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Friday, November 16, 2018

Michael Wilbon Weighs In On Jacob deGrom With Worst Baseball Take Of Year | MLB | NESN.com

I can’t watch the show. It’s like trying to follow the logic of two drunks arguing at the bar.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 16, 2018 at 05:11 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jacob degrom, stupid hot takes

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

   1. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: November 16, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5788615)
He lost the coin toss in the pre-show production meeting and had to take the insufferably obstinate and unwilling to thoughtfully examine the evidence side of the argument.
   2. Stormy JE Posted: November 16, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5788616)
Is Wilbon any more coherent than the BBWAA voter who denied deGrom a first-place vote?
   3. QLE Posted: November 16, 2018 at 05:30 PM (#5788619)
I'm inclined to find that analysis unfair- the drunks at the bar, at least in my experiences, aren't saying what they do to get a reaction from people, nor does anyone regard them as particularly expert.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: November 16, 2018 at 05:57 PM (#5788626)
the non-deGrom voter went on the air on WFAN NYC radio with old-timer Steve Somers, who mercilessly mocked his stupidity. the guy hung up on him, and honestly I couldn't blame him. (and yes, the writer is stupid).
   5. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 16, 2018 at 06:08 PM (#5788629)
At this stage why does anyone care about these outliers? deGrom won the award, he won it handily, the war is won. Wilson is dumb (or more likely what charityslave said and he lost the coin toss). Teams aren’t making decisions based on this stuff, the vast majority of working media understands this.
   6. Michael Paulionis Posted: November 16, 2018 at 06:40 PM (#5788638)
It was a horrifically simplistic take by Wilbon. That said, I don't know if the awards are better if we just simplify things to just winner goes to "lowest ERA" or "highest WAR" or "highest ERA+". If so, Kevin Brown would like to know when he gets Smoltz's Cy Young. I think baseball writers are improving.

I wonder if Wilbon is just too far removed from modern-day MLB reporting. Wilbon's always been someone most comfortable talking about basketball. I wish he had just said that 10 years ago, Scherzer or Nola would have won. Funny how neither Wilbon or Kornheiser mentioned King Felix. That was the inflection point, IMHO.

   7. toratoratora Posted: November 16, 2018 at 09:47 PM (#5788691)
I wonder if Wilbon is just too far removed from modern-day MLB reporting. Wilbon's always been someone most comfortable talking about basketball.


Wilbon is hard core anti stat. His sports beliefs are rooted somewhere in the 70's
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:45 PM (#5788721)
Wilbon is hard core anti stat. His sports beliefs are rooted somewhere in the 70's

Wilbon's at his most insightful when writing or talking about the political and social side of sports, but other than basketball, his only interesting writings about the games themselves have been anecdotal.
   9. Man o' Schwar Posted: November 17, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5788760)
Wilbon's takes on baseball are all terrible. He has such hatred for "analytics" that he turned into a screeching crazy person any time something like this happens. I don't think this was a coin toss situation - he seems to genuinely hate the idea of stats nerds weaseling their way into sports, not just in baseball but in football, basketball, etc.

Ten years ago he wasn't nearly this bad, but he's at Fire Joe Morgan territory at this point. The size of his lawn that kids need to stay off of seems to grow exponentially every year.
   10. eric Posted: November 17, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5788765)
Is Wilbon any more coherent than the BBWAA voter who denied deGrom a first-place vote?


the non-deGrom voter went on the air on WFAN NYC radio with old-timer Steve Somers, who mercilessly mocked his stupidity. the guy hung up on him, and honestly I couldn't blame him. (and yes, the writer is stupid).


It's not like the guy left deGrom off his ballot, or voted for a Pete Vuckovich. He had deGrom 2nd.

Even only looking at the WAR stat (pitching), deGrom led 9.6 to 8.8. That's a lot of faith in one constantly-changing stat where small changes in assumptions can have big changes in the output. Remember when Mike Trout led the AL in WAR in 2014? That was true for years. Well, now he's 0.7 behind Kluber, who must have had a few great 2014 starts recently.

Suffice to say, I would have been perfectly fine if Scherzer had won it--he had an amazing season. I'm fine with deGrom winning it; he also had a fantastic season, which may have been even better than Scherzer's.

However, I'm surprised, and honestly, a little disappointed at how uniform the voting was. If these awards just become the WAR-leader awards, then they quickly lose their appeal in terms of discussions and differing viewpoints. Maybe they are more "correct" (emphasis on the maybe) but then they become less interesting and increasingly irrelevant.

Thankfully, we still have HOF voting to scratch that arguing itch. :)
   11. toratoratora Posted: November 17, 2018 at 01:10 PM (#5788788)
he seems to genuinely hate the idea of stats nerds weaseling their way into sports, not just in baseball but in football, basketball, etc.

This.
Exactly this.
And don't even get him going about The Process.

He knows his hoops. Is, when not being a Chicago homer, capable of decent insights on atheletes. But his open and ill-advised contempt regarding modern stats renders him near useless as a sportswriter and an analyst nowadays
   12. Stormy JE Posted: November 17, 2018 at 07:47 PM (#5788898)
It's not like the guy left deGrom off his ballot, or voted for a Pete Vuckovich. He had deGrom 2nd.

Even only looking at the WAR stat (pitching), deGrom led 9.6 to 8.8. That's a lot of faith in one constantly-changing stat where small changes in assumptions can have big changes in the output. Remember when Mike Trout led the AL in WAR in 2014? That was true for years. Well, now he's 0.7 behind Kluber, who must have had a few great 2014 starts recently.

Suffice to say, I would have been perfectly fine if Scherzer had won it--he had an amazing season. I'm fine with deGrom winning it; he also had a fantastic season, which may have been even better than Scherzer's.

However, I'm surprised, and honestly, a little disappointed at how uniform the voting was. If these awards just become the WAR-leader awards, then they quickly lose their appeal in terms of discussions and differing viewpoints. Maybe they are more "correct" (emphasis on the maybe) but then they become less interesting and increasingly irrelevant.

Thankfully, we still have HOF voting to scratch that arguing itch. :)

John Maffei: “I Asked Randy Jones For His Advice (On Cy Young Vote) And He Said Wins Are What Matters”


He covers high school sports for the U-T and yet still got to cast a vote for the Cy. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS. (Sigh.)
   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 17, 2018 at 08:04 PM (#5788903)
“I Asked Randy Jones For His Advice (On Cy Young Vote) And He Said Wins Are What Matters”


Randy Jones led the NL once in wins, and once in ERA - in different seasons. The year he led the league in wins, he won the Cy Young. The year he led the league in ERA, he finished second in the voting.
   14. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: November 17, 2018 at 09:29 PM (#5788916)
It's not like the guy left deGrom off his ballot, or voted for a Pete Vuckovich. He had deGrom 2nd.

Even only looking at the WAR stat (pitching), deGrom led 9.6 to 8.8. That's a lot of faith in one constantly-changing stat where small changes in assumptions can have big changes in the output. Remember when Mike Trout led the AL in WAR in 2014? That was true for years. Well, now he's 0.7 behind Kluber, who must have had a few great 2014 starts recently.

Suffice to say, I would have been perfectly fine if Scherzer had won it--he had an amazing season. I'm fine with deGrom winning it; he also had a fantastic season, which may have been even better than Scherzer's.

However, I'm surprised, and honestly, a little disappointed at how uniform the voting was. If these awards just become the WAR-leader awards, then they quickly lose their appeal in terms of discussions and differing viewpoints. Maybe they are more "correct" (emphasis on the maybe) but then they become less interesting and increasingly irrelevant.


Cosign.
   15. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 17, 2018 at 11:44 PM (#5788943)
However, I'm surprised, and honestly, a little disappointed at how uniform the voting was. If these awards just become the WAR-leader awards, then they quickly lose their appeal in terms of discussions and differing viewpoints. Maybe they are more "correct" (emphasis on the maybe) but then they become less interesting and increasingly irrelevant.

Cosign.

I agree with the general point about reducing awards to nothing but mathematical formulae, but in this case deGrom just seemed like a clearcut choice by almost any standard that he had any control over.
   16. bobm Posted: November 18, 2018 at 01:26 PM (#5788998)
I agree with the general point about reducing awards to nothing but mathematical formulae, but in this case deGrom just seemed like a clearcut choice by almost any standard that he had any control over.

Yes. Neither one controlled their run support.

ERA in Wins (Rank among ML qualified ERA leaders)

3 Jacob deGrom 10 W, 0.89 ERA, 70.2 IP
40 Max Scherzer 18 W, 2.08 ERA, 125.1 IP

ERA in Losses

2 Jacob deGrom, 9 L, 2.71 ERA, 63.0 IP
5 Max Scherzer, 7 L, 3.86 ERA, 42.0 IP

ERA in No Decisions

4 Jacob deGrom, 13 ND, 1.62 ERA, 83.1 IP
9 Max Scherzer, 8 ND, 2.53 ERA, 53.1 IP
   17. bobm Posted: November 18, 2018 at 04:06 PM (#5789021)
More on deGrom vs. Scherzer run support (quoting myself from the end of September)

28. bobm Posted: September 28, 2018 at 04:34 PM (#5754752)
deGrom pitched under far more stress than either Scherzer or Nola this season.

For single seasons, For 2018, Within 1 R (within Clutch Stats), (requiring batters_faced >= 300), sorted by greatest percentage of total in this split

Rk                 Player      Split Year  BF BFtot    %  OPS sOPS+
2            Jacob deGrom Within 1 R 2018 643   835 77.0 .515    43
[...]
9              Aaron Nola Within 1 R 2018 570   805 70.8 .572    58
[...]
103          Max Scherzer Within 1 R 2018 469   866 54.2 .575    58
[...]
118         Luis Severino Within 1 R 2018 326   780 41.8 .762   109




Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/28/2018.
   18. Mike Webber Posted: November 18, 2018 at 05:34 PM (#5789038)
This.
Exactly this.
And don't even get him going about The Process.

He knows his hoops.


I don't follow pro hoops, but whenever I hear Wilbon or Screamin' A Smith (and others, but these two are the front of the parade) talk about baseball they are usually way, way off. Supposedly they are basketball experts, but I don't know. With the way they undermine their credibility for me with their baseball takes I always doubt their basketball analysis too.
   19. Tin Angel Posted: November 18, 2018 at 05:52 PM (#5789039)
Yeah, I hate stuff like this. "Stupid person says something stupid. Let's give him attention!" Just ignore people like this so they go away.
   20. Lars6788 Posted: November 18, 2018 at 05:55 PM (#5789040)
Let’s scream at how these black eyes are so wrong - they don’t know bupkis, ha ha ha - they have the worst takes.
   21. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 06:28 AM (#5789094)

However, I'm surprised, and honestly, a little disappointed at how uniform the voting was. If these awards just become the WAR-leader awards, then they quickly lose their appeal in terms of discussions and differing viewpoints. Maybe they are more "correct" (emphasis on the maybe) but then they become less interesting and increasingly irrelevant.
I mean, your assertion that the awards are less interesting if they're based on computation is not wrong,¹ but... what? Should someone deliberately cast a dumb vote so that we'll have something to talk about?




¹It's not like the batting championship or ERA title spurs a lot of discussion.
   22. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 06:45 AM (#5789097)
I agree with the general point about reducing awards to nothing but mathematical formulae, but in this case deGrom just seemed like a clearcut choice by almost any standard that he had any control over.


This. I was surprised that WAR had DeGrom and Scherzer as close as it did, given DeGrom's clear advantages in walk rate, k rate, hr rate, k:bb ratio, etc. in marginally more innings. In a world where WAR didn't exist, I'd have looked at their lines and said DeGrom had a considerably better season, not a slightly better one.
   23. Lest we forget Posted: November 19, 2018 at 07:36 AM (#5789101)
Stephen A. Smith is good with basketball - he's attentive to its evolution over eras, and seems to have a remarkable network in both the locker room and the board room. After years as a basketball beat writer, he's now an insider.

He doesn't (IMO) downplay baskteball analytics, but sees them as a compliment to chemistry and character issues, and how team dynamics affects players' metrics more in basketball than baseball (and thus require 'context' to potentially uncover how a player's 'play' on particular team produced the metric).

He doesn't do baseball that much, and his analysis on that is of little value other than that it serves as entertainment (which is likely where Wilbon fits in, as well). He baseball talk on air is basically that of a fan.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5789129)

This. I was surprised that WAR had DeGrom and Scherzer as close as it did, given DeGrom's clear advantages in walk rate, k rate, hr rate, k:bb ratio, etc.

Baseball-Reference really doesn't use component stats when computing WAR - it looks at actual runs allowed and then makes some adjustments based on overall team defense (rather than looking at the defensive support for each pitcher on the team separately), park, etc. Fangraphs, which does use some concept of xFIP in its WAR, had a wider difference between deGrom and Scherzer.
   25. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5789131)
Interesting. I knew that bWAR and fWAR differed in how they looked at pitcher performance, but wasn't quite sure how. It points to one of the reasons why I tend to view WAR as conversation starter as much as conversation ender, though.
   26. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5789145)
Yeah, it's one reason that I'm pretty skeptical about WAR (bWAR in particular) for pitchers - or at least, you really need to dig in to the components. (I should correct myself, however - Fangraphs uses FIP, not xFIP, in calculating pitcher WAR).

The most extreme example is Aaron Nola, who had a 2.37 ERA and a 2.42 RA9 this season. He got a bunch of extra credit (0.64 R/9) from bWAR this year for pitching in front of the Phillies defense -- implying that he'd have put up a 1.73 ERA in front of an average defense. However, Nola's ERA was actually 0.64 runs *below* his FIP (3.01) -- the odds that he actually got such terrible support from his defense is unlikely. And there's no reason to think that a team's defensive support is spread evenly across its starting pitchers -- we know for a fact that its offensive run support isn't. But bWAR thinks it is, and as a result it says Nola was a better pitcher in 2018 (10.5 pitching WAR) than deGrom (9.6) or Scherzer (8.8).

Meanwhile, Fangraphs uses FIP, so it comes out with Nola as the fourth-best pitcher in the NL (5.6 WAR), behind deGrom (9.8), Scherzer (7.2), and Corbin (6.3).

10.5 bWAR vs. 5.6 fWAR for the same pitcher. It should definitely give us pause in using WAR as the single determinant of any award or honor.
   27. Sunday silence Posted: November 19, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5789239)
And there's no reason to think that a team's defensive support is spread evenly across its starting pitchers -- we know for a fact that its offensive run support isn't.


can you elaborate on both these points a bit? You seem to think this is obvious and I am not so sure.I mean I guess off run support varies on a daily basis, and you cant expect a pitcher pitching every 5th day to get run support exactly equal to the seasonal equivalent.

Is that what you are referring to? the random fluctuation of many of these parameters?
   28. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5789303)
can you elaborate on both these points a bit? You seem to think this is obvious and I am not so sure.I mean I guess off run support varies on a daily basis, and you cant expect a pitcher pitching every 5th day to get run support exactly equal to the seasonal equivalent.

Is that what you are referring to? the random fluctuation of many of these parameters?


Yes, exactly. 30-something games is just not that big a sample size. For example, the Phils only scored 3.8 R/9 in Nola's starts and 4.3 in games he didn't start. The Mets only scored 3.5 R/9 in deGrom's starts this season and 4.3 in games he didn't start. (Nola probably contributed a tiny bit to his team's poor offensive support -- he's a lousy hitter -- but deGrom is better than the average pitcher at the plate.)

The Phillies' defense was 116 runs below average for the season (by Rfield). bWAR basically assumes that this bad defense was evenly distributed amongst the pitchers (so Nola basically gets credited with 0.64 R/9 that his defense cost him), basically turning him from a 2.37 ERA pitcher into a 1.73 ERA pitcher. I don't even know if they control for basic things like GB/FB rate, handedness, etc. which would naturally affect defensive support.

We know that Nola's FIP based on his component stats was 3.01. That would lead us to believe that Nola got some combination of lucky and/or decent defensive support, since nothing in his prior track record indicated any consistent ability to outperform his FIP. And other pitchers on the Phillies did significantly underperform their FIP. It seems likely that, just like offensive support, defensive support can vary quite a bit in small sample sizes and between pitchers on the same staff.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: November 19, 2018 at 04:11 PM (#5789304)
Most of the time, the truth lies somewhere between fWAR and bWAR. Both seem to rely too heavily (for my tastes) on adjustments outside the pitcher's control or even outside anybody's control. But I also sometimes wonder if my reaction is the result of the fact we are given a lot more detail on how pitcher WAR is calculated in the tables.

So, bWAR "rewards" Nola for pitching in front of a generally historically awful defense ... that maybe was actually an above-average defense when he pitched? fWAR meanwhile "penalizes" him for a good BABIP and for bearing down with men on base (Glavine deservedly got to the HoF on "sequencing").

In this particular case, fWAR probably is closer to the truth -- Nola's never had a good BABIP before, career ERA ia a bit worse than career FIP, etc. so either his luck was off the charts or he had one of the flukiest fluke seasons of all time or ... the reality wasn't as rosy as bWAR paints it.

And I'd say it's very likely fWAR is better capturing his true talent -- as we'd expect. His fWAR over the last 3 years goes 2.7, 4.2, 5.6 (12.5 total) which is already pretty variable but not unbelievable. His bWAR goes 0, 4.3, 10.5 (14.8 total) which is crazy variable. In fact, project 2017 out to the same innings as 2018, and fWAR says he was pretty much the same pitcher which is what the components say.

When we see a batter jump from, say, 3 WAR to 7 WAR in a season, it may or may not be flukey but it's easy to point to his HR/FB going way up or his K-rate plummeting ... or, when we worry it's a fluke, his BABIP spiking. The main thing with Nola was the BABIP drop ... and it is hard to believe his defense was giving up extra runs while that happened. But maybe if we dig into components, we'd find he was generating much more weak contact. If his K-rate had jumped to 14/9 or he'd stopped walking anybody or his HR-rate dropped to nothing, we could point to his actual performance even if it ended up being flukey in the context of his career.

Richard Hidalgo is a good example from the batters' perspective. Big year at 25 but note the HR/FB goes from about 10% to 16% ... and a mild BABIP spike. He also had a big year at 28 .... also a HR/FB spike but ages 28 and 29 are fairly similar in component stats but a 70 point difference in BABIP.
   30. Karl from NY Posted: November 19, 2018 at 05:02 PM (#5789331)
However, Nola's ERA was actually 0.64 runs *below* his FIP (3.01) -- the odds that he actually got such terrible support from his defense is unlikely.

Careful of perception/selection bias here. It's unlikely that Nola got such terrible support... but it's considerably more likely that somebody got that outlying level of support and then we only noticed Nola after the fact because that somebody happened to be him.

In other words, that outlying support is unlikely for one pitcher doesn't mean it's unlikely to be found among the corpus of all pitchers; that's the phenomenon of multiple endpoints.
   31. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 19, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5789337)
In other words, that outlying support is unlikely for one pitcher doesn't mean it's unlikely to be found among the corpus of all pitchers; that's the phenomenon of multiple endpoints.

I'm not saying that level of support is unlikely for Nola because it's an outlier -- on this year's Phillies it isn't an outlier (if you believe the Rfield numbers); it's average. I'm saying it's unlikely for Nola because his other numbers indicate that he may actually have received positive rather than negative defensive support.

And like I said, BB-Ref has done no detailed analysis that would lead us to think that Nola received poor defensive support. We know Philly was a bad defensive team, but I don't think they ran the PBP data for *only* his starts to calculate the number of runs his defense cost him. Considering that data is available, I don't see a good reason to rely on statistics that make pretty meaningful assumptions and allocations of value without using it.

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