Fluky Seasons
Buying In from the Jump, Dept.



James did a study this week on Bryce Harper's majestic season.  He came up with a method to evaluate "flukiness" in a baseball career.  You remember Brady Anderson having that 50-homer season at age 32?

Turns out that Jacoby Ellsbury had the flukiest season of any player who ever lived.  Remember 2011, when Ellsbury hit .321/.371/.556 with 39 steals, 119 runs scored, 32 homers, 105 RBI?  And he had 1.8 WAR on defense in center field!   

That added up to 9.4 Wins Above Replacement, which is the same WAR as Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz got this year if you add them together.  [Jacoby Ellsbury 2011 and two average players] cancel out the triumvirate of [Seager, Cruz AND Cano in 2016], which was of course a collection of seasons we don't expect them to ever repeat.

That was ballin' by Ellsbury in 2011, and we all thought, that's how good this guy is.  Oddly, Jacoby Ellsbury's OPS+ was 84 the very next year, and his career OPS+ is 104.



Might be hard to remember now! :- ) but when the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz, most folks were VERY concerned that 2014 had been fluky.  Glad it warn't.  

Requisite M's-relevant application follows.  Question:  Going into 2017, which Mariners are risks for 2016 "flukiness"?  Absolutely none of the position players, though Nelson Cruz is going to get old one of these seasons.  

In fact, it's hard to remember anybody becoming a Mariner and having a fluky good year since Russell Branyan.



James' list had Darin Erstad's 2000, in which the kid hit .355 (!) with 25 homers and 100 RBI; I think he was playing CF at that time, and was in a line of Angels players like Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson, and them.  Dr. D remembers pleasant arguments with Inside Pitch about the 1995-2005 Angels, and remembers Erstad's crash pleasantly.

;- )



Carlos Pena's 2007.  He had 46 homers, 121 RBI, with 103 walks, and a 172 OPS+ for Tampa Bay.  My chief memory of Carlos Pena was Billy Beane dealing for him as a rookie* and predicting* he'd replace Jason Giambi.  Glad THAT didn't work out.


There were 14 players in history who won Most Valuable Player awards with seasons that turned out later to rate quite flukish.  Roger Maris' 1961, Maury Wills 1962 stolen base rampage, Kevin Mitchell 1989 with the 192 OPS+ ... I guess 192 is fluky if your career OPS+ is 142?  That's a little weird ... the M's aquired him and in 1992 he had his one weak year in a 6-year stretch of --- > 192, 150, 141 ... 118 M's ... 160, 185.


Back to Harper ... James says it would be almost unprecedented for a 22-year-old to have a monster season by luck or fluke.  But he does hedge on Bryce Harper by comparing Reggie in 1969, which was a part of the Ball Four novel.  Reggie absolutely destroyed the league that year, but never got back to that level.  He was a Hall of Famer, a legit cleanup hitter, but in 1969 he looked like he could become the best player ever.



... on the Cruz and Cano successes.  Free agency this winter?  You want a player who is young, who had a big year, who didn't have just one big year, and is cheap.  Go get 'im.  Or, pay up for Encarnacion Inc.

Here is a list of free agents this winter.  If you want to toke the dealer again, gimme a name and the amount you'd pay.  Edwin Encarnacion is age 33-34 and a DH/1B already.  The Jays wanted to go with a 1- or maybe 2-year extension, a la the M's and Iwakuma, but MLB Trade Rumors expects "at least a four-year deal" this winter.


Dr D



And I'm talking to Eric Thames.

He went nuts in Korea the past three years:  http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=thames001eri

Those look like Dae-Ho's numbers in Korea at age 28-29.  Better than.

Always thought Thames had a quick bat when he was here.  He hit .754 vs. RHP in his two MLB seasons.  I would bring him in and sniff at him.  Would prefer a + glove COF guy, but he might be cheap and lightening in a bottle.


If he opts out with the Mets, I would part ways with Aoki and Smith, and sign Cespedes for 6 years, $130 million.

Gamel can hold O'neill's place for a year or two with Heredia as the 4th OF.

Make sure Nelson Cruz knows if he wants time in the field, he needs to get a first baseman's glove this winter to be Vogelbach's counterpart.

The savings from Benoit, Lind and Aoki pay for Cespedes. Plus, Cruz eliminates the need to buy a right handed backup 1B bat.


Almost advocated for Cepedes....but I was assuming that he was out of our price range.  But I forgot that Lind's 8M and Smith's 7M and the cost of Aoki likely pay for Cespedes.

All the same, I think he's going for more than we're going to be willing to pay.


I don't want to read too much into it, but the word DiPoto used to describe how they would look to fill the few holes they do have this offseason: "impact".

I've heard the term impact player a number of times and it's never been in reference to guys like Aoki. It's always Cespedes level players that are considered impact players. We'll see..

“We are going to need to fill some holes in the lineup,” Dipoto said. “I think pitching depth stands as a strength for us, but we are going to focus on ways we can create more impact, and more than anything else we want to go into spring with a degree of momentum rather than with a great deal of change. We have already changed enough for these guys. There’s going to be change, but it’s not going to be an overhaul, and that I think will be step one in building something more lasting.”

To me, you accomplish that by taking the two worst players off the roster and adding two new players that are among the best. Stars and scrubs, baby. Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen and Cespedes will do nicely for me, thank ya.



Would love to interpret it as, "We need one or two Stars as opposed to twelve more slight upgrades."  But I don't know what he means by "create more impact," don't know what he means by "go into spring with momentum rather than change," don't know what "not an overhaul" means ...

Interested in whether anybody else leans towards the "big-game hunting" interpretation.  LOL.

Thanks for the link BPJ.


I can't take credit, I saw it as a link on the Times Forum.

I was really hoping to hear Dipoto clarify and actually say, "Stars and scrubs".

Added as an edit after you replied, but Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen plus Cespedes would go a long way in turning my frown upside down. Paid for with the almost $40 million we won't have to waste on Aoki, Smith, Lind, Lee, Gutierrez, Benoit, Ianetta, and Miley.


It sounds like he is hunting big game, indeed.  That means we've got some young guys who he is high one and they're going to play so we can afford the big game..  Gamel and Vogs, most likely.  I can't see us going big on a 1B, we just traded a plus/controlled arm for onel  But I can see us going for a COF.  Just not sure we can afford Cespedes when he opts out.  I could see us chasing Dexter Fowler, however.  He can opt out of his Cubs' contract and he might, after a nice season.  He walks a ton so he's an A+ CTZ guy (He BB's 98 pts over his career!), smacks lefties to an .835 tune for his career but still hits RHP at .770, AND he would bring a + glove to LF/RF.  He was a +0.3 CF glove this year, but is generally in the -1.0 region.  He's not Martin.  But as a COF he would be leather on wheels.  Combine he and Martin and Gamel in the OF and you've got more range than a B-52.  Batting in the #2 spot he would be a natural fit for the M's.  

He's the guy I wouldno't mind getting, assuming we can't afford Cespedes .  Fowler is basically exactly what (in our wildest dreams) hope we have in Heredia.  Might not have to spend for 5 years to get him.

I like a very cheap Thames as a guy to chase.  But if we're looking at Best Bets, then give me Fowler.  Smith and Lind easily pay for Fowler if he walks.  


If he does become a FA.  Cespedes and Ian Desmond are my next favorite FAs.  Saunders?  Trade for Ender Inciarte?  There's Cozart or Freddy Gonzalez maybe available for SS if you want to upgrade there.  Although Desmond could go back there for that matter.   I'll admit even though Puig is low on my list, he's there.  Do you think Martin and Heredia could help pull his head from his butt?


Here are the team WAR splits, first half and second half:

Offense:  31.5/5.4

Defense: -26.4/-16.5

Base run: -11.5/-0.8

People can have their own opinions on WAR.  It seemed to me that the hitting was more consistent than this.

On the other hand, aside from very painful memories in the field and on the basepaths, I think you have to give some credit here to the coaching staff for improving performance in those areas.  It's instructive that nobody from Dipoto on down--except Edgar--had any sense of these players when they took their jobs.  So I'm saying hats off to Servais and his guys.

On an individual level, people like Cano and Martin declined on offensive WAR due to their early home run outbursts.  But both were steady on defense and the basepaths.

Similarly, Crus was who he is all year long--despite injuries.

From these numbers, I think it's safe to say that Lind is gone.  Somewhat better hitting the seond half, but worth the money compared to the Vogelbach gamble?

I'm also assuming there will be a veteran brought in to play short.  Do you know who Eduardo Nunez is?  I didn't.  He's a 30-y-o free agent coming off a year with 3.9 offensive WAR, 2.7 on defense, 2.8 base running (40 SB) and 2.7 total WAR.  That compares to -0.7 for Marte.  Seems like a good, affordable option to help in the 'window'.  

So on the field, the wild cards are Smith and Aoki.  Smith declined markedly hitting the second half...Aoki the reverse.  Both liabilities in the field.  

In the end, frustratingly (or hopefully) I think the key to 2017 is the same as the key to 2016--how will Paxton and Walker perform?  (Or Karns for a while, if Walker does the surgery.)

Kudos to Dipoto for the bullpen churn.  

What will happen in the rotation?  

Answer that, and I think you answer playoffs next year

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