Thursday, June 25, 2015
How do we identify the lightest of the light hitters?
By using raw contact scores, that’s how. Strip away the Ks and BBs, and apply run values to all balls in play based on the norms for that era. Scale it to 100, and you have unadjusted contact scores for all regulars going back to 1901. Since we don’t have access to granular batted-ball data going that far backward, we’re not going to be able to adjust for context. That context includes the effects of ballparks, individual player’s speed, and of course, luck. In a given year, that those factors might affect an individual player significantly. Over the long haul, however, raw ball-striking ability, or lack thereof, as well as contact quality, the respective freqeuncy of line drives and popups, of weak and hard contact in general, makes the difference….
2 – Ozzie Guillen – (Career Contact Score = 67.2, 12 qualifying seasons) – Here is the only member of our bottom ten never once to post a single-season contact score of at least 80; his one-year peak was 78, in his rookie season. His floor was 51, in his final year, finishing off his three-year trough average of 53.9, second worst among this group. Guillen’s K and BB rates were consistently among the lowest in his league; both were over a full standard deviation lower than average in all of his 12 seasons as a regular. Guillen’s career OPS+ of 69 fits right in among this group.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Guess he showed you NERDS.
Rusty then asked me what was the toughest run to drive in and then told me it was a runner on second with two outs. At that point Mitch Maier — Rusty’s future replacement — walked over and Rusty asked Mitch if Mitch got pitched to differently with a runner on first base than he did when there was a runner on second.
With a runner on first base the run is still two singles away from scoring and pitchers will be much more aggressive, throwing more fastballs in the zone because a ball in play turns into an out most of the time.
With a runner on second base — especially with first open — the hitter will see more off-speed stuff out of the zone. The pitcher is counting on the hitter being more aggressive; he’s got an RBI in scoring position, and lots of hitters will expand their zone and chase those off-speed pitches. Guys who are good at driving in runs will refuse to chase bad pitches and either take their walk or wait for a good pitch to hit and smoke it once they get it.
Once again, this sounds like it takes skill.
I then asked if good RBI guys were also good “situational hitters” — guys who understand what pitch it will take to get the job done. Scoring a runner on third with less than two outs might require a ball in the air to the outfield; the hitter needs to get a pitch up in the zone. Same thing if there’s one down and runners at first and third: a groundball might be an inning-ending double play. But with a runner on third, less than two outs and the infield back, a groundball up the middle will do the trick. Knowing what will get the job done and waiting for the right pitch once again sounds like a skill.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Lots of video in the article. Some interesting stuff.
Monday, March 09, 2015
F.C. Lane was a baseball writer who in 1907 founded Baseball Magazine and dedicated himself to challenging conventional wisdom about the game. Besides publishing traditional baseball stories and interviews with players of the day, he delved deep into statistical analysis at a time when the lack of computers made such a pursuit fiendishly difficult.
In 1916, Lane published an article headlined, “Why the System of Batting Averages Should Be Changed.” The article can (and should) be read in its entirety here. In it, Lane became the first person to use the analogy comparing hits to coins, saying that as dimes are worth more than nickels, so too should doubles be worth more than singles. As he points out, anyone who proposed a financial system that counted all coins equally “would deserve to be examined as to his mental condition” so why should baseball count all hits equally? Over a period of years, Lane proposed a system that, as FanGraphs noted in 2011, is astonishingly similar to weighted on-base average. Lane predated linear weights by determining that a triple was worth 0.90 of a run and a home run worth 1.16 runs and so on, all with a pencil and paper. He also felt that walks were “the orphan child” of statistics and that their exclusion from batting average was another mark against that particular stat. Lane was clearly ahead of his time, and the amount of manual math he must have had to do boggles the mind.
However, a certain Cincinnati sportswriter wasn’t having it. William Phelon was a generation older than Lane and the baseball editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star (a newspaper that went out of business in 1958). While conceding the point that batting average was far from perfect, Shwarz quotes him writing in reference to Lane’s work, “’The present system is about as good as any, and it seems really impossible’ to do any better.” He was critical of Lane’s ideas as being too complicated, and, as Joe Posnanski points out, he was probably the first newspaper writer to invent a straw man stat as a means to mock the idea he was trying to discredit, a ploy that would become commonplace a century later.
Posted: March 09, 2015 at 11:19 AM | 56 comment(s)
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Wow! The one that sorta started it all…the 10-year adversary of the legendary stats-vs-scouts roundtable discussion at Baseball America!
Ten years ago, Alan Schwarz spoke with Eddie Bane, Gary Hughes, Gary Huckabay and Voros McCracken to discuss the risks of high school pitchers, the use of minor league statistics, plate discipline as a tool and much more. BA takes a dive into the archives to present it here.
Posted: January 31, 2015 at 12:31 PM | 14 comment(s)
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