Inside the ‘brochures’ of some of baseball’s top free agents
SCOTTSDALE, Az. — It’s that time of year, the time when agents present executives and owners with elaborate brochures detailing their free-agent clients’ achievements.
The statistics chosen by the agents are selective, but often revealing. And while many executives say they learn little from the agents’ work, most owners are less informed.
What follows are highlights from the brochures for four players. It is intended to be a sampling, not a complete portrait. And while the brochures are designed to depict the players in the most favorable light, I learned things I didn’t know, and I’m guessing most readers will, too.
Mark Trumbo (Wasserman Media Group)
*His plate discipline, when measured by the percentage of pitches he swings at outside the zone, has consistently improved, falling to a career-low 33.8 percent in 2016 (the major-average was 30.3 percent).
*He has made a concerted effort to hit more flyballs; his flyball percentage has increased in each of the least three seasons, reaching a career-high 43.1 percent in 2016 (the major-league average was 34.8 percent).
*He is less likely than the average hitter to be susceptible to a correction in his home-run-to-flyball ratio; 40 percent of his major-league leading 47 homers came on line drives at launch angles of less than 25 degrees (the major-league average was 29 percent).
*He was one of six players to rank in the top 10 in average exit velocity in both 2015 and ’16; the others were Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes.
Jeremy Hellickson (Boras Corporation)
*Only one free-agent starter who pitched the 162 innings necessary to qualify for the league leaders had a better ERA than his 3.71 last season — and that pitcher, Bartolo Colon, is 43 while Hellickson is 29.
*Efficiency: His .292 opponents’ on-base percentage was the 12th-best in the NL, while his walk rate was the seventh lowest. He ranked eighth in fewest pitches per innings pitched, and 10th in fewest pitches per plate appearance.
*Pitch selection and quality: He reintroduced his cutter with positive results to again become a four-pitch pitcher, and was the only NL pitcher to rank in the top six of Fangraphs’ curveball and changeup runs above average.
*His curveball, according to Statcast, had the best spin rate in the majors, minimum 200 results. His opponents’ average exit velocity was the 10th lowest in the NL.
Matt Wieters (Boras Corporation)
*Few catchers combine defense with power; Wieters is one of only 11 to produce multiple Gold Glove seasons (two) and multiple 20-homer campaigns (three).
The others: Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Del Crandall, Bill Freehan, Elston Howard, Charles Johnson, Sherm Lollar, Lance Parrish, Sal Perez and Ivan Rodriguez.
*More power: Wieters is one of only four catchers to hit 100 or more homers over the last six seasons, along with Russell Martin, Brian McCann and Buster Posey.
*His line-drive percentage the past three seasons ranks second among catchers behind only Alex Avila (minimum 500 plate appearances).
*His caught-stealing percentage of 35.2 percent ranks third among catchers over the past six seasons, behind only Yadier Molina and Ryan Hanigan — and actually has improved slightly since he returned from the Tommy John surgery in 2015.
Jon Jay (CAA)
*Led the National League with 24 doubles last season when he suffered a broken right forearm after getting hit by a pitch on June 19, an injury that sidelined him until Sept. 6.
*Has made 220 career plate appearances in the postseason and was the only Cardinal to appear in every playoff game during the team’s franchise-best run of four consecutive October appearances from 2011 to ’14 (his career OPS in the postseason is only .575, but the brochure details a number of memorable plays he made on both offense and defense).
*His manager with the Padres, Andy Green, told the San Diego Union-Tribune last July: “He deserves every bit of recognition he gets . . . He’s sitting on the bench with a cast on his hand and is invested as anyone else.
“He wants to impact guys. He loves the game. He’s fully immersed in every single thing we’re doing every single day . . . Some guys, even if they only play in the organization for a year, there’s a lasting impact because of the quality of people they are and that’s the type of person he is.”