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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bill James Mailbag - 10/22/12 - 10/24/12

Skipped the part about the Lakers not wanting Kobe “in charge” so that robinred‘s head doesn’t explode.

Bill have you read “Scorecasting” by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wetheim. It contains a couple of chapters discussing why home field advantage exists, in many sports. In their section on baseball, they say it mostly comes down to calling balls and strikes. I did my own tabulations, and it certainly appears (simplifying some) that there’s about a 0.5 difference between strikeouts and walks per game for home and road teams. The outcome per ball-in-play is nearly the same (except triples), but visitors lose half a BIP per game because of the extra strikeout. Is this well-known in the sabermetric community?

... Ball in Play results IN GENERAL are much the same, right?  If you eliminate strikeouts and walks, Chris Reitsma is much the same as Pedro Martinez.  (Haven’t checked that out. . ..feel free to challenge.)  Can we conclude, therefore, that the only difference between Curt Schilling and Todd Van Poppel is that the umpires liked Schilling and disliked Van Poppel.

I haven’t read the book and can’t comment on the specific finding.  But it is POSSIBLE, based on what you just told me, that the authors underestimated the extent to which strikeouts and walks are why ALL teams win and why they lose, and, if you take them out of the game, you’re taking the fish out of the breaded fish sticks.

[Frank Robinson] was an intense player, completely committed, team leader. Any chance Reds management saw him as over the top that way? Younger players couldn’t hope to live up to his standard, might have shaken their self-confidence or otherwise intimidated them. Maybe that’s why he was traded…

... The usual explanation given for the trade is that the Reds owner/GM, Bill DeWitt, was a Branch Rickey diciple, and Rickey always believed in trading a star player about age 30, before his value crashed… I don’t know that that’s a GOOD explanation for the trade, and perhaps a better one can be found here...

Frank at that time was young, angry, and had had a DUI incident in the off-season a year or two before.  I don’t know that he was PERCEIVED as a strong leader until he went to Baltimore.  In that era, frankly, it was very difficult for a black player to be perceived as a leader.  But since we’re here, this “too strong leadership” concern is something that, from an insider’s perspective, we do hear about a great deal.  That was part of the rap on A-Rod in Texas, that the young players on the team paid TOO MUCH attention to A-Rod and not enough to the manager.  I remember hearing the same thing about Mike Schmidt anytime the Phillies didn’t win big; it was Schmidt’s fault because the young players all followed Schmitty.  You do hear that, and I know for certain that insiders do give credence to that in some situations.

Hey Bill, putting aside the most important part of the job (managing the clubhouse), what can we expect from John Farrell as a tactical manager?

You can understand my limitations here; anything I said could be misconstrued by reporters to represent the Red Sox’ expectations of John, and it’s not my place to speak for the Red Sox, not my intention to try to set expectations for John Farrell.  In Toronto he was a fairly close-to-the-vest manager in terms of in-game moves, didn’t use a lot of pinch hitters or pinch runners or defensive subs, except that his teams did steal a lot of bases, but in part that may be related to the artificial turf up in Toronto.  He was relatively willing to use relievers on back-to-back days.

The District Attorney Posted: October 24, 2012 at 10:03 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill james, frank robinson, history, john farrell, nate silver, red sox, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. zachtoma Posted: October 25, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4282736)
I love that Chris Reitsma is his example of a bad pitcher. As someone who watched the 2006 Braves season, I FEEL MUCH THE SAME WAY!
   2. Walt Davis Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:04 AM (#4282745)
Reitsma -- 308 BABIP career (297 league), 8.1% HR/FB
Pedro -- 282 BABIP career (298 league), 6.8% HR/FB

Don't know why James didn't mention HR rates but anyway Pedro was a slightly better pitcher than Reitsma. In case y'all weren't clear on that. :-)

But Trevor Wilson kinda kicks Pedro's ass.
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 25, 2012 at 08:26 AM (#4282789)
This was funny.

A classic case of, adding insult to injury. Fernando Rodney wins AL Comeback Player of the year award. The Angel bullpen blew 22 saves. Rodney had 48 saves and an ERA of 0.60. During his two years with the Angels he had a ERA of 4.32. For which he was paid 11 million. The Rays paid him for one year at 1.75 million. The only saving grace is that the Rays didn't make the playoffs. I wonder, is this stuff real money or is it just the pink, green and yellow of Monopoly money. No one that I know, from any baseball front office has ever committed suicide, so its not life or death. Is it different in the Japanese Leagues? Poor Donnie Moore. He just needed another chance.

Asked by: mauimike
Answered: 10/20/2012

God knows how many. Periods that might have. Used up.
   4. DanG Posted: October 25, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4282883)
Just curious. Relief pitchers with lowest ERA, minimum 30G, 30 IP.

Rk              Player  ERA ERAOPS+   BA  G   IP Year  Tm Lg W L SV
1          Joey Devine 0.59  698   10 .150 42 45.2 2008 OAK AL 6 1  1
2      Fernando Rodney 0.60  634   19 .167 76 74.2 2012 TBR AL 2 2 48
3     Dennis Eckersley 0.61  603   13 .160 63 73.1 1990 OAK AL 4 2 48
4           Rob Murphy 0.72  541   20 .155 34 50.1 1986 CIN NL 6 0  1
5           Mike Adams 0.73  523  
-10 .111 37 37.0 2009 SDP NL 0 0  0
6         Rich Gossage 0.77  465   21 .141 32 46.2 1981 NYY AL 3 2 20
7           Bill Henry 0.87  420   35 .170 37 52.0 1964 CIN NL 2 2  6
8         Dennys Reyes 0.89  507   40 .197 66 50.2 2006 MIN AL 5 0  0
9    Jonathan Papelbon 0.92  517   18 .167 59 68.1 2006 BOS AL 4 2 35
10       Chris Hammond 0.95  441   45 .195 63 76.0 2002 ATL NL 7 2  0
11      Eric OFlaherty 0.98  389   60 .221 78 73.2 2011 ATL NL 2 4  0
12          Doug Henry 1.00  406   20 .133 32 36.0 1991 MIL AL 2 1 15
13       Craig Kimbrel 1.01  399    1 .126 63 62.2 2012 ATL NL 3 1 42
14         Dale Murray 1.03  374   34 .187 32 69.2 1974 MON NL 1 1 10
15      Rollie Fingers 1.04  333   50 .198 47 78.0 1981 MIL AL 6 3 28 
   5. kthejoker Posted: October 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4282940)
And if Rodney had given up one grand slam, he wouldn't have even made the list. Definitely hitting the effects of sample size there.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: October 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4283019)
And if Rodney had given up one grand slam, he wouldn't have even made the list.

Yes, if Rodney had given up almost twice as many earned runs as he actually did, then he wouldn't be on a list of pitchers who didn't give up many earned runs. (-:

Obviously, the innings sample is small, but one grand slam is a pretty significant event when you're dealing with folks who only yielded the equivalent of one grand slam and a solo sh ot.

   7. TomH Posted: October 25, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4283092)
It's hard to give up a grand slam, since that requires you put three people on base,.... when your OBP allowed is .171.

I see that Fernando actually did pitch to 6 batters this tear with the bass loaded. I have no idea how many of those 6 were loaded BY him, or inherited. He struck out 3 and the other 3 made other kind of outs.
   8. Greg Pope Posted: October 25, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4283174)
with the bass loaded

Wait, is the fish in or out of the fish stick? I'm so confused.
   9. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4283302)
I got into one of those arguments where the other person is so certain that I feel like I have to check myself: did James spend several weeks in State College researching the Paterno matter? My impression is that he was mainly arguing the conclusions of the Freeh Report and other sources, and wasn't claiming any original research.
   10. The District Attorney Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4283370)
did James spend several weeks in State College researching the Paterno matter?
I did not hear about this at all. Perhaps the person confused James with Joe Posnanski, who spent several months there working on his Paterno biography. (Of course, he arrived well before the scandal broke, so it wasn't about that.)
   11. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 25, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4283393)
Perhaps the person confused James with Joe Posnanski,

Thanks! That's what I was telling him, but he was insisting he heard James discussing his own investigation with such conviction that I just wondered if I had missed something myself.
   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4283401)
Perhaps the person confused James with Joe Posnanski

Posnanski was there, but there's no indication that he spent several weeks researching the Paterno matter, given that he showed very little interest in the issue other than bemoaning that Paterno's flaws got in the way of painting Paterno as a hero because he knew how to coach football games.

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