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Monday, September 14, 2020

Verducci: Unpacking Seven False Ideas About MLB

Myth No. 3: Keep your fastball down
That became a bromide when velocity was lower and before the sinker fell out of fashion. (The pitch gets hammered because it more closely matches the plane of the modern swing than any other pitch.) It’s definitely not true in today’s game.

Batters hit 56 points higher against low fastballs than they do against high fastballs. The low fastball is a worse pitch for elite throwers such as Max Scherzer (+.262 points), Gerrit Cole (+.236) and Jacob deGrom (+.107).

eams such as the Rays use the data for a general pitching philosophy: get ahead with high fastballs, then finish off the hitter with your best breaking ball down.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2020 at 03:16 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home field advantage

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   1. Cblau Posted: September 14, 2020 at 09:20 PM (#5976424)
This is disappointing. Home field advantage is perfectly normal this year. The home team is winning 54% of the time, even with no fans.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 14, 2020 at 09:32 PM (#5976425)
He's over-stating Myth #3. The numbers indeed show that high fastballs have a BA of just 195 vs low fastballs at 251. But the ISOs are also very different with high fastballs at an ISO of 172 vs 126 for low. That leads to nearly identical SLGs of 367 and 377. So low fastballs do exactly what they're supposed to do -- keep the batter in the park, generate GBs. GBs have higher BA than FBs -- 232 vs 160 this year -- but of course massively lower SLGs -- 255 vs 473 -- which leaves the rest up to which pitch type generates more LDs.

Not that it's a 1-1 relationship but per b-r's splits, GB pitchers give up the highest BA but have the lowest BB rates (and K rates) and lowest ISO, giving up a 730 OPS with a lower OBP. Average G/F pitchers give up the lowest BA, have the 2nd-best BB rate, the 2nd-best ISO ... and produce a 729 OPS with the lowest OBP. FB pitchers have the 2nd-best BA, the worst BB rate, the worst ISO and, by quite a bit, the worst OPS at 768. FB and avg K-rates look about the same, higher than GB. Some of that may be this weird season but still last year FB was at 768, GB close at 760 and average clearly best at 747. Last year GB had the worst OBP.
   3. BDC Posted: September 14, 2020 at 09:38 PM (#5976428)
I'd have reckoned that baseball HFA was largely a "home cooking" effect, though it would be difficult to separate that out as a factor. (I guess a study of Giants/Dodgers games BITD would be helpful; I don't know if anybody's done that.)

Verducci says that Even in a bubble, it’s still an advantage to bat last. Once a tie game enters the ninth inning, the home team never has to protect a lead but I thought that had been debunked. It seems to make sense psychologically, phrased that way. But conversely the visiting team never has to come from behind, and there doesn't seem to be any built-in way that a top of an inning is more or less conducive to building a lead than the bottom is to overcoming one.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: September 14, 2020 at 10:04 PM (#5976431)
I'd have reckoned that baseball HFA was largely a "home cooking" effect, though it would be difficult to separate that out as a factor. (I guess a study of Giants/Dodgers games BITD would be helpful; I don't know if anybody's done that.)


That's always been my thought, that HFA was largely a product of the travel advantage (since it's played in homestands) and some familiarity with/tailoring to the ballpark. I thought the fans were fairly insignificant, and last licks just doesn't make a lot of sense.

   5. The Duke Posted: September 14, 2020 at 11:45 PM (#5976444)
Any ideas why the first inning isn’t leading to more runs? I can’t think of a good reason why this logic has broken down in 2020 other than SSS
   6. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2020 at 12:23 AM (#5976445)
#5 ... to my knowledge we haven't seen a vast increase this year in "openers" but we might have and it could be that. If anything we are actually seeing a bigger gap in performance between lineup slots 1-4 vs 5-9 than we did last year. About the only idea I've got left is that SPs pitch even fewer IPs per start (from 5.2 last year to 4.8 this year) which could be an opener thing but also that's been trending that way for a while without noticeable improvement in 1st innings. I suppose it's possible the stat nerds pointed this out and SPs have simply focused more on bringing it in the first.

Most bizarre of all is that OPS allowed for pitches 1-25 (which does include relievers) is down from last year in both an absolute and relative sense. So this is looking pretty fluky.

   7. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2020 at 12:29 AM (#5976446)
Home field in the postseason from 2010-19 returned a win percentage of .539—that’s better than the regular-season rate during the decade, .535.


Isn't that right about what we'd expect? HFA in the regular season is based on better and worse teams getting an equal number of home games. In the playoffs, the superior teams will have more home games.
   8. BDC Posted: September 15, 2020 at 08:39 AM (#5976457)
I thought the fans were fairly insignificant

Yes. In a crucial situation, fans get noisy, but I imagine it is difficult for players to distinguish "noisy wanting me to succeed" from "noisy wanting me to fail."

The usual way announcers posit the fan advantage is if a team stakes an early substantial lead and it "takes the crowd out of it," but that just means that the noise subsides no matter where you're playing (and would only seem to be an advantage for the road team anyway). Rarely does a home team with a seven-run lead increase cheering momentum with each new mop-up reliever who comes in. Mostly the fans just go home.
   9. BDC Posted: September 15, 2020 at 09:10 AM (#5976463)
Though in all sports I imagine some portion of the HFA has to do with the officials. Criticism of calls is a very one-sided kind of noise. Professionals deal with it professionally, of course, but they're still human.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2020 at 09:26 AM (#5976464)
.
Though in all sports I imagine some portion of the HFA has to do with the officials. Criticism of calls is a very one-sided kind of noise. Professionals deal with it professionally, of course, but they're still human.



Agreed, though I imagine it's most prevalent in basketball and, probably, least in baseball, based on the proximity of the fans to the offiicals.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 15, 2020 at 09:34 AM (#5976465)
The usual way announcers posit the fan advantage is if a team stakes an early substantial lead and it "takes the crowd out of it," but that just means that the noise subsides no matter where you're playing (and would only seem to be an advantage for the road team anyway). Rarely does a home team with a seven-run lead increase cheering momentum with each new mop-up reliever who comes in. Mostly the fans just go home.
This year would be a perfect opportunity to test this theory - just have the audio people increase the fake crowd noise when the home team falls way behind and see if we get more comebacks. Come on, people, do some science!
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:35 AM (#5976469)
I have questions about fake crowd noise. Is it only on the broadcast or also audible in the parks? Is the answer to that question the same across MLB/NFL/NBA?

I had assumed that it was only on TV, but was talking to a friend who had assumed the opposite.
   13. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:42 AM (#5976471)
I don't know about other sports but in MLB it is actually in the park. The players wanted something to help the games feel a bit more normal. At least on NESN they are then augmenting the sound that we hear at home so we get a blend of the field noise and some additional effects. I don't know about other networks.
   14. AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5976474)
EPL Soccer it is only on the broadcasts. They broadcast all the games both ways, with and without, on separate channels. I vastly prefer watching without the fake crowd noise, in part because you can hear the players communicate.
   15. Bug Selig Posted: September 15, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5976484)
Myth No. 8: Batting average is a solid way to make your case.

C'mon, Tom.
   16. giannis Posted: September 15, 2020 at 01:52 PM (#5976515)
5. The Duke Posted: September 14, 2020 at 11:45 PM (#5976444)
Any ideas why the first inning isn’t leading to more runs? I can’t think of a good reason why this logic has broken down in 2020 other than SSS

Probably SSS, but another guess might be that this season, with expanded pitching staffs (and shortened games), starting pitchers are now giving 100% effort right out of the gate (rather than pacing themselves to make it to the 7th inning).
   17. Rally Posted: September 15, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5976528)
That is probably true for starters, but SSS has to be the biggest factor. Your best hitters bat in the first inning, unless you totally screw up the batting order given enough sample that is going to have to be your best inning.

Unless teams decide to use Aroldis Chapman types specifically for the first inning instead of the last.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: September 15, 2020 at 10:28 PM (#5976744)
Not that it matters, but why use era by innings instead of run allowed per inning?(my guess is that it would have been too hard to write an article and spend the 2 minutes it would take to convert that in an excel spreadsheet) Ultimately it still doesn't matter, a fluke of variance more than anything in this weird season. It's not a myth any more than a few of these others are, it's a one year aberration. That can happen.

The 2nd inning is still among the lowest scoring innings, (below the 1st)...so some things are working as expected.

Mind you, there are many reasons to think that other innings aren't working the way they normally do... larger number of doubleheaders, where the 8th and 9th inning matter less(or not at all) meaning that teams are using their closer when they need to, but not when they don't. Or other reasons....

In theory you would think that the first inning run scoring would go up relative to the league, but it's 2020...
   19. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 09:54 AM (#5976885)
Im actuallly really suprised more primates havent followed the latest thinking in HOme Field advantage. It was a recent interesting study that strongly suggests it is based on familiarity with ones surroundings. To support that it showed that the HFA decreases as the game goes on. The study did football and basketball too and I think the same decrease was found. We discussed it here prolly last year, maybe someone can google it.

It seems to make logical sense, although one has to beware of ones own bias in doing a study like that and finding evidence to support your predisposed conclusions.

This season's continuing HFA without fans in attendance would be a huge point in that study's favor. Being a situation that is unprecedented. I guess that is what I find the most interesting: that this season's HFA is a huge data pt. for the notion that HFA is based on familiarity. Does no one share this excitement?
   20. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5976899)
I actually decided to read the article because I forgot what a dipsheet Verducci is.

No. 4/5 are just completely made up right? Whoever says "you have to put the ball in play to win in the playoffs." NO one says that.

What they say is "Good pitching stops Good hitting. Right?" That's like gotta be one of the greatest myths around. Same as Defense wins championships. It's a total myth and yet you can probably still find primates like CFB defending this.

I mean come to think of it there must be dozens of myths that hold more sway than whatever crap this article is about. What about: "Hitters hit better when you have good hitters behind them." I.e. Protection. That's nonsense too. Isnt it? And yet people still talk about it like it's a thing.

Oh what about what we were talking about the other day: Base stealers are creating better chances for the hitters behind them because it disrupts the defense. Also talked about all the time, also nonsense.

What about "defense really doesnt matter that much. Even the best defenders are not worth more than 10 runs a year." Even, no less a primate than Walt, was saying the other day how minimal defense is.

There's tons of stuff Verducci could have gotten into. BUt no. No. 6 was kindof interesting.

Oh what about this:



"Home field in the postseason from 2010-19 returned a win percentage of .539—that’s better than the regular-season rate during the decade, .535."

whatever verducci.
   21. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5976927)
No. 4/5 are just completely made up right? Whoever says "you have to put the ball in play to win in the playoffs." NO one says that.


I hear that a LOT. Now a lot of what you hear hinges on the people you talk to and whether or not you consider them a source worth listening too. The casual fans and sports radio crowd definitely believes in that. Whether or not you care what they have to say is up to you but it's a common refrain.

What they say is "Good pitching stops Good hitting. Right?" That's like gotta be one of the greatest myths around. Same as Defense wins championships.


I don't know how true one or the other is but I'd rather try to win with a great pitching/good hitting team than a good pitching/great hitting team.
   22. . Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:48 PM (#5976993)
Now a lot of what you hear hinges on the people you talk to and whether or not you consider them a source worth listening too. The casual fans and sports radio crowd definitely believes in that. Whether or not you care what they have to say is up to you but it's a common refrain.


No one says that anymore -- it's too crowded.
   23. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:51 PM (#5976994)
90% of the complainers are 50% mental?
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:00 PM (#5977001)
Whoever says "you have to put the ball in play to win in the playoffs." NO one says that.
You never watch televised baseball with the sound on?
   25. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 06:03 PM (#5977065)
Well Ive never heard that phrase exactly or I dont recall that. But What I do think and what I think is undervalued is a good contact hitter with men on base. For the simple reason that when the double situation is in play, the error rate on GB increases quite a bit. So .325 obp guy is more like a .375 obp guy w/ say 1st and 2nd and one out. Its easily overlooked stat.
   26. A triple short of the cycle Posted: September 16, 2020 at 06:18 PM (#5977068)
I don't understand number (4). He is saying its not as important to avoid strikeouts on offense, as it is to get strikeouts on defense. Aren't these two sides of the same coin?
   27. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 08:25 PM (#5977091)
I don't understand number (4). He is saying its not as important to avoid strikeouts on offense, as it is to get strikeouts on defense. Aren't these two sides of the same coin?

I think the issue is that pitcher strikeouts correlate with ERA+ better than batter strikeouts correlate with OPS+. Lots of batters can strike out a lot and still be good hitters, but there aren't a lot of pitchers who are consistently successful with very low strikeout rates. In general, the best strikeout pitchers are also the best pitchers overall, while the highest strikeout batters are not necessarily the worst hitters in the league and in many cases are still among the best hitters.
   28. Ron J Posted: September 16, 2020 at 08:38 PM (#5977093)
#26 Depends on what you're talking about.

In terms of evaluating offense what matters is that the hitter made an out not how. Yeah you lose the chance at baserunner advancement but you also don't get many DPs when you strike out. They almost perfectly balance each other. You don't need to consider batter Ks in evaluating offense (this is not true of dead ball offense. Error rates much higher. DP rate much lower)

But if you're evaluating a pitcher, the Ks are his direct contribution to run prevention (that and keeping the ball in the park). And the results on balls in play are (largely) out of his hands. That's the concept behind things like FIP. And very few pitchers beat their FIP significantly in the long run.

Now there is something to be said for the notion that the only level that this is true is the majors. And it may be that hit avoidance is a real skill that you must have to reach the majors.

But if you want to evaluate a pitcher's contribution to run prevention you need to consider how good he is at striking people out, avoiding walks and keeping the ball in the park. You should also look at how well they contain the running game. And if they get more DPs than you'd expect that's likely something to credit them as well.

   29. cardsfanboy Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:09 PM (#5977115)
What they say is "Good pitching stops Good hitting. Right?" That's like gotta be one of the greatest myths around. Same as Defense wins championships. It's a total myth and yet you can probably still find primates like CFB defending this.


Have you ever once even heard me make a comment like that?

That was something that was debunked a decade before you ever even showed up on this site.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:20 PM (#5977119)
I don't understand number (4). He is saying its not as important to avoid strikeouts on offense, as it is to get strikeouts on defense. Aren't these two sides of the same coin?


Pat Rapper pointed out the basic truism of the concept. And Ron J clarified it. Pitchers strikeouts matter for the pitchers, batter strikeouts don't matter to the batter. There is no real reason other than observation bias, to assume things have to be equal on the same side of the coin.

(as Ron J pointed out, batters numbers are based upon the entirety of the defense, while pitchers are strictly based upon their individual actions.)

   31. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:54 PM (#5977125)
Myth No. 4: You have to put the ball in play to win in the postseason


It helps to avoid strikeouts on offense, but it’s not as important as you may have been led to believe.

What is much more important is getting strikeouts from your pitching staff.


The amusing thing is, if getting strikeouts from your pitching staff is good, then keeping the other team from getting them is also good. It doesn't work any other way.

The evidence he uses is fine, as we all know, and Pat summarized well. It's just not really answering the specific way he constructed things.

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