How Adam Lind and John Mayberry Jr. Make an Unlikely Pair

Adam Lind is a fantastic hitter.

Wait. Let me rephrase this.

Adam Lind is a fantastic hitter against right-handed pitching. His career 128 wRC+ against RHP is quite good, and his 2014 wRC+ of 164 would have been a league best (if he qualified). For comparison, in Jose Bautista’s world-beating 2011 campaign, he posted a wRC+ of 181. Adam Lind’s 2014 wRC+ is only marginally worse than a guy who nearly posted 8 fWAR. Here is Adam Lind’s Heatmap from 2007-2014 tracking his SLG% against RHP in a 10×10 grid:

Continue reading

One At-Bat, ALCS Edition: Chris Tillman vs. Alex Gordon

Hey, I know it’s been a while. I’ve been around, I have. I’ve been watching baseball, thinking about baseball, also writing a bit about baseball. Enough about me. Let’s talk about One At-Bat. We haven’t done that in a while. Of course, the Blue Jays haven’t had an important at-bat for a while, either. Enough about the Blue Jays. Let’s talk about another blue team… the Kansas City Royals.

The Wild Cards of the AL Central, and the unlikeliest team to go undefeated on their trip to the World Series. And first they had to get through the big bats of the Baltimore Orioles. Our matchup today features Chris Tillman in the role of ‘Pitcher’. Tillman has spent two years as a fixture in the Baltimore rotation, and is coming off of a season where he logged a very respectable ERA of 3.34 and a career best FIP of 4.01. Tillman, according to Brooks Baseball, combines an explosive fastball with a groundball inducing curve to get batters out.

Playing ‘Hitter’ for our little drama is Alex Gordon. Once upon a 2009 he was a ‘busted’ prospect at third base, unable to combine a below average glove with a barely average bat (or maybe vice versa). Reborn in 2011, Alex has figured out his game, and combines superb outfield defense and a well above average bat (140 wRC in 2014) to be the Royals best overall player. He amassed 6.6 fWAR in 2014, more than a full win above Lorenzo Cain‘s total. He is also a lefty without a significant platoon disadvantage with wRC+ of 124 and 121 facing either handed pitcher.

Continue reading

2014 Blue Jays Season Report Card-Bullpen

Welcome to part two of the 2014 Blue Jays season report card. In part one, I examined the starting rotation. Now it’s time to take a look at the less heralded, but equally important piece of the pitching staff: the bullpen.

For those who haven’t yet read part one, here are the criteria for the marks:

Much like that teacher you loved in high school, the grades are measured against a players pre-season expectations, rather than grading each player on the same scale. I will begin with grading and analyzing each player’s season, followed by analyzing his unit as a whole, i.e. starting pitching, infield, etc. If a player receives a “B”, said player lived up to his pre-season expectation. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, below or above a “B”, would reflect performing below or above the expectation.

In terms of those who played for the Blue Jays this season but were left off of the report card, that will be my decision and will have no mathematical criteria, it’s just based on whether I think I have enough info to give legitimate analysis.

Now, the grades…
Continue reading

Starting Rotation Outlook for 2015

The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are going to have to make some tough decisions. Outside of approaching a deal with Melky Cabrera, pondering Casey Janssen’s future with the team, or scouring the Free Agent market in search of an everyday second baseman, the Blue Jays’ front office will have space for five starting pitchers, and seven names to fill them with.

It’s not a problem that the team is unfamiliar with. Heading into spring training in 2014, the Blue Jays had only R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle locked into positions. Names such as Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, Dustin McGowan and Drew Hutchison were all seriously considered, while Marcus Stroman, Rickey Romero, Aaron Sanchez and several other pitchers were considered as outside candidates for the 5th starter role. Stroman and Sanchez’s inexperience, combined with an early injury to JA Happ made finalizing the roster far easier for the club, but 2015 may not go so swiftly.

Here I’ll consider the seven candidates that I’ve identified as (at least) having a semi-realistic chance of making the club in the starting rotation in 2015:

Continue reading

What Will Happen to Aaron Sanchez and Why It Matters

So, last week, I wrote about an idea I had to maximize the usage of Aaron Sanchez in the 2015 season. It was I think, an interesting direction to think about taking him. Andrew Stoeten, over at DJF, took the time to deconstruct the idea with a post of his own. He concluded, generally, that there were better ways to use Sanchez in the long run. Since then, a fair number of people have weighed in in the comments of both articles. I can understand those people who oppose Sanchez in an MLB bullpen, as they have many salient points.

I will not go to great lengths to defend my original proposition here. Suffice to say that I don’t think Aaron would get to spend the entire season in the ‘pen, as I’ve seen too many pitchers get hurt, too many times, to think his services will not be required. And additionally, I proposed the idea as a ‘win now’ concept for 2015. I know it could stunt his growth after next year. The current composition of the 2016 roster is pretty much Jose Reyes and a rack of blank jerseys, so I don’t know what difference Sanchez will make to that team.

The more, how shall I put this, revealing part of this whole exchange has been, for me, the fact that the Blue Jays are never going to do what I suggested. And not just because I suggested it either. They should have better ideas than things I think up on the weekends.

Continue reading

Development Arrested: A Look at Colby Rasmus as a Blue Jay

In July 2011, with the Blue Jays hovering around 10 games out of a playoff spot, Alex Anthopoulos saw an opportunity to acquire a player he had always coveted in Colby Rasmus. All it would take was the moving around of some spare parts, so AA went out and executed a three team deal that despite it’s size wasn’t all that significant.

Colby Rasmus came to the Blue Jays with Brian Tallet, as well as P.J. Walters and Trever Miller. Rasmus was a player that had a good pedigree. At the time of the trade he was only 25 years old, and he’d already amassed 6.6 WAR over two seasons with the Cardinals. There was some reason to have at least a bit of excitement over the acquisition, but there were reasons to be worried about it as well. Rasmus had fallen out of favour with then Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Frequent benchings and arguments plagued the relationship between the player and manager, and many believe that the strife was a result of Rasmus’ relationship with his father. La Russa didn’t appreciate the fact that he’d listen to his father before listening to his coaching staff. It was petty and immature, but the argument lead to the Cardinals giving him away for next to nothing in terms of talent. Continue reading

What Will You Do With Aaron Sanchez?

The Blue Jays have no problems in the starting pitching department, at least as things stand to close out the season. In fact, they recently went 26 games, by my count, with the starter taking them into the seventh innning or later. With only three innings for the bullpen to cover, it makes a seven man bullpen seem like a luxury, and the eight man bullpen the Jays have carried at times completely inappropriate. It also means that the five starters who are both currently on the roster and also those likely to be on the team in spring training, are at least capable up putting up average numbers in the MLB.

So, with five acceptable MLB starters potantially slotted in, the Blue Jays have, as Gideon outlined recently, a surplus of starting pitching. Or they do until somebody gets hurt or traded. Daniel Norris, Kendall Graveman, and Aaron Sanchez appear poised to take the first crack at the rotation if a hole opens up. Wonderful. All of those options are not, however, created equal. The Blue Jays have told us they prefer to follow the convention of limiting their pitchers year over year innings limits. Exactly how big of a workload increase is not 100% clear, commonly 30 innings is thrown around as a maximum. The three ‘next in line’ pitchers had innings totals as follows across all levels in 2014.

Norris 130.2

Sanchez 133

Graveman 166

If you start all three of these fellows in AAA Bufallo to begin the year, and call them up as needed, Norris and Sanchez may well hit their innings limits (at 160-165) in August. Graveman is the only one of the three that might might be able to exceed 190 innings. And, lest you think I’m making this up, Nationals ace Steven Strasburg was shut down in a playoff race because of a post-injury innings limit.

Continue reading