jason heyward

MLB Recap 2012: The Hidden Season

An MLB Recap that focuses on the lesser seen aspects of the 2012 season.

mike troutThe Ninja’s MLB recap 2012 explores the season from an analytical and sabermetrical point of view. Please check the bottom for sources.

Top MLB Free Agents

MLB Free Agent Sleepers

  • How did your team fare in areas such as cost per win, run ratio, runners stranded, and sabermetrical pitching?
  • Which players were the most valuable in terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) value?
  • What pitchers made the most impact?

Teams:

Cost Per Win

The Rays and A’s have an economic approach to baseball, even on the field. Working deep counts and good OBP are always going to be relevant, but speed to go along with it is in style now. To ball on a budget, the A’s and Rays have taken advantage of speed and player development to find hidden gems and compete with a low payroll. This list shows just how inefficient it can be to build a team through big free agent contracts, as 4/5 worst Cost Per Win teams did not make the playoffs.

Best:
1. Tampa Bay Rays – 708.3 K/Win
2. Oakland A’s – 722.6 K/Win
3. San Diego Padres – 733.7 K/Win
dustin pedroia4. Cincinnati Reds – 838.2 K/Win
5. Baltimore Orioles – 840.0 K/Win

Worst:
1. Boston Red Sox – 2.7 M/Win
2. Philadelphia Phillies – 2.2 M/Win
3. New York Yankees – 2.1 M/Win
4. LA Dodgers – 2.0 M/Win
5. Miami Marlins – 1.9 M/Win

Run Differential

Runs scored vs. Runs allowed. Usually a decent standard to judge a team’s performance over a season…but big victories (i.e winning by 6,7,8+) are just as valuable as victories by a small margin when it comes to standings .

Best:
1. Washington Nationals +137
2. New York Yankees +136
3. Tampa Bay Rays +120
4. St. Louis Cardinals +117
5. Texas Rangers +101

Worst:
1. Houston Astros -211
2. Cleveland Indians -178
3. Chicago Cubs -146
4. Colorado Rockies -132
5. Minnesota Twins -131

Runners Stranded

hunter penceNoting frustrates a fan more than their team leaving runners on base all game. Countless opportunities lost leads to bad seasons…right?

1. St. Louis Cardinals 7.37
2. San Francisco Giants 7.18
3. Cleveland Indians 7.17
4. Minnesota Twins 7.08
5. San Diego Padres 7.07

Sacrifice yourself

These teams had the most sac bunts this season.

Most
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 82
2. Milwaukee Brewers: 76
3. Colorado Rockies: 74
4. Cincinnati Reds: 73
5. Philadelphia Phillies: 72

Least
1. Cleveland Indians: 17
2. Kansas City Royals: 26
3. Oakland Athletics: 27
4t. Chicago Whitesox: 31
4t. New York Yankees: 31

The bases are drunk!

The home fans are going crazy, and all of the pressure is on the pitcher because the bases are loaded. Which teams hit the best?

Best
1. Tampa Bay .376
2. Boston Red Sox .343
3. Philadelphia Phillies .336
4. Toronto Blue Jays .317
5. Seattle Mariners .316

Worst
1. Houston Astros .130
2. San Francisco Giants .211
3. Detroit Tigers .217
4. Cleveland Indians .227
5. Minnesota Twins .227

Note: Sample size could be an issue here, the Tigers had a lot more opportunities with runners on base, and the law of averages will bring you down.

ISO Power mashers

Isolated power is a measure of a player (or team’s) raw power. An average ISO would be about 0.145.

Best:
1. New York Yankees .188
2. Milwaukee Brewers .177
3. Texas Rangers .173
4. Baltimore Orioles .170
5. Chicago White Sox .167

Worst:
1. LA Dodgers .122
2. San Fransisco Giants .128
3. Minnesota Twins .130
4. Cleveland Indians .131
5. San Diego Padres .133

Efficiency masters

curtis grandersonThese teams had the lowest team hits per run ratio. Meaning, they make the most out of the hits they get.

1. New York Yankees 1.84
2t. Tampa Bay Rays 1.86
2t. Oakland A’s 1.86
2t. Milwaukee Brewers 1.86
3t. Toronto Blue Jays 1.88
3t. Chicago White Sox 1.88

Top Pitching Staffs

Usually defense and pitching goes together. Let’s take the defensive and homepark factors out, and insert a league average defense using xFIP. Which team had the best pitching?

Best:
1. Rays: 3.59
2. Phillies: 3.61
3. Cardinals: 3.72
4. Brewers: 3.73
5. Tigers: 3.74

Worst:
1. Twins: 4.46
2. Cubs: 4.39
3. Indians: 4.39
4. Blue Jays: 4.30
5. Royals: 4.39

Serve em up, sit em down

The scorekeeper writes a K in the book. These staffs struck out the most batters this season.

Best:
1. Brewers: 1402
2. Phillies: 1385
3. Rays: 1383
4. Nationals: 1325
5. Tigers: 1318

Worst:
1. Twins: 943
2. Indians: 1086
3. Marlins: 1113
4. Cubs: 1128
5. Athletics: 1136

Flash the leather

Defensive runs saved (DRS) measures “runs” above or below average. The stat includes runs saved in the areas of: stolen base, bunt, double play, outfield arm, HR saving catch, and range.

Best:
1. Braves: 71
2. Blue Jays: 59
3. Angels: 58
4. Red Sox: 43
5. Reds: 32

Worst:
1. Rockies: -88
2. Astros: -70
3. Indians: -51
4. Marlins: -46
5. Mets: -44

Home is where the heart is

These teams had the best home record. Home field advantage could come down to comfort, lighting, field dimensions, or just straight luck.

1. Yankees: 51-30
2t. Washington: 50-31
2t. Cincinnati: 50-31
2t. Oakland: 50-31
2t. Texas: 50-31
2t. St Louis: 50-31
2t. Detroit: 50-31

We can stay all month if you want…

bryce harperSome teams had no problem playing on the road this year.

1. Washington: 48-33
2. Cincinnati: 47-34
3t. Atlanta: 46-35
3t. San Francisco: 46-35
3t. Baltimore: 46-35

Average Attendance

Even though the Phils struggled this seasons, they still filled their stadium at a 100% rate and lead the MLB in avg attendance.

Best:
1. Philadelphia: 44,021
2. Yankees: 43,733
3. Texas: 42,719
4. San Francisco: 41,695
5. LA Dodgers: 41,040

depressed astros fansWorst:
1. Rays: 19,255
2. Cleveland: 19,797
3. Houston: 19,848
4. Oakland: 20,728
5. Seattle: 21,258

Players

Offense and defense:

WAR Postion Players

robinson canoHow many wins did a position player provide for his team compared to inserting a league minimum average player into his slot for the season? There are no real surprises here besides a very popular MVP pick Miguel Cabrera sitting outside of the top 5. WAR calculations from FanGraphs.

1. Mike Trout: 10.0
2. Buster Posey: 8.0
3. Ryan Braun: 7.9
4t. Robinson Cano: 7.8
4t. David Wright: 7.8

Mr. Clutch

torri hunterWho came through the most often with 2 outs and runners in scoring position?
(Min 50 Abs)

Best
1. Torri Hunter .426
2. Miguel Cabrera .420
3. Joe Mauer .397
4. Yoenis Cespedes .365
5. Elvis Andrus .364

Worst
1. Daniel Descalso .116
2. Brandon Crawford .121
3. Mark Teixeira .125
4. Brendan Ryan .128
5. Everth Cabrera .131

Good eye, kid

These players drew the most walks this season.

1. Adam Dunn 105
2. Ben Zobrist 97
3t. Dan Uggla 94
3t. Joey Votto 94
4. Carlos Santana 91

Offensive Juggernauts

These players recorded the best wRAA this season. wRAA measures the number of offensive runs a player contributes to their team compared to the average player. No sabermetrical surprises here.

1. Miguel Cabrera 57.3
2. Ryan Braun 53.4
3. Mike Trout 48.2
4. Andrew McCutchen 47.5
5. Prince Fielder 46.1

Solid Contact

These hitters had the best batting average on balls in play or (BABIP). In the 2011 off season, Casey Kotchman was being told by most GMs he was asking for too much money in free agency. Casey’s career high BABIP in 2011 (+.30) indicated he would likely fall of this season, which he did. Most of the time, this statistic serves as a valid predictor that a player will fall off, only if it is first compared to his career BABIP.

1. Dexter Fowler: .390 (career BABIP: .353)
2. Torii Hunter: .389 (.307)
3. Mike Trout: .383 (.358)
4. Andrew McCutchen: .375 (.326)
5. Austin Jackson: .371 (.370)

Swing and a Miss

Which players swung and missed the most?

Worst: 
1. Josh Hamilton – %20.0
2. Chris Davis – %15.5
3. Danny Espinosa – %15.2
4. B.J. Upton – %14.9
5. Mark Trumbo – %14.6

Best: 
1. Marco Scutaro – %1.8
2. Denard Span – %2.7
3. Ben Revere – %3.0
4. Micheal Brantley – %3.0
5. Martin Prado – %3.5

Speed Kills

jason heywardThe Ultimate Base Running Primer (UBR) is a linear weights formula that calculates a players total value as a base runner. Lots of players are fast, but this formula factors in instincts and smart aggression.
UBR explained.

1. Jason Heyward: 7.4
2. Angel Pagan: 5.9
3t. Mike Trout: 5.0
3t. Cameron Maybin: 5.0
3t. Jimmy Rollins: 5.0

Steal, swipe or snipe

All of these sabermetrics are hurting my head, let’s look at an old-school stat, stolen bases. As I mentioned earlier regarding the Rays and A’s, the stolen base is undervalued in the market right now. The geeks may already need to tweak their sabermetic stats such as WAR and UBR to account for this.

1. Mike Trout 49
2. Rajai Davis 46
3. Everth Cabrera 44
4. Mike Bourn 42
5t. Jose Reyes 40
5t. Ben Revere 40

Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play

These guys kept their head in the game, and recorded the highest average as pinch hitters this season. (Min 25 AB) .

1. Mike Baxter .458
2. Reed Johnson .419
3. Xavier Paul .333
4. Austin Kearns .325
5. Raul Ibanez .320

Just set the table

These hitters were the best with runners on base this season (min 175 AB).

1t. Buster Posey .353
1t. Joey Votto .353
2. Carlos Ruiz .352
3. Joe Mauer .346
4. Dexter Fowler .342

Rally starters

The key to winning games is scoring runs, and the key to scoring runs is having at least one guy on base. These hitters were the best in the league when it comes to hitting with nobody on base (min 175 AB).

1. Jeff Keppinger .365
2. Melkey Cabrera .363
3. Mike Trout .335
4. Andrew McCutchen .333
5. Adrian Beltre .330

Ice water veins

miguel cabrera prince fielder handshakeThese players lead the league in average after the 7th inning.

1t. Miguel Cabrera .337
1t. Prince Fielder .337
2. Jose Reyes .333
3. Marco Scuataro .332
4. Andrew McCutchen .329

Power and Finesse

bj uptonPower-speed # is the harmonic mean between stolen bases and homeruns.

1. Mike Trout 37.2
2. Ryan Braun 34.6
3. B.J. Upton 29.4
4. Jimmy Rollins 26.0
5. Carlos Gomez 25.1

Taylor-made

The terrible combination of ground balls and slow foot speed. These players grounded into the most double play balls this season.

1. Miguel Cabrera 28
2t. Howie Kendrick 26
2t. Michael Young 26
3. Derek Jeter 24
4. Joe Mauer 23

Homebodies and Road Warriors

Some guys do well at home. Who knows…it could be the food, weather, park dimensions, routine, or some other mysterious factor (Colorado’s thin air?). Although we will never know beyond speculation and casual correlation, we can still look at the numbers. (min 175 ABs)

Best at home 
1. Jon Jay .384
2. Carlos Gonzalez .368
3. David Ortiz .359
4. Chris Nelson .347
5. Adrian Beltre .346

Best on the road 
1. Juan Pierre .376
2. Melkey Cabrera .367
3. Derek Jeter .347
4. Mike Trout .332
5. Carlos Ruiz .332

Blocks and Cannons:

Which catchers were game changers with their arms and saved the most runs with their blocking skills? (min 1000 innings)

rSB- How many “runs” a catcher contributes to their team by throwing runners out and preventing steals in the first place.
1. Yadier Molina: 8
2. Matt Wieters: 6
3. Kurt Suzuki: 4
4. 5 players tied at 2

buster poseyRPP- calculates the number of run contributed above / below average a catcher contributes from blocking pitches.
1. Buster Postey: 4.0
2. Brian McCann: 3.5
3. Matt Wieters: 3.4
4. John Buck: 2.8
5. Miguel Montero: 2.7

Best defenders

The Ninja’s best defenders are ranked by the sabermetrical statistic UZR. UZR is a rating that compares a player against the league average in the categories of outfield arm, double plays, range runs saved, and error runs saved.
UZR reference.

Best
1. Jason Heyward: 22.9
2. Michael Bourn: 22.4
3t. Adrian Gonzalez: 17.7
3t. Josh Reddick: 17.7
4. Mike Moustakas: 16.8

Worst
1. Curtis Granderson: -17.8
2. Shin-Shoo Choo: -17.0
3. Rickie Weeks: -17.2
4. Jose Altuve: -15.8
5. Derek Jeter: -15.2

Pitching:

WAR Pitching

justin verlander david priceHow many wins did a pitcher provide for his team compared to inserting a league minimum average pitcher into his slot for the season? There are no real surprises here, but the same sabermetrical argument that is made for Trout over Miggy in the MVP race exists with the AL Cy Young as well. WAR calculations from FanGraphs.

1. Justin Verlander: 6.8
2. Felix Hernandez: 6.1
3. Clayton Kershaw: 5.5
4. Gio Gonzalez: 5.4
5t. David Price: 5.1
5t. Zach Grienke: 5.1
5t. Yu Darvish: 5.1

Adjusted ERA

calyton kershawSome pitchers have the bad luck of throwing behind a shaky defense. True earned runs allowed or tERA, calculates ERA independent of defense. The Bluejays mashed the ball decently this year but had no chance to compete in the AL East with two pitchers in the top 5 worst in tERA.

Best
1. Clayton Kershaw: 2.95
2t. Felix Hernandez: 3.21
2t. Cliff Lee: 3.21
3. David Price: 3.23
4. Gio Gonzalez: 3.34

Worst
1. Jeremy Guthrie: 6.33
2. Ervin Santana: 5.69
3. Ricky Romero: 5.66
4. Henerson Alvarez: 5.61
5. Mike Leake: 5.57

Keep it in the park!

HR/FB is the ratio of how many home runs are hit against a pitcher for every fly ball they allow.

Best
1. Gio Gonzalez 5.8%
2. Aaron Harang 6.3%
3. Jarrod Parker 6.8%
4. Wade Miley 6.9%
5. Felix Hernandez 7.7%

Worst
1. Ervin Santana 18.9%
2. Henderson Alvarez 18.1%
3. Mike Leake 16.7%
4. Ivan Nova 16.6%
5. Joe Blanton 15.3%

Shutdowns and meltdowns

aroldis chapmanThe rules around holds and saves are complicated. Sabermetricians have created a way around this. Shutdowns (SD) and meltdowns (MD) simply answer: did a relief pitcher help or hinder his team’s chances of winning a game? If they improved their team’s chances of winning, they get a Shutdown. If they instead made their team more likely to lose, they get a Meltdown.

Shutdowns:
1. Jim Johnson: 46 (MD 3)
2. Aroldis Chapman: 41 (MD 6)
3. Craig Krimbel: 37 (MD 4)
3t. Vinnie Pestano: 37 (MD 7)
3t. Ryan Cook: 37 (MD 8)
3t. Grant Balfour: 37 (MD 8)

Meltdowns:
1. Matt Belisle: 19 (SD 30)
2. Phil Coke: 17 (SD 14)
2t. Nate Jones: 17 (SD 18)
2t. Boone Logan: 17 (SD 19)
3. Jeremy Affelt: 16 (SD 18)
3t. Rex Brothers: 16 (SD 24)

Most useful pitch by a starter

Which starting pitchers had the most useful pitch. The reason I use the word ‘useful’ is because we are going to look at pitch type linear weights per 100 pitches. This data will show which pitchers saved the most runs by using that pitch compared to other pitches.

1. Yu Darvish change up  5.71
2. Ubaldo Jimenez cutter  5.30
3. We-Yin Chen cutter  3.76
4. Bud Norris cutter  3.08
5. Jered Weaver cutter  2.93

On an interesting side note, fan graphs rated Stephen Strasburg’s change up as the toughest pitch to hit this season, with hitters only connecting on it 46% of the time they swing. Full story on fangraphs.

Workhorses

justin verlanderThese horses went the complete game for their team the most times. Not only does this rest the bullpen, a pitcher going a complete game and getting the victory can spark a winning streak and give a team confidence during a losing streak.

1. Justin Verlander 6
2t. Felix Hernandez 5
2t. R.A .Dickey 5
3t. Matt Harrison 4
3t. Jake Peavy 4

Warning track power

These pitchers gave up the least amount of HR per 9 innings. Basically telling their opponents to ‘hit the weight room’.

1. Gio Gonzalez .406
2. Felix Hernandez .543
3. Jarrod Parker .546
4. Tim Hudson .603
5. Lucas Harrel .604

Sources: Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Team Rankings
@rammer05

7 comments

    • Ninja

      Kyle,
      These run ratios are totally wrong, the site I got them off of is obviously outdated. We will take those down for now, and have correct ratios up soon. Thanks!

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