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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

NY Daily News: Really trying to understand why I was so wrong about NY Mets’ Lucas Duda. What are the challenges of separating reporting from personal feelings?

He made similar comments in many interviews, including one I conducted with him last September. Duda had just hit two homers in a game, and we began with what I thought was a softball to warm him up.

“Lucas, when you first came up, you were open about how hitting in big spots made you nervous. Now that you’ve been in the league a few years, is it easier?”

His answer? Laughter, followed by, “No.”

A moment later, when the camera was off, Duda dropped his head, said, “tough question, bro,” and sulked away. Seriously. Eeyore.

thetailor Posted: August 05, 2014 at 11:19 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ike davis, lucas duda, mets

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: August 05, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4764785)
He was good enough for Paul D to draft him in the first round a couple of years ago.
   2. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: August 05, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4764804)
(snicker)
   3. The District Attorney Posted: August 05, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4764841)
"Really trying to understand why I was so wrong" is one of those ways to begin a sentence where you just know the rest of it is going to be trouble.
   4. villageidiom Posted: August 05, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4764897)
This is a good article.

But there is a more subtle crime that can be difficult to avoid: Accidentally interpreting the information we gather through the lens of what we want to happen. Davis was interesting to talk to, sympathetic and likeable; did that up-close knowledge render me incapable of drawing an objective conclusion, and presenting it to readers? And to overstate Duda’s problems, which he seems to have since overcome?

Well, yeah. Reporting is still the best way do the job, but it must include an additional step: Pause, step back, be aware of what you are feeling. And question it, more than I did while working this particular story.

The questions he asked Duda more recently show that Duda is also interesting to talk to, sympathetic and likeable. He just wasn't asking those questions a while back. Part of that is that Duda wasn't making it easy on him. But part of it was that he didn't feel the need to pursue it. He wanted to believe he had all the information he needed. He admits to being nervous? He doesn't like talking to the NY media? Well, he must not have what it takes to play here.

That said, kudos to the introspection here. I don't usually see that from sports media.
   5. Elvis Posted: August 05, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4764933)
This was a good article.

I've never been a big Martino fan but I like that he was willing to ask what he could do better. May we all approach things that way.
   6. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 05, 2014 at 03:35 PM (#4764952)
“I think just moving from left field to first base was a big confidence boost,” he said. “Left field was…uh…. I mean…,” here, he appeared to be searching for a more delicate phrasing, before settling on the blunt truth. “It was terrible. I didn’t play a good left field at all. Absolutely, that carried over and transferred to my at-bats."


Duda was quite obviously overmatched in the OF, to such an extent I didn't think he could handle 1b either, but he's been downright decent, a week ago I saw him charge a poorly hit ball and nail the lead runner at 2nd, I was stunned- after seeing him try to play the OF that wasn't a play I thought he was physically capable of making.


Surprisingly good article for the MSM/NY Daily News.

Wally Backman stepped out of the managers’ office, squinted, and waved us into the clubhouse (most likely with a cuss word, delivered genially). But the moment I pushed the door open, the mistake was obvious: The 51s had lost, and every player sat silent at his locker, in full uniform, stewing.

Oops. Even the nice guys were giving us the stink eye, and that Vegas clubhouse is one of the sweatiest, most crowded rooms in baseball. We were in their space, it was awkward, and we had no idea how to extricate ourselves.


AAA players getting paid a fraction of the MLBers pissed off about losing, what's not to like?
   7. Lassus Posted: August 05, 2014 at 04:37 PM (#4765043)
Duda was quite obviously overmatched in the OF, to such an extent I didn't think he could handle 1b either

Murphy looked twice as bad as Duda did, easily, and he ended up fine at 2B.
   8. formerly dp Posted: August 05, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4765060)
Duda's development into a legitimate middle of the order bat is one of the more understated positive outcomes of 2014. It might have taken them longer than it should have to do so, but the Mets made the right call in selecting between Duda and Davis.

They finally let go of Abreu, called up Kirk again. Not sure what den Dekker has to do to earn a promotion, or how bad Tejada's bat gets before he's banished to the bench.
   9. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: August 05, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4765092)
It's come to this; when the Mets released Bobby Abreu's fat, rotting corpse, I looked up his numbers just in case he might be an option (move Heyward to CF, bench BJ...) When the Indians cut Nyjer Morgan, I looked up his numbers. Just in case he might be an option. Does one need a knee to hit better than BJ?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4765101)
Huh? Murphy has -35 Rfield in three years at 2B. Fangraphs is more kind but still has him at -22. Those Rfield seasons represent 3 of the 8 worst 2B seasons of the last 3 years. It's the 2nd worst total over those last 3 years -- apparently Rickie Weeks (-55) ran over Rfield's dog.

Duda is at +4 Rfield and -1 UZR, it's not the same thing. Well, fangraphs version of dWAR puts Murphy ahead this year after positional adjustment (much bigger positional adjustment for 1B at fg).
   11. Conor Posted: August 05, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4765110)
Murphy looked twice as bad as Duda did, easily, and he ended up fine at 2B.


I think Murphy at his worst was prob worse than Duda in LF. The strange thing is, when he came up in 08, he was ok there. Prob below average, but not a disaster or anything. In 2009, well, he had a ton of interesting plays out there, to be kind.

But Duda was just consistently awful out there. He had no chance. He never played a ton of innings out there, but his uzr/150
2010: -28.4
2011: -40.1
2012: -35.6
2013: -29.6
   12. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: August 05, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4765112)
Seriously. Lucas Duda was the worst outfield defender I've seen, and I watched Todd Hundley try to catch fly balls.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: August 05, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4765116)
Huh? Murphy has -35 Rfield in three years at 2B. Fangraphs is more kind but still has him at -22. Those Rfield seasons represent 3 of the 8 worst 2B seasons of the last 3 years. It's the 2nd worst total over those last 3 years
That's still better than what Duda would be doing at 2B. ;-) But yeah, obviously Duda being better than Murphy at LF (if that is even true) doesn't necessarily mean Duda will be a better 1B than Murphy is a 1B, or a better 1B than Murphy is a 2B, or anything, really. Especially when they pretty much literally slapped Murphy into LF sight unseen. (Although I do agree he was actually better when they first did that than he was the next season.)

re: den Dekker: I'm fully prepared to shoot both Youngs out of a cannon and play him, but obviously they ain't gonna do that. It's really hard to envision him being a meaningful part of this team. He's the same model as Lagares, and although perhaps he could be a defense-oriented corner OF (Brett Gardner being the ultimate example), I don't think they'll ever do it. If they look at a corner OF spot and see den Dekker vs. a veteran who can potentially hit in the middle of the order and make the roster sound more "major league", I think they're always going to choose the latter.

re: Tejada: Assuming that David Wright hasn't lost his mojo, a whole lot of things have gone well this year in terms of the future outlook. But Flores has not been one. They need to play him, and if it's so utterly impossible to play him in the OF for some reason, apparently it needs to be at SS.
   14. formerly dp Posted: August 05, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4765125)
The strange thing is, when he came up in 08, he was ok there. Prob below average, but not a disaster or anything. In 2009, well, he had a ton of interesting plays out there, to be kind.
Yeah it was odd, like he had some sort of traumatic encounter with a fly ball over the winter that cued a meltdown when a ball was hit toward him...more comical plays per chance than Raul Ibanez. Never seen anything like it.
===

re: den Dekker:
I'm not getting drunk on his gaudy numbers at Vegas or anything, but the only bar he has to clear is being better than EY (.225/.308/.297) and CY (.205/.282/.349). DD's had about 2000 PAs in the minors, almost 600 at Vegas, with a career line of .288/.350/.471. Factoring in the platoon advantage, that suggests he'd be at least as good as the Youngs. I don't get it.

re: Tejada: Assuming that David Wright hasn't lost his mojo, a whole lot of things have gone well this year in terms of the future outlook. But Flores has not been one
Until they called him up to rot on the bench again, I didn't agree-- having him post some strong numbers at AAA could have boosted his trade value, and he had really turned it on since the demotion. But now, having him on the bench as a utility player with no real rhyme or reason to his PT makes no sense at all.
   15. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 05, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4765131)
a whole lot of things have gone well this year in terms of the future outlook. But Flores has not been one. They need to play him, and if it's so utterly impossible to play him in the OF for some reason, apparently it needs to be at SS.

He's a 22 year old hitting .323/.367/.568 in AAA, ok it's the PCL but he's still 10th in the league and only 2 of the guys above him are younger than he is, Kris Bryant and Joc Peterson...

That said, WTF are the Mets doing with him?

Anyway, Michael Conforto: .355/.438/.532, SSS but in recent years the Mets 1st round hitters have tended to stumble out the gate (although Smith was ok last year)



   16. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 05, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4765133)
Huh? Murphy has -35 Rfield in three years at 2B.

It's all relative, Walt. Murphy's not a good defensive 2B, but almost no one actually expected him to be a plus defender. What he's become is good enough to not give back all the value his bat provides, and a few years ago it wasn't clear he'd be able to do that. I consider Murphy's defense "fine" given the context.
   17. Bruce Markusen Posted: August 05, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4765142)
I always find it curious how people refer to players' fielding skills around here. "UZR loves so and so's defense." "Fangraphs is kinder to his defense than Baseball-Ref." This way of referring to defensive stats makes me very skeptical of them. Statistics are supposed to be objectively reflect a player's fielding skill, not be some kind of subjective, scattershot opinion of them.

No one ever says, "Batting average loves Cabrera." or "Slugging percentage adores Stanton." That would sound ridiculous. We say that Cabrera is a great hitter, or Stanton has great power. Statistics are supposed to accurately REFLECT what the players do; they don't try to subjectively DICTATE what we should think of the players.
   18. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 05, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4765145)
No one ever says, "Batting average loves Cabrera." or "Slugging percentage adores Stanton." That would sound ridiculous. We say that Cabrera is a great hitter, or Stanton has great power. Statistics are supposed to accurately REFLECT what the players do; they don't try to subjectively DICTATE what we should think of the players.


There is lots of subjectivity with traditional stats, too. (Ball or strike? Hit or out? Earned or unearned run?) People are just more comfortable recognizing and acknowledging that fact with modern defensive stats.

A double that a hitter crushed to the power alley goes down in the books just the same as a pop-fly double where the second baseman ran into the shortstop and the center fielder's pants fell down.
   19. Lassus Posted: August 05, 2014 at 07:16 PM (#4765146)
I am ready for the flaming, but I cannot find it in my heart to truly trust advanced defensive metrics at this time. I just can't.

Also, way way better-said than what I managed, Bruce.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 05, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4765148)
As a Pirates fan, let me say that the only thing worse than putting up with Ike Davis trade rumors has been watching him play. I wish to God they'd traded for Duda instead.

At least Blake Taylor isn't doing much this year.
   21. Pirate Joe Posted: August 05, 2014 at 08:11 PM (#4765161)
A double that a hitter crushed to the power alley goes down in the books just the same as a pop-fly double where the second baseman ran into the shortstop and the center fielder's pants fell down.


Maybe, but that second play is a lot more fun to watch.


   22. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 05, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4765177)
Statistics are supposed to accurately REFLECT what the players do; they don't try to subjectively DICTATE what we should think of the players.


Goodby park adjustments, league adjustments, positional value, etc, you have far too much gray in a statistics world limited to black or white.

That said, I'm glad in his last season, Derek Jeter has been restored to his rightful place as one of baseballs elite defensive shortstops, 6th in fewest errors.

   23. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 05, 2014 at 09:05 PM (#4765179)
I am ready for the flaming, but I cannot find it in my heart to truly trust advanced defensive metrics at this time. I just can't.

no flaming from here--I've seen no evidence that "advanced" defensive metrics are better that the old retarded* ones

*non PC
   24. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 05, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4765206)
<blockquote>I am ready for the flaming, but I cannot find it in my heart to truly trust advanced defensive metrics at this time. I just can't.</blockquote.

I can't, really, either.

The reason, I think, that people use different terminology with advanced defensive stats is basically that all of them purport to measure some version of the same thing, and they often don't agree -- sometimes, the disagree by a lot. They're processed in a way that BA simply isn't. There's no other stat that tells you the percentage times a guy comes to bat, doesn't walk, doesn't get hit by a pitch, and gets a hit. But there are lots of stats that want to figure out how many runs / wins a guy is worth in the field.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2014 at 11:35 PM (#4765242)
Statistics are supposed to be objectively reflect a player's fielding skill, not be some kind of subjective, scattershot opinion of them.

1. It's just a cute way of referring to the uncertainty that surrounds every statistical estimate in the history of the world.

2. That uncertainty is much greater around defensive stats than offensive ones ... unless of course we're talking about projections/measures of "true talent" in which case there's a ton of uncertainty around the offensive measures although still a good bit less than around defense.

3. It is ludicrous to refer to either Rfield or UZR as "scattershot." Both are rigorous, detailed, documented systems for measuring defensive performance/ability. They are internally consistent. They just don't always agree with one another.

4. People don't seem to understand that offensive and defensive "fancy" stats are trying to measure different things. In measuring a player's defense you can either (a) assume that every fielder (or every fielder at a given position) faces exactly the same opportunities (in both quantity/inning and difficulty) throughout a season/career which would mean you can simply go with plays made; or (b) you have to measure the difficulty of the play. The systems primarily differ in how they measure the difficulty of the play. Since there is no "correct" measure of that it is difficult to assess which one has less uncertainty.

4a. The offensive equivalent then would be going to the trouble of adjusting offensive stats for the quality of the pitcher and defense faced, the mix of pitches thrown, the difficulty of the pitches thrown, etc. You would have to count the fastballs down the middle that the guy didn't crush as a "HR opportunity" and check to see if Chris Davis 2013 had more of those than Stanton 2014 before deciding which one had the better HR performance.

4b. That is, the defensive measures are trying to measure things at a much greater level of granularity than offensive stats are trying to do -- that inevitably introduces more uncertainty.

5. The systems are objective although they have no choice but to rely on subjective data (the rating of the difficulty of the play although the companies training the observers presumably do their best to reduce this source of uncertainty).

6. The alternative to defensive stats with lots of uncertainty is ignoring defense altogether and just plops us back into the old arguments as to whether Jackie Bradley's glove could possibly make up for his anemic bat. In this case, both measures say yes -- and exactly so.

7. So, really, which do you trust more -- the defensive stats or the eyeballs of Lassus and SoSH and Harveys and Pasta-Diving Jeter and McCoy and god only knows whatever Rays fans we have here, etc. that you need to assess the defensive performance of every player in the majors? If your answer is the eyeballs....
   26. billyshears Posted: August 06, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4765254)
I am ready for the flaming, but I cannot find it in my heart to truly trust advanced defensive metrics at this time. I just can't.


I'm with you as well. It takes an awful lot of fielding data to convince me of anything, and even then I mentally regress the hell out of it.
   27. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 06, 2014 at 12:25 AM (#4765256)
I always find it curious how people refer to players' fielding skills around here. "UZR loves so and so's defense." "Fangraphs is kinder to his defense than Baseball-Ref." This way of referring to defensive stats makes me very skeptical of them.

I'm skeptical of them too, which is why I find these sort of quotes useful. If all of the so-called advanced defensive metrics say that Andrelton Simmons is the best SS in the game, I am inclined to defer to the sum of their wisdom. If someone says "Fangraphs says Lucas Duda sucks but BB-Ref says he's merely mediocre," then I'm okay with saying that Lucas Duda is probably not a good fielder.
   28. Sunday silence Posted: August 06, 2014 at 01:11 AM (#4765277)
3. It is ludicrous to refer to either Rfield or UZR as "scattershot." Both are rigorous, detailed, documented systems for measuring defensive performance/ability.


can you give me a reference or something to explain where these systems are documented? Cause I thought one of the problems we are having is that most of these defensive metrics are proprietary. Is that not the case? I was under the impression that they were.
   29. Squash Posted: August 06, 2014 at 02:42 AM (#4765297)
No one ever says, "Batting average loves Cabrera." or "Slugging percentage adores Stanton." That would sound ridiculous. We say that Cabrera is a great hitter, or Stanton has great power. Statistics are supposed to accurately REFLECT what the players do; they don't try to subjectively DICTATE what we should think of the players.

There is lots of subjectivity with traditional stats, too. (Ball or strike? Hit or out? Earned or unearned run?) People are just more comfortable recognizing and acknowledging that fact with modern defensive stats.


One could also point to the failure of traditional stats to tell us a full story, especially stats like batting average. In a vacuum, a high BA is great, but doesn't tell a complete story. A guy can have a high BA and still not be a great hitter, or even a good one. Likewise a player can have a low BA and still be pretty great. Same goes for fielding stats. In a vacuum a high Fielding % is awesome, but doesn't actually tell us whether the guy is a great fielder or not.

Basically we can create stats that are very narrow (BA, Slugging %, Fielding %) and they can tell us with great certainty very specific things, but if you want to go wider (UZR, WAR) you're always going to introduce uncertainty, run into different methods (Walt's #4 is a great example), etc., that muddy the waters.
   30. Lassus Posted: August 06, 2014 at 07:14 AM (#4765318)
7. So, really, which do you trust more -- the defensive stats or the eyeballs of Lassus and SoSH and Harveys and Pasta-Diving Jeter and McCoy and god only knows whatever Rays fans we have here, etc. that you need to assess the defensive performance of every player in the majors? If your answer is the eyeballs....

It's not mutually exclusive.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: August 06, 2014 at 05:33 PM (#4765885)
Sandy sez Kirk over den Dekker because it's a reserve role, basically.
   32. formerly dp Posted: August 06, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4765904)
Sandy sez Kirk over den Dekker because it's a reserve role, basically.
Urg, why? What are the Youngs going to do in the next month that's going to add anything? I like a lot of what Sandy's done, but he doesn't seem to understand that playing time's a valuable resource being wasted on The Chris and Eric Suck Show.
   33. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 06, 2014 at 06:41 PM (#4765934)

I was wrong about Duda, too, and especially wrong in that I wanted to keep Ike over him before this season. I just couldn't get over the images of him playing LF -- as Sam said, he was the worst defensive outfielder I have ever seen, and after seeing that it was hard to imagine him doing anything well athletically. I am very glad to have been wrong about him.
   34. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: August 06, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4765951)
If all of the so-called advanced defensive metrics say that Andrelton Simmons is the best SS in the game, I am inclined to defer to the sum of their wisdom. If someone says "Fangraphs says Lucas Duda sucks but BB-Ref says he's merely mediocre," then I'm okay with saying that Lucas Duda is probably not a good fielder.


And if my eyes also agree with them about that, then I'm even more OK with it. I like that we now have measures of defense that at least give us something to go from, but there is the issue of the sample size needed for a decent confidence level in the numbers and what each metric is measuring.

If the metrics all agree that someone is awesome, I'm going to be likely to accept that even if I personally haven't seen it when I've watched them play. If the metrics disagree with each other, I'm less likely to weigh them heavily as a group when trying to figure out my opinion.
   35. madvillain Posted: August 06, 2014 at 10:14 PM (#4766022)
Yea I really have no praise for this article. It's your job as a reporter to smoke the objective pipe. Yea, people are people and fallible and emotional and all that but FFS have some pride in what you do and don't play favorites.

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