy’s value is somewhere in between that, so one prospect towards the back of someone’s top 10 or one in the top 20 plus a farther off lottery ticket. I could also see them try and see if another team has a pending FA SP, even if it is a back end one for a 1 for 1 swap.

Cesar is hard to judge because his market is smaller due to his limitations (he is a second baseman only), but he should command a much higher price due to his talent and years remaining of control. I think for Cesar you would be looking for a prospect in the Top 50-100 range, a back of an org top 10 prospect, and a lottery ticket. I don’t know who steps up to pay that price, but they are probably getting a steal if second base is a position of need. I think the Phillies will try to move him for a major league asset, probably a starting pitcher, but I don’t see teams doing that in a straight deal so they might need to get prospects for Cesar and then flip prospects for a pitcher.

@bxe1234: Which site’s WAR/other stats do you prefer and why? Is it just whichever one has Phillies players best because that’s how I do it.

In general I am not a big WAR fan. I find it too simplistic. I use it mostly in a broader context in terms of general value, but I think all the versions have major flaws. If I do have to use it, this is what I use.

Pitchers: bWAR/WARP

If I want to know what the value of what happened this year to a pitcher I go with bWAR or RA9 WAR. I know it may not accurately describe the credit a pitcher should get, but it does do a good rough pass on their current value to the team. I think if you combined bWAR with walk and strikeout rates as well as batted ball data you have a good picture of what a pitcher is. If I want to be more contextual and try and get closer to “true talent level” I will use Baseball Prospectus’ WARP because I think DRA is the closest ERA estimator to what a pitcher is contextually responsible for. I do think it has its faults, so don’t take it blindly, but I think it gets close.

Hitters: bWAR/fWAR + positional adjusting

I think the offensive component of WAR for both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference is close enough that I feel comfortable using either (I will make a note that I don’t trust anyone’s park factors anymore). When it comes to the defensive component, I take stock of the numbers between both sites and come up with my own rating based not quite on the average of the different metrics, but more of an adjusted metric based on the components. I also don’t particularly love having the defensive number included, because I don’t really trust them.

The reasoning behind not using WARP for hitters is because it is too black box. I like to be able to verify the components, but Baseball Prospectus does not have a good breakdown of component offensive or defensive stats.

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7 comments

  1. Mike Fassano

    September 08, 2017 03:26 PM

    For Kingery, I think that he’ll eventually settle into a 9% BB, and 18% K rate. His fielding and hitting levels should be only slightly be better than Hernandez, but his baseball I.Q. is his biggest asset.
    On the question a Franco, I’d keep him. Here’s why. I’d tell him right up front that he will be competing with Galvis for the starting job. If Galvis wins the job, Franco wins a bus ride to the Ironpigs. If Franco figures things out in AAA, Galvis becomes a valuable deadline trade chip.
    Teams like Miami and Detroit might be willing to part with a Dan Straily, Dillon Peters, or Michael Fulmer if the price is right. We have plenty of players and prospects to restock their farm system. Same thing that we did with Ken Giles.

  2. Andrew R.

    September 09, 2017 10:47 AM

    What I like about this offseason, is that there are seemingly a million different scenarios. Here’s one for fun.

    Cesar Hernandez to the Dodgers for prospects. They have a nice system and we should be able to snag a higher end pitching prospect.

    Sign back Chase utley to play second base for two months until Kingery is ready. He will become our silent leader and help show these kids how to play ball.

    Trade Franco for a competitive balance round pick and some international cash.

    Freddy plays third for next year, the. We sign either machado or Donaldson for 2019.

  3. Mike Cummings

    September 09, 2017 10:48 AM

    Odd that you look at Moustakas entire body of work instead of the past three seasons when his OPS was over .800 each year. Royals won two pennants and a World Series in spite of being dead-last in walks both seasons(2014-15..MM was below league average offensively in ’14) so I don’t know how MM, a slug as it is on the bases, walking more will help or deter any team from winning more games. His power and fielding will help, as well as veteran leadership which this team has zero.

  4. Shane

    September 09, 2017 03:11 PM

    On Franco:
    I don’t think we should write him off just yet. He had a Sophomore Slump. It happens.
    IMHO, 3B is his to lose and if he bounces back then our patience will have been rewarded.

    • Steve

      September 10, 2017 03:57 PM

      Well hes had two bad years in a row now, but i agree he should get one year before we start seriously looking for replacements.

      Expectations were always high for him, he was viewed as a middle of the border bat. That may never be the case, but fortunately it looks like Hoskins, Williams, Herrera, and maybe even Kingery and Altherr can fill those spots. Franco can become a .265-.275 hitter with 25 hr power and a not-horrendous K% that is ok for a 7 hitter making less than than 10 mil/yr. Its disappointing because of what we thought he could be, but its basically what David Bell and Pedro Feliz were doing when we acquired them.

  5. Mike Fassano

    September 10, 2017 08:36 PM

    I’m a former catcher, and have only my eyes to depend on concerning Alfaro, Rupp, and Knapp. Rupp is what he is. Offensively or defensively, I don’t seeing him getting any better. He could be of value to an American league team that needs a back up catcher, DH against lefties, and pinch hitter. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to the new analytics, but I recognize the importance of them. From what I see Knapp and Alfaro are polar opposites in their approach to hitting. I see Knapp working the count to get his pitch, and he sprays the ball around. Maybe a .275 hitter with a dozen home runs. Alfaro is a bopper. He gets good wood on the ball, and the majority of his outs are “hard outs”. He’ll rarely walk, and he’ll strike out too much, but he seems to have the ability to be a clutch hitter.
    The things that I can’t see are the most important part of the catchers job, and that’s where I need help. Are Knapp and Alfaro improving defensively? Can they? Do either have a defensive ceiling that is above average? Do they start out on the Phillies next year, or is one gone? Do the Phillies bring in a veteran (Chooch?) to teach the position?

    • Bary Onyx

      September 12, 2017 10:14 AM

      Mike, I come here for your comments as much as I do the articles. 🙂

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