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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday February 06, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.

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Chat with our Director of Technology about stats at BP, or anything else.

Harry Pavlidis: Pitchers and catchers are reporting. This is not a drill.

Leo (Milwaukee): Is it me or does Robert Stephenson's arm look late? He seems to square his body well and remain closed with good balance but at foot-strike, his arm and elbow are not raised to the preferred 90 degree angle. Is Stephenson someone whose mechanics have been praised or does he need some cleaning up? Is this cause for injury concern?

Harry Pavlidis: I haven't seen enough of him myself to answer that. Heck, even if I had ... but here are some thoughts on his mechanics from the Reds prospect profiles--where he ranks #1
Easy plus athlete; fluid delivery; creates sharp angle to the plate and excellent extension
Can lose plane because of the delivery; pitches can flatten out; tendency to work up in the zone

no red flags I know of

Alex (CA): I have the #1 in my dynasty league. Tanaka's available, but so is Sonny Gray, and he really intrigues me. He's shown what he could do against major league players already. Who should I take?

Harry Pavlidis: oh can't you people give me an easy question. This is a really tough one. I'd say Tanaka has a more likely 2 ceiling than Gray, who still has to prove he can beat the odds on his body size. At the same time, there's more risk of the unknown with Tanaka, as you noted. But I have a hard time imagining Tanaka having too much of a struggle with that splitter, so, yea, Tanaka. Sorry, Sonny!

The Shark (Chicago): What gives?

Harry Pavlidis: Your comps, bro. PECOTA has Samarzija at about replacement level for 2014. I'm taking the over. Shark has comps like Manny Parra, he's viewed thru the lens of a swing man profile. And he may be a special case since he's a low mileage pitcher (midwestern kid who played football hasn't piled up as many innings as other guys his age, going back to his youth). And FRA doesn't like him. So, he's a very good case for us. One, he's the type of guy who may be a projection topper, for the reasons discussed above, and he may be someone who we give a better rating to as we crack open FRA and see if we can improve it.

Jose Abreu (Chicago): Why is my playing time so low?

Harry Pavlidis: we expect your playing time estimate to increase in short order. It is one of the most conservative ones Tim Collins provided. There are some lingering questions if he starts in the show, a la Cespedes, or if he needs some farm time, a la Puig. I actually talk to Tim about this one every so often, and he expects the next revision of depth charts will reflect a more optimistic playing time for Abreu.

brentdaily (boulder): Russell's been doing a lot of work to quantify clubhouse chemistry. Have you done any research on that? What is your starting point for metrics?

Harry Pavlidis: No, I haven't. But I'm a believer in the concept. And not some over-simplified view like "winning creates good chemistry". I also believe in the closer mentality.

Daniel Schoenfeld (Evanston, IL): So tell me about this Chicago get together!

Harry Pavlidis: stealing the prospects and pizza idea for Chicago, tentatively planning a March 1 gathering.

Bo (Hazzard County): 5x5 roto league: which advanced stats are most useful to ranks players? Or is it just best to use PECOTA projections for the actual counting stats?

Harry Pavlidis: good question, and we'll have an attempt at answering that. Stuart Wallace and I have an article on how PECOTA and some other systems do in projecting roto stats. We'll show you how the different systems perform over the past few years, with a few different ways of assessing them.

Alex (Anaheim): Do you have a favorite ballpark for aesthetics?

Harry Pavlidis: Wrigley, Fenway, AT&T for parks I've been to, PNC looks like it could join that list if I can get myself there for a game.

StrayMWBL (Detroit): Lucas Giolito have a chance to make a start in the majors in 2015?

Harry Pavlidis: yea, I'd say so. But not even a 50/50 chance--that outlook could get rosier once he finishes a full season of pro ball

Justin Nicolino (Miami): Last year, BP ranked me as the 4th best prospect in the Marlins' system. This year I can't find my name anywhere in the book. What did I do wrong?

Harry Pavlidis: Yea, the shine may have come off but that seems odd. I'll ask Parks.

Spirou (Montreal): Speaking of injury.I don't get how so many are high on Tyson Ross on making the next step.To me,there is no next step + he's all arm,no momentum.An injury waiting to happen.

Harry Pavlidis: You can be high on a player and still concerned about his injury risk. I see the same thing, that lack of stride is disconcerting to my eyes. But that slider, oh my goodness. Roll that thing out there as long as he can throw it.

Tim (NASA): Harry, is it just more time and research that explains book PECOTA differences to 2/4 PECOTA excel data?

Harry Pavlidis: yes, and much better playing time estimates. One of the challenges in publishing a book is we have a long plan of tests and potential tweaks to make to our data, so if we keep up that good work we'll have the possibility of creating some more differences between the two. We hope to reduce that somewhat each year going forward.

TPX2 (Taiwan): Can you explain to me how the Yankees will spend big bucks internationally to replenish farm system in 2014-15 after they already spent $2.45 million in 2013-14 with their $1,877,900 International Bonus Pool (based on BA)? “15 percent or more over pool: 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Team won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $250,000 during the 2014-15 signing period.”

Harry Pavlidis: there are loopholes in the rules that the teams are exploiting, so it's possible that they can avoid some of the restrictions that should be imposed as a result of over-spending.

Rob (DC): What's your current thinking on the strengths and limitations of batting average as a metric? It seems that at least part of the BP community has embraced it as a helpful if limited measure of the quality of a player's hit tool.

Harry Pavlidis: over time it has some meaning, but it's still limited in it's utility. I try not to pay attention to it, although that's next to impossible because we are always seeing it.

Bullwinkle J. Mussolini (Whassamatta U.): Harry! I just read that your pitch-framing data credits Yadier Molina with +157(!) runs over the past 5 years. Added to his bWAR, fWAR, WARP, or any other yardstick I know of, Molina would suddenly and *easily* be baseball's best player over that timeframe (5-6 WAR better than Miggy Cabrera). Does it (1)make sense to you, or (2)make you want to re-appraise your own numbers?

Harry Pavlidis: Makes sense, and I feel very good about the numbers we have. They'll be released on BP and Brooksbaseball.net this month, along with blocking, maybe a new look at throwing and some new stuff on game calling.

Steve (Indiana): How are playing time estimates determined for the PECOTA's? Is it just based on news from teams regarding positional battles, etc.? Or is there a historical usage component that figures into it?

Harry Pavlidis: It's Tim Collins wrangling info and lots of us on the BP staff helping out gathering info and reviewing the projections. If you see Tim, buy him a beer/coffee/soda.

Matt (Boston): I spoke about this a bit, but I'm still curious. I find projection have hard time looking at true steps forwards and backward. Shouldn't we give things like recent SwgStr%,Whiff-rate,F-strike%,velocity,batted ball type more weight in projections? It seems odd that PECOTA looks at Anibal Sanchez and see a 3.78 ERA despite his insane 12.8% SwgStr rate. Yet seem Sabathia posting a better ERA despite decline in these numbers. Same.for using batted ball profile and things like xBABIP for hitter. I know CHRONE used to use batted ball.

Harry Pavlidis: PECOTA is probably more cautious than most systems with reacting to breakout or fallback years. Which is not a bad thing, since guys often regress back. But not always, sometimes something has changed that PECOTA doesn't account for. So that's a major area of research for us...if you folks are reading between the lines you'll have noticed that we plan on doing a lot of experimentation with PECOTA this year. Stay tuned.

Jesse (NY): Can you explain Pecota comps? A guy like Sonny Gray is compared to Travis Wood and Matt Harvey (#1 comp). Wood... multiple pitches.... Sonny Gray... not so much. Is it just statistics? I'm a newbie. Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: we don't have pitch types in our comps...yet. I think this is a big thing we can do. But it is stats, body type etc.

NightmareRec0n (VT): Other than multiple years of past performance and comps, what else goes into PECOTA?

Harry Pavlidis: aging curves are a big thing, minor league translations another.

Rob (DC): Different fielding metrics disagree so much with each other. Does this have more to do with different views on what data are important, different data collection methodologies, or difficulties acquiring consistent data even within a given metric? (The last option raises itself in my mind because BP's metric sometimes seems to produce confusingly different results for the same player from one year to the next. Franklin Gutierrez springs to mind; he seems to have gone from super awesome to league average between 2008 and 2010.) I guess what I'm asking is, what's wrong with fielding metrics (if anything) and, if anything's wrong, how do you fix it?

Harry Pavlidis: all of the above. How to fix it? Get more objective information and get further and further away from subjective evaluations or heavily abstracted/regressed techniques (like ours). So, in short, FIELDf/x and HITf/x plus some qualified scouting to aid projections.

Matt (Boston): Sorry about us all being a bit critical about PECOTA. I think we are just overwhelmed with new data,especially all the pitching data with BrooksBaseball. And we forget that you've lost probably half your staff to the Astros and that this probably a bad year to intergrate new stuff.

Harry Pavlidis: I'm not sure why there's a need to apologize. We're the most critical of ourselves, and I'm the guy who provides the pitching data to Brooks. I feel like we're all on the same page.

ray6072 (Lousiana): I know most guys are generally conservative with rookies, and for good reason. But, if Taveras and Bogaerts were better than expected this year, what could they conceivably hit in 2014? Talking a Trout/Jose Fernandez best case scenario.

Harry Pavlidis: I can see both having a shot at a TAV of .300 (or a regular batting average of .300 if that's your thing)

Harry Pavlidis: alright, the rest of the queue are questions about players I don't know well enough to talk about. See you all in March, and look forward to hearing your feedback on our upcoming PECOTA articles--keep the questions and ideas coming!


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