Being that we aren’t quite out of April, it’s a little early to read into most statistics but certain numbers become meaningful before others. Under the definition of ‘sample size’ in FanGraphs’ glossary, you’ll find a list of stats and the corresponding sample sizes needed before they achieve reliability. For offensive players, the first of those numbers is swing percentage, or how often a given hitter decides to swing the bat.

Theoretically, swinging less often is viewed positively since it suggests that the hitter could be cultivating a more disciplined approach. Selectivity is important for two reasons: (1) Hitters have a better chance to reach base via the walk if they resist swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, and (2) abstaining from pitches that would likely induce weak contact allows them to avoid making easy outs.

According to FanGraphs, swing percentage stabilizes after 50 plate appearances. Most of the Cardinals’ regulars have accumulated enough plate appearances for us to visit this stat and observe whether any obvious trends have emerged. It’s important to note that even though a trend is established after the stabilizing threshold (in this case, 50 PA) occurs, it does not mean that said player will continue to perform at the new rate, just that we can expect his performance to trend in that direction in the future.

The chart below portrays those Cardinals who have stepped to the plate at least 50 times this season and it pits their 2012 swing percentages (blue line) against their career swing percentages (red line). For the record, I’m using the PITCHf/x plate discipline numbers available at FanGraphs (as opposed to BIS data) for the reasons outlined by Colin Wyers in this Baseball Prospectus article. WARNING: I augment each individual player description with other statistics (strike out rate, line drive rate, walk rate, etc.) that have not yet stabilized, so while they are adequate descriptions of what has transpired thus far, they do not imply trends… yet.

Continue reading »

Go ahead and vent about this play from Tuesday night that allowed the Cubs to win consecutive games in walk-off fashion. Feel better? Good. Let me provide a couple of reminders.

In the table below, I submit to you the cumulative triple-A performances of three mystery players now on the Cardinals’ roster. Which performance is most appealing?

Mystery Triple-A Players
Player AVG OBP SLG OPS
A .275 .344 .396 .741
B .291 .373 .477 .851
C .297 .348 .407 .755

Find out who they are after the jump…

Continue reading »

It barely took Daniel Descalso 150 major league plate appearances to earn a nickname. Thanks to his late inning heroics (as noted in recent Joe Strauss articles at STL-Today) which include nine game-tying or go-ahead hits in the seventh inning or later, a .368 AVG and 11 RBIs with two outs and runners in scoring position, and a .367 AVG in late and close situations (when plate appearance occurs in seventh inning or later with tied score, batting team ahead by one, or having the tying run in the on deck circle), Tony La Russa has dubbed Descalso “D-Money.”

Continue reading »

I already kicked this dead horse once, but I finally got around to downloading the latest CAIRO projections, which come complete with platoon splits. I wish I would’ve known about that before I dinked around for a half hour or so getting splits for my lineup post. Anyway, the prognosis is rather negative for Cardinal hitters against southpaws.

Behold the ugly.

Player Vs L
Albert Pujols 0.453
Matt Holliday 0.396
Lance Berkman 0.348
Yadier Molina 0.332
David Freese 0.331
Allen Craig 0.325
Ryan Theriot 0.313
Colby Rasmus 0.307
Nick Punto 0.289
Gerald Laird 0.289
Daniel Descalso 0.287
Skip Schumaker 0.283
Bryan Anderson 0.277

Eno Sarris at Fangraphs already hit on how horrible the bottom of the Cardinals lineup is, but it just get so much worse against left-handed pitchers. For I’m afraid that after Albert and Holliday, things begin to unravel in a hurry. Berkman who is no guarantee to hit southpaws if the current trends continue, but I guess that more prone to believe this projection than just make a judgment based on last year’s splits. Molina and Freese are the only two players left that project to be league average.

Finally I will say that I’ll definitely take the over on Colby Rasmus here, but the larger point remains that after the Big 2, the Cardinals lineup against lefties ranges from league average to … well… poopy.

Minnesota Twins infielder Nick Punto during a ...
Image via Wikipedia

In case you haven’t already heard, the Cardinals signed Nick Punto.  With a team that increasingly looks to be more and more dictated by the whims of a certain sunglassed manager, why didn’t we see this one coming? Nick Punto is a classic La Russa utility infielder – he can play all over the field, and his grit factor is off the charts. He emanates scrappiness from the depths of his being. Just look at him, for crying out loud.

On with my pithy analysis. Nick Punto has a career wOBA of .293. His career high was .324 (twice), and last season his wOBA was a lowly .280. He does draw walks at a decent clip. Assuming he doesn’t go any further south than where he already is batting-wise, he’d likely cost the Cardinals 15-20 runs if, for some reason, he ended up playing almost everyday. So that means that Punto is worthless, right?

Well, no, because hitting isn’t the only thing that matters in evaluating a player. (Get with the now, man!) Punto’s teammates nicknamed him the “Human Highlight Reel” for his web-gemmy goodness. From what I gather, Punto can pick it. According to UZR, Punto rates at +6 at 2B, +19 at 3B, and +17 runs at SS, per 150 games played at each position. DRS and Total Zone like him as well, albeit to a lesser extent. Let’s just say he’s worth +6-10 runs in the field. I think that’s conservative. Punto is also known for his heady baserunning, so that’s another feather in his cap. If you give him a full season of plate appearances, you’re looking at a 1.5 WAR player or so; maybe better.

While I’m not a real fan of Punto potentially blocking younger players like Tyler Greene or Daniel Descalso, for a one-year, $700,000 contract, Punto makes plenty of sense. He’s probably a fit as far as the all-important clubhouse chemistry goes, and for a team that is counting on Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot and a recovering David Freese to anchor the infield, he’s nice insurance. Yes, his bat is anemic, but look around the league. 7th and 8th place hitters in the NL averaged somewhere around a .300 wOBA. I, for one feel a little better having Punto around, but if you think about it, he’s basically Brendan Ryan in a different package.

This is, in a way, another type of lateral move, but I’ll take it. Improving even modestly in what is shaping to be a tight division could prove to be crucial. I’d rather have the goofy guy, but Punto is just fine.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Somehow I missed on Monday that Dan at Baseball Think Factory posted his Cardinals Zips projections.  Here are the projections converted to wOBA first for the MLBers (all calculations use the PAs in Zips and a 0.335 league average for RAA calcs)

Player wOBA RAA
Albert Pujols 0.434 55
Matt Holliday 0.376 23
Lance Berkman 0.368 14
Colby Rasmus 0.344 5
Allen Craig 0.337 1
Jon Jay 0.326 -5
David Freese 0.318 -6
Yadier Molina 0.315 -9
Skip Schumaker 0.311 -11
Tyler Greene 0.297 -17
Ryan Theriot 0.294 -23
Gerald Laird 0.284 -16

and then for the MiLBers

Player wOBA RAA
Nick Stavinoha 0.315 -7
Daniel Descalso 0.317 -10
Mark Hamilton 0.320 -5
Matt Carpenter 0.318 -8
Bryan Anderson 0.311 -7
Aaron Luna 0.306 -11
Andrew Brown 0.300 -13
Daryl Jones 0.297 -17
Thomas Pham 0.301 -14
Adron Chambers 0.291 -18
Steve Hill 0.292 -17
Tony Cruz 0.291 -18
Pete Kozma 0.285 -28
Donovan Solano 0.276 -25

 

These tables highlight the folly of the Brendan Ryan for Ryan Theriot swap. Theriot projects to only hit slightly better than Pete Kozma. Let that sink in for a while.  They also show the extreme lack of middle infield options, with Descalso posting the best wOBA projection.

 

The projection for Berkman is alright, but it is likely not good enough to overcome the defensive deficiencies.  On the whole the offensive projections do not inspire a whole lot of optimism.

 

On the positive side, the projection thinks that if David Freese were to get injured again, Matt Carpenter could step right in and be a suitable replacement.  As I’ve mentioned previously, that’s a sentiment I share.  Bryan Anderson would be a suitable backup with that line, with some potential to be more.  With the versatility of some of the bench options (Greene, Craig if he can backup at 3rd) would it be worth it to carry 3 catchers?  Probably not, but it’s something to think about.

© 2011 Gas House Graphs Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha