Where is a frazzled Doc to get any decent M's reads any more? I mean, outside of re-reading his own classics, of course. Lookout Landing is always quality, if not my taste. Bob Dutton's Twitter account occasionally points to interesting reads. Prospect Insider now and then. Other than that, this town could use a really good salad bar. And by "this town" I mean my bookmarks.
The typical Dr. D morning baseball read consists of Hey Bill, and then the comments threads here, and maybe LL once a week, and then ... Surely you mooks have a little list of places to go? I'm serious about this. Hip me up. What do you read?
Does Jake Mailhot work for Lookout Landing, or for the M's sabe department? :- ) In either case, he wrote a nice article that tries to decipher what went wrong with The Zduriencik Plan.
- Batted-ball velocity is problematic, in part because many the more weakly-batted balls aren't counted (ugh)
- Safeco didn't reduce MPH last year ...
- ... but it should, logically speaking
- Visitors hit the ball at exactly league average MPH, that being 88.5 MPH
- Mariners hit the ball WAYYY above league average MPH, that being 89.9 MPH (imagine if their pitchers had +1.4 MPH on fastballs)
- This didn't help the Mariners
Mr. Mailhot is ex-pecially perplexed about the following factoid: --- > when a major league player hits a baseball at 111 MPH+, his (or her, sigh) batting average is about .960. But the M's -- when on the road -- batted only about .760 on these screaming meemies. And only .900 at home.
His last paragraph or two was like, "Huh. That's really weird. We don't know why The Zduriencik Plan didn't work. But it didn't." All respect to Mr. Mailhot, the explanation is not difficult. The 2015 Mariners were just very unlucky. That happens sometimes. A guy pitches bad, but winds up 16-9, 3.14. That's a core function of sabermetrics, to figure out who was lucky and who was unlucky.
There's no reason to sidestep the implications here.
If you hit a ball at 114 MPH, well ... actually YOU won't hit a ball at 114 MPH, unless you're Mo' Dawg on the second tee with an oversized driver. But, okay... if "The Zduriencik Plan" is for Robinson Cano to hit a ball at 114 MPH? And the ball rips a stitch loose in the first baseman's glove?!, then let's lay a hand on Z's shoulder and sympathize with him.
Zduriencik did it right, but didn't get rewarded for it. His players hit the ball at 89.9 MPH and his enemies didn't. This goes in the plus column for Z. There are plenty 'nuff things to put in the negative column when the time comes.
To say that The Zduriencik Plan was for his guys to hit the ball hard ... that's a little like that's exactly like saying The McClendon Plan was for his outfielders to run way faster than the other teams' OFs. That's not a plan, as such, any more than the Seahawks' 'plan' is to get a lot more yards than their opponents do. A plan is like, HOW you do a good thing, a way to do a good thing.
Dr. D will quibble at this one point only: Zduriencik wasn't "obsessed" with guys who hit the ball hard, except in the sense that Pete Carroll is obsessed with making first downs. How 'bout we just call it an appropriate point of focus, what say.
You can think of batted ball velocity as the mirror image of fielder speed. If you increase a grounder's speed from 70 MPH to 95 MPH, that's exactly the same thing as --- > reducing the shortstop's legal number of steps from 4 to 2. Either way, there is less time for the fielders and ball to intersect. We wouldn't be arguing about the merits of ME playing centerfield with a max speed of 9 MPH.
Mr. Mailhot links us to the Baseball Savant MPH leaderboards. (When you get there, sort by the AVG MPH column. Also, remember that only 20-60% of at bats are captured by the data.)
1) Nelson Cruz shows up at #20, both leagues. If all balls had been captured, do you think he would have been higher or lower? :- )
2) Cruz' avg MPH on line drives + fly balls was over 97 MPH. Earlier this year, Tony Blengino had reluctantly conceded that Cruz is one of three ML hitters who can selectively pull the ball in the air. Back Leg Specials, bab-eh.
2a) Nobody knows how long Nelson Cruz will last. But right this second, as we speak, in Safeco context, Nelson Cruz is comparable to Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron. Those being other right hand cleanup hitters who OPS'ed 150-170.
2ab) We're not jerking our knees about one season's worth of stats, here, LrKrBoi29. That's how good Cruz was and is. For a moment of time: namely, THIS moment in time.
3) One Mariner had a higher MPH than did Cruz, that being Mark Trumbo.
3a) Now, Mark Trumbo does not hit the ball quite as hard as Nelson Cruz does. But Mark Trumbo most assuredly does deliver a sledghammer blow to a pitched baseball. You as the alert SSI reader know how to factor this in. You go to Trumbo's b-ref.com card and you see:
- 42 walks per 162 games
- 161 whiffs per 162 games
- The basepath cruising speed of baboon with two club feet
- BUT WHEN HE CONNECTS, SOMETHING GOOD IS GOING TO HAPPEN
Baseball isn't that hard a game to figure out. But a lot of times, the bad luck lasts for longer than one set of 162 games.
4) Trumbo is a lifetime 110 hitter, and he may be better now that he's in Safeco with Edgar. He could post his best season in 2016, which would mean an OPS+ of 130. Coincidentally, that was also his OPS+ After Edgar.
A first baseman/DH with a bad glove who OPS+'ed 130? Well, there have been a few Smoaks and Moraleses who didn't.