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April 11, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
Using the Cripple Stick
One of my best friends, Derek Jacques, is a very good pool player. It was from Derek that I learned the term "cripple stick," which is a nickname for the bridge, a piece of equipment used to extend reach on certain shots.
Writers have their own cripple sticks, one of which is the use of reader mail to fill out a column on a day when ideas just aren't coming. Fortunately, the readers of this column are smarter than the actual columnist, so the upgrade in quality should be noticeable.
Peter Friberg read yesterday's "column" and said:
I'd like to know what your commentary or "analysis" of your data is. I noticed that the while Ks were up by roughly 0.5 per game, and BB were down by nearly 0.5 a game for both leagues, the AL scoring decreased by 0.5 while the NL only decreased by 0.2. Is this a statistical anomaly, or if two new NL parks and one reconfigured NL park had that much of an impact? I know your sample size is still relatively small, but I wondered if you had any thoughts on that.
The biggest reason I ran the data without any commentary is that it's too soon to draw firm conclusions. While I feel the early strikeout and walk data may be indicative of something, I almost left the data on runs out completely. The sample size is microscopic and, at least in the NL, distorted by the parks in which games have been played to date. That's also why I didn't include home runs.
I want the data out there, and I will continue to update it, probably on a weekly basis, because it's part of a key storyline in the 2001 season. But it'll be a while before I'll be willing to make any declarative statements about the impact of the new strike zone on offense.
Two people wrote in about the Wilton projection for Timo Perez. Here's one of the letters:
Wow! Just read the projections for NL rookies, and a Mets fan, very encouraged by Timo's line. Do you guys really think he'll do that well (which admittedly is still not great for a regular right fielder), or does the caveat about [Albert] Pujols apply to Timo too? Thanks.
Wilton projections are a fairly accurate tool, but as with any projection system, they're only as good as the data with which they work. Timo Perez's projected .321/.377/.461 in 2001 is based primarily on two Japanese League seasons and a good half-season in Triple-A. It's also based on him being 24 this season, something that's been questioned.
I think it's important to take Perez's projection, along with Albert Pujols's or, from the previous season, that of Ben Broussard, with a grain of salt. I don't think Perez will post a .291 EqA this year, and I believe Baseball Prospectus 2001's comment on Perez makes the issue quite important to me (go, run to your books!).
By the way, to answer another Perez question: yes, I believe he is eligible for Rookie of the Year. I know he makes the playing-time requirement, and a quick glance at the information at hand indicates he makes the service-time requirement.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.