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Rockies manager Bud Black on the mental aspect of baseball

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Rockies news and links for January 9, 2017.

Sunday Notes: Edgar’s Worthiness, Phillips’ Folly, Clubhouse Quality, and more | FanGraphs

David Laurila has gotten a lot of mileage out of conversations he’s had with Bud Black lately. Here, Black drives the question about the importance of mentality, especially for players who call Coors Field home. Black told Laurila:

The analytics world bases everything on the physical. What does he do? But the mental component is huge. At Coors, mentally tough players are required, particularly on the pitching side. As an organization, we’re very aware of that.

To add some flesh to this statement, Laurila cites the reputation Mike Napoli has garnered as a calming presence in the clubhouse. Laurila spoke to a couple of Napoli’s teammates from Cleveland, and they both credited Napoli with keeping the team focused and emotionally centered during the 2016 postseason run.

Laurila then turns to a conversation he had with righty-reliever Brad Ziegler, who told him that walking batters takes a greater psychological toll on him than giving up hits. This is another mental aspect of the game that might shape performance.

There aren’t likely to be very many people to discount mentality in baseball, “the analytics world” very much included. It’s just that it’s much more difficult to identify baselines to draw comparisons and identify value with something as individualized as mentality. Not all pitchers will have Ziegler’s view. That said, just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s not a question worth asking. There just needs to be more comfort in qualitative analysis.

Numbers reveal Trumbo’s hidden value | MLB.com

Mike Petriello offers an excellent analysis of the leap in value Mark Trumbo would take if he moved from the outfield, where he’s terrible, to first base, where he’s been better than average in his career. In short, a WAR based analysis of what Trumbo can contribute is misleading because he’s been miscast.

Trumbo’s FanGraphs WAR last season was 2.1, but that accounts for the aforementioned terrible defense. Petriello shows that if Trumbo had played 791 innings of league average first base in 2016 instead of 791 innings of below average outfield, his fWAR would rise from 2.1 to 2.6. If he turned in 791 innings of first base at the better than average rate he’s shown in his career (though at an admittedly younger age) his fWAR would have been 3.5.

In other words, he’s bizarro Ian Desmond, whose WAR value decreases with a move to first base because he’s gained rather than lost value by handling the more difficult positions. Making them teammates to manage both potential losses in value remains a pretty good idea.

Colorado Rockies: Predicted number of wins to reach playoffs | Rox Pile

Tim Engquist at Rox Pile looks at the division and Wild Card winners since 2012 to try and determine how many wins the Rockies will need to reach the postseason in 2017. He comes up with 90 as a magic number to earn at least a Wild Card. A 90 win season in 2017 would be a 15 win improvement for the Rockies from 2016. Right now, that looks like a difficult hill to climb for a team whose 2017 roster doesn’t look like an improvement over the 2016 version.

The only correct ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame | SB Nation

Grant Brisbee, a noted “big hall” baseball writer, identifies 18 players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot he would vote for if he had a vote. Larry Walker is on that list. Paring down to 10 names to conform to real life ballots, Walker is not on his ballot. The ballot is not, in the end, correct.