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Friday, May 24, 2013

Paul Daugherty: Old-v-New schools of thought

One, two big schools
All the worlds are
Colliding all around you

I was going to write something today for SI.com re Votto. Specifically, that Votto represented one of the clearest cases of Old-v-New schools of thought, re hitting production. The idea was discussed when The Technician was sitting on 4 HR/20 BI. Now, he’s up to 7 and 22. Both #s are subpar for him and, in fact, for a No. 3 hitter. The obvious question being, can a guy who ranks 11th among NL 1Bs in BI be seen as having a typically good year?

Obviously, his new-school metrics are through the roof… OB, OPS, WAR, FBI, CIA, REM, DEA etc. He leads this world — and quite possibly, others — in walks. He’s top three last I checked, in runs.

Before he drove in 2 yesterday, he ranked 87th in MLB in that category. I’m not sure why, exactly, some savants consider RBI to be somewhat irrelevant these days. But, whatever.

The question remains, and it’s getting weaker every day: Do Votto’s new-age numbers so highly overshadow his old-school shortcomings as to make the SI piece irrelevant? I’m guessing you’ll say yes indeedy, OG.

Thumbs up or down?

* INTERESTING HOW SAVANTS also so easily dismiss BP as team MVP after six weeks. They live in the world of numbers. What number measures the runs he saves? The hits he takes away, practically nightly? The outs he creates? Is there a SABRE-fact for that?

What’s the number for his versatility as a hitter? We know he’s money in the clutch. There is a number for that. What about his ability to bat anywhere in the top six in the lineup? Would Choo be Choo if he had to hit cleanup? Maybe. We don’t know. He hasnt been asked. Phillips has. He has aaved this team’s rear, the way he has hit. He has us asking Ryan Who?

If you’re going to laud the ability of Choo and Votto to score runs and get on base, why no love for BP’s ability to drive them in? Votto’s had as many chances to drive in Choo as Phillips has. More, in fact, given that he hits ahead of Phillips. Doesnt BP’s RBI prowess make Votto and Choo look good, same as their ability to get aboard makes BP’s RBI total look impressive?

Riddle me that, Statman.

Repoz Posted: May 24, 2013 at 03:16 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds, sabermetrics

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   1. Bug Selig Posted: May 24, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4451525)
How could he possibly go from 4HR, 20RBI to 7HR, 22RBI? He really is unclutch if he doesn't even drive in runs on his homers.
   2. Bug Selig Posted: May 24, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4451529)
They live in the world of numbers. What number measures the runs he saves? The hits he takes away, practically nightly? The outs he creates? Is there a SABRE-fact for that?


Way to do your research, Paul.
   3. Matt Welch Posted: May 24, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4451550)
Mark Grace hit 3rd most of his career; never drove in 100 runs (but was top 10 OBP 7 times). I don't recall that confusing many people at the time.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4451560)

If you’re going to laud the ability of Choo and Votto to score runs and get on base, why no love for BP’s ability to drive them in?


And if you're going to laud BP's ability to drive in runs, why not laud Votto's ability to get on base?

I mean, even old school guys have to recognize that if a slugger is not getting many pitches to hit because he's awesome, he's probably not going to have a ton of RBI, right? Votto has had 102 PAs with runners on base and is hitting .310/.510/.437. He has drawn 28 walks in those situations. Phillips has had 114 PAs with runners on base and is hitting .330/.398/.479 with 12 walks.

I can't imagine any one that watches the Reds nightly would say with the game on the line "yep, I'd rather have Brandon Phillips up than Joey Votto."
   5. Matt Welch Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4451561)
Other low-RBI, high-OBP 1Bmen who spent more time hitting 3rd than anywhere else: Keith Hernandez, Sean Casey, Wally Joyner, Mike Hargrove, Bruce Bochte, Joe Kuhel, Phil Cavarretta. It's one of my favorite player types. (The Angels have had a whole slew of 'em.)
   6. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4451570)
Look, I love Brandon Phillips. He's a fun player to follow, a human highlight reel in the infield, and he's had a nice run with runners on-base.

But...

Brandon Phillips has 40 RBI and has had 159 men on-base.
Tulowitzki has 38 RBI and has had 120 men on-base. Who's better at driving in runs?
Goldschmidt has 36 RBI and has had 120 men on-base.
Panda has 34 RBI and has had 134 men on-base.

It obvious that Brandon's RBI totals are due to the fact that the Reds 1 and 3 hitters have combined to be on base 204 times already. No other pair of teammates in the NL had been on more than 157 times (Goldschmidt and Parra)
   7. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4451574)
I can't imagine any one that watches the Reds nightly would say with the game on the line "yep, I'd rather have Brandon Phillips up than Joey Votto."


I'd certainly rather have Votto. Heck, I keep hoping that the Reds somehow can get a real cleanup hitter away from another team (Giancarlo, perhaps) and move Phillips to the 2nd spot.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4451575)
So how long does the "Zack Cozart hitting #2" thing go on? That seems really stupid.
   9. catomi01 Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4451585)
wouldn't it make an awful lot of sense to hit choo and votto 1-2? I honestly couldn't have told you who the reds two hitter is before looking it up - but after doing so and seeing his OBP is .247....well, yeah...
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4451588)
Or Choo-Phillips-Votto if you want L-R-L. Phillips is a second baseman. I thought second basemen had to hit second, not cleanup.
   11. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4451596)
#8 The "Zack Cozart hitting #2" thing will probably go on all season. Dusty is uncommonly stubborn. He fills the lineup out on day one and usually sticks with it. Oddly, even on a player's day off, Dusty likes to plug the sub into the same lineup spot as the starter. Thus, on Cozart's days off, we get to see Cesar Izturis in the 2 hole.
   12. Dunn Deal Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4451597)
So how long does the "Zack Cozart hitting #2" thing go on? That seems really stupid.


Don't worry; Dusty is on top of it. We've got some plans to go with "Cesar Izturis hitting #2", which I'm guessing will fix the problem.

Edit: to be fair, I don't really dislike Dusty, but it's the epitome of silliness to be hitting guys like Cozart and Cesar in the 2 hole.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4451601)
Votto is batting .358 and leading the league, he's second in runs scored, those are old school metrics. Votto is batting .385 .569 .513 1.082 with risp... I don't see how anyone can fault him for his ability to drive in runs. When given a chance he does the job very well.

Nobody is bagging on Phillips, they are just saying he isn't the team MVP. I think that much is pretty obvious. He's arguably more valuable than Choo, but not in the conversation when it comes to Votto.

The funny thing about Phillips, he drives in Cozart as often as he drives in Choo, 10 times each.

From the article...
What about his ability to bat anywhere in the top six in the lineup? Would Choo be Choo if he had to hit cleanup? Maybe. We don’t know. He hasnt been asked. Phillips has.


Phillips has batted 2nd and 4th this year(and only batted second for one game and went 0 for 5 with an SH---not sure I would be bragging about that). If we are talking about MVP for this (6 week)season then his ability in the past to hit in different lineup spots shouldn't be considered.

Doesnt BP’s RBI prowess make Votto and Choo look good, same as their ability to get aboard makes BP’s RBI total look impressive?


Yes it does, it doesn't negate Votto's much better offensive numbers though.

I do think it's funny that RBI is a stat that is about opportunities and is less indicative of a player's skill and ability than runs scored, yet runs scored aren't looked nearly as favorably as a stat as rbi is. Sure runs scored requires help from teammates, but as far as raw numbers are concerned, run scored is a better gauge of player offensive quality than rbi, so of course the old school takes the inferior stat in their infinite wisdom.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: May 24, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4451606)
Oddly, even on a player's day off, Dusty likes to plug the sub into the same lineup spot as the starter


I really hate that. TLR did that also(especially if it was a late scratch) and it really bothered me. Making a lineup card isn't that hard, that you can re-order the list in about 2 minutes(max).
   15. Perry Posted: May 24, 2013 at 05:09 PM (#4451615)
I remember Leyland doing that in Colorado when Walker was hurt and some non-entity replaced him and hit 3rd. Reasoning was that messing with the order would throw everyone out of whack. Thought it was dumb at the time, but then Leyland's forgotten more baseball than I've ever known.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4451617)
Yea, most managers do that. Its stupid.
   17. Steve Treder Posted: May 24, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4451638)
Other low-RBI, high-OBP 1Bmen who spent more time hitting 3rd than anywhere else: Keith Hernandez, Sean Casey, Wally Joyner, Mike Hargrove, Bruce Bochte, Joe Kuhel, Phil Cavarretta. It's one of my favorite player types. (The Angels have had a whole slew of 'em.)

Mickey Vernon. Will Clark was that kind of guy after he lost much of his power in mid-career. I agree, that's a pretty cool kind of player.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: May 24, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4451639)
It's tied to the belief that players like roles and that if you ask your #6 guy to "suddenly" hit #2 today then shift him back to #6 tomorrow that his internal gyroscope will get all a-kilter.

Which is why it's so valuable that Phillips has this amazing "ability" to hit in the spot his name is written into the lineup card. I remember when the Cubs shifted Grace from #3 to #4 so he could get on base after Sammy cleared them that it took him a week to bat in the right order.

Anyway the "new" school of thought on Phillips is that he's having an excellent season and, were it not for Votto's insanely good season, would have a case as Reds' MVP to this point.

As to Daugherty and Votto -- he's completely out of step even by BBWAA standards. The BBWAA had no trouble electing Bonds MVP several times with un-amazing RBI and HR totals. He was a guy who only led the league in RBI once, HR twice and BA twice but of course had 7 MVP and 5 more top 5s. Boggs's MVP finishes are something of an embarrassment to the BBWAA but he was a 12-time AS and sailed into the HoF. Frank Thomas didn't lead the league in a single category in his first MVP season and his second featured just 38 HR and 101 RBI. For his career, he never led the league in HR or RBI and only once in BA. Brett, Morgan, Rickey, Yaz -- they may have been undervalued in their peak by the BBWAA, but nobody was in the least doubt of their excellence. The BBWAA may not have been talking about OBP but they did recognize value.

So anybody who seriously thinks Phillips is having a better season than Votto is completely out of step with old and new schools. Paul Daugherty -- REBEL!

   19. Steve Treder Posted: May 24, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4451642)
Willie Mays never led the league in RBI. He stunk.
   20. valuearbitrageur Posted: May 24, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4451649)
I pray that Joey goes 0-0 with 12 walks in their next series vs. the Card, just so I can read this guys column after.
   21. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 24, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4451651)
Frank Thomas didn't lead the league in a single category in his first MVP season and his second featured just 38 HR and 101 RBI.


Your overall point is excellent, but Frank Thomas's 2nd MVP season was 1994 when he played in all 113 White Sox games and finished 2nd in the AL in home runs and 3rd in RBI.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 24, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4451672)
paul understands the internet. he's looking for page clicks to help him keep his job

as for votto, more telling is that marty b continues to b8tch on broadcasts on votto not driving in more runs and ergo votto's season stats 'lie'

wlw is a powerful medium in reds country. at some point it may actually be picked up by reds fans

now that would be bizarro world stuff. the ballplayers with the 4 digit ops being called out as a 'failure'
   23. Dunn Deal Posted: May 24, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4451679)
wlw is a powerful medium in reds country. at some point it may actually be picked up by reds fans


Ain't that the truth. That's one of the main reasons that Marty pisses me off so much. If everyone recognized that at this point he's just a crochety blowhard, I'd be OK with it - but they don't. I'm sure that Reds fans are up in arms as to how Votto is "underperforming."

Yes, I really can envision a scenario in which Reds fans are bemoaning the failures of a dude with a .480 OBP. Marty could help to change that sort of mindset, but he just won't do it. He's much happier, apparently, in being negative all the time. Listening to him do games, you'd think the Reds were 10 games below .500!

   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 24, 2013 at 07:51 PM (#4451686)
Is there a SABRE-fact for that?


What is this guy, Canadian or something?
   25. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 08:15 PM (#4451701)
Not Daugherty, but, Joey Votto is!
   26. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 24, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4451714)
Just as an FYI, Joey now has more hr and the same # of xbh as Brandon. The bum
   27. Snowboy Posted: May 24, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4451723)
What is this guy, Canadian or something?


Nice try, but you have to be able to pass math to get out of high school up here.
   28. Dunn Deal Posted: May 24, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4451725)
Just as an FYI, Joey now has more hr and the same # of xbh as Brandon. The bum


Yeah, but fewer RBI than BP. What a loser! And his last homer was ONLY a solo HR. An actual TRUE LEADER would have hit a THREE RUN HOMER instead of selfishly hitting only a solo homer. What a disappointment!

It makes me mad that I'm a Reds fan. Because if I weren't, I would wish with all my heart for the Reds to suck, because Reds fans don't freakin' deserve to have a hitter who's as awesome as Joey. It's a travesty that anyone complains about him.
   29. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: May 24, 2013 at 09:14 PM (#4451745)
I really hate that. TLR did that also(especially if it was a late scratch) and it really bothered me. Making a lineup card isn't that hard, that you can re-order the list in about 2 minutes(max).

Gardenhire does this constantly too. Less of a concern now that there are only 2-3 decent hitters in the lineup on a given night, but used to drive me mad (just on principle). Mike Redmond batting 3rd.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2013 at 12:28 AM (#4451862)
Your overall point is excellent, but Frank Thomas's 2nd MVP season was 1994 when he played in all 113 White Sox games and finished 2nd in the AL in home runs and 3rd in RBI.

In my reality, the strike never happened ... yet all the counting stats remained exactly the same. Damnedest thing I ever saw.
   31. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 25, 2013 at 07:24 AM (#4451911)
Well, Brandon hit a late 2r HR last night to pad his rbi lead on Votto (of course, it was Votto who was on base in front of him)

Joey's on pace to break the Reds Times on Base record by 57 (368!), and Brandon is on pace for 141 RBI. Still do not see how anyone cannot see that those are not related.

Also, looking through Joey's splits, there have already been 4 times this year when he's had a hit with a man on 2nd and didn't get an RBI. That seems like a lot for less than 1/3 of the season.

edit: Just for fun, Joey's last 10 games:

.553/.638/.921, on base 30 times

   32. cardsfanboy Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4451934)
Joey's on pace to break the Reds Times on Base record by 57 (368!), and Brandon is on pace for 141 RBI. Still do not see how anyone cannot see that those are not related.


Because Brandon isn't driving in Joey that frequently.(his most common rbi has been Choo and Cozart). So the argument goes that Brandon is driving in the guys who Votto is leaving on base. Of course there is a flaw in that argument. But it's the thought process.

Brandon Phillips RBI opps(Per bb-ref)

RBI Opportunities
Brandon Phillips -- PA: 204 RBI: 40 Actual Runners on Base: 166 (88-54-24),
ML Avg. Player with PA: 204 RBI: 21 Avg. Runners on Base: 121 (60-39-20)
Most Driven In: Z Cozart 10, S Choo 10, Self 8, J Votto 8,
   33. BDC Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4451935)
it's funny that RBI is a stat that is about opportunities and is less indicative of a player's skill and ability than runs scored, yet runs scored aren't looked nearly as favorably

Home runs aside for the moment (they're baseball's analogy to the unassisted goal on a breakaway), the relative respect that the two stats get is an interesting measure of how people think about baseball scoring. Not every run is batted in, but a high percentage of them are, and because of the game's structure, baseball fans tend to think of the actual score as more of an assist: which makes a certain amount of sense; the guy who gets in to begin with is a "table-setter," and then the RBI man … provides the meat, I guess.

In cricket, a run and an "RBI" are the same thing (aside from extras), so the differential judgment doesn't apply. In basketball, the assist is respected, but the field goal is seen as the scoring play, on the theory that the assist gets you a relatively minimal amount of the way there. In hockey, I assume that the equal weight given to goals and assists in scoring is meant to recognize (and perhaps in part to encourage) the complexity of team play, and the fact that it's a rare event to control the puck for more than a second or two without passing.

If scoring history were a little different, I can see a batter being credited a differential fraction of RBI for the base where his scoring runner started: i.e. more credit for a runner driven in from first than from third, and most for a home run. Not all RBIs are the same, in the sense that a run is always a single man touching the plate. But even with Runs, baseball offers the counterintuitive but common scenario that you can score a Run after making an out, so not all Runs really mark the same contribution to scoring, either.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4451937)
If scoring history were a little different, I can see a batter being credited a differential fraction of RBI for the base where his scoring runner started: i.e. more credit for a runner driven in from first than from third, and most for a home run. Not all RBIs are the same, in the sense that a run is always a single man touching the plate. But even with Runs, baseball offers the counterintuitive but common scenario that you can score a Run after making an out, so not all Runs really mark the same contribution to scoring, either.


I keep meaning to do that. It's relatively easy to gather the bases advanced per rbi through retrosheet. I keep meaning to go one step further and try to account for all the bases advanced in a run scored and credit the appropriate batters.(I.E. man walks, single moves him to third, fly ball scores.... gives the batter 1 run advanced, the guy who hit the single 2 run advanced, and the fly ball 1 run advanced)

I know that advanced stat guys like to make this accounting more complicated to better reflect reality, but I think that the simple is more than good enough.
   35. LargeBill Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4451946)
Living in Cincinnati and reading this guy's columns regularly I lost all respect for him a long time ago. The tipping point was his nonsensical explanation for his Hall of Fame vote. Justified not voting for players based on steroids suspicion/speculation calling them cheaters and then writes in Rose' name (obviously to curry favor with local fools) ignoring that a player/manager beholden to gamblers is more of a cheat than guys taking "special vitamins."
   36. AROM Posted: May 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4451949)
"In my reality, the strike never happened ... yet all the counting stats remained exactly the same. Damnedest thing I ever saw."

Damdest thing I ever saw was Larry Walker's 3 run, game 7 walk off homer to beat Robert Hernandez and the White Sox. Partly because of the way it bounced off Tim Raines' glove first (fulfilling the expectations of Expo fans who always thought he'd help them win a series) and partly because it was the second straight series ending homer by an oufielder on a Canadian team.
   37. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: May 25, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4451991)
Damdest thing I ever saw was Larry Walker's 3 run, game 7 walk off homer to beat Robert Hernandez and the White Sox. Partly because of the way it bounced off Tim Raines' glove first (fulfilling the expectations of Expo fans who always thought he'd help them win a series) and partly because it was the second straight series ending homer by an oufielder on a Canadian team.


Ahh, yes ... such happy memories. Hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago - it seems like just yesterday.
   38. JJ1986 Posted: May 25, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4451998)
Hit anywhere in the top 6? Anyone who can hit in the top 4 can hit 5th or 6th.

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