The retirement of a minor league catcher incites the revisiting of a now-infamous book.
The news that Jeremy Brown was hanging up his spikes due to "personal issues" made more of a stir last week than you'd expect from the retirement of a 28-year-old catcher who's spent the last two years in Triple-A. Our prospects expert, Kevin Goldstein, gave Brown an extremely evenhanded send-off over on Unfiltered; others have been less charitable, invoking imaginary choruses of scouts cheering the end of Brown's career. At least, I hope the cheering is imaginary: it'd take a Grinch-sized heart to rejoice in the end of someone's big-league dreams, unless their name is, say, Ben Christensen. The reason that Brown is the focus of such attention and schadenfreude is because the A's drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft-an overdraft which, by itself, wouldn't be that noteworthy-and because Michael Lewis wrote a best-selling book which hailed Brown's selection as the bellwether of a new way of doing business, which the author dubbed "Moneyball" in the book of the same name. Apparently, those celebrating Brown's retirement are marking the occasion as the death of Moneyball acumen-a festive wake, with dancing and ironic toasts.
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Every winter involves some railing at the industry's wacky-pack free agent rankings--what gives?
Every year, one of the first steps in the free agent dance is the ranking of players who finished the year on major league rosters for purposes of compensation. Under baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams that lose a free agent may be entitled to additional picks in the next year's Rule 4 amateur draft, depending on how good the free agent is.
The puzzle of park effects led to a flurry of reader emails.
I received a decent number of questions about my park effects piece from last week, so I think it's worthwhile to spend one more column rooting through the mailbag and discussing a few loose ends. The extremely short World Series-indeed, the extremely short postseason, with seven series played in just four games over the minimum-has taken some of the urgency out of the long-delayed umpire discussion.
Skip nature versus nurture, let's talk environments and outcomes.
Lots of people are excited to see the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, but statheads are probably watching this series with a special glint of joy in their eyes. You see, for the past fifteen years, the Rockies have been the focus of one of the great inquiries in baseball-how do you win at altitude? Performance analysis can be defined as the study of baseball in context, and since 1993, the city of Denver has given the major leagues one of the most fascinating contexts in its history: a relentless high-run environment.
Before voting in the IBAs, you may want to refer to a few tools from the box to build a better ballot.
I was completely intent on finishing up with our discussion of umpires today-based on the execrable officiating in last night's game, the men in blue deserve every bit of scrutiny we can focus upon them-but then I remembered something that's a bit more urgent. The Internet Baseball Awards seem to sneak up on me every year, and this season was no exception. Voting runs through this Friday, and if you haven't voted yet, you should absolutely take advantage of the opportunity to let your voice be heard in what some regard as the best year-end awards in baseball.
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.
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: