Digging for Gold: The Boog Powell Story

(My work can now be found at The Process Report, but I will be linking here as well in order to keep myself organized. Expect a short intro here, but you can finish up over there. Tremendous thanks to those that have made this site a perusing point in your day over the last few years. Much thanks to Jason Collette for supporting Dock of the Rays over the years and for bringing me aboard at TPR.

-Jason Hanselman)

When you name your child Herschel Mack Powell IV you enter that infant into a lifetime of expectations that will never be met. Sure you might become the Assistant to the General Manager for the Southeast corridor for Publix Supermarkets, but your grandpappy Herschel Mack Powell Sr. WAS the General Manager for a prolific dry goods wholesaler back in HIS day. And he did it several years younger, too. These expectations can cripple the mental pscyhe of a weaker man, as your dad Herschel Powell III has had no issue reminding you for the last dozen Thanksgivings after the turkey gets put away and the Turkey comes out. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it another way.

Another man with similar expectations shook off the binding chains of his family name and after a trip to the mountains of the Far East he returned with a new identity known only to himself and his butler. Herschel Mack Powell IV realized that the only way that he could create his own identity was to forge out into the world under an alias. To create his own blazing path under the moniker Boog Powell so that someday he could return home with his head held high bearing the confidence of someone that has fulfilled the enormous expectations that the ambitious place upon themselves. Tune in next week to find out how he goes about sating this famished desire.

(To continue reading please head over to The Process Report…)

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Assessing the Hitters Over the First Half(ish)

If you read the site you know about the Matchup Tool that Ian Malinowski and I have created and refined. It’s a great way to get an idea of the outcome of any pitcher and any batter in any park. I like it. I’m proud of it. I’m going to be using it throughout this post. The idea is that we can create an idea of how a player should have batted (xwRC+) and then compare that with how the player actually did over the course of the season. Let’s go through this by plate appearance leaders:

Longira 7-21

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Estimated Surplus Value Heading Into 2015 Trade Deadline

It’s that time of year where people say really stupid and wrong things about players that are rumored to be on the trading block. To help you say less stupid things I have compiled what I think are the surplus values for Rays players based on 40% of the season being left and whatever is left on their contracts. I assume options will get picked up for the most part. Here’s a look at the individual players:


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Second Half Expectations

Now that we are 55.6% of the way through the season we can start to talk about what it will be like to play in the second half. So far the Rays have played basically a .500 pace. Projections, Pythagorean record and BaseRuns all seem to think that that sounds like a fine idea and expect it to continue in the second half. The sportsbook I’m familiar with has us at +3500 or roughly 2.7% to win the World Series. Let’s pour one out for the season. This one goes out to the blue seats:

While, I think that’s a likely possibility there are other plausible scenarios where things finally start to break good for this team after a year and a half rife with visits from the four horseman. Makes me wonder why Joltin’ Joe Maddon never had Arn Anderson brought in for a pep talk. So enough of the chit chat and let’s break out the good stuff.

Below you will find the inputs and outputs for everyone likely to play in the second half that has at least some semblance of a track record in the show. You can see the projected overall wOBA, career numbers against each handedness and also the observed split with its regressed value. The regressed platoon split is then moved around the projection and park effects are manipulated so that we can have an idea of that batter or pitcher’s chances of success against an average pitcher or batter of each handedness. Let’s start with our batters versus the average right-handed pitcher:

Rays v RHP

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Further Exploring the Bullpen Usage of the Rays in 2015

In a post earlier this week I took a look at the Rays bullpen usage so far this year as it’s starting to become a hot topic amongst those that see the Rays as a bellwether for emerging trends. The Rays may be leading the charge to further lower offensive output across the league, or at the very least, turn middling starters into useful assets.

The wildly incredible Russell Carleton dug in as only he can do in the public sphere. You should read that because not only is he able to articulate the things that I’ve been saying all year in a much better way, but also because he produced an algorithm that gives an idea of the break-even point for when a pitcher may be ready to hit the showers for a fresh set of wheels with a full tank of gas. He also hit on the point that this has been possible due to the Rays being able to shuttle players back and forth between Durham and St. Pete.

Over at Fangraphs, Craig Edwards also took the time to give an idea of the situation. This site is grateful that he linked to the previous look at the pen over here so do Craig a favor and check out his thoughts on the matter. If you think my name-dropping is getting out of control, well, I’m just getting warmed up. Draysbay masthead author and friend of the site(s), Nomo.Red.Evil asked this author to take a look at this stuff using something only the biggest of nerds know as WPA/LI.

The link to Tango’s site is a nice introduction, but I think the best piece that you’re going to find on this sabremetric tool was written by Dave Studeman a little over a year ago. The comments are especially informative as Studes can get a little technical at times, but his work is unimpeachable. With these introductions out of the way the basic idea is that WPA/LI is a very good way to look at how performance on the field contributed to wins or losses, while neutralizing the leverage of the moment, to an extent. It’s not without flaws, but this is arguably the best way to look at relief performance.

For this study I took a look at only the Rays that have seen a minimum 10 appearances out of the pen. That means that when Geltz was a “starter” won’t be included and neither will guys like Grant Balfour or Kirby Yates or the pen appearances from Erasmo Ramirez or Matt Andriese, amongst others. Here’s what that looks like over the course of the year:

Team 50 PA

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Mr. Fixer Upper

The following images have been prepared as evidence neither for nor against the dismissal of Rays Batting Coach Derek Shelton. The author does not have a dog in the fight other than maintaining intellectual honesty whenever and wherever possible. Dan Szymborski was nice enough to give me his projections from 2004 through 2014, which I will be comparing with actual wOBA figures as calculated by Fangraphs. The far right section of the table shows the percentage difference between projected wOBA and actual wOBA. The population is comprised of all Rays batters to get at least 100 PA in a given season from 2010 – 14, which the discerning reader will notice is essentially the Derek Shelton Era.

All questions or requests for clarification will be ignored. Consider this the author signing off with no further comment.


2011 20122013


Good luck out there, chaps.

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