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Saturday, October 08, 2011

MGL: Worst Managing Ever?

Many of you know how much I hate TLR’s in-game managing.  I think he is atrocious and today he did not disappoint.  I said before the game started to my son and someone I know in the Cards front office that Tony would do something dumb just to show how “smart” he is.  It didn’t take long.  Even before the game, he inserted Nick Punto into the lineup in place of John Jay. Now Punto is probably the better defender than Schumaker at second, but Punto has no bat whatsoever.  My sim estimated that that cost the Cards around 1.5% in WE.

Something dumb to show how smart he is.

Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: October 08, 2011 at 05:59 AM | 219 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball geeks, cardinals, phillies, sabermetrics

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   1. bjhanke Posted: October 08, 2011 at 11:14 AM (#3956773)
Um. Tony discussed that in the newspaper. It turns out that Punto has always hit Holliday pretty well, while Jay is something like 1 for 16. I myself am not a big fan of individual matchup stats, because of sample size, but Tony is. This was also the reason that Skip Schumacher was started in center field instead of Jay. Sure enough, Skip got the game's only RBI, was replaced by Jay because his (Skip's) leg is acting up, and Jay was helpless against Holliday. Of course, TLR was also a dreadful manager when he started Carpenter in Game 2, on short rest, because then he would also be available for Game 5. That worked out just terribly, didn't it? - Brock Hanke
   2. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 08, 2011 at 11:42 AM (#3956779)
Tony LaRussa is a great manager. At a certain point, it's more interesting to write about how this is rather then ##### about one game decisions.
   3. Something Other Posted: October 08, 2011 at 11:58 AM (#3956784)
I myself am not a big fan of individual matchup stats, because of sample size, but Tony is.
Doesn't this betray an essential misunderstanding of stats, though? That's a big, big deal.

I was astonished at the 20 inning debacle in 2010 where LaRussa was outmanaged by Jerry Manuel, of all people. That's like a contender losing to a journeyman. I haven't looked at TLR quite the same way since then.

It's entirely possible he's lost a step at the in-game stuff.
   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:25 PM (#3956788)
At this point until Tony is caught napping or found dead in the dugout I think folks just need to shut the h*ll up.

The man has only won thousands of games. Do folks get that? The word 'thousands'?

Like, that's a LOT.
   5. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:29 PM (#3956791)
Harveys, you're right on and hung over. Kudos!
   6. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:40 PM (#3956796)
When did MGL becomes so annoying?
   7. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:54 PM (#3956803)
When did MGL becomes so annoying?

Presumably at birth.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:55 PM (#3956804)
When did MGL becomes so annoying?

It might have something to do with his stint in the Cardinals front office.

Doesn't this betray an essential misunderstanding of stats, though? That's a big, big deal.

Only to a hardcore statman who doesn't watch the game. John Jay's numbers are arguably as good as they are because TLR puts him into situations where he can succeed. When he became the everyday player he struggled and a big part of that is that Jay is not an everyday talent. TLR gets the most out of his players because he 'instinctively' knows how to work matchups, he keeps his players fresh etc. (and of course the excerpt from this article misses the little gem where MGL thinks it would have been a good move to replace Carpenter with a pinch hitter in the eighth, as if that was obvious, and as if the Cardinals bullpen hasn't blown something like 14 games with an opposing walk off--I wonder if MGL is going for the caricature of the mass thought process of how out of touch a stat geek is with the real world)
   9. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 12:57 PM (#3956806)
When did he become so annoying?

I think he was born that way. Not too surprised he's not working for the Cardinals anymore.

EDIT: Dammit, carbonated beverage of choice to Edmundo.
   10. Tricky Dick Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:02 PM (#3956807)
I myself am not a big fan of individual matchup stats, because of sample size, but Tony is.


It's easy to dismiss the really small sample size matchup stats, and I usually do. (And it's not just TLR who uses them---a lot of managers do.) Something I've always wondered is whether the batter knowing the match up stat has some kind of psychological effect, perhaps enhancing his confidence. Or perhaps the batter gains a subconscious equivalent of "positive thinking," because he assumes that he should hit the pitcher well because he knows the manager chose him based on analysis (even if the analysis is actually flawed).
   11. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:07 PM (#3956808)
Something I've always wondered is whether the batter knowing the match up stat has some kind of psychological effect, perhaps enhancing his confidence.


That's what I think too. And players themselves are convinced of this stuff. Some players they own, and some others own them.
   12. fra paolo Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:09 PM (#3956809)
For some reason I thought this was going to be about Charlie Manuel.
   13. Chris Needham Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:11 PM (#3956810)
So let me see if I get this right:

1) Tony LaRussa is stupid
2) Anyone who's looked at the numbers can easily demonstrate that.
3) If you're not studying the numbers like I have you have no basis to have an opinion anyone should listen to.

::shown numbers that refute one of the points::

4) Those are the wrong numbers. There are right numbers, but it's late, and I don't have the time to look them up.
5) But you're still stupid.

Ah, that delightful human touch.
   14. Matt Welch Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:15 PM (#3956812)
Once I read this during the 8th inning, after he criticized TLR for not pinch-hitting for Carpenter (who got a hit), for bunting Carpenter to 2nd (which led to a 1st and 2nd w/ no outs), for bunting the runners to 2nd & 3rd (on grounds that it wouldn't be a successful sacrifice), and for having Carpenter pitch the 9th inning, I was 100% confident that Carp would finish the shutout.
   15. bjhanke Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:16 PM (#3956814)
This is off topic, but I wanted to say this to Harvey's sometime before the Brewers and Cards start playing each other. I know that there are some Cards fans out there who obsess over how the Cards "lost" the division. That did not happen. Your Brewers WON the division with a great, great August and a tremendous ability to win at home. Don't let any Cardinal fans, even me, get overenthusiastic and start claiming that if we had only had Wainwright, we would have won. You guys deserve the division title. You won it. We did not lose it. - Brock Hanke (lifetime Cardinal fan, as if you couldn't guess)
   16. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:21 PM (#3956819)
I think MGL has one of those brain disorders where the rational and emotional parts of the brain can't talk to one another.
   17. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:22 PM (#3956820)
So let me see if I get this right:

1) Tony LaRussa is stupid
2) Anyone who's looked at the numbers can easily demonstrate that.
3) If you're not studying the numbers like I have you have no basis to have an opinion anyone should listen to.

::shown numbers that refute one of the points::

4) Those are the wrong numbers. There are right numbers, but it's late, and I don't have the time to look them up.
5) But you're still stupid.

Ah, that delightful human touch.


For those who don't want to RTFA, here's the relevant posts from the comments:

"#2 mgl (see all posts) 2011/10/07 (Fri) @ 23:33

I certainly don’t care whether Carp would have been safe or not. It is not relevant to my point.

Do some research on ace pitchers (you can pick 10 of them) and look at their wOBA, ERC, or RA per 9 their 4th time through the order (they would likely be “pitching well” or they wouldn’t be facing the lineup the 4th time - or you can only look at when they have allowed 2 runs or less).

If their composite numbers are better than Motte’s average numbers (say, for the last 3 years), I’ll give you a thousand dollars. If they are worse, you give me $500. Deal?


#11 PJF (see all posts) 2011/10/08 (Sat) @ 01:21

Quick and dirty, clicking through baseball reference pages—so I only have earned runs and not just runs—but here’s the performance of Carpenter + the top nine pitchers by Fangraphs WAR, 2006-2011, in the ninth inning:

Chris Carpenter in the ninth inning, career: 34.2 innings, 10 ER

Halladay = 72.1 innings, 20 ER
Sabathia = 28 innings, 6 ER
Verlander = 14 innings, 1 ER
Lee = 28.1 innings, 9 ER
F. Hernandez = 16.1 innings, 1 ER
Haren = 17.1 innings, 3 ER
Lincecum = 8.1, 6 ER
Beckett = 6.2, 2 ER
Vazquez = 28.2, 8 ER

And someone might want to check, but if I counted right, that’s 254.2 innings and 66 earned runs between the ten aces. 2.33 ERA in the ninth inning.

Jason Motte, career: 188.0 innings, 61 earned runs, 2.92 ERA.

Again, this is just ERA in the ninth inning being pulled off baseball-reference’s splits pages, and an enormous amount of the info is Doc and not so much for some other guys. So it’s not the best way to do it, but it is the fastest.

#12 MGL (see all posts) 2011/10/08 (Sat) @ 02:08

For one thing, you gotta use out of sample numbers. By that, I mean this:

If I take all batters who batted .300 in year X and looked at how they batted in the 9th inning in year X, it is going to be .300.

But when we decide who to pinch hit in the 9th inning of a game in year X and so far batter B has batted .300 in year X, we don’t expect him to bat .300 in that pinch hitting appearance (not counting the pinch hit penalty). We have to use his projection which will be maybe .280 if all we know is that he batted .300 in that year.

So of course if you look at any pitcher who has a great WAR (or ERA or whatever) in year X and then you look at how they did in the 9th inning in that same year, it is going to be great.

What you have to do is identify your great pitchers BEFORE that 9th inning and then look at how they did.

You also have to adjust for the batters, park, etc. It is likely that a starter pitching in the 9th is facing the bottom of the order of a weak batting team in a pitchers park in cold weather.

I’ll look into some more later today…"


That last post sounds worse than Francessa trying to explain fungibility.
   18. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:29 PM (#3956825)
And of course, MGL misses the small fact that the Cardinals and LaRussa won a series they were not supposed to win.

But why let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a glorious theory?
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:31 PM (#3956830)
I was delighted to see he was still using the old "I'll bet you $1,000, and if you won't take that bet, then obviously I'm right," routine. An MGL classic.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:34 PM (#3956832)
John Jay's numbers are arguably as good as they are because TLR puts him into situations where he can succeed.


Yep. That's his job.

TLR gets the most out of his players because he 'instinctively' knows how to work matchups


Is it really instinctive? Or is it because a good manager works hard to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his own players and his opponents?
   21. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:35 PM (#3956833)
I love this part by MGL:

Top of the 8th, Carpenter gets a hit (should have been pinch hit for anyway, but I won’t even get into that). Furcal bunts which is crazy because Carpenter does not run. He is one of those pitchers who thinks that all he has to do is pitch. On almost any bunt other than a great one, he is going to get thrown out at second. A decent bunt and only because of an error, everyone is safe.


So, LaRussa makes two decisions that MGL disagrees with, both decisions work out for LaRussa, and what transpired is proof that LaRussa is stupid?

MGL is dumber than 10 dogs.
   22. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:38 PM (#3956835)
That last post sounds worse than Francessa trying to explain fungibility.


Seriously, I've read that post many times and still don't know what he's trying to say other than "Yes, I know I said pick any 9 pitchers + Carpenter, but you need to pick other pitchers, ones that prove MY point, not yours."

And the poster didn't just cherry pick 9 guys to prove his point, he picked the top 10 in WAR from the last 5 years. What an #######.
   23. sinicalypse Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:40 PM (#3956837)
During the 8th, I was in a chatroom where the consensus was that TLR potentially had cost the cardinals the game by having the #2 hitter sacrifice the runners to 2nd and 3rd in front of Pujols. Indeed, Berkman looked quite overmatched in that at bat (or one could say that Halladay "manned up" and, much like Scotty in Star Trek, was givin it all he's got(, captain).

I have no idea what's right or wrong based on some odd statistics, but I tended to agree with those chatters that I'd have preferred to have Pujols hit with runners on first and second (as it's unlikely that Manuel would have ordered the IBB to put an insurance run on third, especially with Pujols 0-3 against Halladay at that point) as opposed to having Berkman bat with the bases loaded. Then again, I'm assuming that Craig or whoever would have circumvented the % chance of a GIDP, for if that happened my non-move would have made me look like a real idiot. C'est la vie.
   24. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:44 PM (#3956840)
From TFA:

#7 MGL (see all posts) 2011/10/08 (Sat) @ 00:17

#5 and #6, and because you think it, that makes it right? You want to accept that bet also?

I’ll bet you won’t accept that bet. That is because when people who have little expertise on a matter have an opinion on that matter and those opinions are not supported by evidence, they never take those bets. I wonder why?


Is MGL really Pete Rose?
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:46 PM (#3956842)
I’ll bet you won’t accept that bet. That is because when people who have little expertise on a matter have an opinion on that matter and those opinions are not supported by evidence, they never take those bets. I wonder why?


You know, if he'd been willing to put some serious scratch on that latter bet, even someone as risk averse as I am would have been willing to bet on the former. That would be a really nice hedge. Hell, if he offered the same terms I'd be willing to concede the first bet and just take the 500 clams.
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:51 PM (#3956845)
Brock

Understood but unnecessary

Enjoy the series!
   27. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 01:51 PM (#3956846)
Does anybody have any information of MGL's history with the Cardinals? By that I mean, what work did he do for them, was any of his work actually used to make a baseball decision? Did he rub people the wrong way there? Did he piss LaRussa off bigtime at an organizational meeting some time? Why was he let go?

I'm asking because this blog entry of his is dripping sour grapejuice.
   28. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3956851)
I was astonished at the 20 inning debacle in 2010 where LaRussa was outmanaged by Jerry Manuel, of all people. That's like a contender losing to a journeyman. I haven't looked at TLR quite the same way since then.

Wait - wait - seriously? You saw LaRussa manage this one game - one of 5,097 regular season games he's helmed in his career - in which he got outfoxed, and you take that as an indictment of his overall ability?

I can top that one. I once saw Johan Santana get outdueled by Darrell May. I guess I shouldn't ever look at Santana the same way since. Sure, he's got 338 other games he's pitched in, but then again that's only one-fifteenth LaRussa's sample size, and we can use one game to condemn him.
   29. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:08 PM (#3956857)
During the 8th, I was in a chatroom where the consensus was that TLR potentially had cost the cardinals the game by having the #2 hitter sacrifice the runners to 2nd and 3rd in front of Pujols.

That's an interesting strategic dilemma. Would you rather have your best hitter come to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs, or your second and third best hitters come to the plate with the bags loaded and no outs? (And this assumes the sacrificer makes an out without any DP or advancing any runners).

I can see why people would oppose wasting an out to free up first with Pujols coming up, but given that Berkman and Holliday came right after . . . . hey, that gives you two chances at a bloop single bringing home a pair of runs, and with a pair of hitters quite capable of more than a bloop. (Technically Berkman and Holliday had better OPS+s this year than Pujols, but since coming back from his slow start it's gotta be Pujols. Besides, he is Pujols).
   30. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:11 PM (#3956860)
Does anybody have any information of MGL's history with the Cardinals? By that I mean, what work did he do for them, was any of his work actually used to make a baseball decision? Did he rub people the wrong way there? Did he piss LaRussa off bigtime at an organizational meeting some time? Why was he let go?

From what I know (which is very little), it was nothing like that. By all accounts, in person MGL comes off much better than online. I don't think he met LaRussa while working for them. Also, I don't think his work with them was intended to be anything lengthy. Just a consulting gig, from what I know. Note: I really don't know, especially about that last point, but that's always been the impression I'm under.
   31. BDC Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:11 PM (#3956861)
Individual matchups are kind of unknowable. Barry Bonds bats against Jesse Orosco 28 times, gets 4 hits for a .143 average. Pretty early on in their history Orosco becomes known as a Bonds-killer, and mostly makes good on the reputation; each is respectively high on the other's loves/hates-to-face list. Sample size, or skill? Every batter has some pitch he really can't hit, and there's some pitcher out there who throws that pitch better than anyone else, so it surely could have been skill. The matchup became famous because Bonds didn't seem to have any weaknesses, yet Orosco found them anyway. Or was he just rolling good numbers and getting a lot of 4-5-6 on the white die?
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:13 PM (#3956863)
That's an interesting strategic dilemma. Would you rather have your best hitter come to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs, or your second and third best hitters come to the plate with the bags loaded and no outs? (And this assumes the sacrificer makes an out without any DP or advancing any runners).


I think where you wrote no outs, you meant to write one out.

Of course with Pujols you do have to remember he led the league in double plays hit into, so there is always that to take into consideration.
   33. HowardMegdal Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:17 PM (#3956868)
I suppose someone could read this, or nearly any mgl piece, and conclude that the problem is an over-reliance on stats. But when I read him, I don't tend to think of other sabermetric writers, writers I enjoy. I think of the people who are certain that Derek Jeter is a great defensive shortstop, and refuse to entertain any other possibility.

It's the certainty that's the issue here, the need to denigrate anyone who feels otherwisr, and it is baffling. If you are sure about something, and think you've made a case that is ironclad, why then go to such great lengths to try and undermine someone else's opinion, or even their standing to have that opinion? ("If you won't bet $1000, you don't really think you could be right" is one such tactic.)

And better still is if the opinion is about something that will happen in the future, a projection. You don't need to pretend that someone's failure to bet you $1000 has proven you right. Actual events will do that.

But really, what is that need to move beyond stating an opinion and one's reasons for it, and moving into the land of denying the legitimacy of someone who feels otherwise? All that kind of certainty does for me, when I hear it, is to give me doubts about the argument itself.

And it's not a sabermetric problem. Far as I can tell, it is prevalent nearly everywhere. Doesn't do us much good when it happens, since it is part of the stereotype, but it is incredibly common generally, and seemingly less so among sabermetric types.
   34. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:26 PM (#3956877)
I think where you wrote no outs, you meant to write one out.

Of course with Pujols you do have to remember he led the league in double plays hit into, so there is always that to take into consideration.


Yeah, that second "no outs" should be one out. And man, Pujols does hit into a ton of GIDP. He's already in the top 50 all-time. Only two guys ahead of him have fewer PA than he does. One is Tony Pena, who hit into two more GIDP in 350ish less PA. The other is all-time slow guy Ernie Lombardi. Looking it up, among the top 100 GIDP guys ever, Pujols ranks 15th in GIDP/PA. And he's only go to slow up as he gets older.

Forget Bonds' HR record or Speaker's doubles record - only an injury will prevent Pujols from shattering Ripken's GIDP record.
   35. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3956881)
Posted this in the other thread, but it fits better here, what with the earlier SSS matchup stat theme:

Pujols vs Halladay: .125/.263/.188

Berkman, OTOH, homered off Halladay in game 1.
   36. BDC Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3956882)
You don't need to pretend that someone's failure to bet you $1000 has proven you right. Actual events will do that

But isn't the comeback always that "actual events did not prove me wrong?" That is, my projection gave me an 89% chance of being right, so the mere detail that the 11% shot came through is meaningless. In such cases, you don't even need to do a post-mortem to see if the outcome would influence your future reasoning.

Which may sometimes be undeniably logical; it would be in roulette, for instance. But when I bet on a 3-5 favorite in a race and a 15-1 shot wins instead, I often go back over the race and the form charts in the expectation that there was something I should have seen and taken better account of. Baseball seems closer to racing than to roulette, to me.
   37. HowardMegdal Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:37 PM (#3956886)
But isn't the comeback always that "actual events did not prove me wrong?" That is, my projection gave me an 89% chance of being right, so the mere detail that the 11% shot came through is meaningless. In such cases, you don't even need to do a post-mortem to see if the outcome would influence your future reasoning.

That's a really good point. Unfortunately, it means an outcome where one failed to take certain things into account that made him wrong is indistinguishable from an outcome where the longshot came through.

But willingness to bet $1000 on it doesn't change that. It does, however, seek to create false certainty.
   38. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:38 PM (#3956889)
You don't need to pretend that someone's failure to bet you $1000 has proven you right. Actual events will do that

But isn't the comeback always that "actual events did not prove me wrong?" That is, my projection gave me an 89% chance of being right, so the mere detail that the 11% shot came through is meaningless. In such cases, you don't even need to do a post-mortem to see if the outcome would influence your future reasoning.


But in this case, the actual events are the 10 aces 9th inning performances which were, both individually except for Lincecum, and in the aggregate, superior to Motte. I looked up 2 more aces, Santana and Greinke. Santana, 6 IP, 0 ER, and Greinke, 16.1 IP, 5 ER, were also both better than Motte. So that's 11 out of 12, and a total of 277 IP at an ERA of 2.31. Apparently, it's MGL who needs to do research on ace pitchers in late innings and not just prevaricate Francessa style.
   39. villageidiom Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3956893)
So, LaRussa makes two decisions that MGL disagrees with, both decisions work out for LaRussa, and what transpired is proof that LaRussa is stupid?
In this sense he's no different from most baseball fans. If one disagrees with a manager decision, then success = dismissable luck and failure = iron-clad proof.

I criticize MGL a lot around here (in ways not unlike #13), but I won't bury him because he's just like a typical fan. OTOH, MGL might consider "just like a typical fan" to be the biggest insult ever.

Where I think MGL misses on this, if he does, is with the human element. LaRussa can see the demeanor of Punto, Jay, Schumacher, etc., in the clubhouse. He can see how much each person's small-sample experience is affecting their confidence. Now, whether there was anything there to see, I don't know; I wasn't there, and TLR isn't going to tell us one of his players was in the fetal position before lineups were announced. And, yeah, maybe Carpenter doesn't run; but TLR would know far better than I whether Carpenter would adopt a different attitude and approach to baserunning with the season on the line.

Small sample sizes matter, but not in a vacuum. If all you have is a small sample size, YOU have nothing. But that does not mean there is nothing of value to be had. The stats, when combined with the effect the experience represented in those stats has on the players involved, can be significant. Can the player overcome the experience? I don't know. Maybe TLR doesn't know. But he seems to be pretty good at this kind of thing.
   40. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:49 PM (#3956894)
Moving into the shallower end of the ace pool:

James Shields
Matt Cain
Mark Buehrle
Roy Oswalt
Adam Wainwright
Jered Weaver

100.1 IP, 30 ER, 2.69 ERA.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: October 08, 2011 at 02:55 PM (#3956896)
Moving into the shallower end of the ace pool:

James Shields
Matt Cain
Mark Buehrle
Roy Oswalt
Adam Wainwright
Jered Weaver

100.1 IP, 30 ER, 2.69 ERA.


So you are pretty much saying what common sense says, which is if a pitcher is able to make it to the ninth inning in todays game, then there is a pretty good chance he is "on" and will be effective in the ninth. I don't see any reason to think otherwise. If a pitcher doesn't have his stuff working, there is no reason to think he'll make it to the ninth inning or look like he deserves to go back out there, so anytime the pitcher looks like he deserves to pitch the ninth, apparently that seems like a good decision based upon the small numbers you have presented so far. Logic is a wonderful tool.

I wouldn't be shocked at all to see all starting pitchers over the past ten or so years putting up decent numbers relative to their career norm in the ninth(even allowing for walk offs)
   42. HowardMegdal Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:03 PM (#3956902)
But isn't the comeback always that "actual events did not prove me wrong?" That is, my projection gave me an 89% chance of being right, so the mere detail that the 11% shot came through is meaningless. In such cases, you don't even need to do a post-mortem to see if the outcome would influence your future reasoning.

That's a really good point. Unfortunately, it means an outcome where one failed to take certain things into account that made him wrong is indistinguishable from an outcome where the longshot came through.

But willingness to bet $1000 on it doesn't change that. It does, however, seek to create false certainty.


Just to elaborate on this a bit further, since I've passed the editing deadline- if you have reasoning that will allow you to be right 89 percent of the time, wrong 11 percent of the time, the passage of time will actually prove you right, since you'll be correct a vast majority of the time.
   43. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:03 PM (#3956903)
So you are pretty much saying what common sense says, which is if a pitcher is able to make it to the ninth inning in todays game, then there is a pretty good chance he is "on" and will be effective in the ninth. I don't see any reason to think otherwise. If a pitcher doesn't have his stuff working, there is no reason to think he'll make it to the ninth inning or look like he deserves to go back out there, so anytime the pitcher looks like he deserves to pitch the ninth, apparently that seems like a good decision based upon the small numbers you have presented so far. Logic is a wonderful tool.


Don't tell that to MGL. 18 pitchers, 377 IP 2.76 ERA. But he wants you to look at other aces. I know it's anecdotal, but he's the one who brought up "research ace performance in the 9th inning."
   44. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3956905)

Where I think MGL misses on this, if he does, is with the human element. LaRussa can see the demeanor of Punto, Jay, Schumacher, etc., in the clubhouse. He can see how much each person's small-sample experience is affecting their confidence.


In addition, LaRussa knows an awful lot about the batting skills of Punto and Jay, and the strengths and weaknesses thereof, and how they match up against the pitching skills of Roy Halladay, about which he also knows a great deal. He also knows a lot about the defensive differences between Punto and Schumaker and Jay at their various positions.

It's easy for someone like MGL to say, well, those batting averages against Halladay are a small sample size and therefore not relevant, because that's all he knows about the decision. LaRussa knows a lot more about the decision than just those batting averages.

Baseball is complicated.
   45. jacjacatk Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:14 PM (#3956907)
Halladay's allowed a significantly higher OPS against in his 4th time through the lineup both in 2011 and for his career, though Carpenter has been better in both cases. There has to be a selection bias issue that I'm not sure how you get around (SP don't get to see the 4th pass at the lineup that often these days, and are presumably going to be doing well already when it happens). Plus, if SP (or some of them anyway) really aren't much worse the 4th time through, it seems like there should be someone taking advantage of that more often so that we'd see more complete games.

All that said, though, Carpenter really is a pretty terrible hitter, and I can't imagine that letting him bat in the 8th rather than PH for him and using Motte/whoever is realistically the better choice for the Cardinals in terms of winning the game.
   46. DA Baracus Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:15 PM (#3956910)
"Worst Managing Ever" about a guy who just won a playoff series. When did MGL start writing for Bleacher Report?
   47. caprules Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:24 PM (#3956915)
My memory could very well be off, but when mgl used to participate here, he would occasionally post SLWTS and one time a member here saw that one of the numbers was off (I think it was for Craig Wilson). When it was brought up, mgl found that he had not included HBP in his calculations for some reason.

My recollection is that we found out a few months later that mgl wasn't consulting for the Cardinals anymore. I wondered if they found out about this and thought that paying someone to provide stats who doesn't have better quality control didn't make any sense.
   48. Don Malcolm Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:29 PM (#3956917)
October remains "fish in a barrel" month at BTF (and we ain't talking about the Marlins).

A 31-day nightmare of endless hyperbole, pumped-up volume, and "rational" folks getting twisted around their toupees and exposing ugly patches of scalp for all to see. All linked here, all day and all of the night, like an endless chain of plumped-up Vienna sausages.

Then again, maybe MGL, like Repoz, gets paid by the page view over at Da Book. (Oops, I see that it's Dayn that posted this one. Ah well. BTW, congrats to Dayn and Brock, who just might not have send for the coach to take Cinderella home, in part due to TLR's lousy managing.)

Hoping for a 7-game NLCS, with Carpenter and Gallardo facing off in the finale. "Epic" ain't a bad word, at least for the possibilities here. Unlike a good bit of the commentary about it, baseball is giving us its best face right now, at just the right time.
   49. Bruce Markusen Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:43 PM (#3956925)
Here's a dumb question: what does MGL actually stand for? I believe his first name is Mitch or Mitchell, but what do the other initials represent?

And why does he like being called MGL?

My initials are the worst: BSM. No matter how you slice those initials, they come out sounding bad.
   50. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:46 PM (#3956927)
I'm pretty sure it's his initials, Bruce. His last name is Lichtman. Don't know what his middle name is.
   51. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:46 PM (#3956928)
October is a time for people who feel above it all to talk about being above it all.
   52. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:47 PM (#3956931)
DCP here. Sounds like a street drug.
   53. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:50 PM (#3956932)
Well, I've been participating in the discussion over there, and tangotiger showed up to say you can't pick those aces because they did well in the 9th inning or something. I guess I just don't understand higher sabremetrics.
   54. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 08, 2011 at 03:55 PM (#3956935)
Plus, if SP (or some of them anyway) really aren't much worse the 4th time through, it seems like there should be someone taking advantage of that more often so that we'd see more complete games.


Well, you are looking at some of the best pitchers around and what they did in games where they likely had their best stuff working (seeing as they pitched into the ninth inning and all). I can easily believe that it isn't something you should be trying to generalize from.

But having said that, I still think that MGL and tango are wrong about this specific instance. Clearly, Carpenter is one of the best pitchers around and clearly he did have his best stuff working on this particular day, so the data is on point in this case.

And Bruce, it's Mitchell G. Lichtman, and I suppose he goes by MGL just because that's what he started doing back in rec.sport.baseball days or something.
   55. DA Baracus Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:03 PM (#3956938)
Well, I've been participating in the discussion over there, and tangotiger showed up to say you can't pick those aces because they did well in the 9th inning or something. I guess I just don't understand higher sabremetrics.


Tango is moving the goalposts and declaring victory, and doing a poor job of it too.
   56. greenback calls it soccer Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3956942)
In addition, LaRussa knows an awful lot about the batting skills of Punto and Jay, and the strengths and weaknesses thereof, and how they match up against the pitching skills of Roy Halladay, about which he also knows a great deal.


Having watched La Russa manage the Cardinals for sixteen years, I doubt very much that he has much in the way of inside info that we lack. This is the guy who in the last week (1) IBB'd Carlos Ruiz in front of Ben Francisco because Ruiz had hit the ball hard his previous two at-bats and (2) let Kyle Lohse face Ryan Howard with a couple of guys on in the sixth because Lohse hadn't given up a run to that point. He operates on the same rules of thumb (and rules of clubhouse hierarchy) that an alert fan would expect.

He also knows a lot about the defensive differences between Punto and Schumaker and Jay at their various positions.

I doubt anybody who has watched Skip Schumaker much would say that TLR has a firm grasp of who can and cannot play defense.

The individual batter-pitcher matchups, aka the note cards, tend to be used to justify playing time for La Russa favorites. They're fig leaves.

Carpenter is a GB pitcher, so you want a real 2b behind him. Schumaker hurt his hamstring in Game 4 (and is a poor defensive 2b to begin with), so Punto had to play 2b. But this was an elimination game and Schumaker has a lot of La Russa Bucks, so he played over the newby Jay in the outfield. It worked out, and I'm happy.
   57. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:14 PM (#3956943)
Some recent greats in the 9th inning:

Clemens 115 IP 2.33 ERA
Maddux 117 IP 2.84 ERA
Randy Johnson 95 IP 2.08 ERA
Pedro 63 2.12
Schilling 22 3.24 taking out 2005 when he was rehabbing from injury and all his 9th innings were as a reliever
Brown 69 3.75
Mussina 55 3.6
Glavine 73 3.79
Chuck Finley 71 2.02
Appier 41 1.51

I left out Smoltz because of the difficulty filtering out his closer years.

Most did very well. All but Glavine and Brown beat their overall numbers, most by a lot.
   58. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:17 PM (#3956946)
The weird thing is that MGL doesn't even realize that he himself is holding up a sample size bias as proof that he is right. A ton of pitchers that end up facing a hitter a fourth time through don't do so because they are pitching the 9th inning of a shutout.

For instance Steve Trachsel in 1998 had 15 of his 33 starts that year feature PA against a batter for the fourth time. He only got to the 9th inning twice and only completed a game once. Generally speaking Trachsel would face the lineup for a 4th time in the 7th and 8th inning of the game. Carpenter was facing the order for a 4th time yesterday in the 8th with 2 outs.

It's a different situation than your typical 4th time through and MGL doesn't account for that. He ignores the game context and thus doesn't look deeper. Which if he had he would have found that pitchers that are cruising through a game and pitching well with a modest pitch total and get to the lineup for a 4th in the 9th inning or at the end of the 8th tend to pitch very well that 4th time through.
   59. nick swisher hygiene Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#3956953)
The 9th inning point is re. the walk-off double that would have scored three but you only need one, etc--& that this skews the numbers if you're comparing two pitchers, based on RA, one of whom never gets to pitch the bottom of the 9th.

It seems to me that the guy who "took the bet" won the argument, and MGL and Tango are now squirming. Maybe MGL thought there was no real difference between "good pitcher pitching 9th inning in a row" and "ace who has been evaluated by manager/pitching coach and is then sent out for the 9th?" If he thought that, he looks really kinda........wrong.

Dude should donate the $1000 to charity; the gain for his rep would be more than worth it.
   60. Accent Shallow Posted: October 08, 2011 at 04:47 PM (#3956956)
Here's a dumb question: what does MGL actually stand for? I believe his first name is Mitch or Mitchell, but what do the other initials represent?

And why does he like being called MGL?

My initials are the worst: BSM. No matter how you slice those initials, they come out sounding bad.


Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. He supposedly changed his name after receiving a monogrammed handkerchief.
   61. BDC Posted: October 08, 2011 at 05:20 PM (#3956972)
Chass: DRUNKEN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD COULD BEAT LARUSSA AT STRAT-O-MATIC, MR PRESIDENT
   62. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: October 08, 2011 at 05:22 PM (#3956974)
It seems to me that the guy who "took the bet" won the argument, and MGL and Tango are now squirming.

Which gets to the heart of why nobody ever takes up MGL on those bets. Nobody trusts the dickhead to pay up...
   63. SteveM. Posted: October 08, 2011 at 05:50 PM (#3956981)
Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. He supposedly changed his name after receiving a monogrammed handkerchief.

The army changed it for him. When he reported to West Point as a cadet, a paperwork error on his appointment put his middle name first and his mother's maiden name as his middle name. (I only point this out because I have lived and breathed Grant since writing my dissertation on his foreign policy and now adapting it into a book that three people will read).
   64. booond Posted: October 08, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3956989)
Without knowing the numbers, I'd take my ace whose gotten 24 outs already in a high leverage situation over a closer who steps into that situation cold. If the numbers showed a big difference or the ace was tired then I'd go the other way.
   65. HowardMegdal Posted: October 08, 2011 at 06:13 PM (#3956995)
It's been one long withdrawal for Foxsports.com ever since they got off the DCP.
   66. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: October 08, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#3956997)
The army changed it for him. When he reported to West Point as a cadet, a paperwork error on his appointment put his middle name first and his mother's maiden name as his middle name. (I only point this out because I have lived and breathed Grant since writing my dissertation on his foreign policy and now adapting it into a book that three people will read).

And Grant kept it because U. S. Grant sounds way cooler than H.U.G.
   67. HowardMegdal Posted: October 08, 2011 at 06:19 PM (#3956998)
I'd read that Grant book! When is it coming out?
   68. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 08, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3957000)
It seems to me that the guy who "took the bet" won the argument, and MGL and Tango are now squirming.


Tango's not rally squirming. At worst, he was giving cover to mgl's flimsy objections, and even tango agreed it was trivial.
   69. Spahn Insane Posted: October 08, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#3957026)
When did MGL becomes so annoying?

Presumably at birth.


I was gonna say: you new here?
   70. base ball chick Posted: October 08, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3957029)
one thing about TLR

the SOB wins even when you think like no WAY is that team gonna win uncle albert or no uncle albert. and yeah sometimes all that platoon matchup stuff blows up because it is baseball and youneverknow. and yeah sometimes he gets rid of good ballplayers because it is personal

but thing is

that SOB wins and wins a LOT and this is not dusty baker kind of winning neither. been watching that SOB since like what 96 and i HATE that SOB but here's the thing - he wins and he's won with teams that, say, cecil cooper, phil garner or millsie-poo wouldn't have.

- just wanna say this about small sample size matchups:

unless you got a righty who can NOT hit rightys or it's barry lamar vs jesse orosco

SOMEtimes a player who is a great hitter will say, about an otherwise lousy pitcher - i just can NOT see the ball out of his hand (something like that) to explain why he's 1 fer 20

SOMEtimes a player who is mendoza will say about a HOF pitcher in his prime - don't ask me why but i can see the ball great which is why i'm 11 fer 16 against him

and when you are talking a must win playoff game vs an ace and you are managing and you KNOW that player X just is lousy - and he knows it - vs the opposing pitcher, well, if you CAN play a different guy without seriously hurting your club, hey - not so bad. yes this is different from having your ACE IBB miggy cabrera to pitch to victor martinez

and punto made an incredible play in the 8th that no WAY would schu have gotten. imnsho, it was as good as the play furcal made right after

and yeah TLR most surely DID effup in that 16 inning game with the bullpen. even TLR effs up. but i STILL say that SOB wins more that you'd expect
   71. robinred Posted: October 08, 2011 at 07:29 PM (#3957033)
Agree with HW, bbc, and SoSH, as usual.

Any manager is going to make tactical decisions that can be questioned.

Big picture, though, LaRussa is one of the best ever, and this year's Cardinals prove that yet again.

And I am a Cincinnati fan who dislikes TLR and the Cardinals.
   72. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 07:29 PM (#3957034)
(I only point this out because I have lived and breathed Grant since writing my dissertation on his foreign policy and now adapting it into a book that three people will read).


I'm a huge Grant fan myself. I would be interested in reading your book, Steve.
   73. Baldrick Posted: October 08, 2011 at 07:30 PM (#3957035)
Stay classy, MGL.
   74. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 07:31 PM (#3957037)
I'd read that Grant book! When is it coming out?


Howard, how can you have already read it if he hasn't finished writing it yet?

I kid. English is an imperfect language.
   75. SteveM. Posted: October 08, 2011 at 08:32 PM (#3957055)
I'd read that Grant book! When is it coming out?


Thanks Howard and Ray. I have been shopping it around to academic presses. The main thesis deals with the Grant administration and the Ten Years' War in Cuba which threatened to drag the United States into a war with Spain long before the Spanish American war occurred in 1898. While Grant was pro-annexation and wanted to intervene on behalf of the Cuban rebels, his secretary of state, Hamilton Fish (really the only outstanding member of his cabinet) sought to keep the U.S. neutral despite the efforts of the Cubans to bring America into the war. For example, when Secretary of War Orville Babcock died, Grant as his executor opened his safe and found it full of Cuban bonds that could only be redeemed if the Cubans won. Much like today, the Cuban lobby from 1868-78 was very powerful in Congress and the press.
   76. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 09:05 PM (#3957069)
You know, Steve, I think your book has the potential to address a gap in the historical record. A ton has been written about his military career but very little about his years as president. For instance, I've read maybe 10-12 books about Grant, and another 15-20 in which Grant was a major feature, and only 1 of them dealt with his administration, and that only as part of his broader biography (McFeely's biog).

The historical consensus is that he was a bad president, one of the worst. But if I had to guess, his record as president suffers from the same thing his record as a soldier does: he made the grave mistake of beating up on fellow Americans whose ancestors would one day be historians. For instance, he is generally considered enlightened when it came to freedmen and native American interests. His was the last administration that actually fought for the gains the freed slaves during reconstruction. And what stained his administration most was the corruption of some of his aids. But that was hardly unique during the Gilded Age. You would be hard-pressed to find an administration between 1870 to the turn of the century that wasn't pretty rotten so Grant may have been more a victim of the times than he was a bad president.

Independent assessments of his generalship, for instance the British military historian John Keegan, rank him in the highest tier of generals, up there with Caesar and Napoleon. And only now is the historical record being set straight. It's weird but contemporary assessments clearly rated him the best general to emerge from the war and he was the most popular person in America after Lincoln's death. Even enemies like Longstreet thought so. But then, between say 1890 and 1960, the worm turned on him and revisionist historians tarnished his magnificent accomplished and pushed Lee ahead of him. This was coupled with the equal revision of the origins of the rebellion being about "states rights" rather than slavery. That seems to be in the process of correcting now too.

Good for you, Steve.
   77. ray james Posted: October 08, 2011 at 09:10 PM (#3957073)
The army changed it for him. When he reported to West Point as a cadet, a paperwork error on his appointment put his middle name first and his mother's maiden name as his middle name.


For those wondering, his mother's maiden name was Simpson.
   78. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: October 08, 2011 at 09:23 PM (#3957076)
Tango's 23 from itb:
MGL is saying you can’t pick pitchers that INCLUDE the data that we are trying to isolate on.

What you should do is look at the pitcher’s wOBA the first three times through the order, select the top 10 pitchers out of that, and then look at the out-of-sample wOBA the 4th time through the order.

HOWEVER, given that very short rate of PA the 4th time through the order, you’re going to get the same list of top 10 either way (probably).

And yes, you can’t look at runs allowed in the 9th inning, because of the bottom of the 9th scenario.

In any case, BR.com shows the splits by times through the order, and he shows OBP/SLG as well, so that’s what you should use.

Personally, I wouldn’t have the balls to remove Carpenter in that situation, even if I know I should.


I mostly agree with this. Differences:
1) This is moving the goalposts a bit - I think Tango's point is a bit different than MGL's initial comment (though after the same truth).
2) I definitely take issue with "even if I know I should". There's a pretty big error bar around these estimates, when you account for differences b/w individual pitchers, situations, etc... - at the time I thought it was a near break-even move but favored leaving Carp in (basically, pitch him if the Cards go down 1-2-3 in the 8th, PH for him if someone gets on). Moreover, I haven't had the feeling that TLR and co. are fully confident in Motte of late (who gave up runs in three straight appearances in Sep, but has pitched fine since) - it's reasonable to think that he could be a bit worse (or better) than his "true talent" right now.
In any event, not clear cut in the abstract - and TLR is privy to more (and more types of) data than we are.

Nitpicking: I'm not sure why MGL said "If I take all batters who batted .300 in year X and looked at how they batted in the 9th inning in year X, it is going to be .300. " - without checking, this seems very unlikely (given the use of relievers, etc... - particularly if you limit the sample to close games, where you're likely to be facing good relievers or (good) starters doing well).
   79. The District Attorney Posted: October 08, 2011 at 09:24 PM (#3957077)
Some pro-Grant as President articles: 1, 2, 3
   80. SteveM. Posted: October 08, 2011 at 09:28 PM (#3957078)
Ray,
Brooks Simpson is working on the second volume of his biography of Grant. That will fill in a major hole in the historiography as I have always felt that William McFeely's bio, despite winning a Pulitzer, is mediocre. Grant as president had major strengths. He destroyed the KKK throughout the South, he kept us out of war and favored giving African Americans full rights. But, the corruption within his administration can't be overlooked nor his role in bringing about the Panic of 1873. But given that he may be the greatest general this country has ever produced, I cringed when Republicans called replacing him on the $50 with Ronald Reagan. Other then Lincoln and Washington, it seems to me as a people, Americans have a short term memory about historical figures.
   81. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 08, 2011 at 10:59 PM (#3957094)
And Bruce, it's Mitchell G. Lichtman, and I suppose he goes by MGL just because that's what he started doing back in rec.sport.baseball days or something.

Actually his first name is "Mitchel". My guess is he uses "MGL" so he isn't constantly explaining to people that no, his parents really did spell his name wrong.
   82. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: October 08, 2011 at 11:30 PM (#3957102)
Heh. My BIL is called Johnathan.
   83. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:26 AM (#3957133)
Which may sometimes be undeniably logical; it would be in roulette, for instance. But when I bet on a 3-5 favorite in a race and a 15-1 shot wins instead, I often go back over the race and the form charts in the expectation that there was something I should have seen and taken better account of.

As someone who used to make a little money at the track (emphasis on "little"), this is a very dangerous practice and requires great care be taken. After the fact explanations of an unexpected event can really mess you up. The biggest problem is that you're relying on data that in one way will never be of any use to you; IE every bet you make will occur before the race started and so relying too heavily on information that can only be gleaned after the race has been run, puts you in a bad spot. There's always _something_ there that you could point to as a clue why a 15-1 shot came in, but elevating that bit of info higher than you should because the horse happened to win doesn't generally help you in the future. Except for big races, 15-1 shots are almost always heavily fortunate since it appears even the owner wasn't betting on the horse (or else it wouldn't be 15-1).

It's always a good idea to re-evaluate after an unexpected result, but in the vast majority of cases the end point will likely be a result that was still unexpected, just maybe slightly less so. In my opinion, the race (at bat, game, match, etc.) itself isn't the key thing to re-evaluate, it's the thought process and method you used when you determined the pre-race odds. It's that process that needs tweaking as more information comes in.

None of this is meant as a defense of Mickey Lichtman's arguments, I haven't really looked at them.
   84. ray james Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:26 AM (#3957134)
DA, that second link is broken.
   85. True Blue Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3957136)
I was under the impression that it was the Congressman who nominate Grant to West Point who made the mistake in his name. He knew the family called him Ulysses so he assumed it was his first name and he guessed that he was given his mother's maiden name for the middle one (as in Richard Millhouse Nixon later on). When Grant got to West Point (which he didn't much care for, being more interested in taking a train ride) he figured why fight the army bureaucracy.

From what I remember about the old "Profiles in Courage" tv series (based on the book that Theodore Sorensen wrote and JFK got the Pulitzer prize), Hamilton Fish as Secretary of State was one of those who had an episode.

Of course if you want cringe-worthy, there is a school in Hempstead, NY named for Barack Obama. Imagine naming a school in a heavily black commubnity for someone who has made unemployment higher for its people!
   86. The District Attorney Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:33 AM (#3957138)
DA, that second link is broken.
Whoops. Corrected.
   87. McCoy Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:41 AM (#3957147)
It has now gotten to the point where the folks at The Book are talking about the folks at BTF who are talking about the folks at The Book.
   88. cardsfanboy Posted: October 09, 2011 at 12:46 AM (#3957153)
Of course if you want cringe-worthy, there is a school in Hempstead, NY named for Barack ObamaGeorge Bush Jr. Imagine naming a school in a heavily black commubnity for someone who has made unemployment higher for its people!


I'm guessing you must have made a mistake in the first part and fixed it for you.
   89. cardsfanboy Posted: October 09, 2011 at 01:02 AM (#3957178)
Do some research on ace pitchers (you can pick 10 of them) and look at their wOBA, ERC, or RA per 9 their 4th time through the order (they would likely be “pitching well” or they wouldn’t be facing the lineup the 4th time - or you can only look at when they have allowed 2 runs or less).

If their composite numbers are better than Motte’s average numbers (say, for the last 3 years), I’ll give you a thousand dollars. If they are worse, you give me $500. Deal?


I love that somehow the original bet that MGL proposed has morphed into something else. It was a fairly simple wager. Take ten ace pitchers look at their composite numbers for how they performed in the 9th inning or 4th time through the lineup and compare it to Motte's average numbers. That is it. I have no idea why Tango is talking about removing 'out of sample numbers'...oh wait, it's because MGL himself decided to change the criteria after someone put up 10 pitcher sample, in which he based the 10 pitchers he was choosing upon the top war total over a 5 year span. Considering that MGL in his original wager said "you can pick ten of them"... the criteria for the list shouldn't be an issue.

PJF did that about as objectively as possible(he defined ace as 9 pitchers with best total war from 2006-2011+Carpenter), yes he admits that there is a problem with using ninth inning or runs allowed, but considering the stat chops of MGL, he should have no problem taking the list of ten that PJF put up there, and looking at their composite numbers in the ninth or fourth time through the order. and comparing it to Motte's numbers. This isn't rocket science, this is 6th grade math and a little bit of data mining. (heck I could do it by hand inside of 20 minutes---ok maybe not since I don't know the formula for wOba..)

I mean in the original wager MGL put up using RA as a potential point and PJF brought in era and said that it would take 29(?) unearned runs to bring the composite up to Motte's level.
   90. Walt Davis Posted: October 09, 2011 at 02:54 AM (#3957274)
Yep, first MGL forgot the first rule of betting which is make sure you define the terms precisely. The guy seems to have done exactly what MGL said he could do in offering the bet.

Second, I'm really not sure MGL and Tango are on about. Right, terms of the bet aside, you shouldn't just look at, say, the 10 guys who did the best in the 9th inning. But the guy didn't do that.

Yes, how they pitched those 9th innings contributed to their WAR over those years so, yes, in that sense you are somewhat picking the sample based on the outcome. That is ideally you would define your "aces" as the best through 8 innings then see how they pitched the 9th. But the amount of WAR amassed in those 9th innings is pretty trivial given we're talking the 10 best pitchers over 5 seasons. The total WAR attached to those numbers is probably something like 10-11 out of, what, 250 or more total WAR. The top 9 through 9 (plus Carpenter) are going to be a nearly perfect overlap with the top 9 through 8. The bias here is trivial.

Now, if you wanted to make it 4th time through the order then the bet damn well better specify 4th time through the order, not 9th inning. But it's not clear that 4th time through the order is the best. From pitches 101+, Carpenter's numbers against are 217/282/341 which are way better than any of his other pitch count splits (he finished the game with 110). Now some of that is BABIP (only 255 which one could argue is luck).

Or maybe we should look at his numbers in high leverage situations which are much worse than his other numbers. Or when leading by 1. Or when ahead 1-0. Or versus LHB. Or ...

And balanced against all that is Jason Motte. The standard error on our Motte projection is huge and everything would (or should) be heavily regressed towards the mean. The man has only pitched 190 innings over the last three seasons.

And worst managing ever? Really? Even if it's everything MGL says it is, I can't imagine it makes the top 10. Enrique Wilson over Alfonso Soriano looks worse than this. Hell, letting Lohse pitch to Howard looks worse than this. Brenly might have managed every game of the 2001 postseason worse than this.
   91. shoewizard Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:16 AM (#3957289)
I wonder why MGL's gig with the Cardinals didn't work out. ;)
   92. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#3957296)
and yeah TLR most surely DID effup in that 16 inning game with the bullpen. even TLR effs up. but i STILL say that SOB wins more that you'd expect


Well, he's made the playoffs twice, won the division once, and averaged 86 wins/year over the last 5 years in the NL Central with a $100M+ payroll and Albert Pujols/Adam Wainwright on way-below-market value deals. That's "less than I'd expect", given the resources he's had, imho. (Over that time frame, the Brewers made the playoffs twice, won the division twice, and averaged 85 wins, with around $18M/year less payroll, and no one as good as either AP or AW, and fired 3 managers).

He's a "good" manager, probably, and he's been around forever. But he's not a great manager.
   93. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:31 AM (#3957301)
...paging dag nabbit...
   94. nick swisher hygiene Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:34 AM (#3957305)
87--Yep. It is in the nature of blog commenters to feel like they are much smarter than other blog commenters. Even if this discrepancy is not obvious to others!

One guy at the Book blog makes the following trenchant observations about BBTF:

I went over and read the comments. It’s really amazing. Several people there professed to understand about small sample size, then they went on and showed that they didn’t. There were also a few appeals to team chemistry. There was a lot of this sort of reasoning: Yeah, I know such-and-such is true, but in this case…


Then he drops some knowledge!

As for letting Carpenter pitch in the ninth, deciding whether or not it was the right thing to do depends on the criterion one chooses to make that judgment.
   95. DCW3 Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:39 AM (#3957310)
In regards to letting Carpenter pitch the ninth--La Russa took a ton of criticism after this game in August, where he pulled Carpenter with a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, only to have the bullpen blow the game, which started a three-game sweep by the Dodgers, which, at the time, seemed like it was going to knock the Cardinals out for good. Now, of course, the results of a single game shouldn't mean anything in terms of evaluating a strategy, but there's no way that that game wasn't on La Russa's mind last night.
   96. xeifrank Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:42 AM (#3957315)
Just make sure you don't go out to dinner with MGL. Not only will you have to listen to his arrogant ######## but the waiter will probably spit in his food and yours.
   97. McCoy Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:49 AM (#3957321)
Tango has some numbers up and he calls it a wash for the most part. I think the elite bunch had a slightly better wOBA than Motte did through his 2010 season.
   98. Don Malcolm Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:50 AM (#3957323)
But the amount of WAR amassed in those 9th innings is pretty trivial given we're talking the 10 best pitchers over 5 seasons. The total WAR attached to those numbers is probably something like 10-11 out of, what, 250 or more total WAR. The top 9 through 9 (plus Carpenter) are going to be a nearly perfect overlap with the top 9 through 8. The bias here is trivial.

And might still be even if you did a study that utilized pitchers from an earlier era when CGs weren't quite so scarce.

FWIW, one data point. Koufax from 63-66, as an indisputable "ace": 97 IP, 20 ER, 1.86 ERA; 58-62 (early LA years, with slowly increasing % of GS/CG): 63.2 IP, 36 ER, 5.09 ERA.

Brenly might have managed every game of the 2001 postseason worse than this.

And still managed to win the World Series in spite of himself...which gives you a rough idea of the level of magnitude a manager actually possesses (no offense meant in the direction of Mr. Jaffe).

As noted, it's October. The month of hyperbole.
   99. McCoy Posted: October 09, 2011 at 03:56 AM (#3957330)
I've always thought that the Cards-Diamondbacks LCS was a duel between two managers who tried their hardest to lose the series for their team.
   100. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 09, 2011 at 04:37 AM (#3957377)
Well, he's made the playoffs twice, won the division once, and averaged 86 wins/year over the last 5 years in the NL Central with a $100M+ payroll and Albert Pujols/Adam Wainwright on way-below-market value deals. That's "less than I'd expect", given the resources he's had, imho. (Over that time frame, the Brewers made the playoffs twice, won the division twice, and averaged 85 wins, with around $18M/year less payroll, and no one as good as either AP or AW, and fired 3 managers).


Interesting cutoff point, five years ago, as opposed to say, last 8 or last 12. And the Brewers have only one the division once.
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