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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

THE HALL OF FAME VALUE STANDARD (Bill James rank 25 worst players in HOF & 25 best not in the HOF)

6. Larry Walker. 308 Win Shares, 72.7 WAR. 69 Wins, 5 Losses as a Hall of Fame candidate. Walker is still on the Hall of Fame ballot. His vote total crashed in 2014 for some reason, I don’t know why; it has tripled since then but is only up to 34%, so he may not make it to 75% in the two votes that he has left. He’s hard to evaluate; he was better than his numbers in Montreal, then played in Colorado for a few years and had funhouse numbers, won an MVP Award. Win Shares doesn’t like him as much as any of the five previous players, but WAR likes him more. He was an outstanding defensive right fielder, and put up some crazy numbers.

5. Bobby Grich, 329 Win Shares, 71.1 WAR. 75 Wins, 4 Losses. So much has been said about Grich, as a Hall of Fame candidate, that I probably shouldn’t repeat it. An outstanding defensive shortstop, he switched to second base to leave Mark Belanger at short with the Orioles. He drew over 100 walks twice and hit as many as 30 homers, so you have a tremendous defensive second baseman with a secondary average around .320 for his career. He won some awards, played in six All Star games and won four Gold Gloves, but the MVP voters never thought of him as one of the best players in the league, although he was. In my view it is absurd that Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame and this guy isn’t, but that’s just my take.

4. Dwight Evans. 347 Win Shares, 67.1 WAR. 75 Wins, 3 Losses. The best player in the Red Sox outfield of Lynn, Rice and Evans. I wrote a long article for Grantland a few years ago, arguing that Evans should be in the Hall of Fame. Great defense, power, walks. Another victim of the batting average illusion—like Grich, Darrell Evans, Graig Nettles and others. But Dwight didn’t hit .248; he hit .272

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: December 12, 2018 at 09:08 AM | 116 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill james, bobby grich, dwight evans, hall of fame, larry walker

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   1. ajnrules Posted: December 12, 2018 at 09:58 AM (#5797019)
No mention of Harold Baines, but it seems he had 307 win shares (according to a source I found), so his 461.8 Hall of Fame Value is just above 25th-placed Johnny Evers's 458.8. He's not that bad!

Of course Will Clark is 16th on the best-not-in-HOF-list...
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5797022)
His vote total crashed in 2014 for some reason, I don’t know why;


You don't?
   3. bobm Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5797025)
FTFA: Interesting notion on evaluating relievers / closers:

The seventh player in this group, however, would be Billy Wagner, the hard-throwing reliever with phenomenal consistency. Wagner is credited with 182 Win Shares and 27.7 WAR, numbers that would put him about even with baseball/football star Brian Jordan (1-367. Jordan actually was 1-368.)

Wagner was better than that, better than the math shows him to be, and let me explain the problem. Baseball men believe that there is so much value in pitching the “save inning”, the ninth inning with a lead, that a reliever who works 70 innings a year in that role is. . . .well, many people believe he is the most valuable man on the staff, if he is good. It’s leverage, what Tango calls Leverage Index. Although MLB field staff don’t usually think in these terms, they act as if they believe that the Leverage Index for a closer is about four to five, meaning that an inning pitched under those circumstances has four times as much impact on the won-loss record as an inning pitched at some random moment.

The problem is that there is no evidence that this is true, which is an understatement; mathematically it isn’t true. Although we approach it in different ways, Win Shares and WAR both use Leverage Indexes for closers around 2.00. Let’s say Billy Wagner works 70 innings a year. With a Leverage Index of 2.00 his impact is more as it would be if he was pitching 140 innings a year at the same level of effectiveness. But even making that adjustment, Wagner appears to have much less impact on his team than a good starting pitcher, and consequently shows up with “only” 182 Win Shares and “only” 27.7 WAR for his career.

But is this fair to Billy Wagner? It really is not, because Wagner’s 70-inning role is defined by the assumptions of other people, what we could call The Assumptions of the Game. Wagner’s value is in essence kept in a cage because other people are acting on false assumptions. It’s not his fault. His value does not reflect his performance level.

I believe that Wagner deserves to be evaluated based on his performance level, rather than just his value, and I think that if you do that, Wagner ranks higher. I suspect that both Tom Tango and Sean Forman, representing the “WAR” point of view, would probably agree with me about that. What I am saying is that I don’t believe the number. We have a value for Billy Wagner, and it is accurately calculated as much as I can tell, but I don’t think that we should use it to evaluate him as a Hall of Fame candidate.
   4. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5797031)
Although MLB field staff don’t usually think in these terms, they act as if they believe that the Leverage Index for a closer is about four to five, meaning that an inning pitched under those circumstances has four times as much impact on the won-loss record as an inning pitched at some random moment.


A study of closer salaries in comparison to starter salaries might put this notion to bed. If anyone really thought that a closer had as much impact as a 280+ IP starting pitcher, they might get paid $40M per year. In fact, they top out in the $15-20M range, which is more or less consistent with the idea that their impact is indeed "worth" ~ 140 innings.

Beyond that, one cannot assume that Wagner's "performance level" would stay just as good if he were let out of the cage in an effort to maximize his value.
   5. Howie Menckel Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5797034)
Beyond that, one cannot assume that Wagner's "performance level" would stay just as good if he were let out of the cage in an effort to maximize his value.

DING DING
   6. bobm Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5797036)
[4] This assumes that the GM signing the closer is also dictating exactly when he is to be used.

Also, it's not clear that managers are judging leverage correctly (ie without adding in a good amount of 9th inning loss aversion) as judged by the rarity of Andrew Miller type firemen these days.
   7. McCoy Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5797038)
These are the kind of James posts that made him a god in the pantheon of sabermetric writings. Heavy on data crunching? Not really. Basic stuff really but he presents it in a way that you get some tidbits about players, some opinions from Bill, and a conversation going about the players involved as well as the idea Bill is discussing. More of that.
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:43 AM (#5797042)
This is more like the James I used to read and love. Two player comments I think are particularly worth quoting:

And Andruw Jones, I just flat disagree with. Jones has only 278 Win Shares, but shows at 529.2 in the system because he has 62.8 WAR. He ranks almost identical to Ken Boyer, who had 279 Win Shares and 62.8 WAR. I’d campaign for Boyer before I would campaign for Jones, and you may notice that Ken Boyer (54 – 25) did not make my list of the 25 best players not in the Hall of Fame. He would have been the 26th man.

This is the problem with Andruw Jones’s numbers. You know that thing that TV broadcasters do sometimes, when they tell you that a player has just set a major league record, but being a sophisticated fan you know that the records in this area only go back five seasons? The argument for Andruw Jones as a Hall of Famer rests on exactly that kind of sophistry.

Jones has very, very good defensive numbers, numbers derived from early efforts to measure Defensive Runs Saved, and I do not question that he was a very good defensive center fielder until he put on weight. Those good defensive numbers are incorporated into his WAR, and in fact form the basis of his outstanding 62.8 WAR.

But that means that Jones’ claim to greatness relies on assets that are simply not available to the players to whom he is being compared. If we had parallel data available for Devon White, for Garry Maddox, for Curt Flood, Willie Davis, Paul Blair, Jim Landis and Jimmy Piersall, it is extremely likely that some of them ALSO would have extremely high Defensive Runs Saved, and thus would suddenly leapfrog Andruw Jones in the values; this is not only likely, in my opinion, it is certain. The entire argument for Andruw Jones as a Hall of Famer rests on giving him an advantage that other center fielders are denied. I think it is just totally wrong. I don’t believe that Andruw Jones was a Hall of Famer, I don’t believe that he was anywhere NEAR a Hall of Fame level, and I am strongly opposed to his election.

Gary Sheffield (430 Win Shares, 60.5 WAR, 98 – 1) would obviously be in the Hall of Fame now were it not for steroid issues. Sheffield admitted using a steroid cream applied to his leg to help heal an injury, claiming that he did not know that it was a steroid. He is suspected of more general steroid use although he denies it, and he did have some selfish behavior, as a player, that may have hardened the resistance to him. He bounced from team to team throughout his career, never building a fan base anywhere.

But I will say this. In all the years that I have been with the Boston Red Sox, 16 years now, there has never been a player that the Red Sox were more concerned about, as an opponent, than Gary Sheffield. Sheffield was a dynamite hitter and a fierce competitor. We have had great, great players in our division—Carlos Delgado, Manny Machado, Mark Teixeira, A-Rod, Jeter, Longoria, Stanton, Donaldson, Judge, Tejada. So many of them. There was never anybody like Sheffield. When he was in the game, you knew exactly where he was from the first pitch to the last pitch. He conceded nothing; he was looking not only to beat you, but to embarrass you. He was on the highest level.
   9. Ginger Nut Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:46 AM (#5797044)
Baseball men believe that there is so much value in pitching the “save inning”, the ninth inning with a lead, that a reliever who works 70 innings a year in that role is. . . .well, many people believe he is the most valuable man on the staff, if he is good.


This idea seems to be undermined by the fact that free agent closers do not make as much money as comparably successful starting pitchers. If "baseball men" really believed the closer was the most valuable pitcher on the staff, with leverage of 4-5 times a typical pitcher's innings, then wouldn't closers make more than starters?
   10. The Duke Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5797048)
So where does Baines land? Not even in the worst 25? And assuming the DH adjustment is wrong it probably pushes him to middle of the road?
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5797050)
347 Win Shares
Wow, still trying with Win Shares, eh?
   12. Rally Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5797051)
Beyond that, one cannot assume that Wagner's "performance level" would stay just as good if he were let out of the cage in an effort to maximize his value.


I prefer assessing his value because we just have no idea to what extent his performance level could have been maximized. His career mostly overlaps with Roy Oswalt, they were teammates for 3 years with the Astros. Value-wise, Oswalt rates much higher mostly because he pitched about 2.5 times as many innings.

Could Wagner have outpitched Roy as a starter? Wagner never started a game in MLB though he was a minor league starter. He struck out a ton of guys but also walked too many. I guess it's possible that he could have overcome that and turned into a Nolan Ryan or mini Randy Johnson as a starter. But probably a lot more likely that he would have been much less effective, gotten hurt, or both. Honestly I have no idea, which is why I prefer to stick to evaluating what he actually did.
   13. JL72 Posted: December 12, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5797052)
Interesting article, but I did not see (perhaps I missed it), why he is using this methodology on pitchers on the current ballot when he goes out of his way to note that pitchers are not included in that methodology for determining who does and does not belong.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5797055)
In all the years that I have been with the Boston Red Sox, 16 years now, there has never been a player that the Red Sox were more concerned about, as an opponent, than Gary Sheffield.
Is Bill James really making TEH FEAR argument?
   15. Rally Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5797058)
Wow, still trying with Win Shares, eh?


Cut the guy some slack here. He did invent the stuff and write a book on it after all. Plus he's referencing the competitor big stat as well. That's a big concession on his part. What, do you expect him to abandon WS altogether and bow down and grovel before the WAR overlord?
   16. bobm Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5797060)
If the 9th inning were not perceived as very different from the 7th and 8th, and managers really understood leverage, I think we would still see the fireman model of usage being more prevalent than the closer model.

All of MLB: 9481 Plate Appearances Allowed in 2018, during 7th Inning or during 8th Inning and High Leverage

553 Pitchers
Jordan Hicks 129
Archie Bradley 127
Tony Watson 113
Craig Stammen 106
Adam Ottavino 100
Josh Hader 99
Alex Colome 89
Matt Barnes 87
Lou Trivino 81
Joe Jimenez 81
Joe Kelly 80
Carl Edwards Jr. 80
[...]

All of MLB: 4560 Plate Appearances Allowed in 2018, during 9th Inning and High Leverage

265 Pitchers
Blake Treinen 145
Felipe Vazquez 134
Wade Davis 126
Edwin Diaz 116
Shane Greene 112
Craig Kimbrel 107
Brad Boxberger 103
Cody Allen 100
Kenley Jansen 98
Brad Hand 97
Fernando Rodney 95
Bud Norris 93
Aroldis Chapman 89
Jeurys Familia 73
[...]
Alex Colome 54
[...]
Adam Ottavino 41
[...]
Josh Hader 21
[...]
Jordan Hicks 16
[...]
Archie Bradley 14
Joe Jimenez 14
[...]
Joe Kelly 12
[...]
Tony Watson 9
[...]
Craig Stammen 6
[...]
Lou Trivino 6
[...]
   17. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5797062)
I think the "fireman model" is bumping up against the idea that relievers thrive with steady, predictable workloads.
   18. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5797063)
Doesn't look like Bill adjusts at all for shorter seasons in the 1880s-1890s?
   19. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5797065)
It's also my understanding that the traditional closer model, even with those 3-run saves, tends to have extremely high leverage index. Blake Treinen, a fairly traditional closer, led the majors in gmLI. Edwin Diaz and Craig Kimbrel were #s 2,3. Cody Allen beat Andrew Miller. Josh Hader ranked behind at least 5 closers.
   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5797067)
So where does Baines land? Not even in the worst 25?


If you read the article, it was written several months ago, so obviously Harold Baines wouldn't have been on anybody's radar as a possible Hall-of-Famer (although I assume he would have made James's list of 1,000 players that he used to set up this system). That said, Win Shares pretty much provide the best possible Hall-of-Fame case for Harold Baines. Win Shares are designed to measure total wins and Harold Baines did a lot of things to contribute to wins - he's in the top 50 in MLB history in hits, total bases, and RBI. He's also 31st in major-league history in outs made and adds no defensive value for most of his career. So, if you shift the comparison to any non-zero level - average, replacement level, whatever - Baines will look much worse.

In the original Win Shares book, James lists Baines with 307 career win shares. In the article he says 325 and over "usually get into the Hall of Fame" and 275 and under "usually do not". So presumably that would put Baines in maybe the 40-45th percentile or so. His WAR rating would push that down some more - although Baines's WAR isn't nearly as bad as his WAA - again, it's the absolute lack of peak that is what's so striking about Baines's career.
   21. TDF, trained monkey Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5797068)
Posted as a reply to James' post:
This is an interesting study, and shows that what "we" use to evaluate players isn't that different from what "they" use (despite the bleatings on both sides of the analytics debate).

But I have a serious problem with the 2nd part of the article. You said you ignored pitchers from your original study, but then evaluated the pitchers on the current ballot using your system. You have no idea (based on your study) how the pitchers compare to HOF pitchers. For instance, Roy Halladay may actually be a pretty solid HOF pitcher and not a below-average pick.

You don't tell us why you don't include pitchers (does your method not work as well - is there no clear-cut line as with hitters?), but given that you don't means you shouldn't evaluate pitchers using your hitters-only system.


EDIT: #13 was posted while I was typing, so Coke to you.
   22. bobm Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5797069)
[19] from 538.com:

Furthermore, some of the intuitions behind the save rule are correct. Modern statistics such as leverage index find that late-inning situations when a team holds a narrow lead are indeed quite important. For instance, an at-bat in the ninth inning when the pitcher’s team leads by one run has a leverage index of 3.3. That means it has more than three times as much impact on the game’s outcome as an average at-bat.

The problem is that there’s a fuzzy relationship between the most valuable relief situations and the ones that the save rewards. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the leverage index in different situations based on the inning and the game score
 

Chart

Imagine that one evening, Pitcher A throws a scoreless eighth inning in a game where his team leads by one run — a situation that has a leverage index of 2.4 — before being pulled for his team’s closer. Meanwhile, in another ballgame on the other side of town, Pitcher B enters the game in the ninth inning when his team holds a three-run lead — a leverage index of just 0.9 — and gives up two runs but eventually records the final out. Pitcher A’s performance was quite valuable. Pitcher B’s was not — in fact, it was kind of crappy. But Pitcher B gets a save for his troubles whereas Pitcher A doesn’t. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. (Emphasis added)

   23. villageidiom Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5797072)
HOT TAKE: If the universe of baseball were reversed - if hitters had the same level of success against pitchers as pitchers have historically had against hitters - then closers would not make the Hall Of Fame, while pinch-hitters would.

Closers and pinch-hitters are used in high-leverage situations. There are no dominant pinch-hitters who get 1-2 PA in every game with great results. But if a league-average hitter had a .750 average instead of a .250, then maybe we'd see someone like Aaron Judge deployed only as a pinch-hitter but in pretty much every game. And we'd look at him like we look at Mariano Rivera today.

In the meantime, Mariano Rivera would be good enough to bring that .750 down to .700, which wouldn't seem remarkable. Like other relievers he'd only be used in a war of attrition, with rosters carrying 15 pitchers and going through several of them every night. He'd be just another reliever, maybe a HOVG reliever.

Everything about value vs. performance - whether you're talking about a closer or other reliever, a DH, or a pinch-hitter - hinges on how their team has chosen to deploy them. Limited deployment favors the pitchers more, as they have a naturally better chance of success built in.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5797074)
Cut the guy some slack here. He did invent the stuff and write a book on it after all. Plus he's referencing the competitor big stat as well. That's a big concession on his part. What, do you expect him to abandon WS altogether and bow down and grovel before the WAR overlord?
Sony developed Betamax, but eventually even they acknowledged reality and started making VHS.
   25. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5797077)
Imagine that one evening, Pitcher A throws a scoreless eighth inning in a game where his team leads by one run — a situation that has a leverage index of 2.4 — before being pulled for his team’s closer. Meanwhile, in another ballgame on the other side of town, Pitcher B enters the game in the ninth inning when his team holds a three-run lead — a leverage index of just 0.9 — and gives up two runs but eventually records the final out. Pitcher A’s performance was quite valuable. Pitcher B’s was not — in fact, it was kind of crappy. But Pitcher B gets a save for his troubles whereas Pitcher A doesn’t. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. (Emphasis added)


This is not a response, it just cherrypicks the most extreme possible situations.

Seriously, why did you bother posting this? Do you think this website has a bunch of uneducated children? You think I wasn't aware of the flaws of the save rule decades ago?
   26. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5797078)
No mention of Harold Baines, but it seems he had 307 win shares (according to a source I found), so his 461.8 Hall of Fame Value is just above 25th-placed Johnny Evers's 458.8. He's not that bad!

Of course Will Clark is 16th on the best-not-in-HOF-list...


I just knew the first comment would mention Harold Baines haha! I don't believe he's ever finished it but James started including loss shares with his win shares, so Baines probably has a fair amount of loss shares too where as some of these other guys like Walker, Grich, & Evans would have much lower loss shares than Baines
   27. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5797079)
Doesn't look like Bill adjusts at all for shorter seasons in the 1880s-1890s?

James is really not a fan of 19th century baseball. In fact, I'm shocked he has Bill Dahlen as #1 though only the start of Dahlen's career took place in the late 19th century
   28. The Good Face Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:57 AM (#5797080)
In all the years that I have been with the Boston Red Sox, 16 years now, there has never been a player that the Red Sox were more concerned about, as an opponent, than Gary Sheffield.

Is Bill James really making TEH FEAR argument?


Kind of? Sheffield had the quickest bat I think I've ever seen in MLB. It was almost scary to behold, because there was an element of "How the heck can he DO that?" to his swing. Sheffield's swing made other MLB hitters, good ones, look slow and clumsy. Kind of like Nolan Ryan back in his day. It wasn't that he was better than everybody else, although he was often extremely good; it was that the stuff he did awed and amazed other players.
   29. Baldrick Posted: December 12, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5797081)
Win Shares - WAR = Google+ - Facebook
   30. Sunday silence Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5797083)
If we had parallel data available for Devon White, for Garry Maddox, for Curt Flood, Willie Davis, Paul Blair, Jim Landis and Jimmy Piersall, it is extremely likely that some of them ALSO would have extremely high Defensive Runs Saved, and thus would suddenly leapfrog Andruw Jones in the values; this is not only likely, in my opinion, it is certain


whatever Bill James. A more intellectually interesting argument might be Can we estimate how many defensive runs Duke Snider was costing his team by playing CF? Or can we make a case that Tris Speaker was actually more valuable than Ty Cobb? or any of a hundred other arguments that deal with defensive abilities. He seems to be extremely averse to engaging in any sort of compelling look at the inadequacies of these metrics.
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5797084)
In all the years that I have been with the Boston Red Sox, 16 years now, there has never been a player that the Red Sox were more concerned about, as an opponent, than Gary Sheffield.

Is Bill James really making TEH FEAR argument?

In the context of a description that doesn't hinge on statistics, it's a perfectly valid way of noting the respect that the Red Sox had for Sheffield. It's a supplement to the statistics that James also includes.

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

Sheffield had the quickest bat I think I've ever seen in MLB.

The only one I can think of who might have matched him would be Hank Aaron. And it's likely that Sheffield's bat was too quick for his own good at times, as he must have led the league every year in "home runs" that were pulled foul.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5797085)
Is Bill James really making TEH FEAR argument?


I thought the same thing. To be fair, third-base coaches, umps and leftfield ballgirls had to be legitimately terrified every time Sheffield stepped into the box.

   33. Sunday silence Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5797087)
Gary Sheffield (430 Win Shares, 60.5 WAR, 98 – 1) would obviously be in the Hall of Fame now were it not for steroid issues. Sheffield admitted using a steroid cream applied to his leg to help heal an injury, claiming that he did not know that it was a steroid. He is suspected of more general steroid use although he denies it, and he did have some selfish behavior, as a player, that may have hardened the resistance to him. He bounced from team to team throughout his career, never building a fan base anywhere.

But I will say this. In all the years that I have been with the Boston Red Sox, 16 years now, there has never been a player that the Red Sox were more concerned about, as an opponent, than Gary Sheffield.


Ha ha. You can substitute "DIck Allen" here for Sheffield and it reads quite well.

Sheffield is Dick Allen with a longer playing career. Funny I dont think Bill James would see it that way.

Selfish? Yes.
Bounced from team to team? Yes
Scared to face? Yes.
   34. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:16 PM (#5797089)
James wrote about five years ago that he’s now on board with putting Dick Allen in the Hall, actually.
   35. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: December 12, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5797103)
In the context of a description that doesn't hinge on statistics, it's a perfectly valid way of noting the respect that the Red Sox had for Sheffield. It's a supplement to the statistics that James also includes.


it's also the kind of thing that makes James interesting to read. I can look up numbers myself.
   36. TDF, trained monkey Posted: December 12, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5797115)
Sheffield is Dick Allen with a longer playing career.
On the surface, Allen was better:

Sheffield - '96-'05: 25.6 WAA, 45.2 bWAR in 6317 PA. Per 650 PA, 2.7 WAA, 4.7 bWAR
Allen - '64-'74: 35.9 WAA, 58.3 bWAR in 6270 PA. Per 650 PA, 3.7 WAA, 6 bWAR.

Neither was remarkable outside of those peaks (Sheffield 0.4 WAA, Allen -3.0 WAA).
   37. Greg Pope Posted: December 12, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5797121)
Beyond that, one cannot assume that Wagner's "performance level" would stay just as good if he were let out of the cage in an effort to maximize his value.

DING DING


Now wait a minute. Saying that he is as valuable as a 140-IP pitcher is not the same as saying that he could be a 140-IP pitcher. I don't think anyone is saying that Wagner could pitch 140 innings. Just that his 70 might be as valuable as another pitcher's 140.


   38. Greg Pope Posted: December 12, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5797126)
This idea seems to be undermined by the fact that free agent closers do not make as much money as comparably successful starting pitchers. If "baseball men" really believed the closer was the most valuable pitcher on the staff, with leverage of 4-5 times a typical pitcher's innings, then wouldn't closers make more than starters?

Probably, yes. But there are other possibilities. Supply and demand, for one. Perhaps there are more closers out there. Unlikely, I think, since there's basically one closer per team and 5 starters. But also, longevity and reliability. You can think that the closer is super important while not being confident that Kimbrel will remain a dominant closer for the next 8 years. You're more bullish on Scherzer retaining his value. Both could get hurt, so that's not really an issue. But closers lose their effectiveness much more frequently, it seems.
   39. Rally Posted: December 12, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5797130)
Now wait a minute. Saying that he is as valuable as a 140-IP pitcher is not the same as saying that he could be a 140-IP pitcher. I don't think anyone is saying that Wagner could pitch 140 innings. Just that his 70 might be as valuable as another pitcher's 140.


Wagner is getting credit for more than 70 innings by WAR because of the leverage index. It still only comes out to the high 20s. Bill is implying that Wagner should be given even more credit, because managers held him back to only pitch 70 innings a year. That's where a few of us are getting skeptical.

Closers and pinch-hitters are used in high-leverage situations. There are no dominant pinch-hitters who get 1-2 PA in every game with great results. But if a league-average hitter had a .750 average instead of a .250, then maybe we'd see someone like Aaron Judge deployed only as a pinch-hitter but in pretty much every game. And we'd look at him like we look at Mariano Rivera today.


I don't follow. If Judge is an .850 guy in a .750 league (I know BA is not the main appeal of Judge, but for example), why does that make him more valuable to deploy in strategic situations? The cost of holding Judge back for that great high leverage AB is that he bats only once instead of 4-5 times. Actually, worse than that, as in a .750 league a regular player probably get 12 AB or something.

Part of the appeal of using Rivera that way is that he is more effective for one inning than he would be if asked to throw 7. Hitters don't have that, in fact pinch hitting is hard and there is a slight penalty to it. I'm pretty sure you're always better off having a guy like Judge taking a regular turn in the batting order.
   40. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: December 12, 2018 at 01:42 PM (#5797131)
On the surface, Allen was better:

Sheffield - '96-'05: 25.6 WAA, 45.2 bWAR in 6317 PA. Per 650 PA, 2.7 WAA, 4.7 bWAR
Allen - '64-'74: 35.9 WAA, 58.3 bWAR in 6270 PA. Per 650 PA, 3.7 WAA, 6 bWAR.

Neither was remarkable outside of those peaks (Sheffield 0.4 WAA, Allen -3.0 WAA).


Sheffield was indeed remarkable outside of that peak. Just not in aggregate. In fact, he had his second best season by WAR outside of that peak, 6.2 in 1992, when he nearly won a triple crown and was #3 in MVP. He also had 2 seasons of 3. Dick Allen had absolutely nothing, a high of 0.7 and a low of -0.5.
   41. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 02:09 PM (#5797136)
Now wait a minute. Saying that he is as valuable as a 140-IP pitcher is not the same as saying that he could be a 140-IP pitcher. I don't think anyone is saying that Wagner could pitch 140 innings. Just that his 70 might be as valuable as another pitcher's 140.


No, you read this wrong. James is saying that his 70 is as valuable as 140, but because MLB people erroneously believe that it's actually as valuable as 280, they don't feel compelled to give Wagner the chance to add even more value, and so why shouldn't Wagner get extra credit for the things he was capable of doing but never asked to do?

I think every part of James' argument is terrible.
   42. Greg Pope Posted: December 12, 2018 at 02:20 PM (#5797142)
No, you read this wrong. James is saying that his 70 is as valuable as 140, but because MLB people erroneously believe that it's actually as valuable as 280, they don't feel compelled to give Wagner the chance to add even more value, and so why shouldn't Wagner get extra credit for the things he was capable of doing but never asked to do?

That's not how I read it (clearly), but with a second reading I can see that. He doesn't seem to be saying it elsewhere, but then he puts the "in a cage" in. So maybe that's what he means.
   43. Bhaakon Posted: December 12, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5797152)
Probably, yes. But there are other possibilities. Supply and demand, for one. Perhaps there are more closers out there. Unlikely, I think, since there's basically one closer per team and 5 starters. But also, longevity and reliability. You can think that the closer is super important while not being confident that Kimbrel will remain a dominant closer for the next 8 years. You're more bullish on Scherzer retaining his value. Both could get hurt, so that's not really an issue. But closers lose their effectiveness much more frequently, it seems.


I'd also argue that because leverage is context dependent, a bad team that produces fewer high-leverage situations just by dint of being behind at the end of most games would be far less motivated to spend money on a closer even if we accept the underlying assumption that high leverage inning are (pick your multiples) times more valuable than random innings. A bad team is about as motivated to sign a $20M reliever as a NL team is motivated to sign a $20M DH.

That being said, yeah, 5-7 times is clearly an exaggeration.
   44. McCoy Posted: December 12, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5797155)
This is not a response, it just cherrypicks the most extreme possible situations.

Seriously, why did you bother posting this? Do you think this website has a bunch of uneducated children? You think I wasn't aware of the flaws of the save rule decades ago?


Grumpy today
   45. John DiFool2 Posted: December 12, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5797158)
No, you read this wrong.


I think you both have read it wrong. He's saying that managers are using said 70 innings suboptimally.

If they did use their top reliever optimally {*Andrew Miller* cough), and it drives the LI up towards 3x, would that then make them as valuable as the 210 inning starter?
   46. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:13 PM (#5797168)
I think you both have read it wrong. He's saying that managers are using said 70 innings suboptimally.


Maybe. It's still dumb. This is like saying that Tommy LaStella might as well get credit for being one of the most valuable players in baseball, because if had been deployed optimally he would've gotten an outrageous number of clutch hits.

If they did use their top reliever optimally {*Andrew Miller* cough), and it drives the LI up towards 3x, would that then make them as valuable as the 210 inning starter?


And I repeat, this remains something of a fiction. Last year Andrew Miller ranked 25th in LI, behind many traditional closers.
Edwin Diaz, traditional closer, led the majors in LI that year.
   47. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5797171)
I think you both have read it wrong. He's saying that managers are using said 70 innings suboptimally.

If they did use their top reliever optimally {*Andrew Miller* cough), and it drives the LI up towards 3x, would that then make them as valuable as the 210 inning starter?


I read the quote the same way as #41. But even if you read it this way, it's wrong, because it over-states the extent to which current closer usage is sub-optimal in terms of maximizing leverage. For the 2017 Indians, BB-Ref reports Andrew Miller's average leverage (gmLI) at 1.57. Indians' closer Cody Allen had a gmLI that year of 1.63. The Brewers had three guys save 12-16 games this year. Josh Hader did the Andrew Miller thing of coming in early and pitching multiple innings: gmLI of 1.68. Corey Knebel led the team in saves (16) and had the fewest innings pitched of the three (i.e., he was the closest to a modern "closer"): avg. gmLI of 1.50. Jeremy Jeffress pitched fewer innings in more games than Hader but still averaged just over an inning per appearance: avg. gmLI of 1.76. Protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning is among the highest-leverage situations out there, and there aren't enough super-high-leverage situations outside of "closer" situations to put pitchers' leverages much, if any, past 2.0.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:24 PM (#5797176)
Just checked, Fangraphs does have historical LI numbers. The top prominent players are Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers, both about 2.00 gmLI. The leaderboard does favor relievers from the pre-Eckersley era, but you'll still find traditional closers like Rivera and Hoffman ranked right alongside the Gossages. Edwin Diaz is 9th all-time. Billy Wagner is right next to Mike Marshall, both around 1.65...

Maybe LI is flawed, I have no idea. But the point is that these closers are already within spitting distance of the theoretical optimal "fireman" role, which precious few pitchers have ever actually fulfilled.
   49. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:26 PM (#5797177)
I owe Kiko a coke, but he owes me a coke for repeating some of my #19.
   50. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5797179)
I owe Kiko a coke, but he owes me a coke for repeating some of my #19.


I read your #48 as building upon my #47 by expanding the analysis to include "firemen" of days gone by. But yes, my #47 was heavily derivative of your #19.
   51. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5797183)
I read your #48 as building upon my #47 by expanding the analysis to include "firemen" of days gone by.


Let's pretend that was what I was doing.
   52. bbmck Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5797188)
HoF Win Shares

"This group includes every Hall of Famer except some players selected as managers, executives, Negro League players, and pitchers. I excluded 12 players who are “special cases”—Jackie Robinson and Pete Rose and Joe Jackson and such. There are 151 Hall of Famers in the study", "HOFV—Hall of Fame Value—is simply Win Shares, plus four times Baseball Reference WAR. No complicated math; just Win Shares, plus 4 times WAR. I thus increased the values of catchers by 20%, putting them on a more equal footing with other players."

Spot checking the Win Shares in the article are usually close to the list, Deacon White dropped a lot so Bill probably used 1876-2018 Win Shares and on WAR he's an update behind, those values have also changed slightly.

160 so 9 out: "Roy Campanella, Phil Rizzuto, Larry Doby, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson and Monte Irvin." Harold Baines not a Hall of Famer at time of publication, Willard Brown and probably Monte/John Ward is considered to be a pitcher. Since there aren't negative Win Shares I added pitching WAR but did not lower WAR, for instance Tommy McCarthy -1.5 pitWAR, 1.2 pitWS keeps the same WAR. The article has Babe Ruth 756 WS and Gauge has 749 including 100 from pitching, 156.1 WAR which is position player only last update now it's 162.1 + 20.4, I think it's a more precise comparison than keeping Bill's error. Only Ruth, Bobby Wallace and George Sisler have 1+ pitWAR.

The 151 have a 5.2:1 ratio because 4:1 is simply targeted at the HoF in/out line and there isn't a linear ratio. The highest ratios are the lowest WAR: Tommy McCarthy 11:1 or 12.1:1 if you include pitWAR, Lloyd Waner 10.1 and no one else above Lou Brock 7.7 and the lowest ratios are mostly 90+ WAR. 350-450 Win Shares, above Lou Brock and below Mike Schmidt the highest and lowest ratios based on Gauge WS and current b-ref:

Win Shares prefers: Jim O'Rourke 6.9:1, Max Carey 6.7, Craig Biggio 6.5, Dave Winfield 6.4, Willie Stargell 6.4, Willie McCovey 6.3, Yogi Berra 6.3, Zack Wheat 6.2, Eddie Murray 6.2, Harmon Killebrew 6.1, Jesse Burkett 6.1, Reggie Jackson 6

WAR prefers: Roberto Clemente 4:1, Wade Boggs 4.3, Cal Ripken 4.4, Jimmie Foxx 4.4, Brooks Robinson 4.5, Roger Connor 4.5, still mainly the higher the WAR the lower the ratio.

"Andruw Jones, I just flat disagree with. Jones has only 278 Win Shares, but shows at 529.2 in the system because he has 62.8 WAR. Jones has very, very good defensive numbers, numbers derived from early efforts to measure Defensive Runs Saved, and I do not question that he was a very good defensive center fielder until he put on weight. Those good defensive numbers are incorporated into his WAR, and in fact form the basis of his outstanding 62.8 WAR."

The 10 players 273-283.9 WS have a 5.5:1 WS:WAR ratio so 50.5 WAR which is close to all but 2 of the 10 (Pie Traynor 36.3 WAR, Lou Boudreau 63) the rest are 45.8-53.7. 278 + (50.5 x 4) = 480, 113th to 118th of the 151:

488.7 Bobby Doerr 284 WS, 51.2 WAR
485.9 Jimmy Collins 273 WS, 53.3 WAR
485.1 Kiki Cuyler 298 WS, 46.7 WAR
479.2 Kirby Puckett 275 WS, 51.1 WAR
477.2 Ernie Lombardi 257 WS, 55.1 WAR (incl C adj)
475.1 Rabbit Maranville 304 WS, 42.9 WAR

As opposed to being flat opposed to Andruw ranking in the middle of 96th to 101st:

538.9 Harry Hooper 325 WS, 53.5 WAR
537.1 Sam Rice 326 WS, 52.8 WAR
531.1 Joe Medwick 309 WS, 55.6 WAR
529.0 Lou Brock 348 WS, 45.3 WAR
528.1 Buck Ewing 299 WS, 57.2 WAR (incl C adj)
527.8 Lou Boudreau 276 WS, 63 WAR

Maybe Top 100 has special significance because it's roughly Bill's HoF in/out line but otherwise it's really hard to comprehend how someone can be flatly opposed to being someone grouped with the bottom group when their system rates the player among the top group. And if Bill trusts his own metrics he's implying 40-50 of the position players don't belong in the HoF. Then you get into time lining if you want even vaguely interesting HoF analysis as opposed to his blurb about Chick Hafey being behind 330 players when most of those players haven't been born when Hafey retires. Debut 1964-1984 (Rice 1974) rank based Win Shares and C x 1.2:

29th Harold Baines 313 WS, 38.7 WAR
...
48th Steve Garvey 284 WS, 38.1 WAR
49th Ron Cey 281 WS, 53.8 WAR
50th Sal Bando 281 WS, 61.5 WAR
51st Jim Rice 279 WS, 47.7 WAR
52nd Chili Davis 276 WS, 38.2 WAR
53rd Kirby Puckett 275 WS, 51.1 WAR
54th Gene Tenace 274 WS, 46.8 WAR

There is your undeserving Rice whose career had a bunch of overlap with ~50 superior position players according to Bill James. Don't induct Chipper Jones because in 2050 there might be 330 players "better qualified" players.
   53. Rally Posted: December 12, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5797191)
If they did use their top reliever optimally {*Andrew Miller* cough), and it drives the LI up towards 3x, would that then make them as valuable as the 210 inning starter?


I don't think he was saying Wagner could have been used in higher leverage, but that Wagner was just not pitching as much as he should have been.

Anyway, Miller, since he became a full time reliever in 2012, has pitched at most 74 innings in a (regular) season, and with a lot of injuries has averaged 52 per year. His highest average game leverage was 1.64, the year that the Yankees used him as the 9th inning guy.
   54. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 12, 2018 at 04:19 PM (#5797205)
Doesn't look like Bill adjusts at all for shorter seasons in the 1880s-1890s?


That was one of the criticisms of Win Shares when it first came out, and it still seems to be the case.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: December 12, 2018 at 04:35 PM (#5797211)
Wagner ... I read James's "performance level" comment similar to my best pro-Mo arguments. (1) Mo's performance was dominant and, viewed on an innings basis, comes to about 6 peak seasons of some pretty awesome SPs (not Pedro level) and you caould add another season for his postseason work -- that's a very impressive "performance level." (2) He was given a job, he did that job probably about as well as it can possibly be done for as long as it can possibly be done. My point about that is that the role of exclusive 1-inning closer hasn't existed very long (and maybe won't last very long).

On firemen ... I don't remember (maybe never knew) the ins and outs of leverage but basically the 70s firemen were doing the job of two modern relievers. In that sense they deserve both the 1.5 leverage of the set-up guy plus the 2.0 leverage of the closer plus whatever extra leverage tends to come when entering with men on base ... average that all up and we probably get a better sense. So 100-120 innings at, say, 1.75 vs. 60 innings at 2. Which might be right about where gmLI usually puts it.

Gossage's 75 stands as the ultimate of that type. He entered 62 games -- in 60 of them, there were runners on. I looked up the other two once and in one of those he came in right after the starter gave up a HR. He got a 2.4 gmLI that year.

On Sheff ... the legend is hard to square with the numbers. His career BABIP was 285 and it was never very high. That's sometimes true of the truly awesome sluggers (Mac, Bonds) but Sheff was never that awesome in his era context -- his on-contact numbers are kinda pedestrian by "star" sillyball standards. His quick bat presumably saved him from lots of Ks but what made him special was being able to combine that with lots of BBs. Still, in the comp to Allen, Sheff is getting killed by defense even more than Allen was and we've got to place some doubt in those numbers cuz it's hard to believe teams would keep trotting him out to RF if he was THAT bad.

Bringing us to Andruw Jones. James is correct in that Andruw is being assessed by (early) modern defensive stats while the top defensive CFs of yore were not. And yes he's correct that it's highly likely at least some of them would have benefited from modern stats. But so what? Do we then only judge on offensive stats? Do we then only judge on older defensive stats? Or do we say "we have the evidence of Andruw Jones", assess him based on that evidence and recognize that his worthiness/unworthiness for the HoF has nothing to do with whether Devon White would have been worthy if we had the same evidence for White.

But in the case of bWAR (or b-r), we can compare players on the same basis -- TZ. (Or nearly so.) In fact the first half of Andrwu's peak was TZ, pre-DRS. He racks up shitloads of it. Those 235 Rfield is mostly TZ ... in fact it's lower than his career TZ. White's TZ is 133; Blair's is 174; Mays' is 185. Those numbers are comparable. (They may not be accurate but they are comparable.)
   56. cardsfanboy Posted: December 12, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5797242)

Wagner is getting credit for more than 70 innings by WAR because of the leverage index. It still only comes out to the high 20s. Bill is implying that Wagner should be given even more credit, because managers held him back to only pitch 70 innings a year. That's where a few of us are getting skeptical.


I thought Bill was making a two point implication. 1. that Wagner's leverage index isn't as good as it could be, if the team was truly concerned about bringing in the best reliever for the highest relief situation, instead of focusing on the save stat. 2. that we should evaluate him based upon his rate performance.... I'm on board with the first argument to an extent...not sure the second argument is fully fleshed out as people on here have pointed out, there is no reason to think that Wagner would be able to produce at the same level if he pitched 90-120 innings. And I actually think that if you are going to make that argument, then you need to completely revamp your pitching evaluation system for relievers and compare the numbers from starting pitchers that reflect only the first 9 batters they face in the model. Ultimately that is going to become way too messy.
   57. Zach Posted: December 12, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5797275)
I like the win-loss idea. It helps to show exactly where a borderline candidate falls in the nebulous area between HOF and HOVG.
   58. eric Posted: December 12, 2018 at 08:30 PM (#5797281)
I, too, greatly enjoyed this piece and felt like I was reading Bill James of old.

That said, I certainly don't agree with him on everything. In addition to some things that have already been hashed out, there's this part of his comment on Bill Dahlen:

It is a fair question whether it accomplishes anything to try to rectify this oversight now. No one alive has any memory of Bill Dahlen, at least as a player. I can see honoring a player’s memory, but there isn’t one. I don’t really believe in honoring numbers, and I worry that that is what we would be doing, honoring his numbers. I’m not a big fan of honoring 19th century players, since 19th baseball does not meet reasonable standards for what we mean by “major league.”


He's said similar things before, I believe once saying that Dahlen's time period is already over-represented in the HoF and therefore it's ok leaving him out. None of his arguments are very convincing to me.

No one alive remembers him at a player, and therefore there's no point to inducting him? Then what's the point of the HoF? Should we un-induct everyone once they've been retired 100 years because at that point no one has any memory? Cy Young's career had almost the exact same endpoints as Dahlen's. If by some stroke of bad luck he hadn't yet been inducted, would James be against Young's induction? The HoF is, recent events aside, about honoring and remembering the game's best players, and so the game, the fans, and Dahlen's legacy would all benefit from his induction.

Also, while James might think he doesn't believe in honoring numbers, that is exactly what the HoF and he does. Like in that XKCD comic, lots of writers like to take the essentially random number generator of professional sports and create narratives. But at the end of the day it's the guys with the numbers (254 wins, 2866 hits, 325 Win Shares, 60 WAR) who get into the HoF. I don't see him stumping for, say, Dale Murphy's election, upstanding guy that he was, or literal life-saver Nomar's election. Why not? They don't have the numbers. Which means the players he supports do have the numbers. So that's what's getting honored.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: December 12, 2018 at 09:13 PM (#5797291)
But at the end of the day it's the guys with the numbers (254 wins, 2866 hits, 325 Win Shares, 60 WAR) who get into the HoF. I don't see him stumping for, say, Dale Murphy's election, upstanding guy that he was, or literal life-saver Nomar's election. Why not? They don't have the numbers. Which means the players he supports do have the numbers. So that's what's getting honored.


I don't think James' distinction here is worthless.

Nomar's and Murphy's "numbers" are just a tabulation of real events within living memory. Dahlen's numbers have lost any such association, totally. They literally are just numbers.
   60. jingoist Posted: December 12, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5797294)
I wonder what Bill Dahlen thought during the last 14 years of his life as the HoF was created and stars inducted.
Surely he would have agreed with the first 5 or 10 years candidate selection but he probably also wondered why he wasn’t getting the love.
I agree with Eric; either it’s a hall where the greats are honored or not and if Bill Dahlen is deserving, truly deserving, then the guys who review the
Old’timers owe to Bill Dahlen and themselves to correct this oversight,
   61. maccoach57 Posted: December 12, 2018 at 09:51 PM (#5797300)
Really enjoyed this read.
   62. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 08:43 AM (#5797327)

First, PreservedFish read it correctly. Second, all of this argument is dumb because it treats Leverage Index as if it is a reasonably-constructed measure and then argues about what its implications are. But LI is bunk to begin with.
   63. PreservedFish Posted: December 13, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5797334)
I don't know if LI is executed well, but the concept seems sound.

If on April 1 you're told that one reliver is going to have a 1.50 ERA, and another a 4.50 ERA, and you're given the choice of deploying one of them as a 2.00 LI reliever and the other as a 1.00 LI reliever, isn't the choice obvious? Wouldn't the team that properly deploys them win more games?
   64. The Duke Posted: December 13, 2018 at 09:29 AM (#5797342)
I don’t really understand how logical thought leads you to “he, his teammates, and his family are dead” so who cares. 200 years from
Now bbtf will still be having debates on why Dahlen should be in Hall. It’s about the history of the game and how that history gets passed down.
   65. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5797404)
PF: If your question is purely about the concept of leverage -- if we could know in advance which situations were most crucial to winning a game, should we use our better players in those situations and our worse players in situations that aren't most crucial? -- then fine. Yes, we should of course do that.

But LI measures something else; it measures our knowledge, not how crucial the situation actually is. Rather than calling it "leverage index," a term like "excitement index" or "psychological pressure index" might be more accurate. If you win a game 1-0, then every single inning was crucial to winning. The fact that you didn't know in the first inning that your team was going to only score one run does not make it any less important than the ninth inning of that game. What's different about the first vs. ninth inning of those games is not leverage, but how one feels about the situation.
   66. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 12:37 PM (#5797446)
David, you're right about the problems with LI, but for the purpose of any relievers who we're actually having this conversation about, I don't think the concept is problematic. These guys pretty much always enter in the late innings, so LI is just measuring whether or not they pitched in close games. Which is, for the most part, what you'd want it to be measuring.
   67. Rally Posted: December 13, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5797447)
It's true that teams would do better if they would swap 9th inning, leading by 3 runs appearances for tie games, or late innings and trailing by one run or so. I think teams know that stuff now, better than they did in the 90s or so.

But in general, the 9th inning closer usage gives you the highest leverage index compared to any other pitcher usage. The top career LI pitchers (minimum 500 IP) are Sutter, Worrell, Hoffman, Percival, and Franco, between 1.89-1.97.

The multi-inning firemen of yore have much lower LI, like Fingers 1.60, Gossage 1.58, Marshall 1.54, and Wilhelm 1.35.

I'm not saying teams are maximizing the value they can get out of the best relief pitchers, but they are maximizing their leverage. To do any better than what teams are getting out of their closers would take a good deal of luck and timing. For example, do you use your closer in the 9th inning of a tie game? Probably yes. But what if this would be the third day in a row he pitches? Then maybe not. But if you knew that they next 3 games would be blowouts in either direction, then you use him. Do you go to your closer to finish a 5-2 game? Most of you would say no, let another pitcher finish that one, save him for a higher leverage appearance. But maybe he hasn't pitched in 4 days and needs work.
   68. eric Posted: December 13, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5797507)
But LI measures something else; it measures our knowledge, not how crucial the situation actually is.


I am against giving relievers extra credit because of when they were used, since any pitcher could be used in those situations. With that said, I have to disagree.

Tie game, bottom of he first, it is not "crucial" to prevent a run from scoring. You still have 8 innings to make it up. So if the run scores then your chances of winning go down, but not by a whole lot. Bottom of the ninth, tie game, it is crucial to prevent the run from scoring.

In retrospect every run is equal--a run in the first counts just as much as a run in the ninth. But games aren't played retrospectively, and decisions have to be made based on the situation at hand, without that knowledge of the future you referenced. And not every situation is of equal importance from a probabilistic standpoint, which is the only one we've got as long as we play games without prescience.
   69. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 02:37 PM (#5797521)

#68, yes but now, when we're evaluating player value, we do have that knowledge.
   70. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 02:43 PM (#5797527)
But in general, the 9th inning closer usage gives you the highest leverage index compared to any other pitcher usage.
But that's because LI is designed that way!
   71. eric Posted: December 13, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5797566)
#68, yes but now, when we're evaluating player value, we do have that knowledge.


And what do we use that knowledge for? The only way LI is relevant to the discussion is if we're differentiating between determining "who is the more valuable player" or "who is the better player"? Then that sounds oddly reminiscent of MVP discussions where guys who get hot in September and their team wins the division are deemed by some to be more valuable despite a relatively mediocre season performance than a great player having a great season on a middling team. Why should Billy Wagner get extra credit for his manager's decision to bring him into a high leverage situation? At the end of the day he still pitched 60-70 innings per season at an effectiveness that probably a decent percentage of starters could have emulated if they, too, had lacked the stamina to go 7+ (now 5+). And if you ascribe to the "run is a run whenever it is scored" mantra then Wagner definitely shouldn't get any extra credit for pitching 1/3 as much as other pitchers.

The only use I see for leverage index is for managers to decide when to deploy their resources. Players shouldn't get any extra credit for it. How much better a player they are would already come across in their actual stats (ERA+, K/BB, WHIP, what have you).
   72. Zach Posted: December 13, 2018 at 05:10 PM (#5797615)
if Bill Dahlen is deserving, truly deserving, then the guys who review the Old’timers owe to Bill Dahlen and themselves to correct this oversight,

I can see that argument, but I can also see the argument that we should focus on the highest priorities first.

First priority should be living players with strong cases for induction. Last priority should be forgotten players with iffy cases for induction.
   73. Kiko Sakata Posted: December 13, 2018 at 05:16 PM (#5797621)
First priority should be living players with strong cases for induction.


I can't speak for anybody else and I'm sure his wife and sons appreciated the honor, but Ron Santo being elected at the first election AFTER he died really left a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, better then than never, I suppose. But definitely prioritize honoring the living.
   74. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 13, 2018 at 06:04 PM (#5797632)

#71, sorry eric, I thought you were arguing for using LI as part of a system to assess value after the fact. I'm not really a fan of doing so either, although I understand those who are (pretty much everyone who uses bWAR for relief pitchers).
   75. PreservedFish Posted: December 13, 2018 at 06:16 PM (#5797635)
PF: If your question is purely about the concept of leverage -- if we could know in advance which situations were most crucial to winning a game, should we use our better players in those situations and our worse players in situations that aren't most crucial? -- then fine. Yes, we should of course do that.

But LI measures something else; it measures our knowledge, not how crucial the situation actually is. Rather than calling it "leverage index," a term like "excitement index" or "psychological pressure index" might be more accurate. If you win a game 1-0, then every single inning was crucial to winning. The fact that you didn't know in the first inning that your team was going to only score one run does not make it any less important than the ninth inning of that game. What's different about the first vs. ninth inning of those games is not leverage, but how one feels about the situation.


It seems like you've copied and pasted a criticism of WPA into this discussion. But we do know, with a great deal of probability, that the ninth inning of a 1-0 game will be proven to be more crucial than the ninth inning of a 5-0 game.

So I ask again:

If on April 1 you're told that one reliever is going to have a 1.50 ERA, and another a 4.50 ERA, and you're given the choice of deploying one of them as a 2.00 LI reliever and the other as a 1.00 LI reliever, isn't the choice obvious? Wouldn't the team that properly deploys them win more games?
   76. Hank Gillette Posted: December 14, 2018 at 03:13 AM (#5797707)
Cut the guy some slack here. He did invent the stuff and write a book on it after all. Plus he's referencing the competitor big stat as well. That's a big concession on his part. What, do you expect him to abandon WS altogether and bow down and grovel before the WAR overlord?


Since WAR (as Tom Tango is fond of saying) is simply a framework, James could implement his own version of WAR. Then at least it would be easier to compare his analyses against other versions of WAR. It’s difficult to do that now since Win Shares uses a different scale (James for some reason decided that a Win Share = 1/3 of a win) and measures from zero rather than replacement.
   77. Sunday silence Posted: December 14, 2018 at 08:44 AM (#5797719)

James wrote about five years ago that he’s now on board with putting Dick Allen in the Hall, actually.


that's awesome, how soon before he changes his mind about Hal Chase?
   78. karlmagnus Posted: December 14, 2018 at 08:52 AM (#5797721)
Win Shares and WaR are measuring different things. By measuring absolute value, Win Shares gives a higher value to players like Harold Baines, who go on for ever at a moderate level. For career value and the Hall of Fame, it's arguable that Win Shares are more useful. They are in any case different and both metrics have value.
   79. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM (#5797747)

It seems like you've copied and pasted a criticism of WPA into this discussion.

Since they use the same fundamental methodology, I don't think that's unreasonable.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5797754)
Here's my claim. I'm ready for someone to refute it. If I use my best reliever in gmLI 2.00+ situations, and my worst reliever in gmLI <1.00 situations, I will win more games than if I did the opposite.
   81. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5797758)

#80, sure. But do we really need LI to help us differentiate between those two types of situations?
   82. bobm Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5797767)
It's true that teams would do better if they would swap 9th inning, leading by 3 runs appearances for tie games, or late innings and trailing by one run or so. I think teams know that stuff now, better than they did in the 90s or so.

But in general, the 9th inning closer usage gives you the highest leverage index compared to any other pitcher usage. [...]

I'm not saying teams are maximizing the value they can get out of the best relief pitchers, but they are maximizing their leverage.


Are they?

For Single Seasons, For 2018, (requiring SV>=20), sorted by greatest aLI


                                                  
Rk            Player   aLI SV  Tm Lg  G GS GF   IP
1      Blake Treinen 2.227 38 OAK AL 68  0 58 80.1
2         Edwin Diaz 2.163 57 SEA AL 73  0 65 73.1
3     Brad Boxberger 2.148 32 ARI NL 60  0 45 53.1
4     Felipe Vazquez 2.062 37 PIT NL 70  0 60 70.0
5          Brad Hand 2.034 32 TOT ML 69  0 42 72.0
6         Wade Davis 2.002 43 COL NL 69  0 63 65.1
7      Craig Kimbrel 1.960 42 BOS AL 63  0 57 62.1
8    Fernando Rodney 1.895 25 TOT AL 68  0 40 64.1
9    Aroldis Chapman 1.881 32 NYY AL 55  0 43 51.1
10        Cody Allen 1.809 27 CLE AL 70  0 45 67.0
11     Roberto Osuna 1.784 21 TOT AL 38  0 31 38.0
12    Brandon Morrow 1.761 22 CHC NL 35  0 30 30.2
13        Bud Norris 1.761 28 STL NL 64  0 42 57.2
14       Sergio Romo 1.726 25 TBR AL 73  5 39 67.1
15        Keone Kela 1.687 24 TOT ML 54  0 36 52.0
16    Sean Doolittle 1.652 25 WSN NL 43  0 35 45.0
17     Kenley Jansen 1.565 38 LAD NL 69  0 59 71.2
18      Shane Greene 1.513 32 DET AL 66  0 58 63.1
19         Ken Giles 1.294 26 TOT AL 55  0 42 50.1
20   Raisel Iglesias 1.285 30 CIN NL 66  0 57 72.0


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/14/2018.
   83. bobm Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5797771)
For Single Seasons, For 2018, (requiring SV<=20 and IP>=30.0), sorted by greatest aLI


                                                       
Rk                 Player   aLI SV   IP  Tm Lg  G GS GF
1             Alex Colome 1.910 12 68.0 TOT AL 70  0 24
2           Adam Ottavino 1.803  6 77.2 COL NL 75  0 16
3    Seranthony Dominguez 1.796 16 58.0 PHI NL 53  0 24
4         Jeremy Jeffress 1.721 15 76.2 MIL NL 73  0 24
5          Archie Bradley 1.718  3 71.2 ARI NL 76  0  8
6           Jose Alvarado 1.692  8 64.0 TBR AL 70  0 17
7             Kirby Yates 1.677 12 63.0 SDP NL 65  0 28
8              Brad Brach 1.666 12 62.2 TOT ML 69  0 32
9        Kyle Barraclough 1.665 10 55.2 MIA NL 61  0 25
10         Jeurys Familia 1.651 18 72.0 TOT ML 70  0 36
11            Tony Watson 1.639  0 66.0 SFG NL 72  0 10
12          Andrew Miller 1.630  2 34.0 CLE AL 37  0  5
13          Hector Rondon 1.625 15 59.0 HOU AL 63  0 26
14            Pedro Strop 1.625 13 59.2 CHC NL 60  0 20
15        Arodys Vizcaino 1.622 16 38.1 ATL NL 39  0 31
16            Ryan Tepera 1.619  7 64.2 TOR AL 68  0 19
17           Jordan Hicks 1.615  6 77.2 STL NL 73  0 20
18             Josh Hader 1.592 12 81.1 MIL NL 55  0 14
19       Yoshihisa Hirano 1.592  3 66.1 ARI NL 75  0 10
20          Craig Stammen 1.570  0 79.0 SDP NL 73  0  7
21            A.J. Minter 1.556 15 61.1 ATL NL 65  0 31
22           Corey Knebel 1.549 16 55.1 MIL NL 57  0 29
23               Chaz Roe 1.535  1 50.1 TBR AL 61  0  6
24             Nate Jones 1.533  5 30.0 CHW AL 33  0 15
25            Joe Jimenez 1.521  3 62.2 DET AL 68  0 17


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/14/2018.

   84. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 14, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5797786)
Here's my claim. I'm ready for someone to refute it. If I use my best reliever in gmLI 2.00+ situations, and my worst reliever in gmLI <1.00 situations, I will win more games than if I did the opposite.


I don't think there is a single person in this thread who would disagree.

But several people question why the individual ballplayer should get additional credit for pitching in those situations.
   85. PreservedFish Posted: December 14, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5797796)
#80, sure. But do we really need LI to help us differentiate between those two types of situations?


Why on earth would we not want to quantify it? We quantify everything.

I don't think there is a single person in this thread who would disagree.

But several people question why the individual ballplayer should get additional credit for pitching in those situations.


This is not at all what Nieporent argued. He said that LI only measures "excitement," but nothing real about the game.
   86. bobm Posted: December 14, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5797797)
But several people question why the individual ballplayer should get additional credit for pitching in those situations

Do people think that it is equally stressful to pitch and perform well in low leverage and high leverage situations? That surprises me.

IMO what distinguished deGrom's season from Scherzer's this year is not the results but the context, i.e., that deGrom had to pitch his PAs with far less margin of error. YMMV.
   87. bobm Posted: December 14, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5797799)
He said that LI only measures "excitement," but nothing real about the game.

?

Isn't it derived from actual data on changes in win probability observed in each base-out-inning state?
   88. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 14, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5797821)
Why on earth would we not want to quantify it? We quantify everything.

Yes, but then that raises the question of whether you are quantifying it correctly, and then what you do with that information once you have.

You asked a very general question about a very extreme example. Sure, I'm perfectly fine acknowledging that the reliever who pitched in situations with an average LI of 2.0 pitched in more important games than the guy with an average LI of 1.0.

But I'm not sure his innings were twice as valuable. And I'm definitely not sure that guy with a 2.0 LI was 10% more valuable than the guy with a 1.8.
   89. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 14, 2018 at 12:12 PM (#5797824)

Isn't it derived from actual data on changes in win probability observed in each base-out-inning state?

Yes, but based only on the information available before the play, not the information available afterwards.
   90. PreservedFish Posted: December 14, 2018 at 12:13 PM (#5797825)
#88 - Me either. As I stated above, "I don't know if LI is executed well, but the concept seems sound."
   91. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 15, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5798086)

#90, ok but David's initial comment was a critique of Leverage Index specifically, not the concept of measuring leverage. If you agree that LI may be flawed, then I don't think you guys really disagree.
   92. PreservedFish Posted: December 15, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5798087)
It seemed like a critique of the very idea of the whole thing, not on the accuracy of the measure.
   93. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 16, 2018 at 08:18 AM (#5798172)
James’s position on Dahlen seems crazy to me. It’s not like he’s some quasi-mythological figure, about whom we know nothing other than the numbers in the statistical record. There are contemporaneous accounts about him, both as a player and as a person, as well as at least one full-length biography that was published a few years ago. He was kind of an interesting guy, on top of being an excellent player, and just because he’s long-dead doesn’t mean that he deserves to be forgotten.
   94. Sunday silence Posted: December 16, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5798236)
It’s not like he’s some quasi-mythological figure, about whom we know nothing other than the numbers in the statistical record.


Right because that title is reserved for Vada Pinson, Jimmy Piersall, Richie Ashburn and all the other guys we dont have BRIS numbers for.
   95. Sunday silence Posted: December 16, 2018 at 11:34 PM (#5798300)
It seems like you've copied and pasted a criticism of WPA into this discussion. But we do know, with a great deal of probability, that the ninth inning of a 1-0 game will be proven to be more crucial than the ninth inning of a 5-0 game.


While that seems like a pretty good argument, the problem is what about the first inning? The first inning of the 1-0 was very important, in fact every AB was really important because "one swing" could change the game. Not so with the 5-0 game, because there in hindsight there was very little chance that the first inning would have change the odds much, because of that huge 5 run eruption later in the game was so big.

So that's David's criticism as I understand it. He's saying LI uses what we know NOW, but not what we know LATER. Meaning how the game turned out later. I think he phrased it a bit oddly with the "now" and later" terminology but I get it.

I have to say, his argument seems reasonable and is not easily dismissed.
   96. bobm Posted: December 17, 2018 at 09:22 AM (#5798320)
The first inning of the 1-0 was very important, in fact every AB was really important because "one swing" could change the game.

The WPA of a 1-0 HR in the 1st inning is roughly 0.1, versus 0.4 in the 9th inning. There are fewer opportunities for "'one swing'" to "change the game" later in the game. It's like a gambler who is ruined when he loses his last dollar. That last dollar lost is the one that causes him to leave the table, even if the hand itself and the amount lost on that hand were no different from the 50 that came before.

He's saying LI uses what we know NOW, but not what we know LATER. Meaning how the game turned out later.

What we know "now" is a probability based on the observations of all the similar base-out-inning-relative score situations that came before. I do not wait for the evening news to decide whether I should have taken an umbrella with me to work that day; I do so based on a forecast. Sometimes it turns out not to have rained.

ETA: From B-R:

All of MLB: 5433 Home Runs in 1955-2018, during 1st Inning, Away Games, Score Tied and With Bases Empty
                                              
G        PA    R   AB    H   HR  RBI   WPA  LI
5433   5433 5433 5433 5433 5433 5433 545.4 .64


All of MLB: 685 Home Runs in 1955-2018, during 9th Inning, Away Games, Score Tied and With Bases Empty
                                        
G      PA   R  AB   H  HR RBI   WPA   LI
685   685 685 685 685 685 685 254.0 1.90


Average WPA of 0.1 vs. 0.37, for top 1st and top 9th, respectively.
   97. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 17, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5798348)
What we know "now" is a probability based on the observations of all the similar base-out-inning-relative score situations that came before. I do not wait for the evening news to decide whether I should have taken an umbrella with me to work that day; I do so based on a forecast. Sometimes it turns out not to have rained.

So what? We're not forecasting team performance or debating who to put in the game, we're retrospectively assessing player value to debate who goes into the HOF. In retrospect, we know that the homer in the first inning was worth just as much as the homer in the 9th inning of the same game.
   98. PreservedFish Posted: December 17, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5798353)
Can I take it then that you're in favor of reviving the Game-Winning RBI?
   99. bobm Posted: December 17, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5798368)
So what? We're not forecasting team performance or debating who to put in the game, we're retrospectively assessing player value to debate who goes into the HOF.

We're also not running a "Turning Point of the Game" contest to increase the audience of a post game radio show.

In retrospect, we know that the homer in the first inning was worth just as much as the homer in the 9th inning of the same game.

Yes, but managers use different pitchers in different innings because they know that different game situations are more critical than others. The game is not managed or played in retrospect or hindsight.
   100. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 17, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5798373)
We're also not running a "Turning Point of the Game" contest to increase the audience of a post game radio show.
Hey, the Ford F-150 "Turning Point of the Game" Presented by Taco Bell is my favorite part of the show!
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