MASTER NOTES: August Quiz!

Quiz Time!

In a venerable and time-honored tradition that began way back in, well, June, Master Notes has been offering a monthly quiz, asking intrepid, well-informed, intuitive and bored fantasy players about player performance in the month just passed.

Due to the outpouring of enthusiastic support—I got an e-mail—the quiz this month will be a little longer: 25 questions instead of the traditional 20, with 12 on hitters (up from 10), nine on starters (from 7) and four about relievers (formerly three).

The answers are way down at the bottom of the page. You have to scroll quite a ways to get to them, so the best plan is to write down your wild guesses carefully reasoned responses and check them once they’re all done.

We begin with ...

Hitters

H1. The top five OBPs for the month included Justin Turner at the top of the table at .491, with Mookie Betts third at .460, followed by JD Martinez at .453 and Paul Goldschmidt at .444. Which AL East OF was second?

H2. Forty-eight qualified hitters (81+ PA) had OBPs under .300 in August. Which star was NOT below .300 OBP for the month? Jake Bauers, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Correa, Brett Gardner, Yulieski Gurriel, or Evan Longoria?

H3. Chris Davis led all batters by striking out in 40% of his PA. Davis was also top-four in August strikeouts, with 41 whiffs. Which three other hitters had 40+ strikeouts in August?

H4. Two hitters, an NL East IF and an AL Central OF, had 100+ PA and fewer than 10 Ks. Who?

H5. Michael Brantley led MLB in Eye Ratio, at 1.8 bb/K. Other standouts included Alex Bregman (1.6), Jose Ramirez (1.4), Mallex Smith (1.2) and Anthony Rizzo (1.2), as well as a NL Central C and an AL West IF. Who are these sharp-eyed aces?

H6. Three batters had 2.0 or more Wins Over Replacement (Fangraphs version, “fWAR”). Justin Turner and Mookie Betts were first (2.2 fWAR) and third (2.0) on that list. What AL West IF was second with 2.1 fWAR?

H7. Which NL Central OF was the only big-league hitter to whale at more than half the pitches he saw outside the strike zone?

H8. The August Top-10 for HRs included OAK OF Khris Davis (10) and TOR 1B Kendrys Morales (9). In what batted-ball metric were both Davis and Morales in the bottom five?

H9. Speaking of HRs, it can be fairer to assess counting-stat production by normalizing to a fixed number of PA, like the 600 PA that is a pretty normal season complement. Using HR per 600 PA (HR600), both Morales (56) and Davis (50) were in the Top-5. So were veteran OFs David Peralta (the leader, at 57 HR600) and Christian Yelich (53, T-3rd). The other two in the Top-5 were young players, one of them a rookie. Who were they?

H10. Six players had seven or more SB for the month. They included recognized speedsters like Mallex Smith (him again!) with 9; Jonathan Villar and Trea Turner (8 each); and Billy Hamilton (7). Which two NL shortstops rounded out the speedy sextet?

H11. Out of the 178 qualifying hitters, did more get hit by a pitch? Or did more not get hit by a pitch?

H12. The list of most intentional walks starts with CHC OF Kyle Schwarber, with 7 IBB, then features sluggers like Matt Carpenter (6), J.D. Martinez (5), and Jose Ramirez (4). Which NL East IF is tied with Ramirez with 4 IBB?

Starting Pitchers

SP1. In the dumbest fantasy category of ’em all, wins, 10 qualifying SPs (26+ IP) were tied atop the August leaderboard with four wins apiece. Four of the 10 pitched for NL Central teams. Who were they?

SP2. The median SP ERA for the month was 3.44, but thirteen SPs had sub-2.00 ERAs for the month. Three of these six SPs— Clay Buchholz, German Marquez, Mike Foltynewicz, Kyle Freeland, Carlos Rodon and Max Scherzer—were in that elite sub-2.00 performance group, and three were not. Pick ’em.

SP3. A pitching metric widely used by analysts is K%-bb% (K-bb). The median K-bb for August starters was 16%. At the top of the table, four pitchers had K-bb differences of 30 percentage points or more. The top three were Justin Verlander (33.3%), Blake Snell (30.8%) and Jacob deGrom (30.5%). Which NL West starter was fourth in K%-bb% at 30.2%?

SP4. One AL East pitcher actually had a negative K%-bb for the month. Who?

SP5. If you divide an August SP’s ERA by his WHIP, you get a factor right around 3.00—that is, ERA is roughly 3x WHIP. Cole Hamels had the lowest ERA/WHIP in August, at just 0.69, which means his ERA was lower than his WHIP. Two other pitchers had ERA/WHIP below 1.3. Who were they? (HINT: Their teams are in the same state.)

SP6. There was a three-way tie for second in SPs hitting batters: Charlie Morton of HOU, Jakob Junis of KC and David Price of BOS plunked three batters apiece. Which NL West SP led MLB in HBP for August?

SP7. A sometimes useful measure of pitcher effectiveness is Hard Contact rate (Hct%) —the percentage of balls-in-play that are deemed “hard” by trained observers (the stat is not currently based on Statcast Exit-Velocity data). Two SPs limited opponent Hct% to under 30% in August. Noah Syndergaard was one, with 17% Hct%. Which NL Central SP had an Hct% that was  even lower?

SP8. Another metric making its way into the analytic environment is “chase rate”— outside-the-zone swings as a percentage of all swings. The median rate for all qualified starters in the month was 32%, in a range from 23% to 41%. Three SPs had chase rates of 40% or higher in August. Brett Anderson was #1, at 41%. The next two pitched for same team in the NL Central. Also, the bottom two came from that same NL Central, but different teams. Who were they?

SP9. Another important metric for pitchers is Swinging Strike (SwStr%) rate, the percentage of all pitches that result in swings and misses. The median SwStr% in August was 10%, and Blake Snell led all qualified SPs in August at 18%. Which AL East SP, already mentioned, had the lowest rate?

Relief Pitchers (a.k.a the Edwin Diaz section)

RP1. Edwin Diaz of SEA had 10 saves in August to lead MLB. Three other AL relievers tied for second with seven each. Who were they?

RP2. Jose Leclerc and Diaz tied for the August RP K% lead at 51% each. Dellin Betances was next at 49%, followed by an AL Central RP. Who?

RP3. Among RPs who faced at least 40 batters each, Diaz, Ryan Pressly of HOU and Raisel Iglesias of CIN led MLB in August in what Base Performance Indicator?

RP4. Diaz led all RPs with an 83% First Pitch Strike rate (FPK%). The rest of the Top-10 in this metric included one of Diaz’ SEA teammates and three Astros. Who?

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Answers: Hitters

H1. The on-base star was TAM OF Mallex Smith, at .476 for August.

H2. Ha! Trick question! ALL of these hitters had OBPs under .300 for August—Blackmon was the highest in the group at .293, while Correa was low at just .235.

H3. The other three whiffmeisters were Yoan Moncada and Michael Conforto, with 42 each, and Giancarlo Stanton, with an even 40.

H4. Mets IF Jeff McNeil had eight whiffs in 111 PA, while CLE OF Michael Brantley also had eight strikeouts, in 116 PA.

H5. The eagle-eyed duo above 1.0 bb/k Eye Ratio were CIN C Tucker Barnhart (1.3) and LAA Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols (1.1). Interestingly, Pujols’ keen eye did not translate to production—all these other batters had OPS over .800 (Smith and Rizzo over 1.000), while Pujols scraped to a .563 OPS.

H6. OAK 3B Matt Chapman had 2.1 fWAR.

H7. PIT OF Corey Dickerson swung at 53% of pitches outside the zone. Five hitters were under 20% in this critical plate-discipline metric: Andrew McCutchen (18%), Aaron Hicks (17%), Logan Forsythe (16%), Juan Soto (16%) and Alex Bregman (15%).

H8. Both Davis and Morales were bottom-5 in Line Drive rate (LD%). Davis managed just 9% LD%, while Morales had an 11% rate. Another premium hitter, WAS OF Juan Soto, was also in the Bottom-5 at 11%but didn’t help in the HR department with just three for the month. The highest LD% for the month belonged to ATL 1B Freddie Freeman, at 37%

H9. The two youngsters atop the HR600 table were HOU 1B Tyler White (53) and rookie ATL OF Ronald Acuna (50). Both Acuna (11) and White (10) were Top-5 in HRs as well.

H10. COL SS Trevor Story tied with Smith for the August SB title with those 9 swipes, and Mets SS Amed Rosario tied for fifth with Hamilton, each having 7 SB. Interestingly, both Hamilton and Rosario had 4 Caught Stealings apiece.

H11. The HBP brigade had 107 members, led by LA 3B Justin Turner with 6 HBP. Just 71 hitters managed to get out of the way and had zero HBP.

H12. Hard to believe, but the ATL SS Dansby Swanson has four intentional passes. That’s what 263 PAs in the eight-hole will do.

Answers: Starting Pitchers

SP1. The four-win NL Central starters were Cole Hamels (CHC), Jhoulys Chacin (MIL), Jack Flaherty (STL), and somebody called Austin Gomber. Gomber, by the way, had the second-highest Run Support per 9 IP, at 10.4, a run behind Brian Johnson of BOS. The other four-win starters were Corey Kluber, Zack Wheeler, Carlos Carrasco, Kevin Gausman (enjoying new scenery), J.A. Happ (ditto) and Blake Snell. Eight starters had at least 5 starts and 26+ IP, but came out of the month winless: Mike Leake, Tyler Glasnow, Pablo Lopez, Felix Pena, Masahiro Tanaka, Wade Miley, Jake Arrieta and Trevor Richards.

SP2. The three under 2.00 were Buchholz, Rodon and Scherzer. The three above 2.00 were still pretty fine: Foltynewicz was at 2.09 for the month, Marquez 2.14, and Freeland 2.15.

SP3. Fourth place in the August K%-bb% race went to SP Patrick Corbin of ARI. He struck out 32.5% of the batters he faced and walked just 2.4%.

SP4. You probably boiled this one down to Blue Jays or Orioles starters, and wisely so. The negative K-bb difference was posted by Andrew Cashner of BAL, who fanned 8.4% of his batters and walked 9.7% for a K-bb of -1.3%. If you guessed Ryan Borucki of TOR, you didn’t miss by much: He was in just above break-even, at +1.5%

SP5. The two other pitchers with ERA/WHIP below 1.3 pitched in Pennsylvania: Aaron Nola of PHI had a 1.13 (1.06 ERA/1.04 WHIP) and Trevor Williams of PIT was in at 1.16 (1.16/1.00).

SP6. Zack Godley of ARI nailed four hitters in the month.

SP7. Jose Quintana of CHC limited opposing batters to 15% Hct%. The median among qualifying SPs in the month was 35%. Two pitchers allowed hard contact on half or more of their balls-in-play: Dan Straily of MIA (54%) and, surprisingly, Madison Bumgarner of SF (50%).

SP8. Jameson Taillon and Joe Musgrove, both of PIT, had chase rates of 40% in August. The two low scorers were Matt Harvey of CIN and Freddy Peralta of MIL, both at 23%

SP9. TOR SP Ryan Borucki induced swings on just 5% of his pitches in August, half the median rate for starters, and 13 percentage point behind the leader, Blake Snell, who induced swinging strikes on 18% of his pitches..

Answers: Relievers

RP1. Blake Treinen of OAK, Ken Giles of TOR and Jose Leclerc of TEX shared second spot behind Diaz.

RP2. Sitting fourth in reliever K rate at 47% was CHW LHRP Jace Fry.

RP3. Diaz, Pressly and Iglesias had Control (bb/9) Ratios of zero. Scott Oberg of COL also walked nobody, but came up one batter short of the (completely arbitrary) 40-batter minimum. The median Ctl Ratio was 2.7 bb/9. Jordan Hicks of STL and Jordan Lyles of SD and MIL each faced more than 50 batters and walked 7.1 and 7.2 per 9 respectively.

RP4. Nick Vincent of SEA was 10th in August FPK% at 72%. The three Astros in the Top-10 were Joe Smith (2nd, 80%), Roberto Osuna (6th, 75%) and Pressly (9th, 73%). The median in the metric was 62%. At the bottom of this particular heap, the Bottom-4 were all under 50%, and included Justin Anderson of LAA, CLE closer Cody Allen, NYY setup guy David Robertson and KC RP Brian Flynn.

 

And that's our quiz for August. To calculate your score, add up your correct answers, deduct your age in days, multiply by my age in days, and keep it all to yourself. Remember there are no prizes, although if you come to FPAZ and mention the quiz to me at the ballpark, you can buy me a beer. You can also buy me a beer if you don't mention the quiz, which, come to think of it, might be best for all concerned.

Part of this quiz is just for the fun of it, trying to figure out in what way Jhoulys Chacin Marco Estrada outpitched Jacob deGrom in the month. But part of it is to reinforce an important concept in fantasy evaluation—in a month, anything can happen.

 

 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.