FanGraphsLive: Astros at Angels on MLB The Show

Today at 2 PM ET, Paul Sporer, Ben Clemens, and Dan Szymborski will be viewing the home opener for the Los Angeles Angels (3-4), as the Houston Astros (5-2) come to town. Will the Astros bring a trash can large enough to contain Mike Trout?

Starting for the Angels is Griffin Canning (0-1, 23.63), seeking revenge after being roughed up on Saturday by these same Astros in his first regular season start since being shut down last August due to elbow inflammation. Canning had a short spring because of elbow soreness and received a PRP injection last month, so he may be on a short leash.

Tune in for all the “live” action and make sure to follow FanGraphsLive on Twitch to stay apprised of all of our streaming events!

COVID-19 Roundup: (Some) Teams Address (Some) Workers’ Needs

This is the latest installment of a daily series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

IHME Roadmap

One of the most detailed COVID-19 projections out there is produced by the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, a research instituted founded in 2007. The IHME model endeavors to project how long until states reach peak resource use, including hospital and ICU beds, as well as ventilators. That the model breaks things down state by state is crucial because given the size of the United States, it seems likely that we’ll face two months of individual hot spots that peak at different times rather than one uniform disaster. It’s important to note that the IHME model assumes both that current social distancing measures will remain in place and that the remaining straggler states will enact similar measures as well.

This kind of modeling isn’t just important for policymakers and citizens, but for businesses like Major League Baseball that are attempting to map out their return to normalcy. If these projections turn out to be accurate, it could provide baseball with a lot of useful information as to which places will be safer to hold games sooner (fanless or otherwise), and which dates to look to for an apex to the virus’ trajectory. If states start missing their projected peaks, it will tell everyone that the road ahead will be harder than previously expected, and plans can be made (or adjusted) accordingly. Again, all of this is predicated on the assumption that we continue to practice social distancing. So for the sake of your family and neighbors (and to hasten baseball’s return), please stay home as much as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Eric Longenhagen Chat- 4/3/2020

Eric A Longenhagen: Howdy, friends. Let’s do our baseball chat.

Earl: If there is a 2020 draft in the current modified form, do you think it’ll be more beneficial or less than the typical draft for a team like the Giants who have multiple high picks? With talent pool that’ll be available, other teams’ strategies.

Eric A Longenhagen: Uhhhhh, I suppose I don’t truly know but my knee jerk reaction is that it’s bad for creativity (like there’s no way to execute what the Braves did last year, for instance) and teams picking a bunch in the comp rounds are the ones best positioned to be creative in a typical year, so those are the teams most punished by the inability to get creative.

B: What range might Jesse Franklin go in? He seems to have that ideal spine angle (ie bent close to 40°) that is conducive to a steep plane/attack angle. That sort of mechanical profile coupled w/ the possibility that he sticks at a premium position makes him seem like one of the more interesting “sleeper” college bats IMO.

Eric A Longenhagen: I like Franklin. He’s relatively positionless but I agree he rakes. Does that guy get a medical redshirt in addition to his extra COVID year of eligibility? And does he use those multiple years of leverage as a reason to return to school for another year?

More Quarantine Please!: I’ve noticed that a popular type of question in Fangraphs’ chats is the best way to get a job in baseball. I thought people might like to know that Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has a good article up today with feedback from multiple actual MLB execs:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pandemic Has Interrupted Our Sign-Stealing Scandal Outrage

Before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped Major League Baseball in its tracks, the illegal sign-stealing scandal and its aftermath was one of the game’s top stories, not only as the Astros continued their half-assed apology tour around the Grapefruit League, but as commissioner Rob Manfred’s hotly-anticipated report into the Red Sox’s sign-stealing activities hung in the balance. For the past few weeks, more pressing matters have prevailed, but a few details of where things stand regarding the sign-stealing mess have emerged, enough to gather into a single roundup. Mostly, they all serve to remind us just how much we miss baseball, the booing as well as the cheering.

Hinch and Luhnow suspensions won’t extend beyond 2020

If you were lying awake at night wondering how the year-long suspensions of the Astros’ former manager A.J. Hinch and president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow would be affected by the stoppage, it appears that you now have an answer, though it may keep you tossing and turning. Sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that in the event no baseball is played in 2020, the pair, who were almost immediately fired by Astros owner Jim Crane when Manfred released his report on January 13, would be considered as having served their suspensions. The specific wording in the report (PDF here) states that both suspensions end “on the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series” rather than mandating a specific number of games missed. The report obviously did not account for the contingency of the cancellation of part or all of the 2020 season due to pandemic, but likely any official declaration that the World Series is indeed scrubbed due to previously unforeseen circumstances would apply, thus ending the suspension.

Presumably, it’s the specificity of the report’s wording that has led to this conclusion. MLB must believe that it’s on thin ice if Manfred revises the punishment now, either on legal grounds or simply as a matter of precedent, and as we’ve seen throughout this saga, precedent is everything when it comes to handing down punishments. What’s more, one need only look at the league’s reluctance to launch investigations into both the Astros and the Red Sox despite the numerous complaints — 10 to 12 teams went to the commissioner’s office about the Astros “cheating their asses off for three or four years,” according to the Washington Post, and Manfred sounded assurances that the scandal was confined to the Astros even as rumors swirled — to draw the inescapable conclusion that the league’s desire for closure far outweighs its zeal to administer punishment. Read the rest of this entry »

Talking About Sports Without Sports

It’s now been three weeks since Rudy Gobert’s positive test for COVID-19 shut down the NBA; the rest of the sports world soon followed. That same night, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they had also tested positive, providing the country with ample evidence that COVID-19’s impact would be real and invade all of our lives. We are all affected by this pandemic, and we’ve all been left asking what we should be doing for ourselves and others. While that private contemplation can be helpful, asking others how they are coping can shape our own thoughts and feelings in useful ways. Sports were the among the first things to go, and without an upcoming season to write about, I thought I’d ask those who talk about sports for a living what their plans were during this unexpected hiatus.

Since that strange Wednesday, I’ve talked to a handful of people in the industry, all of whom were gracious with their time and forthright with their answers. I talked to Mike Ferrin, who hosts a show on MLB Network Radio every morning. He talked about balancing the seriousness of the news with the necessity of still being himself. He discussed the opportunity baseball’s delay gave him to go a little deeper with interviews, with history, and with the numbers, and expressed confidence in the sport’s ability to bounce back.

I talked to Kavitha Davidson, who hosts a daily podcast for The Athletic (her show isn’t behind a paywall). She spoke about covering the news of the day and how on many days, that news was going to be COVID-19 related. Discussing Tom Brady’s free agency and eventual signing was necessary, but it would also be impossible to pretend that the NFL offseason is the only thing going on. She mentioned setting up a podcasting space at home since she couldn’t go into the office, and how she and her friends were setting up a virtual St. Patrick’s Day in place of actually going out and having the usual brand of fun associated with the holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

A Colorful Conversation with Former Tiger Dave Rozema

Dave Rozema had a colorful career. A free-spirited changeup artist, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1977 — one year after Mark “The Bird” Fidrych took baseball by storm — and while injuries soon took their toll, he started off with a bang. In a whirlwind rookie season, Rozema worked 218.1 innings, and went 15-7 with a 3.09 ERA.

He wasn’t averse to having fun, nor was he immune from trouble. Rozema was involved in multiple fracases, both on and off the field. On one occasion he emerged, in the words of Royals outfielder Willie Wilson, looking a lot like Rocky Raccoon.

This interview — originally intended for a book project that has remained on the back burner — was conducted in 2010, at Tigers fantasy camp in Lakeland, Florida.


David Laurila: How did you come to sign with the Tigers [in 1975]?

Dave Rozema: “I was drafted in the fourth round, but it was in the January [secondary phase]. In the summer draft, I hadn’t been drafted until the 27th round [by San Francisco], so I wasn’t really that good. I had been offered a full ride to Eastern Michigan, along with Bob Owchinko and Bob Welch, but I decided to go to Grand Rapids Community College. I wasn’t a big scholar; my grades weren’t that good.

“[Tigers scout] Bob Sullivan asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to play baseball?’ I went, ‘Yeah.’ He went, ‘I’ll get you a few bucks. Detroit. Fourth round.’ My heart said I wanted to play pro ball, so I signed.”

Laurila: Your first professional season was in Clinton, Iowa, with Jim Leyland as your manager. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1523: Do Try This at Home

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about the response to FanGraphs’ request for financial support, discuss the latest news about minor league pay, Tommy John surgeries, college eligibility, the possibility of baseball coming back, Astros suspensions, and the suspiciously lively ball, and unveil a Stat Blast song cover and a Stat Blast about the longest team streaks of starting different players at a particular position on Opening Day. Then (45:34) they bring on Texas Rangers major league strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez to explain how teams are trying to keep players in shape from afar while the season is on hold, how technology is aiding that effort and changing training, how players are maintaining their strength, the risk of injury if/when the season starts, how to discourage players from hiding injuries, bearing responsibility for injuries, and working with independent facilities.

Audio intro: The Minders, "Give Me Strength"
Audio interstitial: Neil Young, "Give Me Strength"
Audio outro: The Go-Betweens, "All About Strength"

Link to article about Choo donation
Link to Emma on Tommy John surgery ethics
Link to report about Astros suspensions
Link to report about postseason baseballs
Link to Ben on the postseason baseball
Link to Stat Blast song cover
Link to Stat Blast song covers thread
Link to Opening Day start streak data
Link to Reds pitching WAR leaders
Link to article about 2014 Rangers injuries
Link to 2014 team injury data
Link to TeamBuildr
Link to Gallo video
Link to article about Yankees pitcher training
Link to order The MVP Machine

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Everything Is Terrible, Noah Syndergaard Edition

Baseball, like the world around it, has been flooded with bad news for the last couple of weeks. Normally, losing one of the game’s most exciting 20-something pitchers to Tommy John would create a splash on the level of Dan-doing-a-cannonball-into-a-kiddie-pool. But in these times, the ripples created by the news of Noah Syndergaard’s surgery (along with Chris Sale’s) were relatively minor. What are UCLs compared to the concerns of COVID-19?

But it is bad news. Bad for the Mets and bad for Syndergaard himself. How bad? For a change of pace, let’s start off with the long-term projection rather than finish with it. The projection is notable in this case as there’s a key difference in the model. With no actual game-related news to distract me, I’ve been able to complete work on one of my ongoing data projects: better long-term playing time projections for players with injuries, especially serious ones that cause entire seasons to be missed.

While ZiPS has had a generalized model for injuries — both specific and, well, general — for some time, the focus was mainly on projecting how well the player would play upon returning and the long-term qualitative impact on their play. So long-term, pitchers with bum shoulders would fare worse than those taking a trip to Dr. Andrews’ Magic Elbow Factory, and speedy infielders with leg problems would see their aging curves accelerate. Less of the focus had been the long-term effect on playing time itself, something I’ve been able to work on a lot recently. Read the rest of this entry »

Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 4/2/2020

Read the rest of this entry »

COVID-19 Roundup: Choo, Murphy Donate to the Minors

This is the latest installment of a daily series in which the FanGraphs staff rounds up the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 virus’ effect on baseball.

Shin-Soo Choo Gives Back

Shin-Soo Choo is donating $1,000 to each Rangers minor leaguer, nearly 200 players in total. For minor leaguers scraping to get by, every dollar counts, and Choo mentioned his time in the minors as a motivating factor for the donation. Choo had already donated nearly $200,000 to Community Chest of Korea to help with pandemic relief in Daegu, one of the hardest-hit cities in South Korea.

Daniel Murphy Does Too

Last week, Adam Wainwright made a $250,000 donation to More Than Baseball, a charity that supports all minor leaguers. Yesterday, Daniel Murphy added $100,000 to that total, making the donation to a joint effort between More Than Baseball and Our Baseball Life, a charity that provides support and resources for baseball playing families. The fund will support minor leaguers with families, a particularly vulnerable group during the work stoppage. Read the rest of this entry »