Appreciating Jim Thome’s Career.

Last night in the 7th inning Jim Thome hit his 600th career home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth. That should all but make it a lock on Thome’s hall of fame career. Let’s take a look at just how good his career was.

Thome’s first 3 seasons can be ignored due to injuries, he only played 114 games and had 1 WAR overall. In ’95 he really started to take off, posting a .243 ISO, .438 OBP, .431 wOBA, 159 wRC+ and a 6.3 WAR. Thome had a pretty ridiculous prime, posting absurd numbers from 1996 to 2002. In that tme frame he posted 38.1 of his 71 career WAR. That averages out to 5.4 WAR per season. His ISO in that span was .302, another ridiculous number. His BB% during that time was generally between 15% and 20%, it’s understandable that pitchers feared him due to his crazy power. His K% was a little high, floating between 22% and 28% but he more then made up with it due to his power. He also had some high BABIP numbers throughout his career, his highest being .369 in ’95 but during his career his BABIP has tended to be higher, his career BABIP is .321.

Thome’s best season is without a doubt his ’96 season when he posted a career best 7.9 WAR. That season he put up a .301 ISO, .450 OBP, .449 wOBA, 61.6 wRAA and a 163 wRC+. Like always he had an extremely high BB% that season, walking 19.3% of the time. His K% was a respectable 22.2%.

While he had a excellent prime, his career stats are just as good. He has a .281 ISO, which is good for 9th all-time. To put that in perspective he’s ahead of the likes of Micky Mantle (20), Willie Mays (21) and Joe DiMaggio (22). Not bad if you ask me. He also has a career .403 OBP to go along with a career .406 wOBA. His career wRC+ is 145, another solid number. Like I mentioned before his career BABIP is .321, at this point in his career that shouldn’t change at all. Thome is also walking 17.1% of the time and striking out 24.5% of the time, both great numbers, all things considering. We know he wasn’t much of a defender so most of his value comes offensively, the majority from his power.

To me this says hall of famer right off the bat. There’s one guy who had a similar career to Thome who isn’t in the hall of fame who should be. His name is Jeff Bagwell. Let’s check out this graph and since all three had similar careers and career WAR I put in Frank Thomas too.

As you can see, all have had very similar careers. It’s a crime that bagwell isn’t in but that may be a post for another day. The bottom line is Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer and the other two are as well.

Again, congrats on number 600 Jim Thome. I will always remember watching you reach history in a Minnesota Twins uniform.

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Joe Torre = Mark McGwire.

In terms of career WAR at least. Both of have career WARs of 70.8 and I can’t say I wasn’t surprised. I’m only a teenager and not the greatest baseball history buff so when I looked at their career WARs I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We all know McGwire was good, he may have had some extra help but that’s besides the point.

In 17 years Torre put together some pretty impressive numbers. He had a career .155 ISO which is slightly above league average, he finished with 252 career home runs. He also had an above league average .365 OBP and a .363 wOBA. Torre also had a good eye at the plate, walking 8.9% of the time and striking out only 12.4% of the time. He did a good job at creating runs, posting a 129 wRC+. Since wRAA can fluctuate year to year there isn’t an average calculated for players but over his career Torre had 344.9 total wRAA. His BABIP was .318, a number that can be stable depending on park factors. From 1963 to 1971 Torre had the best years of his career posting 51.3 WAR. That averages out to 5.7 WAR per season. Not too bad if you ask me. Fangraphs doesn’t have UZR data for that time so based on fielding percentage he was .990 as a catcher, not bad.

Mark McGwire was a power hitter in every sense of the word. His ISO was .325 for his career, an absurd number. He had a crazy .394 OBP to go with a .415 wOBA. Every pitcher and their mothers feared Big Mac, he walked in 17.2% of his at bats. He struck out in only 20.8% of them. His career .255 BABIP shows he may have been pretty unlucky in his career but he still had monster numbers. His career wRC+ was 158 and he acclimated 562.5 wRAA. Both ridiculous numbers. On defense he was an exceptional first basemen posting a .993 fielding percentage. The jury is still out about his drug use but it’s pretty obvious what he did if you just look at his career numbers and his body during the tail end of his career.

Still, I would have never guessed that Joe Torre and Mark McGwire would have been identical in WAR. For the visual reader here’s a WAR graph.

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Adios Delmon Young.

Today the Twins sent Delmon Young to the Tigers for a minor league pitcher and a PTBNL Delmon Young is awful but I wasn’t expecting him to be traded/non-tendered until after the season. The players the Twins got in return won’t amount to much but all that matters is that Delmon Young is gone. I was hoping OF prospect Joe Benson would get the call but of course that didn’t happen. Instead Rene Tosoni got promoted. Bill Smith and the Twins actually made a good move and for that I commend them.

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Did Trevor Cahill Deserve his Contract Extension?

Last season MLB analysists were talking about Trevor Cahill as a Cy Young candidate for some strange reason. He only had a 2.2 WAR, hardly above replacement level. I assume they were in love with his 18 wins and 2.97 ERA. The thing is though, he isn’t very good at all. Last year most of his success came from an absurdly low BABIP of .236, not sustainable at all. His 4.19 FIP indicated that he wasn’t that good at all and his 3.99 xFIP tells us that his ERA will more likely be closer to that then his 2.97 ERA. His ERA- was 74 but his FIP- was 104 meaning his FIP was 4$ worse then league average. His xFIP was 95 though meaning it was 5% better then league average. He isn’t a strikeout pitcher, only striking out 5.4 per 9 innings and walked 2.88 per 9.

Fast forward to this year and his .290 BABIP is a much more realistic number. His ERA is 3.92 so his xFIP last year was right on the money. His FIP is 3.98 and his xFIP is 3.80 so as we go on in the future I think this is the Cahill we can expect. This year Cahill’s ERA- 103, his FIP- is 104 and his xFIP- is 96. These numbers just make it a little easier to see how his peripherals have caught up to him. This year he’s increased his K/9 as well as his BB/9. He only has a 1.9 WAR and by the end of the season he shouldn’t be too far off his 2.2 WAR of last season. He’s striking out 6.61 per 9 but walking 3.7 per 9 which is slightly concerning.

In the end I think Oakland will regret giving Cahill the 5 year, $30.5 million dollar contract. From what we’ve seen he’s pretty much a league average pitcher. He’s only 23 but I believe they jumped the gun when offering the deal.

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Bill Smith Should be Fired.

He is a horrible GM and this season would be a good reason to fire him. Yes the team has been dessimated by injuries and poor pitching but there were moves that Smith could have made this season that would have been benificial for next season. He’s also made some pretty awful moves in the past. He traded Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza for Delmon Young in 2007 which has been a flat out awful deal. Bartlett wasn’t a fan of Gardy and besides ’09 when he posted a 5.4 WAR he’s been awful. Garza on the other hand has been quite solid. Since the trade he’s posted an 11.1 WAR, this year he is currently at 3.2 WAR which matched his total of last season.

Delmon Young, oh Delmon Young. He’s awful. Plain and simple. Since he arrived he’s posted a 1.8 TOTAL WAR. He’s posted a negative WAR twice. His defense is absolutely brutal, he has a total UZR of -39.7 meaning he’s cost his team 39.7 runs based on his outfield play.

Then there’s the glorious Santana trade. While Johan hasn’t been the healthiest since the deal the Twins could have gotten Jon Lester or MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury. Let’s take a look at what they got. Carlos Gomez, one of the worst offensive players I’ve seen. Exceptional defense though. Phil Humber, was absolutely brutal as a Twin but has managed to be solid for the White Sox this season. Kevin Mulvey, he’s a reliever, wasn’t anything special. Deolis Guerra, only player left on the team and has stunk it up in the minors. One benifit, if you can call it a benifit was that all the players that are gone, besides Humber helped get key players that helped the Twins make the postseason last year. Besides that, that deal was awful.

I will give him one benifit of the doubt when he traded J.J. Hardy for Jim Hoey and someother reliever who’s probably stinking it up. Hardy’s having a bounce back year, posting a 2.8 WAR, keep in mind he had a 2.5 WAR last year in MN. Hardy’s always had exceptional defense but this year his power’s returned, as his .257 ISO indicates. Hoey was brutal in his time in the bigs.

Smith also deserves the can because of what he DIDN’T do. He should have taken advantage of Cuddyer’s hot first half and dealt him for some pieces that could potentially help next year. Cuddyer has been playing above his true talent level anyway based on his .315 BABIP, he was due for regression and hasn’t done much since the all-star break. It’s not like we couldn’t offer Cuddy a contract during the off-season but Smith somehow thought we had a chance at the postseason.

Even though Kubel was hurt for a good while he was in demand and Smith should have flipped him too, the Pirates were calling as well as other teams I would guess and we could have gotten something to help the future of the squad. Kubel isn’t that good anyways.

Overall, Smith has been a brutal GM, I guess that’s what happens when you major in french. I’m sure I could have gone on and on but this year would be an excellent reason to can Billy.

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Where’s Shane Victorino’s Recognition?

Shane Victorino is having a breakout year and I never see anyone talk about him. He currently has a 5.8 WAR, .227 ISO, .407 wOBA and a 158 wRC+. His  .328 BABIP is slightly above his .304 BABIP but not much should change from now to the end of the season. He’s also produced a 29.1 wRAA, another career best. Victorino also has a good eye at the plate, walking 9.7% of the time and striking out only 10.4% of the time. He’s also a quality defender, posting a 7.3 UZR for the year. The Philles also are getting a good amount of value out of Victorino this year as he’s been worth $25.9 million dollars worth of value.

In this graph I compared Angels OF Torii Hunter and Victorino. For the most part they stack up pretty well and Hunter has always been recognized as one of the game’s better outfielders. While Victorino will most likely never be a hall of famer he’s still a darn good player, arguably an MVP candidate and deserves the recognition.

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Who’s Your Franchise Player?

If you can pick one player to start a franchise who would you take? A stud shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki? How about a young outfielder in Justin Upton? In this piece I will take a look at some of the young stars of today and determine who the best player would be to start a franchise.

Troy Tulowitzki: Tulowitzki is really, really good. He’s only 26 years old, already has complied a 24.4 career WAR and is technically just starting to enter his prime. This year Tulowitzki is on pace to put up his best season of his career, already posting a 6 WAR. He has a .238 ISO, a .389 wOBA, 28.3 wRAA and a 138 wRC+. His BABIP is .299 so one would think he’ll remain consistent but his career BABIP is .315 so he could see a slight increase in his numbers. He has a really good eye at the plate, striking out in only 10.8% of his at-bats this year and walking in 10.8 of them.

His career numbers are just as good as this years numbers but are skewed due to his 2008 season. His career ISO is .211 but that’s slightly skewed because of his injury plagued 2008 season where he posted a .138 ISO.  His career wOBA is .371, a wRC+ average of 119, again, skewed due to 2008. He’s always had a good eye, only striking out 15.9% of his at-bats and walking 9.5% of the time.  UZR rates him as an above average defender, posting a 15.2 in 2007, .1 in ’08, 2.4 in ’09, 7.1 in ’10 and 11.4 so far this season. In his career Tulowitzki has already given the Rockies $104.8 million dollars worth of value and should continue to contribute in Colorado for a long time after signing a huge $134 million, 7 year deal last season. Let’s see how Tulo ranks against one of the best SS of all-time in Cal Ripken Jr., another power hitting SS.

When you first look at the graph you may think no way does Tulo compare but remember that dreadful ’08 seasn he had. In Ripken’s second and third season he also put up crazy WARs of 8.8 and 10.3. After that he put one more double digit WAR then started to hover around the upper 4 to 6 WAR. Ripken is one of the game’s best and who knows if Tulo will ever be that good but he’s off to a nice start as he begins to enter his prime and is an excellent piece if you want to start a franchise.

Justin Upton: The younger of the Upton’s is starting to come into his own, on his way to a career year, on pace to post over 6 WAR. So far this year he’s at 5.5. Upton is an all around stud, posting good power, an exceptional eye, good speed and all around defense. This season he has a career high .248 ISO, a ridiculous .398 wOBA, 33.1 wRAA and a 148 wRC+. His BABIP is pretty high at .332 but his career BABIP is .342 so he should remain stable. His eye is exceptional, walking 8.5% of the time and striking out 17.9%.

His career numbers are just as good. Due to his poor season last year they are a little lower then what we should expect for the rest of his career. He has a solid .210 career ISO but that should increase as the years go on.  His .365 wOBA is solid and his 119 wRC+ is ok but again skewed do to last year. His career BB% is solid, 10.2% but his K% is a little high, 24.1% but has improved this year. In his 3 full season he has a 13.7 WAR and remember he’s only 23 years old and the sky’s the limit. Let’s take a look at how he compares to one of the best OF ever in Ken Griffey Jr.

Both started off with similar power numbers, KGJ had slightly better wOBA numbers but the WAR numbers aren’t too far off. In Griffey’s third season he posted a 7.4 WAR, if Upton turns it on in the last month and a half he could push 6.5 WAR but Upton’s only 23 and will continue to get better. UZR tells us that Upton is an above average defender, posting a 13.2 career UZR.

Upton has given the DBacks $60.4 million dollars worth of value and will be producing in Arizona for quite some time and is an excellent choice to start a team with.

Evan Longoria: Longo has been a stud since his arrival in the big leagues. He’s been hurt this year so his numbers so far aren’t at his true playing level. He has a 3 WAR, .220 ISO, a disappointing .340 wOBA, 7.1 wRAA and a 117 wRC+. His BABIP is an abursdly low .233 so he should expect an increase in his stats before the season’s over. He has a keen eye, walking 11.8% of the time and striking out 16.8% of the time.

His career stats are more along what you can expect. He has a .234 ISO, .370 wOBA and a 131 wRC+. His career BABIP is also .305, much more sustainable. He walks 10.6% and strikes out 20.3% which is solid.

UZR likes him a lot, posting a 15.2 in 2008, 17.7 in ’09, 11.1 last year and 5.4 so far this year. Really solid numbers.

He’s also given the Rays $102.2 million dollars worth of value. Not bad for someone who has a 7 year, $16.5 million dollar contract. Let’s see how he stacks up against George Brett.

Wow, they are almost identical in WAR when they were 25 years old. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves now but Longoria will be good for along time as he begins to enter his prime.

I only gave you 3 examples in this post but you could also look at Dustin Pedroia, Matt Kemp, Felix Hernandez. Personally I would choose Tulo. It’s rare that you find a power hitting shortstop who also plays excellent defense and is just about ready to enter his prime. Any 3 that I presented would be an excellent choice.

*Edit: Click graphs to make them larger*

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Ben Zobrist is a Star.

Over the past 3 seasons Ben Zobrist has been really good. He’s posted 17.9 WAR, averaging a 5.9 WAR per season. He’s not only versitile, being able to play a handful positions but also plays above average defense at each position. Oh yeah, he can hit too.

In 2009 Zobrist posted a HUGE breakout year, posting a 8.6 WAR, .246 ISO, .408 wOBA, 39.3 wRAA and a 151 wRC+. All of those numbers are way above league average. Zobrist was also walking at a 15.2% rate and only striking out 17.4% of the time. His .326 BABIP was slightly high but he is posting a .318 BABIP this year so going forward a BABIP in the upper .315 seems sustainable. Zobrist was getting paid the league minimum in 2009 but his production gave the Rays $38.8 million dollars worth of value which is nothing short of incredible.

In 2010 Zobrist got hit with a low BABIP of .276 and a 10.8 IFFB%. He still had a 3.7 WAR but his ISO fell to .115 and his wOBA all the way to .323. His wRC+ also took a hit, only being 102 overall. His wRAA was 1.1, also disappointing. A few bright spots were his 14% BB% and his 16.3 K% so he still had a keen eye at the plate. He still gave the Rays $15 million dollars worth of value last year.

This year though is closer to his true playing level. He has a 5.6 WAR, a .213 ISO, .376 wOBA, 23.4 wRAA and a 141 wRC+. His .318 BABIP is a little lower then his 2009 BABIP but like I mentioned earlier it seems sustainable. Zobrist is creating runs just like he was in ’09 so it looks like last year was a fluke. So far he’s generated $25.3 million dollars worth of value for the club. B the time the season’s over he could push a 7 WAR.

One thing that makes Zobrist so good though is his defense. UZR really likes him at second base, 19.7 career UZR and right field, 24.7 UZR. Some of the innings aren’t a huge number so it may be a small sample size but he’s still a really good defender.

Based on what I’ve shown you I’m scratching my head as to why Zobrist isn’t considered a star. He can play good defense and produces on offense. Eventually though, he will get his dues.

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Weekly Prospect: Miguel Sano

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about my blog and he gave me a few ideas to spice up the blog. One of the ideas that I really liked was a weekly prospect post so here it is! To kick it off I will tell you about a Twins prospect by the name of Miguel Sano.

The Twins signed Miguel Sano as an 18 year old shortstop in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic for a record $3.15 million dollar bonus. Sano is 6’5″ and weighs 195 lbs according to https://www.fangraphs.com . I imagine he won’t be a SS but rather a 3B or possibly RF when he reaches the big leagues.

So far this season in rookie ball Sano has demonstrated his power potential, posting a .293 ISO and 10 home runs. His .389 wOBA is quite impressive and he’s creating runs 34% better then league average. Sano has also produced a 9.3 wRAA. His K% is a little high, 24.9% but has a solid 9% BB%. Sano’s .336 BABIP is a little high so he should expect a slight regression as the season goes on. His numbers are much better then last year’s when he was at two different levels of rookie ball. If you are curious as to what they are follow this link because I’m not sure how to distinguish the two. http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa548088&position=3B/SS

If Sano keeps it up he should get the call to A ball before the season’s over and could begin to make an impact on the big league club during the 2014 season.

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Jose Bautista is the Best Player in Baseball

Over the past two seasons Jose Bautista has practically taken over baseball. Last year he posted 6.9 WAR and this season he’s on pace to surpass it, posting a 6.8 WAR.

Last year most of Bautista’s value came from the long ball, hitting 54 home runs, 38 more then his previous career high. He had a .357 ISO, which is insane to go along with a .422 wOBA. His HR/FB% shows us that he was hitting home runs 21.7% of the time, a solid number that gives you a good testement of his power. All of those are insane numbers. The number that stud out to me though was his .233 BABIP which is significantly below league average. League average typically hovers between .295 and .300. Bautista also contributed 55.6 runs last year, which shows by looking at his wRAA. He was also worth $27.5 million dollars to the club last year, which is ridiculous. Let’s see what his splits have to say about last year.

Home:

BABIP: .216

BB%: 16.4%

HR/FB%: 26.2%

ISO: .438

K%: 13.1%

wRAA: 38.9

wRC+: 196

wOBA: .465

By looking at these stats you can tell that Bautista was amazing at home, most players are since you play half the year though but still. His .438 ISO is just insane and his 26.2 HR/FB% is ridiculous as well. The Rogers Centre is known for giving up home runs but Bautista went above and beyond. He was creating runs 96% better then league average at home, a 196 wRC+ is crazy wherever you play though. By looking at his BABIP though you should be able to tell that he just ran into bad luck last year even though he had one heck of a season. Let’s see how he faired on the road.

Away:

BABIP: .250

BB%: 12.9%

HR/FB%: 17.1%

ISO: .281

K%: 20.7%

wRAA: 16.7

wRC+: 138

wOBA: .381

Bautista wasn’t quite as good on the road but he still put up solid numbers. His  .281 ISO would still be one of the best in the league and his .381 wOBA would fall just below the 90th percentile. Not too shabby. He still created runs 38% above average and contributed 16.7. Again he had a low BABIP of .250 so he should have been even better then he was. One little cause of concern though was the increase in strikeouts on the road but he was so good it didn’t even matter.

You can see why pitchers feared Bautista, he has insane power and seems to create runs at will. One of the main reasons for his huge turn around is hs new swing, it’s much better then that ippercut last year. How does he compare this year? To be blunt, he’s miles upon miles better.

Home:

BABIP: .336

BB%: 20.5%

HR/FB%: 27.1%

ISO: .369

K%: 16%

wRAA: 27.3

wRC+: 217

wOBA: .489

I don’t think you can get much better then this. His BABIP is slightly high but he has a ridiculous .369 ISO, .489 wOBA and a 217 wRC+! I know I mentioned the effect the Rogres Centre has but those numbers are just sick. He’s hitting home runs at an unprecedented rate, 27.1% of the time and walking 20.5% of the time. I guess you can say pitchers have learned their lesson. The 27.7 runs he’s contributed to hasn’t been to shabby either. To reiterate what I said earlier, Bautista has just been on a tear this season and I don’t see him slowing down.

Away:

BABIP: .289

BB%: 18.4

HR/FB%: 21%

ISO: .302

K%: 14.8%

wRAA: 23.1

wRC+: 176

wOBA: .430

Bautista has been excellent on the road this year as well. His .430 wOBA and .302 ISO are both well above average and pitchers fear him on the road just as much as at home as his 18.4 BB% indicates. Bautista’s 176 wRC+ is excellent and a solid increase above his road wRC+ of 138 last year. Bautista has just been an all around stud this year. The main point of the article was to prove how Bautista has been the best player in the game the last two seasons so let’s see how he stacks up against the player most have been considering the best the past decade in Albert Pujols.

I realize Pujols has missed time this season and started off slow but he’s rebounded quite nicely.

Pujols 2010:

BABIP: .297

BB%: 14.7%

HR/FB%: 18.3%

ISO: .284

K%: 10.9%

WAR: 7.5

wRAA: 55.4

wRC+: 165

wOBA: .420

Bautista and Pujols were pretty much even last year, both posting solid numbers across the board, I would still give the edge to Bautista even though Pujols had a higher WAR because he posted excellent numbers but was still affected by an absurdly low BABIP, Pujols’ had a BABIP of .297 so he was right at his true playing level.

Pujols 2011:

BABIP: .254

BB%: 8.7%

HR/FB%: 19.1%

ISO: .255

K%: 8.7%

WAR: 3.5

wRAA: 23.3

wRC+: 144

wOBA: .382

One look at Pujols’ stats and you think obviously Bautista is better but Pujols’ started off really slow and missed time to do injury. Pujols isn’t having a horrible season at all. His BABIP indicates he should see an increase in his stats. He has a solid wRC+, his ISO is good and he could still amass a 5 WAR.

Bautista was rewarded with a 5 year $65 million dollar contract last off-season, so far he has earned $30.8 million dollars based on his play this year, the Blue Jays should easily get way more value then they are paying Bautista making that deal a steal. Based on all the facts, Jose Bautista is the best player in baseball and if he keeps it up he could reach 35 career WAR which would be crazy based on him being a late bloomer.

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