Right: Chris Iannetta's power hot/cold zones on the road (2009-2011)
Click here to create your own Iannetta heat maps
Marlins agree to terms with Heath Bell
Bell is the first free agent reliever to get a contract of at least three years from the Florida Marlins in their history, the first pitcher to do so since starter Alex Fernandez got a five-year deal in the 1996-97 offseason.
Bell's declining strikeout rate may explain why his deal was a year shorter and for $23 million less than Jonathan Papelbon's with the Philadelphia Phillies.
That's largely due to the issues Bell had with his two-strike curveball from 2010 to 2011, as noted in the chart on the right.
Angels trade with Rockies for Chris Iannetta
Iannetta should bring much-needed offensive production behind the plate to the Los Angeles Angels, whose catchers last year had the third-worst OPS in the majors. Iannetta hit just .238 in 2011, but still managed a .370 on-base percentage.
Iannetta's 16 percent walk rate (third-best in MLB) comes from having the fourth-lowest chase percentage in the majors (17.4 percent) among players with at least 400 plate appearances.
However, Iannetta struggled at the plate away from the friendly confines of Coors Field. His road OPS of .587 was third-worst in the NL, compared to a home OPS of .975 that ranked ninth-best in the NL (minimum 200 PA).
The home-road differential of 388 points was the highest for anyone in the NL by more than 100 points (The next-highest major leaguer was Adrian Beltre’s 341-point difference).
Check out the heat maps at the top of this story for more on the difference between Iannetta at Coors versus on the road.
-- Katie Sharp
Cubs sign David DeJesus to two-year contract
One of Theo Epstein’s first moves as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox was the signing of Bill Mueller, a 32-year-old with above-average contact and on-base skills.
Epstein and Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer have made a similar move early in their tenures with the signing of DeJesus to be the club’s starting right fielder.
DeJesus, who turns 32 on December 20, brings a .284/.356/.421 career slashline to the Cubs, similar to Mueller’s .286/.370/.399 entering 2003. DeJesus’ .240 average in 2011 was a career-low, as was Mueller’s .262 in 2002.
DeJesus posted a career-low Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) in 2011, despite the fact that his batted-ball rates were mostly in line with his career averages.
DeJesus should be a defensive asset for the Cubs. His 13 Defensive Runs Saved in right field ranked third in baseball last year.
Baseball Info Solutions, the company that devised the Defensive Runs Saved metric, does video review of every play in every game.
They tag plays into 80 sub-categories of Good Fielding Plays (Web Gem-type plays that result in an unlikely out or deny baserunner advancement), and Defensive Misplays & Errors (in which the fielder does something identifiably wrong, which comes with a negative consequence).
DeJesus was also one of the best in the league Good Fielding Plays, with 29 in 2011, fourth among rightfielders
DeJesus also limited his mistakes. His Good Play/Misplay Ratio of better than 2-to-1 rated second-best (to Gold Glove winner Nick Markakis) among those who played 750-or-more innings played at the position.
--Dan Braunstein and Jacob Nitzberg
Tigers re-sign Ramon Santiago
Santiago has shored up some statistical deficiencies on defense the last two seasons (improving from -16 Defensive Runs Saved in 2008-2009 to 13 in 2010-11). He still has one offensive issue to focus on improving in 2012-- dealing with being behind in the count.
Santiago hit .093 against offspeed pitches (curveball, slider, changeup) in pitcher’s counts last season, the fifth-worst rate in the majors, well below the major-league average, .196.