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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vince Gennaro: A-Rod’s Postseason Problem

Yeah…right…while da real Bald Vinny wants ta section A-Rod inta 203 pieces!

Let’s start by looking at Alex Rodriguez’s regular season hitting versus different quality levels of pitching. I created an index of a player’s OPS relative to the MLB average, against top pitching and weak pitching. If a player indexes above 100 he performs relatively better against top pitching; if he indexes below 100, he performs relatively worse against top pitching. A-Rod indexes at 92, while Derek Jeter indexes at 114. Mark Teixeira, who has also had his postseason struggles indexes at 94, while Robinson Cano comes in at 109. For perspective, one of the highest indexes for any player currently in the postseason is Carlos Beltran, who scores a 121 on this measure. Is it a coincidence that Carlos Beltran crushes high quality pitching—in 115 postseason plate appearances he has a 1.297 OPS?

Let’s compare Jeter and A-Rod’s actual postseason performance over their career. We can’t simply look at all regular season stats vs. postseason stats, since a player may have reached the postseason in his best or worst hitting seasons. Instead, I weighted the player’s regular season OPS based on the number of plate appearances in each year they reached the playoffs. This gives us more of an apples-to-apples comparison. For his career (prior to this postseason), A-Rod have a blended average .945 OPS for the regular season and an .884 OPS in the postseason—a downgrade of 61 points. Conversely, Jeter’s regular season numbers are .830, with a postseason OPS of .839. Here’s an instance where the actual performance, over a 15-year career, supports the analysis of who succeeds in the playoffs.

Over the course of a postseason a player may have a hot or cold streak, so the small sample size means this framework may not translate in the short run. A-Rod proved that with his 2009 postseason as he carried the Yankees to a World Championship. Nonetheless, the approach of determining whether or not a hitter crushes (or flounders) against top pitching may provide a window into their postseason performances.

Repoz Posted: October 11, 2012 at 05:33 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 11, 2012 at 06:34 AM (#4263208)
r this moron represents SABR, god help you.
   2. TomH Posted: October 11, 2012 at 07:24 AM (#4263212)
well KT P A, would you like to intelligently critique the issues in the article? If not, please defer to others who will.
   3. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: October 11, 2012 at 07:48 AM (#4263220)
A-Rod have a blended average .945 OPS for the regular season and an .884 OPS in the postseason—a downgrade of 61 points. Conversely, Jeter’s regular season numbers are .830, with a postseason OPS of .839. Here’s an instance where the actual performance, over a 15-year career, supports the analysis of who succeeds in the playoffs.

But A-Rod, then, has STILL been better than Jeter!
   4. AROM Posted: October 11, 2012 at 07:54 AM (#4263222)
My question is on definitions. What qualifies as a top pitcher? Is this based on ERA? FIP or a similar estimator? Single season stats, multi-year, or projections? How do handle starters/relievers/swing men? For example, Is Brian Matusz considered good or bad?
   5. DCA Posted: October 11, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4263236)
884 > 839, last I checked.

Edit: last Shooty checked too.
   6. bobm Posted: October 11, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4263245)
[4] it is apparently based on ops against. See:

http://vincegennaro.mlblogs.com/2012/09/24/who-is-poised-to-hit-in-the-postseason/
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: October 11, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4263256)

So A-Rod's hitting superiority over Jeter is less in the postseason than in the regular season, is that the gist of this?
   8. TomH Posted: October 11, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4263267)
Let's look at the bigger picture and forget the poisoning effect of using Jeter and A-lightning-Rod:

1 In the good hitters vs good pitchers debate, it has been well established in general that expected outcomes are based on what math woudl tell you; a pitcher who allows an OPS 50 pts below avg will be tha effective against all kinds of hitters, and vice versa. IOW, we know that the meme 'good pitching beats good hitting' is factually incorrect.

2 However, to my knowledge, it has NOT been established that this is universally true of all hitters and ptichers. For example, the left/right platoon is known to be pretty universal for hitters - most guys who show unsuual splits are in fact small sample anomalies. It is less universal for certain pitchers (knuckleballers?). So, is it possible that some batters have characteristics that they clean up on crappy pitchers more than others? AFAIK, no one has published a full study of this. The Gennaro article(s) shows there are differences, but did not establish if this was small sample or potentially statistically significant. It COULD be a real effect; maybe some guys don't hit fastballs over 94 as well, and they fsace those more often in the post-season, for example.

I think it's an interesting question. Not yet answered.

We may all now resume arguing over Lightning Rod & Mr Gift Baskets.
   9. Tricky Dick Posted: October 11, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4263272)
This is an interesting hypothesis and some interesting comparisons, but I don't find it persuasive. It doesn't seem to me that you can just look at two players and reach a conclusion. An initial question that comes to mind: how much does the average post season player's OPS change compared to his regular season OPS against top pitchers? And what would be the confidence interval? I don't know that you can ever get a playoff sample size for individual players to be confident about a conclusion like this.

We can’t simply look at all regular season stats vs. postseason stats, since a player may have reached the postseason in his best or worst hitting seasons. Instead, I weighted the player’s regular season OPS based on the number of plate appearances in each year they reached the playoffs. This gives us more of an apples-to-apples comparison.


Is this a good idea? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. If a player's team doesn't reach the playoffs, we exclude his regular season stats against top pitchers for that season? I would imagine that the sample size against top pitchers would be a concern, and it doesn't help to exclude those seasons.


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