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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Will Leitch: Baseball Prospectus: Baseball’s Essential Reading

Wonder if the old Baseball Prospectus will send a cease and desist letter to the new Baseball Prospectus...

Now, Baseball Prospectus is an organization, and organizations, by definition, tend to degrade a bit over time and exposure. I’m halfway done with the Baltimore Orioles chapter in the new book already—roughly seven percent through the book—and I can’t help but notice it doesn’t have the same spark it used to. The book is better-edited (by Cecilia Tan and Bleacher Report’s King Kaufman) than it used to be, but it’s also a little tamer and safer. The book used to be fairly merciless (and undeniably hilarious) in its criticism of archaic front offices and players hanging around because of “veteran presence” rather than actual baseball skill, but it’s nicer now, more conventional, more team-friendly.

It’s also less Socratic. The intro chapters on each team used to be freewheeling musings on what a baseball organization was, what a team’s philosophy was, what it means to be a member of that organization. Now the team intros have been dramatically shortened, and chopped up into easy-to-digest but less meaty portions that aren’t all that different than a slightly smarter version of an old Street and Smith’s preview magazine.

The book is still essential—I’m still reading every word of it—but somehow less dangerous. Less outsider. Less … fan. It’s as if BP is self-aware and knows every front office in baseball has a copy now. You can’t help but lose a little of your edge once you’re no longer fighting against anything, once you’re accepted.

But that evolution is a small price to pay for what BP did, what BP is still doing. There are people in the world of sports, be it media or corporate, whose nods to fans are cursory, obligatory, dismissive, who act like fans are just heedless consumers ready to be led around. Fans prove the opposite every day. Baseball Prospectus isn’t the only example of it, but they’re one of the best. Now if you excuse me, I need to get back to my book. What is Nick Markakis’ deal, man?

Repoz Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:02 PM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, sabermetrics

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   1. Maury Brown Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4377212)
Only a fool would write for BP.
   2. djordan Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4377220)
@ Maury - serious question - what's makes you say that?
   3. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4377227)
What's Steven Goldman up to these days? I enjoyed his work. It seems like he's not as much a presence any more.
   4. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4377229)
The snark and the humor got stale many years ago.

Dissenting just to dissent is as boring as conforming just to conform.
   5. Maury Brown Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4377231)
@ Maury - serious question - what's makes you say that?
I write for BP. Apparently, I need to brush up on my comedy chops.
   6. RJ in TO Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4377232)
@ Maury - serious question - what's makes you say that?


Nothing in particular.
   7. Maury Brown Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4377233)
On #4... I don't see that as the soup de jour there any longer. I'm sure we, on occasion, do so. But, I'd challenge by saying that it's occurring elsewhere with the same frequency, if not more.
   8. djordan Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4377238)
@ Maury, gotcha. I bought my copy yesterday. Looking forward to reading.
   9. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4377242)
Apparently, I need to brush up on my comedy chops.

For what it's worth, I chuckled.
   10. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 27, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4377244)
The snark and the humor got stale many years ago.


This is crazy talk. Snark and humor never get old. I wish I were better at them. Heck they are the reason I followed BBTF so much and eagerly early on, and click on certain threads.
   11. Pingu Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4377245)
I half agree with Sugarbear, the humor was a bit stale.

But this latest incarnation is worse. I'd rather stale than tame. The individual player sections seem completely devoid of snark. Not neccesarily a bad thing, and I wouldnt mind that much if it was replaced by insight. Unfortunately not the case.

But my real issue is the team articles are just awful. I could write each one in a half hour without doing any research. This years book is basically just a "they lost this player and this player and signed this player and traded for this player, they still need a SS who can hit and a 5th starter, and they have a decent change at making the playoffs, the end". No analysis, no insight, none of the slightly unique slanted takes on a team's past or future that I came to really appreciate.

I think the article might have nailed it. Are too many writers eyeing front office jobs to leave themselves open to being wrong? Concerned with upseting people they know? You'd think the annonymous nature of each teams intro section would help. It also could just be a dilution of talent through attrition or poaching or whatever. Maybe we were just spoiled.

Been getting every annual since I won one in a predict-the-season contest by Lee Sinins. Jesus christo that was a long time ago. Really hoping this is a one year aberration.
   12. DEF: hates freedom Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4377248)
the team essays were basically the only reason I bothered to buy the BP annual the last few years. By gutting those essays, they've eliminated my need to buy the annual. It's kind of sad.
   13. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4377251)
SBB: Dissenting just to dissent is ... boring

Are you... I just... you know... seriously??
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4377253)
The book used to be fairly merciless (and undeniably hilarious) in its criticism of archaic front offices and players hanging around because of “veteran presence” rather than actual baseball skill, but it’s nicer now, more conventional, more team-friendly.


Perhaps there are fewer archaic front offices and worthless veterans?

As to the book, I would rarely read a team essay anyway, but yes, they were usually actual essays that had an interesting angle to them.

I basically leaf through the player comments, as I've always done.
   15. Maury Brown Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4377254)
I've been in cryogenic freeze since 2006 to allow time for Loria to sell the Marlins, so I'm technically part of the late, old-school BP staff... what's that? Loria still owns the Marlins? (crawls back in pod, closes the hatch)
   16. AROM Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4377259)
I think the article might have nailed it. Are too many writers eyeing front office jobs to leave themselves open to being wrong? Concerned with upseting people they know? You'd think the annonymous nature of each teams intro section would help. It also could just be a dilution of talent through attrition or poaching or whatever. Maybe we were just spoiled.


What's the count of BPro guys currently working in front offices? There's Woolner in Cleveland, Click in Tampa Bay, Goldstein and Fast in Houston (despite neither having any professional playing experience, Fast is pencilled in as the #3 starter and Goldstein will get a crack at short).

I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4377262)
Been getting every annual since I won one in a predict-the-season contest by Lee Sinins. Jesus christo that was a long time ago. Really hoping this is a one year aberration.


Just ordered my book today, last year was the first year that I didn't get a book, since 1998(?) At $15 it's a great buy, even if the quality drops down to Street & Smith magazine level.

It’s also less Socratic. The intro chapters on each team used to be freewheeling musings on what a baseball organization was, what a team’s philosophy was, what it means to be a member of that organization. Now the team intros have been dramatically shortened, and chopped up into easy-to-digest but less meaty portions that aren’t all that different than a slightly smarter version of an old Street and Smith’s preview magazine.


That is what I loved about Bill James and Baseball Prospectus, is that they would go in all different type of directions when they delved into a subject. They weren't formulatic, you didn't have a default style to any particular section or team. I would hate it, if the team essays were "Here is what they have on offense:" "Here is their pitching:" "Here is their front office/intangibles etc:" for each team.
   18. AROM Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4377264)
Oh yeah, Dan Fox in Pittsburgh. Then there's Keith Law and Russell Carleton, who worked for teams in the past.
   19. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4377266)
Does Dan Fox still work for the Pirates?

EDIT: gah, darn, coke I guess.
   20. cmd600 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4377269)
I have no idea how it took 9 posts for #13 to happen.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4377271)
every front office in baseball has a copy now.

While they probably do, front offices surely passed BPro long ago and there's nothing in there that they don't know already. Possibly a small bit of analysis they hadn't thought of yet. Certainly no team is going to pay the least bit of serious attention to the essay written about them -- they might read it for laughs. (Hmmm ... that sounds more insulting than I mean it. I simply mean the team obviously knows more about itself than BPro does so there's nothing for them to gain.)

I gave up the annual about a decade ago so I'm not one to ask really but it mainly sounds like they're trying to be more "professional" which, yes, can be very dry but also, when done right, accurate and doesn't make claims they can't support.

I guess I'm just one of the few statheads that never liked BPro all that much. I appreciated that they provided advanced stats freely and relatively easy to search when nobody else was and of course some of their articles were good -- it was certainly valuable. But it was terribly inconsistent and I never felt the writers had any more insight than the folks around here did ... and those writers seemed illing to ignore the numbers when they wanted to.

It was often funny how many of their articles would cite OPS+ constantly and ignore their own EQA and VORP. They'd have articles focusing on how dumb some front office was for passing over or trading away some hitter because he was a good hitter when their own WARP said the guy was so bad on defense that he wasn't particularly valuable. That lack of buy-in by their own writers hurt them I thought -- you don't want uniformity of opinion among your writers but they should at least be agreeing on the basic methodology and then work from there. You can't have an article proclaiming the superiority of your new measure then have your writers not use it 95% of the time.

At this stage, advanced stats are all over the place and the FOs are generating their own. It's quaint that RDP still cites EQA (not that there's anything wrong with that). I can't recall the last time I saw a good piece of BPro analysis linked here -- is that a paywall thing?

And that's fine, there's no need to be on the cutting edge of baseball quant analysis. They've always been writing for fans no matter how much they might have been fueled by thinking their audience was baseball front offices. They just aren't likely to inspire too many budding sabermetricians at this point.
   22. JJ1986 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4377276)
It was often funny how many of their articles would cite OPS+ constantly and ignore their own EQA and VORP. They'd have articles focusing on how dumb some front office was for passing over or trading away some hitter because he was a good hitter when their own WARP said the guy was so bad on defense that he wasn't particularly valuable. That lack of buy-in by their own writers hurt them I thought -- you don't want uniformity of opinion among your writers but they should at least be agreeing on the basic methodology and then work from there. You can't have an article proclaiming the superiority of your new measure then have your writers not use it 95% of the time.


I think this hurt the BP stats, but it was better for their writing. I think it's always better to use stats that everyone knows and knows the scale of. Fangraphs writers use their wOBA and their ERA- and I have no idea (hyperbole for wOBA, literally true for ERA-) what those numbers represent while ERA+ and OPS+ are on a scale that anyone can understand.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4377279)
At this stage, advanced stats are all over the place and the FOs are generating their own. It's quaint that RDP still cites EQA (not that there's anything wrong with that). I can't recall the last time I saw a good piece of BPro analysis linked here -- is that a paywall thing?


I like EQA, but I don't ever look at it any more. OPS+ does a good enough job for me for now, that the extra precision isn't necessary that often.


I think this hurt the BP stats, but it was better for their writing. I think it's always better to use stats that everyone knows and knows the scale of. Fangraphs writers use their wOBA and their ERA- and I have no idea (hyperbole for wOBA, literally true for ERA-) what those numbers represent while ERA+ and OPS+ are on a scale that anyone can understand.


Agree, but I do think that ERA- should replace ERA+. It's a better stat(one of the few times I'll say that about a fangraph stat, it seems) it might take me half a season to get used to it, but the learning curve would be worth it, for the better scale.
   24. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4377280)
I can't recall the last time I saw a good piece of BPro analysis linked here -- is that a paywall thing?

And that's fine, there's no need to be on the cutting edge of baseball quant analysis.

Possibly - the guys at BPro who do the kind of quant work you'd consider cutting-edge and interesting (Russell Carleton, Max Marchi, etc) tend to be behind the paywall, but often hard-core quant research pieces here aren't linked/are lost, so it could just be that, as well. As a comparable gauge, Tango links to BPro a fair bit (on his blog right now, three of the top seven articles about baseball are BPro pieces), and he's not the type to be taken in by a glossed-over piece intended for less sabermetrically-inclined fans.
   25. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 27, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4377281)
I agree with Walt that front offices probably have largely surpassed BP, mainly because FOs can put a hell of a lot more money into player analysis -- working in video and the like, and hiring people specifically for a certain task/effort -- than BP can.

In the late 90s a clueless FO had much to learn from BP. Now with fewer clueless FOs that is not the case.

As for people here being as smart or insightful as the BP writers, sure, but people here don't focus their efforts towards analyzing a particular team or trade the way BP writers do. (Not that I read BP anymore. I liked to read the founders, but they stopped contributing for the most part years ago, and once Sheehan left I was done reading. But I still subscribe to have access to the player comment archives, which I quote here from time to time.)

At this stage, advanced stats are all over the place and the FOs are generating their own. It's quaint that RDP still cites EQA (not that there's anything wrong with that).


Well, people here are citing OPS+ frequently, and certainly EqA is a step up from that. I particular cite it when significant SB value is involved.
   26. tfbg9 Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:02 PM (#4377288)
Agree, but I do think that ERA- should replace ERA+.


Lowest ERA-'s for any starter? The Big Train, and a skinny kid named Pedro.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4377304)
Lowest ERA-'s for any starter? The Big Train, and a skinny kid named Pedro.


at 67, but I like the fact that the gap isn't as big between Pedro and others, as I thought that the gap gave a false sense of dominance. The 67(2.93)-70(3.12) difference between him and Roger seems much more closer to reality than the 154 vs 143.
   28. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 27, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4377307)
I am glad the snark is mostly gone. It mostly wasn't funny and detracted from their goal.

and those writers seemed illing to ignore the numbers when they wanted to.

I absolutely hated the player comments that totally ignored the BPro stats printed directly above them.
   29. Colin Posted: February 27, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4377321)
I liked it when it was more entertaining, but then I seldom paid attention to the stat essays; I wanted to read the team essays and player capsules. Yes, it was inconsistent, often at odds with its own stats, but it was witty and sharp. When that started to ebb, I simply stopped buying it.
   30. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 27, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4377335)
I liked it when it was more entertaining,

Yeah, entertaining is good. You can quote me on that. I still buy the book, the price is right, but I don't really read it anymore. I'll use it to look up a player I don't know about and that's pretty much it.
   31. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4377357)
I still buy the book, the price is right, but I don't really read it anymore. I'll use it to look up a player I don't know about and that's pretty much it.

Bingo. Its role in my life as well, for about the past 5-10 years. You're watching a game and you want to learn something about a team's 6th reliever or backup middle infielder or something, and it serves as a nice reference manual. I think they've long ago said anything of interest they're ever going to say. It's hard to stay relevant for as long as they have been around.
   32. Mark Armour Posted: February 27, 2013 at 08:33 PM (#4377362)
I wrote team essays for the 2004 and 2006 books, and I spent an ass ton of time on them. More than the player comments, certainly. I have not bought the book in several years, so I do not know what changed. In my own research, I have found many of the team essays (1995-2006) to be interesting historical snapshots when trying to reanalyze the period.
   33. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4377406)
I think a lot of this is just the mainstreaming of sabermetrics in baseball discussion. A lot of newer writers (this isn't BP specific) didn't come up "through the minors" in the same environment that the usenet gang did. And even the latter group is probably milder on average - I know I'm mellower than I was at 30 or 25 or 20.

I also think that there's a general trend towards taking things way too seriously. I know I get some tut-tut disapprovals from some of the more serious, wonky types when I suggest that sportswriting, even using sabermetrics, is entertainment first. But then again, I tend to think of the media job as the goal itself rather than a stepping-stone to a team job. As I see it, the cereal *is* the prize.
   34. vivaelpujols Posted: February 27, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4377429)
ERA- and wRC+ are clearly superior to ERA+ and OPS+. I'm actually kind of pissed that FG took stolen bases out of wRC+ because they takes away the biggest advantage it had over OPS+ (the other major one is the proper weighing of all events by use of linear weights, rather than the arbitrary weights of OPS+ which somehow end up being very close to linear weights) and it now forces you to look at WAR to get SB value (or else you can manually add it in, but that's a pain). BTW I think FanGraphs WAR is clearly superior for hitters than B-R WAR. I know cfb hates it for pitchers, but I find it a useful benchmark along with rWAR (you don't have to buy completely into FIP to find it a useful stat to look at).

As for BP, they are no longer subversive, but then again no one is. The last time seriously groundbreaking research was being done was 2 years ago at the Hardball Times and 1-2 years ago at BP (after they poached Mike Fast and Colin Wyers away from THT, ########). Right now the majority of teams likely have better saber departments (comprised largely of former BP and THT writers of course, as well some other writers for BtB, StatSpeak, etc.), but that's only because they poached all of the good internet analysts!

BP also seems much more scouting centric now, and there also seems to be an improved focus on quality of writing. So basically we're seeing BP and ESPN continue to merge closer together (which isn't a bad thing). But I'm guessing we're not gonna be seeing a lot of groundbreaking research for awhile (unless someone takes off the ground running and doesn't have much interest in working for a team).
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:02 PM (#4377435)
i walked away from bpro some time ago and just as i was considering re-engaging i took minor issue with a bpro article and the author apparently mocked me at length on his twitter without engaging me directly

since i am not interested in lining the pockets of that type of nancypants i will continue to get my baseball info from the folks here and elsewhere.
   36. Mike Fast Posted: February 27, 2013 at 11:53 PM (#4377451)
Oh yeah, Dan Fox in Pittsburgh. Then there's Keith Law and Russell Carleton, who worked for teams in the past.


Mike Groopman with the Royals
Jeremy Greenhouse with the Cubs
Chaim Bloom and Dan Turkenkopf with the Rays
Jason Pare with the Indians

I may be forgetting one or two somewhere.
   37. Dan Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:17 AM (#4377460)
What post 34 said is absolutely true: wRC+ is objectively superior to OPS+ and ERA- is objectively superior to ERA+. I wish people around here would use the Fangraphs stats more, the extensive use of OPS+ and ERA+ on this site seem like they're more due to inertia than anything else.
   38. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:26 AM (#4377464)
the extensive use of OPS+ and ERA+ on this site seem like they're more due to inertia than anything else.


Because these stats are plenty good enough.
   39. Dan Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:42 AM (#4377467)
Because these stats are plenty good enough.


How is saying that those stats are "good enough" and refusing to learn and use newer, better, more useful stats much different from sports writers and announcers who stick with BA/HR/RBI and ERA/Wins because those are "good enough" to those people? So you're using the stats of 5-10 years ago instead of the stats of 20-30 years ago. Is that much better, if you just get stuck there and refuse to adapt when better stats become available?
   40.     Hey Gurl Posted: February 28, 2013 at 12:55 AM (#4377470)
I think that the "tameness" is an inevitable part of success. It's easy to be snarky about people when you're a semi-anonymous nerd in your you-know-where, but when you have success which leads to you being closer to the industry, in the sense that your readership could include front office personnel, players, agents, and so forth, suddenly the professionalism is dialed up a notch. I think that the current writers are collectively closer to the "baseball people" than the founders were when they started, so there might be a higher level of respect there. To call the Astros a bunch of idiots could well be calling some of your paying subscribers a bunch of idiots, and, yeah, maybe potential employers as well.

Full Disclosure: I work part-time for BP, although I don't write and my personal thoughts may not reflect those of actual authors, like Maury :-)
   41. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4377473)

How is saying that those stats are "good enough" and refusing to learn and use newer, better, more useful stats much different from sports writers and announcers who stick with BA/HR/RBI and ERA/Wins because those are "good enough" to those people? So you're using the stats of 5-10 years ago instead of the stats of 20-30 years ago. Is that much better, if you just get stuck there and refuse to adapt when better stats become available?


The problem with your argument is that going from AVE/HR/RBI ---> EqA or is a much bigger leap than going from EqA ---> wRC+.

EqA gets you damned close. Increasing your precision from there is like upgrading from a $25,000 car to a $26,500 one.
   42. Lassus Posted: February 28, 2013 at 07:07 AM (#4377485)
EqA gets you damned close. Increasing your precision from there is like upgrading from a $25,000 car to a $26,500 one.

Your lack of need for a $58,000 car disturbs the market.
   43. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:30 AM (#4377536)
Does Dan Fox still work for the Pirates?


Yes.
   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:48 AM (#4377553)
BPro is really down on the Fielding Bible's defensive stats and the subjective vector approach generally. I trust their fielding stats much more. They've got Aaron Hill at roughly double the number of defensive wins as Darwin Barney, which all the numbers seem to support.
   45. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4377767)
The problem with your argument is that going from AVE/HR/RBI ---> EqA or is a much bigger leap than going from EqA ---> wRC+.


We don't have EqA anymore, we have TAv. It's not just a rebadge anymore, TAv has a different methodology than EqA did. (And if you can tell me ANY gains from going to wRC+, I'd be shocked.)
   46. cardsfanboy Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4377788)
What post 34 said is absolutely true: wRC+ is objectively superior to OPS+ and ERA- is objectively superior to ERA+. I wish people around here would use the Fangraphs stats more, the extensive use of OPS+ and ERA+ on this site seem like they're more due to inertia than anything else.


Bb-ref blows away fangraphs in speed, ease of sorting etc. If someone wants to use fangraph stats, it's a challenge to get the information. You are right it's somewhat inertia, it's also somewhat because of the attitude of the people over at fangraphs have turned people off of it. WPA is ####### useless, and when you see article after article bringing it up in an MVP discussion, you really can't trust anything else those people have to say about the subject. Factor in their moronic methodology for pitchers war and you have two of their headlining stats that are clearly crap, that it makes you not trust the rest so much.

But ultimately if their stats was easily navigatable and fast, we would probably work around it, even with all the other flaws, but utimately it's just not worth the effort for that little bit of gain in accuracy.
   47. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4377792)
But ultimately if their stats was easily navigatable and fast, we would probably work around it, even with all the other flaws, but utimately it's just not worth the effort for that little bit of gain in accuracy.

It's mostly this for me. I try to put a priority on the search for absolute truth in baseball, but at a certain point my priority on what is easy takes over. Baseball-Reference is a great site to navigate, especially with my crappy internet connection. (Come to think of it so is BTF). Whenever I go to fangraphs to get some pitch f/x data, or any of the other wonderful things they have, I invariably get mildly annoyed before I get what I'm looking for.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4377800)
We don't have EqA anymore, we have TAv. It's not just a rebadge anymore, TAv has a different methodology than EqA did. (And if you can tell me ANY gains from going to wRC+, I'd be shocked.)


And that points to another problem, I get trying to improve everything as much as you can, but when a stat changes(and eqa in it's day changed formulas year to year) then it's hard to rely on that stat. I understand that sometimes an error in logic can happen in developing a stat and that you have to change it's methodology, if it happens once every few years, that is one thing, the constant changing, means you can't use it as a reference for articles that someone is writing that they expect the reader to come back at a future date. If I'm going to use a stat, I have to feel fairly confident it's 1. going to be around in the future 2. that it's unlikely to change radically.

   49. Ron J2 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4377803)
#28 Christina Kahrl used to be very good at the nastier snark. I know she's moved on. Her best compares well with the best of Szym -- and she has Dan on volume.

Gary Huckabay had an enormous influence on the tone (despite being one of the first founders to move on) and he was very much hit or miss. Dave Pease is still there and I wish he'd write more. An old usenet fave. (Of course it wouldn't be hard to find a snarky piece by Dave, but his signal to noise ratio was high and he has a sense of humor that come through nicely)
   50. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4377806)
Even if TAv were 50% better than OPS+, it would still be hard to use here. People know what an average OPS+ is, what a good OPS+ is, what a great OPS+ is. They know that a 140 OPS+ is only 20% better than average and that if they get that wrong that Walt will fix it. We have a feel based on tens of thousands of player seasons of OPS+ numbers.
   51. Ron J2 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4377807)
#45 You can still get EQA at Clay Davenport's site.
   52. Ron J2 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:10 PM (#4377809)
#50 That said, if BB-Ref were to carry EQA it'd get cited pretty frequently. The old hammer quote applies.
   53. vivaelpujols Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4377828)
WPA is ####### useless, and when you see article after article bringing it up in an MVP discussion, you really can't trust anything else those people have to say about the subject. Factor in their moronic methodology for pitchers war and you have two of their headlining stats that are clearly crap, that it makes you not trust the rest so much.


Your opinion on this is so ####### stupid its incredible. FIP WAR provides a good benchmark if you want to isolate repeatable skills, it offers one component of value and it's incredibly useful for what it tries to do. Looking at FIP WAR and RA WAR is a great combination to understanding a pitchers true value. WPA is basically like a better version of RBI's. WPA/LI is better obviously, but WPA is perfectly good at telling you what it's trying to do.

Even if those stats were worthless, wRC+ and ERA- are clearly superior to their alternatives. So this spiel about FanGraphs navigability is petty bullshit. It takes, what, 2 seconds longer to load up a FanGraphs player page than a B-R one. Plus FanGraphs has velocity and movement data, and other useful stuff especially for pitchers. Get your head out of your ass!

Edit: obviously you can do whatever you want, but it's not FanGraphs fault that you don't like using their stuff.
   54. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4377832)
People know what an average OPS+ is, what a good OPS+ is, what a great OPS+ is. They know that a 140 OPS+ is only 20% better than average and that if they get that wrong that Walt will fix it. We have a feel based on tens of thousands of player seasons of OPS+ numbers.


I don't think this can be overstated. For conversational purposes if the general audience doesn't understand the stat then you have to spend your time educating about the stat. For reasons outlined above BBRef is the go to site for most of us so their stats are going to be easier to discuss. If I'm explaining to Ray why he's wrong about Ichiro! it's easier to use OPS+ than something less commonly used. At least we're speaking the same language.

I think Dan's point in 39 is valid but as Ray accurately points out the differences between the newer metrics in terms of usefulness is small enough that the general point doesn't change if you go from OPS+ to wRC+ or TAv or whatever else you might prefer
   55. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4377833)
So this spiel about FanGraphs navigability is petty ########. It takes, what, 2 seconds longer to load up a FanGraphs player page than a B-R one.


If I want a page with every player in the league, I can get one very easily on BR. Fangraphs breaks it up into 25-player-at-a-time chunks.
   56. bigglou115 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4377839)
I think this hurt the BP stats, but it was better for their writing. I think it's always better to use stats that everyone knows and knows the scale of. Fangraphs writers use their wOBA and their ERA- and I have no idea (hyperbole for wOBA, literally true for ERA-) what those numbers represent while ERA+ and OPS+ are on a scale that anyone can understand.


I think lack of exposure hurts wOBA greatly. Its actually scaled to OBP, so it should be a fairly intuitive stat to use. If a wOBA would be a good OBP then its good. The linear weights system feels right, a hit will be on average worth x amount of runs, and setting the whole thing to a rate stat makes sense. There's really know reason that wRC+ should be used that much more than wOBA except that one is much better known and set to the very familiar scale we've gotten used to. I think anybody who read Tango in the Book explain wOBA would find it their preferred stat.

As to ERA-, I'm not sure what your concern about the scale is. Its just like ERA+ only in reverse, and computed correctly as opposed to ERA+.
   57. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4377845)
I think lack of exposure hurts wOBA greatly. Its actually scaled to OBP, so it should be a fairly intuitive stat to use. If a wOBA would be a good OBP then its good. The linear weights system feels right, a hit will be on average worth x amount of runs, and setting the whole thing to a rate stat makes sense. There's really know reason that wRC+ should be used that much more than wOBA except that one is much better known and set to the very familiar scale we've gotten used to. I think anybody who read Tango in the Book explain wOBA would find it their preferred stat.


I think there are different uses for different stats. If I'm actually doing calculations, I'm not going to be using OPS+ or wRC+ or wOBA. I'm going to use linear weights divided by PA. The scaling part of wOBA is only to make it conversational. If I'm just posting a comparison here, I'm going to use OPS+ because there might be people here who have no idea what a .360 wOBA means.
   58. Dan Posted: February 28, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4377873)
There's really know reason that wRC+ should be used that much more than wOBA except that one is much better known and set to the very familiar scale we've gotten used to.


wOBA and wRC+ are basically measuring the same thing though ( except that some versions of wOBA don't have a park adjustment, including FG's implementation I believe), with wRC+ being on an incredibly intuitive scale: 100 is average, 110 is 10% above average, etc. It makes far more sense than OPS+, while also being based on Linear Weights, so it actually applies proper values to each batting event, rather than OPS+ which derives from OPS and is thus "in the ballpark" but not really reflecting an accurate scale of a hitter's production. Why use wOBA, based on a scale of OBP from a specific point in time, when you can use something with the same underlying methodology but a far more intuitive and useful scale?

TAv and the versions of wOBA with park adjustments built in are similar stats, and definitely also preferable to OPS+, and if someone prefers the scale of one of those it's hard to fault personal preference. But personally I don't see how scaling to BA or OBP is nearly as useful as a scale with 100 as average and linear scaling such that a player with a 130 is 30% above average.
   59. bigglou115 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4377893)
I think there are different uses for different stats. If I'm actually doing calculations, I'm not going to be using OPS+ or wRC+ or wOBA. I'm going to use linear weights divided by PA. The scaling part of wOBA is only to make it conversational. If I'm just posting a comparison here, I'm going to use OPS+ because there might be people here who have no idea what a .360 wOBA means.


It may just be personal to me then, because I consider wOBA a back of the napkin type calculation along with FIP.

Why use wOBA, based on a scale of OBP from a specific point in time, when you can use something with the same underlying methodology but a far more intuitive and useful scale?


Perhaps my point was misstated. I wasn't arguing that people should use wOBA above wRC+. I was really just clarifying what wOBA was. OP said he had literally no idea what a good wOBA meant. I personally prefer the aesthetics of wOBA above the aesthetics of the + stats, but I see no real reason why wRC+ is inferior. That's why my quote said, "...set to the very familiar scale we've all gotten used to." I acknowledge thats a feature and if people prefer it because of that feature then they should use it.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: February 28, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4377993)
our opinion on this is so ####### stupid its incredible. FIP WAR provides a good benchmark if you want to isolate repeatable skills, it offers one component of value and it's incredibly useful for what it tries to do. Looking at FIP WAR and RA WAR is a great combination to understanding a pitchers true value. WPA is basically like a better version of RBI's. WPA/LI is better obviously, but WPA is perfectly good at telling you what it's trying to do.

Even if those stats were worthless, wRC+ and ERA- are clearly superior to their alternatives. So this spiel about FanGraphs navigability is petty ########. It takes, what, 2 seconds longer to load up a FanGraphs player page than a B-R one. Plus FanGraphs has velocity and movement data, and other useful stuff especially for pitchers. Get your head out of your ass!

Edit: obviously you can do whatever you want, but it's not FanGraphs fault that you don't like using their stuff.


The navigating of the website isn't a petty issue, it's a real problem, and it's the number one reason why Baseball-reference stomped MLB.com, espn, cbs and every other baseball stat site ever. This isn't just me, this is a vast majority of baseball fans on the web. Heck I'm not the first person to even say it on this thread, nor was I the last.

As to the other issues, sorry but wpa is horseshit. If it was used and presented properly it would have been one thing, but the fangraph idiots fell in love with it, got a few writers to fall in love with it, and it's past the point of overstaying it's welcome (at the sabr convention in St Louis, there were people in the stats discussion arguing that WPA is the only stat you need, it was pretty pathetic) Anytime I see an article where WPA is presented in the top 10 stats for an argument for a player, you know you have crossed to the stat version of baseball writers moronicness. It's great when the writers have a clue, but it's sad when that clue is corrupted by something so insidious as WPA.

As far as fip war...ehh. It should never be used as a backwards evaluating tool. It should never be used to evaluate the value of a players season. It should never be used in MVP or Cy Young discussions. It makes the assumption that all the assumptions to get to the point that we are at statistically speaking, is 100% accurate, therefore it's 100% accurate. It is one of those stats that makes the basement jokes valid. Fip has a purpose, fip war does not.

Fangraphs writers use their wOBA and their ERA- and I have no idea (hyperbole for wOBA, literally true for ERA-) what those numbers represent while ERA+ and OPS+ are on a scale that anyone can understand.


Era- is easy. As mentioned above, it is era+ only reversed and properly scaled. Meaning that 100 is still considered average, the difference is, just like era, the lower the number, the better. It's then scaled better and gets rid of the pesky problems with negative numbers that existed with era+.

There is no argument that era- is better than era+ in every sense of the matter.
   61. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4378004)
Colin, how much of an upgrade happened in the move from EqA to TAv? I presume you're not going to get a sea change in which players look better.
   62. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:00 PM (#4378073)
Speaking as a child of the Seventies, I have a better feel for what a batting average means than an OBP, so I preferred EQA to wOBA. I'm actually more of a fan of Don Malcolm's old QEQA (OPS/3.) But I'm mainly here to watch the intramural fight between the two Cardinal's fans.
   63. Don Malcolm Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4378079)
Now, now...keep me out of this, please. :-)
   64. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 09:17 PM (#4378082)
How did you hear me, Don?

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