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Sunday, September 30, 2012

How Many Baseball Writers Have Called or E-mailed to Talk to Me About What Goes Into WAR? Zero.

Hey Bill Madden and Jerry Green, pick up your rotting Inspector Henderson phones and give Sean Forman a call about WAR!

You may have heard that the AL MVP is between a player who may win the Triple Crown and a player who most (if not all) of the stathead-friendly sites say is the best player in the league this year. There have been a number of articles being written by veteran writers about how stupid WAR is—complaining it’s incomprehensible, stupid, meaningless, dumb, formulas are different, etc. etc.

Here are a couple of recent examples:

Here is Bill Madden in the New York Daily News

Here is Jerry Green in the Detroit News

Now I’m painting the baseball media with a broad brush, but each of these types of articles gets my hackles up. I’m a fellow card-carrying-member of the BBWAA and one would think that I would be afforded some professional courtesy before having a stat we produce being berated in print.

Not a single member of the print media, the broadcast media or radio has reached out to me to learn more about WAR since this MVP controversy has erupted. Not one. First, I apologize to the curious and hard working media members who put in the time to study the game and its analysis in detail. You know who you are, and I appreciate your hard work. I’m sure many have taken the time to read our exhaustive introduction to WAR. But in the last two months not a single person has called or e-mailed asking for more information and that includes Bill Madden and Jerry Green.

So if you are a member of the media who is skeptical about WAR and want to get some questions answered. Or if you are a radio or tv host want to talk to me on the air or on the record to excoriate me for WAR’s failings. Let me know. I’ll appear on any radio show to discuss WAR and make time for any writer who wants to learn something about it or debate its merits.

Repoz Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM | 386 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4249926)
I'm seriously not clear why anyone gives a damn about the MVP and the Cy Young.


I don't care about the result. I care about the process, the methods, and the arguments. I suspect I am far from alone in this regard.
   102. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:09 PM (#4249928)
I may have another thought - if Anaheim is playing like a pitcher's park this year for whatever reason (wind patterns, temperature, etc)


Stop saying that, because it's wrong. Anaheim 1 year park factors:

2012 - 92/91
2011 - 93/93
2010 - 94/94
2009 - 102/102
2008 - 100/100

It's been trending down for sure, but it's not a one year fluke.
   103. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4249930)

Because they're using it as a strawman instead of engaging in an intelligent debate about Cabrera vs. Trout. Almost no one is arguing that Trout should be MVP simply because he has leads in WAR.


No, but they're arguing that Trout has such a big lead in WAR that Cabrera can't possibly be the MVP. That's basically tantamount to basing your entire conclusion on WAR.
   104. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4249931)

EDIT: And the method of calculating the stat keeps changing, sometimes markedly - which is fine, and necessary - but it adds to the confusion. I just realized last night in reading it that the calculations have changed such that oWAR and dWAR no longer add up to WAR.


My biggest beef right here. Why can't I calculate WAR on my own? I've tried on several occasions over the years to create my own spreadsheet to calculate WAR on my own database of players, it just can't be done using the documentation available on line. The calculations are too transient and explanations too vague. For all Wins Shares failings at least Bill took the time to walk through, step by step, exactly how to calculate the thing so you could try it for yourself and make up your own mind as to how well it works (in Win Shares case, not that well). He used one of McGwire's monster seasons as an example, give me (I love demanding people do stuff for me for free) a Darwin Barney example so I can figure out what is a feature and what is a bug.
   105. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:11 PM (#4249933)
It's been trending down for sure, but it's not a one year fluke.

Why did it drop so precipitously in 2010?
   106. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4249938)
I've heard people at ballparks talking about WAR and I assume most of them saw it on either MLB Network or ESPN. I can't imagine it's really explained well when it's shown on tv.


It's not that hard to explain. One sentence is all that is needed "a stat that takes all a players contributions, hitting, baserunning, defense and park adjustments, and show how much better than a freely available player he is"

You do not need to go into details about the definition of a replacement player, or talk about win value in explaining the stat. That is geek talk, basically it's a number that basically combines all the possible contributions a player brings to the table into one number. .
   107. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4249939)
No kidding - was there a remodel in 2010? I don't think the rest of the league changed drastically.
   108. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4249940)
"Here's the biggest problem with the wins against replacement argument: Even the people who invented the 'stat' can't agree on how to calculate it!" - Problem 1 is the sub-head of the article. Admittedly the fact that there are two stats titled the same thing is confusing but while it's a fair question, it's one a phone call or an e-mail probably could have helped clear up.

But you can be a perfectly competent baseball writer and commentator without making that phone call or sending that e-mail. It's very arrogant to think otherwise. The output of the model is often bizarre, and the methodology is frequently changing and controversial.


SugarBear has another valid point here. Why is it important that Madden didn't call or email Sean? If I have an issue with WAR after trying to figure it out, I don't call or email Sean - I discuss it with others in the community.

Also, Sean's explanation of WAR would be more useful if, when he explained that he's doing X, he also explained what the criticisms of doing X are or would be. It's very math-heavy, and so to expect Madden (or frankly most people) to have enough knowledge to figure out what the problems with doing X are is a bit much.
   109. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4249942)
Why did it drop so precipitously in 2010?

#### happens?
Tropicana Field since 2005
100
100
100
101
97
94
92
93

From 2001-2003 Kauffman Stadium had a run of 107, 111, 108 before returning to it's roughly established 102-103 level.

2006-2008 Arlington played almost neutral amid a ten year run of being a hitter's park.

Park effects are pretty fluid I think, which is why a 3 year park effect is a good idea.
   110. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4249952)
Even the people who invented the 'stat' can't agree on how to calculate it!"


Well Bill James came up with the concept and settled on the level that expansion teams have historically played at. Keith Woolner went to the bother of calculating how well backups actually played. Didn't change thing a lot. Then Keith went to the bother of calculating where replacement level should be assuming baseball talent is normally distributed (and only the extreme right segment even gets as far as A ball)

One thing I urge people who are distrustful of where replacement level is to just look at the Zips projections before the season starts. Eliminate the starters and the guys who you can send to the minors without having to clear waivers. (Plus the really good backups. David Ross is not freely available for instance) That's basically the pool that you're picking from if you want a "no real cost" replacement.

Every now and then a guy who can flat play gets caught behind better players and they really shouldn't be seen as part of the pool, but it's not a bad place to start if you want your own starting point.
   111. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4249953)
Stop saying that, because it's wrong.


I think it is definitively true that Angels Stadium is playing like a pitcher's park this year. For it to be wrong it would have to be playing like a hitter's park, which your data contradicts.
   112. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4249954)
It's not that hard to explain. One sentence is all that is needed "a stat that takes all a players contributions, hitting, baserunning, defense and park adjustments, and show how much better than a freely available player he is"

It's probably useful to also mentioned the unit being used (wins via runs). I imagine the biggest problem with WAR to the average fan is the perceived lack of relation to what's happening on the field.

Hamilton just hit a two-run double, did he just accumulate .05 WAR?
   113. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4249956)
a 3 year park effect is a good idea


In which case we can figure out the WAR title after next season.
   114. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4249958)
In which case we can figure out the WAR title after next season.

But I've already contracted the engraver!
   115. tshipman Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4249960)
Okay, point number 1: Can people making the case for Trout stop referring to him as a "Gold-Glove center fielder?" He's only played 871 innings in CF (fewer than 100 games equivalent).

Re: Anaheim Park Factor:

Over the last 10 years, Anaheim has mostly played as a neutral park. From 2002-2010, it was between 96 and 102 every year. Despite no new parks in the AL west and no changes to the Angels' park during this time frame, it is now playing approximately 8% tougher to hit in for no apparent reason. That seems fishy. Why should we presume that the 2011-2012 data for Anaheim stadium is more accurate than the larger data series?

Re: Trout's performance in general:

While it may not be necessary to use WAR when discussing Trout v. Cabrera in 2012, Trout's performance does call the metric into question for me.

Trout in 2012 is at 10.5 WAR in 136 games. Bonds in 2001 was at 11.6 WAR in 153 games. WAR wants me to believe that Trout's 2012 is more valuable than Bonds' 2001.

Is there anyone who cares to make that argument without using WAR?

   116. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4249961)
a 3 year park effect is a good idea



In which case we can figure out the WAR title after next season.


Well, what's the solution then? Just throw up your hands and say we can't calculate it perfectly so why bother?
   117. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4249963)
It's not that hard to explain. One sentence is all that is needed "a stat that takes all a players contributions, hitting, baserunning, defense and park adjustments, and show how much better than a freely available player he is"

You do not need to go into details about the definition of a replacement player, or talk about win value in explaining the stat. That is geek talk, basically it's a number that basically combines all the possible contributions a player brings to the table into one number. .


Disagree. Nobody would have a problem with your overall definition about - dare I say, not even Madden. The entire argument is over the "how," not the what.
   118. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4249964)
One thing I urge people who are distrustful of where replacement level is to just look at the Zips projections before the season starts. Eliminate the starters and the guys who you can send to the minors without having to clear waivers. (Plus the really good backups. David Ross is not freely available for instance) That's basically the pool that you're picking from if you want a "no real cost" replacement.


???? Is anyone on here complaining about the definition of replacement level? That is just a baselevel that can be changed willy nilly at any time, it shouldn't be holding people back from accepting or not accepting the stat. I mean even if they make replacement level so low that Trout is posting a 20 win vs Cabrera's 12, it shouldn't stop people from accepting the stat because of where replacement is at. I don't think anyone casual, cares if replacement is accurate, it's about the components being accurate that matter.
   119. Chris Fluit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4249965)
As for your argument about replacement level not being obtainable I fail to see how that's meaningful. There needs to be a baseline and if you'd prefer it be average there's a metric for that. Pick your baseline, Wins Above Francoeur? Wins Above Some Guy in Rookie Ball? Fine, the number winds up a bit different but it is the same end result.


How about Wins Above Steve Pearce? He's been the definition of freely available replacement talent this year. He was signed by the Twins as a free agent from the Pirates last winter (December 15). He was released at the end of spring training by the Minnesota Twins (March 27). He then signed with the Yankees and started the season with them (March 29). The Orioles purchased his contract from New York, acquiring him without losing a player in return (June 2). The Astros then claimed Pearce off of waivers from the Orioles (July 28), again acquiring him without losing any of their own resources. The Yankees proceeded to purchase his contract from the Astros (August 27). Just last week, the Orioles grabbed him off of the waiver wire from the Yankees (September 29). Including spring training, Pearce has changed teams six times in the past twelve months: Pirates, Twins, Yankees, Orioles, Astros, Yankees, Orioles. No team had to expend any resources to acquire him (roster players, compensation picks or prospects) or pay anything more than a nominal amount of cash.

Pearce's line this year is .239/.328/.377 for an OPS of .705 and an OPS+ of 92. So a corner infielder/first basemen who hits for an OPS+ of 92 and is an average defender (he's +2 by fielding runs, -0.1 by WAR) is freely available to any team who wants him and has been acquired for free six times in twelve months. The exact specifics may not be the same from one season to the next but the concept of freely available talent is not entirely hypothetical.

Pearce has 0.2 WAR on the season (0.4 for Baltimore, -0.1 each for Houston and New York).

   120. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4249966)
Sean,

I just checked again, and couldn't find this, so:

Does b-r allow for sorting players by oWAR?

If not, why not?
   121. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4249972)
Does b-r allow for sorting players by oWAR?


Yes.

Go down to the list of players, and click oWar
   122. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4249975)
Trout in 2012 is at 10.5 WAR in 136 games. Bonds in 2001 was at 11.6 WAR in 153 games. WAR wants me to believe that Trout's 2012 is more valuable than Bonds' 2001.

Is there anyone who cares to make that argument without using WAR?


Sure.

First of all, the run environment in 2001 was higher than today. 4.7 runs/game in the 2001 NL vs 4.45 in the 2012 AL, a 5.5% decrease.
Second, a sizable chunk of Bond's value was in intentional and semi intentional walks, the value of which is overstated in OPS and OPS+. Bonds walked 177 times, and had 86 non-HR hits and HBP, and scored 56 runs, despite having good hitters batting after him (Kent, Snow, Rios, Galarraga).
Third, by 2001 Bonds wasn't particularly fast, nor a good defender, both of which Trout excels at.
   123. Cabbage Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4249978)
Too lazy to RTFthread, just wanted to ask how many of these guys have unquestioningly incorporated Passer Rating into their articles...
   124. Booey Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4249979)
I like WAR, but I do think this comment from the article above is a valid one:

Can you explain what revisions to the formula went into effect within the last year that retroactively reduced Albert Pujols' 2003 WAR from 10.9 to 8.4?

I understand there is some variation as the normalized standards evolve, but 2.5 wins is a massive drop. Both his defense and offense were dropped >1 run.
Incidentally, FanGraphs revised the same 2003 Pujols season from 9.0 to 10.1 WAR.

I'm generally quick to embrace new advanced metrics, but it's hard to put stock in WAR when there's a chance that it will be drastically revised many years after the fact.


I haven't actually looked up this specific example to know whether his numbers are correct or not, but I do remember surfing B-Ref this spring and noticing that a lot of the WAR numbers were different than they used to be, and I admit it is a little hard for me to put too much faith in a stat that fluctuates. Are we confident now that the current numbers are accurate, or are they going to change again in a year or so?

For the record though, I think it's an awesome concept and a great starting point.
   125. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4249981)
Too lazy to RTFthread, just wanted to ask how many of these guys have unquestioningly incorporated Passer Rating into their articles...


That is usually one of the points I like to make. Heck the writers haven't even learned the flaws with the stat and will present the stat while mentioning it's possible flaws.
   126. DanG Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4249983)
I think being able to pull up a list of players sorted by oWAR would help, but I don't think b-r allows that.
The P-I does give a pretty good proxy in Batting Wins, based on Palmer's linear weights. Offensive leaders in 2012:

Rk              Player BtWins Rbat  PA Year  Tm Lg
1         Buster Posey   5.39   50 600 2012 SFG NL
2       Miguel Cabrera   5.37   50 687 2012 DET AL
3     Andrew McCutchen   5.26   49 662 2012 PIT NL
4           Mike Trout   5.01   51 625 2012 LAA AL
5           Ryan Braun   4.95   45 665 2012 MIL NL
6           Joey Votto   4.74   40 463 2012 CIN NL
7       Prince Fielder   4.42   39 680 2012 DET AL
8    Edwin Encarnacion   3.96   38 644 2012 TOR AL 
   127. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4249985)
Does b-r allow for sorting players by oWAR?


Yes.

Go down to the list of players, and click oWar


That's a specific 2012 page. I'm talking about doing something like pulling up a list of 2B since 1961 with >1000 games sorted by oWAR. I still can't seem to do it.
   128. BDC Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4249987)
it is a little hard for me to put too much faith in a stat that fluctuates

I know you mean "faith" in a weak-colloquial sense, but of course it isn't a matter of faith; everything should be considered critically.

And on your actual point, in many ways I'd have less faith in a metric that never changed. Pancake Flops hasn't changed since it was introduced, and it's more useless all the time. Why won't anyone give us a Pancake Flops 2.0??
   129. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4249990)
That's a specific 2012 page. I'm talking about doing something like pulling up a list of 2B since 1961 with >1000 games sorted by oWAR. I still can't seem to do it.


Not that I have been able to find.
   130. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4249991)
It is the definition of hubris to denigrate WAR and then use RBI as your stat of choice for determining an MVP.
   131. tshipman Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4249993)
Third, by 2001 Bonds wasn't particularly fast, nor a good defender, both of which Trout excels at.


Bonds had fewer GDP's (5) than Trout (7) in 2001 in more opportunities and ran well (13 stolen bases at 81% success rate). Both of those numbers indicate good speed. Bonds was an average to slightly below average defender, with a weighted average of -5 in UZR.

Second, a sizable chunk of Bond's value was in intentional and semi intentional walks, the value of which is overstated in OPS and OPS+. Bonds walked 177 times, and had 86 non-HR hits and HBP, and scored 56 runs, despite having good hitters batting after him (Kent, Snow, Rios, Galarraga).


Bonds was only intentionally walked 35 times in 2001, which actually didn't lead the league. Even if we changed all of Bonds' intentional walks to outs, he would still have had an OBP 70 points higher than Trout.

First of all, the run environment in 2001 was higher than today. 4.7 runs/game in the 2001 NL vs 4.45 in the 2012 AL, a 5.5% decrease.


Granted.
   132. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4249997)

Bonds was only intentionally walked 35 times in 2001, which actually didn't lead the league. Even if we changed all of Bonds' intentional walks to outs, he would still have had an OBP 70 points higher than Trout.


You missed the point that even the unintentional walks, were frequently "intentional".
   133. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4249999)
You missed the point that even the unintentional walks, were frequently "intentional".


Which is not something considered by WAR.
   134. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4250001)
Pancake Flops hasn't changed since it was introduced, and it's more useless all the time.


Cite. I think it's better than ever.
   135. Booey Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4250003)
I know you mean "faith" in a weak-colloquial sense, but of course it isn't a matter of faith; everything should be considered critically.


Yes, I didn't literally mean "faith." "Stock" would've been a better word, but the poster I quoted already used that one so I didn't see the need to repeat it.

And on your actual point, in many ways I'd have less faith in a metric that never changed.


I agree to a point. I think it's a good thing that the creators of the stat are constantly trying to improve it and make it as accurate as possible. But doesn't it also make it a little hard to take at face value when it isn't permanent and can change at any time?
   136. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4250005)
WAR wants me to believe that Trout's 2012 is more valuable than Bonds' 2001.

Is there anyone who cares to make that argument without using WAR?


How about this one.

Babe Ruth 1930. 359/493/732, 211 OPS+, 205 wRC+. Only 10 bWAR and 10.3 fWAR.

Does someone want to claim Trout has been better than that this year?
   137. BDC Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4250014)
Does someone want to claim Trout has been better than that this year?

The implication seems to be "just look at that batting line, how could anyone be better than that." But of course:

* it was 1930
* Ruth was not much of an outfielder anymore
* Ruth was 10-for-20 stealing bases
* for reasons probably unknown even to Bob Shawkey, Ruth made 21 sacrifice hits that year, which is a bunch of additional outs – I'm not sure how OPS+ and wRC+ deal with them, but his conventional slash line is thereby not quite as good as it looks
* Ruth still had a fabulous season, 10 WAR to Trout's 10.5. I don't know how much confidence the originating statisticians have in how WAR represents a range of probabilities (they can tell us, I reckon), but what if it's possible that Trout had 10 and Ruth 10.5? Suddenly the question is moot.
   138. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4250015)
Does someone want to claim Trout has been better than that this year?


AL R/G in 1930 - 5.41
AL R/G in 2012 - 4.45, a, 18% decrease. So first reduce Ruth's hitting numbers by 18%, then we can talk speed and defense.
   139. tshipman Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4250016)
You missed the point that even the unintentional walks, were frequently "intentional".


That actually didn't happen that much in 2001. I watched just about every Bonds AB that year. It didn't really start happening at all until the end of the year and was pretty limited. In 2002, yes, that really happened a lot.

Here's a brief piece of evidence:

In 2001, Bonds batted with zero outs in the inning during 182 PA's. He had a 16.48% walk rate. He batted with two outs in 242 PA's. He had a 26.86% walk rate (a 62% increase).
In 2001, the league as a whole batted with zero outs during 34,321 PA's. The league had a 6.79% walk rate. During 32004 PA's with 2 outs, the league had a 8.99% walk rate (a 75.52% increase).


If Bonds was walked "intentionally" in 2001, it didn't happen that often.
   140. GregD Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4250019)
Luckily there's this amazingly cool new stat called OPS+ that's already been posted that shows Ruth at 211 and Trout at 168
   141. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4250020)
And on your actual point, in many ways I'd have less faith in a metric that never changed. Pancake Flops hasn't changed since it was introduced, and it's more useless all the time. Why won't anyone give us a Pancake Flops 2.0??


EqA hasn't changed much, to my knowledge (Ron?), other than the name. And it's still a damned good approximator of rate of offensive value. Including steals, though not non-SB baserunning.

The problem with WAR is that it tries to do too much, and the defensive systems, as improved as they are and getting better, simply are not there yet.
   142. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4250021)
AL R/G in 1930 - 5.41
AL R/G in 2012 - 4.45, a, 18% decrease. So first reduce Ruth's hitting numbers by 18%, then we can talk speed and defense.


Huh? He cited OPS+.
   143. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4250030)
(deleted) pressed submit by mistake.
   144. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4250031)
Luckily there's this amazingly cool new stat called OPS+ that's already been posted that shows Ruth at 211 and Trout at 168.


Ruth in 1930 created 183 runs. Reduce that by 18% and it's 150. Trout this year has created 132. Is Trout's baserunning and defense this year superior enough to a 35 year old Babe Ruth to overcome an 18 run deficit? Very possible. Certainly not a ridiculous notion.
   145. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4250035)
The P-I does give a pretty good proxy in Batting Wins, based on Palmer's linear weights.


But that's still not oWAR, and when Sean said in #56 "If you don't like the defensive numbers we give you the numbers assuming everyone is average defensively" I took that to mean, in a discussion about WAR, that he was giving us oWAR. Which is true, on a player-by-player basis - or even in a specific page like the 2012 page cfb cited - but we can't sort by oWAR in Play Index. And if we can't sort by oWAR in Play Index then the utility of oWAR is hugely limited.

And we do pay for Play Index, so it's not like this is an unreasonable request.

I do think that the capability to sort by oWAR could lead people to focus on oWAR more than WAR, but that's not my problem.

oWAR is essentially a souped up version of VORP - one that includes non-SB baserunning - so there is probably a vested interest on the part of the Seans to push WAR per se and not oWAR. Because there's nothing all that special about oWAR.

   146. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4250037)
What do Trout's numbers look like when you put them in the 1930 machine?
   147. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4250041)
What do Trout's numbers look like when you put them in the 1930 machine?


.362/.438/.627 if playing in Yankee Stadium.
   148. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4250045)
What do Trout's numbers look like when you put them in the 1930 machine?


Using bb-ref neutralized batting you get

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO HBP SF BA OBP SLG OPS RC Gact
2011 19 38 136 122 26 31 6 0 5 21 4 11 29 2 1 .254 .324 .426 .750 17 40
2012 20 129 641 553 161 200 29 8 34 102 55 76 129 5 7 .362 .438 .627 1.065 152 136 


That is 1930 as a New York Yankee.
   149. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4250049)
.362/.438/.627 if playing in Yankee Stadium.


So that was like what Jimmie Foxx hit, except with crazy fielding and running. I think he's close enough to Ruth that it's not silly to compare them, which is all that WAR would ask of you anyway.

I give the nod to Ruth in deference to his one start that year, a complete game victory.
   150. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4250051)
Can you explain what revisions to the formula went into effect within the last year that retroactively reduced Albert Pujols' 2003 WAR from 10.9 to 8.4?

I understand there is some variation as the normalized standards evolve, but 2.5 wins is a massive drop. Both his defense and offense were dropped >1 run.


One of the Sean's explained the changes that were made.

A) 2003 is the first year of BIS defensive numbers. TotalZone liked Albert's defense in LF (+10), BIS didn't (-4). I think it's likely that the BIS numbers are closer to the truth.

B) The runs per win calc was re-worked.

From the WAR explained link that Sean mentions. (Version 1.0 being the version that was carried by baseballprojection.com)

Version 2.0, May 2012

Previous to launch of 2012 WAR numbers we undertook a top to bottom evaluation of our WAR numbers and added a number of improvements.

Switch from BaseRuns for batting to an advanced wRAA metric.
Folding ROE, infield singles, SO vs. Non-SO into wRAA.
Excluding pitchers' hitting and averaging by league rather than year from the league averages for wOBA and wRAA.
Estimation of CS numbers for leagues they are missing.
Use of Baseball Info Solutions Defensive Runs Saved from 2003-present (in our view the most advanced defensive metric).
Use of a player-influenced runs to win conversion for both batters and pitchers based on PythagenPat.
Use of a player-specific park factor for pitchers weighted by actual appearances in each park.
After a preliminary WAR calculation, we fine-tune the replacement level on a playing time basis, so the total WAR in each league is very consistent year-to-year.
dWAR now contains the position component as we feel this better captures player defensive value. In our view, even a poor defensive catcher is likely equally valuable to a good defensive first baseman in terms of team defense.


Version 2.01, May 2012

We made a minor change converting oWAR to afWAR (or average fielding WAR). This has been rolled back and is not in place now.

Version 2.1, May 2012

After launching version 2.0 on May 4th, we immediately became aware of an issue that had concerned us, but we thought we still had right. Pitchers were being overvalued due to a runs to win estimate that broke down for extreme performances. A stingy pitcher drives down the runs per win, but not to the degree we were showing.

A major change to runs to win calculation. See our Runs to Wins Page for a full explanation. We now handle runs to wins calculations in an exact rather than an estimated way.
With the change in runs to wins calculation we can now display Wins Above Average, a related win-loss % and a related win-loss% for 162 games played.
Leverage Index adjustment is now only applied to relief pitchers.
Leverage Index used is now the LI at the time the reliever entered the game rather than the average LI for all of their plate appearances. This is weighted by number of batters faced.
Converted Offensive WAR from afWAR back to oWAR. Note that oWAR + dWAR now double counts position, so adding them will not give WAR.
The adjustment for the difference in league starter and reliever ERA has been moved to the calculation of league average rather than the league replacement level.
BUG: Fixed a park factor bug. Pitcher opponent strength was not neutralized, so a park factor was being applied to a non-park adjusted number. Now the pitcher opponent strength is converted to a neutral environment, averaged for all opponents and then park adjusted based on a custom park factor for each pitcher based on the exact parks they pitched in.
Some feedback of version 2.0 we incorporated: Inside the Book and its readers helped immensely with the runs to wins issue.
   151. Don Malcolm Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4250053)
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2012-value-batting.shtml

You can sort this by oWAR. However, oWAR is by no means immune to criticism, since it includes park factors that are questionably computed and fielding/baserunning calculations that have both conceptual and computational issues. From a back-of-the-envelope examination of all that, it's very plausible to conclude that a "perfect storm" of such computational events have aligned in such a way as to boost Trout from the level of MVP candidate to all-time top 25 seasons. While only a few folk have seriously attempted to argue from that point of view, the fact that the method does that means that at the very least it needs to be re-theorized.
   152. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4250059)
You can sort this by oWAR. However, oWAR is by no means immune to criticism, since it includes park factors that are questionably computed and fielding/baserunning calculations that have both conceptual and computational issues. From a back-of-the-envelope examination of all that, it's very plausible to conclude that a "perfect storm" of such computational events have aligned in such a way as to boost Trout from the level of MVP candidate to all-time top 25 seasons. While only a few folk have seriously attempted to argue from that point of view, the fact that the method does that means that at the very least it needs to be re-theorized.

There's no way in hell Trout's (partial) 2012 is 25% better than Barry Bonds's 1992, when he OPS+d 204 at the peak of the last deadball era, stole 39/47 bases, and had Gold Glove CF talent that had been relegated to Gold Glove LF actuality.

They have equal oWAR, even though Bonds's OPS+ was 36 points higher and Bonds was a great baserunner and basestealer by any reasonable measurement.(*) That's absurd on its face.

(*) Bonds led the major leagues in OBP, SLG, and OPS in 1992. Trout isn't within 40 points of the AL SLG lead, and isn't within 20 points of the AL OBP lead. Yet Trout is actually at 8.3 oWAR to Bonds's 8.2 for 1992? Please.
   153. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4250062)
A) 2003 is the first year of BIS defensive numbers. TotalZone liked Albert's defense in LF (+10), BIS didn't (-4). I think it's likely that the BIS numbers are closer to the truth.


Really? Ok. Have to disagree, Albert's defense in left was solid to good. Given a choice between Albert in the left or Holliday in left, Albert was the better fielder, and to my knowledge Holliday is considered to be at least average defensively.
   154. AROM Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4250063)
How about Wins Above Steve Pearce? He's been the definition of freely available replacement talent this year.


Might be the most perfect replacement level season ever. He's just bad enough that when you have someone come off the DL or called up from the minors, he's the one you don't have room for on the roster anymore. But just good enough that somebody else has room for him.
   155. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4250066)
There's no way in hell Trout's (partial) 2012 is 25% better than Barry Bonds's 1992,


Bonds only played 140 games. Just noting that. Also, according the B-R fielding numbers, 1992 is when Bonds was making his transition from excellent fielder to average fielder. There's no doubt that this transition happened, the only question is when.
   156. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4250068)
(*) Bonds led the major leagues in OBP, SLG, and OPS in 1992. Trout isn't within 40 points of the AL SLG lead, and isn't within 20 points of the AL OBP lead. Yet Trout is actually at 8.3 oWAR to Bonds's 8.2 for 1992? Please.


Lucky for Trout that WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement and not Wins Above League Leaders. It is possible to be both a league leader and closer to the average than some other non-league leader in another place and time.
   157. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4250070)
There's no doubt that this transition happened, the only question is when.

I doubt it happened at age 27.
   158. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4250072)
It is possible to be both a league leader and closer to the average than some other non-league leader in another place and time.


Is it absurd that Sammy Sosa had more oWAR in 2001 than Dick Allen in 1972? Allen led the majors in OBP and OPS (missed the SLP by .003), and Sosa was over 200 points lower than the leader in OPS.
   159. AROM Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4250073)
There's no way in hell Trout's (partial) 2012 is 25% better than Barry Bonds's 1992, when he OPS+d 204 at the peak of the last deadball era, stole 39/47 bases, and had Gold Glove CF talent that had been relegated to Gold Glove LF actuality.

They have equal oWAR, even though Bonds's OPS+ was 36 points higher and Bonds was a great baserunner and basestealer by any reasonable measurement. That's absurd on its face.


You might have a point there but we can all do better than just throwing out statements like "no way in hell" and "absurd on it's face." BB-ref has all the components right there to break down. If it's absurd, then where is it wrong?

Trout is +51 bat, +10 running, +22 fielding, -1 position and +1 GIDP.

Bonds +61 bat, +4 running, +6 fielding, -6 position and +0 GIDP. He played 140 games, which is 1 more than Trout will play (unless the Angels give him a day or two off after Martin Perez pitches the A's to a playoff spot tonight).

So: Bonds is the better hitter. Is +10 runs enough of a gap for the 204 to 168 OPS+ difference? I'm not sure if that's normal or an anomaly.

Baserunning: It's more than SB, so you'd have to look in the details on bbref, but 48-4 on basestealing is definitely better than 39-8.

Position: Bonds played the whole year in left, Trout played more CF than left. Advantage Trout.

Fielding: Bonds is +6 but averaged +28 the 3 years prior. Use multi-year fielding averages and Bonds could be +20. Make that adjustment and he's pretty much even with Trout in WAR.
   160. BDC Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4250078)
after Martin Perez pitches the A's to a playoff spot

Gosh, you know how to hurt a guy.
   161. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4250080)
statements like "no way in hell" and "absurd on it's face." BB-ref has all the components right there to break down. If it's absurd, then where is it wrong?

Trout is +51 bat, +10 running, +22 fielding, -1 position and +1 GIDP.

Bonds +61 bat, +4 running, +6 fielding


That's pretty absurd.

And the "where is it wrong?" inquiry misses the fact that each of the components could be "reasonable" yet simply wrong in a perfect storm sort of way, such that when you add them up you get nonsense. That may not be the case all the time, but it's certainly the case some of the time, and "some of the time" - especially when a lot of players are involved such as in a sorting of 2B over the past 50 years - can be a big mess.

This is why it's problematic for a stat to have layers upon layers of questionable entries, at which point "Oh? Where is it wrong?" becomes a flawed inquiry. The flaw is a structural one: there are too many questionable layers to an uber stat.

   162. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4250084)

Bonds only played 140 games. Just noting that.


He actually had fewer plate appearances than Trout does this year.

Let's just ignore the fielding component:

Bonds comes out 10 runs ahead by wRAA. This is basically wOBA with a park and league factor adjustment. Fine if you don't trust park factors, but they are what they are.

Bonds was an excellent baserunner that season - add 4 runs for him in baserunning. Trout is an exceptional baserunner, 10 runs better than average. Trout gains six runs there.

Now, replacement value. Higher for a LF than a CF. Trout gets another 4 runs there.

So, ignoring double plays, this puts them even.

If you want to tell us why you don't trust wRAA or wOBA, please go ahead. Maybe there's something up there for these two guys or these seasons. "Absurd on its face" is not a valid argument.
   163. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4250092)
BTW, just want to throw out there that I appreciate the effort that goes into creating and utilizing an innovative type of stat, even if I disagree with some of it's conclusions. Only ten years ago, I really overlooked defense, just because it is difficult to quantify. However, I think ranking Barney as more valuable than Hamilton, Fielder, etc. represents another extreme. Seeing something like that gets me into 'snap judgment' mode, which I'd prefer to avoid, but it's tough.
   164. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4250094)
The problem with WAR is the name. No one wants to buy into a concept that celebrates the killing of small innocent children holding puppies. My suggestion is to rename it:

PEACE
Perfect
Evaluator (of)
Actual
Comprehensive
Excellence.

This should get the old 1960s protest crowd on board.
   165. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4250095)
Mays' 1958 season is a very close comp. for Trout's, except with fewer stolen bases at a lower rate (31 out of 37). Both are gold glove caliber CFs with excellent baserunning and OPS+s in the 165 range. Mays had 10 WAR, so Trout's WAR (10.5 according to B-R, 10.0 according to FG) seems right.
   166. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4250096)
You might have a point there but we can all do better than just throwing out statements like "no way in hell" and "absurd on it's face." BB-ref has all the components right there to break down. If it's absurd, then where is it wrong?

I was focusing on offense primarily. Trout has more oWAR this year than Bonds did in 1992.

Maybe 10 runs for pure batting isn't enough to capture the secular difference between a 205 OPS+ season and a 168. Those are fundamentally different accomplishments; one is excellent, the other is rare and ultra elite. Bonds's 1992 is one of the five or so best post-integration, pre-Selig Era offensive seasons (*). Trout's 2012 is nothing like that.

(*) Arguably, the very best since he blew away #2 by 29 OPS+ points.
   167. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4250106)
However, I think ranking Barney as more valuable than Hamilton, Fielder, etc. represents another extreme. Seeing something like that gets me into 'snap judgment' mode, which I'd prefer to avoid, but it's tough.


That's because the defense component of WAR is treated with precisely as much confidence as the offense component.

And it simply is not the case that we are anywhere near as sure of defense as we are of offense. Nobody looks at Adam Jones's EqA and is like, ".299? WTF?"
   168. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4250109)
EqA seems like a weird stat to herald. It's not really measuring anything; it's only good to compare players to each other and the scale offers no value.
   169. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4250121)
There's no way in hell Trout's (partial) 2012 is 25% better than Barry Bonds's 1992, when

he OPS+d 204 at the peak of the last deadball eraThat's addressed in the OPS+, and Bonds shows a 10 run (1 win) advantage in hitting. However, Bonds was a LF (where you expect better hitting than CF); thier oWAR are the same (8.2 vs. 8.3).

stole 39/47 bases In '92 NL play, the average team attempted 192 SB. Trout has stolen 9 more bases, at a much better rate, in a league where the average team is attempting only 141 SB. That's significant.

and had Gold Glove CF talent that had been relegated to Gold Glove LF actualityUZR shows Bonds as pretty pedestrian in '02, and he had only one more "Gold Glove talent" year after; BIS shows a 3-year "valley" in his defensive numbers from '90-92, followed by a 4-year return to "Gold Glove talent", followed by being average or worse - and that's compared to LF, not CF. Trout, on the other hand, is +13 runs in UZR and +21 runs by BIS - compared to CF.

But I think this brings another issue up - why, when offensive stats disagree with our eyes we believe the stats but when defensive stats disagree we dismiss the stats out of hand? Defensive stats may not be perfect (or even good enough) yet, but isn't it also likely that sometimes players just aren't as good defensively as we think they are?
   170. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4250124)
Maybe 10 runs for pure batting isn't enough to capture the secular difference between a 205 OPS+ season and a 168.

Maybe the 204 OPS+ is inflated by 32 intentional walks. Take those out (and do the same for the NL batting line as a whole) and Bonds's OPS+ goes down to 197 - not a huge drop, but a drop. Do the same for Trout and the 2012 AL, and his OPS+ stays the same.
   171. alilisd Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4250134)
It's a California/West Coast legend. I'm not sure if it has a basis in fact or not.


Really? I've never heard of it and I'm a native who has lived almost his entire life here.
   172. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4250135)
If 10 runs is the difference between a 205 and a 168 OPS+, but Trout can gain 60% of that back from baserunning and automatically get 40% of it back from playing CF instead of LF -- particularly when Bonds could have obviously played CF very well (*) -- then the scales of measurement are off. Baserunning and fielding are either overweighted generally, or small real differences are magnified compared to differences in batting.

(*) In both years he played CF more than 3 games, Bonds beat the CF league range factors by more than Trout is beating them by this year. Frankly, I'm not seeing what's so special in Trout as a CFer in the range factors (understanding that range factors aren't everything.) In 1987, Bonds played 46 games in center and beat the league RF/9 by 30 points. Trout's advantage this year is 14 points.
   173. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4250142)
1. Range factor? Really?

2. If we're going with range factor, Bonds's RF in 1992 is better than the average left fielder's, but not by so much that he's clearly a "Gold Glove CF talent." He beats the average LF in '92 by less than Trout's margin over the average CF this year.
   174. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4250143)
If 10 runs is the difference between a 205 and a 168 OPS+


Using the simplest form of runs created possible, the difference in their season is about 14 runs. Park and era adjustments would easily make it 10.

Now, Trout has more PAs/G (due to hitting leadoff), but the 10 runs is not an absurd number.
   175. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4250144)
That's because the defense component of WAR is treated with precisely as much confidence as the offense component.

The purported difference in Mike Trout's fielding and a 27-year-old Barry Bonds's is (a) enough to wipe out the difference between a 205 and 168 OPS+; plus (b) another 60%.

That simply can't be right. The scales and magnitudes and impacts of the various components are fundamentally mismatched.

   176. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4250147)
But I think this brings another issue up - why, when offensive stats disagree with our eyes we believe the stats but when defensive stats disagree we dismiss the stats out of hand? Defensive stats may not be perfect (or even good enough) yet, but isn't it also likely that sometimes players just aren't as good defensively as we think they are?


Because defensive stats can be messed up by positioning of the defense. A guy who is playing out of position due to bad coaching, but who has great range, is still going to be hurt by the numbers. It's one of the knocks against Zobrist is that he is being helped by his defensive positioning/coaching. Mind you, on a strictly value method, the player who is getting that advantage is earning the value.
   177. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4250148)
Using the simplest form of runs created possible, the difference in their season is about 14 runs. Park and era adjustments would easily make it 10.
Park and era adjustments would easily make it 10.


Again, the scales are off here. There's no way the differences in those stadiums and 2012/1992 shave 30% off that differential -- particularly when park/league/era are already accounted for in OPS+.
   178. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4250152)
Again, the scales are off here. There's no way the differences in those stadiums and 2012/1992 shave 30% off that differential -- particularly when park/league/era are already accounted for in OPS+.


You might be right. 2012 is actually a higher run-environment than 1992 (5% across MLB) and that would counter more than half of the park effect. Maybe the IBBs are worth 3-4 runs that are being dropped.
   179. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4250155)
If you adjust range factor at all, one of the easiest adjustments to make is for the quality of the team's defense. By defensive efficiency, the Angels have the best defense in the league, meaning their players leave each other with fewer chances per inning than anyone else gets. Also, their pitching staff is around average, slightly below, in K rate. The '92 Pirates had a slightly-better-than-average defensive efficiency, and the second-worst strikeout rate in the league.
   180. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4250159)
By defensive efficiency, the Angels have the best defense in the league, meaning their players leave each other with fewer chances per inning than anyone else
gets.


It doesn't mean the outfielders are taking the CF's chances, or anything close. CFs typically take chances from corner outfielders, since they take essentially everything they get to.
   181. bob gee Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4250160)
good jeff passan article up, feel free to post on main page...

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/10-degrees--miguel-cabrera-s-triple-crown-push-overshadowing-mike-trout-s-mvp-season.html
   182. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4250165)
why, when offensive stats disagree with our eyes we believe the stats but when defensive stats disagree we dismiss the stats out of hand?


We've tread over this ground for 10 years, but, obviously it's because the offensive stats count REAL things (singles, homeruns, etc) and we're not sure if the defensive ones do or not. You cannot deny that Neifi Perez just hit a homrun - but was that catch that Pete Incaviglia made a tough one? Who knows?
   183. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4250167)
You cannot deny that Neifi Perez just hit a homrun - but was that catch that Pete Incaviglia made a tough one? Who knows?

There's a conceptual mismatch there, too -- we aren't crediting hitters only with "tough" singles or other hits, but we are with fielders. So we're combining the measurements of two things that aren't really the same. Maybe that's why the scales of measurement don't really work in combination.
   184. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4250171)
There were Japanese soldiers hiding out in California?

It's a California/West Coast legend. I'm not sure if it has a basis in fact or not.

Really? I've never heard of it and I'm a native who has lived almost his entire life here.


Then you need to re-watch your Three's Company re-runs. They dealt with this subject in a 1978 episode entitled Days of Beer and Weeds:

Roper: Good, good, then you'll clear out the garden tomorrow. Thank you.

Jack: (dismayed) Yeah.

Janet: (sighs) Well, goodbye weekend. That garden is right out of tarzan of the apes.

Chrissy: It is a little overgrown.

Jack: A little? Chrissy, there are pockets of Japanese in there who don't know the war is over.
   185. fra paolo Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4250175)
obviously it's because the offensive stats count REAL things (singles, homeruns, etc) and we're not sure if the defensive ones do or not

Defensive stats count real things, too, just like RBI. And just like RBI, we don't trust them to stand alone as a measure of quality. But unlike RBI, we don't have anything else to put around them.
   186. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4250178)
It doesn't mean the outfielders are taking the CF's chances, or anything close. CFs typically take chances from corner outfielders, since they take essentially everything they get to.

If Albert Pujols makes a game-ending play on a hard grounder up the first base line, it keeps one of his teammates from having to make another game-ending play later in the inning. If Prince Fielder doesn't make that play, another Tiger will have a chance to make another play later on. Whether the chance is being directly stolen from another player on the specific play in question isn't what I'm talking about.
   187. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4250185)
A hitter gets 650 or so chances every season to do something better than a replacement-level hitter.

How often does a fielder get a chance to do something better than a replacement-level fielder? If it's 100, which seems extremely high (*), then fielding should have roughtly 1/6 the magnitude of hitting. (You'd have to tweak the formula based on the type of hits saved by a measured play -- bad OF's "hit" triples by turning outs to triples; IFs really don't. Their screwups are typically single-like).

(*) Mike Trout has had 265 chances total in CF this year.
   188. BDC Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4250188)
The issue of how the invariable(1) number of outs you can make in a game is divided up among the available fielders, and what that implies for fielding evaluation, is exceedingly well analyzed by Michael Humphreys in Wizardry. Well worth reading.

(1) Invariable in the sense that it's going to be somewhere between 24 and 27, and usually exactly one of those two, in any given team's game, with few enough outliers from extra-inning games not to make very much difference in the long run. A team can score as many runs as it can get, and the difference between a 4-run league and a 5-run league is very large, percentagewise; but the amount of outs teams make is all but inflexible, and has been since forever.
   189. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4250190)
To put it another way: The Angels have faced 37 fewer balls in play (calculated by 3*IP - K - DP + H - HR + E; if I'm missing anything from that, let me know) than an average AL team would have in the same number of innings this year. The '92 Pirates faced 107 more than an average NL team would have. You have to adjust range factor for that, among many, many other things.
   190. zenbitz Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4250193)
1992 Bonds had 148 RC and 75 Adjusted batting runs. Both about 25 above the 2nd place finisher in the NL.
2012 Trout has 132 RC and 52 Adjusted batting runs. Roughly the same as Cabrera, Roughly the same as 2nd place in the 1992 NL.

So, what's interesting is that the difference is only 16 RC and 23 ABR. So "percent of the difference" has no merit as the baselines are note equivalent. Ditto with any replacment level factor. OPS+ is not linear. Runs are linear. The difference in offense between Bonds 1992 and Trough 2012 is 15-21 runs. I don't think either of those are park adjusted, but let's call it 20 - 2 wins (also linear except for extremely low values of runs allowed). This is actually a vast margin. The difference between a no-brainer MVP and a close race.

So, can you get 20 runs back on position, defense, and baserunning?? CF vs. LF is probably 10 right there.

   191. AROM Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4250194)
(*) In both years he played CF more than 3 games, Bonds beat the CF league range factors by more than Trout is beating them by this year. Frankly, I'm not seeing what's so special in Trout as a CFer in the range factors (understanding that range factors aren't everything.) In 1987, Bonds played 46 games in center and beat the league RF/9 by 30 points. Trout's advantage this year is 14 points.


Range factor doesn't show it. To appreciate Trout's defense you have to A) trust Dewan's metric or B) watch the games and see him jumping over the walls to save homers, and running in and diving to rob singles.

True that you can't do a direct comparison for B, 20 years apart. I'm sure Bonds made some great defensive plays in 1992 but I can't remember a single one.
   192. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4250198)
To put it another way: The Angels have faced 37 fewer balls in play (calculated by 3*IP - K - DP + H - HR + E; if I'm missing anything from that, let me know) than an average AL team would have in the same number of innings this year. The '92 Pirates faced 107 more than an average NL team would have. You have to adjust range factor for that, among many, many other things.

Or you can do a little more work and look at the other OFs on the teams. If you do, you'll see that the Pirates' other CF in 1987 (*) -- the year I'm talking about --beat the league RF by less than Bonds did when Bonds played CF. And if you look at the teams' primary right fielder, RJ Reynolds, you'll see that his range factors trail the league's badly in both right field and left field.

So the balls were hit to the Pirate OF, some players got to a whole bunch of them, and other players didn't.

You'd likely see the opposite effect if you compared Derek Jeter to other Yankee shortstops and Derek Jeter vs. league compared to Other Yankee IFs vs. league.

(*) Andy Van Slyke, highly regarded defensively. Five straight CF gold gloves, 1988-1992.

   193. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4250199)
A hitter gets 650 or so chances every season to do something better than a replacement-level hitter.

How often does a fielder get a chance to do something better than a replacement-level fielder? If it's 100, which seems extremely high (*), then fielding should have roughtly 1/6 the magnitude of hitting.


That's not really how it works, though. Even the best hitters make outs in at least half of their PA, Bonds excepted, and replacement level hitters don't make outs all the time. The difference comes in (1) the number of plate appearances that have positive outcomes, and (2) the magnitude of those positive outcomes.

Comparing, at random, Jim Thome and Neifi Perez in 2002. Thome reached base 269 times, Neifi 151 (Thome had 28 more PA). Adjusting for the PA difference, that's only about 111 extra good outcomes for Thome.

Of course, 49 of those were home runs, so there's that.
   194. AROM Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:57 PM (#4250202)
To put it another way: The Angels have faced 37 fewer balls in play (calculated by 3*IP - K - DP + H - HR + E; if I'm missing anything from that, let me know) than an average AL team would have in the same number of innings this year. The '92 Pirates faced 107 more than an average NL team would have. You have to adjust range factor for that, among many, many other things.


Range factor would be a greatly improved, as a simple and basic metric, if it were displayed as "player outs per 30 balls in play" or something like that instead of "player outs per 27 team outs".
   195. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4250206)
Range factor doesn't show it. To appreciate Trout's defense you have to A) trust Dewan's metric or B) watch the games and see him jumping over the walls to save homers, and running in and diving to rob singles.

How many "robbed" hits do you figure Trout has this year?

How about adding robbed hits to offensive production (*), subtracting "failed" robberies, and calcluating a slash line? That would make some sense.

(*) If a SS robs a single, he's deemed to have hit a single.
   196. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4250208)
Or you can do a little more work and look at the other OFs on the teams. If you do, you'll see that the Pirates' other CF in 1987 (*) -- the year I'm talking about --beat the league RF by less than Bonds did when Bonds played CF.

I'm confused - are we talking about Bonds's 1992 season, or his 1987 season?

Edit: FWIW, TotalZone thinks Bonds was awesome in '87, +24. It does not think he was awesome in '92.
   197. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4250209)
Even the best hitters make outs in at least half of their PA,

And even the worst defenders make putouts (or IF assists).

So you either throw everything in with fielding, as we do with hitting, or we have to find some way to effectively scale the fact that fundamentally different things are being measured in hitting and fielding.
   198. fra paolo Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4250212)
Another thing:

The idea of 'replacement level' doesn't really work for defence, except to indicate the player who will be taken out in the late innings of a close game.

A replacement-level hitter might well field his position better than about a third of a league regulars.
   199. cmd600 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4250215)
Regarding #187 - I'm not sure why anyone puts up with SBB anymore. His argument always boils down to "this doesn't seem right, but I'm not going to bring the actual data to the table". It was like arguing with my younger brother when we were both kids. The 5 year old knows he's right just because he knows so.
   200. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4250216)
Adjusting for the PA difference, that's only about 111 extra good outcomes for Thome.

That's at least -- at least -- double the number of extra good outcomes for comparably capable fielders.(*) Moreover, Thome's good outcomes included 49 homeruns and a bunch of extra base hits. Other than the occasional robbed home runs, fielders can't "hit" homeruns (by aaving them). Middle infielders really can't even "hit" extra base hits, only singles.

(*) Probably more like quadruple.
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