Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Shadow Zone

Here's a graph from an article at MLB by Mike Petriello about the ChiSox getting Yasmani Grandal:

The idea is that Grandal's "elite pitch framing" will greatly improve the team. It turns out that the best team, Arizona, got 400 more called strikes on pitches in The Shadow Zone than the White Sox. So a good team can get about 200 more called strikes than an average team. Three strikes and your out and nine strikes and you've got a clean inning so 200 more strikes is 67 more outs or 22 clean innings. That seems like a lot. (I realize that's a crude computation but I stole it from Tangotiger.) This pitch-framing stuff seems pretty important.

Below is chart from Tangotiger Blog which always has interesting stuff, even if much of it is beyond me, that personalizes things a bit:

It shows that Buster Posey is still a top pitch-framer. I think it is interesting that the best guys are just over 50% and the rest just below that line. It's a small advantage but it helps over the long haul, like a lot of things in baseball.

Just something I came across this morning and thought you might like it because the Giants are good at it. At least it seems that way! I peruse this stuff at a fairly casual level and don't dig too deeply so I'm not sure I grasp it all the way, but I like the challenge of learning new things.

Happy Thanksgiving from RMC!!


p.s. click on the charts to enlarge


nomisnala said...

buster's one weak part of framing is the low inside slider from the lefty. He continues to move his glove away from the plate. The best framers for that pitch move their glove toward the plate. Otherwise, on all other pitch placements, Posey is either the best or among the best. Unfortunately that is one of Bumgarner's best pitches.

M.C. O'Connor said...

The Washington Nationals won 93 games and the World Series with two "below-average" pitch-framers, Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. You don't have to do everything well, just as many things as you can. If your team is weak in one area it better be strong in another.

M.C. O'Connor said...

MLBTR goes over the non-tender list. The deadline is Monday. The Giants have decisions to make on Kevin Pillar, Joey Rickard, and new guy lefty Tyler Anderson. Anderson seems like an easy call at a projected $2.6M, the Giants need arms, lots of arms. Rickard is projected to get $1.1M which also seems like an easy risk on a potentially solid corner OF.

Pillar is the biggie. He is expected to get $9.7M which is a lot in this market. The Orioles declined to sign 2B Jonathan Villar for $10M after a 4-WAR season. He could be a free agent imminently. He's a good player and yet the rebuilding O's are either cutting ties or going after him on the cheap.

So, is Pillar a part of the 2020 Giants? Would you sign him?

nomisnala said...

I think Pillar puts fans in the seats, even if, or especially if you think the team will not contend. For a noncontender one needs some spectacular plays by guys who are willing to go all out. His value is more than the approximately 2 WAR he will bring, his value helps put fans in their seats. Just like Panda, not only put some fans in their seats, but it got them to purchase those Panda Hats. So if baseball is a business, one must look at the assets vs. the liabilities on the financial ledger.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I should note that Mauricio Dubon has 5 games and 44 innings at CF in his minor league career (as 21-year old in the AZFL). Could they be imagining him as a potential outfielder as well as a middle infielder? Think Chris Taylor, the Dodgers super-utility guy who played every position last season except pitcher, catcher, and first baseman. Maybe the Giants new Brain Trust is open to that kind of thing. After all, FZ cut his teeth in LA, as did Kapler, who is supposedly really good at player development. Positional flexibility was usually one of those things reserved to part-time players but a guy like Taylor plays almost as much as a regular. Max Muncy played three positions (1B, 2B, 3B) but was full-time. Even MVP Cody Bellinger played three positions (CR, RF, 1B).

I suspect the new guys (FZ/Harris/Kapler) are more willing to experiment but that ownership will be more conservative and not want to scare season ticket holders away. I note that interim CEO Rob Dean and restored CEO Larry Baer are now "below" Greg Johnson on the corporate food chain. Johnson is the son of principal owner Charles Johnson and becomes the "control" person in the eyes of MLB. All three men (Baer, Dean, and Johnson) will represent the team at owners' meetings.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Agreed about Pillar. He's a net positive, despite the poor hitting/on-base numbers. On a good team he hits 8th (that would cut into his RBI numbers!). And you do have to make fans happy, and he's good in that role. Some guys (BCraw, for example) are marketable and do a lot for the club on the PR side because they are flashy, or handsome, or mellow, or funny, or approachable, or whatever. Teams can't neglect that stuff. You need fans who will stick around even when the team sucks, and you do that by showcasing players. At least that's what I see, but I'm just an old fan, and a lifer at that.

I don't think FZ and the "analytics bunch" are immune to those concerns, just a little less sensitive perhaps. But that's what owners are for. A good franchise should have a healthy dynamic between ownership and operations. Whatever comes out of this regime change, I hope the baseball people (the FZ side) feel they can do their thing, that the owners (Johnson, Dean, Baer, etc.) will support them. That doesn't mean they roll over and play dead. If the owners, for example, say "we like Pillar because the fans like Pillar" then it is up to Harris and Kapler and coaches to make it work.

For the record, I like Pillar, even if he is an out-machine. He's fun. Fun is good.

nomisnala said...

Pillar is a bit of an enigma. With the bases loaded in 15 AB's he hit over 400 and had 19 RBI. His main problem continues to be pitch recognition, and not taking the walk even on some extremely bad pitches. When he swings at good pitches, he hits the ball hard. One can say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and that may be true, but if he could only improve his pitch recognition by 10 or 15 percent, and perhaps double his walk rate, while swinging more at good pitches, and laying off more bad pitches, his numbers would be much more respectable. Despite all his plate appearances he only struck out 89 times, so he has the ability to put the bat on the ball when the pitch is hittable. I also am fairly sure that his low velocity off the bat has to do with all the marginal pitches he took swings at and hit the ball weakly. When he swings at good pitches and makes contact, his velocity off the bat appears to be much better. I just do not see why talented major league players cannot at least slightly modify their approach, if it would be good for them and good for their respective teams. I know it takes one bad call by an ump when a player takes a ball, and is called out with strike 3, to have them backslide into poorer pitch selection. His low walk rate is what makes him less valuable. His lack of discipline relating to the pitches he swings at, is making him less valuable.