Tagged: Carlos Quentin

A Carlos Quentin Check-Up

By Eriq Gardner //
As spring training heats up in earnest, this is the time of year where we all play, “What if…”
For most optimists, this entails taking a player with potential — say, Jay Bruce — and imagining a forthcoming season where production finally matches potential. Bruce has never hit 30 HRs in a season before, but he’s only 23 years old, and given the glowing scouting reports and teased power prowess of the past, it’s easy to see Bruce knocking 35-40 HRs out of the park this season.
But that’s not the only way to play the game.
We can also look at a player who has already shown the skills and production, but simply can’t stay healthy. And what if


Perhaps the best example right now is Carlos Quentin
In 2008, Quentin had a fabulous year where he put up 36 HRs, 100 RBIs, 7 steals, and a .288 average. Going into the 2009 season, he was a hot commodity, but health didn’t cooperate. These past few seasons, Quentin has suffered from various ailments including a bruised hand, a sore knee, a fractured wrist, a plantar pasciitis, shoulder and hamstring problems, etc.
As a result, Quentin has missed considerable time these past two seasons and has developed the reputation as being brittle. That said, there’s hardly conclusive medical evidence out there that supports the idea that some batters are more injury-prone than others. And even if a tendency towards getting injured is real, that hardly means that a brittle player can’t have a healthy season every once in a while. Just ask Josh Hamilton, who entered 2010 with the same sort of injury-prone reputation as Quentin and then delivered an enormously productive, able-bodied year.
Quentin’s missed time has certainly impacted his projections, as most services lay the foundation of their projections on a three-year historical sample that factors past playing time. Bloomberg Sports projects just 459 at-bats this coming season for Quentin. Given his injury history, it’s certainly not an unreasonable call. 
And yet, Quentin still represents a potential value this upcoming season. Bloomberg Sports also projects 29 HRs, 65 RBIs, 4 SBs, and a .268 AVG for Quentin in 2011, which translates as the 70th best player in standard 5×5 leagues. As for where he’s going in drafts, Quentin’s average draft spot is 157th overall.
And remember, that’s just with 459 at-bats. Quentin is the only non-catcher in Blooomberg’s top 100 with less than 500 at bats.
What happens if Quentin stays healthy this season and gets 500 at-bats or even 600 at-bats? Simple math spells a possible 35-40 HR season. Potentially like Bruce, who is going in drafts around the 70th pick.
Quentin has also been bedeviled by a poor hit rate these past couple years. In 2009, his batting average on balls in play was .221. Last season, his batting average on balls in play was .241. Because he hits the ball in the air so often, we might expect a lower-than-normal BABIP, but those numbers still scream flukiness. Since his breakout 2008 season, no player with at least 800 plate appearances has suffered a more miserable hit rate than Quentin. His luck-neutral batting average these past two seasons was roughly .275, instead of .240 he actually hit.
Simply put, Carlos Quentin represents a draft value if he does what we expect him to do, a sleeper with more luck, a super sleeper with more health, and possibly one of the best players in baseball with more luck and health. Feel like rolling the dice?

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

BABIP Laggers, xBABIP and Fantasy Rebound Candidates

by Eno Sarris //

We’ve quoted Russell Carlton’s study about the benchmarks when different statistics become significant plenty of times here. In that study, he basically asked how long it took for a statistic to reliably predict itself in one season. Given a batter’s batting average, for example, how many plate appearances does it take until that average predicts his future in-season batting average to a 70% reliability? The answer, in this case, is never. Batting average is one of the most volatile statistics in baseball, and subsequently we’re always chasing those hits in fantasy play.

While batting average itself doesn’t normalize quickly, there are some interesting quirks in the component pieces. For example, line drive rate becomes significant within 40 plate appearances. In other words, the poor-line-drive-hitting players do actually have something to worry about in the early going. While BABIP doesn’t become significant over one season, one of the main components of BABIP – line drive rate – steadies rather quickly.

It follows that players with poor BABIPs are not created equally. A player with a poor line drive rate (the average line drive rate is around 19%) may end the season with a poor BABIP, and therefore a poor batting average. That makes our mission clear. Let’s take a look at the 10 worst BABIPs in the majors, courtesy of FanGraphs. Not surprisingly, the list is filled with under-achievers.
It’s nice how quickly you can get a sense of which of these players is more ready for a rebound in batting average than the rest. For example, Carlos Quentin may have something to worry about. He’s just not centering the ball, and with a poor line drive this year as well as over his career (15.7%), he may actually end up being a guy with power and poor batting averages once we look back on his full career. That’s another way of seeing how misleading batting average can be – even though we are more than 1500 plate appearances into Quentin’s career, there’s a non-zero chance that he’s better than his .248 career batting average so far. On the other hand, this spider graph from the Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools might actually show us who he really is.

QuentinGrab.jpgThere are other names on that list that pop out as ready to bust out. We’ve heard a million times how Mark Teixeira is just a slow starter, he’s got an average line drive rate, and for some reason nearly 80% of his balls in play are becoming outs. That shouldn’t continue, nor should Casey Kotchman continue to be this unlucky on balls in play.

You can use a player’s batted ball profile – their groundballs, flyballs, line drives – and their speed – measured by stolen bases for now – to predict what their BABIP should be. This stat, often called xBABIP, does a good job of pointing out which players are ready for the rebound as well. Here’s the original article, by Peter Bendix and Chris Dutton, that also included an xBABIP calculator.

BABIPxBABIP.jpgCheck out the same 10 players from above, with their batting average, BABIP and xBABIP as columns. Players with the highest xBABIPs on this list suffer from the worst luck and are therefore the best bets for improved batting averages in the future. 

So there you have it. Feel good about Nick Johnson, Teixeira and Kotchman, and worry a little about Quentin and Aramis Ramirez in particular. BABIP is always a useful tool when looking at slumping batting averages, but xBABIP and its component stats help us complete the picture.

Statistics updated through 5/9/10. For more on players with slumping batting averages, check out 
Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools.