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Monday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about DL probabilities, David Ortiz and spring training...

Some things to talk about while I marvel at this data visualization...

1) DL probability for Houston's rotation

In perusing the Grantland preview of the AL Central, I noticed their link to Jeff Zimmerman's article on predicting pitcher injury likelihood. The FanGraphs article provides a formula and a method for predicting how likely a certain pitcher is to go on the disabled list.

Being the enterprising writer that I am, I took that formula into excel and projected the Astros with it. Here's what Zimmerman said about his method:

As the pitcher gets established in the league, his DL chances go down even though he is aging. Once he gets injured, his chance of going on the DL begin to go up at a decent clip. Generally, here are the changes in percentage for players going on the DL for each of the 3 events:

One year older = +1%
33 more game started = -3%
1 year of Injuries = +8%

What are the chances that different Astros starting pitcher candidates have of getting injured?

Well, the least likely of the group is Dallas Keuchel, who comes in at 32.8 percent. Next is Brett Oberholtzer with 33.5 percent. The biggest injury risk on this staff is Roberto Hernandez at 47.7 percent, while both Scott Feldman and Collin McHugh clock in at 43.2 percent.

Pretty interesting. Is it a coincidence that the entire stable of Astros starters have a less than 50 percent chance of heading to the DL?

2) David Ortiz on steroid testing

David Ortiz penned a piece for Derek Jeter's Players Tribune on Friday and it's a doozy.

"Warm down here!" he says.

"I didn't know you guys were coming," I say. "You gotta be more careful. This is the Dominican, bro."

"We're just doing our job," he says.

"Let me tell you something," I say. "The only thing you're going to find in my blood is rice and beans."

All it took was Ortiz calling out Dan Shaunnessy for me to like this piece. Though it's very over-the-top and combative, it's still a nice look into the window of a player who feels he's been unfairly persecuted. Maybe that's why he's been able to continue playing at a high level for all these years. That drive to prove people wrong can be powerful.

Oh, and what about all that testing? Why on earth should Ortiz be tested that much? Turns out, it could be because he previously tested positive for an amphetamine, but was not suspended:

So, we're left with two explanations. Either Ortiz is grossly exaggerating how often he has been tested — possibly by a factor three or four — or Ortiz is telling the truth, he has been tested as often as he claims and the reason for it is that he is or has been "in the program" for previous drug offenders and we just didn't know about it.

Yep, that was a nice addition to Friday's baseball news.

3) More on Spring Training

I will point your attention at a pair of spring training-related articles. The first directly relates to the Astros. Howard Megdal talks with the team about how stats and spring evaluations intersect.

Turns out, the stat-based club doesn't care about stats so much in the spring. They care about more liberal arts-y things, like psychology.

"Whether we're at the point where we're able to make evaluations based on that type of feedback or that type of information, I don't know that we're there yet," Stearns said. "I don't know that any club is there yet. But certainly that's an important aspect, and anyone who's ever played the game will tell you that the mental aspect, the focus aspect is extremely important. I don't know that we'll ever be able to quantify it. I think it's more understanding from the mental skills standpoint, understanding which mental skills are important."

For example, if Jon Singleton makes this team, it's probably irrelevant what he hits in March. It's more about whether his confidence at the plate is truly back or not.

Speaking of evaluations, Evan Grant has a nice piece on "fixing" spring training. His best suggestion is extending the rosters in April to allow teams to make a better evaluation of those last few spots.

The solution: Allow teams to carry a 28-man roster through April. Make them designate 25 active guys per night, but give them flexibility to make some decisions on real-game situations in real-game conditions against major league players. In addition, the 28-man roster would allow teams to carry more pitching in April as the pitchers continue to build up their durability.

This could work wonders for the Astros right now, who have to make a decision on whether to keep Jonathan Villar, Alex Presley or Robbie Grossman. With this solution, the Astros could keep all of them, along with another reliever in case Josh Fields is hurt, but not hurt enough to need a DL stint.

What do you think? Does spring training need to be fixed?