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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


Sabermetrics Newsbeat

Friday, October 14, 2016

Blue Jay Kevin Pillar elite Statcast fielder |

More, more, more, more. And the faster the better.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 14, 2016 at 08:03 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, defense, kevin pillar, sabermetrics, statcast

Friday, October 07, 2016

What Happened to Derek Norris in 2016 | The Process Report

Or it could be a decline in skills?

Well that certainly feels like what Lester Freamon would call a headshot. seeing both rates fall off this much leads me to believe that Norris wasn’t just bitten by bad luck affecting his balls in play. I cannot help, but feel that some sort of injury, your guess is as good as mine as to what, led to a guy gutting through discomfort in an effort to help his team on the field. While that is nice to see, you can see the profound effect this proposed malady had on his production. Increased swinging strikes, and despite an ideal batted ball profile for a power hitter, less success within that framework screams of a guy playing through an injury.

Now there are plenty of smart folks working in San Diego’s front office, but with two years of arbitration control remaining I think Derek Norris might be an excellent guy to seek out if the cost of doing business is lower than it should be. I have no idea what the Padres would consider fair, but if it’s a fringe prospect that allows them to get their own on the field more often then this could be exactly the type of guy the Rays should be seeking to acquire. Lord willing the Rays will be able to give up little in order to fill a vacuum that even Dyson hasn’t been able to sell for close to twenty years.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2016 at 10:08 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: derek norris, padres, rays, sabermetrics

Monday, October 03, 2016

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Bret Saberhagen could soon get another Hall of Fame look

While injuries curtailed the career of the former Royals ace, limiting him to 167 lifetime wins, Saberhagen ranks by other measures as one of the best pitchers in baseball history not in the Hall of Fame. His 36.8 Wins Above Average are seventh-best among all pitchers retired since 2010 who aren’t enshrined. Saberhagen’s 59.1 WAR ranks 14th among unenshrined pitchers retired since 2010.

In November, Saberhagen will be eligible for Cooperstown for the first time with the newly-created Today’s Game Committee, which will review players who made their greatest contribution to the game between 1988 and 2001. There’s a chance Saberhagen could be the best pitcher on the ballot, though his eligibility and strong sabermetric case were news to him when reached this week by Sporting News.

“Was it created after my last name?” Saberhagen said of sabermetrics.

He isn’t expecting much from Cooperstown this year.

“I’ve never really dug deep into why I wasn’t on the ballot anymore after one year and only getting [one] percent, what it takes to get into the Hall of Fame,” Saberhagen said. “Would the Veteran Committee look at my numbers and possibly think about putting me in? Don’t have any idea.”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Other Weird Thing About the Home-Run Surge | FanGraphs Baseball

Everybody is doing it. The chicks must dig it.

I’m not saying anything here is conclusive. And it’s possible we have a population change and a baseball change. Some of the evidence for a different baseball is very convincing. But now there’s more power coming from baseball’s middle class. And there’s more power coming from baseball’s lower class. The upper class has more power, too, yet not really by a whole lot. Homers are being distributed fairly equally, perhaps more than ever before, and so it’s not just Jean Segura who’s opened a lot of eyes. There’s evidence to believe more hitters are just going for it. There’s evidence to believe that it’s working.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 29, 2016 at 05:30 AM | 45 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cracked: Baseball Is Carefully Crafted To Skirt The Limits Of Human Ability

[scroll down to #1]

On any regulation baseball diamond, the distance from home plate to the pitcher’s mound is weirdly specific: 60’ 6”. That distance isn’t a two-thirds ode to the devil; it’s an important design feature. That’s the empirically determined balancing point which puts the pitcher and hitter on an equal playing field. Moving the pitcher’s mound back even five feet would change the game wildly, giving batters a huge (20 percent) increase in the time they had to prepare their swing, thus leading to more hits, more home runs, and more depressed pitchers.


John DiFool2 Posted: September 28, 2016 at 10:28 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sabermetrics

Baseball Prospectus | Pitching Backward: What We Know About Spin Rate

Your head might be spinning by the end of this article.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 28, 2016 at 08:34 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitchfx, sabermetrics

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yet Another Update on Safeco Field, Home Run Haven | U.S.S. Mariner

Barreling up in Seattle.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 27, 2016 at 09:03 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fire Joe Morgan and the Moneyball revolution.

The scouts vs. statheads war is, and was, overblown.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 25, 2016 at 08:34 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, September 19, 2016

Constructing Heat Maps for AVG | Exploring Baseball Data with R

Heat maps for all my friends.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 19, 2016 at 08:14 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, using r

Friday, September 16, 2016

20 wins does tell us something about a starter. | Sports on Earth

I’m sure you want Brian Kenny’s reaction.

So the win, and the 20-win season in particular, continues to hold sway in the Cy Young Award voting despite a brief glimmer of progress a half decade ago. Indeed, while Porcello is having a fine season, as his 20 wins do indicate, he has not been the AL’s best pitcher to this point in the season. Consider this comparison between Porcello and Corey Kluber, who is 16-9:

Kluber 16-9 197 2/3 157 1.04 4.08 3.14 2.77 6.3
Porcello 20-3 193 2/3 142 1.02 5.55 3.46 3.36 4.4

(DRA is deserved run average, a Baseball Prospectus statistic that attempts to correct a pitcher’s runs allowed per nine innings for all outside influences, from ballparks and opposing lineups to his catcher’s pitch framing, the umpires calling his games and even the weather.)

The key difference between those two when it comes to wins is that Porcello has received more run support than any other qualified starter in the Majors this year by nearly half a run per game. The league’s best offense has averaged 6.97 runs per game over his 29 starts this season. Cleveland, meanwhile, has scored 4.93 runs per game for Kluber, still a big number, but more than two full runs shy of what Porcello has gotten from the Red Sox’s lineup.

That’s a good reminder that wins tell us as much or more about run and bullpen support as they do about a starting pitcher’s actual performance and are thus useless in comparative analysis. Any voter using wins as a measure to fill out an All-Star, Cy Young Award or Hall of Fame ballot is committing malpractice. Still, it’s inaccurate to say that a 20-win season tells us nothing about a pitcher’s performance. Now more than ever, 20 wins are an indicator of an above-average starting pitcher. To be any more specific than that, however, one must look beyond the wins column.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 16, 2016 at 09:05 AM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: corey kluber, rick porcello, sabermetrics

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wrigleyville - Baseball Prospectus

Statcasting the Cubs.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 15, 2016 at 09:52 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, sabermetrics, statcast

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ye Gods of BABIP, Let My Fly Balls Go! – The Hardball Times

So, pitchers can impact BIP. Who knew?

Jim Furtado Posted: September 12, 2016 at 08:09 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Statcast Lab: How much impact does a great-fielding outfielder have?

This is absolutely fantastic stuff. I cannot wait to see Statcast defensive stats readily available.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 07, 2016 at 08:06 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Friday, September 02, 2016

How Managers Were Fooled by the Home-Run Spike | FanGraphs Baseball

Some interesting breakdowns. Read the whole thing.

What’s fascinating about this is that managers are responding to the home-run spike. If you look at earlier seasons, there’s not a clear relationship between scoring and pitches per start or innings per start. And you wouldn’t expect there to be in the aggregate. The decision to pull the starter should be based on his effectiveness relative to the other pitching options, not his un-adjusted in-game performance. But that’s not how it happened. Managers didn’t realize the league was scoring more runs; they all acted as if their starters in particular were losing effectiveness.

Put another way, the home-run increase disrupted managers’ ability to evaluate their own starting pitchers. Instead of recognizing that run-scoring was up and that expectations should be adjusted as a result, managers started pulling their starters in response to the runs they were allowing.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 02, 2016 at 10:43 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lasers in the outfield—Infield isn’t only place where defense is shifting

When it comes to positioning their outfielders, the Yankees literally keep the information under their hats. Before each game, bench coach Rob Thomson, responsible for the outfield defense, gives Gardner, center fielder Ellsbury, right fielder Hicks and rookie outfielder Aaron Judge an index card with precise locations for each opposing hitter.

Those locations are determined by a proprietary computer program developed by the Yankees’ analytic squad, headed by David Grabiner. It takes a multitude of factors—among them the hitter’s power, his tendency to pull or not pull the ball, and his career history against the Yankees’ pitcher that night—and spits out a spray chart which places the outfielder in the optimal position to make a play.

“We have analytical assessments that show specifically where guys hit the ball,” a Yankees staffer told “I mean, it shows us exactly where guys hit the ball just about every time. And it’s hitter/pitcher specific, based on pitch velocity and location. Positioning is based on a lot of factors, including the speed of the defender.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 29, 2016 at 10:29 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: defense, sabermetrics, technology

Sunday, August 28, 2016

MLB’s Statcast creates new era of data and competition |

Following up on earlier article from this week, one way for a team to differentiate itself right now is finding the best way to handle missing data.

If you are interested in sabermetrics, read this article.

Every MLB organization now has an analytics team in place to try to figure out what to do with all the data that comes from 2,430 games—roughly 750,000 pitches—a season. The 30 teams are using the data in 30 different ways, but they do all share this: an unwillingness to talk about what it is they are doing with it.

“It’s an arms race, with all the different areas to explore. As teams find benefits they’re gaining a competitive advantage that they want to hold very close,” says Greg Cain, BAM’s senior director of sports data. “It even colors how we receive requests for information from clubs. A lot of times we’ll get a long list to kind of hide what they’re looking for.”

The challenge is to know what to look for. “It’s so massive, it’s just about asking the right questions,” says Willman. “As far as the answers: The answers are all there.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 28, 2016 at 09:19 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Thursday, August 25, 2016

MLB’s Hit-Tracking Tool Misses A Lot Of Hits | FiveThirtyEight

That’s still a lot of missed plays.

But that data isn’t always easy to analyze. Front office analysts I spoke with said that Statcast’s radars frequently lose track of batted balls on atypical trajectories — for example, with extremely high (popup) or low (chopper) angles. In 2015, Statcast failed to provide data on 13.4 percent of all batted balls; it’s gotten a bit better as time has progressed, dropping to 12.5 percent in the first half of 2016 to only 11.2 percent since July.

Without a complete track of the batted ball, the computers must extrapolate, and sometimes they fail to report any data on the trajectory or give implausible readings (exit velocities of zero, or improbable home run distances). They can also spit out velocity readings that are just plain inaccurate. These kinds of errors require extensive manual checking and correction for use by front offices, but for public use, such ambiguous batted balls are sometimes discarded.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 25, 2016 at 07:39 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let’s look at the best and worst baserunning teams - SweetSpot- ESPN

This is like talking about who has the prettiest arms in the Miss America contest.

1. San Diego Padres (+21.6 runs)

Key stats: The Padres are third in the majors in steals with an excellent 78 percent rate and lead the majors in taking the extra base 51 percent of the time (the MLB average is 40 percent).

Key contributors: Wil Myers (+6.5 runs), Travis Jankowski (+4.1 runs), Melvin Upton Jr. (+3.8 runs). Jankowski is one of the fastest players in the majors, but Myers has been the big revelation here with 21 steals (and just four caught stealings) while taking the extra base 64 percent of the time compared to a career rate of 50 percent entering the season. Kudos to Andy Green for pushing aggressiveness with the right guys.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 17, 2016 at 06:50 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, August 15, 2016

Exploring Statcast Data from Baseball Savant | Exploring Baseball Data with R

The future of batted ball data.

There seems to be active research of making sense of this type of data. For example, there is an interesting post by Rob Arthur at which looks at the relationship between launch angle, exit velocity and a linear weights measure of BIP value. There is a more recent article by Bill Petti on the Hardball Times. I agree with Rob Arthur that these findings are currently preliminary — we have a lot to learn about success in hitting balls in play.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 15, 2016 at 07:59 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Baseball Prospectus | Prospectus Feature: Nothin’ to Do With Groundball Pitchers? DRA Weighs In

So what does this tell us? Does DRA confirm or negate the previous findings suggesting that groundball pitchers are more effective at run prevention? There appear to be three conclusions:

1. In modern baseball, using the most sophisticated measure of run prevention, higher groundball rates are well correlated to fewer runs allowed. It’s not an ironclad relationship—Scherzer and Verlander don’t get a lot of grounders—but inducing groundballs is a positive attribute.

2. To James’ point, if we look over the arc of baseball history, the conclusion above decays with time. Getting groundballs is really good today. It wasn’t necessarily good 40-60 years ago. So while we can say “groundball pitchers are generally better” today, that statement’s time-limited.

3. This illustrates the limitation of single-variable analysis in baseball. Inducing groundballs is positively correlated with run prevention. So is getting strikeouts. But grounders and whiffs are negatively correlated—groundball pitchers get fewer strikeouts than flyball pitchers. So getting a lot of grounders, just like getting a lot of strikeouts, isn’t enough to guarantee success. Among ERA qualifiers this year, Edinson Volquez has the seventh-highest groundball rate, and Ian Kennedy’s no. 18 in strikeout rate. Their ERA/FIP/DRAs are 4.99/4.38/4.85 and 4.03/4.92/3.95, respectively; the American League average is 4.21.

I’ll concede that James has a point about durable pitchers over the past 60 years. But I’ll stick with what I wrote in June, “I’m not backing away from the view that in contemporary baseball, groundball pitchers, in aggregate, are more valuable the flyball pitchers, in aggregate,” and DRA’s got my back.


Jim Furtado Posted: August 11, 2016 at 09:21 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: groundballs, pitching, sabermetrics

Monday, August 08, 2016

Rajai Davis is still an elite baserunner - Beyond the Box Score

Davis still isn’t much of a hitter, or a defender. But what kind of fan comes to the ballpark to watch guys hit home runs or make slick catches? For the true baseball lovers, baserunning – be it a move ahead to third or a swipe of second – stands out as the true attraction. Throughout his 11-year career in the Show, Davis has catered to these fans’ esoteric interests, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The man who’s described himself as “always [being] faster than everyone else” has backed up, and should continue to back up, that proclamation.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 08, 2016 at 11:19 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, rajai davis, sabermetrics

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Sabermetric Research: Why log5 is biased against favorites

Phil Birnbaum goes under the hood with Log5.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 06, 2016 at 07:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Monday, August 01, 2016

Fixing Batted-Ball Statistics with Statcast – The Hardball Times

I would think that arc angle would be very useful for defense as well. Interesting stuff.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 01, 2016 at 10:51 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tangotiger: StatCast Lab: Once we hit 88mph exit speed, we’re going to see some serious…

You can read about some of the things Tangotiger is working on over on his blog.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 29, 2016 at 10:50 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

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