Category Archives: Chase Higgins

Who is a better player: Colorado Rockies star Carlos Gonzalez or LA Angels scrapper Alberto Callaspo?

spring trainingThat’s a difficult question to answer, and one that leads itself towards opinionated responses. Statistics can be a tool to help us to answer questions like this. But if we want scientific answer without opinion, we should really rephrase the question to suit what available statistics can explain: Who is the more valuable player? Which player provides more value to their team?

Remember, numbers don’t measure talent.

Wins Above Replacement is statistic that attempts to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. FanGraphs measures WAR slightly differently from Baseball-Reference, so sometimes it is seen as fWAR or rWAR for FanGraphs WAR and BR WAR, respectively. We will be using fWAR today. Continue reading

Plate Discipline Who needs it?

moneyballWhenever I think of plate discipline I think of Brad Pitt calling Kevin Youkilis the Greek God of Walks. And while the movie (and book, originally) Moneyball did bring the idea of on base percentage to the masses, I want to know more about plate discipline. It’s true; Youkilis did swing at only 37.4% of the pitches thrown his way all of last season, and he was walked in 10% of his plate appearances. His swing percentage was the second fewest only to notorious stingy-swinger Joe Mauer. But what does that mean other than Youkilis is very selective when it comes to swinging the bat?

Maybe it takes so much effort to coil the bat from his goofy batting stance that he physically can’t swing more than 40% of the time.

Obviously, our plate discipline study isn’t focusing on an older-than-he-seems 33 year-old whose batting has declined each of the past four seasons. We just want to see what a player sacrifices by swinging too much or too little, or perhaps what a player has to gain from free swinging. Fangraphs provides a wide range of plate discipline statistics, which are described in great detail here. Continue reading

The Mark Reynolds home run barrage

You may know Mark Reynolds as the player who has 1092 career strikeouts in 828 careers games. You may know Mark Reynolds from his .237 career batting average and 32.7% strikeout rate absolutely wrecking your fantasy baseball team. Well, opposing pitchers know Mark Reynolds for a different reason over the last week: Home Run Machine!

Reynolds has 8 home runs in his last 26 at-bats after he hit 2 against the Yankees last night. He leads the majors in OPS over the last 30 days, and he’s hit 12 of his 20 home runs over that time as well.

He’s batting an outrageous .409 this month*, and has been a key to the Orioles battle for the AL East.

*6 days! Small sample size!

Since August 1, when the Orioles were 6.5 games behind the Yankees, they’ve had a record of 22-10 while forcing their way into a tie for first in the division. That coincides with Reynolds hot month of August, which has carried over to September. That’s not to say Reynolds is the only reason the Orioles are on fire. Continue reading