Monday, January 21, 2013

DrB's 2013 Giants Top 50 Prospects #32: Eduardo "EJ" Encinosa

Eduardo "EJ" Encinosa, RHP.  DOB 8/5/1991.  6'5",  225 lbs.  B-R, T-R.

Miami(college)- 3-3, 2.79, 29 IP, 17 BB, 39 K, 8 Saves.

Rookie AZL:  2-2, 2.19, 12.1 IP, 4 BB, 14 K's, GO/AO= 3.17, 4 Saves.

Yet another big bodied college reliever tabbed by the Giants in round 7 of the 2012 draft.  BA's pre-draft scouting report listed him at 242 lbs.  BA has him with a 93-94 MPH fastball with excellent sink and life. He's hard to hit allowing just 1 extra-base hit and a BAA of .129 in college.  He lost the closer job in Miami due to control issues.  He's also got some mound demeanor issues, showing up infielders who make mistakes behind him.  He was fine in the AZL, but that is probably too low a level for him.  If he can continue to put it on the ground at a 3-1 rate, he should be able to just pound the zone with that sinker and not worry about missing bats.  Usually guys who start out in Arizona find themselves in Augusta for their first full season.  I wouldn't be shocked if Encinosa is the closer there in 2013.


  1. Sinker slider guy with a nice frame and easy action. A bit wild for a righty, but he could be a great 8th inning guy if he takes to professional coaching. He's a reliever all the way, I think its a good prediction that he'll end up in Augusta closing games. He gained a lot of velocity in Miami once they moved him to the pen full time.

  2. Shank, I got a chance to watch that 2012 Giants thing on MLB. Yep, that play at the plate, catching Fielder in Game 2 is just amazing.

    Scutaro was just flawless on the relay, catching the ball up over his left shoulder, spinning and throwing in one smooth, ultra-quick motion.

    I hadn't heard the audio from the ump. "Yeah! He got you! Right there!" (Pointing to the spot that Posey had tagged him.) All the while he was bringing his arm back. And then, as he punches his fist forward signaling the out, he goes, "BANG!" Doesn't get any sweeter than that.

    I was looking at team WAR numbers for pitching last year. The Giants staff had a WAR of 5.5. I was pretty surprised at how low that number is. NL average is 11. Dodgers were at 19.4. Cincinnati, top in the league, 26.4.

    Giants have the Rep for pitching, but, really, they're getting it done in other ways.

    1. There are major problems with individual pitching WAR and even bigger ones with Team WAR:

      1. Pitching WAR is based on xFIP and every pitcher on the Giants staff outperformed their WAR except Tim Lincecum and most of them have done so for many years calling into question whether xFIP is a valid measurement at all, let alone for the Giants.

      2. When every member of a pitching staff outperforms their xFIP and thus their WAR, it magnifies the error as it becomes additive over the entire staff.

      So, yeah, the Giants were a much more balanced team last year, but they are still a very good pitching team, much better than their individual and team WAR's would have you believe.

    2. Well, sure it magnifies, in a linear, though not exponential sense.

      If xFIP misrepresents an entire staff, then is it a ballpark adjustment that is off (AT&T)?

      I'm very aware of Cain's outperforming xFIP forever, but did not realize it extended to the entire Giants staff.

    3. Kel - are you Kelly just shortened or a new poster?

      Gints staff definitely had some funny WAR scores this year, B/R has Timmy at -2.1 and Zito at -0.3. Cain is 3.5, Bumgarner is 1.8 (as is Romo!) and Vogelsong is at 1.7. Affeldt is next at 0.7. See, those lefties are totally not worth it. (I jest) Lopez manages to get 0.5 WAR in 36 short innings of work as well.

      One thing that OGC's breaking out the starts into categories has shown is that Zito is actually much more valuable than the WAR is giving him credit for. Almost half of his starts allowed 2 or less runs. He did have some extremely bad starts that balanced it out a bunch, but getting 2 or less runs from your 5th starter half the time? Take it in a heartbeat.

      One other thing that was interesting this year to me, the starters gave up more home runs than they did last year. I can't remember exactly where they ranked in 2011, but it was pretty close to the top of the league in HR suppression.

    4. Kel,

      No, it's not a ballpark adjustment because they outperform their xFIP on the road by just as big a margin. Dave Cameron thinks there might be something in the water in the Bay Area or maybe pixie dust wafting around the Giants clubhouse wherever that happens to be.

    5. The issue has been two-fold with the Giants staff. The Giants have two pitchers with significant innings whose BABIP has generally been below league average: Cain and Zito. As well, Fangraph research found that the Giants staff, as a whole, suppresses HR/FB, even on the road. Both screws up the calculations of our pitcher's values to the team, undervaluing them to some degree. I covered that in part of this blog post:

      The thing is that I don't believe that sabermetrics yet understand the power of the pitchers, if I may steal from Darth Varder. Starting Pitchers are the one relatively consistent factor in baseball - when they are good pitchers. Their percentage of starts that are quality starts (I prefer the PQS or Pure Quality Start methodology used by Baseball Forecaster) is generally steady over the years for the good pitchers. That is an advantage in the playoffs.

      That don't work for teams when you try to rely on a middling pitcher (like a Blanton, Lynn, or Maholm) in the playoffs, but if you have a rotation like the Giants (Zito timed his streaky goodness perfectly to run into the playoffs this time, else he would have been middling) that can regularly count on a Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, (and Lincecum before) like clockwork, delivering quality starts, they are like water, beating down on the rocks below, building us a Grand Canyon or a beautiful Niagara Falls World Championship.

      My research found that quality starts generally lead to a win in the playoffs. I know - Duh! - but still, if you build a rotation like the Giants that can deliver quality starts over and over again, all you need is the other team to have a dud from their good starter (Verlander) or put up a not as good starter (Blanton), and the Giants beat you. Even without the most magnificent lineup known to man, in fact, my study showed that the Giants with a major league leading pitching staff can win a lot regularly with an average offense. That's why I'm so excited about the coming years as we still have that great pitching, but also have a pretty good offense led by Posey, Pablo, Pence, Pagan, and Belt.

    6. I think the cumulative effect on pitching stats isn't telling the whole story. With relievers, there will always be gascan innings, and those put a dent in the stats pretty quick. I really like the adoption of Shandler's DOM/DIS qualifications OGC has thrown down. With a monthly summary, it gives a picture of how the pitching is faring/trending. Baseball is always about adjustments. Mechanics, stances, what not.

      The Giants have been fortunate/skilled enough to find a blend of pitchers who won't give in easy to hitters. That is what has plagued Zito for a long time, and Timmy last year, they get frustrated with their control and groove meatballs. I think the Giants look for pitchers who can locate their fastball, pitch to both sides of the plate, and scout hitters to avoid their sweet spots. That would be my explanation, besides that sweet pixie dust, for the home run prevention.

  3. Is xFIP a valid measurement?

    That's an age-old question: Who will guard the guards? Or, How to measure the measurements?

    And we must measure the measurements. In this case, xFIP. Do you go with reality or do you go with xFIP?

    I would say, when measured against the real world, our pitchers did fine, whereas when measured, xFIP failed.

    1. I don't know that there is a black and white answer to that question. I think xFIP has it's uses, but you have to be aware of how it is derived and what it's limitations are. It may be valid to regress HR/FB to the league average for most pitchers, but when Matt Cain, or the entire Giants pitching staff goes well below league average several years running and not just at home, then you've got to eventually admit that Cain and the Giants are doing something that reliably suppresses HR's.

      The flip side of that is Tim Lincecum. If you look at his xFIP from last year, you would think he just got very unlucky when nothing could be farther from the truth. Tim Lincecum could not pitch out of the stretch last year which caused his walks and hits allowed to come in bunches which led to him giving up way more runs than a pitcher who allowed the same number of hits and walks at random.

      I do believe that over a large sample size, it is very difficult to beat ERA as a measure of pitching success, but with Zito the discrepancy was due to his good games being great and his bad games being horrible which adversely affected his ERA as much as his xFIP.

    2. I have said it before.

      In one sentence - Zito's case is a good example of the need to look at the standard deviation as well as the average of any stat.

    3. SD's are almost essential to evaluating ERA+ and pitchers from different eras and almost nobody does it.

    4. That's actually one of my amazement about the evolution of sabermetrics. There is this bravado of Bill James wannabes who talk about how things are advanced and everything and one of the simplest concepts taught in statistics that isn't tackled very often is the issue of distribution and standard deviation. Never see either concept noted or used.

      That was my big issue with how the mainstream sabermetic community handle the draft analysis. Everything was average this, average that. As that great example shows, with your hands in water, the average is a comfortable 80 degrees, but one hand is in 0 degree water and the other in 160 degrees. What they did not even think about is that the average player drafted at even the highest spots amounted to no more than a Marquis Grissom or Michael Tucker. What they did not think about was that only a small percentage of the picks at any spot in the draft actually become good players in their careers. Having that pick means nothing if you got the short end of the stick.

    5. While I agree with your analysis on the value side of the equation, you need to be in it to win it, and deliberately dropping picks to save money is not a good way to conduct a baseball operation. You need cheap controllable talent, even if those chances might come later and be less high percentage, such as a mid-20s we will get this year. But a pick definitely doesn't have a average cash value, for sure. The odds are it will be zero, actually it will have negative value because of the signing bonus as well as cost of development and ultimate failure. But baseball is built around limited success.

    6. Ahem, I did not even mention dropping picks. Not everything is about dropping picks.

      All I said was that BP (and all other subsequent analysis) was wrong to focus only on average value, and that to accurately judge your business risk, you need to know the distribution of talent. Most fans treat first round picks as if they were sure things, even though if they sat down and thought about it, they know that they are long shots. You cannot make the right decisions regarding picks and prospects if you view the probability of finding them improperly. If good players were dime a dozen, you can trade them willy nilly, but if they are very scarce commodities, you hold onto them like they are your own children.

      And you are absolutely correct that baseball is built around limited success, both in hitting as well as finding talent among amateurs.

      But since you bring it up :^), while I agree that dropping first round picks as a regular way of business is akin to suicide in this business - I still blame the owners for that, really, a group of around 30-50 high asset-value partners could not afford to shell out $30-50,000 per partner to retain a first round draft pick - as a solo event done very infrequently, it would be like a regular buyer of a lottery ticket skipping one week. It is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, a trade-off of business risk for the saving of money to do something hopefully more worthwhile with. You are essentially trading the pick for a player.

      It is not something I would do. It is not something I would advocate (these are aspects that are usually missing in these discussions). But as a trading of business risks, I don't think that it would cripple your operations, if you put that money to good use.

      But ultimately, if any manager feels forced to chose between risks in this way, that is a failure of ownership, something is broken there, as this would be the baseball equivalent of Sophie's Choice, of being forced to make an impossible choice, between two things you need and cannot give up, and yet you are put in the position of having to make such a choice. But as we know, unfortunately from life, things are not always perfect, and you make the best of the situation as you can. I think Sabean made the best of the bad situation he was handed by the owners.

      And I think that is reflected by him still being here while Magowan is retired and playing with his grandchildren.

    7. Ahem. That cracked me up. Do you think Magowan's grandkids wear pink polo shirts? Like I said before, the Tucker punt wasn't the back break, it was the next year when we didn't pick until the 4th round (Ben Copeland!) in the best draft in 20 years. And the fact we didn't offer arbitration on players we let walk in 2004, so we could have had 3-4 extra shots each year. I'll give it up that it was a partner/ownership decision, 95% certainty, based on what we've got in historical information that has come out. George Genovese gets stiffed, now that is being cheap! My main point, as always, is you have to have a flow of talent to offset your big ballclub. So we're not really disagreeing at all here. In fact, I think the 97-02 trading post strategy where you sell off your shiny prospects for proven talent is where its at for the next 3-4 years, especially considering draft position while winning.