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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Time for hitters to counter defensive shifts | MLB.com

The game will adjust without banning the shift. 

Take it from Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who sees the data work against him at the plate and for him behind it.
“I think [the shift] is a tough thing to blame for the decline in offense,” he said in a text. “ERAs are down [0.12 points between 2013 and ‘14 and 0.72 points over the past decade], so that means pitching is better. Why is pitching better? The wealth of information we have when calling games is a very large amount. If they wanted to increase offense, then they should take away the information we get. That won’t happen, because teams use this same information in trades, free-agent signings, etc. Honestly, I can think of times when the shift works for us and times when we were burned by them. So I don’t think they are the issue.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 28, 2015 at 07:08 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: defense, sabermetrics

Aces and changeups - Beyond the Box Score

NEWSFLASH: Felix Hernandez has a good change up.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 28, 2015 at 11:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: felix hernandez, sabermetrics

So Teams Have Lots of New Data. Then What? – The Hardball Times

Interest stuff from Bill Petti.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 28, 2015 at 09:39 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WAR Index for hitters: 2014 - Beyond the Box Score

Warring fractions.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 27, 2015 at 11:26 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why Jung-Ho Kang Doesn’t Need to be a Brilliant Fielder | FanGraphs Baseball

A really good look at what the Pirates are doing on defense.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2015 at 06:51 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: defense, jung-ho kang, pirates, sabermetrics, shifts

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Most Pitcher & Hitter Friendly Umpires

As a quantifiable skill, pitch framing has been garnering a lot of attention in the past few years. While most research on that front has focused on a catcher’s ability to get extra strikes called, at Baseball Info Solutions we have developed a methodology for dividing the credit among the catcher, the pitcher, the batter, and the umpire. We call our system Strike Zone Plus/Minus, and the details of the methodology will be explained in The Fielding Bible—Volume IV coming out this spring.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2015 at 06:46 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, umpires

Monday, January 19, 2015

Making small sample defensive metrics less volatile - Beyond the Box Score

What do I see? Well, raw IERP (and also raw DRS, not shown) has the same volatility as BABIP. Annual BABIP is mostly a crapshoot, so that confirms my expectation. ISO, wRC+ (and also wOBA, SLG, OBP, though not shown) are a fair bit better than BABIP. I don’t know about you, but when I see a one-year jump in ISO or wRC+, that’s a cause for interest. A one year blip may be a “breakout”, or the change might not last. We need to look deeper. Self-regression of IERP achieves that level of volatility; it makes the stat about as “reliable” as ISO or wRC+, an improvement I’m pleased with. Further up on the chart, the projected improvement in DRS with the Kalman filter techniques I’ve discussed (but not implemented) could produce volatility similar to plate discipline (K/BB). Plate discipline is in the family of the most reliable statistics on an annual basis. Strikeout rate is better still, but I chose to leave that off.

Is this level of improvement possible? Perhaps not. Based on my experience with this class of algorithms, I believe it is. Surely the burden of proof is incumbent upon the researcher.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2015 at 05:59 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: fielding, sabermetrics

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Zobrist in Oakland | Articles | Bill James Online

Dave Fleming looks at the A’s and Ben Zobrist.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 15, 2015 at 02:40 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, ben zobrist, sabermetrics

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kill the win - Beyond the Box Score

I am quite fond of the win; l don’t want it killed. It’s like viewing an old picture from a faded beauty. She may not be what she once was but I still remember her affectionately.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 13, 2015 at 02:59 PM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Diamondbacks still interested in James Shields, despite tight budget

As for Shields, Stewart said he has spoken multiple times with his agent, Page Odle, to “work on groundwork.” Shields’ market has been murky, although there was a report last week of him receiving a five-year, $110 million offer. On Monday night, FOX Sports reported that offer came from a team with which Shields did not want to sign.

Stewart said he believes Shields likes what the Diamondbacks are doing as an organization.

“I think James is a throwback guy by the way he goes about his business and the innings he pitches,” Stewart said. “I think the fact that Tony (La Russa) is here and that we have more baseball people – he probably sees us as a true baseball team vs. some of the other teams out here that are geared more toward analytics and those type of things.

You hear that NERDS?


A Quick Attempted Measure of Team Depth | FanGraphs Baseball

This has been a subject I’ve been looking at recently. It seems like it’s the new in thing in team building. Can’t get great players? Stock your bench with really good backups to try to pick up extra value when injuries crop up.

So if you’ve been wondering why Steamer seems to like the Red Sox so much, depth is a huge reason. It’s not just the talent at the top of the roster. It’s that, when a starter isn’t playing, someone else pretty good should be playing. Most obviously, you can see this in the outfield, where Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, and Mookie Betts will combine at three positions, but based on Steamer you can almost construct a pair of complete lineups of 1+ WAR players. There’s just one player missing from the second team, and then consider that five teams have no more than eight position players overall projected for 1+ WAR. Some players on the Red Sox, surely, will under-achieve, but right now they seem well-equipped to deal with performance or injury adversity

Jim Furtado Posted: January 13, 2015 at 09:20 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: projections, sabermetrics, steamer, war

Monday, January 12, 2015

Which Players Participated In The Highest Percentage of Their Teams’ Runs?

If you guessed Matt Holliday, you’d be right!

Jim Furtado Posted: January 12, 2015 at 06:58 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, January 09, 2015

Visualizing 2015 Mookie Betts vs. 2015 Javier Baez | FanGraphs Baseball

Two prospects enter, one prospect leaves.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 09, 2015 at 08:14 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, javier baez, mookie betts, prospects, red sox, sabermetrics

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Walk Like a Sabermetrician: Crude Team Ratings, 2014

The strength of schedule info is interesting. I don’t have time to figure it out but it looks like the final rankings would correlate pretty well with actual winning percentages.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 08, 2015 at 06:48 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Digging for Diamonds – The Hardball Times

The whole thing sounds like a win, win, win for everybody.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 07, 2015 at 09:44 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: front office, sabermetrics

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bill James Mailbag - 1/4/15 - 1/6/15

But what does this have to do with… oh.

Bill, I saw an early return on a few (under 100) HOF ballots online, and Smoltz has over 75% needed to get in. Schilling has under 75%. Would it surprise you to see Smoltz get in ahead of Schilling?...

Well, I would certainly vote for Smoltz over Schilling. If you compare them as starting pitchers Schilling is ahead, but he wins by an NBA score. . . .98 to 93, or 102 to 97, something like that. If you put Smoltz’ three seasons of top-shelf relief pitching into the equation, I think he beats Schilling. In overtime.

What are the parameters in estimating improvement in MLB play over decades? For example, in sports that are measured quantitatively (track, swimming, weight-lifting, etc.) we know that runners have not improved their times in the 400 meter dash by 200% over the last few decades but that new records have been set, and we can eyeball what that improvement has been. Can we use a variety of comparative measures, not necessarily from these sports but including them, to estimate the ranges of improvement in MLB, or is it all just guesswork and BS and bias?

It’s not easy. The problem with the “parallel track” assumption is that the time line doesn’t match. The improvements that have taken place in track and field from 1960 to 2010 may have occurred in baseball from 1876 to 1920. (Certainly it is obvious that there was vast improvement in skills in baseball from 1876 to 1920. . .less obvious what the improvements have been since then.) Also, improvement in a complex set of skills is not parallel to improvement in a simple, direct skill such as runnin’ real fast or picking up something heavy. Baseball requires a mix of 100 or more highly refined skills. All of those improve at different speeds, and improvement in one waits on improvement in the others. One cannot learn to hit a 92 MPH breaking pitch until a significant number of people are around who can THROW a 92 MPH breaking pitch in the strike zone. We can work on the problem and gain some insight, but I’m not confident that we can measure improvement in baseball skills relative to other activities.

Bill, I dont remember if youve been asked this before? Do you support the pitch clock for pitchers? I think there should be a 30 second limit from when the pitcher receives the ball. And you?

I don’t know that a CLOCK is necessary. DIscipline is necessary. Stop calling timeout when there is no REASON to call time out. ALlow the umpire to call a “ball” when the pitcher dawdles. Skip the clock; it’s just discipline.

Hey Bill, It’s 1959 and you’re transported back to the Kansas City A’s owner’s office. You have one day to talk with him and the GM to try to impart as much as you can to them with the goal of trying to create a Kansas City A’s dynasty in the 1960s and beyond. Without naming names or saying stuff like “go trade for that young 1st baseman on the Giants”, that is, teaching them how to fish instead of giving them a fish, what are the things you would tell them to look at or to do? What are your priorities to get across to them to turn their club around?

The number one thing, certainly for THAT organization, is to get them to understand that player development is a process that takes time and requires patience. 1959 is a little bit too late to save that franchise. In 1959 they had no farm system to speak of. Connie Mack’s old farm system from Philadelphia, that moved to KC in ‘55, was way behind the time, and didn’t produce anything from 1955 to 1959. There is nothing you can do with nothing; you can’t trade your way to a pennant if you have nothing to start with, so the first thing you have to do is build a farm system. By 1959 that process was underway but slow. By 1963, with the hiring of Hank Peters, their development system started moving, and by 1967, when they left for Oakland, this was producing talent. So if you could move that process forward by 4 years, from 1963 to 1959, that would have helped, and if the organization had shown more patience with young players like Lou Klimchock, Nelson Mathews, Manny Jimenez, Bill Bryan, Fred Norman and others, that would have helped, and if you put those two things together, we could have moved the clock back to where the organization was rolling in 1964, rather than in 1968.

Hey Bill, did Brian Giles just become the best player ever to get zero Hall of Fame votes?

Frank Tanana. It was in the New York Times this morning. Same article mentioned my name. . ..thanks to whoever wrote that.


Tiger Tales: A Detroit Tigers Blog: Filling The Gap Between RBI And Runs - 2014

Imagine the following scenario.  Tigers slow-footed designated hitter Victor Martinez leads off an inning with a single and is removed for speedy pinch runner Rajai Davis.  Third baseman Nick Castellanos doubles Davis to third and Davis eventually scores on a weak grounder by Alex Avila. This sequence goes into the books as a run scored for Davis and an RBI for Avila, but Martinez and Castellanos get no credit for the team scoring a run despite contributing important hits.

To the best of my knowledge, this kind of run participation by Martinez and Hunter described above is not publicly tracked like runs scored and RBI.  My goal is to track this run involvement for all players with the help of play-by-play data at Retrosheet.org.  I want to account for every instance of a player helping to create a run, whether it be a run scored, run batted in or an indirect contribution for all games where play-by-play data are available.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 06, 2015 at 06:46 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Giants must move Tim Lincecum to the bullpen - Beyond the Box Score

Is it time for the Freak to move to the pen?

Jim Furtado Posted: January 04, 2015 at 12:00 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, sabermetrics, tim lincecum, yusmeiro petit

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Sabermetrics: Past, Present and Future « Talkin’ Softball

A somewhat recent and incomplete history of sabermetrics.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 03, 2015 at 09:07 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dodger Sims: 2015 Angels Best Lineup (vs RHP)

Although interesting to look at, most lineup studies leave out enough relevant factors to make the results pretty much useless. I haven’t read up on this particular project, so I’m not sure what factors the sim uses. Nevertheless, the work looks interesting.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 31, 2014 at 10:37 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: lineups, sabermetrics, simulations


Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Monday, December 29, 2014

Baseball’s Hot Stove Season Offers More Sizzle Than Substance | FiveThirtyEight

Some interesting info from Neil Paine.

It also bears noting that, because of MLB’s economic structure, the market price for hot stove players is higher than the average amount that teams generally pay per win. When we hear about the cost of a win in these contexts, it generally refers to a player’s value on the open (free agent) market, and when teams are bidding against each other, this framework does a good job of predicting what free agents will be paid for the WAR they’re expected to generate. But MLB also has an underclass of young, homegrown players who are not paid anywhere near what their value would be on the open market, and those players are the true bargains upon which championship foundations are laid.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, war

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bastian: Mind Over Matter: Bauer Goes High Tech in Offseason Regimen

Bauer detailed one of the setups that he uses in the offseason. He will have a camera in each batter’s box mounted at eye level, so he can see the hitter’s perspective. Bauer also has a camera mounted from the center-field view in order to track the flight of the ball. He then films his pitches at 240 or 480 frames per second, and he can overlay the pitches on video to see variances in the movement.

“So, then I can tailor-fit what pitches I throw and where to make them all appear the same, make my delivery appear the same, things like that.”

The guy throws 96 with a devastating 12/6. If he can execute, the sky is still the limit.

davekemp Posted: December 28, 2014 at 06:33 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: bauer, indians, sabermetrics

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