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Repoz
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Twitter / msimonespn: Who is hitting the ball hard ...

This is a list you don’t want to top. Run Segura, run!

Jim Furtado Posted: April 22, 2014 at 03:43 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Studeman: Why wOBA Works

Why wOBA Works

Let’s say you have a player, let’s call him Al Trout, who has hit six singles in 10 plate appearances (making an out every other time) and the league, on average, hits three singles every 10 plate appearances (again, making an out every other time). To use linear weights to figure out how many more runs Al contributed above the league average, you’d…

  Calculate the extra runs Al contributed by hitting more singles, which equals the difference in singles times the run value of a single, or (6-3) times 0.48, or 1.44.  Then you’d…
  Calculate the extra runs that Al contributed by making fewer outs, which equals the difference in outs made times the run value of an out, or (4-7) times -0.30 (that’s a negative 0.30), or 0.9. Then you’d…
  Add the two together. 1.44 plus 0.9 equals 2.34. In his 10 plate appearances, Al contributed 2.34 runs more than the average player.

Okay, I have to add a technical footnote here. I have shown you this way of calculating linear weights because it will make it easier to understand the wOBA formula But, in reality, you only have to multiply Al’s singles and outs by the appropriate linear weights of that league and year to calculate the number of runs he contributed above average.

Anyway, that’s the hard linear weights way to calculate the difference.  Here’s the wOBA way:

  Multiply the difference in singles times the wOBA multiplier, or (6-3) times 0.78, or 2.34.

That’s it; one simple step. wOBA shows that Al contributed 2.34 runs more than the average player, the same outcome as the linear weights.

Why does this happen? Because wOBA weights include the impact of the hit AND the impact of turning an out into a hit. When you keep the number of plate appearances even, you’re not just adding a hit to the hit total.  You’re also reducing an out from the out total. wOBA captures the impact of both event changes.

wOBA fundamentally works because it is a rate stat.  Its divisor is plate appearances. When you compare two players’ wOBA you have equalized their total plate appearances.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: April 20, 2014 at 05:27 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paine: Advanced Stats Love Jackie Robinson

Only four position players in MLB history — Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Lou Gehrig — had more WAR between the ages of 29 and 34. Numbers like that are why, despite Robinson’s short career, James ranked Robinson as the fourth-best second baseman ever in “New Historical Baseball Abstract.”

So much for sabermetrics underappreciating Robinson’s skills.

WAR can measure Robinson’s terrifying impact on the basepaths (he generated 31 more runs than an average player). WAR also takes into account his defensive value — total zone data estimates that Robinson saved 81 more runs than an average defender (primarily at second base, but with a little third base, first base and outfield mixed in). According to defensive WAR, Robinson saved the Brooklyn Dodgers 10 wins with his defense, combining his contributions relative to position and the importance of those positions in the overall structure of the defense.

Most importantly, though, WAR accounts for the fact that Robinson was 261 runs better than average with his bat. Because of the highlight-reel baserunning plays, people often forget that Robinson was also an incredible hitter. He topped a .295 batting average eight times, winning the NL batting crown in 1949 with a .342 average. He also had the majors’ seventh-highest on-base percentage during the course of his career (1947-56), drawing a walk on 12.8 percent of his plate appearances in addition to his outstanding ability to hit for average. And his isolated power was 19 points better than the league average, so Robinson had some pop (even if his slugging percentage was driven in part by 54 career triples).

In sum, Robinson was an all-around sabermetric star. There isn’t an area of the game where the advanced stats don’t consider him very good, if not one of the best ever. The notion that somehow Robinson has lost his luster as we learn more about what makes for winning baseball couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, sabermetric stats help us appreciate Robinson’s greatness even more.

Thanks to Jake.

Repoz Posted: April 16, 2014 at 08:49 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sabermetrics

Minuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR

If we don’t end WAR, WAR will end us! (trips over imported blunderbuss stand)

I have frequently argued how economic statistics do not always give an accurate appraisal of the current climate. The same happens in sports, at times. I’d like to demonstrate why a currently voguish baseball statistic is vastly misleading, in the hopes of engendering healthy skepticism in fields other than sports.

The statistic called “Wins Above Replacement,” or WAR, is considered the best all-around rating methodology for everyday players (as opposed to pitchers). It supposedly shows how many wins a player adds or subtracts from his team, compared to just an average player at his position. I would like to use several well-known position players and their WAR statistics to evaluate this rating system.

Yogi Berra is, bar none, the winningest baseball player in history. He played 17 seasons, and the Yankees won 14 pennants and 10 World Series. His manager, Casey Stengel, called him his manager on the field. His position, catcher, is critical, touching the ball on every pitch. He won three MVP awards and made 15 All-Star teams. In his magisterial biography, journalist Allan Barra (no relation) surmises that Berra may have been the greatest catcher of all time, but was at least in the top 4. He was named to the All-Century team as the American League catcher.

According to WAR, Berra is the 97th best player of all time. 97th! By comparison, Jeff Bagwell is rated 35th. Bagwell played 15 seasons, winning one pennant and no World Series. He made four All-Star games and won one MVP. But he is 62 places better than Berra, the winningest player of all time, who played a much more crucial position. Since the entire WAR concept is based on winning, how could a player who contributed to so much more winning be rated so much lower? No offense to Bagwell, who I liked, but does anyone believe he is more valuable than Berra?

...I can go on. Take Carl Yasztremski, ranked 28. While a Yankee fan, I really admired Yaz as a kid. He was great. But his Sox never won a World Series, and he had a career average line of .285, 22 HR, 90 RBI, and 89 runs scored. There is simply no comparing the two men’s achievements, yet Yaz is ranked five spots higher than DiMaggio.

I think this brief overview shows that WAR is not rational, and also that all of us need to be skeptical when “experts” throw around statistics, especially when based on new and untested metrics. Often, such stats turn out to be meaningless in the real world. For example, we have finally regained all the jobs lost since 2007, but most of the jobs created have been low-wage, meaning that income inequality has gotten worse, not better, ever since the people who talk a lot about “income inequality” took over Washington

Repoz Posted: April 16, 2014 at 08:21 AM | 106 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sabermetrics

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scott DeSmit: Just give me a kid who can play the game

The Daily News: Serving Genesee…and by the looks of it, even harder shiit!

Mike Trout deserved the MVP because of Pythagorean expectations, speed scores, ultimate zone ratings, VORP, wOBA and PECOTA, or Player Empiracal Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.

Think baseball was boring before?

Grrrrr.

Yes, baseball has always been stat-driven. That’s why I love reading box scores.

But it’s also driven by gut instinct.

Taking David Ortiz out of the World Series lineup based on Sabermetrics? Because the bench player had a better OPS/WAR against the pitcher on odd-numbered days and when the defensive lineup consisted of 38 percent Hispanic players with DRSes of .678 or above?

Blah blah blah.

You can have your computer-generated scouting reports.

Give me that kid who dives into second base headfirst stretching a single or smashes into the outfield wall leaping for a fly ball or hits 450-feet home runs or bats .320 and steals 50 bases and give me that pitcher who waves off his manager when he reaches 100 in the pitch count.

And I’ll take a Triple Crown winner over anyone.

I don’t care if it’s a cloudy day or not.

Repoz Posted: April 13, 2014 at 07:08 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Thursday, April 10, 2014

If Hank Aaron Had Never Hit a Home Run, Would He Be a Hall of Famer? | FiveThirtyEight

This just in…Hank Aaron was no Dave Kingman.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM | 73 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, hank aaron, sabermetrics

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Cameron: Numbers don’t lie: The decline of Pujols is stunning

Pujol’s Pitch Black...

When the Detroit Tigers announced that they had signed Miguel Cabrera to an eight-year contract extension that didn’t even begin for another two years, the deal was immediately met with skepticism. The Tigers tacked on an additional $248 million in guaranteed money to lock up Cabrera’s age-33 to age-40 seasons, and the history of aging, super-sized, bat-only players is littered with disappointments. Exhibit A: Albert Pujols, who has been a severe disappointment since joining the Angels and would be my choice as the owner of the worst contract in baseball right now. The Pujols disaster is why so many of us—myself included—believe the Tigers might end up regretting the Cabrera extension.

But, at the same time, we should also acknowledge that the Pujols disaster is one of the most inexplicable anomalies in baseball history. There have been hitters as good as Albert Pujols before, but they generally haven’t declined nearly to the same degree that Pujols has since joining the Angels.

...What Pujols is now simply is not what he was a few years ago, and his contract is a giant red flag for any team thinking of entering into a long-term deal with a slugger on the wrong side of 30. However, for hitters who established themselves as elite, inner-circle Hall of Fame talents, this kind of early career collapse is basically unprecedented. It’s one thing when Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, or Ryan Howard stop being productive in their early thirties, but those guys weren’t transcendent best-hitters-of-their-generation types. Pujols was that. Cabrera is that now. By and large, these guys keep hitting until their mid-thirties at least, and sometimes even into their late-thirties.

Pujols’ decline is absolutely not the norm. We’ve seen other great hitters get worse but remain highly productive, and we’ve seen lesser hitters become essentially unplayable, but Pujols’ fall from his lofty perch is a bit unprecedented. That doesn’t mean I’m now on board with the Tigers handing out $248 million for the right to watch Cabrera slow down, but we also shouldn’t lean on the Pujols example too heavily. Just like not every prospect is going to become Mike Trout, not every aging first baseman is going to become Albert Pujols.

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2014 at 02:32 PM | 210 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, sabermetrics

Monday, April 07, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 4/4/14 - 4/7/14

But Eckstein was a clubhouse lawyer...

The issue with the fielding is mostly tied to the spread that the system will estimate. For example, the 114 fielders in 2013 with at least 1000 innings, and including the “positional adjustment”, Fangraphs has those players with one standard deviation = 10.7 runs. http://tinyurl.com/fangraphsFLD2013 I presume that Win Shares is going to be less, probably half of that. So, if Fangraphs has [Manny] Machado at +34 runs, [Andrelton] Simmons at +32 and [Carlos] Gomez at +27 (and [Carlos] Beltran at -21!), this will drive the WAR result for many such players. Win Shares, by giving a fielding estimate a smaller standard deviation allows the offense portion to drive most of the results.

Right. And, to try to move the ball on this just an inch. .. .these discrepancies are caused by two issues. One issue is whether fielding events should be treated as proportional events or marginal events. A single only creates something like 0.29 runs; however, if one adds 100 ADDITIONAL singles to a team, marginal singles, then you’ll add something more than 60 additional runs. The marginal value of an offensive event is more than twice as great as the value of such an event integrated into the whole package. And second, there is an issue as to what is skill and what is luck. It is my view, based on what I know, that the differences between what is attributed to two fielders might equally plausibly be attributed to luck. In the same way that a hitter might hit .370 on balls in play one year and .230 the next, just based on luck; in the same way that a pitcher might give up 220 hits one year and 170 the next, just based on luck, it is reasonable to think that a fielder catching 70% of the catchable but non-routine plays, rather than 40%, might simply be luck. We don’t know. Unless or until we know, I’m using the conservative assumptions.

...I meet Rick Eckstein, when my Dad, took us to watch my nephew play while at UK. Rick was with Georgia. While talking to him I said, “If Boston had kept your brother, David in 2002 and let him play second, they would have won the WS and not the Angels.”... You got there in 2003, did anyone talk about that?

... yes, we would talk quite a bit about Eckstein, because he’s the perfect player to illustrate the need to focus on what players actually can do, rather than on how they look in the uniform. The Red Sox signed Eckstein in 1997; he hit .301 that year, hit .306 and scored 99 runs in 1998, 87-51 walks to strikeouts, hit .313 and scored 101 runs in 1999, 89 -48 walks to strikeouts, and then played decent at Pawtucket his first year at AAA, 2000—and we put him on waivers because he wasn’t athletic enough. It was ridiculous.

Hey Bill, are there pieces of baseball writing that you like to re-read (ostensibly for pleasure) every once in awhile? For me, Roger Angell’s “The Go Shouters” about the ‘62 Mets and their fans is particularly delightful, and of course the one about box scores (I think it’s simply called “Box Scores.” Thanks.

Thanks. But No; I don’t re-read anything. Even my own stuff. The only stuff I ever enjoyed re-reading was the stuff I would re-read to my kids.

...What did the Sox see after 2012 that convinced them that it was OK to let [Jonathan Papelbon] go that the Phils’ didn’t see and wasted $59 million?...

Well, actually, we didn’t let him go after 2012; we let him go after 2011, and it should be pointed out that he had a very good year in 2012 when, as I recall, we didn’t have such a good year and the guys we brought into replace him weren’t really too good. He actually left us. .. .I don’t know if you remember, but after the 2011 season we had a chaotic interval in which our manager and general manager both left, and some other people. Very early in that period, before we could get our feet back on the ground, Philadelphia made Papelbon a generous offer and he accepted it. I’m 99% sure we wouldn’t have matched the offer anyway, but I guess we’ll never know.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Thorn & Palmer: The Hidden Game of Baseball: A Revolutionary Approach to Baseball and Its Statistics

From John Thorn: “Thirty years ago this month Pete Palmer and I put out “The Hidden Game of Baseball.” A fine publisher has proposed a reissue for next spring, with a new intro and guest foreword.”

“I wonder whether BBTF readers might comment upon their reactions to the book way back when, or their view of it all these years later. I’ll have to write an intro to the reissue touching upon these themes and, of course, the rise of sabermetrics generally.”

hg

Repoz Posted: April 05, 2014 at 12:50 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sabermetrics, site news

Friday, April 04, 2014

HACKING MASS Competition 2014

Remember all those articles about how Billy Hamilton could revolutionize the game?...

HACKING MASS, our competition to pick the least dangerous hitters and least effective pitchers in the majors, returns for the 2014 season!... You’ll have a full week to enter (the deadline is April 11, 2014, at midnight PST), but it’s easy to change players, so feel free to go all in on Darwin Barney on the entry form today, then switch to Ryan Goins next Friday morning…

Your 10 players will be:

one each at catcher and each infield position (5 players)
one at each outfield position (3 players)
two pitchers (2 players)

Simply pick the players who you think will be the stiffest at each position. A team’s aggregate stiffness is measured by summing the ESPN (Exuded Stiff Points, Net) of all of the players on your team. For hitters, ESPN is 0.800, minus his OBP, minus his SLG, and multiplied by plate appearances - i.e., (.8-OPS)*PA. For pitchers, the formula is the pitcher’s ERA, minus 4.5, times his innings pitched, divided by three, or (ERA-4.5)*IP/3. This results in similar Stiffness scores for the firmest hitters and pitchers.

In each case, it isn’t enough for a player to simply suck; somehow the Stiffest of the Stiff must find a way to remain in the lineup or rotation.

The District Attorney Posted: April 04, 2014 at 11:32 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball prospectus, sabermetrics

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 4/3/14

This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt… Magnante, or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent.

Hey Bill: I just noticed that Baseball Reference now has Mike Trout and Carlos Gomez tied for 2013 WAR leaders at 8.9 each. You show Trout as being nearly twice as valuable as Gomez (40 WS to 21.2). One expects different systems to arrive at somewhat different valuations, but a disagreement of this size strikes me as a bit bizarre. Any thoughts?

Well. ..what do you think? Do you really believe Carlos Gomez is the equal of Mike Trout? I don’t feel that I have a deep need to defend my position, and I don’t see any point in attacking there’s.

Now that baseball has finally crossed the Rubicon and begun embracing replay technology, can automating ball-and-strike calls be far behind?...

... what I have advocated for 20 years: an audible beep that only the home plate umpire hears, telling him whether the ball was or was not in the zone. He can ignore the beep if he chooses to do so; there might be cases where the technology doesn’t work, and a ball bouncing off the catcher’s shinguards will beep to signal a strike. Anything can happen. But in practice, umpires are going to learn to just go along with the beep 99.99% of the time. The game LOOKS the same; it’s the same from the seats. The only difference is, the calls are right.

Bill, from a run production stand point, would you rather have a team full of Ben Revers or a team full of Adam Dunns?

... Revere’s on base percentage the last three years is higher than Dunn’s, so it is power against baserunning. I’m not sure who would win. An odd and relevant fact is that Dunn processes as a better baserunner last year than Revere does. Revere was 11-for-22 going first to third on singles; Dunn was 3-for-27, so Revere is several bases ahead there. Revere was 5-for-8 scoring from second on a single; Dunn was 7-for-17, so Revere is further ahead. Revere was 2-for-5 scoring from first on a double; Dunn was 1-for-7, so another base or two for Revere there. But Dunn did not run into an out on the bases, all year; Revere did it five times. Running into an out is FAR more costly than the benefit of one base, so the balance of these events actually favors Dunn.

You mentioned George Allen recently. To me, he was the original moneyball man. He traded unproven commodities (draft picks) for unproven commodities (players) and won EVERY single year. Do you hav thoughts on him?

At the end of his career he was trading away the future for the present. I don’t think that was smart; I think that was selfish. I think he was a great coach up to a point, but. . .like Andy Reid in Philadelphia. . .when the coach becomes the GM, has the dual responsibility of coaching and selecting players, most often this does not work. I think Allen was a terrific coach, but I don’t think the wholesale trading of future draft picks should be allowed, and I don’t think it reflects well on anyone who does it.

Hey Bill, Baseball Reference 2013 WAR data show Mike Trout as being twice as valuable as Carlos Gomez offensively, but suggest that Gomez was five and a half wins better than Trout defensively, and that Trout’s defense actually cost the Angels a win last year. I am skeptical of that assessment, but that is where the discrepancy lies.

I was assuming that everybody knew that. What I was asking—and am asking—is, do you believe it? I don’t believe it; I think it is silly, so I’m not going to worry about arguing it through, because I don’t think anyone really believes that.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Posnanski: At WAR with Pedro

The W.A.N.D. (The Whiff Always Negates Defeat)

Somebody asked me this question on Twitter: If I could have any pitcher from any time pitch one game… who would I choose?

I immediately typed: Pedro. 1999… Any baseball pitching question can be answered, somehow, by: Pedro, 1999. I would actually like to answer ALL questions that way. When I go fill up gas, and the little pump screen asks: “Cash or Credit” I’d love to be able to type in: Pedro, 1999.

Anyway, the choice lit up the Twitter lines with the expected objections…

Am I the only one who gets kind of annoyed when people put some sort of finality stamp at the end of their opinions? You know what I mean by finality stamp — someone will not just say “Sandy Koufax in 1965 was quite sprightly.” No, they will say something like “Koufax. 1965. End of story.” Or: “Gibson. 1968. The end.” Or: “Carlton. 1972. Period.” Or: “Old Hoss. 1884. Goodbye.”

What are these emphatic termination words supposed to achieve? I mean YOU put those words there, right? I didn’t miss some mediator coming in and ending declaring your viewpoint supreme, did I? It’s not like you pulled Marshall McLuhan out of nowhere to confirm your opinion … YOU confirmed your opinion. How does that mean anything? Is this like the Internet equivalent of taking off your shoe and clomping it on the table like a gavel? Stop doing that. It’s stupid. Period. End of story. Goodbye.

Anyway there was one alternative to Pedro 1999 suggestion that I found interesting for a completely different reason.

The suggestion: Pedro in 2000…

Baseball Reference WAR values the 2000 season more because Pedro Martinez gave up fewer runs and fewer hits… Fangraphs WAR… deals with the three things that Fangraphs believes a pitcher can control: Strikeouts, walks and home runs… Fangraphs thinks 1999 was a clearly better season…

right now I lean just a touch more to the Fangraphs side. I think Pedro pitched a little bit better in 1999 than he was in 2000… [Tom] Tango, when looking at Baseball Reference WAR, at Fangraphs WAR will split the difference.

This would make Pedro’s 1999 and 2000 seasons almost EXACTLY EVEN.

Which, if you think about it, is a good way to end this. Period.

The District Attorney Posted: March 27, 2014 at 04:55 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: boston, history, joe posnanski, pedro martinez, sabermetrics

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 3/25/14 - 3/26/14

C’mon now, cancelling the World Series is joyous compared to Arli$$.

Hey Bill, In what context do “one run” offensive strategies (in particular the sacrifice bunt, but also stolen bases) make sense in the early innings of a game? Said another way, how scarce do runs need to be in order to make the sacrifice bunt a favorable strategy in the early innings of a game?

I’m not sure I have a solid understanding of the issue. Billy Southworth bunted constantly in the early innings, believing that the most important thing was to grab the lead. Southworth’s teams were tremendously successful. It could be that if you have a GREAT team, one way to maximize that is to bunt in the early innings. I DOUBT that, but I don’t KNOW that it is untrue. And, as I have pointed out before. . .if the third baseman can’t field a bunt, why not bunt?

Re Southworth’s strategy: I’ve always heard that teams scoring the FIRST run in a game tend to win that game by some ludicrous %, but then I realized that every shutout of course is won by the team scoring the first run, probably equivalent (or close) to the % of wins claimed by the bunting/stealing crowd. Do you see this as blowing a significant hole in the small-ball argument? McCarver used to invoke it like it was heaven-sent wisdom, but I always found it spectacularly dumb.

Well. . .spectacularly dumb is harsh. It’s misleading. If you were to look, for example, at teams that score a run in the bottom of the fourth inning, you would find that those teams win about 70% of their games, just because a) EVERY run you score is highly significant in a contest in which it only takes a few runs to win a game, and b) when you score one run in the bottom of the 4th, very often you will score 2 or more, whereas when you score NO runs in the bottom of the fourth, then you never score 2 or more. It’s not that the first run is hugely significant; it is that every run is hugely significant.

Bill: I don’t expect you to keep printing my input on this. . .

Deal.

In “Four Sluggers” you tossed in a very interesting generalization that fantasy GMs and possibly real GMs should all know - but I didn’t think was considered general knowledge: ” The usual rule is that a player is consistent when he is young; when he gets older, what he loses is not the ability to produce but the consistency of his production.” Can I take that as fact? Could you, please, elaborate on that? It would make a good subject for a serious study.

I can’t demonstrate that it’s true, no. It seems obvious to me, but then, Amy Adams didn’t win Best Actress for “American Hustle”, so I guess you never know.

Hey Bill, ESPN Magazine has published preseason predictions ( http://assets.espn.go.com/magazine/0331TEAMAL.pdf, http://assets.espn.go.com/magazine/0331TEAMNL.pdf ) based in part on a “chemistry score.” They worked with a couple of professors to build “a proprietary team-chemistry regression model” with three factors: “clubhouse demographics, trait isolation and stratification of performance to pay.” Basically, on each factor, more homogeneity is better: players with similar salaries, experience, race, nationality, etc. Each component gives a result in terms of wins; e.g., the Cubs lose 3.5 wins on “clubhouse demographics” because of “too much diversity”. A fuller summary of the method is here: http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2014/03/espn-on-clubhouse-chemistry.html Any thoughts on this?

Ah. . .it’s happened at last. The happy marriage of sabermetrics and bullshit.

Bill, Selig will retire a the end of this year. Who are the leading candidaes to replace him?

George Will, Bob Costas, Mariano Rivera, Stephen Colbert, Pope Francis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mitch McConnell, Dale Chihuly, Maui Mike, Rob Neyer, Robert Wuhl, Betty White and Steven Goldleaf. In that order.

The District Attorney Posted: March 26, 2014 at 12:40 PM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: amy adams, bill james, sabermetrics, strategy

Can Spring Training Statistics Predict Breakout Power Seasons? | Bill James Online

Click through to see the results.

Based on our qualifications, 71.7 percent of players who enjoyed those spring power surges went on to increased power in the regular season. Moreover, a similar study of that trend on the team level showed similar results.

In recent seasons, we’ve started to see some feedback from independent studies suggesting that trend may no longer hold true. We were curious to investigate, so we ran the same study with the same qualifications on the data from the most recent five seasons, 2009-2013. Here are those results:

Jim Furtado Posted: March 26, 2014 at 09:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Miles: Sabermetrics changing baseball’s numbers game

The ribbie rhubarb:

Back when Dusty Baker was manager of the Cubs, he’d go up and down the lineup and say things like Aramis Ramirez was “my RBI guy” and Moises Alou was “my clutch man.”

The whole “clutch hitter” debate is one for another day, but the RBI debate is a fun one to watch today.

Years ago, voters for the Most Valuable Player often tended favor the leader in runs batted in.

Today, thanks again to advanced analytics, the RBI has taken a back seat to stats such as on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, which combines on-base and slugging. OPS-plus, which is scaled to 100 like ERA-plus, is another measure that researchers say gives a clearer picture of offensive prowess.

Other terms, such as “true average,” used by Baseball Prospectus, and “weighted on-base average” (wOBA), used extensively by FanGraphs, now are in vogue.

The problem with relying too heavily on RBI is that the stat depends on the “RBI guy’s” teammates. In other words, if nobody’s on base ahead of a batter who hits a home run, it’s hard for him to rake in the ribbies. But if a cleanup hitter has a couple of .340 or .350 OBP guys batting ahead of him, he’s going to, well, clean up in the RBI department.

In 2005, Cubs No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee had a hitting line of .335/.418/.662 for an OPS of 1.080 and an OPS-plus of 174. He had 199 hits, 50 doubles and 46 home runs.

However, Lee had “only” 107 RBI. You might have figured a guy with Lee’s stats would have been good for 125-130 RBI, but with players such as Neifi Perez (.298 OBP) and Corey Patterson (.254 OBP) hitting ahead of him on many days, it was difficult for Lee to drive up the RBI total.

“This does not make RBIs meaningless, only incomplete,” wrote researcher David Grabiner. “But the real problem with RBIs is ... they measure a lot of things which are not the player’s own contribution. You cannot drive in runners who are not on base (except with home runs), but your own batting doesn’t put them there; if you bat behind good players, you will get a lot of chances.”

Thanks to Butch.

Repoz Posted: March 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mike Gimbel’s baseball portion of his website

Hi All,

As many of you are aware, I have been (very slowly) developing my website. Not all is perfect, and I hope you don’t mind some basic snafu’s.

The website is www.mikegimbel.com and contains political, physics and baseball areas.

If you are only interested in the baseball area of the website, the baseball area can be directly gotten to via this address: www.mikegimbel.com/album3/album3_006.htm

The baseball area has (partial list):
•a copy of the introduction and explanation of the RPA methodology from my 1994 book.
•Every hitter with at least 200 computed plate appearances (CPA) in 2013 with his complete RPA rated 2013 offensive breakdown against each of the 6 types of pitchers faced (all shown on a single screen).
•The list of the top career hitter and pitcher performers from 1900-2012 in career RPA run value.
•The top hitters and pitchers in each league for every individual season from 1900-2013
•Full rosters of all National League teams from 1900-1960, with the RPA ratings and RPA run values for every player (more years and the AL to come).
•My important talk at the 1998 SABR Negro Leagues conference in Artlantic City
•The video of my talk on sports and drugs under capitalism from several years ago.

If you have email contacts with baseball fans who might be interested in seeing the above player ratings or the articles or the video on the website, please forward this email to them.

—Mike Gimbel

caiman Posted: March 22, 2014 at 08:06 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Thursday, March 20, 2014

FiveThirtyEight | What to Expect From Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects

Top 20 or bust!

For example, Baseball America’s No. 1 slot gets 46 WAR from 1995’s top prospect, Alex Rodriguez. But the top spot loses 1.9 WAR from Todd Van Poppel, one of the game’s all-time biggest busts. Among 18 players from 1990 to 2007, the average for Baseball America’s top spot was nearly 20 WAR.

Do this for all 100 slots, and you arrive at an average, early-career WAR total for each ranking. It’s not a perfectly smooth drop-off from each spot to the next — for instance, the average at No. 10 (15.5 WAR) was quite a bit higher than the average at No. 5 (9.3) — but overall, the shape of the list’s average WAR resembles a logarithmic curve. In other words, a disproportionate amount of WAR is generated by the top handful of prospects.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2014 at 11:44 AM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects, sabermetrics

Baseball Prospectus | Overthinking It: The Big Questions from the 2014 SABR Analytics Conference

A lot of good stuff in the article.

Quite a bit, apparently. Dave Allen and Kevin Tenenbaum compared three projections for minor-league players: one based on a “naïve” statistical model, one based on the more complex ZiPS projection system, and one informed by Kevin Goldstein’s five-star prospect tiers at Baseball Prospectus from 2007-2012. The scouting-centric model won head-to-head showdowns with both of the others.
[data snipped]
That shouldn’t come as a shock: Scouts, after all, have access to stats, but the stats don’t draw on the scouting grades. Not surprisingly, the method that makes use of more information wins. Still, it’s nice to see that outcome confirmed. Teams, of course, have much more granular scouting grades than KG’s old star system at their disposal, so they can probably build much more accurate projections.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2014 at 08:08 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jonah Keri: Beane Counters

Don’t have time to go through this now as “à la croisée des Stooges et des Cramps” material has crossed my faux desk.

While Moneyball the book and especially Moneyball the movie pumped up certain aspects of the A’s success while downplaying certain others (Messieurs Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Tejada, and Chavez would surely like a word), they perfectly pegged Beane’s distrust of industry insiders. While acknowledging that Melvin’s playing experience helped his candidacy for the manager job, Beane admitted to still harping on the value of outsiders’ perspectives when hiring people for other positions.

“I don’t want a lot of guys like me who played the game,” Beane said. “Quite frankly, I want blank canvases, I want people to come in with new ideas. I don’t want the biases of their own experiences to be a part of their decision-making process. Listen, our whole staff — [assistant GM] David [Forst] played at Harvard, but that doesn’t count because it’s Harvard — didn’t really play. The bottom line is that any business should be a meritocracy. The best and brightest. Period. This game is now evolving into that.”

Beane credited Michael Lewis for helping to spark that shift.

“That’s the best thing about the book and what it became,” Beane said. “I just talked to a young lady, a freshman at Santa Barbara. She’s taking a course, and Moneyball’s one of the required readings. This young lady could dream of one day becoming a general manager. That would have been much harder to imagine 15 years ago.”

One of those outsiders could be in the dugout before long, Beane said. Given the challenge of watching for subtle physical cues such as pitcher fatigue while also cycling through the many possible strategies and outcomes during the course of a game, managers and bench coaches would seemingly benefit greatly from employing a new aide.

“There will be an IT coach at some point” in the dugout, crunching numbers in real time and sitting right next to the manager, Beane said. The A’s have yet to actually create such a position for very practical reasons. “It would be an extra coach, and [MLB] is pretty strict — we aren’t even allowed walkie-talkies,” Beane said about league restrictions on how many coaches a team can have, and what kind of contact they can have with the outside world during games. “But I believe at some point this will happen. There’s too much data that’s available not to want to use it.”

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: oakland, sabermetrics

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PP: A look at the Yankees right fielders using Inside Edge data

This looks interesting…but who knew Courtney Love worked for FanGraphs?

gbb

Although he never really looked the part, Nick Swisher was actually a pretty decent right fielder, putting up a +12 UZR over his four years in the Bronx. Swish generated most of his value with his bat, but his defense was an underrated part of his game.

Ichiro Suzuki may not be much of a hitter anymore, but he’s still capable of playing an above-average right field. Despite pushing 40, Ichiro graded out very well the last couple of years, especially with regard to the more difficult plays. He figures to play a much lesser role with the team this year, but should come in handy as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

The newly-aquired Carlos Beltran figures to get the majority of starts in right field this year with a little bit of Ichiro and Alfonso Soriano sprinkled in as well. Once a top-flight center fielder, Beltran’s defensive prowess has been sapped by recurring knee problems. Even as a corner outfielder, the Inside Edge data and the advanced metrics agree that Beltran’s below average at this point. He’s probably still passable right, but plus defense just isn’t part of his game anymore.

Repoz Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, yankees

Monday, March 17, 2014

Unnamed MLB Team Purchases Supercomputer for At Least $500,000

An unnamed MLB team has purchased a supercomputer from Cray Inc., which sells machines that range from $500,000 to $60 million, according to BusinessInsider.com.

Cray CEO Peter Ungaro told The Economist that the club wishes to use the device for speedy in-game analysis.

Ungaro also noted that, while the team wished to remain anonymous, it was an organization that many might not expect.

Meanwhile, the Mets purchased a used Casio calculator for $50.

The Orioles attempted to purchase an eMachines laptop, but it failed its physical examination.

The Marlins purchased a new quad-core Dell server, then immediately traded it to Toronto for a box of spare cables.

Karl from NY Posted: March 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM | 86 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Saturday, March 15, 2014

SABR conference explores new frontiers - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

A lot of interesting tidbits in this one too.

But the most sobering realization? While the rate of successful outcomes on Tommy John surgeries is down around 75 percent, Fleisig said that he’s found nearly 40 percent of parents and coaches think it might help their baseball-playing kids in high school and college to have elective Tommy John surgery, thinking that it might reliably add a couple ticks to their fastball. He suggested that the phenomenon of added velocity in big-league pitchers who’ve had the surgery is a reflection of professional athletes being uniquely equipped in terms of carefully managed rehab and recovery.

And this one.

Next up was the reliably controversial topic of team chemistry. SABR’s Vince Gennaro presented his findings from a wide-ranging project on trying to measure team chemistry by talking to players and recently retired players. In defining team chemistry, Gennaro notes that players believe in it and that support from their teammates is integral, and that front office and coaching staff can play key roles. A salient feature of positive clubhouses was that there was a positive teaching environment, which contributed to the goals of fostering accountability, proactive teammate support, trust and group identification. Gennaro suggests this isn’t different from high-functioning teams in the corporate world, or even some military examples.

Read the article.

Notes from day two.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 15, 2014 at 09:23 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 3/14/14

I’ll read my annuals with the pork and beans…

Assume MLB never expanded but it continued to recruit players as it has, roughly halving the size of the MLB pool: are there players we now consider to be at the star/solid regular level who would be sitting on the bench? IOW, which position is so full of stars/solid regulars now that the 17th best player would surprise people?

There are no such players. Expansion put pressure on the organizations to find more players, leading to larger minors, much more aggressive international scouting. Without expansion the quality would be exactly what it is now, or less. .. probably less, because whatever does not grow tends to die.

Bill, Grady Sizemore is making a comeback after missing several years. I can’t think of other position players who came back after missing several seasons due to injury. It seems more common for pitchers to miss several years with sore arms, or for players to miss time while fighting in wars. Are there other position players who have missed several years in a row due to injury, and how well have they done in their comebacks?

I think Jim Eisenreich might be the closest parallel in the last 30-40 years.

Bill, regarding platoon differentials: is it true, as my intuition tells me, that lefty pitchers do better against lefty hitters than righty pitchers do against rightyhitters? If so, do you have a theory as to why?

It is more untrue than true. There is SOME such effect, which I think is not genuinely difficult to understand, but in general, the effect is more the same than it is different.

What makes you think [Bryce] Harper’s platoon splits aren’t normal? For him anyway.

Because, in reality, almost every player has essentially the same platoon differential, not as an absolute rule, of course, but in general. People think of the platoon differential as an individual characteristic, different for each player. The reality is that it is not an individual characteristic of each player; it is a general feature of the game itself, which, over time, tends to have the same effect on every player. With a few exceptions, of course.

Having read about how you started your research while working as a night watchman, just wondering if you ever had a “eureka” moment, and what it was that convinced you to start this as a career?

There were probably several Eureka moments, but in the spring of 1977, when the spring annuals hit the newsstands, I bought several of them, as I usually did, and started working my way through them (on my shift as a night watchman.) After about a half hour I realized that I knew far more about the subject than the people writing the magazines did. It’s a normal kind of maturity moment, I think; as a child you assume that others are experts, that people who write books and people who write for magazines have some sort of magical insight that makes them better qualified than you to write these things. At some point—I would assume no matter what it is that you are interested in, stamp collecting or martial arts—at some point you realize that the people who have been educating you so far are running on empty, and it’s your turn to talk.

Have you ever looked at the most inexplicable performances in MVP voting? I stumbled across the case of Phil Marchildon today. Pitcher for the A’s in the 40s, only things he ever led the league in were losses, walks, HBP, and wild pitches. But he received MVP votes in three different seasons, including the year he led the league in losses.

Marchildon in 1942 was 17-14, but with a team that was solidly in last place, 55-99; they were 38-85 when he wasn’t the pitcher of record. He was 6 or 7 games better than the team. In 1946 he was 13-16, same team, but the team was 49-105, meaning they were 36-89 when he wasn’t on the pitcher of record, so he was still about 4 games better than the team. In 1947 he was 19-9; the A’s were 78-76, but that means they were 59-67 without him, so he’s still 5 to 6 games better than the team. (Paragraph/warning that I am telling you this from memory, hence could be wrong.) Marchildon was a Prisoner of War during World War II, and it is possible that there was some sympathy voting for him or attention effect voting for him. But also. ..his won-lost records on the teams he pitched for are extremely good, and I would suspect that the won-lost records explain most of the voting.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are Managers Getting Smarter About Intentional Walks? | FanGraphs Baseball

Without getting incredibly granular, it’s hard to make a mountaintop-worthy announcement that teams are figuring out how to use the intentional walk properly. There’s more research to be done here.We do know that the overall frequency of the IBB is down, which is good. We also know that when they do happen, they are happening in higher-leverage situations than five, ten, or 15 years ago. This is almost certainly good.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:15 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Pitch Location Affects Caught Stealing Percentage

Sometimes sabermetrics just confirms what we already know.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:34 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: catching, fielding, sabermetrics

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