Minors Picture

Rolling Out the Barrel: Valentine, You’re a Hit!

Good morning, Brewers fans! Welcome to the very last edition of Rolling Out the Barrel for this offseason. By the time we reconvene next week, Milwaukee’s pitchers and catchers will have reported to Maryvale Baseball Park and I will consider the 2016 baseball season to have officially begun. While we’ll still be getting little more than pictures of Adam Weisenburger and Hobbs Johnson tugging on exercise bands, we will have Brewers personnel on a diamond and in uniform, and that’s enough for me after a long, cold winter. It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, and there’s no better way to take your romantic dinner to the next level than by pulling out your phone and reading your honey some good baseball takes, so let’s roll it out:

FanGraphs || The Hardest Pitches in Baseball to Lay Off (Feb. 11, 2016)

August Fagerstrom (@AugustFG_) dove deep into the PITCHf/x data to find the three breaking pitches that hitters had the most difficulty looking at in 2015, defined by the percentage each pitch was swung at outside of the zone. Nobody familiar with the Brewers will be shocked to learn that Will Smith’s “Slider of Death” was identified as the league’s top slider, earning a swing outside the zone 37 percent of the time it’s thrown. Anyone still referring Smith as a LOOGY is four years late and obviously unaware of his reverse splits from last year, which are easily explained by this GIF. As we spoke about in this space a couple of weeks ago, Smith might be one of baseball’s best kept bullpen secrets, but if he continues to apply liberal amounts of the slider, he won’t remain hidden for long.

Baseball Prospectus || Players Prefer Presentation: Politics in the Show (Feb. 11, 2016)

Meg Rowley (@megrowler), who is very quickly becoming one of my favorite baseball writers (check your six, Brisbee), reacts to a controversial piece from last Friday by Rian Watt (@rianwatt), about the next big paradigm shift in baseball thought. The intersection of politics and ball causes consternation among the “stick to sports” crowd, as if anything can be separate from the culture that it comes from. Things become sticky when to heroes of the game fail to live up to the standard by which we hold them to; at what point is it no longer appropriate to treat them like Kanye West, who is kind of a sh–ty person that creates wonderful things? At what point is it no longer responsible to separate the person from his or her craft? This isn’t a tl;dr for Rowley’s article, you need to go read it, because any summation of it that I could offer would only serve to minimize the content and insult her. This is an important read.

Baseball Essential || The Fascninating Career of Aaron Hill (Feb. 9, 2016)

Ben Diamond (@_BenDiamond), whom you can also find at BP Bronx were you so inclined, takes a close look at the roller coaster career of one of Milwaukee’s newest players, infielder Aaron Hill. The 33-year-old flashed big numbers in a breakout season with Toronto in 2009, then crashed back to earth the following two seasons. Then he had his finest professional season in 2012 with Arizona and followed it up with a solid start to the 2013 season that was derailed by injuries. Since, he’s been solidly below replacement-level by most measures. If time truly is a flat circle, as Rustin Cohle would have us believe, then 2016 is almost certain to bring us a six- or eight-win season from Hill. Books those playoff tickets, baby.

Brew Crew Ball || The Belt-O-Meter: Five Brewers Breakout Candidates (Feb. 11, 2016)

Over at SB Nation’s Brewers site, which is leading the decline of Brewers blogs, Kyle Lesneiwski (@brewerfan28) and myself took a crack at identifying five players we think could break out to have a big season with the big league club in 2016. With a rating system based on the perpetually-breaking out Brandon Belt, San Francisco’s 27-year-old first baseman, we analyzed four guys who have a real shot at a big year in 2016 as well as Junior Guerra, for whom Kyle has inexplicably and irrevocably fallen completely head-over-heels.

FanGraphs || 2016 ZiPS Projections – Milwaukee Brewers  (Feb. 5, 2016)

I was waiting for this one all last week so I could include it in last’s week’s edition of ROTB, since I knew they were wrapping up the series. But Carson Cistulli (@cistulli) got real cute with it and decided to make the Brewers one of the very last teams posted, coming out after press time on Friday. This was rude, and I am currently plotting my revenge.

Cistulli notes that, per fWAR, the Brewers’ hitters as a group were just one win better than Bryce Harper. This is bad, because Bryce Harper is one very good baseball player, and all the Brewers combined would have ideally been much, much better than a single baseball player, even if he was having a historic season. The ZiPS projection system, created by Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski), projects Jonathan Lucroy (yep), Ryan Braun (sure) and Domingo Santana (okay, wait) as the Brewers’ top hitters in 2016, while Nelson and Taylor Jungmann are projected to lead the pitching staff. Fun tidbit: ZiPS predicts that Kirk Nieuwenhuis will have a higher ISO than Ryan Braun, which I just am really not too sure about, but who am I to tell a computer that it’s wrong? If I’m going to argue with an inanimate object, it’s going to be me telling a banana that it’s not delicious.

Baseball Prospectus || The NRI Watch: National League (Feb. 10, 2016)

Bryan Grosnick (@bgrosnick) takes a quick jaunt around the Senior Circuit, with some notes about the non-roster invitees for each team. In this week’s issue, Grosnick chats about Josmil Pinto, the thrice-DFA’d catcher who is coming to Brewers camp after Milwaukee managed to do what the Twins and Padres could not — sneak the 27-year-old through waivers. Pinto has always been a bat-first catcher, but that script flipped last year a bit according to Baseball Prospectus’s new framing metrics, which rated Pinto as, in Grosnick’s words, “pretty good” while his bat took leave of Pinto: he recorded just a .242 tAV with Triple-A Rochester. Pinto is a great guy to have around given the uncertainty surrounding Lucroy’s future with the team, but he’ll be battling a host of Quad-A catchers for playing time in Colorado Springs.

Related Articles

Leave a comment