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Friday, August 04, 2006

Sabermetric Research: Birnbaum: Can we measure player improvement over the decades?

Or would Johnny Weekly just remain so?

Conventional wisdom is that baseball players are getting better and better over the decades. How can we know if that’s true? We can’t go by hitting stats, because the pitchers are improving just as much as the batters. We can’t go by pitching stats, either, because the batters are improving just as much as the pitchers. It could be that players have improved so much that if Babe Ruth came back today, he’d only hit like, say, Tino Martinez, or maybe Raul Mondesi. But can we prove that?

Repoz Posted: August 04, 2006 at 12:49 AM | 236 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   101. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 12:04 PM (#2129976)
Andy,
this:

You obviously know more about Yaz's body than he does. And it's equally obvious that all weight training (not to mention those steroids) has gone for naught, other than perhaps to add to the player's OPS at the beach and in the bars. Ballclubs should probably just chuck their weight rooms and invest in a few forests and lakes stocked with grizzly bears and fish and let their players just stay in shape with a little huntin' 'n' fishin'.

is horsehshit over-the-top distorting my position.

I'd say it was more of a lampooning of it than a distortion, if you can ever learn to figure out the distinction. Especially considering the following quote from post #82:

I am saying it is overly simplistic for you, Andy and Yaz to say his jump in HRs was due to weight-lifting.

Gee, who could have written that? Why, it was Chris Dial, telling Yaz to wise up! Did I "distort" that?


Yes, you did and are.

I said "that's over-simplification". Don't you think it is?

Of course it's "over-simplification." But the over-simplification is in your whole position that weight training is of little or no benefit to baseball players. As Kevin notes, weight training techniques have gone far beyond the days of just lifting barbells, and the idea that weight training will do more harm than good is at best many decades removed from reality.

Your whole modus operendi seems to consist of making some wildly counter-intuitive claim (weight lifting doesn't produce any significant benefits to baseball players), dismissing any obvious rebuttals (Yastrzemski, 1967) to that claim with a request for further "proof," and then whenever someone quotes your own words (fully in context) back to you, your response is a combination of personal attack and a lack of any concrete explanation as to where the actual "distortion" of your position lies.

Which always brings us back to Square One. In spite of the fact that Carl Yastrzemski and (by now) every Major League organization, minor league organization, amateur team, and millions of individual players have testified to the benefits of weight training, here's good old Chris Dial demanding that we "prove" that they're all not just self-delusional.

It's like chasing Br'er Rabbit through the briar patch.

I'll sign off with just this:

I'd love to see you tell Yaz himself that his transformation from 1966 to 1967 had nothing to do with his weight training. Perhaps you'd demand "proof" from Yaz himself. I'd pay admission to be the fly on the wall during that little bit of conversation, and I suspect that a lot of other people here would as well.
   102. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 01:50 PM (#2130030)
As per your question or where it shows up in the statistics? I don't know. It might not. I suspect that there's a clever way to detect this improvement that we simply haven't found yet. That's no reason to claim that it doesn't exist when logic makes a convincing case that it does. I don't know why you believe that statistical evidence is the only legitimate from of evidence.

J. Cross,
this is largely my position. However, in the face of the data, as opposed to simply the logic, I suggest the data is a stronger form of evidence.

Take clutch hitting, or protection, or leadership, or chemistry. Logic says these things matter, as they matter in all other areas. The data suggest tehy aren't significant in baseball - I'm not claiming, nor have I, that it is categorically impossible. I am saying, the data does not support any clear improvement.

And I have offered repeatedly in this thread to continue to look for it. I wrote the first piece, took critique and re-ran with another approach. I'm *VERY* open-minded on this topic - clearly more than the rest of you - I am willing to go where the data leads - but not where the lead lemming leads.

When Gould wrote his piece, he also said it appears that "baseball talent" had largely leveled off in the 40s-50s. That usually gets skipped over.
   103. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:13 PM (#2130054)
Interesting development in this thread. I guess it turned into someone's personal mission.

I know - try to get Andy off that ledge.

Let's take a look at a couple of things.

(1) Data

I have no idea the source on the data that has been bandied about on height and weight.


the Lahman database.

But:

(a) I don't trust listings regardless of who has recorded them unless the person took the measurements themselves.


Agreed. that was discussed during the peer-review. I see no reason to suspect that Ht/Wt listings are more suspect in any given period and the biases are likely consistent. I believe that is stated as a disclaimer somewhere in teh articles/discussion.

(b) I decided to rerun this experiment with data that I did have. I used the Lahman database for heights and weights, and I didn't worry about decades. If we are measuring years, let's measure years. I also run it with no thresholdes, with 500 AB threshold, 1000 AB threashold and 5000 AB threshhold. Here is what I found.

(i) A heavily oscilllitating function that is generally linearly increasing when interpolated. (IOW, players are getting taller and heavier).
(ii) The slope of the line is increasing at about the same rate. (IOW, no matter what criteria you use to segregate players the average size is increasing at about the same rate in every population.)
(iii) Although not always true, the curves with linear threshholds are generally larger in size magnitude as one increases the threshhold (IOW, there may be some correlation in size and career length or opportunities in MLB. I didn't bother to test this because it doesn't matter too much).


Please show your work.

So I'm not sure where the hullaballoo is coming from that players aren't getting bigger. As has been pointed out, even using Dial's data that point is seen.

Me neither. I pointed it out before most people joined this board.

(2) Strength

I can't tell what the argument is here. One minute Dial is saying players aren't stronger, the next minute he's admitting he didn't say that players weren't stronger.


Read all the posts.

Then he starts talking about great players being strong. Somehow, I guess he believes that adds up to something.

Actually, that was Andy that brought up great players (Yaz). I responded in kind.

At the end of the day, players are either stronger as a class or they are not stronger as a class. All this beating around the bush about Mantle isn't going to help. I aver that most any piece of evidence available will show that players as a class are more likely than not stronger. I wish we could get that out of the way and find out if it is a point of contention.

It isn't going to be demonstrable I suspect, but I have stated that it could well be the case (even in teh orignal discussions). My position is, and always has been, regardless of some people's desire to confuse the point, any physical changes, ht/wt/body fat/musculature/bench press scores do not appear to result in a significant measurable improvement of the game. the difference between 1900 and 1950 is clear and significant. the change from 1950 to present is difficult to identify.

(3) Strength to baseball ability

I think this is getting pretty silly. If you hold all things equal and increase a player's strength, he will be able to generate more bat speed. In another model you can keep the bat speed constant and strength would allow you to start the bat later and generate the same bat speed.

Now, this is true for strenght in general. You could subdivide strength type. But is anyone arguing that there is an increase in strength but only for endurance and not anerobic properties?
Moreover, I have seen the old saw, "but you don't hold everything equal" bantered about in similar contexts. If that is the case, which skill is it that is being argued that has atrophied?


Starting and moving the mass. Flexibility. Timing. But actually none of that is being argued. What is being argued is, regardless of some people's inability to see it, is that despite all the "obvious increases in skill", a measurable increase in skill hasn't been clearly identified, *ALTHOUGH* similar changes from the first half of the century *DO* show a marked improvement in baseball skills.

Can you point us in the direction of where this strength would manifest itself?

(4) Defense

Field actually makes a good argument. If defense has increased then for levels to remain constant then some other factor would be changed. Which factor is being argued to have changed?


Defense hasn't been shown to have been increased, and pitching would likely be the other factor.

(5) "It has to be"

I hate to break this to you, especially since you invoked logic chains, but "it has to be" is generally how any proof works. You reach a point where both sides equal a law or something that has been proven. What most people are doing is using evidence AND DATA and making inductive arguments.


I'm sorry; I missed the data from the position that players are better. Could you show me that post?

That induction is reaching general points that are usually part of general consensus. It may get confusing, because people really don't know what is in contention. At times it looks like such general knowledge criteria as defensive improvements and strength being an attribute of baseball performance or being argued against. And its difficult to tell when that is serious and when its for rhetorical effect.

Oh, you read Andy's lampooning?

Ending every post with the "it must be so" line is not going to strengthen the argument.

I know - I have been telling them that. thanks for re-enforcing my position - there needs to be some data generated demonstrating this improved play.

(6) Data and Evidence

This has been broached before, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT TO SEE. I've been part of one subpart of these conversations. You have been shown that players are bigger; you have been shown that the human achievement curve on strength and speed is increasing. People are showing you a lot more than that.

If you want to argue that Isolate Power or Slugging or VORP or something hasn't changed in so many years, I would not disagree or probably care that much anyway.


Wouldn't that be what actually demonstrates that players are better? Some measurement? You don't disagree? then you agree? So I am right?

If you want to argue that Micky Mantle was stronger than Rafeal Belliard, you are probably correct. I sure as hell hope so. If you want to argue that Mick was stronger than David Morse even after Morse took steroids, I don't know if its true or not, but I don't see much use. If you want to argue that Mickey Mantle is stronger than Barry Bonds post BALCO, then I doubt that is true, but it might still be possible.

If you don't understand that I don't care about stronger (Pete Incaviglia was much stronger than tony gwynn) by this point, we've missed each otehr lo these many years. I only care about what manifests on teh field - not what *COULD* manifest on teh field. What *does*.

I'm not interested in comparing one freak of nature in a generation to individuals in another population. I am interested in how changes in human achievement impact the game.

Exactly. Which is why I want someone to demonstrate how these changes in human achievement have impacted the game - show me some math. Andy is this HUGE proponent that greenies didn't impact the field because *HE* cannot see spike seasons, although they are there (see Yaz' 1967). I thought it was obvious that bringing up a single point of a great player as anecdotal evidence was kind of silly. I'm glad you agree.

On that front it looks like it has changed the game in the type of player that is sourced; the general usage and deployment of pitching; and probably exacerbated the use of PEDs much the same way as the NFL has exacerbated obesity.

I seriously doubt that Babe Ruth could get that tree trunk of a bat around on many modern pitchers. He might have, but I didn't really see him swing all that much, and he's not just a "stat line" He's a human with discernable characteristics that matter, particularly if the thought experiment is what would he do today.


What reason would you provide that Pedro Martinez would be a better/faster pitcher than Walter Johnson?

The game changes in part because of technology, in part because of learned strategy, and in part because human achievement.

Yes. If you have followed this discussion, you'll find that I have made much of the arguments regarding teh change in glove technology.
   104. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#2130059)
I think you're misinterpreting the data, Chris. You're asking too much of the data, drawing conclusions from it that are unwarranted.

I am not drawing conclusions from it like that. I am saying there is a lack of evidence that players are improving. I don't think that over-reaches teh data based on Gould's statements.

How would you interpret the data?

And yes, but rates of evolution change and change dramatically. that's why we see a huge swing from 1900-1950 but much less so from 1950-2000.
   105. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#2130060)
When Gould wrote his piece, he also said it appears that "baseball talent" had largely leveled off in the 40s-50s. That usually gets skipped over.

Here I go again with inferences rather than data, but this finding wouldn't particularly surprise me. The gross talent pool in the 40's was virtually identical to that of the 30's, but with much potential new talent having had their careers either terminated with extreme prejudice or at least postponed for up to four years because of the war. There were exactly four African American players before 1951 (Robinson, Campanella, Doby, and Newcombe) who had more than a three month impact on the level of play during that period, and three of those were on the same team.

And in the 50's you were dealing with the Korean War (when the military draft was still a factor) and the demographic fact that the birth rate in the Depression was very low. In addition, it's also the case that before 1960 integration affected only a minority of teams (Brooklyn, the Giants, Milwaukee, the Reds, the Indians, the White Sox, and Ernie Banks) in any meaningful way, nearly all of them in the National League. The American League in the 1950's was as stagnant an entity as one could imagine, which is why you had the same three teams finishing 1-2-3 for years at a stretch and the same five other teams gasping for air, in great part because of their continuing refusal to go after black talent.

And here goes another landmine, but all during that period the old canard that "weight training makes you nothing but musclebound" ruled the baseball world.

No, it wouldn't surprise me at all that the 40's and 50's saw little or no improvement in the level of play in the Major Leagues. The later expansion of the talent pool (especially since all the teams began scouting Latin America and now Asia) and advances in conditioning and nutrition are what have brought about the recent improvements. Whether there is any mathematical formula which can "quantify" or "meausure" this improvement is another question, but at bottom that's more of a minor curiosity than it is any serious counterpoint. Gravity existed long before it was "proven."
   106. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:20 PM (#2130065)
No, it wouldn't surprise me at all that the 40's and 50's saw little or no improvement in the level of play in the Major Leagues.

Andy, please read or re-read Gould's piece. gould said that baseball talent in 1980s was effectively leveled off since the 1940s-50s.

That is there was significant improvement from 1900-1950, but that had levelled off from 1950-1985.
   107. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:21 PM (#2130067)
I would be highly doubtful that he would throw that out the window just for baseball.

I think you should re-read his position on this and tell me what you think he has said.
   108. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:26 PM (#2130077)
I'm actually rather amazed that it took Chris 114 posts to try to link Yaz's 1967 spike to greenies rather than weight training.

Interesting development in this thread. I guess it turned into someone's personal mission.

I know - try to get Andy off that ledge.


Everyone else here (not to mention the entire field of organized and unorganized baseball) seems to hold that weight training can often have a positive effect on baseball performance. Everyone except Chris Dial, that is. Not that you would ever notice, in your quest for the magic mathematical "proof."
   109. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:37 PM (#2130093)
Andy,
look at the date on those articles - they are several years old. I didn't just decide to argue against you and kevin in this thread. I already did a ton of work in this area.

the data clearly shows improvement from 1900-1950 - without all this weight training. If wt training were nearly as critical to change as you make it out to be, we should see some trends. the change from 1900-1950 is what happens when ball players are selected for skills (strength being one of those). there is little to no such pattern since 1950 (or so).

If all these advancements were huge, and players today wre much better than those in the 1950s, it should show up - like it does for the players in 1950 compared to their predecessors.

We *know* improved play shows up in the areas I have researched - it is domnstrated and supports teh gould position. However, that doesn't seem to push forward significantly - even detectably.

Yes, it might be my "baby", but that's mostly because I seem to be the only one willing to say "Show the some data like we have for other periods". Everyone else just nods and says "Go along, Chris, go along."

I'm willing to be persuaded, but I want to see something that resembles other changes in teh game as we know it.

And I don't mind standing alone. I'm sorry for those that cannot.
   110. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2006 at 02:49 PM (#2130111)
Defense hasn't been shown to have been increased

Well, errors are way down. That's indisputable. I'm guessing DER is up too, but I'm not as certain of that and pitching and parks can affect it.

Field actually makes a good argument.

Shocking, isn't it?

Chris, I've read Gould's Full House and I remember his arguments about "the wall of human limitation" and that when the cutoff for making it into the majors gets closer to that wall, the variance within the league must decrease. I remember that part of the reason I was so impressed with Bonds (pre-Balco news) is that it seemed clear to me that he'd somehow leaped over that wall of what we'd imagined to be possible. Leaving aside for the moment how he did that, I think that by weight lifting players essentially nudged that wall further along. Since the upper wall moved in addition to the lower wall we don't see a decrease in variance due to weight lifting. When the curve shifts to the right the shape of the tail we're observing (and thus the variance) doesn't change.

With due respect to everyone else, this is the most interesting argument I've seen regarding this issue. This seems very plausible and leads to other, similar suggestions: e.g., and obviously, steroids, but also artificial turf, synthetic tracks, fiberglass poles, etc.

I think J. Cross is right.
   111. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:00 PM (#2130122)
But you seem to be saying that there has been no improvement at all.

No I don't seem to be saying that at all. You are not reading what I am writing, or are conveniently ignoring critical aspects of my arguemnt, despite me writing it plainly.

Please try not to oversimplify the situation.

Which is hilarious considering what Andy and you and Yaz claim about his 1967.

Ruth, IIRC, began those exercises in 1925. His best seasons were 1920-21.

But that's my point - baseball players, by the time they get to MLB, are awesome physical athletes. they already have had years upon years of resistance training. this has always been true, from Mantle on teh farm, to Feller throwing and throwing and throwing (and I use inner-circle guys because that si who we have documentation of - and I note I was chided for using tehm, but you and Andy used Yaz, Ruth and Williams).

All players swung bats all the time. that's how they get to be MLB players. By the time they get to MLB, they are already honed, and that has been the case since 1950s. that's likely why they have levelled off (mostly).

I assume we are all working from teh baseline that MLB players trained very hard to get to the majors, and did lots of exercising - they wanted to keep their jobs. Are you guys thinking that players were randomly selected and thus may or may not have been top athletes prior to MLB?
   112. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#2130126)
I think J. Cross is right

That the wall was moved in 2000? Players weren't better until then?
   113. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2130139)
That the wall was moved in 2000? Players weren't better until then?

No, that weightlifting moves the wall, as do steroids and other technical changes. He didn't say anything about a specific year, nor do I.
   114. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:19 PM (#2130143)
Well, errors are way down. That's indisputable.

I think they are way down from 1982, though. Does that make sense to you?

I found the trend page .jpg"]Errors per game

From the development of the modern glove in the 1950s to about 1982, error rates were mostly level. Since about 1982, they have begun falling dramatically. So the argument that attributes that to a better athlete says (IMO) no change from 1950-1980, and some improvement in the 20 years since - but even that is not close to the change from 1900 to 1945 Or even 1920 to 1945.

Of course, I don't think this is controlled for BIP. That is errors/BIP. I don't know what that would show, but if errors per game are down, and BIP/game are also down, I don't know that fielding is improved significantly.
   115. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#2130149)
And yet still have room for improvement.

Significant improvement? Most of them?

Some have a great deal of room for improvement.

So most do not?

And that's where the evolving techniques for performance refinement/enhancement come into play.

And if the gains were significant, it would likely, as history has shown us, show up in the measurements I have researched.
   116. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:25 PM (#2130154)
Data please.

In 1925 Ruth had a stomach abcess or somesuch. He hired some famous woman trainer to workout with him after that to get back into shape. It was on ESPN's show about working out and steroids, I think.

I think I botched that link above .jpg"]errors per game
   117. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:30 PM (#2130164)
The Ruth workout info is in teh wikipedia.

The Yankees 1925 season went as badly as Ruth's. Injuries, age, and poor play had them at the bottom of the standings all year, and they finished next to last in the A.L. with a 69–85 mark. Later in the season, Ruth had a well-publicized fight with manager Miller Huggins, who fined Ruth $5,000 and suspended him nine days for numerous curfew violations. Only after an apology to Huggins and the team he was allowed to play again, and Ruth would never again question Huggins's authority. One bright spot of the season was on June 2 when first baseman Wally Pipp was benched to put a young Lou Gehrig in the lineup, a lineup Gehrig stayed in for the next 2,130 consecutive games.

Coming off his worst season, Ruth even realized he needed to get in condition, and he went to fitness expert Artie McGovern, whose gym on Madison Avenue in New York City was noted for getting the rich and famous into shape. McGovern said when Ruth came to him in December of 1925, he found Ruth a “physical wreck.” He said Ruth was noticeably overweight at 254 pounds, with a high pulse, a bulging stomach, and flabby muscles. Bad eating and drinking habits had also left Ruth’s digestive system a mess. McGovern also noted that even the slightest exertion left Ruth short of breath. McGovern stated Ruth’s physical condition was as bad as about any person he had seen come to his gym, and he put Ruth on a vigorous workout schedule. The exercise regimen for Ruth included an early wake-up, then leg lifts and crunches, followed by a fast walk, then a massage-all before breakfast. Other exercises included work on a stationary bike, rowing machines, and boxing with McGovern. Ruth’s diet was also was radically changed, as gone were the beef and sweets and snacks, now replaced with more eggs, salads, vegetables, chicken or lamb.

In just six weeks, McGovern’s program had completely transformed Ruth. Ruth was physically stronger, his pulse dropped from 92 to 78, and he had lost 44 pounds. Ruth seemed invigorated when he arrived for spring training in 1926, and he went on the have a great season in 1926, silencing many critics who thought his career was in decline. Ruth would spend each off-season working with McGovern, and although his weight crept back up over the years (since being older the weight became harder to lose), Ruth play remained at a high level for several more years until age began to diminish his skills.
   118. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#2130166)
Show us that Ruth did not resistance train prior to 1925.

I never made such a claim, and who is "us"? You and Roger Maynard?
   119. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:43 PM (#2130176)
Ruth's workouts that he is *known* to perform began in 1925.

Can you provide evidence he routinely did them prior?
   120. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:43 PM (#2130177)
Please try not to oversimplify the situation.

Which is hilarious considering what Andy and you and Yaz claim about his 1967.


How, exactly, are we oversimplifying anything? You throw words like "oversimplifying" and "distortion" around like candy, but you never seem to show just how we've "oversimplified" or "distorted" anything at all.

Yaz began weight training in the winter of 1966-67.

His power stats jumped immediately, and in two of the next three years he also hit 40 home runs, numbers far beyond what he had ever achieved in his six years prior to 1967. At that point he was 31 years old, and age and nagging injuries reduced his effectiveness in all aspects of his game.

Yazstremski himself stated many times that it was his weight training that helped him boost thost power numbers. Countless athletes and organizations since then have agreed with him.

Nobody is saying that weight training alone will improve everyone's numbers, any more than steriods will. Obviously the latent talent and skills have to be there in the first place. There is no one magic bullet, and nobody here has claimed that there is. An adjustment in one's swing is but one of many other possible factors. Nobody denies this.

But whereas the rest of the world seems to hold that weight training will help to improve baseball skills, particularly in the power-related areas, you maintain that this is a wildly exaggerated claim. This certainly will be news to millions of athletes around the world, including but hardly limited to Yaz and Barry Bonds.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with my conclusions, how in the hell is this line of reasoning "oversimplification?" Is it merely because I'm not citing academic studies to back me up? Does every assertion based on countless first hand experiences and testimonies have to have a scientific paper to be true? Your clear implication that all these people (never mind me and Kevin) have been hoodwinked by the evidence of their own senses and experiences would lead one to think we were discussing a case of mass hypnosis or something.
   121. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2130181)
There is no one magic bullet, and nobody here has claimed that there is.

BL seems to be arguing that right here:
If you hold all things equal and increase a player's strength, he will be able to generate more bat speed. In another model you can keep the bat speed constant and strength would allow you to start the bat later and generate the same bat speed.

Now, this is true for strenght in general. You could subdivide strength type. But is anyone arguing that there is an increase in strength but only for endurance and not anerobic properties?
Moreover, I have seen the old saw, "but you don't hold everything equal" bantered about in similar contexts. If that is the case, which skill is it that is being argued that has atrophied?


He's saying to you that strength MUST make one better - he's said it many times, so when you say "no one says that" you are mistaken. BL says it all teh time.
   122. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:49 PM (#2130184)
Yaz began weight training in the winter of 1966-67.

His power stats jumped immediately


See that? Now when I point out 1968 (which you constantly gloss over), kevin points out that players aren't robots and normal variation - things I agree with.

That's why:
1. Yaz weight trained
2. Yaz hit more HRs
3. Yaz hit more HRs because he wt trained

is oversimplification.
   123. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2130186)
Andy,
when you "lampoon" my position, are you exaggerating what I think - that is distorting it?
   124. Mefisto Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2130213)
I think I botched that link above

It still doesn't work for me.

From the development of the modern glove in the 1950s to about 1982, error rates were mostly level. Since about 1982, they have begun falling dramatically. So the argument that attributes that to a better athlete says (IMO) no change from 1950-1980, and some improvement in the 20 years since - but even that is not close to the change from 1900 to 1945 Or even 1920 to 1945.

I haven't claimed that the improvement in fielding was due to better athletes. That may be some of the explanation, but gloves and fields are likely to be significant contributors also.

I don't think this is controlled for BIP. That is errors/BIP. I don't know what that would show, but if errors per game are down, and BIP/game are also down, I don't know that fielding is improved significantly.

A fair point, and I'd like to know the answer, but I don't think it undermines my claim. It's still true that if hitters can't get hits on BIP, they can maintain BA and SLG only by improvement, that is, by hitting HR. Since they have maintained BA, we know they must have made that improvement. Greater strength is likely a factor, and increased size, combined with weight training, likely contribute to that improvement.
   125. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:29 PM (#2130218)
It's still true that if hitters can't get hits on BIP, they can maintain BA and SLG only by improvement, that is, by hitting HR. Since they have maintained BA, we know they must have made that improvement. Greater strength is likely a factor, and increased size, combined with weight training, likely contribute to that improvement.

Or, pitchers have gotten worse and parks have gotten smaller thus turning outs into HRs. I don't think there is enough info there to go either way.
   126. Backlasher Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:33 PM (#2130219)
No I don't seem to be saying that at all. You are not reading what I am writing, or are conveniently ignoring critical aspects of my arguemnt, despite me writing it plainly.

If that is plainly, I hate to see what you consider convulated. Particularly since its pretty clear:

(1) You argue on things you do not believe yourself for the sake of creating argument.
(2) You have this real annoying habit with word definitions, at times creating definitions no one uses, but more often making very limited definitions in your premises, and then using very broad definitions in the conclusions.

What precisely do you think "improvement" means. You keep saying this over and over. And then you keep admitting that "well, yes that has improved in that area, and yes that has improved too" then you trot out "there has been no improvement" Does improvement have a definition of "mean isolated power" in your world?

And you have no real basis to talk about understanding arguments when you do this type of nonsense:


There is no one magic bullet, and nobody here has claimed that there is.

BL seems to be arguing that right here:

If you hold all things equal and increase a player's strength, he will be able to generate more bat speed. In another model you can keep the bat speed constant and strength would allow you to start the bat later and generate the same bat speed.

Now, this is true for strenght in general. You could subdivide strength type. But is anyone arguing that there is an increase in strength but only for endurance and not anerobic properties?
Moreover, I have seen the old saw, "but you don't hold everything equal" bantered about in similar contexts. If that is the case, which skill is it that is being argued that has atrophied?

He's saying to you that strength MUST make one better - he's said it many times, so when you say "no one says that" you are mistaken. BL says it all teh time.


There is no discernable difference in what I said and what Andy said. You just aren't able to recognize it. Andy said there is no "magic bullet" and "skills have to be in place"

Why you have yet to understand that "when skills are in place, an increase in strength that is not offset by an other criteria will lead to an increase in performance" You constantly and habitually try to change that to people saying:

"Lifting weights will make a little leaguer into a baseball player"

And moreover, it doesn't matter what I say in your discussion with Andy. Another very annoying ploy. You try to create discontinuity (that does not exist) between two people's statements and think that gives you an "aha moment".'

And then there is this type of stuff:

Please show your work.

Ok

(1) Select Query on Master concatinating the year and giving height and weight.

(2) Select Query on Query 1, grouping by Year and taking the mean of height and weight

(3) Graphing the results

Now you can repeat it to your heart's content. Or do you think:

(a) You need to post 130+ rows and 4 columns of data and somehow post a graph in a discussion forum; or
(b) do you think writing an article and making bad conclusions make it "teh data" and everything else logic. Because its the logic of yours that I take issue with. "Teh Data" says nothing.

Starting and moving the mass. Flexibility. Timing. But actually none of that is being argued.

Are they being argued or not. Do you think there has been an atrophy in :

(a) starting and moving "the mass" (not sure which mass is being referred to as their are lots of bodies in motion and usually lighter bats). I'd like to hear this argument if you are making it.

(b) Flexibility. Kevin will have a Field day with you on this one.

(c) Timing. Let's hear this one.

You seem to be fixated on the fact that stronger and faster would manifest itself in some single output stat of baseball.

I know - I have been telling them that. thanks for re-enforcing my position - there needs to be some data generated demonstrating this improved play.


LOL. Want to talk about a busted joke that is done so poorly it actually is funny. Dial, just because you keep characterizing an argument as "it has to be so" does not mean anyone has remotely said such thing.

Wouldn't that be what actually demonstrates that players are better? Some measurement? You don't disagree? then you agree? So I am right?

And this is where I don't know whether to be exacerbated because you are playing games, or amazed that you really think this way. After all these threads, I can't tell anymore; I use to think it was just a joke.

Not proffering disagreement does not mean that you agree. Not everything is binary, and if you want to try to make it discrete, you need to do a much, much better job at isolating discrete components.

And Field is showing you measures of improvement in defense. Defense is a contributing variable to most of the offensive rate stats you mention. Remember balancing an equation. But if you think "teh data" trumps that in some way, then there is no way to get it.

But more important the game has changed. And quite often changes to rules and technology are made to try to preseve stasis in the general character of the game. Its one of the reasons why baseball can and does regulate PEDS independent of public health arguments. You began seeing a change to a non-desirous outcome.

What reason would you provide that Pedro Martinez would be a better/faster pitcher than Walter Johnson?


Better questions, what reasons would you provide that he does not throw harder. Where is "teh data" on Johnson's mean velocity.

And moreover, what makes you think that is relevant to this discussion. Martinez is not the highest velocity pitcher in the modern era.

And it is possible that you can pick an outlier from any generation and they would still be among the leaders in such components.

What matters, relative to the point I made (and before you change it to something else) is whether Ruth would have trouble swinging that much heavier bat against a population of pitchers who will have an increase in mean velocity.

But if you don't think they have increased their velocity by all means show us "teh data" on that subject.

Output stats are of very limited use. I'm sure you can compare a Triple A team and a ML team and see comparable rates on many stats. That does not mean that "There is no difference in the ability of a AAA team and an ML team." A rising tide lifts all boats.
   127. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2130222)
for the life of me, I have never read anything written by BL that would lead me to believe that is what he thinks. He says so in this very thread.


kevin,
what do you think this means:

If you hold all things equal and increase a player's strength, he will be able to generate more bat speed. In another model you can keep the bat speed constant and strength would allow you to start the bat later and generate the same bat speed.

Doesn't that say increase in strength means increase in bat speed/ability to wait on a pitch? Wouldn't you assume that means a player must get better? Otherwise, what difference would strength = more bat speed make? Are you saying more bat speed doesn't mean "better player"?
   128. Backlasher Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:41 PM (#2130225)
Or, pitchers have gotten worse and parks have gotten smaller thus turning outs into HRs. I don't think there is enough info there to go either way.


But there is enough info to conclude "performance hasn't improved" because variance was increased AS NEW FACTORS WERE INTRODUCED TO THE GAME. Because MLB managed to keep stasis in many output measures.

So do you think that (1) Fielding improved; (2) Hitting stayed the same; and (3) Pitching started to suck. Or are you going to say "I'm not arguing that."

I want to know which it is. Is it flexibility, is it pitching degradation.

You seem to acknowledge that a whole bunch of things have changed. You seem to acknowledge that output in many areas, and other indicators are lineraly improving.

No one has opposed that rates of improvement may not change at the same level across intervals. But that doesn't mean "there has been no baseball improvement"
   129. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2130228)
"teh data"

Oh, I misspelled a word. Next I may use "their" instead of "they're". Can someone get BL a tissue?
   130. Backlasher Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2130229)
If you hold all things equal and increase a player's strength, he will be able to generate more bat speed. In another model you can keep the bat speed constant and strength would allow you to start the bat later and generate the same bat speed.

Doesn't that say increase in strength means increase in bat speed/ability to wait on a pitch? Wouldn't you assume that means a player must get better? Otherwise, what difference would strength = more bat speed make? Are you saying more bat speed doesn't mean "better player"?


ROFLMAO. I think for most people it means exactly what is says, using common definitions of the words. The fact that you don't understand what it means, and have to recast it as something different is rather annoying. Of course, you smile when you do it, and your just joking but everybody else is serious.

But even more important, if I did say something that contradicts Andy, how on earth do you think that relates to the legitimacy of Andy's position.
   131. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#2130234)
Andy,
when you "lampoon" my position, are you exaggerating what I think - that is distorting it?


Chris, my lampoon was an obvious parody of your position. Only the most literalminded could (or would) confuse this with a true distortion, which would consist of either a misquoting, partial quoting, or miscontextualizing of your words in order to make a point. Nobody reading my lampoon (except perhaps you) would have taken it to mean that I was claiming you had actually taken the "position" taken in my lampoon.

If I'd said "you obviously believe that Barry Bonds never took steroids" in the context of a steroids thread, that would be a distortion. Bad me.

But if Kevin wrote, "I suppose you think that Bonds's head swelled up as a result of his brain's enlargement due to all the fish he's been eating," that would be a lampoon. Whimsical, but not bad Kevin.

This is not a "distinction without a difference." It's just an occasional attempt to rescue a thread from total solemnity.

Yaz began weight training in the winter of 1966-67.

His power stats jumped immediately


See that? Now when I point out 1968 (which you constantly gloss over), kevin points out that players aren't robots and normal variation - things I agree with.

That's why:
1. Yaz weight trained
2. Yaz hit more HRs
3. Yaz hit more HRs because he wt trained

is oversimplification.


Only if I claimed that his 1967 jump was solely due to his weight training, which I never have and wouldn't. When Yaz credited his newly discovered home run swing to weight training, he gave it a major role, but certainly neither he nor I would claim that this was all that went into it. Any more than I'd claim that it was only steroids that caused Bonds's numbers to jump. BL may or may not believe in magic bullets, and he's certainly capable of speaking for himself on that subject, but I've always maintained that there are many significant factors that might in many cases go into a player's power totals:

Talent, including inherented strength (and it didn't hurt that Jimmie Foxx spent his boyhood milking cows)

The quality of the opposition

Injuries

General conditioning (Ruth in the Spring of 1925 being a pretty good counter-example)

Strength conditioning, including weight training and in some cases, steroids

Honing of technique, and choice of technique (to uppercut or not to uppercut?)

Stadium size, factoring in whether or not he tried to pull the ball (this was indeed another factor in Yaz's 1967 jump)

The liveliness of the ball, and the overall strategy of the game in the era he played

His position in the batting order, including whom he followed and whom he batted in front of (Roger Maris, 1961)

And so on. I don't deny any of these things. But I do include weight training as an "unmeasurable" but nevertheless distinct and (to varying degrees) important factor in the honing of baseball skills. And given the circumstances, Yaz's 1967 season, and what he said about its relationship to his weight training, is IMO strong evidence towards that conclusion---along with the testimony of countless others.

Does all that really amount to "oversimplification?"

Or does dismissing the weight training factor as playing any significant role simply amount to denial?
   132. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2130237)
But there is enough info to conclude "performance hasn't improved" because variance was increased

I said, have said, repeatedly stated that "the data doesn't support the claim if variance should decrease." I haven't said "performance hasn't increased" I said the data doesn't support that - using open work, change the analysis with input from peers openly published so that my interpretation of the data could be evaluated by everyone and published in a forum where detractors or critique could be made.

If you read from whence the work was birthed, you might not be on this crazed rant.

And "your" (isn't that childish?) not really saying much above. You like to criticize others regarding Beane-fans when one says "No one said that" but I am responsible to google you saying the things when Andy says "no one says that". That's why it is relevant. It isn't a "aha" anymore than it is for you. So either get off my butt about it or stop doing it yourself.
   133. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:56 PM (#2130240)
You seem to be fixated on the fact that stronger and faster would manifest itself in some single output stat of baseball.

Not on a "single output", but on *some* output. You seem to be content to just say they are significantly better without some significant tangible output in the game.

Are you satisfied with that? If so, then why are you arguing?
   134. Backlasher Posted: August 07, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2130243)
Oh, I misspelled a word. Next I may use "their" instead of "they're".

LOL. It has nothing to do with misspelling and everything to do with throwing something out there without meaning and saying it over and over. You have plenty of data, and you have conclusions drawn from the data. Characterizing something as "teh data" over and over again has no more effect than characterizing an argument as "it must be so"
   135. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2130247)
He began weight training after the 1966 season and went from 16 to 44 home runs the next year, a jump he attributed directly to his increased strength.

When Yaz credited his newly discovered home run swing to weight training, he gave it a major role, but certainly neither he nor I would claim that this was all that went into it.

attributed *directly*. You continued to claim on page one that was the crux of his gains in HRs. I said that was an overly simple explanation. And you FINALLY agree in post 150. thanks.
   136. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:05 PM (#2130251)
BL,
you are welcome to review my articles and explain what you claim is the faulty logic. READ them, and what I've said rather than what you want me to have said.

That's why I publish my work, so it can be commented on and improved, rather than whatever that crap was you posted above. And yes, what I did is showing my work, and what you did is not.
   137. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:08 PM (#2130255)
Wait - so, your "We did that with Yaz " is what you consider as evidence there has been league wide increase in performance that is significant since the 1950s?

Are you serious?
   138. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2130259)
Not on a "single output", but on *some* output. You seem to be content to just say they are significantly better without some significant tangible output in the game.


We did that with Yaz


I wanted to post that again, becasue I find it hilarious.
   139. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:34 PM (#2130278)
These distortions you make regarding the postings I and others introduce is annoying.

Now you know how I feel.
   140. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2130281)
And, by extrapoaltion, if Yaz could do it, so could a lot of other players. As they have.

kevin, don't you think that would show up in the data? Yaz' power jump was dramatic.
   141. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 06:31 PM (#2130344)
He began weight training after the 1966 season and went from 16 to 44 home runs the next year, a jump <u>he attributed directly</u> to his increased strength.

When Yaz credited his newly discovered home run swing to weight training, he gave it a major role, but certainly neither he nor I would claim that this was all that went into it.


attributed *directly*. You continued to claim on page one that was the crux of his gains in HRs. I said that was an overly simple explanation. And you FINALLY agree in post 150. thanks.


Chris, I apologize for whatever confusion my use of "directly" may have caused, but it still comes down to this:

Yaz and I (we're old time buddies, you know, heh heh) both noticed a direct correlation between his 1966-67 offseason weight training and his newly found power. But when I use the word "direct," I don't mean (and never intended to mean) that he just dropped a nickel into the weight machine and came out with a Triple Crown. I think I explained my position rather fully in #150, but I thought, perhaps erroneously, that anyone would understand that weight training was not the sole factor in Yaz's improvements. Backlasher's comment here is succinct and to the point:

<u>when skills are in place</u>, an increase in strength that is not offset by an other criteria will lead to an increase in performance

IOW, I maintain that weight training was an important (if "unmeasurable") factor, though not the only one, in Yaz's 1967 power spike. And you can say the same thing about thousands of other players as well. But like Kevin says, to list them all would take (at least) the rest of the day.

And rather than risk another charge of "distortion," why don't you just spell out exactly what there is about this opinion that you disagree with? If it's just a case of agnosticism and waiting for the scientific studies to come in, that's one thing. But if your are seriously trying to claim that isolated added strength does not correlate to (varying amounts of) improved performance, I'd like to know how you arrive at that conclusion, other than to say "it hasn't been proven."

I'll pick up on this later, as our shop computer just crashed and I have to go out and get a new one.
   142. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:13 PM (#2130603)
Backlasher's comment here is succinct and to the point:

when skills are in place, an increase in strength that is not offset by an other criteria will lead to an increase in performance


Right. Since for every MLB player, skills *are* in place. That is how they are MLB players. You are clearly agreeing that either:
a) increase strength for every MLB player will result in an increase in performance

or

b) increase in strength for many players is offset by another criterion and thus does not result in an increase in performance.

As BL wrote elsewhere - what are these offsetting criteria? Can you make an argument that these criteria offset the gain in strength?

Since you have stated *steadfastly* that it won't increase every players performance, and BL clearly says it will (because the skills are in place in order for a player to be in MLB - BL's qualifier is met)what goes to "atrophy"?

I proffered a few possibilities which BL scoffed at:
(from above):
Starting and moving the mass. Flexibility. Timing. But actually none of that is being argued.

Are they being argued or not. Do you think there has been an atrophy in :

(a) starting and moving "the mass" (not sure which mass is being referred to as their are lots of bodies in motion and usually lighter bats). I'd like to hear this argument if you are making it.

(b) Flexibility. Kevin will have a Field day with you on this one.

(c) Timing. Let's hear this one.


Do you think those three things can contribute to that? What about an injury - say pulling a muscle from working out? Lou Pinella, and many otehrs inside organized and unprganized, claim bodies are over-fdeveloped and muscles that aren't "baseball muscles" (see Michael Jordan's muscles for hoops as opposed to his for baseball), and straining those and missing time. the oblique strain of Albert Pujols comes to mind.

BL, because his qualifier is met for MLB players, does claim that the increase in strength will result in an increase in performance. And that isn't going to be demonstrable - which is what I've been saying. And yes, to declare that performance is improved, it must be demonstrable, because abcense evidence of such, the best assumption is that there is no effect (IMO).

Now, the problem is, while a single player's improvement may not be "measureable", thousands of players *would* because the signal would surpass the noise. that's why extrapolation won't wash here.
   143. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#2130608)
And good luck with teh computer - I had to buy a new one last week, and a new hard drive for the laptop.

Oh, and in case you missed it - I'll be in DC Fri-Mon. We're having a meetup and going to a ball game, and I presently have a spare ticket for Sunday's game. We're getting together at Biddy O'Mulligans at the Jurys on DuPont Circle. Where is your store? I hope to drop by (with a flaming bag of dog poop).
   144. Backlasher Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:27 PM (#2130630)
you are welcome to review my articles and explain what you claim is the faulty logic. READ them, and what I've said rather than what you want me to have said.

That's why I publish my work, so it can be commented on and improved, rather than whatever that crap was you posted above. And yes, what I did is showing my work, and what you did is not.


I have commented on every distortion and faulty means of logic that expressly appears in this thread. I see no reason to after your entire body of work, because that is usually when you start manufacturing other arguments that are beyond this discussion. There is plenty to deal with in this thread.

Since you have stated *steadfastly* that it won't increase every players performance, and BL clearly says it will (because the skills are in place in order for a player to be in MLB - BL's qualifier is met)what goes to "atrophy"?


Do you seriously not understand all the problems with these misrepresentations?

First, you are substituting individuals with classes of individuals pretty willy nilly.

No one has ever stated that an injury would not contribute to increased performance. No one has ever stated that an indvidual could not atrophy their skills. In fact, that has been stated many times, over and over again.

If you want to argue that as a class, MLB players have (1) lesser flexibility; (2) can't move "the mass" or (3) have worse timing, I'm waiting to see "teh data".
   145. J. Cross Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2130641)
Now, the problem is, while a single player's improvement may not be "measureable", thousands of players *would* because the signal would surpass the noise. that's why extrapolation won't wash here.

This would be true if players were pitching off of a tee and that it was the same tee they were hitting off of 50 years ago. Pitching has also improved.

a) increase strength for every MLB player will result in an increase in performance

or

b) increase in strength for many players is offset by another criterion and thus does not result in an increase in performance.


Not quite. My position would be somewhere in between these two although closer to a). Weight training, and the added strength that comes with it benefits almost every player although there are probably occasional players who wouldn't/haven't benefit(ted) from weight training. There is probably also another group who, through weight training, has reached a point where additional strength (gained through PED's, say) wouldn't benefit them further although most players would continue to benefit by yet more strength if they could.

Chris, given that almost all major league ballplayers think that their performance will benefit from weight training, the baseline assumption would be that it DOES help. You haven't prevented evidence that it doesn't; you've merely failed to come up with statistical evidence that it does.
   146. AROM Posted: August 07, 2006 at 11:03 PM (#2130712)
At some point I lost track of what you guys are arguing. I went back and read Chris's articles and here's my 2 cents:

There is increased variability in slugging pct. I ran the data for 88-92 and 98-02 to do some more calculations. The SD increases by 23%. I think this overstates variability because slugging percentage is increasing for the players in this sample, from .394 to .443. The relative error is a better measure of variability in this case, and we are still seeing an increase, but of 9%.

My guess is that steroids in the later period has increased the variability. That would happen if you move to a situation with very few players using them (Jose Canseco, probably McGwire) to one with more players using, but still a large percentage of the players not getting this benefit. If say, 2% were using in 88-92 and 15% in 98-02, and steroids improve a player's slugging percentage (which seems to be the case if it can't be proven) then these are exactly the results I'd expect to see.
   147. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 07, 2006 at 11:35 PM (#2130736)
Backlasher's comment here is succinct and to the point:

<u>when skills are in place, an increase in strength that is not offset by an other criteria will lead to an increase in performance
</u>

Right. Since for every MLB player, skills *are* in place. That is how they are MLB players. You are clearly agreeing that either:
a) increase strength for every MLB player will result in an increase in performance

or

b) increase in strength for many players is offset by another criterion and thus does not result in an increase in performance.


What I maintain is that adding isolated strength adds, in varying amounts, to power and the related skill of increased bat speed, which enables a player to wait a split second longer on a pitch. I'd be a fool if I claimed that this extra strength benefitted every player equally, or that every little bit of extra strength would produce X amount of difference in productivity.

And above all, I would never maintain that any of this can be quantified with any precision, in the sense that it can be measured, because the variables would be unknown and essentially unmeasurable.

But for most players who never did weight training before, if they did it with any systematic intelligence, I can't believe that it wouldn't help. And for those who have already engaged in it, I would think that maintaining one's strength would in many case help prolong a career. Carlton Fisk would be perhaps the best example of that. How many players prior to him ever caught that many games (over 100 at age 43) and put up his kind of numbers? Unless you want to credit his later numbers to steroids, which I never would, I'd have to give his extensive weight workouts a good deal of the credit for his rather amazing diamond dotage. Wouldn't you at least admit the possibility?

As for injuries, I don't see what they have to do with anything, although if one injured himself working out I suppose that would count against weight training. But do you really suppose that more than a small minority of weight conditioning practicioners suffer such injuries? I would argue that weight training has helped countless specific individuals, and that it has helped players in the aggregate maximize their skills. I would never argue that there were not occasional exceptions to this general rule.

And good luck with teh computer - I had to buy a new one last week, and a new hard drive for the laptop.

Thanks. I bought a new one today (an HP Pentium or something like that) and am getting the Computer Geeks to set it up on Wednesday. I'm a technopeasant supreme myself.

Oh, and in case you missed it - I'll be in DC Fri-Mon. We're having a meetup and going to a ball game, and I presently have a spare ticket for Sunday's game. We're getting together at Biddy O'Mulligans at the Jurys on DuPont Circle. Where is your store? I hope to drop by (with a flaming bag of dog poop).

Since my wife is coming back from France early next week and the house has essentially become a 4-bedroom dumpster, I have to be arranging for the metaphorical dump truck on Sunday. But I'll be in my shop all day (10 to 6) on Saturday, and of course we give discounts to all Primates who identify themselves as such. The shop is the Georgetown Book Shop, it's at 4710 Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda, and from Dupont Circle it's a 20 minute nonstop Metro ride and a 5 minute walk from the Bethesda stop on the Red Line. I'd love to show you all what the last real used book shop in Washington looks like. We've got more good baseball and history books than all the other shops in the area (except Bartleby's) put together.
   148. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2130740)
What does a "baseball muscle" look like

Dunno, because I don't recall the specifics. When Jordan tried to become a baseball player, and was pretty bad for a baseball player, they did some "muscle activity" stuff with him. You know, the red shows intensity of usage and that jazz? Well, they (I think it was ESPN, but could have been some other channel) showed that the primary muscle groups used for basketball were much different than those used for playing/hitting a baseball, and Jordan, while very fit, had "the wrong developed muscles". So even while very muscular didn't have good bat speed.

Developing all muscles leads to straining muscles you don't "need" (aren't used very much) for baseball when you stress it and it is large enough to hurt a lot. Or so the baseball people like Lou Piniella say.
   149. Chris Dial Posted: August 07, 2006 at 11:53 PM (#2130745)
But I'll be in my shop all day (10 to 6) on Saturday

Saturday is our "see the sites day" and we're planning on going to the Mets-Nats game that night. Maybe we can squeeze it in before we head to the game.

We are also getting together Friday evening - various primates - Nasby, SJ, some others at Jurys - so since the missus is OOT, maybe you can stay up late (say 9-10 PM).
   150. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2130754)
You haven't prevented evidence that it doesn't; you've merely failed to come up with statistical evidence that it does.

See, I think I have presented that threre is no statistical evidence that it does. Or rather - the statistical evidence, coupled with Gould's description of what should happen (that tends to be parroted by statheads) does not support the declarative statement that baseball players are significantly better.

Look at the difference between 1900 and 1950. Then 1950 and now. That doesn't say anything to you?
   151. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:08 AM (#2130760)
I have commented on every distortion and faulty means of logic that expressly appears in this thread. I see no reason to after your entire body of work, because that is usually when you start manufacturing other arguments that are beyond this discussion. There is plenty to deal with in this thread.


Get back to me after you do your homework. You claimed I had faulty logic from my research, but you just seem to say tyou haven't read that research. Skip the invective and personal attacks (which is clearly the only reason you came to the thread, since you haven't bothered with the articles (or just seemed to say you haven't and don't plan to) I wrote).

Thanks in advance.
   152. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:13 AM (#2130766)
coupled with Gould's description of what should happen

I think your argument isn't really consistent with Gould's. I explained why.
   153. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:32 AM (#2130774)
I think your argument isn't really consistent with Gould's. I explained why.

I think my argument is consistent with what I quoted from Gould.
   154. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:34 AM (#2130776)
I've read Gould's Full House and I remember his arguments about "the wall of human limitation" and that when the cutoff for making it into the majors gets closer to that wall, the variance within the league must decrease. I remember that part of the reason I was so impressed with Bonds (pre-Balco news) is that it seemed clear to me that he'd somehow leaped over that wall of what we'd imagined to be possible. Leaving aside for the moment how he did that, I think that by weight lifting players essentially nudged that wall further along. Since the upper wall moved in addition to the lower wall we don't see a decrease in variance due to weight lifting. When the curve shifts to the right the shape of the tail we're observing (and thus the variance) doesn't change

I think you are changing Gould's argument slightly - I quoted it. If they pushed the wall - that should show up. Starting in say 1990 - you don't think teh wall moving would have?

Or are you saying that the betterness is just BOnds? I don't get your point on why that wouldn't show up.
   155. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:44 AM (#2130784)
Where's your Gould quote?

As I said, the decrease in variance is supposed to come when the cutoff (the lower limit of quality that gets one into the league) is pushed closer to the wall limiting human ability. Roughly speaking, the difference between the upper wall and the lower cutoff is the variance. On the other hand, if the upper wall is pushed along due to something that almost all players can benefit from at the same time as the cutoff slides along the two aren't pushed closer together and the variance doesn't decrease.

To give a parallel, as I understand it, swimmers can swim faster in deeper pools. If you were to take all of the NCAA swimmers and move them all into pools that were 4 feet deeper they'd all swim faster (although some would likely benefit a bit more than others) but the variance in times wouldn't decrease. It isn't the same as swimmers getting closer to some ideal technique. Universal advances in weight training are more like deepening the pool than they are like players getting closer to some ideal form.
   156. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:50 AM (#2130789)
From my article:

Gould reasons:

As quality of baseball play has improved, it has also become far less variable. "Declining variation arises as a general property of systems that stabilize and improve while maintaining constant rules of performance through time. The extinction of .400 hitting is, paradoxically, a mark of increasingly better play." "Standard deviations have been dropping steadily and irreversibly?reaching a stable plateau by about 1940."


And wt training IMO is *ALOT* more like swimmers getting closer to the ideal technique.

In addition, can you demonstrate that swimmers would benefit uniformly from a deeper pool? Would teh SD/time actually remain the same? How do you know?
   157. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:52 AM (#2130791)
the other hand, if the upper wall is pushed along due to something that almost all players can benefit from at the same time

It also has to be benefit by the same amount, and we are talking about a time when we are seeing trmendous influx from significantly poorer countries than the US, where I'd wager weight training is far less developed.
   158. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#2130793)
Also from my article (why aren't you reading tehm and the links in them?):

From Gould, "this decline [in variation] produces a decrease in the difference between the average and stellar performance. Therefore, modern leaders don?t stand so far above their contemporaries."
   159. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:01 AM (#2130796)
At some point I lost track of what you guys are arguing.

I have too. At one point Dial says, "Players today aren't "bigger faster stronger" than they were 40-50 years ago." then other people keep having positions foisted on them. I'm not sure if Dial is standing behind that statement or if he has moved to "teh data" doesn't show that baseball performance has increased.

Somewhere in the middle of all that another discussion is taking place as to whether weight training will benefit the class of baseball players.

The variance ideal is a misnomer because as J. Cross has stated pretty eloquently. Increased variance is an output of an assymptotic achievement condition. THe presence of variance does not mean that they assymptotic condition has been reached.

And all that would be entirely moot to the conditions of "stronger" because we still see changes in human achievement on strength. It doesn't matter what Dial's data says, we know that limit has not been reached in the human population.

If Dial has been unable to isolate how the increased weight training has effected a subset of statistical outputs then that is one thing.

However, I'm not going to claim Los Angeles doesn't exist because I don't find it after driving around in my car for a couple of hours. I'm also not going to claim that must mean that it has fallen into the ocean because my drive between Boston and Albany didn't uncover the "Hollywood" sign.
   160. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:15 AM (#2130823)
Also from Gould:
Still, ceteris paribus as the Romans said (all other things being equal), larger people tend to be stronger (and I say this as a short man who loved to watch Phil Rizzuto and Fred Patek). If height and weight of ballplayers have augmented through time, then (however roughly) bodily prowess shoudl be increasing.
   161. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:22 AM (#2130835)
Still, ceteris paribus as the Romans said (all other things being equal), larger people tend to be stronger (and I say this as a short man who loved to watch Phil Rizzuto and Fred Patek). If height and weight of ballplayers have augmented through time, then (however roughly) bodily prowess shoudl be increasing.


I wish somebody here would have thought of that.
   162. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:28 AM (#2130842)
I think I have presented that threre is no statistical evidence that it does. Or rather - the statistical evidence, coupled with Gould's description of what should happen (that tends to be parroted by statheads) does not support the declarative statement that baseball players are significantly better.

You're right in this sense, Chris: you did test Gould's claim, you did do the work (I personally know how much you did), and you did publish it. The rest of us can't claim this.

The dispute, as I see it, comes down to this: I think you're relying too much on your study. Disproving Gould's conjecture -- assuming you did this, and I'm not sure you did for reasons I've repeated here and elsewhere -- doesn't necessarily disprove the underlying claim. Gould might simply have been wrong in his conjecture.

Personally, I don't think Gould was wrong, I just think we haven't teased out the factors yet. I do think we need to account for defense somehow. I do think J. Cross has a point about weight training, and that it may possibly apply to other factors too. You may still be right, players today may be no better than they were in the 50s/60s. I don't think that's impossible. I'm just not convinced.
   163. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#2130858)
The dispute, as I see it, comes down to this: I think you're relying too much on your study. Disproving Gould's conjecture -- assuming you did this, and I'm not sure you did for reasons I've repeated here and elsewhere -- doesn't necessarily disprove the underlying claim. Gould might simply have been wrong in his conjecture.


Whatever he did or didn't do wrt Gould, it does not support affirmative assertions that:

(1) Players aren't bigger, faster or stronger
(2) Strength isn't a component of baseball performance; or
(3) The class of baseball players haven't seen population increases from weight training.

And by and large, the first is what he asserted, and the other statements are what people in this thread have asserted.

And if those things are true, and you still think that players as a class have not improved from the 1950s it doesn't seem like a strongly supported conclusion. But none of "teh data" from the published study really goes to any of these points.

Moreover, while optimization does tend to produce low variance in the class, increasing variance does not mean the class itself is not improving. In fact that is generally seen in Production leaps. Its also seen all over the place. The US GDP tends to grow as does the variance of wealth holdings among the population. A implies B does not mean Not A implies Not B much less Not B implies Not A.

And as Waterloo suggested, the introduction of PEDs would be an agent possible for increasing the variance, until the non-users were selected out of the population or baseball changed its rules to ensure that such an advance does not change the nature of the game.
   164. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:50 AM (#2130859)
Disproving Gould's conjecture -- assuming you did this, and I'm not sure you did for reasons I've repeated here and elsewhere -- doesn't necessarily disprove the underlying claim. Gould might simply have been wrong in his conjecture.

I'm fine with that.

You may still be right, players today may be no better than they were in the 50s/60s.

That isn't what I mean to be saying. I am saying the data doesn't support it.

there's a difference, and it is important. People state: "players are better today. It's like Gould said why there aren't .400 hitters"

I rebut "The data doesn't support that based mostly on what Gould wrote".

Peopel rebut: Well, they are half an inch taller and three pounds heavier, so they have to be.

I say That doesn't show up in the data. Where else would you like me to look?

I offer my views on why it might not show up - they aren't significantly better, so teh noise is greater than the added signal; the strength gains aren't providing significant baseball advantages; whatever.

Soemthing should show up. The data doesn't support it.

You're right in this sense, Chris: you did test Gould's claim, you did do the work (I personally know how much you did), and you did publish it. The rest of us can't claim this.

No, Mark, I just have an axe to grind or some personal motivation...

And I changed my original work based on constructive input. I'm just not getting any of that in this thread. I am *CLEARLY*, and have demonstrated, willing to revisit the data, look at the numbers a different way in an effort to find something. I DID IT ALREADY.

I have said if someone wants to suggest another place to look I'll help look - but NONE of you do that. You just want to yell I am wrong.

My response is the same: the data examined thus far (that BL likes) doesn't support that. Tell me where else to look.

But yes, there are always more critics than researchers , so I'm not terribly surprised.
   165. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:06 AM (#2130876)
In addition, can you demonstrate that swimmers would benefit uniformly from a deeper pool? Would teh SD/time actually remain the same? How do you know?


I don't think anyone would claim that a benefit in any advance will be directly uniform. He probably could demonstrate that the class of swimming times would increase. That would be just basic fluid dynamics. The resistance caused with the force of pushing the water down bouncing back to the swimmer would be lessened.

That would sort of be like moving all the fences in to 300 feet. It probably would benefit some players more than others, but it would increase offense.

Just because Rafeal Belliard might lower his batting average with a shallow outfield, and lacking the power to even get it to 300 feet does not mean there would not be a class based improvement.
   166. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:09 AM (#2130878)
Look at the difference between 1900 and 1950. Then 1950 and now. That doesn't say anything to you?

Part of my problem with this is that for better or worse I have all-too-vivid living memories of 1950's baseball, hundreds of games worth of them, and no matter how hard I try to be "objective" about it, I can't for a minute consider that a .600 team of today isn't way better than a .600 team of 1956, or that a .400 team of today isn't better than their equivalent of that former year. Take a look at the rosters and see what I mean. In the entire 1950's the AL (which is my point of reference, having grown up in Washington) had exactly seven players who can fairly be said to have enjoyed a worthy Hall of Fame prime: Mantle, Berra, Ford, Lemon, Wynn, Williams, Kaline. Seven players in an entire decade. If you want to stretch the point you can add Fox, which I wouldn't, but I would grant you Minoso, who IMO was more HOF worthy than Nellie. So make it eight or nine, only five of whom (Williams, Kaline and the Yanks) were really A-level.

Contrast this to the last ten years, and discount your number by 8/14ths. The only way you keep it close is by raising the standards. This is the true golden age of the game, even with the steroids.

And all this doesn't take into consideration the flip side, namely the truly godawful teams of the 1950's: the Pirates, the Nats, the Orioles, the A's, the Cubs, plus the usual scattering of one-year dreadfuls like the 1952 Tigers. No statistic can ever hope to capture the horror of watching those teams, year after year after year, except possibly this one:

In the 1950's, the AL had 80 (10 x 8) individual teams. Of these, 17 were sub-.400. That's over 21%.

By contrast, from 1996 to 2005 the AL, with 140 teams, had 11 which were sub-.400. That's less than 8%. Take out the expansion Devil Rays, and you're down to just 5%. IOW less than a fourth as many laughing stocks as 50 years ago.

What does that say about the relative talent in the two respective eras?

And what does it say that the World Series in the 1950's had exactly 17 games out of 61 played outside the city of New York? Were the three New York teams really that good? Or were the rest of the teams perhaps really that bad?

Many of those in my age group like to fantasize about the 1950's as some "golden age" of baseball. For some strange reason, most of those people either lived in New York or Milwaukee. Those of us who lived elsewhere know better than to believe such rubbish. It wasn't like the difference between the 1950-52 Lakers and the 2000-2002 Lakers, or the difference between the 1959 Washington Redskins and the worst NFL team of today, but it was sure as hell enough of a difference that if you'd seen it with your own eyes, you wouldn't be claiming that "there isn't much significant difference" between the baseball of then and now. As I said, you would know better.
   167. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:09 AM (#2130879)
Chris, if you can get your hands on the data, I'd suggest looking at HR distances. Unfortunately, I don't think they have been recorded for very long. I would theorize that the longest HR's now are longer than the long HR's of 50 years ago or, to put it another way, that 450 ft. HR's are more common now. Another thing you might see is that opposite field HR's are more common now than they used to be. I think these things would show that today's players are capable of some things that players 50 years ago weren't capable of.
   168. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:13 AM (#2130885)
BTW, Chris, on the long shot that I can get downtown on Friday night from Kensington, where exactly is Biddy O' Mulligans?
   169. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:22 AM (#2130895)
Tell me where else to look.


Out on the baseball field, in McCovey cove, in graphs of human achievement, in the posts on this message board, inside your own heart, whereever you can find the truth.

People state: "players are better today. It's like Gould said why there aren't .400 hitters"


As near as I can remember, you brought up Gould in this thread.

Peopel rebut: Well, they are half an inch taller and three pounds heavier, so they have to be

From when to when. Last year's debut players were 73.73 mean inches tall and 194.8 mean pounds. What year are you comparing to to get 3 pounds--1999?
   170. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:36 AM (#2130904)
Actually I think Jordan did a great job in baseball given the circumstances. He hadn't played in over a decade, and do they put him in rookie ball? low A? No, he goes straight to AA, stays over the Mendoza line, and shows a decent walk rate. He could have done a lot worse, and he beat my expectations, which would have been to hit like a pitcher.
   171. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:39 AM (#2130906)
I defy you to show on at the cellular level the difference between "baseball muscles" and any other type of muscles.

This isn't that hard to grasp. Take a basketball player and baseball player of generally the same muscle mass - I would expect the baseball player to have larger forearms.
   172. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2130909)
BTW, Chris, on the long shot that I can get downtown on Friday night from Kensington, where exactly is Biddy O' Mulligans?

It's in the Jurys hotel
   173. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:43 AM (#2130911)
I'd suggest looking at HR distances.

They don't exist. hittrackeronline is only now trying to do it with some precision.
   174. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:43 AM (#2130912)
I'd suggest looking at HR distances.

They don't exist. hittrackeronline is only now trying to do it with some precision.
   175. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2130914)
I defy you to show on at the cellular level the difference between "baseball muscles" and any other type of muscles.

Shirley you understand what I am saying? Ever seen brain imaging? It was like that - but for muscles - which ones were used during a baseball swiing and which ones were used for shooting a basketball.

Obviously I didn't do the imaging - I just saw the report.
   176. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:47 AM (#2130915)
People state: "players are better today. It's like Gould said why there aren't .400 hitters"


As near as I can remember, you brought up Gould in this thread.

Peopel rebut: Well, they are half an inch taller and three pounds heavier, so they have to be

From when to when. Last year's debut players were 73.73 mean inches tall and 194.8 mean pounds. What year are you comparing to to get 3 pounds--1999?


RTFL.
   177. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:49 AM (#2130918)
I would theorize that the longest HR's now are longer than the long HR's of 50 years ago or, to put it another way, that 450 ft. HR's are more common now. Another thing you might see is that opposite field HR's are more common now than they used to be.

Any chance you understand that the ball is juiced now? And has been since 1993-94? I would expect opposite field HRs to go up.
   178. CrosbyBird Posted: August 08, 2006 at 02:52 AM (#2130924)
I defy you to show on at the cellular level the difference between "baseball muscles" and any other type of muscles.

Like the secret to a successful business, the key is location, location, location. There was an article where Jordan talked about his struggles at the plate and he pretty much said "I've got muscles in all the wrong places." The author of the article said he motioned to his forearms and said that everyone else was much more developed between wrist and elbow.

I remember it distinctly because I was shocked that a guy with Jordan's athletic ability and hand-eye coordination was so awful at baseball.
   179. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 03:00 AM (#2130934)
The point is that muscle has to be trained. It's all the same stuff but it has to be tamed by its owner to do what it is being tasked to do. That requires endless hours of repetitive drills and practice.

Jordan wasn't any good at baseball not because he had different types of muscles but because his muscles weren't trained to play baseball.


You seem to be intentionally obtuse. They aren't different types of muscle; they are muscles developed for different priority. Rally and Crosby know what I am saying.
   180. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2006 at 03:28 PM (#2131292)
Ok, Chris, I was feeling guilty enough to do a (small) amount of research last night. What I found is, I think, interesting.

I looked at the rate of errors on BIP at 5 year intervals from 1950-2000. The rate stayed roughly constant from 1950-75. Since 1975, when it was identical in both leagues, the rate has dropped 10% in the NL and an amazing 33% in the AL. Half the AL drop had occurred by 1990, so it's a long term trend and not a consequence of the offensive explosion.

I'm not sure how to account for the difference between the leagues. The DH could explain some of it, but can't be the whole reason. Are official scorers really that charitable in AL parks? Interleague play would give us the chance to test this, but I don't have the data for it.

I'm also not sure how to account for the improvement at all. Why, after 25 years of stasis, would the rates start to drop? Was there an improvement in glove technology? Has positioning gotten better?

I would like to see how DER has moved over the same time, but I don't have the data there either.

I don't have any real problem with the way you stated the situation in 187.
   181. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2131442)
Mefisto,
I think Studes may already have some of these charts. I would also think that adding the DH would *INCREASE* the rate of errors/BIP, not decrease it. I would bet pitchers have the lowest rate of reaching on errors, and they strikeout at the higher rates.

We could be looking at a Free Agency effect, although that's a reach.
   182. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2131459)
Any chance you understand that the ball is juiced now? And has been since 1993-94? I would expect opposite field HRs to go up.

This has been proven to your satisfaction? Have they taken balls from different years and compared the coefficients of restitution? As far as I know, no one has done that.
   183. Backlasher Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:27 PM (#2131541)
This has been proven to your satisfaction? Have they taken balls from different years and compared the coefficients of restitution? As far as I know, no one has done that.


When the juiced ball conspiracy theory was first bandied about, UMass-Lowell was commissioned to perform a test on balls from 1998, 1999, and 2000 to see if there were any significant differences in the COR or other ball parameters. They found there were no significant differences. Linky

Some other groups have performed unsanctioned tests, like Kitty Kaat for Popular Mechanics. His report is a little more varied. COR was not significantly different. He also tested the coefficient of friction and found the 2000 ball was slightly slicker when dry and slightly less slick when wet with simulated perspiration. Linkola

A bunch of folks from URI took a bunch of donated baseballs from varying years that had been stored in god knows what condition and dropped them to measure the bounce. They did the same for the pill. I don't think they ever calculated the COR or even approached at ASTM test. They allege the pills on the balls are different and the newer ones had higher bounce.

Linkarino
   184. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2131580)
Rally, this (.202/.291/.266) doesn't make the cut on the Mendoza line.

Ok, its lower than Mario's lifetime average, though a lot of people use .200 when talking baout the Mendoza line. And I doubt anybody given Jordan's circumstances could have done much better.

Take someone who only played high school ball, never played since, was over 30, and then goes straight to AA without even trying the low minors.

The typical pitcher is a guy who was probably a pretty decent hitter in high school, and while they don't work too much on hitting, they get some BP now and then. In the pro's these guys hit about .125
   185. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2131588)
It doesn't make me happy to report that Jordan made contact more often than Brandon Wood at the same level of play.
   186. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:03 PM (#2131601)
This has been proven to your satisfaction?

Proven? Not that I know of. I'd prefer there be hard evidence, and I understand there to be skepticism, but I am comfortable that league-wide jumps in a single off-season can only occur when leagues have the same change. the only thing that changes in leagues, both of them, at the same time, and in a clear-cut line, is the balls.

I wouldn't expect any significant difference between 1998-2000, as BL links.

AFAICT, most researchers seem to look for the wrong thing - they look for balls OOS. The balls needn't be OOS (out of spec).

Even if you think the balls isn't the pure answer, shirley no one thinks that MLB just got tons better from 1992 to 1993, and then that much better again from 1993 to 1994?

Opposite field HRs are a product of the league and this is going to fun, *independent* of the players. Kind of like ERAs in 1968.
   187. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:04 PM (#2131602)
Thanks, I also found this and this.
   188. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#2131618)
What's funny, J.Cross, is that Brookhaven thing used balls from.....1987. One of the biggest HR seasons that stands out like a sore thumb as well.
   189. J. Cross Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:17 PM (#2131637)
I agree, based on what I've read, that two groups of balls both within specs could be significantly different. The Rawlings study in 99-00 (that showed that the '00 balls weren't significantly different than the '99 balls) also showed that a 5 oz ball will fly ~9 feet further than a 5.25 oz ball with the same COR. And that a ball at the top limit of the COR will fly 40 feet further than a ball at the bottome end of the COR range. By using balls that were extreme in both characteristics they were able to get one ball that travelled 49 ft. more than the others.

Now, of course, 1992 balls weren't all at one extreme while 1995 balls were all at the other but it does seems like the possibility exists for their to be a real difference in two groups of balls that are both within range.

I'll try to come back for more later but now I have to go eat.
   190. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2131648)
More turf parks in the AL?

I don't think so. The reason I say that is that the period before 1975 was the real move to turf. If that were the cause, I'd have expected to see a decline from 1965-75. There wasn't one.

Just to add some more information which Chris and I exchanged by email, DER improved some from about 1950-90 (maybe 10%), but has declined since. I assume that reflects more LD in the offensive explosion, but I'm not sure.

Net result is, defense seems definitely to have improved due a combination of fewer errors and more PO on BIP, but only through about 1990. In the last 15 years, errors are down but POBIP are not. I have no explanation why the AL error rate is so much lower than the NL.
   191. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#2131655)
Who do you think the better athlete is, Jordan or Ainge?

Good question, it depends on how you define "best athlete". Ainge was obviously far ahead of Jordan as a baseball player. But then again John Kruk would tell you you don't have to be an athlete to play baseball.
   192. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:23 PM (#2131658)
Mefisto,
didn't you say it was stable from 1950-1975 though?
   193. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:33 PM (#2131676)
I think Jordan is the better athlete. Ainge may have had better hand-eye coordination (hitting a baseball, hitting a golf ball), but running, jumping, and probably throwing would tilt towad Jordan. I think Jordan would clobber Ainge in the decathlon.
   194. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:40 PM (#2131694)
Running and jumping, certainly, but I think Jordan was a little light on throwing. Ainge played some 3B, so he must have had something of an arm.
   195. AROM Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#2131706)
I just looked at Ainge on baseball cube. I don't think I'd seen his stats since I had his baseball card as a kid. He went straight to AAA at age 19, and hit .229, then was playing parttime in the majors the next year.

If Danny (and the Blue Jays) wanted any chance of making it work, he should have started in the low minors and worked his way up. But that wasn't going to happen, if the Jays sent him down that far he'd just quit and play basketball, which he wound up doing anyway. Seems he made the right choice. We'll just have to guess if he would have ever been a real prospect if he had started against players of his own experience level and worked his way up from there.
   196. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2131722)
I knew Studes had done this DER stuff:
DER graph

It looks to me like the glove changed in ~1955-1957.

Rawlings says they introduced their top glove in 1959.

The next change from them wasn't until 1971.

You can see in Studes graphs, from 1959 to 1992 (about) there isn't any change in the NL DER. A little fluctuation, but it looks nearly flat. The AL is very goofy. I want to say thre is a calc error in the AL in the late 60s. I checked - doesn't look like a calc error.

But it kind of goes back to what I noted earlier regarding teh drop in HRs fro Yaz and the AL. The AL didn't drop in HRs from 67 to 68 - some, but only 10% while the NL dropped a lot more. So, the balls left the yard.

That is some really strange data.
   197. Chris Dial Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:00 PM (#2131725)
I think ainge may have had a more *accurate* arm. I doubt it was better for distance throwing. I suspect Jordan outdrives Ainge as well on the golf course.
   198. Mefisto Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:17 PM (#2131746)
Mefisto,
didn't you say it was stable from 1950-1975 though?

That's what I said about errors. I said DER was highest in the 80s but generally similar from the 50s to the 70s.

I knew Studes had done this DER stuff:

His chart is obviously better than my occasional data points. It looks like DER was pretty flat in the NL from 1960-90. NL was higher in the 50s, lower after 93. That's consistent with the theory of more LD after 93. The AL tracks the NL except for a huge increase in the 60s which I can't explain.

Looking more at studes' graph, the DER appears to be inversely correlated to offense. That lends further support to the LD theory. Glove technology undoubtedly plays a role also.

We need multi-factor charts here. Who wants to do that research? :)
   199. Backlasher Posted: August 09, 2006 at 12:57 AM (#2132262)
I agree, based on what I've read, that two groups of balls both within specs could be significantly different. The Rawlings study in 99-00 (that showed that the '00 balls weren't significantly different than the '99 balls) also showed that a 5 oz ball will fly ~9 feet further than a 5.25 oz ball with the same COR. And that a ball at the top limit of the COR will fly 40 feet further than a ball at the bottome end of the COR range. By using balls that were extreme in both characteristics they were able to get one ball that travelled 49 ft. more than the others.


Yes, but that seems a little conspiratorial to me. If you look at people that did ATSM tests, non of the balls were at the extreme end of the COR specification.

So for variance within specification to account for a difference, the people that are testing COR would either:

(1) have to be lying (Kitty Kaat has a .506 COR for instance);
(2) MLB or Rawlings rigged the sample (finally a time to actually use the word sample correctly) of the balls from the manufacturing runs;
(3) The variance within spec fluctuates heavily in the supposed juiced year, more so than other years, the right "bad balls" got pitched to the right "bad hitters" and the testers mysteriously didn't get that many balls that varied, but got enough to be able test them within the extreme.

The only time that mean COR is disputed is when:

(1) The balls being used are out of spec entirely;
(2) In a non-ATSM bounce test;
(3) With balls of dubious origin (including possibly rejects sold for novelty); and
(4) exposed to who-knows-what environmental conditions (as opposed to actual balls who have controlled conditions).
   200. Buzzards Bay Posted: August 09, 2006 at 01:19 AM (#2132334)
Plausible St.
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