Baseball HQ: American League Facts and Flukes

by BaseballHQ.com on February 13, 2013 @ 14:16:58 PDT

 

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By Matthew Gelfand

Boston Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks
Middle-of-the-road-brooks?

Teixeira no longer elite? ... Because few first basemen have played at a high level for as long as Mark Teixeira (1B, NYY) has over the past decade, we almost take it for granted.

But he finally hit a rough patch with his power in 2012, failing to amass at least 30 HRs for the first time since 2003. Conventional wisdom says that at 33, this is the start of the inevitable decline, but do his BPIs agree?


Year   AB   BA    xBA   bb%  ct%  Eye  h%    G/L/F    PX   hr/f HR  BPV 
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ========  ===  ====  ==  ===  
2008  574  .308  .309   14   84  1.04  32  43/21/36  149  19%   33   99
2009  609  .292  .308   12   81  0.71  30  36/20/44  165  18%   39  103  
2010  601  .256  .281   13   80  0.76  27  36/19/45  147  15%   33   76
2011  589  .248  .281   11   81  0.69  24  35/18/47  151  17%   39   88
2012  451  .251  .282   11   82  0.65  26  41/19/39  138  16%   24   76

Not completely. Teixeira's still got some juice left:

  • A calf injury wiped out most of his September and contributed to the low HR total, and a 2H PX rebound (154 PX) suggests 30-HR power hasn't disappeared.
  • Declining Eye is a concern, but the relative stability of bb% and ct% stave off any fears of a full BA collapse.
  • His GB% has spiked before (see: 2008), but a 19% hr/f that season was able to mitigate the damage. He couldn't repeat that in '12, and hr/f% isn't a stat that tends to rise with age.

Teixeria has readily admitted that he's on the back-end of his career, a confession that's unlikely to improve his ADP on draft day. And while a slight decline is present, it's moving at a snail's pace for now. Expect a nice return-on-investment if he drops past the second round.

Can Middlebrooks survive without walks? ... Will Middlebrooks (3B, BOS) endeared himself to Red Sox fans and fantasy owners alike during his rookie campaign, filling in for - and ultimately replacing - Kevin Youkilis (3B, NYY) before a fractured wrist ended his season in August. But while Youkilis made a name for himself as the "Greek God of Walks," Middlebrooks appears to be his polar opposite.

Year    AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   Eye  h%   G/L/F     PX  xPX   hr/f  HR  Spd  SBO 
====   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ========  ===  ===   ====  ==  ===  === 
2011*  427  .258  .248   4   71   0.15  33    ---     149  ---   ---   15   72   9%
2012** 360  .292  .276   5   75   0.21  34  44/22/35  152  119   21%   22   72  10%
====================================================================================
2012#  267  .288  .269   5   74   0.19  34  44/22/35  148  ---   21%   15   65   8% 

* MLE
** includes MLEs
# MLB-only

His impressive debut was also very reliant on luck factors:

  • With a poor plate approach, Middlebrooks is almost certain to experience a BA will drop, as xBA suggests.
  • His PX also played a role in boosting his BA, but he has three factors working against a repeat of 150+PX: GB tilt, xPX nearer to league average and an unsustainable hr/f%. Some regression is likely.
  • Spd hasn't yet developed, but new BOS manager John Farrell's more liberal approach on the basepaths (TOR ranked No. 8 in team steals in 2012) means double digit steals are a possibility.

It's rare to find so many reasons for pessimism with such a promising young talent, but the proof is in the BPIs - he's still a work in progress. Owners who overbid for Eric Hosmer (1B, KC) last year will know better than to get caught up in the hype that's likely to surround Middlebrooks on draft day. He'll be hard-pressed to avoid the sophomore slump.

Which Masterson will show up in 2013? ... Justin Masterson's (RHP, CLE) follow-up to his breakout 2011 campaign didn't go quite as planned, as he lost the accuracy that made him effective and posted the highest ERA of his career. Now reunited with former manager Terry Francona in CLE, can Masterson return to form, or was 2011 an anomaly?

Year    IP   ERA   xERA   vL  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  hr/f   G/L/F    DOM%/DIS%  BPV
====    ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ==== ====  ========  =========  ===
2009    129  4.52  3.87 .323  4.2  8.3  2.0  10%   54/15/31    38/25    68
2010    180  4.70  3.78 .290  3.7  7.0  1.9  10%   60/15/25    41/28    65
2011    216  3.21  3.56 .291  2.7  6.6  2.4  6%    55/18/27    55/12    78
2012    206  4.93  4.08 .296  3.8  6.8  1.8  11%   56/19/25    47/26    55
========================================================================== 
2012 1H 103  4.09  4.02 .279  3.7  6.9  1.8  9%    55/20/25    50/13    55  
2012 2H 103  5.77  4.22 .309  3.9  7.0  1.8  14%   57/19/25    44/39    54

Without Ctl, Masterson becomes painfully ordinary:

  • Masterson doesn't have the lofty Dom necessary to offset a 3.0+ Ctl.
  • While he was able to tame his Ctl in 2011, fly balls also left the park less frequently (hr/f), which corrected itself last year.
  • Lefties continue to own him, and he was especially ineffective during the 2H of 2012 (see: DOM%/DIS%).
  • The extreme GB tilt is what keeps him relevant, and provides a solid baseline for a rebound.

Masterson will be counted on to anchor the CLE staff this season, along with fellow disappointment Ubaldo Jimenez (RHP, CLE). He's worth a deep speculative play because he owns 2011's skills, but there's no real track record to suggest they'll return. Plus, he'll always be a risky start against southpaw-heavy lineups. He's nothing more than a rotation filler until his Ctl improves.

More single-universe questions....

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