Risky Hitters Part 3: (part1: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1500 ; part2: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=5710
This post targets:
Group1: Hitters were deemed Risky because their AB (At-Bats) dropped from over 460 AB to fewer than 340 AB in the following year. These were players who were out of the lineup for significant stretches—for ANY reason. The drops indicated that they had little chance of returning to form.
Group2 players: OPS (On-base-Plus-Slugging-percentage) dropped more than 100 points.
Perspective: These guys are RISKY, not pariahs. The one thing you might want to take from this is to TEMPER PROJECTIONS. When we hear, “He’ll be healthy, expect a bounce back year!”, KNOW that the two-year average for these guys is +14% from the current poor year, not anything near the previous year. KNOW that NOT ONE guy from last year’s list bounced back to the previous year’s production.
So, if you really like a guy, start by taking his down year production and add 14% as your preliminary projection for him for next year. Maybe you find some magic that prompts you to elevate his projections. Do it. Just know the higher you go, the more risk you take.
We now have TWO years of RESULTS and a THIRD projected year.
THE Record for Group1:
Risky for 2009:
19%, FOUR (returned to 2007 AB or better.
67%, FOURTEEN achieved, on average, 55% of their 2007 AB.
14%, THREE had 0 AB.
Risky for 2010:
6%, ONE (Weeks) returned to 2008 AB or better
83%, FIFTEEN achieved, on average, 60% of their 2008 AB
11%, TWO (Delgado and Giles had 0 AB
So, the two-year running results are:
13%, FIVE (of 39 total) returned to the previous year’s number of AB.
74%, TWENTY-NINE achieved, on average, 58% of the previous year’s
13%, FIVE had 0 AB.
This group includes studs, old guys set to retire, injuries, … Given that the group in whole only offers a 13% chance of return to previous year value, AND a 74% chance of getting only 58% of the previous year’s production, it isn’t worthwhile for me to cull this list for the freak gem.
Here’s the 2011 Group1:
I know. BUT, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Morneau… all have such upside. I should be able to get them for good value. “There are better mines for me to excavate; there are better mines for me to excavate; there are better mines for me to excavate…”
THE Results Group2 (drop in OPS):
Risky for 2009:
26%, FIVE returned to the previous year levels.
68%, THIRTEEN achieved, on average, 90% of the previous year levels.
ONE only had 29 AB so he was not calculated with the others.
Risky for 2010:
0% returned to previous levels.
100%, THIRTEEN returned to, on average, 85% of previous levels.
TWO-YEAR Running Results:
16%, FIVE returned to previous levels.
84%, TWENTY-SIX, performed, on average, at 88% of the previous year.
PREVIOUS FALLACIOUS THOUGHT (from prior post): “This group did much better, and likely doesn't even warrant the ‘risky’ label. As a group these players probably came at a discount since their performance had dropped for 2008. If one can expect a return to 90% production, or achieving an outstanding previous OPS, the ‘risk’ might easily be worth it.”
Well, to me, it seems percentages aren’t a particularly good indicator here. 90% of a previous year didn’t sound that disastrous. So, I had failed to measure the actual difference. For 2009 Group2, the average drop in OPS was -145 points. The ‘return’ to 88% left them still at -124 points. In totality, Group2 gained only 21 points (14%) back from the 145 lost. They still sucked!
Grey’s voice haunted me, “One thing to look outside the box, another is to compare to unlike relationships.” Why not dig a little deeper?
I thought, “Would BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) help me to distinguish players who had been unlucky (and a better chance to return to form) from those who were more likely to continue to stink?” So, I charted the BABIP for each of last year’s GROUP2 players for four years.
Yes, I found my prototypical player, Alex Rios. OPS had dropped from .798 to .691 and returned nicely to .791 (the player closest to gaining back his loss). And, his BABIP tracked .319/.331/.273/.306. So, it looks as if his off year was due, to a significant degree, to bad luck.
But, wait. What’s this? He split time in his off year, being traded to the White Sox from the Jays. Did the trade somehow impact his overall down performance?
Holy shenanigans! What’s this-this? ELEVEN of the THIRTEEN had been TRADED during 2009.
1) That kinda’ throws out the BABIP analysis (given change of scenery).
2) Tempts me to draw the conclusion: that teams that sold these guys (presuming they got good value) likely came out ahead of the buyers, who may have been hoping for/counting on a return to better productivity, and didn’t get it.
TRADE ‘EM IF YOU CAN?
OK, here’s the 2011 Group2 list (wow, its long). Some are young with miniscule sample sizes (Blanks). Some are old and in obvious decline/retiring (C Jones). Some were ‘unlucky’ (Rios?). Some had come off career years unlikely to repeat (Diaz?). In order of biggest drop: (EDITED 11/9; ADDED CAREER BABIP > 2010 BABIP; WANT TO SEE IF THAT WARRANTS A PASS NEXT YEAR)
Y Escobar/.314>.282 (MOVED TO TOR FROM ATL)
C Kotchman/.268>.238 (PRETTY LOW STARTING)
C Figgins/.337>.314 (TO SEA; BETTER 2ND HALF)
M Diaz/.350>.282 (OFTEN ONLY FACES LEFTIES; DAILY WAIVER SUB-IN?)
C Lee/.286>.238 (BEGINNING DOWNHILL SLIDE???)
Look for a number of these guys to get traded in the off season (maybe not the likes of HRam, Tex, …
). If they go to a comfy spot…?
It Ain’t Perfect—just solid: Some of the guys at the bottom are quality players that came off stellar years and just barely made the parameters of the list. The rule, obviously, isn’t hard and fast, but given the rate of return how much risk is justified?
Solid track record of good luck, BABIP(until this year):
Mark Reynolds: .378/.323/.338/.257
Aramis Ramirez: .313/.303/.331/.245
Do they still have something in the tank?
Lance Berkman: .300/.341/.296/.282
Carlos Lee: .290/.299/.290/.238
How can he be this lucky and suck so much?
Jason Bay: .292/.321/.315/.329
Carlos Pena: .297/.298/.250/.222
Chone Figgins: .391/.333/.356/.314
.314 isn’t that bad, but clearly a slide from previous sustained good fortune. Apr-May .210, Jun-Aug .264, Sep-Oct .322…hmmm.
Just ‘cause you’d ask anyway:
Mark Teixeira: .342/.316/.302/.268
Hanley Ramirez: .353/.329/.379/.327 (Grey, what’s a pattern?)
Justin Upton: .287/.332/.360/.354