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Thursday, August 21, 2014

FG: Brian McCann Probably Couldn’t Be Given Away For Free

Take a real class about McCant’s!

Much has been made of [Brian] McCann and his issues facing the shift, and that’s true to an extent… [but] He’s always been shifted on. It’s overly simplistic to put it all on that.

Besides, McCann has been doing what he can to avoid it. His grounder rate of 33.0% is easily the lowest of his career, and… He’s actually in the top 15 as far as lefty hitters going the other way…

McCann’s walk rate [has declined] pretty steadily from 2010 until now, where it’s less than half what it was, and this is sort of the thing: McCann’s lousy year isn’t any one thing. It’s a few small things, adding up… McCann’s power, which everyone figured would translate well to the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium, hasn’t come with him. It’s actually less that he’s failed to take advantage of right field in the Bronx, and more that it’s been the only thing making his homer totals look even respectable… Every single one [of his homeruns] is out to right field; all but two are at Yankee Stadium…

McCann will need to improve considerably just to get back to being a league-average hitter, and even with how difficult it is to find offense from behind the plate, that’s not exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they invested so much in him over the winter.

The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:49 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: brian mccann, sabermetrics, yankees

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BP: Moonshot: The Analytic Value of the Crack of the Bat

What’s the frequency, Robert?

I collected several games worth of audio, saving individual audio files for each contact event, and noting the result of that contact in broad terms (fly out, groundout, home run, etc.).

The result of that work was a small sample (5-10) of each event variety…

 

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball prospectus, sabermetrics

The Shift Episode 14: Saberseminar - August 19, 2014 - Beyond the Box Score

More info about the Saberseminar. I really wanted to attend. I had tickets this year. The venue was 45 minutes away. Unfortunately family responsibilities kept me away. Sometimes being responsible really, really sucks.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 20, 2014 at 09:26 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Sabermetrics Gets Soft «

Good stuff.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 20, 2014 at 09:24 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sam Miller: The beauty (in the eye of the beholder) of the Strikeout Era

Suspended in time and space of the noodle-hitting 60’s for a moment, your introduction to Mr. Sam Miller, who lives in a very private world of darkness, a baseball universe whose home plate dimensions are no longer the size, thickness, length of a swath of bandages that cover his face.

I would never presume that I could convince Rob Neyer that those things I find appealing should be appealing to him, too. Matters of taste are matters of taste. It won’t matter to him that I love to watch a 14-strikeout game the way others love to watch heavy waves crashing near a shoreline; or that the divinely inspired pitching lines of Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara and Dellin Betances are as awesome as the Velvet Underground’s discography or Benjamin Franklin’s curriculum vitae; or that I love the final moments of a strikeout—the terrible swings and the baffled takes, the pitcher’s circumnavigatory strut around the mound—more than any of baseball’s alternative denouements; or that I find the three-step progression toward a resolution to be far more satisfying than the sudden deus ex machina of a ball in play. These features of the strikeout please me, and if they don’t please Rob (or you) I accept that no volume of effusion will change that. Taste is just chemicals telling us what to like, after all, and rhetoric’s power over those chemicals is limited.

...We used to live in a world where games were tight. Then hitters started hitting everything hard, and before we knew it games were no longer tight. You’d turn a game on in the fourth inning and it was 14-2 or 17-1 or 10-2 or 11-5. If baseball games seem too long in general, imagine how long they seem when the last two hours are just an unnecessary ending for a premature conclusion. Andrelton Simmons can make all the plays in the world; if they are not actually for something (like preserving a two-run lead) then what good are they?

Fundamentally, then, baseball is better now. You might think that offense makes the game more exciting, that strikeouts make it more repetitive, but the fundamentals of the competition are strong. Just turn on the TV at any random moment, look at how close the score is, and you’ll see.

...Now, I will note one thing in favor of the strikeout era: You’re more likely to turn on a game and have the score be tied today. Ties are exciting, maybe the most exciting, so the pro-strikeouts crowd has that going for us. And maybe, just maybe, the relative closeness of the score doesn’t matter as much as the numbers themselves; maybe our brains are too simple to recognize that a two-run lead is larger now than it used to be, and we’re just happy to see more two-run games. To see more of what our simple brains categorize as “games.”

But that’s just a desperate hope on my part. More accurately, I can only conclude that strikeouts make it more likely that the game I turn on has already been decided. There it is, the objective and incontrovertible argument against the strikeout era. Siggggh. If you need me, I’ll be over here, clinging to the last defense of a losing argument: personal taste.

Repoz Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:13 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sabermetrics

BP (Levine): Will a pitcher ever be suspended for hitting a batter again?

Just saw a headline about Kirk Gibson being back, so we’ll probably find out!

In 2006, 12 players were suspended multiple games for beanballs alone… This year, beyond bat-tossin’ Manny Machado, the only players to get multiple games for anything were Martin Maldonado, Carlos Gomez, and Travis Snider for their roles in that dumb Pirates-Brewers fight. Nobody has been suspended for the hit by pitches that have sparked cultural debates and, at times, have really hurt. Only once this year has it happened: Brandon Workman vs. Evan Longoria, on a pitch that missed head-high on June 2. Since then, nothing… What happens the next time MLB wants to issue a suspension for an intentional hit by pitch and the player appeals, citing this year’s precedent?...

The easiest way out of this precedent would be for the next intentional hit batsman to start a massive brawl or lead to something unusual occurring… [but] Nobody charges the mound anymore… [and] We’ve sort of already tried that this year. Fernando Abad was ejected for throwing the pitch that led to Machado’s bat throw. He was also not suspended even though it turned into an ugly incident.

So MLB might not get there the easy way, which leaves the hard way: A pitcher seriously injuring a hitter. Put a fastball in somebody’s brain and precedent may not matter much.

Even then, it will look like Major League Baseball is only affirming one of the dumb cliches: That there’s a right way to hit batters. Still, that’s a step up from what the last few months may have revealed about MLB’s thinking.

The District Attorney Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball prospectus, hit batsmen, sabermetrics, suspensions

Monday, August 18, 2014

Passan: Breaking down the schedules for all 19 MLB playoff contenders

What if they gave a postseason and no team was good?

Baseball’s two richest teams find themselves at the opposite end of the scheduling spectrum. Presenting, then, a complete breakdown of the stretch schedules for all 19 – 19! – playoff contenders, going from hardest to easiest, and starting with the ...

1. New York Yankees… 2. Tampa Bay Rays… 3. Cincinnati Reds… 4. Miami Marlins… 5. Los Angeles Angels… 6. Toronto Blue Jays… 7. Seattle Mariners… 8. Milwaukee Brewers… . Washington Nationals… 10. Pittsburgh Pirates… 11. Cleveland Indians… 12. Detroit Tigers…13. Atlanta Braves… 14. Oakland A’s… 15. San Francisco Giants… 16. St. Louis Cardinals… 17. Baltimore Orioles… 18. Kansas City Royals… 19. Los Angeles Dodgers

The District Attorney Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:43 PM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: jeff passan, playoffs, sabermetrics

Brisbee: Jedd Gyorko’s 31 homers isn’t the saddest team record

[Jedd] Gyorko’s 31 homers as a second baseman in his Padres career is a franchise record. Total. For any second baseman’s entire Padres career. That’s a sad record.

But is it the saddest record? As in, what’s the lowest total for a franchise leader at every position? With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, we can find out…

C - Rays (Toby Hall, 44 home runs) and Pirates (Jason Kendall, 66)..
1B - Diamondbacks (Paul Goldschmidt, 82) and Angels (Wally Joyner, 116)...
SS - Astros (Adam Everett, 35)...
3B - Brewers (Don Money, 78)...
LF - Padres (Greg Vaughn, 72)...
CF - Rangers (Don Lock, 71)...
RF - Rays (Matt Joyce, 47) and Astros (Hunter Pence, 88)...
DH - Twins (David Ortiz, 42)

Oh.

Oh, my.

That’s much, much sadder than the Gyorko thing. That’s much, much, much sadder on several different levels.

(Note: Jason Kubel also had 42 as a Twins DH, but Ortiz kinda needs to be in that header by himself for effect.)

It’s too late to change history, but…

The District Attorney Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:32 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: grant brisbee, jedd gyorko, padres, sabermetrics

Neyer: Grains of salt

Get that dunce cap off your head and put it on Pedro Guerrero’s!

If I gave you a choice of any non-Kershaw major leaguer for the rest of the season, who would you choose?

Right: Mike Trout. Get that dunce cap off your head and move a little closer to my desk, right this minute.

And your second choice?

I’m not going to make you put the dunce cap back on if you don’t immediately think of Alex Gordon. But by this measure, he’s actually been the best player in the major leagues this season... [but] There’s no functional difference between 5.7 fWAR and 5.6 fWAR. Better to say those two have been the two best in the majors this season…

this is where I caution everyone, quite carefully: None of this means that the people at FanGraphs believe Alex Gordon is one of the two best players in the majors, or is as valuable as Mike Trout.

Every method has limitations, and we’re simply looking for the method with the fewest limitations. Wins Above Replacement is really good. But this version, anyway, seems to overrate really good corner outfielders like Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward. I think Gordon’s a great player. I’m just not sure he’s this great.

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:26 PM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, angels, mike trout, rob neyer, royals, sabermetrics

Speier: Are Red Sox too dependent on David Ortiz?

Hey, go back to 1891 and get 39-year-old Papi Anson also leading the league in RBI! (Don’t call him that to his face, though.)

[David] Ortiz leads the major leagues in RBIs on a team that ranks last in the American League and 24th in the majors in runs scored. He’s driven in 91 of the team’s 475 runs (19.2 percent), the highest percentage of any team’s runs driven in by a single player in the big leagues. He’s hit 28 of the team’s 92 homers (30.4 percent), accounting for the second-highest percentage of a team’s homers…

Since 1901, there have been 47 players with 500 or more plate appearances in their age 39 season. Of those, 31 have had an OPS+ of 100 or better, topped by Barry Bonds’ 263, followed by Ted Williams’ 179; 15 of those players have had an OPS+ of 120 or better…

based on the raw numbers… the Sox face something like a 37 percent decreased likelihood that Ortiz will be able to reach 500 plate appearances next season as a 39-year-old.

But if he does remain on the field, there appears to be a superstar survival effect, where roughly two out of every three players are at least league average producers at each of these ages, and interestingly, a slightly increasing percentage of these players produce at an elite level suggested by an OPS+ of 120 or greater.

So the idea of a 39-year-old David Ortiz anchoring a lineup isn’t unprecedented. But for a Red Sox team that will be trying to dig out from the wreckage of a dismal 2014 season, knowing that there have only been 15 players in the last 114 years to deliver some semblance of the health and production that they hope for from Ortiz represents a daunting reality, at a time when the lineup has no obvious ability to support the veteran from being anything less than a force.

 

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:02 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: alex speier, david ortiz, red sox, sabermetrics

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 8/8/14 - 8/17/14

Could we get Elway wrestling, Eisenhower playing quarterback, and Randy Savage as Supreme Allied Commander?

Is there any systematic account available of the changes over the years in player movement and roster utilization, both team to team and majors to minors, both the rules governing this stuff and the actual practices? I know in general terms that things have changed immensely since I was a newbie baseball fan about the same time you were. The tipping point for me came in 2010 when I realized that my Giants were allowed to leave a healthy season-long rotation starter (bad as he was) off the postseason roster. To me, that kind of move, while it might make strategic sense, really subverts the idea of a baseball “team” that we’re supposed to root for. Somehow I doubt that would have happened in 1962.

I’m not aware of their being any such account, but then, I’m a poor resource for that kind of information, since I don’t really study the research the other people do. Generally. I agree that. . .well, you didn’t EXACTLY say this, but. . .I agree that more restrictive rules would be appropriate in some areas. In a perfect game, should not be able to leave somebody who has been a key part of your team all year off your post-season roster unless he’s 80% dead. And I’m CERTAIN that I’m about to hear from somebody that we left so-and-so off our roster in 2007 or something. . ..

June 26 1987 at Yankee Stadium… Schiraldi gave up a walk, a bunt and a single to lose the game in the bottom of the tenth, 12-11. Dave Henderson batted for Gedman in the top of the 10th, which meant that Marc Sullivan caught the tenth. Wonder if that was the highest leverage inning of Sullivan’s “career?”

If Sullivan didn’t have leverage, he wouldn’t have had a career.

An injured Pedro coming in to relieve Bret Saberhagen in a high-scoring game after 3, and then proceeded to mow everyone down. That was beautiful to watch. Pedro recently talked about that for a few minutes in an hour-long podcast with Jonah Keri. Maybe someone can cue it up. Pedro is fascinating to listen to.

He is. I wonder if Pedro has perhaps the highest density of memorable games to total games pitched of anybody who has a Hall of Fame career?

Hey Bill, I was thinking about Derek Jeter. If he wasn’t a Yankee I would look at him and see that he likes beautiful women and baseball. (Not sure of the order) I would like and root for him. What can I do about this? Steve

Yeah, well, I have a neighbor who’s a real nice guy, too, but I don’t feel compelled to stand beside the sidewalk and applaud every time he goes out to pick up his newspaper.

I have also thought since I became aware of Voros McCracken’s papers on pitchers non-effect on batted ballsl that you were 90% of the way there with DER . If it makes you feel better, in this area you are Henri Poincare to Voros’ Einstein.

It was my childhood ambition to someday be compared to Henri Poincare.

John Elway had pretty impressive stats in his one minor league season with the Yankees. In 1982 at age 22, he had 185 plate appearances in low A with a .318 batting average, .432 on-base percentage, .464 slugging percentage. Who is the most promising baseball player (in minors, college) who never ended up playing because he pursued another career, be it football, poetry, or whatever else?

Dwight Eisenhower?

Highest density of memorable games for a non-HOFer with significant games pitched is probably Maglie, right? He wasn’t just in the right places at the right time, but at his peak whenever opportunity arose. I read a book a few years back that showcased the most memorable games. I’m pretty sure Maglie not only had more of them than anyone, but appeared in a stretch of something like four out of five.

I’ll take your word for it. It’s that, ,or cook up a formula. .. ..


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Retrosheet: Soper-Understanding The Value of the Next Run. Why Sabermetricians Are Wrong and Traditional Baseball is Right

By focusing solely on runs scored and not on winning baseball games sabermetricians miss the impact the context of scoring has on the value of a run.

“A hitter’s job is to create runs for his team” The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
Bill James is wrong. He is wrong on a fundamental concept of baseball.

For example, if the lead-off hitter in an inning reaches 1st the team is expected to score .941 runs that inning. If he steals 2nd the expected run total increases to 1.17. If he is thrown out, however, the expected runs drops to .291 (1out, bases empty). By stealing 2nd the runner is risking .65 runs to gain .229 runs. You can calculate the threshold of success by dividing the runs risked by the total of the runs risked and the runs possibly gained. In this case .65/(.65+.229) = .739, in other words the correct strategy is to steal 2nd if you will be successful more than 73.9% of the time. In this case you would gain .229 runs * 73.9% and lose .65 runs * 26.1% and would break even.
But if you only need 1 run, say it’s tied in the bottom of the 9th, you just want to focus on the first run.
We can use the right side of TABLE 3 to calculate threshold of a runner stealing 2nd in the bottom of the 9th after a lead-off walk. From 1st his team will score 44.1% of the time. From 2nd his team will score 63.7% of the time. If he is thrown out his team’s scoring chance drops to 17.2%. So by attempting to steal he is risking .269 to gain .196. We compute the threshold the same way: .269/(.269+.196) = 57.7%. “Holy Tony La Russa, Batman!” We knew that maximizing runs didn’t make sense in the bottom of the 9th, but still that is a big drop.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it doesn’t appear to me that Soper is accounting for the other team’s run scoring ability or that late innings have a different run environment than average.  Plus he’s using a strawman argument when declaring that sabermetrics would tell you to do one thing in a very specific situation based on a very general strategy.

McCoy Posted: August 16, 2014 at 08:59 AM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sullivan: Going inside Michael Brantley’s dramatic, MVP-like improvement

On the other hand, Matt LaPorta is opening up a pizza place, so I think the Brewers are ok with it.

Used to be, in terms of performance, [Michael] Brantley was consistently, exactly average. Now, take a trip through the Wins Above Replacement leaderboard. You see Mike Trout at the top, naturally. Then there’s Alex Gordon, and Josh Donaldson, a previous breakthrough. Hanging out with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton is Brantley, who this year has become a fringe MVP candidate…

Brantley is pulling the ball more, especially against fastballs… By and large, against non-fastballs, Brantley hasn’t been that different. He’s been better, but only slightly… he’s looking for a fastball to drive, and he’s willing to swing at the fastball hard… Brantley’s seeing fewer fastballs than ever, and he’s seeing fewer strikes than ever, because now he’s more often punishing fastballs and punishing strikes. This is what happens when players adjust in the major leagues—the major leagues adjust back, in response. Brantley’s been excellent in the second half, so he’s still coming out ahead…

Brantley has gotten more and more aggressive within the strike zone, but he hasn’t lost any of his discipline. He’s not swinging at more pitches out of the zone than he did in 2010. He’s making the same amount of contact… There’s nothing dramatic here. There’s no swing overhaul. There’s no adjusted stance. Brantley always had the skills. Now he’s just figured out how to put them all together in the right way.

The District Attorney Posted: August 15, 2014 at 05:43 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, jeff sullivan, michael brantley, sabermetrics

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SOE: La Russa’s New Learning Curve

Well, it certainly ain’t the Beane curve.

La Russa’s thought on sabermetrics are along the lines of separation between church and state. He believes statistics have their place in player evaluation and game preparation but not so much in determining in-game strategy.

“When I started managing in the major leagues with the White Sox in 1979, I’d had a half a season managing in Double-A, a half-season managing in a Triple-A and a season of winter ball, so I was studying my butt off in order to narrow the gap on all those great managers in the American League,” La Russa said. “I did a lot of preparation and I’m devoted to information.

“There is a lot of emphasis on metrics and analytics and I’m convinced that have a very important place in the game but that place ends when the game starts. There is a lot of push in some organizations to dictate to the manager and the coaches who should play, how the pitchers should be used and things like that.

“I firmly believe leadership is so important for a major league manager,” La Russa continued. “The way you earn respect is by making the decisions about who plays and how they play. You respect the information process but once the game starts the manager and coaches have to be in charge because the game can change so much from inning to inning.”

Repoz Posted: August 14, 2014 at 08:26 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: d-backs, sabermetrics

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FG: Shin-Soo Choo’s Lost Season

A fan has gotten more press than him lately, never mind Hyun-jin Ryu…

The Rangers signed [Shin-soo] Choo to a seven-year, $130 million contract in the offseason, expecting 4-win player for at least a couple more years. What they’ve gotten is exactly replacement level production. Choo’s WAR is currently 0.0…

Choo’s batting average on balls in play this year is .309. That’s pretty normal, even a little high compared to the league average. But Choo has never been average when it comes to turning balls in play into hits. His career .346 BABIP over 4,000 plate appearances is one of the highest in MLB history…

The District Attorney Posted: August 13, 2014 at 03:40 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: rangers, sabermetrics, shin-soo choo

Scapegoating the Shift for the Decline in Offense – The Hardball Times

Early this year, Jonah Keri identified defensive shifts as one reason for the recent decline in baseball offense.  By early July, David Lennon placed basically all of the blame for baseball’s offensive challenges on the shift.  Like Keri, he pointed to declining batting averages as proof that the shift was working too well.  Things reached a fever pitch a few weeks ago when Tom Verducci ran with an idea that Lennon had proposed: banning the shift in some form, lest baseball offense never recover.

This false association is worrisome.  No one feels sorry for declining millionaire pull hitters, but many people are sincerely concerned about declining offense in baseball.  Successfully associating the rise of the shift to the decline in baseball offense could convince people to support drastic changes in the game.  In 1968, the Year of the Pitcher famously resulted in the mound being lowered and changes to the strike zone.

Let me be clear about one thing: shifts are not affecting overall baseball offense.  Shifts are not producing less value on balls put into fair play.  We are facing a troubling decline in baseball offense, but if we want to treat the illness, the first thing order of business is to diagnose it correctly.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 13, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

How Burke Badenhop uses Pitch F/X data

What can Badenhop glean from the site after an outing? He recently pulled up the data from an outing last week against the Cardinals — a one-batter appearance in which he struck out Matt Holliday on four pitches.
The first thing he looks at is velocity. Although Badenhop generally finds velocity overrated, there’s obviously value to knowing how hard he threw in a particular outing. Often, the radar-gun readings say more about his effort level and his aggressiveness on the mound than, say, his level of fatigue. He pointed to a game earlier this season when he walked Jose Bautista on a full-count sinker at 88 mph.
“The two [pitches] before that were 91-92,” he said. “So I guided that one there. I wasn’t pitching to contact. I was trying to stay away from anything.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 13, 2014 at 09:00 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: burke badenhop, pitchfx, sabermetrics

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FG: Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Appreciating Greatness

Let’s go back to the qualified pitcher seasons since 1915, of which there are 7,464… Only 18 times — 0.002% — has a pitcher topped 25% in strikeouts and kept walks below five percent… Four of those seasons had more than one home run per nine innings. Ten of them were above 0.50/9. Still very good, and yet now out of the mix.

We’re left with four seasons… Let’s limit our pitchers to only seasons where the ground ball rate has been at least 50%; this, unfortunately, goes back only to 2002, when batted ball data was first available… We’re left with two guys. They’re both doing it right now. You probably already know who they are…

If you prefer this in a visual format, here’s a graph of every qualified starting pitcher season since 2002, all 1,136 of them…

 

 

 


BP: Sveum’s unheard guide to fixing Royals’ offense

Freddie Patek says just get shorter hitters!

[The Royals] fired [their] previous hitting coach, Pedro Grifol, at the end of May. The replacement was Dale Sveum, before that the manager of the Cubs. The position of hitting coach is widely believed to be largely ornamental (and sometimes sacrificial) in nature. They don’t do much to change the hitters in their tutelage, but they are the first to be fired when the offense underperforms. Accordingly, the Royals were on their fifth hitting coach in two years.

Dale Sveum seemed different from the moment of his hiring, however. At introductory press conferences, hitting coaches are asked what steps they’ll take to improve the offense. The answer is - almost invariably - a nondescript and banal quote about increasing or decreasing the selectiveness or aggressiveness of the hitters. Sveum said something altogether different:

‘The bottom line is we’ve struggled with elevation and we’ve swung at pitches down in the zone probably way too much,’ he said. ‘From thigh high to the top of the strike zone, we’re not doing enough damage.’

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 03:04 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: dale sveum, royals, sabermetrics

BP (Carleton): I Believe In Clutch Hitting

I assume he means for the next two months, and then Jeter retires.

I examined how, for each player, the leverage of a situation affected his tendencies to swing at the first pitch… I then… calculated the chances that each player would swing at a first pitch when the leverage index was 1 (average) and 2 (a situation twice as important as the average situation)... What I found is that for hitters who show more of an effect on swing difference (leverage makes them swing at the first pitch more), they were less likely than expected to walk and less likely to strike out as leverage went up. Instead, they showed higher rates of both extra base hits and outs in play…

What we have here is an indicator that has reasonable (if not great) consistency across years, and it explains differences between players in how leverage affects them. More searching might find something with more consistency. Even then, year-to-year consistency is not the only way to establish that a measure is reflective of a player’s true talent level. Using a more tracking-based approach might help. Players can and do change, even within a season. There’s no reason clutch needs to be an enduring trait, rather than a state we can detect with some reliability. The rest is simply showing that the factor, whatever it is, can explain some of the differences between players’ performances in different leverage situations.

As to these specific analyses, it might very well be that what’s driving things is that some players are looking at the sorts of relievers they face in high-leverage situations and saying “Well, he usually comes right at me, so no point in messing around. I might as well swing when I see something interesting.” It might not be a mystical force at work, but a very reasonable reaction to the circumstances. In that case, clutch isn’t even something psychological, but a mental skill. Still, there could be problems with multi-colinearity. What this might be showing is that some players swing more in high-leverage situations, and so we would expect them to take fewer walks, somewhat by definition. Then again, even knowing that information could have strategic value. Maybe when we have other data sets to work with, we might be able to look at measures of how leverage affects a player that aren’t based on game results.

The other piece of this, and it’s one that I tried to drive home in the piece in the [2014 Baseball Prospectus] Annual that started everything, is that knowing that a player swings more (or less) often in high-leverage situations might be good within the context of one skill set and bad within another. These analyses fall into the large-N trap that assumes that more swinging is better (or seems to be) for everyone. But if nothing else, I’d present these analyses as a way of re-opening what had been assumed to be a closed debate. Clutch hitting might just exist.

 

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 02:24 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

FG: Xander Bogaerts’ Rookie Struggles

I think we’ve learned that “trouble with the curve” is no good for anybody…

[Xander] Bogaerts… has a wRC+ of 82, which combined with mediocre defense has left him hovering around replacement level…

Bogaerts is actually hitting pretty well against fastballs and changeups. The crux of his issues this year have been against breaking balls. And there’s really no way to sugarcoat it. He’s been terrible against any and all spin, hitting just .143 and slugging .167. Unfortunately, opposing pitchers have noticed, and Bogaerts has only seen more breaking balls as the season has progressed.

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 02:06 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox, sabermetrics, xander bogaerts

Sean Doolittle: Life as a player for the Oakland ‘Mathletics’

The 1940s Yankees had good wOPS…

Baseball is a game of numbers, and we at the Oakland Athletics keep track of everything… So exactly which metrics do the A’s value most when assessing potential players? I think I’ve finally figured it out…

wOPS (weighted overhead press): This gem calculates how strong a player is to determine whether he can carry a team. In Oakland, no one player carries our team. We all have very similar wOPS numbers.

BABIP: That’s batting average on balls in play, right? Wrong. It’s baseball averages compared to Bip Roberts. According to Baseball-Reference.com, over 12 seasons, Bip Roberts held a .294 batting average and a .358 on-base percentage and had a 162-game average of 36 stolen bases per year. Roberts played his final season for the A’s in 1998, but sabermetricians still use his stats when evaluating players…

Contact percentage: This metric is out of this world—literally. This number indicates how often a player is able to successfully decode messages received from outer space (just like Jodie Foster’s character in the 1997 film “Contact”). Although this is an interesting metric, it has nothing to do with baseball, so it’s not a great indicator of future performance. But it is a great movie…

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to be shoved into my locker.

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 12:49 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, sabermetrics, sean doolittle

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Kernan: Derek Jeter’s greatness about much more than milestones

If there’s a formula for turning obvious errors into hits…Derek Jeter has discovered it.

Jeter then cut to the chase, explaining something that is lost a bit in today’s game.

“I’ve always tried to do everything on the field to help the team try to win,’’ Jeter told The Post. “In all different ways, offensively, defensively, moving runners up to score a run. That’s how you win games. You can take all these formulas and stuff and throw it out the window.’’

Jeter moved the runners up on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth. Two batters later, Carlos Beltran drilled a grand slam.

When I mentioned to Jeter the winning approach is getting lost in today’s game, he did not hesitate.

“It’s been lost,’’ he said, “since they started coming up with all these formulas.’’

Jeter is not going to be the guest speaker at the next meeting of analytical experts. The iPad game is not his game. He knows what it takes to win. At the age of 40, he produces.

Repoz Posted: August 09, 2014 at 09:03 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, yankees

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 8/6/14 - 8/8/14

But Jeff Bagwell’s son won’t pass for a while…

... do you think that baseball is best served if Felix and Kershaw et al are there pitching the whole game, and if their bodies can’t handle it, then the structure of baseball should adapt to allow for it?...

... I think it would be desirable to have cleaner matchup. “Conceptual clarity” sounds like an esoteric concept, but it is fundamental to the success of any esthetic medium. You go to a movie, you want to know what the movie is about. If you the plot line is a mess, it diminishes the movie. If a work of music is all over the place, we regard it as a failed effort. A baseball game of constantly changing pitchers is like a movie with a convoluted plot line: you don’t know what it is ABOUT.

... I disagree slightly with your observation that “A baseball game of constantly changing pitchers is like a movie with a convoluted plot line: you don’t know what it is ABOUT.” Actually, I think we know what it is about—it’s about the cleverness of the two managers in trying to out-maneuver one another with pitching changes and pinch hitters. The problem is that this is a really boring thing to watch.

Thanks. I think I agree with that.

...what are your thoughts on George “High Pockets” Kelly being in the HOF?

Oh, I used to get regular hate mail from George Kelly’s son. No ####; I really did. Kelly’s selection to the Hall of Fame was absurd, farcical. Bob Watson would have been a better Hall of Fame selection that George Kelly. But after I wrote things like that a few times I used to get nasty letters from George Kelly’s son, who I think was named Walter. I assume that Walter has passed on, because I haven’t heard from him for ten years.

... What can you tell us about the decision to turn Papelbon into a starter? Was it just an experiment at first? Was there ever an announcement about it? Was it based on Boston’s needs or mainly just his skills? Was it something Jonathan was happy to do? Etc.

Jonathan kind of drove the train; Jonathan and need. We needed a closer, and he was pitching relief and doing really well, but the plans of the organization were to make him a starter. But it just got away from us; we had a good starting rotation, and Jon decided that he wanted to Close, and Terry wanted to keep him as the closer, so the front office would have had to use firearms to keep him in the rotation, more or less. And we just don’t operate that way.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

National Football League and Zebra Technologies to Provide ‘Next Gen Stats’ for the 2014 Season

The National Football League announced today that it will install Zebra Technologies’ real-time location system (RTLS) for sports in 17 stadiums during the 2014 NFL season.  This innovative technology will track players and officials, providing location based data known as “Next Gen Stats” to fans.

Zebra receivers installed throughout the stadium will communicate with radio-frequency identification (RFID) transmitters placed inside the shoulder pads of each player to capture precise location measurements, in real-time, during the game.  Zebra’s technology will collect data such as position, speed, and distance that will be registered and compiled into a database.  This data can then be outputted to generate new experiences built around this additional data.

 

Seems like a pretty cool alternative to the video-based fielding tracking that MLB is instituting. Which one would be better?

Maybe they can start embedding these into the core of the actual baseball someday? I’m not sure how accurate these things are these days.

Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: August 02, 2014 at 08:33 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: nfl, ot, sabermetrics

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