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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Arthur: Buster Posey Has Quietly Become A Lock For Cooperstown

The Giants’ record might make Posey easy to overlook, but his combination of hitting and defense makes him almost a lock to one day join the Hall. In fact, despite being only 30 years old, Posey might already have a Hall of Fame résumé if he retired today.

538’s baseball coverage hasn’t been great, has it?

Baldrick Posted: August 17, 2017 at 03:57 PM | 114 comment(s)
  Beats: buster posey, fivethirtyeight, hall of fame

Friday, August 11, 2017

FiveThirtyEight: Baseball’s ‘Hot Hand’ Is Real

Every starting pitcher in our data shows a noticeable pattern of switching between hot and cold states.5 Some pitchers’ streakiness manifests in a pronounced downside when they’re cold, like what happens to Texas Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. When he’s on, Hamels’ fastball is just a tick faster than average for him. But when he’s off, he loses about two and a half miles per hour compared to his average fastball. The impact is massive: That almost 4 mph difference in heat translates to a 1.03-run difference in projected runs allowed per nine. If you apply those numbers to Hamels’ 2016 season, he had ace-level stats when hot (3.41 RA/9, 18th among 73 qualified starters), and mediocre ones when off (4.44 RA/9, 44th).

What’s more, the differences in Hamels’ performance seem to be steady from year to year. Running the same analysis on his 2014 and 2015 seasons shows that Hamels always fluctuates between about 2.5 mph down when cold and 1 mph up when hot. He’s not alone: Players who appeared in all three seasons we studied tended to show the same hot and cold effects from year to year, suggesting that we picked up on some of each pitcher’s true characteristics rather than just noise.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2017 at 02:03 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: fivethirtyeight, hot hand

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Dodgers Have A Real Chance To Break The All-Time Wins Record

According to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo model, which simulates the remainder of the season using power ratings and each team’s probability of winning every game, the Dodgers are on pace to win 112 games. But that’s just their average outcome — in some simulations they win more, and in some they win less. In a shade over 20 percent of sims, they win at least 116 games, which would tie the all-time mark. And 13.5 percent of the time, they finish the season with at least 117 victories, setting a new single-season record for greatness.

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 07, 2017 at 01:57 PM | 76 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, fivethirtyeight

Friday, July 21, 2017

Baseball’s Best Teams Are Too Damn Good

As we approach the July 31 trade deadline, this is more than just an academic curiosity. A team’s willingness to pony up prospects for a better shot at the World Series is directly tied to how much good it thinks a trade will do. In a wide-open season, even teams outside the top tier of contenders could be convinced to roll the dice on an upgrade — particularly with the expanded wild-card format. But the stronger the top teams are, the less incentive teams on the periphery have to make a championship push. According to Elo, we haven’t seen a stronger crop of elite teams in the expansion era than this season’s top six.1

As recently as a few years ago, you could have lamented the lack of dominant teams at the top of the major leagues. At this same time in 2015, for instance, the leading Elo teams were among the weakest at their slots in the expansion era. But baseball’s era of parity seems to be officially over, with the game moving back toward imbalance. While a top-heavy MLB might never look like its basketball equivalent,2 it’s still going to be tougher than usual for aspiring contenders to break through — a fact you can bet every GM is keenly aware of in the lead-up to the deadline.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 21, 2017 at 05:40 PM | 73 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dodgers, fivethirtyeight, parity

Thursday, July 20, 2017

America Has Spoken: The Yankees Are The Worst

That’s according to a FiveThirtyEight-commissioned SurveyMonkey Audience poll of 989 self-described baseball fans, conducted June 30 to July 8.1 The poll does provide the Yankees with one talking point: They received more votes as people’s favorite team than any other franchise. But a deeper look at the results reveals that the Cubs are a much better fit for the title of America’s best-liked team (if such a thing even exists)....

Sixty-seven percent of baseball fans nationally had a favorable view of the Cubs, while just 14 percent had an unfavorable view. Amazingly, this gave the Cubs the highest favorable rating in the poll in addition to a tie with the Colorado Rockies for the lowest unfavorable rating. In every region of the country, the Cubs had a favorable rating of above 60 percent and an unfavorable rating of 20 percent or less. The Cardinals (at +31 percentage points) were a distant second to the Cubs (at +53 percentage points) when it came to net favorability (favorable rating minus unfavorable rating).

The Yankees are an entirely different story. While a fairly high 44 percent of fans have a favorable view of the Yankees, they are the only team in the country for which more fans hold an unfavorable view (48 percent) than favorable view. (For the sake of context, no other team has an unfavorable rating above 35 percent.) Yankee fans will be particularly stung by the fact that more fans have a favorable view of the rival Red Sox (56 percent) than the Yankees.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 20, 2017 at 05:37 PM | 48 comment(s)
  Beats: fivethirtyeight, poll, yankees

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

In MLB’s New Home Run Era, It’s The Baseballs That Are Juicing

But it turns out there was an experiment in progress under our noses all along. Baseball’s camera- and radar-tracking technologies measure the speed of the ball shortly after the pitcher releases it and then again when it crosses the plate. By examining how much speed it loses between those two locations, we can calculate its air resistance (as measured by drag coefficient). For example, the average pitch loses about 7.4 mph on its way to the plate. The exact amount of velocity lost depends on the thickness of the air (which varies with temperature, weather and elevation), but a high-drag ball tends to lose about 8.7 mph on the way to the plate, while a slicker ball would lose only 6.5 mph.

With some help from baseball physicist Alan Nathan, I used those measurements to estimate the air resistance on the ball in each full month of MLB action since 2013, accounting for weather and altitude. If the ball has a lower drag coefficient, it ought to lead to longer fly balls and more dingers. Sure enough, you can see a strong correlation between the drag coefficient and the rate of home runs per fly ball in a given month1:

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 28, 2017 at 04:24 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: fivethirtyeight, home run spike, juiced baseballs

 

 

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