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BtBS Mailbag: OPS, Manny Machado, and future trades

You asked the questions, we brought the answers.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the second ‘half’ of the season officially under way, we take questions from our readers to look forward towards the trade deadline, and discuss a bit about minor league metrics.

On the heels of Manny Machado’s mid-season trade, who has been the most successful mid-season acquisition, and who has been the least successful this year?

While it is still relatively early in the trading season, this question is kind of hard to answer, but I’ll do it anyway.

So far we’ve had some of the top players available get dealt (Manny Machado, Brad Hand, Kelvin Herrera), some sneaky under-the-radar acquisitions (Dylan Floro, Steve Pearce, Jon Jay, Jesse Chavez) and some other controllable players being moved (Alex Colome, Adam Cimber).

I’d have to say the most successful acquisition so far is Brad Hand/Adam Cimber, even though we have yet to see the results. The fact of the matter is that the Indians acquired eight total years of control between two very good relievers. They’ve immensely aided the biggest hole on their roster. I would be surprised if these are the last two relievers they acquire. It’s also worth adding in that two of the biggest pieces from their recent success in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are free agents at season’s end.

I don’t think I can pick the worst trade yet. Check back in November.

Now that Machado and Hand have been traded, who is the next big chip to fall?

A big chunk of drama in the trade deadline has already been cut dead with the recent trades of Manny Machado and Brad Hand. With about a week-and-half to go left in trade deadline, plenty of moves should be on the horizon. With Machado easing up some of the third base market, I wouldn’t be shocked if Mike Moustakas is dealt in the next couple days.

Bullpen hungry teams might be getting anxious with Hand moving and with the Orioles opening up shop, expect Zach Britton to move very soon.

Jerry DiPoto loves making trades. Will he make another at the deadline? If so, is it more likely that Kyle Lewis and Evan White are involved?

Depends on how much the front office believes this team. At the moment, their playing for a chance to face the 100+ winYankees in Yankee Stadium against Luis Severino in the AL Wild Card Game.

But then again, Jerry DiPoto has shown no fear in trading anyone.

Trading Kyle Lewis and Evan White, basically their top two hitting prospects in an already weak minor league system, makes little sense to me. I’d stay in the middle between selling and buying by acquiring small pieces that could impact the team. Trading for a stable catcher that can give Zunino rest would be an example. Options there would be A.J. Ellis, Devin Mesoraco, and Robinson Chirinos. Starting pitching depth never hurts, so I’d kick the tires on Francisco Liriano, Lance Lynn, and Matt Harvey. Same goes for adding some bullpen pieces with Tyler Clippard, Seung Hwan Oh, and Joakim Soria likely available. Just make sure to stay somewhat cheap. I would definitely not sell the farm.

If you had to pick one hitter with a .800 OPS, would you rather have a .200 OBP and .600 SLG, or a .600 OBP and .200 SLG. Why?

This is an interesting question with a pretty simple answer, I believe. While it may seem like it’s a debate, this exact question can show the general flaw in OPS.

When OPS is cited anywhere, the main use of this stat is to point out how good overall a certain hitter is. A .800 OPS can be reached in a variety of ways, such as a player that gets on base a lot with below-average power (Denard Span) or a free-swinger with some pop (Salvador Perez in recent years).

The main problem with OPS is that it likely weighs OBP and SLG differently, and incorrectly. They weren’t really designed to be added in a 1+1 formula. As Tom Tango has pointed out before, OBP is about 1.8 more times important than SLG, which is not accounted for in the stat.

This is why stats like wRC+ and wOBA are more useful, as the weights used in it gauge a player’s value with the bat much more accurately. They would show that a player that gets on base at a much above-average rate and slugs at a very below-average rate would be better than a player that gets on base at a very below-average rate and slugs at an above-average rate.

What is your favorite metric to gauge future success for minor league hitters?

Great question. As a person who loves diving into the available data for minor leaguers, this is right up my alley.

I’d go with SwStr% as my favorite I think. Players with high marks in this metric typically have more trouble advancing up the player development ladder, as advanced pitchers can carve them apart at times.

Other useful ones can fall into the category of plate discipline (K%, BB/K), power (ISO), and batted ball (GB%, FB%).

Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.