Joel Toribio: Fast and Dodgerous

-The K Zone-

February 4th  2017

Joel Toribio

Interview by Mike Duffy

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Mike Duffy: This offseason whats the major thing your planning to work on?

Joel Toribio: This offseason I have been working on my weight a lot trying to gain healthy weight and becoming more flexible.


Mike Duffy:  What’s your favorite thing about being a Dodger?

Joel Toribio: My favorite thing about being a dodger is that everyone treats eachother like family which is great we are all like brothers always have each other’s backs on and off the field.


Mike Duffy:  What’s your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Joel Toribio: My favorite hobby besides baseball has to probably be trying out different types of foods I been doing that a lot now.


Mike Duffy:  What’s your favorite baseball player growing up?

Joel Toribio: My favorite player growing up has always been Alex Rodriguez.


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Mike Duffy: What went through your mind when you were drafted?

Joel Toribio: Well the last thing I was thinking about was getting drafted this year I was just worrying about finding a school to go to but once I got the call I was super excited best feeling ever specially the fact that it was on my birthday!


Mike Duffy:  What’s your favorite stadium?

Joel Toribio: I honestly don’t have a favorite stadium but I guess it’s dodger stadium now.


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Mike Duffy:  What’s your favorite movie?

Joel Toribio: My favorite movie has to be the fast and the furious every single one!


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Joel Toribio: Well when I’m in a rough time my number one thing to do to overcome it would be just hit the gym and take my anger out on the weights.


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Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about pitching?

Joel Toribio: My favorite thing about pitching is knowing that the batter has no idea what are you going to throw him you basically in control.


Mike Duffy: What’s the hardest thing about pitching?

Joel Toribio: The hardest thing about pitching would have to be giving up a homerun I haven’t giving up a lot in my life except in Oklahoma where the wind blows a million miles per hour out.


Mike Duffy: What was your favorite team growing up?

 

Joel Toribio: My favorite team growing up was the Yankees.


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For more Interviews Click Here

“Statology”: One Through Nine

-The K Zone-

February 2, 2017

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Statology: One Through Nine, by Ian Joffe

“I [stat], you [stat], he she me [stat]s, [stat]ology, the study of [stat]s! It’s first grade Spongebob!” -Patrick Star

I have long criticized the Angels on their strategies and decisions, but one thing they do (now less often than before) that I admire is on occasion, batting Mike Trout second. Statistics have a lot to say about batting orders, and it is all rooted in what I like to call “statology”. To explain what I mean by this, I want to take all of you back to differential calculus. You likely have forgotten differentiation, whether it be unintentionally or very intentionally, so as a reminder, the idea is that you can take an equation for a variable, but then unpack the equation for a new equation that affects the original one. For example, if an equation represents the position of an object, you can unpack, or differentiate that to get the equation that affects position, or speed. Then you can differentiate again to find the equation that affects speed, which is acceleration. When you differentiate statology, you get plain stats. In other words (literally, Latin words), statology means the study of stats. When I wrote about Joey Votto, I drew conclusions based on the stats alone. Now, in discussing lineup orders, you have to take that extra step. My conclusions will be based on simulations (a form of statology), which when unpacked, are based on stats. Stats are the differentiated version of simulations.

Moving from calc to high school statistics, one learns that sample size is of high importance. This is never a more important rule than when dealing with statology. You can eliminate error down thousandths of a percent and can greatly exaggerate accuracy by increasing sample size. This is where the simulation comes in. If I wanted to use MLB data to determine how good the Angels’ lineup construction is, I may only have a few hundred games to study, and a relatively high margin of error. However, with simulations, a good processor, and time, we can run as many games as we want, and get the margin of error down to a minuscule number. We can also control other variables, like opponent and weather. For these reasons, statology’s simulations are a widely accepted way to draw conclusions, such as how a good lineup is built.

Simulations are very useful for disproving information that we previously thought was clear fact. It would appear obvious that a hitter batting first get more AB’s, and therefore end more games than a two-hole hitter or 3-hole hitter, but simulation evidence shows otherwise. BOOFigure1b.jpgSource: http://www.fangraphs.com/community/where-to-bat-your-best-hitter-a-computational-analysis-part-1/

In actuality, the second and third hitters end more games than the first hitter, while the fourth and surprisingly ninth hitter end nearly as many games. So, it is a myth that you should bat your best hitter first to get him the most opportunities. As evident from the simulations, it would be much more logical to put your best hitter second or third.

It is not only important to get at-bats, but it is important to hit when runners are on base. Traditionally, people have thought that the cleanup hitter will most often bat with ROB. This is somewhat true, the fourth man will come to bat with lots of RISP, but the second hitter will bat with RISP almost as often. And, considering the second hitter is more likely to get an extra at-bat in the game, it is a superior strategy to put your best hitter second, in terms of power and overall talent.

Your leadoff hitter is an interesting case. Sabermetrics have never been big fans of the stolen base. It usually hurts to get caught more than it helps to advance. This goes back to the original Bill James idea, that outs are a finite resource. The true goal of offense is not to score runs, but to avoid outs. So, with baserunning valued less, what should be valued in the top spot? On-base. OBP is the most important thing a leadoff hitter can do in order to give more opportunities to the power-hitting two-hitter.

Some NL teams have tried putting their pitcher eighth in the order, rather than the traditional last. This does check out to be a useful strategy, the idea being the guy who hits last can get on base for the 2-5 mashers. However, with this rare exception, the 6-9 batting slots should generally be put together in descending order, with the worst hitter batting last.

In summary, your best hitter should hit second in your lineup, for he will, on a game-by-game basis, produce about as many at-bats as anyone else, and be presented with stronger opportunities than others. Your three and four hitters should have power, while your leadoff hitter needs on-base skill. Presented by simulations, there is a clear strategy to batting order. But, how much does this really matter? If you look back at the graph by Fangraphs a few paragraphs ago, the x-axis differs by tiny units, with a range of maybe 1%. Other data shows similar patterns, with there being some difference, but very little between batting order position. So, next time you think your team lost the game because that “stupid manager” messed up on the lineup card, you may be right in criticizing him, but any change probably would have resulted in a similar game.

We would really appreciate if you followed us on Twitter and Instagram, or checked out some more great content like my  dissection of the statistic WAR or Mike’s passionate argument about rookie salaries.

Sources:

fangraphs.com

beyondtheboxscore.com

fivethirtyeight.com

Image Attributions:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/baseballs-lineup-shuffle-1459443463

http://auctions.beckett.com/texas_rangers_game_used_lineup_card__june_18__2014-lot12107.aspx

Duffy’s Corner: The Curious Case of MLB Rookies’ Salary

The K Zone

Duffy’s Corner: The Curious Case of MLB Rookies’ Salary

By: Michael Duffy

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“No one starts out on top. You have to work your way up.” – Muhammad Ali 

 

 That quote is true for most things in life. For instance, if you want to be an actor you’re going to start as a minor character first, you don’t just get to star in a movie overnight. And in baseball you start as a Minor Leaguer and you work your way up through the different levels until you reach the majors and that big money contract. Well when I was looking at the payroll for the Dodgers, something peculiar stood out to me that seemed to diminish this idea of working your way up. I noticed that in 2013, the Dodgers paid Yasiel Puig $3,714,285 in his rookie year, while in 2016 Corey Seager only got paid $510,000. I know I said “only $510,000”; how is that a problem when that’s eight times the average American salary?! But does that seem fair that the 2016 Rookie of the Year got 1/7th of the money Puig did while having seven more home runs? This kind of thing can be seen on pretty much every team, but I chose this example because I know more about these two players then, say, someone on the Brewers.

 

 Let me explain why this is. So each year every player from the U.S. and Puerto Rico
who wants to play professional baseball is required to enter the MLB Draft. During the draft, teams can pick the player they want when it’s their turn to pick. This was created because teams like the Athletics, who have less money, couldn’t afford to get good players because richer teams like the Yankees could just pay a little more to each player to get them to sign, thus creating these amazing teams while the poor teams would have a third rate team and have no shot at the World Series. So the draft was used to level the playing field and give every team the chance to acquire talented players. Rich teams didn’t really care because that just gave them more money to recruit from around the world. So while players in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are not able to sign big contracts, a kid from Cuba could be signed and get a million dollar contract six years before the drafted player could. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Seager and Puig. This year there was talk about adding an international draft as a solution to this issue in the new CBA, but that did not happen. I think there should really be an international draft because it would really help even this problem out. At the moment there are caps you can spend overseas but this only applies to players of a certain age groups, and the age group differs country-to-county.

I think that it’s not fair to players who work hard to not get an equal amount just based on where they’re from. Here are the average salaries of the players from those countries
Players Country Avg. Players Salary from that Country
Japan $4,992,825
Korea, South $4,137,121
Cuba $3,374,247
Venezuela $2,309,672
Mexico $2,356,972
United States $2,184,456
Dominican Republic $1,914,121
Puerto Rico $752,586

Source: Spotrac

I only included the top eight countries that produce players up above. If you noticed two of the last three countries on the list are the ones in the draft. That’s kind of weird because according to Ranker, none of the top 25 players in the MLB are from Japan, South Korea, or Cuba, or Mexico, while Venezuela has three. Overall, 22 of the top Major Leaguers are from the United States, so it’s crazy that they should be paid less. Let me know what you think!

If you liked this check out my interview with Dodgers prospect Chase Dejong! 

Kansas City’s Royal Mistake

-The K Zone-

January 19th, 2016

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Kansas City’s Royal Mistake, by Ian Joffe

Note: When this article was just gaining traction, the baseball community learned about the tragic death of Yordano Ventura. I strongly considered taking this article down, which was written multiple days before the event. However, because this article does not directly pertain to Ventura, I decided to leave it up. The K Zone’s and my personal condolences go out to the family, friends, and fans of the current and should-have-been future ace. 

My personal condolences also go out to the family, friends, and fans of the Yordano Ventura. – Mike Duffy; CEO/Creator of The K Zone .

Fans of the Kansas City Royals have been lucky enough to appear in two consecutive World Series, winning one (2015). But now, it appear their demise is near. Following the 2017 season, many lineup mainstays are scheduled to leave the team via free agency, including Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar. That makes up about half of their lineup, including arguably their two best hitters. It is difficult to argue that KC, already with weak starting pitching, will have any chance at contending past the coming season. However, the Royals have been given a rare opportunity that I only dream my teams had, and I constantly try to create on my fake Out Of the Park simulation teams.

Danny Duffy, only 28 years old, has just completed his first season both as a full-time starter, and a good baseball player. Scouts have long said that Duffy has high potential, and it appears he is finally beginning to reach it. In 2016, the southpaw put up a very respectable 3.51 ERA and 3.79 xFIP (a more accurate version of earned run average), along with over a strikeout per inning and a K/BB ratio of 4.48. Duffy put together a messy 2015, with an ERA and xFIP over 4.00, and a K/BB ratio of only 1.92.However, the season before that Danny excelled in a split role between starter and bullpen, at least according to ERA, putting up a 2.53 mark. The more advanced metrics didn’t love that season nearly as much as the simple ERA, but you get the picture. Danny Duffy, while inconsistent, has the potential to use his fiery fastball and powerful stuff to get outs. He may very well continue on his 2016 trend, improving to a solid #2 starter on any team. Other teams have also come to realize this arm’s potential. Among teams reportedly interested in trading for Duffy have been the Houston Astros, who have been casting a wide net in their hopes of adding a starter.

However, as of January 16th, it appears highly unlikely that Houston or a similar team will get their hands on the blossoming pitcher. Kansas City has signed Duffy to a 5-year arrangement, reportedly worth around $65MM. This $13MM average annual value (although, to be fair, the deal is very back-loaded) appears to be a relative bargain for a pitcher who seems to just be figuring things out. The Royals are buying a potential all-star (last year Duffy put up a 2.8 WAR, so improving by about one win, which he could very well do, would make him all-star level), at a very average price for a 28-year-old in today’s game. The extension looks good on paper, but it is, in fact, a terrible mistake.

The “opportunity” I discussed earlier is in reference to, well, a total sell-out. Or, we could instead call it, a rebuild. Having nearly every player leave the team in the same year may seem like curse, but it really means like the team does not have to worry about when they should sell out. The answer is, of course, one year before everyone leaves. There are some teams in terrible positions right now, because they do not have a very a competitive team, and have little to no talent in their farm system. Teams like the Marlins and Angels are arguably part of this group. The Phillies of a few years ago, stuck with their aging veterans, would be another good example (sorry Mike). On the other hand, there are amazing success stories for teams that did face the music and rebuild, like the Astros and World Series champion Cubs. KC’s goal must be to not end up stuck like the Angels, but to end up with too many prospects to count, like the Cubs. It does not matter if GM Dayton Moore thinks they can win the World Series in 2017. Now is the time to sell, when there are still pieces. Duffy could have been a valuable piece, with his stats trending in the right direction. But, instead of getting prospects for the future, KC will get a good starter for a bad team. The Royals organization, and I don’t want to attack the fans, but them too, must realize that their team’s run is nearing an end. Now is the time to sell, and to hopefully build a good future. Based on what the White Sox got for two men, which brought their farm system from one of the worst to one of the best, the Royals could be in store for a crazy future. But for that to happen, they must learn to let go of their players. It is time for Kansas City to end their run, and use their unique blessing. This winter, or at least this trade deadline, is the time that KC must go into fire-sale mode. Even if they want to compete this year, they are trading a long shot now for years and years of suffering in the future. Duffy should have been traded for prospects, not extended, and the team must do the same for all other players entering free agency. And, they cannot look to trade for current contributors, like they did trading Wade Davis for Jorge Soler. It is okay to lose games in the next few years, if it means victories for years to come. It is time for Dayton Moore to take advantage of the blessing his team has, and to start selling.

The cost of the win is the loss. The rebuild must begin.

You may also enjoy reading my piece about the statistic Wins Above Replacement, or Mike Duffy’s outstanding interview with Phillie Zach Eflin

Sources:

mlbtraderumors.com

rosterresource.com

fangraphs.com

Images attributed to:

The Kansas City Royals are named for cows, not kings and queens

http://abc30.com/sports/danny-duffy-carries-perfect-game-into-7th-as-royals-blank-orioles/65171/

Dissecting WAR

-The K Zone-

December 25th, 2016

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Dissecting WAR, by Ian Joffe

For year now, there has been a war going on over WAR. Wins Above Replacement (WAR, for short), a statistic engineered to encompass a player’s full, true contribution to a team, has drawn “radicals” both for and against it, as well as a bunch of people who have no idea what is going on, or want to know more. This article is for those people, who seek want to know all they can about the statistic, and then decide whether or not it should be followed. First, there are a few things that need to be cleared up. There is not one WAR, in fact, there are three major sites that provide their own statistic: Fangraphs has fWAR, Baseball Reference has bWAR, and Baseball Prospectus has WARP. I will begin by explaining fWAR, and then discuss its similarities and differences to the other calculations. Furthermore, the is WAR for both hitters and pitchers. However, batter WAR is considered more refined, and is much more widely used, therefore I will stick to batter WAR in this article. Indented statistics make up the nearest less-indented statistics above them.

WAR (Wins Above Replacement): This is the big stat we are trying to break down. It attempts to measure a player’s value above replacement level, in the form of wins. Replacement level refers to what would happen if the player suddenly disappeared, and had to be “replaced” by the average minor league or bench option. The three WAR models each calculate how many wins a replacement level player is worth, and use it to calculate how many “Wins Above Replacement” someone else is worth. Additionally, WAR is park-adjusted and league-adjusted, meaning it uses league averages and park averages to put all players on an equal playing field. One hitter will not score a higher WAR because their opponents has easier pitchers or they player in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Hitting Runs: wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average): wRAA is a statistic that compares a player to the average major league hitter, and says how much better or worse they are. wRAA only measures hitting ability, and ignores areas of the game like speed and defense. A player with a positive wRAA is above average, and player with a negative wRAA is below average. This is a little different from WAR, which compares a player to replacement value, not average value. It will manipulated a little in order to adjust for league and park, and then make it fit with replacement value.

wOBA (Weighted On Base Average): wOBA is like slugging percentage on steroids. It is the primary component of wRAA. While SLG simply makes a single one point, a double two points, etc., wOBA works to provide the true values of each of those four outcomes. It turns out a double is only worth about 1.4 times as much as a single, and a home run is worth only about 2.4 times as much as a single. Walks are also included in wOBA (worth slightly less than a single), unlike SLG. The so-called weights (how valuable each play is) is calculated using the run expectancy matrix (the decimal is the odds of scoring a run in that inning):

Runners 0 Outs 1 Out 2 Outs
Empty 0.461 0.243 0.095
1 _ _ 0.831 0.489 0.214
_ 2 _ 1.068 0.644 0.305
1 2 _ 1.373 0.908 0.343
_ _ 3 1.426 0.865 0.413
1 _ 3 1.798 1.140 0.471
_ 2 3 1.920 1.352 0.570
1 2 3 2.282 1.520 0.736

Source: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/misc/re24/

Singles, Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, HBP, BB: I hope these are self-explanatory

Baserunning Runs: Baserunning Runs looks the different occurrences on the basse paths, and assigns each a run value. It then turns the number into WAR format.

wSB (Weighted Stolen Bases): wSB uses steals itself to make a more accurate measure of how much a player’s steals are worth. It not only looks at the sheer number of bases taken, but how often a player chose to run, and how often the runner got caught.

SB (Stolen Bases)

UBR (Ultimate Baserunning): UBR tries to provide for almost every baserunning event that occurs when the ball is hit, such as fielder’s choice, tagging up, and advancing two bases on a single or three on a double. It uses video tracking systems to come up with its raw statistics.

7 Possible Situations: I am not going to list them here, but you can check the list out on fangraphs here.

wGDP (Weighted Groundballs into Double Plays): wGDP (NOT Gross Domestic Product, I hate it when people make that joke) looks at how often a player has an oppurtunity to ground into a double play, and how often it happens. This stat is only a minor addition to the WAR puzzle.

DP (Double Plays), DP Opportunities

Fielding Runs: UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating): UZR uses video tracking technology  to watch each ball hit at a fielder. It looks at such information as hang time and distance from the fielder, and then takes a binary input: did the fielder catch the ball or not. This works well for data like range and how often a player makes an error, and is generally a good representation on how well a player fields. NOTE: there is no UZR for catchers, so WAR uses alternate statistics.

Such Raw Statistics as flyball/groundball/liner/”fliener,” and hard/medium/soft contact

Positional Adjustment: WAR adjusts a player’s score based on their position. If a player is at a position with very poor other players, they are considered to be worth more, and vise versa. Currently, catcher is considered the weakest position, with shortstop as a close second. DH is considered the strongest position, followed by first base and corner outfield. If a player spends split time between positions, they will receive split adjustments based on how many games they played at each.

Well, those are the basics for the fWAR calculation. bWAR is very similar for the most part, but has a few minor differences. For example, they use DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) instead of UZR for defense, but those two stats are very similar. bWAR also has different positional adjustments and a different replacement level. WARP is, unfortunately, less transparent. We do not know exactly how it is calculated, but we do know that it is a far more complex version of VORP, a statistic that attempted to be similar to WAR, about 15 years ago. For these transparency reasons, I generally use WARP less than the other two models, but despite those issues, it is often hailed as the most accurate of the three. Anyways, the measurements almost always come out to be extremely close no made which model you use.

For context, a player with a WAR of about 2.0 is considered average, a player with a WAR of 4.0 is considered all-star level, and a player with a WAR greater than 6.0 is considered a legitimate MVP candidate. In 1923, Babe Ruth racked up 14.1 bWAR, the most all time in one season. He also holds the second and third place records. Ruth also owns a miraculous 183.6 lifetime bWAR, by far the most in history. Out of modern era players who did not take PEDs, Bill Ripken leads the charge 1991 11.5 bWAR (Barry Bonds accumulated 11.8 bWAR in 2001). Mike Trout led 2016 in bWAR, posting a 10.6 mark, follwed by Mookie Betts (9.6) and Kris Bryant (7.7). Every year, a many regulars finish with a negative, WAR, meaning a replacement player would have done a better job. Not to start a roast, but last year Alexi Ramierez had the worst fWAR in baseball, at -2.4. Better luck next year, Alexi!

So, the final question is, how good is WAR of a stat, really? Wins Above Replacement drew a lot of criticism in 2012, when many people argued AL WAR leader Mike Trout should have won the MVP rather than Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who held a far worse WAR in any model. By sabermetric standards, the triple crown, consisting of hits, home runs, and RBIs, is a very outdated model, not even close to what WAR has reached today. And, I personally tend to agree with them them. WAR is a terrific stat, one of the best we have, and it should be strongly considered when discussing a player’s worth. Also, team WAR has shown to have a large correlation with team win/loss record, which is a good sign that it means something, But WAR is not everything. While it may appear to be an “everything stat,” it hardly is that. The truth is that while WAR is some of the best information we have, it is still highly imperfect. However, when taken with a grain of salt, WAR can be a highly useful statistic to front office and fan alike.

 

Go ahead and check out some of my other work on The K Zone News, such as my piece about the future of baseball, as well as some of Mike’s great interviews, like his talk with Eric Filia!

 

Sources:

fangraphs.com

bbref.com

baseballprospectus.com

beyondtheboxscore.com

sportingcharts.com

 

Images attributed to:

hittingperfomrancelab.com

johnpaciorek.com

pinterest.com

Debate: Get Utley or Go for Dozier?

-The K Zone-

January 15th  2017

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Ian Joffe and Mike Duffy both agree that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in need of a second baseman, however they disagree on who. Ian argues that the Dodgers should prioritize a trade for a second baseman, perhaps Brian Dozier, while Mike thinks the Dodgers should first and foremost resign Chase Utley:

Mike’s Pick: Chase Utley

Mike Duffy: Besides my family there is nothing more in this world I admire and love more than Chase Utley… I don’t fangirl over one direction, I don’t have  bieberfever, I’ve just been huge fan of Utley since I was 4. The way he plays and the respect he has for the game is unheard of. When he plays he’s always there to win. And at  38 years old there is no slowing him down.

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Literally! And yes he did that. And he got the guy out! Is he a magician!?!?!? But when I caught wind that the Dodgers might not bring Utley back and try and trade for the twins 2nd baseman Brian Dozier instead, I was so upset! I had moved to California from Philadelphia the same time he was traded here and now it had been for nothing! This idea of him not being here is even worse then when the Phillies traded the whole 2008 World Series team away! Yeah Brian Dozier has a better batting average but at 29 he has never had a batting average this high or even close! Brian Dozier all of a sudden learned how to play baseball this year? Will he know how to hit next year? I say he will probably go back to .238 like his previous years. Brian Dozier is a very streaky player! Where with Utley he might not be the best 2nd baseman anymore but at least you know what your getting, a solid .250-.260 batting average and 0ver 10 home runs! Last year Utley had a 10 HR boost from the year before and a .40 boost to his batting average because in 2015 he was out for a lot of the season due to an injury.

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Then my next point… Utley is a leader! We see this in the batting averages of the Dodgers.

Batting Average of the Dodgers corelation to Utley coming.

The year Before Utley came: .2554

The year Utley came: .274

The 2nd year with Utley: .266

(I computed this by adding the whole whole teams batting averages and dividing by the number of players)

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Next is that… it would be terrible terrible to give Utley and Seager a divorce! Let me step back a bit and explain what I mean. If you ask any shortstop or second baseman your double play partner is a sacred bond sorta like a marriage. They have to have great chemistry in order to complete the plays. Chase Utley and Corey Seager are have the best chemistry in the Major Leagues!

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Top; Collage by Mike Duffy Bottom; USA today

Ok your saying how could this even be a question!!! Well it gets even better! Brian Dozier has a huge price tag! Dodgers have already offered them their  #2 prospect Jose Deleon!! But the Twins want even more! They want 2-3 of the Dodgers top prospects! I say the price is way to high but I like it that way because the higher it is the more inclined the Dodgers will be to stick with the LA Native Chase Utley.

Also who do you want Dodger Fans?

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I hope that pushed you over the edge! Lets see if Ian can change all of your minds!

Ian’s Pick: Brain Dozier

Ian Joffe: There are two reasons why the Dodgers need to pursue Brian Dozier, not Chase Utley: Brian Dozier is better than Chase Utley, and Brian Dozier is getting even “more better” than Chase Utley. This is clearly presented by the statistics on either side. As always, the case starts with on base percentage. In the 2016 season, Utley posted a mere .319 clip, about league average. Dozier’s OBP was well above average, at .340, a number that Utley has not hit for four seasons. And, on-base in not even Dozier’s strong suit. In 2016, Brian put up an incredible 42 home runs, third in all of Baseball. Utley – a mere 14. Isolated power, which shows how much raw power a player possesses, clearly favors Dozier, who was second in baseball with .278. Utley’s .145 was 34th worst. So, Dozier clearly has much for prowess for hitting, in terms of both power and contact, and to further prove it, Dozier put up a .370 wOBA, correlated to a 132 wRC+, meaning he is 32% better than the average baseball player in terms of overall offense, which wOBA and wRC+ measures. Utley owns a .312 wOBA to go along with a 97 weighted runs created plus, meaning he is not just worse than Dozier offensively, he worse than the average baseball player – Chase Utley is a below average major leaguer. Dozier, on the other hand, is far better than the average guy who Utley is worse than. In terms of defense, Dozier put up 3 defensive runs saved last year, not incredible, but very respectable. Utley had a DRS of negative 3, once again, below average (which would be 0 DRS). In his glory days, Chase was known as somewhat of a base-stealing threat, but this is another category in which today, he is below average. Utley had a sad two steals last season, unlike Dozier, took 18 bases. According to wSB, a more accurate measure of a player’s contribution according to steals, Utley continued the trend of remaining below average at -0.7 (average is 0), while Dozier was certainly above average, at 2.5. In terms of BsR, a measure a player’s of non-stealing baserunning contributions, Utley was actually slightly above average (for once) with 1.3 BsR, but Dozier blew him out of the water with an outstanding 5.5.  The following chart summarizes my statistical findings (if you’re on your phone, turn it landscape!):

OBP HR ISO wRC+ DRS SB wSB BsR WAR
Dozier .340 42 .278 132 3 18 2.5 5.5 5.9
Utley .319 12 .145 97 -3 2 -0.7 1.3 2.0

That last column, wins above replacement (per Fangraphs), the overall measure of a baseball player in terms of how many MLB wins they are worth, really hits my point home. An average WAR is considered about 2.0 – exactly that of Utley. Chase is currently an average, at best, baseball player. An elite player is considered to have a WAR over 6.0. I am not going to claim that Dozier is elite, but according to the metrics, he is close to it.

My second major point is that Utley will only get worse, while Dozier will likely stay just as good. The following graph, by Fangraphs, should state the obvious:

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This chart represents a fundamental theory in determining future value of a baseball player. Namely, that players rise in value, and then peak somewhere between 25 and 29, before falling for the rest of their careers. The following graphs should show striking resemblance:

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Those are the aging curves for Chase Utley, which for the most part, look just like the MLB aging curve. The exception on both is his age-36 season, however, that data is easily disregarded based on luck. According to sabermetrics, if a ball is put in play, the batter has little control over the outcome (although more still than the pitcher). All they can do is try to hit the ball hard. Utley has an extremely low .230 BABIP in the season in question, yet he had a very normal exit velocity, as according to Baseball Savant. So, what can be concluded is that in his age 36-season, Utley had bad luck (as in maybe the defense played especially well against him), and if he had normal luck the data would better match the graph. With that in mind, we can take the major lesson from these graphs: Chase Utley will follow the expected aging curve, which is personal aging curve matches, and get worse, not better. This year, we considered Utley to be average at best. Next year, we can only expect him to get worse, finding Utley as a significantly below average piece. There is no point in acquiring a player if they will only give us marginal value, which we can likely find with the organization already. The best purely statistical evidence for this decline is defensive runs saved. In 2014, Utley put up 3 DRS. In 2015, it went down to 1. Then, as we already know, his 2016 total was -3. Because of the necessary athleticism, defense is a great indicator of how well a player is aging overall. Utley is not aging well, consistently declining year after year. Brian Dozier, on the other hand, is only 29, meaning it is not a given he will decline, and he is still very likely in the middle of his peak, as according to the aging curve. If he does decline a little, he will remain far above MLB average. Sure, it is very possible he regresses a little towards his career average, but he will still remain a far better player than the rapidly declining Utley. The stats tell the story on this one, and the verdict is clear. Dozier is the better player, so he must be looked into before giving Utley a contract.

Mike makes a very valid point by claiming that Utley makes the players around him better, but his method does not work. As any elementary school graduate knows, when using the scientific method, one must always keep the variables controlled. Mike is trying to compare how the Dodgers do before and after Utley joined the team, however, much more than that one variable changed.  Luck also changes from year to year, the Dodgers may have just gotten luckier when Utley happened to be on the team. Plenty of other variables effected the Dodgers after the addition of Utley, therefore it is completely unfair to blame an improved team on one individual. The experiment is not controlled. Other than this improvement of other players, there is no evidence for Utley’s supposed leadership skills making any difference. There is, on the other hand, very strong statistical evidence that Utley himself is not even close to the baseball player Brian Dozier is. We sometimes forget that teams like the Dodgers are spending real money on real players. Should they invest millions of dollars on solid evidence, or on unproven superstition about Utley’s quote-on-quote clubhouse skills.

Mike Duffy: Why give away are future to an aging guy while we can just pay some money to another aging guy just as good. We should not waste are future! We should not waste are future! We should not waste are future!  Im all in for Utley and you should be too! He brought us two very good years why not make it a third instead of taking a risk. Studys show you should stick with something that works because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! Thanks for reading! Vote Mike! Vote Mike! Vote Mike!

Chris Powell: Being Drafted By His Childhood Team

-The K Zone-

January 14th  2017

Chris Powell

Interview by Mike Duffy


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Chris Powell was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft by the dodgers out of Cal Poly Pomona.  In his minor league career he has gone 7 & 3 with a 3.09 Era in 36 games. He was drafted by his favorite team and his Dad was former Dodgers pitcher Dennis Powell. Dennis Powel pitched eight years in the big leagues 2 of which were with the Dodgers.


Mike Duffy: I was wondering when you go from high school, minor leagues, to the majors, what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Chris Powell: The biggest challenge is the level of competition. Everyone you play is has equal to more talent so each level takes more mental and physical strength if you want to survive. 


Mike Duffy: What did you do best this season?

Chris Powell: This was my first full season so I feel I learned a lot this year. I learned how to be a professional, develop a routine and work ethic that I could carry out on a daily basis.


Mike Duffy: This offseason whats the major thing your planning to work on?

Chris Powell: This offseason my goals were to get stronger and work on some of the aspects of my game I felt were weak as well as tune up and maintain my strengths. Also wanted to enjoy my family since I go long periods of time away from them.


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite thing about being an Dodger?

Chris Powell: I have been a dodger fan since a child so playing in this organization is a dream come true. They treat every player with much respect and challenge us to play at our highest level.


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Chris Powell: My favorite hobby besides baseball is playing madden and NBA 2k. I love competing against friends. I also like listening to music and finding new places to eat good food.


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Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Chris Powell: My favorite baseball player was Ken Griffey Jr. because he made the game look so much fun and had a swag that I wanted to immulate.


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Mike Duffy: Who’s the hardest batter you faced this season?

Chris Powell: I don’t really have one but the toughest conditions I ever pitched in was the freezing cold in Michigan in early April.


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite stadium?

Chris Powell: I love going to dodger games since that’s my favorite team but the most beautiful stadium I seen was at&t park as much as it pains me to say that.


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite movie/tv show?

Chris Powell: My favorite movie changes a lot but as of now it’s The Other Guys it makes me laugh every time I watch it. Favorite tv show is Walking Dead!


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Chris Powell: Getting me out of a rough time I always like to use comic relief. Laughing with friends or just making someone else smile helps me get over my problems.


Mike Duffy: How did you feel when you got drafted?

Chris Powell: The day I got drafted I was just so happy that my dream of playing professional had finally come and it felt good to see the joy in my parents.


Mike Duffy: What’s your favorite thing about pitching? Whats the hardest thing?

Chris Powell: My favorite thing about pitching is the fact I control the tempo of the game and have the ability to spark my team each time I step on the field. It gets difficult sometimes but I love the challenge of having to go against the very best.


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Kevin Pillar: Leading the Youth

The K Zone

January 13th  2017

Kevin Pillar

Interview by Mike Duffy


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I was very fortunate to meet the Blue Jays center fielder, Kevin Pillar a couple weeks ago when he came to talk to my schools baseball team to speak some words of wisdom. His main theme was not just about hard work, but the friendships you make as a kid and how they impact your life. He started with a speech he previously gave to the Blue Jays minor league prospects the other week down in Florida while doing a rehab assignment. He said he tried to give the prospects a new feel about what’s important. Kevin said, “Being dedicated and getting your school work done are all the things that our parents teach us since we were little kids. But I wanted to share that sounding yourself with the right people is just as important.”  He goes on to say, “I had to find people that wanted the same things out of life that I wanted because we will pushed each other to be as good as we could be on and off the baseball field.”


Before taking questions Kevin touched on the idea of sacrificing for you dream. Kevin said, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you all have to be squares and not enjoy your personal life but there are sacrifices that are needed to be made to get to where you wanna go in what ever you want to do. It’s pays off. I still sacrifice a lot to take advantage of my rare opportunity to work 10-15 years and never have to work ever again after it.” He believes that being able to retire at such a young age, he would be able to go back to some of the things he sacrificed as a kid and still do them; for instance he loved snowboarding. His sacrifices have really paid off because The Blue Jays have gone back to back years with a game left to win which would land them in the World Series. He has also been a Gold Glove nominee back to back years as well. His superhero like ability to catch some of the hardest hit balls at odd angles has earned him the fan given nickname  Superman!


After that he talked about how you should never be happy with you quality of playing because as he said,  “If you ever get satisfied with how you play, someone younger than you is going to take your job in this game, I was that guy. The moment you become complacent is the moment you become expendable!” I asked him how does he bond with his teammates and he simply put it, “WIN.” Also playing Xbox at the Hotel.


 

Rhys Hoskins Interview: On the Road to Citizens Bank

-The K Zone-

January 12th  2017

Revised August 10th 2017

Rhys Hoskins

Interview by Mike Duffy


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I was able to interview Phillies #6 in their top prospect list (according to MLB Pipeline) Rhys Hoskins in January. This past offseason he was invited to Phillies 2017 spring training! This is huge because he is the only 1st baseman in the top 30 of the Phillies prospects and if you haven’t heard, the Phillies need a counter part to Tommy Joseph now that Ryan Howard isn’t coming back and that the Phillies just traded Darin Ruf to the Dodgers in a packaged deal for Howie Kendrick. You heard it here first! This year in AA he had a .281 BA and scored 95 times with 38 of them being home runs!

*He has officially been Promoted to the Show on August 10th 2017.


His Debut on August 10th he faced Jacob deGrom. Rhys went 0-2  and was walked. 


 On August 26th 2017 he became the fastest person EVER to get 10 HOMERUNS! He did it in 17 career games! Hoskins hit his 9th and 10th on players weekends and while hitting those, he wore a patch to honor his mom who battled breast cancer and sadly she passed away within a day of his 16th Birthday! 

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Mike Duffy: I was wondering when you go from high school, minor leagues what was the biggest challenge when you reach each stage?

Rhys Hoskins: Biggest challenge really is that along with the competition just getting better and better, you play a lot more games at each level! You just have to figure out how to maintain and strengthen your body so you feel good when it gets to late in the season. That has been the hardest thing so far for me, figuring out what works for me so I feel my best at the end of the season.


Mike Duffy: How did you feel when you got drafted?

Rhys Hoskins: It was a dream come true. I had worked countless hours to reach that goal and it happened!


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Mike Duffy: What did you do best last season?

Rhys Hoskins: I felt like I really honed my approach this season with men in scoring position, and I knocked in a lot of runs because of it.


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Mike Duffy: This offseason whats the major thing you are planning to work on?

Rhys Hoskins: This offseason I’m really focusing on getting my foundation back for my strength. I have played the last couple offseason and haven’t really had the chance to focus on the gym.


Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite thing about being an Philly?

Rhys Hoskins: The coaching staff and friends I’ve made on the teams I’ve been on are an awesome part about being a Philly.


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite hobby besides baseball?

Rhys Hoskins: I love traveling and see different cultures and exploring new cities.


Mike Duffy: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Rhys Hoskins: I grew up watching Barry Bonds play and I still to this day think he is arguably the best hitter To ever play this game.


Mike Duffy: Who’s the hardest pitcher you faced this season?

Rhys Hoskins: The best pitcher i faced this year was German Marquez, in the Rockies organization. Guy threw 100 mph, kept the ball down in the strike zone, and had a good breaking ball on top of it!


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite stadium?

Rhys Hoskins: Favorite stadium I’ve played in is Citizens Bank Park!


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Mike Duffy: Whats your favorite movie/tv show?

Rhys Hoskins: Favorite Movie: Wedding Crashers, show: Suits


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Mike Duffy: Do you have a motto or a thing to do to get you out of a rough time?

Rhys Hoskins: Just keep livin’


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Thanks for reading!