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Friday, February 24, 2012

WSJ: Salfino: Lucas Duda Is Just as Good as Albert Pujols—Sort Of

Lucas: There’s nothing wrong with being the same.

Lost in the Mets listless 2011 second half was a hitting performance by rookie Lucas Duda that not only was tops in franchise history but among the best of all rookies since 1990. Even better, if the performance of most comparable rookies is a guide, Duda’s hitting in 2012 should remain at an elite level.

...Duda’s second-half rookie surge puts him in the company of MVPs Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Joey Votto and Ryan Braun plus perennial All-Stars Mike Piazza and Todd Helton. Mets fans accustomed to disappointment will no doubt focus on the relative disappointments on the list—Luke Scott, Chris Duncan and Chris Coghlan. They’ll also note that Duda was old for a rookie last season (25). But his OPS at Triple-A Buffalo was a similarly scintillating 1.003 over two seasons.

Averaging out the performance of these hitters in their sophomore seasons perhaps sheds better light on what to expect from Duda in 2012. The top 10 second-half rookies averaged a .909 OPS in year two versus .989 as rookies—8% worse. If Duda performs similarly even with Citi Field being smaller, his OPS this season would be .876—a mark exceeded just 29 times by regulars in the Mets 50-year history.

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, sabermetrics

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   1. Guapo Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4067953)
Small sample size is just as good as regular sample size- sort of
   2. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4067955)
...at Nintendo.
   3. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4067956)
Double post...damnit
   4. JPWF1313 Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4067969)
Let's see, best years by War Batting runs, by Mets 25 and under:


1 Darryl Strawberry 51 1987
2 David Wright 50 2007
3 David Wright 43 2008
4 David Wright 35 2005
5 Darryl Strawberry 33 1985
6 David Wright 32 2006
7 Lee Mazzilli 31 1979
8 Darryl Strawberry 28 1986
9 Edgardo Alfonzo 27 1997
10 Edgardo Alfonzo 25 1999
11 Lee Mazzilli 25 1980
12 Lenny Dykstra 22 1986
13 Lee Mazzilli 20 1978
14 Jose Reyes 19 2008
15 Darryl Strawberry 19 1983
16 Steve Henderson 19 1977
17 Cleon Jones 18 1968
18 Lucas Duda 16 2011
19 Jose Reyes 16 2006
20 Gregg Jefferies 16 1990
21 Darryl Strawberry 16 1984

Oooh, looky, there is Duda at #18...
Here are all Met seasons, 25 and under, ranked by OPS+ (25 and under)

1 Darryl Strawberry 164 470
2 Darryl Strawberry 162 640
3 David Wright 149 711
4 David Wright 141 735
5 David Wright 139 657
6 Darryl Strawberry 139 562
7 Cleon Jones 137 552
8 Lucas Duda 136 347
9 Lee Mazzilli 135 693
10 Darryl Strawberry 134 473

Oooh, looky, there is Duda at #8...

Looking at Met leaderboards can be depressing if you are a Mets fan, do you know who the all time Met leader in hits is, Ed Freaking Kranepool

Duda is a lumbering oaf in the field, he pretty much HAS to OPS+ over 120 to have anything resembling a useful career, but he did hit .304/.398/.569 in AA/AAA in 2010 (not the PCL), and .302/.414/.597 in AAA in 2011 before his call up, add in what he did in the MLB in 2011 and there is very good chance that he can put up a 130 or so for real- IOW at league minimum they may get reasonable facsimile of the offensive production they expected from Bay...

yip


eee
   5. BDC Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4067970)
Wow, Pujols, Votto, Braun, Piazza, Helton. Wow.

Of course, among the more notable guys who hit pretty well in partial seasons as rookies at age 25 were actually Dick Stuart, John Kruk, Dusty Rhodes, and Don Lock, which seems like more plausible company for Lucas Duda. (And will earn him a good living if he matches up.) He may turn out to be no Kevin Maas, though :)
   6. Danny Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4067971)
Averaging out the performance of these hitters in their sophomore seasons perhaps sheds better light on what to expect from Duda in 2012.

No, it sheds no light. Duda had an .850 OPS in 100 games as a 25 year old. That's nice, but it doesn't make him remotely comparable to the top rookies on the list.

Why do people hire Salfino to write stathead-ish columns?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4067979)
Yeesh ...

Duda's ZiPS: 256/338/431, 108 OPS+ -- perfectly fine but over 100 points of OPS below Salfino's 876.

Duda's OPS last year in his full 347 PA was just an 852 OPS. Salfino is focused on a mere 242 PA in the 2nd half. And his PA are tilted (not extremely) towards RHP.

There isn't anything special about "rookie" of course. Comparing Duda's 242 PA at 25 to Pujols at 21 is clearly nonsensical.

If you look at guys who posted an OPS between 800 and 900 at age 25 in at least 300 PA in the post-integration era ... you get 257 of them. Many were very good players, even HoFers. Some were Mike Ivie and Bobby Kielty and Dwight Smith.

Smith might be a particularly good comp because he was a rookie in his age 25 season too. He put up an 875 OPS, 141 OPS+ -- both better than Duda in 381 PA while finishing 2nd to Jerome Walton in the RoY balloting. Smith had another nice half-season at 29 (127 OPS+) but otherwise was 4th OF material (and not particularly good 4th OF). He finished his career with 2000 PA and a 102 OPS+ and it was only that good due to those two good half-seasons.

So let's look at guys who debuted in their age 25 season with 300+ PA (Duda doesn't qualify since he debuted at 24) but these are all age 25 rookies. His OPS+ would be tied for 4th best among this group. The top of this bunch are Mitchell Page, Kevin Maas, Smith, Jimmie Hall, Rusty Greer, Kruk, Charboneau, Jody Gerut, and Jim Finigan -- all 120 OPS+ or better. Nothing wrong with that -- Page, Hall, Greer and Kruk all had nice careers and Gerut was useful (and bbc's #1 crush, not sure how she feels about Duda) -- certainly Mets' fans should be quite happy if they get that out of Duda over the next 5-6 years.

To expand it a bit, I look at guys who had 300+ PA at age 25 and that was their first or second season. You get a number of even nicer names now -- Boggs, Grace, Joyner leading the way but also Higginson, Covington, Haller, Pete Ward, Ryan Howard and, naturally, Jason Bay. The more cautionary names are Chris Duncan, Kielty, Chad Tracy and Chris Shelton (probably another good Duda comp). One thing though is that the guys who turned out well mostly played full seasons at 25 (and a number at 24).

As our last comp, we look at players who, through age 25, had 300-500 career PA. This is similar to the first list. Maas, Smith, Duncan, Howard, Phil Clark, Carl Taylor, Greer, Kruk, Leon Wagner, Lamar Johnson, Allie Clark, Shelton, Hal Morris, Steinbach, LeFebvre, Haller, Kielty, Willie Smith, Geronimo Pena. You can add Wagner, Johnson, Morris, Steinbach to the list of guys who turned out rather well. Maybe LeFebvre as I can't remember if he got hurt or just collapsed quickly.

The point is not to dump on Duda -- he's got a pretty good shot at giving the Mets another 1500-3000 PA of, say, a 105-120 OPS+ which is good. The point is to dump on this silly article (OK, the silly excerpt).
   8. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 24, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4067982)
That kind of analysis is allowed at WSJ? Blech. It's an embarrassment.
   9. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4068008)
Look, Salfino is an idiot, but here he is making a specific point about the second halves of rookie seasons -- i.e., that rookies who hit very well in the second half of the year may stand a good chance to have productive second years in the majors.

I am certain that many of you are capable of disproving that hypothesis, but [Walt] you cannot disprove it by reference to cumulative first year totals.
   10. ??'s Biggest Fan! Posted: February 24, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4068045)
Didn't someone once post a column where they speculated that Oliver Perez had the potential to be as good as Sandy Koufax? Is there something wrong with the drinking water in the press room at Shea/Citifield?
   11. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: February 24, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4068051)
That kind of analysis is allowed at WSJ?


The WSJ publishes the "analysis" that its reader base wants to read. It's no more likely that they're going to stop publishing Mets fluffing dreck just because standard analysis says it's crap than they're going to stop publishing supply side economic crap for the same reason.
   12. JPWF1313 Posted: February 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4068057)
So we get Salfino comparing DUDA to a bunch of guys who are MUCH better than he is, and then we have Walt throwing out a bunch of names- but pausing to make a special comparison between Duda and the flameouts on his lists:

Smith might be a particularly good comp because he was a rookie in his age 25 season too.

Chris Shelton (probably another good Duda comp).


I's love for Davis and Salfino to get together in a bar to discuss the Mets.

That kind of analysis is allowed at WSJ? Blech. It's an embarrassment.

It's better than the political analysis they put on their editorial page, the WSJ has been in a steady decline for years, it was always overrated, but it's still not remotely what it once was.
   13. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 24, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4068069)
So we get Salfino comparing DUDA to a bunch of guys who are MUCH better than he is, and then we have Walt throwing out a bunch of names- but pausing to make a special comparison between Duda and the flameouts on his lists:


That's his M.O. Who did he decide was the best Ike Davis comp? LaRoche?
   14. The District Attorney Posted: February 24, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4068083)
Didn't someone once post a column where they speculated that Oliver Perez had the potential to be as good as Sandy Koufax? Is there something wrong with the drinking water in the press room at Shea/Citifield?
Actually, there was, and that person has now been banned from the clubhouse for his own safety.
   15. JPWF1313 Posted: February 24, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4068099)
Ok, here it is, the OFFICIAL* list of those players since 1969 whose age 24-25 hitting performance (300 to 750 PAs) was most similar to Duda (using OPS+, ISO, k/PA and BB/PA)

BA OBP SLG OPS+
Lucas Duda .273 .347 .468 124
1 Geronimo Pena .276 .356 .441 126
2 Terry Steinbach .286 .350 .473 123
3 Chris Shelton .288 .355 .486 123
4 Geovany Soto .296 .371 .520 124
5 Mel Hall .299 .351 .482 127
6 George Foster .267 .344 .438 119
7 Jody Gerut .279 .336 .494 120
8 Kirk Gibson .304 .355 .462 127
9 Willie Crawford .268 .340 .426 121
10 Andrew McCutchen .259 .364 .456 127
11 Mike Jacobs .271 .334 .515 119
12 Bobby Tolan .316 .384 .475 126
13 Paul Blair .285 .327 .477 122
14 Moises Alou .282 .328 .455 121
15 Bobby Kielty .280 .378 .458 121
16 Dan Pasqua .261 .357 .470 121
17 Joe Charboneau .289 .358 .488 129
18 Jay Bruce .256 .341 .474 119
19 Danny Valencia .311 .351 .448 119
20 Rico Brogna .302 .350 .514 128


OK, I need a speed element, tweak it a bit more and:
Lucas Duda .273 .347 .468 124
1 Chris Shelton .288 .355 .486 123
2 Terry Steinbach .286 .350 .473 123
3 Geovany Soto .296 .371 .520 124
4 Joe Charboneau .289 .358 .488 129
5 Mel Hall .299 .351 .482 127
6 George Foster .267 .344 .438 119
7 Andrew McCutchen .259 .364 .456 127
8 Rico Brogna .302 .350 .514 128
9 Willie Crawford .268 .340 .426 121
10 Geronimo Pena .276 .356 .441 126
11 Bobby Kielty .280 .378 .458 121
12 Josh Phelps .284 .359 .507 123
13 Joe Lefebvre .245 .349 .427 122
14 Jody Gerut .279 .336 .494 120
15 Kirk Gibson .304 .355 .462 127
16 Mike Jacobs .271 .334 .515 119
17 Paul Blair .285 .327 .477 122
18 Dan Pasqua .261 .357 .470 121
19 Jay Bruce .256 .341 .474 119
20 Moises Alou .282 .328 .455 121

You know Chris Shelton is a really good comp afterall...
Still some guys with way too much footspeed















*just kidding
   16. MSalfino Posted: February 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4068134)
Sorry to see that a number of you are as rude as ever. For the record, the list is the list. Duda's 2nd half performance compares him to those guys, not me. I had no idea who would pop up when that search was made. And James projects Duda for .852 this year. I'll take the over on his ZIPS projection all day long. (And I have great respect for that system and for all the people who lay it out there in such a black and white way.)

There isn't anything special about "rookie" of course.


Playing against the most advanced competition for the first significant period of time is not anything special? The age issue was noted in the piece. You can argue that I should have looked at 25 year olds and conferred no special status to Duda being a rookie. But that's pure speculation, unless you can prove otherwise. Go tell Nelson Cruz that you don't get significantly better with experience after a certain age.

Besides, if Duda does post a .876-ish OPS this year, you'll just discount for happening when he's 26 anyway.

Finally, I think it's likely that we're conflating the notion of peak baseball performance with the average age that players develop enough playing experience at that level to make full adjustments. If you believe otherwise, you'll have address the notion of why athletes in other sports have such earlier peaks.

The careers of more than 1,150 swimmers and track-and-field athletes, as well as the accomplishments of nearly a hundred chess grandmasters, were scrutinized based on the event they were participating in, as well as their age and how old they were when they established any world records. In all, more than 11,200 performances among these athletes made it into the data set, and the results confirm that there reaches an age — a physiological tipping point, if you will — when athletes start to experience an irreversible downturn in their abilities.

Generally speaking, athletes start to see physical declines at age 26, give or take. (This would seem in line with the long-standing notion in baseball that players tend to hit their peak anywhere from ages 27 to 30.) For swimmers, the news is more sobering, as the mean peak age is 21.
   17. MSalfino Posted: February 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4068153)
Peak age in hockey is 25. http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2010/1/21/1261318/nhl-points-per-game-peak-age Peak age in soccer: 23. Peak age in tennis: 25. http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2012/01/26/federer-went-down-but-not-without-a-fight/

But human performance is so variable that I think the great risk is that we overweight these averages. The result is discounting that a 25 year old is playing as a rookie and placing him in the same projection basket as another 25 year old with three years experience. Age is not destiny.
   18. The District Attorney Posted: February 24, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4068193)
The James projection system is "over" on everybody. It is a joke.

I would certainly think there are studies that would indicate that 25-year-old rookies usually end up more similar to otherwise comparable 25-year-olds than to otherwise comparable rookies of significantly different age. I don't have a cite for that, but I bet someone does. Of course, you're right that everyone is an individual, but of course the logical follow-through there would be to use a method other than creating a list of "comparable" players.
   19. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 24, 2012 at 09:37 PM (#4068268)
Sorry to see that a number of you are as rude as ever.


Eat a doodie.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM (#4068288)
That's his M.O. Who did he decide was the best Ike Davis comp? LaRoche?

Yep. And ZiPS had him as Davis's #3 comp entering 2011. His #1 comp was Mario Valdez, a guy who turned out much worse than Adam LaRoche. His #2 comp was David Ortiz, a guy who turned out much better than Adam LaRoche. I don't see how I could have been so horribly off-base.

His comps entering 2012? Alas Troy Neel, Reggie Jefferson and Mario Valdez again. Now Neel had 861 very good PA (128 OPS+) over 3 seasons but was never heard from again. Jefferon had 2300 PA and a 112 OPS+, a half-LaRoche. Valdez never did anything in the majors. ZiPS projects Davis this year to hit 255/338/449, 112 OPS+. LaRoche's career line is 267/338/478, 112 OPS+.

I don't know where I get these nutty ideas.

As to Duda:

Smith seemed a good comp because Smith was a rookie at 25 and got fewer than 400 PA and had OPS and OPS+ quite similar (better) to Duda.

Shelton seemed a good comp because Shelton was slow as death and not good defensively and tore up the minors (at 22, 23 and 25, not so good at 24).

Ryan Howard doesn't seem as good a comp because he would have been in the majors sooner if not for Thome. Duda was blocked at the beginning of 2010 by Bay and, ummm, Francoeur but even after Beltran's injury, then Bay's injury and even fewer than 450 PA for Francoeur they weren't inspired to find more than 92 PA for Duda.

Kruk seems like a decent comp if you want a positive one. He might have been up sooner (Garvey and Carmelo Martinez and trying to win another pennant may have blocked him) but it's far from certain.

And I named several positive comps earlier. Guys like Wagner and Covinton were very good.

And yes Salfino ... what Duda being a rookie at 25 tells us is that he isn't (generally) as good as all the guys who were rookies at 24 and 23 and 22 and 21 and ... Duda being half-time at 25 tells us that he isn't (generally) even as good as the guys who were full-time at 25 even if they were rookies or in their 2nd year. That's not my fault.

And frankly I don't need to refute the hypothesis about the 2nd half of rookie seasons because it's moronic to think 242 PA are predictive of anything. But fine, you've made me go and give this crap a page hit. Did you read the "analysis"?

Note that he is compared only to players who did better than he did in the 2nd half, always a bad idea. Second, only 4 players on that list were as old as Duda -- Scott (28), Duncan, Howard and Coghlan -- although several were 24. Howard has been very good, Scott solid, Duncan and Coghlan went nowhere (though Duncan was solid at 26, then crap). Most of these players were good enough to play a full season in their rookie years. There is no comparison to guys who started hot as rookies and had bad 2nd halves. Or guys with similar overall performance in their rookie year but who were fairly consistent first and second half

And the guy who proposes the hypothesis is supposed to provide evidence in its support then other people shoot it down. This was lazier analysis than I did in #7 which probably took me 30 minutes and I didn't have help from Stats, Inc.

Look, I said Duda has a good chance of being a useful player for the next 5-6 years. 2000+ PA, a corner-average OPS+. He has a small but not ignorable chance of maintaining where he is for a few years (Kruk, Wagner, Covington, etc.). He has a good chance of pretty much flaming out. Not may fault you guys see that as a negative projection because you think he's gonna OPS 900.

   21. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4068293)

I don't know where I get these nutty ideas.


Sure you do - you "loathe the Mets" (your words), so you post a biased analysis every once in a while. In Davis's case specifically, you set parameters to find comps who walked much less than Davis, dismissed the players who turned out to be productive anyway, and then chose a player who wasn't on your list at all as the best comp - Adam Laroche. Some science.

And all Davis did was hit .302/.383/.543 before getting hurt last year. We'll see what Duda does.
   22. Ron J Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4068296)
#7 Being as talented a hitter as Mike Ivie is a positive. Seems to have been derailed by depression.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: February 24, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4068299)
Please tell me this wasn't in the print edition.
   24. Lassus Posted: February 24, 2012 at 11:38 PM (#4068315)
Well, this thread has been a joy to read from many angles, certainly.
   25. Sam M. Posted: February 24, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4068322)
For the life of me, I will never understand why people can't debate the merits of something without resorting to invective. If you think Salfino is way off base here, criticize his reasoning/arguments. Name-calling doesn't persuade anyone, it doesn't make for interesting reading, and it drags the level of discourse down. Every single time.

Now, as it happens, I happen to think Salfino's argument is overly optimistic about Duda, based as it is only on a partial sample (and a too-small one at that) of his (Duda's) work last year, and failing (as it does) to take into account his age. Duda is more comparable to players his own age than players who happen to be "rookies." Rookie status isn't irrelevant to what makes for a good comparison -- but there are reasons why one player is a 25 year old rookie, and another is a 21 year old rookie, and those reasons have a lot to tell us about a player's projectable future. They don't happen to favor Duda.

On the other hand, as to Duda in particular, I will be quite surprised if he doesn't beat the numbers ZiPS projects for him for 2012. The changes at Citi Field, for one thing, make it quite likely that offense there will increase, and his power, if nothing else, is real. He will beat a .431 SLG. Whether, and how much, he will beat it meaningfully is a whole other question. I could easily see him pulling an .850 OPS again, but having that not translate into the same OPS+ (136) that it did for him in 2011.

This whole discussion (or at least chunks of it) make me wish I could wave a magic wand and make just one change around here: everyone would be required to stop discussing what they think of the author of each article, at least for the first 50 posts of each thread, and talk ONLY about the substance. No matter what you think of Plaschke, or Lupica, or Megdal, or whichever writer gets under your craw, save it so the discussion can be about the topic. Of course, I don't have a magic wand, and everybody can talk about whatever they like. But just my two cents worth: it'd be better without the personalization of the conversation.
   26. Ron J Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4068333)
#21 God knows I've had plenty of arguments with Walt. But I've never known him to argue in bad faith. Indeed, I can predict pretty much how he'll argue any given point before reading his post. Of the people on the site who are involved in a lot of discussions about projecting players Walt is almost certainly the most predictable.

Does that mean he was right about Davis or that he's now right about Duda? Of course not (one reliable way to look like a fool on a regular basis is to get involved in a lot of discussions about future career paths -- particularly of players who have not yet established themselves. Guilty as charged). But he'd have argued precisely the same way if either or both of them had come up with the Cubs.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4068336)
Before Salfino commented, I see two primates that use ad hominems, both of whom also discuss the content of the article. #6, #9.

And honestly Sam, this is a fish-in-barrel argument. I'm surprised that the actual content got as much discussion as it did. Guapo's snappy comment in #1 might as well have ended the thread entirely. Walt and JPWF1313 gave it a lot more consideration than it deserved.
   28. Sam M. Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM (#4068342)
I'm surprised that the actual content got as much discussion as it did. Guapo's snappy comment in #1 might as well have ended the thread entirely. Walt and JPWF1313 gave it a lot more consideration than it deserved.


But, see -- I think that's when this site is at its best. When an "eh" article (or even an outright bad one) generates a discussion that is more interesting and enlightening than the article that starts things off. So what if the Salfino analysis was flawed? Don't we profit more from a discussion of how much and whether there is a difference between otherwise comparable 25 year olds who have X years or PAs of major league experience, v. those who are rookies? Or talking about Duda and his specific case (should he have been up earlier? will it hurt him to be in a defensive position that taxes his ability -- to put it mildly? will the perception of success that may be created by the fences coming in have an effect on his actual performance going forward?) ANY of that might be only moderately interesting as a thread, but it all has to be more interesting than just competing to call Salfino names. Where does that go?

You're right that some of the comments were accompanied by remarks on content. So . . . why not just keep it to the content? What does the ad hominem add? Like I said I just don't get it.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:27 AM (#4068372)
But, see -- I think that's when this site is at its best. When an "eh" article (or even an outright bad one) generates a discussion that is more interesting and enlightening than the article that starts things off. So what if the Salfino analysis was flawed? Don't we profit more from a discussion of how much and whether there is a difference between otherwise comparable 25 year olds who have X years or PAs of major league experience, v. those who are rookies?


I happen to agree with that. MGL had a crappy article about the worse managing ever which because of discussion on this site led to multiple posts on the blog and some interesting articles. (In the end, MGL was wrong and never admitted it, but he did manage to successfully say he was right. Yet never bothered to actually admit that his headline was full of ####, in that the best strategy might have been to pull the pitcher, but that the difference between the best strategy and the one employed, is clearly not the difference between an average manager and worse managing ever)


Some of the best stuff has resulted from off the cuff articles masquerading as analysis(Keith Law and his defintion of journey man pitcher led to Jaffe doing a pretty good study refuting that)
   30. PreservedFish Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:44 AM (#4068386)
Sam, I agree with you. I suppose I was just surprised that this was the thread that set off your complaint, because it seems rather content-heavy.
   31. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:46 AM (#4068387)
But fine, you've made me go and give this crap a page hit.


Is this a joke? WSJ is a subscriber site, BTW. Not that the two million daily readers are inconsequential.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:53 AM (#4068396)
Is this a joke? WSJ is a subscriber site, BTW. Not that the two million daily readers are inconsequential.


And this is the stuff that gets MSalfino to receive ad hominen attacks.

This isn't as bad as his usual "I'm a paid writer therefore you should respect me" schtitk but it's in the same zip code.

I mean he can't seriously think that number of subscribers is equivalent to quality, can he? No one is that stupid.(except football fans who think tv ratings is the only tool useful for evaluating the popularity of a sport)
   33. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:03 AM (#4068404)
Please tell me this wasn't in the print edition.


All of my articles are in the print edition. And there are lots of them. Many here do not seem to have a clue about reaching a mass audience with this kind of analysis. Especially in a format that is so tight given the incredible value of WSJ print real estate. We could have done the raw OPS+ article but quite frankly it's too cumbersome to explain that in this format, though the broad stroke of that was even mentioned in the piece. Additionally, this chart was a much more dramatic (i.e., interesting) takeaway and that's obviously a consideration, too. Plus, while I think second half stats generally suffer from being arbitrary endpoints, an argument can be made that for rookies it's more meaningful

I'm unaware of any evidence that outstanding performance by 25-year-old rookies is less meaningful for projection purposes than outstanding performance by the more conventional 23-year-old rookie. And since I think most would stipulate that jumping levels often requires an adjustment period, why would making the ultimate jump to the majors be completely discounted by those who just want to lump Duda with 25 year olds irrespective of major league experience?
   34. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4068405)
When an "eh" article (or even an outright bad one) generates a discussion that is more interesting and enlightening than the article that starts things off.


You give yourself FAR too much credit here. If you could get anyone to pay you five cents for this content, I'd be shocked.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4068406)
You give yourself FAR too much credit here. If you could get anyone to pay you five cents for this content, I'd be shocked.


See what I mean.
   36. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4068409)
Look, I said Duda has a good chance of being a useful player for the next 5-6 years. 2000+ PA, a corner-average OPS+. He has a small but not ignorable chance of maintaining where he is for a few years (Kruk, Wagner, Covington, etc.). He has a good chance of pretty much flaming out.


This is laughably arrogant. Only a chance of maintaining his current level and, by implication, no chance of getting better? But if he did this at 23 or 24, he'd have that chance? What evidence do you base this on?
   37. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:23 AM (#4068418)

This isn't as bad as his usual "I'm a paid writer therefore you should respect me" schtitk but it's in the same zip code.


If there was any money to be made in gaining your respect, I'd be interested. But there isn't. So it doesn't concern me. There was a time where I was just shocked by the rudeness here and the lack of respect for colleagues who have paid the dues that must be paid in order to earn a living writing about baseball. Every commercial writer that I know who gets his stuff posted here absolutely loathes it. I sort of like it, at least two or three times a year. Sometimes, between all the invective, this discussion will lead to an idea for another story or provide an insight that I hadn't considered.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:28 AM (#4068419)
But if he did this at 23 or 24, he'd have that chance? What evidence do you base this on?


Pretty much every article ever done on aging curves.

It's not to say he won't succeed, but the odds are against him being anything other than a Ryan Ludwick or some other type of player.
   39. MSalfino Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:29 AM (#4068420)
I mean he can't seriously think that number of subscribers is equivalent to quality, can he? No one is that stupid.(except football fans who think tv ratings is the only tool useful for evaluating the popularity of a sport)


This is a strawman and just another pathetic attempt to rip me and the Journal. The point was that I could not possibly care less if you and 10,000 of your friends even were to click on my Journal stories, which run in the print edition anyway.
   40. tshipman Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:32 AM (#4068422)
And this is the stuff that gets MSalfino to receive ad hominen attacks.


Yeah, I was on board with Sam M's statement until this stuff:

Many here do not seem to have a clue about reaching a mass audience with this kind of analysis. Especially in a format that is so tight given the incredible value of WSJ print real estate


If there was any money to be made in gaining your respect, I'd be interested. But there isn't. So it doesn't concern me.


Sometimes, between all the invective, this discussion will lead to an idea for another story or provide an insight that I hadn't considered.



I don't think you really care, Mr. Salfino, about how people perceive you as long as your articles get bought, but this is a very silly article that doesn't realize it's silly.

Just in case you're serious:

And since I think most would stipulate that jumping levels often requires an adjustment period, why would making the ultimate jump to the majors be completely discounted by those who just want to lump Duda with 25 year olds irrespective of major league experience?


Because guys who make the majors at 25 have generally failed to make the jump many times before that point. That information is relevant, and you are ignoring it.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:33 AM (#4068424)
If there was any money to be made in gaining your respect,


The fact that every time you talk on here you talk about money, just makes it easy to not respect you at all. If the only thing in your existence that has any meaning, is how much money you make, then you live a pitiful life of constantly trying to prove your worth to yourself. Have a nice life and all, but you are obsessed with money and think that you need that to validate whatever hole it is you have in your soul.

We weren't rude to you, we were harshly critical and you came out attacking those who criticized you, by pulling out the complete non-important aspect of the argument by saying "I get paid professionally to do this"... guess what, we don't respect people who get paid professionally, we respect people who do a good job. A volunteer fireman is worthy of respect, a corporate lawyer is worthy of contempt, you are much closer to a corporate lawyer than a volunteer fireman. You are a thin skinned journalist, who isn't a bad writer, but is a somewhat poor analyst.
   42. The Nightman Cometh Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:39 AM (#4068429)
If there was any money to be made in gaining your respect, I'd be interested. But there isn't. So it doesn't concern me.

You're nothing if not a charmer.
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:42 AM (#4068431)
This is a strawman and just another pathetic attempt to rip me and the Journal.


I've never ripped the journal. One of my favorite books, Fantasyland was by a writer from the journal.
   44. rickey steals third person Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:59 AM (#4068437)
I am amazed that he not only goes after the "attacks," but also goes after Sam, who is, if anything, defending him against such things. I've learned much more about baseball from you "unpaid losers" than from Salfino and his ilk.
   45. PreservedFish Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:04 AM (#4068440)
Look, it's a ####### nonsense article. It takes a small sample, ignores age, and compares Duda only to hitters that exceeded his performance. The only thing it really tells you is, "Hey, if you weren't paying attention, Lucas Duda was pretty good last year." The chart looks professional, you can have that.

Many here do not seem to have a clue about reaching a mass audience with this kind of analysis.


If you could get anyone to pay you five cents for this content, I'd be shocked.


I have no doubt that a number of contributors to this very thread could bang out a similar article with superior analysis and equivalent (or superior) prose, all without using unfamiliar advanced statistics. Would the WSJ want to run those articles? I don't know. Maybe the secret is making your analysis just good enough to sneak it by an editor, but just loose enough to get names like Pujols and Piazza onto the chart.
   46. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:08 AM (#4068442)
I am amazed that he not only goes after the "attacks," but also goes after Sam, who is, if anything, defending him against such things. I've learned much more about baseball from you "unpaid losers" than from Salfino and his ilk.


It's part of his inability to properly analyze whatever it is he is talking about. He doesn't have the ability to decipher what he is reading and what it's trying to say. Pretty big weakness for an analyst I would think.
   47. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:24 AM (#4068447)
Boy, it used to be that various arrogant loudmouths would fill up these threads by trying to outdo each other in their loathing and contempt for sportswriters, but then would scuttle away or profess half-hearted respect if the writer actually showed up. Now we're at the stage where we don't give a second thought to insulting the writer in the second person, telling him to his face [as it were] that his job could be done by anyone, that writing tightly structured articles for a mass audience takes no more effort than writing random inside jokes for an audience of twenty, and so on. We have people here who actually believe this stuff and stand up for it as if we're standing up for the right to download everything for free. I guess it's no worse than any other internet board, but the writers have to be more dispirited because the people here write in complete sentences.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: February 25, 2012 at 03:29 AM (#4068450)
Boy, it used to be that various arrogant loudmouths would fill up these threads by trying to outdo each other in their loathing and contempt for sportswriters, but then would scuttle away or profess half-hearted respect if the writer actually showed up.


We used to respect MSalfino, but then he started to come on here and personally attack every critique of his articles. Not defend his comments, but attack the poster, and half of the attacks featured comments that referenced the fact that he was a paid writer, therefore he should be taken more seriously, instead of defending the analysis.

   49. Ron J Posted: February 25, 2012 at 07:19 AM (#4068456)
#38 There's also Bill James' study in the 1987 that focuses specifically on rookie seasons. Since it's not online:

Here's a data dump from James' study on rookies (1987 Abstract)

Improvement (All rookies, 1948-75)

Ago Dramatic Some None
20    50
%     25%  25%
21    33%     33%  33%
22    22%     40%  38%
23    15%     42%  43%
24    10%     40%  50%
25     7%     30%  63%
26     4%     20%  76%
27     2%     10%  88


To be clear, that doesn't mean that half of the 20 year old rookies were dramatically better at 21. However half of them did establish a performance level substantially higher at some point. Some place in a very lengthy article, James estimates a 40% chance of a HOF career from a 20 year old good enough to play regularly.

Also:

A group of 20 year old players will hit about 61% more home runs in their career than a comparable group of 21 year-olds. )That's a stunning difference)

21 to 22 it's 36%
22 to 23 it's 26%
23 to 24 it's 22%
After which it basically stabilizes at 20%.

Home runs is actually the category where the age effect is most dramatic.

A handy chart James drew up for comparing age effects

Category       20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28
Home Runs    1000 623 465 369 303 252 210 177 150
Game Played  1000 782 625 501 402 354 313 272 231
Stolen Bases 1000 762 613 490 382 334 282 223 215
Hits 
.       1000 760 623 487 371 331 261 217 197
Walks 
.      1000 756 590 465 361 304 246 219 215 



Danger of attempting to summarize a lengthy article (it runs 40 pages). James isn't saying that 20 year-old rookies will end up with the same number of hits, walks, games played, etc. He's saying you can expect a 22 year old rookie to end up with 46.5% as many home runs in 62.5% as many games played as a comparable 20 year old rookie.


The advantage of this format is that it makes it easy to compare 21 year-olds to 25 year-olds.

EDIT: And for Mike, here's the predicted advantage for a 23 year-old over an otherwise comparable 25 year-old

The 23 year old would be expected to play around 42% more games and hit 46% more home runs with about 47% more hits and 53% more walks.

MCOA's little study suggests about 53% more overall value for the 23 year old and that makes perfect sense in that the 25 year old is two years closer to a likely decline in defensive value as well.

   50. Ron J Posted: February 25, 2012 at 07:53 AM (#4068458)
#47 The article is based on what is basically a common rhetorical trick (select the player as the baseline. You end up with Duda grouped with equal or better performances) and with complete ignorance of what is a reasonably well researched area in sabrmetrics.

Now I'm not arguing that this is an area that's settled. Projecting a player forward from a rookie year is a mug's game. But it would be nice to be able to discuss why Duda is a specific exception to the general rule, or to demonstrate that the conventional wisdom in this area is in fact wrong (or perhaps not close to being cut and dried)

If he made a big step forward because he addressed a specific weakness that had held him back, that's something. Al Martin for instance was a reasonably good player for a late starter and he'd been a stiff in the Braves organization. Somebody with the Pirates got him to be more selective, but in a good way (got him to look for pitches he could drive). If he's just a guy who had a hot 70 or so game stretch that's a very different matter. It's somewhere around 7-1 against a 25 year old holding a new level of play, and it's helpful to look for reasons to bet against his reverting to previous level of talent.

Martin's actually not a bad comp for Duda (looking at both as 25 year olds), though Martin was faster (plus of course there's the intangible value of his Rose Bowl play ;) For those not familiar with the story, Martin claimed to have been on a football scholarship to USC and played against -- among others -- Leroy Hoard)

   51. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 25, 2012 at 08:24 AM (#4068460)
I'm unaware of any evidence that outstanding performance by 25-year-old rookies is less meaningful for projection purposes than outstanding performance by the more conventional 23-year-old rookie.
I did a little play-index search, it backs up Ron and Walt and Bill James, not Salfino.

I did a search for corner players (1B, LF, RF, DH) in their first or second MLB season, who had an OPS+ between 120 and 150 and PA between 300 and 500. I did this for players age 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, and averaged their career WAR totals.

22: 34.8 WAR (11 players, 2 HoF, 4 HoVG, 2 regulars)
23: 18.1 WAR (11 players, 1 HoVG, 5 regulars)
24: 17.1 WAR (13 players, 1 HoVG, 7 regulars)
25: 11.8 WAR (15 players, 8 regulars)
26: 7.6 WAR (5 players, 1 regular)

The pattern is pretty clear, I think.
   52. BDC Posted: February 25, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4068475)
unaware of any evidence that outstanding performance by 25-year-old rookies is less meaningful for projection purposes than outstanding performance by the more conventional 23-year-old rookie

To add on to MCoA's #51, and to elaborate my own elliptical remark in #5: here are two tables. First, the top ten seasons by OPS+ by 25-year-old rookies, since 1961:

Player           OPS+  PA
Mitchell Page     154 592
Kevin Maas        150 300
Dwight Smith      141 381
Jimmie Hall       136 571
Rusty Greer       131 331
John Kruk         131 327
Joe Charboneau    129 512
Jody Gerut        120 525
Danny Valencia    119 322
Nolan Reimold     116 411 


And second, the top ten seasons by 23-year-old rookies since 1961:

Player            OPS+  PA
Ryan Braun         154 492
Alvin Davis        147 678
Jeff Bagwell       139 650
Ricky Jordan       131 281
Travis Buck        129 334
Kevin Stocker      124 302
Terry Pendleton    120 283
Dustin Ackley      117 376
Ike Davis          115 601
Matthew Joyce      115 277 


There are some useful players on the age-25 list, and some duds on the 23-. But seriously, the 23-year group has three MVPs and a sure HOMer on it; the 25- does not. This is not a very definitive study, but it's real strong prima facie evidence that those two years matter.

Now, this kind of prima facie impression says nothing about an individual ballplayer's unique potential (no aggregate numbers do), and neither does it say much about what a given player will do in his second season. (Duda might do fine, and I hope he does.) But the "elite-level" players on those lists are guys who broke in younger.
   53. Sam M. Posted: February 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4068494)
I think ## 49-52 make my point about what this site is like at its best a lot better than I could. Take the point that folks think is weak in the article, and discuss it in an informative way, adding to knowledge instead of just criticizing the article (which is certainly an OK thing to do so far as it goes) or attacking the author (which really doesn't do much).

Now, this kind of prima facie impression says nothing about an individual ballplayer's unique potential (no aggregate numbers do), and neither does it say much about what a given player will do in his second season.


It would be awfully useful to find a fairly reliable way to predict which of the rookies within each age group are the most likely to develop and go on to productive careers, and which are likely to disappoint. If you're a GM and you have a list of factors that allow you to separate out the likely "good" 21 year-olds from the likely flame-outs, and the same for the 22, 23, etc., year-olds, you could use that in making trade decisions. It's great to know, as we do, that the 21-23 year old group does better than the older ones. But are there things to look at within each group?

I'll suggest looking at whether there are reasons to believe that a player in the younger group came up too soon, or that one in the older group was held back too long, for reasons unrelated to his actual ability. Those will usually be organizational factors that would lead us to attribute less significance than normal to the mere fact of the age at which the player came up. If, for example, the team consistently promotes players to the majors too fast and they flame out, then the fact that a kid came up for Team X at age 22 and happened to do well in a small sample size might not give us the same confidence level as it would if the organization is more conservative. If, on the other hand, Team Y has a pattern of holding prospects back, or not giving them a chance, then we might be a bit more willing to suspend judgment in placing the 25 year old player in the company of the less-successful 25 year-olds of the past, because he "should" have been up (or at least in a lot of organizations, would have been) at 22-23. Or maybe it's not a pattern with the organization, but a positional reason he was held back (Ryan Howard/Jim Thome). Whatever the reason, if there seems to be a basis for saying an individual player's failure to get to the majors earlier was NOT for reasons that are reflective of his limited potential/ability, then you could reasonably argue for a more optimistic view of his future.

Call this the "Wade Boggs Syndrome" -- if the player didn't get his first full season until 24/25 but you have good reason to think he was actually ready before that, maybe you project him more like a younger rookie than his age. If you could develop a basis for reliably identifying the "better" futures among the older rookies, or the lesser ones among the younger rookies that would be awfully useful information to have.

If we apply this to Duda, I don't really see any particular thing in the Mets or in Duda's case that would justify a uniquely optimistic view of his future, more like a younger rookie. While I think the Mets under the Minaya regime had a problem with giving younger players a real chance, you'd have to really work hard to make the case that Duda had established a clear readiness for the major leagues before he got his chance. His breakout power season in the minors was in 2010, and he got his rookie shot in 2011. Held back? Not seeing it.
   54. Lassus Posted: February 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4068503)
I approve of #51 and #52. It is difficult to find much to approve of in the rest of the thread.
   55. Ron J Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4068539)
#53 I'm not sure Boggs is a great example of what you're looking for. It's reasonably clear to me that Boggs simply showed unusual growth from 1980 on (the first time he even showed doubles power in the minors was 1981-- he'd never cleared .400 SLG before then). Prior to 1981 there wasn't any reason to think Boggs was as good as (say) Dave Stapleton.

And while he could have helped Boston in 1981 his playing time would have had to come at the expense of Yaz, Rudi or Perez. That would have been a very unusual call for any manager to make.
   56. Sam M. Posted: February 25, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4068548)
And while he could have helped Boston in 1981 his playing time would have had to come at the expense of Yaz, Rudi or Perez. That would have been a very unusual call for any manager to make.


Well, but that's the point (or at least it's one of them). If there are specific reasons unrelated to the player's actual ability at a younger age that explain why he didn't come up earlier, we might tend to say he is more likely to be comparable to the group that DID come up earlier, even though he didn't. Even if the reasons were legitimate, the key is whether he was actually good enough to contribute by a particular age -- perhaps a point earlier than the age he did get his shot.

But putting Boggs aside, the broader point is that the useful thing to do would be to take the step of looking for common traits within each age group of rookies, factors that the ones who go on to success have in common and factors that the ones who don't succeed have in common. If you found that -- and I'm not saying you would, I just wonder -- it would be very helpful in a number of ways.
   57. Baldrick Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4068558)
We used to respect MSalfino, but then he started to come on here and personally attack every critique of his articles. Not defend his comments, but attack the poster, and half of the attacks featured comments that referenced the fact that he was a paid writer, therefore he should be taken more seriously, instead of defending the analysis.

Quoted for truth.

People who find themselves constantly complaining that massive amounts of other people are rude to them should at least consider the possibility that they are the common element in all those circumstances.
   58. Danny Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4068565)
I apologize for the nasty personal invective I spewed in #6. Going forward, I'll be sure to only contribute meaningful content like #24 and #54.

But, seriously, this is an amazing line:
For the record, the list is the list. Duda's 2nd half performance compares him to those guys, not me.
   59. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4068573)
Sorry to see that MSalfino is as rude as ever.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4068577)
Sorry to see that MSalfino is as rude as ever.

This is true, but the proper response, as per Sam M, is to make him look silly by exposing his flawed analysis. No need to stoop to his level.

It's actually far more goading to people to be politely proved wrong, than to be insulted.
   61. tshipman Posted: February 25, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4068581)
Do we really have the burden of Mr. Salfino's education?

The much better solution, it seems to me, is to just not comment when something comes up that has already been proven wrong over and over again.
   62. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: February 25, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4068588)
This is true, but the proper response, as per Sam M, is to make him look silly by exposing his flawed analysis. No need to stoop to his level.

It's actually far more goading to people to be politely proved wrong, than to be insulted.


But that's already been amply covered in this thread. So I decided I'd go with the old gimmick where you take the other person's words and turn them around. It's a classic piece of badinage! Assuming I'm using "badinage" correctly!
   63. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 27, 2012 at 09:32 PM (#4070017)
The one thing that Duda has going for him from among 25 y/o rookies that may set him apart (too lazy to look) -- he had a dramatic increase in power at age 24. He always drew a lot of walks, but didn't hit the ball with enough authority to project. But he was a big guy and scouts always thought the power would come. At 24 he tweaks his swing and bang, a big power surge.

Actually, to Sam's point, you might consider him as somebody who could have been up at 24 rather than 25, but for the following factors -- his power production was not foreshadowed by his prior performance and he doesn't have a defensive position. Somebody who could hack the outfield pretty well and had a smoother development curve might have been given a shot (assuming the outfield and 1B weren't full, which they were).
   64. Something Other Posted: February 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4070561)

I was surprised to run an "edit/find" of this thread and find no reference to "wrist" or "injury". TFA notwithstanding, Duda has a promising future. Last season shows some of what he can do now that his wrist has healed from a horrific injury. It set him back two years, and to not account for that is a mistake, imo.

Call this the "Wade Boggs Syndrome" -- if the player didn't get his first full season until 24/25 but you have good reason to think he was actually ready before that, maybe you project him more like a younger rookie than his age. If you could develop a basis for reliably identifying the "better" futures among the older rookies, or the lesser ones among the younger rookies that would be awfully useful information to have.
I think this applies somewhat to Duda. In Duda's case, he had the very real, representative ability to hit the crap out of the ball in low A. (I don't have access to his college numbers at the moment, but iirc his nifty OPS at Brooklyn was right in line with his college record.) Granted he wasn't young for the league, but at that point he was controlling the strike zone well enough (BA around .300, OBP around .400) and hitting with enough power, that I think he would have chewed through A+ and AA at age 22, AAA at 23, and hit the majors for a cup of coffee at the end of 2009 or for good at the start of 2010.

Any analysis that omits Duda's injury is missing something big. I'm thinking of his wrist injury similarly to how I think of someone like Mays, who established the ability to hit well, then went into the army for a couple of years. The difference is, establishing that you can hit in low-A and college isn't nearly the same as establishing, the way Willie did, that you can hit in the majors. Still and all, in Duda I don't think we're talking about a rookie in 2011 who finally learned to hit advanced pitching in 2010; I think we're talking about a guy who was always a hitter, but took two years off to heal, and would likely have been ready to hit in the majors in late 2009, at age 23. That's a different career path from a guy who struggled at the plate in 2008-2009 simply because he had yet to learn how to hit.

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