Monday, February 19, 2018

Quick Hits: Tillman, Tigers, O's, New York, G. Torres, Tebow - MLB Trade Rumors

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If the NFL doesn't want Tebow, then MLB does (modestly of course). If he continues developing, especially his power, he gets a late-season call-up. Especially if the Mets appear out of by late August, a more than modest possibility. 

Quick Hits: Tillman, Tigers, O's, New York, G. Torres, Tebow - MLB Trade Rumors:

"The Mets actually have “modest expectations” that minor league outfielder Tim Tebow will eventually earn a major league call-up, Alderson revealed (Twitter link via James Wagner of the New York Times). “He’s great for baseball. He was phenomenal for minor league baseball last year,” Alderson said of the former Denver Broncos starting quarterback and ex-University of Florida football star. Prior to last season, which the 30-year-old divided between Single-A and High-A and hit .226/.309/.347 in 486 PAs, Tebow hadn’t played organized baseball since high school."

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2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 6. Nick Madrigal (Oregon State) – College Baseball Daily

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 6. Nick Madrigal (Oregon State) – College Baseball Daily
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It's easy to dismiss this guys, especially for Giants fans since his position in college is SS and the HT/WT metrics. However, read the comps to Pedroia and begin to dream of a premium 2B and he rises near the top of the draft.


2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 6. Nick Madrigal (Oregon State)

At number six on our Top 100 Countdown is possibly the most popular player in college baseball right now in Oregon State second baseball Nick Madrigal.
He represents everything that is great about the game of baseball. Madrigal is only 5-foot-8, 165 pounds and plays with as much passion as anyone in the game.
Perfect Game ranked him as the 109th best high school prospect before he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 17th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.
He did not sign and went on to play in the West Coast League that summer before attending Oregon State. In the WCL he hit .303 in 178 at-bats with 35 runs scored, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 20 RBI, 40 stolen bases, 7 strikeouts, 9 walks and a .342 on-base-percentage.
I've been doing previews and player reviews all summer, I don't think I've seen anybody with single-digit strikeouts over that many at-bats.
As a freshman for the Beavers in 2016 he hit .333 in 195 at-bats with 38 runs scored, 11 doubles, 5 triples, 1 home run, 29 RBI, 8 stolen bases, 14 strikeouts, 15 walks and a .380 on-base-percentage.
Madrigal was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and he was a Freshman All-American in just about every publication. He was also named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
In 2017 he was even better hitting .380 in 237 at-bats with 53 runs scored, 20 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, 40 RBI, 16 stolen bases, 16 strikeouts, 27 walks and a .449 on-base-percentage.
He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year along with several other awards.
This past summer he played for the US Collegiate National Team.
The obvious comparison for Madrigal because of his size and position is Dustin Pedroia. The Boston Red Sox second baseman doesn't have quite as big of a leg kick as Madrigal, but that's about the only difference.
The increase in home runs for Madrigal in his sophomore season make you believe he's capable of hitting 10-plus at the next level.
This kid obviously has all of the tools to be a good hitter at the next level. He also posses enough speed to swipe 15-20 bags, and he's clearly one of the best defensive second baseman in college baseball.
As a college baseball fan, I can't wait to kick back and enjoy is final season at the collegiate level.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Giants agree to deal with Tony Watson [report] | KNBR-AM

Good move for the Giants on at least two counts. As shown above, takes one away from the Dodgers, always a good thing. As shown below, comps to Jake McGee and Sergio Romo in terms of productivity and Al Holland based on age/productivity. Romo is on that list as well. Watson is 6-4, 220 so durability should not be an issue.

The question of whether or not this means another payroll saving trade of an existing reliever to keep the Giants under the CBT ("luxury tax") remains to be seen. I know SF fans would love to see the tea trade Strickland for prospects, but time will tell. 


Giants agree to deal with Tony Watson [report] | KNBR-AM:

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Neuroscience Can Project On-Base Percentages Now | FanGraphs Baseball

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Once this type of data can be incorporated into scouting and player development, there will be less draft mistakes and better hitters. 

Subject: Neuroscience Can Project On-Base Percentages Now | FanGraphs Baseball

Neuroscience Can Project On-Base Percentages Now | FanGraphs Baseball

Neuroscience Can Project On-Base Percentages Now

I have an early, hazy memory of Benito Santiago explaining to a reporter the approach that had led to his game-winning hit moments earlier. "I see the ball, I hit it hard," said Santiago in his deep accent. From which game, in what year, I can't remember. Also, it isn't really important: it's a line we've heard before. Nevertheless, it contains multitudes.

We know, for example, that major-league hitters have to see well to hit well. Recent research at Duke University has once again made explicit the link between eye sight, motor control, and baseball outcomes. This time, though, they've split out some of the skills involved, and it turns out that Santiago's deceptively simple description involves nuanced levels of neuromotor activity, each predictive of different aspects of a hitter's abilities. Will our developing knowledge about those different skills help us better sort young athletes, or better develop them? That part's to be determined.
A team of researchers spread across Duke ran baseball players from two full professional organizations through a battery of nine tests on Nike Sensory Stations to measure different aspects of a player's sensory motor abilities. After creating something similar to Major League Equivalency lines for each player, the researchers were able to test the effect of each of the scores against real-life baseball outcomes.
"If you have a 23-year-old, completely average outfielder, the model predicts that his on-base percentage in the major leagues would be .292," explains Kyle Burris, one of the researchers on the project. "The model would expect a similar player who scores one standard deviation higher on the perception span task to have an OBP of .300."
The high-level, easy takeaway from their study is that these skills, taken as a whole, are predictive of good plate discipline. There was no link to slugging percentage, though, so we're not quite yet predicting full batting lines from your neuromotor scores.
But if you drill down a bit into these new findings, you'll see that there is a great deal here to get excited about. Here's a profound image that shows how each subsection of the larger skill set was linked to baseball outcomes. Darker colors denote a stronger relationship between the skill and the baseball statistic.
A table of findings reprinted with permission from Kyle Burris, Kelly Vittetoe, Benjamin Ramger, Sunith Suresh, Surya T. Tokdar, Jerome P. Reiter & L. Gregory Appelbaum "Sensorimotor abilities predict on-field performance in professional baseball" in Scientific ReportsTake a look at the row labeled "perception span," in particular, and you find an interesting story. That task was linked to good on-base percentages and strikeout rates, but not necessarily good walk rates.
"It's kind of like a game of Simon," says Burris as he tries to explain the perception-span task, "but for a split second, it gives you shapes that appear in various aspects of your peripheral vision, and you have to determine was there a square there, or a pentagon there, and it flashed at you in a split second and you have to try and remember what the shape was."
When we asked players what they see when the ball is released, a good portion of the responses detailed how little is ultimately visible to the eye. And there's that study of cricket which suggests that cricket players get more from information they gather before the release of the ball than after. This finding fits right in: players who are good at noticing things on the periphery — like the way a forearm might look different on a breaking ball, or the way the body might drag on a changeup — are better at making contact.
Hidden within the other differences between the tasks and their links to outcomes is a similar story: both the ability to suss out quickly the difference between shapes seen both near and far, and also to capture a target quickly were both good for making contact. That makes sense.

But why would hand-eye coordination be better for player's walk rate than his strikeout rate?
Partly, this could be because players have to start their swing before they know if they want to swing — a requirement velocity puts upon them — and hand-eye coordination helps them to better stop that swing if the pitch is a ball.
Partly, this could be a result of the limited capacity for actually testing hand-eye coordination. The particular task linked to that number requires respondents to tap baseballs as they appear on a screen, testing how fast they can do so.
"I'm not sure that it actually goes and tests hand-eye coordination," admitted Burris, who is headed to Cleveland for a summer internship with the Indians. "There is a little bit of hand-eye coordination in that you have to see it and then immediately translate that to a motor response, but I'd say that that was almost response-time-esque."
If you look at the separate reaction-time outcomes, you'll see a similar link to walk rate, so maybe that's the key skill in taking walk. Reacting quicker.
Or there's another way to separate the skills. You could consider the first three tasks — visual clarity, contrast sensitivity, and depth perception — as "hardware." They're linked to outcomes, of course, because there's a decent part of the game that requires good eye sight. But they're the sort of thing with which you're born.
"There will never be a blind ballplayer," said co-author Gregory Appelbaum.
Those other six tasks, though? They represent the software of our neuromotor system. They represent our ability to take the visual information given to us and process it. Software is more malleable, subject to updates. Software can be changed for the better.
"There is evidence that these processes can be improved," agreed Appelbaum. "There have been demonstrations of neuroplasticity in these processes."
Appelbaum pointed to two interesting studies that pointed to the fact that our neuromotor system's software could be trained. A study from 2015 of which he was part showed that "significant learning was observed in tasks with high visuomotor control demands but not in tasks of visual sensitivity," for one.
A 2014 study at the University of California-Riverside found that actual baseball outcomes could be improved by using a "perceptual learning program." In that study, players reported improvements such as being able to see further, and having eyes that felt stronger and didn't tire as quickly.
Appelbaum is ready to find out what these visual training technologies will look like as we go forward. He's helping launch the Duke Vision Sports Center, a clinic and lab where researchers will use sensory stations, immersive reality, and more, in order to pursue this line of thinking.
When it comes to new stats coming out of Statcast, I've personally seen a change in how players assess the numbers. Early distaste has given away to curiosity, as more players — Yonder Alonso and Andrew Heaney, for example, in my own experience — now speak up at the end of interviews to ask me about launch angle, exit velocity, and how they can use that data to train and improve.
So, while the Boston Red Sox have long been using the link between neuromotor skills and baseball outcomes in their minor leagues in an effort to bring "neuroscouting" to their own organization, these new findings offer a different use for neuromotor study. Instead of sorting players, there's major potential to use these activities to develop players and get the most out of them.
There may never be a blind baseball player, sure. But that's just hardware. Let's see how we can make the most out of our favorite player's software.

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Podcast: Using Luck to Your Advantage | The Art of Manliness

Podcast: Using Luck to Your Advantage | The Art of Manliness

This is a killer podcast. I love Michael Mauboussin. He has some great articles out there on sports, probability, luck, investing and generally success in life. 

from the
When it comes to the factors that lead to success, there's a tendency in folks to discount the role of luck. We like to think we're the complete masters of our fortune — that we can control everything that happens to us and make our own luck. But by not giving luck its due, we actually prevent ourselves from effectively managing this force so we can experience success in the long run. 

My guest today has written a book on the math of success, skill, and luck. His name is Michael Mauboussin and he's the author of The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing. Today Michael and I discuss the philosophy and math of luck, the activities in life that rely more on luck than skill, and what you can do to manage luck like a poker player in order to be more successful in life. Lots of great practical takeaways in this episode. You won't want to miss it. 

Show Highlights

  • Why we discount luck when it comes to success or failure
  • Why thoughtful, successful people acknowledge luck
  • How philosophers and mathematicians define "luck"
  • The difference between luck and randomness
  • How the "Paradox of Skill" causes luck to become more important as your skill increases
  • Why there will likely never be another baseball player who hits over .400 like Ted Williams
  • How statisticians are able to determine how much luck and how much skill goes into an outcome
  • Which sports rely more on skill and which ones rely more on luck
  • Why a large sample size is necessary to figure out how much luck or skill is involved in an activity
  • What poker players can teach us about managing luck and skill
  • Why you should focus on processes and not outcomes
  • Why football teams should go for it on 4th down
  • Why hiring superstars almost always ends up being disappointing
  • Why complexity makes luck more influential in an outcome
  • Why cumulative advantage and power laws make it really hard to write the next big book or start the next big blog
  • Why "Gangham Style" is the perfect example of luck, cumulative advantage, and power laws
  • How the internet and social media has only compounded the influence of luck on success
  • How understanding luck can buffer the sense of failure you might experience in life
  • What you should do if you're the underdog in a competition to inject more luck into the outcome
  • And much more!

Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast

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The Success Equation has provided me a lot of food for thought since I originally read it a few months ago. The mathematical insights Michael provides about the relationship between luck and skill has caused me to re-think how I approach my business and life. It will do the same for you. Pick up a copy on Amazon and be sure to check out the Success Equation website, where you can play around with some games so you can see these mathematical theories about skill and luck in action.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 11. Tristan Pompey (Kentucky) – College Baseball Daily

This is an intriguing package that fills a need for the Giants. Size, speed and power potential. A 6-4, 200 pounder with room to fill out and not compromise speed. A 4.1 down the line from the left side. A pretty good K/BB ratio is indicative of a decent approach or eye at the plate.

The tepid Cape Cod League showing is a bit of a concern but after watching the video, I'm not as concerned about the leg kick that leads his swing as much as I am the head movement that the high leg kick leads to. Fix that and see what happens. Pick it up and put it down, man!!

I don't think he leave multiple millions on the table and goes back for a senior year unless he falls badly in his junior year. The problem for Giants may be that he doesn't elevate enough for them to justify taking in  the #2 spot and doesn't fall enough to reach them in the top of the second round.

Maybe a left-handed version of the Lewis kid from Mercer a couple of drafts back. He has struggled with injuries. We'll see how it goes for Pompey but, as I said, he is intriguing.


2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 11. Tristan Pompey (Kentucky) – College Baseball Daily:

Number 11 on our countdown is one my favorite players in college baseball. Kentucky outfielder Tristan Pompey is as exciting a player as you’ll see in college baseball this year.
One of my favorite moments from the 2017 season was when he hit a grand slam off Alex Faedo in the final regular season weekend.
But going back to his high school days, he led the Canadian Junior National Team to the World Championships in 2015. He was ranked as the fifth best Canadian prospect for the 2015 MLB Draft by Baseball America.
As a freshman things didn’t off to a great start, hitting just .233 in 150 at-bats with 25 runs scored, 8 doubles, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, 2 stolen bases, 20 walks, 48 strikeouts and a .328 on-base-percentage.
However, he burst onto the scene his sophomore season hitting .361 in 266 at-bats with 70 runs scored, 18 doubles, 10 home runs, 45 RBI, 9 stolen bases, 46 walks, 56 strikeouts and a .464 on-base-percentage.
Those numbers led to him being named First-Team All-SEC and Third-Team All-American.
This past summer he played 23 games in the Cape Cod League and his numbers were not nearly as impressive. Pompey hit just .230 in 87 at-bats with 7 runs scored, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 15 RBI, 5 stolen bases, 7 walks, 24 strikeouts and a .284 on-base-percentage.
 The tall, 6-foot-4 junior has an open stance and uses a pretty big leg kick before stepping towards the pitcher. There is a lot of timing involved in this swing, but when he times it up right he makes consistent, hard contact.
With just one great season under his belt, I’m really curious to see how Pompey does in 2018. As it sits right now he’s a possible top 15 MLB Draft pick.
I don’t think his stock can go much higher, but if he has a down year and falls we could selfishly see him back in 2019; however unlikely that scenario may be.

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Friday, February 02, 2018

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 23. Seth Beer (Clemson) – College Baseball Daily

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I like the power potential, but given the defensive limitations, do you need another Chris Shaw kind of bat?

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 23. Seth Beer (Clemson)

As we continue our countdown we look at one of the most powerful bats in the country in Clemson's Seth Beer.

Coming out of high school he was ranked as the second best player in the nation by Perfect Game and the best player in the state of Georgia.

He immediately made an impact at the collegiate level hitting .369 as a freshman with 57 runs scored, 13 doubles, 18 home runs, 70 RBI, 27 strikeouts, 62 walks and a .535 on-base-percentage.

He became the first freshman to win the Dick Howser Trophy.
After that 2016 season many were predicting him to be the first overall pick in the 2018 draft.

A slow start to his sophomore season tampered those expectations a bit. But he still hit .298 with 51 runs scored, 17 doubles, 16 home runs, 53 RBI, 35 strikeouts, 64 walks and a .478 on-base-percentage. His slow sophomore season continued with the USA Baseball program in the summer of 2017 where he hit .232 with only one homer and 13 RBI. He did not record a hit during the team's series against Japan while struggling to make contact.

That walk-to-strikeout ratio is highly impressive for a power hitter. The reason he's able to do that is because he doesn't just let the hips fly, he's able to stay back and throw his hands at the baseball. And he has enough power to drive the baseball even though it's mostly upper body.

There is no questioning this guys bat, he will be one of the best hitters in college baseball against this year, and I have little doubt that he'll hit at the next level.

The only drawback on Beer is his defense. Many feel he is a below average defender in a corner outfield spot. I tend to disagree as I think he's at least average in the outfield, and you'll take average defense with that bat.

Of course, an American League team could always take him and let him become a dynamite DH.

As a college baseball fan, make sure you enjoy this kids talent this season as he's one of the best hitters we've seen come through the college ranks in quite some time.

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2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 21. Steven Gingery (Texas Tech) – College Baseball Daily

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This would be a good get with the 2nd pick except that guys like this tend to rise, not fall.

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 21. Steven Gingery (Texas Tech) – College Baseball Daily

2018 CBD Top 100 Countdown: 21. Steven Gingery (Texas Tech)

Coming in at 21 on our countdown is Texas Tech left-handed pitcher Steven Gingery.

He burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2016 when he posted a 3.18 ERA in 68 innings pitched with 63 strikeouts, 31 walks, 61 hits and a 1.35 WHIP.

Those numbers were good enough for him to be recognized as a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. He was also named an All-Big 12 Second Team Pitcher, as well as the Big 12 All-Freshman Pitcher.

He backed that up with a superb sophomore season in which he had an ERA of just 1.58 in 91.1 innings pitched with 107 strikeouts, 29 walks, 60 hits and a 0.97 WHIP.

This past summer he pitched for USA Baseball's collegiate national team.
          The 6-foot-2, 205 pound lefty is built to be a workhorse at the next level.
He doesn't have overpowering stuff with a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but he had a very mature approach on the mound and is able to command all of his pitches to both sides of the plate.

To me he easily profiles as a middle of the rotation starter at the major league level. The fact that he's left-handed should push him up into the first round of this year's MLB Draft.

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Giants Top Minor League Prospects

  • 1. Tyler Beede 6-4, 215 RHP from Vanderbilt projects as top of the rotation starter when he works out his command/control issues. When he misses, he misses by a bunch.
  • 2. Chris Shaw 6-3. 230 1B Lefty power bat, limited defensively to 1B, Matt Adams comp?
  • 3. Bryan Reynolds 6-2, 210 OF Switch hitter with average speed and polished hitting approach. Fits Giants mold of high-floor, low-ceiling prospects.
  • 4. Stephen Duggar 6-1, 170 CF Another toolsy, under-achieving OF in the Gary Brown mold, hoping for better results.
  • 5. Sandro Fabian 6-0, 180 OF Dominican signee from 2014, shows some pop in his bat. Below average arm and lack of speed should push him towards LF.
  • 6. Aramis Garcia 6-2, 220 C from Florida INTL projects as a good bat behind the dish with enough defensive skill to play there long-term
  • 7. Heliot Ramos 6-2, 185 OF Potential high-ceiling player the Giants have been looking for. Great bat speed, early returns were impressive.
  • 8. Garrett Williams 6-1, 205 LHP Former Oklahoma standout, Giants prototype, low-ceiling, high-floor prospect.
  • 9. Heath Quinn 6-2, 190 OF Strong hitter, makes contact with improving approach at the plate. Returns from hamate bone injury.
  • 10. Seth Corry 6-2 195 LHP Highly regard HS pick. Was mentioned as possible chip in high profile trades.
  • 11. Jacob Gonzalez 6-3, 190 3B Good pedigree, impressive bat for HS prospect.
  • 12. C.J. Hinojosa 5-10, 175 SS Scrappy IF prospect in the mold of Kelby Tomlinson, just gets it done.
  • 13. Shaun Anderson 6-4, 225 RHP Large frame, 3.36 K/BB rate. Can start or relieve
  • 14. Garett Cave 6-4, 200 RHP He misses a lot of bats and at times, the plate. 13 K/9 an 5 B/9. Wild thing.

2018 MLB Draft - Top National HS Players

  • 1. Ethan Hankins 6-6, 215 RHP Forsyth Central HS (GA) Mi 90's FB tops at 96-98, plus breaking ball. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 2. Kumar Rocker 6-5, 250 RHP North Oconee HS (GA) Heavy 98 FB, sharp mid 90's slider. Vanderbilt commit.
  • 3. Matthew Liberatore 6-5, 200 LHP Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) High 3/4 arm slot, 91-93 FB tops at 95, with good feel for pitching. Arizona commit.
  • 4. Slade Cecconi 6-4, 195 RHP Trinity Prep HS (FL) High 90's FB tops at 97, with mid 80's breaking ball. Miami commit.
  • 5. Carter Stewart 6-6, 200 RHP Eau Galle HS (FL) Highest spin rate breaking ball in draft. Mississippi State commit.
  • 6. Luke Bartnicki 6-3, 210 LHP Walton HS (GA) Low 90's FB with command, workable slider. Georgia Tech commit.

2018 Top MLB College Draft Prospects

  • 1. Brady Singer 6-5, 200 RHP Florida Sergio Romo-esque slider from whippy low 3/4 arm slot. Mid 90's FB, sharp slider and change-up. 3.4 K/BB rate.
  • 2. Casey Mize 6-3, 210 RHP Auburn Forearm issues, 96 FB with split/slider mix, 6.2 K/BB ratio.
  • 3. Logan Gilbert 6-6, 205 RHP Stetson Loose arm action, 3 pitch mix, 93-96 FB 3.2 K/BB.
  • 4. Ryan Rollison 6-3, 200 LHP Mississippi Smooth delivery from 3/4 arm slot, 89-93 FB tops at 94/95. Late 1st, early 2nd rounder. 2.8 K/BB rate.
  • 5. Shane McClanahan 6-1, 175 LHP South Florida Thin build, 3/4 arm slot, tall and fall delivery. 93/96 FB range. 3.0 K/BB rate.

2018 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects in Tampa Bay Area

  • 1. Connor Scott 6-4, 180 OF Plant HS (FL) Florida commit.