Starlin Castro

Today we’ll look at ex-Cubbies where are they now featuring Starlin Castro.  We posted an article at the end of the 2014 season suggesting that the Cubs trade him.   After the 2015 season the Cubs traded him to the Yankees because they had too many shortstops with Russell and Baez.  Let’s start by looking at Castro’s career so far.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2010 -2.1 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS -113-
2011 -0.1 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS XXXXX
2012 -0.3 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS XXXXX
2013 -5.2 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS -010-
2014 0.4 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS XXXXX
2015 -0.4 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B XXXXX
2016 -1.0 Starlin_Castro_NYA 2B XXXXX
2017 2.4 Starlin_Castro_NYA 2B +051+
Total -6.3

He had his worst year in 2013 because the Cubs’ manager at the time kept leading him off using the keep doing the same thing over expecting different results strategy.  Even WAR had him at -0.6 and they rarely give out negatives.  Although he hit 0.300 in 2010 his run production was sub par.   MLB doesn’t care who has the most total bases, hits, strikeouts, home runs, etc. they only give wins to the team with the most runs each game.  The Cubs lost 96 games in 2013, or 30 games under 0.500, and Starlin Castro represented 5.2 of those losses.

Discerning numbers and trying to predict the future is like reading tea leaves since despite what you read on Fangraphs, no one can predict the future.  All predictive stats are BS.  Castro struggled with the Yankees in 2016 and is having a career year so far ranked #51 and the Yankees are winning because of him.  WAR has him ranked #74 so we’re more or less in agreement.   Let’s look at NYA.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
52.3 47.0 402 306 40 32 -6.1 0.8 NYA

A balanced BAT and PITCH, both well above average.  At 40-32 they’re 8 games above average.  I read they’re suffering a losing streak now.  Their UR is bad.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+003+ 5.19 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+048+ 2.44 Luis_Severino_NYA PITCH
+051+ 2.39 Starlin_Castro_NYA 2B
+054+ 2.37 Gary_Sanchez_NYA CR
+069+ 2.08 Aaron_Hicks_NYA CF-LF
+089+ 1.81 Michael_Pineda_NYA PITCH
+090+ 1.81 CC_Sabathia_NYA PITCH
+091+ 1.81 Matt_Holliday_NYA DH
+093+ 1.81 Dellin_Betances_NYA PITCH
+103+ 1.70 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH

Lots of good players on NYA and Castro is almost tied for second best as of now.  For some freak reason 4 of their guys are tied at 1.81 which made me check for bugs in the code that makes these tables (it’s not a bug).  Adam Warren fills out the bottom of this list at #103.  He was the pitcher the Cubs acquired in the Castro trade and now NYA has him back.  He didn’t pitch so well for the Cubs last year.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2012 -1.1 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH XXXXX
2013 0.9 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH XXXXX
2014 1.4 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH XXXXX
2015 2.0 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH +163+
2016 -1.4 Adam_Warren_CHN PITCH XXXXX
2016 0.7 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH XXXXX
2017 1.7 Adam_Warren_NYA PITCH +103+
Total 4.2

Theo and Jed made a good decision with this trade with the information they had at the time.  For some reason Warren didn’t like Chicago or was homesick.  Who knows?  Bottom line is the Yankees might have gotten Castro for nothing and turned him into a decent run producer.

Or did they?  Here is a season scan of Castro at the end of the 2015 season.

Date WAA Name_TeamID Pos
08232015 -1.81 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS
08272015 -1.97 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS
08312015 -1.91 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09052015 -2.08 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09102015 -2.29 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09142015 -1.39 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09182015 -1.51 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09222015 -0.73 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09252015 -0.53 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
09282015 -0.71 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
10012015 -0.65 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B
10062015 -0.36 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS-2B

This scan starts at 8/23/2015 and goes to the end of the year.  This is around the time Maddon made Castro play second base and all of a sudden he starts hitting.  At the 9/10 sample he’s at WAA=-2.29 and he finishes the year at -0.36.  Castro gained almost +2 WAA in less than a month in September.  He plowed through the Cardinals and was a significant force securing the second wild card spot.  It is that Starlin Castro who is playing for the Yankees right now.

A baseball season is a marathon and we aren’t even half way through it.  WAA goes down just as easily as it goes up so we’ll revisit Starlin at the end of the season.  I’m happy for him and still think the trade was appropriate since Russell played a significant role helping the Cubs win a World Series.  And that’s all that matters.

Tomorrow new series matchup with WAS and it won’t be pretty.  WAS is a top tier MLB team.  We’ll do All Star Picks one day during that series.   Until then….

State of the Smokies 6/22/2017

We’ll do these state of Smokies and Iowa Cubs every so often — especially Iowa since we want to keep track of Kyle Schwarber who will have another storybook year if he comes out of Iowa and helps win another World Series for the Cubs.

We have a dataset from 6/22 which should be good enough to get an idea of what is going on with the Cubs’ AA team.  Here is team status.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
-5.5 13.6 283 269 36 33 2.4 1.9 Tennessee_Smokies_CHN 6/22/2017

BAT a little under water, PITCH above average and they’re 3 wins up which gets divvied amongst their players.  Let’s look at their top players right now.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+008+ 3.23 Jason_Vosler_CHN BAT
+014+ 2.81 James_Pugliese_CHN PITCH
+024+ 2.31 Daury_Torrez_CHN PITCH
+048+ 1.97 Jen-Ho_Tseng_CHN PITCH
+061+ 1.76 Trevor_Clifton_CHN PITCH
+102+ 1.41 Andury_Acevedo_CHN PITCH
+153+ 1.07 Ian_Rice_CHN BAT
XXXXX 0.44 David_Garner_CHN PITCH

They have three guys in top 25 which isn’t bad for a dataset of 30 MLB franchise affiliates.  On average each affiliate should have around 1 in the top 25.  I don’t know who any of these players are so cannot comment.  The model just crunches numbers and makes these reports.  That you can hit in AA does not mean you can hit in MLB or even AAA.   We only show the value stat (WAA) in these reports because the purpose of a value stat is to discern the myriad numbers you will see on other sites into something simple to identify.

Let’s look at the top 20 players as of 6/22 to get a glimpse as to what franchises are doing well with player development in this league.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 4.28 Tyler_Mahle_CIN PITCH
+002+ 3.70 Edwin_Rios_LAN BAT
+003+ 3.51 Austin_Ross_CIN PITCH
+004+ 3.49 Jack_Flaherty_SLN PITCH
+005+ 3.42 Scott_Kingery_PHI BAT
+006+ 3.34 Kevin_Cron_ARI BAT
+007+ 3.34 Tyler_Marincov_OAK BAT
+008+ 3.23 Jason_Vosler_CHN BAT
+009+ 3.19 Ronald_Herrera_NYA PITCH
+010+ 3.02 Garabez_Rosa_BAL BAT
+011+ 2.98 Tyler_Marlette_SEA BAT
+012+ 2.94 Lucas_Long_BAL PITCH
+013+ 2.88 Rogelio_Armenteros_HOU PITCH
+014+ 2.81 James_Pugliese_CHN PITCH
+015+ 2.77 Chris_Rowley_TOR PITCH
+016+ 2.69 Mike_Kickham_MIA PITCH
+017+ 2.60 Mike_Soroka_ATL PITCH
+018+ 2.58 Scott_Barlow_LAN PITCH
+019+ 2.44 Franmil_Reyes_SDN BAT
+020+ 2.39 Miguel_Andujar_NYA BAT

I don’t know who any of these players are.  Minor league rankings can be deceiving.  Since value accumulates through playing time, a standout player who came from A+ or A mid season will start off at 0 and could get lost in  lower rankings.  It might be worthwhile to show WinPct to find streaking players working their way up the ladder.   We’ll see.

We’ll do Smokies once every two weeks and the Iowa Cubs every week.  We’ll wait until July so Schwarber can get some playing time in.  Until then….

Top Ten MLB Players 6/23/2017

It has been 12 days since we last did this.   Both AL and NL, pitchers and batters, get ranked together.  This model assigns wins to all players equally according to the runs they produce (batters) or the runs the don’t let score (pitchers).  Both are equally important.   Here are the top ten MLB players according to this data model.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 5.80 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+002+ 5.75 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+003+ 5.19 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+004+ 4.58 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF
+005+ 4.54 Dallas_Keuchel_HOU PITCH
+006+ 4.45 Jason_Vargas_KCA PITCH
+007+ 4.45 Ryan_Zimmerman_WAS 1B
+008+ 4.28 Charlie_Blackmon_COL CF
+009+ 4.01 Cody_Bellinger_LAN LF-1B
+010+ 3.97 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH

Here is the top ten according to WAR.

Rank WAR Name_TeamID Pos  WAA Rank
+001+ 4.2 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+002+ 4.1 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+003+ 3.9 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+004+ 3.6 Jason_Vargas_KCA PITCH
+005+ 3.4 Mookie_Betts_BOS RF  XXXXX
+006+ 3.4 Mike_Trout_ANA CF  41
+007+ 3.3 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B  16
+008+ 3.3 Dallas_Keuchel_HOU PITCH
+009+ 3.3 Jose_Altuve_HOU 2B  XXXXX
+010+ 3.2 Carlos_Carrasco_CLE PITCH  20

The highlighted names in the above table are those where this model and WAR both have these players in the top ten somewhere.  We have Carrasco #20 and Trout #41.   The bad outliers are Betts and Altuve who we have unranked, out of top 200.  WAR folds defense into its weighting factor which is what caused Darwin Barney to have a WAR=4.8 and ranked #39 in 2012.  Darwin Barney’s WAR is the inspiration behind the creation of this data model back in 2013.  We’ll get into the flaw in how Sabermetrics measures defense later because it’s a big topic.  For now let’s look at the full lines of the two outlier players above.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX 0.90 0.273 0.350 317 40 45 Mookie_Betts_BOS RF
XXXXX 0.90 0.322 0.394 313 34 47 Jose_Altuve_HOU 2B

Mookie Betts had an incredible season last year.  We had him ranked #5 at the end of the 2016 season and WAR had him ranked #2.   His BA and OBP isn’t that spectacular.  We have him above average at 0.90 and coincidentally Altuve is at the same WAA value.  Altuve has a very high BA and OBP and the runs created formula favor that immensely which ends up in WAR’s final rating.  Altuve’s high WAR is understandable.  The only reason for Betts’ high WAR is either carry over from 2016 or a Darwin Barney like fluke defense addition.

Altuve has 34 RBIs and 47 Runs which is his run production.  He scampers around the bases more than he drives guys in but that’s just as important.  You can’t tell if the above is good or bad or what just by looking at those numbers.   You need to know team and league averages to come to the conclusion that Jose Altuve brought 0.9 wins above league average this season and that’s it.

Update 6/24/2017: The above now in italics is not entirely correct.  Basic Runs Created formula also relies heavily on total bases which is described in more detail here.  If a player hits a lot of home runs they accumulate fast in total bases — even if most of them are solo.  A player who hits a double to drive in guys on first and second scoring 2 runs will only add 2 to his Total Bases while a player who hits a solo home run adds 4.  Many players playing for their Draft Kings team want to hit home runs because it boosts  RC and WAR significantly.

Hit stats are game stats, stats Joe Madden needs to know managing a game.  This data model computes a value stat.   WAR is a value stat which is why we compare the two.  We don’t keep track of home runs or hits of any type.  We have them if needed for proofs or disproofs but that’s all we use them for.  As mentioned above looking at Altuve’s run production provides no information without context.  That is a big problem blindly throwing around baseball stats.  Let’s look at Nolan Arenado’s numbers who we have at #16 and WAR has him slightly above.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
+016+ 3.30 0.301 0.352 321 59 47 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B

Arenado has 25 more RBIs than Altuve with the same number of runs.  That’s why we more or less agree with WAR over him.  Those extra 25 RBIs turned into real wins for the Rockies this yearEnd of Update 6/24/2017

To make this even more clear as to why we have Altuve at 0.9 let’s take a look at HOU which is one of the hottest teams in MLB this season.  They could be  World Series contenders  this year.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
63.7 40.1 408 288 50 24 12.1 4.1 HOU

At 50-24 they have a real WAA=26 or some people say they’re 26 games above 0.500 (or average). In this data model, that 26 wins must be divvied up amongst all contributers on HOU. Let’s take a look at them.  Their UR is excellent which means HOU has very good fielding as a team (i.e. they don’t make a lot of costly errors).

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+005+ 4.54 Dallas_Keuchel_HOU PITCH
+022+ 3.04 George_Springer_HOU CF-RF
+025+ 2.96 Lance_McCullers_HOU PITCH
+031+ 2.71 Carlos_Correa_HOU SS
+047+ 2.44 Marwin_Gonzalez_HOU LF-1B-3B
+070+ 2.10 Jake_Marisnick_HOU CF
+099+ 1.70 Chris_Devenski_HOU PITCH
+103+ 1.68 Brian_McCann_HOU CR
+120+ 1.49 Will_Harris_HOU PITCH
+123+ 1.47 Brad_Peacock_HOU PITCH
+183+ 1.09 Evan_Gattis_HOU CR-DH
XXXXX 0.90 Jose_Altuve_HOU 2B

This model counts real runs, assigns them, which gets estimated into wins.  Those above rankings truly reflect the wins each of those players contributed to make HOU 24 games above 0.500.  We could place a WAR value next to each of these players, add them up, and it won’t come anywhere close to reality.  There is a mathematical proof to this model and it is consistent from player to player, league to league, year to year.  Our ranking is correct here just like our ranking was correct for Darwin Barney in 2012.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
-126- -1.87 0.254 0.299 588 44 73 Darwin_Barney_CHN 2B 2012

That -126- means #126 in the bottom 200, a list no one wants to be #1.

Kyle Schwarber to AAA

Kyle Schwarber has been sent to help the Iowa Cubs.  It will be an interesting couple of weeks now watching him start anew in a new league.  Everyone starts at WAA=0 and either rises or falls from there.  The Iowa Cubs will get a weekly status from now on.  Let’s look at the Iowa Cubs using a June 17 snapshot used to test some scripts which are mostly done.  Here is their status line:

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
-3.4 -77.4 294 379 27 38 -5.7 -1.3 Iowa_Cubs_CHN  6/17/2017

This team has terrible PITCH, slightly below average BAT and they’re 11 games under.  Standings don’t matter when you’re 11 games under.  Kyle Schwarber will help the BAT situation but may not be able to single handedly right this ship unless the Cubs bring up some pitchers from the Smokies — if they have any good ones.  We’ll see about that later.   Here are top Cubs as of the 6/17 snapshot.

+030+ 2.33 Victor_Caratini_CHN BAT
+036+ 2.18 Eddie_Butler_CHN PITCH
+047+ 1.93 Seth_Frankoff_CHN PITCH
+053+ 1.91 Ian_Happ_CHN BAT
+126+ 1.30 Chris_Dominguez_CHN BAT
+187+ 1.01 Mark_Zagunis_CHN BAT
XXXXX 0.84 Jeimer_Candelario_CHN BAT
XXXXX 0.82 Zac_Rosscup_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.80 David_Berg_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.44 Steve_Perakslis_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.36 Alec_Mills_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.29 Dylan_Floro_CHN PITCH

We now combine International and PCL because they both have the same class of player, AAA. There are 30 teams each with an MLB franchise affiliation. The Iowa Cubs have 6 guys in the top 200, two are playing with the Cubs now. Eddie Butler’s WAA is phenomenal for his short playing time  (30.3 IP) which is why the Cubs brought him up. Players in minor leagues move around a lot and their season is shorter. This can screw up a minor league team’s win loss record.   Their MLB franchises need to cull top players.  That’s the entire purpose of their farm system.

Ian Happ only had 119 plate appearances and if you calculate that rate or WinPct it’s over 0.700.  Since his WAA is frozen in this league he’ll keep dropping in rank as time goes on which is why he’s #53 now.  The MLB Cubs don’t want to waste that talent helping the Iowa Cubs win.  I don’t know who the other names are yet.   We’ll wait another week to do State of the Iowa Cubs after Schwarber gets settled in.  Until then….

Cubs Marlins Matchup

The Cubs are playing the Marlins again but in Miami this time.   We analyzed this matchup a little over two weeks ago.  Here’s what the Ouija Board spit out today (noon snapshot).

DATE 06_22 7:10_PM Jun_22_12:17 CHN MIA
LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.600 ] < 0.565 >
STARTAWAY -0.48(0.472) Jake_Arrieta_CHN
LINEHOME MIA [ 0.417 ] < 0.455 >
STARTHOME -0.04(0.490) Jeff_Locke_MIA

Jeff Locke hasn’t had a good career:

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2011 -1.0 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH XXXXX
2012 -1.2 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH -252-
2013 1.2 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH +261+
2014 -0.5 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH XXXXX
2015 -2.6 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH -072-
2016 -3.8 Jeff_Locke_PIT PITCH -028-
2017 -0.0 Jeff_Locke_MIA PITCH XXXXX
Total -7.5

The Ouija Board is giving starting pitching to the Cubs today. As away field disadvantage they should have a 0.460 probability of winning and instead they’re getting 0.565. Let’s look at lineups for yesterday since we won’t get current ones until much later.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 06212017
1.60 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B 314
0.25 Kris_Bryant_CHN RF 296
-0.34 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF 257
0.27 Addison_Russell_CHN SS 232
0.53 Ian_Happ_CHN 2B 126
-0.40 Tommy_La_Stella_CHN 3B 41
0.32 Willson_Contreras_CHN C 214
-0.32 Eddie_Butler_CHN P 13
-0.08 Albert_Almora_CHN CF 146
TOTAL WAA=1.83 PA=1639 WinPct=0.521

Cubs still hovering in the 0.520/0.530 range which is a little above average.  Rizzo is their lone standout hitter.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 06212017
-1.47 Dee_Gordon_MIA 2B 300
2.02 Giancarlo_Stanton_MIA RF 291
0.69 Christian_Yelich_MIA CF 298
2.37 Marcell_Ozuna_MIA LF 298
2.18 Justin_Bour_MIA 1B 231
-0.48 Derek_Dietrich_MIA 3B 200
-0.67 A.J._Ellis_MIA C 59
-0.15 JT_Riddle_MIA SS 158
-0.55 Dan_Straily_MIA P 30
TOTAL WAA=3.95 PA=1865 WinPct=0.541

The Marlins have three positive standouts who may be difficult to get out and one negative who happens to be leading off for some reason.  At 0.541 the Marlins have an edge in hitting as of all collected stats this season.   Justin Bour is an ex-Cubbie who played for the Tennessee Smokies in AA Southern League.  We mentioned him two weeks ago.  This data model has him currently ranked #63 in MLB both pitchers and batters which is very very good and a career year for him.  Let’s see the Marlin’s team status.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
-0.7 -5.0 329 340 31 38 -4.7 -0.6 MIA

The Marlins are 7 games under with slightly below average PITCH and average BAT.  With those three highly ranked hitters they must have many very below average players dragging this team under.  This is a problem the Cubs don’t have.  Since most Cubs are hovering around average they don’t have many players in the bottom 200.

Here are relief squads.

TeamID WAA IP WinPct
CHN 5.0 (est) 245 (est) 0.612
MIA 1.55 237.3 0.529

Miami has above average relief which they may need today unless the Cubs hitters can’t hit again.  This is the point in the season when pitchers move from relief to starter and vice versa.  Mike Montgomery is no longer a reliever so much of his value must come off the relief squad’s books.  Soon we’ll have to parse rosters to find current day value for various sets of players.

Minor league coming as well as our All Star Picks for starting lineup.  Until then….