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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BPP: An interview with Dan Szymborski

You can’t spell ZiPS without…Dan!

How long ago did you come up with ZiPS?

Szymborski: The genesis of it was there’s a [person] who contributes to Baseball Think Factory named Chris Dial, and in the late ’90s, they were talking about how someone could make a projection system that’s very basic and get most of the way there, in a way kind of a primordial version of Marcel which is a tabulator.

Before 2002, I was thinking maybe I should try my hand at a projection system. At that time, Voros McCracken’s FIPS research was fairly new, so I wanted to [align my idea.] That’s why I made it rhyme with FIPS, and the Z stands for Szymborski, the second letter of my name. I mean, it’s just a little side thing that started. Then I decided to do hitter projections, because it seemed kind of stupid to do because there were not hitter projections. And then over time, as computers got faster, I could do more things. Over time, it became a pretty complex system… I’m pretty happy with how it’s worked out.

Do you think you have another ZiPS idea in you or do you think that’s going to be your big thing?

Szymborski: I dunno. I always kind of think of myself more as a writer than a statistics developer, but I have more ideas how to use it. I continually refine my aging models and long-term projections and the different things I can do with it. I certainly hope there are other ideas in me, but I don’t have those ideas yet. Hopefully they will develop over the next few years.

Repoz Posted: September 20, 2011 at 04:43 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball geeks, media, primate meetups, projections, sabermetrics, site news, zips

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:25 PM (#3930934)
Sorry Dan, but if they made this article into a movie, I would probably not see it.
   2. Rally Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:30 PM (#3930941)
As a little kid, I wanted to be a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, like most little kids want to play for their favorite team. Once it became obvious that they don’t need 70 MPH fastball pitchers, it [became] one of my favorite hobbies.


That would be about the time Scott McGregor retired, right?
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:43 PM (#3930957)
With everything that you do with baseball research, is it still fun? At this point, is it work? What’s your attitude towards it these days?
Szymborski: It’s still a lot of fun.


WRONG. Stats takes all the fun out of it. You're not allowed to enjoy the game anymore.

Good interview. I had no idea Dan was a daytrader at one point. I just kinda assumed everyone here was either in academics or a lawyer.
   4. zack Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3930962)
The genesis of it was there’s a [person] who contributes to Baseball Think Factory named Chris Dial


#######? Mensch? Jackass? Guy? ##########? ############? Commentator?
   5. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 20, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3930970)
Good interview. I had no idea Dan was a daytrader at one point.

Yeah, during those wild, wacky days with the tech boom, you could make some money doing that. Eventually, a lot of that fun was eliminated by some reforms in the market systems, big firms catching on, and the end of the bull market. Once that trickled out, I did private tutoring.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:11 PM (#3930991)
#######? Mensch? Jackass? Guy? ##########? ############? Commentator?

"Crazy cat"
   7. Steve Treder Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3930993)
#######? Mensch? Jackass? Guy? ##########? ############? Commentator?

I believe "raving lunatic" would be the most accurate.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:13 PM (#3930994)
All interviews need a little Len Koenecke.
   9. Swedish Chef Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3930999)
#######? Mensch? Jackass? Guy? ##########? ############? Commentator?

"Mets fan"?
   10. Swoboda is freedom Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:41 PM (#3931028)
"Mets fan"?

Treder already said that one.
   11. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 20, 2011 at 06:47 PM (#3931034)
Drunkard.
   12. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 07:10 PM (#3931052)
Communist?
   13. Repoz Posted: September 20, 2011 at 07:50 PM (#3931085)
Golfers.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 20, 2011 at 07:54 PM (#3931086)
I do know that Voros was DIPS - I start to mumble the longer I'm discussing something and I think Graham got all the various rhyming acronyms tangled up.
   15. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 20, 2011 at 08:31 PM (#3931122)
Upstart!
   16. phredbird Posted: September 20, 2011 at 09:02 PM (#3931149)
SZYMORSKIBALL

a movie by steven spielberg

act 1, scene 1

long shot of a typical suburban home, it's late at night. camera pulls in to small basement window at ground level from which emanates the only light in the house.

voice: 'eureka!'


... nah, forget it.
   17. zack Posted: September 20, 2011 at 09:11 PM (#3931157)
Dickey is totally awesome, but I kind of wish he hadn't picked it up in the 2nd half this year.

The other Mets starters have ERA+ of 84, 84, 85 and 84. Way to break the curve, Dickey.

In other Mets starters news, they have only had 10 starts from the 6th starters this year. That has got to be the lowest Mets total of this millenium, at least.
   18. zack Posted: September 20, 2011 at 09:19 PM (#3931170)
Without looking at the exact schedule, they should end up with 12 or 13. The last time they were lower was 11 in 2000.

Of course, that rotation had quality in addition to regularity.
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 20, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3931194)
Similarly, this year the Mets home run leader has a whopping 15 home runs for the team, the lowest total for a Mets home run leader since Daniel Murphy had 12 in 2009.

Also, the Mets home run leader has been on the Giants for six weeks.
   20. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 20, 2011 at 10:16 PM (#3931218)
Also the Meta lead the league in walks and since OBP is life their offense is actually good

Of course this may be the worst pitching and fielding Mets team I have ever seen
   21. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 10:57 PM (#3931248)
SZYMORSKIBALL

a movie by steven spielberg

act 1, scene 1

long shot of a typical suburban home, it's late at night. camera pulls in to small basement window at ground level from which emanates the only light in the house.

voice: 'eureka!'

That's the original take. But then things fall apart, the Berg decides to walk away, and Universal puts it in turnaround.

Then it gets picked up by Paramount and handed to Michael Bay.

SZYMORSKIBALL

A Michael Bay Film

ACT 1

SCENE INT SZYM BASEMENT

Camera shot: closeup of the eyes of a young man at a computer keyboard, thinking deep thoughts. Camera pulls back, revealing head, then entire body, then entire basement, then basement window, then neighborhood. MEGAN FOX walks up to the window and crouches down. She peers in the window with a sneer, then reaches behind her to grab a bucket of water to dump on herself and tears her meniscus in the process.

MEGAN FOX: "Oh!" (softly)

The house then explodes for no adequately-explored reason.

THE END
   22. phredbird Posted: September 20, 2011 at 11:25 PM (#3931282)
i don't like it ... I LOVE IT!!!

but let's shorten the name, make the basement a spaceship that folds up into a taco truck and lets get that chick from 'new girl' ... etc.
   23. GGC Posted: September 21, 2011 at 12:43 AM (#3931387)
Good interview. I had no idea Dan was a daytrader at one point. I just kinda assumed everyone here was either in academics or a lawyer.


I bet that's not true. It just seems that way.
   24. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 21, 2011 at 12:44 AM (#3931389)
I think if you just took the script from "Strange Brew" and made only a couple minor alterations, you could use it as "Szymborskiball." "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" would be mine...
   25. zenbitz Posted: September 21, 2011 at 01:14 AM (#3931441)
>Also, the Mets home run leader has been on the Giants for six weeks.

And in those 6 weeks has climbed to _7th_ on the Giants HR leader board (counting only Giants HRs). If he has a hot last week he could hit 4th.
   26. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: September 21, 2011 at 02:21 AM (#3931530)

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