The Best Players in Baseball to Lead Off Your Team’s Inning

The effect of how the lineup is set has been well-documented. But after the first inning or two, the order largely gets jumbled, and different players come to the plate at different points in the game with different leverages. With this in mind, which players have been the best this year at leading off an inning for their team(s)?

The Blue Jays Quietly Have One of the League’s Best Rotations

The Blue Jays starters all get similar, stellar results, even though their peripheral stats may not suggest it. They do this by collectively using a wide range of movement on their fastballs, and attacking the zone with them. This has helped them maintain one of the lowest BABIPs in the league, and generate the highest values on their fastballs both individually, and as a group. Marco Estrada in particular has generated a prolifically low BABIP, and should he continue this level of performance, it would not be shocking to see him garner AL Cy Young votes. While their success has not been heavily covered this year, the Toronto Blue Jays rotation is poised to help them make a deep playoff run this MLB Postseason.

Analyzing the Yankees 2016 MLB Trade Deadline by Prospect Surplus Value

The New York Yankees were able to turn $4.6 million of this year’s money into over $190 million of future money at the 2016 Trade Deadline. Here’s how they were able to pull it off.

The MLB Postseason Effects of Regular Season Performance Against Top of the Rotation Starters

As teams spend the trade deadline trying to acquire top-of-the-rotation starters like Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, and others, their competition may fear the arms race. But ultimately, the only effect this has is on which teams actually make the playoffs, as Fangraphs studied last year. A team comfortably in the playoff race and not in the market for a top arm has no reason to fear the effect on its postseason, as they are just as likely as any other team to make and win a World Series appearance.

Reviewing First Half Rotation Matchup Luck

It should come as no surprise that teams like the Cardinals, Cubs, Mets, Giants, and Indians appear toward the top of a starting pitching quality list. But not only do they rate highly in quality, but they also seem to have had a little luck on their side in terms rotation matchups with their opponents. On the contrary, seeing teams like the Braves or Reds toward the bottom isn’t all that revelatory. But what a team does against the pitching they do face can speak volumes.

Which Teams Use Their Bullpens Optimally?

Teams with deep bullpens like the Royals, Yankees, and Orioles can stretch their success even further by using their resources in the most optimal manner. By correlating game context and reliever ability, they can conserve inning counts for each reliever and prevent fatigue and meaningless usage. The metric presented here attempts to quantify this usage, with the caveats of small sample sizes and the lack of quality interpretation.

Probability: Why Hitting Streaks are Impressive (And Why They’re Not)

Long hitting streaks seem to happen every year in Major League Baseball. Even though they seem this common, there is conflicting evidence as to whether or not they truly represent a noteworthy skill. How likely are hitting streaks to happen?

AL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #1 Blake Snell

Blake Snell may be the solution to the Rays starting pitching woes. In a tryout spot-start on April 23 he impressed in 5 IP, allowing only 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 6 batters. His minor league pedigree and top prospect status are based on his deceptive fastball and above-average four pitch arsenal. At this point the only things holding Snell back are the Super Two deadline and a walk rate that he will continue to work on. The Rays were able to get away with a 4 man rotation for the first quarter of the season, but as June nears they will require reinforcements if they hope to compete into the fall. Once Blake Snell is promoted, he can help them compete by fortifying the rotation with his high strikeout rate thanks to his late moving fastball. In a year where the Yankees and the Blue Jays have underperformed, look for the Rays to close the gap between them and the Red Sox as their starting pitching positively regresses to their true talent levels, joined by the super prospect Snell.

AL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #2 A.J. Reed

Once concerns over the Super Two deadline pass and A.J. Reed is called up, his special blend of power and patience will allow the Astros to improve the first base situation by not only adding Reed at first, but possibly shifting Tyler White to the DH/PH role, where he can look to improve on the poor results of other lighter-hitting teammates. Reed has seen his stats decrease in AAA, but nothing seems to indicate that he is being overpowered, but rather that he is getting unlucky. When the line drives start to drop in for hits again, expect Reed to heat up and take his advanced approach to the major leagues

AL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #3 José Berríos

José Berríos’s high-strikeout style operates well in the AL Central, however, by preventing the ball from being put into play. With an aggressive, controlled approach, Berríos can make an immediate impact on the Minnesota rotation in 2016 by challenging and overpowering hitters. This will be a nice reprieve for Minnesota fans, who will have to endure the more subdued approach the rest of the Twin rotation employs.

AL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #4 Tim Anderson

While young prospect Tim Anderson is untested and unproven, his dangerous speed, both with the bat and on the basepaths, may offer a solution to the anemic production from the Chicago White Sox shortstop position. Anderson will find himself under the fantastic tutelage of Jimmy Rollins, who has been a mainstay at the position for the past 17 seasons. Should Anderson be able to improve his plate discipline and defense, two of Rollins’s excellences, he could become a bona fide top-of-the-lineup hitter, with solid defense at a valuable position to boot.

AL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #5 Sean Manaea

Lefty Sean Manaea looks to make an impact in the Oakland Athletics rotation in 2016 with his powerful fastball and slider combo. His high strikeout rate throughout the minors signals that he has the stuff to overpower opposing batters, and if he is able to make improvements to his control, his rookie season looks to have promise. Manaea originally made it to the bigs on his own talent and merit. But, the fact that Oakland’s other rotation options have not panned out well so far provides Manaea with an extended opportunity to test his mettle at the highest level of competition.

NL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #1 Tyler Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow tops this list as the midseason callup likely to have the biggest impact in the NL in 2016 because he has the immediate potential to contribute to a pennant-chasing team. Considering the fact that Pittsburgh has fallen just 7 cumulative games shy of winning the NL Central the past three years, the ability to have a top of the rotation talent like Tyler Glasnow called up midseason is a salivating prospect for a contender like the Pirates.

NL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #2 Aaron Blair

It is highly probable that Aaron Blair will make an appearance with the Atlanta Braves in late May to early June and have an immediate impact. His consistent approach and ability to attack hitters will be a big improvement over the Braves current, less aggressive options. Blair figures to pair with Teheran and younger Braves prospects in the not too distant future to form the basis of the Atlanta rotation, something Braves fans have to anxiously await.

NL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #3 Orlando Arcia

With Arcia’s fast ascension to AAA, advanced defense, and already promising hitting development, he is a candidate to take over the everyday shortstop role for the Brewers possibly as early as June. What is likely is that Arcia will make an immediate impact for the Brewers with his legs and glove, with the ability to help them even further with his bat. The Brewers do not project as a great team this year, but Arcia’s debut will be a very bright spot for an otherwise inconsequential season.

NL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #4 Robert Stephenson

The advanced metrics indicate that Robert Stephenson might indeed be growing into a great young pitcher, and continued success and development at AAA should earn him a spot in the big leagues this year.

NL Midseason Debuts: Prospects Looking to Make an Impact – #5 Nick Williams

With Philadelphia’s current ho-hum options to play, it is not hard to picture prospect Nick Williams in the Phillies outfield of the future along with Odubel Herrera, starting as soon as May or June of the 2016 season. Williams has the bat speed and power potential to blossom into an answer for the Phillies questionable outfield.

How Will the Cleveland Indians Handle Their Outfield Situation?

With the announcement that rookie Tyler Naquin will make the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day roster, the Tribe will have an interesting outfield situation to handle as they await Michael Brantley’s return.

Can Tyson Ross Break Out Even Further?

Tyson Ross has a very real opportunity to gain exposure amongst the national audience with the All-Star game in San Diego this year. He’s already demonstrated his ability to be a consistent and effective pitcher with 2.3 and 3.1 bWAR in 2014 and 2015, respectively. If he can pull it all together in 2016 with his fastball, you may very well see Tyson Ross appearing on some NL Cy Young ballots this fall.