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Right now, is all TrackMan spin data considered proprietary for the teams that have purchased the technology?
Assuming yes, are there any data sets at all in the public domain or scheduled to be in the near future?
Did Elvis Andrus refuse to autograph something for you?
Learn to love Elvis!
In looking at the benefit of seeing pitches in the first at bat, did you look at the two (sort of) control groups - those taking an intentional walk in the first at bat & those taking a 4 pitch walk in the first at bat?
The IBB control is pretty clear - but there might not be enough data points. There should be enough for 4 pitch walks over a season or two. I'm not sure exactly what the numbers would be telling us for the 4 pitch walk, but it would be interesting to have.
Can whoever converts PECOTA predictions into team wins be "reassigned" in the off-season? Not a good run for PECOTA odds this postseason.
Also, Ben...for the most part, I enjoy your writing (not much of a podcast person) but the world series recaps have been painful to read at times. From your writings, my impression is that you think that this world series could have been managed better if both teams had hired chimpanzees to throw darts for decision making. If this is what you truly believe, perhaps you need to take a break.
I think a good idea for a future article from you would be to go with a thesis that Farrell managed the series very well and try to look at some other perspectives/possibilities/etc for some of the decisions made. I'm not saying an argument cannot be validly constructed for the Sox winning in spite of Farrell (because that's exactly what you've been writing), but the world does not general work in such black/white terms.
Farrell said after the game that Uehara could only give him 4 outs (and based upon what I have seen in his press conferences, Farrell seems like a straight talker). So if he takes Lester out, he has to get 5 outs from Tazawa...who has pitched in 4 straight games (yes...there was a day off between 2 and 3). He cannot feel confident in any other pitcher he has (except Doubront who is not available). Both Tazawa and Uehara has publicly stated that they are tired.
Farrell made the right call.
You can argue that he took away the chance for a big inning (which would let him feel comfortable using other relievers) and you might even argue that if he takes out Lester with a low pitch count, he becomes more available for work in a possible game 7. But calling this managerial move bad...is bad journalism.
Win probabilities are great at showing how small decisions can affect the chances to win ballgames...in aggregate. If you are a Sox fan, you are happy that Farrell managed to win a specific game with a specific set of circumstances and left the chart at home.
If you ignore defense, Ortiz would have had an extra base hit as well...and he's still in the lineup. Also, watching the Cardinals struggle against Doubront in the past two games would not give me the warm fuzzies about their lineup against a better left-hander.
If I could get the Pecota odds as a betting line, I'd put down a solid sandwich on the Sox.
Thank you for the article...this type of article has become my favorite from BP - fresh looks at "old" wisdom, whether it be general historical baseball thinking or sabermetric conclusions that are taken for granted.
From my observations, bunting (and possibly bunting defense) does seem to be a skill that one has to specifically practice to do successfully. Do you think that there could be some feedback from bunting outcomes that are driving the spikes?
Also, did you look at specific teams bunting patterns to see if there was an overall league trend or if a few teams were driving the average results (either by having far more attempts or being far more successful/failing).
Finally, what about minor leagues and bunting that occurs there. You could hypothesize that bunting should be more stable in the minors since there is more instruction so any trends there might give more information about why the majors' graphs look like they do.
Can I assume that your (hypothetical) MVP ballots are pretty much based upon WARP standings? Where do pitchers fit in (straight WARP or do you adjust slightly more or less)? Do you add the "player plays at a premium position" idea to adjust the list? Do you give any weight (positive or negative) to team standings?
Enjoyed the article. This was my favorite of the series by far.
One question/clarification - I just want to make sure I understand this correctly...in linear weights, there are values for the outcomes for the batter (single, double, etc.) and the value for each ends up being the average value of that outcome and the change of baserunners, outs, and runs on the field. So when we take a batter and try to find their 'value', the assumption is that an event (such as a single) is the same across batters even though some singles with a runner on first lead to first and second, some lead to first and third, and some lead to first and a run. Is that right?
One request - can we please stop saying RBIs, saves, etc. are biased stats...the stats are clearly defined and have no more error than any other baseball counting stat I believe. Perception of what these stats are telling us is biased by folks and I am pretty sure that is what you mean. So say that. For me, it detracts when you add little comments like this in the series.
Was there a reason you didn't use the term 'qualitative data' in your discussion of scouting data? You mention the word qualitative once in Step 3, but there's never any real explanation about the term. This article would have been a lot better by introducing the term and explaining why scouting data is qualitative data and how there are specific techniques to analyze data of this type.
Step 2 is ridiculous...anything dealing with humans is biased...pitch f/x is biased...most fielding ratings are biased...heck, radar guns are biased...how many times have we heard about a slow gun or a fast gun at a particular park. You make it seem like scouting is the only place where bias occurs in the baseball analysis narrative, and you know that is simply not the case.
Does "Out" include double and triple plays?
If you are basing WARP on the difference between average and what the player did, the average of whatever has to be calculated for the group in a time period...whether that be a season, 3 years, 5 years, etc.
Mr. Tango's comment about the WWII years lacking in talent would be exactly the type of thing I'm curious about how "average" takes that into account vs. now for example.
Is the time period for calculating the value of an average team one of the potential discussion points, or is it assumed to be a baseball season?
As long as the interns are actually learning about the business/scouting side of baseball (and not just glorified office workers filing and fetching coffee), then unpaid internships are fine. Federal law is clear on this issue and there are legal remedies if the law is not followed.
Clearly there are more people who want to work in baseball than there are jobs available so it's at least a way for folks to show their true dedication rather than be completely left out.
If anything, you should be chastising baseball for the severe underpayment of minor league ballplayers who struggle to make a living, particularly for those with families. Quite honestly, baseball can survive without interns...can't do much without the players.
What about a further look into "pitching load" of a game...or even just a straight look at speed of pitches in a game? From an intuitive standpoint, not all 100+ pitches games are the same from an effort point of view. Since we should have pitch f/x data for good time frame, it should be straight forward to come up with an "effort" metric and then see if there is a particular profile of a type of 100+ pitch effort that brings more danger than another...
You cannot mention Mahay and forget to throw a line about his replacement player status. While I don't think he would have ever been a star, I do remember reading some baseball notes in the 90s/00s about this fact and his lack of reception in clubhouses.
You have to mention that Eric Bedard pitched 4 innings of 1 hit, 2 walk, no run ball and didn't get the win while Paul Clemens gave up 5 runs in relief and gets the W.
Silly MLB rule...
Sounds like you don't get to retro-reserve DL players at the beginning of the year...so you have basically missed a half week of stats from all your DL folks...that would bug me, for some reason.
We play with a min $5 FAAB bid ($100 budget) so I'm not sure how a $0 min bid system would change my thinking. I noticed that you didn't buy a player for less than 5 dollars in the auction...something that can be hard to do. Is that something you normally try to do or it just worked out this year?
I would have thought with zero min bids, that a strategy might be to have a streaming-ish slot since you can effectively replace a player over and over again (if you aren't too picky).
That's a scary NL team...I understand the reasoning behind your gain in value...but it is all tied up in playing time. None of the DL guys you have are on the upswing of their career, except maybe Headley. And on the pitching side, you combine the DL with the heavy risk of Lincecum and McCarthy...especially if you back date to the beginning of the season. Those first two starts were not very good.
I can definitely understand this strategy more if you have reserve lists and liberal transaction rules (much like Ultra). But you are more brave than I could ever be.
Point of reference - I play in a NL 5x5 Ultra with keepers in its 28th year (9th year with zero owner changes). Your auction pricing isn't that far off ours, although Garza went 14, Marcum 11, Holliday 39, McCarthy 4 in our auction.
Big thanks for providing a link to the data file.
Analyses are much, much better when we get to see the micro data.
Correction in 2nd to last paragraph:
...(except DH, maybe, if it’s an AL team)...
No longer April Fools Day...
I think your lists show how deep starting pitching has become. McDonald, Garza were mentioned above, but you could also include a pitcher like Arroyo (a fine end game target in competitive NL only leagues).
I can't believe you are that optimistic about Lincecum though...
I am disappointed that you do not talk at all about the system that was in place before the current one as this is the first year of the new system. I do not disagree that Lohse (and possibly you could argue Bourn) were affected by the new system versus all other players. But this number is lower than the previous year's A, B and C free agent classifications and the mess that brings. The new rule also eliminated the large market inefficiencies of giving middle relievers the same compensation status as stars (something the Rays exploited, among others).
The real problem in all of your analysis is that you fail to mention the enormous changes in the draft and the idea that you lose money if you lose a pick. Teams are still trying to figure out what to do with their draft pools...adding even more uncertainty is not something teams do lightly.
Is this system perfect? I don't think so.
Is this system a huge improvement over what went on in the previous decade, especially for players? Absolutely.
I've always been curious about other keeper leagues and what there needed point totals are.
I'm starting my 23rd year in a 5x5 NL keeper league where we haven't had an owner change in 9 years. Getting to 100 points would net you 3rd, 3rd, 2nd (but still 13 points behind), 4th, and 2nd. We have active owners who trade but tend towards extreme rebuilds.
PFM settings: Conservative, Pos Adj OFF, No Inf, User Cen Inf Zero (None), SGP Off...all league keepers loaded
Hanrahan at 67.75, Madson at 49.44, Veras at 38.58
Something just isn't right here.
Something is still off...I play in a 4x4 keeper league (AL only). While most teams have kept closers, I have not. Joel Hanrahan fluctuates between $60 and $90 based upon settings I use for the league...that should just never happen.
One thing that I would love to see is where the consensus groupings were when the list was complied...as in the top 5 are in a class by themselves, then 6-25, etc.
Early report out of Angels camp has Trout reporting heavier than last year. Since a lot of Trout's elite value is tied up in stolen bases, I'm curious how you think this might affect his numbers.
The author said travesty, not tragedy. The two words are not the same.
I disagree that the baseball community needs to discuss rule changes in the voting process. It's the Baseball Hall of Fame that needs to take a look what it wants to be. If it wants to be a static time capsule that takes only the "good" (while of course ignoring the past bad), then it is well on its way. If it wants to be a living museum of the history of the game, then it will look at ways to change...to make sure that the past 25+ years are not ignored.
BBWAA can be a part of the conversation, but only after the BHoF makes up its mind on what it wants to be. The public at large will be a bigger factor as the BHoF economic situation becomes more acute.
For my part, I dislike the lack of leadership from the BHoF on the character/steroid issue and so they will not be receiving money from me until they decide on something.
"He struck out TK times in the White Sox final game of the year, leaving him with a total of TK."
No idea what this is trying to say. I think you mean to say "He sat out the final game of the season, leaving him at 222."
On Baseball Reference, Cabrera is listed with a better range factor than Beltre for this season...you could have spend the 1 minute to look it up.
I think it's funny that you spent time critiquing someone who made a comment about RBIs and said nothing about the person who voted for Trout because he "changed the culture and attitude of an entire ML team". At least the RBI scout made an argument that you can have a discourse about.
I think the quotes are great and show that you can have a lot of valid and varied opinions about this topic.
It would really help if most sabermetric folks understood the difference between describing past events and predicting future events.
Here's an example of what I'm trying to get at:
Two batters in a season have 500 at bats, 150 hits (all singles for this example). Batter A has a BABIP of .400 and batter B has a BABIP of .200 for the season. Assume everything else is the same.
Which batter was better for the season?
A number of sabermetric folks would say batter B in my experience. The reasoning would be something like batter A has been "lucky" while batter B has been "unlucky".
But those people are wrong. Batter A and B have had identical seasons. Barring poor scorer decisions, a hit is a hit. The only thing that BABIP is telling you is what you can reasonably expect from each player in the future based upon the past.
The real argument to be made is consistency from non-sabermetric folks. Most sabermetric folks are pretty consistent in what they use, although it does change over time as new research is added to the knowledge base. A number of "mainstream media" folks seem to have different criteria for each case they want to present, depending upon the story they want to tell. You cannot change the opinion of someone who is unwilling to pin down a set of criteria for their views.
I've never been a fan of WARP (although I do appreciate what it is trying to do and I do think it can be a rough guide to value). I don't have anything better in a single number to offer though.
But I was curious about two things.
Since teams seem to be deploying more extreme defensive shifts against batters, are defenders getting too much (or too little) credit in the defensive part of the WARP calculation? Or is the assumption that it all washes out in the end?
For baserunning, do you just look at how many times take an extra base without regard to where/how hard the ball was hit? It would seem to me that going from first to third has a good size component on what field the ball was hit to...just curious how this is taken into account.
Thanks for going against the grain in the piece. While I do read most of Mr. Law's articles/chats because he does have real nuggets of information in his work, I feel that he's almost become the Murray Chass of the sabermetric folks (and yes, I know his sarcastic manner is part of his schtick).
As you show above, you can make a solid argument that Trout and Cabrera are close in value. Given the rules for MVP voting and the fact that one of the rules is game played and another has nothing to do with stats, Cabrera can be above Trout on a ballot and it not be a grave injustice.
I understand that there's a pre-backlash from certain members of the sabermetric press/media/blogsphere who have seen plenty of examples in the past where large differences in value have been ignored. But two wrongs don't make a right.
I think Trout has provided more raw value this year than Cabrera. But that's not the end of the question for MVP voting according to the rules.
There is no special triple crown rule for batting average calculation so it seems logical to assume that everyone would just use the normal season batting average rules for players under 502 PAs.
It would be hard to imagine a situation where the league RBI leader would have fewer than 502 PAs though. I can see a down year in HRs where a power stud like Stanton could do it. But to have the most RBIs when you are down probably 150+ PAs to the probable league leader is hard to imagine. This year, only Allen Craig comes close. He's 21 behind Braun and 18 PAs away from 502 as of today (so he might get there anyway).
I don't think there would be any real controversy about having the HR and RBI leader having to add AB to get to 502 PA for triple crown qualification though. It's one of the many "accepted" things in baseball that just are.
I'm confused Colin. Are you trying to imply that the MVP voting guidelines could/would allow a voter to use the fact that Cabrera has had transgressions in his past? Because the guidelines are clearly meant to be for the current season only. And as far as I can tell, Cabrera has been a model player on and off the field this year. In fact, the incident a few weeks ago where he took the Fire Leyland sign would be to me a positive in Cabrera's column as he handled himself very well.
If you are trying to imply that rule 3 above could possibly allow consideration of the past, then that would also mean that voters could look at past year stats, games played, etc.
I think everyone would be in agreement that the MVP is meant to be decided on events that happen during the season. And by virtue of rule 3 above, voters CAN consider events (negative and positive) that are not necessarily strictly statistical/performance based. If Braun's PED tests came to light before the voting was done, then yes, any voter could consider it as part of his decision-making process. But also conversely, if a voter decided to leave Braun off his ballot this year because of last year's PED investigation, then they would not be following the above guidelines for MVP.
We all know that some voters WILL do this and there is nothing any of us can do about it.
Also, OAK vs TEX, Milone vs Darvish...an Oakland loss means they no longer control their destiny for the division title (would be down 6 with only 5 games left against TEX).
Clemens will be on the ballot this year. He has not pitched in the major leagues since 2007 and the ballot is set in the off season.
The bylaws posted on the baseball hall of fame site do not state what happens when a player who is on the ballot goes back into active service. I'm not sure they ever really considered the possibility from a "writing down the rules" perspective.
All of that said, I think assuming Clemens would attempt to return to the majors to affect his hall of fame ballot status is largely a creation of the media and conspiracy theory minded fans. Through his actions and statements over the years, he has definitely marched to his own beat...and not anyone else...media or fans.
As someone who is closer to 50 than 30, I want to see him try IF he wants to put in the time. And I think that has been the one true thing about Roger Clemens over the years - if he's going to try something, he will put in the time. I can respect that regardless of anything else that has happened in his career.
This is a poor BP article. Reads more like a Tom Verducci piece where it's clear that the author wants to tell a specific story, selecting a few pieces of "evidence" that are either out of date (talking about his economic impact 2 years ago instead of this year) or irrelevant (quote from Nolan Ryan about pitch count philosophy), finishing off with a restatement of the story that keeps asking questions instead of providing answers.
I had hoped coming from Maury AND being in a Bizball column that it might take a look at comparing attendance numbers from 2 years ago Strasburg vs. non-Strasburg starts to this year (or TV ratings, etc). If there's still an impact, that is a legitimate argument for possibly doing something different as there is a clear economic impact. But you didn't do that. In fact, there is not a single legitimate piece of information culled from this year in the article.
If you are pissed at the decision, right it up as a blog piece...there we (or I at least) expect BP writers to be less formal in analysis and more opinionated.
Right now, Lannan...because he can pitch this year still.
Please don't ask such silly questions though. We're not ignorant of baseball value. It demeans your audience.
I too love the more in depth Monday write ups. If I can make one request - please make sure to spend at least as much time on players that do not get a lot of press. For the above, I count 5 (Trout, Adams, Bradley, Bundy, Paxton) high press and 5 non (some might cound Swihart as a high press guy). That seems about right.
One aspect of player income that you did not address is endorsement income...which for a young, popular player can make a significant (I think) addition to his take home pay.
That was the main reason I questioned the sanity of Evan Longoria (and his agent) when he made his deal. Given his pedigree, looks, etc., I think he could be reasonably sure to make up a sizable chunk of the difference between his "normal" salary and the increase during his non-arbitration years from his long term deal.
To be up front, I think Billy Beane is the most overrated baseball executive in the past 15 years. But what I don't understand is the willingness of those who think he has done a good job to give him a free pass on his lack of a cohesive plan for the franchise. No other GM is part owner of a team and no other GM has received *2* 7 year contracts as a GM. And yet I challenge anyone to give me an outline of the plan the A's have been on for his tenure.
Based upon the evidence above, his draft record is poor. His free agent signings have been mediocre. And he put his eggs in the wrong contract extension basket (Chavez). But from my vantage point, the worst thing he has done is field a bunch of uninteresting, hard-to-market teams and backed that up with boring managers.
And that to me is Beane's biggest transgression - complete and utter failure to look at the big picture of the franchise. So the stadium sucks and is hard to get to...wah, wah, wah. It is what it is. So field teams that have characters to increase TV viewing. Have a manager that tries crazy things for publicity. Draft higher than 11th place once in awhile to get a buzz draft pick. Do SOMETHING that has a chance to change your circumstances.
But Beane's track record says he will not. Because he knows that he will not be criticized for being mediocre in a bad situation. And the quote above from his assistant just reinforces the idea that the koolaid has already been drunk and there's another 4 cases in the back waiting to be made.
I found the article lacking...but then I actually watched game 7 as it happened on TV. To boil one of the outstanding pressure games of my lifetime into Smith should have scored therefore Morris got lucky idea is the same narrative bias the author claims he is fighting against. I have seen better pitched games in my life (turning on the TV for a random end of season RedSox game and watching Clemens strikeout 20 again is my personal favorite), but this one is certainly in the top 5.
One of the things that I think some of the youngsters overlook is the historical context of what the 1991 season represented. Two last place teams from 1990 were competing in the World Series...and one had to win. For those of us who followed teams that had little success (or no success to that point in the case of the Rangers), there was a sense of optimism because someone had gone from the bottom to the top.
I don't think Morris would be in my Hall of Fame for his career achievements, and I understand and accept the sabermetric arguments that his production was just above league average. But if he gets in and I take my children to the Hall of Fame, my narrative to them when I see his plaque would be about a great end to an unexpected season which brought a lot of hope and joy to folks who enjoy the game of baseball.
A minor criticism - can the upcoming chats reflect ACTUAL chats that will take place this year and can there be a real emphasis on fewer cancellations?
Far too many chat changes this past year for a professional website.
MLB front office is heavily involved in the posting process and I am sure does its due diligence to make sure that all teams that bid intend to actively pursue a reasonable contract with the Japanese player.
Given the Dice-K final contact and the fact that everyone agrees Darvish is a better pitcher, if a MLB team did not at least offer slightly more than Dice-K's contract numbers, then Bud and MLB would get really peeved and there would be some serious explaining to do.
I would suspect that MLB has told all the clubs that anyone caught doing something that underhanded would face severe repercussions...which I would suspect involve losing top draft picks.
Why not mention what Albert Pujols' career WARP is? Having to search on a separate page for the information is annoying...
FYI, it's either 91.0 Standard or 87.9 Advanced, according to the BP player page.
It's possible that I'm missing something...
...but the last table showing 1997 to 2003 high school players proves that the league has caught up to the idea of drafting high school batters for age. By your percentages, it looks like the XP and DW data were switched. You probably want to correct that.
Oops...a Carlos mistake. My bad.
Yes, I meant Carlos Pena.
I'm not sure you understood my question...I'm asking which players or managers of veteran leadership quality would Mr. Goldman bring into the Cubs instead of just a plea for the new ownership to "do the right thing".
Finding the "right leadership" just might be much more of a crap-shoot than some columnists think.
Who is considered a veteran leader these days in baseball? This phrase gets thrown around WAY too much in mainstream media columns...and now here. Quite frankly I expect better writing here and instead your column seems like an old guy rant about how things were better in the old days.
Are Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Marlon Byrd (and maybe even Reed Johnson) not considered veteran leaders? What about Dempster and Wood? I get confused as to who possesses the mystical "veteran leadership" tag above their heads these days.
While the McGraw stuff is sort of interesting, you seem to be making judgments about his motives for acting the way he did...which is fine, but still just your opinion.
What I'd like to read is specifically WHO you would bring in to fix the problem you have identified with the Cubs.
My leagues have weekly transactions on Monday and Tuesday so Mondays are great for me.
I don't see a link to the paper here, but there just feels like a lot missing with his analysis from the quotes here. It feels like a high-school analysis of a topic that should require doctoral level work.
For example, why does everyone assume that if a pitcher can pitch a certain way for his first four innings, that those innings can happen at anytime of the game?
This feels like a consultant-type analysis in a business where there are far more variables to track than are taken into account here.
Another vote for tiers/star ratings in your rankings. As you yourself said, knowing that #11 and #15 are closer than #15 and #16 is more important in fantasy evaluation and tiers help that.
As far as how many to list, it would be helpful to make the number listed per position vary based upon the strength of that position. If the 25th center fielder is roughly the same as the 15th right fielder, I'd rather see 25 center fielders and 15 right fielders. Also, make sure that you have at least a certain number of AL and NL players in your rankings. While I know the trend is combined leagues, some of us still play in NL or AL only leagues and thus if a position is skewed towards a league, might get less information.
He's on my fantasy team. I'm going to be cheering him...unless he doesn't get a hit. I do think you are misinterpreting the circus atmosphere in the media upon Manny's return as all positive. Most of the hype is similar to people standing around an accident...they just want to be near an event.
But if you are honestly having questions about why people could cheer him, I think you need to re-examine the facts of the case. MLB has rules about what you can and cannot put in your body as a player. Manny was determined to have put something in his body, after an agreed upon legal process. Manny was punished. The punishment is over. A wonderful example for children about the consequences of doing something against the rules, especially the ending part of the punishment.
If you wish to withhold your cheers, your money, etc. from Manny, the Dodgers, MLB, etc. because you are unhappy with what happened, that's your right. But don't be confused about a mythical values high road because it doesn't exist in this case. Unless you don't want to teach your children that people who break the rules get punished. And more importantly, after punishment, people deserve a second chance.
Just curious...why is Bob Melvin a classy (former) manager?