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As you can see, I am filling in for Mike D this weekend. While I can't be expected to be as comprehensive and entertaining as Mike, I will do my best. And isn't that the best any of us can do? Our very best? I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Mr. Denysyzn is surrounded by other denizens: he's spending the weekend in Las Vegas. May his return to New York be accompanied with extra currency, treasured memories, and a minimum number of new brides.

Now, to the upcoming series. With the Blue Jays pitching staff going through a Feng Shui of sorts, another good-hitting team, the Anaheim Angels, comes to Toronto. Those pesky Angels, the anti-poster boys for sabermetrics, nonetheless work the count effectively, put the ball in play, occasionally juice one over the wall or, if they don't, run the bases hard. In short, they make you play. This is not a good sign for the Jays, who appear as vulnerable to teams keeping the ball in the park as they are to teams hitting it over the fence. The good news is that Carlos Tosca won't be around to tinker with the bullpen, at least for the first two games. The skipper will miss Friday and Saturday's adventures to attend his daughter's graduation from the University of Florida; first-base coach John Gibbons will take over as manager. Here's hoping Tosca doesn't bring a cell phone with him.

This series will mark the debut of Doug Davis in a Blue Jay uniform, as well as the semi-return of Kelvim Escobar to the rotation. In what seems like a move more appropriate in Dunedin in March, the Jays plan to start Davis Saturday then bring in Escobar to relieve him. One can only hope the Jays are well ahead, because Escobar is allowing base runners at a rate that makes Roy Halladay, circa 2000, look like a Hall-of-Famer. New closer Cliff Politte (I love the sound of that, and not just because I have him in my keeper AL-only fantasy league) has worked two days in a row; if he's needed tonight, it will be interesting to see who gets the call Saturday if there is a save situation.

In the meantime, Anaheim is missing some ingredients of last year's World Series run: Kevin Appier, Aaron Sele, and Darin Erstad are on the DL, and, while game seven winner John Lackey is healthy, it is hard to tell if he has actually been pitching or if opposing teams are merely whacking balls off a tee while Lackey eats some sushi or takes a ride on the Pirates of the Caribbean at nearby Disneyland. Nonetheless, and whether or not they were a fluke last year, the Angels are an exciting team to watch.

On to the advance scout!

* Anaheim's record through 27 games last year was 13-14, the same as this year ... They were 5.5 games out of first in 2002, as opposed to the 3.5 this year ...
* Like the Rangers and Jays, the Angels have endured a tough schedule to start the season, opening with Seattle, New York, Oakland, Texas, and Boston, before getting the struggling Indians earlier this week ...
* Here's what the Worldwide Leader had to say about the schedule, courtesy of the Angels' page on ESPN: "Anaheim began a 30-game stretch against mostly miserable teams April 29 against the Indians." ... I gather they are including the Blue Jays in there, but "mostly miserable"? Apparently the folks at ESPN haven't seen the Jays bullpen this year; it's just "miserable," thank you. No qualifications necessary ...
* The Angels are fifth in runs scored and sixth in OPS ... They have also struck out the second-fewest times in the AL, the same formula that propelled them last year ...
* Don't blame the mediocre start on Anaheim's bullpen, which has been just as dominant as last year. The relief corps has a 2.49 E.R.A., second only to Minnesota, and so far the 'pen has 76 whiffs in 83 innings. For comparison, Anaheim's starters have fanned just 80 in 154 frames ... The starters are also giving up an .848 OPS, and they've surrendered 28 long balls, second most amongst AL starters ... The bullpen is allowing a league-best .604 OPS ...
* Former independent league steal Brendan Donnelly has yet to allow a run in 17 innings, allowing only 12 base runners in the process ... Donnelly's philosophy: "The closer the game is, the more fun it is as a player. You want the game on the line when you are out there because it adds to what we do -- it adds to the intensity. It's the fun part of baseball." ... Hmmm. Maybe Escobar isn't as flighty as we think. Well ... yes he is ...
* Fellow cast-off/vagabond Ben Weber has been nearly as good, allowing a home run on opening day to Juan Gonzalez but not a single run since ... Meanwhile, playoff hero Francisco Rodriguez, who has been a little inconsistent this year, re-joined the team after missing a few days to attend his grandmother's funeral ...
* You want ugly? Here are Lackey's numbers (children, avert your eyes): 7.76 E.R.A., 1.029 OPS, 2.04 WHIP, 7 HRs allowed in 31 innings ... But there is bad news for Josh Phelps: Lackey has been effective against the #5 hitter on opposing teams, yielding just one hit in 17 at-bats. There really is too much information available on the Web ...
* Tim Salmon carries a career-high 18-game hitting streak into Toronto. A notorious slow starter, Salmon already has six homers and sports a .943 OPS ...
* Jays fans no doubt remember Anaheim's DH Brad Fullmer, but perhaps not this one: he has a .917 OPS in an admittedly small sample of 17 at-bats against LH pitching. For the season Fullmer is raking at a 1.082 OPS clip, though on Wednesday he did end a 15-game homer drought with a long-ball against Indians southpaw Brian Anderson ...
* Darin Erstad's replacements, Eric Owens and Jeff DaVanon, are not Erstad's equals at the dish or in the field, but they'll play hard ... They don't bring Erstad's "football mentality," however -- which is a plus. Erstad was a PUNTER, not a fullback like fellow Nebraska alum Tom Rathman ... DaVanon has a higher BA than OBP, thanks to zero walks and one sacrifice ...
* Garret Anderson is doing what he does best: hitting doubles (14), clearing the fences occasionally (3), knocking in runs (22), and rarely walking (6). Anderson is a poor-man's Alfonso Soriano ... After a slow start, David Eckstein has eight multi-hit games in his last 13. If you've never seen Eckstein play, yes, his arm really is that weak; he can barely make the throw from second, let alone from deep in hole from short ...
* Saturday's starter Scot Shields was sharp in his first start of the season this past Sunday, holding the Red Sox to just one run in 5 1/3 while fanning five and walking none. He throws a fastball in the low 90s, a tight slider, and a change-up which he rarely shows. Like most pitchers, he must keep the ball down to be effective ...
* Third-basemen Troy Glaus missed a few games due to a sore hammy, but he's back. Oddly, so far Glaus has no homers in 29 at-bats vs. lefties, but has four in 54 trips against righties ... Despite his size, Glaus is also a gifted fielder -- take some lessons, Mr. Hinske ...
* Hopefully, the Rally Monkey will not be accompanying the team to Toronto ...
* The Angels have tried something called the stolen base -- I swear it exists -- 35 times, or more than three times than the Blue Jays ... They've succeeded on 21, a 60 percent success rate. That's not good, you say? At least they're trying ...

Pitching probables

Friday: Lackey (R) vs. Lidle
Saturday: Shields (R) vs. Davis/Escobar
Sunday: Ortiz (R) vs. Hendrickson

Probable Batting Orders

vs. Davis, Hendrickson

6 Eckstein
4 Kennedy/Gil
9 Salmon
7 Anderson
5 Glaus
DH Fullmer/Wooten
3 Spiezio
2 B. Molina
8 Owens

vs. Lidle

6 Eckstein
4 Kennedy
9 Salmon
7 Anderson
DH Fullmer
5 Glaus
3 Spiezio
2 B. Molina
8 Owens/DaVanon

Bullpen usage

Long: Calloway (R)
Short: Weber (R), F. Rodriguez (R)
LOOGYS/Stiffs: R. Rodriguez, Schoeneweiss
Set-up: Donnelly (R)
Closer: Percival (R)
Advance Scout: Angels, May 2-4 | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Jurgen - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 11:59 AM EDT (#102792) #
Anderson is a poor-man's Alfonso Soriano

WIthout the strikeouts, of course--the one aspect of Soriano's game that makes the rest of his performance so baffling. Anderson's got more of a rent-to-own George Bell thing going on.

I'd argue that Soriano's '02 season was more historic (not to be confused with superior) than Bonds '01 and '02 seasons--at least there's some precedent (Babe Ruth, Ted WIlliams) for what Bonds did.

Soriano's more a supercharged Tony Armas Sr.

Actually, his stats are fighteningly similar to Andres Galarraga... in Coors.
_Shrike - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#102793) #
A fine effort Gitz, with your trademark wit and humour in full evidence.
_R Billie - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#102794) #
Soriano is definately an animal all to himself. I wonder if he'd hit .400 playing in Colorado.
robertdudek - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#102795) #
In spring training, no one knew that Escobar would be this bad. This is the last chance to salvage some value out of Escobar. If he can pitch reasonably well as a starter for 2 months, there might some kind of market for his services come July. If he can't, he's either going to become a mop up man or be released.
_Jurgen - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 01:04 PM EDT (#102796) #
Soriano already hits around .400 on balls in play here on the surface of the earth.

My understanding is that an even greater percentage of balls in play turn into hits at Coors.
_Shane - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 01:15 PM EDT (#102797) #
'Salavaging some value', is well said, and is probably the best context to view this whole starter-reborn experiment. His performance as a closer was on a road to having zero trade value, so the worst case scenario was already here, best case is whatever happens next.

Management gets a chance at seeing Politte close games in '03 as opposed to '04, hopefully this forces Tosca to use Lopez more, and cruel as it is to say, if Escobar's arm explodes, it's just in time for it to be someone else's problem. I really don't see any negatives, and we all seem united in that.
_Jordan - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#102798) #
Nice job, Gitz -- great pinch-hit! What does it say about the two sports that Erstad, considered one of the best athletes in baseball, was only good enough to punt at Nebraska?

I've never been in a football locker room, but I've always wondered whether the kicker or the punter was considered the lowest form of life allowed to wear a football uniform. The kicker can win or lose the game for you in the dying seconds, so he has more drama attached to him. I'm continually a little surprised that the 300-lb steroid-ragers who've been smashing teeth and fingers for 59 minutes in the snow and mud don't grab the kicker who blows a last-second game-winning field goal and snap his spindly form like a loaf of French bread.

Then again, the punter is only useful for getting you out of bad field position -- he's like a getaway car with an oversized helmet. At least the kicker can score points; all the punter can do is make the opposition have to march a few yards farther downfield, and a clipping penalty can do that without drawing a salary. So I think it's settled: Darin Erstad was the nancy-boy of Nebraska. That's gotta hurt.
Gitz - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 01:42 PM EDT (#102799) #

I had a friend who worked at a TV station for a relatively small town in California, close to where the Oakland (then Los Angeles) Raiders used to train. Well, he had the "privilege" of interviewing Raiders kicker Jeff Jaeger. Your assessment is spot on. What must really infuriate the players is that while they're doing double-days, sweating their Oreo-inflated arses and beer-filled bellies off, the kicker is literally doing nothing. Nothing. My friend said Jaeger just wanderered around, would kick a few field goals, though he did have pads on. So Ed (my friend) asked him if this was a typical day, and Jaeger said: "Nope. I usually don't wear pads."

Lesson for Craig B.: a LH-pitcher is fine, but let's not forget about place-kicking.
robertdudek - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 01:52 PM EDT (#102800) #
A homerun is not considered a ball in play, from the Voros point-of-view. Soriano does not hit .400 on balls in play.

Here are the AL leaders from 2002 (400+ PA)

Manny Ramirez .374, Bernie Williams .373, Adam Kennedy .364, Jacque Jones .347, Ichiro .347, Randy Winn .345, Pudge Rodriguez .343, Alfonso Soriano .340, Mike Sweeney .339, Derek Jeter .338

The equivalent list from 2001:

Ichiro .371, Frank Catalanotto .358, Roberto Alomar .357, Jim Thome .356, Bret Boone .355, Ben Grieve .355, Manny Ramirez .355, Tony Clark .352, Jason Giambi .351, Mark McLemore .350

Alfonso Soriano hit .317 on balls in play in 2001

Here are his component skill ratings in 2001 versus 2002

2001: power = .161; bip avg = .317; walks = .048; strikeouts = .204
2002: power = .240; bip avg = .340; walks = .030; strikeouts = .212

Power Index is something I developed in the last off-season - it attempts to measure how hard a player hit the ball when he made contact. The formula is: (Doubles+Triples+2*Homeruns)/(AB-K+SF).

Walks is non-intentional walks per opportunity (PA-IW-HBP). Strikeouts are strikeouts per opportunity (PA-IW).

For interest sake, here is the career progression of another free-swinging natural hitter (the reader can guess who this is):

Year Power BIP-avg Walks Strikeouts
1997 .159 .316 .049 .111
1998 .225 .335 .044 .143
1999 .229 .298 .063 .094
2000 .253 .338 .057 .120
2001 .228 .314 .056 .136
2002 .213 .331 .077 .103

The major difference between this player and Soriano is that the former strikes out only half as often.
_Mick - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 02:12 PM EDT (#102801) #
Gitz has trademarked "wit and humour"? Given the spelling of the latter term, can I assume this is a Canadian trademark?

Anyway, as to this:
This series will mark the debut of Doug Davis in a Blue Jay uniform, as well as the semi-return of Kelvim Escobar to the rotation. In what seems like a move more appropriate in Dunedin in March, the Jays plan to start Davis Saturday then bring in Escobar to relieve him.

This may have been mentioned in yesterday's thread which, to be honest, I have too much tired-head to read, but the Rangers are doing this in their minor league system with great regularity; theoretically, each minor league team can run eight or so "starting pitchers" out there every four or five days. I suspect that will drop off later in the season as pennant races heat up (or don't), but if the minors is really about seeing what the organization has rather than winning at every level, it's a GREAT idea. (And please, no "it's ideal if players come up through a system together learning how to win" feedback.)

That said, I don't think stamina will be a problem for Davis. When he's on, he's very economical. When he's off, he throws 48 pitches in the first inning and isn't around long enough to rack up dangerous pitch counts. Besides, he's 28, so I think pitch count is less of a concern now.
_Jurgen - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 05:23 PM EDT (#102802) #

I'm guessing Guerrero, who I initially thought of as a comparison, but when you look at the numbers I discovered that he never walked as little or struck out as much. In short, it really wasn't much of a comparison.

You're right that I "cheated" to get Soriano's balls in play average, although to be fair I was using a different stat that I got from Diamond Science. They include BIP% (Balls in Play Percentage, calculated as 1-K/AB--which does include HR) and IsoPwr (Isolated Power--SLG-AVG) among a batter's Hitting Skills Ratios which are defined as "metrics used to evaluate a player's innate skills and abilities". (I couldn't determine how to calculate the third, Speed Rating, which surely impacts on Soriano's other numbers.)

I found that all those strikeouts meant that Soriano's BIP% was much lower than the median (78% compared to 82%), and calculated his BA on "balls in play" based on that.

I guess I goofed.

Nonetheless, what stands out when you compare Soriano's BIP%, IsoPwr , and K/BB (which Diamond Science uses primarily as a pitching stat but I thought would be useful here for illustrative purposes), the player who's most similar over his career is Tony Armas Sr. Tony K-ed a lot, walked very little, and hit for power. Yet despite his similar BIP%, Armas never hit for much of an average.

Soriano 2002 .300 AVG 77.4 BIP% .247 IsoPwr 6.83 K/BB
Soriano career .281AVG 77.4 BIP% .209 IsoPwr 5.66 K/BB
Armas career .252 AVG 76.7 BIP% .213 IsoPwr 4.64 K/BB

While Soriano's speed must play a factor, it would also suggest that Soriano is maybe a little lucky--or has some knack for hitting balls that find gaps.

Am I completely wrong? Are these Diamond Science stats of any use?
robertdudek - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#102803) #
Isolated power tries to measure the same thing (but not as accurately, in my opinion) that my Power Index does. Isolated power treats triples as twice as valuable as doubles. It doesn't exclude strikeouts, which I think is important if you want to measure how hard the player hits the ball on average.

Their bip% is basically the mirror image of K/AB. I much prefer K/(PA-IW) as a measure of strikeout frequency, because a player who is patient and goes deep in the count will have more walks and strikeouts than a player who is able to make similar contact but doesn't. The first player will have a higher K/AB because he'll have a lot more walks (and therefore, fewer AB).

K/BB is basically the same as what you get when you divide K/PA by W/PA, except it doesn't (correct me if I'm wrong) remove the intentional walks.

Tony Armas Sr. - an interesting comparison. Here are his component skills (seasons with 200 plus PA listed):

year age PA Power bip-avg Walks Ks
1977 24 392 .132 .295 .046 .254
1978 25 258 .062 .280 .032 .242
1979 26 297 .160 .290 .048 .227
1980 27 666 .190 .301 .038 .193
1981 28 462 .218 .307 .029 .252
1982 29 578 .185 .255 .049 .223
1983 30 613 .215 .219 .047 .214
1984 31 679 .245 .291 .034 .233
1985 32 410 .227 .290 .035 .222
1986 33 453 .134 .300 .051 .170
1988 35 393 .170 .325 .056 .221
1989 36 211 .192 .287 .024 .230

In broad outline, Soriano and Armas are similar hitters. Tony got a late start - he didn't become a full-time player until he was 27. Playing in a pitcher's era compared to today, his strikeout rates were very high - even higher than Soriano's rates today. He probably had more power at his peak (but he was in his early 30s) than Soriano has now, adjusted for era. He doesn't hit as many line-drives as Soriano, but his walk rates were similar to what Soriano has shown thus far.

A pretty good comparison, but it would be odd if Soriano didn't increase his walk rate over the bext 5 or 6 years.
_Jurgen - Friday, May 02 2003 @ 07:48 PM EDT (#102804) #

No, my K/BB ratios didn't remove the intentional walks. And I haven't done any work with infield hits to see whether that alone accounts for Soriano's higher AVG--at least compared to Armas.

What do you think of BIP% as a metric? What's Voros' rationale for not including HRs in BIP-AVG? It seems both approaches have their value.

It'll be interesting to see whether Soriano continues hacking away like Armas (who didn't really improve his K/BB over his career), or improves his discipline like the young Sosa. Although I don't see how he can maintain his .300 AVG if he doesn't.
robertdudek - Saturday, May 03 2003 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#102805) #
Voros' BIP is designed for evaluating pitchers. After you remove the defence independent stats (including homeruns) most of what you are left with is balls in play. Voros found that most established major league pitchers didn't differ significantly in their ability to prevent balls in play as compared to their teammates. This is the founding idea behind DIPS.

He also found that hitters did differ in this ability. From my perspective, bip average is an excellent estimator of a player's ability to hit line-drives. By removing homeruns, it puts players with little power on an equal footing with player's with a lot of power. Foot speed is also somewhat captured by the bip average (and is one reason that many catchers score poorly in this stat).

In short, bip average (without homeruns) captures almost everything that is omitted in the walks, strikeouts and power ratings. Taking the 4 ratings together, there is very little overlap in what the skills are measuring (mostly because singles and strikeouts are removed from the power rating).
Advance Scout: Angels, May 2-4 | 14 comments | Create New Account
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