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When B.A. Blog Talks, We Listen

March 22, 2010

This season, we’ve teamed up with the fine folks of Baseball America in tracking some of the top college draft prospects. You can read all about it on their blog every Monday. It’s really a great resource and the draftnik in us is thrilled they’re doing it. Of course, the stat geek in us can’t stop there. So, we’ll highlight a few of the guys BA tracks in greater detail here on our blog.

This week’s victim: Florida State OF Tyler Holt.

At the plate

Through this weekend’s games, Holt has put up the following slash line:

.348/.466/.580

Cribbing from our friend Tom Tango and his colleagues at The Book, we’ll convert that to wOBA using the following: "…for you OPS lovers, you will note that (OBPx2+SLG)/3 is a close approximation of wOBA."

So, then:

OBP: 0.466
SLG: 0.580
= wOBA: .504

As can be expected, this quick-and-dirty version of wOBA is going to be a bit quirky. Also, we haven’t yet adjusted for park factors or quality of pitcher faced on a PA-by-PA basis. But it’s still March yet and it’s a Monday. So at this point we’ll suffice it to say Holt is “off to a good start at the plate.”

As mentioned, one of the things we’ll do when drilling down deeper into a guy’s numbers is analyze how he performs on a plate appearance-by-plate appearance basis and draw out the relative strength of every pitcher he faced. But in keeping with our back-of-the-envelope theme, here’s another way to think about the same issue: how has he fared vs. other teams’ Friday night aces, relative to starters he faced on other days of the week?

Holt’s Friday OPS as +/-% of overall OPS:

2010: -34%
2009: +12%
2008: -17%

So, what you’re looking at there tell us that through this season’s small sample of games, Holt has hit 34% worse so far against the opposing team’s Friday night “ace”, relative to how he performed overall. Last season, he fared a bitter better, and in 2008 he again fared a bit worse.

We’ll have a lot more on this subject in the coming weeks. But for now, that’s all we’ll say about Tyler Holt at the plate.

In the field

By now, the inner-sabermetrician in you is surely asking….BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NEW MARKET INEFFICIENCY?!?! Some may still refer to it as defense. Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe. Whatever you call it, let’s take a look:

As discussed in Jeff’s earlier articles on the issue at The Hardball Times, we’ve put our database of play-by-play data to work by applying an algorithm very similar to that of Sean Smith’s TotalZone for MLB and the minor leagues. The quality and availability of data in the depths of the college baseball world is of course a bit weaker, and the sample sizes even smaller. And yet, with our trusty sidekick, Regression, we forge ahead.

Here are Holt’s regressed defensive numbers in center field over the last two years:

2008: +3
2009: +5

Just to frame up that number in your brain a bit, it’s probably best to step back from the concept of attempting to convert those plays into Defensive Runs Saved or something, with the goal in mind of eventually converting that into some version of Defensive Wins Saved Above/Below Average. While plays multiplied by 0.8 is a rough approximation, it’s not quite that simple. But it is illustrative, we think to helping answer the question: can this guy stick at this position?

Suffice it to say that one could look at college center fielders in the range of +5 and above (and, in Holt’s case, with good speed) can generally be regarded to be good enough at their position that it’s likely they’ll avoid a slide down the defensive spectrum in the minor leagues.

The early defensive returns haven't started to come in yet, but so far, Holt is a guy doing a pretty good job of propping up his draft stock. Performances like last year's on Friday nights would prop it up even more.