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Friday, December 28, 2012

Orioles super closer Jim Johnson not a fan of statistics

Kubatko link here…

Should we consider it a lesson learned? That the radar gun should be ignored in spring training?

“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned,” Johnson said last weekend during the “Hot Stove Baseball” show on WBAL Radio. “Radar gun readings is one of them. What guys hit in spring training, how many homers they hit in spring training. There’s so many silly things.

“You guys have to write a story. I know that. We play so many games, you’ve got to find something. I understand it. It’s part of the job asking those kinds of questions. But it’s a funny game. It really is. You can find some weird numbers, you can find some weird trends. What you guys talked about a lot last year was the one-run games and how that’s going to play out again. Who knows? It’s just one of those silly things that happens.

“These statisticians come up with these formulas that tell you how good you’re supposed to be. You’re pitching better than your numbers or you don’t pitch as well. People need to quantify it. But if you just watch the games, you can see the bigger picture. I think it’s easier to see it that way.”

...“With the success we had, I think that’s part of the reason why. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Johnson said.

“Its not just the bullpen. I think they’re trying to keep as many guys here that we had last year. Players and numbers tell part of the story, but for the guys who see what goes on in the clubhouse, there’s more to it. I know Buck and Dan (Duquette) do a lot of research on the kind of people they bring in. That’s more of a key than necessarily the ability factor.”

 

Repoz Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:15 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles

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   1. shoewizard Posted: December 28, 2012 at 07:29 AM (#4333500)
So I didn't really know how Johnson profiled this year, and just from reading the article of course I was SURE that he must have a much higher FIP and xFIP than ERA. Of course that is the case. That 5.37 K/9 and .251 BABIP are a hell of a combination. Good luck repeating that 2.49 ERA and 51 saves.

Orioles should have sold high.
   2. steagles Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:11 AM (#4333509)
he had a very high GB%, resulting in a ton of double plays and a very low XBH/H%.
he also allowed very few walks and very few SBs, which in combination with the lack of XBHs, gave him a very large margin for error in any given appearance.


out of all of that, none of the above is factored into BABIP, and only walks are factored into FIP.


as for how much of that is repeatable, none of what he did was really out of line with his career averages, and even his ERA wasn't all that different from what he'd done the previous 4 years.
   3. vivaelpujols Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:24 AM (#4333512)
out of all of that, none of the above is factored into BABIP, and only walks are factored into FIP.


Pretty sure the lack of extra base hits is factored into FIP (at least home runs). Double plays and stolen bases are a legit point, but those aren't huge factors. Johnson has a career 3.14 ERA, so yeah I'm guessing he'll have a tough time repeating his 2012 season. Also the fact that he's a reliever means he could easily fall into a ditch next year.
   4. DCA Posted: December 28, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4333517)
Career ERA is under 3 (ERA+ of 148) if you remove one disaster start at the beginning of his career (I think it was an emergency call-up from Bowie) which I think is fair since he'd not yet pitched ever at AAA and he's not a starter.

Now, he might have gotten lucky so far in his career (only 300+ innings or 1.5 starter seasons) but he's been consistently quite good as a RP and closers get a structural ERA benefit from pitching at the end of games (on the road, the runs they give up are capped). I wouldn't be surprised if he repeats last year, or close to it.

   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4333529)
Johnson's not some unknown quantity. He's been at this for awhile now and he's been pretty consistent. Last season was certainly good but if he didn't have those 51 saves it wouldn't stick out in any meaningful way from the rest of his career. 2011 was pretty much an identical season except for the "51" in bold and italics on his BBRef page.
   6. shoewizard Posted: December 28, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4333541)
I'm not saying he isn't a good reliever. I'm saying that ERA and save total are extremely unlikely to be repeated in 2013. If he is considered a "super closer" on the basis of one season's saves totals and ERA, and other GM's actually buy into that, then they should sell high, in my opinion. He's not going to be cheap, thats for sure.
   7. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4333554)
Orioles super closer Jim Johnson not a fan of statistics

I'll bet he's a fan of "saves."
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4333562)
I'd like to see what he can do as a starter. Derek Lowe is a great comp IMO.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4333571)
Pretty sure the lack of extra base hits is factored into FIP (at least home runs).
Even 2B/3B sort of are, in a backdoor way. Groundballs become hits at a much higher rate than flyballs, but flyball hits often go for extra bases, while groundball hits are almost always singles. In converting BABIP to R, the two effects generally cancel each other out. If anything, it appears that FIP is more likely to miss high on extreme flyball pitchers than groundballers.
I'm not saying he isn't a good reliever. I'm saying that ERA and save total are extremely unlikely to be repeated in 2013.
As a reliever, Jim Johnson has a career 148 ERA+ combined with a .280 BABIP. There's absolutely nothing weird about a pitcher - especially a relief pitcher - limiting hits against by a margin of .015 BABIP or so, and a 150 ERA+ is a good cut-off for "true relief ace". He had a 170 ERA+ last year, so you expect some regression, but Johnson' looks like an excellent pitcher any eam would be happy to have.
   10. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4333577)
I read it as he's not a fan of spring training statistics. Get your head out of your preseason spreadsheets and look at regular season spreadsheets, eggheads!
   11. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4333580)
If Repoz had only quoted the first three paragraphs, where he points out the silliness of spring training numbers and looking for micro-trends to build a narrative this link would have gotten glowing comments.
   12. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4333614)
If Repoz had only quoted the first three paragraphs, where he points out the silliness of spring training numbers and looking for micro-trends to build a narrative this link would have gotten glowing comments
So an inaccurate presentation of the content of the article would have changed the response. I mean, I agree, but so what?
   13. catomi01 Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4333616)
I'd like to see what he can do as a starter. Derek Lowe is a great comp IMO.


Am i mis-remembering or wasn't this the plan going into last season? Whatever happened to that idea?
   14. JJ1986 Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4333621)
Whatever happened to that idea?


I think they realized Kevin Gregg was the alternative at closer.
   15. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4333623)
If Repoz had only quoted the first three paragraphs, where he points out the silliness of spring training numbers and looking for micro-trends to build a narrative this link would have gotten glowing comments


Has anyone actually commented on the article? It seems that all the comments so far have been about Johnson and his ability to replicate 2012. The only reference to the article is Shoewizard's very brief reference to Johnson as a "super closer."
   16. bobm Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4333668)
[15] Has anyone actually commented on the article?

What you guys talked about a lot last year was the one-run games and how that’s going to play out again. Who knows? It’s just one of those silly things that happens.


No, there's absolutely no data on the role of luck and a team's record in one run games.

"These statisticians come up with these formulas that tell you how good you’re supposed to be. You’re pitching better than your numbers or you don’t pitch as well.


Park factors? Luck? Regression to the mean? True talent level and small sample size?

"People need to quantify it. But if you just watch the games, you can see the bigger picture. I think it’s easier to see it that way.”


His aspiration is to join the BBWAA and vote Jack Morris into the HOF.
   17. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4333676)
It sounds like he's saying a player's character is more important than his statistical profile, which may have some merit at the negative extreme. OTOH he's saying so many different things it's hard to pinpoint exactly what point he's trying to make.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM (#4333993)
How does he feel about pure math?
   19. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: December 28, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4334000)
How does he feel about pure math?


You mean the blue stuff?
   20. shoewizard Posted: December 28, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4334034)
As a reliever, Jim Johnson has a career 148 ERA+ combined with a .280 BABIP. There's absolutely nothing weird about a pitcher - especially a relief pitcher - limiting hits against by a margin of .015 BABIP or so, and a 150 ERA+ is a good cut-off for "true relief ace". He had a 170 ERA+ last year, so you expect some regression, but Johnson' looks like an excellent pitcher any eam would be happy to have


Lets try this again.

Through 2011 in 261 career innings, Johnson had a 133 ERA+ and a .291 BABIP against. Good but certainly not great or "ace" reliever numbers.

In 2012, in 69 innings, he had a 170 ERA+ and a .252 BABIP against.

Ok, some might want me to just compare last year to 2008-2011, and lop off 2006-2007 callups. Fair enough.
That does make his 2012 closer to his "career" numbers, if you make believe his career started in 2008.

08-11 256 IP 145 ERA+ .286 BABIP against
2012, 69 IP 170 ERA+ .252 BABIP against

Johnson cut his walks dramatically in 2010 and has maintained really good walk rates since then. And over the last 2 years he has replaced a lot of line drives with ground balls. I think you are right MCOA, in that he is a very good reliever at this point in time. BUT I think I am also right that he is a very likely regression candidate with his BABIP, and that will likely mean more baserunners, and runs allowed, and 51 saves is also a number thats very unlikely to be repeated, I think you would agree.

He's already 3rd year arb eligible because he was a super two, and he'll make a lot of money the next two years. I guess it's better to hold on to him, but I think it would be interesting to see what some teams might be willing to trade for a guy like this.


   21. Martin Hemner Posted: December 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM (#4334050)
Park factors? Luck? Regression to the mean? True talent level and small sample size?

"I've thought about it more. Even though I was an All-Star last year, put up strong numbers, and helped lead my team that has been hapless for two decades to an inch of the ALCS, I've realized that my year was simply an overperformance of my true talent. I've been striving for this type of success for my entire life, and now that I've achieved it, I'm announcing to the world that my entire life's pursuit was a waste of time. I'm just not that good. The Orioles would be wise not to sign me to a lucrative contract, and should consider cutting me or trading me for pennies on the dollar."
   22. bobm Posted: December 29, 2012 at 01:46 AM (#4334071)
[21] "I've thought about it more. Even though I was an All-Star last year, put up strong numbers, and helped lead my team that has been hapless for two decades to an inch of the ALCS, I've realized that my year was simply an overperformance of my true talent. I've been striving for this type of success for my entire life, and now that I've achieved it, I'm announcing to the world that my entire life's pursuit was a waste of time. I'm just not that good. The Orioles would be wise not to sign me to a lucrative contract, and should consider cutting me or trading me for pennies on the dollar."

I'm not bashing Johnson's pitching performance, just his analysis of statistics. He's channelling Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. :-)

Just for fun:

It's just "Boras", Mr. Arbitrator, and, yes, I'm ready.

Sir, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of your traffic make me want to get out of my BMW.. and run off into the hills, or wherever.. Sometimes when I check Baseball Reference for a pitcher's park adjusted ERA on my smartphone, I wonder: "Did little demons get inside and type it?" I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know - when an arb eligible relief pitcher like my client saves 51 games in one season for a playoff team, then he is entitled to no less than five million in annual compensation. Thank you.


(With apologies to SNL)
   23. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 29, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4334379)
"Hey, I got lots of saves, and even though it's been established that even an average pitcher can get lots of saves if he is put in during a lot of save opportunities and that from 1988 through 2011 that 72 percent of all innings were scoreless while the average relief pitcher coming into a ninth-inning save chance only produced a scoreless inning only 75 percent of the time, all us elite closers really deserve millions upon millions. As for that fact that my BABIP last season was about forty points lower than league average, I don't feel very lucky, and besides, I've never understood this whole regression-to-the-mean thingamajig anyway. So kiss my ring and pay me millions and don't worry about what's going to happen next year because I sure don't."

The most overpaid position in baseball is the MR.
   24. Greg K Posted: December 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4334463)
I've always wondered, how important is it for players to be aware of the latest is FIP, BABIP and regression technology?

It's always cool to have players like Brian Bannister (did he go to Japan?) and Brandon McCarthy engage with sabermetric analysis, does it improve their play? Will Jim Johnson be a better pitcher in 2013 if he sat down with someone and went through the principles of DIPS and projection systems?

I'm actually curious as I have no idea what the answers to those questions might be. If I had to guess I'd say it would help in some small, specific ways, but not in others, but I don't know. It's an interesting question to me. Sabermetrics so often seam geared towards the decision-making processes of managers or general managers rather than players. I suppose it's never a bad thing to be as educated as possible about the work you do...but even if Johnson knew that his peripherals suggest a decline in 2013, is there anything he could do about it on the field?
   25. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 30, 2012 at 12:45 AM (#4334479)
It might not make him a better pitcher, but it would make him better informed and more self-aware.

Plus the knowledge that they have a really low BABIP and are lucky rather than good might stop some pitchers from getting oversized egos.
   26. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 30, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4334482)
It sounds like he's saying a player's character is more important than his statistical profile

Ask John Rocker about that.
   27. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 30, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4334511)
I've always wondered, how important is it for players to be aware of the latest is FIP, BABIP and regression technology?


I think it would, likely in one of two ways: 1) A Michael Jordan "any slight" motivation sense, or 2) realization that maybe they aren't as good as they think they are, so they should work harder (study their mechanics more, new pitch, etc).
   28. Tricky Dick Posted: December 30, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4334572)
It might not make him a better pitcher, but it would make him better informed and more self-aware.

Plus the knowledge that they have a really low BABIP and are lucky rather than good might stop some pitchers from getting oversized egos.


If you turn the situation around to a pitcher who was "unlucky" according to saber analysis, becoming aware of regression might be helpful to the player. It might prevent them from losing confidence in their ability. As a practical matter, I suspect that players are aware that a lot of what goes on is a reflection of good or bad luck, but they just don't use terms like "regression."

I recall a young starting pitcher mentioning the advice that Roy Oswalt gave him. It was something like "You will have games where you do everything right, but still give up a lot of hits. Don't let that get to you, because it doesn't mean you are pitching badly." That's a paraphrase, but I remember thinking at the time that Oswalt's advice was a pretty good description of BABIP variance, though he doesn't call it that.
   29. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4334614)
Knowing that a pitcher is or was lucky or unlucky in a season is certainly useful information if you're his GM or pitching coach.
   30. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4334619)
Maybe there should be a pitcher "luck metric" (yes, I know BABIP isn't all luck, but it's mostly luck).

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