BP: Expanding The Zone: Harper, Machado, and Generational Free Agents

Last week, I wrote my first article for Baseball Prospectus: a comparison of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and other elite hitters who’ve reached free agency in the past 28 years. The piece uses custom projections to rank generational free agents and assess the frequency at which they surface on baseball’s open market. This should be the first of more articles for BP, where I’ll be contributing as a regular under the Expanding the Zone column.

I also was fortunate enough to discuss the piece with Vince Gennaro last weekend on Behind the Numbers: Baseball SABR Style on MLB Network Radio. The audio from the interview is available below.


THT: A New Metric for the Skill Shown on Batted Balls

My latest article at The Hardball Times unveils my new batting statistic: Batted-Ball Run Value (BBRV). The metric runs exit velocity, launch angle, and more variables through a generalized boosted regression model to generate outcome probabilities, which can be converted into wOBA values. I find that BBRV is more predictive than any competing metrics currently out there, including MLBAM’s xwOBA.

THT: The Workloads of the Top College Pitchers in the 2018 Draft

For The Hardball Times today, I took my annual look at the workloads of the top college pitchers available in tonight’s draft. The evaluation considered both pitch counts and rest stints, and featured a more rigorous process to estimate missing pitch counts.

The standout workload belongs to Logan Gilbert, the Stetson ace who threw at least 122 pitches in three of his 14 regular-season starts this year. Even with the heavy use, the righty has a lot going for him as a pitcher and was selected by the Mariners with the 14th overall pick tonight.

THT: The Lurking Error in Statcast Pitch Data

Today at The Hardball Times, I wrote about pitch-tracking differences between PITCHf/x and Statcast. I found that Statcast’s radar is worse at tracking vertical movement and vertical location, but has similar ability for horizontal movement and horizontal location. And velocities are more accurate since Trackman’s out-of-the-hand readings replaced PITCHf/x’s 50-foot recordings. In addition to the general takeaways, there are interesting differences from park to park. You can read more here.

Research: HFI Update

Over at The Ringer, Ben Lindbergh put together a really good look at whether the “tanking” phenomenon is bad for baseball. In actuality, not all that much has changed even as the narrative around losing has been reshaped. As part of Ben’s case, he pointed to updated numbers for the Hope and Faith Index, a measure of competitive balance that I introduced in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2017. My research shows that the average deficit has continued its downward trend, even as we entered an apparent “super team” era.