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Manufactured Runs 

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11-01

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36

Manufactured Runs: Moments of Transition, Moments of Revelation
by
Colin Wyers

08-27

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12

Manufactured Runs: Are The Astros Really the Most Profitable Team in History?
by
Colin Wyers

08-13

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21

Manufactured Runs: SABR and the Importance of Preserving Sabermetric History
by
Colin Wyers

08-05

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21

Manufactured Runs: Biogenesis and Baseball's Post-Human Present
by
Colin Wyers

08-02

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3

Manufactured Runs: SABR Recap: On Motion Trackers, and Exciting Games
by
Colin Wyers

08-01

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3

Manufactured Runs: The Phillies President Speaks to SABR
by
Colin Wyers

07-10

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6

Manufactured Runs: The Mystery of the Missing .500 Teams, Part Two
by
Colin Wyers

07-05

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14

Manufactured Runs: Ruben Amaro and the Ryan Howard Reality
by
Colin Wyers

06-28

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14

Manufactured Runs: The Mystery of the Missing .500 Teams
by
Colin Wyers

05-14

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51

Manufactured Runs: Listen to What the Heyman Said
by
Colin Wyers

04-26

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46

Manufactured Runs: The Hawk Trap
by
Colin Wyers

04-22

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8

Manufactured Runs: The King in Cubbie Blue
by
Colin Wyers

01-10

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46

Manufactured Runs: What Hall of Fame Voters are Doing to the Hall of Fame
by
Colin Wyers

11-08

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3

Manufactured Runs: What the Recent Trend Toward Inexperienced Managers Means
by
Colin Wyers

10-17

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32

Manufactured Runs: Caution: Narratives Being Built
by
Colin Wyers

10-11

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18

Manufactured Runs: Is the 2-3 Format Fair?
by
Colin Wyers

10-03

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8

Manufactured Runs: Mariners to Move Safeco Fences In
by
Colin Wyers

09-21

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17

Manufactured Runs: The Very Long Night of Melky Cabrera
by
Colin Wyers

09-12

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5

Manufactured Runs: Searching for Fatigue in Stephen Strasburg
by
Colin Wyers

09-05

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6

Manufactured Runs: How Much Team Age Matters
by
Colin Wyers

08-22

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22

Manufactured Runs: Is the Answer to Imperfect Umpiring Really Robot Umps?
by
Colin Wyers

08-15

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17

Manufactured Runs: The Importance of Imperfect Models
by
Colin Wyers

07-18

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9

Manufactured Runs: Getting Shifty Again
by
Colin Wyers

06-20

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27

Manufactured Runs: Does the Rockies' Four-Man Rotation Make Sense?
by
Colin Wyers

06-13

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11

Manufactured Runs: The Madness of King Bill
by
Colin Wyers

06-06

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15

Manufactured Runs: What We Really Know About the Shift
by
Colin Wyers

05-30

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10

Manufactured Runs: Who Gives a Shift?
by
Colin Wyers

05-16

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15

Manufactured Runs: The Angels, Albert Pujols, and the Politician's Fallacy
by
Colin Wyers

04-04

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10

Manufactured Runs: Tragedy of the Commons
by
Colin Wyers

12-02

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7

Manufactured Runs: The Year of the Free Agent Relief Pitcher
by
Colin Wyers

10-27

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9

Manufactured Runs: Matchup Madness
by
Colin Wyers

10-20

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12

Manufactured Runs: Punting on Punto
by
Colin Wyers

10-12

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9

Manufactured Runs: Curse to Curse
by
Colin Wyers

10-06

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11

Manufactured Runs: When La Russa Should Pinch-Hit
by
Colin Wyers

10-04

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36

Manufactured Runs: The O-Swing of Things
by
Colin Wyers

09-29

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16

Manufactured Runs: The Problem of Pain
by
Colin Wyers

09-01

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2

Manufactured Runs: Raising the Stakes
by
Colin Wyers

08-19

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23

Manufactured Runs: Multifold Changes
by
Colin Wyers

08-04

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7

Manufactured Runs: Paging Pujols
by
Colin Wyers

07-29

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10

Manufactured Runs: How Often Do Deadline Deals Pay Off?
by
Colin Wyers

07-25

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193

Manufactured Runs: Lost in the SIERA Madre
by
Colin Wyers

06-28

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36

Manufactured Runs: Followed Him Up to the Gates of Grantland
by
Colin Wyers

05-10

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12

Manufactured Runs: The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
by
Colin Wyers

04-26

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4

Manufactured Runs: 3-2-1 Contact
by
Colin Wyers

04-07

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5

Manufactured Runs: The Closer Quandary
by
Colin Wyers

02-24

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32

Manufactured Runs: PS Odds, I Love You
by
Colin Wyers

02-18

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27

Manufactured Runs: Projecting Pujols
by
Colin Wyers

01-19

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41

Manufactured Runs: The Twilight of the Gods
by
Colin Wyers

11-24

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4

Manufactured Runs: Expanded Coverage
by
Colin Wyers

11-11

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36

Manufactured Runs: Derek Jeter And The Philosopher's Stone
by
Colin Wyers

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September 1, 2011 12:00 pm

Manufactured Runs: Raising the Stakes

2

Colin Wyers

Settling the debate about whether the Wild Card makes the stretch run more or less exciting, and evaluating the effects of adding another one.

As October gets closer and closer, baseball fans have some shopworn sentiments to trot out:

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August 19, 2011 5:49 pm

Manufactured Runs: Multifold Changes

23

Colin Wyers

Jim Hendry is gone - will it make a difference for the Cubs?

It’s the end of an era for the Cubs. Tom Ricketts, public face of the Ricketts family trust that bought the team in 2009, announced this morning that general manager Jim Hendry had “stepped down,” which left out the little detail that he was given a bit of a shove first. It’s become increasingly clear that the Cubs have needed a new direction for many years, and now they certainly are going in a new direction.

Nobody will accuse Hendry of being the world’s greatest GM, but he is perhaps taking more than his fair share of the blame from Cubs fans. Ricketts was careful to avoid turning Hendry into a scapegoat, praising him for his work and dedication. Today’s press conference shed some new light on the baffling behavior of the Cubs this past month; Hendry was informed of the decision to move on back on the 22nd of July, just over a week before the trade deadline. He was asked to stay on to finish signing the team’s amateur draft picks, and he agreed. This explains the inactivity of a man nicknamed “Trader Jim” for his wheeling and dealing ways; taking a laissez faire approach gives his successor more freedom.

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August 4, 2011 11:58 am

Manufactured Runs: Paging Pujols

7

Colin Wyers

How has Albert Pujols' underperformance swayed the NL Central standings this season?

The Cardinals and the Brewers are in the midst of a drawn-out battle to determine the winner of the NL Central, and with two-thirds of the schedule complete, the Brewers have finally elbowed their way into the lead with a 67.9 percent chance of winning the division, according to our Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus. Looking at the standings, which show the two teams separated by a mere 3.5 games, one can’t help but wonder—what would the division look like if Albert Pujols had played up to expectations this season?

It’s not as though Pujols has been bad—with 3.6 Wins Above Replacement Player so far this season, he’s already produced more than a typical starter would in a full season, and the fourth-highest figure among all primary first basemen. However, prorated out over a full season of games, that’s only a 5.3 WARP pace, nearly three games short of the 8.1 WARP Pujols was projected to earn by PECOTA before the season began. (And lest we think that PECOTA was a touch optimistic, Pujols’ average WARP over the past three seasons was 9.6.)

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July 29, 2011 10:22 am

Manufactured Runs: How Often Do Deadline Deals Pay Off?

10

Colin Wyers

A quick-'n'-dirty analysis of about 180 trades finds that just a few have altered destinies.

As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, there’s been a flurry of activity. But how much of a difference do these deadline deals really make? Can a key acquisition make the difference between playing in October and staying home?

We can measure this by looking at a stat called Wins Above Replacement Player, which measures how well a player performs compared to a hypothetical backup. When evaluating in-season moves, this is a good, but not perfect, proxy for a team’s available assets. It’s a composite of the options available to a typical team, which can ignore some finer points of roster management. Most teams, after all, make deadline deals to shore up weaknesses, not strengths. So comparison to backups, rather than an average player, is a better model for the reality most GMs face.

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We're retiring SIERA. Here's why.

Recently, there has been a lot of digital ink spilled about ERA estimators—statistics that take a variety of inputs and come up with a pitcher’s expected ERA given those inputs. Swing a cat around a room, and you’ll find yourself with a dozen of the things, as well as a very agitated cat. Among those is SIERA, which has lately migrated from here to Fangraphs.com in a new form, one more complex but not necessarily more accurate. We have offered SIERA for roughly 18 months, but have had a difficult time convincing anyone, be they our readers, other practitioners of sabermetrics, or our own authors, that SIERA was a significant improvement on other ERA estimators.

The logical question was whether or not we were failing to do the job of explaining why SIERA was more useful than other stats, or if we were simply being stubborn in continuing to offer it instead of simpler, more widely adopted stats. The answer depends on knowing what the purpose of an ERA estimator is. When evaluating a pitcher’s performance, there are three questions we can ask that can be addressed by statistics: How well he has pitched, how he accomplished what he’s done, and how he will do in the future. The first can be answered by Fair RA (FRA), the third by rest-of-season PECOTA. The second can be addressed by an ERA estimator like SIERA, but not necessarily SIERA itself, which boasts greater complexity than more established ERA estimators such as FIP but can only claim incremental gains in accuracy.

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A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.

Grantland, Bill Simmons’s vanity project, has taken some space since its launch to discuss sabermetrics. My takeaway so far is that nobody involved with Grantland knows a thing about the subject.

A few weeks ago, Grantland published Bill Barnwell’s guide to the new Moneyball, which was mostly a rehash of the old Moneyball alongside some factual errors. (For instance, Barnwell claims the sort of data required to do defensive metrics like UZR and Plus/Minus “didn’t really exist” when Moneyball was written. This requires ignoring that both of those metrics predate the publication of Moneyball. It also requires ignoring the fact that STATS, Inc. was collecting this data as far back as the 1980s. It also requires ignoring the fact that Moneyball talks about how STATS, Inc. was collecting this data in the 1980s, and the fact that Moneyball also talks at length about how the A’s first bought and then built such defensive metrics for their own use. After having this pointed out to him on Twitter, Barnwell allowed that he could have “phrased it better,” which makes it seem like being totally wrong about the facts is the same thing as being misunderstood.)

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What does the future hold for Derek Jeter, and how can we tell?

Before we can talk about Derek Jeter (and yes, I think there’s still something to say about Derek Jeter that you haven’t already heard this season), we should probably clarify which Derek Jeter we’re talking about. There really are two Derek Jeters—the one who exists in fact, and the one who exists in myth.

The actual Derek Jeter is interesting enough as a player that one wonders why the myth was necessary—always an exceptional hitter, Jeter has always been a player who could’ve had a job on any team in the league. He will go into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and nobody will bat an eye. Then there’s the Captain—the athlete whom ad agencies consider akin to Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. The player so exceptional that he can displace a generational talent like Alex Rodriguez from his natural position.

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April 26, 2011 9:00 am

Manufactured Runs: 3-2-1 Contact

4

Colin Wyers

Running the numbers to see whether pitching to contact is the right approach for Francisco Liriano.

The Minnesota Twins have the somewhat unique distinction of being left wanting by Francisco Liriano’s performance—not just his early-season struggles, but his body of work as a pitcher. Manager Ron Gardenire told reporters:

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April 7, 2011 12:00 pm

Manufactured Runs: The Closer Quandary

5

Colin Wyers

Will a recent change in closers have any impact on the Angels, or is the order of late-inning outings immaterial?

As the season began, Fernando Rodney’s hold on the Angels’ closer job was believed to be tenuous. Other than possessing the “proven closer” label, there wasn’t much about Rodney to recommend him for the role. His “success” as a closer, such as it was, was more a testament to how overrated the role is, not his own ability to pitch.

Despite those concerns, few would have expected him to surrender the title as early as he did: Rodney was removed from the closer role on Tuesday, after just two outings and one blown save. What was it about the one-and-a-third innings Rodney had pitched so far this year that wasn’t already apparent from the previous 398 innings under his belt? Sure, the most recent innings were worse, but anyone can pitch that poorly in less than two innings. A more impressive sign of mediocrity is being able to pitch a hairsbreadth away from replacement level for eight seasons, which Rodney had already accomplished.

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The Playoff Odds return in a more attractive package.

Spring is nearly here, in a temporal sense, at least—in many parts of the country it certainly doesn’t feel very spring-like, but dispatches from the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues assure us that yes, spring is on its way.

Spring raises questions that only autumn can answer—who will win, and who will lose, and how it will happen along the way. I leave it to the psychics and the tarot card readers to claim otherwise. But the absence of perfect knowledge doesn’t mean perfect ignorance—we certainly know some things about how the baseball season will play out. Filled with what Tommy Bennett would call the Quantification Urge, we turn to the Playoff Odds Report.

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February 18, 2011 11:59 am

Manufactured Runs: Projecting Pujols

27

Colin Wyers

PECOTA takes a look at how The Machine might age.

Albert Pujols is looking for Alex Rodriguez money, which means a contract that will likely last him the rest of his career—he wants ten years, and at a hefty fee per annum. The Cardinals couldn’t bring themselves to make an offer of that magnitude, which leaves matters at a standstill for the foreseeable future.

The Cardinals have some difficult questions to answer, not just about Pujols, but about themselves. Even if Pujols is worth the sort of money he’s asking for, that doesn’t mean they have it to spend. And if they do have it to spend, it’s not clear that it’s prudent for them to sink all of it into a single asset, even one as good as Pujols. A contract as large as the one Pujols is seeking can cripple a franchise financially, even if the player performs well—A-Rod provides us with an object lesson in how a franchise like the Yankees is better suited to take on that sort of large deal than a franchise like the Rangers. The Cardinals are much closer to being the Rangers than the Yankees in terms of cash flow.

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What are closers really saving?

Let’s talk about the power of myth. A myth, simply put, is a story that is meant either to explain why something is, or to tell us how something ought to be. (Strictly speaking, myths are religious in nature, but we’re going to go ahead and stretch the word just a bit here.) It’s a story that teaches us something—a parable, if you will. But it starts off with a story.

Baseball, I think, lends itself particularly well to stories. And I have a fondness for baseball stories. Consider, for instance, this game between the Red Sox and the Devil Rays back in ’04, the second game of a late-April double-header. It wasn’t a particularly dramatic game, I’ll grant you that. The Sox scored seven runs in the first inning, and the D-Rays never seriously threatened after that. Still, a seasoned baseball fan can go over the box score and construct a story from it. It’s something you pick up with practice.

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