Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee Brewers’

Zack Grienke trade: Brewers get 2 mediocre pitchers and a decent shortstop

July 27, 2012

Tonight the Milwaukee Brewers traded star pitcher Zack Grienke to the LA Angels in exchange for two pitching prospects (Ariel Pena and John Hellweg) and a shortstop (Jean Segura).  The shortstop could be okay, depending on his defense, but the pitchers look mediocre or worse.


When evaluating pitchers, my theory — and its not a novel one — is that the only “bases allowed” to the opponent that they truly have control over are bases allowed on walks, hit-by-pitch, and home runs, and that the only outs they can be credited with producing are strikeouts.  Everything else is dependent, to a large extent, on the fielding behind them and dumb luck.  So I judge pitchers according to the bases THEY allow and the outs THEY produce.


The NL average Pitcher Bases/Pitcher Outs this season is 0.884 (I’m not counting HBP, because the Baseball Cube does not provide minor league HBP).  This season Zack Grienke’s PB/PO for the Brewers was an outstanding 0.442.  As a minor leaguer, Grienke posted a 0.621, and for his whole Major League career he has posted an above average 0.721.  He’s a very good pitcher.  I’m not as keen on either Hellweg or Pena.

Both pitchers performed at the AA level this season, and neither has advanced past that level.  For his minor league career, Hellweg has so far posted a PB/PO of 0.830.  That portends trouble because it is not far enough below the NL average to project Hellweg as an above average or even average ML pitcher.  More troubling still is Hellweg’s PB/PO at his highest level (AA): 1.045.  That’s awful.  Hellweg’s problem is that he lacks control and walks far too many batters.

Pena is a little more promising.  His minor league PB/PO so far is 0.794.  However, his AA level PB/PO is too high at 0.882.  Again, that would project him below average as a major leaguer.

Why are these numbers important?  Because pitchers are going to allow base hits that are not their fault.  The occasional dribbler, the seeing eye single, the double in the corner that the power hitting left fielder isn’t good enough to catch.  He can’t do anything about that.  But, the fewer bases he allows on his own accord, the less painful are those bases he cannot control.  And the same applies for strikeouts.  The more strikeouts, the fewer balls that are put in play, the lesser chance that said balls become bases which then could become runs.   In other words, pitchers like Grienke who give up fewer pitcher bases for every strikeout make the defense’s job easier and make the occasional basehit less painful.


As for Jean Segura, the shortstop prospect, I cannot speak very much on him because the most important task for a shortstop is to make outs in the field.  I don’t know how well he does that.  But, I do know that his bat has been okay.  The NL average Hitter Bases/Hitter Outs this season is 0.681.  Segura’s minor league average was 0.858, well above the major league average.  Now, we can expect that to decline when he gets to the majors, but its hard to predict how far.  I do note that Segura’s average at his highest substantive level of competition (AA) was only 0.747, which is troubling.  But, if he can provide a strong glove, the Brewers can live with him being merely a decent bat.


Overall, the Brewers didn’t get much for Zack Grienke.  But, that’s to be expected.  Nobody wants to give up much for a short term rental player like Grienke.  The days of the Doyle Alexander trades are long over.  The Brewers probably did as well as could be expected.


Either PEDs don’t work, or the Braun Scandal makes no sense

June 20, 2012

Last offseason, baseball star Ryan Braun was reported to have tested positive for grossly elevated levels of testosterone. The results made no sense to me, because Braun’s performance numbers for 2011, though slightly elevated, were right in line with his career numbers.

This season Braun is putting up even better numbers.  He has produced for the Brewers 194 bases on only 174 outs made.  Those are Stan Musial numbers.  Those are GOAT numbers. Those are the numbers Braun is producing in a season where he must be the must scrutinized and drug tested player in baseball.

Bill James, the father of Sabermetrics, has long argued that the effect PEDs have on performance numbers is minimal at worst.  He may be right.  If he is not right, then the whole Braun Scandal makes no sense.

I suppose there is a third potential explanation.  Maybe PEDs do not enhance performance, but they do expedite injury recovery.  That would make sense in the Braun case, because Braun was battling nagging injuries all last season, and he may have taken testosterone to insure his health during the Brewers second postseason in over a quarter century.

But if that is the case, why should anyone be against PEDs?  If PEDs don’t “EP” but rather allow players to recover quicker from injury, shouldn’t they merely be considered one more technological advancement?  I mean, players of today are able to recover from ACLs that would have ended many careers yesterday.

Food for thought, I guess.  But one thing is clear — the Federal Government should get the hell out of the sports prosecution business.  What a glory-seeking bunch of morons those federal prosecutors are anyway.

Much worse fielding is the difference between the 2011 and 2012 Brewers

June 8, 2012

Last season the Brewers finished with a 0.592 winning percentage.  This season their winning percentage is down to 0.456.  The difference is almost purely attributable to a drastic reduction in fielding efficiency.

I measure the three main baseball categories (batting, pitching, and fielding) by comparing the number of bases gained or allowed in each category to the number of outs produced by that category.  Base to Out ratio is highly correlated with the number of runs produced.

For batting, the number of bases gained includes bases gained by walks and hit batsmen, as well as bases stolen.  The number of outs produced excludes outs produced by sacrifice bunts.  For pitching, the number of bases allowed includes 4 bases for each home run and one base for every walk or hit batsmen.  No other bases are charged to the pitcher, because he has minimal control over every other kind of base production.  Similarly, the pitcher is only credited with producing outs that come from strikeouts.  Every other kind of base allowed by the defense and out produced by the defense is attributed to fielding.

In 2011, the Brewers offense produced 0.718 bases for every out they made.  That was outstanding.  This season the offense is only producing 0.696 bases per out, but that’s pretty close and still pretty good.

In 2011, the Brewers defense (pitching plus fielding)allowed only 0.637 bases for every out produced.  That was very good.  In 2012 the Brewers are allowing 0.715 bases for every out, which is very bad, and which explains their diminished winning percentage.  The extra bases allowed by the defense translates into extra runs for the opposition.

It’s the Fielding

The increase in bases allowed per outs made can be attributed entirely to the Brewers poor fielding.   Believe it or not, by my standards the Brewer pitching is actually improved.  In 2011 the pitchers were giving up 0.844 bases for every strikeout, this season they are only giving up 0.828 bases per strikeout.  But the fielding has been TERRIBLE.  In 2011, the fielding was a very good 0.504 bases allowed to outs produced whereas in 2012 the average has increased to 0.661.  That’s awful.  In fact, it is the worst in the National League.  And it is the reason why the Brewers are losing so many games despite their decent run production.

Who is to blame? A: Rickie Weeks (and others)

The problem with my fielding statistic is I cannot isolate blame.  However, if we look at the defensive metrics provided by Fan Graphs, we get some insight.

The biggest defensive liability, per play, is Aoki.  He is an incompetent outfielder.  In gross terms, however, the problem is 2nd baseman Rickie Weeks.  He just doesn’t make enough outs in the field.   He hasn’t done so since he came up, and he is not getting better.

Other bad defenders include some surprising names:  Corey Hart, Carlos Gomez, and Alex Gonzalez.  Each of those players have produced strong defensive numbers in the past.

The great irony is Ryan Braun.  At the beginning of his career, his defense was putrid.  He is now one of the more solid defensive players in the Brewers starting 9.

Room for optimism

Here’s why I’m optimistic.  Most of the “extra bases” have come from much poorer play in the outfield (if Weeks misses a play, its usually a single;  when Aoki doesn’t catch the ball it usually means extra bases).  If the team can shore up their outfield defense, they could turn this season around.  And they have the talent.  They just need some health.