Baseball Is Amazing and Stupid: A Quiz – FanGraphs (blog)

I think we can all agree that baseball is amazing. If we weren’t all on the same page, it stands to reason we wouldn’t all be here. I think we can also all agree that baseball is stupid. Sometimes it is extremely stupid. Other times, it is more forgivably stupid. But it is very stupid. Following in the true spirit of baseball, let’s take a quiz! There are nine questions, and for each, you select one answer from five options.

Question No. 1

You’re familiar with WAR/600, right? That’s just WAR over a constant denominator of 600 plate appearances. It helps to put everyone on the same scale, when you’re doing a comparison. One of the following five players finished last season with a WAR/600 of 4.8. It was the highest mark of the five players shown. Pick the player!




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Question No. 2

Nothing complicated here; let’s just talk about strikeout rate. Which of the following five players just put up the highest strikeout rate, at 35.5%?




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Question No. 3

Now it’s time to move on to ISO. You know ISO, or Isolated Power. It’s just slugging percentage minus batting average. Which of the following five players just put up the highest isolated power, at .266?




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Question No. 4

Splits! Everyone loves splits. We already asked a question about WAR/600. Which of the following five players just put up the highest second-half WAR/600, at 8.7?




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Question No. 5

Sticking with the split theme, which of the following five players just put up the highest second-half isolated power, at .368?




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Question No. 6

Time for a change, by which I mean, time to compare 2016 statistics to combined 2013 – 2015 statistics. Which of the following five players just had the biggest hike in strikeout rate, relative to the earlier baseline, at +13 percentage points?




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Question No. 7

Along the same lines, which of the following five players just had the biggest hike in isolated power, relative to the earlier baseline, at +144 points?




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Question No. 8

Finally, we’ll end with two questions about Statcast, using Jeff Zimmerman’s corrected exit-velocity information. Which of the following five players just had the biggest hike in average exit velocity, relative to 2015, at +5.0 miles per hour?




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Question No. 9

At last, which of the following five players just had the highest average exit velocity, at 91.3 miles per hour?




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Anyone who’s ever taken a quiz wants nothing more than to immediately see the answers. Therefore, let’s see how you did. The answer to Question 1 is Adam Rosales. He finished with the highest WAR/600 in that group. He finished with the 29th-highest WAR/600 overall, out of 353 players who batted at least 200 times. The answer to Question 2 is Adam Rosales. He finished with the highest strikeout rate in that group. He finished with the seventh-highest strikeout rate overall. The answer to Question 3 is Adam Rosales. He finished with the highest isolated power in that group. He finished with the 12th-highest isolated power overall.

The answer to Question 4 is Adam Rosales. He finished with the highest second-half WAR/600 in that group. He finished with the third-highest second-half WAR/600 overall, out of 326 players who batted at least 100 times. The answer to Question 5 is Adam Rosales. He finished with the highest second-half isolated power in that group. He finished with the highest second-half isolated power overall.

The answer to Question 6 is Adam Rosales. He had the biggest gain in strikeout rate in that group. He had the biggest gain in strikeout rate overall. The answer to Question 7 is Adam Rosales. He had the biggest gain in isolated power in that group. He had the biggest gain in isolated power overall.

The answer to Question 8 is Adam Rosales. He had the biggest gain in average exit velocity in that group. He had the eighth-biggest gain in average exit velocity overall, out of 370 players with at least 50 batted balls in consecutive seasons. The answer to Question 9 is a tie between Miguel Cabrera and Nelson Cruz. Adam Rosales isn’t close to that strong.

Everything included in here is a fact. I’m only doing this because I saw earlier in the day that the A’s signed Adam Rosales as a free agent. I’m not posting this to argue that the A’s are organizational geniuses; Rosales is 33 years old, and last year he batted 248 times, and he is Adam Rosales. The man was a free agent until almost the beginning of February. The league isn’t buying it. Even the A’s, to some extent, probably aren’t buying it, since it seems like Rosales will be a bench player. But he kind of did what Sean Rodriguez did. Adam Rosales, at 33, on a go-nowhere team, completely sold the hell out. We’ve talked before about players who have sacrificed contact for power. Sweet holy Moses.

Let’s watch Adam Rosales’ career strikeouts!

Let’s watch Adam Rosales’ career isolated power!

Let’s watch Adam Rosales’ career hard-hit rate!

Even if you never really thought much about Adam Rosales before, you have an idea of what he was, in part because you never had much reason to think about him. He was a backup, a veteran utility guy, a guy with a basically average strikeout rate, and with Francisco Cervelli‘s power. Then Rosales had a chance to play semi-regularly. That might be an overstatement, but he did get a few hundred chances. I know it was obviously a small sample, but this is what literally happened in the most recent baseball season:

Adam Rosales: .229/.319/.495
Chris Carter: .222/.321/.499

Think about how you think about Carter. Rosales was just the same guy. Only with a bit of speed and some defensive versatility. I don’t know what it means, and I can’t yet know what it means, but one clear takeaway for right now is that, every so often, baseball is just out of its mind.

If you want to give Rosales the benefit of the doubt, a few years ago he was one of those guys who got passed around on waivers. In August 2015, Rosales got released by the Rangers, and maybe he wanted to give things one more spin. Maybe he wanted to see if he could make himself more valuable. To the best of my knowledge, Rosales had never before really tried to hit for power, and, what if? What did he have to lose?

From the evidence, Rosales sold out for pop. And from the evidence, it worked, shockingly well. What does it mean for 2017? I have not one single idea. Can’t tell you what Rosales will be worth. Can’t tell you how much he’ll even play. But this entire baseball post is factual. This past season, among regulars and semi-regulars, Adam Rosales was a premier power hitter with swing-and-miss tendencies. Whatever.


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