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An otherwise quiet IFA signing period for the Yanks appears to be heating up. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Yanks are zooming in on Luis Heredia, one of the top pitchers in this year’s class. They write:

• The New York Yankees, interested bystanders through most of the process involving elite Mexican amateur pitcher Luis Heredia, are getting more involved, according to a source. The Pirates and Toronto are the front-runners, with the Pirates the most aggressive the past two years. Heredia, a 15-year-old right-hander, is sure to get a bonus topping $2 million.

Baseball America ranked the 6′ 4″ 15 year old Heredia the best pitcher and #2 prospect in this year’s IFA class. He is said to have 4 plus pitches, nice loose arm action and an 89-90 MPH fastball that figures to improve as he ages. Heredia’s rights are controlled by the Veracruz team and they will keep 75% of his bonus. But Heredia will have most of the say in where he eventually lands. Keep in mind the Yankees are trying to sign five High School pitchers from this year’s US draft in Encinas, Morton, Rutckyj, Dezse and Kish. If some/all of them don’t sign, the more likely it is that they will be putting their money into signing Heredia.

Over the past several days I’ve examined batted ball data and expected batted average on balls in play for several key Yankees: Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher.  The conclusions have varied for each player, but the one constant theme has been that batting average, and BABIP, only tell you a part of the story about a batter’s performance, and that examining other factors can often yield a more full picture.  Today’s case is no different.  A midseason MVP candidate, Robinson Cano has put together a remarkable 2010 campaign, clubbing 17 home runs and knocking in 63 RBI while posting a batting line of .333/.385/.558.  Cano has had a high BABIP throughout the course of his career, averaging a 0.323.  This year his BABIP sits at 0.341 (as of ASB), above his norm but not outrageously high.  Is there any reason to doubt that his hot start will continue in the second half?

cano basic data

In 2010, Cano is registering the second-lowest line drive total of his career, down a percentage point from 2009.  Additionally, he’s continued his career-long trend of lowering his ground balls and raising his fly-ball percentage.  While a lowered line-drive percentage isn’t a positive sign, it’s also not axiomatically bad in this case.  The difference between a LD% of 19.9% and 18.6% over 351 ABs is roughly 4 or 5 line drives. That’s a rounding error.

cano component data

When examining the components of his batted ball data it becomes apparent that Cano, much like Nick Swisher, is achieving a very high BABIP on his grounders.  His 2010 ground ball BABIP is a solid 90 points higher than the AL career average over that time.  On fly balls, though, Cano’s BABIP is 30 points lower than the AL average.  In fact, it more resembles his 2008 campaign, during which he had an overall BABIP of .283 on his way to a .275/.310/.410 line.  On line drives, Cano isn’t nearly as fortunate as Swisher.  His 0.759 mark is slightly higher than league average, but is essentially within the margin of error.  What, then, is his expected BABIP?

cano xbabip

Cano’s expected batting average on balls in play is 0.311, some thirty points lower than his current BABIP and twenty points lower than his batting average.  So, as is often the case with hitters with great first halves, Cano has had things go his way.  At the same time, there are several reasons why Yankee fans should be optimistic about his second half.

Cano has consistently outperformed his xBABIP throughout his career, except for his 2008 campaign (in which he underperformed).  It’s certainly possible that he could do the same in 2010.  Most encouragingly, he’s achieved a higher than expected BABIP in the least important area – ground balls.  In other words, ground balls aren’t where Cano is making his impact and it won’t be the end of the world if his luck runs out.  For comparison, his slugging percentage on ground balls is .371; on line drives his slugging percentage is 1.148.  Regression on ground balls would hardly dent his overall slugging percentage.  All of this is to say that Cano is in his prime and his power is legitimate.  He may not see the same fortune on grounders in the second half, but I’m not certain that you’ll even notice a difference.

Jul 182010

Photo courtesy of the NY Daily News

Very eventful week in Yankeeland, let’s just knock this one out bullet-point style

-Just in case you missed the video tributes for George Stienbenner and Bob Sheppard, here they are. Both were very well done without getting too sappy or going over the top in either case.

-Really touching piece about Suzyn Waldman recounting stories about the first time she met George, and their relationship throughout the years. I must admit I got teary eyed reading this on more than one occasion. Parts are laugh-out-loud funny, too. Check out this opening line by George the day she first met him-

“I like my women to spend my money and look real pretty,” Steinbrenner bellowed during their first face-to-face meeting in 1988. “I don’t like them to be pilots, policemen or sports reporters.”

-There’s been a zillion stories like this lately, all of them very touching. What I didn’t realize was that George insisted that they tell no one about what he did for them. George always felt that if more than two people knew about it, then it was done for the wrong reason.

-Tim McCarver makes an ass of himself. In other news, water is wet. The timing is also just great, Timmy. Get those shots in before the family gets to bury the man. Classy.

-One thing you could always say about George. Love him or hate him, he had a sense of humor.

-Andrew Marchand says that time is running out for Joba.

-Jeter’s slumping again this month (.178/.275/.200 in 45 ABs) and looks bad at the plate. He missed a fastball right over the middle of the plate in the 9th inning on Friday and a slider that had no bite right in his eyes. Anyone can miss a pitch, but two meatballs in a row makes you raise an eyebrow. Is he hurt? No idea, but as his age and after the bad stretch he had from May 3-19 (12 for 71/.169) you really start to wonder about him.

Time to dust this baby off after a few weeks and a long All Star break. In recent news, Mike Dunn was called up by the Braves. The 25 year old has been dominating for their AAA Gwinnett farm team. But of course, if you’re a regular TYU reader then you knew that already. Since our last report the Mets signed Brian Bruney to a minor league deal. In other news, Mike Scioscia expects the slumping Hideki Matsui to hit better in the 2nd half, Johnny Damon reflected on the passing of George Steinbrenner. Austin Jackson still leads all of Baseball with his .417 BABIP, has the 17th highest K%, is in the bottom fifth with his walk rate and is hitting for no power (.107 ISOP). He’s just having one of those years.

Here’s the full recap:

Melky Cabrera-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg   G   PA   AB   R   H  2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB   Pos Awards
2010                       25           ATL            NL  87  304  274  29  72  13  1  3  24  4  1  23  37 .263 .321 .350 .671   82  96   5   1  5  1   3         *789

Hideki Matsui-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg    G   PA   AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+   TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB    Pos   Awards
2010                       36           LAA            AL   87  343  302  24   76  14  0  10  47  0  0  37  69 .252 .332 .397 .730   96  120   4   1  0  3   3             *D7

Johnny Damon-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg    G   PA   AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+   TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB    Pos   Awards
2010                       36           DET            AL   79  340  296   54   81  21  2   6   28   7  1  40   47 .274 .361 .419 .780  108  124   3   1  2  1   1            D7/8

Ian Kennedy-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg W  L  W-L%  ERA  G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP   H   R  ER HR BB IBB  SO HBP BK WP  BF ERA+  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2010                       25           ARI            NL 4  7  .364 4.12 18 18  0  0   0  0 111.1  97  55  51 19 42   2 100   6  0  7 470  109 1.249  7.8  1.5  3.4  8.1         2.38

Austin Jackson-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg   G  PA  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2010                       23           DET            AL  79 344 317  53  96 21  5  1  20 15  3 23  88 .303 .356 .410 .766  104 130   4   3  1  0   0         *8

Arodys Vizcaino (High-A)-

Year              Age           Tm        Lg       Lev       Aff  W L W-L%  ERA  G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP   H  R ER HR BB IBB  SO HBP BK WP  BF  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010               19      2 Teams     2 Lgs      A-A+       ATL  9 3 .750 2.71 15 15  0  0   0  0  83.0  76 33 25  2 12   0  77   4  3  7 344 1.060  8.2  0.2  1.3  8.3  6.42
2010               19         Rome      SALL         A       ATL  9 3 .750 2.34 12 12  0  0   0  0  69.1  60 24 18  1  9   0  66   3  2  6 283 0.995  7.8  0.1  1.2  8.6  7.33
2010               19  MyrtleBeach      CARL        A+       ATL  0      0 4.61  3  3  0  0   0  0  13.2  16  9  7  1  3   0  11   1  1  1  61 1.390 10.5  0.7  2.0  7.2  3.67

Xavier Nady-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg   G   PA   AB   R   H  2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO    BA   OBP   SLG   OPS OPS+   TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB     Pos Awards
2010                       31           CHC            NL  62  156  138  12  31   5  0  4  19  0  0   9  37  .225  .295  .348  .643   67   48   6   6  0  3   0          9/37D

Brian Bruney-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg  W  L  W-L%  ERA   G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP   H   R  ER HR  BB IBB  SO HBP BK WP   BF ERA+  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2010                       28           WSN            NL  1  2  .333 7.64  19  0  6  0   0  0  17.2  21  18  15  1  20   1  16   0  0  1   93   55 2.321 10.7  0.5 10.2  8.2         0.80

Phil Coke-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg  W L  W-L%  ERA   G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP  H  R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP  BF ERA+  WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2010                       27           DET            AL  5 0 1.000 2.48  42  0  8  0   0  1  36.1 34 12 10  1 14   1 30   2  0  1 154  177 1.321 8.4  0.2  3.5  7.4         2.14

Mike Dunn (MLB)-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg W L W-L%  ERA  G GS GF CG SHO SV  IP  H  R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP  BF ERA+  WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2010                       25           ATL            NL 0      0 0.00  1  0  0  0   0  0 1.0  1  0  0  0  1   0  2   0  0  0        5 2.000 9.0  0.0  9.0 18.0         2.00

Jose Tabata-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg   G  PA  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
2010                       21           PIT            NL  30 134 120 12  30  7  0  1   6  8  4 14 18 .250 .328 .333 .662   81  40   1   0  0  0   0        7/8

Tyler Clippard-

Year                      Age            Tm            Lg  W  L W-L%  ERA  G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP   H  R ER HR BB IBB  SO HBP BK WP  BF ERA+  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2010                       25           WSN            NL  8  6 .571 3.31 44  0 10  0   0  1  51.2  43 21 19  4 24   4  58   2  0  1 218  125 1.297  7.5  0.7  4.2 10.1         2.42

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