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Monday, June 16, 2014

The Gwynn men: A son’s love, a father’s fight | Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia

Reports all over Twitter that HOF Tony Gwynn has passed away.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM | 216 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries, padres, tony gwynn

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   201. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4729155)
When you put it all together, there simply aren't enough productive outs, reached on errors and blown fielder's choices for it to matter much.

I think I'm asking something different. I understand that outs are outs but I'm thinking more of non-outs. A k can only be an out whereas contact can result in good stuff. I'm just not sure how you'd quantify the benefit of that and, like snapper said, the skill of the batter probably makes this impossible to unravel.
   202. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:35 AM (#4729170)
And if you think about it, it's easy to understand why it can't be a big deal. With nobody on all outs are equal. That's around 55% of all PAs (or was back when I last checked -- won't be hugely different these days). Roughly 33% of all PAs come with two outs. All outs are equal.


Right. Ron laid it out, but the very first thing to realize is that a PA leading off an inning, or with nobody on, or with two outs, is quite clearly indifferent to a K vs another kind of out.

That comprises a ton of PAs.

Then you start to look at where the runners are when they're on, and balls in play that don't advance the runners, and balls in play that do, and double plays -- including the double play lineout, which is somewhat infrequent but I imagine happens more often than Luis Castillo drops a routine pop up.

Then you have balls where runners try to advance on but are thrown out, or just plain base running gaffes. In those situations, as for a ground ball double play, in retrospect you'd have thanked the hitter just to have struck out.

And then sometimes -- I don't know how significant this is but I'd imagine it registers more than, say, triple plays which are so rare they can be left out of the analysis -- the fielder's choice trades a fast runner on first for a slow one.

Clearly there are batted ball outs which are "productive." But a proper analysis weighs all of the different types of situations. Too many people (not saying anyone here) think "Hey, look at that, ground ball to the right side moved the runner to third; hey, sac fly scored him; hey, strike out OH MY GOD THE RUNNERS ARE STILL ON SECOND AND THIRD!!!" But that's selective memory. Pop ups to the infield or shallow fly balls aren't materially different from a strikeout. EDIT: I suppose popups to the pitcher's mound are botched enough from miscommunication for it to register as significant; but it's part of the analysis.
   203. Ron J2 Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4729177)
#201 The big issue is that almost all of a hitter's value comes on hard hit balls (line drives and hard hit flyballs). Even Tony Gwynn only hit .235 with an ISO of .100 on non line drives (and .735 with an ISO of .208 on line drives. Of course numbers aren't his full career, but we do have them for ~2/3 of his PAs)

So from a cost/benefit point of view, it makes a ton of sense to be willing to strike out in return for maximizing your chance to hit the ball hard.

Sure, some guys can hit the ball hard while not striking out much, but telling a hitter to be more like prime Albert Pujols is simultaneously a good idea and a tad tricky for most hitters to put into practice.
   204. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4729189)
But there's still the question if, a hitter could change his wing to K less, would he get enough additional base hits (on top of the ROEs and productive outs) to offset any loss of power.

That one is almost impossible to test.


Yeah, hitters certainly improve at the major league level, but trying to force a massive change in style at the major league level seems like it's more trouble than it's worth. It would be great to take 50 Ks and change them into batted balls, but at what cost? I think we've seen major league hitters basically can't do this.

Now, to be sure, there are players like Sosa who learned to walk more. Are there players who have slashed their strikeouts? Offhand I can think of Bonds, but obviously he wouldn't be a representative sample for anything (no matter how much people like Andy and Snapper want to claim that his late 30s success is proof of what steroids do).
   205. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4729193)
Clearly there are batted ball outs which are "productive." But a proper analysis weighs all of the different types of situations. Too many people (not saying anyone here) think "Hey, look at that, ground ball to the right side moved the runner to third; hey, sac fly scored him; hey, strike out OH MY GOD THE RUNNERS ARE STILL ON SECOND AND THIRD!!!" But that's selective memory. Pop ups to the infield or shallow fly balls aren't materially different from a strikeout. EDIT: I suppose popups to the pitcher's mound are botched enough from miscommunication for it to register as significant; but it's part of the analysis.

You're the numbers man. Have you (or has anyone) charted the number of bases advanced by Gwynn's (or anyone') "productive" outs, and compared that number to the number of double plays he hit into?

Of course in terms of team value, that probably tips the scale in favor of "productive" outs in a way that overvalues them in the context of what they wind up "producing" in actual runs. If Gwynn moves a runner up with a groundout, but the runner winds up being stranded, the "productivity" of that "productive" out has been re-set to zero.

So then you'd need to chart the number of runs scored by runners who were advanced into scoring position by productive outs, and who otherwise would have been left on base at the end of the inning. EXAMPLE: Single, "productive out" that advances the runner to second, line out, single that scores the runner from second, third out. If that "productive out" hadn't moved the runner into scoring position, he would've been stranded at second or third when the inning was over.

But how many times does that happen? To me that's the question. And it brings into play the point that a "productive out" is proportionately valuable to a team's overall offensive strength.
   206. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4729199)
Now, to be sure, there are players like Sosa who learned to walk more. Are there players who have slashed their strikeouts? Offhand I can think of Bonds, but obviously he wouldn't be a representative sample for anything (no matter how much people like Andy and Snapper want to claim that his late 30s success is proof of what steroids do).

Just for the record, I have never claimed that Bonds's late career ability to cut down on his strikeouts had anything to do with steroids. I'll let snapper speak for himself.
   207. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4729202)
Of course in terms of team value, that probably tips the scale in favor of "productive" outs in a way that overvalues them in the context of what they wind up "producing" in actual runs. If Gwynn moves a runner up with a groundout, but the runner winds up being stranded, the "productivity" of that "productive" out has been re-set to zero.


No, you simply can't analyze baseball this way. What you need to do is to figure out how much the changed base state increased the run probability for the inning. So if Gwynn with no outs hits a ball to the right side that moves the runner from second to third, the out has been a "productive" one, regardless of what actually happens next in the inning. We're analyzing general base/out tables; we don't care about specific situations, because a specific situation is just one data point and one data point tells you nothing.

(I'm using the word "productive" in scare quotes because I think people generally overstate just how "productive" the out was, for reasons herein being discussed. I mean, if Jack Clark homers after Gwynn then it didn't matter where in the hell the runner was. But there is no question that in general man on third with one out is better than man on second with one out.)
   208. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4729214)
Just for the record, I have never claimed that Bonds's late career ability to cut down on his strikeouts had anything to do with steroids. I'll let snapper speak for himself.


I didn't say that you did. I said that you claimed that Bonds's late career success is proof of what steroids do. Which you have. (And you've claimed that Bonds's late career surge was not even "evidence" of what steroids can do but flat out "proof.") And my point is that Bonds was so unique that using him as a model for what other players might be able to accomplish -- through a decision to cut down on strikeouts; through steroids -- is flawed.

Anyway, let's drop it. No reason to jump on the steroids merry go-round again.
   209. Ron J2 Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4729237)
#205 I've looked at including productive outs into a model of team runs scored. They turn out to be not statistically significant. That is to say that their inclusion does not improve the accuracy of the model.
   210. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4729254)
Honestly, I'm not interested in productive outs at all. I'm pretty sure that's all BS. The idea that cutting down on strike outs doesn't make a hitter better is more interesting. I think you'd need to isolate for players who's k rate has fluctuated independent of league rates and see how that has affected their offensive performance, possibly with an adjustment for the aging curve. (I just took a peak at Jose Bautista's stats and his reduction in k rate seems to have led to a higher avg/oba but less ISO, though that's possibly an effect of reduced HR's in baseball as a whole and the fact he's getting a little older.) I don't know, I feel like it's probably correct that the k's don't matter but I feel we're not being very scientific about it.
   211. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4729299)
I want to stress that it's not only that PA leading off an inning, or with nobody on, or with two outs, are indifferent to a K vs another kind of out.

It's also that there are situations where the runner was moved along -- or even scored -- but he would have scored anyway due to a HR by the next hitter, or a double, or two singles in a row, or single-walk-single, or whatever. And we know how often those events happen, generally.

It truly is a RELATIVELY small subset of PAs where moving the runner over or in actually mattered -- and those PAs are swamped by ground ball or line drive double plays or base running gaffes or just base running attempts that were not gaffes per se but the runner was gunned down trying to advance.
   212. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4729343)
I want to stress that it's not only that PA leading off an inning, or with nobody on, or with two outs, are indifferent to a K vs another kind of out.

It's also that there are situations where the runner was moved along -- or even scored -- but he would have scored anyway due to a HR by the next hitter, or a double, or two singles in a row, or single-walk-single, or whatever. And we know how often those events happen, generally.

It truly is a RELATIVELY small subset of PAs where moving the runner over or in actually mattered -- and those PAs are swamped by ground ball or line drive double plays or base running gaffes or just base running attempts that were not gaffes per se but the runner was gunned down trying to advance.


Ray, the issue isn't productive outs. It's about trading K's for power, and whether it always makes sense to swing from the heels and accept the high K-rate.
   213. SandyRiver Posted: June 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4729368)
Per BBRef, Gwynn had 261 GIDP and 139 ROE, so those two taken in isolation come out negative, though some 2B (or more) errors would close the gap.

Ortiz' K-rate dropped dramatically in 2011 and has stayed well below earlier years (except similar to 2007) since then. Probably not a strong example given that low rate in '07.
   214. Ray (RDP) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 01:09 PM (#4729411)
One way to reduce Ks, theoretically, is to not swing at pitches outside of the strike zone.

Another is to not swing as hard.

Still another is some combination of those two.

It's not clear to me that these changes can be adopted at the major league level, in most cases.

And more to your point whether adopting them even successfully is worth the tradeoff. Not swinging at pitches outside of the zone would seem to be; but not swinging as hard would seem not to be.
   215. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4729483)
And more to your point whether adopting them even successfully is worth the tradeoff. Not swinging at pitches outside of the zone would seem to be; but not swinging as hard would seem not to be.

Well, this could also be situational. Batters can be more or less selective, and swing more or less hard depending on the situation.

Late in the game down by 1:

1) Bases empty, be selective, but if you swing, swing real hard. Go for walks and HRs.
2) Man on 2nd, 1 or 2 outs. Just try and slap a single.
3) Man on 3rd <2 outs. Give yourself up and hit a medium fly ball.



   216. CrosbyBird Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:06 PM (#4729932)
Ray, the issue isn't productive outs. It's about trading K's for power, and whether it always makes sense to swing from the heels and accept the high K-rate.

You really can't "trade strikeouts for power." You may be able to trade contact rate for power, if you're a very versatile hitter, but I imagine that most players really don't have a small enough gap between whichever style (power-seeking or contact-seeking) is their primary and whichever one is their secondary to make it worthwhile to switch back and forth, except maybe on a two-strike count. Similarly, while I imagine there might be an advantage to a particular hitting style against a particular pitching matchup, it still wouldn't be worthwhile for most players to switch styles, because any gains will be dwarfed by the dropoff. But I am speculating, even if it has some basis in the relative values of a high BA and lots of power.

Vladimir Guerrero was a very good player that would have been a great player with more walks, assuming he didn't lose anything in exchange for those extra walks. Yet anyone who watched Guerrero could see pretty plainly that his hitting approach was based on free-swinging. I don't think a John Olerud type of approach at the plate would have ever worked for Guerrero.

My guess is that, over their development, hitters fall into a pattern that maximizes power with an acceptable contact rate. The value of extra-base hits is just too high in a modern run environment.
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