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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Inside Baseball Teams’ Battle to Keep Their Secrets Safe

A lot of good stuff in this one.

“That is the key: how you maintain … consistency in the face of success, how you remain open-minded enough to change despite your success, how you continually have personnel that leak nothing to the media,” says the former scouting exec. “That requires dedication and commitment that can’t just be thrown on a flash drive or backdoored by someone with knowledge of a system; the real secrets are the ones that can’t be stolen.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 07, 2017 at 06:27 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: cyber security, sabermetrics

Monday, February 06, 2017

Baseball Prospectus | Rubbing Mud: Command, Framing, and Teamwork

An interesting look at the Cubs catching match-ups.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 06, 2017 at 05:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch framing, sabermetrics

Monday, January 23, 2017

Baseball Prospectus | Prospectus Feature: Command and Control

Interesting stuff. Read the whole article.

Command

Now that we’ve established that CS Prob is a proxy for control, we can build on it. After extensive review, we’ve concluded that CSAA substantially reflects a pitcher’s ability to command his pitches. It’s important to make the connection between what CSAA does and the popular definition of command.

Traditionally command is understood as the ability to “hit your spots”—having the ball end up where you intend it to. Over the years this has been studied in numerous ways—most notably by attempting to determine how much the catcher moves his glove to receive a pitch. This is flawed because the catcher’s glove isn’t always the target, and we can’t know where the pitcher is truly intending the pitch to go.

What we can do is come at command from a different angle. A pitcher with good command should be more predictable for the catcher—their pitches often end up in the locations, and with the movement that the catcher expects. This skill results in easier receiving for catchers, and additional called strikes for the pitcher. Once we aggregate the data cross thousands of pitches, CSAA is able to tell us whether a pitcher is reliably hitting his spots.

CS Prob is actually covariate in the model for CSAA, which is a fancy way of saying that CSAA measures the extent to which a participant tends to affect the likelihood of a strike being called, notwithstanding its final location. As such, CSAA controls for all of the same things as CS Prob and adds in the umpire and catcher for good measure.

So what does accumulating CSAA look like? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Sure, you could throw a ton of pitches in the middle of the zone and basically guarantee that you’ll wrack up called strikes on the pitches hitters don’t offer at. The downside to that approach is that pitches in the center of the plate get crushed.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 23, 2017 at 10:18 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Platoon Advantage | Exploring Baseball Data with R

Some interesting research on platoons.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 11, 2017 at 09:14 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Nate Karns and Useful Spin | FanGraphs Baseball

Nate Karns under the Enoscope.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 11, 2017 at 06:18 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: nate karns, pitchfx, sabermetrics

Monday, January 09, 2017

Is Home-Field Advantage Becoming Endangered? | FanGraphs Baseball

Ahmed found the minor leaguers he was studying were slightly less effective on the the road after traveling, and in returning home, because they were less likely to be at full recovery.

“There was a direct correlation between the higher your recovery and the faster your exit [batted ball] velocity. We found the same correlation with pitchers and fastballs,” Ahmed said. “I didn’t know for sure we were going to see such strong correlations with travel, recovery and performance. Those were a bit of a eureka [moment] with us and for people in Major League Baseball who saw this study.”

Ahmed said that among the 28 teams that experimented with Whoop, 70% of players participated. Whoop gives a metric before 0% and 100% in regard to recovery. He said habits changed.

“The athletes themselves are self-managing,” Ahmed said. “One thing we found is athletes would talk about drinking less alcohol or going to bed earlier. They are starting to think about their recovery. The higher their recovery the better they play. You go from thinking of yourself as an athlete three hours a day, to thinking of yourself as an athlete 24/7.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 09, 2017 at 11:18 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: home field advantage, sabermetrics

Monday, December 26, 2016

SB Insights from 2016 Retrosheet Data | Exploring Baseball Data with R

OK, now that Christmas is past, you are ready to play with Retrosheet data. Right?

Jim Furtado Posted: December 26, 2016 at 08:15 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pitch Framing Was Doomed From the Start – The Hardball Times

Pitch-framing numbers answered questions we didn’t know we had. A new statistical category emerged out of nowhere, and before long, the research proved its own worth. That was the birth of the revolution. Every team now wants good-receiving catchers. Every team, additionally, wants to develop more good-receiving catchers. The market is going to end up flooded with good-receiving catchers. By then we’ll no longer recognize them as good-receiving catchers. Pitch-framing is sufficiently important that baseball teams will prioritize it right into insignificance.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 24, 2016 at 08:29 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch framing, sabermetrics

Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Players’ and Coaches’ Skepticism of Defensive Metrics

When Statcast fixes the missing plays problem, DRS and UZR will go the way of RF and Fielding Pct. Nobody will use them. Regardless, most often it’s a misunderstanding of what the numbers mean and using them improperly that is an actual problem.

“I’ve seen the defensive statistics that say that Hechy (Adeiny Hechavarria) is not a good shortstop, and that’s just stupid,” says Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. “You can’t say that and have any sort of credibility at the same time. I think a lot of sabermetrics and a lot of the numbers don’t tell the whole story. You’ve got to watch the game, as well. You can’t just look at a sheet of paper, look at what it says, and say, ‘This guy’s good, that guy’s not good,’ just based on looking at paper.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 22, 2016 at 08:18 AM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: defense, defensive metrics, drs, sabermetrics, uzr

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tangotiger Blog: Pre-Statcast Lab: groupings or single point estimates?

More interesting stuff is coming from Tangotiger.

So, getting back to the above image: it’s likely that the information contained in the barrels will need to get more weight than in the other zones.  In order to understand the hitter, you need to know his profile.  This is true whether you want to know about his future, or simply want to know about what you have on hand as a hitter.  Knowing the profile of the hitter is better than knowing the single end point.  The profile keeps the conversation going, while the single end point ends up being a single data point.

Yes, no reason to choose between the two, and we may as well present it all.  The point remains however that the value exists greater at the component level, whereas at the summary level, it becomes a summary opinion with some evidence.  The fun though is in the evidence.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 20, 2016 at 08:48 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, statcast

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Embrace the Barrel — Baseball’s Newest Statistic

Although this is an improvement, I’m still not a fan of FIP.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 17, 2016 at 08:16 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, sabermetrics, statcast

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How catcher arm strength affects stolen bases | MLB.com

I look forward to defensive components being broken down and ranked. Exchange Time, Arm Strength, and Accuracy for catchers seems like a good place to start.

You can see how much more work remains, of course. Once correlations are run against all of the various inputs that go into “safe” or “out,” we’ll have a much better idea of how much credit or blame is due to each party. Instead of just how much lead distance a runner had when the pitcher threw the ball, we’ll be able to push deeper and see just where he was when the catcher caught and released the ball, too.

It’s “good” to have a strong arm for a catcher, and while that perhaps seemed obvious, it’s nice to have some empirical evidence around it. It’s just one of a ton of different things that go into it. You probably already knew not to judge a catcher based on “caught-stealing percentage” alone. Now, you know where and how arm strength starts to make a difference.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 15, 2016 at 07:03 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: billy hamilton, sabermetrics, statcast

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winning in MLB is harder when everyone is smarter - SweetSpot- ESPN

A lot of good stuff. Read the whole thing.

Teams in the more recent period not only had a lower average win total in the 90-win season, but suffered a bigger decline the following season, were less likely to win more games or to win 90 again and more likely to have a losing season. Winning now is more ephemeral: Winning 92 games and making the playoffs as opposed to winning 85 and falling short is often not just the residue of clever team-building, but to the vagaries of luck, injuries and random career seasons.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 10, 2016 at 07:43 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: dave dombrowski, moneyball, red sox, sabermetrics

Saturday, December 03, 2016

D-Backs hire Mike Fitzgerald as new analytics head

Which direction will Arizona change to when this plan doesn’t produce a World Series championship within two years? Fortune tellers?

“(Analytics) certainly has been an area of focus for us since coming over here; I know it’s been an area of focus for (owner) Ken (Kendrick) and (CEO) Derrick (Hall) when I was hired,” Hazen said. “We want to look to strategically build this department.

“He has a phenomenal reputation, very smart, impressed throughout the interview process. He’s the right guy to help really build our infrastructure in these areas. The game is changing in so many different ways, there are so many new areas of information to explore, and he’s going to help us do that.”

Jim Furtado Posted: December 03, 2016 at 08:17 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: diamondbacks, sabermetrics

Thursday, December 01, 2016

MLB analytics guru who could be the next Nate Silver has a revolutionary new stat - CBSSports.com

“HE FREAKS US OUT.” ~ Harry Pavlidis

Jim Furtado Posted: December 01, 2016 at 04:43 PM | 45 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Most Improved Changeup of the Second Half | FanGraphs Baseball

Tyler Chatwood‘s changeup has never been good, but it really looks like he’s tinkering with it, no matter which classification system you’re using. By PITCHf/x, he added nearly two inches of fade and over an inch of drop. Meanwhile, he began throwing the fastball harder and change slower, improving the gap between the two pitches by 2.5 mph, the biggest difference in the sample of 92.

That’s according to the generic PITCHf/x classifications from MLB, at least. According to Brooks Baseball’s data, the improvement was a little more muted, suggesting that some of the difference comes not from any improvement on Chatwood’s part, but simply from mis-diagnosing changeups. He still added an inch of fade there, a half inch of drop, and a half mile per hour of velocity gap. The problem is that he pushed that changeup all the way to… below average with respect to movement. The velocity differential was merely average. Still not a good pitch, even if it was better.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 30, 2016 at 07:04 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: changeup, sabermetrics

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sabermetric Research: How should we evaluate Detroit’s defense behind Verlander?

Phil Birnbaum puts Joe Posnanski’s criticism of WAR into his intellectual hopper.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 29, 2016 at 07:08 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: cy young, justin verlander, rick porcello, sabermetrics, war

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Bit More on WAR | Joe Posnanski

Joe Posnanski follows up on his earlier article about Porcello and Verlander.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 27, 2016 at 09:27 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, war

Porlander and Vercello | Articles | Bill James Online

Bill James weighs in on Verlander vs. Porcello.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 27, 2016 at 09:26 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, war

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Miller—Going to WAR—The mystery of Robbie Ray

Speaking as someone who spent a couple years of his life working on a WAR system before WAR was cool, too many people put too much credence in WAR. Too many don’t put enough. It’s something nice to look at and works well for a lot of different questions. Despite what some think, even with the advances in technology, it will always be just a reflection of reality. And that’s OK.

“One might assume.” One might assume that, if Martin Perez’s WARs are 1.8, 1.8 and 1.9 (as they were in 2016), that Martin Perez is a 1.8- or 1.9-win pitcher. But we’ve already seen, with Ray, that one model of WAR can be wildly misleading. We’ve seen, in fact, that two can be. It’s not much of a leap to think even three could be, all at once, and in all the same ways, especially for unique players such as Zach Britton or Yadier Molina or David Ross or for players on the extremes.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 23, 2016 at 08:00 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: diamondbacks, robbie ray, sabermetrics, war

The Most Dominant Pitcher in the Minors* | FanGraphs Baseball

All hail, Jonathan Holder. Who?

Jim Furtado Posted: November 23, 2016 at 07:10 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Porcello v. Verlander | Joe Posnanski

When Statcast defensive numbers become available, I expect a real shift in the defensive metrics. Even when that happens, though, the numbers will be better, but they still won’t be perfect. Those who expect perfection, both then and now, have unrealistic exceptions.

What I’m saying here is that while the defensive adjustments seem shaky and unpersuasive, the stark final WAR number — 6.6 to 5.0 WAR — is there in your face. I don’t know how many people voted for Verlander because of Baseball WAR numbers, but I suspect at least a handful did.

And I wonder how many of them realized they were voting for a defensive adjustment. I love the concept of WAR, and I appreciate the efforts to make it better all the time. And I know the Baseball Reference people do not claim that it is the perfect statistic or that anyone should base their entire award ballot on it. But WAR does have real sway in the baseball commuinity. And in this case, I think it was pretty misleading.

Update: Sean posted this response to his Twitter account.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 22, 2016 at 08:17 AM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: cy young award, sabermetrics

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tom Grieve on analytics in the 80s. | MLB.com

MLB.com: You had an analytics guy in your front office in the 1980s.
Grieve: Yes, Craig Wright. He really was the trailblazer. Actually, he was hired in 1981, when Eddie Robinson was the general manager, Joe Klein was the farm director, and I was the assistant farm director. It was before anyone knew what sabermetrics [were]. Craig was well accepted by our manager, Bobby Valentine, and the pitching coach, Tom House.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 12, 2016 at 12:33 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: rangers, sabermetrics

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tigers analytics department now hiring, will soon unveil ‘Caesar’ | MLive.com

Ok, why Caesar?

Sartori and Avila revealed last week that they’re nearing completion of a new internal software system called “Caesar” that should be operational in January.

“We will be hiring several more people in that area that will basically just be doing the calculations, mathematics, formulas that they create to help us make better decisions, which is not in place right now, and hasn’t been,” Avila said.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2016 at 10:41 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, tigers

Friday, October 14, 2016

Blue Jay Kevin Pillar elite Statcast fielder | MLB.com

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

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