What’s the usual story with first-year draftees? They put up stellar numbers in college and/or high school, but can’t replicate those numbers after they’re drafted due to better competition in the minors. A college All-American who hit .400 can struggle to stay above .200 as they adjust to minor league ball. It’s nothing to worry about, just the way things go. So what would you expect to see from a college senior infielder, converted outfielder, converted back to infielder who hit .176 in 330 career at-bats, who didn’t hit a Home Run until the end of his last season, and who only had 6 extra base hits in his entire college career? I’d have my doubts that this player would even record one minor league hit. However, I present to you Cody Dent, the man who’s mirroring the trend.
Cody played for four years at the University of Florida, and reached the College World Series three times. Throughout his career, he was a light-hitting utility infielder who saw a majority of his time as a defensive replacement. During his senior year, Dent started 48 games for the Gators, but his struggles at the plate still remained. Cody hit .233 his freshman year, then .207, .134, and .169 in each subsequent season. But, he’s 6th on UF’s all-time sacrifice bunt leaderboard with 26 in his college career. So, that’s something; It seems like he’d make a good hitting pitcher.
Dent’s bright spot was the 2011 NCAA Tournament, where he played in and started 11 games, and hit .273 with a double, triple, and 4 RBIs as the Gators made it the championship series in Omaha. He was named to the All-Tournament team. Following his senior season, the previously undrafted Dent was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 22nd round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, likely/hopefully for his defense.
As a student a the University of Florida, I attended a large amount of baseball games, and I always rooted for Cody to do well. He never showed negative body language, and went about his business professionally. Also, he was the king of the “at ’em ball”. I can’t count how many times he’s hit a rope right at an outfielder. I always imagined what kind of horrible BABIP Dent would have, so I calculated it. During his senior season, Cody Dent had a .193 BABIP. With an average BABIP ranging from about .290 – .310, this created a huge dent in his average (pun intended). Some players have established BABIPs in a different range (ex. Miguel Cabrera and Ichiro Suzuki around .345), however .193 can not be the true average for an SEC starter with MLB bloodlines. By personally watching Dent play, I can also attest that he’s better than the numbers show. I consider BABIP to be a measure of luck, and use it to determine whether a player is playing at their true ability. A BABIP far under the average means that a player is under performing, and a BABIP far above the average means that a player is over performing. To re-iterate, Dent’s senior BABIP was .193. This, coupled with only an 11.7% Strikeout Percentage (K%) creates a sense of hope that Cody could grow into a serviceable/not as dreadful bat.
So what does he do during his first 27 games in Short-Season A ball? Hit .278/ .365 /.300 with a .326 wOBA and a 108 wRC+. With 100 being the standard average for wRC+, this means that Cody Dent is an above average producer in Short-Season A ball. ABOVE AVERAGE!!! Considering the offensive woes he went through as a Gator, this is absolutely huge. Maintaining his improved offense will be a challenge for Cody, as he’s in danger of regressing. Dent’s minor league BABIP is .387, way above average, and astronomically above his college numbers. Is this a sign of the real Cody Dent? Is he having a lucky month? Or has Cody Dent gone through enough punishment and suffering from the baseball gods that they’re rewarding him for his perseverance? It’s time to sit back and watch The Curious Case of Cody Dent.
The Miami Marlins are always in the news at the Trade Deadline, and the story is no different in 2013.
The Marlins possess sought after relievers Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, Ryan Webb, and Chad Qualls. Cishek, Dunn, and Webb still have multiple years under team control, while Qualls’ is signed on a one-year deal. Of the four, I would be most inclined to keep Cishek, who is currently closing games for the Marlins, and doing so extremely well. Qualls is the most likely to be dealt, as the Marlins don’t want to part with valuable bullpen arms who could contribute to next year’s team. Also, they don’t want to leave the young starting rotation with an inexperienced bullpen to back them up for the remainder of this season. Qualls would be a rental reliever for any team, as a 34 year-old journeyman doesn’t scream “Long-term plans”. Nevertheless, Qualls has caught fire in 2013, putting up the best season of his career. Through 42 IP in 42 Appearances, Qualls has put up a 2.57 ERA, 1.024 WHIP with a 7.29 K/9 and a 1.93 BB/9 leading to a 3.44 FIP.
The Marlins dealt relief to a contender at last year’s deadline as well, sending Edward Mujica to the Cardinals for 3B prospect Zack Cox. Mujica had a 4.38 ERA at the time he was sent to St. Louis, so Qualls’ numbers are significantly superior. However, Mujica was just 28 at the time, and still had a year of Arbitration remaining, which increased his value. All things considered, Qualls should be able to produce the same return as Mujica did, possibly more. What Mujica brought in was fairly significant. Zack Cox was the Cardinals #4 prospect heading into 2012 by Baseball America. He was drafted in the first round out of the University of Arkansas in hopes that he would develop into a premier hitter. He showed that ability during his first full minor league season in 2011, but fell off dramatically in 2012, hitting .254/ .294/ .421 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Cardinals management decided it was time to move on from Cox, and shipped him to the Marlins, who sent him back down to AA. Cox has been solid in AA this season, hitting .292/ .393 / .391. his power numbers decreased, but he’s hitting more consistently as the Marlins are allowing him to take a slow track through the system. He has the Marlins future 3B job in his sights, but will be competing in the system with recent 1st round pick, Colin Moran out of UNC.
In my opinion, the Marlins sold Mujica enormously high The Cardinals’ frustration with Cox allowed him to be moved at a fairly cheap price, and it’s difficult to say that this trade is comparable to what the Marlins can get for Qualls. Nevertheless, this shows that the Marlins can target mid-level prospects (or seemingly declining former top level prospects) in exchange for Qualls.
Decision: Avoid trading Qualls for the sake of trading him. Aggressively shop him around, but if the return isn’t right (comparable to Mujica’s return), try to negotiate a 2014 contract in the off-season. Cishek, Dunn, and Webb are main contributors to the Marlins bullpen, and with the team appearing to be a contender in 2014, I would want to keep that consistency.
Veteran Position Players
The Marlins could potentially move Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Greg Dobbs, and Justin Ruggiano. Polanco and Pierre are signed to one-year deals, and will be Free Agents after the season. Dobbs is in the last year of a two-year contract. All four are most likely fits on the bench for a contender, and none of them would be able to bring in a significant return. Ruggiano had a breakout year in 2012, his first full season, hitting .313/ .374/ .535 in 91 games. However, he’s slumped this year, removed from his everyday role, floating around a .200 batting average. He holds the most value, as he still has another season before he’s arbitration eligible, and teams may hope that he returns to his 2012 form. However, his remaining pre-Arb year is valuable to the Marlins as well, who didn’t want to move him a few weeks ago. The Marlins called up their top two outfield prospects last week, which makes Ruggiano slightly more available.
Decision: Without much to gain in return, I’d hold on to the veterans, and try to retain Polanco, Pierre, and Dobbs for another year to serve as valuable bench players for the 2014 season.
The feature of this article, and many national news stories is Right Fielder Giancarlo Stanton. I’ve admittedly flip-flopped back and forth about what the Marlins should do with the face of the franchise. He’s 23 years old, and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, which will increase his salary by a couple million dollars. He led the league in slugging in 2012, and had already amassed over 100 career Home Runs. He is a budding superstar, and teams are willing to pay a very high price for him.
The Marlins are historically known to being a penny-pinching team, but are in a position to spend big money, which they have available to give to Stanton. If the Marlins stick with Stanton, I see them avoiding arbitration this year with a one year deal in the neighborhood of $7-8MM. I then project him to earn $10-12MM after 2014, and $13-15MM after 2015. To avoid paying Stanton $13-15MM for 2016, and then have a future long-term deal based on that salary structure, I would begin working on a back-loaded multi-year deal immediately after the season. My first offer of a proposed contract would follow a similar structure to my predicted arbitration salary hike, but then level off around $17-18MM for 2016 and beyond. Miguel Cabrera, former Marlins emerging offensive superstar, signed a long-term deal with the Tigers in 2008, which levels off at about $20MM per year. In my opinion, Stanton has shown the potential to deserve a similar contract, but there is no way that I would begin the negotiations at Miguel Cabrera’s deal.
Stanton’s value is as high as it’s ever been. As mentioned before, he’s an emerging superstar who is just reaching arbitration for the first time. Comparing him again to Cabrera, the Marlins traded him after the 2007 season to the Detroit Tigers along with pitcher Dontrelle Willis for the Tigers #1, 2, 6, 8 rated prospects according to Baseball America, along with other mid-low level players. The Marlins would be able to reel in at least 3 of a team’s top ten prospects, ideally 2 of the top 5. In my opinion they should throw in one of the relievers teams have been calling for (preferably Qualls) to bump up the level of the prospects they would receive.
The rebutting argument against trading Stanton is how unpredictable trading for prospects can be. Once again, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for four of their top ten prospects, including #1 and #2. A total of zero of them, are still with the Marlins, and Cameron Maybin (#1) and Andrew Miller (#2) never lived up to their potential. All those two names do is make Marlins fans cringe. Bad trades happen, Major Leaguers are known commodities, while prospects are prospects, something that might be good in the future. The unpredictability and risk of trading Giancarlo is something that can not be over analyzed.
Decision: Make Stanton Available, and listen to offers, but don’t undersell him
If a team wants to give you their entire future, then by all means go for the trade. But if I’m Michael Hill, and I’m not receiving everything that I want from a team, then there’s no deal. If I’m trading Giancarlo Stanton to your team, I want to be able to go through your organization, and hand-pick the players I want like I’m at a buffet. If any compromise has to be made, then it’s no deal. Stanton won’t break the bank in the off-season, and it’s worth keeping him around to see if the Marlins can be truly competitive in 2014, which I believe is very possible, barring unforeseen injuries.
The most difficult part about making trades for prospect is to decide where you need help. The Marlins are set in the outfield, no question about that. 3B seems locked down with Cox and Moran, and I’m a big fan of future Gold Glove winner Adeiny Hechavarria at SS. Derek Dietrich hasn’t been amazing at 2B, though I really like Ed Lucas. If only he wasn’t 31. Donovan Solano could still be a fit, but this is a position that could use improvement. At 1B, there isn’t much behind Logan Morrison, who is finally fully healthy. Rob Brantly has been a disappointment behind the plate after impressing at the end of 2012 after he came over from the Tigers for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. Brantly is still just 24, but is hitting .232/ .283/ .294 while splitting time with Jeff Mathis. Former first round pick Kyle Skipworth hasn’t been able to hit at any level, and relying on J.T. Realmuto to be the future isn’t a safe bet. The Marlins pitching is phenomenal, led by Jose Fernandez, and followed by Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Henderson Alvarez. The Marlins also have Andrew Heaney and Justin Nicolino in the minors among others with a young pitching staff whose future is just as bright, if not brighter than the Marlins’ outfield crop.
If we assume that Chad Qualls can bring in a similar return to Edward Mujica, then we’re talking a downward-trending lower high-level prospect (if such a thing exists) or a mid-level prospect. I love what the marlins did in the Mujica trade, by taking a risk on a possible high-level guy, who is having a bad season. If the Marlins deal with the Cardinals again, Kolten Wong‘s name has been thrown around, as he’s blocked at the Major League level by Matt Carpenter. However, the Marlins aren’t likely to be able to put together the package for him without having to part with an integral piece. His name has been linked to a potential Alexei Ramirez trade, who holds more value than Qualls. The Marlins would have to throw in another reliever or two (Dunn, Cishek, or Webb), or maybe even Derek Dietrich who replace Wong’s spot in the Cardinals system, obviously to a lesser extent. As an outsider, it’s unclear what the asking price is for Wong, but maybe the Cardinals could sell low again. Wong is more highly regarded than Cox was at this time last year, but then again Qualls has been better than Mujica was, and the Marlins have arms to give.
I’m trying very hard not to be one of those internet users who has no sense of trade balance, but it would take a completely unreasonable package for me to trade Stanton right now. The Red Sox reportedly are willing to give up everything to get Giancarlo. Any deal with them would need to include Xander Bogaerts, and Henry Owens, plus much more. Bogaerts plays the same position as Hechavarria, but could move over to 2B to create a stellar middle infield that already has me excited. Bogaerts, the Red Sox #1 prospect by BA, is a 20 year old from Aruba, who has absolutely torn it up in the minors. Owens, their #5 prospect, recently turned 21, and has pitched very well at High-A Salem. The Red Sox also have C Blake Swihart at #6 who is showing an upward batting trend. Their #2 prospect, former South Carolina Gamecock standout, Jackie Bradley Jr. has already spent time in the majors, but being an Outfielder isn’t necessarily attractive to the Marlins. Again, I’d just pick out the Red Sox star prospects, and if I can’t have everyone I want, then sorry Beantown, Giancarlo will still be a Marlin.
The Pirates and Rangers have also expressed interest in Stanton. For me, the Pirates would have to part with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon at least. It would create a very crowded pitching rotation for the Marlins, but is that ever a bad thing? Unfortunately for the Pirates, many of their top prospects are Outfielders which doesn’t help. The Rangers have Jurickson Profar, who has been playing 2B. However, they just traded for Matt Garza which took a hit out of their system, and don’t have many other guys close enough to being Major league ready for me to feel comfortable about.
If Stanton does get traded, I’m thinking that it’s going to be the Red Sox.
For my previous Pre-2013 Home Run Derby Post, click here.
Partially by analyzing statistics, and mostly by a huge amount of luck, I correctly predicted Yoenis Cespedes to win the 2013 Home Run Derby. My excitement looks like this. So, here is my work, as explained in my previous post. The top table shows the players’ statistics I analyzed, and other info relating to them. HR were chosen from the first half of the season, while all of the other stats were chosen from the entire 2012 season because those were the only stats available to me. The bottom table shows how many points a batter gained or lost per each stat category, then their total overall score. A higher score corresponds to a better finishing position. At the time this was created, there were about 15 minutes until derby time. I decided that these weights had to do, there was no time for tinkering, and I moved on.
I then applied these results to the 2013 Home Run Derby contestants.
I picked first and last correctly. Good enough to make me seem like I know what I’m doing. Also, it’s very interesting to see how the differences between Predicted and Actual Place mirror exactly. 0, 4, 1, 3, 3, 1, 4, 0. I’ll look into that. It’s either a huge coincidence, or a sign that I’m onto something.
SIDE NOTE: While writing this, Yasiel Puig slid into home after an exceptional bat-flip leading to a Walk-off Home Run. That just needed to be addressed. He would be the one to do that. #ManBearPuig
A video has already surfaced on Marlins President Larry Beinfest addressing the move.
This move shocked me at first. Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich have been mainstays in the Marlins line-up for a majority of the season, playing 69 and 57 games respectively. Ozuna hit .300 through his first two months in the big leagues, but has slumped through the month of July, hitting .162 in his last 68 ABs. Dietrich came over to the Marlins after Yunel Escobar was flipped to the Rays shortly after the Blue Jays blockbuster. Dietrich was one of the Marlins to represent the team for their MLB Fan Cave visit, but he has been consistently underwhelming in this year. He’s hitting .214 on the year, and doesn’t boast any impressive stat categories. A common thread between Ozuna and Dietrich is their high strikeout rates, and low walk rates. Both are around 4% BB and 20% K, which the Marlins are hoping they can improve on in the minors.
The two young outfielders coming up have me excited. Christian Yelich was the Marlins first round pick in 2010, and has participated in the past two Futures Games. I thought he should’ve made the club out of Spring Training, and Jose Fernandez should’ve started in the minors, but obviously that didn’t happen. Who knows, maybe the script would’ve been flipped and Yelich would’ve been our All-Star? After a slow start, Yelich has recovered to hit .277 in AA so far, but also put up a .364 OBP and .518 SLG. Yelich has a similar K% in AA that Ozuna and Dietrich did in the Majors, but Yelich also walks more. The hit on his BB% in the majors will be monumental to his success. If he can keep it around 10%, I see him being successful, but if he drops down into the dangerous territory that Ozuna and Dietrich fell into, his stint in the Majors will not be long. Yelich is an exciting OF with a strong bat, who projects to be the Marlins future CF. Hopefully that stage begins now.
Jake Marisnick came over to the Marlins in the controversial trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in this pas off-season. Marisnick and Yelich were teammates at AA Jacksonville before being called up together, and had great chemistry hitting 1-2 in the order. Marisnick put up similar numbers to Yelich, but with a slightly higher batting average, and lower walk rate. Being similar to Christian Yelich is a great thing, and hopefully these two have successful debuts and stay in the bigs.
What Does This Mean Moving Forward?
I think that this move has a huge impact on what the Marlins will do at the trading deadline in about a week. The Marlins have been receiving interest in Outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins don’t want to trade either player. He’s not arbitration eligible until the end of the next season, unlike Stanton who will be a First-Time Arbitration Eligible player this Off-Season. A history of injuries could limit what he’s worth, but he definitely has a case to be payed big money, which the Marlins don’t want to pay if they have other options. The promotion of Marisnick and Yelich shows that the Marlins are ready to try out their potential new outfield. Ozuna was in those plans, but he’s back in the minors again to hopefully sort out his slump. If Marisnick and Yelich show that they’re big league ready, it spells the end for Giancarlo Stanton and/or Justin Ruggiano in Miami. That’s the only way I see looking at this move. The Marlins were hesitant on trading Ruggiano because of Major League outfield depth. They just sent one OF down to bring up two, and if I’m reading this correctly, Ozuna will be back in the big leagues once Ruggiano or Stanton are traded at the deadline.
Stanton is the more likely candidate to be traded. He’s owed more money in the off-season and has an astronomically higher value than Ruggiano. As mentioned in previous “Be a GM” posts, the Marlins can bring in a huge package for Stanton, whose value is as high now as ever. The Marlins have called up Stanton’s potential replacements to the big leagues, so this means:
Giancarlo Stanton is more available now than he’s ever been
Today’s USA Collegiate National Team vs the Cuban National Team game sprung upon me. I remember hearing about the series at some point, but I saw a tweet from Ben Badler with the streaming link, and saw that Carlos Rodon was on the hill. Link = Clicked.
Carlos Rodon is a rising Junior LHP at NC State, who will be eligible in the upcoming 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Rodon burst on to the scene as a freshman, pitching NC State into the Super Regionals, and becoming a Golden Spikes Award finalist. I’ve seen Rodon before in a rain shortened start at the University of Florida for the 2012 Gainesville Super Regional. From the limited amount I saw of him then, I could tell that the hype was real, and he was legit.
The ERA hike jumps out at you, but how easy is it to repeat a year with a 1.57 ERA? Teams were prepared for Rodon this year. There’s no way to know for sure if that affected him, but he still put up one heck of a 2013 season. He tied for the most Games Started, was 3rd in Innings Pitches, and led the NCAA in strikeouts. On to productivity rates, his K/9 climbed, and BB/9 fell. That is exactly what you wanted to see from Rodon this year. His command is improving, which proves that he’s on an upward trajectory. The reason for Rodon’s spike in 2013? Luck. Many people try and stay away from BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) because of it’s unpredictability, but I love it. In my opinion, BABIP proves if a guy is truly preforming to his ability or not. Rodon’s BABIP climbed by 50 points in his Sophomore year, within the average .290-.310 range. This brings us back to the point made earlier, Rodon wasn’t a secret anymore. He benefited from being an unknown, developing superstar as a freshman, but as teams figured him out (relatively speaking), he regressed towards his true ability. In my opinion, Rodon’s true ability is still superior to any other college arm I’ve ever seen (in person). He’s the top college prospect for the 2014 draft. Barring an injury, or surprising decline, that is unlikely to change. However, he will be battling for that spot with other Team USA players, Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede, and his NC State teammate, SS Trea Turner.
Side note: Rodon only gave up 4 doubles in 2013? How crazy is that!
Rodon vs Cuba
Rodon was dominant in the first, retiring the Cuban offense in order, capped by a weak groundball to short by superstar Yulieski Gourriel. I unfortunately missed Rodon’s second inning of work because I had to take my laundry out of the dryer. #CollegeKidProblems I can’t be walking around the MLB offices in wrinkled clothes! Rodon stayed consistent in the the 3rd, and faced the first batter in the 4th. He was then pulled due to being on a strict pitch count tonight. His line: 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 R.
I had to deal with an unfortunate camera angle, so movement was hard to decipher. But, here are my grades on Rodon from what I could see.
Fastball velocity courtesy of this tweet from Patrick Ebert. Rodon impressed, and shut down a high-powered, dynamic Cuban offense. The only concern I had was control, which seems weird considering his manageable BB/9. Rodon seemed a little shaky pitching to his arm side low in the zone. Often times he either missed a spot arm-side for a ball, or missed an inside location which put the ball over the plate. From what I saw, no Cuban hitter was able to jump on one of those mistakes, but this could cause problems at the professional level. Nevertheless, Rodon is a first-rounder, and if he can be more precise low in the zone, he will be without a doubt your #1 overall pick.
While sitting at my desk today, I started developing a somewhat satirical statistic to measure the overall value of a Homerun Derby participant (Rewarding strikeouts and flyballs, penalizing inside-the-park homeruns, and infield hits). But this got me thinking; What if we used advanced stats to try to predict the Homerun Derby champion? Derby pitchers have historically suffered from inflated FIPs, a trend that’s unlikely to change (Ha). However there are some statistical tendencies of the eight participants that I will be examining.
I frantically put together a spreadsheet when I got home from work of the 2012 Homerun Derby Standings, and the corresponding players’ statistics. The stats I used relate to the percentages of types of batted balls, and other rates of production, or lack thereof. On another tab, I listed the same statistics for the 2013 participants. I then used the 2012 data to find the correlation between the stats I selected, and the participant’s position in the HR Derby. I multiplied this correlation by the z-score for the player’s value for the statistic compared to the rest of the field, and gave them a score for each category. I then summed up their scores for each category to give them their total Home Run Derby prediction score (I’ll come up with a cool name for it later). I’m pretty sure that this is similar to linear weights by my impression of it. I didn’t have enough time to look up the correct way to create a score based on correlation, I just did what made sense to me, and I want to get this post out before the derby starts. Now, here are my results.
I’m going to record statistics for this year’s Homerun Derby for fun. I’ll be calculating “BABIP” and “Pitcher’s FIP” among other things. I’ll make a post with my “groundbreaking” results.