Thursday, September 04, 2014
Imagine there’s no baseball stats
It’s easy if you try
No WAR below us
Above us only RBI
Imagine all the players
Bunting for today…
What if we didn’t keep stats?
What if the only stats recorded were team wins and team losses?
And then — as long as we’re fantasizing — what if all the money were put in a pool and players were paid based on how many wins their team had?
How would the game be played then?
Right now, players play to put up numbers. That’s how you get paid. And it can lead to selfish baseball. Play hot grounders off to the side. If you miss one, you won’t get tagged with an error. Forget hitting the ball to the right side to move a runner over. Try to drive him in yourself. Don’t let someone else have that RBI. And if you don’t feel 100 percent, don’t play. You might be better than the guy replacing you even if you’re at 80 percent, but why risk your numbers by playing hurt?
This stuff goes on every night in the major leagues, and for the most part, we don’t know enough to spot it. When I started covering major-league baseball, I naively assumed players put the team first until their team was knocked out of the race. After that, they took care of their own numbers.
Ask people who know, and they will tell you the opposite attitude is all too common. You worry about your own stats and then, if it looks as if your team has a shot, you start putting the team first. But what if the only stat that mattered was winning?
How would the game be played then?
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Green and Zwiebel studied two million MLB at-bats from 2000 to 2011. They neutralized for the abilities of the hitter and pitchers — such as lefty-on-lefty matchups and stadium sizes — and focused on 10 major statistical categories, such as batting averages, home run percentages and strikeout rates.
They found that a hitter’s past 25 at-bats were a significant predictor of his next at-bat. When a player is hot, they found his expected on-base percentage to be 25 to 30 points higher than it would if he were cold. Home run rates jumped 30 percent and strikeout rates dropped. For pitchers in hot streaks, future performance was improved, too.
“The effect is fairly large,” Zwiebel said. “It’s highly significant not just in the statistical sense but the strategic sense. The effect is large enough where it makes sense for managers to sit a cold hitter or play a hot hitter, or perhaps the strategical adjustments for a pitcher to pitch around a hot hitter.”
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