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Monday, March 11, 2013

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"The only player in spring training with more two-baggers than Galvis is former Phillie Ben Francisco, who is back where he started in Cleveland."


Corey, that says all you ned to know about Galvis' ST stats.

"So their exhibition performances through March 11 do have meaning."


No, they do not. The sample sizes are simply too small to draw any conclusions.

Clout Day (March 20th) is a pretty good date to judge how guys look in spring training.

Every pitcher has thrown in at least 4-5 G and hitters usually have about 50-60 ABs. Also have a chance to see how hitters & pitchers are trending too as some of the young players have been sent down to the instructional leagues & MLB regulars start playing more regularly by the 2nd week of March.

I'd rather watch Freddy Galvis (particularly in the field) than Betancourt.

So if Galvis' spring performance gives Charlie a reason to bring him north, it is important.

ST stats are just short of meaningless, but that doesn't make them entirely meaningless!

The high K number from the team is certainly of note.

Ben Francisco just released by Indians.

A guy getting off to a hot start is better than the alternative. I think we can all agree on that.

Domonic Brown's start is not meaningless just because the sample size is too small to be predictive. As was mentioned in the post.

any chance the phils use galvis as a super utility guy a la the rays with ben zobrist a couple years ago?

Weitzel, he got released after hitting all those meaningful doubles?

Omar vizquel is about 1 of 1000 slick fielding ss who were awful at the plate while coming up. Around 990 of the others on turned into nothing, but since vizquel did it - f it, let's galvis just learn on the fly, right?

rolo: "No, they do not. The sample sizes are simply too small to draw any conclusions."

That's probably true, but if Dom Brown had Darrin Ruf's spring numbers, and vice-versa, we'd be talking about Ruf as our starting left fielder & we'd be wondering whether Dom is even going to make the opening day roster.

The Tribe probably released him so he could latch on with another club. He's better off in the NL IMO.

If I was making a 'Lowest Baseball IQ' All-Star team for Phils' players past/present, Francisco would be a starting corner OF or at the very least a bench guy.

Understood after watching him play here in 2010 why the Indians basically included him as a throw-in in the Lee trade.

Mini-Mart would also be my utility middle infielder as he does makes a bunch of poor decisions in the field & on the basepaths.

Prediction: Ben Francisco will be in the Mets' opening day starting lineup.

Desi Relaford would be my starting SS. Any other suggestions?

"Prediction: Ben Francisco will be in the Mets' opening day starting lineup."


I won't disagree, because it's certainly possible.

Of course spring training results aren't meaningless. It's ridiculous to suggest they are.

They don't mean much, but they aren't meaningless.

Ryan Howard is coming off of two disappointing seasons and some injury concerns. Domonic Brown barely rated a ML-bench player the last two years. Darin Ruf has been hailed as the next great Phillies slugger. At least 2 bullpen spots are completely up for grabs. We have no idea who our 6th starter is. The list goes on.

We're weeks into Spring Training. Everything the players mentioned above do something, it factors in to the role they'll play this year.

Galvis was a doubles machine last year in the Majors too...when he makes contact, its usually pretty solid.

What KAS said.

Galvis had 15 doubles in 200 PA...that's a 42 double season for 162 games.

Copied from previous thread:

KAS: That's why I said within a year-or-so. I have no doubt the minors test harder, but I'm equally sure that some guys slip through without being any worse for wear. Remember, when Galvis was suspended that was already after he'd exhausted his appeals process - something that can take upwards of a month+, which means he'd been originally nailed closer to the start of the season.

An ISO boost is certainly feasible, but that was a pretty dramatic one considering where he'd been prior. If it wasn't a serum-based increase, I would expect it to drop again this year (though not all the way back into the .05x range). Considering that outside of the AA portion of his 2011 and last year (when he did test positive) his ISO has bounced around between .049 to .078, I don't think his super-.125 is sustainable.

I think nearer to .650 is believable (with an OBP about .025 points higher than his BA), but that makes him a poor hitter, and outside of the .675-.700 range you had set for him being a valuable player.

There is a certain tension between the fact that spring training sample sizes are too small to draw conclusions, and the fact that every team in baseball does, in fact, make decisions based on spring training sample sizes. But it comes down to this: the sample size may be too small to hold much predictive value but, when dealing with inexperienced players, it's the only sample size you have to go on.

Philibuster: I think most people over-estimate the effect of steroids on slugging. There seems to be a belief that PEDs have a uniform effect on players resulting in increases in things like ISO.

I don't think that's the case at all.

You also would have to believe that Galvis was able to sneak steroid use past more stringent minor league drug testing only to have it fail once he reached the majors.

I just find that a little hard to believe.

But the good news is that we'll have lots of time to see what kind of hitter Galvis is. He's got a .564 slugging percentage in 41 PAs so far in spring training. That certainly bodes well.

bay_area_phan: "the sample size may be too small to hold much predictive value but, when dealing with inexperienced players, it's the only sample size you have to go on."

That's an excellent way to put it. The Phils have to pick a utility IF. I hope they don't use just spring stats to make that decision. The Phils have to decide on Darin Ruf. They may not have much more than spring stats (and OF defense) to go on. There are two bullpen spots (at least) up for grabs. Spring training stats will end up playing a role whether they should or not.

Spring training is basically a job interview. If someone aces a job interview, what boss would ever say, "Sorry, you were great, but it's too small of a sample size to give you the job"?

Managers are basically cornered into making final roster decisions based largely on ST performance because the guys on the fringe of the roster aren't proven players to begin with. So if someone like Dom sets the world on fire during the trial period, of course it's going to make an impression on the manager.

I'm puzzled by the positive reaction to Jon Pettibone's spring. Maybe that's an example of how the team throws out what happens on the field. I thought he looked terrible, but apparently he impressed?

Pettibone impressed someone? I wonder how.

The more I've seen of him, the less likely I think he'll ever be an MLB pitcher.

JW - No idea. He looked like he was 'pitching scared' in the Dominican Republic exhibition game and really nibbling. Constantly behind in the count and when he left something up or had to throw a strike, he got pounded.

Scouts develop opinions on players from watching them in just a few games.

A few weeks of data is not a statistically valid sample, but you can certainly learn things from it, especially if you don't have as much of a track record on a guy.

So I'm quite excited about Brown, somewhat excited about Galvis, happy that Howard is healthy but otherwise not unduly excited, and completely unimpressed with Betancourt.

The better Galvis does, the more likely it is that he starts at AAA to get full-time at bats rather than languish on the bench in Philly.

Philibuster Galvis was suspended on June 19th, so with the appeals process he tested positive around the beginning of May. When he was slugging .294 with a .519 OPS.
Wow those PED's really inflated his numbers!

As another example, back in 2007 I made what turned out to be a completely accurate assessment of Wes Helms after seeing him for about 20 seconds.

So even very small samples can be quite informative.

bap, I'd be willing to bet that the coaching staff and FO decision makers pay more attention to how a player "looks" in ST than the actually statistical results. This is probably true moreso with the Phillies, as they are acknowledged "scouts" and not stat geeks.

The most important "stat" in Phillies camp this spring is the DL list - or lack thereof.

Well, Ryan Braun got busted for PEDs and his SLG dropped 2 whole points...and his HR total dropped from 33 to 41.

KAS: I don't think it's a uniform result, but I think it's also a bit naive and/or wishful thinking to imagine that an extremely sudden (and, compared to his previous numbers, extremely extreme) jump in power right around when he was caught using steroids is completely unrelated. Presumably Galvis expected to see some sort of result from his use, and a modest (though for him, significant) jump in ISO would be a reasonable expectation thereof.

I've also heard that the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is more strict than the MLB PED testing regime, but other than testing for more substances (read: recreational drugs), I don't know if that's really true. It seems the only way to get a copy of it is to be drafted, or to call (literally on the phone - no e-mail address listed) the office of MLB and ask. And that's assuming they'd give it to someone unaffiliated with the league.

But yes, we will have time to see if Galvis will prove to be a competent MLB hitter... I just don't know that I'd want to devote that time while the team has a legitimate shot to reach the playoffs, since the odds appear to be decidedly against it panning out, even by most professional projections.

Small samples don't give us much to go on, but to claim, out of hand, that they are meaningless, is to go a step too far.

For one thing, John Dewan has actually shown that there is good reason to believe that slugging numbers in spring training do have a correlation to regular season slugging success.

More than that, this if freakin' baseball, folks. I get that we all love to be reasonable about our approach to metrics and player evaluations, but sometimes, just enjoy the fact that players you hope to succeed are playing well. I want Domonic Brown to be a perennial All-Star. Does his ST OBP this year predict that he will be? Certainly not, but guess what? It makes me feel a little bit better about his chances of doing that. That may be irrational, but sometimes, it's OK to be a little irrational when you're rooting for your team.

One interesting stat on b-ref this spring is the 'OppQual' stat where they judge the quality of opposing batters/pitchers a hitter or pitcher faces.

Galvis is only at 8.1 which basically means he has seen a lot of AAA-type pitchers so far (8 = AAA; 10 = MLB).

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/galvifr01.shtml

By comparison, Howard is at 8.9 and D. Brown is at 8.8.

Interesting to see if Galvis numbers begin to dip a bit as he starts to see better pitching.

One thing to look for until Clout Day.

Reverend: In May, Galvis had an ISO of .167. That was higher than any season ISO he'd ever posted, almost 20% higher than his season ISO, and over 30% higher than his 2011.

All of this, when, prior to 2011, the highest his ISO had ever hit was .078.

Your argument that his OPS wasn't high just indicates how terrible he was at getting on-base, and how low his BA was (aided by his 13.7 K%, and 4 walks in 102 ABs).

NEPP: I hear he didn't get busted at all. The UPS delivery guy had a grudge against the Brewers, so he introduced trace amounts of a PED to Braun's sample.

At least, that's likely the argument made by his lawyers.

"bap, I'd be willing to bet that the coaching staff and FO decision makers pay more attention to how a player "looks" in ST than the actually statistical results."

Fine. I don't disagree. But there is a generally a rather powerful correlation between how a player "looks" in spring training and his spring training numbers -- particularly when you're talking about hitters.

Fatalotti: That's all true, of course, and part of the joy of being a fan is being irrational.

But they key is to *recognize* that it's irrational. Yes, of course, I have thoughts in my head like "man, Dom Brown is finally going to be the stud we all hoped for" or "Ryan Howard is going to prove his critics wrong and only be the 7th-worst contract in baseball, not the single worst one this year."

But I also recognize that ST numbers ARE meaningless, and that these thoughts are irrational. I would never use them as evidence in a rational argument, or try to pretend like they form the basis of an objective opinion. But some people on here do just that. That's the issue. For me, they stay what they are--the irrational thoughts of a hopeless Phillies fan, and I at least recognize that.

Philibuster: The differences in drug testing policy between MiLB and MLB is not confined to just the drugs on the list. MiLB can test more often and can suspend for an even smaller amount of drugs in the system, for example.

Also, I should note a difference about the relevance of ST stats. When people on Beerleaguer use them to make predictions, they may be being irrational, but who really cares, right?

When the Front Office uses them to make decisions, that actually has some repercussions. That is an issue.

Same thing with using advanced metrics--if you don't want to deal with them as a fan, then fine. By all means, enjoy the game as you see fit. But I damn sure have a problem with the front office not using them.

Jack: I'm curious. Given your opinion of spring training, who do you feel should fill our bullpen openings? And who do you feel should be our 6th starter?

KAS: Well, I'll answer the second question first. I fail to see how ST is relevant to that question at all. I mean, by definition, the 6th starter isn't making the team now, so it's not a decision that has to be made after Spring Training. If a starter went down in mid-May, there's a whole host of factors that would go into the decision of who would be called up--how long the pitcher was out, 40-man roster status, who the candidates were and their track records, their regular-season performance to date, etc. So, I mean, maybe I misunderstood the question, but I fail to see how ST would be relevant at all to the question.

To the first question, sure, I suppose I would grant that ST performance could be a *contributing* factor. But it simply be one of many, such as internal projections based on a guy's track record (majors and minors), scouting reports, need, what they bring to the table in terms of skillsets, etc.

I mean, this is a major league franchise worth almost a billion dollars, with massive resources. They scout thousands of high school players every season.

If they don't have the resources (between scouts, video, numbers and metrics, and anything else you can think of) to come to an educated projection/opinion on who they like better between Justin DeFratus and Raul Valdes regardless of six Spring Training appearances, that is absolutely baffling.

Jack: For many veteran invitees to camp, teams have to make decisions during spring training. I'm not sure if this is the case for Cook or Lopez or not, but that's why I asked about 6th starter.

Regarding the first question, I see you didn't answer ;-) But even you seem to admit that it's a contributing factor which makes it more than meaningless.

KAS: But that still doesn't make sense. The decision the team has to make (in those cases, if they exist) is whether Cook or Lopez make the active roster--if they don't, they can opt out.

Did you mean to say 5th starter or longman? Because i still fail to see how it's relevant. The 6th starter isn't making the active roster. So Lopez and Cook (if they have those opt-out clauses) will be in the same position either way. Either opting out or going to Lehigh Valley.

Am I missing something?

Ben Francisco is now a Yankee.

"Ben Francisco is now a Yankee."

I hear they've been trying to get their hands on him ever since his dominant performance against them in the 2009 World Series.

I'm right there with you, Fat. I always breed (or is it bleed?) optimism in the spring. And then there is Jack, who, while somewhat agreeing with you, rolls out the dripping blanket to smother and drown the optimism by actually refuting what you say about spring training stats.

Why is it that BL seems to live in a black and white world? Could it be at least that solid spring training performances may be at least an indicator of continued success once the season starts? Is there no such thing as room for improvement? In this case, I'm talking about Galvis. Is there no possibility that he is getting stronger, wiser, adjusting to the pitchers, and at still the ripe age of 23 getting better?

Don't forget he's been around for a long time in the system and shown improvement with every elevation to a higher level.

So, in conclusion: yes, Galvis, Brown, even Howard. Why not?

I'd imagine they associate Ben Francisco with winning a World Series...though they probably didnt think it all the way through as to WHY they make that association.

***Why is it that BL seems to live in a black and white world? ***

Not black and white, RIGHT AND WRONG!!!

Jack: You're right. Not sure why I was thinking 40-man roster.

I suppose they're in the running for the long-man job to be available as a spot starter if necessary.

And I guess I should differentiate between spring training stats and spring training performance. I consider those two to be very different things.

A great spring training can definitely be the harbinger of a breakout season for a player (See Chooch, 2012). Or it can be the harbinger of a miserable season. (See Ben Francisco 2011, So Taguchi 2008). Or it can be the harbinger of an utterly average season. That's what zero correlation means.

Within that zero correlation, however, there are probably some ways to identify which guys are likely to fall into which category. A sharp increase in slugging pct. has obviously been noted as one such sign (it worked for Chooch last year; not so much for Francisco in 2011). I am sure there are other signs that no one has figured out yet.

For what it's worth, my strong intuition tells me that Dom's spring breakout is real & that Ryan Howard, Freddy Galvis & Yuniesky Betancourt's are not.

The most important "stat" in Phillies camp this spring is the DL list - or lack thereof.

Posted by: rolo | Monday, March 11, 2013 at 02:25 PM

100% agree. The other stuff is fun to discuss, but injuries are the only thing from ST that we can say - with any certainty - affects the club's expected performance.


Which sort of validates MG's handwringing over Paperlbon FB velocity and the general Howard playing time discussions on here vs other media.

The Yankees are evidently putting out feelers about inducing Chipper Jones to come out of retirement. I sort of doubt they'll succeed but, if they do, I'll be plenty p*ssed that the Phillies weren't the one to do it. I posted that very idea on Beerleaguer at least 6 months ago and, if it occurred to me, and it occurred to Brian Cashman, it should have occurred to every other GM in baseball whose team needed a one-year stop-gap at 3d base.

bay_area_phan: Even if Chipper seriously considered coming out of retirement, do you think there is any chance at all he'd play in the same division as the Braves?

I mean, the Phillies could probably have offered him the world but he'd still say No.

There is zero chance that Chipper comes back to play for the Yankees.

I can't imagine that Chipper, life long Brave, would come out of retirement to play for the Yankees, when he told anybody who asked, including Atlanta, that he had no intention of unretiring.

There's even less of a shot he would come back as a Phillie.

If Chipper Jones came out of retirement after his "farewell tour" last season, in which most teams sent off with a great show of respect (something with which I had no problem), I'd be incredibly pissed.

He's not coming back, and nor should he. He didn't retire because he felt like he couldn't play anymore. He had a .377 OBP, 126 wRC+ and 3.0 fWAR last year.

He retired because he didn't want to play anymore. I respect him for not dragging his feet and falling off a cliff before finally being forced into retirement, like so many other players do.

"A great spring training can definitely be the harbinger of a breakout season for a player (See Chooch, 2012). Or it can be the harbinger of a miserable season. (See Ben Francisco 2011, So Taguchi 2008). Or it can be the harbinger of an utterly average season. That's what zero correlation means."

No zero correlation means there is absolutely no connection between the two. Your example might mean there is a weak correlation, or a negative correlation, or maybe there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever.

I would like to see an exhaustive study done (and I'm sure it's been done), and the precise correlation between ST numbers (given a reasonable sample size, say 100 AB) and regular season success (given another reasonable sample size, say 300 AB). I'd bet it's not as weak as we all believe.

"So their exhibition performances through March 11 DO have meaning."

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa

Nice contribution to the discussion clout.

Good to have you back.

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