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Thursday, April 17, 2014

MLB: Offense’s performance vs. Brewers favors Matheny’s interpretation of stats

Matheny Math: Minimal polynomial (Busch field theory).

Matheny studies the individual splits closely. His interpretation of those numbers might be typical in some cases, but it might also be surprising in others.

What works for Matheny in either case is his essential belief in his players.

“You know, when I see a guy who’s had even just a couple of at-bats against a pitcher, but has had success, there’s usually knowledge on both sides,” the manager said. “I don’t use the opposite side very well. When a guy has had two at-bats against a pitcher and he’s struck out a couple of times, I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to get him.’

“But if he’s had two at-bats and he’s had two hits, I’m thinking, ‘He owns him.’ A lot of it is just how confident our offensive guy would be walking into the box.”

So if a St. Louis player is, for instance, 2-for-2 against a particular pitcher, this indicates that the hitter clearly has the pitcher’s number. On the other hand, if a St. Louis player is 0-for-2 against a pitcher, this primarily indicates that the hitter is due.

Matheny’s view of these small samples appears to be a no-lose proposition for the Cardinals. On the other hand, look what the Cardinals have done in his two years as their manager. They were one game away from the World Series in 2012. In 2013, they had a division title, the best record in the National League and went to the World Series. Expecting success might be the one logical response to any given Cardinal situation.

And there will be numerous occasions when the sample sizes just won’t be suitably large, anyway.

“I don’t think there is too much of a sample size, or else we’d be waiting around forever,” Matheny said. “Every once in a while you see some guys with some larger at-bats, but in general you just take the information that you have and hope that confidence is a big part of that, one way or the other.”

Repoz Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: April 17, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4688015)
Two AB's is plenty of time to tell how a hitter will fare against a pitcher, provided one uses sufficiently large values of epsilon.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: April 17, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4688116)
It turns out that Mike Matheny is a small-sample-size optimist.


This is a pretty accurate comment.

I don't really see a problem with Matheny's argument for the most part, as long as you take it half seriously. (and understand that regardless of what he says, it's not a true reflection of what he does) I don't see a problem with a manager looking at all the reasons for one player over another and deciding it's too close to tell, let's go with the splits. I have yet to see Matheny bench a "starter" in favor or a small sample size, unless it happens to coincide with an already planned day off.

If you have decided to give Matt Holliday a day off in the next three days, and your fourth outfielder is 0-3 against one upcoming pitcher, 3-3 against another and 1-3 against the third.... (assuming they are all the same handedness) I don't see why not decide to give the day off to Holliday on that second game.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 17, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4688152)
So if a St. Louis player is, for instance, 2-for-2 against a particular pitcher, this indicates that the hitter clearly has the pitcher’s number. On the other hand, if a St. Louis player is 0-for-2 against a pitcher, this primarily indicates that the hitter is due.

Using this analysis, the splits give you absolutely no information value.

If the 4-7 guys "owns" the pitcher, and the 0-7 guy is "due" how do I decide to choose between "own" and "due"?
   4. Bhaakon Posted: April 17, 2014 at 08:55 PM (#4688223)
If the 4-7 guys "owns" the pitcher, and the 0-7 guy is "due" how do I decide to choose between "own" and "due"?


Go with your gut, clearly.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: April 17, 2014 at 10:08 PM (#4688263)
I consider it my eternal obligation to bring this one up in such threads:

Sosa vs. Dave Williams
8 for 13, 6 HR, 9 BB

All 6 HR were solo shots and neither of his other two hits (one a double) drove in a run so it's likely Williams walked him whenever runners were on base.

That line adds up to 615/773/2077
   6. Walt Davis Posted: April 17, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4688264)
Not quite true ... pitched to him 6 times with men on base, 4 walks, 1 single, 1 K.

By the way, the double was a "line drive to deep CF" -- i.e. Sammy just missed it.
   7. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: April 18, 2014 at 11:49 AM (#4688486)
Well, yes, when the Cardinals play the Brewers you are pretty much guaranteed that the Cards will play spectacularly well. There IS no wrong answer.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4688505)
Trey Hillman used to drive me nuts with his small-sample-size matchup stats devotion. It was hilarious that the organization touted him as a stats guy.

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