Lord Zola's Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Alexi Ogando, John Danks, Juan Miranda

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on May 30, 2011 @ 04:45:43 PDT


Welcome to the Memorial Day edition of Lord Zola's Mailbag. Please take a moment sometime today to say thanks to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we all take for granted.

To get your question answered all you need to do is e-mail it to lordzola@kffl.com, post on the KFFL Baseball Facebook page or via Twitter by following @KFFL_Baseball.

Today's leadoff question comes from Twitter:

When do you think Alexi Ogando will come down to earth? - @Smonkey38

For the second consecutive season, a Texas Rangers reliever has made the successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation. In 2010, C.J. Wilson turned the trick and this season, Ogando is doing the same. But as our Twitter friend @Smonkey38 suggests, there is a bit of good fortune involved with Ogando's stellar start to the campaign.

It should be noted that what Ogando is doing is not all smoke and mirrors, there is some very good pitching contributing to the success. The big righty is sporting a very good strikeout to walk ratio, due to excellent control as his strikeout rate is below average. And despite pitching in a hitter's park, Ogando has done a decent job of keeping the ball in the yard.

Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Juan Miranda
Miranda rights: claims 1B

With that as a backdrop, the good fortune Ogando has enjoyed is with respect to his hit rate and the timing of when he does allow a hit. This may be counter intuitive to some not as learned in some of the advanced metrics, but it is largely up to happenstance if a batted ball put in play results in a hit. Of course, a line drive has a much better chance of being a hit than a grounder and fly ball, but the truth is, there is an element of fortune associated with a pitcher's hit rate. Simply put, Ogando has been extremely lucky with respect to batting average on balls in play, especially since he has given more line drives than average. His hit rate should be much higher than the 38 he has allowed in his 59 2/3 frames. Furthermore, with apologies to those who believe there is such a thing as clutch hitting, when Ogando has allowed the scant hits has been quite fortuitous as well. Normally, between 25 and 30 percent of all base runners score, only 10 percent of Ogando's runners have crossed the dish. There could be something to his bearing down with runners in scoring position, but trust me gang, he has been lucky.

The problem with luck is what's done is done and has no bearing on what happens in the future. When you hear that a pitcher's BABIP and LOB% will regress to the mean, there is not going to be bad luck coming. There may be, but there may also be continued good luck. But the most probable outcome is neutral luck. Ogando's BABIP going forward will likely be around .300, which we will consider the mean. Presently it is .199. By regressing to the mean, that .199 will continue to approach .300, but it does have to get there. We are about one-third of the way through the season. Say Ogando pitches to a .300 BABIP the rest of the way, he will end the season about .267. The same holds true for his 90 percent LOB%. Going forward, the expectation is 70 to 75 percent, so he should end the season around 80 percent.

The way I look at it, it is not when Ogando will come down to earth, but what should be expected assuming he is subject to regular luck. Based on his current peripherals and a normal hit rate, Ogando's owners can expect a mid to high threes ERA going forward. That's not bad, but nowhere near what he has done thus far. When will it begin? It should be his next start. Every outing with a lucky hit rate defies probability. I realize this is a rather cold way to look at things, but it is the truth.

Yo Todd, what's up with John Danks? He's killing me. A few weeks ago you recommended holding onto Ryan Dempster and he turned it around. Any chance Danks will do the same? - Ron Adams, Pittsburgh

Sorry Ron, but the signs are nowhere near as promising for Danks. His performance is not a result of some bad luck like Dempster awhile back, but some plain old poor pitching. All three of Danks' base skills are worse than his career marks. His strikeout rate has dropped to 5.89 per nine innings, a full batter less than last season. His walk rate is up, but most noticeably, his home run rate is way up. There is a bit of luck involved with home runs, but considering his strikeouts and walks have taken a turn for the worse, I am not going to suggest hanging your hat on an unlucky home run rate and expecting a big turnaround.

Lord Zola, what can be expected from Juan Miranda? Is he going to be the full time first baseman now that Russell Branyan is gone? - Rex Williamson, Topeka, Kan.

As Rex mentioned, the Arizona Diamondbacks finally cut bait with Branyan, who has since hooked on with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This will leave Miranda as the primary first sacker in the desert, though Xavier Nady will see some at bats against southpaws. It should be noted that many are high on Paul Goldschmidt, who is tearing up Double-A Mobile, albeit at an age somewhat advanced for the level. There is some that want to see Goldschmidt up with the Snakes sooner than later. His power is huge, he can take a walk, and he has improved his contact rate. Personally, I would like to see what he does at Triple-A. If the 23-year-old continues the onslaught, then bring him on.

But for now, Miranda is at worst on the good side of a platoon, at best a full timer ceding some at bats versus tough lefties. He has very good plate patience and a lot of power, but strikes out too much for my liking. As a full time player, Miranda has the ability to hit 20 homers the rest of the season, though it would be prudent to expect high teens. His average will be an issue so long as he continues to strike out once in every four at bats. This could lead to slumps, opening the door for Nady to play more or an early promotion from Goldschmidt. I think he fends off both Nady and Goldschmidt this season which sets things up to be quite interesting next spring in Arizona.

When Todd is not trying to come up with a pithy tag line, you can find him hanging out on the forum at Mastersball.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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