Archive for the Glossary Category

Alexi Casilla to Stop Switch Hitting?

Posted in Glossary, Offense with tags , , , , on May 14, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Late last week, the Orioles announced that Alexi Casilla may stop switch hitting in favor of solely batting from the right side.  The move seemed like a curious decision to me, and my initial reaction was that the Orioles were looking to exploit some sort of platoon advantage at second base, especially considering their other second baseman, Ryan Flaherty, bats left handed.

It’s no secret that the second base position is something of an offensive black hole for the Orioles since Brian Roberts went down with a hamstring injury 3 games into the season (and even Roberts was not a sure bet to be productive at the plate this year).  In the absence of Roberts, the Orioles have been sending out Casilla and Flaherty to man the keystone, and it has not been pretty.  Orioles’ second basemen possess a combined .221 wOBA and a 30 wRC+*, both ranking 28th in the league.  For anyone too lazy to click on the link below, a wRC+ of 30 corresponds to a batter who is 70% worse than league average.

*click on the link for a definition of wRC+

Individually in 2013, Casilla, a switch hitter, has a .209/.244/.256 line (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 46 PA’s, with roughly two-thirds of his plate appearances against LHP’s (batting right handed).  Flaherty, a left handed hitter, has a .131/.223/.202 line in 95 PA’s (facing a RHP in all but 5 of them).  Just looking at those two lines makes me think that the Orioles are desperate to suggest Casilla give up switch hitting to focus on batting right handed, but maybe he has hit much better batting right handed against left handed pitching over the course of his career.

It turns out to be the opposite. The table below shows career numbers, and Casilla is a worse hitter when batting right handed in every offensive statistic except for batting average. He walks less, strikes out more, gets on base less, hits for less power, etc.  You get the picture.

Casilla

I can’t comment on whether the Orioles coaches see something better in his right handed swing than his left handed swing based on some sort of scouting or mechanical characteristics (because I don’t know), but the numbers indicate that this will not do anything to improve Casilla’s offensive production, and may even make it worse.  In any event, as long as the Orioles keep playing any combination of Casilla and Flaherty at second base, you can expect little offensive production from them, regardless of what side of the plate Casilla bats on.

Glossary

Posted in Glossary, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Below are some definitions for some statistics that I will refer to over the next couple of posts (and most future posts).  I’m going to assume that everyone is familiar with more traditional statistics such as OBP, SLG, ERA, etc, but not necessarily familiar with some of the newer sabermetric statistics that both of my grandfathers would probably hate (my Dad may even hate them as well…I’ll ask him and provide an update at a future time).  All of these definitions are taken directly from Fangraphs, and if you would like to investigate them further, head over to the Fangraphs library page for more detailed explanations, as well as how these statistics are calculated.

BABIP (Batting Average in Balls in Play)Batting Average on Balls in Play measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.  Typically around 30% of all balls in play fall for hits.  There are three main variables that can affect BABIP rates for individual players: Defense, Luck, and Changes in Talent Level.

wOBA (weighted On Base Average) – Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.  It is set to the same scale as OBP, so league-average wOBA in a given year should be very close to the league-average OBP.

UBR (Ultimate Base Running) – Ultimate Base Running is FanGraph’s way of accounting for the value a player adds to their team via base running. This value is determined using linear weights, with each individual base running event receiving a specific run value.

WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – Wins Above Replacement is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic.  WAR basically looks at a player and asks the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins.

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.  FIP’s concept is based on the idea that pitchers have little control over balls hit in play.  A better way to assess a pitcher’s talent level is by looking at results a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches, and homeruns.  It is set to the same scale as ERA, so a league average FIP in a given year should be the same as the league average ERA.

UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) – Ultimate Zone Rating puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof).  Components that make up UZR include outfield arm strength, infielder ability to turn the double play, the range of the fielder, and errors committed.  UZR/150 is UZR, scaled to 150 games.  As with any advanced defensive statistic, UZR contains a lot of uncertainty, especially in small sample sizes.