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» Will Christian Yelich Hit for Power?
Mar 06, 2015 - 5:41 AM - by emkayseven
This is a discussion a lot of us here have had...

Miami Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich quietly had a terrific 2014 season. Just 22 years old, the 23rd pick in the 2010 draft hit .284/.362/.402, scored 94 runs and won a Gold Glove in his first full season in the majors -- not bad for a former high school first baseman. (I'd like to know who played outfield on that team.) The defensive metrics backed up the Gold Glove, helping Yelich to 3.6 Baseball-Reference WAR and 4.3 FanGraphs WAR.

Yelich started 138 times in the leadoff spot, but the Marlins acquired Dee Gordon in the offseason, so Yelich likely moves down to second or third in the order, where the expectation may be that as he gets older he'll add some power after hitting just nine home runs in 2014.

In Yelich's case, however, it's not just about adding strength or learning to turn on the ball. He has a natural inside-out swing, as you can see from the hit chart to the right: 59 percent of the fly balls he hit went to left field and just 8 percent to right field. But the kicker is he doesn't hit that many fly balls to begin with. Among players with at least 350 plate appearances, Yelich had the fourth highest rate of ground balls to fly balls in the majors:

1. Everth Cabrera, 5.45
2. Ben Revere, 4.51
3. Norichika Aoki, 3.63
4. Christian Yelich, 3.42
5. Dee Gordon, 3.13
6. Derek Jeter, 3.06
7. Adam Eaton, 2.96
8. Ichiro Suzuki, 2.95
9. Howie Kendrick, 2.85
10. Elvis Andrus, 2.81

That's not a list of power hitters. The group combined to hit 32 home runs, half of those from Yelich and Kendrick. While most of these guys are slap-and-dash speedster types, Yelich is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. He at least has the frame to hit for more power if he can hit more fly balls.

Will he?

Let's do a little study. FanGraphs has batted-ball data back to 2002. I did a search for all players 23 or younger, at least 350 plate appearances. Is there anybody who had a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio similar to Yelich's who developed power?

Part of the problem with finding a comparable player is Yelich's ratio is actually second highest on the list, behind Revere's 2011 season. So he's already a pretty extreme outlier. The top of the list includes a bunch of Andrus seasons and a couple of Jose Tabata seasons. Tabata hit .299 as a rookie at age 21 but his power never developed. Increasing the age cutoff to 25 doesn't offer much help (or hope).

There are a couple of players lower on the list, however, that provide hope that Yelich could develop double-digit home run power:
In 2004, 23-year-old Alex Rios hit .286 with one home run in 426 at-bats and a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 2.49. He's even built similarly to Yelich, tall and lean. He developed into a consistent 15- to 20-homer guy, three times topping 20.
In 2003, Carl Crawford, in his age-21 season, had a ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 2.23 while hitting five home runs. He's reached double digits in home runs seven times -- peaking at 19 -- plus a ton of triples. But note that he didn't hit as many grounders as Yelich.

As far as older players goes, Jeter is an interesting comparison. Since 2002, he had a 3.00 GB/FB ratio in five seasons, but he maxed out at 15 homers in those years. When he hit 23 home runs in 2004, his GB/FB ratio was 1.47.

Obviously, there are examples of players who added power as they matured. As one example take Kirby Puckett, who hit four home runs his first two seasons in the big leagues and then hit as many as 31 in a season. We don't have his exact batted-ball data in those early years, but does track groundouts and fly outs. Here's Puckett his first four years:

1984 (0 home runs): 1.55
1985 (4 home runs): 2.17
1986 (31 home runs): 1.10
1987 (28 home runs): 1.50

Yelich's ratio in 2014 was 2.43.

Does that mean he'll never develop power? I'm not going to say it won't happen. A positive sign is that in his 62-game rookie season in 2013 his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio was 4.58, so he did improve in 2014. He'll have to drop that total a lot more and also learn to the pull the ball when he does hit it in the air, otherwise he's just Eric Hosmer.

Aside from
... [Read More]
» Marlins Ranked 2nd Worst Scouting Metrics
Feb 23, 2015 - 4:20 PM - by lou
While the thrifty Marlins might have broken convention by shelling out $325-million for Giancarlo Stanton, they're still reluctant to spend big on sabermetrics. After going through five managers and five losing seasons in five years, they are looking to hire, um, interns to get their analytics program off the ground. Baseball America has called Miami "among the game's more scouting-orientated organizations," which is simply code for a non-sabermetric approach. GM Dan Jennings has a scouting background and new skipper Mike Redmond doesn't have an inclination for metrics, having spent most of his catching tenure with the Marlins and Twins, who are also analtyics skeptics.
Ranked bottom 10 in professional sports among the 4 leagues, and second worst team in baseball ahead of only the Phillies.
» Spring Training Discussion
Feb 22, 2015 - 11:21 AM - by Bobbob1313
Just saw a random picture of Carter Capps from ST

Man, he puts so much stress on his elbow with those kind of mechanics. He could absolutely be an elite closer based on stuff, but it's hard to see him staying healthy.
» Marlins Ready to Fight County Over Millions in Stadium Expenses
Feb 09, 2015 - 6:51 PM - by emkayseven
Three full seasons after moving into a ballpark financed by a deal many experts still consider the worst ever for local taxpayers, the Marlins are still haggling with Miami-Dade County over the final bill for their Little Havana boondoggle.

The latest report from county auditors says the Fish submitted millions of dollars in improper expenses for everything from legal fees to "tufted floor mats" and janitors' costs. The team is pushing back and plans to take the county to arbitration.

For stadium opponents, the latest tussle is just another reminder of how badly Dade residents got screwed over by their baseball franchise and its compliant political friends.

"The documentation [owner Jeff] Loria showed the county to get the deal done was all bogus to begin with," Yvonne Bayona, a Little Havana activist, tells New Times. "So there's no reason to be surprised they're still trying to trick the county."

Norman Braman, the car magnate who lead the fight against the stadium, had an even simpler reaction to the audit: "Not surprised."

The Marlins Park deal -- which will eventually cost taxpayers $2.4 billion in interest payments -- requires the team to kick in $110.9 million to the county.

Auditors at county hall have been poring over the team's final report on how it fulfilled that requirement, and -- in an audit obtained by New Times last week -- they flagged 558 separate expenses totaling $4.2 million.

A county official declined to discuss in more detail why auditors flagged those expenses; some are likely accounting quirks, but many seem to fail the common-sense test of what counts as a stadium construction cost.

For instance, auditors disputed more than $200,000 the Marlins spent with Levy Restaurants, which provides food services at the ballpark. They also noticed $36,000 paid to Holland & Knight's attorneys and more than $90,000 to a hospitality consulting group.

Other entries are smaller but equally head-scratching, such as the $223.62 paid to Comcast Cable and the $6,099.90 AT&T bill. And what's up with $48,925 listed in payments to "Miami Marlins"?

The team declined to answer questions from New Times.

For Bayona, the nitty-gritty details are less important than the reality she and others predicted before the wallet-busting deal went through -- that the development and economic boosts promised for Little Havana have never materialized.

"There's nothing open around the stadium. It's empty," she says. "We live in one of the poorest cities in America. Yes, they're building new condos, but that's not for local people. The locals still don't even have enough money to go to Marlins games."

Here's the full audit, via the county:
» Joe Frisaro on MLB Network
Feb 05, 2015 - 6:24 PM - by emkayseven
nothing that new, but...

-He was asked about James Shields. He said if you asked him two weeks ago he would have said zero chance, but as time wears on they get more likely. He mentioned that Scherzer going to the Nats changed things for the Marlins. He reiterated that conversations are still going on and that they're a real team to keep your eye on.

-In regards to Latos, he and the hosts all said the Marlins going to (and winning) arbitration didn't get the relationship off on the right foot and that it increases the likelihood of him being a one year rental.

-indications are still that Haren will show up to ST but still wants to pitch on the west coast and may not pitch even if he goes to ST. Marlins are still pursuing trade options which may also increase their need/desire for Shields.

-Team and stanton both insist the face guard won't change anything. He'll try it out in ST and see if there is an impact.

-all signs are Jose is progressing well. He's been doing his throwing program and Frisaro said it's realistic to expect him right before or after the All Star Break (meanwhile, Hill has consistently said June)
» Giancarlo Stanton to Wear Protective Face Guard
Feb 02, 2015 - 7:34 PM - by emkayseven
More than four months have passed since Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton took a fastball to the face, prematurely ending his MVP-worthy season.

Stanton, who sustained several facial fractures and dental damage Sept. 11, plans to wear a protective face guard when batting this season.

When speaking with media after signing his record-breaking 13-year, $325 million deal in November, Stanton said he had been in contact with St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward, who has worn a face guard since getting hit by a pitch August 2013 while with the Atlanta Braves.
"There's no concerns on our part," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said via teleconference from Tokyo last week. "We've worked closely with Giancarlo and the helmet manufacturer. He'll be wearing a cage to protect the injured area. He's worked out with it. There's no issues that will prevent him from being ready and 100 percent for spring training and a productive 2015."

During last week's feature titled "The Offseason: Hope in Chicago and Miami" with Peter Gammons on MLB Network, Stanton said he still doesn't have complete feeling on the upper left part of his lip. His jaw is also a "little off when I open it wide. It'll pop out (on the right side) a little bit."

The 25-year-old is still getting dental surgeries that remind him of the incident, which he refuses to watch again. It hasn't affected his offseason workout much, just on days when he has procedures.

"I try not to focus on them, because I know it'll be a slow process of getting out of," Stanton said during the special. "I've looked past that in terms of thinking about it."

Reeeeeeeeeeeeeally not a fan of those comments to Gammons
» New Numbers 2015 Edition
Feb 02, 2015 - 12:26 AM - by Miamarlin21
New Additions

Preston Claiborne, 54
Adam Conley, 61
Aaron Crow, 43
Kendry Flores, 63
Dan Haren, 15
Mat Latos, 35
Andrew McKirahan, 50
Justin Nicolino, 60
David Phelps, 41
Matt Ramsey, 65
Andre Rienzo, 25
Dee Gordon, 9
Michael Morse, 38
Martin Prado, 24
Miguel Rojas, 19
Ichiro Suzuki, 51

Changed Number
J.T. Realmuto, 20
» Marlins Sign OF Ichiro Suzuki
Jan 23, 2015 - 11:25 AM - by emkayseven
Craig Mish
Hearing Ichiro Suzuki and @Marlins have agreed to terms.
Mish works for SiriusXM MLBN and Fantasy channels
Craig Mish ‏@CraigMish 2m2 minutes ago
for more on the Ichiro deal join me and @CliffFloyd30 at 2 EST on @SiriusXMFantasy XM 87 Sirius 210
11:26am: Ichiroís deal is expected to be a one-year pact in the $2MM range, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

11:19am: The Marlins have agreed to terms with free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, reports Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link). The 41-year-old Ichiro, a client of John Boggs & Associates, should serve as Miamiís fourth outfielder in 2015.

Though his skills have clearly eroded somewhat with age, Ichiro posted a respectable .284/.324/.340 batting line in 385 plate appearances with the Yankees in 2014. He also swiped 15 bases in 18 tries, continuing a career-long trend of pronounced efficiency in that regard. Defensive metrics pegged him as an average right fielder, and he slid over to center field for a brief, 19-inning cameo as well, suggesting that heís capable of doing so in a pinch should the Marlins require such a move on occasion in 2015.
On the downside, that's less money for Shields
» Buster Olney Names Marlins Outfield #1 in Majors
Jan 18, 2015 - 10:49 AM - by emkayseven
Giancarlo Stanton got a lot of attention in 2014 for his record-setting contract, for leading the National League in homers, and for that frightening moment when he was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball. All of that obscured Stanton's improvement as a player defensively, just one more reason why he and teammates Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna make up the No. 1 outfield combination in the majors.

With that, here's Part VI of the team element rankings: The top 10 outfields, based on the thoughts of MLB evaluators:

1. Miami Marlins

The Marlins' trio of Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna is incredibly young, and while colleague Jonah Keri might consider this blasphemous, it's not unreasonable to wonder whether these guys might eventually compare favorably with some of the trios that the Montreal Expos fielded through their extraordinary history of outfielders, such as the trio of Tim Raines, Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine (or Warren Cromartie), or the Moises Alou/Marquis Grissom/Larry Walker set. Stanton appears destined to be remembered as one of Major League Baseball's great power hitters, Yelich's career is off to an excellent start, and the other day, ESPN Insider Tony Blengino explained why Ozuna looks ready to break out.

Opposing pitchers already worked carefully to Stanton -- especially lefties, given his 1.000-plus OPS against them -- but this probably will be the season he starts to get a steady dose of the Barry Bonds treatment, as Andrew McCutchen and Freddie Freeman did last season. Stanton had 94 walks last season, and a rival scout mentioned the other day that it's a wonder he didn't have a lot more than that.

The Marlins' other two starting outfielders will have a lot to do with whether Miami exploits the chances created by Stanton's dominance at the plate. Yelich will hit in front of Stanton, along with Dee Gordon, and as Pirates manager Clint Hurdle noted last summer, lineup protection really comes from the spots in front of an elite hitter, not behind him, because if the top of the order consistently fills the bases, pitchers are backed into a corner and forced to deal with someone like Stanton. And Ozuna will hit behind Stanton somewhere, although the Marlins aren't sure where yet, and should bat often with Stanton on base.

As with those Montreal outfield combinations, there is excellence on defense as well, with Ozuna and Yelich each ranking among the leaders in defensive runs saved at their respective positions. Mark Simon, the "minister of defense" for ESPN Stats and Information, passed along numbers that show Stanton's improvement: "Stanton had rated well in right field every season but 2013 (minus-7 DRS). He bounced back to 7 DRS in 2014.

"Baseball Info Solutions charts good fielding plays and defensive misplays and errors as a means of doing advanced scorekeeping. Good plays can be things such as catches on tough-to-catch balls and cutting off throws to prevent baserunners from taking extra bases. Defensive misplays would be things like slipping and falling, failing to cut off a ball or failing to handle a carom off the wall cleanly." Here's a look at both categories for Stanton:

Stanton good plays vs. misplays and errors

2010: 25 good, 20 misplays and errors

2011: 25 good, 49 misplays and errors

2012: 24 good, 37 misplays and errors

2013: 18 good, 39 misplays and errors

2014: 28 good, 29 misplays and errors

"So he got his ratio back to 1-to-1, when it was not close to that from 2011 to 2013."

Stanton appears to be locked up through the next Bush or Clinton presidency, and Yelich and Ozuna are under team control for the years ahead. They could accomplish a whole lot together.
» Marlins Avoid Arbitration with Crow, Gordon, Cishek, Alvarez
Jan 16, 2015 - 12:32 PM - by lou
The agreed on arbitration with Crow ($1.95), Gordon ($2.5), Cishek ($6.65), and Alvarez ($4).

About what expected. A little higher on Alvarez than I thought, but a bit lower on Cishek.

Good job with those so far. Latos is the big one. Dunn and Phelps pending.
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