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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-21-2021

Kenna [New Mexico] Record, October 21, 1921:

Col. John H. Wigmore, dean of Northwestern University School of Law, advocates the establishment of a federal department of sport with a seat in the cabinet, and would like to see Judge Landis the first secretary of baseball.
...
“The sport should be declared a public service and be taken over by the state for management…This can be done by exercising the power of eminent domain.”

This is horrible, this idea.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 21, 2021 at 08:12 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bad ideas, dugout, dumb, history, stupid ideas

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 21, 2021 at 08:14 AM (#6048026)
A nice pitching staff on today's Birthday Team. Whitey Ford is one of the better #2 starters in the Birthday League.

Greinke's a Hall of Famer, right? Two ERA titles, 219 wins, 73 WAR and counting, a Cy Young Award, six Gold Gloves, six All-Star Games, approaching 3000 strikeouts, one of the better hitting pitchers of the 21st century. He kind of feels like a guy the voters are going to forget, like they did with Rolen, Lofton, and Whitaker.

C: Toby Hall (4.7 WAR)
1B: Franklin Stubbs (2.7 WAR)
2B/Manager: Bill Russell (31.3 WAR)
3B: Johnny Goryl (1.6 WAR)
SS: Khalil Greene (8.5 WAR)
LF: George Bell (20.0 WAR)
CF: Ted Uhlaender (2.7 WAR)
RF: Gabe Gross (4.6 WAR)

SP: Zack Greinke (73.1 WAR)
SP: Whitey Ford (57.0 WAR)
SP: Non-Spaceman Bill Lee (31.4 WAR)
SP: Bill Bevens (4.6 WAR)
SP: Frank Papish (4.5 WAR)
RP: Jerry Garvin (7.2 WAR)

Umpire: Vic Delmore
Fun names: Tim Spooneybarger, Juan Tyrone Eichelberger, Jon Coutlangus, Finners Quinlan
   2. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 21, 2021 at 09:08 AM (#6048037)
Greinke's a Hall of Famer, right?

No rings (though he might get one this year). 219 wins just isn't a lot, not for generations of sportswriters who grew up thinking a HOF pitcher needs 300 wins, or at least 250. Plus he's been around forever, so voters will probably think of Greinke as a compiler. (Right now, Greinke is 30th in WAR among starting pitchers; all ahead of him are in the Hall except Clemens, Schilling and 19th-century player Jim McCormick.)
   3. sanny manguillen Posted: October 21, 2021 at 09:49 AM (#6048052)
Judge Landis the first secretary of baseball.


Tony Alvarez, Pirates cup-of-coffee guy from 20 years ago, was Minister of Youth and Sports for the Maduro regime.
   4. Mike Webber Posted: October 21, 2021 at 12:32 PM (#6048078)
Martin Dihigo ...Upon Fidel Castro's rise to power, Dihigo returned to Cuba and was appointed the minister of sports.
   5. SandyRiver Posted: October 21, 2021 at 03:14 PM (#6048129)
WAR numbers still confuse me at times.
Greinke has 3,110 IP with ERA+ of 123 and pitching WAR of 68.0. (Good hitter for a pitcher, as noted above.)
Ford has 3,170 IP with ERA+ but only 53.5 WAR. (About average hitter for a pitcher or a bit below, good fielder with a deadly pickoff move.)
The KISS principle sees roughly equal work with better ERA+ getting 21% lower WAR. Obviously I'm missing something. Perhaps several somethings. Peripherals? Yankees' excellent defense?
   6. SandyRiver Posted: October 21, 2021 at 03:19 PM (#6048132)
WAR numbers still confuse me at times.
Greinke has 3,110 IP with ERA+ of 123 and pitching WAR of 68.0. (Good hitter for a pitcher, as noted above.)
Ford has 3,170 IP with ERA+ but only 53.5 WAR. (About average hitter for a pitcher or a bit below, good fielder with a deadly pickoff move.)
The KISS principle sees roughly equal work with better ERA+ getting 21% lower WAR. Obviously I'm missing something. Perhaps several somethings. Peripherals? Yankees' excellent defense? Ford allowing nearly twice the rate of UER?
   7. Addie Joss Posted: October 21, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6048151)
Even accounting for Ford's having missed two years during the Korean War, I've always thought his WAR total was suspiciously low. His worst seasonal ERA was 3.24.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2021 at 04:03 PM (#6048154)
Even accounting for Ford's having missed two years during the Korean War, I've always thought his WAR total was suspiciously low. His worst seasonal ERA was 3.24.

I believe Ford has the lowest career ERA of any live-ball era pitcher in the HoF.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: October 21, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6048155)
I believe Ford has the lowest career ERA of any live-ball era pitcher in the HoF.


He has the lowest ERA of any retired starting pitcher who debuted since Ruth.

Kershaw has a very good chance to finish with a better ERA than Whitey.
   10. vortex of dissipation Posted: October 21, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6048160)
Fun names: Finners Quinlan


Quinlan hit only .183 in 55 MLB games as an outfielder, but his service to his country should be remembered. Serving with the US Army in France on November 9, 1918, only two days before the Armistice, a high explosive shell burst near him - he lost his left eye and his left arm (his throwing arm) had to be amputated. He recovered, and lived until 1966.
   11. Itchy Row Posted: October 21, 2021 at 05:17 PM (#6048168)
With the addition of Negro League stats, bb-ref has Satchel Paige ahead of Whitey in ERA.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: October 21, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6048171)

With the addition of Negro League stats, bb-ref has Satchel Paige ahead of Whitey in ERA.


Good catch. I looked up the ERA leaderboard a few years back.
   13. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 21, 2021 at 06:44 PM (#6048192)
Greinke vs. Ford:

Whitey Ford had about the best conditions for success of any top starting pitcher, ever. He had a dynastic team behind him, historically great infield defense, and he was pitching in the much weaker, slower-to-integrate league. Even with those advantages, he never had a season as good as Greinke's 2009 or 2015.

In the 1950's a lot of people thought and wrote that Ford and Mantle were roughly equally important to the Yankees' success. Mantle was WAY more valuable, more than twice as valuable.

For a fun exercise, look at the fabled 1961 Yankees. Here are the MLB records of their starting pitchers (everyone with > 2 starts) when not a Yankee:

(Whitey Ford N/A)
Ralph Terry 29-40
Bill Stafford 0-5
Rollie Sheldon 15-21
Bud Daley 42-48
Bob Turley 19-33
Jim Coates 6-7
Art Ditmar 25-45
Total 136-199

No pitcher has ever had a record as bad as that total (Mike Morgan, at 141-186, appears to be closest), yet these guys started 120 games for a 109-win team.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: October 21, 2021 at 07:26 PM (#6048202)
Greinke will have no problems if he gets to 3000 Ks but that's going to require 2 more years. I think he's in pretty easily without them too. Halladay has already broken any wins total threshold with 203 ... and even Verlander has just 226 and neither Scherzer nor Kershaw has even made it to 200 yet. Greinke's win total is fine, the win% is great, the WAR is good and, by current standards, the innings total is practically Fergie Jenkins. Worst-case scenario is they hold him back a few years to first put in Verlander and maybe Scherzer and Kershaw (depending on how much longer they pitch). (That is, "4th best SP of his generation" is not a great hook but it's enough to get him in.)

As to Ford vs Greinke ... Pitcher WAR can be an odd beastie. Ford is indeed "killed" by defense and park. His raw RA0 is an outstanding 3.14 (although that is 0.4 R/9 higher than his ERA) and the RA9opp is 4.26. But that 4.26 is not (exactly) park-adjusted and once you account for the very good Yanks defense (rated at 0.25 R/9 in bWAR ... that's RA9def) and a park factor of 0.95, bWAR estimates that an average pitcher would have given up only 3.82 RA9. So Ford is saving 0.68 R/9 ... multipled by 3170/9 and you get 253 RAA. A relatively low-scoring era (apparently) bumps 253 RAA up to 28.5 WAA. No bWARpit doesn't list Rrep explicitly but that works out to about 2 wins per 250 IP ... 25 wins in Ford's case.

Greinke's RA9 is an excellent 3.65, only 0.24 higher than his ERA. So ERA+ is being "kind" to Ford relative to Greinke. Still 3.65 is 0.51 RA9 higher than Ford's. RA9opp is 0.28 higher at 4.54 so that's a bit over half the RA9 difference. So the raw RA9opp - RA9 difference is 1.12 for Ford and 0.89 for Greinke, a 0.23 R/9 edge for Ford.

Greinke pitched in front of average defense so his RA9opp - RA9 gap stays the same at this step. Ford gets 0.25 "added" to his RA9 (or subtracted from his RA9opp, same difference) because of the Yanks' good defense ... i.e. in front of an average defense, Ford would have given up 3.39 RA9 ... or alternatively, an average pitcher in front of Ford's defense would have given up 4.01 RA9opp, not 4.26. Anyway, after this step, the RA9opp - RA9 gap for Greinke remains at 0.89 RA9 while for Ford it has decreased to 0.87 RA9 -- they're now equal.

The next easiest thing is the park adjustment. Ford pitched mainly in pitchers' parks. So we can inflate his RA9 by 100/94.5 or we can decrease the RA9opp by 5.5%. Either way, his gap reduces from 0.87 to 0.82 RA9. Not a huge deal. Greinke pitched in average parks so again his is unchanged.

Now things get a bit tricky because RA9role comes into play. RA9role is a component that tries to capture the effects of modern relievers. That is, modern relief pitchers, especially one-inning specialist relievers, are much more effective than starters, lowering the league RA. In Ford's day, there were few relief specialists and even the ones that existed usually pitched multiple innings. So in Ford's day, starter ERA and reliever ERA were pretty much the same. So the idea is that if Greinke's opponents got to keep hitting against "average" pitchers, they would have scored more runs across the season (i.e. RA9opp would be higher without specialist relievers). Ford's RA9 role is basically 0, Greinke's is 0.17.

So bWAR estimates an average starting pitcher, pitching in front of Greinke's (average) defense, in Greinke's (average) parks would have given up 4.73 RA9, which increases his RA9avg - RA9 gap to 1.08, a full 0.4 R/9 better than Ford's gap. Multiplied by 3110/9, that comes to 363 RAA, 110 runs better than Ford. This is the main source -- Ford had very good defense and pitchers parks so his raw RA9 is not as impressive as it looks. (If you adjust for those, Ford's RA9 goes up to 3.59, barely better than Greinke's although Greinke pitched in the higher scoring era.)

The rest is pretty peripheral stuff. Greinke gets an even kinder RAA to WAA conversion than Ford -- 363 RAA to 41 WAA. I have no idea if that's "correct." Greinke gets Rrep at a slightly better rate -- that may be the league quality adjustment as the NL of the 50s/60s was considered the superior league while, certainly during his KC years at least, the AL was superior in Greinke's era ... bWAR builds league differences into Rrep not RAA. That is, RAA in Ford's case is to an average AL pitcher while most of the best hitters (and maybe better pitchers) were in the NL. But all of that stuff is only adding maybe 2-4 wins.

So excellent pitcher with excellent defense in pitchers parks = better ERA+ and bigger RA9opp - RA9 gap than even better pitcher with average defense in average parks. That might not be true but it's a reasonable stance. The near-perfect WAR comp for Ford is Jim Palmer whose WAR gap is almost entirely the extra 800 innings. Palmer vs Greinke would also be interesting as they have the same WARpit despite Palmer's 800 more innings -- again, it's the great O's defense and slight pitchers parks that reduces the quality of Palmer's innings but his extra quantity closes the gap back to zero.

Obviously defensive adjustments are controversial estimates ... but obviously good defense reduces a pitcher's RA9 so we need to do something when we compare pitchers and I certainly don't have anything better. We also obviously need to adjust for park effects but these are less controversial.

What I'm confused about at the moment though is RA9role. It's clearly not about ERA/RA9 difference anymore because, with the increased load on bullpens, reliever ERA and starter ERA these days are essentially equal. Yet in the last few years, Greinke's RA9role has gone UP. It is still true that the relievers teams most care about (the top 3-5, the ones they use with the lead) post much better ERAs than starters, but the other guys are producing worse. Meanwhile starters are pitching less, avoiding 3rd time effects more ... so their job should be getting easier. So I don't know what to make of RA9role at the moment and I wouldn't be surprised if Greinke vs Ford might be a bit closer than bWAR suggests.
   15. SandyRiver Posted: October 22, 2021 at 10:28 AM (#6048290)
#14: deeper stuff than I can fully comprehend. And I noted that Ford's ERA+ number (133 vs. Greinke's 123) was omitted in my earlier post.

Ford is also a bit disadvantaged IMO by how pitchers were used in their respective eras. He averaged 6.94 IP and 28.5 BFP per start, compared to Greinke's 6.25 and 25.5. Nearly 40% (39.6) of Ford's BFP came on the third or later time thru the line-up, compared to 30.0% for Greinke. 4th or more times it's 14.2% vs. 2.6%.
The park effects described in #14 don't seem to affect actual performance, using OPS against. For Ford it's .627 H and .655 A, Greinke .666 H and .697 A, basically the same home/away difference for each.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: October 22, 2021 at 06:59 PM (#6048377)
If you want something as simple as possible:

RA9 in the bWARpit table is the number of runs (incl UER) per 9 that the pitcher gave up.

RA9avg is the number of runs an average pitcher would have given up pitching in the same context -- that is after adjusting for defense, parks actually pitched in and "role" (how the role effect is calculated is complicated but incorporating it into WAR is not).

You could then calculate a bWAR_RA9+ equivalent of ERA+ as 100*RA9avg/RA9.

For Ford, this comes out to 122 which conveniently is Greinke's ERA+. For Greinke, this comes out to 130 which is a bit short of Ford's ERA+.

Conclusion: Once you adjust for defense, park and role, these guys switch places and Greinke was the betteer pitcher on a rate basis. A rough approximation is that Greinke in Ford's context would have given up just 2.96 RA9 (Ford 3.14); or Ford in Greinke's context would have given up about 3.88 RA9 (Greinke 3.65). In either context, adjusting for park and defense, Greinke was nearly 1/4 of a run better per 9 innings.

But you did ask why it works out that way. It works out that way mainly because Ford pitched in front of excellent defenses in pitchers parks. His raw RA9opp/RA9 is 136 but, as we just saw, 14 points of that was due to defense and park. Greinke's raw RA9opp/RA9 is 124 but he gets an extra 6 points ... mainly due to the role component which is harder to understand but is intended to help adjust for differences in starter usage across eras.

Clearest way to express RA9role that I can think of (Sean can correct me) ... if Greinke's batters got to play against 1950s-60s pitcher usage patterns, teams would have scored about 0.17 more R/9 on average. So when comparing Ford and Greinke, you need to adjust for that. When comparing pitchers of the same era (say Greinke vs Verlander) the RA9role will be pretty much identical so it washes out -- it's only necessary for cross-era comparisons like Greinke-Ford.

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