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I always enjoy the player comment that takes the basic form of:
1. No, I don't like the new numbers.
2. I don't like them because they don't capture what really happens on the field. (which is true, so is the fact that they do so better than the old numbers, which you like)
3. And what really matters is (something about grit, work ethic, preparedness etc. -- which all matters a bunch in terms of becoming a good baseball player, but which matter little in terms of measuring performance and optimal strategy)
If I want to know how to play world class defense or what it's like to play great defense, I'll ask <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=18261">Ozzie Smith</a></span>. If I want to know whether new analytical tools and approaches improve the quality of analysis and/or change the approach of front offices, I'll ask analysts and front office staff.
Just to add, I think people misread the whole "America's Past-time" thing. There seems to be this hypothesis that baseball's success is rooted in tradition, history, and nostalgia. I disagree. I think baseball's tradition and history is rooted in its popularity. Baseball built it's history on the fact that it was broadly popular. It was broadly popular because when it came to mass-market professional sports it was the only game in town for about 60 years.
As a Reds fan born in 1982, I didn't get into baseball because of the Big Red machine. I got in to baseball because I was a 5 or 6 year old playing little league and the Reds had this cool young SS named <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=785">Barry Larkin</a></span> who I identified with. It wasn't until my teens, when I was already hooked, that I got in to fantasy and sabermetrics and the history became relevant.
That nostalgia aspect of baseball fandom, that historical connection, is not the primary source of the sports' popularity. It never has been. It's an outgrowth of the sports' intrinsic popularity over the course of 100+ years, many of which when it had little competition on the merits. Now it does. Basketball, football, and especially video games offer a compelling alternative to the young would-be fan. And this crazy focus on celebrating the games' tradition and history only completely misses the boat in my estimation.
Grainy black and white footage of the <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=25672">Willie Mays</a></span> catch isn't going to spur excitement in the mind of today's 6-year old. A GIF of a crazy <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=59432">Mike Trout</a></span> catch or <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=67132">Noah Syndergaard</a></span> fastball might.
Excellent article. I would hope that people in the commissioner's office and MLBAM get this message.
I suspect that the reality is that you have a whole bunch of white guys from rural backgrounds in their 50s and 60s trying to figure out "how to reach the kids" without compromising their idea of baseball as it was in their youth. Without either greatly diversifying the executive level of the sport or ceding authority to well-qualified marketers, they're going to be trapped in the "old man yells at cloud" + "hello fellow kids" image for the foreseeable future.
Game length has increased first and foremost because the way the game is played has changed. MLB wants to fix the problem without doing anything to undo or counteract those changes.
Stop granting players timeout whenever they want (batters, baserunners, pitchers/catchers) and enforce delay penalties with balls and strikes. Stop having managers be the bottleneck in the replay system (booth reviews). Greatly reduce the mid-inning pitching change by requiring at least 3 batters faced. Limit managers to 1 mound visit per inning (if that... 3 per game?).
Sure, I'd love to see shorter commercial breaks. But I can deal with doing something else for 3 or 4 minutes instead of 2. What I can't take is sitting there watching the crowd or watching players mill around waiting for the pitcher to decide he's going to pitch again or the batter adjust all 17 pieces of protective gear he's wearing. Just play the darn game already. This can be fixed and it's not complicated.
Not to over-complicate things, but especially in light of the recent shift toward pull power, it would seem useful to look at the 6 or 7 buckets to each field. Admittedly, 18 or 21 buckets is too much for analysis in many contexts. However, it would interesting to see the degree to which the batted ball type distributions shift systematically based on field, like platoon splits, as opposed to hitters having unique profiles (or there being a few standard types of players) of how their distributions shift.
That it was the Cubs paying the price is what makes the Chapman deal so fascinating. If it were the D'Backs, we'd all just roll our eyes about them not understanding the value of prospects. But the Cubs clearly know what they're doing and they still paid through the nose.
As a Reds fan, I only wish they had the foresight to hold on to him and get that sweet trade deadline value.
Great article. Perhaps one way to get around the concept of "deserve" is instead to talk about the value that is produced and who gets to keep that value.
One of the critiques of certain "free" markets is that their degree of freedom depends on your perspective. The entire structure of major league baseball and its affiliate system is predicated on the sport getting special permission from the government to behave monopolistically. This creates an entire power structure that advantages owners and disadvantages labor.
The top 1% of the professional baseball labor pool has unionized separately from the rest of the labor pool. This nominally allows them to negotiate with ownership to get labor a larger piece of the total value-produced pie. But in the process, they have also succeeded in maximizing the size of their slice from the overall labor pie.
If minor leaguers were part of the MLBPA, I don't know whether the players would collectively get more/less/same amount of of the total revenue from the sport. However, I know with certainty that minor league players would be getting a much bigger slice of the labor pie.
To my point above, it would be interesting to note what proportion of the changes in <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=FIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('FIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">FIP</span></a> in each decile can be attributed to the variations in Ks, BBs, and HRs.
It seems likely to me that being a flyball pitcher is simply an exercise in extremes. Your batted balls against produce the lowest <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BABIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BABIP</span></a> and the most homers. If you excel at inducing weak contact while pitching up in the zone, you're disproportionately rewarded compared to your low zone brethren. If you struggle at inducing weak contact while pitching up in the zone, you're disproportionately punished.
As a result, many of the very best pitchers in baseball are flyball pitchers. But, on average, you're betting off keeping the ball on the ground. The variations in strikeouts and walks are mostly window-dressing around that core dynamic.
Who's cutting onions?
Thank you for highlighting this piece! I was not aware of the journal and now have some reading to do. If only they offered affordable access to individuals.
Not listed in the article is <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=102294">Raisel Iglesias</a></span> who was born on January 4th, 1990. He put up some very good peripherals in his first major league season after over from Cuba, with the <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=ERA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('ERA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">ERA</span></a> trailing a bit behind. Assuming he can get a bit deeper in games and hold up for 30 starts, he's another 2/3 type guy.
It will be interesting to see what the Reds do with all this SP depth. Surely some of it will wind up in the bullpen, but that's still a lot of young arms that will be in the majors or major league ready by summer 2017. Hopefully they can turn it in to a bat or three...
"volunteers who each morning trudge to the library, print off the day’s content from baseballprospectus.com and distribute it to the mailboxes of tens of thousands of loyal readers"
Wait, what?! Is this real? I've been a BP reader since the early online days when <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/joe_sheehan">Joe Sheehan</a>, <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/clay_davenport">Clay Davenport</a>, etc. were the main writers and I had no clue that there was a physical daily "clippings" being produced & distributed. Crazy!
Could somebody explain to me what "doesn't compete" looks like in practice? Does he make worse pitches in tough situations? Does he not hustle? Does he wear his socks the wrong way? That kind of statement just reeks of scouts trying too hard, but I've heard it often enough that assume it means something practical.
As a Reds fan, I'm honestly surprised that the deals included that much value. Cueto is awesome and I've loved having him as a Red, but I'll be absolutely shocked if he brings back a Stroman or Bundy.
Fascinating. I'll admit I was a bit suprised to see the stats you chose to use. I would have thought you'd look at things a bit more indepenent and which stablize more quickly. Raw <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=SB" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('SB'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">SB</span></a> are driven in no small part by <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=OBP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('OBP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">OBP</span></a>. Average is influenced by speed and quite variable in a single season sample due to fluctuations in <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BABIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BABIP</span></a>.
For offense, I think I would have gone with:
- Contact% for bat-on-ball ability
- Swing% for <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BB" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BB'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BB</span></a>% for discipline
- <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=ISO" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('ISO'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">ISO</span></a> for raw power
- SBA/(times reached base) for speed
Still, this is really cool stuff. I've always assumed we could do some skill-based grouping but I've never known how it would be done. It would be absolute fascinating to see this done on scouting report data, such as the figures Kiley McDaniels and the Fangraphs team has been putting together.
This digest is awesome. I've felt that I've been following behind, unable to keep pace with the all the content coming out from across the blogosphere. Having the links aggregated and very briefly summarized is a huge service. Thanks Ian!
Is this the conclusion of a series of articles, the start of a series, or are you just going to do this for rounds 8-10?
Could Matt Carpenter's issue be that he takes too many pitches? In 2014, no qualified batted in MLB swung less than Carpenter did, bay far. His O-Swing%, swings at balls out of the zone, was 19.3, lowest in MLB behind Crisp, Dunn, and Sanata). With some exception, that's good. But his Z-Swing%, swings at balls in the zone, was 49.4%, lowest in MLB behind Dozier, Hardy, and Prado. (Obviously, Carpenter is lowest in overall Swing% as well, at 33.1%. The next on the list is Brett Gardner at 37.0%! Capenter is quite the outlier.)
Not surprisingly, we see Martin Prado on your list of laggards as well. And if you lower the threshold to 400 PA, Sam Fuld comes in with a Z-Swing% that is the 7th lowest and Swing% that is the 16th lowest. It turns out that guys at both extremes are hurting themselves with their discipline, not just those who chase too many pitches.
I find it interesting that Carpenter, Prado, and Fuld are all very low power guys who make a ton of contact, but who don't hit for much power and thus don't especially benefit from ensuring the highest quality contact. This is especially true in contrast to other low Swing% guys with a lot of power like Jayson Werth (3rd lowest Swing%), Mike Trout (9th), and Adam Dunn (21st).
Perhaps with guys like Carpenter, the value gap between the a ball taken and a ball in play is smaller, meaning they get comparatively greater ROI from discipline in terms of walk-value. And because these guys are presumably good bat control guys who can get a ball in play with two strikes if need-be, they aren't afraid of falling behind in the count. So perhaps the per-pitch model unfairly penalizes this type of player who is actually maximizing the value of his skill set at the plate-appearance level.
Thank you for elaborating on the "cycles" comment in the 3rd paragraph, clarifying that "there is always a tension between teams allocating resources to hitting and to pitching, and a pull for the best athletes to specialize in one or the other."
In a wide range of contexts, the "things happen in cycles" explanation is thrown out as if it were a matter of physics, an immutable reality to which we are subjected and cannot directly influence.
But "cycles" is a tautological description, not an explanation. It simply renames the dynamic of run scoring being down after being up after previously being down. This is a problem because it ignores the underlying drivers of change and thus implies passivity. It implies that change will happen by itself over time. If we were merely observing random fluctuation, this would be true. But we know this trend is non-random.
What you describe is that systems can have different types of influences, internal vs. external, as well as those which temporarily shift the balance vs. those which permanently do so. Baseball has always experienced some degree of internal shifting of talent and strategy. But with these, we would expect run scoring to fluctuate around a certain equilibrium point. However, changes in games rules, physical environment, or an evolved understanding about optimal strategy are more permanent and can shift that equilibrium permanently.
It seems our current situation is likely a combination of temporary shifts (generational talent distribution, game strategies) and permanent ones (larger strike/more accurately called strike zone, better information leading to more efficient defensive position). But I'm not quite as convinced that a permanent shift is required to stay the flow toward less run scoring. I think we may just need to longer to see in the internal dynamics of player development and in game strategies react to counter-balance some of the external shifts.
Enjoyed the presentation over the weekend, Russell, as well as the article. As somebody who's spent the first 10 years of his career in nonprofit program evaluation and who would love to work in the game eventually, your presentation stirred up a lot of interesting ideas for me, especially related to the role of developmental evaluation.
Good article. The main point, that we should expect to see outliers and not overweight them in consideration of our hypothesis.
However, I think we do understand why Cain has been able to sustain his low BABIP. Cain is an extreme flyball pitcher who gets those flyballs largely because he pitches up in the zone with very good control. Flyballs are the most likely balls to become outs, assuming they stay in play (including those caught as foul pops). Given his good control pitching up, he's also able to sustain a lower HR/FB rate than league average by avoiding the mistakes other pitchers make.
This is a nice little narrative, but we also see the same in other pitchers who are qualitatively similar to Cain, most notably Jered Weaver. One might be tempted to simple wait for the sample size to accrue, but that gets us in to a territory where the players' skill evolves too much for the analysis to be useful as a diagnostic.
Of course, the author presumably is aware of all of this. So I write to suggest a slightly different conclusion. Understand the distance between skill and performance for each stat. Appreciate not just the generic "number of PA/IP to stabilize" but the intrinsic nature of what is being measured -- how many factors drive the outcome being measured. Use that as a trigger to not ask not just what the odds are that the guy is being lucky/unlucky, but to develop a richer appreciation for the other factors that may be driving successes and struggles. You might that a more reliable path to answering the "is he for real" question -- or at least providing greater perspective.
For all the people who knock WAR, I'd just once like to hear them explain how they account for baserunning and defense. Most the problems people like to complain about in WAR are still there in the metrics they prefer, they just feel like ignoring those issues entirely or accounting for them in a completely subjective, ad hoc manner somehow produces better results.
It's almost as if they're treating the pitches as partial strikes and trying keep the math even. So for him, the fairest way to call two borderline pitches he's not sure (.5 strike, .5 ball each) is to give the batter 1 ball and 1 strike.
If we already know that umpires are averse to calling walks and strikeouts (e.g. more likely to call strikes on 3-0 and 3-1), and we know that the first ball in the sequence you analyzed is a ball, doesn't that suggest that the subsequent pitch has an increased chance of being called a strike regardless of the location?
That is to say, perhaps what you're observing has more to do with the umpire attempting to balance the count than normalizing based on specific location.
While it seems quite obvious that the "bad framing" examples could be blamed on the catchers, it seems much less obvious that the good examples cited can be similarity attributed to "good framing". To this untrained eye, it does not seem that the action of the catcher in those cases made the pitch look more like a strike, just that the umpire made an egregiously bad call.
We've heard catchers describe this phenomenon too -- that framing is about giving the umpire the best chance to make the correct the call. I would be fascinated to see the data split based on added/lost strikes. Are the same catchers showing the ability to add strikes vs. not-lose strikes? Is that performance similarly consistent?
Every single baseball fan should have to read this piece. Well done.
The description of Taveras as a hitter brings to mind Vlad Guerrero. Recognizing he doesn't have Vlad's speed, is that a reasonable picture of his upside as a hitter or is the hit tool not quite there yet?
I'm curious to see that a '7' correlates to a #2 SP. Anything short of a lock for the Cy Young seems to be disqualified from being called a "#1 SP". Seems sort of misleading...
I don't know anybody who thinks that "any idiot with a right arm can close a game".
I do know a lot of people who think that "any reliever who can get outs can get outs in a close game" and who think "it's stupid to use your best reliever to protect a 3 run lead in the 9th while refusing to use him to protect a 1 run lead in the 8th."
Go figure; you learn something new everyday. Thanks for the correction.
Fangraphs model of WAR, which has no leverage adjustment, has Balfour as a ~7 win player over the last 6 years. The Rays just paid him like he's a 1 win player.
Sabermetrics orthodoxy is "don't pay extra for past leverage". It's not "don't pay for production if that production comes from a reliever".
I don't see the conflict here.
Good stuff, but I'm shocked to see RBI omitted from your hypotheses. It is such a huge part of the narrative today. That traditionalists have tried to avoid using it in the face of sabermrtric critique only underline's it's historically significant role.
Playing CF and having defensive production undervalued go hand in hand (that is, voters don't have anything CF, they simply fail to account for the defensive value of the position, let alone the superlative defense played by some on that lair). Similarly, I imagine that once you properly control for other variables, walks come at the expense of some RBI. Additionally, I imagine it is likely that players on better teams tend to have more RBI opportunities.
Just surprised to see this dynamic omitted, particularly given the Cabrera/Trout context.
PECOTA does projections, not predictions. Also, odds aren't fate. They are what they are, simple likelihoods of events occurring. That a given unlikely outcome ends up occurring does not mean the odds were wrong.
I agree that I'd like to see the advocates for the playoffs argument clarify their position.
If making the playoffs is the baseline for being valuable, then Mike Trout should not appear anywhere on their MVP ballot.
If making/not making the playoffs is merely a multiplier of value, then by what factor should we be adjusting.
It goes back to the message Tom Tango routinely advocates:
1. Be consistent
2. Show your work
Absent that, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the person has done anything more than post hoc justification for the player whom they deem more valuable regardless of playoff consideration.
If we assume that players generally are able to tailor their production to circumstance, than this would suggest that RE24 will be a more accurate representation of the run value produced, but that Linear Weights provides a better estimate of talent/ predictor of future run production. It's analogous to ERA vs. FIP in a way.
While perhaps you've made a business decision to keep BP stats separate from the work done by Baseball Reference & FanGraphs (or perhaps to use ESPN as your distribution channel), as a stat-friendly, I find it a tad frustrating that BP seems to be off operating in it's own world without active interaction on the pages of its blog with the work being done elsewhere.
At the most basic level, "WAR" has reached the public market for stats, but BP insists on calling their version of the model WARP. I'm very, very interested in this series, I just hope it is additive to the work being done elsewhere -- and consciously so.
I can't be the only one who read the descriptions and thought "huh, that sounds an awful lot like Harper (Sano) vs. Trout (Buxton) right off the bat.
The article is based on the premise that Phillips not only had more opportunities to drive in runs but that his opportunities were better because Votto was advancing his peers.
It seems logical to me to look at each type of OBI opportunity separately.
What we find is that, on average, players come to bat with a runner on 1st base 30% of the time, 2nd base 20% of the time, and 3rd base 10% of the time. Those runners are converted to runs, 6%, 16% and 36% of the time (on average) respectively.
In 2013, Phillips stands at:
On 1st: 42% | 4%, 1.6 R1_BI below average
On 2nd: 26% | 26%, 5.6 R2_BI above average
On 3rd: 12% | 63%, 7.2 R3_BI above average
Total: 11 OBI above average (145 wOBI index)
Meanwhile, for Votto:
On 1st: 30% | 1%, 3.3 R1_BI below average
On 2nd: 22% | 11%, 2.6 R2_BI belowaverage
On 3rd: 10% | 42%, 1.3 R3_BI above average
Total: 5 OBI below average (79 wOBI index)
So while we can certainly talk about the value Votto brings setting the table, both through his own being on base and improving the quality of Phillips' opportunities, we should have no problem recognizing that Phillips has certainly done a better job at converting his RBI opportunities in to RBI.
Of course, that is not to imply anything about the value of RBI, merely to suggest that Phillips has been both "lucky" and "very good" when it comes to RBI in 2013.
What amazes me is:
1) Bagging on new metrics and their abbreviations in an article essentially extolling the virtues of an acronym, RBI.
2) The assumption that RBI, because it has been used up to now, must have intrinsic value.
At no point will most writers seem to simply approach the topic from the "why should we care about RBI" perspective -- always playing defense.
Has anybody in the "robot ump" movement actually suggested removing umps from the field of play. I think the majority of the "robot ump" movement would be absolutely thrilled with a system that simply worked behind the scenes to provide umpires more accurate information.
Give the ump behind home plate a digital device that vibrates when a strike is thrown. Or shows red/green. Or give him an earpiece. You get the idea. Putting a guy in the booth to handle replays and relay them down to the crew chief and/or home plate ump is another example. As you point out, those are only a part of the ump's job.
Ultimately, I think the "but we still need humans on the field" argument is essentially a straw-man. I could be wrong; there could be many people clamoring for the elimination of human umpires entirely. But I've never seen that case made and wouldn't want to imply it from a twitter hashtag. And if I'm right, this is beating up an argument that nobody is really making.
Harder ground / shorter/thinner grass in the spring?
More interleague early in the season?
NL teams that tend to steal may be stealing less in games with a DH.
And it's not offset by AL teams forced to bat their pitcher because they haven't constructed their rosters to use speed the way NL teams have.
No clue if it's true, but seems logical.
Joe, I'm sure you can do it, but at what point does the projection not only lose its ability to convey meaningful information but actually have its necessary uncertainty undermine the perceived value of the rest of the system?. That is to say, at a certain point of uncertainty, the mere presence of having data may suggest a level confidence that simply cannot be "undone". Or put differently still, simply having a 10-year projection may project a hubris that turns off a less sophisticated consumer and which no amount of "but look at the confidence intervals" can offset.
It would be interesting & helpful to hear which active MLB players have '8' tools.
Considering that the character clause had been virtually ignored up to this point, I think it's only reasonable that it be removed moving forward so that today's players are not being held to a different standard.
If the point is simply that fanbases are silly, point made I suppose. But was it really that hard to find a Reds offer that wasn't a month old and didn't include two players who are no longer in the organization. RedsZone has plenty of Stanton offers floating around, mostly centered around Aroldis Chapman...
(and yes, I agree Jay Bruce had no business winning a Silver Slugger)
As a Reds fan, I find it sad to see no mention of Joey Votto, despite the fact that in just 475 PA, he blew away the field at 1B in cumulative production in the NL. In fact, he had more BVORP than any other 1B, including Fielder and Pujols. So, despite producing far and away the most runs as a hitter among NL 1B, he doesn't even get mention because he failed some arbitrary threshold that really only matters in conversations of rate stats?
So, this begs the question "why?"
What are the systemic differences in the three WAR systems that lead to these divergent results. Presumable it's things like:
- Different definitions of replacement
- Different ways of measuring defense
- Different ways of measuring pitcher performance (mostly related to the way in which they do or don't isolate defense and "luck")
Is it possible to identify the strengths weaknesses of each system as it relates to a certain type of player and pick which of the three is most likely the "best" measure?
As a Reds fan, this surprised me quite a bit. One the one hand, it may just underscore how much the Reds hate strikeout prone hitters. On the other, it may show that Jocketty is taking more of a "WAR" approach to his position players (most overall production), regardless of Dusty's want to load a lineup with 8 perfect archetypes. This move probably made the Reds ~2 wins better. And when you're a playoff caliber team, two wins makes a big difference.
If Jack Morris enters the HOF on a ballot where Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling don't, they might as well just get rid of the process altogether. What is the point of the HOF if it's not for the best players?
I'm a little surprised not see a Reds deal based around Aroldis Chapman. Just call it "The Cuban Icon". Add in Billy Hamilton and you have to think the Marlins would come to the table.
To put a finer point on it: This debate isn't about old stats vs. new stats. It's about giving awards based on objective assessment of performance vs. giving them based on subjective assessment and narrative value.
Right. You can't have your cake and eat it to. If it's about on field performance, then very little in the way of other stats or accomplishes is better than what we've already combined in to one number -- certainly not when the difference is massive. If you want the MVP to be about more than production, fine. But don't claim that it's about more than production and then justify your selection on the basis of Miggy's AVG, HR and RBI.
It would be interesting to see where some of the current markets would rank using such an approach, notably Tampa Bay and Oakland.
I've always wondered why we don't see prospect ratings that do something like this:
% chance to...
Never reach the majors:
Never stick the majors:
MLB Role player:
It sounds like more work, but if you're doing a ranking list, you do this implicitly anyways. You could then easily use this structure as the basis for a weighted rating value. You could use a straight weight average or use different weights to give "extra credit" for star potential.
Really, this is the way prospects are valued, right? So why not emulate that?
Possible that the extra distance forces him to use better mechanics. He's got good arm strength but had a tendency to "flip" the ball - like Brandon Phillip does. Setting his feet and throwing more overhand will likely show his arm much better.
One thing I've seen overlooked in some discussions is Mike Leake's bat. It sounds odd to discuss, but at least in the 195 PA he's had thus far, he's been a substantially better hitter than the typical pitcher, helping to offset some of the disadvantage on the mound.
I think we sometimes forget that not every fan actually cares about the "real" answer the way a more sabermetrically inclined person is obsessed with getting to the "truth". That is to say, for some people, the old school stats have value in and of themselves. It's not just that the new stats are unfamiliar and that you're asking them to give up something they understand. It's that you implicitly invalidating all of the fun they've had over the years following wins and RBI.
Those stats have taken on a life of their own. Fans get significant enjoyment not from the link between wins or RBI and true value, but for the historical context they provide -- regardless of their accuracy. To those fans, there is real value, real currency in those statistics. That other stats do their "job" better is to misinterpret the real "job" of those stats for some subset of fans/writers. To discard their entirely knowledge base and the source of their enjoyment for a marginal upgrade in accuracy that is more difficult to understand is to simply ask too much.
Fans who are truly committed to finding out the "real" answer based in scientific principles are likely already converted at this point. For those who aren't, to think it's a question of logic and reasoning is to misunderstand the dynamic.
My bad; guess I latched on to the word "rookie" early on.
It seems odd to me that the article completely ignores the 26 year old rookie in the NL having a season that is somewhat similar to Cespedes' -- Todd Frazier. I guess he might come up a handful of PA short of qualifying for the title (currently has 422 PA to Cespedes' 443), but it just seems a little silly to ignore the obvious.
Has average velocity and/or pitch type distribution changed?
I'm sure it looks much different in person, but Hamilton simply doesn't LOOK fast to me when he's running. I don't know how to describe it other than it's just like other people are doing things more slowly than normal. It's that same kind of feel when you watch Usain Bolt run. It's not that his legs are churning faster than everybody else, he seems to move further with each strike...
Good article. However, while I agree that we like "being smart", I would argue a nuance. It's not necessarily that we like being judged as "being smart" by our peers (though we do). Rather, it's that we enjoy the act of "being smart". The process of exchanging ideas, learning and teaching, is enjoyable.
Sure, I LOVE it when somebody recognizes my brilliance (faux arrogance intended). But the reality is that I just like thinking about stuff.
Excellent article. As you point out, we definitely take for granted the reality that to become a professional athlete, one must be pretty good at handling pressure. But that doesn't mean they don't feel it. It's like the saying about courage, courage isn't the absence of fear, but rather the willingness to act in its presence.
Kudos to Matt Cain and his teammates for an awesome performance.
This article could easily have been written about Sean Marshall. His bad batted ball luck (.435) and a regression to the mean of his HR rate cost him the closer gig. Given what he can control, he's been just as dominant as ever -- just isn't getting the commensurate results.
At least the guy who replaced him has been the most dominant reliever in baseball this year.
Eric Davis. So quiet and relaxed... just a little wag of the bat with his hands at his waist and then BAM!
I think it's hard to make a case for anybody other than Ripken. Reese's career is like Ripken's plus 2 MVP caliber seasons added on top.
And this coming from a guy who grew up idolizing Barry Larkin.
A few thoughts regarding the Reds bench performance:
1. I don't think 2nd catchers should be included in bench performance. They should be assumed to get significant playing time. But if giving Ryan Hanigan 60 starts a year is a feather in Dusty's cap, so be it.
2. The Reds LF situation has been unsettled ever since Dunn was traded in late 2008. Nearly all of the playing time in LF went to a combination of Gomes, Dickerson, Nix, Heisey and Lewis -- all listed here as bench players. But they combined to give Dusty half of his 12 WARP. Should Dusty get credit for not being able to figure out that who his best options were?
3. A majority of Miguel Cairo's at bats came while he was filling in for the injured Scott Rolen. If you want to give Dusty credit for that, ok.
In short, while I'm happy the Reds have had productive players on their bench, I don't know if it makes sense to credit Dusty for that. Rather, for those of us who have followed the Reds closely, Dusty's largest influences seem to have come in insisting the Reds get (and play) Corey Patterson at the expense of playing Chris Dickerson and playing Jonny Gomes as the primary starter in in 2010 & 2011 when it was clear his bat wasn't superior to Heisey/Nix but that his glove was inferior.
Dusty was given a great bench. But the amount of production he got from it may be more reflective of his lack of willingness to play his best players than some magic touch he's got in putting a bench together.
Could this largely be a function of a talent pool that is growing faster than the number of available jobs?
What's odd with Janish is that his flukish 2010 was the result of an inflated BABIP -- of .283. In his other seasons, he's put up a BABIP of .230, .247 and .244. Is it possible that 2010 was actually his reasonable season and that's been unlucky the rest of the time? Or is he just in a class of punchless hitters who doesn't hit the ball with enough authority to merit a more reasonable BABIP?
A 4.33 ERA from Cueto? So PECOTA sees a 26 pitcher significantly regressing to the point where he's much worse than he's been the last two years? And it sees Mike Leake pitching worse than he's pitched in the two years he's been a professional? Votto is taking a slight step down from last year and a major step down from the two years prior. Even poor Sam LeCure's projection looks like last year never happened.
I'll admit to the possibility that I'm just being a homer, but it looks like another year of PECOTA failing the sniff test to me. Guess I'll have to dig deeper in the changes in to the revised weighting and regression process.
Just to be, Verducci is wrong because we expect the results he's saying we should expect?
I understand the point -- his explanation as to why the pitchers he identifies regress is completely baseless. But it would seem to me that from the perspective of a lay person who might otherwise expect that group to continue to improve, there is value in making the point that higher performers, on average, tend to regress.
We should be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water and rather seek to update the argument.
As a Reds fan, I'm very sorry to see you're headed to Houston. But congrats on the opportunity!
Looks like a value buy to me. Quentin will fetch more than that at some point in the next 6 months.
The idea that Volquez hasn't regained his control is based on a false premise that he actually had control at some point. Even in 2008 he walked 4.3 per 9. His 2008 was also supported by a low 8% HR/FB. Basically, unless Volquez turns in to a pitcher that is better than he's ever been before, the low 3s ERA is never coming back.
That said, the K rate is still excellent and a regression to the mean of his HR rate would be enough to drop his ERA in the mid 4's, making him a viable BOR starter.
Professor, how does Hamilton's crazy good range factor in to his ability to stick at SS? Even if he doesn't have the greatest hands or arm, it seems like his range should serve to keep him there.
I don't think it's semantics. The primary division is not due to a desire for "stability". Rather it is "accountability". That the things which are more directly a result of the player himself tend to be more stable is a side effect.
The FIP crowd doesn't abandoned runs scored in award voting because they are variable. It abandons them because they are a function of the performance of the entire team, not the player to which the award vote is being given. Even if you could isolate all the randomness, you'd still have the reality that a pitcher's ERA is more like a hitter's RBI than his OPS.
And put me in the best performance box as well -- so long as you measure the aspects of performance for which said player is actually responsible.
I think this fundamentally mis-frames the argument. It is not "what actually happened" vs. "what the player was actually responsible for". It's both. Yes, ERA is an account of actual runs scored, but those runs are scored against a team of players, not a pitcher.
Is FIP a record of runs allowed/prevented? Nope. Is it a measure of "what actually happened on the field"? You bet it is. It's just presented on a friendly scale.
Those strikeouts, walks and homers all actually happened. And furthermore, they tend to be a more accurate measure of the pitcher's actual performance than his ERA.
We should not conflate the issue of imprecise/inaccurate measurements of performance with a debate between performance vs. true-talent. The former is ERA vs. FIP. The latter is FIP vs. xFIP.
McCourt's thinking: Will this increase the sale price? Yes? Done.
For a network that struggles to fill air-time with fresh content, you'd think they could simplify and go deep with something in particular.
The media seem to have forgotten (or stopped caring) that the difference between mere reporting and true journalism is the application of critical thought. There's nothing wrong with presenting various viewpoints, but one must recognize that there is no such thing as a harmless default treatment. Leaving them unanalysed suggests equal validity/truth. Objectivity is not the absence of analysis, but rather analysis driven by the search for truth and with full transparency.
I'd love to see them actual apply sabermetrics analysis to the statements of guys like Reynolds. Fine, bring them on and have them share their wisdom. But simply presenting different opinions is sort of pointless if you're not going to provide context.
If Reynolds thinks walking a guy is a sound strategy, let's drill in to that. Let's ask Reynolds how often he'll think that guy will score and then show some data to see whether or not that's a reasonable expectation.
And really, that would be the most valuable thing they could do. Simply showing sabermetric data and asserting that it's better leaves you preaching to the choir. But if you show the process of testing traditional beliefs and how those questions to lead to sabermetric alternatives, then you're really educating people.
Perhaps the look at the Cardinals' WS win as being despite their injuries, we should consider that their injuries hid just how good of a team they were. Clearly Wainwright was never there, but they were relatively healthy come playoff time, no?
If the goal is to build a buzz, I'd say Mission Accomplished.
Dusty has been pretty adamant about using a catching platoon, both to keep each player fresh and to allow pitchers the opportunity to work with a catcher they are comfortable with. Assuming health, I would be shocked to see Mes get more than say 100 starts.
I like it. Anything that encourages pitchers more strikes is a good thing. The original rules of the game had a keen insight -- the most exciting part of the game is when the ball is batted in to the field of play. That it's become such a game of cat & mouse between the pitcher and hitter is part of why it has slowed down so much.
Should we be asking how appropriate it is to use the average value approach here? That is to say, it seems important to have a good understanding of whether "very young" players tend to be better than expected across the board or if there is simply a slightly more frequent occurrence of "hitting a home run" the young you go.
The average may be a smooth progression, but it could be that the expectations generally hold true for 95% of the population and it's merely the types of outliers in each group that move the average.
Love the addition of these stats and that they're pitch f/x based. And the performance increase of the stats page is noticeable and appreciated. Now just make the data as accessible and as well-presented as FanGraphs and you'll really have something. The current layout is somewhat painful to use.
A few suggestions:
1) Difficulty accessing definitions. Definitions are not displayed on the stats page and abbreviations are not always clear. One can access the glossary through the headers, but it requires loading a separate page -- either in a separate window or by leaving the stats page. Could these be hover tool-tips instead? Or at minimum, could the glossary search bar be placed on the report page as well?
2) Sorting. Having multi-layered sorting is nice, but it's of secondary importance/value to simple, quick sorts. Being able to sort quickly by clicking on the field headers would be a welcomed addition. Perhaps you could add a neutral sort icon (e.g. "--") like the up and down arrows that would all be clickable and would rotate through asc/dec/neutral.
3) Filtering. Again, having multi-layered filtering is nice, but I'd love to be able to filter on more than just Team/League/Pos/PA. Often I'm trying to obtain a list of batters that mean some threshold of stat. Perhaps this would cause performance issues, but it would be very nice to get all batters with OBP > .330, for example, without having to export a full list in to Excel. Just adding one variable filter field would be a great addition.
4) Significant digits. A contact rate of 0.7906 is difficult to read. I assume you'd have to give up speed to display it as 79.1%, but it's a trade off I'd personally take. Is the hundredths place meaningful? I'm guessing not. Heck, is the tenths? If I want a raw data export, the detail is helpful. But the current display can make it more difficult to interpret the data.
Just a few thoughts. Keep up the great work, Colin.
Does the scout talking about Josh Willingham realize that what he did this year is exactly in line with what he's been doing since 2006, in pitchers' parks no less? I doubt it. And I' be willing to bet that the scout was looking at just two numbers: HR & RBI. If anything, 2011 was a step back. His contact rate dropped. His strikeout rate rose. His walk rate dipped. He had his worst wOBA ever as a full time player.
This is what drives saber-types nuts. I have no doubt that scout could tell 99% of us things about how to evaluate a player's ability using pure observation that we had never considered before. But being an evaluator of skills does not make you an evaluator of results.
Define performance. Why should a pitcher be giving full credit for run prevention or batting average against when his fielders have such a big influence on what happens? Sure, ERA feels like it's measuring his performance because we use it that way so much, but it's not. It's a measure of his performance AND the performance of the other 8 guys on the field with him.
Against .500 or worse teams, Verlander put up a 2.33 ERA in 189.3 IP. CC put up a 1.88 ERA in 119.7.
Now, let's use CCs splits on ERA, but give him Verlander's percentage of IP vs. each. His new ERA? 2.46.
Maybe not as cut & dry as we thought?
Verlander and CC basically had the exact same season with one large exception. Verlander got a ton of help from his defense while CC got very little. Sure, Verlander deserves some credit for his low BABIP, but his career BABIP is .285 and he was .296, .319, .286 the 3 years prior. He is not a .236 BABIP guy -- nobody is. Meanwhile, CC has gone .297, .277, .281, .318. Neither guy has shown significant improvement in their peripherals, so it's hard to believe Verlander suddenly developed a new talent or the CC lost his.
Some people will complain that you can use stats to say anything. Well, tell me why a guy's W-L record or his ERA is a more valid indicator or how well he pitched than another stat. If you want to use the data in an intellectually honest and rigorous way to see which guy pitched better, it's a VERY tight race.
I'd say that you're the one with an indefensible argument. Was Verlander better? Yeah, probably. But the narrative that was attached to each guy grossly overstated the difference.
Excellent article, Mike. I absolutely love that you've joined the stats and scouting angles here. One excels at identifying what and the other at the why. I think BP would greatly benefit from hiring or featuring a scout or player development guru who can speak directly to issues like these.
Dear BP, letting Jim Bowden provide you content is like... gah, I can't think of a lame enough metaphor at this hour. Just.... stop.
So people who don't know how to use statistics think stats are useless. The problem comes from people like Steve Finley thinking that because they know how to hit a baseball and how to steal a base that they are equipped to answer a player value or base-running strategy question. I guess it's fair to say that athletic performance and humility don't go hand-in-hand.
It's like you have a chef and he assumes that because he's a great cook he should be able to run the restaurant. Sure, it's a great place to start, but there's more to it than making great food.
I would kill MLBs exclusivity deal with Fox for Saturdays. I'm a Reds fan in Chicago. When the Reds are "on" Fox, I can't attend the game nor watch it on TV, since Fox is rarely going to play the Reds game in the Chicago market. Really stinks to not have baseball on Saturdays and nobody gets to make money off advertising to me. This is 2011, if Fox isn't going to show the game in my market, MLBtv should get the game.
We so often hear the "if I could cut down the strikeouts..." refrain. And of course, it's true. But unfortunately, it's usually interpreted as "swing more and earlier". Do you ask the slugger to swing "softer" or choke up so that he can make more contact? At what cost to his power? Do you tell him to swing more so that he's more likely to put the ball in play before he gets 3 strikes? But if he does that, will pitchers take advantage and get him to chase.
But too many fans overlook the simple reality that vision and hand-eye coordination are skills, ones that are more or less maxed out by the time a guy reaches the major leagues (I imagine).
At the end of the day, I think it's a question of approach. And I think at a basic level, it's the same for everybody: Swing at the balls you can reliably hit well, don't swing at the ones you can't and protect the strike zone with 2 strikes. That's it. That's how you maximize production.
It's a balance that differs from player to player based on his skills. In practice, it means something very different for Ichiro than it does for Adam Dunn (or Reggie Jackson). Did Reggie really have an ability to make more contact while maintaining his power? Would more weakly hit balls paired with more swings and misses have resulted in more production? Personally, I doubt it.
Strikeouts are bad, no doubt. But they are a natural function of a guy's skill set and vision, hand-eye coordination and power are only loosely correlated. Trying to take an approach that doesn't maximize your skills is a recipe for less production.
But what is Pedey or Ellsbury doign to contribute to his team's playoff chances that makes their contributions more valuable than Bautista's contributions?
You are basically saying that those two are more valuable because they have better teammates, even though they themselves have not made as large as a contribution to their team's success as Bautista. If that's your belief, that's fine - to each his own. But your position requires agreeing that MVP is not an individual award, but rather an award to the best player who happened to have really good teammates as well.
Unfortunately, Heyman's logic still holds, insofar as it is internally consistent. In his world, a thing can not be valuable unless it is part of something that itself is of value. So he likely would see your point about the 12 win max contribution and shrug his shoulders.
From his perspective, 12 wins aren't valuable to a 65 win team because the team itself isn't valuable. If the player's performance doesn't alter the playoff race, he is rejected out of hand. Of course, Heyman does seem to conflate a team not being in the playoff race with a player not affecting it, which is obviously wrong because teams make the playoffs in large part based on their performance against non-playoff teams...
So there's a T. Nash with hitting skills and big time raw (power)? Hmmm...
Surprised not to see Jay Bruce listed.
I can't believe Kyle Farnsworth (as a Cub) spearing and pummeling Paul Wilson (as a Red) didn't make the cut. Farnsworth came in on Wilson when Wilson was hitting. Paul took exception, took a few steps towards Farnsworth and shouted at him. Farnsworth didn't wait -- he took of running at Wilson and form-tackled Wilson at full-speed before Wilson even had a chance to react. Even as a Reds fan, that was awesome to watch.
Has Neftali Soto hit his way back to legitimate prospect status?
1. Timing of throw is irrelevant
2. Video evidence was clearly NOT incontrovertible
3. Lugo's reaction suggests that he thought he would be called out -- not that he WAS, but that he assumed he would be called out.
4. I think the tag probably grazed him.
5. How many questions can you fit in one question?! It seems he was in the correct position, that's just a tough call to make due to the type of tag & slide. I would not publish internal umpire ratings.
6. Better training system? Probably not. Better rules? Maybe.
The whole situation could have been avoided if the Pirates catcher hadn't set up inside the baseline and tried a swipe tag. Either set up more squarely or make an effort to apply a tag that doesn't assume the runner will slide in to your hand.
There's a BIG difference between not giving one's all and purposefully screwing up.
When's the last time you say a world is flat type show his work and openly engage in dialogue about why he thinks what he does? It's precisely exchanges such as this that make sabermetrics, or any scientific approach, so robust and worthy. There's accountability and an openness to the idea that anybody can contribute to the body of knowledge that you won't find in other places.
It seems we sometimes forget to appropriately value the basics. A well-located fastball is tough to hit, even if you know (more or less) that's it coming.
How close was Yonder Alonso? He was #74 pre-season and has added the power people were waiting on while improving his plate discipline. Obviously he's a 1B/DH not a LF, but he's a legit, major-league hitter, right? Just another casualty of the ceiling > certainty approach of prospect valuation?
When I've seen Aaron Boone, he's been quite good. But saying that Devin Mesoraco's bat needs to catch up to his glove? That was Sutcliffesque.
Really, at what point with MLB & the networks realize that having somebody who knows what the heck they're talking about makes for a better product.
Why was Keith Law not in the booth? Or somebody like Kevin? What a missed opportunity.
Is Juan Fransisco not considered a legit prospect any more? Not saying he is... seems like a 3B Wily Mo Pena to me. But he is just 24 and has hit .300/.334/.553 over a combined full season in AAA.
Until Cueto gets enough IP to qualify for the ERA title (and show up on leaderboards), he's not going to get the attention he deserves. Since coming back from the DL with his new and improved Tiant/Nomo-esque delivery, he's been excellent -- though probably a tad lucky too...
The HBP-controlled-by-hitter observation makes perfect sense if you consider the role of the hitter's setup distance from the plate and his reaction tendencies. A guy who hangs over the inside corner and simply twists away instead of leaning back is bound to get hit much more often than the with the open stance off the plate.
Further, we know that certain hitters get pitched inside more than others due to their skills as a hitter. I'm guessing that power hitters tend to be pitched away more than slap hitters. Maybe that's why a guy like Biggio got hit more often -- pitchers were more willing to come in on him because they weren't afraid of him jerking the ball over the fence. Perhaps it's similar to HRs and FBs. Guys who see more pitches inside get hit more often.
Regarding Carptener, I wouldn't be so sure about his ERA regressing towards his SIERRA. Shifting from a groundballer with Brendan Ryan behind you to a flyballer with Lance Berkman in RF (and Theerroriot at SS) is bound to lead to increase in hits.
I know you hate comps, Kevin, but is it fair to think of Altuve as having a similar skill set as Pedroia?
Thank for the follow-up Colin. This answered my specific question.
Given that he's actually a catcher and he's crushing AAA, at what point can we say that Mesoraco is the best catching prospect in the game?
Are you regressing the aggregate TAv or the underlying components? I ask because I assume that the components gain reliability at different rates. For example, a high TAv driven by a batting average spike is less likely to represent a shift in true talent than is one driven by walks or power. Perhaps BP and Fangraphs are handling this differently?
If Jonny Gomes is a 30 defender, what's Alonso? Comparable?
I think the vast majority of manager manage players based on the role they want them to fill as opposed to the specific player they are.
I liked this series alot!
Reyes would look excellent in Red, as would Carlos Beltran for that matter. The question remains, what sort of return would the Mets be looking for, both in volume and type of talent?
Baker still manages position players like the generic roles he wants them to fill instead of the players they are, his handling of the bullpen has certainly been questionable at times and his insistence on playing small ball in the early innings is a constant source of frustration.
However, he's actually been pretty darn good about handling the young starters. Last night's game was a good example. Volquez was doing pretty well and left the 6th in at 97 pitches. But chances are that if he went out for the 7th, he wasn't going to be able to finish it himself. Instead, Dusty went the the pen. I tend to agree, Dusty needs to have a good compliment of relievers he can trust.
I'd be interested in simply seeing fielding presented as in-zone/out-of-zone percentage pair using the 50% cutoff. Then you can have your routine plays & highlight plays separated and you don't get (as) lost in the vagaries of the run-assignment process.
Regarding Jonny Gomes' streakiness... how is streakiness assessed? It seems to me that it is often used, but rarely is any evidence provided. I find claims of streakiness (as some unique characteristic separate from some standard rate measurement) generally unsupported and largely explained by the nature of what doing something poorly looks like over time.
That is to say, Gomes isn't a .240 hitter because he's streaky. Nor is he a streaky .240 hitter (compared to some other more consistent .240 hitter. He's a .240 hitter and .240 hitters who get regular plate appearances look more streaky than better hitters do. Batters who succeed less often are naturally more prone to experiencing long streaks of failure. And in that context, any streaks of success stand out more than it otherwise might for a better hitter due to its relative rarity.
I can't remember the last time I heard a .320 hitter described as streaky or a .240 hitter described as consistent. Those words are simply used because they feel more descriptive that .320 and .240 respectively, not because they describe some additional variable.
Perhaps Mauer has been hanging out with Bronson Arroyo. Wouldn't mono manifest in part as generalized fatigue?
Ah, the posters. I loved my Red Hot (Barry Larkin on the field)) and 44 Magnum (Eric Davis next to a giant gun loaded with baseballs) posters. I think they still might be at my parents' house somewhere.
I made the mistake of trying to explain the Baysean nature of examining the Red Sox playoff odds to some of my friends. That didn't go well.
Of course, if all we knew about the Sox is that they're 0-5 we could feel pretty good about writing them. But of teams that have this much talent and started 0-5 (or experienced a 5 game losing streak), how did they fare on the season?
The playoff odds report seems to paint a good picture.
That is the general understanding in Reds country and pretty much how Dusty did it in 2010. Here's the data from 2010. Keep in mind that both Hernandez and Hanigan were out for a bit over the summer, so Corky Miller stepped in and they each caught some people they might not have a few times.
By pitcher ethnicity:
Hispanic: Hanigan (3), Hernandez (38), Miller (2)
White: Hanigan (55), Hernandez (48), Miller (16)
Hanigan: Hispanic (3), White (55)
Hernandez: Hispanic (38), White (48)
Miller: Hispanic (2), White (16)
- Veteran English speakers (Bailey, Arroyo) for Hanigan
- Veteran Spanish speakers (Voqluez, Cueto) and youngsters (Leake, Wood, LeCure) for Hernandez
You'll probably see them split the young guys a bit more this year, but otherwise, there you go.
What's the plan to update the depth charts (and I'm assuming this uses the projections in the depth charts)? The Reds depth chart still has Alonso as the primary LF and Carlos Fisher throwing more IP than Sam LeCure.
"Great timing for the Cardinals"? I know we both wear red, but c'mon.
Congratulations Christina. After watching the Dodgers-Giants game last night and not being inundated with inane, uninformed comments, I couldn't help but think that maybe we've turned the corner. ESPN seems to have recognized that the sabermetric approach will find itself on the right side of baseball history and has slowly, thoughtfully turned the ship in that direction. Your addition is a great next step in that direction for them and a great opportunity for baseball fandom to become familiar with your work.
Re; Stubbs, let's not confuse an inability to make contact with a lack of plate discipline. They are very different skills. You don't put up a 9.4% walk rate with a "severe lack of plate discipline". His problem is not swinging at bad pitches or taking too many good ones. Stubbs actually swung a fewer pitches out of the strike zone than major league average and was right at average for swinging at pinches in the zone.
By contrast, he was the 7th worst qualified hitter (of 149) in making contact when he did swing, better only than Reynolds, Dunn, Howard, Pena, Napoli and Kemp.
Now, if the critique of him being a leadoff hitter is his relatively mediocre OBP, I'd agree completely. A player with his skill set is built to hit 6th/7th where he can leverage both his power and speed while minimizing the impact of his low OBP. But with Dusty Baker filling out the lineup card, considerations 1, 2, and 3 for a leadoff hitter are "Does he run fast?", "Does he play CF?", and "Dan he run fast?".
That all said, I'm not sure why Stubbs has to "step up". He's not going to suddenly become Juan Pierre and make contact 90% of the time and bunt for hits 30 times to push his OBP above .380. He is who he is, and that's a very productive player. If we want to talk about stepping up, how about Homer Bailey finally taking that step forward?
It seems that, if anything, we're entering an era where teams have begun to evaluate players using something akin to a WAR framework where all players are being more closely evaluated on their overall productivity, including both offense and defense.
On one end of the spectrum, that means mashers without a position may find it harder to break in to the league. On the other, guys with no bats will similarly face a challenge. At the end of the day, it means you can't get by being a one dimensional player because except at the extremes (Dunn, Everett), it's simply too hard to be productive if you aren't contributing on both sides of the ball.
I can't help but think this is a good thing.
I think this might be backwards: "This is something that usually can only be cured, not managed, but by all accounts he has been managing it very well since he was diagnosed". It should read, "This is something that usually can only be managed, not cured...."
Sappelt = Victorino minus the arm.
Not quite sure I see how the Cards are grouped with the Reds considering the cards got worse defensively this year and were already a fair bit behind the Reds. Here are their DERs from last year with their NL Rank.
CIN .704 (2)
SLN .693 (7)
CHN .680 (13)
HOU .680 (14)
MIL .678 (15)
PIT .673 (16)
The Reds will be getting more play from Paul Janish instead of Orlando Cabrera. The Cards will "traded" Brendan Ryan for Ryan Theriot at SS and John Jay for Lance Berkman in RF. If anything the Cards are likely to be closer to the rest of the pathetic NL Central defenses than they are to move closer to the Reds, who have gold glove caliber defenders at more positions than not.
The Reds have already to giving Hesiey the 4th OF spot. It seems that it's between Lewis and Hermida for the 5th. However, the real eye-opener of the spring in Reds camp has been Dave Sappelt. The Shane Victorino clone (sans arm) has hit .520/.519/.840 with just 2 SO in 25 AB. After what he did last year, he could force his way in to the LF picture sooner rather than later.
Reds Owner = Bob Castellini
Reds CEO = Phil Castellini
Not sure there's a Phil.
It's interesting to hear the Rangers described as a "sabermetrically savvy organization". I'm not sure exactly what was meant by the phrase, but I think it probably refers less to "stats" and more to "making decisions based on evidence and careful analysis". If so, it would be great to see the non saber-friendly crowd be introduced to the idea that advanced stats are only one tool in the sabermetric toolbox.
Love the series, Jason. Hamilton put up a pretty good walk rate for a 19 year old. And while he's slight, he's not small. Any chance for some power to show up as he matures? And if not, he seems to have a similar skill set to Luis Castillo. Not asking for a direct comp, but it seems there's a model for a speedy slap-hitting MI to succeed.
Volquez visa issues have been (will soon be) resolved: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20110303/SPT04/103040355/Volquez-Visa-waiting-me?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Sports|p
Probably the same reason he has the Cardinals as the NL Central's 2010 playoff representatives.
There's a big difference between celebrating that an opposing team just got weaker and celebrating the injury itself.
So do you cut Bailey? How do you send Travis Wood to Louisville? How do you put any of them in the bullpen on long relief duty? It may not be fair, but it makes the most sense.
Actually it's the exact opposite. What makes the wisdom of the crowd so impressive is that it is not coordinated at all, but that on average, they tend to reach the best answer. It's certainly not a consensus.
No kidding. PECOTA sees pretty substantial steps backwards for every single young Red. Regression to the mean is one thing, but ouch! Jay Bruce is the one who looks most underrated to me. PECOTA just doesn't seem to like the guys who are quite young -- Evan Longoria had a similar issue.
I wonder, how would this compare to other avenues of interest? Perhaps we're making a distinction that exists in almost every area, but which is simply not made. Think of any activity in which a person engages. Is a person who loves to eat less of a "fan" if he/she also loves to cook -- and spends more time cooking than eating?
Or heck, maybe Jon Heyman isn't much of a fan of the game because he's got his head buried in a telephone and MS Word.
I think it is the case with any activity that there is a finite amount of it to be experienced directly. Even sitting at a game, a significant part of the experience is not directly the event on the field. Why is the smell of the hot dogs, the buzz of the crowd, or the stories from the color guy any different than an analysis of player performance? And in some ways, isn't performance analysis closer to the heart of the game than some vapid quote given in a press conference or rumor emanating from a front-office coffee monkey?
I've been arguing this with my fellow Reds fans for years. The value of a runner being able to take extra base is greatest when the likelihood of the batter advancing him is lowest. Though, perhaps there's an additional factor of volume of opportunity. A 100 slight boosts is may be more valuable than 50 larger ones.
That said, it seems that SB in particular are more valuable at the bottom of the lineup ahead of guys with low SLG because there will be many fewer extra bases hits making it much less likely that any base-runner would be able to score from 1st and because the cost of making an out is lower.
Simply from a game theory perspective, doesn't it make sense that the choices base-runners and coaches make generally reach a break-even equilibrium? It seems that the decision making process would naturally lead one to take an increasing amount of risk up to the point at which it is no longer beneficial to do so. Given a "wisdom of the crowds" sort of effect, you'd see some players or teams routine come out ahead or behind, but on balance, we're pretty good at finding that break-even point.
A smart team, may consciously be able to stop while its ahead. But absent that, I think the instinctive decision making process will naturally lead to a break-even equilibrium.
So every single Red is likely to be worse than he was last year? Ouch!
So Livan Hernandez is a sideways Derek Lowe?
Though I'm no BP writer, here's the rotation lowdown:
Arroyo, Volquez, Cueto:
These guys are the locks. Arroyo will most likely be the opening day starter due to his veteran status. I'm guessing Voqluez will be given the #2 slot since he's seen as have the higher ceiling, but it could go either way between he and Cueto.
Bailey, Wood, Leake:
Homer Bailey is out options and has not taken well in past attempts to pitch out of the bullpen due to difficulty in getting warmed up quickly. And though it wasn't really talked about nor reflected in his ERA, he really took a big step forward performance-wise last year, especially after coming of the DL in August, as his 3.74 FIP will attest. Travis Wood was stellar after replacing Leake mid-season. Due to his being a lefty and demonstrating he can handle a full workload (202.2 IP last year), he's got the inside track on the 5th starter role. Leake was good while he was fresh, but wore out mid-season. He relies on pinpoint control and good movement, so he's prone to falling off the cliff when he's fatigued. Expect him to start in AAA.
He is not considered a candidate to be a starter this year and will serve as the LH setup man. This is due to both giving him more time to adjust to the culture in a lower stress environment and allowing him to hone his control against major league pitchers.
Both guys have pitched well in AAA (Maloney especially), have had successful cups of coffee and have clearly shown they belong in the majors. But they're more back of the rotation type guys and even a great spring wouldn't put them in the major league rotation picture. One of them could find himself in long relief. But most likely, they're organizational depth who will only get an extended opportunity in the case of multiple injuries to the guys above them.
A given to improve? Of course not. But the changing talent level of existing players on the roster, young and old, should be considered. Offseason decisions are made in consideration of these expectations and it is incomplete to evaluate an offseason while ignoring that.
I think you left off a key way of improving in the off-season, improvement from existing players on the roster. A young player doesn't have to be promoted from the minors to be a step up from the guy who manned the position last year -- a young talented player is likely to be a step up from himself.
I suppose you could argue that the team shouldn't be given credit for that because it's passive, but if we're trying to project improvement, it should factor in.
And just curious, does your projection for Berkman include what is likely to be a disastrous OF adventure?
Agreed on all 4 counts, but unfortunately the odds of Dusty batting Hanigan high in the order is less than him giving Heisey the full-time gig in LF. While Dusty loves speed at the top of the order, he hates slow even more. Hanigan is your standard catcher on the basepaths and Dusty does not wanting him "clogging the bases".
Regarding Janish, I've contended that his 2010 line is completely repeatable. He suffered from an extremely low BABIP in 2009 and 2010 (.230 & .247) and spent much of the 2010 offseason working on his wrist strength so he could drive the ball more. His BABIP was merely reasonable last year (.283) while his other peripherals stayed steady. He's still no big threat, but I'd put his over/under at .260/.330/360, easily enough for a guy who's a top defender.
If Dusty does platoon LF, I imagine you'll see Lewis leading off when plays. I do have to ask, why is a high strikeout rate a bad thing in a leadoff man? Isn't the value of making contact highest when there are men on base? Therefore, doesn't the leadoff spot minimize the cost of the strikeout relative to other outs?
Exactly, Vottos' Improvement rate is so high because he went from solid to very good to MVP over the last 3 years. So even slipping back to the very good category leaves him higher than his 3 year average.
That said, it certainly is not intuitive.
Thoughts on Dave Sappelt? I'm sure this is optimistic, but he seems like a Shane Victorino clone. Maybe that's not a terribly unique-skill set and most of that type don't make it, but the comparison from both a skill and performance perspective seems quite apt. I was very surprised to see him left out of the top 20 altogether.
June 5th? Were schools still in session on June 5th back in 86 in Lake Forest or whichever rich 'burb he lived in?
The Reds seem pretty well set to platoon Jonny Gomes and Fred Lewis in LF this year -- FWIW. The OF probably makes the most sense for platoons these days since you can have a bench OF who can cover all three positions (e.g. Chris Heisey).
I really like the fact that Sierra recognizes that the ability to miss bats and the ability to induce weak contact come from much of the same underlying skills and thus are strongly correlated.
1) I think with relievers, you see teams paying a significant premium for perceived reliability.
2) I think SIERA gives teams too much credit in their assessment of reliever ability. It seems to me that teams pay more attention to ERA and assume a significant correlation between ERA and leverage. That is, if a reliever has an ERA higher than his SIERA (FIP, etc), it is generally assumed that he struggles with high leverage situations.
Combine these and you wind up with the relievers who put up a low era over multiple years in higher leverage situations getting the big bucks. Teams are adding in a variable which has a geometric multiplier effect.
And problem solved. Napoli is now a Ranger.
Jocketty has stated numerous times and reasserted yesterday that Paul Janish is the Reds starter at SS and that Renteria is seen as a backup/utility guy.
And yet, Blyleven had comparable years where he dominated in those non-win old school stats and didn't sniff a Cy Young. I agree with you that the voters aren't using the truly advanced metrics. But even moving them off wins and to things more within the pitcher's control was a big step.
Curious on the exclusion of Trammel. By most objective measures, his career is right on par with Larkin and Jeter's, particularly given his era.
As a person who grew up with Larkin as my hero, some might say that if Larkin had health he would be Derek Jeter. I agree on the defensive difference (Ozzie Smith won at least 2 or 3 GGs on reputation in the early 90s when Larkin was the better defender), but give Barry the 2,000+ PA he lost to injury and he would have cleared a few round number hurdles and gotten a bit more public recognition.
I think we tend to under-estimate the risk the player bears in going year to year. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs just did a good analysis of contracts signed in the 2006 offseason. I won't spoil the article, it's worth a full read, but in long term contracts, teams paid players nearly twice what they produced.
The concept of marginal utility is really important here. Generally speaking, every additional dollar is worth just a little bit less to the player based on what it means to his life. Even assuming he doesn't have a career threatening/ending injury, what if he just puts up an 800ish OPS for the next 3 or 4 years. What kind of money would he make?
While, as a Reds, I love the notion of Bruce putting up 5 wins a year over the course of the deal, I think we should be cognizant of the down side as well. It would be interesting to see this deal analyzed using a set of projections that includes a high-med-low track. It's hard to fully appreciate both the value and risk when looking at just the mean projections.
Why do I get the sense that a reliever award would follow the same voting conventions as the Cy Young, but with saves substituted for wins? That said, if it draws attention to the save stat as one as meaningless as wins (in light of better alternatives), I'm all for it!
And congrats to Jay & David -- great news indeed.
So we should recognize greater players with great teammates (contending team) as well as great players with crappy teammates (highest % of wins added). But what award do we give the great players with mediocre teammates?
That sort of highlights the silliness of giving a player award based on team performance, doesn't it?
Don't get me wrong, I find that analysis interesting, but at the end of the day, the only logically coherent way to do is to frame it as "what player produced the most", isolated from the performance of his teammates.
You don't even need to bring playoff status in the equation. So long as voters look at RBI, they're considering team performance. And Ryan Howard's continued MVP voting success suggest RBI are still a strong factor.
Is this really that complicated? The MVP voting model (for position players is something like this:
Up to __ points:
6 for overall offense (Relative performance -- 6 for best, 5 for next tier, etc.)
2 for winning team (Playoffs = 2, Winning Record = 1)
2 for defense (Notable asset = 2, Not a negative = 1)
1 for "clutch" offense (yes/no)
1 for narrative elements such as novelty (yes/no)
In this James-esque model, Votto gets 11/12 (6/2/1/1/1) whereas Pujols gets 10 (6/1/2/1/0). At the top end, there's not a whole lot of grey area. Votto has the slight, but clear edge. Easy decision.
Obviously that's not the exact model, but I bet it's functionally close to that. Short of actually doing the math (and we know the writers aren't doing math) t comes down to some sort of mental calculus. I don't think they spell it out quite this clearly, but it's a handful of 5 or 6 considerations with a very simple scale that get added up.
So it's not that it was really close and given the wide array of methods used it should have looked like a virtual coin flip. It's that writers generally care about the same few things and all "did the math" pretty much the same way, the simplest version being that both guys were equally productive but Votto led his team to the playoffs.
Sure, the novelty element most likely plays a role here too, but I think that's primarily a tie-breaker and the writers simply didn't see this as a tie needing to be broken.
I guess my comment wasn't clear. I have no interest in Mazzaro. I wanted DeJesus for LF. The idea of another season watching Gomes give back runs and flail at RHP makes me nauseous. As you point out, the Reds could have offered a better package than the A's did, but Jocketty apparently was not interested in doing so, if he was interested in DeJesus at all.
As a Reds fan, I'm disappointed Walt either wasn't interested in Dejesus or wouldn't top the A's offer. We have cheap, mediocre SP options in spades...
Bruce was an absolute beast out there. Consider that he was a plus CF in the minors and got moved to RF primarily because Jr was still around when he first came up and then because it was easier to find a CF glove than a RF bat in FA.
Depends on which WAR framework you look at. Fangraphs has Votto at 7.4 and Pujols at 7.3. B-R has them at 6.2 and 7.2 respectively. Suffice it to say they are not sufficiently different as such to make a clear case for either on the stats alone.
So "upgrading" from Custs' .306 TAv to Vlad's .288 (does TAv adjust for park effect?) helps the offense score runs how exactly? Sure, Cust hit fewer HR last year, but he also had 200 fewer PA. His SLG was actually up from 2009. His OPS and Vlads were almost identical, expect Vlad's was more slugging dependent playing in a park that helps power.
I just don't see how you upgrade your team by spending more money to get the same or lesser production.
If you want to upgrade the offense, you should consider replacing Kouz at 3B with somebody who can find first base.
I'm guessing that most umps already know what areas they struggle with -- or at least vary from their peers. The hard part, I have to believe, is translating that knowledge in to what they're seeing on the field.
It would seem we could pretty easily provide umpires real-time feedback via a simple LED indicator built in to the device they currently use to track outs and pitch counts.
It would be used solely for their own edification, helping them to correct any systematic biases. As with all professionals, they will resist feedback systems which are (seemingly) punitive rather than instructive.
I think a lot of good could be done by simply taking steps to make pitchf/x a tool which helps them do their jobs better rather than a way to show fans when they screwed up.
It makes me wonder just how much those pitch tracker graphics influence those fo us watching the game. My eyes told me he was giving the guys a ton of room on the outside of the plate for lefties. But given the offset from the cameras, perhaps the graphic was introducing a bias.
I do wonder, why not simply have a camera looking straight down on top of the plate? If not to adjust the calibration the interpretation of data as it comes in to the system in real time, at least to provide a second input on TV?
There's absolutely no excuse for the Reds horrible defense, but not only did Utley not get hit, but he was out at 2B (and missed 3B for that matter... but the Reds didn't appeal). You can't get just go back and change one thing and extrapolate, but it could have been a very different game if the umps hadn't compounded the Reds' errors.
I realize it's much more complicated than this, but for reference, 2010 aggregate batting lines...
Nix is a lefty and has hit Oswalt extremely well in a pretty limited sample (18 PA, 1.732 OPS, 2 SO). Also, Hanigan is a better defensive catcher than Hernandez, but that's offset by Arroyo as he doesn't hold guys well.
Without looking at the game's chart, we can't say whether or not Cabrera's claim has any validity. That said, the Larson comp is an interesting one, considering how he got his last out. There was no doubt Halladay was absolutely dealing and I don't think Cabrera would disagree. The claims aren't mutually exclusive. Give the league's best pitcher a few more inches to work with and it's gonna be a really rough night for the opposing hitters.
Just thought I'd point out that Bruce hit .277/.352/.547 against lefties this year. And considering he's one of the best defensive RF in baseball, I don't think you'd platoon him regardless of how well Heisey plays. The real Heisey argument is about who should be starting in LF.
Disappointing. It's really frustrating to hear media people cite their coverage decisions based on previous coverage choices. Red Sox Nation is what it is in part because of the disproportionate coverage the organization receives. People care about them so much because of things like this which blow their accomplishments out of proportion and basically ignore teams not on the coasts. But they'd rather bury their heads in the sand and insist they're merely reacting to society rather than active crafting the narrative it adopts.
"I believe that being there is part of the criteria. Josh Hamilton just wasn't there enough and it didn't matter as the Rangers had a big lead in their division."
Why do you think the Rangers had a big lead in their division? A big reason why was that Josh Hamilton was so freaking awesome before he got hurt.
I appreciate the value of being there. When you looking at comparisons to players above some level of replacement, Hamilton still comes out looking pretty darn good -- even if the Rangers did have to use a replacement level player in his stead for September.
In describing Gomes' speed, you cite stats which are also highly dependent on his decision making faculties. As a Reds fan watching him this year, I don't think he's slow by any means. Rather, he reads the ball poorly off the bat and takes indirect routes in the field. On the basepaths, he often makes curious decisions, frequently spurred by over-hustling.
By contrast, running out infield hits is all hustle, no decision. There is no real choice involved other than the one which results in the guy busting it down the line as fast as he can.
While obviously this year is an outlier for Jonny, I'd be curious to see how well IFH% correlates with the other indicators of speed you've mentioned.
Of course, if BP had the resources of a baseball team, it would be quite a different organization to begin with. Above all though, particularly with this community and online technology, transparency is a powerful tool in the customer service game.
I think it does, to an extent, go back to the name of the institution. Is it a Hall of Fame or a Hall of Merit? If it's the former, it very much is you'll know it when you see it, pretty much by definition. In that context, a HOFer is a guy who gets voted in to the Hall of Fame.
However, these days it's treated much more like a Hall of Merit. I think we run in to trouble by treating it as an either or question. Inevitably, the "Fame" crowd ends up trying to justify itself by citing statistics. But really, the statistics are just that, a justification. It's not that a guy has X number of wins, but the feeling that writer got when said player stepped on the mound. Hence Jack Morris and not Bert Blyleven.
I think we'd be much better off with an inclusive Hall that saw both merit and fame as avenues to inclusion. Greatness should be recognized, even if it isn't fully appreciated in the hearts and minds of writers. But the hearts and minds argument counts too. As an institution mean to chronicle the game, it is incomplete if it doesn't recognize those players who played a crucial role.
My standard is this, 30 years from now, can I give a thorough accounting of this era without this player's name coming up. If not, he's probably a Hall of Famer. We do much more harm by omitting deserving players than by allowing some guys to sneak in who might have benefited from circumstance more-so than truly being elite. Create an "inner circle" or tier system if you really want that differentiation, but we a great disservice by narrowing the game's history such that when HOF elections come up each year, we spend more time and energy on those who are left out than on those who are enshrined.
It'd be interesting to see a study of the advancement curve of players who walk a ton in the low minors but who don't display great contact or power. In the upper levels, I would have to believe that he'll start facing pitchers who can locate a lot better, including with breaking stuff. There will basically be no reason to throw him a pitch out of the zone.
So I tried to dig up a few comps by looking at guys with career numbers of: AVG<.260, OBP>.350 and SLG<.380 and found a few interesting names of recent vintage: John Cangelosi, FP Santangelo, the aforementioned Lance Blankenship, Walt Weiss, Rich Becker. Though a bit older, perhaps the ideal for this type of player would be Ed "The Walking Man" Yost.
I understand the physique critique, but how many players like Dunn have there been? It's not like he's Cecil Fielder.
As for his durability, in his 9 full seasons including this one, he's averaged over 150 games. From 2003-2009, he averaged 158 games. I'm not sure how much more durable than that you can get.
I think the bigger risk is that as he ages, his bat speed will dip, he'll be less dangerous in the zone, guys will throw him more strikes and his OBP will dip. That's certainly not bad, per se'. But, as we've seen with Branyan (and Jack Cust), you can't count on regular playing time if you aren't absolutely elite like Dunn or Thome. Hopefully more and more teams will join the crowd who appreciate the relative unimportance of AVG, but there are a limited number of roster spots for guys like that.
Whether he deserves at bats and whether he actually gets them are two different questions.
I do find it interesting that we have a tendency to want to give the Cardinals credit for their success against good teams while minimizing how pathetic it is to have lost against the bad teams.
Splits can be deceiving. They allow us to tell stories that are interesting and then to extrapolate based on those revealed characteristics. But the question is, do we really have reason to believe that the Cardinals will continue to beat up good teams? Maybe you say yes. But why? If they are truly that good, why do they struggle against bad teams? Or put another way, if the Cards are really a team who will continue to beat the rest of the good teams more often than not (call them a .600 team), what are the odds they'd play so poorly against the bad ones?
They aren't one or the other, they're both. At least at that level of analysis, we can't say much of anything -- particularly not that the Cardinals are a better team than the Reds.
That said, I think Clonod has the key point. The Cards are an extremely top heavy team and LaRussa has been very careful at making sure his best players, pitchers in particular, are on the field against the good teams. The Reds have faced Carp 5x, Wainright 4x, Garcia 3x, Penny 3x, Lohse 1x, Walters 1x.
The Reds by contrast are a very flat team, particularly on the pitcher staff. There's essentially no way for them to manipulate the rotation to put them at an advantage.
60% of the time, the Cardinals are a little better than the Reds. 40% of the time, they're much worse. It's sort of unfortunate (though part of the fun) that baseball "teams" change so drastically from day to day. From the perspective of a Reds fan, it's quite frustrating that the playoffs are structured to put top heavy teams at a massive advantage.
With baseball structured such that the full team is very rarely used in single game, the best change MLB could make to the playoffs in my mind is to run them like long series instead of compilations of single games. The playoffs should be there to let the best teams battle it out. The current system would be like playing 4v4 basketball or 8v8 football in the playoffs. It's silly on the face of it to so drastically alter the game for those sports. But baseball has no problems changing things up such that teams only have to use half their roster.
The identification of quality relievers by ignoring ERA and paying attention to the TTOs remains a major inefficiency in the sport.
As a Reds fan, the biggest surprises of the season have been Mike Leake, Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo. Obviously Votto is doing beyond what anybody reasonably expected, but it was in the realm of expectations.
On the premier Reds forum (RedsZone), I think we averaged an expected win% right around .500, with an expected runs scored & allowed total in the low 700s. We're pretty much on track pitching wise, but the offense has definitely exceed expectations.
The Reds bench doesn't get talked about but you're looking at 5 guys with OPSs north of .750 who don't play every day (Hanigan, Cairo, Janish, Heisey, Nix). That's been huge.
A few thoughts:
- Where does the ability of an organization to develop come in to the calculus? Presumably, PECOTAs projections for minor leaguers is less accurate than with known commodities, thereby biasing its projections against teams with lots of young talent.
- What about defense. If strong team defense tends to be a characteristic of traditionalist teams and is absent or undervalued by PECOTA, this is an obvious place for error.
- What level of error do we see here and to what degree can that be explained by things which are essentially random (e.g. significant injuries) which just randomly happen to be correlated with sabermetric leaning over this time period. Are we perhaps making a 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' mistake?
- Or if we believe that keeping players healthy is a skill which an organization can possess, its absence from the model could be reflected here.
- Lastly, what about the value gained (or lost) through synergies (on incongruities) in roster construction. Take a great defensive SS and a ground ball pitcher. PECOTA will not account from the ways in which they will benefit each other in its projections. Are non-saber teams building more efficient synergistic rosters?
It should be noted that Cabrera wasn't exactly providing much in the way of production to begin with. While the Reds shouldn't (and likely don't) expect Janish to sustain his current slash stats, his glovework makes him as productive as Cabrera, if not moreso. Heisey has stepped back in the role Edmonds took from him and performed well and Chris Valaika is hitting .333 through his first 5 games.
The pitch staff is certain a bit of a concern, but that's where the Reds really have "holding depth". Sam LeCure shut down the Cubs for 2 innings yesterday in long relief, filling in for Leake. Chapman will be up this week, obviously. And they still have Matt Maloney, Enerio Del Rosario, Danny Ray Herrera, Carlos Fisher and Jordan smith in Louisville, all of whom have been with the Reds at some point this year and are major league caliber pitchers.
Suffice it to say that depth has been this team's strength all year long and as a Reds fan, I'm not too concerned about getting people healthy for October.
Thanks so much for writing this up, Ben. Shame more wasn't done to publicize that the video stream was available. I know a few people who would've tuned in had they known.
Regarding parity, we should remember that the ideal circumstance is one of a parity of opportunity, not parity of outcomes. I would argue that the parity of outcomes seen in the NL is, in part, due to the relative parity of resources. The lack of a Yankees to set the competitive bar has a ripple effect throughout the league.
Will, "no other way to explain" seems a bit extreme to me. I actually agree that fatigue is a likely factor, given that Leake's control has fallen off and his fastball flattened out.
However, his early success was buoyed by a lucky BABIP that has since regressed and now that he's been around the league a bit, I'm sure hitters are a bit more prepared for him. Sometimes regression is just regression, a flattening out of the distribution of random events as the sample size gets bigger.
All that said, when we say "fatigue", to what degree is that primarily arm fatigue vs. other muscles (legs, back, etc.) that lead to inconsistent mechanics. And further, how does a player's build affect this? Is Leake, due to his slight build make more likely to get fatigued than say, Johnny Cueto, who is also short but much thicker?
A roto team analyzer in which you could input your team and get an automated summary stats projection and analysis relative to historical standings (allow us to put in current totals) would be very helpful -- and different than anything I'm aware of.
Just wanted to say thanks for the shout-out, Ken. I enjoyed the full 42.
For all of the (well deserved) attention Votto and Rolen are getting, Phillips should be getting a bit more love. The move to the top of the lineup has really brought out the better parts of his offensive game. His .292/.348/.472 would all be career highs and his sparking defense at 2B have made him among the more valuable position players in the NL (21st by WARP1 and 11th by Fangraph's WAR).
It's a shame it took Dusty over 2 years to figure out how to utilize one of his better players. Now if only he could figure out what to do with Orlando Cabrera. Make no mistake, the Reds are winning in spite of their manager, not because of him.
Baseball Prospecting: A Journey Through the Last 15 Years of the National Pastime
Funny how Alonso suddenly has found his power 1-year after the hamate bone injury. Who could've predicted that?
If we ran correlations of wOBA using only samples of 300 PA, would the correlation be as high? That is, I wonder if defense will naturally be less correlated on a year-to-year basis due to smaller annual samples?
Perhaps it's not just that the measurement of defensive performance is less accurate. Perhaps it's also that defensive performance is intrinsically more variable.
One thing that I think would help immensely is separating aspects of fielding. We have the components of hitting, but only loosely with fielding. A fielding version of Dan Fox's base-running stat would be very helpful.
- Positioning: The ability to minimize the distance a player must travel to make a play on the ball
- Range: The ability to reach a ball hit a given distance from your initial position, in a given direction.
- Hands: The ability to field the ball presuming you've reached it.
- Arm: The ability to convert a fielded ball in to an out and/or limit base-runner advancement.
Setting aside the run conversation question, simply knowing the ability of fielders to reach balls X distance away from them given Y time would be a huge help.
I would love to see sabermetrics get in to the area of converting what scouts look for in to quantifiable figures and trying to aggregate from there. Let's get the skills right and not just focus on performance.
I think the media are much more interested in putting Chapman on the 25 man roster than the Reds themselves are. Edinson Volquez will be starting on Saturday -- he probably merits a mention over the guy who not see the majors at all. Also, if defense matters, then LF is just a big a problem as SS if Gomes continues to get 80%+ of the playing time.
On Volquez, he's shown pretty solid control in the minors with a 28:8 K:BB in 31 IP. (8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9)
Of course, that's against AAA hitters who are more likely to chase out of the zone, but its promising nonetheless. Personally, you could put me in the group that would have like to see him come back as a reliever for the remainder of the season, as I think his stuff would player particularly well there, as opposed to that of Travis Wood or Matt Maloney.
I know it's close, but I was surprised to see Prado over Phillips:
AVG: .294 v .325
R: 66 v 60
HR: 12 v 10
RBI: 30 v 39
SB: 10 v 4
I guess it's a question of AVG or SB. You really can't go wrong either way. Though Yahoo has Prado ranked slightly higher as well. I guess in this environment when steals are easier to come by, AVG has more weight.
I think the time issue is a red herring. Yes, it needs to be addressed and I think you've done it well. But even if there was certainty of replay adding no more than 3 minutes per game on average, I don't think opinions would change much.
The concern from the players is having their fate decided by somebody who they can't look in the eye and a significant amount of empathy for a guy who is expected to be perfect but is still human. In an odd way, umpires being wrong on occasion reinforces the idea that the game is decided by imperfect people doing their best on the field of play.
The concern from the umpire is that replay suggests they aren't doing their best or that they aren't the best at what they do. Umpires are people and people have egos. And the more you have invested in something, the greater pride you take in your ability to do it well. Replay seems like an insult.
From a change management perspective, I think you most need to deal with these hurdles, the latter in particular.
If/when they get the playoffs, they're going to be facing teams' top pitchers. The Reds will counter with Harang? Arroyo? Cueto? Chapman will be in the pen, if he can stick. I don't want to count on Volquez considering it's been 10 months since TJ. And Wood is simply a solid back-end option. The Reds have a lot of depth, but no elite SP and it's going to hard to win a playoff series without it.
Regarding the bench, I agree Cairo should go, but if he's getting playing time, that's already an issue. C is just fine; Hernandez and Hanigan are an above average combo. SS, however, is a huge hole. I'm just not sure anybody is available who can fill it. Same goes with LF to a lesser degree, so long as Jonny Gomes RBI totals continue to mask his horrific defense.
Consider the market, SP seems like the best place for the Reds to upgrade.
As a Reds fan, it's a bit disappointed to not see us linked with any of the top starters on the market. We have the prospects to land somebody. We are clearly in position to benefit greatly from doing so. And Castellini has set repeatedly that if the Reds are in the hunt, Jocketty will be given what he needs. Perhaps it's the cried-wolf issue of Reds as (underachieving) dark horse over the past few years or perhaps it's Jocketty's famously closed lip approach to personnel moves, but the media's reluctance to even mention the Reds as a possible destination is disheartening.
I think we overlook the powerful effect of symmetry on the human psyche. We love things that are symmetrical; it's in our hard wiring.
There's something that just feels right about a bell-shaped lineup. Add in the aesthetic beauty of the imagined sequence:
1) Lead-off slaps a single and steals 2B.
2) #2 hitter exhibits bat control in grounding out to 2B, advancing the runner to 3B.
3) #3 hitter either gets a hit or a sacrifice to drive in the runner.
I think that when many managers make out a lineup card, this scenario is on their mind. They choose players specifically based on their perceived ability to bring this sequence to life. The abstract value of OBP is trumped by the anticipated pain caused by watching a slower runner unable to put himself in scoring position (an antiquated concept which itself devalues getting to 1B) or fail to score. It feels lazy.
Dusty seems to base much of his coaching philosophy on what he learned and felt as a player. It was about being active and making things happen. Playing the game the right way involves scenarios such as the one laid out above and his lineups seem designed to realize it. Abstract concepts about designed to take greatest advantage of all possible scenarios just don't fit in to his mode of thinking. The idea of a slower player who may not have great bat control being at the top of the lineup just runs counter to everything he values. If he can get OBP from that fast guy, great. If not, oh well, at least he can make things happen.
Kevin, not too high on Zach Cozart?
I did the math and got a chance of 1 in 59,388 of exactly 14 of 24 and 1 in 50,463 of at least 14 of 24. Of course it took me a good 45 minutes to remember stats 101 and I still probably screwed it up... It was an impressive feet in any event.
I've been making this same suggestion for a years now. Aside from the befits already listed, it takes the bias out of scoring decisions which are fairly ludicrous to begin with.
It also gives the umps an opportunity to see the game from a different perspective, watch the game with Pitchf/x, etc. which can only lead to even better quality umpiring as they are basically training themselves once every 5 games.
As a Reds fan, the idea of using Cairo everyday in Votto's absence made me sick. However, he did hit .429/.484/.714 during that stretch. That should have made the "judge the outcomes, not the process" types happy. Of course, you look at the Reds bench and there weren't exactly stellar alternatives short of playing Gomes at 1B (something he's never done) and Heisey in LF.
I think most of us Reds fans understand this team is playing over its head. However, with the depth of young talent at both the major league level and in AAA (no mention of Matt Maloney, again...) keeps us optimistic. Between Volquez, Chapman, Wood, Maloney, LeCure, Del Rosario, and a soon-to-be back Jared Burton, the Reds have plenty of options to upgrade the bullpen as the summer progresses. I could see both Volquez and Chapman in the pen as power middle relievers to finish out the year.
Interestingly, Bailey was working down in the 92-93 range in his prior two (dominant) starts and working very much in the Bryan Price style but was back up in the mid 90's on Sunday. No clue what to make of that, but thought it may be relevant.
Re: Alonso, its amazing the difference a healthy wrist makes. He played the 2nd half of last year recovering from broken hamate bones. He lost a good deal of power and is starting to get it back. The patience and contact rates have always been there.
A big chunk of the Reds mediocre defensive performance to date has come at the hand of Drew Stubbs, who is by all accounts a terrific defender. Other poor defensive performances have come from Rolen, Cabrera, and Gomes. Only the latter two are truly below average from a talent level. I don't think their current defensive performance is reflective of their true talent and that you'll see them move in the top the 10 as the season goes on.
That said, I think your 84 win estimate sounds about right. But they have 88 win upside if the pitching stays solid. The RS-RA total was a bit skewed by a few early blowouts where the SP exploded. Obviously you can't just toss out the bad and keep the good, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them finish with something like 780 RS to 740 RA, which would give them a pthpat of 85 wins.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't think I'd be optimistic about a guy who has succeeded on the back of wonderful luck. He still strikes out less guys than average and walks more. His saving grace is his very good (low)GB rate and correspondingly low HR/9.
To say "Pelfrey is not as good as good as his 0.69 ERA indicates" might be the understatement of the young season.
Bitter, party of 1? I would appreciate not being lumped in with the broader Reds fanbase, such as your apparently poorly informed uncles and cousins, and the stuck-in-the-70s local media (save for C Trent Rosencrans). As somebody who has not lived in Reds country in 20 years, who prides himself on his objectivity, and who is routinely critical our of backwards management, I heartily object to your stereotyping.
I'm not apologizing for anybody and I don't think there is any homerism in my post. I'll happily provide any evidence you'd like to back up my claims. Don't be confused; I do not believe the Reds are a playoff contender as currently constructed and I have very little faith in our management group's ability to get us there any time in the near future.
However, because of Cincy's relatively small market, I think most analysis of the team is relatively lazy and simplistic, based primarily on an narrative that is no longer relevant. The problem with our prevention to date this year, as noticed in our team ERA has been more a failure of defense than pitching. That was my point. A team ERA of 4.72 (our current FIP) would hardly be bragging. But it would be more in line with our staff's abilities.
I actually find it sad because you see a guy like Jay Bruce, who is by all accounts quite intelligent, go from talking like this "It's not about taking pitches; it's about taking pitches you can't do anything with. It's about taking balls and swinging at drivable strikes." to this "it's hard to know how to win until you've done it. That's what we're struggling with right now." When you've got your players worried about "knowing how to win" instead of "knowing how to play the game well", you know you've got a bigger problem than just talent.
At the end of the season, I believe you'll see a team that is league average in terms of run prevention and below average at run production. The rotations' current struggles and the team's recent history of poor pitching is a bit of a red herring in discussing what 2010 has in store for the organization.
Much is being made of the Reds struggle on the mound, but I posit the real problem is in the field. Team ERA: 6.02, Team FIP: 4.76. This is the 2nd worst differential in the majors so far.
When you look at the primary culprits, given the early fielding data, 4 guys make up the vast majority of the problem. Stubbs, Cabrera, Gomes, and Rolen.
Anybody who knows anything about Stubbs knows that he's an elite defensive CF. While he may have played poorly thus far, those numbers will be positive when its all said and done. Rolen, while certain lacking in his once amazing range, is still very solid and should be in the vicinity of average.
Cabrera and Gomes on the other hand... Yikes! Gomes is a DH in LF, Dunnesque you might say. Cabrera, while once a very good SS, is now a SS in name only and you don't need advanced defensive metrics to see that. His range is horrible.
The Reds' DER this year is .672 (13th in the NL). Last year it was .705, 3rd in the NL. Given that the team is average or better everywhere else on the diamond and that the only significant changes are Rolen for EE (big upgrade) and Cabrera for Hairston/Gonzalez/Janish/Rosales (downgrade), we should expect the Reds defense to be at least league average this year. As the defense performs up to its abilities, the Reds team ERA will drop accordingly. And if Dusty wises up to Cabrera's ineptitude and plays Janish more, the team's defense should yet again be an asset and it's run prevention more middle of the pack.
If you really want to describe a long term concern for the Reds, take a look at the offense and its collective inability to find first base.
I would definitely like to see this sort of analysis done in consideration of the range of possible outcomes as opposed to simply the average expected outcomes. One significant advantage to having two players is the mediating effect on the extremes. In any investment strategy, level of diversification is always a consideration.
The other concern is that you've made value the #1 concern, rather than production. I could put an extremely value positive team on the field and win just 75 games. That's hardly considered success. And that's what makes these trades seem so silly on the face of them. All of the players listed here are considered bargains in the big picture. If you're looking to get more value for your payroll, you don't go about it by trading guys who are only really, really good bargains for a guy who is the best bargain. There's just way too much excess salary elsewhere which can be trimmed without the production expense that goes along with it.
Though perhaps this is your point. The only trades that would make sense for the Rays would make no sense for the other teams; thus Longoria is virtually untradeable.
Regarding Leake's performance, he was around the zone all night. If he were a veteran pitcher, he may very well have only walked 2 or 3 and gotten a few more strikeouts. That's not to say he was "squeezed" per se', but the umps certainly did him no favors on the margins. And for a pitcher with as much movement as Leake has, that can make for a tough night. By contrast, Tom Gorzelanny was getting a lot of borderline calls, especially on the outside black against righties.
Expect Leake to be much more pitch efficient in the future.
Great article, Russell. However, I've always interpreted DIPS theory a bit differently than you've suggested here. It's not that pitchers have relatively little influence over batted ball outcomes.
Rather, it's the difference in ability between established major league pitchers to influence batted balls is much, much smaller than their ability to strike batters out, walk batters (or to not do so), and to not allow home runs. Or perhaps more accurately, because there is a relatively small set of skills that drive a pitcher's influence on PA outcomes and because of the preceding point, once you control for strikeouts, walks, and homers, you've pretty much already captured all of the information you can about his ability to influence PA outcomes.
It makes logical sense as well. If a pitcher is particularly talented at getting players to hit the ball poorly, he's probably pretty good about missing bats altogether and/or keeping the ball in the yard. I think your analysis is fascinating and quite useful from a WPA perspective, but I don't think it really sheds any new light on DIPS theory.
To be fair, there's some selection bias here. Why 1993? Are we back to pre-93 levels? Nope. But go back to 2000 and you have two sets of trends in each case.
93-00: Decrease in SB & Sac, increase in HR.
01-09: Flat, flat, decrease in HR.
I doubt that means that small ball is coming back. But the data suggest to me a new plateau that has barely changed since the turn of the century.
If Balentien fails to make the Reds roster, he will have to be passed through waivers as he's out of options. For that reason alone he could edge out Nix.
Why is Volquez listed as starter #3 if he's projected as #6 in terms of # of starts (appropriately so)?
If it's ordered in terms of the actual order Reds expected rotation, the expected order is Harang, Cueto, Arroyo, Bailey, #5. And while I know we'll know for sure in 2 weeks, Matt Maloney has the inside track if the spot doesn't go to Chapman (and all signs are that Chapman will get some AAA time).
I don't think this is a problem at all, except when Morgan thinks that his being an ex-player makes him qualified to dismiss advanced statistical analysis out of hand. I love hearing Morgan explain how to get a lead or what a guy is trying to do at the plate. He is uniquely qualified to share his analysis of those things.
But if he wants to include in his analysis things that can or have been proven to be incorrect through quantitative analysis, he's no longer enhancing the broadcast. And, unfortunately for Joe, there is an increasing amount of territory, particularly in the world of valuation, where sabermetrics is more insightful than Joe.
It's when the ex-ballplayers dismiss out of hand the sabermetric approach and lessons simply because it does not align with their existing perspective, when they cannot recognize the limits of their knowledge, that the problems arise.
Bravo, Matt. I've never seen the issue so clearly articulated.
Tommy, sorry if my comments came across as mean-spirited as it seems they may have. That certainly was not my intent. Rather, I think that while your ultimate conclusion is certainly accurate, there is a lot of turnover so the 6th guy is likely to get a fair number of starts, that your analysis did not really address the question you posed.
You set up the analysis with "A more basic question we could ask about all of these battles is whether the ostensible winner will end up pitching more than the loser." This very clearly means specific Player A (the guy who wins the #5 job) vs. specific Player B (the guy who loses the #5 job).
However, you then immediately re-frame the question fundamentally by making it not about the players in competition in the spring, but by the players who eventually wind up with the 5th and 6th most starts at the end of the season. For all we know, those guys could have been the #1 and #2 starter out of camp --- telling us nothing about the eventual opportunities of the guy who made the team and the guy who didn't. By doing it this way, all we're learning about is the general distribution of starts among starters, not about the starts for the two players on whom the entire article is premised.
So I've posited that despite your conclusion, which might lead one to the understanding that the answer to this question is 'no', spring training battles don't really matter, that the answer is actually yes, such battles do have significance. Because while it's highly likely that the #6 starter will see some action, he will not likely see as much action as he would have had he begun the year in the rotation -- or as much as the guy to whom he lost the ST competition. Unfortunately, you didn't really analyze this comparison.
Yes, rotations are turbulent and the guy who loses the competition for the #5 job will get some opportunity to pitch. We can agree on that. But the amount of difference between some opportunity of unknown proportion due to roster turbulence and the opportunity that the loser would have had if he had earned the job out of spring training is still an open question.
I think you set up the analysis in such a way as to make the conclusion both self-evident and misleading. The battle in Spring Training is not for what player will get the 5th most starts. You've introduced a selection bias wherein if a guy who breaks camp as the "5th starter" performs well and, perhaps most of all, stays healthy, he won't be looked upon as the 5th starter using your definition.
But that's not what a 5th starter is. The 5th starter is the guy whom the team expects to be the 5th most effective starting pitcher. Thus, the point of comparison which is more appropriate is the performance of the the guy who opened the season as the "5th starter" compared to the rest of the guys who made starts but who were not part of the rotation when the season started. And the reason the battle in ST matters is because it's possible that a better pitcher will never get an opportunity to be the "5th starter" if he doesn't win the job at the start of the season. Your analysis obscures this.
For example, let's say a team gives a guy, let's call him Joe Veteran (or Kip Wells if you prefer), the 5th starter job and he puts up a 5.50 ERA while making 28 starts. He gets skipped a few times but pretty much keeps his rotation spot all year. Meanwhile, Stud McRookie loses out in the ST competition and goes to AAA.
Midway through the season, the team's #2 starter goes down and Stud McRookie gets called up. From that point forward, he makes 14 starts and puts up a 4.50 ERA. Let's also assume that a collection of other guys get a handful of starts due to various injuries.
Looking at the guys who opened the season in the rotation:
#1 starter = 34 GS, 3.25 ERA
#2 starter = 18 GS, 3.75 ERA
#3 starter = 26 GS, 4.25 ERA
#4 starter = 30 GS, 4.75 ERA
Joe Veteran = 28 GS, 5.50 ERA
Stud McRookie = 14 GS, 4.50 ERA
other guys = 12 GS, 6.00 ERA
Using your methodology, we wouldn't consider Joe Veteran the #5 starter. You'd be looking at the guy who was expected to be the teams' 2nd most effective starter as the "5th starter" because he spend half the year on the DL. And then you'd be saying that the 5th starter decision wasn't that important because there was only a 4 start difference.
But that's not the right point of comparison. We should be looking at the fact that Joe Veteran put up 28 GS of a 5.50 ERA while Stud McRookie only got 14 GS while putting up a 4.50 ERA. That's going to mean 1.4 wins worth of difference because of your choice. That's not a huge deal, but it's significant in my book.
One other thought, any conversation about stats has to start with the concepts of sample size and observational bias, as you clearly illustrated above with the Chipper example. Unless and until you can get people to accept the premise that their personal experience is both limited and tinted and that randomness makes small sample sizes virtually meaningless, the rest of the analytical approach is sort of pointless.
I've had a many a conversation derailed by the "well I watched 5 games and didn't see what you are suggesting is actually happening, therefore I refuse to believe you..." argument. The fundamental acceptance of the rules for quantitative analysis is often the stumbling block.
Great, great column. The communication has to improve and we need to get casual fans to take the first step before we convince them that the 10th one matters.
I think your RBI example is a great one and it makes me think of Bill James. There's a reason so many of us got in to Sabermetric thinking through James. James wouldn't lead with the stat. He'd lead with a question -- why does Ryan Howard drive in so many runs? The answer to that question would be a combination of opportunity and SLG%. Suddenly you're teaching without preaching.
And I think you're right about the role of the ex-players too. This has been made very clear recently by Harold Reynolds' deer-in-headlights look during those stat conversations on MLB.com. Can these guys be educated off-air? Can somebody give them a tutor? How can we expect them to contribute if they don't believe it to begin with?
Report was just corrected -- deal is a minor league one. It's still likely Gomes makes the 25 man roster, but the 5th OF (most likely Balentien or Nix) is still in question.
Johnny Gomes just signed a 1 year major league deal. It's probably safe to take Heisey off the depth chart and give Dickerson more of a split role between LF and CF.
It seems there is somewhat of a trend in which guys peak a certain amount of time after they make their major league debut. This seems consistent with the hitters as well and is completely logical. Perhaps it would be useful to categorize players first, not by role but by stuff -- perhaps handedness and average fastball velocity (the latter as more of a proxy for the complex variations of pitch types and velocities).
Nothing personal to John, but this is really, really weak stuff. If I wanted analysis like: "Why they might not win: "Because they never win anymore"..." I'd just hop over to ESPN or read some Ken Rosenthal. I thought BP was supposed to be better than this. I thought I was paying for actual analysis.
Aroldis Chapman as a player who might disappoint? Who might he disappoint? Most of us Reds fans don't expect him to be in Cincinnati this year and certainly aren't counting on anything from him for a successful 2010.
Bruce as a player who might surprise? Every projection system I've seen calls for a breakout. The only people who would be surprised are those who don't expect the top prospects in the game to be any good. As for his "ruined" 2009, he put a .773 OPS as a 22 year old despite the worst BABIP in baseball -- none of which had to do with his broken wrist.
How about Chris Heisey for a player who could surprise? Or maybe Matt Maloney? Or even post-hype sleeper Bailey who found the mid 90's stuff he lost for 2 years? How about Bronson Arroyo and his declining peripherals or Votto and his inflated BABIP for a guy who might disappoint?
I don't need the projection for my favorite team to be all flowers and rainbows nor does analysis need to be an exercise in linear algebra, but something more than a cursory, non-analytical, non-insightful look would be nice for a season preview. This article is behind the paywall, right? Are "causal" fans who might enjoy this level of analysis really paying for BP content? It's increasingly clear that the bulk of the interesting analysis is taking place elsewhere these days.
Until and unless ESPN regularly shows the slash stats on a regular basis, showing OPS was a bridge too far. Most baseball fans still are wary of OBP as a better measure of offensive production than AVG and have only a vague idea of what a good SLG looks like. How can they possible appreciate OPS?
OPS only makes sense once you understand OBP and SLG. And given ESPN (and Fox, etx) insistence on the AVG, HR, RBI lines at the bottom of the screen, I don't see that changing anytime soon. You can't jump from arithmetic to trig. You have to have the basic algebra first.
What's funny about this is that most fans couldn't even properly define batting average because of the complex nature of the "AB" denominator. This isn't about logic or complexity. It's about familiarity.
I'm seeing the same thing, Luke. The runs scored totals seem way too low. It definitely looks like the change to the pitcher projections did something funny system wide to the relationship between offensive performance and the run projections.
Please, please, please reach out to MLB Network. They desperately need somebody with an analysis background to lead the discussions about new stats. I'm encouraged to see them start to present things like VORP to the broader public, but currently when they have discussions about new stats and methods of analysis it's just the same talking heads (Ken Rosenthal in particular) dismissing them out of hand instead of debating their utility on the merits.
It seems Vasgersian is probably the only guy on there who gets it, but he's not in a position to give commentary.
I was surprised to see Brandon Phillips as a red (rating...) given that he's 29 and never had a major injury. He's played an average of 150 games a year since staring full time 4 years ago, never less than 141. What risk factors am I missing here?
Time to remove Taveras. Dickerson should be considered the backup CF and Heisey added to the LF depth chart.
I would echo the sentiments about Volquez (and Arredondo, of course) -- 20 starts is extremely optimistic. Particularly given the Reds depth in SP, it's not likely they'll rush him back.
You could probably pencil in Miles to Sutton's role, but that's yet to be determined as Miguel Cairo is also in the picture.
Lastly, all signs from the offseason suggests they see Hernandez as the primary catcher.
I'm surprised to see Cozart not in the top 10. He's a solid, if not plus, defender at SS and took a huge step forward last year in AA in terms of plate discipline.
Also, Bruce is poised for a huge 2010. While his LD% was low, his .222 BABIP was ridiculous. Even with the rough batting average, he put up a 9.8 BB% and a .246 ISO at the age of 22.
From the scouting perspective, he was much less jumpy when he came back in September. He stopped chasing stuff so much and hit the ball to all fields. The .326/.426/.652 line he put up in September is a bit of a stretch, but .270/.380/.520 is a very real possibility.
Also, FWIW, Jocketty recently mentioned that Frazier will get a chance in ST to compete for the SS job.
Very good point. Trying to find old articles in particular is an exercise in futility. Better delivery of existing content would be a huge advance.
I'd like to see greater engagement with the rest of the sabermetric community. There is a ton of great stuff happening at Fangraphs, HardballTimes, Tango's Blog, BTB, etc. and BP seems to be cordoned off from those free sites. While BP does good work, it seems as if it moves in parallel with the rest of the community, rather than as a part of it.
This is particularly evident when it comes to open engagement and debate about the use of custom stats. Criticisms are leveled, but never addressed. If BP's stats are really the best, defend them openly. I don't mind paying for BP content in the least, but I think it needs to do more to justify its marginal cost over these other, free sources.
Another amazing thing would be to pair with major fantasy sites to offer automated fantasy team pages with BP stats pulled in. The current fantasy tools simply require too much effort to maintain. If I have 3 or more teams going, as I imagine most do, I'm not going to constantly update my roster here as well to look at PECOTAs or other stats which I would use to project performance. Perhaps Yahoo, EPSN, or MLB.com could offer a "BP" plugin which would be free for BP subscribers or which could be purchased independently, providing an additional revenue stream for you both...
Another vote for this
Due to service time, I believe Jose Arredondo will be under Reds control next season and in his first year of arb eligibility. Jocketty is just doing a favor here, he's looking to pull a Carpenter.
So the Reds should push Volquez to get him to pitch as soon as he can put up a sub 5.00 ERA? For a team that isn't likely to be in the playoff hunt, that seems like an awfully small marginal benefit given the potential cost associated with the increased risk of further injury.
No mention of Jay Bruce's .222 BABIP?
I also think it's interesting to consider the statement "statistics can be misleading". Statistics aren't capable of taking action. They aren't things which can mislead -- they are tools which can be USED (by analyst) to mislead. I find it somewhat entertaining that Buck proved his own ignorance. Only a poor craftsman blames his tools...
Those statistics didn't mislead anybody. The Steelers really do have those players. However, by listing them in that way, by failing to provide any context, and by then inferring a conclusion about team win/loss record based on this wholly insufficient information, Buck has encouraged his audience to misuse the stats. It seems that the vast majority of people knocking "stats" don't even realize that it's not about stats, it's about analysis. They don't even realize the disconnect.
It's not the bow... it's the archer.
A computer is useless if you give it a monkey.
Somebody needs to tell Selig that getting the Old Boys Club together is not the prescription for keeping MLB up with the times. I don't doubt that the group he's outlined has the best interests of the game in mind, but they all come from a very similar perspective. A bit of diversity of perspective on that panel would be a very good thing and I'm less than convinced that those people understand the perspective of the fan under the age of 40, to say nothing about those of us in our mid 20's and younger...
If arbitration values are routinely exceeding those produced by the markets, then it would seem arbitration is broken. The current system seems to use the same assumptions as those selling real estate derivatives -- the market price can only go up. Between that and the fact the pick compensation limits the free agents options, it no longer seems to serve anybody well. The team risks retaining the player at an unreasonable salary and the player risks a limited or non-existent market for his services because of the pick compensation.
If the idea is to encourage stability, why not just institute a tax that goes in to a fund which pays a certain percentage premium to any player resigning with an organization for whom he's played for a certain time period. This would reward the players financially and would give teams a bit of a leg up when retaining their own players.
Christina, do you think the Reds should have protected Danny Dorn? He's no future all-star, but as the primary half of a LF platoon, it seems he could have a Matt Stairs like career ahead of him.
I'm not sure why people keep asserting the Reds will be chasing a LF in FA when: a) they don't have money to spend in FA and b) They have about 5 internal candidates that are at least as attractive as most FA options the Reds could reasonably obtain were they to pursue a FA.
The Reds have: Stubbs in CF, Bruce in RF, and then Gomes, Balentien, Dickerson and (unfortunately) Taveras with ML experience and Dorn, Heisey, Frazier, and Fransisco in the minors who could feasibly contribute in LF in 2010 -- Heisey in particular who can play CF and had a monster AFL.
There is simply no reason for the Reds to pursue a LF in FA.
I agree completely that the Reds need to "correctly pick a left fielder." However, your wording intrigues. Who is the "correct" choice? Candidates include: Johnny Gomes, Wladimir Balentein, Chris Dickerson, Laynce Nix among MLB "vets" and Chris Heisey, Danny Dorn, Juan Fransisco, and maybe even Todd Frazier.
The Reds will likely either non-tender Gomes (they probably cannot afford to offer him arbitration) or trade him. Being realistic, best case scenario is probably a Balentein/Dickerson platoon to start the season. Nix can go away the minor league guys can all play in AAA at CF/RF, LF, 3B, and 2B respectively.
Let's just hope that it's not Willy Taveras. Knowing Dusty, if he's on the roster, he'll find his way in to the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
On Mike & Mike yesterday, Pujols was on and was asked about McGwire. He said that McGwire helped him in his plate approach, focusing on selectivity. Regardless of how far the ball goes when you make good contact, that's a lesson which is applicable for all hitters. One could argue that it's the most important, teachable aspect of hitting.
Most hitters should have the physical part of hitting more or less down by the time they reach the majors. Having somebody at the major league level who excelled at the mental part seems like a good move.
Put a 5th umpire in the booth with the best of the available technologies and give him the right to supersede the on field umps if the opposing manager challenges the call - 3 per game. Each ump has an earpiece and mic with a feed to the booth. It would take 30 seconds, tops, to resolve the play. Often it's even less because you can get a replay of the TV feed instantly.
What takes so long in the current system, for both NFL and MLB, is that the umpires on the field have to leave the field and go watch something, interacting remotely with a person controlling that feed. Eliminate that and you solve a big piece of the problem.
A similar system using Pitch F/X could work for the home plate umpire on balls and strikes. He could have a little handheld device similar to his count clicker with a red, green, and yellow LED. Red is a ball. Green is a strike. Yellow means the system could not determine the location (for whatever reason) and the umpire should make the call himself.
Heck, you could just try the latter option without telling anybody just to give the ump immediate feedback and help him see his own biases.
But until MLB can get over the philosophical hump, the fundamental point Joe makes at the outset that umpires are merely enforces of rules and their affect on the game itself should be minimized as much as possible, until then, it's all pointless talk.
Setting aside the logic of this particular situation, some managers have trouble accepting the reality that the best option is let their players play. Too many managers do more harm than good by trying to micromanage their way to a particular outcome rather than accepting the set of probable outcomes as it stands.
Given that failure is the most likely outcome, many managers would rather "go down swinging" than taking the proverbial "strike three" and being accused of inaction.
Regarding the interdependency of HR and AVG, I think we should consider them likely to be positively correlated in this case. Assuming a fixed contact rate, which we can do because we are looking at 1 player in isolation, HRs have the highest likelihood of being base hits (100%).
So given a fixed number of PA, and a fixed contact rate, more HR = more AVG. And furthermore, if he truly goes on a tear, it's quite likely that his BB rate will increase as well, thus increasing the marginal contribution of each hit to his end of season batting average.
Edwin Encarnacion heartily agrees. This is just another example of where the benefits of having a "replay" ump in the booth who could review such plays near instantly would improve things tremendously. We can't expect umps on the field to be perfect -- why not give them access to better tools?
I'd love to see a producer interviewed by BP staff -- would make for fascinating reading.
News, the facts themselves, have essentially become a commodity. There's little value to be had by trying to compete in that market.
Stick to your value-add, analysis. Same day is timely enough for that.
Free FiveThirtyEight during a historical election >>>>> timely PECOTAs.
Great to hear that it is finally being automated and agreed that it is $40 well spent.
If there's one bit of advice I could give, it would be to try and engage with the rest of the sabermetric blogosphere a bit more. I'm sure it happens constantly behind the scenes, but from an outside perspective, it seems like BP is sort of running on a parallel track with the other big players in the field such as Fangraphs, THT, and Tango's Blog, which have much more overlap and interaction.
As free sites, I'm sure they operate differently. Perhaps you don't intend to share that space with them. But it would be welcomed.
In any event, keep up the great work.
We'd love for reporters to always be right, but a healthy apology when you're wrong is almost just as good.
FWIW, John, I personally don't come to BP looking for the latest scoop. I come for subject matter expertise. BP should be careful not to get too far away from it's core competency.
How does 775 RS and 775 RA equate to 79-83?
Regarding the Reds comment "Is there a pitcher in the entire system worth getting excited about?":
- Homer Bailey is still just 22 and the reports coming out of ST about both his attitude and his stuff are glowing.
- Juan Carlos Sulbaran turned more than one head in the WBC.
- Kyle Lotzkar struck out 50 in 37.2 IP as an 18 year old in A ball
Do they have a David Price, Neftali Feliz, or Rick Porcello? No. But especially in the low minors, there's more talent than there appears to be.
My understanding of the WBC was that the long view included developing foreign markets, not maximize TV revenue. Obviously the latter is always a priority, but it seems like a secondary one in this case.
Obviously you're preaching to the choir, but amen. From a marketing perspective, MLB missed a big opportunity to engage in the analytic friendly fan market. Instead we've been treated to a slightly cleaner version of baseball tonight, sans the seasoned reporters such as Gammons.
Given the airtime they have to fill, there seems to be a golden opportunity to give voice to this corner of the market. After the great success of the Fantasy 411 in driving attention to radio/podcast activities on mlb.com, you'd think they'd have picked up on this.
As far as I'm concerned, give Cory Schwartz an hour to do what he wants and it would instantly be the best daily baseball show on TV.
Guts: The #1 predictor of future success.
Understood Will (and thanks for the response). I think it will be interesting to see how ESPN (Baseball Tonight) and MLB Network differentiate themselves from each other. Will they find different segments of the market through different approaches or simply fight over the (apparently quite numerous) lowest common denominator?
Perhaps MLB Network could get at the BP audience the same they have with MLB TV, the fantasy angle. Let ESPN have the highlight show. I can imagine the 411 crew doing quite well on \"air\" instead of through the tubes.
\"People have become statistically savvy, but one of the most interesting aspects of our coverage of baseball is that we bring a lot of diversity to the coverage in terms of perspectives—generationally, statistically, historically, people who played the game, people who cover the game—and when you add it all up, it\'s quite an impressive package.\"
Steve Phillips, John Kruck, Peter Gammons. Which one of these guys actually understands statistics more complex and meaningful than OPS (which is mocked as often as used constructively)? Maybe Gammons, but he\'s got his hands full as a reporter.
It\'s sad, because MLB Network is making the same mistake. Either these programming guys don\'t understand that they aren\'t presenting the perspective of real quantitative analysis or us statistically inclined folks vastly overestimate the size of our market.
I would love to see Baseball Tonight go back to actually educating fans about the game, advancing understand, and proving real novel perspective. Instead it\'s an exercise in finding new ways to turn inane conflict between anchors in to ratings. Give me an intelligent ex-player, a seasoned well connected journalist, and a real analyst (somebody actually trained in doing quantitative analysis) -- swap out Kruk or Phillips with Rob Neyer and you\'d be on to something.
Short of that, at least go back to actually presenting each night\'s games as dramatic short stories in the context of a broader narrative (that\'s not about the Yankees and Red Sox). We don\'t need an hour of home runs, webgems, that\'s nasty, and Kruk and Phillips arguing over who is more surprised that Tampa Bay came out of nowhere when then analyst community was all over it before the season began...
What would be truly interesting is having an ongoing email exchange, if not interview, in which each of the points made in his comments was rebutted with evidence, where appropriate. We end up spending so much time/energy talking right past each other. I would love to see a purposeful attempt at truly engaging an \"old-school\" guy and pressing on the \"I thinks\" and \"I feels\".
There is value to the vast amount of experience these individuals have in watching the game. But unless this generation attempts to engage them on those facts which can be isolated from mere opinion, we\'ll simply have to wait until that generation has moved on. I see a lost opportunity for a teaching event, if an old school guy would be willing to swallow a touch of pride and let down his guard and the person on the stat side were able to approach the conversation with sufficient earnestness and patience.
Can\'t let facts get in the of a good opinion... It\'s shocking how willing people are to ignore information that doesn\'t fit in their existing narrative. Double plays don\'t matter because Rice hit the ball hard. Fenway doesn\'t really help righties (because he says so, I guess). Blyleven lost a lot of 1-0 games, but I guess he should\'ve \"lifted up\" the offense too.
The reality is that there are a lot of guys like this who just aren\'t interested in objectivity. They aren\'t interested in correcting their own biases. It\'s about what they see and what they feel. When the stats (any stat will do) back up the feeling, that\'s great. When they don\'t, they\'re irrelevant.
But I guess nobody said the HOF was supposed to have the best players...
I find it funny how closely HOF voting parallels the college football season. Inevitably, we end up complaining that our objective and subjective standards don\'t line up.
That said, for all the hub-bub about BCS champions, imagine if they didn\'t vote for the 2008 champion until 2013...
In any event, I think the HOF voting process reflects those who do the voting; writers; discussion about enshrinement is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the mere question about worthiness is interesting/controversial enough that it serves as an ongoing source of material, it will inevitably make the player seem more deserving. HOF worthiness, to many voters, seems to be roughly equivalent to newsworthiness. Once the feedback loop gets started, it\'s just a matter of time.
I think the process would be much better served by a shorter period of time during which the player can be considered. Force the debate to occur and then move on. Give 10 years for perspective and 5 years for voting.
The money just came out. Per the Denver Post, \"According to information obtained by The Denver Post, Taveras received $6.25 million on his two-year deal. He will make $2.25 million this season and $4 million in 2010. He can make an additional $250,000 this season if he reaches 600 plate appearances.\"
I hate my team.
I think the most pertinent follow-up question is to what extent is that work being utilized? I\'ve known a number of organizations that do great work internally which never works its way in to the calculus of upper management because they either don\'t understand it or don\'t want to take the time.
I don\'t doubt that great work is being done. I just wonder how many GMs truly integrate it in to their decision making process.
Fair enough, thanks for the reply. I took \"Perhaps they can find a temp—until Drew Stubbs is ready—to man center field and cover the space better than Corey Patterson did.\" as a pretty clear indication that you did not see Dickerson as an acceptable temporary option. One point of confusion on the internets in general is that Dickerson is just a LF, since Dusty was prone to playing him in LF with Patterson around.
In any case, it\'s good to see the focus on SS. I certainly wouldn\'t want the Reds chasing a mediocre C option like Laird.
And the apparent ignorance at BP towards Chris Dickerson as even a short term CF option in Cincy continues. The guy is will be 27, is a plus defender in CF and hit .287/.384/.479 in AAA last year and .304/.413/.608 in the majors. Obviously that 1.000+ is way over his head, but a .775 OPS isn\'t unrealistic (Marcel: .282/.367/.485). With very good defense, that\'s an above average player. Yet he hasn\'t even been mentioned in chats/articles discussing the Reds lately, lumped in with their holes at SS and C.
SS on the other hand... Valaika is good reviews for his defense at SS in the AFL and hitting well, but he\'s a ways off. Arroyo for a SS makes a lot of sense, though I\'d prefer to take Hardy and let the Brewers hope Escobar\'s bat is ready.
A little surprised to see Chris Dickerson completely looked over (\"The Reds do not have a center fielder right now\") and to see Ramon Ramirez not mentioned, though he is admittedly a bit older than most on the list.
But good stuff Kevin. The Reds have a ton of upside in the low minors right now. Unfortunately it\'s mostly just upside at this point. I\'d love to see them flip some of that to take advantage of the window for competition provided by the pre-arb years of Bruce, Votto, Cueto, and Volquez. Something like Fransisco and Thompson for Beltre with EE to LF would be a great start.
I\'m in for a feed.
Yankees, 6/150, 12/10
Great article, Joe. However, one very significant difference between professional baseball players and us \"normal\" folk in making such a decision is that the job is virtually identical regardless of which \"company\" they choose to work. Sure, the colleagues vary, as does the venue. But the hitting, the fielding, the pitching, they\'re the same. I don\'t think you can say as much for most of the career choices we have to make.
Reds: Trade prospects for Beltre. EE to LF unless Martin truly is available. Push HARD for Furcal. Owings is 5th starter. Bullpen full of youngsters.
Any of the Chicago based staff going to be hanging out at a local watering hole around town and want some company?
Very nice! Much more intuitive now. Thanks!
Reds trade SP Homer Bailey, SP Matt Maloney, and 3B Juan Fransisco for C Taylor Teagarden and OF Nelson Cruz.
Rangers begin to address SP depth while adding a big ceiling bat who is a few years off. Reds find a catcher for 2010 and beyond and decent LF for 2009.
The hangup could be the Reds giving up on Bailey to acquire a guy who would supplant 2007\'s first round pick, Devin Moreseco. The Rangers may be hesitant to trade away Teagarden without get a major leaguer in return.