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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Thursday, September 14, 2006

2006 MLEs (Preliminary, Build 2)

The link.

This is the new build of the complete MLE spreadsheet and the Barebones version.  All the known bugs from the first public version have been fixed, including a couple not discussed.  Nobody’s said anything, but someone who really dissected the formulae would have seen a couple rather small, but stupid order of operations foibles I made when cleaning up my spreadsheet for ease of use.  The effects on the results are pretty minimal, generally 5-10 points of OPS one way or another.

Another thing that hasn’t been brought up in the comments but I’ve received a few e-mails about is why I don’t translate any minor league pitcher as having an $H of greater than .320 in the majors.  Essentially, while there are very good reasons to believe that minor league pitchers, as a group, are going to be worse at controlling balls hit into play than major leaguers, there’s also a practical ceiling involved.  Once we’re up past .320, we’re at the level of how non-pitchers have pitched professionally and I have serious doubts that anybody with enough skills to pitch professionally are going to be worse at this than an outfielder stuck on the mound for an inning in a blowout. 

For a decided unscientific examination of this, take a zone rating chart to a baseball game at batting practice and estimate what a major league team would have fielded.  Even with a pitcher making no attempt to get the batter out, two-thirds of those balls hit in play are still going to get fielded by major league defensive players (I did this myself a few years ago after Voros suggested the “hitters’ pitching $H ceiling” to me in a conversation).  In a weird DIPS twist that hasn’t been mentioned before (I don’t believe), Voros had also found pitcher height to be a positive in $H, suggesting that scouts are right in preferring taller pitchers in at least one respect.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.  This author hereby waives any attribution requirement, though it would nice, as would free beer.

Dan Szymborski Posted: September 14, 2006 at 04:08 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 14, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2176894)
Once we’re up past .320, we’re at the level of how non-pitchers have pitched professionally and I have serious doubts that anybody with enough skills to pitch professionally are going to be worse at this than an outfielder stuck on the mound for an inning in a blowout.


That's a little lower than the number I've been using - I typically use .333, but I exclude bunts, so I'm probably not that far off the .320 number when bunts are added back in. But it is a "practical" ceiling on BABIP; any pitcher who can't come in below that isn't going to have a career.

-- MWE
   2. Kyle S Posted: September 14, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#2176925)
Maybe I just don't understand what you're doing, Dan, but are you capping $h at .320 for all minor league pitchers in the MLE? Isn't it possible that some of these guys are actually worse than outfielders brought in to pitch?

This would be freakin' great to see in practice, though; put a team of major leaguers in the field, a guy throwing batting practice on the mound, and see what happens.
   3. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 14, 2006 at 06:29 PM (#2176944)
Maybe I just don't understand what you're doing, Dan, but are you capping $h at .320 for all minor league pitchers in the MLE?

Yes. With major league defenses, I think we're at or near the practical ceiling here.

Isn't it possible that some of these guys are actually worse than outfielders brought in to pitch?

I guess it's possible, but I find it doubtful. On the reverse side, some pitchers can hit, but I find it doubtful that very many professional hitters with full-time experience would hit worse than the .330 or so OPS that pitchers in the majors average. And pitchers as a group have a lot more hitting experience than hitters have pitching.
   4. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 14, 2006 at 06:34 PM (#2176948)
are you capping $h at .320 for all minor league pitchers in the MLE?

Yes. With major league defenses, I think we're at or near the practical ceiling here.


I agree with that. However, it might be useful to include the "projected" $H as well (if you can), because that should be an indication of whether or not the pitcher is likely to even pitch in the majors.

-- MWE
   5. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: September 14, 2006 at 06:57 PM (#2176971)
Top 5 MLE OPS, min 400 AB:

1) Jack Cust, OF, Portland (SD): .270 .429 .447 876
2) Alex Gordon, 3B, Wichita (KC): .286 .373 .493 866
3) Joseph Koshansky, 1B, Tulsa (COL) .270 .339 .523 862
4) Josh Phelps, 1B, Toledo (DET) .299 .360 .497 857
5) Joey Votto, 1B, Chattanooga (CIN) .276 .351 .476 827
   6. Kyle S Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:00 PM (#2176977)
i guess i understand, i'm just leery. derek jeter leads all active players with 500+ career ABs in career BABIP - his is .360. and that's against major leaguers. i dunno, it's just a hard thing for me to accept that pitchers aren't that much better than a pitching machine, but i suppose the bigger difference (rather than preventing h/bip) is in HR allowed.
   7. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#2176988)
i guess i understand, i'm just leery. derek jeter leads all active players with 500+ career ABs in career BABIP - his is .360. and that's against major leaguers. i dunno, it's just a hard thing for me to accept that pitchers aren't that much better than a pitching machine, but i suppose the bigger difference (rather than preventing h/bip) is in HR allowed

Plus, pitching machines strike out less batters!

There's a wider spread of BABIP among hitters than pitchers.
   8. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:17 PM (#2176996)
The best translated pitcher were Rich Hill, Jered Weaver, and Kevin Slowey. I don't think Slowey would have matched it this year, but it's hard coming up with this line and not have a great translation!

89 1/3 IP, 52 H, 2 HR, 9 BB, 99 SO.

His New Britain translation was a more realistic 4.73.
   9. AROM Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2177028)
I don’t translate any minor league pitcher as having an $H of greater than .320 in the majors.

With my MLE's I don't worry about that. If a guy allows a $H of .375 against minor league pitching, I'll likely have him as higher than .375 in his MLE. Its in the projections that I fit $H into a more sustainable range.

For my pitcher MLE's I take ($H/team $H) * (MLB $H) * adjustment factor (which results in the average $H being a bit higher for minor leaguers than major leaguers).
   10. Dan Szymborski Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2177049)
My average $H is higher for minor leaguers, too. I just worry when you've got $Hs that high - there's some wretched defense in the minors. It takes a special blend of horrific pitching plus amazingly bad luck plus awful defense to get into the .370s.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 14, 2006 at 07:56 PM (#2177055)
If a guy allows a $H of .375 against minor league pitching, I'll likely have him as higher than .375 in his MLE.


My take is that there's not much point in doing an MLE for a guy like that, because he's unlikely to have major league success.

-- MWE
   12. AROM Posted: September 14, 2006 at 08:03 PM (#2177059)
My take is that there's not much point in doing an MLE for a guy like that, because he's unlikely to have major league success.

I do them for everybody. How about a guy allowing a .375 $H at one stop, a .245 at the next, and .290 the year before? The MLE's will be drastically different for each line, but his projection will include a healthy dose of regression.
   13. AROM Posted: September 14, 2006 at 08:08 PM (#2177069)
It takes a special blend of horrific pitching plus amazingly bad luck plus awful defense to get into the .370s.

Defense will be somewhat accounted for in my formula, unless they only play horrid defense for that pitcher and OK for the rest of the team.
   14. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: September 16, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#2178774)
Defense will be somewhat accounted for in my formula, unless they only play horrid defense for that pitcher and OK for the rest of the team.

Which is entirely possible in the minors, since minor league teams often swap 2 guys of vastly different defensive ability at the same position. The MiL team I follow played two SS's this season, one of whom made 40-odd errors, the other of whom played at a near-MLB level. Unless each pitcher had the same proportion of "good SS" starts, someone's going to get screwed.

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