BP's data on umpire performance have growing importance as the quality of umpiring becomes more of an issue.
Last night's one-game playoff between the Padres and Rockies was an exciting end to the regular season, made a bit more exciting by shoddy play-calling from the umps. With technology giving us detailed pitch location data, and additional cameras and high-definition television giving us a better view and more angles than ever before (except on TBS, where last night's game was presented with the same level of intensity and production values as a mid-May tilt between the Braves and Pirates), today's umpires work the playoffs under scrutiny bordering on the microscopic. In the view of some commentators, the question isn't if but when the umpires are going to have more embarrassing moments this month, and how disastrous they'll be when they happen.
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Who are the rally killers, and how many different ways do they kill rallies?
Welcome back to Prospectus Toolbox-our weekly look at the statistical tools we use to analyze baseball. This week, we're taking a quick look at an event that can completely change the outcome of an inning, wrecking rallies or bailing out the pitcher, depending on your point of view. It's the double play, also known as the twin killing, or the pitcher's best friend.
We're deep into the stretch drive, with some races still being run, and some seemingly done. How do we model our in-season prediction of how things will wind up?
September is the month where the great pennant races happen. In the current three divisions plus a Wild Card set-up, baseball's focus gets placed on the playoff games in October, but it's easy to forget that once upon a time, and for a very long time, the year-long drama of the regular season was often more compelling than what happened during a week or two of World Series action.
Wrapping up the series on the fine art of pitching where the bat ain't, or putting the bat where the ball isn't.
So it's a long road we've traveled over the past month, looking at non-contact results on the diamond. Fortunately, like all good things, it must come to an end. We ended up last time looking at the leaders in swinging strikeout and looking strikeout rate since 1999 (which is as far back as we have comprehensive pitch-by-pitch data). A few things stood out while looking at those two lists:
The Strikeout Kings play songs of love for fans of the unhappy third of the three true outcomes.
Rob Deer, Jose Hernandez, and Pete Incaviglia walk into a bar… Stop me if you've heard this one before. On our tour of the non-contact batter/pitcher confrontations, we've looked solely at the pitcher's contributions, and at strikeouts. It's time to widen our focus a little bit, and look at the hurlers' dance partners-the hitters:
The effects of pitcher pacing and ballparks on players getting punched out at home plate.
If you remember, last time out we looked at that sabermetric darling, the strikeout, noting the steady increase in strikeout rate that we've seen over the past four decades. In part two, we'll look at a couple of factors that affect pitcher's strikeout rates.
Measuring the rate at which a pitcher strikes batters out is an important part of the toolbox.
Statheads and strikeouts…it's an age-old romance. For pitchers, we'll tell you that strikeouts are the biggest predictor of a hurler's future success. When batters go down, though, while we acknowledge that the whiff is an out--a negative result--it's an out we put on a pedestal as one of theThree True Outcomes (along with the walk and the homer). A noble out, I guess.
Look, you've got even more homework, but it's the kind you're going to like.
One of my favorite parts of putting together the Toolbox every week has been assembling the 'Further Reading' sections at the end of the columns, which are a starting point for anyone who wants to look for more in-depth examinations of the week's topic. Over the past couple of months, a number of readers have written in to suggest additions to the further reading lists, and I've stumbled on to a few worthy additions of my own. What this means is that from time to time I'm going to update the old columns by adding some additional research options, under the heading of "Even Further Reading," with a bit of analysis and reader mail mixed in.
If you want fame, acclamation, and All-Star recognition, maybe playing time--more playing time--is the best way to judge.
Welcome to the latest edition of Prospectus Toolbox. We're back to conceptual topics this week-we're not going to talk about a specific statistic or report, but rather the factor that effects how statistics and performance are perceived. That factor is time, specifically playing time.
Applying statistical tools to defensive performance is often the quickest way to a fight between traditional baseball minds and performance analysts. At the team level, however, you can learn a lot.
This week, we're going to take a look at a controversial issue from its least controversial angle. The topic? Defense--a subject that, when we approach it statistically, tends to cause fistfights and sour feelings.