THE San Francisco Giants Blog

Guest Post By Flap Vet James

Posted in Uncategorized by Flavor on November 12, 2014

Looks like James put a fair amount of work into this and rather than leave it to die as the last post on yesterday’s thread, I’m turning it into today’s thread. Enjoy.

James said, on November 11, 2014 at 11:43 pm (Edit)

It’s treated as a given by many that Morse did a fair bit of damage to the Giants defense while playing LF. I’ve always thought this was pretty suspect, especially in absolute terms. LF gets relatively few plays, and most are routine.

I also think the Fangraph defensive stats like UZR that downgrade the WAR value of players like Morse are suspect. I noticed that FGs now has a section called “Inside Edge” fielding. It looks like what they’re doing is categorizing each ball hit to a fielder into degrees of difficulty, ranging from Routine to Impossible, and giving the percentage of outs recorded in each. For LF in particular, a very large percentage of all plays fall into those 2 extremes, which is kinda what you’d expect. What’s remarkable is the very small number of actual plays that fall into the other categories. This aligns with my own hunch that a handful of missed plays can highly exaggerate the view of a player’s defensive shortcomings.

Here are Morse’s numbers:

Here are Matt Holliday’s:

I swapped out the percentage of balls Hunter Pence got to in the various middle categories for Morse’s. The difference between Pence and Morse is about 4 more outs made.


60 Responses

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  1. Nipper said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:02 am

    The manager replaces Morse in the late innings in LF. He must have stats to back that move up.

    • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:42 am

      He certainly has one very important play in Game 7 to back him up :-).

    • willedav said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Yes Nip, at the end of game for an inning or two with the lead.
      But the guy starting the game and getting 3 ABs is the better hitter, one who could change the score instantly with his slugging and power.
      If Giants have healthy Pagan and Pence I don’t have a problem with Morse in LF getting 3-4 ABs, with Blanco and Perez behind them.
      Add Belt to middle of order, plus Pence Posey (and hopefully Sandoval) behind Pagan and Panik, that is a solid LU with very good IF defense.

      I’m meeting a friend from Long Beach who is Dodger fan for dinner Monday night, first time I’ve talked to her in a month. Promised not to wear anything black or orange and told her there is a Giants Dugout in a location she will visit for work. And got a “Stop it on Giants” reaction, lol.

      Love the Zum posts of their bloggers takes, like last night. Yeah, Giants do have what they want, 3 of them in 5.

      • dirtnrocksnomo said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:06 am

        Sounds like you can still wear vanilla white. 🙂

  2. James said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Thanks for re-posting, Flavor. I’ll save the analysis of the correlation between FIP and the Fangraph defensive ratings for a day when it’s well below zero where Stick lives.

    • stickman said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

      James. Not below zero here for awhile yet. May not happen till the Winter Meetings or thereabouts, but generally plenty much in January, About 1″ of white wonder on the ground here, but parts of eastern Minnesota got dumped with a foot or so. Low 20’s here and grey today ~ not exactly baseball weather.

  3. gianthead said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:00 am

    The concept I don’t disagree with and made the argument that Nelson Cruz if he could be had on a 3 year deal would be an absolute home run of a free agent pickup. His defense limits would be more than made up with his offense. I see Morse getting someone in the AL (Rangers would be the perfect fit) to give him a 2 year deal around $20 mill and hitting DH (Orioles may also be in the mix if they lose Cruz).

    Would any sane person here advocate giving Morse two-years and $20 mill. Trade Rumors noted that the Sox are getting a lot of inquiries on Cespedes…

  4. dirtnrocksnomo said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I evaluate boring data all day every day so I’m not going to look at the link and just go with the evaluation James has made. Morse made some bad plays in LF but nothing stands out in my mind. Really it was Blanco’s misplay but I’m sure he could have booted that ball around in LF just as well as Perez did in game 7. Granted this is all just gut feeling and spotty memory but I remember more bad play at 1b from Morse.

    Someone mentioned that during this 3 ring run Sabean has done a good job bringing in players that are hungry to win. I know we can’t measure and graph it and assign failure rates and DPPM and stuff but I think there is something to that. Not that the championship vets don’t want to keep winning but the season is such a long slog that having a few fresh voices and enthusiasm in the mix helps (see Posey & Pat the Bat in ’10, Pence in ’12 & Morse ’14). If Morse will come back then bring him back. Really I think it is Romo that is going to be the odd man out due to salary constraints this year. Just a guess though.

    • stickman said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:06 am

      “Three Ring Run” would make a great book title for some inveterate writer like Pawlie. I’m sure, Dirt, that you wouldn’t mind if he used it ~ with all due credit, of course.

  5. willedav said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:15 am

    In the “Weaver on Strategy” book I’m reading he talks about guys doing the right things and being prepared so well every day he never has to talk to them. Said he didn’t say more than 5 words to Frank Robinson the whole time he was there other than hi and good bye.

    I think that’s where Giants are at–they know what they need to do to win and go about their biz, esp in playoffs.
    Meanwhile, Mattingly has a clubhouse full of guys like Puig Hanley, Kemp Ethier and Wilson.

    In that column Blade linked to on questions for baseball insiders about Dodger OF, interesting one guy said Puig most likely to be dumped, due to lack of discipline, poor decisions etc. Seems unlikely, but what if 2 Trips forced mgmts. hand and said him or me?

  6. James said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:23 am

    GH, I think the one really strong reason not to sign Morse is the injury history. If we were guaranteed to get 450- 500 ABs out of him for each of two years, a deal for $20 million dollars would look pretty good IMO.

    One other small consideration that’s never mentioned: there are now 20 interleague games every year. That’s 12% of the games.

    • Bozo said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Although, only 10 games are in AL parks, but thats still one reason why I think picking up Morse even just as a PH/DH guy (with some playing time) isn’t a bad idea.

    • gianthead said, on November 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Good points. Do you think Morse gets a two year deal from am AL team?

  7. salty said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Cost will determine Morse’s return, as it will with Peavy Romo et al.
    Morse could get more yrs $$ with an AL club.

    Hopefully they won’t have to go 7/130 m to retain Sandoval.
    I sort of like the Cruz idea if Pablo does move on. Then they could be fine with an avg hitting 3b.
    But sluggers usually prefer hitter’s parks. And he can also get more yrs from an AL club …

  8. salty said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Kind of sucks…all these guys on their radar who are better suited for DH.
    Where are the all-around good players? Either they can’t hit much (Perez Blanco) or they can’t defend well.

  9. Macdog said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:45 am

    When Morse was tearing it up in the first two months last season, I had no problem with his shaky defense. In fact, I seem to remember a few of us would get upset at Bochy when he took out Morse too early in a tight game, the other team would tie or take the lead anyway and there was potential-game-winning-HR Morse languishing on the bench. Morse’s defense only became unacceptable when he went into a deep freeze at the plate, one of the low points being when he butchered a play in the Peavy-deGrom no-hitter duel in early August.

    But when Morse is healthy, he’s fun to watch. He’s passionate as hell and hits monstrous home runs, what’s not to like? My biggest concern is whether he can stay injury-free for an entire season.

  10. pawliekokonuts said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I do like “Three-Ring Run,” but since my work-in-progress dates back to 1955, and NY, the working title is “The Fan They Left Behind.” Subtitle: “Confessions of a Late-Night Scoreboard Watcher.”

  11. pawliekokonuts said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

    ESPN has a photo of Brian Cashman with Joe Girardi. Cashman looks like Vladimir Putin.

    • dirtnrocksnomo said, on November 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Well, have you ever seen them in the same room together?

  12. pawliekokonuts said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Can anyone explain why the Mets, or ESPN, or anyone, are so excited about the Cuddyer signing? Really?

    • unca_chuck said, on November 12, 2014 at 11:20 am

      It’s not Giants news.

    • willedav said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      If he really does hit well, which wouldn’t be a surprise, maybe he could be flipped to a contender for younger players at deadline. They have Duda at 1b already, so I guess they tell CF Lagares to keep his legs in shape with Cuddyer in the OF. Whether Mets can contend with what they have in that division and Wilpon ownership, I dunno.

  13. twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I *might* discuss this in more detail later but James neglected to note that the Inside Edge Fielding numbers are entirely subjective. And does *anybody* buy that Blanco in over 1600 innings in LF in his career has only made FIVE catches that were 50-50 or less in likelihood of success In other words, Gregor has made only 5 tough catches EVER. Inside Edge is a joke.

    • Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I was waiting for your retort to this thread. Well stated! Truthfully, I haven’t clicked on these links yet. I might do it over a beer this evening when i get home from work. I AM interested in this. I’ve felt for quite a while now that defensive metrics are way behind offensive metrics in terms of usefulness…..

      • twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        UZR has it’s own flaws- even Fangraphs has warned that UZR needs 3 years of data to represent a useful sample size. Then they list other stats that need to be taken into account in measuring defensive prowess. In the end one would have to evaluate several sources of data and then make their own subjective evaluation of the data.
        Since we all follow and watch the Giants, the old “eye ball test” is more useful in evaluating our players, less valuable about players on other teams.
        Here are my “Eye Ball” ratings:
        Posey B
        Belt B+
        Panik B
        Pablo A-
        Crawford B+
        Morse (LF) C-
        Pagan B-
        Blanco- B+
        Pence C+
        Perez A-

  14. unca_chuck said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Numbers? Numbers? We don’t need no steeeeeking numbers!

    Defense is one of those things that goes unnoticed until it doesn’t. And it gets noticed in close games. Like Mac said, when Morse is jacking balls all over the place, he’s fine in LF with P or B as the back up late as more often than not we are winning comfortably.

    Granted, our ideal situation isn’t Blanco and Perez manning CF and LF at the same time. Unless it’s late in a game that’s isn’t game 7. . . . but depending on what Morse wants, and this hinges on the Pablito decision, we’d possibly be desperate for his offense.

  15. Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    National media chumps are saying Pablo has narrowed it down to Giants and Red Sox. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a third team swoop in and blow both out of the water.

    • unca_chuck said, on November 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Well, at least it seems to be moving fast. I’d hate for this to drag out all winter as other guys are traded/signed elsewhere.

  16. dirtnrocksnomo said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Smarmy weasel Rosenthal saying it’ll take something special on the part of the Red Sox to land Sandoval. Whatever. Rosenthal is his own little sewing circle/rumor machine on par with Rick Reilly when it comes to manufacturing nonsense.

    I did find this article interesting though.

  17. zumiee said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    “Can anyone explain why the Mets, or ESPN, or anyone, are so excited about the Cuddyer signing?”
    There are 4 reasons:
    1. It’s New York
    2. It’s New York
    3. It’s New York
    4. And….I guess it could be considered the first big free agent signing of hot stove season.

  18. zumiee said, on November 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Speaking of hot stove season, on the MLB Network “Hot Stove” show this morning there was a somewhat funny moment when they had a guest author on the show, promoting a book, and Reynolds said that he had read the book. The other host challenged Reynolds, saying “Oh yeah? What was your favorite part of the book?” Reynolds could only laugh. Totally busted. Those MLB hosts can be tough on each other. They don’t let something like that slide.

  19. pawliekokonuts said, on November 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Manny Burriss agreed to a minor league deal with the Nats, so I guess the Burriss Watch from Syracuse plays in 2015.

  20. gianthead said, on November 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Around the Horn did a Panda segment and the spin was that the Red Sox would be all in on Panda. Take the comment and show with a grain of salt…or is it rice???

  21. dirtnrocksnomo said, on November 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Victor Martinez returning to Detroit for 4 @$68M. Sure he’s mainly a DH but his offensive numbers,.335/.409/.565 with a career-high 32 homers, are nothing to sneeze at. Any impact on Sandoval? Does his defensive position and skill get him another year and $32M more despite lesser numbers on the other side of the ball?

  22. Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick 12m12 minutes ago
    Scott Boras says Barry Zito wants to come back and pitch in 2015.

    • zumiee said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Zito could be a ringer in somebody’s softball league, like that episode of Cheers when a company hires Sam just so he can pitch for them. But Sam thinks they actually want him for his executive ability for the company. Ah, funny episode. Rebecca tries to tell Sam why they hired him, but Sam thinks Rebecca is just being envious and bitter.

  23. Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    James–tired as fuck. Tried to process those links but decided to just process the beer I had in my hand instead.

    • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Don’t overcomplicate it! Again, the interesting thing is the sheer number of plays that fall into routine and impossible. The latter, presumably, are, e.g., the line drive between short and third that no one has a chance on. The question of subjectivity is marginal to the discussion. Note that these are the actual plays made, if I’m understanding correctly. Whether a play is classified as remote or unlikely makes no difference to the larger point.

      Just finished my martini.

  24. zumiee said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Someone on the Flap speculated on this, and it’s turned out to be true- the report is in: Taveras was driving drunk.

    • zumiee said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      As has been said on the Flap many times, why don’t some of these millionaires just hire someone to drive for them?

      • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

        Or cook their hamburgers. Guess money doesn’t easily translate into class identity, except when it comes to taxes.

      • Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

        making hamburgers tonight. They will be epic.

      • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        Short Rib Burgers from Marin Sun Farms . . . the Mrs. makes sure we limit these to a once a month treat.

      • snarkk said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        I don’t think Taveras was a millionaire yet, zum. Doesn’t excuse it, though. Drinkin and drivin and 22 are not good together…

    • Flavor said, on November 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      after hearing he was X5 the limit I looked up the legal limit in the DR and it was one of a few that said “no limit”. So, I accept that I might not have been at respected site….

  25. twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    OK, a little UZR for dinner:
    Outfielder UZR for 2010-2014. There are 99 with 2500 Innings or more. For now I’ll just do our guys. AGAIN: Inside Edge is a worthless exercise, it’s a few guys smoking cigars and drinking cheap gin while they are deciding how tough a catch was. It’s entirely subjective and is not supportable by any standard. So, while UZR is hardly perfect, it’s the best there is for now.

    Of 99 OFers:

    9th. Andres Torres
    17th Gregor Blanco
    35th Nate
    44th Cody Ross
    45th Hunter Pence
    65th Angel Pagan
    98th The Beast

    • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      The gin in my martinis is not cheap, unfortunately.

      I’m not sure who’s behind inside edge, but as I stated above the routine and impossible plays seem fairly easy to judge, even if you’re seeing double. They represent a huge majority of the plays. The absolute number of put outs a good LFer makes beyond a poor one seems like a very small number.

      • twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm

        The problem with.the Inside Edge is I stated- it’s entirely subjective, there’s no data whatsoever to support the numbers.
        Speaking of being wrongo- I made an error on the Inside Edge numbers on Blanco in my earlier post. He’s made more tough catches than I gave him credit for. It’s the cheap milk talking

      • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        Well, unless I am completely misreading, it is based on actual balls hit to the position and plays made, so there is data, and it’s a lot more straightforward than UZR. What different conclusions might you reach if you shift some of the routine putouts into likely and some of the impossible non-put outs into remote? The criticism of subjectivity is a red herring.

  26. willedav said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    No one is arguing who is the better OF. Blanco and Perez are both good OFs and Morse is not. Both of the others can play LF and CF well, Morse can not. But who has greater value to his team?

    Morse OPS is 100 points better than Blanco, and the margin is even more than that vs. Perez. Morse has second best slugging on the entire team—better than Pence and Belt (at least for last year), and Sandoval.
    Blanco is a speed guy who did not perform well in leadoff and has spent last 2 years proving he is not an everyday player. He hits 7th or 8th on the Giants.
    Morse is a middle order bat with pop from RH, the exact kind of thing SF has been missing since 2010 of Uribe and Burrell. He can create runs instantly, with one swing. Blanco cannot.

    I’d keep both Blanco and Perez around as a hedge vs. Pagan re-injuring something and in case Pence does need time off. But Morse starts as long as he is healthy, because to me he is much more valuable player. To me he can play in any league and proved it here this year.

    • twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Second half of 2014:
      Morse 125 AB 2 HR 15 RBI .296 BA .366 OBP .814 OPS
      Blanco 196 AB 4 HR 22 RBI .296 BA .365 OBP .814 OPS

      Bochy had no plans of sitting Blanco for Morse even If Morse had returned healthy. As for next year, Blanco will be here- doubtful that Morse will be. If both are here, they would platoon, Blanco did prove himself to be a capable starter.

  27. twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    The “data” for Inside Edge is the subjective rating of the difficulty of a catch,conducted by scouts using the “eye ball test” . But whatever, your aim seems to attempt to show that there’s little difference in defensive prowess between Mike Morse and say, Alex Gordon,
    I don’t think you’ll have much success selling that.

    • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      No, the aim is to show that Gordon’s prowess is overvalued and the impact of Morse’s lack thereof overblown.

      Here’s another way to look at it. Gordon was involved in about 430 relevant plays on balls hit to the OF. He batted 643 times, i.e., participated in 643 plays on “offense.” Whatever value his defensive prowess brings — on plays most of which don’t require extra skill — it is outstripped by what he does or doesn’t do at the plate.

      Here, BTW is the chart for Morse:

      • twinfan1 said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm

        The dots on spray charts just look like targets for alien spacecraft, so I’ll just let it go. I’m sure that Mike is a fine OFer who has been unfairly maligned by Fangraphs and every manager who replaced him for defensive purposes..
        Sleep well, nice to “see” you again

  28. DJLoo said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    All I know is Blanco is a 2 time World Champ who capably replaced Melky in 2012 and Pagan in 2014.
    The rest of the numbers don’t matter much to me.

    One of the big worries that I kept to myself was that the Giants somehow couldn’t win without El Presidente making an appearance at some point during the season. I always felt he was a good luck charm.

    • James said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      Just to be clear, I defended Gregor more than once during the year. I am always there for the downtrodden. I love the fact that he has started in two WS, while Pagan — who we just couldn’t do without — has been in 1.

  29. snarkk said, on November 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Supposedly the Reds are interested in Morse.
    I wouldn’t have a big problem if he came back, for a reasonable rate for a year or two. He’s apparently a good clubhouse guy. I just would prefer they get a solid LFer on all counts — plays the field well, can run, can throw some, and hits — say .275, with a bit of pop, say 12-15 HRs. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. What a concept — the Giants farm system used to pump out OF guys like that for breakfast…

  30. snarkk said, on November 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I’m not going to weigh in much on this Morse defensive thing. All I wish is the Giants had one LFer who could hit bombs like Morse and play D like Blanco…

    • Nipper said, on November 13, 2014 at 6:00 am

      I concur.

  31. willedav said, on November 13, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Snarkk, everyone would love the type of player you’re talking about…finding one in off season is gonna be hard. If SF can find a better all around player than Morse, I’m in. Markakis would qualify, definitely.

    Morse OPS of .810 was for an entire season of work not just second half—since Blanco spent his first 200 ABs at .223, his season OPS was 100 points lower. Finished strong, yes as Twin pointed out. But he started terribly, with couple months of .600 OPS for entire first half. Couple fine grabs over course of half a season vs. someone who hits for an OPS 200 points higher in middle of LU…hmmnn

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