I was both dismayed and relieved to learn that on my fifth-grade math problem, I had the answer wrong to “the probability the sun comes up tomorrow.” To my mind, there were two possibilities for the denominator, either it would rise or it wouldn’t. It’s heady stuff for an 11-year old to consider that the odds of another day rising are only 1 in 2. My teacher reassuringly and accurately explained the fallacy in my logic there — we have so many instances of the sun coming up out of the number of days we’ve recorded that we can be reasonably sure the probability is much closer to one. It was a valuable lesson in experimental probability against theoretical probability, and also of not getting too worked up over a worksheet.
Each of the statistics described below are experimental probabilities that equal one; that is, they’ve happened 100% of the time in the early going of the season. It’s not likely these stay at 100% all season, but like with the example of the sun rising, there are things we can learn from what has happened so far, and the fact that in June these are still at 100% says something about the predictability of it continuing to happen going forward.
All of Sam Huff’s batted four-seamers have been hit 95 mph or more
One hundred percent of the Rangers’ catching prospect’s contact-making swings have been “hard hit” on four seamers. When Huff has made contact on a fastball, it’s had an expected batting average of .524 and expected slugging percentage of 1.047. In other words, he’s great at hitting fastballs.
Huff has only had 52 plate appearances this year, and only seen 56 four-seamers, so it seems like the book is out on him in that regard– he’s seeing just above one four-seamer per plate appearance. It’s hard to argue with that pitching approach, too, when you consider the difference in his expected stats on different pitch types.
Though Huff’s impressive ability to smoke four-seamers has resulted in just one homer in the early going, he’s still managing a huge batting line against all fastballs. He has power for days, as FanGraphs laid a 70 raw power tool on him this year. Of course, it’s easier said than done but there is a path forward for Huff to take a pretty substantial step forward as a hitter if he can do more against breaking balls. It’s worth monitoring if Huff can can simply lay off more breaking pitches, as he’s currently whiffing on more than 45% of them that he sees. If so, he’s an all-star caliber hitting catcher.
This one is cheating a bit, and a little convoluted, so let’s spend some time appreciating how good Siri has been defensively and what this means.
Baseball Savant rates every defensive play by how likely it is based on its exit velocity, trajectory, and location to be turned into an out. They range from one star (91%-95% likely) to five stars (0%-25% likely). Siri has had 19 recorded opportunities in 2022, and has converted on all of them, except for the one five star opportunity:
Again to reiterate, this is the only “catchable” ball Jose Siri hasn’t converted into an out this season. That’s not a ball you watch and think “he should’ve got that one!” It’s the reason that he is first in all of baseball with an astounding 99% success rate, and second in outs above average despite only appearing in 35 games so far. The Statcast metrics seem to back up the results, as well. Siri ranks near the top in the majors of reaction and burst times, leading to him getting 4.4 more feet of range than the average defender.
Siri is so close to that 100% success rate, I felt compelled to include him here. Only Byron Buxton and Kevin Kiermaier have ever recorded a 95% success rate or better for a full season, so Siri is in elite company (albeit again only in June). Jose Siri is my new favorite defender in all of baseball, and I invite you to join me.
“Hey Siri, what’s a base hit?”
Erik Swanson has stranded all baserunners
That’ll happen when you’re striking out nearly 40% of the batters you’re facing and walking less than 2% of them.
Swanson was placed on the injured list in May with “right elbow inflammation,” and is currently rehabbing with the Everett AquaSox. If you’re a fantasy player looking for a stash for an upside reliever, or simply a Mariners fan hoping for bullpen help, you’d do worse than paying attention to Swanson’s return.
Prior to going on the injured list, Swanson had posted a 1.29 ERA and 1.79 xFIP, both of which would be bests in the Mariners’ pen. He was doing so across only 14 innings, but with a BABIP higher than his career average up to this point. Outside of a disastrous seven and two-thirds innings in 2020, Swanson has improved upon strikeout rates and ERA each season.
Erik Swanson is a reliever that was off to a hot start, has improved each of the past three seasons, and has plenty of opportunity to firmly entrench himself as a key bullpen piece with how much Seattle’s bullpen has struggled.
It’s not as likely as the sun rising tomorrow, but it’s a good probability anyway.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)
Great idea and execution, Sean. 100% of the time, stories that you write about this subject are excellent.
Thanks for reading, JC! Very nice of you.