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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

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sabermetrics in Broadcasting

The Fox Sports 1 alternate broadcast from Game 1 of the NLCS was enjoyable, but had its issues.  This article takes a look at the usage of sabermetrics in broadcasting and tries to establish their proper place in a broadcast.  Mitchel Lichtman and Jon Chelesnik, the CEO of the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America, weigh in on the topic.

Joe Vasile Posted: October 20, 2014 at 07:05 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasting, fox sports 1, jabo, mets, sabermetrics

Dealing or dueling – what’s a manager to do? | MGL on Baseball

As I have been preaching for what seems like forever – and the data are in accordance – however a pitcher is pitching through X innings in a game, at least as measured by runs allowed, even at the extremes, has absolutely no relevance with regard to how he is expected to pitch in subsequent innings.

If you want to know the most likely result, or the mean expected result at any point in the game, you should completely ignore prior performance in that game and use a credible projection plus a fixed times through the order penalty, which is around .33 runs per 9 the 3rd time through, and another .33 the 4th time through. Of course the batters faced, park, weather, etc. will further dictate the absolute performance of the pitcher in question.

Keep in mind that I have not looked at a more granular approach to determining whether a pitcher has been pitching extremely well or getting shelled, such as hits, walks, strikeouts, and the like. It is possible that such an approach might yield a subset of pitching performance that indeed has some predictive value within a game. For now, however, you should be pretty convinced that run prevention alone during a game has no predictive value in terms of subsequent innings.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 20, 2014 at 07:53 AM | 67 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Progressive Pitch Projections | Community – FanGraphs Baseball

I hope MLB releases FIELDf/x so we can see more interesting stuff like this, but for fielding.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 18, 2014 at 01:37 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

How long of a season does it take before talent beats chance? - Beyond the Box Score

Regardless of the talent spread of the league, it’s going to take a lot more games than there is time available before we start to see the most talented team winning the regular season. The likelihood that the best team survives the randomness of October and goes on to win the World Series Trophy is even bleaker. While all this randomness may be unsettling, I don’t think anybody is calling for a 20,000 game season, so let us enjoy this great October for what it is: exciting baseball.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

On Paul DePodesta, Craig Wright, and rounding out the Dodgers narrative. | Inside the Dodgers

Craig Wright was a pioneer. It’s not easy being a pioneer.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 18, 2014 at 10:27 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: general managers, history, sabermetrics

Thursday, October 16, 2014

red sox - In defense of Royalty: Why Red Sox may want to follow Kansas City’s run prevention model - WEEI | Alex Speier

They already are.

The Red Sox already have the makings of an excellent defense in 2015. Napoli is a good defender at first. Pedroia is fantastic at second. Xander Bogaerts will probably never be much better than average (which is OK considering his offensive potential). Middlebrooks’ defense looks OK at times but seems to be regressing rather than improving. Christian Vazquez is a beast behind the plate. (Their longterm catcher Blake Swihart gets good marks too.) Their outfield already has the potential to be well-above-average (with a bunch of different parts). So, overall, their defense looks to be really good in 2015. 

That only really leaves third as a place for improvement. I’ve been a believer in Will Middlebrooks. His inability to stay healthy and his decision to forgo winter ball, despite the team’s desire to have him get the extra ABs, makes me question that belief. Nevertheless, I’d like to see the team give him one more opportunity to win the job as the power he possesses isn’t easy to come by

All of this is relevant in the context of how the Red Sox might want to spend their money this offseason. The team has a considerable budget to upgrade its roster, and adding front-line pitching represents a priority. Yet rather than, say, concentrating the team’s financial muscle and prospects on two high-end starters, the team might find it more efficient (and more in keeping with its preference to limit exposure to long-term deals) to pursue two solid pitchers and then build a better defense behind them.
How to do that? The Sox already got a jump on the process by signing Rusney Castillo, though, of course, Castillo won’t match the defensive impact of Jackie Bradley Jr. An outfield of, say, Castillo, Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino, however, could offer tremendous coverage that would help an entire pitching staff, a notion that may dampen the eagerness to explore the sell-low trade market for Victorino, even with the outfield surplus that includes those three plus Jackie Bradley Jr., Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig. Christian Vazquez’s ability to steal strikes and add outs behind the plate also could have an impact in transforming the team’s run prevention.

The team’s pursuit of a third baseman likewise has a chance to have a considerable impact. The two top options on the free agent market—Chase Headley and Pablo Sandoval—both have ranked as above-average in terms of their ability to prevent runs with their gloves. (Sandoval, notably, turned in some spectacular plays to help key the Giants’ win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night.) That would stand in marked contrast to what the Sox endured at third in 2014, when the trio of Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Brock Holt combined to make 24 fewer plays than a league-average third baseman would have (according to John Dewan’s plus/minus ratings).

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2014 at 08:56 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox, sabermetrics

Dan Duquette and Avoiding the Awful | FanGraphs Baseball

Here’s a great article by Fangraph’s Jeff Sullivan who proves there is more than one way to improve your team.

Clearly, the Orioles have gotten contributions from enough other people to make up for the missing or underperforming stars. Clearly, the Orioles assembled some depth. This all got me thinking about Dan Duquette, and a certain principle. One way to improve a roster is by adding more good players. Another way to improve a roster is by eliminating the bad players. Of course, you want to do both, but in theory you can either raise the ceiling or raise the floor. It seems to me the Orioles haven’t given much in the way of playing time to the truly bad. It seems to me that would be a credit to the organization. To what extent, though, is this actually true?

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2014 at 08:43 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Breaking down how Royals fought way to American League pennant - MLB - SI.com

The number one team in OF DRS in 2014? The Royals with 45 (Alex Gordon with 27, Lorenzo Cain with 24, and Jarrod Dyson with 14). The number 2 team? The Red Sox with 41 (Jackie Bradley with 14 and Daniel Nava with 17).

As the highlight reels have reminded us throughout this month, a key facet of the Royals’ run prevention was their glovework. The team’s .693 defensive efficiency ranked sixth in the league, their 41 Defensive Runs Saved second. Their infield was actually below average via Defensive Runs Saved, by anywhere from one to six runs, with third base (Mike Moustakas and company) the weakest spot; Ultimate Zone Rating saw them as slightly better, but no more than two runs above average at any of those spots.

Their outfield defense was something truly special, though. Royals outfielders led the majors in both measures; their 46 DRS was two more than the Red Sox and 12 more than the next-closest team, the Marlins, while their 59.8 UZR was 25.5 runs ahead of the Orioles. Gordon, Cain and Dyson all placed in the top 10 in both; the first two were third and fourth in DRS with 27 and 24, respectively. With Dyson often entering the game as the team’s late-inning centerfielder and Cain shifting to right, the team’s centerfielders combined for the AL’s highest totals in both categories to go with Gordon’s MLB-best work in left.

Thanks to that, even with their offensive shortcomings, the Royals’ lineup featured two players worth at least 5.0 WAR (Cain exactly that, Gordon 6.6), with Dyson, Escobar and Perez all between 2.4 and 3.3. Take all the various facets together, and Kansas City’s starters, relievers, catcher, shortstop, and all three outfield spots were above average, with their team WAR of 41.2 ranking fifth in the league behind the Angels (46.8), Orioles (46.1), A’s (45.7) and Tigers (41.7) — all playoff teams.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2014 at 07:55 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: royals, sabermetrics

Jose Abreu, Queller of All Concerns | FanGraphs

Speaking of batted ball distribution, his fly ball rate was just 31.2%. That’s quite low for a monstrous power hitter. So the bad news is that I would project that to rise next year, which is going to take another bite out of his BABIP, all else being equal. The good news is that there’s your home run upside. Yes, even though he hit 36 homers this season, his relatively low fly ball rate suggests that a 40+ homer season is easily within his grasp.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: jose abreu, sabermetrics, white sox

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Economist: The cult of the genius GM

In the wake of the Dodgers’ acquisition of Andrew Friedman, an argument that teams should never pay up for a general manager no matter how brilliant they are.

Informed decisionmaking in baseball is now essentially a commodity. If given the proper support staff and training, any writer for Baseball Prospectus or Fangraphs with the appropriate organisational and people-management skills could probably do a competent job…
The reason GMs make less money than players do isn’t because owners are blind to the contributions of an elite executive. It’s because there are far more people capable of running an MLB team at a high level than there are people capable of playing for one, and less scarcity leads to less value.

David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: October 15, 2014 at 04:41 AM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nine Managerial Decisions That Helped Decide Game 2 Of The NLCS | FiveThirtyEight

Jonah Keri breaks down a bunch of game situations by the numbers.

SITUATION: Top of the sixth, runner on second, two outs, Hunter Pence up, Cardinals lead 2-1. Who should pitch?

DECISION: Matheny leaves Lynn in to pitch to Pence.

THE MATH SAYS: This was also a judgment call. You’ve got those numbers in Lynn’s favor as a pitcher who often fares better as he gets deeper into games. The only reason the Giants had a runner on second is because, after Lynn fanned the first two batters of the inning, Pablo Sandoval hit a dying quail that landed just fair and bounced into the seats down the left-field line for a ground-rule double. Meanwhile, the Giants had a righty-on-righty matchup with Pence at the plate, and no pitch-count issues or obvious signs of fatigue for Lynn. You can argue that Matheny erred by not trying to step on the Giants’ necks in the fourth by pinch-hitting for his pitcher. But by this point, leaving Lynn in was a defensible move.

RESULT: Pence lines a single to center, scoring the tying run.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2014 at 02:35 PM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: playoffs, sabermetrics

The difference between playoff champs and chumps - Beyond the Box Score

Read the article.

The central thesis of Keating’s article was that teams that have success in the playoffs generally do well against the better teams during the regular season, and those who don’t perform as well against better teams make early exits. He used this year’s Angels as an example, citing that forty percent of their wins came against the worst teams in the AL (Red Sox, Astros, Twins and Rangers) but were only 9-11 against the other division leaders. We already know how that turned out. Logically, the argument makes perfect sense, since who are the opponents in the playoffs? Better teams.

I checked to see how well teams performed against teams who finished .500 or above going back to 1995 to see how far they advanced in the playoffs:

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2014 at 12:06 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

The Strike Zone Expansion is Out of Control – The Hardball Times

Where has all the offense gone? It’s disappeared into an expanding strike zone.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2014 at 09:05 AM | 157 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Contact, Speed, and the 2014 Royals | Articles | Bill James Online

Some interesting breakdowns.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 11, 2014 at 02:13 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Matt Williams and the Great Bullpen Screw-Up | FOX Sports

Ouch.

As an outsider, we can’t know about the internal dynamics of the clubhouse and how well Williams might or might not have handled the aspects of his job that we never see. But part of his job is also to make decisions during the games that give his team the best chance to win, and in the biggest game of his managerial career, he made a series of poor decisions that directly led to the run that eliminated his team from the postseason. The Nationals’ offense didn’t do Williams any favors in this series, and it’s tough to advance when your team just doesn’t hit. But on Tuesday night, they scored at least enough runs to earn the right to keep playing.

They didn’t get that chance, though, because Matt Williams was unwilling to use his best pitchers in a tie game. In many ways, baseball is getting a lot smarter. In this particular way, baseball has a long way to go.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2014 at 06:52 AM | 193 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, matt williams, nationals, playoffs, sabermetrics

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Monday, October 06, 2014

James: The Greatest Bench Players of All Time (membership req.)

Johnny Bench called.

this is my list of the ten best bench seasons ever; I’m actually happy with eight of the ten listed seasons.

First   Last     YEAR	G	AB	HR	RBI	Avg	OBA	SPct	OPS	
Oscar   Gamble	 1979	100	274	19	64	.358	.456	.609	1.065	
Mark    McGwire  2000	89	236	32	73	.305	.483	.746	1.229	
Gavy    Cravath	 1919	83	214	12	45	.341	.438	.640	1.078	
Elmer   Valo     1955	112	283	3	37	.364	.460	.484	 .944	
Ted     Williams 1953	37      91      13      34      .407    .509	.901    1.410	
Babe 	Phelps	 1936	115	319	5	57	.367	.421	.498	 .920	
Jerry   Mumphrey 1987	118	309	13	44	.333	.400	.534	 .934	
Jim     Thome 	 2010	108	276	25	59	.283	.412	.627	1.039	
Matt    Stairs	 2003	121	305	20	57	.292	.389	.561	 .950	
Cliff   Johnson	 1977	107	286	22	54	.297	.407	.584	 .991

The only seasons there that I would prefer not to have on the list are Mark McGwire in 2000 and Ted Williams in 1953… Otherwise. . .legitimate list; these were bench players, and tremendously productive ones, cleanup hitters…

According to my method, the greatest bench player of all time was Matt Stairs…  As I said about Oscar Gamble, I am completely happy with Stairs as the #1 guy.

The District Attorney Posted: October 06, 2014 at 11:46 AM | 56 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, sabermetrics

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) | Articles | Bill James Online

Here’s some early insight into the Gold Glove race.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 05, 2014 at 07:22 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, defense, gold gloves, sabermetrics

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Madden: How dare the sabermetrics crowd and others try to diminish Derek Jeter’s greatness

And how dare the post-punk crowd and others try to diminish Joe “Fingers” Carr’s “Portuguese Washerwoman” greatness!

We never get to know Derek Jeter’s innermost feelings, but we know his pride, and that is why it is not hard to imagine, as he slapped that game-winning base hit to right field in his final Yankee Stadium act Thursday night, it was, in his mind, a middle-finger salute to all his Johnny-come-lately critics among the analytics bunch who have deemed his WAR credentials vastly inferior to the great shortstops of all time; all the talk radio yahoos calling him selfish and screaming for Joe Girardi to take him out of the No. 2 hole; and all the mean-spirited, blowhard TV pundits pontificating about how overrated he’s been as a means of getting attention for themselves.

There are always going to be the contrarians eager to tear down and diminish our sports icons because that’s what these people love to do, and if you dig deep enough, you can always find something to render them less-than-mythical. Heaven knows, the sabermetrics crowd has gone out of its way to do that, feverishly calculating all those ground balls Jeter supposedly didn’t get to over the years that cost the Yankees countless runs because of his perceived lack of range. Offensively they point out, because he didn’t hit a lot of home runs, he only once appeared in the top ten in OPS in the American League, so how can he, as essentially a “singles hitter” who never won an MVP, be considered one of the all-time greats? Along with that, the notion that he’s a leader and a winner? Oh, they are able to debunk that too. As one Jeter basher noted affirmatively last week, he won only one world championship after the core players from the 1996-2001 teams, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, et al, all left. Please.

... Careful, Bud. In this new generation of self-serving, eager media bashers and ivory-tower sabermetrician critics, you could be laughed off the field throwing that “hero” word around.

But I suspect Jeter has had his fill of these people, and when the cheers in normally hostile Fenway have subsided as he closes his career, he’ll go off into seclusion for a very long vacation from baseball, to which he gave everything, content in knowing that, in five years, his accomplishments will have earned him an overwhelming election to the Hall of Fame. Still, in these past few weeks, all these shots being taken at the best we have for a Stan Musial-like perfect knight have merely reinforced for him why it could never be unanimous.

Repoz Posted: September 28, 2014 at 07:42 AM | 181 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, yankees

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