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29.05.2019 05:20
Several new acquisitions could prove useful on the basepaths Antworten

In case you have paid no attention to the dealings of the Kansas City Royals this offseason , they’ve only made three moves regarding position players. First they signed Chris Owings, then they added Billy Hamilton, and finally they re-signed Terrance Gore. Besides being outfielders (at least partially in Owings’ case), these men have one significant thing in common: speed.Every year Baseball Savant has tracked sprint speed, Hamilton has been among the elite of the elite, with top speeds of 30.1 (5th), 30.1 (6th), and 30.2 ft/s (3rd) for 2018,’17, and ‘16, respectively. Gore has never received enough at bats in the big leagues to qualify for a sprint speed leaderboard (although there is this), but the fact that he keeps getting a contract really speaks volumes, because his hitting makes Mario Mendoza look like Barry Bonds. As for Owings, he’s not top-tier but he was 129th last year with an average speed of 28.3 ft/s, well above average (27 ft/s), and as recently as 2016 he was 40th in the league (28.9 ft/s).The Royals’ offseason would not be notable if they had not quietly loaded up on the fastest players available. Or the fact the Royals already employ some of the fastest players in the league in Adalberto Mondesi (29.9 ft/s, 12th), Paulo Orlando (29.1 ft/s, 42nd), Whit Merrifield (29.0 ft/s, 47th), and Brett Phillips (29.0 ft/s, 57th). Since winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals’ strategy has not particularly been good (who signs literal replacement player Alcides Escobar to a contract with bonuses for appearances, then lets him reach those appearance levels despite playing worse than replacement level?), but targeting speed is not just something the Royals are doing.So far this offseason, the Indians have added position players Jordan Luplow, Max Moroff, Daniel Johnson, Andruw Monasterio, Trayce Thompson, Jake Bauers, Carlos Santana, Alex Call, and Kevin Plawecki. Luplow recorded a sprint speed of 28.7 ft/s in 2018; Moroff was tracked at 27.7 ft/s; Johnson was rated 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed; Monasterio was rated 55 for speed; Thompson was recorded at 27.9 ft/s; Jake Bauers was tracked at 27.8 ft/s; and Alex Call was rated 50 for speed. With the exception of Santana and Plawecki (both 26.0 ft/s), everyone the Indians have added so far has above-average foot speed (and both Santana and Plawecki are firmly in the middle for first basemen and catchers, respectively; Santana 37th of 63 and Plawecki 25th of 91).Cleveland has been above league average in stolen bases, run scoring percentage, and bases taken since the 2013 season, which I see as evidence baserunning is a long-term area of emphasis for the team. The same is not necessarily true league-wide, however. A quick scan reveals that as far back as 2013 writers have been documenting the death of the stolen base; likewise, the league-average baserunning contribution to WAR (FanGraphs’ flavor) has been negative more often (-1 Christian Yelich Jersey , 0.4, -0.7, -0.1, -0.4, and 1) between 2013 to last year.The decline in value that teams place on baserunning seems to be related to the increase in the three true outcomes in baseball. Those outcomes — home run, walk, or strikeout — have led to the widely held belief that hitting over defenders (i.e., increasing launch angle) is the best approach (beating the shift and so on). Thus, teams are not as aggressive with baserunners advancing by steal or taking the extra base because it’s more likely the batter will drive them in (via home run) or not affect their run expectancy at all (strikeout). The pros and cons of this strategy have been debated at length and require no recap here except to say the Indians, by valuing baserunning, clearly see an advantage in stealing bases, taking the extra base, and so on. At the very least, Cleveland seems to want a middle ground between the air ball revolution and more old-school strategy.Teams valuing baserunning less than in the past has another effect leads to less demand for players with those skills, which naturally depresses the salaries of those players. Gore, of course, has literally zero value aside from his speed, but Hamilton is a different story. Although a big liability with his bat, he is an excellent defender; nonetheless, Hamilton was nontendered by the Reds and then received less than his projected arbitration salary in his deal with the Royals. Similarly, Keon Broxton has nearly elite speed (29.7 ft/s in 2018) as well as good defense and a better offensive profile (plus projected growth) than Hamilton. None of that stopped the the Brewers (teeming with outfield depth, it should be noted) from shipping him to New York last week in exchange for a pitcher who will compete for a bullpen spot (in a bullpen already crowded with talent), a medium-ceiling, low-floor pitcher, and an infielder that could easily be an organizational guy that never sees the big leagues. With the premium for guys who can impact the game with speed seemingly low, perhaps the Indians loading up on guys with decent speed is a new way to exploit a market inefficiency. As detailed by Jordan Siff, using the run expectancy matrix, to break even on stolen base attempts a runner needs to be successful around 70% of the time. If the Tribe plans to make aggressive baserunning an important facet of its offense in 2019 then adding guys like Luplow (70% steal success rate in the minors) or Johnson (76%) or taking a flier on Thompson (81% in MLB, 74% MiLB) seems worthwhile.The Royals are obviously seeking to find value in a similar area, as Hamilton (81% steal success rate in MLB) and Owings (84%) have legitimate track records as good runners. But so are, you know, teams that are actually good. The Yankees had just six players (of 19 qualified) with below-average sprint speed in 2018; the Athletics had eight (of 18); the Cardinals had six (of 16); the Rays had six (of 18); the Rockies had seven (of 20). Not all of these teams have budgets like the Indians, but all teams seek to find value in similar ways and all these teams were successful in 2018 and have smart front offices.The players the Indians have acquired have more to their tool set than just speed, obviously. But it could be that the speed aspect of their game has not been adequately valued by other teams. In identifying this, the Indians could be exploiting a weakness in player valuation that could help them remain one of the best baserunning teams in the league in 2019. CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — The biggest play from the Phillies‘ spring training game Thursday: great communication behind the home dugout.Philadelphia fans with an eye on their smartphones cried out when reports emerged that Bryce Harper had agreed to a deal with the Phillies, breaking the news to manager Gabe Kapler and his players during a 5-5 split-squad tie with the Orioles. Harper agreed to a $330 million, 13-year deal with the club, the largest contract in baseball history. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, said the deal was agreed to shortly before noon, subject to a successful physical.“If the reports are true , it’s a huge moment for our baseball team,” Kapler said. “Certainly I think that the city of Philadelphia would embrace Bryce Harper. I think he would be very happy in this city because our fans care deeply about winning.”A 26-year-old All-Star who had spent his entire big league career with the Washington Nationals, Harper topped the $325 million, 13-year agreement outfielder Giancarlo Stanton reached before the 2015 season with the Miami Marlins.Harper has a .279 career average with 184 homers and 521 RBIs, including a .268 average with 14 homers, 32 RBIs and a .930 OPS in 47 games at Citizens Bank Park. He likely would hit third or fourth, according to Kapler.“We get a whole lot better on the field,” Kapler said. “Bryce Harper is a sensational teammate.”Jean Segura had a hit and scored a run for Philadelphia, and Baltimore’s top prospect Yusniel Diaz had three hits with two doubles, driving in a run. Dylan Bundy made his first start for the Orioles, yielding one run on four hits in two innings. Mike Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, went hitless in two trips.AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUESRED SOX 13, NATIONALS 5Blake Swihart had an RBI single a day after the death of his 23-year-old brother, Romell Jordan. Swihart was pulled following his hit in the fourth and was greeted by a big hug from manager Alex Cora in the dugout.Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits, driving in a run and scoring another for Boston. Brock Holt hit his first home run of the spring, a three-run shot, and Xander Bogaerts added an RBI double and a single.Matt Adams picked up his first spring double and home run for Washington. Max Scherzer made his second start, giving up one hit in three shutout innings with four strikeouts.PHILLIES (SS) 11, BLUE JAYS 5Scott Kingery had a double and a single, stealing a base and scoring a run for the Phillies. Aaron Altherr walked three times and scored twice.Top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his first spring double for Toronto. Randal Grichuk hit a three-run home run.YANKEES 8, PIRATES 6Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run home run for New York. J.A. Happ made his first start, allowing three runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings. Aaron Judge doubled and scored.Jung Ho Kang had a hit, an RBI and scored twice, raising his average to .429 this spring with a 2.214 OPS in three games.METS 3, CARDINALS 2Michael Conforto got his first two hits of the spring and stole a base for New York. Top prospect Pete Alonso had two hits and two RBIs, and Jason Vargas allowed only Matt Carpenter’s leadoff home run, pitching two innings and striking out three in his first start.Miles Mikolas made his second start for St. Louis, allowing five hits and a walk in three shutout innings.TIGERS 7, BRAVES 6JaCoby Jones had his first spring hit, singling and scoring a run for Detroit. Matt Moore made his second start for the Tigers, surrendering two runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings.Ozzie Albies had two hits for Atlanta. Touki Toussaint was rocked in his second start, allowing five runs, four hits and a walk in one inning.ASTROS 7, MARLINS 5Carlos Correa had an RBI double for Houston. Robinson Chirinos had a single and a run-scoring double. Jose Altuve went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts at designated hitter and is expected to play second base next in his third game following offseason knee surgery.Brian Anderson hit a two-run home run for Miami. Sandy Alcantara made his second start, allowing two runs, two hits and three walks in two innings.BREWERS (SS) 10, REDS 8Mike Moustakas had a solo home run and Jesus Aguilar drilled a three-run double for Milwaukee. Brandon Woodruff made his first start, pitching one inning. He walked the bases loaded with one out but got out of the jam unscathed.Matt Kemp drove in two runs with two doubles, and Yasiel Puig hit his first home run for Cincinnati, a two-run shot.GIANTS 6, BREWERS (SS) 2Chris Stratton made his second start for San Francisco , striking out three in three shutout innings. Drew Ferguson, in a battle with Austin Slater for the starting job in right field, notched his first hit of the spring with a two-run single. Slater tripled and scored.Lorenzo Cain singled and walked for Milwaukee. Christian Yelich was hitless in two at-bats in his spring debut.DIAMONDBACKS 10, INDIANS 7Rule 5 draft pick Nick Green pitched three scoreless innings and got the win in a promising spring debut. Abraham Almonte had three hits and two RBIs, and Steven Souza Jr. added a run-scoring double. Merrill Kelly, trying to win a spot at the back of the rotation, retired just one batter and yielded three runs, three hits and a walk.Jose Ramirez had an RBI single and a three-run home run for Cleveland. Newcomer Kevin Plawecki had two doubles and an RBI.ROYALS 3, PADRES 2Billy Hamilton had a single for his first hit with Kansas City. Jorge Lopez, slated as the Royals’ No. 4 starter, made his first start. He yielded a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings.Top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. had his first spring double and walked for San Diego, and fellow youngster Luis Urias hit a two-run homer, his first long ball of the spring.ATHLETICS 10, CUBS 3Franklin Barreto and Ramon Laureano hit solo home runs and Josh Phegley had three hits and an RBI for Oakland. Brett Anderson, vying for a rotation spot in his return to the Athletics, allowed two hits and a walk in his first start, pitching three shutout innings.Kyle Schwarber had his first double for Chicago. Anthony Rizzo went 0 for 2, striking out twice. Kyle Hendricks pitched two scoreless innings in his spring debut, allowing two hits.ROCKIES 7, DODGERS 7Ian Desmond hit a solo home run and Daniel Murphy had a single for his first hit with Colorado. David Dahl had a double and an RBI, and infield prospect Colton Welker hit his second homer of the spring. Chad Bettis made his second start, pitching three innings and allowing two runs and three hits.Justin Turner singled and doubled for Los Angeles. Cody Bellinger had a two-run home run, and Rich Hill allowed two unearned runs in his second start, pitching 2 1/3 innings.MARINERS 8, WHITE SOX 3Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger each had a double for Seattle. Jay Bruce drove in his first run as a Mariner with a groundout. Dustin Ackley drove in two runs. Ackley, Seattle’s No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, is trying to grab a roster spot after being traded away to the Yankees in 2015. Felix Hernandez made his second start, allowing two runs in three innings while striking out four.Chicago ace Lucas Giolito made his first start, pitching two innings and allowing three runs — one earned — and three hits. Tim Anderson hit his first spring home run, a two-run shot.RANGERS 10, ANGELS 6Ronald Guzman hit two solo homers, giving him three homers this spring for Texas. Matt Davidson hit his second home run and Joey Gallo added an RBI double. Drew Smyly, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 with Tampa Bay and was on the disabled list for Seattle all last season, pitched a perfect inning in his spring debut.Mike Trout went 0 for 3 leading off for Los Angeles. Tyler Skaggs was tagged in his first start, surrendering four runs, two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.RAYS 1, TWINS 0Blake Snell made his spring debut and opened Tampa Bay’s two-hit victory with one strong inning, and Oliver Drake, Ryan Yarbrough and Colin Poche helped closed it out. Promising youngsters Austin Meadows and Lucius Fox each had two hits, and Fox had the only RBI.Adalberto Mejia pitched two scoreless innings for the Twins.

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