Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Duvall & Zimmerman

Adam Duvall found a home in left field for the Reds. He did it by playing acceptable defense and hitting 33 home runs. Additionally, he maintained a decent batting average with the help of a sub-30% K%. The production was split between the season’s two halves.

In the first half, he hit 23 home runs with a .302 ISO. In the second half, the hit just 10 home runs and a .203 ISO. While some regression should be expected from the first half, he recently mentioned the home run derby cost him some power.

“After the All-Star break, my forearms and hands were tired from the Derby. Maybe I was a little mentally tired from the adrenaline and everything,” Duvall said.

An interesting development. Using corrected StatCast exit velocity, here are Duvall’s batted ball production.

Adam Duvall’s Corrected 2016 StatCast Averages
Time Frame Exit Velocity Launch Angle Distance
Before ASG 86.0 17.6 228
30 days after ASG 84.0 14.8 208
Rest of Season 85.2 17.9 231

Duvall struggled after the game but eventually got going. Besides the All-Star fatigue, he dealt with a bruised foot in mid-August which cost him a few days.

Cracks still exist in his game. He strikes out too much and walks too little. He only hits flyballs, which are easy outs and batting average killers. He hit so many fly balls that his home run total (33) was higher than his doubles (31). Think of him as a batting average sink and an on-base percentage black hole.

Projections though aren’t taking both hindrances into account so I would give him small 2017 bump of maybe 5%. The bump would place the 28-year-old’s projection closer to his 2016 production.

2017 Projection: 33 HR, 85 Runs, 103 RBI, 6 SB, .241 AVG, .297 OBP

 

Ryan Zimmerman and StatCast Errors

Missing StatCast data continues to lead to incorrect conclusions. Just take this comment on Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s average exit velocity was the 13th highest in the Majors and his .248 batting average on balls in play was well below league average and his career average.

Zimmerman’s rank isn’t nearly that high once accounting for missing data. In his case, 12% of the data is missing. This much missing data is not unexpected. He has an average groundball rate and StatCast missed groundballs the most. Once the missing data is added, Zimmerman drops from 14th (one player was added because all balls in play were counted) to 44th overall. He still hits the ball hard but he is not elite.

Remember, be wary of reported StatCast averages or trends as they miss one out of every eight balls in play.

 

Notes

• Great research by Mitchel Lichtman on “when a pitcher has a few really bad starts that mess with his ERA?”

What does it mean when a pitcher has a few really bad starts that mess with his ERA?

Our average projection for these pitchers for the next season (which is an estimate of their true talent that season) was 4.46. How did they pitch the next season – which is an unbiased sample of their true talent (I didn’t set an innings requirement for this season so there is no survivorship bias)? It was 4.48 in 10,998 TBF! So the projection which had no idea that these were pitchers who pitched OK for most of the season but had a terrible seasonal result (5.51 RA9) because of a few terrible starts, was right on the money.

Those few bad starts can’t be ignored.

Carlos Carrasco has declared himself 100% healthy for the season’s start.

“I’m 100 percent right now. I’m good,” Carrasco said Monday from the Dominican Republic, where he is helping deliver baseball gloves and shoes to kids this week. “I’m going to be ready this year to help the team. I can’t wait to go to Spring Training and start games and start the season again.”

I am not worried about the lingering issue with his fractured hand.  The recent injury isn’t hurting his stock as he is the 15th starter off the board in NFBC and 16th at Fantrax.

• I am not the highest person on Mallex Smith, but my faith in him dropped even further after I read this:

Mallex Smith missed most of the past season’s second half with a fractured thumb and then went to the Mexican Winter League only to be released just a few weeks later.

Holy crap. How bad does a hitter have to be to get dropped from by a Mexican Winter League team? It seems like hitting .109/.157/.261 in 46 at bats will do it. At least in Puerto Rico, he is hitting better (.250/.375/.350 in 20 at bats).

Smith’s fantasy value is derived from stolen bases. I wonder if those will come to an end as Atlanta improves. In 2016, Smith stole 16 bases in 24 attempts (66%). In the winter leagues, his success is the same 66% (four for six). His success rate needs to be closer to 75% to be a positive impact. With the low success rate, he may not even be a pinch-running option and he could wither away in the minors.

• Jeff Flanagan thinks Cheslor Cuthbert will be the Royals DH.

The Royals have worked Cuthbert at second base in the Minors and in the instructional league, and results have been so-so. Cuthbert certainly has the hands, but the footwork at second base is much different than third. Chances are it’s not a practical alternative. More likely, the second-base job goes to either Whit Merrifield or Christian Colon, or maybe even Raul Mondesi if he has a big spring. Cuthbert seems destined to man the designated-hitter role.

Being the DH will keep Cuthbert’s value up but I would not be surprised if the Royals bring sign one of the 1B/DH free agents.

• The Indians may continue to platoon Tyler Naquin.

… Naquin’s .775 OPS against lefty pitching is solid. What you have to keep in mind is that sample includes only 40 plate appearances. One of the reason’s the rookie outfielder performed so well offensively was that manager Terry Francona picked his spots and limited Naquin’s exposure to lefties. It was also Naquin’s first time in the Majors, so protecting him some made sense as he learned the league. If the roster remains as is for Opening Day, I’d expect Naquin to have split duties at the start of the year. But he could certainly grow into a larger role as the season progresses.

I can’t imagine Abraham Almonte taking time from Naquin unless Naquin struggles from months.

Jose Reyes’s playing time may be in question

So look for Reyes to start nearly every day somewhere. Assuming Wright is healthy, that means a game or two per week at third base, perhaps a few at second base against left-handed pitchers, and some at shortstop to give Asdrubal Cabrera rest. In that fashion, Reyes could crack the lineup four or five times per week, which seems like an ideal situation for the Mets.

… until David Wright goes on the DL.

 

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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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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MGL
Member

Thanks for the mention Jeff and the link! I changed some of the criteria and updated my conclusions in the addendum. I now DO find a suggestion that maybe we SHOULD discount a “few bad starts” if they are literally a “few” and those starts are REALLY bad. Sample size is limiting the certainty of any conclusions as is often the case with this kind of empirical research. Plus when you’re working with runs allowed, as opposed to, say, wOBA or even BA, the random error is really high and you need enormous (usually prohibitively large) sample sizes to “confirm” small effects with any certainty at all.