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  • MLB Spring Training thread (2021)

    Continuing the discussion from the offseason thread...

    Originally posted by TDog View Post
    I believe others are putting way too much importance on highlights of a career with less than 150 games while ignoring an inability to hit .280 in a 60-game season or play 85 games in a 162-game season.
    You keep referencing that .280 BA. Serious question: do you not understand that Tatis's 2020 batting line of .277/.366/.571 is MUCH more valuable than Nick Madrigal's line of .340/.376/.369? I know you value high average hitters because they are more fun to watch, and I get that, but you understand that power is important for scoring runs, right?

    If there's any question in your mind, and since I know you don't value advanced stats like wRC+ and WAR, you can just look at the counting stats. Madrigal had 8 runs and 11 RBIs in 103 at bats; Tatis had 50 runs and 45 RBIs in 224 at bats. So even if you subtract out Tatis's 17 HRs (where he got credit for the R and the RBI), Tatis was involved in 1.8 times as many runs per at bat compared to Madrigal.

    Edit: this isn't supposed to be a knock on Madrigal per se, I'm just trying to understand the extent to which you value batting average over all other measures of performance. It's also odd that you are criticizing the batting average of a guy who is a career .301 hitter.
    Last edited by ChiTownTrojan; 02-19-2021, 09:35 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ChiTownTrojan View Post
    Continuing the discussion from the offseason thread...



    You keep referencing that .280 BA. Serious question: do you not understand that Tatis's 2020 batting line of .277/.366/.571 is MUCH more valuable than Nick Madrigal's line of .340/.376/.369? I know you value high average hitters because they are more fun to watch, and I get that, but you understand that power is important for scoring runs, right?

    If there's any question in your mind, and since I know you don't value advanced stats like wRC+ and WAR, you can just look at the counting stats. Madrigal had 8 runs and 11 RBIs in 103 at bats; Tatis had 50 runs and 45 RBIs in 224 at bats. So even if you subtract out Tatis's 17 HRs (where he got credit for the R and the RBI), Tatis was involved in 1.8 times as many runs per at bat compared to Madrigal.

    Edit: this isn't supposed to be a knock on Madrigal per se, I'm just trying to understand the extent to which you value batting average over all other measures of performance. It's also odd that you are criticizing the batting average of a guy who is a career .301 hitter.
    Yes but for a two month stretch it was only .280

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ChiTownTrojan View Post
      Continuing the discussion from the offseason thread...



      You keep referencing that .280 BA. Serious question: do you not understand that Tatis's 2020 batting line of .277/.366/.571 is MUCH more valuable than Nick Madrigal's line of .340/.376/.369? I know you value high average hitters because they are more fun to watch, and I get that, but you understand that power is important for scoring runs, right?

      If there's any question in your mind, and since I know you don't value advanced stats like wRC+ and WAR, you can just look at the counting stats. Madrigal had 8 runs and 11 RBIs in 103 at bats; Tatis had 50 runs and 45 RBIs in 224 at bats. So even if you subtract out Tatis's 17 HRs (where he got credit for the R and the RBI), Tatis was involved in 1.8 times as many runs per at bat compared to Madrigal.

      Edit: this isn't supposed to be a knock on Madrigal per se, I'm just trying to understand the extent to which you value batting average over all other measures of performance. It's also odd that you are criticizing the batting average of a guy who is a career .301 hitter.
      Of course, I'm not signing Madrigal to a 16-year contract for a third of a billion dollars with a no-trade clause. There are reasons Madrigal wasn't a bigger part of the White Sox lineup. He missed a lot of the season because of injury and was at the bottom of the order. Madrigal was hitting at the bottom of the order in the part of the season where Robert wasn't hitting and the likes of Mazarra and Encarnacion hitting in front of him. I had never considered comparing Madrigal to Tatis, especially with Tatis generally starting in the third spot in the order. I would have expected Tatis to be involved in twice as many Padres runs per at bat. Still, it looks like Madrigal, despite not being involved in as many runs, was comparable with runners in scoring position. Tatis had 16 hits in 40 at bats for a .400 average. Madrigal had 10 hits in 27 at bats for a .370 average, one hit short of a .392 average. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Madrigal hit .543 -- 6 for 11 and didn't strike out. Tatis went 2 for 14 with a six strikeouts for a .143 average. Madrigal also hit .409 leading off innings for a .458 on-base percentage -- presumably for the top of the order. Tatis only hit .185 leading off innings, including four of his home runs. It looks like Madrigal would have been involved in more runs if his numbers came in the heart of the order, although the top of the White Sox order doesn't appear to have been the issue with their lineup.

      If you took Tatis and put him in the Madrigal's spot in the lineup, he would have produced more runs because of his home runs, although a leadoff home run before an Anderson home run gives you as many runs as an infield single before an Anderson home run. Tatis is going to produce even more runs with a ..340 average even if the additional hits take the place of walks and give you a comparable on-base percentage because walks are often a strategic compromise that favors the pitcher. Tatis' run production with a declining batting average has a lot to do with the lineup around him Fred Lynn (off the top of my head and referenced earlier) at 23 in 1975 was a better offensive player than Tatis at 22 and it's reflected in his batting average for more games than Tatis has played in his career. He also was part of a lineup that included three Hall of Famers who contributed to his run production.

      Still, this doesn't address why signing over a third of a billion dollars to a 22-year-old who hasn't played an actual full major league season is a stupid business move. You really don't know yet if the drop in his batting average, which is a bigger deal than people are suggesting, is a trend or the product of what might have been an isolated slump at the end of a short season. He only hit .208 in September, but you can't tell from the numbers what he was working through, if it was physical or mental or a transplanted June swoon that he would have recovered from. Before you sign a player to a career contract, putting the pressure on him to perform up to that contract, you need to know if he can actually play a full major league season, which he has never done. In order for Tatis to produce runs, you have to be able to build the proper lineup. The Yankees or Dodgers have markets that are much closer to being able to justify this deal. No matter how much money you spend, California's Southland, which is actually north and northeast of San Diego, will be Dodgers country. Northern San Diego County, where I was born, has the world's largest U.S. Marine base and isn't going to be subdivided.

      Also, typically when you overplay a player for their declining years, it is in compensation for the added value, underpaying if you will, from their most productive years. especially when you don't have to take that gamble. You have control of the player to see how real he is. Regardless of Tatis' potential, this contract, for a player who has never made it through a major league season, is ridiculous from a business perspective.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TDog View Post

        Of course, I'm not signing Madrigal to a 16-year contract for a third of a billion dollars with a no-trade clause. There are reasons Madrigal wasn't a bigger part of the White Sox lineup. He missed a lot of the season because of injury and was at the bottom of the order. Madrigal was hitting at the bottom of the order in the part of the season where Robert wasn't hitting and the likes of Mazarra and Encarnacion hitting in front of him. I had never considered comparing Madrigal to Tatis, especially with Tatis generally starting in the third spot in the order. I would have expected Tatis to be involved in twice as many Padres runs per at bat. Still, it looks like Madrigal, despite not being involved in as many runs, was comparable with runners in scoring position. Tatis had 16 hits in 40 at bats for a .400 average. Madrigal had 10 hits in 27 at bats for a .370 average, one hit short of a .392 average. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Madrigal hit .543 -- 6 for 11 and didn't strike out. Tatis went 2 for 14 with a six strikeouts for a .143 average. Madrigal also hit .409 leading off innings for a .458 on-base percentage -- presumably for the top of the order. Tatis only hit .185 leading off innings, including four of his home runs. It looks like Madrigal would have been involved in more runs if his numbers came in the heart of the order, although the top of the White Sox order doesn't appear to have been the issue with their lineup.
        I was specifically referring to your focus on batting average as the only way to judge a player, and you responded with more arguments focused on batting average (and situational batting average in extremely small samples). This is a very incomplete way to judge how effective a player is in contributing to run production. While you're right that the fact that Madrigal hit in a worse lineup spot contributed to lower production, it doesn't make this big of a difference. There are ways of objectively taking things like batting order out of the equation, but this of course requires advanced stats because you're extrapolating to a counterfactual that never occurred to understand what happened. The most effective advanced stat for this purpose is wRC+. Madrigal had a wRC+ of 112 last year (12% better than an average hitter in terms of scoring runs), whereas Tatis had a 149 (49% better than average).

        Regarding the contract, you're right that it is a risk, but not really because Tatis is likely to decline in performance. It's a risk because of the risk that an injury essentially makes this $340 million in dead money. And I'm not saying that Tatis is injury prone - his injuries from 2019 don't seem like long term concerns. But anybody can be susceptible to a fluke injury that derails their career. $340 million is a lot to risk on something that is completely out of anyone's control.

        Performance-wise, 22 year olds tend to get better with more experience, not worse. You use Fred Lynn as a counterexample, and this was before I was born so I can't comment informatively. Still, one counterexample doesn't disprove the notion that almost every player in the history of the game has their prime years after age 22. A healthy Tatis will be worth much more than $24 million per year for the majority of this contract. He is very likely to be a star in this game for a long time.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ChiTownTrojan View Post

          I was specifically referring to your focus on batting average as the only way to judge a player, and you responded with more arguments focused on batting average (and situational batting average in extremely small samples). This is a very incomplete way to judge how effective a player is in contributing to run production. While you're right that the fact that Madrigal hit in a worse lineup spot contributed to lower production, it doesn't make this big of a difference. There are ways of objectively taking things like batting order out of the equation, but this of course requires advanced stats because you're extrapolating to a counterfactual that never occurred to understand what happened. The most effective advanced stat for this purpose is wRC+. Madrigal had a wRC+ of 112 last year (12% better than an average hitter in terms of scoring runs), whereas Tatis had a 149 (49% better than average).

          Regarding the contract, you're right that it is a risk, but not really because Tatis is likely to decline in performance. It's a risk because of the risk that an injury essentially makes this $340 million in dead money. And I'm not saying that Tatis is injury prone - his injuries from 2019 don't seem like long term concerns. But anybody can be susceptible to a fluke injury that derails their career. $340 million is a lot to risk on something that is completely out of anyone's control.

          Performance-wise, 22 year olds tend to get better with more experience, not worse. You use Fred Lynn as a counterexample, and this was before I was born so I can't comment informatively. Still, one counterexample doesn't disprove the notion that almost every player in the history of the game has their prime years after age 22. A healthy Tatis will be worth much more than $24 million per year for the majority of this contract. He is very likely to be a star in this game for a long time.
          The fact that anybody can be susceptible to a fluke injury is an argument against longterm contracts. You could argue that committing of a billion to a player who has never played, let alone excelled through even 100 games makes the huge risk of a longterm contract even greater.

          Batting average is fundamental and a solid on-base percentage is meaningless without a foundation of a high batting average. Batting average is a simple measure of success vs. failure. The importance of batting average depends on a player's role in a lineup. The entire concept of sabermetrics was born essentially out of engineering professor Earnshaw Cook's obsession to prove his assertion that Ty Cobb was a better hitter than Babe Ruth. The result was Percentage Baseball, MIT Press, 1964. Analytics had been more of an art form up to that time. In 1906, the story goes, Chicago sportswriter Hugh Fullerton insisted the White Sox, despite their low team batting average, would beat the Cubs in the World Series based on his analysis. (Spoiler alert ...) The Sox won despite being Hitless Wonders, but actually had a higher World Series batting average than the Cubs in the process. Fullerton was looking more at specific matchups. Cook began looking at broad global averages and trends, ignoring matchups. Analytics deviated somewhat, reaching some of the same conclusions but many different conclusions. And it works great as a board game, or a video game, I guess (I've never played a video baseball game) that is based on the percentages from the outset. You can't, for example design a batting order descending from best to worst on-base percentages among your hitters, as I once heard advocated, because the order influences your on-base percentages. Lead off with Nick Swisher and he'll draw fewer walks. Hit Adam Dunn seventh or eighth, and he'll draw more walks. Your analytics don't exist in isolation.

          The problem I have with reliance on many of the analytics is that in many cases they have been used to justify players' failings. A player who strikes out 200 times a season to hit between 40 and 50 home runs can be comfortable hitting .220 in the process because people believe the notion of the advanced analytics. They are exerting too much influence on the way the game is being played instead of describing how the game is being played. In some cases, I see MLB tailoring the game around popular analytics, which can suck the athleticism out of the game, but that is a bit off topic. The reality of the game, what you see (used to see in healthier times) at the amateur level placed a higher weight on batting average because it was a more clear avenue to success.

          The short answer is that batting average is a fundamental, foundational and organic statistic. I simply don't care about advanced analytics that excuse Tatis barely hit .200 in his only major league September in defending this stupid contract.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TDog View Post

            The fact that anybody can be susceptible to a fluke injury is an argument against longterm contracts. You could argue that committing of a billion to a player who has never played, let alone excelled through even 100 games makes the huge risk of a longterm contract even greater.

            Batting average is fundamental and a solid on-base percentage is meaningless without a foundation of a high batting average. Batting average is a simple measure of success vs. failure. The importance of batting average depends on a player's role in a lineup. The entire concept of sabermetrics was born essentially out of engineering professor Earnshaw Cook's obsession to prove his assertion that Ty Cobb was a better hitter than Babe Ruth. The result was Percentage Baseball, MIT Press, 1964. Analytics had been more of an art form up to that time. In 1906, the story goes, Chicago sportswriter Hugh Fullerton insisted the White Sox, despite their low team batting average, would beat the Cubs in the World Series based on his analysis. (Spoiler alert ...) The Sox won despite being Hitless Wonders, but actually had a higher World Series batting average than the Cubs in the process. Fullerton was looking more at specific matchups. Cook began looking at broad global averages and trends, ignoring matchups. Analytics deviated somewhat, reaching some of the same conclusions but many different conclusions. And it works great as a board game, or a video game, I guess (I've never played a video baseball game) that is based on the percentages from the outset. You can't, for example design a batting order descending from best to worst on-base percentages among your hitters, as I once heard advocated, because the order influences your on-base percentages. Lead off with Nick Swisher and he'll draw fewer walks. Hit Adam Dunn seventh or eighth, and he'll draw more walks. Your analytics don't exist in isolation.

            The problem I have with reliance on many of the analytics is that in many cases they have been used to justify players' failings. A player who strikes out 200 times a season to hit between 40 and 50 home runs can be comfortable hitting .220 in the process because people believe the notion of the advanced analytics. They are exerting too much influence on the way the game is being played instead of describing how the game is being played. In some cases, I see MLB tailoring the game around popular analytics, which can suck the athleticism out of the game, but that is a bit off topic. The reality of the game, what you see (used to see in healthier times) at the amateur level placed a higher weight on batting average because it was a more clear avenue to success.

            The short answer is that batting average is a fundamental, foundational and organic statistic. I simply don't care about advanced analytics that excuse Tatis barely hit .200 in his only major league September in defending this stupid contract.
            5 years of normal Tatis production and the contract is paid for. In full, $340 million worth. Hard not to take that bet.

            Your batting average argument loses credibility when you complain about someone like Tatis. Even if you hate every advanced stat, offense is about scoring runs and driving in runs. And Tatis does it better than almost everyone in baseball, despite his batting average not being to your standards.

            And I'll repeat it again...If he repeats his performance just 5 seasons out of 14, he can be worth zero the other 9 years and he was still be worth that contract. Something tells me there's close to no chance this isn't a colossal win for the Padres.
            Last edited by vegandork; 02-20-2021, 03:12 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by vegandork View Post
              And I'll repeat it again...If he repeats his performance just 5 seasons out of 14, he can be worth zero the other 9 years and he was still be worth that contract. Something tells me there's close to no chance this isn't a colossal win for the Padres.
              I don’t think this calculation is right because you’re not taking into account that he was already locked up for dirt cheap for the next five years. Even if it was right, if he provides 0 value for 9 years that would mean $24 million per year of dead money holding the team back for nearly a decade. Those 5 great years would not be worth it to the franchise, even if he exceeds the total WAR that would be be needed to “justify” the contract.

              Comment


              • #8
                Today I learned 2 things:

                1. Cameron Maybin just signed with the Cubs.
                2. Cameron Maybin is still in baseball.

                This guy hasn't been good in a decade but still keeps getting signed. I assume as a 4th OF. He's made $37M as a below average back-up. Good for him!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TDog View Post

                  The fact that anybody can be susceptible to a fluke injury is an argument against longterm contracts.
                  I agree. That's the point I was making.

                  Originally posted by TDog View Post
                  Batting average is fundamental and a solid on-base percentage is meaningless without a foundation of a high batting average. Batting average is a simple measure of success vs. failure.
                  I agree that batting average is important, but it is not true that OBP is not important. Why can't both be important? I fail to see how BA is a measure of success vs. failure but OBP is not. They simply measure two different definitions of success, both of which can help a team win games.

                  Originally posted by TDog View Post
                  The problem I have with reliance on many of the analytics is that in many cases they have been used to justify players' failings. A player who strikes out 200 times a season to hit between 40 and 50 home runs can be comfortable hitting .220 in the process because people believe the notion of the advanced analytics. They are exerting too much influence on the way the game is being played instead of describing how the game is being played. In some cases, I see MLB tailoring the game around popular analytics, which can suck the athleticism out of the game, but that is a bit off topic. The reality of the game, what you see (used to see in healthier times) at the amateur level placed a higher weight on batting average because it was a more clear avenue to success.
                  Yes, it seems you are getting off topic into the "aesthetics" debate again. The reason advanced analytics say that a player can strike out 200 times and still be a useful player is because there is proof that this type of player can be a good run producer. I agree that I would like to see a game that didn't reward 200-K, "3 true outcomes" type players, because they are less entertaining than more athletic players. But that doesn't change the fact that they can help a team score runs, no matter how much you or I dislike it. And it is not up to a team like the Padres to buck that trend by rewarding high average players with higher contracts at the expense of their own team's wins. This is a problem that has to be solved at the league level. We've been over these arguments before.

                  It's very strange that we are having this conversation in regards to Tatis, who is a career .300 hitter and unquestionably one of the most athletic players in the game.

                  Originally posted by TDog View Post
                  The short answer is that batting average is a fundamental, foundational and organic statistic.
                  This obsession with thinking BA is somehow special just because it is simple sounds a lot like religion over science.

                  Originally posted by TDog View Post
                  I simply don't care about advanced analytics that excuse Tatis barely hit .200 in his only major league September in defending this stupid contract.

                  Wow. He's a .295 career hitter in August. What do you think is more likely to happen going forward - Tatis is going to continue to fall apart every September (what's the argument here - that he can't handle the pressure of a playoff run?), or that maybe you're putting a lot of weight on a small sample, where maybe he ran into the first slump of his career? And by the way, no advanced analytics say he was a good hitter in September. Your favorite stat, OPS, is .714 which is decidedly below average. It's by far the worst month in his splits. But it doesn't take advanced analytics to understand what a small sample size is and how not to put to much weight on a single month, when his batting averages during the other months are .300, .383, .313, and .295 (he has no career at bats in May).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ChiTownTrojan View Post

                    I don’t think this calculation is right because you’re not taking into account that he was already locked up for dirt cheap for the next five years. Even if it was right, if he provides 0 value for 9 years that would mean $24 million per year of dead money holding the team back for nearly a decade. Those 5 great years would not be worth it to the franchise, even if he exceeds the total WAR that would be be needed to “justify” the contract.
                    I'm basing it on the only real method I know of determining value for a contract, where 1 WAR is worth 8 million in contract value. I realize that he *might* have come cheaper over the next 5 (that isn't a given), but whether a guy is at minimum salary or on a long term deal, the average cost of 1 WAR is 8 million. Which means that Tatis only has to be worth 42 - 43 WAR over the course of the contract to hit break even. Which he'll likely do before he would normally be a free agent. So from my perspective, they're paying him his value for the next five and then getting 9 years free on top of it.

                    I don't know of any other way of evaluating a contract (except ""They won the World Series", which makes deals like Jon Lester's more tenable). If there are other methods, I'd at least like to hear them. Something better than "gut". Or in this case ".280 hitter last year, he's not worth a contract".
                    Last edited by vegandork; 02-20-2021, 01:54 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by vegandork View Post
                      I realize that he *might* have come cheaper over the next 5 (that isn't a given), but whether a guy is at minimum salary or on a long term deal, the average cost of 1 WAR is 8 million. Which means that Tatis only has to be worth 42 - 43 WAR over the course of the contract to hit break even.
                      Tatis might very well be the player most likely to put up 42-43 WAR over the course of the contract. But then again, the odds of any individual player doing so - even one as talented as Tatis - are not favorable.

                      It’s one thing to go to Vegas and bet $100 that Tatis puts up 42-43 WAR. It’s something else entirely to bet $340 million on it. Good for the Padres if they’re right. But there is still tremendous downside risk.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Frater Perdurabo View Post

                        Tatis might very well be the player most likely to put up 42-43 WAR over the course of the contract. But then again, the odds of any individual player doing so - even one as talented as Tatis - are not favorable.

                        It’s one thing to go to Vegas and bet $100 that Tatis puts up 42-43 WAR. It’s something else entirely to bet $340 million on it. Good for the Padres if they’re right. But there is still tremendous downside risk.
                        He's put up almost 8 WAR already in less than a full season worth of at bats. He's putting it up at a rate that really only Mike Trout is expected to top. I think it's just as likely he outperforms those numbers and puts up 10-12 WAR given his immense talent and ceiling that he has.

                        In case it isn't clear...he has 14 years to put up 42-43 WAR. I'm saying he'll be done doing that before he'd have originally hit arbitration. But even if he doesn't, he'll EASILY get to those numbers unless something crazy happens like he loses an arm. $340 million over 14 years means 3 WAR per year, which isn't even superstar level. It's a ridiculous underpay.

                        Calling a contract like this a risk is kind of stupid, because the logic necessary to say it is can be used on basically every other contract. You can make the argument against Eloy's deal just the same. And it's nonsense. Is it a risk? Yes, because the nature of every guarantee is. But the likelihood of it breaking even, or working out for the team where they recoup extra value, BY FAR exceeds any risk of catastrophic injury. I wouldn't undo Eloy's deal because of risk, and I doubt any Padres fan with any sense would undo this deal.
                        Last edited by vegandork; 02-20-2021, 03:17 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by vegandork View Post
                          $340 million over 14 years means 3 WAR per year, which isn't even superstar level. It's a ridiculous underpay..
                          Not just 3 WAR per year, but 3 WAR per year at 2021 prices, which is going to be a great deal well within the life of the contract.
                          "Hope...may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources...but those who stake their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only after they are ruined."
                          -- Thucydides

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by vegandork View Post

                            I'm basing it on the only real method I know of determining value for a contract, where 1 WAR is worth 8 million in contract value.
                            Not being argumentative, just genuinely befuddled. Where does this come from? Who says 1 WAR is worth 8 mil? Based on what?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nellie Fox View Post
                              Not being argumentative, just genuinely befuddled. Where does this come from? Who says 1 WAR is worth 8 mil? Based on what?
                              Division, basically. If you look at the contracts that teams give to free agents, they tend to be about $8 million per projected WAR.

                              https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-cost...gency-in-2020/

                              Even on the Sox, this holds.

                              Adam Eaton is projected to be about a 1.1 to 1.5 WAR player and makes just under $8 million.

                              Liam Hendriks averaged 2.5 WAR in his last two seasons in Oakland, and makes $18 million per year.

                              It's kind of like how real estate in a given area tends to go for a certain number of dollars per square foot, though like that it's not always exact because of differences in how desperate the buyer and seller are, how many people want the same house/right fielder, fluctuations in the economy from year to year, etc. But it's useful as a measuring stick.
                              Last edited by HomeFish; 02-21-2021, 07:45 AM.
                              "Hope...may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources...but those who stake their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only after they are ruined."
                              -- Thucydides

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