Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quick lineup analysis, Fangraphs nerdery, LaRoche and Byrnes

One of the points I've continually harped on of the past few weeks is simply the following mantra: We are so much better than last year already.

No, we didn't have the honor of overpaying Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, and yes, it looks like we signed a few more Aaron Rowands (this is like a new term I think).


The definition of an Aaron Rowand is officially the following:

A player near or past the age of 30 who is either: coming off a career year, plays the game "the right way", is a "good clubhouse guy", or would be considered an excellent complementary player on a team where he is the fourth or fifth best player.

--End Sidebar--

Well, with the all-knowing Fangraphs at my disposal, I've decided to show, in only two stat categories, how we're already better than 2009 based on 4 acquisitions and who they replaced. I will use the stat "O-Swing%" which is the percent of swings that a player reaches outside the strike zone for a pitch. I will also use the stat "Clutch Index" which is some obscure amalgamation of situational percentages and assorted nonsense that apparently calculates how clutch a player is. Yes I know, they have that now.

Basically I'm attempting to show you that we have a much more disciplined team that will draw more walks and will swing at fewer horrendous pitches. Also that we've acquired some documented clutch players.

I am also taking the unusual step of adding a player that is not on the roster, but may damn well end up a Giant. I'm making Yorvit Torrealba part of the list. I just don't think Posey is ready no matter how many times Sabean and Bochy lie to our faces about it. I think Torrealba signing here is a formality. Plus we really don't know what stats to use for Posey. His terrible and extremely limited stats as a pro? His gaudy minor league stats? We just don't know. With that said, let the nerdery begin!

If you are reading this on an email newsfeed or Facebook, click here to go to the site. You need to see the tables below. Just do it, it's the whole point of the article.

Before I say anything, I'd like to point out that out of every time Bengie Molina swung the bat last year... he did so out of the strike zone 44% of the time. FORTY-FOUR PERCENT OF THE TIME HE SWUNG AT BALLS!

In case you're wondering, Rowand only did it 32% of the time. Luis Castillo of the Mets led the league in '09 only swinging at balls 12.2% of the time.

You can look at this one of two ways. You can say, "Hmm, looks like Sabean picked up some decent players, and we are better."

Or you can say, "None of this means jack. We still don't have a big hitter."

I say that we've improved our plate discipline significantly, and I believe we can expect Pablo's discipline to improve in 2010 as he gets better and better. By bringing in DeRosa, Huff, and Freddy Sanchez, we've increased our plate discipline by nearly 5 percent. It doesn't seem like much, but consider that every 100 pitches, we will have taken 5 more balls as a team. Think about how many 3-2 pitches that could turn into walks over the course of a year. Last year they were strikeouts or double play grounders. The more pitches the 2010 Giants take, the higher the collective on base percentage, a figure that was the most horrendous in the entire league last year (.309).

Then you take a look at the Clutch Index. Say what you will, and I'm skeptical about the stat as well, but those 4 new guys have a full point worth of clutchness on their side over their predecessors. In fact, in '09 Pablo Sandoval was 10th best in all of MLB, while DeRosa was ranked 12th and Huff 15th.

Also, these numbers include Yorvit Torrealba, who is still being contacted by the Giants. He's getting back from Venezuela next week, and will play make a deal at that time. Take it the bank, he's going to be a Giant.

Again, you can say what you will about Fangraphs and their stats, but we're looking at 3 guys in the top 15 in the Clutch Index. Not too shabby.

Anyone feel a little better? No? Yes?

Again, if you couldn't see the tables, click here to go to the Dodgerhater website.

Quick notes:

Brandon Medders avoided arbitration and is back with an $820k deal. A bargain, when Fangraphs estimates his value at $1.4MM.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has an article filled with informational nuggets. First, he writes that LaRoche took less money to sign in Arizona because of the ballpark dimensions.

The following is from John Shea of the Chronicle though:

"I like (Chase Field) first because it's a dome, and I like the climate," LaRoche said on a conference call. "I don't know if it's the backdrop, the batter's eye, but it's a really good park to see the ball. I like playing here.

"Not to bash (the Giants) at all, I just had to weigh it. Was it worth going there for a couple of years or just riding it out and seeing what kind of options were available? They kind of started dwindling fast. When (the Diamondbacks' offer) came out, when I first heard about it, I remember telling my agent, 'Let's try to get this done.' This is a chance that I didn't want to waste."

Regarding his multiple two-year offers, LaRoche said, "They just happened to be in places I wasn't excited about."

The next piece of info from both Piecoro and Shea has to do with Eric Byrnes, who was released by the Snakes. Once a few more days go by, Arizona will be on the hook for the rest of his salary and they'll probably release him, making him free to sign with whomever he wants.

Again, from John Shea:

"It's not a real secret (that) I'd definitely be interested," Byrnes said in a phone interview. "The Giants, of course, that's the best fit geographically."

Byrnes was a Giants fan as a kid, graduated from Mountain View's St. Francis High and makes his offseason home in the Bay Area. He has had memorable games at the Giants' park, where he's a .295 hitter in 132 at-bats (five homers, 20 RBIs, 6-for-6 in steals) and hit for the cycle in June 2003 with the A's.

Thoughts on LaRoche and Byrnes? I'd be happy with Byrnsey being a platoon guy in right field, plus he'd be minimum salary cheap. I'd be more comfortable with him in RF than Schierholtz or Bowker. I'd love to hear what you people have to think. I don't see how it could backfire...


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