Sorry, this is a belated Three Things after I got swamped with some unexpected, probably pointless stuff at work....
1) FanGraphs on moving the fences in
This is the second in an intriguing series of articles over at FanGraphs about the effects of moving the fences in at ballparks. Basically, the point is that it does affect home runs for most teams, but doesn't necessarily affect scoring.
Jeff Sullivan can explain it better than me:
My number-one conclusion is that I wish we had more examples of ballparks changing their dimensions. My number-two conclusion is that park factors are complicated, and effects of changes aren’t always easy to predict. You might be able to predict effects on specific things — changing the fences does seem to change home-run rates — but, overall, there are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things to put together.
There's a lot of good evidence to dive into in his analysis, so I'd suggest reading the whole thing, especially for the implications to new division rival Seattle. But, what this reminded me of was Jeff Luhnow's comments last summer about Tal's Hill.
His point back then was that so few balls were hit up there that bringing the fence in may not change anything meaningful as far as the game goes. The data Sullivan comes up with up top proves that out, to an extent. If teams bringing the fences in for the power alleys see only modest gains in home run production, bringing in a fence that's 420 feet away should have even less effect. Being dead-center also lessens the impact, because so few balls period are hit that way.
2) Houston's Goldilocks prospect
I'm sorry that I didn't know about this before now, because it's a fantastic idea. The lead-in to another FanGraphs article has fantastic concept that is totally applicable to every prospector out there. Basically, Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley fame coined the term "Goldilocks Syndrome" for a prospect who fans dislike because of the unrealistic expectations or scouting reports.
That is a super point to consider for any Astros prospect we get excited about, but I'd like to talk about some prospects and whether the term fits.
First up, Jonathan Villar, who hit .260/.336/.394 in Double-A last season after getting 367 plate appearances there the season before. Villar is down on many fans and prospect evaluators lists, as our own CRPerry led the charge against him this winter.
Still, there's a lot to like about Villar if we get away from him being the centerpiece of the Roy Oswalt deal and having some very hyperbolic rhetoric surrounding those scouting reports at the time.
Villar has taken a step forward at the plate in the past two seasons. He's still striking out at a high rate, but lowered that to a manageable 23 percent at Double-A last year. He's also walked at a high rate for the past two seasons. If we got back through all of his seasons, really, he's only had one year where his walk rate was below average at 6.2 percent in 2010 in his time with the Phillies.
Other than that, his steals are coming around and he's developing good power. His wOBA in his last three stops has been very good and he had a wRC+ total of 105 last season while playing in the Texas League as a 21-year old. That's pretty good.
There are questions about his defense, but there are questions about a lot of prospects defense before they reach the majors. Remember when Tommy Manzella was supposed to be a very good defender with a so-so bat? Didn't turn out that way in a small sample size.
Okay, so this analysis went long, and I'll cut it off with just Villar now. We'll look at someone else later on, but for now, what's your take on Villar? Do you think expectations got so out-of-whack with him that we're blinded by the successes he's had in the minors? Or, do you think he's been properly rated?
3) Porter fines a fan
Yep. I really am starting to like Bo Porter. Don't know if he's going to work out with this football mentality in baseball, but I really like him.
With fans watching and balls flying, the Astros manager walked up to Molesky and told her she was being fined. Porter had changed much about the Astros’ culture since officially taking over in mid-October. He hadn’t handed out a fine, though. Molesky became his first victim.
"I asked him for what and he said ‘cause I missed (Wednesday). … So apparently I made a really good first impression," said a smiling Molesky, who owed Porter $5.
I'm waiting for the day Porter logs on here and starts doling out fines to all of us...