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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Today in Baseball Prospectus...

As frustrating as I sometimes find their stats (too much proprietary info...even for their subscribers!), the Baseball Prospectus folks do put out some great material. Today, there were several articles that were of particular interest to Reds fans--I'll summarize two of them since I'm sure many people don't have subscriptions.

1. Kevin Goldstein wrote a fascinating essay on the draft practices of different big-league clubs. He created a ranking of ballclubs based on the money paid to their top-5 draft picks over the past three years multiplied by risk coefficients for each player. Risk coefficients were set based on the riskiness of each acquisition (presumably this was based on some data), with college hitters being the least risky and high school hitters being the most risky (I always thought high school pitchers were harder to project/keep injury free...??).

He then plotted this score vs. the total dollars spent on draft picks and came up with four types of clubs: high risk-high spenders, low-risk-high spenders, high risk-low spenders, and low-risk low-spenders. Interestingly, the only type of organization that didn't have examples of highly successful programs were the low-risk, low-spending teams like the Phillies or the Blue Jays. The Athletics, Diamondbacks, and Indians typified the low-risk, high spending teams, while the Twins and Devil Rays were high risk, high spending teams. The Reds fit into the high risk, low spending bracket, along actual productive systems like the Braves and the Cardinals.

2. Joe Sheehan has a piece on the recently released Carlos Pena, who many Reds fans have been clamoring for Krivsky to sign and stick in our hole at first base this year. It's not a complementary article, and highlights his high strikeout rate as a major factor that has impaired his development. Here's an excerpt:
Pena simply hasn’t been a very good major leaguer. He has a career line of .243/.330/.459 in 1887 plate appearances across five seasons. His inability to make contact--492 strikeouts in 1652 at-bats, one every 3.4 ABs--and the middling power he generates when he does hit the ball have prevented him from putting up the kind of numbers you need from a first baseman. He’s been remarkably consistent at a level just a bit below what you need to get from a first sacker: EQAs ranging from .270 to .286 in his four full seasons. His defense, at least according to Clay Davenport’s system, has been underwhelming, below average in every season.
His ultimate point is that we should perhaps pay more attention to strikeout rates when we evaluate players, but the article also argues that any move the Reds might make with Pena should be done cautiously.

Of course, Sheehan closes his article with this:
I still think Pena can have a career. He’s 28 years old and coming off of two season of .280+ EQAs, and he did close last year with a strong second half. In fact, having written this column, I expect he’ll latch on with the Astros or something and hit .295/.380/.540 with 37 home runs, winning Comeback Player of the Year honors. And a Nobel Prize. And a People’s Choice Award.
So maybe we should go grab him. :)