Answers On The Fly: A Reader Mailbag
Welcome to Answers On The Fly. Answers On The Fly is a weekly reader mailbag feature in which our writers give insight into questions fans are asking. Our research department collects these questions via email, Twitter, and Facebook, and also scours the four corners of roughly Tucker, GA, to find out what Atlanta Braves fans want to know.
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We recently began a weekly podcast tentatively titled the Podcast To Be Named Later (like the player, but different). One of our readers/listeners has pointed out that Outfield Fly Rule may be a better name for the podcast:
For what it’s worth- you guys should just use Outfield Fly Rule as the name of your podcast. It is wonderfully specific for Braves fans, it sounds clever, and there are already a handful of PTBNL-named podcasts. Just my two cents.
He may have a point. It is a reference to a well known event involving the Atlanta Braves. Still, our research showed that most podcasts of this type (an extension of a blog) had a different name from the blog itself. Some, like Effectively Wild, are successful on their own merits, while others are not.
So, we’re going to open the floor to a little crowd-sourcing. Let us know what you think. Leave your suggestions in the comments section below, or send them to us using one of the methods outlines above.
Now, on to the questions…
What happens if the unimaginable happens and Kyle Kendrick, Jhoulys Chacin, and Bud Norris have great springs along with Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, Tyrell Jenkins, Aaron Blair, Ryan Weber, Manny Banuelos (etc anyone that has a shot at the rotation). I know it is nearly impossible for this to happen but is it possible that those three vets having successful springs hurts the development of our young guys that are big league ready?
– Benjamin R.
Chris Jervis: This is a good thing, if it happens. Norris was brought in solely to providing innings. The quantity of innings pitched by Norris is very likely more important than the quality of the innings pitched by him this year. If he were to also have a good season, he could maybe yield a minor prospect at the deadline. He’s not going to bring back anything of significance, but at this point for the Braves, it’s all about stockpiling young players to spread the risk and help with depth and future acquisitions.
If the older vets are producing at a good level at the same time that the young pitchers are also producing, then the vets may be moved. The Braves aren’t going to stunt development and delay debuts just so a veteran can keep pitching. That veteran can keep pitching in another city, which frees up a little payroll and yields another player for Atlanta.
The young guys having great springs and/or starts to the season also may put the Braves in a situation where they are more able to move a young arm (rather than multiple young arms) for a bat.
Are you having as tough of a time as I am not getting really excited that the Braves found a diamond in the rough with Adonis Garcia? Everything tells me to just slow my roll, but if he’s going to keep hitting like Vladimir Guerrero, that’s going to be difficult.
– Thomas Poe (see Thomas’ work at AtlantaBraves.About.com)
Chris: Adonis Garcia is probably the one player this year that causes the most disagreement among ‘traditional’ fans and fans who are more analytically inclined. Garcia had a pretty good run last year. He showed a good bit of power in limited plate appearances, and he seemed to come through at some key times in an otherwise unremarkable second half for the Braves.
Many folks look at his season last year and say ‘He hit 10 HR in less than 200 at bats. Imagine what he could do with 500 at bats!’ The problem with that, though, is that it is an incredibly small sample size. And, it doesn’t account for regression. Or adjustments made by opposing pitchers.
Is Adonis Garcia the guy who hit 10 HR in 198 plate appearances in half a major league season while posting a .220 ISO? Or is he the guy who hit 21 HR in nearly 1,200 plate appearances over four minor league seasons, resulting in a .126 ISO? That’s still to be determined. Players can certainly make changes mid-career. They can definitely change their approach at the plate. They may just suddenly ‘get it’.
But, that goes both ways. With more playing time and at bats, there is also more opportunity for pitchers to adjust. There are now more detailed scouting reports. Teams won’t simply challenge him as they had in the past. There is more opportunity for his pretty unsustainable HR/FB ratio to regress back to closer to league average.
That last part is a big reason I don’t expect a repeat of last year in terms of HRs hit by Garcia. Beyond the previously mentioned extended playing time during which he never showed that power, Garcia was very fortunate on some of his FBs leaving the yard last season. The MLB average for HR/FB last year was 11.4%, which is just slightly higher than the average of the last 20 years or so, which was 10.9%. Garcia had a HR/FB rate of 21.7%, which is significantly above the average. Obviously, power hitters are going to have a figure that is higher than the average. Among players with at least 190 pate appearances, Garcia had the #20 HR/FB ratio out of 361 layers. And out of those 361 players, Garcia ranked 274th in percentage of flyballs hit (29.1%). That’s a pretty high disparity. Here is a list of top power hitters this year, all of whom have lower HR/FB ratios than Garcia, and their HR totals:
- Joey Votto – 21.6%, 29 HR, 1 HR every 24 PAs
- Ryan Braun – 20.5%, 25 HR, 1 HR every 22.7 PAs
- David Ortiz – 20.4%, 37 HR, 1 HR every 15.8 PAs
- Edwin Encarnacion – 19.9%, 39 HR, 1 HR every 16 PAs
- Jose Abreu – 19.7%, 30 HR, 1 HR every 22.3 PAs
- Yoenis Cespedes – 18.6%, 35 HR, 1 HR every 19.3 PAs
- Nolan Arenado – 18.5%, 42 HR, 1 HR every 15.8 PAs
- Jose Bautista – 18.4%, 40 HR, 1 HR every 16.6 PAs,
- Adonis Garcia – 21.7%, 10 HR, 1 HR every 19.8 PAs
By comparison, Garcia’s four minor league seasons yielded a HR/FB rate of 8.7% and 1 HR every 56.9 plate appearances. And, despite the fact that he is just killing the Venezuelan league this winter (.940 OPS), he’s not showing the same power there that he did in the majors. In fact, his HR rate in the Venezuelan Winter League (1 HR every 49.33 plate appearances) is actually right in line with his minor league career average.
And his glove is just awful. Garcia posted .896 fielding percentage, with 10 errors in only 96 chances last season in the majors. And in Venezuela this winter, it’s been worse, with 8 errors in 75 chances (.893 fielding percentage).
There just isn’t any reason to expect a repeat of last season, but given that Garcia is likely to be the opening day third baseman for Atlanta, it wouldn’t be wrong to hope for a repeat. And he’s not blocking any prospects, so seeing what he can do in a throwaway season isn’t a bad idea.
Thoughts on Doug Fister? Obviously, he’s coming off a bad year, but was a deal before then according to his WAR. Take a flier if it’s at less money than he got last year?
– Steve R.
I’m not too surprised that Fister hasn’t yet signed with a team. He’s probably not the guy now that a team wants to have in their plans going into a season. But, I don’t expect him to remain unemployed. As pitchers start falling to injury, he’ll get a call. I imagine he’ll be in a Spring camp somewhere.
He doesn’t strike me as a fit for the Braves. They already have Bud Norris, Jhoulys Chacin, and Kyle Kendrick. They seem to have filled their allotment of veteran reclamation projects for 2016.