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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The BOOK Blog: MGL: Shooting Fish in a Barrel Again

Much like the executive condiment committee at Reckitt Benckiser…MGL has a problem with Michael Kay’s thinking.

On the Yankees broadcast today, Michael Kay said:

“The Twins were upset with the rain out against the Tigers yesterday…”

“Why,” you ask?  Did it change their rotation?  Did their starting pitcher get hurt while warming up?

Nope.

Because, according to Kay, “Everyone knows that there is usually a split in a double header and the Twins were hoping for a sweep!”

And you sometimes wonder why I frequently use the term “idiot” when talking about baseball insiders?

Repoz Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM | 212 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Leroy Kincaid Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:56 AM (#3336303)
And does John Flaherty ever STFU?
   2. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:00 PM (#3336305)
MGL really is an enormous douche, isn't he?
   3. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:21 PM (#3336314)
I read a book by Pete Rose in the 80's where he makes the same claim about doubleheaders and since then I've always half paid attention if the CW about doubleheaders being split is true. Is there any easy way to find out if DH's are split more than just consecutive games aer "split"? between two teams?

edit: Michael Kay is a dope, though.
   4. Chris Needham Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:31 PM (#3336319)
I dunno. There is a certain level of irony to his argument that there's no point looking the stats on this up because it's just two games.

Isn't he basically doing the same thing that he's accusing Michael Kay of doing? Measuring something with his gut, and not actual facts?
   5. Dirty Tom Rackham Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:32 PM (#3336320)
What's worse? Kay making that statement or calling Kay an idiot for making that statement without even looking at any data.

They're both pretty annoying.
   6. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:35 PM (#3336321)
What's worse? Kay making that statement or calling Kay an idiot for making that statement without even looking at any data.


The latter combines stupidity and hypocrisy into one neat package, the former is just stupidity (though I admit I would have the same expectation as Kay).
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:52 PM (#3336341)
Without looking at data, I would say it is likely harder to sweep a doubleheader than it is to sweep games in consecutive days because you would probably have to use some of your better relievers in the first game, which might hamper their effectiveness in the second game if they're needed compared to them pitching the next day. If your catcher is an important part of your offense he would likely only play in one of the two games, as well, or at least be hampered offensively in the second game from having already caught that day.
   8. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:01 PM (#3336346)
Yeah, that's sort of how I think about it as well. That generally in a doubleheader the team that wins the first game, since they have one in pocket, will be less inclined to go balls to the wall to win the second (which is the point Pete Rose made about doubleheaders as well, that as a manager, he just wanted a split without burning out his team for the next game). It would be interesting to see the #'s, though.
   9. Chris Needham Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:07 PM (#3336350)
But they're just two games, people. ::waves hand dismissively::
   10. 185/456(GGC) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:13 PM (#3336359)
I read the book blog via Google Reader. It doesn't say who authors which article, but I can usually pick out the mgl ones. Yeah, he's acerbic, and I wouldn't recommend that people emulate his tone, but I consider that a feature to his posts, not a bug. He took on the stathead counterconventional wisdonm that 90% bunts are bad decisions. That said, it looks like he's going out of his way here to show his intellectual superiority.
   11. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:24 PM (#3336366)
Yeah, he's acerbic, and I wouldn't recommend that people emulate his tone, but I consider that a feature to his posts, not a bug.

I don't know why people still worry about MGL's tone. The more interesting question here is, is Kay right or MGL? We could be talking epic upset people! It would be like if Princeton made that last shot against Georgetown.
   12. Rally Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:28 PM (#3336374)
Without looking at data, I would say it is likely harder to sweep a doubleheader than it is to sweep games in consecutive days because you would probably have to use some of your better relievers in the first game, which might hamper their effectiveness in the second game if they're needed compared to them pitching the next day. If your catcher is an important part of your offense he would likely only play in one of the two games, as well, or at least be hampered offensively in the second game from having already caught that day.


Seems like that would give a slight edge in favor of double header splits. It would be cool to see actual data, if anyone has the time and resources.
   13. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:30 PM (#3336375)
I don't know why people still worry about MGL's tone. The more interesting question here is, is Kay right or MGL?

That's why we worry about MGL's tone. He tone is one of disbelief that anyone would actually want to answer the interesting question.
   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:51 PM (#3336400)
The Spink guides used to publish doubleheader data, but since it wasn't indexed and it appeared on a different page every year, it's a pain in the butt to retrieve. And BB-ref doesn't have doubleheader data.

So I only looked up one year (1962), and while it's not enough to declare a permanent trend, it does show this:

AL: 104 doubleheaders, 56 sweeps, 48 splits

NL: 86 doubleheaders, 51 sweeps, 35 splits.

So as is often the case, Kay was just winging it.

The NL had fewer doubleheaders because of the resistance of O'Malley and Stoneham. The Dodgers had only 5 scheduled all year, and the Giants 4. Eventually this caught on, and of course now the regular doubleheader is ancient history.
   15. alkeiper Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:57 PM (#3336405)
Re: #7. My thoughts exactly. Minnesota in particular is hampered by requiring their regular catcher to catch 19 innings in one day, and potentially hamstrung in regards to Joe Nathan.
   16. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:00 PM (#3336411)
From the Book Blog thread:

#8 Colin Wyers (see all posts) 2009/09/30 (Wed) @ 00:42

Just checked the Retrosheet game logs, and a doubleheader is swept 51.8% of the times.

Guess I was wrong there.



That actually surprises me, since like a lot of people, it seems intuitive to me that DH are hard to sweep because of bullpen usage, regular resting, etc.

Of course, there's a margin of error for the team with home field advantage in there, and I wonder if teams have become less likely to sweep as time has gone on, with increased bullpen usage and so on. Seems like serious study is needed.
   17. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:00 PM (#3336412)
Colin Wyers in post 8 shows that DH are swept 51.8% of the time.

In post 21, I show the odds of a sweep, depending on the chance of the home team winning one game (which is anywhere from 50.0% to 55.1%, if the home team has a 66% chance of winning one game).
   18. BDC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:02 PM (#3336415)
This year, there have been 21 doubleheaders, with 10 sweeps and 11 splits.
   19. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:08 PM (#3336426)
Colin Wyers in post 8 shows that DH are swept 51.8% of the time.

Princeton misses the shot again...
   20. Shredder Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:11 PM (#3336429)
The real measure isn't splits vs. sweeps, but rather how double headers break down vs. two regular games in back to back days. Granted, I'm not sure how you measure that.

But the thing that makes Kay's argument really stupid is that he apparently doesn't realize it can be turned on its head. One could just as easily have said "the Twins are thrilled with the rainout, because everyone knows double headers usually end in splits, and they were afraid they'd get swept".

Of course, there are legitimate reasons that the Twins may have been upset by a rainout, as has been ably pointed out in the posts above, but Kay didn't come anywhere near making those points (based on the quoted material).
   21. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:14 PM (#3336434)
Right, I think the real point Kay is missing is that if you assume DH are likely splits--which they may or may not be--I think that helped the Twins because it gives them a leg-up on beating one of Porcello and Verlander. Now they have to win the next two.
   22. BDC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:19 PM (#3336436)
In 2008, there were 25 doubleheaders, with 14 sweeps and 11 splits. Somebody else count the rest of them :)

In any case in 2008-09 there have been 46 doubleheaders, 24 sweeps, 22 splits. If "there is usually a split in a doubleheader" the effect is not showing up very well recently.
   23. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:31 PM (#3336452)
I don't know why people still worry about MGL's tone. The more interesting question here is, is Kay right or MGL?
Depends on how literally you take their statements.

Regarding Kay, if you take his comments literally you would think he's saying:

1. DHs are usually split.
2. There is nobody who doesn't know this.
3. Kay has actual knowledge of the collective mindset of the Twins.
4. The Twins, collectively, were upset about the rainout.
5. They were upset because they didn't want a split DH, and not for other reasons.

IMO it's likely that Kay did not mean any of this literally. IMO he was speculating that the Twins were adhering to conventional wisdom about doubleheaders. He didn't know if conventional wisdom was true, nor whether anyone thought otherwise, nor whether the Twins were actually upset, nor whether any dissatisfaction they had with the DH had anything to do with the perceived likelihood of a split. To me the worst here for Kay, other than sloppy reporting, is not having questioned conventional wisdom. However, for a throwaway line by someone in Kay's line of work, I don't see it as unforgivable.

It strikes me, however, that MGL might be either (a) taking Kay literally, or (b) damning Kay's lack of effort to confirm the "wisdom" in his head. In neither case should MGL be throwing stones.

Much of the consternation about MGL's attitude, IMO, stem from his inability to express himself in a way that doesn't convey that attitude. People closest to him insist he's not like that, yet in many of his writings - the linked discussion included - that's the image he conveys. From this I gather that we should not take his writings literally. If that's what we should do for him, he should consider doing the same for others... like Kay. Likewise, if he's going to call Kay an idiot for not looking at the data, then follow that up with comments saying that looking at the data is not worth his time, I suppose MGL should be giving Kay more leeway.

Both MGL and Kay share one thing: they're flawed in ways that ruin our limited interactions with them. I'm frequently disappointed by both, but that's my problem, not theirs.
   24. Greg Pope Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3336487)
The real measure isn't splits vs. sweeps, but rather how double headers break down vs. two regular games in back to back days.

You'd have to limit it back to back games between the same teams in the same stadium. In other words, each 3-game series gives you 2 data points, each 4-game series gives you three data points. That would eliminate the inherent HFA problem.
   25. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3336489)
Yeah, but Kay was right because the games were split. ;)
   26. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3336492)
Greg: you can limit it to 2-game series.

Village: "I'm frequently disappointed by both, but that's my problem, not theirs."

Profound. Love it.
   27. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3336498)
Greg: you can limit it to 2-game series.
Yeah, but then you have pitching matchups to consider... there is probably no way that there is enough data to make a definitive conclusion either way about a doubleheader being more likely to be split than the same two games being played on back-to-back days.
   28. Greg Pope Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:04 PM (#3336499)
Greg: you can limit it to 2-game series.

I don't understand. Why would you? Do you think there's a difference? You're throwing out a lot of data, unless the 3-game and 4-game series don't apply.
   29. GuyM Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:08 PM (#3336505)
Even if we found that DHs resulted in 1% fewer sweeps than other 2-game sequences, that doesn't change the fact that Kay's statement was, indeed, idiotic. The idea that "everyone knows" that double-headers "usually" result in a split is plainly wrong. Clearly, he had a sense that splits were far more likely than sweeps. In fact, DHs result in a split less than half the time. Not to mention that, even if a sweep were slightly more likely over two days, more than half of that "extra" probability would be a DETROIT sweep (as the home team) -- hardly what the Twins need.

If you think it's rude for MGL to point out the idiocy, that's a reasonable point of view. But he's not wrong. And he has zero obligation to run the numbers -- he's worked with enough of this data to know that the chance of a split in a DH is at least extremely close, if not identical, to the chance over two days.
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3336508)
Anyone know which Major League team MGL is a "senior analyst" for?
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:21 PM (#3336518)
And he has zero obligation to run the numbers -- he's worked with enough of this data to know that the chance of a split in a DH is at least extremely close, if not identical, to the chance over two days.

If he's seen this data, why didn't he mention it? If he hasn't, then he doesn't "know" anything.
   32. BDC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:25 PM (#3336524)
I wonder if this is one of those problems of perception, like the logic problems you see in airline magazines. By chance, sweeps should be as common as splits, right, because there are four outcomes in a two-game set: Twins Twins, Tigers Tigers, Twins Tigers, Tigers Twins. If you think of a "sweep" as your team doing the sweeping, then yes, splits are more common. For the Twins there are three bad outcomes to the doubleheader, against one good one.

Also, if you think of the four outcomes as only three (Twins sweep, Tigers sweep, or split) then it surprises you that one of the three occurs half the time.
   33. bunyon Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:27 PM (#3336527)
Forget all the complexity. On average, games are 50/50 split, give or take. Someone has to win game one. Then you have a 50/50 shot of a split or a sweep. And, when folks have looked at it, DHs seem to come in at just about 50/50 split and sweep. CW is wrong, there is no profound or obvious deviation from what you'd expect based on the odds.
   34. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3336529)
Greg: I was trying to not have games double-count (1-2, 2-3 in a 3-game series).

Colin's already shown the actual DH data (51.8% sweep). I've shown what we should expect (anywhere from 50% to 55%, if the home team is expected to win 66% of the time). Whatever you do, you're not going to find anything much different. You might get 51.2% of any back-to-back games being won by the same team, or 52.1% or whatnot. You might as well report it all (any back-to-back, only 2-game series, the first game of 2-back-to-back series with the same two teams, even 2 random home games at any point in the year of the same two teams). You're going to get pretty much the same results.
   35. 185/456(GGC) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3336530)
I dig it, Bob. The Aspromonte Hall Problem.
   36. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3336532)
By chance, sweeps should be as common as splits, right, because there are four outcomes in a two-game set: Twins Twins, Tigers Tigers, Twins Tigers, Tigers Twins. If you think of a "sweep" as your team doing the sweeping, then yes, splits are more common. For the Twins there are three bad outcomes to the doubleheader, against one good one.
This assumes that each team has an equal chance of winning each game.

The hypothesis is that winning a game makes you less likely to win later the same day.
   37. GuyM Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3336541)
Snapper: Kay was clearly indicating that a split was much more likely in a DH. Maybe it's the usual falacy of thinking that if a coin just came up heads, a tail is more likely on the next flip (or an 0-fer-3 hitter is "due"). Maybe he was unconciously comparing the odds of split to the odds of Minnesota sweeping (in which case the split is of course much more likely). But whatever his thinking was, it was wrong. MGL doesn't need to waste his time coming up with data to prove such a simple point.

And look, only about 48% of DHs result in a split. How much higher can that possibly be than what you'll find looking at other 2-game sequences? If anything, you'll probably find that sweeps are slightly more common in DHs. So MGL was right.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3336543)
Anyone know which Major League team MGL is a "senior analyst" for?

Is this some sort of privileged information? The vagueness of that posted credential sounds like one of those newspaper stories about "a senior official in the White House...." Is MGL "analyzing" for the Yankees or the Nats, or some team in between?
   39. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:48 PM (#3336553)
Jolly: it's covered in BTF's wiki page.
   40. Powderhorn™, arrogant local sailing champion Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:48 PM (#3336554)
Last I heard, MGL worked for the Cardinals. That was a while ago, but I assume that since he's still working for a MLB team, it's probably still the Cards.
   41. 185/456(GGC) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:48 PM (#3336555)
Does anyone know how Earl Weaver's teams fared in doubleheaders? Bill James thought they did well due to deep benches but I don't think he ran the numbers for more than a season or two.
   42. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:53 PM (#3336565)
And look, only about 48% of DHs result in a split. How much higher can that possibly be than what you'll find looking at other 2-game sequences? If anything, you'll probably find that sweeps are slightly more common in DHs. So MGL was right.
Unless the doubleheaders being counted are disproportionally strong teams vs. weak teams. The strong teams would be expected to sweep the doubleheader more often than they split.
   43. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:57 PM (#3336569)
Larry: I've already provided that data on my site in post 21 of my site, and I repeated it here. If the home team is expected to win 66% of its games, then the chance of a sweep (by either team) is 55%.

If both teams are equals, then it's 50%. So, seeing 51.8% is pretty much what we should have expected.
   44. Greg Pope Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:57 PM (#3336570)
anywhere from 50% to 55%, if the home team is expected to win 66% of the time

Sorry to be dense, but I don't get the 66% either. HFA isn't that high, so you're talking about something else here.

I get the point about 2-game series.
   45. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3336573)
Post 21 on my site:

"...if the home team has a 66% chance of winning one game, then there’s a 55.1% chance that there will be a sweep (43.6% for the home team and 11.6% for the away team)."
   46. Greg Franklin Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3336579)
MGL explains in the article's own comment thread that he didn't waste his time analyzing Kay's dubious assertion because of confounding factors (different lineups in the 2nd game, home field advantage, etc.), and that nobody uses psycho-BS arguments like Kay's to analyze ordinary 2-game streaks vs ordinary 2-game splits.

Relating to the role of luck in sabermetrics, the Twins really should've lost Game 1 of yesterday's DH, and thus would have indeed been swept after Verlander's performance. Tie game, the top of the 9th, letting Nick Punto hit with man on 3rd and one out, a blown suicide squeeze, inserting Jon F. Rauch in the bottom of the 9th - it gleefully violated every tenet of saber-thinking. Ron Gardenhire was very fortunate to escape with the W.

Last I heard, MGL worked for the Cardinals. That was a while ago, but I assume that since he's still working for a MLB team, it's probably still the Cards.

The BTF wiki page is old. Do we know if MGL is still working for a MLB team? I thought the Cardinals had shaken up their front office after Walt Jocketty left.
   47. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3336580)
I am simultaneously gratified and appalled to have helped pave the way ("stylistically speaking") for MGL, baseball's answer to the acetylene torch. Even his pal Tango has remnants of burnt skin on various portions of his body from his dealings with him, and has taken to wearing protective clothing in order to continue their association.

Chris Dial (in the thread over at The Book) asked a very interesting question about sweeps vs. splits in terms of the time of year--it'd be fun if someone could look at that data and determine if there is anything to the idea that the sweep/split ratio could vary depending on what point in the season a DH occurs.
   48. DJ Endless Grudge Says "Cheers, Witches" Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:06 PM (#3336585)
Don, I don't think there's a lot to what Chris said. I used the entire Retroera, which means that most of the double headers in the sample probably come from earlier years where it was a common practice.
   49. 185/456(GGC) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3336591)
Don, how'd you help him? Was he a BBBA guy?
   50. BDC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:11 PM (#3336607)
The Aspromonte Hall Problem

:-D Exactly, GGC.
   51. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3336615)
Steve, I helped him by getting out of the way as fast as possible. :-)

CW, as noted, it would still be interesting (if only a dead-end) to look at the month-by-month breakouts of DHs and confirm that there's nothing to it. EDIT: Also interesting to look at the three-fold result: sweep home, sweep visitor, split.

Greg, I think the problem that some folks have with an original post like the one MGL made was that it would have taken only 2-3 more sentences to convey the reasons for his derision. If one is writing a blog post, it's never a waste of time to elaborate enough to ensure that anyone reading it will grasp the implications of what's being discussed. In other words, a "waste of time" argument quickly becomes a waste of time, and tautological to boot.
   52. Lassus Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3336627)
Jolly: it's covered in BTF's wiki page.

Well, no wonder no one has any idea.
   53. Sean Forman Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3336629)
All Data is from 1979-2008:

For double-headers

+------+------------+--------+-----------+
DHs  home_sweep split  vis_sweep |
+------+------------+--------+-----------+
1286 |     0.3095 0.4883 |    0.2022 |
+------+------------+--------+-----------+ 


Now I look at all cases where two teams played on date N and date N+1. This will include a four-game series on consecutive days 3 separate times. b2b = Back-to-back

+--------------+----------+--------+---------+
consec_dates home_b2b split  vis_b2b |
+--------------+----------+--------+---------+
|        
41046 |   0.2955 0.4885 |  0.2160 |
+--------------+----------+--------+---------+ 


I'm not sure why the home team picks up the advantage in the doubleheader (about 1%), perhaps it is because they get to dictate the pitching matchups, or maybe fatiguing situations increases the advantage of playing at home, noise?
   54. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3336641)
Last I heard, MGL worked for the Cardinals. That was a while ago, but I assume that since he's still working for a MLB team, it's probably still the Cards.

Thanks, but why doesn't it just say that on the website itself?
   55. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:25 PM (#3336647)
Thanks Sean. That seems pretty conclusive to me. I could see how the perception arose that splits are common--afterall, of the 3 possibilities splits ARE the most common. It could be human nature choosing to ignore the doom scenario of losing a sweep and seeing the hope of winning a sweep as much less likely than a split.
   56. greenback slays lewks Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:28 PM (#3336655)
I thought the Cardinals had shaken up their front office after Walt Jocketty left.

MGL was hired (as a consultant) by Luhnow, who still works for the Cardinals. In fact, Luhnow's growing prominence apparently was the ultimate source of Jocketty's demise. Anyway MGL's contract with the Cardinals ended in 2006, at the latest, well before Jocketty's departure.
   57. Powderhorn™, arrogant local sailing champion Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:35 PM (#3336667)
MGL was hired (as a consultant) by Luhnow, who still works for the Cardinals. In fact, Luhnow's growing prominence apparently was the ultimate source of Jocketty's demise. Anyway MGL's contract with the Cardinals ended in 2006, at the latest, well before Jocketty's departure."


And now I'm just confused again. I assume Tango knows what he's talking about, and that his #39 means MGL is still with the Cards, but I don't get MGL's vagueness, either. If you worked for a consistently good organization, why would you be shy about saying so?
   58. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:38 PM (#3336675)
Sorry I raised the question in the first place. I should have let the boys sort it all out among themselves before jumping in.
   59. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:45 PM (#3336695)
Thanks a lot, Sean. Any chance you have an extra minute to run that data by month just to see if there are any variations in it?

Nick, in the words of the immortal Stan Ridgway (from his song "Camoflague"): "Things are never quite the way they seem..." :-)
   60. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3336700)
Sean/53: good data.

Ok, so the sweep is 51.2% for doubleheaders, and it's 51.2% for back-to-back wins. That pretty much settles that!

***

Now, as for the home sweep occurring 30.95% of the time, compared to the home back-to-back wins being 29.55%. One standard deviation for 1286 DH would be .013. The difference that Sean is reporting (.014) is 1.1 standard deviations apart.

I don't think we have to bother explaining something that is 1.1 SD apart do we?

***

Don: I have no idea what you are talking about, but I've had no issues with my association with MGL, nor have I changed any way I approach anything.

His views are his own and mine are my own.

***

Oops. The "About Us" page hasn't been updated in 3 years. I'll have to fix that. Thanks...
   61. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:48 PM (#3336704)
And now I'm just confused again. I assume Tango knows what he's talking about, and that his #39 means MGL is still with the Cards, but I don't get MGL's vagueness, either. If you worked for a consistently good organization, why would you be shy about saying so?
Because if we knew that MGL worked for the Cardinals, we could call him a "baseball insider". And we know what terminology MGL suggests to describe those sorts of people.
   62. GuyM Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:53 PM (#3336710)
Sean's data means that the home team is .540 on consecutive days, but .554 in doubleheaders. It's interesting that HFA is a bit larger in DHs. Could be crowd size, or the testosterone effect is enhanced, or who knows? There's a lot we still don't know about why HFA exists in the first place. One thing that occurs to me is that DHs mean at least one day game.

Sean: can you tell us if HFA is any larger in day games than in night games?
   63. spivey Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:00 PM (#3336724)
There simply are not enough DHs played to account for the minute difference in winning percentage as anything other than sample size.
   64. JPWF13 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:08 PM (#3336735)
I don't think we have to bother explaining something that is 1.1 SD apart do we?


yes you do!!!!
have you seen this thread?

just kidding.
   65. bads85 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:08 PM (#3336737)
If you worked for a consistently good organization, why would you be shy about saying so?


Groupies.
   66. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3336745)
Guy, the .014 win difference, (this time based on double the number of games) means 1.4 SD of difference.

When you look at the HFA year-by-year, you will see swings like .540 one year, .554 a few years later, and .517 a few years after that. And that's based on 2400 games, pretty much the same number of games that we are talking about here.

Here's the home win% for all games, in each year. from the always impressive Play Index:

Year G W-L%
1978 2102 57.3%
1979 2099 53.9%
1980 2105 54.2%
1981 1394 52.1%
1982 2107 53.8%
1983 2109 54.2%
1984 2105 52.9%
1985 2103 55.0%
1986 2103 54.7%
1987 2105 54.8%
1988 2100 53.8%
1989 2106 55.0%
1990 2105 53.7%
1991 2104 53.8%
1992 2106 55.2%
1993 2269 53.8%
1994 1600 51.7%
1995 2017 53.2%
1996 2267 54.1%
1997 2266 53.5%
1998 2432 53.8% <--
1999 2428 52.1% <--
2000 2429 54.0% <--
2001 2429 52.4% <--
2002 2426 54.2% <--
2003 2430 55.0%
2004 2428 53.5%
2005 2431 53.7%
2006 2429 54.6%
2007 2431 54.2%
2008 2428 55.6%
2009 2357 54.9%

Are we going to make a big deal out of the up-and-down from 1998-2002?

***

Furthermore, the number of DH is not the same year-by-year, and so, may have come disproportionately in those seasons where the HFA was greater.
   67. Greg Franklin Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3336746)
If one is writing a blog post, it's never a waste of time to elaborate enough to ensure that anyone reading it will grasp the implications of what's being discussed. In other words, a "waste of time" argument quickly becomes a waste of time, and tautological to boot.

I can't disagree with you, Don, but blogs are blogs, and part of the attraction is you don't need to please an editor to publish exactly what you want. His failure to write those extra 2-3 sentences in the post itself (that were eventually written in the comments) is because he decided the implications were obvious to anyone interested in the subject (e.g. "The Book" readers), and he felt no pressure to ensure that anyone reading the post would grasp them.

Because if we knew that MGL worked for the Cardinals, we could call him a "baseball insider". And we know what terminology MGL suggests to describe those sorts of people.

Well, Tango works for the Mariners, but AFAIK it's an advisory deal -- he's not on-site as a full-time employee. Probably the same system applies/applied to MGL. We can always wait till Tango revises the "About Us" page to confirm whether MGL still is working as a senior advisor. :)

One thing that occurs to me is that DHs mean at least one day game.

Not necessarily. The Retrosheet era includes many twi-night doubleheaders.
   68. Tango Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:24 PM (#3336761)
One thing that occurs to me is that DHs mean at least one day game.

Not necessarily.


This is where Kay's "usually" would have been appropriate.
   69. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2009 at 08:21 PM (#3336951)
Greg: Of course it's a free country (sort of...), and MGL can do/act as he likes. But feeling "no pressure to ensure that anyone reading the post would grasp" the concept means that one is not writing for the public at all, but for a small coterie of folk who also already know how innumerate many mainstream media folks are.

If we were to have a "Writing Shares" system (bad choice given the prevailing opinion of THE BOOK folk re: Win Shares, I know...) based on numbers (analysis), fact and folklore (trivia and history), and grace of writing (entertainment value added, sort of the "WPA" of the reader's experience), it's clear that someone like Bill James could score well in all areas, while most MLB beat writers would be in the tank for analysis, and score best in the others.

MGL is all in one area, and while that clearly has value, the approach is inherently self-limiting.

Tango: that was a joke, son. You often have no idea what I'm talking about, and I assure you that it's just fine with both of us. :-)
   70. puck Posted: September 30, 2009 at 10:14 PM (#3337060)
means that one is not writing for the public at all, but for a small coterie of folk who also already know how innumerate many mainstream media folks are.


Isn't this pretty much the case? Given how rarely he submits articles to such places, it seems MGL is rarely interested Perhaps in appealing to a more general (BTF or Fangraphs-ish) audience.

BTF linking to his blog posts has become just another pinata.
   71. Don Malcolm Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:04 PM (#3337082)
Hmm, if I could draw a diagram here, I'd....

--NUMBERS--SABE-STAINED---FANGRAPHS---HARDBALL---BTF---numerate----PRINT---BROADCAST
--INSIDERS---BLOggERS---------------------------TIMES--------------media------MEDIA------MEDIA

(((((fans)))))- ((((fans))))--------(((fans)))-----------((fans))--------(fans)---------------FANS------

Well, maybe you get the idea. The more parentheses, the less reach. "Numerate media" is in lower case because it's the smallest number of individuals in any of these groupings.

The Internet made some dent into this arrangement, with certain folks winding up in more mainstream places--boosting BP into a region somewhere between (( )) and ( ): a pinch of Neyer, 3/4s of a cup of SI.

MGL isn't a writer, he's an acetylene torch with customized attachments to a computer/typepad.
   72. Tango Posted: October 01, 2009 at 12:15 AM (#3337145)
The single-dimension characterization of MGL is terribly unfair.

You can at least appreciate he spent hundreds of hours contributing to a book that has appeal even beyond the hardcore saber-fans.

And, he has written articles for Hardball Times, its annual, and the old Primer, and BPro that has nothing of a "torch" feel whatsoever.

And, he's been an invited guest to multiple sports talk shows where, by all accounts, the listeners were satisfied, even impressed, by what and how he said things.

Even in the blog, readers come back time and again because they either can look past how he says things, or some admit to enjoy how he says things.

Yet, the constant single-minded single-dimensional characterization of MGL sweeps all that away because, gosh-darn it, it's soooo much fun to keep beating a horse dead, especially one that doesn't wish to engage those who attack him.

If you can live with Adam Dunn's strikeouts, you can take a bit of MGL's acerbic rants. You still get the homeruns.
   73. greenback slays lewks Posted: October 01, 2009 at 12:30 AM (#3337157)
it's soooo much fun to keep beating a horse dead, especially one that doesn't wish to engage those who attack him.

I'm pretty sure new posters and formerly exiled posters such as Don Malcolm haven't seen the list of dead horses.

I'd also be a lot more sympathetic with this position if MGL wasn't so fond of taking public shots at BTF from the comfort of his and your blog.
   74. Don Malcolm Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:04 AM (#3337170)
Actually, Tango, I like the way MGL does his thing. I just don't take it that seriously. We're not talking about world peace or universal health care or a cure for cancer here, so a little levity should not provoke such thin-skinned responses. But that's been a prevailing issue in this field for just about as long as I've been in it.

I'm a satisfied customer of THE BOOK, as I suspect you know. That said, it isn't remotely a graceful read, and that's a major reason why its appeal is much closer to (((( )))) than ( ).

I know about that issue from a completely different vantage point. I've had similar complaints for years.

The biggest problem that anyone in this field has, whether they're willing to admit it or not, is that they're not Bill James. Comparing the dimensionality of Bill's writing--separate from one's assessment of his methods and/or biases--to most of what else is out there makes it clear why he connects to the ( ) area. He's also less dogmatic (except about Dick Allen, of course.) From what I can tell, Bill has come a long way toward accepting many precepts in THE BOOK--though, to be honest, most of those seem to be selections from your work. He loves to be acerbic in the context of his interactions with people, but he rarely initiates a rant (unless it's about Derek Jeter).

Such a large shadow, with so much dimensionality, makes other people in the field reach for something more extreme. That extremity winds up coloring the work, no matter what else happens. There's a certiain acceptable stylistic limit for irony and sarcasm in the world of journalism, and some people master its limits. The rest of us suffer from insisting on trying to stretch them.

The best thing in what you wrote is at the end. It's a nice image. Though I doubt that you've properly weighted the adverse effect of a rant. :-)
   75. GuyM Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:43 AM (#3337185)
It seems odd to criticize MGL for not reaching the () audience, when that's clearly not his interest or ambition. (From what you wrote, it sounds like perhaps you are projecting your own (failed) ambition here?) In any case, MGL made his 78-word (!) post on his own blog, for an audience he knows would immediately understand his point. When MGL writes for a somewhat larger audience (The Book, THT), he writes clearly and communicates challenging concepts in an accessible way.

I can't think of anything he has said or written that would suggest he has any interest in writing for a larger audience of fans who aren't sabermetrically inclined. But that doesn't mean his work doesn't reach that larger audience. I see UZR referenced in my morning newspaper and many other mass publications. That's the creation of a guy named MGL. And while The Book's writing style may not be to your taste -- I thought it was very well written given the material it was tackling -- it has sold well, and more importantly its ideas have influenced many sportswriters and bloggers who in turn reach hundreds of thousands of serious fans.

I don't get the MGL hate here. But whatever you think of his style, to "not take [him] seriously" is a mistake. The list of people in the post-James era who have contributed more than MGL to our knowledge of how baseball works is actually rather short.
   76. villageidiom Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:44 AM (#3337186)
Yet, the constant single-minded single-dimensional characterization of ___ sweeps all that away because, gosh-darn it, it's soooo much fun to keep beating a horse dead, especially one that doesn't wish to engage those who attack him.
Some say beating a horse dead, others say shooting fish in a barrel. There's really no difference.
   77. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:45 AM (#3337187)
Somewhat off-topic, but, Don, it's good to see you back.
   78. Sean Forman Posted: October 01, 2009 at 02:37 AM (#3337211)
VI wins.
   79. Srul Itza Posted: October 01, 2009 at 02:49 AM (#3337217)
Some say beating a horse dead, others say shooting fish in a barrel. There's really no difference.


There is to the fish.
   80. Tango Posted: October 01, 2009 at 03:37 AM (#3337233)
VI would win, if "sweeps all that away" were true. If Michael Kay has done something that is not worth sweeping away, let's see it. Otherwise, VI simply took the one line of my post out of context to make his point. Classic Primer-stuff. E for effort.

Reminds me alot of Redsox fans, happy to have their World Series because of Pedro, all to eager to kick him out when he doesn't behave.

I really don't have any disagreement with Don/74. The Book is a tough read (purposefully). I know I can't stand reading it in one sitting. Even some of the chapters are impossible to read in one sitting. Yech. It's like spinach. I mean it.

I'm with Guy/75.

And no one should be compared to Bill James, like no one should be compared to Rickey Henderson. That doesn't make Tim Raines or Tony Gwynn or Kenny Lofton somehow less great. But, when it comes to baseball, I would rather listen to MGL than to James. MGL knows more, and if you don't believe me, ask MGL!
   81. Xpgdxbq Posted: October 01, 2009 at 03:49 AM (#3337239)
I hope MGL never changes.
   82. Repoz Posted: October 01, 2009 at 03:51 AM (#3337240)
Even some of the chapters are impossible to read in one sitting.

At least the chapter titles aren't too esoteric!...:")
   83. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: October 01, 2009 at 04:56 AM (#3337275)
Reminds me alot of Redsox fans, happy to have their World Series because of Pedro, all to eager to kick him out when he doesn't behave.


You're thinking of Pedro Ortez, who we still love. We happily kicked Manny Garciaparra to the curb.
   84. Don Malcolm Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:07 AM (#3337294)
Guy, I remain unconvinced that any of the new defensive measures (which began in BBBA in 1999 with Charlie Saeger, btw, not with James or MGL or Davenport--Mike Emeigh, who's been showing his characteristic good sense by staying away from this thread entirely, would likely remind us of the work of another "alienating pioneer," Mike Gimbel...) have actually contributed much to our "knowledge" of how baseball works. At best, these are all overlays of models for how an aspect of the game works, and subject to the limitations that exist in any summarizing tool (just as in the models for player value). You are free to call me stupid or stubborn for tenaciously holding to such a viewpoint.

As for my goals as a baseball writer, I think most who were there at the time (and who are not still in witness protection...) will agree that I had no illusions about my writing style becoming the flavor of the month. :-)

THE BOOK has many helpful, imaginative (if occasionally torturous) studies. That it builds on James--and, perhaps more significantly, Pete Palmer (the nicest man in the history of the world)--is something that the authors are not always eager to admit.

As far as "hating" MGL goes, I don't. If you want to interpret what I wrote in that manner, that's your choice. I don't take his RANTS seriously. I do see that they've limited his influence. That may be a good thing or a bad thing: I think the jury is still out on that.

As for his work, I think Tango's got it right: MGL thinks more highly of it than any of us, no matter which "camp" we may (or may not) be in.

Dayn--thanks.
   85. 185/456(GGC) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 11:51 AM (#3337318)
(((((fans)))))


Don's in this area too. But I guess that you know that, Don. Your definition for Ashley's Hexagon in your various glossaries wasn't very helpful, for one thing. It sounds dirty, but my guess is that it was supposed to be a three dimensional representation of a batter's skill-sets.
   86. GuyM Posted: October 01, 2009 at 12:28 PM (#3337329)
Don:
"MGL hate" was not directed specifically at you, but rather the broader phenomenon here at BTF (see post #2, for example). But if you say that camp doesn't include you, duly noted.

As for whether MGL would have more influence sans rants, that's a counterfactual I don't find very interesting, and I'm still not clear why you think that's important. It's clear that MGL doesn't.

I remain unconvinced that any of the new defensive measures... have actually contributed much to our "knowledge" of how baseball works....You are free to call me stupid or stubborn for tenaciously holding to such a viewpoint.

I wouldn't characterize your position in any particular way, since I have no idea what evidence, if any, it's based on. I'd be interested in hearing why you came to that conclusion. But if your only critique were that these metrics are "subject to the limitations that exist in any summarizing tool (just as in the models for player value)," well, that of course is true of everything we use to analyze baseball, and therefore of no conceivable interest.

I would observe that it's odd you are so concerned about properly apportioning historical credit for developing models that haven't contributed much to our knowledge.

THE BOOK has many helpful, imaginative (if occasionally torturous) studies. That it builds on James--and, perhaps more significantly, Pete Palmer (the nicest man in the history of the world)--is something that the authors are not always eager to admit.

Well, "not always eager to admit" is of course impossible to refute (nicely crafted). But the thrust of this statement is inaccurate and unfair. I started paging through "The Book," and had to go only 4 pages before finding an acknowledgment of Palmer's work (including a recommendation to buy his book). Tango's bio notes that Palmer and James have been his "inspiration."

And btw, if one wants to fault sabermetricians for failing to acknowledge the work of others, Bill James would be far higher up on that list than Tango and MGL, perhaps at the very top.
   87. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:02 PM (#3337343)
Reminds me alot of Redsox fans, happy to have their World Series because of Pedro, all to eager to kick him out when he doesn't behave.

Are you ####### kidding me? Pedro Martinez is the most beloved player in the history of Red Sox Nation.
   88. Tango Posted: October 01, 2009 at 01:55 PM (#3337376)
THE BOOK has many helpful, imaginative (if occasionally torturous) studies. That it builds on James--and, perhaps more significantly, Pete Palmer (the nicest man in the history of the world)--is something that the authors are not always eager to admit.


Don, that conclusion is nothing but b.s. Guy/86 provides some of the evidence to the contrary. And we did, you know, have Pete write the foreword.

Fly: I seem to remember that the way Pedro left (and Nomar and Manny and I'd guess Clemens, though I wasn't online then) is that the online fans want you to leave with how they perceive is a dignified way, otherwise, they'll tear you down. Perhaps time heals all, but in that off-season, it was a "good riddance" kind of feeling (online anyway).
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: October 01, 2009 at 02:13 PM (#3337385)
Fly: I seem to remember that the way Pedro left (and Nomar and Manny and I'd guess Clemens, though I wasn't online then) is that the online fans want you to leave with how they perceive is a dignified way, otherwise, they'll tear you down. Perhaps time heals all, but in that off-season, it was a "good riddance" kind of feeling (online anyway).


I can't really speak too much for anywhere else, but such a reaction was not displayed by any Red Sox fans here. Pedro was great, he wanted more years than the Sox were willing to give him (and fans here generally agreed), and he left with his reputation intact. You want to point to Manny as your exhibit A, you'd have a much better case (but even there, the reaction wasn't nearly as universal as non-Sox fans seem to believe). The responses to Manny's exit ranged from good riddance to I'll miss him but it was time to go to the Sox FO/media plants poisoned the well. And I'm not even including karl's reaction, since he's really an outlier in his Sox fandom.
   90. Tango Posted: October 01, 2009 at 02:45 PM (#3337399)
This is the kind of stuff I remember:

Getting rid of that greedy, primadonna Pedro Martinez is the best thing that the Boston Red Sox could have done. He turned down their "insulting" offer of only $40.5 million, over three years, and then complained that the Sox never really gave him any respect in their contract negotiations. The truth is, Martinez is already over the hilll at age 33. He has had constant arm problems during the past few years; his velocity used to average in the mid 90's — now he is lucky to hit 90 mph on a good day, and he could not complete a game if his life depended on it. He blew the Red Sox's world series chances last year, and did his best to blow it this year. The Yankees definately were his daddy. I only hope the Sox and Mets meet in interleague play next year. It was a great first few years with Pedro, but after his actions the last couple of years, I say good riddance Pedro!


And

I'm sorry, Pedro Martinez is nothing more than an idiot. He's got a perpetual chip on his shoulder as big as a house. The Red Sox did everything but beg him to stay in Boston. Mets fans have my sympathy. Good riddance.


And

"I can live with the business part of it, not being able to afford me, or thinking I'm not that good, but I cannot understand the part where you mistreat my name, or mistreat what I did for the city of Boston because they have to build another image of me," Martinez said from Cincinnati.


So, Pedro obviously felt that some fans turned on him.

And

Prima Donna whiner. Guys like him give baseball a bad name.


That was just the first few that I found in a couple of minutes of googling. Perhaps it's selection bias, but I remember at the time thinking how (some) Sox fans turned on him (based on more than 1 or 2 posts). If you want to argue that it's closer to 1% and I'm thinking it's closer to 30%, then sobeit.
   91. 185/456(GGC) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 04:00 PM (#3337464)
If Don is still reading this, here's a thread where I discussed some of his work with fra paolo.
   92. 185/456(GGC) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 05:04 PM (#3337514)
Guess I was too late to revive this thread.
   93. Don Malcolm Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:04 PM (#3337590)
Steve--I think I'm actually even further to the left on that little "defensiveness spectrum." There may not be enough parentheses available to depict my exact location: which, of course, doesn't really require that much precision. That I was both an inspired and a disastrous choice to helm BBBA is abundantly clear, and thanks to a good lawyer I've already copped to a lesser charge (the bracelet comes off in 2015). :-)

As for that thread, you've reminded me that I'm long overdue in sending out that periodic wad of cash to Fra Paolo.

Re the Ashley Hexagon: we were sometimes too flip in our glossary (recall that readers were warned about that: it was called an "Annotated Opinionated Glossary"). The Hexagon was formulated by the second nicest man in the world (Gerry Myerson) and it was part of BBBA's ongoing fascination with statistical shape and how it can/might/might not/doesn't relate to value.

That '97 edition is the rarest of the rare, alas. If you really, really want to read that article, though, there are ways...

Tango--I think THE BOOK could benefit from a summarization (possibly a boiled-down "new edition") that operates as a systematic compendium of those "THE BOOK SAYS" maxims/precepts (my earlier-a.m. bleary-eyed count shows that there are 101 of them...) that reference them in the context of earlier thinking (baseball "old-timer" or "earlier sabermetric CW"). Such a structuring/recontextualizing could open up the material to a sizaable segment of fans/readers who are still ignorant and/or resistant. You could call it THE BOOK AT A GLANCE or something like that: the repackaging would also allow for some added maxims/precepts and permit it to reflect any subsequent effort in those areas since '06.

Guy--I might gear up at some point to do something along the lines of what you suggest, but not here. Despite the efforts of "post-Jamesians," this ultimately comes back to the "shadow" to which I referred earlier. There is a tendency to characterize the swirl of the "storm the front office" era as if its ideas, crowned by Moneyball, represent a DNA-like revolution. It ain't so: Bill and Pete were not the pre-DNA sloggers, and MGL and Tango (or any other set of dynamos with a similar aura...) are not Watson and Crick. The gist of my earlier remark is that THE BOOK doesn't actually move all that far beyond its obvious influences despite some laborious efforts to do that, whatever the actual level of "acknowledgment." As with many things in the (( )) to ((((( ))))) world, it is in constant danger of being oversold. Where THE BOOK does achieve such breakthroughs (leverage, for example), we see James and others acknowledging it and giving it appropriate visibility.

Finally: I brought Charlie Saeger up because I like him and I think he should not be forgotten in the rush to self-anointment by those who've created their defensive systems largely from his original insight. That it may not (yet) have produced the ripest possible fruit is no reason for the original grower to be trampled in the race to a premature harvest.
   94. 185/456(GGC) Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3337643)
YEah, Don, but if you're writing were more accessible, I might have learned more. Fra mentioned that you and the BBA gang were going in the direction of looking at the game as the elementary particle of baseball instead of the season, but it was tough to decipher what was written sometimes.

BTW, I was thinking about what yyou wrote in that Goldman thread recently. After the M & M Boys, there looks like there were three teams with broad based power in the 60s: The Twins, Tigers, and Braves. But the Braves didn't experience any success until 1969, which was a couple years after they had four or more players with 20+ home runs. Not sure if any of these teams built this way intentionally, but Dick McAuliffe was a rather bold shortstop choice for that era (as was Rico Petrocelli, for that matter.)
   95. Rally Posted: October 01, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3337644)
Is Charlie's defensive system explained somewhere on the internet? Or in on of the BBBAs? If I remember correctly he called it context adjusted defense but am not familiar with the details.
   96. DJ Endless Grudge Says "Cheers, Witches" Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:03 PM (#3337657)
AROM, it's actuall on Primer. I mean to read through it when I have time later, and it looks good. But I don't think it's as primary as Malcom is saying - STATS was doing ZR well before then, I think, and you have other efforts to look at as well.
   97. GuyM Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3337666)
There is a tendency to characterize the swirl of the "storm the front office" era as if its ideas, crowned by Moneyball, represent a DNA-like revolution. It ain't so: Bill and Pete were not the pre-DNA sloggers, and MGL and Tango (or any other set of dynamos with a similar aura...) are not Watson and Crick.

This is really a "tendency?" Where? By whom? Do many readers of THT, BTF, The Book blog, etc. labor under the misconception that the sabermetric revolution began in the 1990s, led by Tango, or Keith Woolner, or whomever? I can't prove this isn't true, but I'd be very surprised if it is. Can you cite examples?

A story that I think is widely believed, though, is the mirror image of yours: that sabermetrics emerged almost entirely from the brain of Bill James. Or, in a more modest version, that all subsequent work to James' has amounted to just dotting the i's and crossing the t's, small change compared to his big picture insights. Now, that version of history isn't entirely James' fault of course, and he did obviously play a hugely important role. Like so many, my first introduction to baseball statistical analysis was the James Abstracts. But while I haven't read them in years, I don't recall any footnotes or much in the way of acknowledging the work of either his forerunners or peers. I doubt I'm the only person who was surprised to learn, when reading Alan Schwarz's history of baseball stats, how many of James' tools had been developed by others before him. I do remember James acknowledging Voros' DIPS work in the Historical Abstract, but in almost all other cases I recall James mentioning the work of another sabermetrician, it was only to critique it.

And in the post-Abstract years, James maintained a willful and deliberate ignorance of the work done by others. As recently as February of last year, when interviewed by Chris Jaffe and asked "How closely do you follow current work in sabermetrics?," James' answer was: "I'm afraid I'm very bad about it. My new year's resolutions every year are to lose weight and to start paying more attention to the sabermetric debates. But by nature, I just do my own work." If that has changed in the last 18 months, and James is now reading Tango and others, that's terrific news.

The idea that James has not been given his due by the subsequent generation, well, I just find that an astounding claim. If there are thousands of young saber-inclined fans who read Baseball Prospectus but don't know who Bill James is or the role he played, then clearly I'm off-base (I'm open to hearing the evidence). But even if there are, I can assure you it's not because Tango hasn't made every effort to educate them about both James and Palmer.
   98. Ron Johnson Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:10 PM (#3337668)
EDIT: Coke to CW.
   99. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:17 PM (#3337679)
I knew who Palmer was before James because of the baseball enyclopedia I owned. I didn't hear about James until I stumbled onto Rob Neyer's column at ESPN. Before that, Total Average was the most sabr-y stat I'd come across. I can't tell if this makes me a loser or a winner...
   100. Tango Posted: October 01, 2009 at 07:31 PM (#3337690)
"by those who've created their defensive systems largely from his original insight."

Who are "those" exactly? Clay? Bill James? Call them by name, then. Certainly not most of us have created something from Charlie's original insight. I think the closest to the "original insight" is the "defensive average" in the old Project Scoresheet books. But, I don't find that insight so original to begin with.

***

I also happen to have a wiki (mostly edited by others). The works of James and Palmer are all over there. People are welcome to edit those pages (after a waiting period).

***

Don: I have no intention to produce any more books. It's too exhausting. People will have to make due with what's there. Anyway, the book is moving well (even now, more than three years after its release, it's #1 under baseball stats books on Amazon).

***

Overall, Don's view of sabermetrics certainly differs from mine. It's almost surprising that we're talking about the same thing.
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