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Thursday, June 16, 2011

ESPN: Jim Bowden: Simple stats to evaluate teams, players

And from the delicious comments…“You’re using RBI as part of a statistic??  Wow Jim, this is 2011.  EPIC FAIL

Due to confidentiality agreements and proprietary rights, I can’t share my experiences with advanced statistical systems during my years as a general manager. However, as much as the public is aware of and embraces statistics like Wins Above Replacement (WAR), WHIP, and OPS, many clubs have algorithms that are much more complicated and helpful.

Baseball also has a simple to side to it. I get asked all the time which two or three common statistics I would pick to evaluate a team or players. My quick answer would be the following:

1. For a team: Run differential
2. For a hitter: OPS + RBIs, or OPSBIs
3. For a pitcher: ERA, WHIP, SO

...Still, OPS + RBIs gives me a general feel for the level of player. (Of course, with leadoff hitters, OBP+R+SB would be a better barometer, so you have to know the type of hitter your looking at).

Another brave commenteer…“Pfffft and you were given the keys to a multi-million dollar franchise, holy cow.”

 

Repoz Posted: June 16, 2011 at 09:40 AM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, history, projections, sabermetrics, scouting

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Mattbert Posted: June 16, 2011 at 10:43 AM (#3854644)
Oh dear.
   2. Juan V Posted: June 16, 2011 at 10:57 AM (#3854646)
OPSBIs?
   3. Jim Wisinski Posted: June 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM (#3854651)
Due to confidentiality agreements and proprietary rights, I can’t share my experiences with advanced statistical systems during my years as a general manager


"Actually, I just don't want to admit that I didn't use any"
   4. JE (Jason) Posted: June 16, 2011 at 11:47 AM (#3854655)
Give a modicum of credit to Bowden for responding to the comments. (Granted, those thoughts are not particularly illuminating either.)
   5. I Am Not a Number Posted: June 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM (#3854662)
OPS+RBIs would be laughable were it the brainchild of a basement blogger. But this is an ex-GM here. An ex-friggin-GM. Of course, articles like this will preclude him from becoming a GM again any time soon. At least one would hope.

I wonder if Dayton Moore sees enough here to tweak his process. Gold, Jim, gold. Add two rate stats and a counter stat. Brilliant.
   6. Juan V Posted: June 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM (#3854664)
WTF? Does he actually use OPS+RBIs as a stat? I thought there was supposed to be a coma in there; OPS+, RBIs....
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 16, 2011 at 12:21 PM (#3854665)
Simple stats from a simpleton.
   8. Randy Jones Posted: June 16, 2011 at 12:49 PM (#3854678)
I thought there was supposed to be a coma in there; OPS+, RBIs....


Same here.
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 16, 2011 at 01:17 PM (#3854689)
OPS+RBIs would be laughable were it the brainchild of a basement blogger. But this is an ex-GM here. An ex-friggin-GM.

Do you think he removes the decimal point from OPS before he adds them together?
   10. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: June 16, 2011 at 01:26 PM (#3854696)
Do you think he removes the decimal point from OPS before he adds them together?

Awww, I was just going to joke about that...

100 RBI + .700 OPS = 100.7 OPSBIs
80 RBI + 1.100 OPS = 81.1 OPSBIs

Player 1 is clearly better, right? RIIIIGHHTTT?
   11. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: June 16, 2011 at 01:35 PM (#3854702)
Wow, I laughed out loud at OPS+RBI. If I came here and said "I'm writing a parody article, what's a good nonsensical baseball stat to use for it?" and someone replied "How about OPS+RBI?", I would say "YES, that's perfect!"
   12. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: June 16, 2011 at 01:49 PM (#3854712)
At any given point during his tenures, there have been worse guys in other GM chairs.

Just to be clear ... he removes the decimal, so it's basically OPS. (not a defense - none is possible - just a note).

EDIT: I first said 'doesn't remove', oops.
   13. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: June 16, 2011 at 01:54 PM (#3854714)
Just to be clear ... he doesn't remove the decimal, so it's basically OPS.

Huh, if he doesn't remove the decimal, it is basically RBI.
   14. Mattbert Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:02 PM (#3854719)
No, he adds a decimal to RBIs. So to use FPH's example:

100 RBI + .700 OPS = .800 OPS+RBI
80 RBI + 1.100 OPS = 1.180 OPS+RBI

It's basically just OPS, with a small boost for context dependent success.
   15. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:05 PM (#3854721)
And playing time.
   16. Mattbert Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:14 PM (#3854722)
True.

I can't believe nobody at ESPN pulled him aside before this got published. It's just so obviously silly. Then again, there are a host of basic typos and stuff in the piece, so it's possible nobody even so much as proof-read the thing.

By the way, if you haven't RTFA, Bowden even manages to screw up run differential: he removes unearned runs from the RS-RA equation, so he's just evaluating teams on RS-ER. The mind reels.
   17. depletion Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:17 PM (#3854723)
Due to confidentiality agreements and proprietary rights, I can’t share my experiences ... during my years as a general manager.

Didn't stop him from discussing the team's strategy for signing/not signing Strasburg. He's very lucky to have ESPN because I don't think another team will ever hire him.
   18. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:19 PM (#3854725)
The best hitter on the Cubs has 6 RBI.
   19. Randy Jones Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:20 PM (#3854727)
By the way, if you haven't RTFA, Bowden even manages to screw up run differential: he removes unearned runs from the RS-RA equation, so he's just evaluating teams on RS-ER. The mind reels.


If he is going to do that, you would think he would also remove unearned runs from the RS, just to be consistent.
   20. AROM Posted: June 16, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3854749)
Someone who comes up with stats like that, I think, would not be bothered by consistency or lack thereof.
   21. Randy Jones Posted: June 16, 2011 at 03:01 PM (#3854758)
Someone who comes up with stats like that, I think, would not be bothered by consistency or lack thereof.


Well then, he is certain to never receive praise from Joe Morgan.
   22. Dale Sams Posted: June 16, 2011 at 03:14 PM (#3854770)
No no you fools, it's (OPS+)RBI's. So right now, Adrian Gonzalez's OPSBI's is 9840.

Now we multply his credit score times his SAT scores, and we get what we call his 'make-up score'. This quantifies his character.
   23. AROM Posted: June 16, 2011 at 03:19 PM (#3854778)
The problem with this stat is it doesn't consider defense. Why not just add in a player's fielding percentage?
   24. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: June 16, 2011 at 04:00 PM (#3854822)
Christ, why doesn't he just use Pancake Flops[tm]?
   25. DL from MN Posted: June 16, 2011 at 04:41 PM (#3854851)
If you really want to get into common stats to evaluate players the triple slash and ERA are the most informative but they can get muddled by playing time issues. If I'm sorting a list of minor league players (for example) to find the best ones I usually sort offensive stats by total bases to weed out the players with great rate stats and no playing time. I like (K-BB) for sorting lists of pitchers; this is usually close to the list sorted by just K. If I have to pick one column I'm going with TB for offense and K for pitching.
   26. Yellow Tango Posted: June 16, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3854911)
If you haven't been watching it, this is very much par for the course on Bowden's blog. In this post, from Sunday, he proposes a 12-team playoff structure. In order to avoid byes, the first round of the playoffs will involve 1 versus 6, 2 versus 5, and 3 versus 4 in each league/"conference". Let's all think about that for a moment.

Also, this.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: June 16, 2011 at 06:02 PM (#3854928)
If you haven't been watching it, this is very much par for the course on Bowden's blog. In this post, from Sunday, he proposes a 12-team playoff structure. In order to avoid byes, the first round of the playoffs will involve 1 versus 6, 2 versus 5, and 3 versus 4 in each league/"conference". Let's all think about that for a moment.


Did anyone alert him to the issues he would have in the second round?
   28. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: June 16, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3854939)
I think Trader Jim just trolled everyone.
   29. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: June 16, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3854940)
Did anyone alert him to the issues he would have in the second round?

Team A plays Team B for 3 innings, Team B plays Team C for 3 innings, and Team C plays Team A for 3 innings. Duh.
   30. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 16, 2011 at 07:19 PM (#3854980)
Did anyone alert him to the issues he would have in the second round?


why yes, yes they did:

This contains some of the worst baseball ideas I've ever read. How does somebody who comes up with garbage like this get to blog for ESPN? I don't care what crappy baseball experience you've had in the past. There are much better ideas in the comments below then in the article.

However, I do applaud the effort to make yourself sound even more stupid by pointing out problems in the first round of a 10 team playoffs, but failing to see the same problem in the second round with 12 teams.


Your playoff system doesn't quite work. Round two in a six team playoff falls apart.


12 teams will have some some teams sitting out at some time. Whether it's the no. 1 and 2 seeds from each conference in the 1st round (similar to NFL playoff format, which makes more sense than what you propose) or the Top Seeds left in each conference in the 2nd round because you only have 3 teams left in the playoffs after playing all 6.


Idiotic on to many levels. Playoffs don't add up


Seriously, I've read through 3 of Bowden's articles now and all I can think is:
1: And he wasn't the worst GM
2: He makes Phillips seem semi smart

wow
   31. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: June 16, 2011 at 07:21 PM (#3854983)
In Bowden's defense:
He acknowledges the role that more sophisticated analyses play, and should play in the evaluation of talent:
Most teams hire graduates from Ivy League schools, Stanford, MIT or other top-notch colleges to make sure they have the latest and most brilliant young minds to always look for better ways to analyze, scout and assess talent. Clubs can’t hire enough creative and innovative minds.

I saw the point of the article was to list simple statistics that HE uses to evaluate teams and talent. He points out several times in responses to comments that he would use additional information - both statistical and scouting based - to evaluate players in his role as GM.

Is any of that bad?

W/ respect to his simple batting stat, it seems counter-productive. It is highly correlated with OPS for any full-time player. If the point is that it's simple, why not go with the easier OPS? That said, there are many knowledgeable fans who would use OPS as a quick guideline to how good a player is. Yeah, OPS+ is better, but I can't calculate it in my head. If I see a player's been called up from AAA and has an OBP of .325 and a slugging pct of .422, I can guess what type of impact he will have. With other data available, I can adjust for park, league, etc. But OPS helps and is easy, and all I saw Bowden saying was he does something similar
   32. Randy Jones Posted: June 16, 2011 at 07:35 PM (#3854996)
What's bad is that he shows, by suggesting to add OPS*1000 with RBI, that he doesn't understand the stats on a basic level. You can't just add two stats together if they aren't measured in the same units and you definitely can't add a ratio and a counting stat.
   33. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 16, 2011 at 07:42 PM (#3855007)
You can't just add two stats together if they aren't measured in the same units

OBP and SLG do not have the same units.
   34. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: June 16, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#3855041)
Well, you can. (He did.) The issue is whether it has meaning. Your argument (@32) is that the result has less meaning than OPS alone, because of the mixing of units. And that's true. But, my point is that it has virtually the same predictive meaning as OPS. For example, if a team wanted to add a hitter off the bench for the stretch run and had their choice of using either OPS or OPSRBI as the ONLY stat for deciding, they'd come up with virtually identical predictions of how much offense would be added using either one.

Bowden isn't trying to advance the field of sabermetrics, he's telling us what he uses, and what he uses is virtually identical in value to what a number of people use.
   35. Randy Jones Posted: June 16, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#3855044)
OBP and SLG do not have the same units.


You're right, and many, many people have complained about this.
   36. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: June 16, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#3855045)
1944: At the Polo Grounds with over 50,000 fans looking on, the three New York major league teams played against each other in a six inning three-team game (a team played consecutive innings against the other two teams then sat out an inning). The contest, which was played to raise money for war bonds ended with the final score of Dodgers 5, Yankees 1, Giants 0.

This is one way to play the second round of the Bowden playoffs.
   37. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 16, 2011 at 08:20 PM (#3855048)
OBP and SLG do not have the same units.

You're right, and many, many people have complained about this.


1: You can add fractions with different denominators
2: and any way, that's not what's wrong with OPS
   38. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: June 17, 2011 at 03:03 AM (#3855545)
Adding fractions with different denominators is not the problem, adding quantities with different units is.
   39.   Posted: June 17, 2011 at 03:28 AM (#3855554)
What is it about historicalyl awful GM's that make them surefire candidates to be hired by ESPN et al? Bowden, Phillips, Milbury, Millen...
   40. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: June 17, 2011 at 04:57 AM (#3855576)
Cheap and avaliable?
   41. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 17, 2011 at 03:01 PM (#3855718)
Adding fractions with different denominators is not the problem, adding quantities with different units is.


Not if it works.
This isn't a physics equation, it's an approximation of value.
The following chart compares each team's normalized runs scored (runs/league average) with their normalized OPS (OPS/league OPS)
Tm    r/g    OPS
NYY    1.210    1.080
BOS    1.152    1.085
TBR    1.129    1.011
CIN    1.112    1.063
TEX    1.108    1.040
MIN    1.100    1.047
PHI    1.087    1.023
COL    1.084    1.044
TOR    1.063    1.052
CHW    1.059    1.033
DET    1.057    1.030
MIL    1.056    1.043
ATL    1.039    1.016
STL    1.036    1.007
FLA    1.012    0.995
ARI    1.004    1.016
SFG    0.981    1.001
CHC    0.965    0.990
LAA    0.959    0.964
KCR    0.952    1.003
LAD    0.939    0.962
SDP    0.936    0.946
OAK    0.934    0.964
NYM    0.924    0.957
WSN    0.922    0.973
CLE    0.910    0.962
BAL    0.863    0.964
HOU    0.860    0.913
PIT    0.827    0.931
SEA    0.722    0.875 


OPS correlates well with actual run scoring (much better than batting average for instance)
The real problems as I see them is:
1: There are better metrics;
2: you need to make park adjustments

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