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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

WaPo: For Washington Nationals, there are eyes, deep flies and statistics

Gruntsters unite!

“There are so many different stats out there nowadays I honestly don’t even know half the time,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “I read articles, and I don’t even know what these guys are talking. fWAR-plus or ERA+, I don’t even know what those things mean. And I don’t really care to because I’m kind of like old-school-type mind-set where I just go out there and do well, and all that other weird statistical stuff will fall into place.”

...Mentioning some advanced statistics to pitching coach Steve McCatty results in obscenities. He has a number of preferred statistics: the percentage of strikes thrown, hits per nine innings, walks per nine innings, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also likes looking at first-pitch strike percentage and strikeout rates, but would rather see fewer base runners than more strikeouts.

“I like to see guys, but I like to keep the walks down because it’s just like giving up a hit,” he said. “If they’re going to beat you, make them earn it. If you can keep your walks down, and average 3-to-1 strikeouts, you don’t have to be a strikeout guy. That’s not always important, but that’s a good number.”

...A player’s batting average with runners in scoring position, known in shorthand as average with RISP, is a telling statistic for Desmond.

“I’m a character-type guy so if you have a guy with really high average but terrible with runners in scoring position, it kinda gives you a little reading on the person.”

Hitting coach Rick Schu shows hitters the tendencies of opposing pitchers: whether they nibble on the edges of the strike zone or fire high 90s fastballs — but he prefers to avoid the advanced offensive statistics.

“I don’t even know what all that stuff means,” he said. “I kinda just have a baseball edumacation. Just have some quality at-bats, barrel it up and do some damage. . . . I think all those numbers are more for the front-office guys. I’m more of a gruntster: Score some runs, have some good ABs, make some loud noises.”

Repoz Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:47 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats, sabermetrics

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   1. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:22 PM (#4666513)
He also likes looking at first-pitch strike percentage and strikeout rates, but would rather see fewer base runners than more strikeouts.


Wait I'm confused. They must have changed the rules as last time I looked more strikeouts did equate to fewer base runners. When did this all change?

Then you read an article about Burke Badenhop on WEEI and the guy realises he has limited stuff and uses the new-fangled stats to leverage any advantage he can get.
   2. The District Attorney Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:29 PM (#4666515)
How can he see he's got flies in his eyes if he's got flies in his eyes?
   3. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4666517)
Oh my God, Tyler Clippard doesn't know what fWAR is. He's never going to amount to anything, and we're doomed, doomed, doomed.
   4. Baldrick Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4666519)
...Mentioning some advanced statistics to pitching coach Steve McCatty results in obscenities. He has a number of preferred statistics: the percentage of strikes thrown, hits per nine innings, walks per nine innings, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also likes looking at first-pitch strike percentage and strikeout rates, but would rather see fewer base runners than more strikeouts.

I don't think very many statheads are going to disagree with you, my friend, that strike % and K/BB ratios are really important. In fact, they will likely argue right along with you that those numbers ultimately tell you more than complicated and obscure mega-stats like ERA and Win Points - which factor in a bunch of mumbo jumbo that has nothing to do with the pitcher's actual performance!

OTOH:
A player’s batting average with runners in scoring position, known in shorthand as average with RISP, is a telling statistic for Desmond.

“I’m a character-type guy so if you have a guy with really high average but terrible with runners in scoring position, it kinda gives you a little reading on the person.”

Paging Randal...Paging Randal Graves...
   5. frannyzoo Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4666529)
The story is fine, but the headline is the single worst paraphrase of Twain/Disraeli...ever. And there's been sizable competition for that over the years. Brutal levels of copy editor suckitude there, as Disraeli would say.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4666541)
There's not a lot to disagree with McCatty about. And, yes #1, there are many ways to limit baserunners but a low walk rate and a 3/1 K/BB is a pretty effective way of doing that.

But a 3/1 K/BB was, until recently, quite rare. Through 1980, among pitchers with at least 1000 IP, there were only 6 pitchers with a 3/1 K/BB with 4 in the HoF. From 1981 to 2000 (including partial careers), you add 12 more names. From 2001-13, you still add only 30, some of whom overlap with the 1981-2000 group.

Obviously it's a lot less rare and the whole darn NL was at 2.5 last year. Still, for guys with at least 100 IP in 2013, it's only 51 pitchers with a median ERA+ of 115 and 42 of them at 97 or better. That's out of 145 pitchers with at least 100 IP. So, yeah, duh, it's good to be in the top 50-75 starters in baseball.

But, be warned -- Joe Blanton had a 3.2 K/BB and a 62 ERA+.

Out of relievers (95% of games) with at least 50 IP, there were 62, almost exactly half of the relievers with 50+ IP.

Anyway, nothing wrong I suppose with a target of a 3/1 K/BB ... and it's reasonably achievable these days.

BTW, for the 01-13 crew, 25 of the 30 with a K/BB >= 3 had a K/9 of at least 7. David Wells was the bottom of the pack with 5/9. Lieber, Maddux, Radke also under 6.

Factoid: 18% of Maddux's walks in this period were intentional. Lieber was pretty similar. I suppose K/UIBB would be more accurate but who has the time for that.
   7. vivaelpujols Posted: March 05, 2014 at 03:01 AM (#4666583)
Brilliant article, I learned a lot, would read again.

Edit: actual article was good, excerpt is stupid. Repoz'd.
   8. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: March 05, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4666609)
excerpt is stupid

What else is new.
   9. Bourbon Samurai Posted: March 05, 2014 at 10:56 AM (#4666645)
Makes sense to me- there's no reason actual players should worry about advanced metrics. You want the front office staff to understand that, but the pitchers should worry about exactly what they are talking about worrying about in the article.
   10. Esoteric Posted: March 05, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4666661)
Why did Repoz trollishly post this excerpt in the way he did? How unbelievably twattish of him.

For those who don't understand what I mean, READ THE ARTICLE. It's not at all what the excerpt would lead you to think (i.e. a bunch of players railing about statistics), it's quite the opposite: a rundown on how different players and staff on the Nationals team look at statistics and set their own performance metrics by them. Repoz merely excerpted the ONLY ones where a player expresses an opinion that we here might be expected to blast for being insufficiently devoted to sabermetrics. Straight trolling.

A serious party-foul on Repoz's part. And of course he'll never come back to this thread to explain or apologize.
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 05, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4666665)
Makes sense to me- there's no reason actual players should worry about advanced metrics.


"Get your nose outta the book Poindexter, you wanna end up like Brian Bannister?"

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