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## Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#### How Pitch Location Affects Caught Stealing Percentage

Sometimes sabermetrics just confirms what we already know.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 12, 2014 at 09:34 AM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
Tags: catching, fielding, sabermetrics

#### Reader Comments and Retorts

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1. bjhanke Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4670091)
I followed the link and read the article. It's pretty good, but I do have one issue. The author makes several charts that list 1) pitch location, 2) the probability that a pitch will go to that location (I think) and 3) the raw number of Stolen Base attempts when the pitch goes to that location. I think the article would improve if he listed SB attempts as a percentage of the pitches in the location, rather than using raw numbers. Raw numbers are going to be mostly driven by how many pitches were in that location. My suggestion adjusts for that. - Brock Hanke
2. Chris Needham Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4670096)
At first I was confused. But then this chart made everything clear.

I've been ranting about this on twitter, but some of the latest saber-type stuff is driving me to PlaschkeTown. Man, I'm getting old.
3. Greg Pope Posted: March 12, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4670295)
but some of the latest saber-type stuff is driving me to PlaschkeTown.

I think it's the nature of knowledge in general. At some point nobody knew anything about physics. When the first laws were discovered, they could be communicated with a few sentences (Newton's laws). You didn't need to know the math. Once things evolved a bit, it got to the point where you actually had to learn something, but it was something that today's junior high kids can learn. Then calculus comes into it and it takes a high school education to really understand it. Then relativity where you can sort of understand it by reading a book, but to truly get it you need college classes. Then quantum comes along and 90% of the people are incapable of getting it, college educated people sort of understand, and only the real experts actually know how it works.*

As people delve deeper into the details and we get more information, it becomes harder and harder for the layperson to understand. We make fun of Murray Chass because he doesn't even try to understand. But so far, all of the research has been able to be understood by most people who care to try. I'd say we're at the calculus level from my example above. There are a decent number of people that can understand most of the research. The rest of the people have to either take the research at face value, or trust the other people to poke holes. For example, I don't know the details of Fangraphs WAR to evaluate it. But I can understand enough from the discussions here to know it's strengths and flaws. Because enough people on this board do know enough and take the time to analyze it.

However, I think we'll see resistance as we move further. People who now can analyze WAR and other things will not be able to analyze and critique things in the future. At some point, it will take a specialization in order to understand what people are investigating.

*This is a rough example off the top of my head, so don't rip on my timelines or anything.
4. Sunday silence Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4670418)
Greg I dont want to say you're wrong but the example as well your pt. about sabermetrics is not as simple as all that.

For one thing, Newton had to invent calculus himself and also had to complex integrations in order to solve the gravity equation and the motion of planets. He did calculations involving for example the pull of gravity inside of a hollow sphere involving integrals and such.

Relativity involves tensor math, which I have never studied but I would think if you put your mind to it, it might be the same thing as calculus to understand.

There are paradoxes involving both relativity and basic probabilities, I am not so sure that it gets harder and harder. My gut feeling is that all these branches of math make logical sense and so are perceptible by people who study it. I guess less people study tensor math, or WAR but I think that's just lack of interest. I dont know for sure that it is much harder or deeper to understand.

Like I said, I am not so sure, that's my feeling. I dont think its as simple as you make it.
5. Greg Pope Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4670510)
I agree with what you're saying, and yes, I simplified. But there are fewer people in the world today that actually understand quantum physics than people who understand Newtonian physics. It's harder and requires more education and more study.

The reason that few people understand quantum physics is twofold. Again, simplifying, but it's because you have to be smarter to understand it, and you have to study it. There are certainly plenty of people who could] understand quantum physics but went into journalism/baseball/finance. And there are people that could take all of the physics classes in the world and would just never get it.

I'm saying that for people who like sabermetrics, things like linear weights are easy to understand. Move up to WAR and it's a little harder. Get into pitch framing and maybe it's more complicated. Analyzing 7TB of game data, even more so. There will come a point for most of us where we have to say "I don't know exactly how that works, but I get the ideas and I trust the experts." That can be a hard point to get past. Some people will choose to say that they don't trust the experts. This point came early for Murray Chass, and he chose not to. For a lot of people on this board, I suspect that the point came a while ago, but they choose to trust.
6.  Posted: March 12, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4670531)
I think what Greg says makes perfect sense. Yes you still have the heavy lifters behind the scenes doing the hardest work, but with less established information out there it's easier to present concepts in broad terms, but as the information expands, it gets more and more complicated to the "layman" or "hobbyist" .
.
7. vivaelpujols Posted: March 13, 2014 at 06:53 AM (#4670747)
I think this is just a case of the author making his study seem more complicated than it need to be. For me this graph was enough to get the gist of the study:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Screen-shot-2014-02-21-at-7.53.11-PM.png

Have one of the those for RHP and one for LHP (and maybe separate it by batter hand, although I don't think that probably makes a huge difference). The polynomial graphs at the end were too much and didn't add any relevant knowledge. The idea for the study really isn't just interesting enough to warrant that long an article.

Now the next question, which is asked in the article, is how this should effect pitch selection and location (attempt) when there's a speedy runner on base. That's valuable information.

And did anyone think that comment from Peter Jensen was a little nuts? I don't think I've ever heard that guy be rude to anyone before. He kind of reminds me of Walt Davis in posting style. Really shocking to seem him flat out say "terrible study". Wouldn't be surprised if that was not really Peter commenting.

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