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Friday, August 10, 2012

Handicapping the NL East

The Washington Nationals, today, have a 4.5 game lead on the Atlanta Braves.  They have done this with outstanding starting pitching, mostly.  Heck, they lead the NL across the board.  It’s been impressive, and they have also been fortunate enough to use their five core starters (Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jackson, Zimmermann, Detwiler) for 106 of their 112 games.  That generally is a good thing (he asserts).  The Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds has the Nats at 77% chance of winning the division.  It is quite the rosy picture for Nationals fans.  But is it? 

There are plenty of pieces written and discussions had around the Nationals limiting Strasburg to just 180 innings.  He’s had serious surgery and certainly never worked this many big league innings.  Will Strasburg re-injure his arm?  Can he handle the workload?  If he is going to get “shutdown” at 180 innings, will he be able to get loose again for the playoffs?  Does that 180 IP include what they would want for the playoffs?  These are all fun questions, and the Nats do have, in my opinion, the right guy at the helm to creatively manage the situation.  At least he would have that creativity if he only had to worry about Strasburg.

The Nats have two other pitchers that have only thrown 160 innings in one season in the majors.  Detwiler and Zimmermann are also staring at big jumps in arm wear.  Sixty percent of the Washington rotation is approaching a wall, or a cliff.  Detwiler has made it to 150 innings between the minors and majors, but these are tougher innings.  Zimmerman had TJ surgery and threw a handful of innings two years ago, and then 160 last year.  So, can Zimmermann make the leap to 200?  Is he going to run out of gas? 

I want to be clear - I am not talking about these guys getting injured - I am talking about them getting worn down.  That just means less effective. History is filled with pitchers getting the dreaded “dead arm”, or loss in velocity.  The brainy types like to roll that into a large group and call it “regression to the mean”.  Sometimes it is more than that - it is a pitcher that is tired because he is young and hasn’t developed the staminato throw 200+ innings in the major leagues.  I know what you are saying - everyone doesn’t need to get to 200 IP by a step process.  I agree.  Unfortunately for the Nats, they have three key starters that are looking to make this step, without getting tired and without regressing to the mean too much.

What that means to me is that the Nationals have too many eggs in the baskets carried by inexperienced arms.  If the Nationals have to get too many starts from other pitchers - maybe it is just one a week, it could spell trouble.  With seven weeks to go, 50 games, I think the Braves will chase them down, and win the division.  Will Washington drop all the way out of the playoffs?  It will depend on how they start handling their staff, if they pick anyone up to help shoulder the load, or just how creative Davey Johnson gets to hold the line.

Chris Dial Posted: August 10, 2012 at 07:47 PM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: April 17, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610417)
Nice piece, Chris. Thanks.

I am a new SABR member, just joined at the beginning of the year. Already, I am gobsmacked at the quality and quantity of the benefits of membership. It is pricey... the main reason I never joined before was the cost... but if I had known exactly how terrific the membership benefits were, I'd have joined years ago. I heartily encourage anyone and everyone to join.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 17, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610419)
TNJ and BRJ are published annually.

-- MWE
   3. Sean Forman Posted: April 17, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610420)
I'll be attending the convention as well, and if anyone wants to sit in a Primer seating section for the main game, look me up at the convention and give my your ticket chit and I'll get a group of tickets for everyone.

I'm toying with a night out to the Rockpile on another night, but haven't finalized any plans.
   4. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 17, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610421)
If any of you readers choose to join SABR via the online interface at the Web site, E-mail me a copy of the confirmation message that you receive and I'll put you on SABR-L right away.

-- MWE
   5. CFiJ Posted: April 18, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610425)
I've been thinking about joining for a while, but have wondered if the benefits (other than the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting SABR) outweigh the costs. How often are TNP & BRJ published?

The value of a SABR membership also depends greatly on how much you put into it. If you join a number of research committees or get actively involved in your local chapter, you'll reap much more benefits (tangible and intangible) than if you just sit back and receive the free newsletters and whatnot. Casual fans can of course join and enjoy SABR, but I'm not sure casual fans really get the most out of it...
   6. Bob T Posted: April 18, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610427)
I think an overwhelming majority of members of SABR are just "consumers" and not "producers".

The activity of the membership varies a lot by region. The Northeast seems to have the most active membership.

The South, with the exception of Florida, is not exactly a SABR hotbed.

According to the online directory, NY has the most members with 782 followed by California with 744.

Wyoming and Alaska are the tailenders with 5 each.
   7. Chris Dial Posted: April 18, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610430)
One - Mike Emeigh did a lot to clean up the article before it was sent to the editor (who is Dan Szymborski, who we all thank). I want to thank Mike openly and loudly.

Two - Jonathon - excellent. Couldn't be more appropriate.

Three- Neal, I know. I should be. When I joined I wasn't as involved analytically with baseball in general. I didn't apply myself until about 1997-8. I'll update my interests.

Four - thanks to everyone for the comments.
   8. MGL Posted: April 21, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610442)
I'm planning on attending for the first time this year. Anyone know what I need to do? Also, I'd like to present a paper (got lots of ideas). What do I need to do for that if it's not too late?
   9. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 21, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610448)
To register for the SABR convention in Denver, go to the SABR Web site and click on the Convention link - that will take you to the main convention page, which has a convenient link for online registration for the convention and for online registration at the convention hotel as well.

Unfortunately, it is too late to submit a paper for SABR 33; the deadline for research presentation submissions was in mid-March.

-- MWE
   10. MGL Posted: April 21, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610452)
Thanks, MWE. I second Crack's suggestion! Maybe I'll submit something to them anyway and see what they think...
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 21, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610453)

SABR is about more than *just* statistical analysis. There are going to be many papers presented on a variety of topics covering the history of baseball - there were more than enough submissions to fill the schedule, and based on the proposals that I saw (I was one of the reviewers) there were more than enough good ones so that some good ones had to be bounced from the schedule as it is. I can't imagine that the research chair could consider any late submission, no matter how good, and be able to justify bouncing someone from the schedule. And yes, there are people studying the history of baseball who do work of a quality that equals or exceeds MGL's analytical work - and I'm not kidding either.

-- MWE
   12. MGL Posted: April 21, 2003 at 01:58 AM (#610456)
MWE, fair enough! Didn't know they had so many submissions. Next year, I'll have to get my act together earlier. But equal or BETTER? Come on!

Just kidding of course. I have no doubt that much of the historical research is of MUCH better quality.

Actually, I was working on some real good research on Coors Field effects, sort of an extension on what I had done a couple of years ago, as well as an in depth analysis of which players would/do benefit from Coors moreso than others, using some of my new "park factor" stuff. I'll put together something and bring it with me and maybe present it over a couple of beers...
   13. Chris Dial Posted: April 23, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610483)
David and Pssst,
have you guys ever heard of Babe Ruth? That'd be baseball history. What about Ted Williams? Jackie Robinson?

It's not "jerk-ish", David, it's ignorant. Without knowing what the "history" is, you can't possibly appreciate the accomplishments of Bonds and other present day players.

Now, I prefer the statistical edge myself, but baseball history is far from boring - not knowing the history and bragging about it doesn't seem very smart.
   14. Chris Dial Posted: April 23, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610505)
I listed a lot of the different committees in the article. You might not be interested in all of it, but it is an important part of baseball. There is *plenty* of stats stuff for everyone.

The history that is listed is things like (from the latest TN) biographical stories that you may not be interested in - the integration of the Senators - Hank Aaron in 1952 - Don and Thornton Lee - Lance Richbourg (written by Lance Jr.).

But you might be interested in them - you just don't know it. Ever play Diamond Mind or Strat in a old-timer league? These stories paint the picture for you -

Ever read "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton? Take a story out of that book. It's like that.

It's not un-PC. You may not like it. I'm suggesting you don't like it because you don't know it. In your original post, you said in HS you didn't like world history, but do now. Why? You learned more about it? That's how baseball history is. I see you writing Base Ball, as if to imply it is all pre-1900 research. That's not even close. There are things like day-by-day looks at the Big Red Machine.

And always post under your own name - it's the right thing to do. :-)
   15. Patriot Posted: April 23, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610509)
I don't see why David suggesting that he's thinks baseball history is boring would cause anyone to get bent out of shape. Heck, the former executive director of SABR(although maybe that's part of the reason why he's former) said that he found stat analysis boring.

Seriously, a lot of the stuff in the SABR publications on history, particularly in The National Pastime, is IMO fluff. A lot of it is personal, about the minor leagues, etc. Is it baseball history? No doubt. Do some people like it? Sure. Obviously I find enough things that interest me in the organization to be a member. But I don't see why it would offend anyone if I suggest that "June Peppas and the All-American League"(about the women's league), "Nine Baseball Scrapbooks"(about a guy who put together scrapbooks for ex-players) and "A Very Special Evening"(about a guy who was on a tv show with Mickey Mantle when he was 9), all articles from the 02 TNP, are not my cup of tea. After all, there's plenty of people who frown on linear weights and Pythagenport.
   16. Chris Dial Posted: April 23, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610511)
I'm not bent out of shape, although, being familiar with David's work and knowledge, I was annoyed and disappointed - I'm saying learn about it first.

Whle some articles might not thrill you (just like here), there are others that are interesting that are history. David said "History of Baseball? Ho-hum." when there is a ton - well, most of it, that he would find interesting if he found out more about it.

Of course, I'm not suggesting all of it is gripping - I'm saying all of it is *not* boring. (Nor most of it).
   17. tangotiger Posted: April 23, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610514)
I think what is interesting is that
1 - SABR is at Colorado
2 - We talk about the effect Coors has on players all the time
3 - MGL is pursuing research to that effect

Seems to me a match made in heaven, even if the deadline passed. I think editor-in-chiefs always have a chance to move a story off the front page when warranted. The deadlines are never set in stone.

In any case, if SABR won't present MGL's findings, he can publish them at Primer, and maybe at the local Denver paper, if they are interested.

And I agree. MGL is a superstar. I'm sure he knows it, too ;)
   18. Chris Dial Posted: April 24, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610516)
There is a sitting panel on Coors effect with Robert Adair and Rany Jazaryli (at least). It will be a subject of focus.
   19. Tracy Posted: April 24, 2003 at 01:59 AM (#610518)
"Seems to me a match made in heaven, even if the deadline passed. I think editor-in-chiefs always have a chance to move a story off the front page when warranted. The deadlines are never set in stone."

So, the SABR33 organizers should rearrange their entire lineup becuase two or three people, who think the sun rises and sets on their research, and to my knowledge, have never posted on SABR-L or contributed to any SABR publication, want them to?

Give me a break.
   20. tangotiger Posted: April 28, 2003 at 02:00 AM (#610585)
Neal, it sounds like your processes are excellent, and it should satisfy everyone. Hard to do, but good job.
   21. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610725)
It's really early for trying to handicap the Cy Young. I'd say Prior might be a favorite, but it's hard to say that anyone has more than, say, a 15% chance of pulling it off. Maybe less than that. If Brown can stay healthy, he can maintain his current level and do it. Matt Morris is basically pitching at his established level.

As for the Mets, the most striking thing to me is that the Diamond Mind simulations produced ZERO post-season appearances for them. Nada. To me, that is a very, very telling thing. I would imagine that the Mets have more resources for jumbling things around and getting a competitive team on the field this season than just about any team, but this is a very, very tall order, and I think this is a situation where they need to come up with long term solutions to the mistakes they made assembling this team.
   22. Chris Dial Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610726)
Phillipe - yes, I think Vazquez will be in the mix - this list is just the ERA leaders (this applies to K. Brown also).

David - yes, I am not really trying to handicap the race exactly, but Prior has about 50 things going for him - high profile team with a good chance at 20 wins and the post-season and he is popular with ESPN. I don't mind DMB not having the Mets win. How did they do with the Angels last season? Piazza *can* still catch. Floyd can't play in the OF. SBs aren't nearly as costly as routine fly balls to left field. 1B is also Floyd's eventual home - and probably sooner than Piazza's.
   23. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610730)
1. Ditch Mo by whatever means necessary. (Probably just eating the contract and cutting him outright.)

2. Trade or let walk Benitez, Alomar & Burnitz at the end of year.

3. Spend that $30 million on Vlad and one of either Troy Glaus or Eric Chavez. Move Wiggington back to 2B.

4. 3-way platoon Piazza/Floyd/Wilson @ C/1B, with Wilson getting the fewest ABs.

2004 Mets:

Timo Perez CF
Troy Glaus 3B
Vladdy RF
Piazza/Wilson C (obviously Wilson would bat lower)
Floyd/Piazza 1B/LF
Floyd/R. Gonzalez LF
Wiggington 2B
Reyes SS

Reyes could move up to leadoff if or when he mastered ML OBP.

   24. Greg Pope Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610733)
In regards to Sosa, I've been watching the Cubs for years and he does look different since the beaning. He's taking a lot of pitches, regardless of where they are. Just the other day he took two fastballs right down the middle for strikes, then watched a curve for a ball, then watched a curve for a strike.

It's not really that he's lost his strike zone judgment, because he's not swinging at bad pitches. He's just taking everything. IANAD, but I would guess that there's something wrong.
   25. Boots Day Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610734)
You might have been better served listing the NL leaders in wins (there are eleven guys tied with four), which would have allowed you to mention Glavine (4-2, 3.64) and Leiter (4-1, 3.38) as well.

The Nymets are my favorite squadron.
   26. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610737)

The Mets' problems don't come from buying free agents "rotisserie style", but from buying BAD free agents (and trading for OLD players) rotisserie style. A $12-15 million/year investment in Vlad is a *lot* different than $11 million/year sunk into Jeromy Burnitz. $10 mil/year for Chavez/Glaus is a lot more useful than $8 mil/year in Robbie Alomar (as a 35 year old.)

Yes, the Mets could wait on Wright and Reyes to develop and pin the rebuild on either or both becoming real MLB stars, but that's an iffy proposition itself. A post-Piazza era offensive anchor like Vlad ameliorates the need for two or three prospects to pan out all at the same time. The only reason not to go after Vlad or the 3B free agents would be to save money, essentially the thinking the Mets took when ARod was all but begging to be a Met, and that's not a good reason for a NY team to pass on premiere free agents IMHO.

Again, the problem isn't *spending* money, it's spending money *intelligently.* The Mets have some $130 million to spend on talent with a little over $30 freeing up after this season. There's no reason whatsoever to sit on that money, other than ownership not wanting to spend. And next winter is one of the few where there's real talent out there to be bought.
   27. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610742)
Chris -

DMB had the Angels winning 2 division titles and 1 WC last year, with an 82-80 record.

Take it from me, a Cubs fan. I know a hopeless situation when I see it.

(To be fair, DMB simulated no post-seasons for the Cubs in 1998, the year they won the WC, but with an 82-80 record. The Mets are projected at 74-88 this year)
   28. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610744)
Chris is in denial. He's singing the "it's still early" mantra in order to salvage his ragged psyche, not because he believes it. The Mets aren't one of those mediocre teams that happens to be playing below expectations. They're old. All of their prime contributors are into the expected decline phases of their respective careers. The youth they have is only occasionally decent (Perez) and often horrible (Cedeno.) They don't have an immediately accessible influx of new talent.

Could the Mets turn it around? Sure. I could also run a successful campaign for governor. Neither is particularly likely.
   29. Chris Dial Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610755)
Rob, I know you are just poking, but you don't seem to know what whining is. Are baseball columnists sounding the death knell? Yes. I don't care if they do - it just makes them a little early.

Sam - I can't be in denial. The Mets aren't eliminated. If it weren't for four Benitez implosions (and surely you don't consider him to be old), the Mets would be 18-14. Assuming he blows a save 1 out of 10 times, the Mets would be 17-15. Those are facts. The Mets have had some bad luck. It'll get a lot better with MVS out ofthe lineup, as he hasn't lost any weight (that I can tell) and his defense is even worse, due to his bad knees. Oh, and Alomar is playing below expectations - everyone's expectations but yours. And Rey Sanchez is a .280 OPS guy. That's expected. It *is* a mediocre team playing below expectations.

   30. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: May 07, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610758)
Rey Sanchez is not a .280 OPS hitter. No, that's not true. Alomar might be surprising to everyone but me, but, you know, it's *me* you're talking to, and I'm going to grandstand as much as possible before he starts hitting and makes the fool of me. You know that.

Not that he's going to do that, mind you.

As for Benitez, yeah, you're four blown saves away from not-that-bad. But those saves were, in fact, blown. And snowballs tend grow when they start rolling down hill.
   31. Rob Wood Posted: May 08, 2003 at 02:03 AM (#610769)
Since we are talking about the early Cy Young race, I hope Chris doesn't mind if I post the season-to-date starting pitcher leaders in win values, a stat I developed to measure how much the starting pitcher contributed to his team winning.

These are the figures including the games of Tuesday May 6. I believe Mussina and Loaiza both had good games tonight in the AL as did Moss and Milwood in the NL.

1 Shawn Chacon 1.60
2 Mark Prior 1.41
3 Woody Williams 1.29
4 Zach Day 1.24
5 Jeff Suppan 1.11
6 Jason Schmidt 1.01
7 Damian Moss 0.98
8 Brett Myers 0.95
9 Javier Vazquez 0.92
10 Matt Morris 0.90
11 Kevin Millwood 0.86
12 Kevin Brown 0.82
13 Miguel Batista 0.81
14 Tim Redding 0.80
15 Tony Armas 0.74
16 Kerry Wood 0.73
17 Al Leiter 0.61
18 Tom Glavine 0.61
19 Brian Lawrence 0.58
20 Mike Hampton 0.57

1 Mike Mussina 1.88
2 Runelvys Hernandez 1.71
3 Esteban Loaiza 1.55
4 Pedro Martinez 1.51
5 Mark Mulder 1.39
6 Barry Zito 1.24
7 Nate Cornejo 0.95
8 David Wells 0.94
9 Gil Meche 0.93
10 Tim Hudson 0.84
11 Chris George 0.82
12 Roger Clemens 0.80
13 Jason Johnson 0.75
14 C.C. Sabathia 0.70
15 Ted Lilly 0.55
16 Jake Westbrook 0.53
17 Jarrod Washburn 0.46
18 Ryan Franklin 0.46
19 Freddy Garcia 0.45
20 Ricardo Rodriguez 0.42
   32. Dr. House Posted: May 08, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610770)
These are the upcoming FAs for the Mets, w/ their salaries:
Alomar(8), Astacio(7), Benitez(6.8), Burnitz(12), Clark(.6), Cone(.6), Franco(3.8), Russ Johnson(.8), Lloyd(.7) and Sanchez(1.3). That's ~$42M, quite a bit more than the $30M figure mentioned earlier.

The year after they'll drop ~$20M more.

Having those kinds of funds available would make a total rebuilding process unnecessary. If the Mets go about things intelligently, signing guys like Vlad and Kazuo Matsui (say $20M/yr and $7M/yr contracts), then they'll have improved themselves short AND long term.
   33. Law Boy Posted: May 08, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610783)
You mention the fastest games of the year so far in 2003. I find it amazing that the two games on May 2 that went 2:07 and 2:09 were followed two days later by not only the Pirates/Dodgers game that went 1:55, but also by the Rangers/Indians game that went 2:11. The four fastest games of the year occurred on two days over the same weekend. Sunday was getaway day, but what about Friday?
   34. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 08, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610801)
If it weren't for four Benitez implosions (and surely you don't consider him to be old), the Mets would be 18-14.

Well, to be fair, Chris, you can't just cherry-pick Benitez's bad contributions and ignore all of the other factors of luck that the Mets have experienced, good and bad.

Their Pythagorean W/L is 12-21.
   35. Chris Dial Posted: May 08, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610808)
I'm not. Pythags at this stage aren't completely accurate due to the lack of time for things to even out. Blowouts skew Pythags a lot at this point in hte season, and they aren't "luck" in run distribution. After 500 runs are scored, the Mets should have blown out a team or two to even those out. At this point in the season, that hasn't occured. So, no, I'm not ignoring luck, regardless of their Pythags. And besides, I'm not talking about a starter's bad game to remove - I'm talking about games where the win probabilities were over 95%. That's in the bag. As I said, Benitez is going to blow 1 of 12 chances anyway, so the Mets don't "get credit" for all four, but three were piss-poor performance by Benitez.
   36. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 09, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610812)
Well, I haven't looked closely enough at the Mets games to know where they might have experienced good luck to counteract the four games you're talking about.

The binomial probability of at least four 5% likely events happening in 32 tries is not that small (about 7%), and it's 21% for at least three times and nearly 50/50 for happening two or more times, so this is unlucky but hardly freakish, and you should give the Mets only two of those wins at most. Maybe there are two 5% lucky games you could find on the Mets' win side of the balance sheet that would even it out....or maybe not. It's a mind game I try to resist playing.
   37. Spike Posted: May 09, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610817)
Well last night Chacon's ERA swelled up faster than Ron Jeremy. There goes his candidacy for the Cy Young I guess.
   38. Chris Dial Posted: May 09, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610820)
David - lastly, I'm not saying the Mets were unlucky. It was poor performance in a high win probability situation. And two wins versus three wins isn't significant - they got *0* wins. Two wins makes them a .500 team (or would have two days ago). I'm not saying it was unfair or anything - just Benitez performed even more poorly in a situation that was high leverage. Essentially, you'ld have to counter with the Mets getting two runs off an "elite" closer to counter the win probs. - like beating Gagne the other night (which didn't happen).
   39. Marc Posted: May 09, 2003 at 02:04 AM (#610829)
If the HoF starts taking relief pitchers (again), there is a long line ahead of John Franco.
   40. nickname damur Posted: May 12, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610845)
If Mo does retire, and his retirement is a result of his knee injury, wouldn't he still get paid and wouldn't most of that pay be picked up by the insurance company? At this point, it looks like a decent possibility that Mo will miss the rest of this season. Any time a prospective "experimental" knee surgery is performed on a completely out of shape, 300 lb. man, the odds of said man returning to form as a professional athlete appear pretty poor. From my understanding, if Vaughn is forced to miss 90 days due to injury, insurance picks up 75% of his salary. Did you think it was coincidence that Vaughn and the Mets have delayed the inevitable surgery by having him get 8th and 9th opinions on the knee? This may be an incredible stroke of luck for Wilpon. This may be a way for the owner to get out of close to $12 of Vaughn's 2003 salary if he misses the whole year.

As for next year, if Vaughn retires and it's because of the knee, I would assume that the Mets could get similar 75%-type coverage of the salary, ala the O's and Albert Belle. The Mets should be a) praying Mo retires, and b) thanking fate that Vaughn signed during an era when insurance companies would give out that kind of risky coverage. Believe it or not, if this plays out correctly, the Mets might be in better financial shape then they would have been with Kevin Appier on the squad. Perhaps the Mets might be free of 3/4 of Vaughn's salary and free of his pathetic play on the field all for the price of having him take up a spot on the 40-man roster. Geeze, if Vaughn's injury causes him to retire this team might be freeing up almost $55-60 million this off-season, and $30-40 million the next.
   41. Boileryard Posted: May 12, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610847)
Regarding the insurance money the Mets will receive, I think the 90 day thing is a deductible. They don't get anything for the first 90 days Vaughn is out. They will only collect 75% of his pay for August and September, which works out to about $4 million, not $12 million. If he misses all of next year, then they'll get 75% for that whole season.

   42. Walt Davis Posted: May 12, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610849)
OK, the velocity was still there, but was the movement? In addition to the bad breaking balls I have a hard time imagining Woody Williams (decent hitting pitcher that he may be) fouling off 10 Wood fastballs.
   43. snellville jones Posted: May 12, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610851)
Everybody I know has a big "but".
   44. Chris Dial Posted: May 12, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610852)
yes, the movement was still there. Williams was a SS and is a decent hitter. Wood was shaking his head in disbelief. I can't attest that it was necessarily as late as before, but plenty of action. As for Vina's PA, he got 2 fastballs and 6 sliders.

Reyes strained his hamstring. Yes, an injury. I don't know if he has stayed out due to severity or precaution - I'm hoping the latter.
   45. True Blue n/k/a "DeJesusFreak" Posted: May 13, 2003 at 02:05 AM (#610871)
"Sometimes I think that Nolan Ryan's freakishly long and healthy career is the worst thing that ever happened to power pitchers because every manager thinks he can get away with using his power pitchers the way Ryan was used."

--To a large extent, I agree. Just this morning on Kornheiser, listeners had to deal with Tim Kurkjian whining about the lack of 300-win pitchers compared to the days of yesteryear. According to our esteemed journalist, this is because starters are babied with respect to pitch counts, whereas back in the day, Nolan Ryan would "routinely" throw 140 pitches. The fact that starters now work in 5-man rotations never came up. Sheesh.
   46. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610953)
There is a problem with looking at GS/W - pitcher usage changed after WWII. Prior to that (and WWII isn't a hard line - just "thereabouts"), star pitchers pitched in relief. A lot. Dennis Eckersley points up this problem too - he started 361 games and pitched in 1071. That's 700 games to get decisions in that "don't count". And right now, the guys close to 300 are barely in decline phase. Their GS/W is going to go up. But GS/W, by groups 1-5:
65+: 2.19
36-: 2.17
16-: 1.86
95-: 1.82
71-: 1.85

The jump comes for pitchers that pitched after WWII - only Feller accumulated a bunch of wins before the War.

In my original dataset, I left Randy Johnson out. Why (other than "because I'm a moron")? He has fewer IP than everyone else. His IP/W is tied for 4th lowest out of these 100 pitchers.

The "lack of decline" is pointed out by "GS/W by debut decade":
80s: 2.05
70s: 2.26
60s: 2.21
50s: 2.21
40s: 2.10
30s: 1.95
20s: 1.85
10s: 1.86
00s: 1.72
90s: 1.87
80s: 1.87
70s: 1.83

It's pretty amazing how consistent the value is, and by the end of the 80s guys careers, they'll be closer to 2.2.
   47. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610955)
Dang, Jonathan. In comment #1, STL asks about game started (GS) per wins (W). In looking at it, we find the rate is unchanged since the 50s. It increased from the 20s to the 40s because starting pitchers were no longer pitching in relief on their days off. This was very common in the deadball era. That's basically bullpen development. So before WWII, pitchers with 300 wins got quite a few wins in relief. That never happens today, but Eck changed "careers". He got most of his wins as a starter in 361 starts, but still racked up nearly 50 wins as a reliever. So instead of a GS/W of 361/147=2.46, Eck shows up with 361/197=1.83. And so it would be with pre-war pitchers on the list. Gee, those ratios match too!

Also, when a pitcher gets older, but not retired, the number of wins he gets per game start decreases because he isn't as good as he was. Roger Clemens gives up more runs now than he did 10 years ago, so he has to start more times to get the same number of wins (on average).

   48. BillH Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610956)
When was the 4 man rotation the norm. I know some teams used it in the 60's but it seems to me, that with a 4 man rotation in a 162 game season we should see a large number of pitchers with 40 or 41 starts in a season. Between 1961 and 1987 there were 74.

I think there was a lot more use of a 5 day rotation, rather than a 5 man, and I don't understand why more teams don't continue to use that plan, but I don't think the strict 4 man rotation was ever in the majority.
   49. down in durham Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610957)

i am ussually a big fan of your work, but the point you are trying to make gets kinda muddied here...

as one of the latest posters points out the ceiling on wins per year is much lower now that aces get 5-7 less starts per year. i think that you are trying to say that the decrease in opportunity caused by the 5MR is offset by

1. increased opportunities for wins (via longer careers)
2. decreasing decreases in ability over time (in-season and over-career)

the ip/w ratio doesn't really seem to be helping you make either (any) of the two (three) points.

plus ARGH! this is primer. i thought pitching wins were dead!?!?

should we switch to some other metric to detirmine pitchers' value in 4MR vs 5MR?

sorry i am so cranky. had to attend an obx bachelor party this wknd.
   50. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610959)
My point is simply that there was no such thing as a 300-game winner. Not since the live ball era. So belly-aching about it by "sportswriters" is a load of ignorance. 300-game winners didn't exist in the 4-man rotation once people could hit the ball out of the ballpark.

Star pitchers are pitching as many innings since the 5-man kicked in (I draw the line in the early 70s for "vogue"). But AFAIK, the 5-man rotation has always been the 5-day rotation. That is a good description by BillH. The 300-G winners from the 60s didn't get 40 starts per season over their careers. Okay, Niekro and his knuckleball would start more often. Seaver *never* started more than 36 games in a season. There would be 3-5 pitchers each season that got more than 36 GS, but not one per team or anything. By 1974, the 5-day rotation was in full use. Rainouts/DHs woulds result in an extra start or two for the aces, but I suspect more starts get "bumped" at the end of the season for stars making the playoffs, Barry Zito notwithstanding.

Today we have 4 guys getting 35 starts and a couple of guys filling in the 5-hole 22 times. That's a "5-day" rotation. In the 4-man, starters would simply go on short rest all the time.

As for why pitcher wins - because it's interesting when players make milestones. Especially HoF defining ones. Bert Blyleven isn't in the HoF because of 13 wins. Tommy John - 12 wins. No, their "value" doesn't change, but 300 wins indicates longevity *and* excellence. And it hasn't been aesthetically devalued yet.
   51. OCF Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610960)
Who are those 20 pitchers with 300 career wins? There are three rather tightly defined groups that account for 17 of the 20:

1. Five of them are 1880's pitchers. All five of them had careers that started between 1879 and 1882, and none of them lasted past 1894. They played a different game than the one we're familiar with.

2. Six of them are dead-ball pitchers. This is the most spread-out group, with careers that start from 1890 (Young and Nichols) to 1911 (Alexander). This group accounts for the top 4 and 5 of the top 6. (Johnson and Alexander pitched on into the 1920's, but the heart of their careers belongs before 1920.)

3. Six of them had careers that started between 1962 and 1967.

There are three exceptions - Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, and Early Wynn. Roger Clemens is about to be the fourth, and maybe Greg Maddux the fifth.

If you want something that's difficult to explain, explain group 3. Why were the mid-1960's the optimal years for starting a 300-win career?
   52. tangotiger Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610961)
Chris, I think you make an excellent point. If you click the above link, I show the career IP leader total by year of birth. (The drop off starting from around 1969 or so is because they are still expected to be pitching for a few years.)

If you take a 10-year running total (not shown in chart), you get a total of 30,000 IP that peaked in 1938-1947 YOB pitchers. Except for pitchers born of that era, the peak leaders has been pretty stable.

If someone wants to look at this further, I'd suggest looking at say the top 5 career IP by year of birth (to try to smooth things out).

It's possible that pitchers have been getting bigger/stronger/reliable, but that the insistence of the 5-man rotation has cancelled out that gain, so that we are back to the way pitchers were in the "golden age".

It's a great topic Chris! Good job!
   53. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610962)
OCF - I agree. That's the paragraph in the middle there. I looked at what went wrong with the 70s, when in reality - it was like every other decade. Had Blyleven gotten his 13 more wins, he'd be the "Grove/Spahn". I did look at all of the 70s guys, and strikes and collusion definitely hurt careers. Clemens would already have 300 if it weren't for 1994/95.

What happened with the 62-67 guys? The 5-day rotation (I'm adopting Bill's language - it's a great description). Niekro and Perry were age-exceptions and pitching style longevity guys. But Carlton, Ryan, Sutton and Seaver were all products of fewer starts per season, but *better* starts, increasing their chances at winning each time out, resulting in an equilibrium between starts and likelihood of wiinning a given start. Plus, less tired pitching means less injury. Seaver *never* started more games than guys do today. Never.

And Clemens is a lock and Maddux, IMO, is a slam dunk and Glavine is a layup. Only Randy Johnson is close with extreme prejudice.

Then Mussina and Pedro are picking up the 90s. Since the 5-day rotation, only the 70s are going to be skipped for 300 win pitchers.
   54. OCF Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610963)
Having looked it up, I knew that Seaver never had more than 36 starts in a season. The other 70's 300-game winners all had at least one year of 41 starts (with Niekro topping out at 44). Spahn never had more than 39 starts (and 23 wins) in a season, and Grove never had more than 37 starts in a season, although with all his high-leverage relief work, Grove sometimes had more decisions than starts. Wynn also never had more than 37 starts in a season. (Of course, Grove, Spahn, and Wynn pitched in 154-game seasons.)

Just because you never used to hear about rotator cuffs doesn't mean that pitchers weren't tearing them!
   55. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610965)
I looked at that. The answer is not predominantly. Debut age is in the first chart. The asterisk by Spahn is that he pitched when he was 21, then went to war, not returning until he was 25.
   56. Walt Davis Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610970)
Well, count me among the formerly ignorant -- both in terms of not realizing that winning 300 was quite that rare in the live ball era and for not realizing that the number of career starts may not be as hindered by the 5-man rotation (more in a bit) as I thought.

Now it is true that the strict 4-man rotation was fairly rare. But I think looking at the # of 40-41 start seasons is an overly strict way to try to find the 4-man rotations. First, they still used to play a fair number of double-headers in those days, and those always required a spot start. That alone probably accounts for 5-6 starts.

Secondly, much like today, that last spot in the 4-man rotation wasn't always set. To the extent that the 4-man rotation existed, it existed along the lines of your top 2-3 starters getting 38+ starts per season.

Doing a quickie analysis of the Lahman database does show the 60s-70s peak in gs per season. This is the percentage of starters with 36 or more starts (within the population of pitchers with at least 10 starts):

20s 6.6

30s 3.0

40s 2.7

50s 3.9

60s 10.9

70s 14.6

80s 5.2

90s .9

00-01 0

If you look at 38 starts,

20s 2.6

30s 1.0

40s .9

50s 1.3

60s 4.9

70s 7.8

80s 1.2

90s 0

00-01 0

So while it's true that the 4-man rotation isn't a technically accurate name for what was used in the 60s and 70s, there's absolutely no doubt that it was far different than what's done today.

And that brings us back to the '5-man' vs '5-day' rotation. Teams are increasingly moving towards something closer to the 5-man than the 5-day. Now I haven't downloaded the lahman with 2002 data yet, and Glavine did actually make 36 starts last year, it was the first time since Glavine in 96; in the AL no starter has made that many since Erickson in 98. These days a couple guys PER LEAGUE get 35 a year, but most of the league leaders are at 34. Assuming you're the #1 or #2 starter on your team, a strict 5-man rotation would get you 33 starts. So the statement: "Today we have 4 guys getting 35 starts and a couple of guys filling in the 5-hole 22 times" is simply wrong.

Today's teams are very close to a 5-MAN rotation, with the frequent exception of early April.

So the point becomes, assuming that the ratio is still about 2.25 GS per win, at 34 starts per season, a pitcher needs 19.9 completely healthy years of full-time starting to get to the 675 starts necessary to win 300 games (at that rate). Of course, that's only 1.15 seasons longer that if averaging 36 starts per year.

And perhaps more to the point is that neither today's nor yesterday's pitchers manages to average even 34 starts per season. Well Fergie Jenkins, skipping his first 2 years of mostly relieving, averaged 34 starts over his remaining 17 years. But Seaver and Carlton averaged 32 while Maddux and Glavine have averaged 33. So I think Chris's main point still stands.
   57. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610971)
what you say is true, but look at the year before that, and 2000.

1. Yes. I was just brief. But even an old starter will go deep as long as he gets people out.
2. From what I have looked at in GS, is health. I think guys are held back much more quickly. "Um, let's move his start back a day". Other than Tony Pena, I know of no other team that thinks they have 5 good starters. The schedule doesn't allow for moving guys easily, and still avoiding short rest. I think we do have the *desire* to go with as few SPs as possible. Having pitchers left alone long enough to do it is the issue.
3. You are right - there were 3-5 *in each league*. My typo. As you note, 36-37 starts is easily doable in the present rotation set-up (Maddux had 37 in '91).
4. I wasn't being dishonest. I looked at all of them. If 37 starts is the number that a 4+1 rotation (5-day) gets, the number of starts >37 for each guy is small. Ryan had 4 in 26 years. Carlton was a real stud, and fought a decreased workload, getting 38 starts as late as 1982. Niekro and Perry are actually included in the other subset (pre-65), but both worked through the 70s by throwing slop. I mean, 44 starts? Seaver *never* made 37 starts. Sutton had 4, but none in his last 14 seasons. 1974 is a pretty harsh demarcation for 40 starts for non-knuckleballers.
6. I have Diamond Mind. I read it before any of the Abstracts.

Thanks, Todd. Good points of clarification. I'll stick with this: The 300-game winner will exist due to the present day workload (or that of 1986-2000).

   58. David Brazeal Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610972)
Other than Tony Pena, I know of no other team that thinks they have 5 good starters.

Chris, this is completely unfair to Tony Pena. You're piling on. He never said he thinks the Royals have five good starters. He thinks the Royals have six good starters.
   59. Chris Dial Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610973)
Um, what Walt said.

I certainly see that my 4x35 was wrong and over-eager. I think it is what team's should do. I also believe it is what they want to do. I take that back - since I am reading "Moneyball", which is fine so far, but hardly amazing to me, I think teams want 3x35 and fill the other 60 games with their best performers - not injured, hot-hands what-have-you.
   60. OCF Posted: May 19, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610982)
Warren Corbett -
You're missing Chris's main point, when you say that "today's" pitchers will find it difficult to win 300. It IS difficult to win 300, and that hasn't changed since 1920, except maybe for that blip of guys peaking in the 70's. You cite the age of winning 300 games for three deadball guys. These guys had busiest seasons with well over 40 starts and over 50 appearances (assume their relief appearances were high-leverage), and they all had seasons in which they had 33 or more wins. But that was 80+ years ago, in a game with few HR. Check out the three pitchers who made it to 300 in the 50 years in between 1920 and 1970 - how old were they when they won 300? Grove was 41, Spahn was 39, and Wynn was 43. In the cases of Grove and Wynn, it was the very end of their careers, and in Wynn's case the only game he won that year.
   61. Robert Dudek Posted: May 20, 2003 at 02:07 AM (#610986)
Isn't it interesting that the great rush of 300 game winners started their careers in the 60s and were in their prime in the 70s, when giving 38+ starts a year to your best pitcher was the norm.

It wasn't the 5-man rotation, but making sure you skipped the back end of your rotation to get your ace some extra work when you had the chance. Occasionally, that would involve pitching your ace on 3 days rest, so that his 5th day wasn't an off day.

Bring back the 5 DAY rotation!

   62. Chris Dial Posted: May 20, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611013)
Todd, you left out your name 8)
I didn't 8really* think you thought that. That's a common USENET word that just requires clarification. There aren't expressions, nor "tone", so we shouldn't take offense (real offense anyway). None taken, here, just clarifying. I really appreciated your points and observation. I apologize if my response read tersely.

But back to Carlton - yes, decline phase will hurt all these pitchers - maybe. Clemens may well get 305 this season and hang them up, with no real decline phase.

I know Perry had a lot of gas, but he went to the wet stuff after his first 12-14 seasons (which got him to 1974-76). He was a great pitcher, and didn't "leak" into the Hall or 300 wins. As a side note, his son Jack went to Pfeiffer College here in NC. He was 67'8" and pitched and played basketball. Gaylord was on campus quite a bit.

Thanks again for the input - that's what makes research fun.
   63. Walt Davis Posted: May 21, 2003 at 02:08 AM (#611047)
Walt, what years did you remove from Carlton's career to get an average of 32 GS? Not sure how you did that.

I took out his first 2 years. That left him with 698 starts over 22 seasons or 31.7 per season. I wasn't going for his "peak". I guess it is unfair to include his last season, so 697 starts in 21 seasons is 33 starts.

Of course, those averages include the strike years of '81,'94,&'95, as well as the decline phases of the retired pitchers.

Sure, but the average annual GS of Maddux, Glavine, et al are going to be as or more effected by strikes, though they're not yet in their decline phases.

The best pitchers from the 65-86 era did start 2-4 more games per year in their prime than do Maddux, Glavine, et al.

Yes, I know, that's what the data I presented shows. But they did that sometimes. Carlton had 7 seasons with more than 36 starts but also 7 seasons with less than 34 starts. Maddux has had 1 over 36 and 5 under 34, 2 of those strike years.

I didn't expect to find these numbers to be so close, and maybe it was just the luck of who I checked. But it's consistent with Chris' finding.

Now, it could be that current usage patterns will allow pitchers to pitch longer and thus average nearly the same number of GS per year.

Right, that might well be what's going on. From 67-75, Fergie never started fewer than 36 games (and that was because of the 72 strike), with a peak of 42. In his remaining 8 years, he exceeded 30 starts just twice.

So yes, at their peak, today's top pitchers are making fewer starts than the top pitchers of the 60s and 70s did; but it seems that they're making more starts in their post-peak seasons and/or staying healthier and pitching more full seasons. It's just a few pitchers, but maybe it all balances out such that a guy good enough to be a starter for 18-20 years now gets as many starts in his career as a guy good enough to be a starter for 18-20 years then.
   64. Roadblock Jones Posted: May 27, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611096)
The love for Jeromy Burnitz ... it cannot hide!

I believe the Mets today will finally throw up their hands and disable Timo Perez. Agreed about Howe's poor use of the bullpen: He's tended to yank starters entirely too early, and his decisions from that point on have been questionable, either because of matchups or because he's using said guy for the 5th time in 6 days. It's bound to catch up and it has.

But the real problem with the Mets is that by relying too heavily on Proven Veterans (R) they've faced injury after injury... even guys not on the DL have been injured and unavailable, such as Perez, Sanchez, Bell, and now Stanton. The Mets have gone into just about every game this month short at least one player and as many as three. It's really compromised Howe's already suspect strategies.
   65. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: May 27, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611097)
Yeah, Strickland - he only has a 50% tear in the elbow. Don't think he'll be your answer.
   66. bunyon Posted: May 27, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611098)
THe real problem with the Mets is that, from ownership to management to manager to coaches to players to bat boy, they uniformly suck.

The only place they don't suck is the Disabled List.
   67. Chris Dial Posted: May 27, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611105)
Roadblock makes a really good point - the Mets carry unavailable players - injured but not DLed - for *weeks*.

Jim, yes, Strick is hurt, and you're right, he's not coming back soon, but Benitez won't get dumped until later and next season Strick - or someone like Strick can do the same job without the paycheck.

AFAICT, the Mets sign old players who were once good. The O's just sign old players. 8)
   68. Chris Dial Posted: May 27, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611115)
I'm just saying the Mets have HoFer Alomar and AL MVP Vaughn, while the O's have Segui and Conine. The O's signed Doug Drabek and the Mets signed HoFer Glavine.

I think the Mets have signed washed up guys with better pasts. For what that's worth...heh.
   69. Benji Posted: May 28, 2003 at 02:09 AM (#611120)
Chris, I admire you staying a Met fan through the Phillips Destruction Period. It's tough for us, but if we stay patient we'll survive him just like we survived Harizin, Grant and Scheffing. But please God, don't EVER let Scott "Human Launching Pad" Strickland be our closer!! Jason Tyner could homer off him!
   70. Roadblock Jones Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611173)
In addition to Seo's ROY, Burnitz could take home the Comeback Player of the Year award, edging several of his teammates.
   71. CFiJ Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611174)
With the game on the line, and one out, Williams did not intentionally walk Sosa to load the bases. I suppose Williams doesn?t believe in "he?s due". What I suppose Jimy didn?t think about was the on-deck hitter, Moises Alou, and that in four of Alou?s six at-bats, he had hit a nice double-play ground ball to the shortstop. They weren?t turned into DPs because DPs weren?t needed, but if you needed a routine grounder to the shortstop, Alou was just the man to do it. Jimy should have been scoring the game.

But, but the same logic, Sammy had struck out five times and the one time he did not strike out he hit a nice double-play ground ball to shortstop. Plus, if he loaded the bases, he takes the chance the Alou, who had at least been making contact all day, might hit a fly out. Sosa might have whiffed yet again, and then any possible fly out Alou might hit would be nullified. In fact, Jimy played it right because Sosa proceeded to hit a double-play ground ball to second! It was just a little too sharp for Kent to handle, but them's the breaks. A good win for the Cubs and made this Cubs fan happy, but I think Jimy played it about as well as he could.

Just some thoughts...
   72. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611175)
The Mets should have fired Steve Phillips and made Bobby V. their GM. He is the one who signed Seo, he also requested that Phillips signed Ichiro, and overall i always thought he did a decent job finding talent, aka Benny "the Hawaiian Hammer" Agbayani. Furthermore, I'm sure he would have shipped Payton away when he had some value.
   73. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611178)
As weird as it was, I thought the IBB to Patterson in the 11th inning of the Cubs/Astros game made sense. Pitching to Sosa in the 16th, however, was another story.
   74. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611180)
"Andruw Jones, in the same inning, almost got doubled off on a fly to left field. Well, he did get doubled off, but the 2B umpire thought it was "opposite day.""

Actually, the 2B umpire thought Raul Gonzalez' throw from LF pulled McEwing off the bag. He was mistaken about that, as was clear from the bullet-time slo-mo replay complete with Tim McGarver blubbering along pointlessly in the background. But in real time, it looked very much like McEwing lost the bag. It wasn't "opposite day" you sponge-headed, square-assed freak, it was a bang-bang play that the ump missed by a nano-second.

But it's easier for Mets fans to pretend it's all a secret plot against them, I guess...

   75. Chris Dial Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:10 AM (#611182)
Now, sam, if I call it a bang-bang play, I can't work "opposite day" into the bit.

As Tim McClelland might have said on May 31, you are the best writer and contributor this site has.
   76. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:11 AM (#611197)
"As Tim McClelland might have said on May 31, you are the best writer and contributor this site has."

I don't get it.

F is for fire that burns down the whole town
U is for uranium. Bomb!
N is for no sur-viv-ors...
   77. Chris Dial Posted: June 03, 2003 at 02:11 AM (#611202)
I looked at a bunch of websites for possible links to stories of the day. I should hve gone with your link.

   78. Benji Posted: June 04, 2003 at 02:11 AM (#611218)
Another bash at Payton. Gee, is he as good as Jack Cust, Benny Agbayani, Timo Perez or Jeremy Giambi?
   79. tangotiger Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611330)
Good stuff Chris.

The way I interpret that data (though limited it may be), is that there's an almost point of equilibrium in terms of evaluating college and HS first-rounders. Maybe there should be a little more college players sselected in the first-round, but not that much more.

All that comes with the following caveats:
- the timeline is still too close, especially the HS of the late 90s. You need more time to evaluate them. It may come out that maybe we'll get a few more HS in the "regulars" crowd by the time all the players are 30.

- this is only a 1st round look. You could conceivably have a huge dropoff in the later rounds. While maybe a 50/50 split is equilibrium in the first round, you may be looking at a 75/25 or 90/10 split by the 6th round (I don't know).

- 10 years is still a small sample, so you'd want a 20 or 30 year look. But, the mindset back then, and the way players are conditioned would make the exercise somewhat shaky as it applies to today

Excellent work Chris...
   80. Chris Dial Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611339)
I understand Green is excellent. I was just listing guys whose names weren't obvious - well, except Manny, I guess. Aaron Estes, Calvin Reese and Cornelius Floyd aren't well known.
   81. GregD Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611340)
Whoever said Sammy put on 100 lbs of muscle should try to add 100 points to his IQ. Even a devoted steroid user who was absolutely unconcerned with mobility could barely add 30 pounds of pure muscle. Sammy doesn't have anything like 100 lbs of extra body weight--fat or muscle--from his early days. Maybe 30-40 pounds, a decent amount of which is the natural accumulation of fat as he ages.
   82. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611341)
I hope this doesn't hijack the thread, but the following was just ridiculous:

Look at all the 500 home run hitters, and look at McGwire and Sosa's hit totals. VERY low.

What in the world does that have to do with anything? Look at their ABs and you'll find they're VERY low as well. Sammy has over 4,000 fewer ABs than Eddie Murray -- is it a surprise he has fewer hits? On the other hand, he's only got about 1,100 fewer ABs (and more than 2,000 fewer PAs) than Mike Schmidt, but then he's only got about 230 fewer hits.

All your moronic "test" shows is that Sosa and Mac hit HRs at a slightly higher rate than many in the past -- gee, I think we knew that.

Those guys are too big and slow to have anything but home runs.

McGwire was slow, but this is ludicrous to claim about Sosa. He's got 233 career steals. He's always among the league leaders in runs scored, despite not reaching base nearly at the rate that guys like Bonds and Mac do/did (and it's not like the Cubs have had lots of great hitters behind him over the years). Sammy runs just fine.
   83. wcw Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611346)
two minor corrections:

one, Robert Adair is a smart guy but he is wrong, wrong, wrong about corking. even aside from the fact that bat speed is more important than bat mass (v-squared), that nobody's investigated the effect on the sweet spot (could it be, I dunno, bigger?) and the fact that bat control leads not only to average but to power (sweet spot's easier to place on the ball) [deep breath]...

..corking does, in fact, increase batted ball speed even at constant bat speed. full stop, experimentally verified and with a nice theoretical model.

please to follow the link to the article, ?A Study of the Barrel Construction of Baseball Bats,? linked from UMass-Lowell's Baseball Research Center page, here:

from the abstract: "Finally, the question is addressed as to whether a corked wooden bat really outperforms a solid wood bat. Although commonly thought that corking a bat provides hitters with better control but no additional power, the results of this study show a slight increase, on the order of 1%, in batted-ball speed with the corked bats in comparison to their solid-wood counterparts."

two, could we please, please, please set the dirty-word filter to blank out all posts with the word "s t e r o i d s" in them? thanks.
   84. Depot Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611349)
"Second, there are some serious endogeneity problems here. When a team such as Oakland heavily favors college players, and a team like Tampa Bay favors high schoolers, any perceived differential in the success rate could be caused by other factors besides the origin or age of the player being picked. For example, Oakland may have a fantastic development program while Tampa Bay does not. Better development leads to higher success rates and the disparity in the drafting philosophy could potentially lead to incorrect results in the analysis. In other words, comparing draft pick success to the origin of the player being picked is only effective if there is an even distribution of college and high school picks made by each team."

Well, this is probably mitigated somewhat by the fact that it's easier to become a regular on Tampa Bay and other such poor organizations. In other words, using this article's type of analysis, incompetent teams will "mask" (to some extent) their bad drafts by playing guys other organizations wouldn't play.

I agree with the idea of an equilibrium. If a lot of teams were to take the Moneyball draft theory to heart and focus almost exclusively on college players, then eventually it'll probably make much more sense to draft mainly high school players.
   85. Chris Dial Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611353)
wcw -
I am aware of the study you cite. That's why I said " no significant advantage, if any". I didn't say he couldn't have gotten some benefit, just no significant gain. 2-3 feet on a ball isn't significant, IMO. That's about an arm and glove length. I seriously doubt that's a factor in Sosa's HR success.
   86. Chris Dial Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611355)
Old Gringo,
I missed your point about the first round. In 1996, 19 of 30 first rounders were high school players. What exactly changed? It used to be 24 out of 24? The hysteria is that drafting HS players is in the first round is, well, stupid. That's *demonstrably* not so. Some teams drafted, in 2003, almost exclusively HS players, so, I don't think I'm beating a dead horse at all. Beane is saying "don't draft any HS players early". Well, that's dumb. And a bad plan. Beane would have passed on ARod? What about Austin Kearns?

Dan will get the draft data link working and you can see teams draft HS players as much as they draft college players.

As for TB bias - getting to the majors early, that's not what's happening. In fact, TB don't have *any* players rated as a star or regular yet. I didn't check for bias, but I doubt it exists, based on the cyclical nature of baseball.
   87. Greg Pope Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611358)
I think I read this in a Neyer column, but it's from James. Something about if you randomly threw out 50% of the draftees, then concentrated your resources on the other 50%, you'd get so much more information about them that you could run rings around the other teams in drafting those players. You'd miss any studs in the first 50%, but you'd find enough in the second 50% to make up for it.

The point was that if you don't even scout high school players, you should be able to get studs from the college ranks before your opposition gets them. At the time, since most teams were drafting lots of high school players, you could get even more benefit.

The thing about saying "You should pass on A-Rod because he's a high schooler? No way, that invalidates this whole way of thinking" is that if circumstances had turned out differently, you'd be saying the same thing about Todd Van Poppel. There was no way to know that Alex Rodriguez would turn into Honus Wagner, just like there was no way to know that Todd Van Poppel would turn into Paul Assenmacher. An exaggerated analogy is "You can't pass up on buying a lottery ticket! Look, that guy won!". Well, it's still not a good bet.
   88. Chris Dial Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611359)
I see your point, but I don't believe it applies to the first round. Maybe 15 years ago - not today. I think there is *far* too much information out there. Someone (not sure who) in the Draft thread said they looked over stats and wrote down 20 guys he thought the A's would take - and they took most of them. It's not that hard. So, no, I don't think there is *any* chance in today's informational availability that would work. And you missed my ARod point - Beane *would* have taken him.

The larger point to my column is - in the first round, 35% of the picks make it as regulars. The HS picks *in the first round* are every bit as good as the college picks.

And with today's proliferation of information, you don't have to scour Spavinaw and Ninety-Six. Even the really great HS players are playing USA Baseball.

   89. Chris Dial Posted: June 09, 2003 at 02:13 AM (#611363)
Aaron, no, but would you even describe yourself as "good"? Dog Glanville is there too. You don't have to be a bust, you just have to be "eh".

Torii, I don't recall you catching any of Sosa's near-HRs. And it wouldn't be 2-3 feet higher. The ball travels 2-3 feet further. With some velocity and arced trajectory, it's more like a ball just barely clearing the fence. Not really what Sosa is known for.
   90. Greg Pope Posted: June 10, 2003 at 02:14 AM (#611372)
I don't know too much about the draft, so I was not really trying to draw any conclusions. I was really just stating my opinion of the original James point.

Has anyone performed any similar analysis for later rounds? In other words, if in later rounds college provides a clear advantage, then maybe a team can say something like "If there are 15 high schoolers that everyone knows about, we'll scout them for the first round, but after the first (or second, or tenth, or whatever), we're going college exclusively." The marginal prospects in the later rounds can't get scouted very extensively right now, so maybe that's where you would see a benefit from scouting zero marginal high schoolers and double the marginal college players.
   91. Chris Dial Posted: June 10, 2003 at 02:14 AM (#611390)
Greg "The" Pope,
I understand, and I actually agree with what you write in your second paragraph. I tried to apply enough emphasis that this was *first round* analysis, but haven't made that clear. That is important.

I do think college players in later rounds are less risky. On Draft Day, Repoz (I think) posted a Clutch Hit on "the other side" of draft day. It says a lot about the decision HSers have to make.

I definitely think there is no greater risk in drafting Delmon Young than Rickie Weekes. One is a college player and one is a HS star. The upside for Young is *much* higher because you can still get his 20-22 seasons. That can't happen for Weekes.

Much of the recent draft talk has been how teams are shying away from HSers. In the first round, that is a bad strategy - without question.

Yes, there are other issues - signability, cost and to some extent need (since few draftees are immediate help). The lst three weeks, it has been shouted from the rooftops "Don't draft HSers!" There's plenty of disdain for teh DRays for taking a HSer with the #1 slot. And plenty more for other teams passing on the guys Beane wanted. In moneyball, Beane hoots about Ring and gets pissed about drafting Bonderman - hey, those were not bad picks - because *in the first round* they are no riskier than college first rounders, mostly because the HSers in the first round have played against higher level competition and have been thoroughly seen by *everyone*.
   92. Chris Dial Posted: June 10, 2003 at 02:14 AM (#611400)
that is a good point. I don't know that is where Beane *does* do well, but might. It simply depends on when you bring up the HSer. Chavez and Tejada are two big reasons for their success. No college players hit the majors at 20. Many HSers do. Many "Superstars" do. So, while the generation of regulars is better from college, the generation of superstars is better from high school. I don't disagree with your point. I'm somewhere in between.

But remember, plenty of regulars suck.
   93. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: June 11, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#611441)
I'm sure it doesn't affect the numbers too significantly, but I think you picked the wrong Anderson. The spreadsheet lists Matt Anderson as neither a regular or star, and Ryan Anderson as a regular. One point is below the noise of your choosing categories anyway...

I think that maybe the reason some teams choose more college players is not the talent level, but the projectability (maybe this is what others have been saying). The number of successful players from each place is roughly equivalent (per player drafted), but maybe it is easier to pick out the college players who will be successful. Maybe someone with the data could correlate draft position with career quality, and see if this is true.
   94. tangotiger Posted: June 11, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#611443)
The other significant advantage for college picks (and Chris wrote about this last year), is that a player's peak is around the 26-28 age class. Getting a college player to make the majors at 22-23 means that he'll be a free agent at 29. So, you are underpaying him for 6 years, and is still a commodity after 4 or 5 years if needed.
   95. Chris Dial Posted: June 11, 2003 at 02:15 AM (#611458)
Thanks, Drew.

Dennis, because it's a back-of-the-envelope piece. At least this one.
   96. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 16, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#611605)
If your daughter is becoming recognizably imitative, may I presume to suggest From Head to Toe by Eric Carle? She'll like it for years, and best of all it comes in board form. And the wife might get some amusement out of you trying to teach the little one the postures.
   97. Chris Dial Posted: June 16, 2003 at 02:17 AM (#611608)
Dr. Memory, fantastic cal! That's where she learned it. My wife would do that when she read her "From Head to Toe". Independently, I was reading her "The Grouchy Ladybug" (also by Carle), one of the animals the Grouchy Lady bug encounters is a gorilla. Whe I got to that page, and said "gorilla", my daughter began to beat her chest. She hadn't just learned the book and memorized when that occurred, but had actually learned it and applied it to a different book. Later that day, my wife read her the Grouchy Ladybug (my daughter is an avid reder), she beat her chest and my wife came running to tell me. It was only then that we realized that my daughter had applied what she learned in one book to the other - both thought the other may have taught her seperately.

For those without children, it's really amazing how/when/why they learn. No, it really is. Oh, and my daughter *loves* baseball. One of her favoritebooks is "I am a Baseball".
   98. Jesse Posted: June 16, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#611616)
Huh, a Primer author from my neck of the woods. (I'm in North Carolina too, specifically Durham).
   99. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 16, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#611620)
As for baseball books, I highly recommend The Babe Ruth Ballet School, a picture book by Tim Shortt, featuring the primo opening line, "The last 9-year-old girl to play Big League baseball was Issy Archer of the 1923 New York Yankees." The guy drops names (and faces, all truly excellent likenesses AFAICT) of those old Yankees like he really loves the game. The six-year-old lady really digs (and has since she was three).

Warning: self-indulgent dad talk from Dr. M. to follow (gimme a break, yesterday was my day, and it was left to me to scrub the kitchen floor).

That a family might own a one or two or six Eric Carle books is no longshot; the guy is as good at kid-friendly art as Seuss or Marshall. One night at dinner I was talking about a trip I once took, mentioning that we went through Detroit, Ontario, and on through over to Buffalo. I happened to glance over at my one-year-old boy, and there he was, hunching his shoulders with a giant grin on his face. Books: you can't beat 'em.
   100. mike green Posted: June 16, 2003 at 02:18 AM (#611625)
Loved the articles, Chris. I've added "gorked" a ball to right and tweaked his (own) groin to my baseball vocabulary. The latter sparked a riff on George Carlin's version of the 2 way word "balls" from the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television". I'm still waiting for Dan Shulman to tell me that "Barry Bonds hurt his balls on that play".
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