Crash Bag Vol. 26: Bobbles, Bullpens, and Long Lost Friends

This is my first Crash Bag, and what an honor it is! On to our ambivalent adoring readers’ questions:

@mjspv: Only 3 bobblehead giveaways on the schedule: Phanatic (bobblebody), Rose, and Schmidt. Who will be the next bobble-worthy player? #crashbag

At first, I thought this might be a difficult question to answer. But when I looked at the 2016 promotional calendar, I saw that there was a Maikel Franco bobblehead given away in June last season (although it looked nothing like Maik). Franco played bobble-worthily at the end of 2015, but right now he’s not even worth a fake Phanatic bobblebody they’re giving away this year, let alone a real one.

*I should note that in my cubicle I have a real actual Phillie Phanatic bobblehead that I purchased in a store like a true blue-blooded American capitalist.

In 2016, they also gave away a Star Wars themed Phanatic bobblehead, a “Phanatic Variant Bobblehead”, and most confoundingly of all, a bobblehead of the Phanatic’s mom knitting. Now I’m all for Phillie Phanatic bobble heads – nobody loves the Phanatic more than me – but three bobbles in one year is far too many. Let’s limit this to one every two years, Phillies.

In 2015, they gave away a weird retro bobblehead, and a Larry Bowa bobblehead. In 2014, we got bobbles of Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and Ryan Howard, which seems entirely reasonable. It seems like the Phillies go with stars, old fan favorites, or variants on the Phanatic. So, while Maikel Franco has clearly already gotten a bobble, I’d argue that the bobble was not earned, and he is not a Bobble-WorthyTM player.

So who is the next Bobble-WorthyTM Phillie? I’ll make up the arbitrary criteria that you have to be an above-average player for several years in a row. If Odubel Herrera can turn his season around and put up another 4 WAR campaign, I think he deserves a bobble next season.  Entering the season, Herrera was 67% bobble worthy. If we generously say that he has a 1-in-4 chance of going on a tear and pulling out a 4 win season, that makes him (67% + 1/4*33% = ) 75% Bobble-WorthyTM.

If Herrera can’t pull it out, we may be waiting a while. Here is a list of current Phillies, arranged by Bobble-WorthinessTM:

Odubel Herrera – 75% Bobble-WorthyTM

Jerad Eickhoff – 50% Bobble-WorthyTM – The Phillies most consistent pitcher over the past three years. Not All-Star caliber but he’s still the bobbliest we’ve got.

Aaron Nola – 38% Bobble-WorthyTM – Not currently very Bobble-WorthyTM, but if he stays healthy for a full season, he could put up the kind of Cy Young-caliber numbers that make a player immediately Bobble-WorthyTM.

Cesar Hernandez – 33% Bobble-WorthyTM – He’s had one 4 win season. Stack on a couple more, and you’ll be bobblin’ till the cows come home.

Freddy Galvis – 20% Bobble-WorthyTM – His talent is below replacement bobble, but he is the longest tenured Phillie, and that’s got to be worth something.

Everyone else on the Phillies is Bobble-UnworthyTM.

Now that I’ve spent a totally reasonable amount of time answering this important question, let’s move on. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 24: Did You Know the Phillies Drafted Some Baseball Players?

The draft was this week and I am struggling to think about things that are not the draft.

In draft news, but actually on the topic of the Crash Bag, this will no longer be just me writing the Crash Bag after this week. Instead the Crash Bag will be written by a different Crashburn writer each week, including some appearances by some Crashburn writers who are too busy with actual real world things to regularly contribute. You can still send your questions to me on twitter and I will forward them on, you can also send them to the Crashburn Twitter or whichever writer is doing over for the week. If you aren’t on twitter you can send post them in the comments here until I figure out a good email address for them.

@DashTreyhorn: Are the Phillies *really* this bad?

No, but they are pretty bad. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong for the 2017 Phillies. They have lost Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Clay Buchholz, and Cesar Hernandez to injuries at various points in time. Their big free agent signing in Michael Saunders has been incredibly bad. All of their young players other than Aaron Altherr are having worse statistical seasons. Their young pitching has been ineffective when it has come up. The bullpen picked the only good stretch by the team to be a complete disaster. Jeremy Hellickson just stopped being about to pitch competently. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 23: The One About Pitching

The MLB draft is this week. The Phillies will have the 8th overall pick and widely expected to take a college player. No one can really decide on whether it will be a hitter or a pitcher, so we will see some time Monday afternoon what direction they will go. Until then, let’s talk about some players already in the system.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@twitrunner8: Know we have some high ceiling talent in lower levels, but what SPs above A-ball, have the best chance to be #1 or #2 starters?

I don’t think any of the Phillies starters in AA or AAA have the ability to be a #1 or a #2 starter. I like Drew Anderson, but if everything breaks right he is probably a #3. #3 starters are really valuable, and the Phillies will be very happy if Anderson is a #3, but that isn’t your question. The thing is, front of the rotation starting prospects are rare, and they are especially rare in the upper minors where some off the shine of future projection has worn off. I pulled up Baseball America’s updated Top 100 from May, and went through it for AA/AAA starting pitchers with #1 or #2 ceilings. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 22: Gods and Rap Battles

So last week we celebrated a win. This week this best I can do is celebrate that it is no longer May.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@StelliniTweets: Can the Phanatic beat Mr. Met in a rap battle?

The answer is of course, but keep in mind his words are more of the visual style. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 21: Can the Phillies Develop Pitchers

The Phillies won a game!

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@babsell_champ: Do the Phillies have a pitching dev issue in the minors? Their top young starters Nola and Eickhoff came into the org fairly polished.

It is always difficult to figure out who is to blame for a lack of development. The coaching staff is always a good place to start, but sometimes guys lose or gain velocity, sometimes a pitcher’s big breakthrough is someone else showing them a pitch grip. It isn’t that it is all random, it is that it is all noisy. Another problem with judging all of this is the timeline, when the Phillies rebuild began in earnest, the system was essentially bare, so any homegrown pitchers are really just starting to reach to the upper minors. Before going into that group, let’s take a look at the minor league pitchers brought in during the various trades. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 20: Where Have All the Relievers Gone?

I wish I had good news about the Phillies to kick off the Crash Bag with this week, but the team is bad. Well other than Aaron Altherr and Tommy Joseph who are #3 and #1 respectively in wRC+ for the month of May.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@JPallo26: What are your go-to statistic/analytic/breakdown sites and what do each do particularly well in transferring good info?

This is a great question because it really made me think about what sites I use and why I use it.

  • Baseball Reference – This is still the gold standard, especially after their re-skin. The Play Index continues to be the most powerful research and search tool. I love that on both the minor and major league level that you can highlight a set of games in the game log and get the stats over that time. Their splits pages are also much more robust than anything offered by another site.
  • Fangraphs – This is my quick and easy stats site. They have BB%, K%, and batted ball data in a place that is very easy to grab. The percentage stats are just a lot more informative and intuitive to me than the per 9 stats that Baseball Reference uses. The new Splits Tool is very good, and I have not had as much time to really play with it as much as I would like to. They also just added minor league batted ball data.
  • BrooksBaseball – I trust their velocity and zone measurements more than anyone on the internet. If I’m writing something major league pitching related, there is a high chance I opened up Brooksbaseball at some point (this includes hitters vs pitchers).
  • Baseball Prospectus – I like their prospect stuff, but on the statistical side they are doing the most cutting edge research. DRA is the best ERA estimator we have, and it really allows you to think about all of the factors that go into a pitcher’s success. I am still trying to wrap my head around all of the value and long term implications of their framing and pitch tunneling data, but it is research no one else is doing.
  • MLBFarm – This is Daren Willman’s essentially defunct minor league site, but it gives you minor league spray charts that you can customize over date ranges.
  • MILB Stat Pages – They aren’t fancy, but they update faster than any other site and have basic splits. The MILB pages alse have the most accurate transaction logs.
  • Baseball Savant – There is a lot of statcast data here that I don’t really trust and I don’t think is delivered in a way that makes it easy to do your own analysis on. However, their searches are good if you want to really dive into pitch location and usage.
  • Baseball America – Not really statistical, but if you have a subscription there is a ton of archival information on players. Also it normally has the demographic information that you won’t always find everywhere else.

Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 19: Rapid Fire Answers

This week no one gave me a deep question to get lost in for half a day. Instead, this week you all delivered a bunch of quick, but good questions that inspired a lot of varied discussions. So I tried to answer as many questions as I could. Enjoy.

@John__Wetzel: If all players in the Phillies org reached their ceiling, what would be the starting lineup/rotation?

Lineup

2B Scott Kingery

SS J.P. Crawford

RF Aaron Altherr

CF Odubel Herrera

1B Rhys Hoskins

3B Maikel Franco

LF Nick Williams

C Jorge Alfaro

Rotation

SP Sixto Sanchez

SP Vince Velasquez

SP Aaron Nola

SP Franklyn Kilome

SP Seranthony Dominguez

The tough call was the outfield. This may seem like an overreaction to Altherr’s season so far, but he is uber athletic and now that he is showing more power, his ceiling his really high. I went with Nick Williams as the more the dynamic outfielder than Dylan Cozens. This scenario gives you 3 20-20 outfielders with plus gloves. It might seem strange to see Nola in the rotation, but if he locate everything and always command his curveball and changeup, he could be dominant. Continue reading…

Crash Bag Vol. 18: Trading Cesar

Thank you to Brad for doing this last week, and for being much funnier in the process than I am. It has been a really bad week of results for the major league club, so why not talk about trading their best player so far, and answer some other questions along the way as well.

For now the best place to ask questions is on Twitter, either @ me (@Matt_Winkelman or @CrashburnAlley). But you can also reply in the comments here and I will will have some sort of better way for future mailbags.

@mweintr: Should Cesar Hernandez be traded now, when his value is highest?

It has become trendy to to want teams to keep trading and churning players, always looking for value. This is not the worst strategy when you know you are going to be a non-contender for the remainder of a player’s contract. However, Cesar will turn 27 just over 2 weeks from now and still has 3 more years of control through arbitration. He is currently batting a BABIP influenced .336/.379/.517 with a career high strikeout rate and career low walk rate. History says his power should trend down, and his walk and strikeout rates should trend positively towards his career averages. He is on pace for a 6+ WAR season, which is probably unsustainable, but he should be able to repeat his 4 win season from a year ago, barring an unexpected collapse. That is a really good baseball player, and if you are going to trade someone of his caliber, with his level of remaining control, you are going to want a haul back. Continue reading…

Crashbag Vol. 17 – Do Not Seek The Treasure

Hey, it’s my first Crashbag. Hope it gives you a chuckle, or failing that, that at least you think I’m an idiot afterwards.

Mark Appel was a #1 overall pick and now someone has asked a question about whether he’ll have as good a career as a guy who posted one and one fifth career WAR (I averaged BRef and Fangraphs…for…science). That this is even a realistic question is just a brutal assessment of Appel. Harsh. Poor guy.

I liked Condrey in ’08 – he was reliable-ish, and threw a pretty good ground ball rate over 69 innings, (interesting), while lacking an out pitch that could have helped him out of some jams. Though even one more out would have ruined that “interesting” season, so… Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 16 – What Makes a Good Draft?

The Phillies have played 12 of 15 games against the Mets and Nationals and have come out of those games with a 5-7 record (and a positive run differential). Not bad for losing your starting left fielder, having a starting pitcher arm explode, and watching Jeanmar Gomez do exactly what we expected him to. This week deals with none of that. Instead, I go down a draft wormhole, and a questioner gets some moving advice.

Next week, Brad (@bxe1234) will be doing the Crash Bag while I am Philly.

@ethan_witte: What makes a draft class a success? Having multiple players secure multiple WAR over a career, or just one or two guys that are really good?
@JesusZoidberg: If you get a prospect from a draft, and then trade him for a legit player, but the prospect fails, is that a bad pick(draft)?

I have two different definitions for the minimum for a successful draft class. The first is that it gets you an above average regular either from the players in it or in trade. The second is that it gets you an average regular and some ancillary pieces. If you get a first division regular or borderline all-star and nothing else, that is a success. If all you get is a bunch of bench players or middle relievers, that is not a successful draft, but it is also not a complete waste. With that in mind, I went back 10 years to go through the 2007 to 2014 drafts, since the 2015 and 2016 drafts have barely had time to play and grow. For each class I have divided it into players who reached the majors, notable prospects, players still in the minors, and players traded. Continue reading…