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Thursday's rains in Florida meant another spring day without baseball. I wonder if teams will gradually relocate to Arizona, because of the more reliable March weather there. Rainouts and rain delays are perfect times to look at the broader picture, so here goes.

With the departure of Carlos Delgado, a legitimate question has been asked: how will the Jays score runs this year? There does not seem to be an abundance of either power or speed, and some have suggested that an increased use of the hit and run, the sacrifice, and other one-run strategies might be in order. Let's have a closer look.


In 2003, the Jays hit .279/.345/.455 with 190 homers. They stole 37 bases, and were caught 25 times. The end result was 897 runs scored. In 2004, with more or less the same personnel, the team hit .260/.328/.403 with 145 homers. They stole 58 bases and were caught 31 times. The end result was 719 runs scored. A halfway point between the 2 seasons would be .269/.336/.429 with 167 homers and 808 runs scored. Those figures seem to me to be eminently achievable targets for 2005, regardless how often one-run strategies are used.

As a check, I looked at ZIPS projections and pro-rated some of the figures, so that the plate appearances total a typical season, bearing in mind some assumptions aboout player usage this year. The pro-rating reduces the home run figures, but does not affect the rate stats. Here are the figures (PR=pro-rated):

Player            PAs     BA     OBP    SLUG   HR
Rios              634    .295   .343    .411    7
Wells             681    .296   .348    .511    30
Hinske            628    .253   .338    .420    18
Zaun              316    .254   .348    .379    5
Quiroz            368    .242   .315    .436    14
Hudson            584    .274   .344    .425    12
Cat               390    .292   .352    .441    7
Gross             450PR  .261   .364    .402    9
Hillenbrand       450PR  .291   .332    .441    12
Koskie            529    .270   .374    .476    20
Sparky            250PR  .278   .332    .392    5
Menenchino        175PR  .241   .340    .366    4
Adams             601    .268   .332    .375    8
McDonald          100PR  .240   .277    .315    0

The ZIPS projection would have the Jays with a little higher OBP than my target, a little lower slugging percentage and 151 homers. Still I have little doubt that if the Jays meet these projections, they'll score 800 runs or a little below league average.

That is not to say that one-run strategies do not have a place. In Hiram Bithorn last year, it was well nigh impossible to hit a home run, and the teams playing there were transported back into the dead ball era. Alas, the Jays were not able to execute sacrifices, the hit and run play or the other staples of the dead ball era, and were consequently at a significant disadvantage. This season, there will be game situations where one-run strategies should be seriously considered by Manager John Gibbons.

What one-run strategies can accomplish, if used judiciously, is to ensure that the runs scored over a season are distributed more evenly over a team's games.


Knowing who does what well is a key factor in managerial decision-making. Here is 3-year data on the Jay starters and Gabe Gross:

Player   SBs      SB success    K rate 
Rios      42         .74        .16
Adams     42         .84        .12
Wells     22         .76        .13
Cat       12         .63        .13
Hinske    37         .77        .22
Sparky    15         .56        .16
O-Dog     20         .61        .17
H'brand   7          .78        .12
Koskie    30         .61        .25
Zaun      4	     .5         .17
Gross     18         .6         .21

Hinske's stolen base percentage was off last year, and it is unlikely that he will continue to steal at a 77% success rate.


Stolen bases are only of value if they succeed at approximately a 75% rate. So, Rios, Adams and Wells can potentially help steal bases usefully. Red lights for everyone else.


Starting baserunners is another story entirely. You wouldn't want to hit and run often with Zaun on the bases, or with Koskie, Hinske or Gross at the plate, but in just about every other situation, it is a viable option.


Who bunts well on the club? Reed Johnson, and perhaps, Adams. It will be used rarely.

So, perhaps there will be increased use of one-run strategies. One can't forget that it is a truly marginal thing. There is no substitute for getting runners on base in numbers. Last year, Tampa Bay, who the Jays play tonight at 7:05, hit for a similar average to the Jays, a wee bit more power, and stole 74 more bases with much greater efficiency. But, the Rays drew 44 fewer walks and scored 5 fewer runs. Minnyball and Moneyball and Bostonball and Yankeeball all meant more runners on base and more pop last year than the Jays had. That is what produces runs.


John Sickels looks back at the top 50 prospects of 1997

McGwire testifies at House Committee steroids hearing

Batgirl's Lego take on the steroids hearing

Jays say goodbye to Koch

Rob and Rany on the Royals

Planning for a Rainy Day | 24 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:00 AM EST (#106580) #
Rob and Rany on the Royals

Yeah, I thought of Mike & Mike immediately when I read this. R&R were discussing why they thought a 5th bench player is more valuable than a 7th reliever which M&M have been advocating around here.

Jordan - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:06 AM EST (#106581) #
Batgirl rules. That is all.
Named For Hank - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:17 AM EST (#106584) #
Hey, wait -- Hillenbrand has one of the lowest strikeout rates on the team? Wasn't the big complaint about him that he strikes out all the time?

Or am I reading that wrong?
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:20 AM EST (#106585) #
No, the biggest complaint is that he grounds into double plays. That's actually related to his not striking out. He's great at making contact with the ball. But often that contact is a weak slap to the shortstop or second baseman.

I think "Mike & Mike on roster construction" would get pretty tedious pretty quickly. We'd get a lot of people visiting who would say "WE GET IT ALREADY".

Batgirl is my hero.
Mark - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:20 AM EST (#106586) #
The top 50 list is sickels. There are a lot of good players there, up and down the list. It make's me wonder about quantity vs. quality. Would you rather have five players in the bottom half as opposed to just one in the top five? The lack of high ceiling prospects is the major knock on the jays however, I believe a lot can be said for quantity. Of course, I do not know and am not willing to look up what stage of their minor league career some of these players where at. Some could be in the middle to bottom (halladay, colon) of the list because they were just drafted. Although a lot of publication don't have any problem ranking recently drafted highschoolers near the top of top 50/100 lists. Having said all thought, which is a lot. I believe it is better to have as many names on those lists as possible, regardless of where they are.
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:34 AM EST (#106589) #
Well, I guess his appaling lack of walks is also a problem. :)

Shea Hillenbrand is in those class of guys with Randall Simon who can make contact with pretty much anything, so they never strikeout or walk. But other than Vladi!, they generally don't hit for a great deal of power because they don't see too many pitches in the strikezone. With a guy like that you hope he pulls a Carney Lansford type season and hits .340. Or better yet, hope he develops some plate discipline and turns into Sammy Sosa.
Jonny German - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:40 AM EST (#106591) #
That list from Sickels is really interesting, and there were fewer busts than I would have expected - 19 out of 50, by my count (and I'm counting utility players as busts). 21 of 50 became star level players, with the remaining 10 decent but not great.

The list includes 31 players rated as B+. Of those, 10 are now star level players, 6 are decent, and 15 were busts. His Blue Jay top 20 this year included 2 B+ players, Brandon League and Dave Purcey.
Mike Green - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:41 AM EST (#106592) #
Hitting and running with Hillenbrand at the plate makes a lot of sense. His G/F ratio of 1.4, while nowhere near Rios' territory, combined with his low strikeout rate and his average wheels, make him a signficant DP risk.

The interesting thing to me about the Sickels list is how accurate the position player rankings were in predicting future performance and how comparatively inaccurate the pitcher rankings were.
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 10:57 AM EST (#106594) #
I'd certainly put on some sort of runners-in-motion play when there's a guy on first with less then 2 out when Hillenbrand is up. With 1st and 3rd and one out, I'd want the guy on 1st to steal. Given Hillenbrand's propensity to ground out, I think the breakeven on a straight steal is going to be a lot less than 75%.
Jordan - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 11:03 AM EST (#106595) #
For exactly these reasons, I'd consider batting Hillenbrand second, with Adams leading off. Adams was a phenomenally successful baserunner in the minors -- when they allowed him to run. Putting him in motion, with Hillenbrand's bat control, could be a lot of fun.

But if they simply bat Hillenbrand, say, sixth or seventh, with slow trains like Catalanotto or Zaun in front of him, he's going to be a double-play machine. The Blue Jays have to manage their lineup this year with creativity and a certain bravado -- "sit back and wait for the jack" isn't going to work, and thankfully, they seem to realize that.
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 11:04 AM EST (#106597) #
That should say "I'd certainly CONSIDER PUTTING"..

I mean, I wouldn't do it *all* the time. Depends on a lot of things. :)
Mike Green - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST (#106599) #
If you buy the ZIPS projections, O-Dog should lead off with H'Brand hitting 2nd. Adams should hit ninth. The side benefit would be removing pressure from a rook.

With that lineup, you would do a lot of hitting and running with Hillenbrand.
Jordan - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 11:51 AM EST (#106601) #
It would be interesting to see Hudson in the leadoff position, along the lines of the "sparkplug" theory at the top of the lineup. And while Orlando's batting average has stayed locked in at around .270 the last three seasons, his walks have been increasing every year. Nonetheless, he's not shown much ability to be a real stolen base threat (12/20 lifetime). Adams, meanwhile, has posted at least a .350 OBP everywhere he's played (except for the end of 2002, when his third stop of the year was a show-me promotion to Dunedin), and he's better on the basepaths. Unless he struggles with a full season in the majors, I'd keep Adams at the top.
Pistol - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 11:56 AM EST (#106603) #
I could be wrong, but I thought the lineup was pretty much set:

Mike Green - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST (#106604) #
That is probably what it will be.

Hopefully, Koskie will be healthy enough this year, so that the hit and run is a viable option with Hillenbrand.
Jim - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 03:21 PM EST (#106624) #
What are they on the hook for Koch? Is it a percentage of his contract because it's before the season?
Jim - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 03:22 PM EST (#106625) #
Nevermind, it's a waste of 580k.
Braby21 - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 04:45 PM EST (#106626) #
Mike Green - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 04:52 PM EST (#106628) #
According to the article linked to above, the Jays are on the hook for 580K if Koch signs with another team (who would be responsible only for the minimum), and presumably 900K if he doesn't, as it was a guaranteed contract.
Thomas - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 05:21 PM EST (#106631) #
The minimum is now $320,000?

News to me, but I suppose it makes sense.
Thomas - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 05:24 PM EST (#106632) #
In other news, the Red Sox assigned six players to their minor league camp.

Three of them are familiar names to Jays fans: Simon Pond, Dave Berg and Japanese pitcher Denny Tomori.
James W - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 06:24 PM EST (#106633) #
$320,000 is the "veteran minimum", I believe, while $300,000 is the minimum for youngsters. I have no idea how much service you need to be a "veteran" though.
Wildrose - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 06:54 PM EST (#106634) #
The 2005/ 2006 MLB collective agreement had a cost of living adjustment rider to the minimum of $300,000.(salary. This I believe leads to the $320,000 figure, players regardless of experience have to be paid this minimum.
brels - Friday, March 18 2005 @ 06:56 PM EST (#106635) #
So that is it for will be interesting to see if someone picks him up.

You would think having "I Love Billy Koch" tatooed on team mates rear end would count for something. Guess not.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.