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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bill Madden: SABR geeks sabotaging Cy Young & MVP races

I’ll cling to the old world. I swear I will…I’ll cling. .... GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

I’m very perplexed with a lot of my baseball writing brethren. Miguel Cabrera and R.A. Dickey have each respectively had phenomenal seasons, MVP and Cy Young-worthy seasons — seasons we should be celebrating. But instead many scribes and bloggers across the country have taken to disparaging them, especially Cabrera who has fallen victim to that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR. I’ll get to that in a minute, but when it comes to Dickey I have to wonder if the stigma of being an unconventional 37-year-old knuckleballer is going to deprive him of winning the National League Cy Young Award, when his winning should be a no-brainer. How else do you explain why so many people seem to be desperately looking for someone else to vote for?

...and yet there is this clamor from the sabermetrics gallery that Cabrera must be penalized for his slowness afoot and supposed defensive shortcomings. To hear them tell it, if Cabrera winds up leading the league in batting, homers, RBI, slugging and total bases, and being second in hits and runs, it will still pale in comparison to L.A. Angels super rookie Mike Trout leading the league in runs, stolen bases and . . . WAR.

I certainly get that Trout’s speed is an important component in this debate. But this growing infatuation with WAR (wins above replacement) is, in my opinion, turning baseball into an inhuman board game. This is a stat that even its inventors can’t agree on an established formula, other than when all of these various factors of offense and defense are put into a blender and shaken well, out comes the player’s value to a team in wins above and beyond the “replacement” value of a player taken off the waiver wire for nothing. In other words, one big hypothetical. According to one blogger last week, Trout’s superior WAR demonstrates that “he has helped his team win roughly three to four more games than Cabrera has helped his.” Don’t ask how that conclusion is reached. Much of this, presumably, is based on Trout’s superior defense and speed. But again, all of this is hypothetical, and how do you vote on a stat nobody knows how to calculate?

Repoz Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:42 AM | 87 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, sabermetrics

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   1. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:03 AM (#4249193)
how do you vote on a stat nobody knows how to calculate?

Because you hate the baby Jesus and make him cry.
   2. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4249195)
Cabrera must be penalized for his slowness afoot and supposed defensive shortcomings
Someone find a Bill Madden column about Jason Giambi, stat.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4249198)
Forget the exact WAR numbers: Is Mike Trout a more valuable all-around ballplayer than Miguel Cabrera in 2012? Was Joe Dimaggio a more valuable all-around ballplayer than Ted Williams in 1941? IMO if the triple crown numbers are as close as they are in both of these cases, then the vote should go to the clearly superior all-around player, in this case Trout.

It's not as if giving it to Cabrera would be any great injustice (duh), it's just that I tend to like players who contribute to winning in every aspect of their game. It's kind of ironic that back when nearly every sportswriter was "old school" by definition, they seemed to appreciate this point more than "old school" Madden does today.
   4. Lassus Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4249200)
I love how he claims that it's the SABR people pushing closers as Cy Young alternatives.
   5. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4249207)
He has a point about WAR. It's confusing enough that there are multiple versions, but the defensive component is really a deal-breaker for me personally. I can't get behind the idea of combining the highly subjective defensive metrics with the far more conventional offensive numbers, at least not without skepticism.

But you don't need WAR to understand the dimensions of value that Trout bings to the table over Cabrera. You just need to, you know, watch baseball.
   6. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:48 AM (#4249208)
It's not as if giving it to Cabrera would be any great injustice (duh), it's just that I tend to like players who contribute to winning in every aspect of their game. It's kind of ironic that back when nearly every sportswriter was "old school" by definition, they seemed to appreciate this point more than "old school" Madden does today.


In 2001 if you preferred Giambi over Ichiro, you were a stathead who needs to watch a game once in a while.

Same thing in 2007 if you preferred Pujols over Rollins.

But suddenly in 2012 when you have an all around contributor who's actually superior to the slugger, the old school guys who understand the game go for the slugger?
   7. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4249210)
He has a point about WAR. It's confusing enough that there are multiple versions, but the defensive component is really a deal-breaker for me personally. I can't get behind the idea of combining the highly subjective defensive metrics with the far more conventional offensive numbers, at least not without skepticism.


Fine, just take the offensive component of WAR:

Trout - 8.2
Cabrera - 7.2

To argue that Cabrera is better, you have to argue that he is a far better defensive player than Trout. And that notion is, or should be ludicrous to anyone.

   8. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4249211)
Someone find a Bill Madden column about Jason Giambi, stat.


I found this from October 2006:

The fact is, Giambi is a defensive liability at first base and, as a DH, he is blocking Melky Cabrera from playing since that's where Matsui would be best suited. But good luck trying to move Giambi anywhere.


From the same article:

No, what the Yankees need to do with A-Rod is to get him out of here for his and their own good, use him as their chip to rebuild their pitching staff. They should dial up Angels owner Arte Moreno and see if he's interested in making a variation of the deal he tried to make for Miguel Tejada at this summer's trading deadline, the one that was to include 24-year-old power righthander Ervin Santana.

Or if not the Angels, then the Chicago White Sox, who have a glaring need for a shortstop and all sorts of excess power pitchers plus a prize third-base prospect in Josh Fields.


There's a lot more gems in that column, for those interested.

DB
   9. bobm Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4249213)
WOWY by Madden, FTFA:

If you want concrete evidence of Trout’s value, I would present the Angels’ 6-14 record, nine games out on April 28, the day he was recalled from the minors, and their 81-56 record since. ... The San Francisco Giants last week informed Melky Cabrera his services will not be required in the postseason when he comes off drug suspension. Interestingly, at the time he was busted, Cabrera, who still leads the league in batting at .346, was considered a top MVP candidate as the Giants were 64-54 and in second place in the NL West. However, since then, without him, they’ve gone 27-11 and run away with the division.
   10. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4249214)
"the seamhead assault on Cabrera has been nothing short of mind-boggling. Here’s a guy having one of the greatest offensive seasons in history"

Really? "One of the greatest offensive seasons in history?"

Let's just look at the stats Madden cares about (AVG, HRs, and RBI). Cabrera's at .327/43/126. That's really good.

But would you believe that 8 guys have had higher numbers in all 3 categories in just the past 15 years? Pujols, Bonds, Sosa, Helton, Giambi, Thomas, Ramirez, and Belle have all put up seasons "better" than Cabrera's, using the Triple Crown stats.

It's a fantastic season, no doubt. It's just not in the level that Madden seems to think it is.
   11. BDC Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4249215)
As pointed out ad infinitum in the Cabrera threads, if the voters pick Mike Trout, it won't be the first or the tenth time they've gone for defense over a bunch of HR and RBI – even in years with a Triple Crown winner. So, why the rage against SABR geeks? Bob O'Farrell won an MVP award before my grandmother was old enough to vote. Hell, Johnny Evers won one before my great-grandmother was allowed to vote.

Dickey, though … I may have missed part of the conversation, and having not thought about the NL Cy Young Award till right now, I'm sure I have. I still start what little thinking I do about CYAs by looking at IP and ERA. If someone leads in both, you have to work hard, even in these SABR-geek days, to pass him by. So, as of this morning, Kershaw leads Dickey by a little in ERA, and Dickey leads Kershaw by a little in IP (both being 1-2 in the league in those categories). There doesn't seem much of a park illusion about their ERAs relative to each other (Kershaw leads by a few points in ERA+). So it's a tough call. There may be SABR geeks out there who are way anti-Dickey, but if so, they're not reading their own spreadsheets very well. B-Ref WAR has Dickey as third in the league, and so does Fangraphs WAR (Dickey is a little lower in FIP than the other top contenders, but has more playing time). There's a reasonable case for Dickey on your ballot, and there are reasonable cases for Kershaw and Cueto and Gonzalez, and anybody who's getting too dogmatic over the choice had better take a cold shower and pound a brewski.

Edit: Cueto actually leads the NL in ERA+ this morning, thanks to a less hospitable home park. But as noted, he's a candidate too (among the leaders in FIP and WAR and what-not).
   12. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4249217)
In only 1 of the past 30 years would Cabrera's .327 batting average have led the American League (2003; Bill Mueller hit .326). He's certainly had good timing!
   13. bobm Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4249218)
Headline FTFA:

If SABR geeks stiff R.A. Dickey and Miguel Cabrera in NL Cy Young and AL MVP voting, respectively ...THIS MEANS WAR!


Maybe it's good enough for the News, but "stiff ... Dickey" is not a NY Post quality double entendre.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4249223)
Fine, just take the offensive component of WAR:

Trout - 8.2
Cabrera - 7.2

To argue that Cabrera is better, you have to argue that he is a far better defensive player than Trout. And that notion is, or should be ludicrous to anyone.


Actually you don't. You can argue park factor. Cabrera leads in OPS 995 to 948. wOBA (incl SB) is basically a tie (Trout .417, Cabrera .415).
   15. Gaelan Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4249225)
The Park factor is as dubious as the defensive numbers. Cabrera is having a better offensive season than Trout. To argue otherwise is to express ignorance of the underlying problems with park factors.
   16. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4249228)
The Park factor is as dubious as the defensive numbers. Cabrera is having a better offensive season than Trout. To argue otherwise is to express ignorance of the underlying problems with park factors.


Baserunning is a part of offense. Cabrera is having a better hitting season than Trout, sure.
   17. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4249236)
Bill Madden was terrible 10 years ago. He's even more terrible now. Forget understanding WAR or being logically consistent with previous 'all-around' player arguments, Madden also consistently fails at even more rudimentary parts of baseball writing, like understanding simple trade concepts or frequently writing that a player is on a team he is in fact not on. Please retire.
   18. Charles Saeger Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4249244)
These SABR dorks have been ruining MVP races for years. Everyone knows that if you lead in batting average, home runs and runs batted in, you're automatically the best player in the league and deserve the MVP. I mean, look at the 1940s, before any of this stat geekery and when writers knew how to pick the MVP. Ted Williams won the Triple Crown in 1942 and 1947 and he got the MVP awards he deserved!

What?
   19. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: September 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4249275)
Bob O'Farrell won an MVP award before my grandmother was old enough to vote. Hell, Johnny Evers won one before my great-grandmother was allowed to vote.

Jim Creighton totally got jobbed in 1862, man.
   20. Bob T Posted: September 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4249281)
Creighton, like Josh Hamilton, was weak and came out of the lineup early in games of 1862. New York writers said that a real man would play even if he were dead.
   21. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4249284)
I'll read the next one of these that isn't disingenuous.
   22. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 30, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4249307)
If SABR geeks stiff R.A. Dickey and Miguel Cabrera in NL Cy Young and AL MVP voting, respectively ...THIS MEANS WAR!


How many "SABR geeks" have actual MVP votes? If Trout wins isn't that a pretty good sign that non-SABR geeks believe Trout is better?
   23. Chris Fluit Posted: September 30, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4249316)
As pointed out ad infinitum in the Cabrera threads, if the voters pick Mike Trout, it won't be the first or the tenth time they've gone for defense over a bunch of HR and RBI – even in years with a Triple Crown winner. So, why the rage against SABR geeks? Bob O'Farrell won an MVP award before my grandmother was old enough to vote. Hell, Johnny Evers won one before my great-grandmother was allowed to vote.


I've been saying the same thing since this "debate" started. Voters didn't need WAR in 1950 to know that Phil Rizzuto was better than Walt Dropo. They didn't need WAR in 1965 to know that Zoilo Versalles was better than Rocky Colavito. They didn't need WAR in 1990 or '91 to know that Rickey Henderson and Cal Ripken Jr. were better than Cecil Fielder. They knew to look at a player's entire contribution to the team, including what he did in the field or on the basepaths. This isn't a sabermetric argument or an old stats vs. new stats debate. It's the question of offense-only player vs. all-around player. Admittedly, Cabrera is better than my examples of Dropo, Colavito and Fielder- and I wouldn't be furious if he wins the MVP as the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years- but Trout is the better player this year and should win the MVP. And you don't need WAR to tell you that.
   24. OCF Posted: September 30, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4249328)
I was just writing this up in an email message to some of my less-sabermetric friends. And I was arguing for Trout. But to make some extra comments:

Cabrera has a large playing time advantage over Trout: 23 more games, 68 more PA. You do need to account for that in some way.

The difference between them in intrinsic value of position played is not all that great. We're comparing a CF to a 3B. There are large swaths of baseball history in which CF was a more offensive position than 3B. Not any more, to be sure - 3B has come up in the offensive world. But Trout this year is not a pure CF. More than 1/4 of his innings are in LF. So that brings the positional value closer together. Of course the argument isn't really about what position they play but about how they play it.

But the right way to look at Cabrera's RBI is this: he's a good hitter, and Detroit is leading the league in team OBP. There really isn't any other explanation needed.
   25. dlf Posted: September 30, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4249343)
Is there an easy way to plug a different park factor into the bWAR or fWAR calculations? This year, DET is increasing offense by 3% while LAA is decreasing it by 8%. But if you look at multi-year factors, some of that gap disapears. Detroit has been pretty constant. The last five years Comerica has Park Factors of 103 (2012), 103, 98, 103, 102 (2008). But for those same years, the Big A has a big change, going from 92 (2012) to 93, 94, 102, and 100 (2008). If, instead of the best pitcher's park in the AL, we regressed Anaheim towards (but not completely) league average, how much would that change the hitting components of WAR or the value of the extra bases added via running?
   26. Danny Posted: September 30, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4249347)
But the right way to look at Cabrera's RBI is this: he's a good hitter, and Detroit is leading the league in team OBP. There really isn't any other explanation needed.

Cabrera with runners on:

2011: 344 PA, .379/.485/.643, 60 BB, 91 RBI
2012: 330 PA, .339/.403/.588, 33 BB, 110 RBI

It's nice to have Prince Fielder protecting you.
   27. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4249351)
Trout is now the youngest player in MLB history to join the 30-30 club.
   28. StHendu Posted: September 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4249361)
There is data apparently invisible to Madden(ing):
GIDP: Cabrera 28; Trout 7
unintentional BB + HBP: Cabrera 52; Trout 65
Trout has 47 SB and only 4 CS

The imbalanced schedule means many more games against your division. Seattle, Oakland, and LA all have extreme pitchers' parks, increasing Trout's value. The Tigers play in the worst division in MLB, so Trout has played against a higher level of competition.
   29. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4249376)
The Park factor is as dubious as the defensive numbers. Cabrera is having a better offensive season than Trout. To argue otherwise is to express ignorance of the underlying problems with park factors.

The park factors make no intuitive sense here. The Angels' stadium is smaller in most parts of the park and the weather is much warmer and better in Anaheim than Detroit. And Trout's OPSing 90 points better at home than on the road.

Adjusting OPSs by 12% or so doesn't really pass the laugh test and when something doesn't pass the laugh test, you don't cling to it as superior wisdom -- you go back to the drawing board.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4249391)
The park factors make no intuitive sense here. The Angels' stadium is smaller in most parts of the park and the weather is much warmer and better in Anaheim than Detroit. And Trout's OPSing 90 points better at home than on the road.

As a team, the Angels are hitting .272/.325/.428 at home, .274/.337/.438 on the road. That's despite home-field advantage working in their favor - and it very much is; their opponents are hitting .234/.291/.367 in Anaheim, .258/.328/.438 in their own parks. In particular, the Angels have hit 20 more homers on the road than at home (21 now, with Trout's today), and allowed 21 more (now 22), despite having concluded their home schedule and having four games remaining on the road.

Laugh test or not, hitters aren't doing as well in Anaheim as they are elsewhere.
   31. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4249392)
Laugh test or not, hitters aren't doing as well in Anaheim as they are elsewhere.


Don't confuse SBB with relevant facts.
   32. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4249394)
Oh, and Mauer is 3-3 today and is at .324, and Miggy is 0-3, .325. Trout is 2-4, .322.
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4249395)
Last year's splits:

Angels - .248/.310/.377 at home (62 HR), .257/.315/.426 on the road (93 HR)
Opponents - .244/.303/.371 at Anaheim (69 HR), .259/.322/.405 in own parks (73 HR)

2010:

Angels - .247/.313/.378 home (69 HR), .250/.309/.402 away (86 HR)
Opponents - .243/.313/.369 in Anaheim (68 HR), .270/.343/.440 elsewhere (80 HR)
   34. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 30, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4249407)
But suddenly in 2012 when you have an all around contributor who's actually superior to the slugger, the old school guys who understand the game go for the slugger?

That would be because nowadays the people supporting the all-around contributor have stopped saying "He has a lot more doubles, and a lot more stolen bases, and his defense is much much better, and doesn't end innings by GIDP all the time", and started saying "He has a lot more WAR. What part of WAR don't you understand?".
   35. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4249411)
That would be because nowadays the people supporting the all-around contributor have stopped saying "He has a lot more doubles, and a lot more stolen bases, and his defense is much much better", and started saying "He has a lot more WAR. What part of WAR don't you understand?".


So, they're supporting the slugger because they don't like the tone of the argument?
   36. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4249412)
They're not being convinced by the argument because they don't like the tone of the argument, if that's what you mean.
   37. OCF Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4249413)
and the weather is much warmer and better in Anaheim than Detroit

That's probably not true in June-July-August. Coastal California does not have hot summers. There's also an elevation difference: Detroit must be about 600 feet above sea level. Angel Stadium, which is pretty close to the Santa Ana River, is under 200 feet.
   38. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4249421)
They're not being convinced by the argument because they don't like the tone of the argument, if that's what you mean.


I'm not questioning why they aren't convinced, I'm questioning why they have to be convinced in the first place.

.350/8/69 56 SB
.342/38/120 2 SB

.296/30/94 41 SB
.340/36/137 11 SB

.321/29/79 47 SB
.327/43/136 4 SB

Ichiro and Giambi
Rollins and Holliday
Trout and cabrera

They didn't have be convinced to vote for Ichiro and Rollins, but now that the all around speedy guy is actually the better choice, they go the other way.
   39. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4249427)
and the weather is much warmer and better in Anaheim than Detroit


That's probably not true in June-July-August. Coastal California does not have hot summers.

Oh, if only there was some way to find out about this ...

Average high/low, Detroit: June 79/59, July 83/63, August 81/62

Average high/low, Anaheim: June 79/60, July 84/61, August 86/63

A teensy bit warmer in Anaheim in August, but essentially the same in June & July.
   40. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4249431)
Laugh test or not, hitters aren't doing as well in Anaheim as they are elsewhere.

And that's automatically attributed to the park when there's no inherent reason to. It balances the books, but that doesn't make it definitive.

Mike Trout, the player at issue, is hitting much better in Anaheim than on the road.
   41. Gonfalon B. Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4249434)
Oh, and Mauer is 3-3 today and is at .324, and Miggy is 0-3, .325. Trout is 2-4, .322.

Miguel Cabrera clearly the MVP, and there's no contest.

But if Cabrera's BA goes down .0015, you HAVE to give it to Trout.
   42. zenbitz Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4249436)
Thats not how you use park factors, sbb. Lower offense in Anaheim means Trouts' offense is worth more. But you know that.
   43. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4249437)
And that's automatically attributed to the park when there's no inherent reason to. It balances the books, but that doesn't make it definitive.

Mike Trout, the player at issue, is hitting much better in Anaheim than on the road.


Well, first of all, no, he really isn't: 318/390/586 at home vs. 324/397/525 on the road doesn't seem like "much" better. More like "slightly" better.

And, more importantly, Trout's sample is 615 PAs (300 at home, 315 on the road). The Angels' park factor sample is 11,762 PAs (2914/3009 h/a for the Angels, plus 3003/2836 h/a for their opponents). Which sample is likely a better indicator of how the park can be understood to be playing in 2012?
   44. JJ1986 Posted: September 30, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4249440)
Some prominent SABR writers should come out with articles calling Cabrera the MVP, cite his hitting stats, positional value, and claim that the baserunning and DP values are overblown and not really Miguel's fault. Claim that defensive measures aren't accurate enough to use. Vehemently argue against defensive value and claim that SBs add much less than we think.
   45. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4249442)
And that's automatically attributed to the park when there's no inherent reason to.


Why, because you say so? It isn't a 1 year fluke. Angel Stadium 3 year park factor is identical to the one year.

   46. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4249444)
At any rate, it ultimately doesn't matter. It is inarguable that the Angels play in a lower run environment than the Tigers do, and therefore a run created by Trout is more valuable than a run created by Cabrera. And isn't that what the V in MVP stands for?
   47. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4249449)
It is inarguable that the Angels play in a lower run environment than the Tigers do

I'm not sure that it's inarguable, but it is inarguable that the argument SBB is making about it is daft.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4249463)
Cabrera has a large playing time advantage over Trout: 23 more games, 68 more PA. You do need to account for that in some way.

That's accounted for in about a billion ways. In those 23 extra games, Cabrera has added HR, runs, RBI, hits and, good golly, even WAR to his total. That Trout's performance in 23 fewer games is substantially greater in the _counting stat_ of WAR is a testament to how much better Trout has been when Trout has played.

The Angels' stadium is smaller in most parts of the park and the weather is much warmer and better in Anaheim than Detroit.

Doesn't this describe Dodgers Stadium of the 60s and 70s compared with most other NL parks?

And, really, Cabrera supporters ... are you sure you want to build a case on H/R splits?

Trout home: 976 OPS
Trout road: 922 OPS
Cabrera home: 1094 OPS
Cabrera road: 901 OPS




   49. Dash Carlyle Posted: September 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4249467)
When it comes to their almighty WAR, I agree with soul man Edwin Starr: “War, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Uh-huh.”

You've still got it, Madden.
   50. Gonfalon B. Posted: September 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4249477)
Edwin Starr was more of an OBP/SB guy: "I got to keep on walkin' / I got to walk on... come on feet, don't fail me now."
   51. BDC Posted: September 30, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4249490)
Duke Ellington took the high-BA approach: it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing.
   52. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:00 PM (#4249505)
Then there was Mel & Tim, talking about the backfield in motion.

Oh ... wrong sport.
   53. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4249513)
I'm not sure that it's inarguable, but it is inarguable that the argument SBB is making about it is daft.

Says a guy who thinks major league baseball isn't played in April, May, September, or October.
   54. bob gee Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4249514)
madden also said the a's were going to be dealers at the trading deadline, and that their playoff chances were as far away as their chances of moving to san jose...

in *july*, at the time they were 1 1/2 games out of the wild card.

forget the past or future, madden can't tell what's happening in the present.
   55. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4249515)
it's a strange world where the nerds are pushing the defense/speed mantra and the old guard is dismissing that with a wave of the hand

getting kind of woozy

strange, strange times
   56. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:20 PM (#4249523)
Roughly speaking, you can ignore park factors in WAR by doing the following:

You will need the following:

park factor
1 - park factor
Rbat (or total offensive RAA)
PA

Rbat = X/PF - (.11)(1-PF)PA

Let's take a look at this. X is "raw runs produced" above "average". Dividing by PF is adjusting for the fact that a run is worth more in low-scoring environments and less in high scoring environments. The second factor is adjusting for the fact that an average hitter would have produced more/less in that run environment. (Note, I'm probably missing something but it seems to me to make more sense to take out the average player effect first, then divide by PF but this is roughly what I see on b-r.)

Note, the .11 is actually the league r/PA rate ... I don't know what that is this year, I just plugged in a generic .11. It's going to be around that and it's not going to make a lot of difference if it's .1 or .12.

Solve for X ...

X = PF [ Rbat + (.11)(1-PF)PA ]

That second factor is the annoying one but it's always pretty small. Roughly speaking, it's (a little over) 1 run for every 2 points of PF for a full season by the batter. Trout loses about 4 runs from that, Cabrera picks up 1-2.

Anyway, I get a raw rbat of Trout around 41-42 and Cabrera around 54-55. That reduces the gap between them by about 1 win. Given Trout is ahead by 3.5 that's not nearly enough to make up the difference.

It is true however that if:

a) the park factors are completely, totally and utterly wrong and should be ignored; AND
b) the defensive numbers are completely, totally and utterly wrong and should be ignored; AND
c) baserunning is meaningless; AND
d) doubleplays shouldn't be penalized

you can make a plausible case that Cabrera has been better.

   57. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4249526)
walt

i claim that i am sitting across from jimmy hoffa and elvis

see? it's easy to claim all kinds of things
   58. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:24 PM (#4249528)
it's a strange world where the nerds are pushing the defense/speed mantra and the old guard is dismissing that with a wave of the hand

getting kind of woozy

strange, strange times


That's exactly my point.

Says a guy who thinks major league baseball isn't played in April, May, September, or October.


What does this even mean?
   59. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:39 PM (#4249536)
I'm not sure that it's inarguable, but it is inarguable that the argument SBB is making about it is daft.


Says a guy who thinks major league baseball isn't played in April, May, September, or October.

You're going with that in support of your contention that the Anaheim park factor is invalid?
   60. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:45 PM (#4249540)
i claim that i am sitting across from jimmy hoffa and elvis

Sorry, not buying it. If you were gonna hang out with two "dead" people, no way you'd choose those two. Marilyn Monroe and Herbie Nichols I might believe.
   61. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4249543)
Home-road splits for the other 2012 Angels with at least 500 PA:

Pujols - .277/.335/.497 home, .297/.357/.549 away
Kendrick - .254/.287/.392 home, .305/.347/.383 away
Hunter - .311/.366/.436 home, .297/.349/.451 away
Trumbo - .287/.319/.473 home, .242/.313/.504 away
Morales - .290/.324/.482 home, .261/.327/.468 away
Callaspo - .276/.352/.364 home, .234/.319/.360 away
Aybar - .285/.321/.422 home, .294/.327/.411 away

Callaspo is solidly better at home. Aybar, Morales, and Hunter are roughly indistinguishable. Kendrick and Pujols are significantly better on the road.

I might do the Tigers later, or someone else can if they're interested.
   62. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 30, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4249546)
it is interesting that if you look at another tough home park like seattle the mariner hitters are pretty clearly getting killed by safeco
   63. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:13 PM (#4249555)
at least for comparing two players, maybe an easier way to remove PF in WAR is to calculate the difference in runs created above average:

RCAA = OBP*SLG*AB - lgOBP*lgSLG*AB

Trout: 46
Cabrera: 64

Now you can wish away up to nearly 2 wins.
   64. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4249558)
it's a strange world where the nerds are pushing the defense/speed mantra and the old guard is dismissing that with a wave of the hand

getting kind of woozy
I'm not saying there's nothing to this, but the big MVP controversy of the first wave of sabermetrics was 1987, when HR/RBI corner guys took down the crowns over much more deserving all-around up-the-middle players. So it't not entirely new.
   65. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4249559)

That's accounted for in about a billion ways. In those 23 extra games, Cabrera has added HR, runs, RBI, hits and, good golly, even WAR to his total. That Trout's performance in 23 fewer games is substantially greater in the _counting stat_ of WAR is a testament to how much better Trout has been when Trout has played.


On the other hand, Trout is getting extra credit per WAR for batting leadoff. That is not right.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4249563)
Cabrera: 1094/901
Prince: 1015/848
Jackson: 851/866
Peralta: 729/642
Young: 757/684
Boesch: 651/677
Avila: 772/713 (not 500 PAs)

So Cabrera and Fielder are nearly 20% higher at home. Peralta, Young and Avila all about 10% higher at home. Jackson is even and Boesch just stinks.

Compared with Trout and Callaspo about 5% better at home, Aybar/Morales/Hunter about even, Pujols and Kendrick not quite 10% worse at home.

Trout's home performance relative to his teammates doesn't seem any more out of whack than Cabrera's. If Trout's home performance is somehow evidence that Anaheim is not as much of a pitcher's park as the stats suggest then Cabrera's home performance suggest that Detroit is even more of a hitter's park than the stats suggest. If Trout's home performance is evidence that he's taking special advantage of his home park in some way not captured by park effects then Cabrera's home performance suggests that he's taking advantage of his home park in some way not captured by park effects.

   67. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:31 PM (#4249567)
cabrera has hit 14 homers and driven in 49 runs against the twins/indians

no real point. it just jumped out at me
   68. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4249568)
On the other hand, Trout is getting extra credit per WAR for batting leadoff. That is not right.

It is what it is. He's not getting extra credit for batting leadoff, he's getting "extra" credit for having more PAs per game. It's kinda irrefutable that PAs are tied to value so I don't know what adjustment you want to make -- if you have two equal batters, the one with more PA is the more valuable.

In this particular case, Cabrera is ahead in PAs anyway.
   69. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:46 PM (#4249576)
It is true however that if:

a) the park factors are completely, totally and utterly wrong and should be ignored; AND
b) the defensive numbers are completely, totally and utterly wrong and should be ignored; AND
c) baserunning is meaningless; AND
d) doubleplays shouldn't be penalized

you can make a plausible case that Cabrera has been better.


Yes to a and b. No to c and d. Which will leave it more muddled than either side wants, but, as you say--it is what it is.

EDIT: A modified yes to a. Park factors exist, but they pull more toward the center than the anointed methods do, thus creating both random and systematic distortion.
   70. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 30, 2012 at 09:49 PM (#4249578)
it's a strange world where the nerds are pushing the defense/speed mantra and the old guard is dismissing that with a wave of the hand

getting kind of woozy

strange, strange times


The "old guard" is doing this just because of the Triple Crown. If Jose Bautista had 5 more home runs than Cabrera, things would be different.
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:08 PM (#4249587)

It is what it is. He's not getting extra credit for batting leadoff, he's getting "extra" credit for having more PAs per game. It's kinda irrefutable that PAs are tied to value so I don't know what adjustment you want to make -- if you have two equal batters, the one with more PA is the more valuable.


My point is that WAR unfairly gives Trout extra credit for batting leadoff. That is the adjustment I want to make.

In this particular case, Cabrera is ahead in PAs anyway.


And the gap would be closer if not for this issue.
   72. Sean Forman Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4249590)
In case Bill Madden is reading this. An open invitation to discuss WAR.
http://www.sports-reference.com/blog/2012/09/how-many-baseball-writers-have-called-or-e-mailed-to-talk-to-me-about-what-goes-into-war-zero/



We account for the leadoff issue. The most replacement runs a player can get is 22 in the AL and 18 in the NL.

Please read our explanation.
   73. Steve Treder Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4249617)
My point is that WAR unfairly gives Trout extra credit for batting leadoff. That is the adjustment I want to make.

So, specifically, you're recommending a PA/G normalization for WAR. Is that correct?

EDIT: It seems Sean has already dealt with it.
   74. Jay Z Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:07 AM (#4249648)
It is what it is. He's not getting extra credit for batting leadoff, he's getting "extra" credit for having more PAs per game. It's kinda irrefutable that PAs are tied to value so I don't know what adjustment you want to make -- if you have two equal batters, the one with more PA is the more valuable.

In this particular case, Cabrera is ahead in PAs anyway.


As others have mentioned, most people consider the at-bats in the 3-4 position to be of a higher quality than those in the 1-2 position. Otherwise you are arguing that the ideal lineup should have the best hitter #1, followed by second best and so on. This argument has been made before. I don't know that it's been shown that the best first batting order is better than the traditional batting order, so I'll respect the tradition.

Cabrera has more PA because he's played in more games by a not insignicant margin.
   75. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:40 AM (#4249673)
My point is that WAR unfairly gives Trout extra credit for batting leadoff.

How so? What is unfair about it? How is it giving him "extra" credit?

As others have mentioned, most people consider the at-bats in the 3-4 position to be of a higher quality than those in the 1-2 position.

This is actually an argument that Trout is being used sub-optimally by his manager and therefore producing fewer runs per PA while receiving more PA. So, again, how is this an argument that Trout is being given "extra" credit for batting leadoff and how is it unfair to Cabrera?

You both seem to be confusing value with quality.

No matter how you slice it Braun has 61 more PA than Posey and 111 more than Molina. McCutchen and Wright have 58 and 108. Are they receiving unfair, extra credit for not being Cs?

But, hey, whatever. Trout debuted on Apr 28. From Apr 28 on, Cabrera has had 596 PA. Trout has had a whopping 615. HUGE ####### DIFFERENCE guys. We'll dock Trout 3% of his PAs and therefore 3% of his WAR and he's down to 10.1 WAR. Wow, it's incredibly close now isn't it?

Oh but Walt, that's so unfair. Cabrera has started 137 games in that time but Trout only 133. That's another 4 games of PAs and so that's going to be like another 17-18 PA or another 3% off Trout's total. See, now he's down to 9.8!!

So let me amend what I said earlier ...

if you pretend that park factors are nonexistent and defense is nonexistent and baserunning is nonexistent and DPs don't matter and that leadoff batters are somehow hugely over-rated by WAR, then you can make a plausible case for Cabrera as the most valuable player. Well, next to Verlander.
   76. Cooper Nielson Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:48 AM (#4249685)
This is probably a stupid (or at least ignorant) question about park factors, but I'm curious:

(i) Park factor calculations assume that teams -- in terms of roster construction and distribution of playing time -- are identical at home and on the road, correct?
(ii) Do any managers play certain players (including pitchers) more often at home than on the road, and vice versa? (Does anyone tend to play good-defense/weak-bat players more often in one situation or the other? Are rotations ever rigged to have the best pitchers get more starts in front of the home fans?)
(iii) If this happened, would it skew park factors, or is there already some built-in correction?

If, for instance, the Yankees tended to play better defensive (worse offensive) lineups at home than on the road, or gave their best pitchers slightly more starts at home, I assume this would make Yankee Stadium look like a "pitchers' park" but it wouldn't make it any harder for Curtis Granderson to hit there.

I understand that runs are more valuable when fewer runs are scored, but if the low run environment is "artificial" (caused by lineup tendencies, not by the park itself) doesn't that also reduce the individual player's "value" in the environment? If Granderson repeatedly goes 1 for 3 with a walk in the Yankees' best offensive lineup, it will surely lead to more actual runs than the same repeated 1 for 3 with a walk in their defense-only lineup. But wouldn't park-adjusted numbers actually make Granderson's performance in the weaker lineup seem more valuable? His performance is exactly the same, but the park factors make it look more impressive?
   77. McCoy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:12 AM (#4249719)
How so? What is unfair about it? How is it giving him "extra" credit?

BRef's WAR has no PA limiter when it comes to positonal and replacement adjustments thus the more PA you rack up the more runs you'll get (or lose) in those two categories.
   78. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:09 AM (#4249740)
This is actually an argument that Trout is being used sub-optimally by his manager and therefore producing fewer runs per PA while receiving more PA.


I don't understand this. His RC or RAA are calculated based on the numbers that he produces in a context-free environment. If they are actually worth less because he's hitting 1st that isn't considered.
   79. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4249761)
Edwin Starr was more of an OBP/SB guy: "I got to keep on walkin' / I got to walk on... come on feet, don't fail me now."

As Agent Double-0-Soul, his BA was just awful though.
   80. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4249764)
Nice intro, Repoz, "Saboteur" is a great early Hollywood Hitchcock movie.
   81. TomH Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:48 AM (#4249765)
Yes, I'd like to see how this is handled in WAR (or WS or any other stat).

Basically, hitting leadoff gives you more PA. But each PA is worth about 5-8% less at leadoff than the 'avearge' spot, and about 12-15% less per PA than the cleanup spot.

So if your manager chooses to hit you leadoff versus 3rd let's say, you get more PA, but the overall value more or less evens out. The calcluations should reflect this.
   82. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4249834)
The Park factor is as dubious as the defensive numbers.


Why? I mean there's often issues with either single or multi-year park factors, but neither seem to apply to the teams in question. It's a simple fact that more runs are scored in Tiger home games (Tigers and opponents) and more in Angel road games (Angels and opponents) and the ratio for both is remarkably stable.

Yes, Trout has in fact hit better at home than on the road. Doesn't matter. Nor does it matter that Cabrera has a much larger home field advantage than you'd expect (given that Tiger stadium plays as a mild hitter's park). Park factors are intended to adjust value to team offensive context. Parks don't affect players equally but from a value point of view we have no reason to care.
   83. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4249839)
#63 One big problem with your method. Multiplicative methods are known not to work with extreme players. The error in the estimate for somebody as good as Cabrera is on the order of 9 runs.
   84. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4249848)
My point is that WAR unfairly gives Trout extra credit for batting leadoff. That is the adjustment I want to make.


Ray is partially correct here. Trout's picked up ~40 PAs strictly due to batting order position. That should be taken into account.

EDIT: And is in WAR. Not in many other methods.
   85. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4249849)
We account for the leadoff issue. The most replacement runs a player can get is 22 in the AL and 18 in the NL.


But will this come into play with a situation such as we have here, where Trout missed a month and therefore is still getting extra credit for hitting leadoff because he hasn't yet hit the 22 replacement-runs ceiling?
   86. alilisd Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:07 PM (#4250565)
65: Right because playing time doesn't matter.
   87. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4250606)
Cabrera was 4-5 tonight to raise his average to .329. But Trout's not giving up. He's 3-3 so far, .324.

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