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Monday, November 24, 2014

Sabermetrics can be questioned, but do so correctly

WAR isn’t perfect. It never will be. As long as analysts acknowledge its flaws and limitations, it’s a very valuable tool.

Everything should be questioned. Without that, we remain stagnant in whatever it is we are dealing with. Dissent is how we get better, and expand our knowledge. But that dissent has to be intelligent and informed in nature, or it just becomes a pointless back-and-forth. The fact is, these numbers are a part of the game now. Every team utilizes them to some degree, and it seems those who do so to a great extent are able to find more consistent success (like John Mozoliak pictured above).

Jim Furtado Posted: November 24, 2014 at 09:45 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

The High Risk of Free Agent Position Players - Beyond the Box Score

Overall, signing positional players to 5+ year deals has not worked out well, and teams have generally overpaid compared to market rates for Wins. Teams would be better off signing mid-tier players to fewer than five years, or spending the money on the pitching market instead. A long-term deal with a positional player free agent is unlikely to be the significant value teams hope it will be—buyer beware.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 24, 2014 at 07:30 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, sabermetrics

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2015! – The Hardball Times

As soon as the Kindle version is released, I am buying my copy. You should too.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: books, sabermetrics

Baseball Prospectus | Baseball Therapy: Against the Grind

We know that over the course of a season, plate discipline erodes as hitters presumably get more tired. It’s hard to get enough sleep out on the road and after a while even a fun job becomes just another job. Well, if players lose plate discipline, they are probably bleeding away strikes, and that can have a significant effect on a team’s chances. Maybe there are some managers who are just better at handling the grind, and in minimizing the penalty to be paid for fatigue and boredom at the end of a long season.
...
Ideally, we could find a manager (or 12) who could actually reverse the downward trend. That is, over a season, we would actually see that the players who played under them performed a little better. While everyone else was trending downward, his players would be trending upward. At the very least, he would hold the line. It turns out that there are a few of those managers. Again, setting aside the managers who were interims or who only managed for one year in the sample, we see that Mike Matheny actually turns out to be pretty good at this, along with Cito Gaston, Bud Black, Davey Johnson, and Terry Francona.
...
There’s a certain chicken-and-egg problem that we must first deal with. One could make the case that perhaps what we’re seeing is that as the season wears on for some teams, they become involved in a pennant race, and that’s really what keeps them from trailing off. I can’t fully rule that one out. There’s also the question of whether the manager should take all the credit (or blame) for these effects. Maybe it’s the hitting coach who wears the rainbow wig. Maybe it’s an organizational thing. We know that there’s an effect, but there’s a black box around it right now. How can we encourage managers to set things up to better fight The Grind? There’s more work to do here and it’s pretty clear that the possible benefits are enormous.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2014 at 11:51 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: managers, sabermetrics

The three people who explain baseball right now | FOX Sports

A few interesting tidbits.

(Does anyone know why JABO doesn’t note the publication date of articles?)

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2014 at 11:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: economics, front office, gabe kapler, hank conger, michael cuddyer, sabermetrics

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is Madison Bumgarner the World’s #1 Starting Pitcher?

The system is straightforward. When a starter makes his major league debut, he begins with 300 points. From there, his rating will go up when he pitches well (based on Game Score). His rating goes down when he pitches poorly or doesn’t pitch at all (including the offseason). Complete details of the system are available both in The Handbook and on Bill James Online.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 18, 2014 at 10:38 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: madison bumgarner, sabermetrics

Monday, November 17, 2014

Interactive 2014 World Series Probability Added Chart Reflects Mad Bum’s Dominance | Rational Pastime

Tom Tango calls Win Probability Added the ultimate “story stat.” By combining FanGraphs’ WPA and my World Series Projections, I aim to depict and uncover the stories of the 2014 World Series in the same way.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 17, 2014 at 07:17 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, madison bumgarner, sabermetrics

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jerry Green: Sabremetrics leave out the winning factor

“take a look at the website Five Three Eight with its numbers-ingrained copy.”  Five Three Eight? Nate Silver hasn’t been this shortchanged since he once said I was his hero!

And if you don’t believe they gloat, take a look at the website Five Three Eight with its numbers-ingrained copy.

We are now inundated not only by numbers, but also by initials. MVP is old-fashioned. Now we have WAR, OPS, and WHIP. WAR translates into wins above replacement which translates into gobbledygook.

The Sabremetrics fanatics are cheering because Trout finally is the MVP. That award was totally deserved — this past season — because his ballclub finally finished in first place in its division. Not because he led all comers in WAR.

And the magnificent Kershaw, whose regular season started in March in Australia, pitched his ballclub into a first-place finish in its division. Fact is, the Dodgers won the NL West in a romp with the enemy San Francisco Giants panting after them.

Brand new PUP

I now have an offering for the Sabremetrics fanciers.

They should add a category — PUP.

PUP is quite simple. It stands for Performance Under Pressure.

...Nate Silver — a numbers wizard out of East Lansing — is the inventor of Five Thirty Eight, that kooky website that now collaborates with ESPN. More initials.

Silver really is brainy intelligent — and is magical in predicting the results of national elections. He’s not quite so hot in analyzing baseball and occasionally is a bit short on English grammar.

Repoz Posted: November 15, 2014 at 09:03 PM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, November 14, 2014

What Corey Kluber Winning the Cy Young Tells Us | FanGraphs Baseball

Corey Kluber just a won a Cy Young Award without an advantage in ERA, without an advantage in win/loss record, without name recognition and without his team making the playoffs. I’d be remiss to ignore the fact that many voters also cited his strong stretch run in the second half, but it sure seems like Corey Kluber just won a Cy Young Award largely due in part to his FIP. And despite the “old-school” reputation of the BBWAA, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 14, 2014 at 08:03 AM | 60 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, cy young award, sabermetrics

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New baseball rules will evolve, Torre says : Sports

La Russa mentioned this in an interview yesterday. What is Ed Lewis’ expertise? Apparently he’s a vet who plays the stocks.

La Russa’s next major move will be unveiling Arizona’s new department of analytics. To run it he’s hired Ed Lewis, who helped initiate and run Cardinals Care more than a decade ago. La Russa said that baseball’s advanced math has been an asset Arizona hasn’t utilized but he stressed that his management will only employ analytics until “the first pitch has been thrown.” Then he wants the people factor to take over.

(Edited to add link to Tweets about his background. Jim)

Jim Furtado Posted: November 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: diamondbacks, sabermetrics

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Does the strike zone vary by pitch type? - Beyond the Box Score

If you like heat maps and somewhat surprising conclusions, this may be the article for you.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 12, 2014 at 08:01 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Baseball Prospectus | Moonshot: The New Best Way to Measure Plate Discipline

This is great stuff.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 11, 2014 at 10:49 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, November 03, 2014

Comparing hitting across generations: neutralized hitting - Beyond the Box Score

If you are jonesing for graphs and acronyms, this might get you through the day.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 03, 2014 at 11:52 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, October 31, 2014

Free Agency Contract Calculator - Beyond the Box Score

I don’t have time to read this too closely but on a quick read it looks interesting.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 31, 2014 at 01:06 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, sabermetrics

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vanguard after the Revolution | NBC SportsWorld

“Bullshit has tremendous advantages over knowledge. Bullshit can be created as needed, on demand, without limit. Anything that happens, you can make up an explanation for why it happened. 

“There was a Kansas football game a year ago; some Texas-based football team, much better than Kansas, came to Lawrence and struggled through the first quarter — KU with, like, a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. The rest of the game, KU lost, like, 37-0, or something. The announcer had an immediate explanation for it: The Texas team flew in the day before, they spent the night sleeping in a strange hotel; it takes them a while to get their feet on the ground.

“It’s pure bullshit, of course, but he was paid to say that … if it had happened the other way, and KU had lost the first quarter, 24-0, and then ‘won’ the rest of the game 17-14 (thus losing 38-17) … if that had happened, we both know that the announcer would have had an immediate explanation for why THAT had happened. … Bullshit is without limit.”

Edit: Bill James is an erudite Bullshit Man!

Jim Furtado Posted: October 28, 2014 at 05:56 PM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, sabermetrics

Evan Longoria: A Bust and Not a Bust | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball

Is batted ball distance available online anywhere?

Furthermore, Longoria chased pitches outside the zone like never before. His O-Swing% jumped above 30% for the first time, and he’s been below average at making contact with those types of pitches. That might explain what led to the higher SwStk%.

So Longoria got a little swing happy at pitches outside the strike zone. But what about his power? Well, his batted ball distance which had sat in the 287 to 294 foot range over the last four seasons, declined to about 279 feet this year. That’s right around the league average. And so then it’s no surprise that his HR/FB rate also fell near the league average, barely clearing the 10% mark. And it’s not like he was hitting tons of doubles that just fell short of the wall. He went from hitting a double once every 15.7 at-bats in 2013 to just once every 24 at-bats. So this was a legitimate power outage.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: evan longoria, rays, sabermetrics


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pirates must weigh risk, reward in attempt to sign Martin | TribLIVE

Some team will get very stupid this off-season with Russell Martin.

“We’re in an interesting era for age curves because of the skew of performance-enhancing drugs,” Huntington said. “We are trying to re-evaluate aging curves because they were taken way out of whack because of the influence of performance-enhancing drugs.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 26, 2014 at 08:58 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: catcher aging, pirates, russell martin, sabermetrics

BABIPf/x: A Predictive Pitch-Based Model | Community – FanGraphs Baseball

A lot of numbers in this one.

BABIPf/x correlates well to long term BABIP, better than does league average results. BABIPf/x is more predictive of next year BABIP than is previous year’s BABIP. Because batted ball results (GB, LD and FB rates) are an independent data source than is PITCHf/x categories (i.e, location, movement , etc.) these data sources could be combined to form a multi-source predictive BABIP model of better quality than either source alone. Additional work could be done to improve count, release location corrections to BABIPf/x, as well as refinement to the BABIPf/x categories.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 26, 2014 at 08:10 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, October 24, 2014

Beaneball | Gold Gloves and Coco Crisp’s Terrible 2014 Defense

This is interesting. I’ve been looking at this stuff lately to decipher some of the season-to-season changes in DRS for players. To properly compare the defensive skillsets of players, opportunity differences need to addressed, just prorating DRS to innings is not enough.

So I don’t know. Coco caught fewer balls this year. That part is indubitable because we register one entirely objective statistic: putouts. He caught balls. He didn’t catch balls. (That, incidentally, forms a large basis of FRAA.) On the other hand, how many air balls did the A’s allow?

Year	TBF	In-play %	In-play	Air%	Air balls	IFFB%	IFFB	OFFB
2013	6069	70%	4248	59.9%	2544	16%	407	2137
2014	5971	69%	4120	53.8%	2215	14%	310	1905

(These stats are from Baseball Reference. If I knew off the top of my head where to get the raw stats, I’d just use those. Instead I have to work backward from the percentages.)

That’s not an insubstantial difference. It’s about 1.4 fewer outfield chances per game, which means 140 fewer chances to Crisp and his outfield mates in his 900 innings in center field. Breaking down the league range factors (there’s probably a better way to do this), about 40 percent of those chances would go to center, so Crisp probably saw something like 55 fewer chances over the course of the year than he did in 2013.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

The ‘Little Things’ – The Hardball Times

Inside Edge tries tracking the “little things”.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wall Street didn’t kill sabermetrics - Beyond the Box Score

“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come”. – Victor Hugo

Sabermetrics won! Sabermetrics won!

In other words, for the blogger class, Andrew Friedman is the everyman, not the “working class” player on the field. The goal, dare I say it, was for the “nerd class” to take over the decision making aspect of the sport. They could obviously never compete on the field with world class athletes, but when it comes to determining which players are best and how to put them together into sets of 25, the sabermetric class could beat the house by counting cards.

The world Moore is describing is a success story. Sabermetrics won and as a result, it’s a totally normal thing that a guy with a sharp mind and no ability to hit a slider can make a name for himself (or herself!) in the game they love. Wall Street didn’t suck the life out of sabermetrics, Wall Street made sabermetrics the norm. Moore says as much, but he says it like it’s a bad thing.

OK, I liked the article overall. The whole “sabermetrics won” idea is a little silly, though.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2014 at 07:56 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: navel gazing, sabermetrics

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Wall Street Strangled the Life out of Sabermetrics | VICE Sports

It’s the way of things.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 22, 2014 at 04:25 PM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Baseball’s hardest throwing bullpen - Beyond the Box Score

Giddy up!

The Kansas City Royals trio of relievers has received a lot of attention this postseason. Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland all throw some serious cheddar. Also, they have been dominant. All three posted ERAs below 1.50 during the regular season, and in the playoffs they’ve allowed just three runs in 25.2 innings. Herrera owned baseball’s second fastest average fastball at 98.1 miles per hour, and Holland and Davis both fell in the top 15, averaging just under 96 miles per hour.

However, the Royals did not have baseball’s hardest throwing bullpen. That distinction belonged to the Atlanta Braves, whose relievers had an average fastball velocity of 93.9 miles per hour. The Royals checked in at 93.5 miles per hour, in a virtual tie for second with the Cincinnati Reds (think Aroldis Chapman) and the Seattle Mariners.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 21, 2014 at 07:59 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: relievers, sabermetrics

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