Mining the News (11/1/22)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agents

Matt Harvey is going to try to come back … again.

Right-hander Matt Harvey underwent knee surgery last month, agent Scott Boras tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It isn’t clear whether the procedure is expected to affect his readiness for Spring Training, but Boras tells Sherman that Harvey plans to attempt to make it back to the majors next year.

American League

Guardians

• There is a decent chance Josh Naylor ends up in a platoon.

The same could be true of Naylor. He clubbed 20 home runs and doesn’t turn 26 until June. His production could be hurt by a future platoon role, but could he get to 25 home runs next season? It doesn’t seem unrealistic, particularly since only one of his home runs came against a lefty.

He has a career .512 OPS against lefties and a .856 OPS against righties.

Mariners

Luke Weaver reworked his changeup last season.

Last week, the Mariners added Weaver to the roster, claiming him off waivers from the Royals. The Mariners see something here, and Weaver did remodel his changeup last season. This feels like a job for the Mariners’ pitching/analytic group.

Weaver’s changeup has never been the problem (career 16% SwStr%, 15% SwStr% in 2022). He needs some other pitch to be at least league average.

Rangers

Glenn Otto pitched better over his last nine starts.

And then something flipped. Over his last nine starts of the season, Otto pitched 46 2/3 innings and his ERA was 4.03. He still allowed eight home runs, but those came with fewer men on base, since his 37 strikeouts came with only 13 walks.

There are some definite changes. Here are his pitch usages and results before August 20th and then from that start forward.

Pitch Early-season usage Late-season usage SwStr% GB%
Four-seam 23% 12% 11% 35%
Cutter 0% 6% 7% 71%
Sinker 27% 32% 4% 55%
Change 11% 1% 7% 49%
Slider 25% 33% 16% 27%
Curve 15% 15% 10% 48%

He approached hitters differently and was able to raise his K%-BB% from 5% to 9%. It was an improvement but there seems to be another gear for him if he hits the perfect mix. It might be to just go fastball-slider.

Dane Dunning will likely start next season in AAA.

The most damning stat, however, is his overall walk rate of 3.6 per nine innings. Dunning underwent hip surgery late in the season and expects to be back in time for Opening Day. With the Rangers focusing on acquiring starting pitching, it seems likely that he’ll start the season in Triple A as he continues his rehab and works to solve his command and first-inning issues.

Cole Ragans had some decent late-season results.

In [Cole Ragans’s] final four starts, he walked just three hitters in 18 2/3 innings. His ERA was higher over those four starts (6.27), but most of the damage was done in a seven-run meltdown against the A’s. His FIP was a crisp 3.38, meaning he was getting more than a little unlucky in those starts.

The drop in walks was major going from 5.5 BB/9 to 1.5 BB/9. His opponent quality dropped with two Houston starts in the first five games and none in the next four. There was no pitch mix change or velocity increase so keeping those walks down will be key.

Tigers

Eric Haase is turning into more than a platoon bat.

Haase was often a go-to option against left-handed pitching. He hit .281 against lefties compared to .239 against righties. The good news is Haase’s performance against right-handers was actually a significant improvement from his career norms. Ten of his 14 homers came against right-handers. His overall offensive performance against righties grades out as 6 percent above MLB average.

A .778 OPS against lefties and a .731 against righties is respectable.

National League

Cardinals

Jordan Walker has hit a ball at 116 mph.

The things he can do with a baseball bat, while quantifiable with modern metrics, are nonetheless hard to comprehend. In his first professional season in 2021, according to Baseball America, he hit balls as hard as 116 mph, a threshold reached this season by only 17 players in the majors.

The total puts him in the 98 percentile. Currently, he has an ADP of 279. I think this could be under 100 by March.

Padres

Adrian Morejon might start next season.

Meanwhile, Adrian Morejon might transfer from the bullpen to the rotation, but he never has pitched more than 65 1/3 innings in a professional season.

Phillies

Brandon Marsh cleaned up his swing when he joined the Phillies.

Most important, Marsh appears to have improved with a simplified swing. His OPS with the Angels was .637. That improved to .773 in 41 games with the Phillies. His hard-hit rate went up 5.3 percentage points. His line-drive rate went up 10.3 points. His pull rate went from 26 percent to 35.2 percent. His strikeouts were down 6.5 percentage points.

Marsh did struggle in the NLCS. He went 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts. But Marsh and Long alluded to potential injuries playing a factor in those numbers. The Phillies might not even be playing anymore if not for Marsh.

Marsh’s improvements usually don’t happen together. His strikeout rate dropped while his Hard Hit% and Launch Angle increased. Normally, there is a tradeoff of a strikeout rate increasing when the other two increase. At the core of the improvement, his Contact% increased from 71% to 77%.

Pirates

Jack Suwinski could be the center fielder next season.

Reynolds was exclusively a center fielder for nearly all of 2022, but in his final game of the season, he shifted over to left field for the first time. It was just one game, but it’s worth wondering whether Reynolds could get more playing time in left, or even if he might shift over there entirely. Reynolds rated poorly as a defender, finishing the season with minus-14 defensive runs saved and minus-7 outs above average. If he moves to left, Jack Suwinski, who impressed defensively at all three spots, could slide over to center field.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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E-Dub
2 months ago

Good to see on Marsh. His swing has looked simplified in playoff views, and his tools — especially speed and arm — continue to stand out. He feels a bit like an OF corollary to J.P. Crawford. Slow, steady development curve to every day player status.