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Friday, August 24, 2012

Passan: 25 things you didn’t know about baseball

And why everything you know about baseball is wro…(opens mail…okay, okay)

This is my favorite column every year because it is all-inclusive. Numbers in baseball can overwhelm. Data can anthropomorphize into a scary monster. Acronyms can get so silly that I can list four (SIERA, SNLVAR, GORP, lgRFG) that look too absurd to be real when three of them actually are.

Sorry, GORP.

The goal here is to cut through the crap and cull numbers and facts that teach you more about the game. Sabermetricians do a wonderful job of that with high-level analytics and snazzy heat maps. This is different because it endeavors to deal in plain-and-simple facts presented accordingly.

11. The player leading the National League in steals also is the UZR champion.

UZR is Ultimate Zone Rating, one of the two most well-known defensive metrics, along with Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). Neither is particularly renowned for its accuracy, though both tend to agree that Michael Bourn is mighty good in center field for the Atlanta Braves.

In fact, UZR has a Bieber-level crush on the entire Braves outfield. Bourn ranks first in baseball with 17.2 runs saved this season, Jason Heyward is second with 16.8 runs and Martin Prado is 12th with 10.3 runs.

12. The Colorado Rockies, on the other hand, make UZR and DRS want to vomit.

While UZR and DRS can clash, both have the Rockies as the worst-fielding team by far, with UZR at -37.1 and DRS at -73. Yikes.

Repoz Posted: August 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4216979)
That gem came from Jason Collette on Twitter the day Hamilton, the 21-year-old Cincinnati farmhand, broke Otis Nixon's minor league record with his 146th stolen base. Hamilton now has 148 steals, more than every major league team, and we could do 25 Hamilton facts if we were so inclined, but we'll stick with just a couple more via Twitter from the day he nabbed the record.


I was pretty sure it was Vince Coleman's record.
   2. GuyMcGuffin Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4216982)
I was pretty sure it was Vince Coleman's record.


Let's start a list of things Jeff Passan didn't know.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: August 24, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4216983)
I love these type of articles, and love the disclaimer he gave about some of the stats he is quoting. These are fun articles that remind you of all the fun little unique things about baseball.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4216999)
I love these type of articles...


I like that this article was on one page instead of 25 separate slow-loading ones.
   5. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4217004)
Ziegler's flyball rate this season is 6.9 percent. That is not a misprint. Ziegler has thrown 712 pitches this season. Hitters have lifted 10 of those as flyballs. Nobody has popped out. Nobody has hit a home run. Nobody can do much with a Brad Ziegler sinker.

Ziegler last gave up a homer on June 30, 2010. That's 132 and two-thirds innings ago. In this day and age, that's impressive.

And like many sidearmers, his platoon split for his career is obscenely huge: .536 OPS against righties, .874 against lefties. He's given up two of his eight career home runs against righties in 785 plate appearances. The 6 against lefties came in 451 plate appearances.
   6. JE (Jason) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4217008)
Led by Adam Dunn's 33.6 percent strikeout rate, 15 players who currently qualify for the batting title have struck out in at least a quarter of their at-bats.

Sigh. Why are writers still unable to differentiate between at-bats and plate appearances?
   7. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4217022)
I like that this article was on one page instead of 25 separate slow-loading ones.

A million times this.
It was just a matter of time before websites decided "clicks equal advertising revenue," so "25 clicks for one article" is better than "one click for one article."
Happily, there are browser add-ons to get around that crap. Still hate it, though.
   8. JE (Jason) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4217028)
It appears that Passan made the correction. There is justice in the world!
   9. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4217037)
I love these type of articles, and love the disclaimer he gave about some of the stats he is quoting. These are fun articles that remind you of all the fun little unique things about baseball.

Agreed. I read the whole thing and got a kick out of it. The best values on pitches and pitch frequency were especially fun to read about.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 24, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4217061)
it was the frenchy item that surprised me to a small degree as without looking if you had told to name the worst major leaguer i would have thrown out michael young. on the pitching side my knee jerk reaction would have been randy wolf followed by jiminez who every time i look at the box scores seems to be walking 6 guys
   11. JE (Jason) Posted: August 24, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4217072)
Here's the Frenchy excerpt that Harvey references:
We always save the worst for last because sabermetrics isn't always about celebrating achievements and accomplishments. Numbers give us something tangible with which we can judge a player against his peers, against his predecessors, against Babe Ruth if we truly want. The preferred tool today is Wins Above Replacement. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both have proprietary versions; each is marred by its inclusion of defensive metrics but good enough to give a decent idea of what's what.

And they agree: The worst player in baseball this year is Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

FanGraphs says he has been worth -1.7 WAR, which means by using a replacement-level player – some bum from Triple-A – the Royals actually would have won two more games. B-R is even harsher: The site has Francoeur at -3.0 WAR, which ranks as the 11th-worst season for an offensive player since 1901.

With a dreadful August and September, Francoeur could threaten the season both sites agree is the worst ever: Jerry Royster's 1977 with Atlanta, a -3.7 FanGraphs and -4.1 B-R debacle. The utilityman hit .216/.278/.288 and, the metrics say, played brutal defense. Francoeur isn't that bad, at .240/.287/.372, with a major league-leading 14 outfield assists, but as Wil Myers sits at Triple-A with a .311/.389/.603 line, 35 home runs and the title of best hitting prospect in the minors, it cannot be anything short of maddening for Royals fans to swallow where part of the cost of their ticket will go.

Kansas City owes Francoeur $6.75 million in 2013.
   12. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 24, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4217083)
How much does Frenchy owe Kansas City?
   13. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 24, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4217337)
I was pretty sure it was Vince Coleman's record.

Let's start a list of things Jeff Passan didn't know.


I'm surprised that he would miss this, as the record was broken so recently. Otis Nixon's career best in a season was 107, across AA and AAA in 1982, which is obviously nowhere near any kind of record.

Little brother (I assume) Donell Nixon, however, did steal 144 in 1983.
   14. AROM Posted: August 25, 2012 at 12:33 AM (#4217585)
You assume correctly. The Nixons were brothers.
   15. Dale H. Posted: August 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4218070)

Let's start a list of things Jeff Passan didn't know.
He doesn't know that Voros mentioned the .300 BABIP number was for pitchers, not hitters. He explained at the very beginning (carefully, to me) that batters do have a true BABIP talent.

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