Red Sox sign Martin Perez

Red(s)HawksFan

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If this is a bad one at least it's only $6 million, not upwards of $15 or $20 million per year.
And only for one year as well.

I think the only reason this signing is getting any kind of attention is that it is in the context of ownership having a stated desire to reduce payroll and get under the luxury tax. In any other context, this thread is probably less than ten posts long. It's the sort of depth signing we see every year.

I'm not inclined to push the panic button about it until we have a better idea of where it fits in the bigger picture. Being a 1 for 1 replacement of Porcello in an otherwise unchanged rotation is a completely different animal from being a featured part of a revamped rotation that lacks Price and/or Sale and/or Eovaldi and/or Rodriguez. And at this stage, we have no idea where on the spectrum of possibilities things are going to fall.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

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Free agent pitchers who sign for under $10 million per year do so for a reason - nobody really trusts them. If they were reliable and trustworthy they would be signed for more. So the whole point of signing a pitcher in this price range is because you see something to indicate that the reward might be greater than the risk. Tampa's history, and Bloom's, is to find enough of these types of players, whether they be has been's, wannabe's, never been's, prospects, discards, etc. who turn out to contribute value to a contending team. In the process some of them will be worthless. We can only hope that he is right and Perez can contribute something. But like every other GM, some of his signings will be bad ones. If this is a bad one at least it's only $6 million, not upwards of $15 or $20 million per year.
I'd add to this that the extra $3 million Perez is getting v. Wacha might have been the price of an option year. If Perez rediscovers his inner Cy Young this season, that's a hell of an upside for the $3 million premium and Perez is on the hook for the same number in 2021. But If Perez only Kinda Sucks this year on par with the extent to which Porcello or Wacha might be expected to Kinda Suck, Bloom still has 150 innings of back-of-the-rotation pitching taken care of going into next off-season. He can pencil him in for the 5 spot, cut him loose if he has better options, or exercise the option and use him as a trade chip. That's not nothing.
 

chawson

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Some Martin Perez 2019 marks compared with other free agent left-handed starters.

Exit velocity (2019)
Ryu - 85.3 mph (532 BIP)
Perez - 85.4 mph (532 BIP)
Miley - 87.0 mph (513 BIP)
Keuchel - 88.0 mph (348 BIP)
Bumgarner - 89.4 mph (587 BIP)

Swinging Strike %
Bumgarner - 11.6%
Ryu - 11.4%
Perez - 9.8%
Miley - 9.3%
Keuchel - 8.7%

Expected wOBA
Ryu - .281
Perez - .304
Miley - .304
Bumgarner - .316
Keuchel - .332

Primary Catcher Framing Runs
Flowers • 13 (Keuchel)
(Vazquez • 11)
Posey • 10 (Bumgarner)
Martin • 8 (Ryu)
Maldonado • -1 (Miley)
Garver • -3 (Perez)

Offseason Contracts
Bumgarner - 5/85
Ryu - ?
Keuchel - ?
Miley - 2/15
Perez - 1/6
 

Devizier

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If we were playing word association and you asked me “worst starting pitchers in the league” it wouldn’t be too long until I wound up at Martin Perez.
Not for nothing, but the worst starting pitchers don’t fill that role. Many are relievers, swingmen, or shuttle guys. The reality is that the group of starting pitchers is fairly self-selecting. Only the best guys hold down a spot in the rotation, so what you’re really talking about is the worst of the best. And this is relevant when discussing free agency specifically, because a lot of the established starters are just not going to be available.
 

BaseballJones

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Trying to talk myself into Perez....mainly as a Porcello replacement. A much much cheaper Porcello replacement.

Porcello
2019: 174.1 ip, 5.52 era, 4.76 fip, 87 era+, 1.39 whip, 7.4 k/9
2017-19: 569.0 ip, 4.79 era, 4.45 fip, 96 era+, 1.32 whip, 8.1 k/9

Perez
2019: 165.1 ip, 5.12 era, 4.66 fip, 90 era+, 1.52 whip, 7.3 k/9
2017-19: 435.2 ip, 5.21 era, 4.86 fip, 91 era+, 1.58 whip, 6.2 k/9

Similar enough "production" at a fraction of the cost, I guess.
 

rymflaherty

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Not for nothing, but the worst starting pitchers don’t fill that role. Many are relievers, swingmen, or shuttle guys. The reality is that the group of starting pitchers is fairly self-selecting. Only the best guys hold down a spot in the rotation, so what you’re really talking about is the worst of the best. And this is relevant when discussing free agency specifically, because a lot of the established starters are just not going to be available.
Yes that’s fair. I’m sure I could find dozens of pitchers who started at least a game last year that are far worse than Perez, so my thought was amongst the pitchers who have been good enough to stay in rotations for an extended time.

Also, I get that Perez’ season was similar to Porcello’s, but if Porcello was still with the club wouldn’t we be expecting, or at least hoping, for a better year?
Saying he fills Porcello’s spot from last year seems like we’re saying that we have a disappointing starter that frustrates us when we have to watch him pitch every 5th day...but the teams spending less money for it.
I see the logic in comparing the numbers/salaries. I just don’t feel good about it as a fan and how it relates to the 2020 season of that is in fact the case.
 

joe dokes

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Yes that’s fair. I’m sure I could find dozens of pitchers who started at least a game last year that are far worse than Perez, so my thought was amongst the pitchers who have been good enough to stay in rotations for an extended time.

Also, I get that Perez’ season was similar to Porcello’s, but if Porcello was still with the club wouldn’t we be expecting, or at least hoping, for a better year?
Saying he fills Porcello’s spot from last year seems like we’re saying that we have a disappointing starter that frustrates us when we have to watch him pitch every 5th day...but the teams spending less money for it.
I see the logic in comparing the numbers/salaries. I just don’t feel good about it as a fan and how it relates to the 2020 season of that is in fact the case.
I suspect that what can be expected from Perez is right in line with the 5th best starter on most teams.
 

BaseballJones

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I suspect that what can be expected from Perez is right in line with the 5th best starter on most teams.
Yes but for probably more money than those teams are paying THEIR fifth starters. And for a team desperately trying to cut money....seems like a poor way to go.

Here’s to hoping they see something in him that actually produces better results for the Sox! Though looking at his WHIP numbers....omg imagine what those game threads are going to be like when he pitches.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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Yes but for probably more money than those teams are paying THEIR fifth starters. And for a team desperately trying to cut money....seems like a poor way to go.

Here’s to hoping they see something in him that actually produces better results for the Sox! Though looking at his WHIP numbers....omg imagine what those game threads are going to be like when he pitches.
Yeah my opinion changed on this once I saw the deals for Miley and Roark. This is fair value.
 

BaseballJones

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Miley got 2/15 (7.5 per). His #s last year: 3.98 era, 116 era+, 1.35 whip, 7.5 k/9
Perez got 1/6 (plus an option at 6.5). His #s last year: 5.12 era, 90 era+, 1.52 whip, 7.3 k/9

I'd MUCH rather have Miley at that then Perez at this. I really hope Perez becomes something useful or for a team trying desperately to cut payroll (maybe in hopes to keep the best player they've produced in a generation), even $6 million could be a major problem.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

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Miley got 2/15 (7.5 per). His #s last year: 3.98 era, 116 era+, 1.35 whip, 7.5 k/9
Perez got 1/6 (plus an option at 6.5). His #s last year: 5.12 era, 90 era+, 1.52 whip, 7.3 k/9

I'd MUCH rather have Miley at that then Perez at this. I really hope Perez becomes something useful or for a team trying desperately to cut payroll (maybe in hopes to keep the best player they've produced in a generation), even $6 million could be a major problem.
There wasn't much breathing room between their xFIPs last year (Miley 4.52 , Perez 4.69), and the Steamer projections (Miley 4.46 Perez 4.71) don't expect much more of a difference next year. Both of them would/will be a pain in the ass to watch every fifth day, but you're committing $15 million to one and $6 million to the other. In addition to being cheaper, Perez gives us a chance to slag a new pitcher rather than one we've already seen and detest.
 

BaseballJones

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There wasn't much breathing room between their xFIPs last year (Miley 4.52 , Perez 4.69), and the Steamer projections (Miley 4.46 Perez 4.71) don't expect much more of a difference next year. Both of them would/will be a pain in the ass to watch every fifth day, but you're committing $15 million to one and $6 million to the other. In addition to being cheaper, Perez gives us a chance to slag a new pitcher rather than one we've already seen and detest.
Projections mean little to me. Production is what matters. I like using underlying stats that help us see what's really going on, but at the end of the day, Perez has been, for his whole career, pretty bad when it comes to on-field production. Miley at least has been productive before, having had numerous good years. Perez' last good year was in 2013 when he was 22.

I mean, fifth starter I guess. I just think this guy is a giant ball of meh. I really REALLY hope I'm wrong.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

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Projections mean little to me. Production is what matters. I like using underlying stats that help us see what's really going on, but at the end of the day, Perez has been, for his whole career, pretty bad when it comes to on-field production. Miley at least has been productive before, having had numerous good years. Perez' last good year was in 2013 when he was 22.

I mean, fifth starter I guess. I just think this guy is a giant ball of meh. I really REALLY hope I'm wrong.
Eh, agree to disagree. They were the same guy last year, and frankly, neither of them has ever had a really good year.
 

BaseballJones

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Eh, agree to disagree. They were the same guy last year, and frankly, neither of them has ever had a really good year.
Wade Miley's best years...
2012: 194.2 ip, 3.33 era, 3.15 fip, 122 era+, 1.18 whip, 6.7 k/9
2013: 202.2 ip, 3.55 era, 3.98 fip, 109 era+, 1.32 whip, 6.5 k/9
2018: 80.2 ip, 2.57 era, 3.59 fip, 159 era+, 1.22 whip, 5.6 k/9

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Wade Miley is the next coming of Randy Johnson or anything, but he's been pretty damned good a few times. Better than anything Perez has done, even in Perez' 22-year-old season.

Whatever, 5th starter. Just hope that the money doesn't come back to bite them.
 

StuckOnYouk

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Miley was great through July but then started getting hit hard in August and September - I wouldn't be too confident in him either.

August opponent OPS: .814 / wOBA .348
September opponent OPS: 1.205 / wOBA .499
 

BaseballJones

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Miley was great through July but then started getting hit hard in August and September - I wouldn't be too confident in him either.

August opponent OPS: .814 / wOBA .348
September opponent OPS: 1.205 / wOBA .499
I’m not wishing the Sox signed Miley. But he’s better than Perez. Much better over the course of his career and last year too. I guess I’m just saying I wish they hadn’t signed Perez for six million when they’re desperately trying to get under the luxury tax.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

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Wade Miley's best years...
2012: 194.2 ip, 3.33 era, 3.15 fip, 122 era+, 1.18 whip, 6.7 k/9
2013: 202.2 ip, 3.55 era, 3.98 fip, 109 era+, 1.32 whip, 6.5 k/9
2018: 80.2 ip, 2.57 era, 3.59 fip, 159 era+, 1.22 whip, 5.6 k/9

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Wade Miley is the next coming of Randy Johnson or anything, but he's been pretty damned good a few times. Better than anything Perez has done, even in Perez' 22-year-old season.

Whatever, 5th starter. Just hope that the money doesn't come back to bite them.
If ERA+ is your thing, MIley's career ERA+ is 98 and Perez's is 96. You're arguing over what might be error variance in the statistical profiles of their abilities, in relation to salaries that are unlikely to have much to do with getting under the cap. That's going to be decided by how much of Price's, JBJ's, and/or Betts's salaries they can offload.
 

BaseballJones

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If ERA+ is your thing, MIley's career ERA+ is 98 and Perez's is 96.
I try to look at a lot of things. But it isn’t really about Miley. It’s about Perez being a pretty bad pitcher that they signed for six million when they are trying to get under the luxury tax, a process that might cost them some really good players. Taking this guy on just seems.....not a good idea. Again, hoping I’m wrong.
 
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Wade Miley's best years...
2012: 194.2 ip, 3.33 era, 3.15 fip, 122 era+, 1.18 whip, 6.7 k/9
2013: 202.2 ip, 3.55 era, 3.98 fip, 109 era+, 1.32 whip, 6.5 k/9
2018: 80.2 ip, 2.57 era, 3.59 fip, 159 era+, 1.22 whip, 5.6 k/9

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Wade Miley is the next coming of Randy Johnson or anything, but he's been pretty damned good a few times. Better than anything Perez has done, even in Perez' 22-year-old season.

Whatever, 5th starter. Just hope that the money doesn't come back to bite them.
Has Perez ever worn a “he’s the ace” shirt?
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Projections mean little to me. Production is what matters.
This is pretty nearly a non sequitur. Projections and production aren't rivals; one is what happens when we try to understand what is likely to happen based on the other.

I mean, of course production is what matters, but unless you have a functional crystal ball, you share my total inability to directly access either Wade Miley's or Martin Perez's 2020 stat line. We don't know what their future production is. Projections are as close as we can get.
 

Teachdad46

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Miley got 2/15 (7.5 per). His #s last year: 3.98 era, 116 era+, 1.35 whip, 7.5 k/9
Perez got 1/6 (plus an option at 6.5). His #s last year: 5.12 era, 90 era+, 1.52 whip, 7.3 k/9

I'd MUCH rather have Miley at that then Perez at this. I really hope Perez becomes something useful or for a team trying desperately to cut payroll (maybe in hopes to keep the best player they've produced in a generation), even $6 million could be a major problem.
To me Miley offers no clear upgrade over Perez and the salaries are within an eyelash so..ehh. We do know Miley can pitch in Boston (sorta) and we also know he has that 'competitive spirit' as evidenced by his dugout exchange with Manager John back in '15 when he was sorta meh for us (though I'd take a 2.6 WAR from Perez in 2020). Not enough wind for me to tack in either direction on this one.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Yes but for probably more money than those teams are paying THEIR fifth starters. And for a team desperately trying to cut money....seems like a poor way to go.

Here’s to hoping they see something in him that actually produces better results for the Sox! Though looking at his WHIP numbers....omg imagine what those game threads are going to be like when he pitches.
Maybe, but that's the price you pay for ignoring the farm system. I guess some would just prefer they go with Brian Johnson but he's never pitched more than 99 innings in an MLB season.
 

effectivelywild

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This is pretty nearly a non sequitur. Projections and production aren't rivals; one is what happens when we try to understand what is likely to happen based on the other.

I mean, of course production is what matters, but unless you have a functional crystal ball, you share my total inability to directly access either Wade Miley's or Martin Perez's 2020 stat line. We don't know what their future production is. Projections are as close as we can get.
Plus, identifying guys who you think have had past production that is inferior to their projection (and some evidence that that's possible for Perez, given his weak exit velocities etc) is the way you get guys on team-friendly contracts. Paying guys for their past production is how you can wind up with albatross contracts.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Plus, identifying guys who you think have had past production that is inferior to their projection (and some evidence that that's possible for Perez, given his weak exit velocities etc) is the way you get guys on team-friendly contracts. Paying guys for their past production is how you can wind up with albatross contracts.
Perez is 28 and Miley is 33. Miley got the 2nd year as well which I'm sure the Redsox didn't want to commit to. Instead they have a team option on Perez.

Also, Picking which SP will do well on a 1 year deal is like predicting which MRs to sign.
 

JMDurron

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Taking a look at whether or not there is any reason to think that the Red Sox roster might support Perez better than Minnesota's did last year, I took a look at Perez's GB/FB ratios and 2019 splits, and the Twins' defense in the relevant section of the field (IF or OF, depending on Perez's GB/FB ratio).

For Perez, starting with his splits, Perez was both worse at home (809 OPS against vs 753 on the road), and was far worse in the second half of the season (678 OPS against 1st half, 917 in the 2nd half!). Interestingly, Perez went from being a bit of a GB pitcher in 2014-2016 (GB/FB ratios of 1.11, 1.50, and 1.15) to more FB-oriented in 2017-2019 (0.90, 1.06, 0.95). Obviously's Perez's injury history and resulting lack of IP in several seasons injects large error bars into this information, but this could be an indicator that Perez has made a similar adjustment to Porcello's - to be more of a K/FB pitcher than a GB pitcher, given the recent launch angle revolution. Whether those results are random or the result of a deliberate approach by Perez, it stands to reason that he might be impacted (for better or for worse) by the quality of the OF defense playing behind him.

This discovery excited me for a brief moment, before I remembered just how awful the Red Sox were at converting balls in play into outs in 2019 (DefEff of .673, well below the LgAvg of .688, and tied for 4th worst in all of MLB). In a previous thread during the 2019 season, I had already picked at the scab that was the 2019 Red Sox OF defense, and its decline from its 2018 excellence. The one piece of good news is this - the team that the Red Sox were tied with for the 4th worst Defensive Efficiency in MLB was the Twins.

So, is there any actual indication that the Red Sox OF defense could be an improvement over Perez's 2019 situation? As it turns out...maybe. Let's start by looking at the Twins' OF defense. I'm starting with B-ref's total zone, because their website is handy for figuring out who played which positions, before I look at Fangraphs data.

Unlike the 2019 Red Sox, who were relatively stable across the 3 starting OF spots with Beni, Bradley, and Betts, the Twins' situation was more complicated. Although Eddie Rosario held down LF (124 G), CF saw 3 different starters across Byron Buxton (86 G), Max Kepler (60 G), and Jake Cave (23 G), while RF also 3 different starters between Kepler (84 G), Cave (45 G), and Marwin Gonzalez (44 G).

The following table for the 2019 Twins OFers contains the following stats from B-ref and Fangraphs: Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average (Rtot), BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (Rdrs), and The Three Components of UZR (ARM, RngR, and ErrR).

Position Player Rtot Rdrs ARM RngR ErrR
LF Rosario -8 -6 2.1 -7.4 -0.4
CF Buxton 7 10 3.2 5.6 -0.1
CF Kepler -2 3 -1.3 3.5 0.6
CF Cave -3 -3 -0.9 -1.6 0.2
RF Kepler 13 4 2.0 6.8 1.0
RF Cave 2 -1 -2.1 1.3 -0.4
RF Gonzalez -1 2 -1.5 0.4 -0.7


Yes, I know we're dealing with small sample sizes of defensive stats here. I'm merely trying to review what happened in the past, not projecting the actual future performance of these players, or trying to ascertain their true talent levels. What appears to have happened is that the Twins had an adequate OF defense with their Opening Day lineup of Buxton in CF (Good), Kepler in RF (Good), and Rosario in LF (Bad). Once Buxton got injured, the updated configuration of Kepler in CF (Mediocre) or Cave in CF (Bad), Cave in RF (Mediocre) or Gonzalez in RF (Mediocre), and Rosario in LF (Bad) was not going to do a pitcher with Perez's GB/FB ratio any favors. Another item worth noting is how Perez's 1st and 2nd half splits coincide with Buxton's games played - Buxton played a total of 73 games in the 1st half (Perez 678 OPS against, .303 BABIP), but only 14 games in the second half of the season (Perez 917 OPS against, .336 BABIP). I wouldn't go so far as to blame Buxton's absence, and the subsequent downgrading of the Twins' OF defense for Perez's 2nd half collapse, but I think it's also reasonable to suggest that there is something here beyond the level of coincidence.

Here's what the 2019 Red Sox OFers did for comparison's sake. I'm including each player's 2018 numbers in parentheses for the sake of highlighting the 2018 -> 2019 defensive collapse of the group.

Position Player Rtot Rdrs ARM RngR ErrR
LF Benintendi -2 (15) -3 (4) 3.8 (6.1) -3.3 (-1.3) 0.8 (0.3)
CF Bradley -11 (22) -1 (-2) 3.1 (7.6) -4.2 (0.3) -0.1 (-0.6)
RF Betts 12 (19) 15 (20) 5.2 (5.8) 6.0 (8.2) 1.6 (1.2)


So, for whatever reason, it appears that both Beni and JBJ fell off some kind of defensive cliff in 2019, regardless of which defensive metrics you prefer. We had word of a leg injury bothering Beni at the plate in 2019, and it would stand to reason that such an issue could also negatively impact defensive range. I'm not aware of any such explanation for JBJ's defensive nose dive. My personal pet narrative is that the young stud defenders in the OF were dead-legged to a degree (or gimpy-legged in Beni's case) after dominating pole-to-pole in 2018, with only Betts able to hold himself to a more moderate reduction in defensive effectiveness that could just as easily be explained as age-related in terms of speed/range decline.

Getting back to Martin Perez, I see reasons for optimism for this scrap heap pickup, but those reasons are dependent on a number of conditionals.

1) IF Perez is healthy enough to start 29+ games (as he was in 2016, 2017, and 2019)
2) IF Perez really is a FB pitcher now
3) IF Perez's 2nd half slump was influenced at least moderately by the OF defense behind him without Buxton
4) IF Benintendi and JBJ bounce back defensively after freakishly bad 2019 performances

THEN I can see why Bloom may have targeted Perez as a potentially underappreciated asset at a reasonable price. I think my hesitation to buy in on the conditionals above comes down to two health considerations - Perez's health, and the health of JBJ and Beni. Setting those aside, though, I have managed to convinced myself that conditionals 2-4 are either true (Perez is a FB pitcher now) or likely (Buxton injury's impact on Perez and JBJ/Beni bounceback), therefore Perez is more than just a dumpster dive signing in terms of potential performance for the 2020 Red Sox.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
One minor quibble: while I agree that Benintendi's 2019 defense seemed anomalous, and may have been driven by (hopefully reversible) training choices, there was nothing "freakish" about JBJ's 2019. He's been declining, by the numbers, for three straight years, and this is not terribly surprising since he'll turn 30 in a few months. The decline is easier to see if you take the mean of DRS and UZR for the years in question:

Year (Age): Mean defensive runs (DRS/UZR)
2016 (26): 9.6 (11/8.1)
2017 (27): 6.8 (10/3.5)
2018 (28): 3.4 (-2/8.8)
2019 (29): -1.4 (-1/-1.8)

This decline may be a bit steeper than usual, but I suspect the basic chronology and shape of it is pretty normal. It certainly doesn't look like consistent excellence interrupted by an outlier year. (I hasten to add that I would be more reluctant to post these numbers to support an argument if my eyes weren't telling me the same thing.)
 

simplicio

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Year (Age): Mean defensive runs (DRS/UZR)
2017 (27): 6.8 (10/3.5)
2018 (28): 3.4 (-2/8.8)
While I agree with the eye test evaluation of JBJ's decline last year, the divergence of these two measurements makes me want to throw out both systems forever.
 

EricFeczko

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Taking a look at whether or not there is any reason to think that the Red Sox roster might support Perez better than Minnesota's did last year, I took a look at Perez's GB/FB ratios and 2019 splits, and the Twins' defense in the relevant section of the field (IF or OF, depending on Perez's GB/FB ratio).

For Perez, starting with his splits, Perez was both worse at home (809 OPS against vs 753 on the road), and was far worse in the second half of the season (678 OPS against 1st half, 917 in the 2nd half!). Interestingly, Perez went from being a bit of a GB pitcher in 2014-2016 (GB/FB ratios of 1.11, 1.50, and 1.15) to more FB-oriented in 2017-2019 (0.90, 1.06, 0.95). Obviously's Perez's injury history and resulting lack of IP in several seasons injects large error bars into this information, but this could be an indicator that Perez has made a similar adjustment to Porcello's - to be more of a K/FB pitcher than a GB pitcher, given the recent launch angle revolution. Whether those results are random or the result of a deliberate approach by Perez, it stands to reason that he might be impacted (for better or for worse) by the quality of the OF defense playing behind him.

This discovery excited me for a brief moment, before I remembered just how awful the Red Sox were at converting balls in play into outs in 2019 (DefEff of .673, well below the LgAvg of .688, and tied for 4th worst in all of MLB). In a previous thread during the 2019 season, I had already picked at the scab that was the 2019 Red Sox OF defense, and its decline from its 2018 excellence. The one piece of good news is this - the team that the Red Sox were tied with for the 4th worst Defensive Efficiency in MLB was the Twins.

So, is there any actual indication that the Red Sox OF defense could be an improvement over Perez's 2019 situation? As it turns out...maybe. Let's start by looking at the Twins' OF defense. I'm starting with B-ref's total zone, because their website is handy for figuring out who played which positions, before I look at Fangraphs data.

Unlike the 2019 Red Sox, who were relatively stable across the 3 starting OF spots with Beni, Bradley, and Betts, the Twins' situation was more complicated. Although Eddie Rosario held down LF (124 G), CF saw 3 different starters across Byron Buxton (86 G), Max Kepler (60 G), and Jake Cave (23 G), while RF also 3 different starters between Kepler (84 G), Cave (45 G), and Marwin Gonzalez (44 G).

The following table for the 2019 Twins OFers contains the following stats from B-ref and Fangraphs: Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average (Rtot), BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (Rdrs), and The Three Components of UZR (ARM, RngR, and ErrR).

Position Player Rtot Rdrs ARM RngR ErrR
LF Rosario -8 -6 2.1 -7.4 -0.4
CF Buxton 7 10 3.2 5.6 -0.1
CF Kepler -2 3 -1.3 3.5 0.6
CF Cave -3 -3 -0.9 -1.6 0.2
RF Kepler 13 4 2.0 6.8 1.0
RF Cave 2 -1 -2.1 1.3 -0.4
RF Gonzalez -1 2 -1.5 0.4 -0.7


Yes, I know we're dealing with small sample sizes of defensive stats here. I'm merely trying to review what happened in the past, not projecting the actual future performance of these players, or trying to ascertain their true talent levels. What appears to have happened is that the Twins had an adequate OF defense with their Opening Day lineup of Buxton in CF (Good), Kepler in RF (Good), and Rosario in LF (Bad). Once Buxton got injured, the updated configuration of Kepler in CF (Mediocre) or Cave in CF (Bad), Cave in RF (Mediocre) or Gonzalez in RF (Mediocre), and Rosario in LF (Bad) was not going to do a pitcher with Perez's GB/FB ratio any favors. Another item worth noting is how Perez's 1st and 2nd half splits coincide with Buxton's games played - Buxton played a total of 73 games in the 1st half (Perez 678 OPS against, .303 BABIP), but only 14 games in the second half of the season (Perez 917 OPS against, .336 BABIP). I wouldn't go so far as to blame Buxton's absence, and the subsequent downgrading of the Twins' OF defense for Perez's 2nd half collapse, but I think it's also reasonable to suggest that there is something here beyond the level of coincidence.

Here's what the 2019 Red Sox OFers did for comparison's sake. I'm including each player's 2018 numbers in parentheses for the sake of highlighting the 2018 -> 2019 defensive collapse of the group.

So, for whatever reason, it appears that both Beni and JBJ fell off some kind of defensive cliff in 2019, regardless of which defensive metrics you prefer. We had word of a leg injury bothering Beni at the plate in 2019, and it would stand to reason that such an issue could also negatively impact defensive range. I'm not aware of any such explanation for JBJ's defensive nose dive. My personal pet narrative is that the young stud defenders in the OF were dead-legged to a degree (or gimpy-legged in Beni's case) after dominating pole-to-pole in 2018, with only Betts able to hold himself to a more moderate reduction in defensive effectiveness that could just as easily be explained as age-related in terms of speed/range decline.

Getting back to Martin Perez, I see reasons for optimism for this scrap heap pickup, but those reasons are dependent on a number of conditionals.

1) IF Perez is healthy enough to start 29+ games (as he was in 2016, 2017, and 2019)
2) IF Perez really is a FB pitcher now
3) IF Perez's 2nd half slump was influenced at least moderately by the OF defense behind him without Buxton
4) IF Benintendi and JBJ bounce back defensively after freakishly bad 2019 performances

THEN I can see why Bloom may have targeted Perez as a potentially underappreciated asset at a reasonable price. I think my hesitation to buy in on the conditionals above comes down to two health considerations - Perez's health, and the health of JBJ and Beni. Setting those aside, though, I have managed to convinced myself that conditionals 2-4 are either true (Perez is a FB pitcher now) or likely (Buxton injury's impact on Perez and JBJ/Beni bounceback), therefore Perez is more than just a dumpster dive signing in terms of potential performance for the 2020 Red Sox.
Unfortunately, small sample sizes of advanced defensive metrics do not track past history. The statistic indicates the probability of the defensive plays made in the past player history. As a result, small sample sizes tell of defensive metrics do not even tell us what the defense did behind a pitcher.

In this case, defense is a poor explanation of what happened to Perez. As are a transition to a flyball/strikeout pitcher. His strikeouts spiked as a function of his new cutter and increased velocity, both of which degraded over 2019.
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Last year, Perez developed and pitched a cutter that he had not thrown previously. Like all his pitches, the cutter degraded through the season, as both his velocity and location dropped off. The drop off likely drives the poor performance in the second half, as well as the home/road split you observed above (Perez may have pitched more at home than away in the second half).



Perez' trajectory through 2019 is disturbing given his recent elbow problems. Anecdotally, it reminds me of the Sale signing, where I recall cautioning that pitcher trajectory may be more predictive than average rates or counting stats.

Amusingly, Wade Miley did the same thing to retain relevance. Although perhaps his arm slot and release point could use fixing...


I'm still struggling to understand the Perez signing. The only explanation I can think of is that he'd make great trade bait if he outperforms even modest expectations (e.g. ERA around 4.5). If his cutter's location and velocity are back, then this would make sense -- unlike with Miley, I'm not sure there's any reason to expect their return.

EDIT: I'm kind of surprised by all the Miley like here, given how similar Miley and Perez are in terms of projectability. I'm more irked by the fact that Teherán, a 28-year old right-handed starter with a vastly superior track record who's averaged almost 175 innings over the past decade, could have been had for only 4 million more.
It's like Bloom just glossed over the projection systems without sanity checking individual values (0.5 WAR projection for Julio is absurd, given his history).
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chawson

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Teheran seemed like a red flag and I’m glad Bloom did not sign him. His track record is undeniably better, but he’s got a ton of mileage on that arm — 12th in batters faced through age 28 since 2000.

Looking at some of the other righthanders on that list (Felix, Porcello, Gallardo, Carlos Zambrano), the lost velocity does not bode well going forward. I don’t know how a righty throwing 89 mph fastballs will survive in the AL East these days

New cutter aside, Martin Perez simply throws a lot harder. And if Statcast’s xwOBA is to be believed, he pitched as effectively last year as Patrick Corbin (.304 xwOBA), factoring luck and defense.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
While I agree with the eye test evaluation of JBJ's decline last year, the divergence of these two measurements makes me want to throw out both systems forever.
Hell, compared to Xander, they are in complete agreement about JBJ. You have a point, though. I suppose you could argue that combining two weak data points just gives you a third weak data point. But however big a grain of salt you have to take those numbers with, they do tell (however weakly) the same story my eyes tell me: JBJ has declined from an outstanding CF to a just pretty good one. Maybe he's got a rebound season or two left in him -- and contract years tend to bring out the best in people -- but I think JBJ the defensive wizard is one of those things of youth we need to gracefully surrender.
 

JMDurron

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In this case, defense is a poor explanation of what happened to Perez. As are a transition to a flyball/strikeout pitcher. His strikeouts spiked as a function of his new cutter and increased velocity, both of which degraded over 2019.
View attachment 27758
Last year, Perez developed and pitched a cutter that he had not thrown previously. Like all his pitches, the cutter degraded through the season, as both his velocity and location dropped off. The drop off likely drives the poor performance in the second half, as well as the home/road split you observed above (Perez may have pitched more at home than away in the second half)
Good point on the velocity drop, that is clearly more relevant than any impact that reduced OF defense could have had on his 2019 season. Thanks.
 

EricFeczko

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Good point on the velocity drop, that is clearly more relevant than any impact that reduced OF defense could have had on his 2019 season. Thanks.
Still, I shouldn't be dismissive of your fantastic and thorough post. It is likely a combination of both factors. You make a great point that the loss of Buxton could have contributed to problems in outfield defense, and as you noted, there is a transition towards increasing fly ball tendencies.
 

EricFeczko

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Teheran seemed like a red flag and I’m glad Bloom did not sign him. His track record is undeniably better, but he’s got a ton of mileage on that arm — 12th in batters faced through age 28 since 2000.

Looking at some of the other righthanders on that list (Felix, Porcello, Gallardo, Carlos Zambrano), the lost velocity does not bode well going forward. I don’t know how a righty throwing 89 mph fastballs will survive in the AL East these days

New cutter aside, Martin Perez simply throws a lot harder. And if Statcast’s xwOBA is to be believed, he pitched as effectively last year as Patrick Corbin (.304 xwOBA), factoring luck and defense.
We've had plenty of hard throwers that have been terrible(e.g. https://www.fangraphs.com/players/rubby-de-la-rosa/3862/stats?position=P). Velocity is helpful, but making predictions off of it is too reductionist to be effective.

How is Teheran a red flag on a 1-year contract any more than martin perez? His track record is miles better and the absurd ERA projection is clearly an outlier. Teheran has a 6 year track record demonstrating that his velocity drop has little to do with his on field performance. He simply got better as the year went on. Perez can barely pitch well unless he's throwing 95 or greater.
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The fact that statcast's wxOBA thinks Martin Perez pitched like patrick corbin is a great example of how useless a single wxOBA metric is for prediction.

xwOBA is no better than FIP—yes, plain old strikeouts, walks, and home runs FIP—at predicting future wOBA. None of us has seen a marketing slogan proclaiming “xwOBA: expect no more than FIP,” but at least in this respect, that appears to be the case. This finding is consistent with comparisons made by Craig Edwards of FanGraphs. Although his method is slightly different than ours, he too had trouble finding any real difference between xwOBA and FIP at predicting future performance.
 
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Reverend

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We've had plenty of hard throwers that have been terrible(e.g. https://www.fangraphs.com/players/rubby-de-la-rosa/3862/stats?position=P). Velocity is helpful, but making predictions off of it is too reductionist to be effective.

How is Teheran a red flag on a 1-year contract any more than martin perez? His track record is miles better and the absurd ERA projection is clearly an outlier. Teheran has a 6 year track record demonstrating that his velocity drop has little to do with his on field performance. He simply got better as the year went on. Perez can barely pitch well unless he's throwing 95 or greater.
View attachment 27764
View attachment 27765

The fact that statcast's wxOBA thinks Martin Perez pitched like patrick corbin is a great example of how useless a single wxOBA metric is for prediction.
Well, yeah...

But that’s just the maths. :wooper:
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
We've had plenty of hard throwers that have been terrible(e.g. https://www.fangraphs.com/players/rubby-de-la-rosa/3862/stats?position=P). Velocity is helpful, but making predictions off of it is too reductionist to be effective.

How is Teheran a red flag on a 1-year contract any more than martin perez? His track record is miles better and the absurd ERA projection is clearly an outlier. Teheran has a 6 year track record demonstrating that his velocity drop has little to do with his on field performance. He simply got better as the year went on. Perez can barely pitch well unless he's throwing 95 or greater.
View attachment 27764
View attachment 27765

The fact that statcast's wxOBA thinks Martin Perez pitched like patrick corbin is a great example of how useless a single wxOBA metric is for prediction.
Wow, that BP article isn't contaminated by obvious animus toward the MLBAM folks. At all.

For me, the shark was jumped here:

First, defining “expected” performance entirely in terms of past performance is a tough sell, regardless of what you intended. Grammatically speaking, it seems like a better name for these metrics would be What You Would Have Expected wOBA (wywhewOBA) rather than the more general “expected” modifier, a concept, together with its “x” prefix, that is indelibly—as well as logically—associated with anticipated future performance among fantasy baseball enthusiasts and others.
That is ridiculous. Of course the "expected" in x[stat] means "what you would have expected" rather than "what you should expect going forward". The point is clearly "in an ideal, noise-free scenario, what aggregate on-field results should this set of batted-ball data have produced?" Which does indeed give you information that ought to be useful in making predictions, and if it isn't useful in that way, that's a valid critique (and one that the article fails to make). But claiming that the x-stats are presented as predictions is absurd.
 

EricFeczko

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Wow, that BP article isn't contaminated by obvious animus toward the MLBAM folks. At all.

For me, the shark was jumped here:



That is ridiculous. Of course the "expected" in x[stat] means "what you would have expected" rather than "what you should expect going forward". The point is clearly "in an ideal, noise-free scenario, what aggregate on-field results should this set of batted-ball data have produced?" Which does indeed give you information that ought to be useful in making predictions, and if it isn't useful in that way, that's a valid critique (and one that the article fails to make). But claiming that the x-stats are presented as predictions is absurd.
Ignoring the arguments about what "expected" means, the article pretty convincingly shows that past year xwOBA does not correlate any better with future performance (let alone predict future performance) than any other single metric. It's also surprisingly unstable. Using it to draw inferences like "Martin Perez pitched like Patrick Corbin last year", is an inference that needs to be sanity checked by other metrics.
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Regardless of what xwOBA says, the claim that Martin Perez pitched like Patrick Corbin isn't really borne out by any other metric.
 

JMDurron

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Still, I shouldn't be dismissive of your fantastic and thorough post. It is likely a combination of both factors. You make a great point that the loss of Buxton could have contributed to problems in outfield defense, and as you noted, there is a transition towards increasing fly ball tendencies.
Appreciate the kind words, but it seems apparent that a velocity drop of that scale would get the lion’s share of the blame for his 2nd half performance. The OF defense post-Buxton injury is the equivalent of a jellyfish sting, while the velocity shark was tearing Perez’s legs off.