Sunday, May 19, 2013

Free Agent Fantasy Team: Jeff Keppinger's Horrible 2013

This week's Free Agent Fantasy Team update actually contains a few roster moves. First, I signed Rick Ankiel to the big league team with the Mets. I am assuming that it is for league minimum prorated over the rest of the year. For now, we will assume he is owed 367,500 dollars. This brings my payroll up to 99.9785 million for the season, meaning I have about 8.02 million dollars for the rest of the season. I also had to move David Ross to the minors/inactive part of the team as he is on the 7 day concussion DL. To make room, I released Mitch Maier, who has played all of 8 games in the minors this year. Here is the numbers for my team:

Since most teams have played 42 games so far:

7.2 fWAR, 19.548 wins, 22.452 losses

9.7 rWAR, 22.048 wins, 19.952 losses

7.3 WARP, 20.74 wins, 21.26 losses

2.1 WAA, 23.1 wins, 18.9 losses

Again, WAA likes my team the best, but we are over .500 by two metrics now, with Fangraphs liking the team the least again.

Jeff Keppinger has been the most frustrating player on the team (if you don't count Ryan Madson's ever evolving injury situation), getting a 3 year contract after a good season with the Rays and hitting .188/.190/.208 through a month and a half. Keppinger finally drew his first walk this year earlier this week, which even for his contact happy ways is amazing.

This graph shows where pitchers are pitching him on average by count:

 Here are the pitches Keppinger is swinging at:

There are some definite chases, but most of the pitches are obviously in the strike zone.

Here are the pitches he is taking:

Even when he is taking, the pitchers are filling up the strike zone. Even with no strikes, as we saw in the first chart, pitchers are basically throwing it right down the middle. It is not like he is just chasing wildly and not seeing strikes.
Since pitchers are throwing him so much strikes, you wonder if bat speed is a problem (after all, he isn't making them pay), so here are the locations and results on fastballs over 95 MPH:

Most of them are thrown for strikes and thrown away from him. He has put quite a bit in play, but they are almost all for outs. It is contact, but contact that is not paying off. According to Baseball Heat Maps, he isn't hitting the ball as far:

2012: 173.864 feet on average
2013: 162.152 feet on average

Of course, there is a catch/no-catch bias in these numbers, so if he is having a large amount of balls just hit right at people, then it is going to show up in batted ball distance.

Here is Keppinger's spray chart (Texas Leaguers) at this point last year:

So far this year:

While he was hitting the ball harder last year according to the batted ball distance, his spray chart, if you ignore hits versus outs, looks better this year. Other than a pair of pulled homers, he was not hitting the ball very hard at all. He is driving the ball to center much better this year, it just isn't turning into hits. It is really hard to imagine his final line looking pretty at the end of the year, but he should "regress", and start hitting better than he has results wise. I think the best approach here is to be patient and give him more time (certainly the White Sox aren't going to already give up on a 3 year contract).

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