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Sabersphere 2/6: Jed Lowrie, Chris Carpenter, Replacement Level, HR/FB

Today's Sabersphere looks at examples of replacement level, state-by-state variance in baseball preparedness, the Jed Lowrie trade, Chris Carpenter's career, and predicting HR/FB.

Otto Greule Jr

The Recent Examples of a Replacement Level Player | FanGraphs Baseball
Dave Cameron explains "replacement level", and comes up with some players that best exemplify the term.

One of the most often cited criticisms of WAR is that replacement level is essentially an arbitrary construct, making the entire model just an act of theoretical speculation. The idea of replacement level is to essentially set a baseline for expected performance from a team that invested the absolute minimum in putting together a Major League roster. This replacement level team wouldn’t have a farm system, so that they didn’t have to spend money on draft picks, coaches, equipment, or facilities. They would rely entirely on league minimum veterans to build out their roster, thus allowing us to see how approximately many wins a team could expect if they did the absolute bare minimum in terms of organizational investment.

Ready when you are? | The Hardball Times
Doug Wachter asks whether certain states (namely California, Texas, and Florida) prepare draftees better than others.

I wondered, then, whether draftees from these states were more prepared for professional baseball than their counterparts from other states that produce less major league talent. If these players have been subjected to higher-level competition from an early age, it’s possible that they would experience less of an adjustment period in the minors, leading to strong performance earlier in their career. Those results might cause teams to fast-track them to the big leagues, resulting in an earlier debut than their peers.

Transaction Analysis: An Expensive Lowrie | Baseball Prospectus
R.J. Anderson and Mike Anderson analyze the recent transactions, namely the A's-Astros Jed Lowrie deal.

Lowrie is the main draw here, even if he is a bit of a tease. Injuries are the main knock against Lowrie, as he's yet to top 400 plate appearances in a season (he came closest last year). The A's will reportedly use Lowrie as a utility player this season, which raises an interesting question: Is it better to limit Lowrie to fewer plate appearances if it means those plate appearances come when he's healthy? Don't write off Lowrie as the A's shortstop either, as Hiroyuki Nakajima will have to prove that his game translates stateside. Oakland will have Lowrie for the next two seasons before he reaches free agency.

If we've seen the last of Chris Carpenter ... | Baseball Nation
Rob Neyer discusses Chris Carpenter's career and the potential end of said career.

Chris Carpenter first pitched in the major leagues in 1997, the year before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit 328 home runs. He was only 22, and went 3-7 with a 5.10 ERA for the Blue Jays. The next season, Carpenter found himself as a major leaguer, and from there we can divide his career, perhaps uniquely, into six different phases ...

The Quest to Predict HR/FB Rate, Part 5 | RotoGraphs
Chad Young (and Mike Podhorzer) continue their series on HR/FB rate by asking what happens to HR/FB when home run distance changes drastically.

Now, what we basically found through that analysis was that you can do a pretty good job predicting HR/FB rate based on distance, and a slightly better job if you include batted ball angle. But the question I have still wanted to dive into is what happens when a player’s distance (or perhaps angle) suddenly changes?

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The Best Five-Year Pitching Performances | Beyond the Box Score
In today's edition of BtB Retro, Cyril Morong looks at the best five-year pitching stretches.

It might be easy to find the best one year performance. Just check a reference like the Baseball Encyclopedia and see who had the most wins, lowest ERA, lowest ERA relative to the league average, etc. But what about over a stretch of time, say five years? To try to answer this, I found the best performances over a five year period in RSAA using Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.