Open to all BP staff, Between the Numbers is about sabermetrics, performance analysis, baseball and data, and anything remotely referring to the subjects of statistical information, its applications and interpretation.
If Major League Baseball were run like your fantasy league, what would Albert Pujols be worth?
Consider this hypothetical: Bud Selig has had enough. He’s sick of hearing that his league lacks competitive balance, sick of thinking about Albert Pujols’ impending free agency, and most of all, he’s sick of watching the impossibly tan Adam Schefter interview the improbably crimson Roger Goodell. Selig’s first recourse: to cut his own salary to 50 cents per annum. With that act of magnanimity achieved, the players have no choice but to accept Selig’s radical proposal: the Rule X Draft. Selig guarantees the salary of every MLB player, but places them all into a draft-eligible pool. The owners are to hold a real-world fantasy draft.
Now the focus is no longer on what team Pujols picks, but on what team picks Pujols. Immediately, owners begin jockeying for position. Desperate for Pujols to play in his home town, David Glass tells Selig that if granted the first pick, he would allow Selig’s wages to be increased to the federal minimum. The Wilpons one-up Glass by offering Selig an insider trading tip in exchange for the first pick. How valuable must that first pick be to justify so much interest?
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Building on Matt Swartz' recent analysis of ERA estimators, we look to see which are more accurate when there's little historical information to work with.
Last week Matt Swartz published an updated analysis of ERA estimators. He was kind enough to share his data so I could take a look at the accuracy of ERA estimators as a function of innings pitched. In other words, is there a difference in accuracy between the estimators given 100 historical innings pitched versus 500? (Hint: yes.)
We can measure a lot of things that happen while a pitcher is on the mound, but it takes a while for the real information to show itself. As we collect more data, the random noise is more likely it is to cancel itself out. For example, during any one season you'll see a lot of .270 BABIPs, but once we look at careers over five-season stretches, .270 BABIPs are few and far between.
Our revamped FRAA looks at the top defensive players of 2010.
Today and tomorrow, the much-maligned Gold Glove awards are due to be announced. As you may have gathered from my article on Jeter earlier today, I’ve finished running the new Fielding Runs Above Average for 2010. What light can they shed on who the best fielders of the season were?
I introduced the metric here and here, but a quick referesher: the main goal in constructing the metric was to avoid biases that we see in other fielding metrics. A single season’s worth of numbers are not especially reliable, especially compared to offensive statistics. So take everything that follows with a rather large grain of salt.
A Blue Jays prospects takes up yoga and goes deep.
Eric Thames had a breakout season in 2010, and the left-handed-hitting Blue Jays outfield prospect credits a new workout program -- he switched from barbells to yoga classes -- for much of his success. A seventh-round pick in the 2008 draft, the 23-year-old Thames hit .288/.370/.526 for Double-A New Hampshire this year, with a team-record 27 home runs.
Thames on his professional career thus far: “It has been a growing experience. In college, I had a certain training program and that program got me hurt, to be very blunt. I’ve had three leg surgeries. I have very tight muscles and I’d be at the gym working all the time and just got too big, too bulky. Last year I was coming off a quad injury. Right before the draft I tore my quad, at Pepperdine, and then I hurt my meniscus, probably around July.
Breaking down the odds of the various playoff scenarios for tomorrow night.
Heading into the last day of the season there are still two meaningful games to be played: Phillies at Braves and Padres at Giants. Let's break down the various scenarios that are possible.
I took each team's third-order wins (not updated through today, although I don't expect that to make a significant difference), made a crude adjustment to account for home field advantage, and ran everyone through the log5 method to come up with expected win percentages for each game. A little cross multiplication and voila, odds. Without further ado, the likelihood of various outcomes:
A Mariners' southpaw talks pitching, fly fishing and relaxation.
Garrett Olson is learning how to fly fish, an activity the 26-year-old Seattle southpaw finds strikingly similar to casting a baseball toward home plate. Olson, who studied engineering at Cal-Poly, talked about those similarities when the Mariners visited Fenway Park in late August.
“I think there are parallels between pitching and fly fishing. One thing I’ve been learning about, talking to pitching coaches within baseball, is relaxation. One of the first guys to bring up relaxation was Jim Palmer. When I was with Baltimore, he would come up and grab my arm -- my pitching arm -- and shake it around. He’d say, 'This isn’t loose enough; your arm should be like a noodle.' I never really understood that concept, but this season it has started to make sense to me how everything needs to be loose and relaxed in order for functionality to happen, in order for your body to do what you have been training it to do. If you go out there too tense and try to force a pitch over the plate, you’re most likely going to overexert something. You’re going to pull something here or there and not be able to have a consistent delivery.
The crowd dispenses its wisdom concerning the Captain's next contract.
At the end of last week’s article about the issues surrounding Derek Jeter’s upcoming free agency, I polled our readers, trusting that the wisdom of crowds would get us closer to an accurate assessment of the shortstop’s approaching payday than any single analyst could. Over a thousand of you have weighed in, so this seems like as good a time as any to reveal and discuss your estimates. Here the numerical results:
I have seen the future, and its name is FIELDf/x. OK, so we kind of knew that. But today, FIELDf/x started to seem a lot more real, and even more exciting than I’d imagined. You may have noticed that BP had a man on the scene at Sportvision’s PITCHf/x summit whose liveblog was actually live. So why am I doing this, when Colin already did? Well, for one thing, Colin arrived fashionably late, and I was all over those first 14 minutes that he missed. For another, his computer died before a lot of the fun started. And for still another (this is a third reason, now), I thought it might be fun to do a Simmons-style quasi-liveblog (written live, published later) that would free me from worries about frequent updates, and allow me to write at length. Most likely that length turned out to be a good deal longer than anyone has any interest in reading, but if you’re determined to catch up on the day’s intriguing events without sitting through eight hours of archived video, you’re welcome to peruse what lies below. If you’d like to follow along, here’s an agenda, and here’s where you should be able to find downloadable presentations in the near future.
Here we are in sunny California, home of the cutest girls in the world, if the Beach Boys are to be believed (I gather there’s also a more recent chart-topper that expresses a similar view). Okay, so by “we,” I mean the attendees at the 3rd (annual?) Sportvision PITCHf/x summit, held at the Westin San Francisco in—you guessed it—San Francisco. I, on the other hand, am watching from the other end of the continent, via a webcast that dubiously claims to be “hi-res,” despite being blurry enough to make deciphering text an adventure (I guess “hi-res” is relative, in the sense that there are even lower resolutions at which it could’ve been streamed). And sure, maybe the Beach Boys weren’t thinking of this particular gathering when they extolled the virtues of California’s beach bunnies. But never mind that—it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in New York, and how better to spend it than to watch a video of some fellow nerds talk about baseball in a dark room some 3,000 miles away? Well, to describe the experience at the same time, of course. Let’s get this quasi-liveblog started.
9:14 am Pacific: Well, I'm here in San Francisco for another Sportvision Pitch F/X Summit. The name continues to become less and less descriptive over time - last year they rolled out Hit F/X and this year they're introducing Field F/X. Throughout the day, I'll be making observations here at BP and on Twitter - follow me at @cwyers or look for the #fx2010 hash-tag. Sportvision is also graciously providing a live, streaming webcast of the event. --CW
9:21 am Pacific: John Walsh kicks off the discussion looking at how to use Field F/X to measure infield defense. The rest of the Field F/X presentations are supposed to go this afternoon, but John is joining us remotely from Italy so he's being snuck in early to accommodate him. Complete nerd moment - I think I recognize the software he's using to make these graphs. (GNU R, for those wondering.)
A statue can't succeed on the basepaths, but does EqBRR reward only the fleet of foot?
Our Equivalent Baserunning Runs have been making some picturesque rounds in recent weeks. In addition to producing severalworks of EqBRR art (EqBRRt?) that wouldn’t look amiss on the walls of one’s bedroom (where they’d doubtless increase one’s odds of advancing extra bases with the ladies), Beyond the Box Score’s Justin Bopp observed (in so many words) that Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan have been banking BRR as if a scantily clad Anna Benson had been perpetually beckoning them from just beyond the next bag. Reyes and Pagan rank 5th and 10th in EqBRR, respectively, making the Mets and the Rays (courtesy of Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist) the only teams to boast top-10 tandems.
Reyes and Pagan both seem like speedy fellows, so it’s not surprising that they’ve done some damage with their wheels. However, commenter “jwiscarson” noted that he found it “stunning that the Rangers CF (Borbon) [was] so much worse than the guy who looks like a lumbering beast (Cruz).” A quick check of the numbers reveals that his comment was on the mark: Nelson Cruz ranks 3rd on the Rangers with 1.9 EqBRR, while Julio Borbon has amassed -1.4 EqBRR, the second-worst total on the team (ahead of only the -2.2 EqBRR subtracted by Vladimir Guerrero, who’s been hobbling along on knees haunted by the ghost of Astroturf past).
The degree to which moundsmen have made their mark at the plate has varied both by year and by league.
For someone who tends to watch more American League affairs than Senior Circuit contests, interleague play serves as an annual reminder of just how superlatively talented major-league players are. When every player on the field is doing the job for which he’s been selected, the game can appear deceptively easy, even at its highest level. The man on the mound is always among the best in the world at harassing hitters, but the bloke in the batter’s box is usually similarly skilled at making the moundsman’s life miserable. As a result, neither party typically appears especially outmatched, unless the party of the second part is Tony Pena Jr., in which case he’s about to trade places anyway. Only if you or I were to don a major-league uni might we catch a glimpse of the true talent gap, but an MLB cameo for a mere mortal is less likely to transpire than the sight of a big-leaguer suiting up for a beer-league softball game.
Even more so than Yuniesky Betancourt, pitchers at the plate offer our best chance of appreciating the skill level that graces the game to which we’ve devoted our attentions. Most major-league hurlers were good hitters at some level of competition, but watching one step into a big-league batters’ box is akin to spotting that guy who abandoned his musical career after bringing down the house at your high school recorder recital sitting down on stage with the New York Philharmonic.