Friday, January 31, 2020

More on WAR

WAR is really designed to look at individuals. It is an attempt to evaluate a player holistically by including offense, defense, and baserunning. For pitchers it is all about run prevention. We'll look at pitcher-WAR later. Here's a chart (apropos our discussion in the comments) showing the distribution of WAR among position players:

It is from 2010--a really good year! The chart is from a Justin Bopp article on Beyond the Boxscore. Elite players are just that: elite, meaning the choice or the best.

Here's another visual (from the excellent FanGraphs primer on WAR):

I will take a look at specific players and individual seasons later. WAR includes a positional adjustment as well as things like park factors. There are a lot of components in the model, and a lot of tweaking goes on as well as yearly calibrations. WAR has generated much healthy debate about how to value a player's contribution to his team's wins. I don't get too granular with WAR. A 5-WAR player may really be a 4-6 WAR player (or 4.5-5.5) but I'm not debating MVP or HoF votes so I don't care. A 4-6 WAR player is a damn good guy to have on your team!

As with any model, one should not think of WAR as true or false or right or wrong. A good or bad model perhaps, or an in-between one, something that exists on a continuum between "more effective" and "less effective." We should expect a model to have varying performance, and with WAR the individual pieces of the model can be re-assessed and thus the model can be improved.

I've learned two things from WAR. First, it helped me appreciate players that did not appear to be positive contributors because the traditional stats weren't revealing enough. Second, it reinforced how hard it is to be an MLB player, and how good you have to be just to be considered "average."


Thursday, January 30, 2020

WAR, what's it good for?

I copied this image from Baseball-Reference. They have a detailed explanation of WAR (wins above replacement). WAR is better thought of as a framework than a statistic. There are a lot of assumptions behind WAR valuations and since I use those numbers a lot I thought I might talk more about WAR. Here is a graph that is the essence of things:

The first assumption is that baseball talent is normally distributed. It is Gaussian, that is, you get a bell curve when you graph it. Now, baseball talent is not measured directly, like height or weight for example, but our experience of baseball makes this intuitively obvious. When I played Little League or pick-up ball as a kid it was clear there was a great range of talent. Most of us were ordinary, some of us were really bad, and some of us were really good. By the time we were in high school the ballplayers had been "sorted" from the non-ballplayers. Again, the talent distribution was obvious: some good, some bad, most just average. This sorting continues through college and the minors and you wind up with a tiny percentage of the world's population that can play professional baseball.

A "replacement player" is a fringe major leaguer or an accomplished minor-leaguer. These are players that are readily available on the waiver wire, have been DFA'd, or who are good enough to get an invite to Spring Training. They are abundant (relatively) and inexpensive.

A replacement player is NOT an "average" major league player. Such a fellow is NOT cheap or readily available. A guy like Jeff Samardzija is a great example of an average major-leaguer. These are valuable players. Good teams are stuffed with guys like this. There are very few real outliers in the bigs--there are not enough Mookie Betts-types to go around. Average players make up the bulk of the rosters.

In theory a team of replacement players would win about 30% of the time. In fact, the definition of a replacement player is a matter of debate, but it is generally agreed that a win percentage of .250 to .350 would be a reasonable outcome for a team made up of all replacement players. That's 40 to 57 wins. A .300 percentage is a 49-113 record. This is another key assumption behind WAR.

Last year the Giants produced about 24 WAR. Add that to 49 and you get 73 wins. They won 77, but the WAR framework gives us a nice predictor for win totals. The Diamondbacks produced 35 WAR which says (49+35) 84 wins. They won 85. The Dodgers? 51 WAR which is 100 wins (they got 106). The Rockies and Padres rate about 28 WAR and that predicts 77 wins (they got 71 and 70). It's not perfect, but it gives us a thumbnail sketch.

So, what's it all about? A good team needs about 40 WAR (for 89 projected wins), an average team needs 30+ WAR. How many WAR do you think the Giants are good for in 2020?


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Top 100

MLB posted their Top 100 Prospects list. Wander Franco, a SS in the Rays system, is first. He's only 18 but has two years of pro ball and is expected to be in the majors in 2021. The next guy is middle infielder Gavin Lux (in the Dodgers system). He's 22 and will likely play on the big club at some point this season. The third guy is Luis Robert, a White Sox outfielder. He's already signed a six-year, $50M contract but has yet to make his ML debut.

Giants fans will be happy to know that Joey Bart is listed at #14. There is a catcher in front of him, Andy Rutschman in the Baltimore organization, he's fourth, just behind the three already mentioned.

If Bart turns out to be half as good as Buster Posey then he will be a very good player (if he sticks at catcher). Isn't that crazy? We have, I think, enormous expectations about Bart. Most of them are likely unrealistic. I hope Bart gets to show what he can do and not what he can do in comparison to Buster Posey. I'm excited about him and expect to see him this season.

Marco Luciano, our teenage SS from the Dominican Republic, comes in at #35. OF Heliot Ramos (#65) and LHP Seth Corry (#99) are the other Giants on the list. Arizona, LA, and San Diego each have five players on the list as well. Colorado has one.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Outs Above Average

Mike Petriello at has a story about the new fielding metric called "Outs Above Average" or OAA. He links to a much more detailed background piece by Tom Tango on the MLB Tech blog. Both are long but are worth a look--there is a whole new world out there because of Statcast and we have to start learning about it. I should note that the articles are particular to the infield component of OAA, the outfield stuff is handled differently.

Since all batted balls are tracked (via radar) and the movements of all the players tracked as well (via stereo camera systems) the combination of the two technologies allows for the measurement of speed, direction, distance, and more on every play. Nowadays the "eye test" is not simply something a fan can do from his or her seat (at the game or in front of the TV) but an actual data record that can be revisited at MLB's clearinghouse site for Statcast data, Baseball Savant.

Fielding is a tough nut to crack and it is especially tough in this era because of infield shifts. Something like one-third of all pitches last season involved at least one shifted infielder! DRS and UZR have become part of the new saber-landscape but they will likely be supplanted by OAA simply because it is built on some of the things that the earlier stats relied on and is enhanced with real-game information. Not only that, it is a computer model which of course can be refined as new data come in and new problems with measurement and evaluation get solved (or at least improved upon).

The argument for OAA is that it is intuitive. We, as fans, naturally "compute the odds" as we watch a play unfold. We see the shortstop chase down a ball in the hole and think about the runner heading to first and "calculate" the probability that the throw will get there before him. When the runner is safe we wonder if perhaps the runner was faster than we expected, the fielder had a hitch in his throw, the ball was further into the outfield grass than we thought, etc. We've seen many many such plays and have a sense of what should work and when and thus we can be surprised by an unusually strong throw or quick feet by the fielder or dismayed by a failure to get what should have been an out.

OAA determines the likelihood of success for the fielder depending on how far he has to go to get the ball, how fast the ball was hit, and how quickly the runner gets down the line. Good fielders convert more "unlikely" chances and make the "routine" plays a higher percentage of the time. Like I said we do this in our heads anyway, without actual numbers but with a large history of observations. Would it surprise you that Javier Baez, Nolan Arenado, and Andrelton Simmons rate the best on this metric? Right now OAA can't include everything (like double plays, pitcher failing to cover a base, etc.) but it's a good start. I think we might have a real defensive stat emerging that we can rely on.


p.s. Do you want to know how Giants infielders were ranked in 2019? Go to the Statcast leaderboards and select Infield Outs Above Average from the pull-down menu and you'll find out. (Brandon Belt was 61st overall and 8th among first basemen, and Evan Longoria was 55th overall and 11th among third baseman, for example. Sadly, Brandon Crawford was 189th overall and 27th among shortstops. That seems to fit with what we watched. Every player has a specific profile that provides more granular information. Warning: major time sink!)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

All Smyles and a Distaff Staff

The Giants picked up lefty Drew Smyly, signing him to a 1-yr deal for around $4M. Trevor Oaks was cut loose to make a roster spot for Smyly. It's a familiar-feeling move, a low-cost gamble on a once-promising but recently-injured pitcher. Here's GM Scott Harris (from The Athletic):
 “One is the stuff,” Harris said. “He has a four-pitch mix and the weapons to attack left-handed and right-handed hitters in a variety of ways. We want to connect him with our pitching infrastructure and give him a plan to get through lineups multiple times. He’ll pitch up with the fastball, move the cutter around and drop in curveballs and changeups. The second thing is the health. When he was in Philly with Gabe, the underlying performance was interesting. He had a 26 percent strikeout rate.
“And based on the prior history I have with him and Kap has with him, he has a huge chip on his shoulder and something to prove. We’re both very confident he’s a player and person who will do the most he possibly can to be the most dominant version of himself on the mound.”
OK, how about that newspeak? "We want to connect him with our pitching infrastructure." Uhh, that's cool. Do teams really have "pitching infrastructures?" I guess so. You know what? I'm down with it. It takes a goddamn village. Baseball is hard. The more help, the better.

Speaking of more help, Gabe Kapler has added two more coaches. One is notable for being Buster Posey's teammate at Florida State, the other is notable for having two X-chromosomes. That's right, the Giants have a female coach, the first in the major leagues. The fella is Mark Hallberg, formerly the manager at Salem-Keizer (A-league), and the gal is Alyssa Nakken, who has been with the organization since 2014. She played softball ball at Sac State. Welcome aboard! We'll get you all sorted out later.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Bad Boys

Teams rise and and teams fall. We've seen that with the Giants, have we not? Today we found out that baseball was not happy about the Astros and their sign-stealing shenanigans. The manager (AJ Hinch) and GM (Scott Lunhow) were suspended for a year without pay by MLB and were then promptly fired by the team's owner (Jim Crane). The toast of the baseball world not long ago will also be stripped of 1st- and 2nd-round draft picks for the next two years. Ouch! Oh, and a $5M fine, which I understand is the maximum. Chump change for this industry. I should note that The Athletic was given credit for breaking the story. If you read this blog regularly you know I like that site, they have a nice supply of good writers so there is usually something interesting or useful to read. The Astros still have a formidable team, talent-wise, I should note. Also there will likely be fallout in Boston as manager Alex Cora was on Hinch's staff. The Sox are facing a potential sign-stealing investigation as well. Carlos Beltran, the Mets new manager, was an active player on that 2017 championship team. I remember a story after that World Series that Beltran had picked up a tell from Yu Darvish and let all the guys on the team know, that's why they clobbered him. Seems like what really happened is that he had the job of relaying the stolen signs!

In Giants news, infielder Zack Cozart was cut loose. The Giants still owe him almost $13M. They gave the roster spot to waiver claim Jake Jewell, a 26-year old right-handed pitcher. The Giants took on Cozart and his salary presumably to obtain the #15 pick in the 2019 draft, North Carolina State 2B/SS Will Wilson. The Giants chose Arizona State OF Hunter Bishop with the #10 pick. Two chances are better than one, right?

Also, Jose Alguacil has returned to the organization and will serve as the manager of the Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA, Eastern League). He ran that club back in 2015 before managing the River Cats and then joining the Giants as first-base coach.


Thursday, January 9, 2020

NRIs: catchers

Joey Bart
Tyler Heineman
Chad Tromp

We all know about Bart, the #2 pick in the 2018 draft. The only question is how soon he will be ready to play in the majors. He's 23.

I mentioned Heineman in a comment earlier. The Astros drafted him in the 8th round in 2012. He's played over 600 games in the minors and finally made his debut (5 G, 12 PA) with Miami last season at age 28. He's a switch-hitter. Obviously his rookie status is still intact.

Chadwick Chandler Tromp is from Aruba. He signed as an amateur with the Reds in 2013 when he was 18. He has played over 300 games in the minors but has yet to reach the majors. He's 5'-9" tall which means we will hear about that a lot. For some reason we are constantly reminded that short (er, not-tall) ballplayers are short, that is, not-tall.

That's the whole lot: 40-man and NRIs.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

NRIs: position players

I'll cover the catchers in a separate post. There are three infielders and two outfielders:

Christhian Adames (S, 2B/SS/3B), 29 in July, in pro ball since 2008, 176 G ML exp
Zach Green (R, 3B), 26 in March, 2012 3rd-round pick (PHI), 16 PA in debut with 2019 Giants
Drew Robinson (L, 2B/3B, OF), 28 in April, 2010 4th-round pick (TEX), 100 G ML exp

Joey Rickard (R, OF), 29 in May, 2012 9th-round pick (TBR), 343 G ML exp
Jamie Westbrook (R, OF/2B), 25 in June, 2013 5th-round pick (ARI), no ML time

Switch-hitter Adames could be a useful utility player. He was signed as a 16-year old by the Rockies out of the Dominican Republic. He's played almost a thousand games in the minors. Green is a local boy (Sacto, Jesuit HS) and really clobbered the ball last year in the PCL. He plays first base as well. Robinson has played all three OF positions in both the minors and with the Rangers in addition to his infield work. Rickard was non-tendered by the Giants but then re-signed. Rickard is fast, has a decent glove, and can get on base, but has not shown much power. Westbrook has played almost 800 games in the minors including stints in Australia and Mexico. He spent a lot of that time at second base in addition to the corner outfield spots. He's flashed a little power and has decent on-base numbers.

Adames and Robinson are arb-eligible in 2022. Green is still a rookie. Westbrook would be the same if he makes an ML roster. Rickard had his first taste of the arbitration process this fall--he's a free agent in 2023.


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

NRIs: pitchers

The Giants posted their list--18 players--of non-roster invitees to Spring Training.

Ten are pitchers:

Matt Carasiti (R), 29 in July, 2012 6th-round pick (COL), pre-arb (25-1/3 IP ML exp)
Tyler Cyr (R), 27 in May, Giants 10th-round pick in 2015, no ML time
Rico Garcia (R), 26, 2016 30th-round pick (COL), rookie/pre-arb (6 IP ML exp)
Sean Hjelle (R), 23 in May, Giants 2nd-round pick in 2018, no ML time
Trey McNutt (R), 31 in August, 2009 32nd-round pick (CHC), no ML time
Sam Moll (L), 28, 2013 3rd-round pick (COL), rookie/pre-arb (6-2/3 ML exp)
Carlos Navas (R), 28 in August, A's amateur free agent (Ven, 2010), no ML time
Andrew Triggs (R), 31 in March, 2012 19th round pick (KCR), arb-eligible (163 IP ML exp)
Raffi Vizcaino (R), 24, Giants amateur free agent (DR, 2013), no ML time
Sam Wolff (R), 29 in April, 2013 6th round pick (TEX), no ML time

Carasiti has almost 600 IP in the minors including a stint in Japan, mostly as a reliever. He was used as an opener in Seattle last season. He signed a minor-league deal with the Giants after being outrighted by the Mariners. Cyr is a whiff artist who has missed time due to TJS but was back to his whiffing ways last season (57 K in 48-1/3 IP) at AA-Richmond. Garcia has been a starter at every level including college and opened some eyes with a nice 13-game stretch for AA-Hartford (68 IP, 41 H, 16 R, 87 K) last year. He was picked up off waivers, non-tendered, then re-signed with the Giants on a minor-league deal. Hjelle is almost seven feet tall and if he makes the majors would be the tallest player in MLB history. The team is intrigued by his uniqueness and he seems to be on the fast track. Except for his freshman year at Kentucky he's been exclusively a starter. McNutt has to be the most determined player on the list, he's been in pro ball since he was 19 including stints in independent leagues as well as in Mexico. Moll was a Rule V pick and signed a minors deal with the Giants last year. Navas was a Giants NRI last spring, he's another highly determined fellow, logging ten seasons in the minors including four in Venezuela. Triggs has 27 starts in the bigs from 2016-2018, all with the A's. He missed last season due to surgery. Vizcaino looks like a swingman, having been a starter and closer in the Giants system. He'll likely wind up at AA-Richmond. Wolff was acquired in the Matt Moore trade. He's a reliever and will probably be assigned to AAA-Sacramento. He was a Giants NRI last spring.

In other news, the Giants apparently completed their coaching staff by hiring former ballplayer Nick Ortiz as their "Quality Control" man. I don't know what QC guys do in baseball but these are modern times and we need modern job titles so I am OK with it. Ortiz is from Puerto Rico and a native Spanish speaker. He was an infielder (mostly SS) and logged 17 seasons (1423 G) in the minors including time in independent leagues and in Puerto Rico. He's 46 and spent the last two seasons managing rookie-ball teams for the Yankees in the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League. Wow, talk about determination! You really have to love the game to play that long and never crack a big-league roster.

I'll cover the position players later.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

The 40-man roster: pitchers R-W

Dereck Rodriguez (R), free agent signing Nov 2017, 28 in June, arb-eligible in 2022
Tyler Rogers (R), Giants 2013 10th-round pick, 29, 17-2/3 IP in 2019 debut with SF
Sam Selman (L), 2012 2nd-round pick (KC), 29, 10-1/3 IP in 2019 debut with SF
Burch Smith (R), waiver claim, 30 in April, 65 G (135-2/3 IP) ML service
Andrew Suarez (L), Giants 2015 2nd-round pick, 27, arb-eligible in 2022
Logan Webb (R), Giants 2014 4th-round pick, 23, 39-2/3 IP over 8 starts in 2019 debut with SF

I left veterans Tony Watson and Jeff Samardzija off the list. I figure you know about these guys. Righty Smardj had a nice bounceback season, making 32 starts (181-1/3 IP), good for 2.9 bWAR. Watson's 2019 was closer to league average than his superb 2018 season, but the lefty-tosser remains a valuable late-inning reliever. Both men are 35 this season and will be free agents in 2021.

I mentioned in the comments on one of the earlier posts that the Giants signed former Padres starter Tyson Ross to a minor-league deal. He is not on the 40-man roster but brings a lot of experience with ten years in the bigs (142 starts). Ross was drafted by the A's, a 2nd-round pick in 2008. He was born in Berkeley, went to high school in Oakland at Bishop O'Dowd, and played NCAA ball at Cal. He'll be 33 in April. Sounds like a great story in the making--local boy returns home and kicks ass!

That's the 40-man roster. Subject to change, of course. I expect it will be busy this year at the Giants complex in Arizona--I envision lots of bodies coming and going. The first Spring Training games are scheduled for February 21st.


The 40-man roster: pitchers G-P

Kevin Gausman (R), free agent, 29, 1st round pick (#4) in 2012 by BAL, 7 years ML time (925 IP)
Trevor Gott (R), purchased from WAS, 27, 52-2/3 IP in relief for Giants in 2019 (3.12 FIP)
Jandel Gustave (R), free agent, 27, 24-1/3 IP in relief for Giants in 2019 (143 ERA+)
Dany Jimenez (R), Rule V draft, 26, no ML time but 5 seasons and 200 IP pro experience
Conor Menez (L), Giants 14th-round pick in 2016, 25 in May, 17 IP for Giants in 2019 (22 K)
Reyes Moronta (R), amateur free agent (DR), 27, 132 G in relief over 3 seasons for SF (3.38 FIP)
Trevor Oaks (R), waiver claim, 27 in March, 13-2/3 IP ML service in 2018
Wandy Peralta (L), waiver claim, 28, 157 IP all in relief over 4 ML seasons

Gausman projects to be a starter. His best season (4.1 bWAR) was 2016 for the Orioles. His most recent good stretch was 10 starts for the Braves at the end of 2018 (59-2/3 IP, 143 ERA+, 1.0 WAR). Projection systems like Gausman as a mid-rotation starter. If he can do something close to those numbers (150 IP, 108 ERA+, 2.5 WAR) that would be great.

Gott brought his walks down last season and upped his strikeouts, showing a huge improvement over his career numbers. He could be a valuable reliever. Gustave was originally in the Astros system and has yet to establish himself at the big-league level. Jimenez is a whiff artist, posting 11.7 SO/9 in the minors. Southpaw Menez is also a whiff artist, posting 10.1 SO/9 in the minors and showing a bit of that in the majors last season.

Moronta has established himself as a solid reliever in the bigs. Unfortunately his career has been derailed by injury and he will likely miss most of 2020. Let's hope he gets back to full health and resumes his assault on ML hitters.

Oaks was originally in the Dodgers system and was eventually traded to the Royals. He missed 2019 due to injury and subsequent surgery on his right hip labrum. One thing about guys like this is they are attractive because they are not arbitration-eligible. His earliest free agency date is 2025, so the team has control for the next two seasons--his first arb-year is 2022. I suspect a lot of decisions about who to keep or cut have to do with service time considerations, especially in a rebuilding mode. (Another reason to do away with these vestiges of the reserve clause and give players a true free agency.)

Peralta brings some experience and of course a lefty arm. There are only six of those out of the 23 listed. He's on a 1-year deal for $850K and has two arb-years remaining before free agency in 2023.

One more post (R-W) and we are done!


Saturday, January 4, 2020

The 40-man roster: pitchers A-F

Melvin Adon (R), amateur free agent (DR), 26 this June, no ML service.
Shaun Anderson (R), acquired via Eduardo Nunez trade with Red Sox, 27, 93 IP ML service.
Tyler Anderson (L), 1st-round pick (#20) in 2011 by COL, 30, waiver claim, 71 ML starts
Tyler Beede (R), Giants 1st-round pick (#14) in 2014, 27 this May, 24 ML starts
Sam Coonrod (R) Giants 5th-round pick in 2014, 27, 27-2/3 IP ML service.
Enderson Franco (R), international free agent (Ven), 27, "cuppa coffee" in 2019 (5-1/3 IP)

I skipped Johnny Cueto because you all know about him. He was brilliant in 2016 (5.5 bWAR), but limited by injuries since then. He underwent Tommy John surgery and he appeared to recover in record time. If he is healthy he will be a force. Not to mention entertaining as hell--the guy is a true performer!

Thoughts on the others: look out for The Andersons. Shaun displayed an abundance of moxie in both starting and relieving roles. Look for him to be an opener, starter, and/or closer. This guy is an FZ dream--young, talented, and flexible. Let's hope he does well. Tyler has some serious talent--the Giants claimed him, non-tendered him, then signed him. Whoa, I don't understand all that shit, but whatever. Clear candidate for a bounceback. Keep an eye on The Andersons.

Melvin Adon is a whiff artist. He could be a late-inning gas-tosser. Tyler Beede is obviously talented and he showed flashes of dominance last season. Can he harness The Beast Within Him? Who knows? Let's hope he finds it.

Sam Coonrod had a 118 ERA+ and Enderson Franco had a 132 ERA+ (in 2019). Accentuate the positive, right?



Friday, January 3, 2020

The 40-man roster: infielders

A team gets between 6,000 and 6,200 plate appearances in a 162-game season. That means from 2010 to 2019 the Giants came to the plate about 60,000 to 62,000 times. I'm going to settle on 61,000 PA for my estimate. Buster Posey got 5,136 of those, or about 8%. Adding Brandon Crawford (4,718) and Brandon Belt (4,221) together those 8,939 PA are almost 15% of the total. Three guys accounted for almost a quarter of all the trips to the plate from 2010-2019! That's remarkable.

Yes, Brandon Belt will be the first baseman and Brandon Crawford will be the shortstop in 2020. We know the stories: aging players, diminished production, high salaries, no-trade clauses, etc. Let's hope they are healthy and hit more like their younger selves in the upcoming season.

At second base we will see last year's surprise player Donovan Solano (.330/.360/.456 in 81 games). He will also see time at short. If a 32-year old can hit .330 again I'll be very happy. 25-year old Mauricio Dubon won over fans in his brief stint at second with his flashy style, athleticism, and youthful exuberance. He came over in the Drew Pomeranz trade. He will likely get a lot of time at both short and second. I'm excited to see what he can do.

Evan Longoria will man the hot corner again. His .762 OPS was his best mark since 2016. He's 34 and has started about 120 games in each of the last two seasons. Pablo Sandoval won't be around to back him up so we'll have to look at some of the new guys.

Abiatal Avelino will be 25 in February. He is primarily a 2B/SS but has played 3B in the minors. He came to the Giants from the Yankees in the Andrew McCutchen trade. The righty has been in pro ball since he was 17 and has played in over 900 games. Lefty hitter Kean Wong will be 25 in April. He was claimed by the Giants off waivers in November. He was a 4th-round pick by the Rays in 2014. He's listed as a second baseman but has played all over the diamond in the minors. He had an .839 OPS at AAA-Durham last season. His middle name is Keanu and he is Kolten Wong's brother. Veteran SS/3B Zack Cozart enters his 10th big league season. He's racked up 15+ bWAR since his debut in 2011. He had an outstanding 2017 for the Reds (when he was 31) but has been limited by injuries since then. He was a throw-in (salary relief) when the Giants traded for the Angels' 2019 1st round pick (#15) Will Wilson. Wilson is a 2B/SS from NC State. He'll probably be assigned to Salem-Keizer or Augusta (A-league). The Giants gave up LHP Garrett Williams in the deal.

Next up are the pitchers. There are 23 listed. It may take a few posts!


Thursday, January 2, 2020

The 40-man roster: catchers

There are currently two: Buster Posey and Aramis Garcia. Buster was the catcher in 101 games last year. He was the starter in 96 and he finished 84 of those. His 846 innings at backstop were the most since 2016 (1,069). He played first base in only four games (24 innings). I expect more of the same, especially since the Giants have several guys who can use a mitt. Buster's value is behind the plate. If he can get close to his career hitting norms again (.826 OPS) he'll be an All-Star. That's far from certain, but I do expect a bounce back from his career low (.688) last season. If he can be a league-average hitter (~.750 OPS) that would be great.

It seems they are expecting a lot from Garcia. The 2014 2nd-round pick hit well in a limited role (.800 OPS in 65 PA) in 2018 and hit poorly in a similar role (.527 OPS in 46 PA) last season. In 253 MLB innings he's logged 139 at catcher and 114 at first base. He'll be 27 next week so this is his opportunity. He handled the bulk of the AAA duties last season for the champion River Cats. Francisco Pena handled most of the rest--he's the son of Tony Pena--but he's not on the 40-man. Neither is Ronnie Freeman, but I expect both will get an invite to Spring Training and there will be a host of other minor-leaguers, free agents, waiver claims, and various peripheral replacement players donning the tools of ignorance. You can never have enough catchers stashed in the system.

One has to wonder if the Giants will put super-prospect Joey Bart on the fast track to the bigs. He's only 23 but he had a .912 OPS at AA (22 G, 87 PA) last season. Posey is under contract through 2021. His 2022 season includes a team option for $22M and a buyout for $3M. I'll let you decide which is the most likely outcome there. Either way they need to get Bart ready for prime time and he could get a call-up this season.

From 2010 to 2019 the player with the most plate appearances (5,136) for the San Francisco Giants was Buster Posey. The next two were Brandon Crawford with 4,718 and Brandon Belt with 4,221. I'll look at infielders next.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The 40-man roster: outfielders

Where to start with the 2020 San Francisco Giants? In the obvious place--the team webpage! Specifically, the 40-man roster. There are seven outfielders listed, in alphabetical order.

Jaylin Davis (R)
Alex Dickerson (L)
Steven Duggar (L)
Joe McCarthy (L)
Chris Shaw (L)
Austin Slater (R)
Mike Yastrzemski (L)

Davis was obtained in the Sam Dyson trade. He clobbered the ball in AA and AAA in 2019 and got a brief call-up (17 G, 47 PA, 101 innings mostly in RF). I suspect he will get a long look.

Dickerson is 29 and had a great run for the Giants in 2019 before getting hurt. He debuted with the Padres in 2015-16 but missed two years with both back surgery and Tommy John surgery. The Giants picked him up from the Padres in June for RHP Franklin Van Gurp. He can hit, but can he stay healthy enough to be a regular?

26-year old Steven Duggar had a promising debut in 2018 before an injury. He struggled at the plate in 2019 but is still a plus-defender. He was drafted by the Giants in the 6th round in 2015.

The unfortunately-named Joe McCarthy will be 26 in February. He has no major-league service time. He was a 2015 pick as well, by Tampa Bay in the 5th round. He was acquired at the trade deadline, the Rays getting LHP Jacob Lopez. McCarthy is a real unknown, injuries setting him back the last few seasons, but he has demonstrated excellent on-base skills in the minors.

Chris Shaw was the 31st pick (1st round) of the 2015 draft. The Giants also drafted Phil Bickford at #18, he was traded with Andrew Susac to the Brewers in 2016 for Will Smith. Smith's departure means the Giants get a compensation pick (approx #80) in the next draft. Shaw blasted his way out of the minor leagues but has yet to find it at the major-league level (38 G, 82 PA in 2018-19). He's 26.

Austin Slater has slashed .254/.335/.368 over three seasons with the Giants (176 G, 544 PA). His .750 OPS (99 OPS+) and over 300 innings in the OF (mostly RF) was good for 0.7 bWAR in 2019. He was an 8th-round pick from Stanford in 2014.

Mike Yastrzemski, he of the famous grandpa, was the most valuable position player by bWAR (2.8) last season. The Giants picked him up in a trade from the Orioles (RHP Tyler Herb) in March and he debuted two months later. By the end of July he was clearly the best hitter on the team. He finished with an .852 OPS (123 OPS+) in 107 games (411 PA). He's 29 and projects to be one of the starting corner OFs.

There you have it. Three of the seven are Sabes/Evans Era signings (Duggar-Shaw-Slater) while four of the seven are FZ Era pickups (Davis-Dickerson-McCarthy-Yaz).

I'll do a post for infielders and pitchers as well, although the pitchers may take two posts.

HAPPY 2020!!