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Monday, May 07, 2018

Poll of 70 big leaguers reveals what they value to gauge performance

When you look at your stats at the end of a given year to evaluate yourself, what number do you gravitate toward and why?

We didn’t get any Wins Above Replacement votes (“I still wish I understood WAR,” Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said.), but we did get a handful of “team wins” votes, which we will strike from the record because they run counter to the emphasis here on the individual.

In some cases, we didn’t get a vote at all.

“I hate ‘em all,” Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson said, “because there’s always another stat that will make you look bad.”

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: May 07, 2018 at 04:23 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: analytics, statistics, war, what is it good for

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   1. A Baseball Fan Posted: May 07, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5668066)
10 votes for ERA, 1 vote for FIP, yikes
   2. Blastin Posted: May 07, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5668069)
I don't find that as egregious as them all choosing runs and RBI. FIP is honestly going to have to change to accomodate those who are genuinely adept at coaxing weak contact.
   3. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 07, 2018 at 06:48 PM (#5668105)
I don’t really have a problem with any of that. I would expect active players to focus on things like runs/RBI or ERA or even wins. That’s the goal, they Aren’t looking big picture.
   4. shoewizard Posted: May 07, 2018 at 06:52 PM (#5668108)
This was actually a better collection of responses than I imagined, but then again, there were only 70 "Usable" responses.....so there's that.
   5. Stormy JE Posted: May 07, 2018 at 06:57 PM (#5668115)
Who cares? The problem back in the day was when you had general managers giving these types of answers.
   6. eric Posted: May 07, 2018 at 07:00 PM (#5668116)
This was actually a better collection of responses than I imagined, but then again, there were only 70 "Usable" responses.....so there's that.


I wonder if any of those others would make Mickey proud?
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: May 07, 2018 at 07:23 PM (#5668131)
The player's goal is to win games. To win games you score runs and you prevent runs. So I'm not surprised at all to see runs scored, RBI's and ERA amongst the choices.

I was happy to see a few pitchers choose WHIP. It's pretty much my favourite quick and dirty stat and I think for something so simple it tells us quite a bit about the performance of a pitcher.
As one guys states, if you've got that WHIP under 1, you're pretty much doing everything right.

   8. Walt Davis Posted: May 07, 2018 at 08:07 PM (#5668164)
Yes, although a focus on RA/9 over ERA might be more team-oriented ... but it's not widely available and who can criticize pitchers for buying into the idea that the UER aren't their fault.

But the honest answer is: the paycheck. :-)

I'll admit, my first look is still at ERA+ and OPS+. Possibly my first look would be at WAR if b-r made the sensible change of putting it in the player's main record.

For pitchers, I can't say as there's any stat I really think is accurate. We know that some of the earned/unearned breakdown in any season is luck. We know that some of the sequencing effect is luck (i.e. walk HR hurts a lot more than HR walk). We know they are reliant on defense, maybe umpires, maybe strike-stealing/ball-giving catchers, parks ... and of course usage, usage, usage. I've never quite put my finger on why but I've never been as comfy with pitcher WAR as batter WAR. That may be just perception (you see a lot more of the components for pitchers) but there are a number of cases where the pitcher seems to have pitched the same from one season to the next but has quite different WAR values.

Anyway, I still mainly look at ERA+, WHIP and K/BB and distinguish between starters and relievers. For batters, I usually dig a little deeper (position, defense, WAR). At least until they put WAR in the first table. :-)
   9. BDC Posted: May 07, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5668180)
I’d settle for Team Wins as a metric :-D
   10. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 07, 2018 at 10:11 PM (#5668251)
didn't read TFA, no votes for GWRBI?
   11. Tim M Posted: May 08, 2018 at 04:45 AM (#5668326)
WHIP is pretty much just OBP for pitchers, meaning it treats a BB the same as a HR. So I don't like it for an overall how-good-is-this-guy stat.

For me, first thing I do when perusing a starter w/ a long career is .. scan down thru W/L. Large numbers mean quantity, good W/L skew means quality. Then over to ERA+ to see if the guy was lucky/unlucky w/ support. League SO/BB changes so much w/ era that it doesn't span the ages, but black ink is always nice.

For batters, a quick scan down G/AB to see if they are mostly full seasons, then HR, SB, and BB. Then you know the type of hitter pretty well, and can move on to the slash lines.

For me when I played, the best BA took home "best hitter" trophy, so that was my stat of choice!
   12. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 08, 2018 at 08:37 AM (#5668353)
When I'm searching the minors for pitchers to draft in my fantasy league, I look at K/9, K/BB, WHIP, and then ERA (in that order).
When I'm looking for batters, I look at OPS, OBP, and then strikeouts.
   13. Brian C Posted: May 08, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5668364)
10 votes for ERA, 1 vote for FIP, yikes

I can't blame players for this since I also think FIP is near worthless.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: May 08, 2018 at 09:23 AM (#5668366)
I think I probably look at OPS+ first. Then I'll look at the slashes and HR to get an idea of what type of hitter he is.

Runs has always been one of my favorite stats. When I was a kid I intuited that because runs won the game, runs had to be the most important statistic, so that was how I judged my performance. Was always a fan of the players that scored more runs than expected, like Tony Phillips. To my credit I also ignored AVG in favor of OBP, which naturally had to include ROE, among the most frequent little league events.

With pitchers, it's ERA+ and then IP, probably. Then maybe K rate. I'm not a WHIP fan at all, I see it as a fantasy sports thing with little utility.

I think I look at WAR after all that. Probably primarily because BR keeps it semi-hidden in another table, but also because any one single number has little illustrative value.
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: May 08, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5668375)
WHIP and OBP are both overrated.

This does not mean that they are bad stats, just that they are overrated.

Any stat that says a walk and a home run are worth the same is inherently flawed.
   16. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: May 08, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5668396)
Any stat that says a walk and a home run are worth the same is inherently flawed.
I wouldn't call that a flaw. That seems more like you being unhappy that it doesn't accurately measure something it isn't trying to measure. OBP is measuring out percentage. That's it. It doesn't pretend to be about total bases. It's a limited stat, and sometimes people use it to try to do more than it's capable of doing. But that's a problem of bad analysis, not a bad stat.

In terms of OBP's flaws, it does bother me that ROEs aren't included.
   17. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 08, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5668469)
WHIP and OBP are both overrated.


I think WHIP in conjunction with ERA+ is very helpful, especially with relievers. With so many inflated ERA+ numbers at the start of the year for relievers WHIP can highlight the guys truly dominating and those that just haven't given up many runs.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 08, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5668585)
Who cares? The problem back in the day was when you had general managers giving these types of answers.

QFT

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This was actually a better collection of responses than I imagined, but then again, there were only 70 "Usable" responses.....so there's that.

I wonder if any of those others would make Mickey proud?

That letter's been known (and verified by snopes) for quite a few years, but for those who aren't familiar with it, it's worth quoting verbatim. It was in response to a request by the Yankees' publicity department to describe a player's most memorable moment at Yankee Stadium.

And here was the Mick's reply:
I consider the following my outstanding experience at Yankee Stadium:

— I got a blow-job under the right field Bleachers, by the Yankee Bull pen.

This event occurred on or about: (Give as much detail as you can)

— It was about the third or fourth inning. I had a pulled groin and couldn't fuck at the time. She was a very nice girl and asked me what to do with the cum after I came in her mouth. I said don't ask me, I'm no cock-sucker.

Signed: Mickey Mantle, The All-American Boy
   19. PreservedFish Posted: May 08, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5668657)
That's poetry.
   20. Rusty Priske Posted: May 08, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5668671)
#16 and #17 you explained perfectly why they are still good stats.

I just flinch when I see people try to use them for more than they are. That is when they are overrated.
   21. Bote Man Posted: May 08, 2018 at 03:46 PM (#5668672)
Sometimes it's hard to know which numbers to trust, and whether they will remain the same for any length of time:


Mike Spack @Corey5771
BIS/Fielding Bible must've changed something with their Defensive Runs Saved formula recently, because B-Ref & FG are currently listing Catchers with different DRS for the 2017 season now, than they did in November.
Barnhart was 21, is now 11
Maldonado was 10, is now 22


Brad @ballskwok
Replying to @Corey5771
I believe they are incorporating framing now.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: May 08, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5668680)
I look at era+ and innings pitched immediately for starting pitchers and pa and ops+ for hitters first... but like Walt, I would like War to be right there front and center, save the rest of the addition portions of it for another table, but it should be right there immediately after ops+... I think fip is a pretty good projecting stat, but a horrible stat for evaluating the actual performance of the pitcher up to that point in time. I like whip for relievers, but more prefer k/bb rate for them to be honest(although I use both)


And of course I would rather have era- instead of era+ become the stat du jour as it better represents the extremes and more accurately represents the gap difference between pitchers.

   23. cardsfanboy Posted: May 08, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5668686)
I think WHIP in conjunction with ERA+ is very helpful, especially with relievers. With so many inflated ERA+ numbers at the start of the year for relievers WHIP can highlight the guys truly dominating and those that just haven't given up many runs.


That used to be the way I look at relievers, now I also include fip in the equation(and if I really want to add another stat ops allowed---but I prefer to always use ops as part of avg/obp/ops triumvirate simply because that tells a 'complete' story. For relievers, especially closers, I think walks are a byproduct of them consciously working around a batter knowing full and well that him being on base isn't that big of a deal if they can find their stuff or do their job. So I do want to see the difference between hits(avg) and walks(obp) they allow
   24. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: May 08, 2018 at 04:03 PM (#5668688)
by the Yankee Bull pen
I originally read this differently.

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