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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Inside Baseball | 7 Burning Questions For The MLB Offseason

Jon Heyman asks the big questions.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 10:50 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: notes

New CBA Tries To Stamp Out Loopholes To Sign Shohei Otani | BaseballAmerica.com

BA explains the CBA’s impact on Shohei Ohtani.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 10:47 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, shohei ohtani

Third time through the order isn’t a charm, and Mets are ready to deal with it | Newsday

The Mets could convert some of their starters to the bullpen. Why not make Lugo a 2-3 inning reliever, for example?

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 10:29 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mets

More on WAR – Joe Blogs – Medium

Bill is off base here. Bill seems to want to use WAR to answer questions that WAR is not really suited to answer. He’s not alone, of course. Other people use WAR to answer the MVP question all the time. The reason it’s done is, there really isn’t a tool out there designed to specifically answer the MVP question. Bill tried to do it with Win Shares. Unfortunately the adjustment methods he chose were too broad in nature.

In any event we don’t have to throw out WAR. It’s really useful for answering a lot of questions. I heartily agree with a Tangotiger suggestion:

I have always thought the best way to design a WAR would be to break it down into separate elements, which we later combine in the most appropriate way to best answer specific questions. The breakdown, IMO, should be: 1) offense, 2) defense (further broken down into components), 3) baserunning, 4) positional adjustment, and 5) context adjustment. (They should all also be presented with the related rate stat to help people answer other specific questions.)

Anyway, by introducing a timing/context adjustment as Tangotiger suggested, the value of the current WAR systems would increase. Our current data sets are much better than they were twenty years ago. We can now provide individual contexts, and need not rely on team ratios as Win Shares did. We should do it.

Unfortunately, though, the additions will generate more confusion as many people will still want to use one number to answer all questions.

“But because that is true, I ASSUMED that these were complex, nuanced, sophisticated systems. I never really looked; I just assumed that the details were out of my depth. But sometime in the last year I was doing some research that relied on these WAR systems, so I took a look at them, and … they’re not very impressive. They’re not well thought through; they haven’t made a convincing effort to address many of the inherent difficulties that the undertaking presents. They tend to get so far into the data, throw up their arms and make a wild guess. I don’t know if I’m going to get the time to do better of it, or if it will be left to others, but … we’re not at anything like an end point here. I assumed that these systems were a lot better than they actually are.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 07:28 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, sabermetrics, war

dWAR to end all WARs – Joe Blogs – Medium

People might not remember but I created one of the first WAR, along with G. Jay Walker. Although I leave the evaluation of real MLB players to others now, I still use an offshoot of the system to evaluate players for my simulation league. For my system I essentially agree with Mitchel Lichtman’s thoughts at the bottom of the article. (Excluding tone, of course.)

I don’t think you’re really understanding how this works. I’m not sure Sean [Forman] does either. There’s no such thing as defensive wins or runs above “replacement” because replacement is defined by offense and defense. And as it turns out (not that it really matters) replacement players on the average are around average on defense. All their deficiency is in offense.

There is also no such thing as positional adjustment offense. You CAN give an offensive value relative to other players at that position but you have to specify over what time period.

All that being said, you are 100% correct in that most people want to know how good defensively a player is compared to others at their position and presenting a position adjusted number confuses that. Bottom line is this: Defense should be presented relative to the average at that position AND serious people SHOULD know how to compare players ACROSS positions (by applying positional adjustments).

Offense should be presented compared to average of ALL positions. Most people intuitively know that different positions have different offenses because of the size of the pool of players that can play that position (and the physical characteristics necessary to play them). But it’s not at all necessary to know those differences or include them in the offensive numbers.

Finally it IS necessary to include positional adjustments in the “final comprehensive number” (like WAR) in order to be able to compare all players AND because when we want to know “how good” a player is we MUST incorporate his defensive position.

I know Sean understands how this all works. He disagrees, however, on how positional adjustments should fit into a WAR framework. He’s not wrong but his choice makes WAR answer too narrow a question.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 07:00 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, war

Judge and Altuve | Articles | Bill James Online

I agree with a lot of what Bill James said in this article. WAR is wonderful when it’s used to answer the right questions. “Who is the MVP?” is not one of those questions. This is not a new opinion for me. I wrote the following 18 years ago:

6.Value is context driven: ability is context neutral.

The genesis for this item is the whole MVP debate. Every season people argue about who the Most Valuable Player is. The biggest point of contention is usually whether the player was on a contender or not. Another sore point is whether situationally dependent stats, such as RBI and Runs, should be factored in. To me, people meld together two different questions: “Who is the Most Valuable Player?” and “Who is the best player?” Although sometimes the answer to both questions is the same, they ask two distinctly different things. While the MVP question is about value, the “best player” question is about ability. Value is context driven; ability is context neutral.

If I want to know who’s most valuable, context is important because the value of a player’s contribution changes with context. A home run has more value with the bases loaded than with the bases empty. A steal of second base has more value with nobody on than with two outs (you have more opportunities to drive the player in with less than two outs. A run in a 0-0 game has more value than a run in an 11-0 game.

With the changing value of events, it’s very important to establish the context of the player’s action to properly valuate his performance. Say a player batted with lots of runners on base and drove in an average number of those runners. What would the result be? You guessed it, a lot of RBIs. Say another player batted with relatively few runners on base, but drove in a high percentage of them. What would the result be? Again, a lot of RBIs. Which player’s performance has more value? Well, that depends on the context of the production. We need to factor in team context to properly determine the value.

Wins are the currency of value for teams. Therefore, the team with the most wins has the most value. Since team wins are produced by the combined accomplishments of its players, the players’ value equal the team’s value. This means that two players who make exactly the same contribution do not necessarily have the same value. This greatly complicates answering the whole MVP question.

To illustrate, here’s a word problem for you. Two gentlemen (let’s call them Player A and Player B) play on two nearly identical teams. Each team scored 800 runs. Each team possessed fielders of exactly the same quality. The difference between the two ball clubs is the quality of the pitching staffs. Team A’s pitchers allowed 650 runs, while Team B’s pitchers allowed 700 runs. All this resulted in 96 wins for Team A and 91 wins for Team B. If I tell you both players generated 80 runs for their respective teams, does this mean they were equally valuable players?

Considering this is a baseball book rather than a math test, I’ll just give you the answer: no, Player A was more valuable. Why? Because in the context he operated in, his runs were more valuable–they bought more wins. Using a modified version of Pete Palmers runs to wins formula, I determine it cost 9.97 runs per win in Team As context [(10/3)*SQRT((800+650)/162)] and 10.14 runs per win in Team Bs context [(10/3)*SQRT((800+700)/162)]. Player A’s 80 runs purchased 8.02 wins while Player B’s 80 runs purchased 7.89 wins. Therefore, Player A was more valuable.

Ability, on the other hand, is context neutral. The ability to hit a ball 500 feet is the same whether a player is at Coors Field or at the Astrodome. The fact that the same ball might travel 540 feet at Coors is irrelevant. The change in conditions causes the ball to travel 40 feet farther, not a change in ability. (A non-baseball example of the same concept is weight. Take a 200 pound item on Earth and weigh it on the Moon. What does it weigh? About 32 pounds. The item doesn’t change, the conditions do. The change in conditions, gravity in this example, accounts for the difference.)

Since the best player is the player with the most ability, ability is what we should measure to answer the “best player” question. To measure ability, we must first filter out context. Once that’s done we can directly compare player in a neutral context–we can compare their ability.

To answer the MVP question, we need to incorporate context. Not having context, however, doesn’t prevent WAR from being an extremely valuable statistic. (It’s still great for answering a myriad of other important questions.) Its use just needs to be restricted to the tasks where it’s the appropriate tool. As Lee Panas said to me on Twitter, “I think there is a lot of confusion as to how and when to use it.  I see too many people using it as a hammer.” I certainly agree. We don’t need to get rid of the hammer; we just need to better differentiate between nails, screws, and fasteners so we choose the right tool to compete the task at hand.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 06:14 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Is Ohtani Really More Valuable in the AL?

But there’s a case to be made that Ohtani’s bat is actually more valuable in the NL even if he’s just limited to the plate appearances he’d earn as a starting pitcher and (between starts) pinch-hitter. It’s possible that his offensive production, relative to the average pitcher, might be more valuable than his production over the average DH performance.

Interesting article that suggests that Ohtani could produce nearly as much value in ~65 PAs as a pitcher as he would in ~400 PAs as a DH, due to the wildly different replacement levels. And pinch-hitting in the NL could close the gap.

PreservedFish Posted: November 18, 2017 at 11:10 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ohtani

How an Astros player helped high-school kids have a cool World Series celebration

This is the story of a Houston Astros superfan who lives in Texas Rangers country, who teaches high school history and who promised his classes a pizza party if the Astros won the World Series — even though many of them weren’t Astros fans. But he was and he thought this was the year.

And it’s the story of one Astros player who saw a tweet about the pizza party, then answered with a few swipes on his phone and a little bit of money from his bank account to give those kids another party, because as he says, high school is “always better when you have a little extra fun.”

Is Thickie Don the primate Thickie Don???

TDF didn't lie, he just didn't remember Posted: November 18, 2017 at 02:52 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Friday, November 17, 2017

Inside Baseball MLB Notes | Yankees Still Looking To Shed Salary

Heyman’s latest.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 17, 2017 at 03:45 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: notes

The story of Alex Anthopoulos: From tragedy to prodigy to Braves GM

“Pursue things that you have a passion for,” he said. “Then have humility. That’s the two things I think, in any walk of life, will take you incredibly far. Having a passion for what you’re going to go after, having that humility to get better, to learn, to want to work with people and have people want to work with you. Those are the two most important things.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 17, 2017 at 03:44 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: alex anthopoulos, braves, general managers

Rosenthal on latest with Ohtani | MLB.com

At least this is better than getting behind the pay wall.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 17, 2017 at 12:47 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: mlbpa, shohei ohtani, video

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-17-2017

El Paso Herald, November 17, 1917:

Chubby Chawles Murphy, reputed to have run a shoestring into a fortune as owner or part owner of the Cubs, is threatening to throw some of his dough away, if recent reports from the windy city can be credited.

Murphy, it is said, has a deep, dark plot in the hatching for the formation of a third big league, and he doesn’t give a continental whether or not his league is recognized by the powers that be.

I had no idea there were so many plans to start a third major league. That seems crazy to me, but I guess the American League was less than 20 years old at this point. The order of baseball as we know it was still pretty fluid in 1917.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 17, 2017 at 09:47 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Fangraphs: Let’s Make One Thing Absolutely Clear About Aaron Judge

Click the link for a rather compelling graphic beyond my ability to embed, as well as additional data, but the conclusion is:

Judge hits the ball the hardest. The point that’s less obvious: That means Judge gets to play by his own rules. Strikeouts don’t mean for him what they would for someone else, because Judge doesn’t need a low strikeout rate to be good. He doesn’t need a low strikeout rate to be terrific. He doesn’t even need a low strikeout rate to be a deserving league MVP. Statcast has revealed the whole truth of Aaron Judge, and the truth is that, at least in the American League, he is one of a kind. That might make it harder to see the future, but then, maybe, it doesn’t make it harder at all.

And he just might cut down on those strikeouts.

The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 17, 2017 at 12:34 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: aaron judge, exit velocity, home runs, new york yankees, statcast

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stanton, Altuve capture first MVP Awards | MVP

Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins and Jose Altuve of the Astros couldn’t be more different in stature, but they both spent last season producing at elite levels en route to Major League Baseball’s highest individual award.

Stanton and Altuve were unveiled as the National League and American League Most Valuable Player Award winners, respectively, by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Thursday.

LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 16, 2017 at 08:05 PM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: giancarlo stanton, jose altuve, mvp

The Eric Hosmer Dilemma | FanGraphs Baseball

He seems like a great guy in the clubhouse. He’s a good player. I hope the Red Sox don’t pursue him.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 04:19 PM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: eric hosmer

Yankees Aiming Lower on the Payroll, but Higher on the Field - The New York Times

“I’ve been saying you can have a world-championship-caliber team and not have a $200-plus-million payroll,” Steinbrenner said shortly after arriving here for two days of owners’ meetings. “And I think we’re finally getting to a point where that’s coming true for us.”

The Yankees, who had a $209 million payroll last season, have a number of big contracts coming off the books: those of C. C. Sabathia ($25 million), Alex Rodriguez ($21 million), Matt Holliday ($13 million) and Michael Pineda ($7.4 million). But don’t expect that to lead to the type of binge that ensued four years ago, when the Yankees let Robinson Cano leave for Seattle only to go on a nearly $450 million free-agent bender that brought in Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 04:03 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: yankees


This is how you actually spell the name of Japan’s Babe Ruth | New York Post

One problem is finally out of the way.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 10:33 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: shohei ohtani

Jim Palmer on Mark Belanger and Omar Vizquel: The Hardball Times

“In 1969, the great Charley Lau became the Orioles’ hitting coach. He insisted that Belanger take extra batting practice all the time. He cut his strikeouts in half from ‘68, he hit .287, the highest mark of his career. Sometimes I think if Lau hadn’t taken that extra $5,000 to go to Kansas City after the season ended, maybe Blade hits enough to be in the Hall of Fame.”

djordan Posted: November 16, 2017 at 08:39 AM | 98 comment(s)
  Beats: omar vizquel

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-16-2017

South Bend News-Times, November 16, 1917:

Branch Rickey, president of the St. Louis Cardinals and one time coach at Ohio Wesleyan university, will return the latter part of this week to help Coach McCoy put the finishing touches on the team that will meet Denison [in Delaware, Ohio] in the annual homecoming football game on Saturday. Rickey graduated from Wesleyan in 1904 and after graduation came [to Delaware] to coach football and baseball.

Beating Denison is the residue of design.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2017 at 07:50 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Scott Boras: Loaded Mets are too cheap to live in ‘Playoffville’ | New York Post

At least this swipe made me chuckle a little. Boras takes a swipe at regular people. Getting a raise shouldn’t require a family to move to gated community. Or should it?

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 06:58 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, scott boras

Rosenthal: Pirates dismiss Latin American scouting director after he took improper payment (Subscription)

The investigation showed that the Mexican team paid Gayo a form of a kickback several years ago for the sale of at least one player to the Pirates, sources said. The Pirates, after learning the results of baseball’s probe, informed Gayo on Monday that they would not renew his contract. Gayo, 55, still faces possible discipline from MLB.

Well, that sucks.


Heyman | Union Challenge Means Otani Status On Hold

Maybe the Players Union shouldn’t have agreed to the 25 year-old threshold in the first place.

Discouraging him to wait another two years may be good for the Union but it might not be for Otani. He clearly dreams of playing in the MLB. What if he blows out his arm between now and then?

The union actually challenged the future terms covering 2018-2020, but with complaints heard on the player side regarding current rules that calls for Nippon Ham cashing in with a $20 million posting fee windfall while Otani is limited to a signing bonus of somewhere between $300,000 and $3.53 million, management people wonder if the bigger union concern is over that perceived inequity.

“The union is holding up the posting agreement,” one management source said. “The union is making demands.”
...
The union is trying to protect his interests as best it can. But management sources wonder whether the union’s complaints about the future arrangement are a “backdoor” attempt to aid Otani, or even a way to “discourage” Otani from coming over now. Just a two-year wait could boost Otani’s guarantee by as much as 100-fold, which would make a wait until 2020 the likely decision of just about anyone but one of the world’s athletes who aims to prove his two-way mastery at the MLB level.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 06:24 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: shohei ohtani

Derek Jeter addresses Giancarlo Stanton rumors | MLB.com

That said, Jeter noted that the club has “some financial things we have to get in order,” a process that could begin with a trade of Stanton, who is owed $295 million over the next decade.

“This is an organization that’s been losing money for quite some time, so we have to turn it around,” Jeter said. “How we do that? It’s not clear. It’s easy to point the finger at him because he makes the most money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the move that’s going to be made.

“We’re here [at the General Managers Meetings] like every other team, trying to figure out how we can make this organization better. No one has come out and said that we are specifically trading Giancarlo Stanton. We’re seeing the best way to make this organization successful, and we want it to be sustainable for a long time.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 06:15 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, giancarlo stanton, marlins

Braves will lose prospects, and possibly a lot more, for violating international market rules

Stinks having Rosenthal behind the pay wall.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is still deciding the penalties the Atlanta Braves will receive for violating rules in the international market. Those penalties, however, will definitely include the loss of prospects the team signed out of Latin America, according to major-league sources.

Any players the Braves lose become free agents subject to international bonus pools, sources said. The procedure will be the same as it was for the five Latin American prospects that baseball took from the Boston Red Sox on July 1, 2016, for circumventing international rules—the players kept their initial signing bonuses, each of which was $300,000, then became eligible to sign with other clubs.

Manfred has yet to decide which players the Braves will forfeit, sources said. The biggest potential loss is shortstop Kevin Maitan, whom the Braves signed for $4.25 million on July 2, 2016. Maitan, 17, is the Braves’ No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, a switch-hitter who has drawn comparisons to Chipper Jones, Miguel Cabrera, and Miguel Sano.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2017 at 06:08 AM | 48 comment(s)
  Beats: braves

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