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Are there any indications he's being asked to work on something (mechanical fix, pitch development, etc.) that might be impacting his stats? Otherwise the trend in not just strikeout rate but also BB/9 and H/9 is pretty alarming.
I wish this guy all the luck and prosperity in the world, as long as he promises to retire by his late 30's so we don't have to endure hacky 'fountain of youth' articles every time he strings together a few decent starts.
It wouldn't surprise me if a bunch of old crusty sportswriters (more likely to keep their ballots private) wanted to lower his vote % as eternal retribution for throwing their beloved contemporary Don Zimmer to the ground.
There are a few interesting elements of this that haven't been mentioned (here, anyway). First, I think the elimination of home plate collisions significantly reduced the odds of Gordon scoring if he was sent, both because of the lost opportunity to jar the ball loose AND the increased probability of Posey mishandling the throw under the threat of a collision. Second, the odds of an error increase with the difficulty of the play, and I think that Crawford had the ball with so much time that the odds of a throwing error were quite low. These guys hit each other in the chest every time from 250 feet playing long toss, so if the throw is routine there's just a very low probability of an error. Thirdly, if the argument to send Gordon is that the Giants might make an error (because with a competent throw he is out with certainty), then we have to incorporate the probability of an error on a ball put in play by Perez if Gordon is not sent, not just his likelihood of getting a hit. And for that matter the odds of a wild pitch, or even a BB or HBP that allowed Moustakas to come to the plate with a better chance of success than Perez (though obviously the joint probability of that is very low). Given the routine nature of the throw that Crawford would have had to make, I don't know that the odds of him making an error would be that much higher than the odds of an error on any given ball in play, or at least not sufficiently higher to offset whatever admittedly small odds Perez had of getting a hit (plus the odds of a wild pitch, etc.). Forgive me if this is addressed elsewhere on the internet, but some of the commenters seem to be ignoring it. It's an interesting discussion, but I think it was very, very clearly the right call to hold him up.
When Alex Gordon was sprinting around the bases and Juan Perez bobbled the ball at the wall, I had this fantasy of the game ending on a controversial plate collision call and Bud Selig's tenure as Commissioner drawing to a close with his signature All-Star Game shrug. Would have made a great last GIF for this piece!
The NFL has decided to "mandate safe behavior" by punishing infractions without regard to intent. I hope that approach does not make its way into baseball. Its primary goal is not to protect players, but to insulate the league from legal action(we punish guys who hurt other guys, and our judgment can't be questioned because we don't exercise any). Unintentional infractions can't be altered precisely because they are unintentional! So what does fining or ejecting Fiers do to prevent future accidental beanings? Literally nothing. I would rather see big fines and/or suspensions for intentional beanballs, regardless of where the batter gets hit. Of course these require judgment, but what meaningful decisions in life don't?
Absolutely agree. Who the heck is that guy? He's an abomination.
"I like to look at FIP, you like SIERA."
Who do you think I am, Eric Seidman?
That's my read on it, too. And I think it does two things beyond simply advancing the timeline for them to naturally drop off the ballot. First, it might directly cost them votes. If there are fewer years to get "clean" players over the threshold, writers might be forced to kick PED guys off their ballots to make room for guys on the bubble who have 5 fewer years of eligibility than they used to. This could result in some PED guys dropping below 5% and falling off the ballot long before the 10 year window is up. Second, it shortens the time that writers have to change their collective stance on PEDs, for the outrage over PEDs to continue to fade, and for momentum to build behind an objective evaluation of players from the steroid era that could result in some PED users getting in.
I agree. To me it looked like Machado was embarassed that he fell on his ass and out of pride fabricated an issue with Donaldson's tag.
Yikes. I faced some good ones once upon a time in the Orlando area, but nothing like that. Might have asked for an L-screen.
It's an interesting idea, but I see a few issues. First, MRIs are going to give a lot of false positives. MLB pitchers are all going to have abnormalities in their arms, even when they are healthy. It's probably going to be difficult to separate normal wear and tear from the early signs of something more serious, and by the time something more serious is visible the injury has already occurred. Second, if you do see something abnormal that won't heal on its own (bone spurs, etc.), do you surgically repair them even if the pitcher says he feels fine? That's sort of in violation of the Hippocratic Oath. Third, MRIs can also miss a lot of things, particularly in shoulders. In many cases arthrograms are used for shoulders to help see better, but you can't do these regularly because they involve injecting fluid into the joint and you can't resume throwing until that fluid has dissipated. And even arthrograms miss enough things in shoulders that surgeons sometimes just skip them and do exploratory arthroscopy if they think there is a problem.
In short, I think the false positives and false negatives are so prevalent with currently available technology that the most useful indicator is ultimately how the pitcher feels. Hopefully technology will improve or the research into variance in velocity, release points, etc. will bear fruit so injuries can be prevented without telling pitchers not to throw 100%!
If he's tagged while not on the bag he is out, unless time has been called. Someone from one team or the other calling time would technically not be enough; it would have to be granted by the umpire, and they aren't supposed to grant time while a play is ongoing. The classic example of this is a batter asking for time after a pitcher has already started his windup. Sometimes it is granted, but sometimes it is not and the pitch counts even though the batter has asked for time. Anyway, in this case I would not consider the play over until Anna settles himself on the bag, which would mean time could not have been granted before he was tagged out even if he asked for it. That's subject to interpretation, but the point is that simply calling time doesn't absolve the runner from maintaining contact with the base.
FWIW, I have no intention of pursuing these careers and still found the article interesting. I am curious about the nature of attrition in the industry, though. Specifically, what percentage of people who start down the agent path actually make a career of it, and what is the leading cause of attrition (e.g. not securing enough earners, not showing enough potential for the partners to retain, voluntary departure due to long hours and poor pay, etc.).
Thanks for the clarification. However a right handed swing in one sport is still a right handed swing in the other regardless of orientation vs. the center of the playing surface. I still don't see why a left handed hockey player would swing a baseball bat right handed, unless you are defining handedness in hockey as the side of the ice the guy plays on independent of which way he holds the stick and shoots. But maybe we are talking past each other here and I just can't see it.
I can't speak for Chara but why more generally would someone who has mastered the hip and torso rotation at the core of the kinetic chain in one swinging sport choose to rotate the other way in another swinging sport? And how are the hand positions any different? The only difference is that batters start with the bat over their shoulder and hockey players don't with their sticks. In the hitting zone, as well as when viewed relative to the instrument being held and not the ground, the hand positions are identical for players of like-handedness in each sport.
Although a single failed test probably means the player was using for a prolonged period of time, there wouldn't actually be any evidence to that effect, and it would be difficult to build such an assumption into the guidelines (i.e. that a single failed test signals anything more than a one-time use). So the 50 game penalty is seemingly calibrated to a single "lapse in judgment," giving the player the benefit of the doubt because there is only one piece of evidence collected at one point in time. In A-Rod's case there is evidence of ongoing use, which means it wasn't a lapse in judgment but an intentional effort to cheat and avoid detection. That would seem to be the distinction that makes 7.A not applicable.
He already gets dinged for the lost Gomez years in the Hardy trade.
Exactly. And the the WARP Santana accumulated during the extension he signed with the Mets shouldn't count, either. That's a 9.9 WARP swing on top of the 9.1 WARP swing if you give credit for Gomez's entire control period for a total WARP swing of 19. Huge difference in the evaluation of that trade, though there were at least reportedly other offers on the table that were thought to be better at the time and have in fact turned out to be better. And Smith still has plenty of splainin' to do for the remainder of his trading legacy.
I think the specialization of each position is not fully appreciated in these suggestions. I would actually prefer my 3B to field bunts, not my SS, even if the SS is the superior athlete. That's a specialized play that third basemen have practiced thousands of times. Shortstops occasionally have to make similar plays but the footwork and arm angle are different enough that I suspect a 3B would make the play more reliably as well as avoid the comparatively disastrous outcome of a two base throwing error. Corner outfielders are the most easily swappable but even there the guys face different ball flights that could lead to multi-base errors/misplays unless they are well versed at both positions. I suspect even where there is some small potential benefit from these moves the risk of a major mistake (or injury) would prevent them from being implemented.
Your analysis illustrates that exceeding their xBABIP could have been a function of both skill and luck, but not that it was a function entirely or even mostly of skill. Given that their BABIP was a historically high number, I think one has to believe there was quite a bit of luck even if there was also skill. Presumably other teams since 1930 have hit the ball hard as well, right?
Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
I'm guessing he is using the new version of PECOTA that incorporates TWTW as compiled by Hawk Harrelson.
Two things. One, the length of suspension is proportional to the detrimental impact on the marketability of the game, not the physical harm to the players. Physical harm to the players only matters to MLB insofar as it impacts the quality and/or marketability of the product (same as with the NFL). Two, I don't think it's accurate to say that PEDs only harm the player in question, because their usage begets an advantage that compels other players to use.
Only Emu Dong
This is on my wish list, too, right behind a giant asteroid knocking the earth off its orbit and extinguishing human life.
I agree with this viewpoint. The problem is not just a poor 2013, but a poor 2013 in the context of a compromised future. The blame lies with whoever most vocally advocated "going for it," Moreno or DiPoto, since that appears ex post to have been a poor evaluation of risk/reward. So if that was DiPoto, he's fired. If it was Moreno, I would guess Scioscia is fired as the most sellable scapegoat, as per my previous post.
The masses like change for change's sake, ergo they'll fire the most sellable scapegoat to preserve 2014 ticket sales regardless of where the blame lies.
Are you able to elaborate on Sano's behavior?
That's just not true. Control is a function of muscle memory, which is built by repetition. Pitchers rarely throw a ball to the coordinates associated with the middle of a hitter's back, so there is naturally a lot more variance in where a pitch intended for that location ends up.
Can you help frame how unusual Bryant's splits are given that hitters as a group would exibit this same split (as Bruce points out above)? My preference would be to see a rigorous statistical study showing how many standard deviations he is from the mean in terms of difference in output vs. high and low quality arms, but that's impractical right now and if you study these breakdowns enough you should have a feel for it given your domain expertise. Would like some additional context if you can provide it.
Secondly, to me the most interesting data you highlighted was that even if you extrapolated his rates vs. only starters he would still be leading D1 in homers. Obviously there is more to production than just homers, but that is pretty remarkable and would seem to say that even ignoring his video game numbers against inferior pitching, he is getting it done better than anyone else against top arms. That would seemingly make the bat quite low risk....
On a related note, does anyone know if Shaq Thompson is going to return to baseball after his 0-39 with 37 K's debut?
Re: your middle paragraph, this is exactly where PECOTA should excel vs. other systems. Not because it will produce a better point forecast, but because it will produce a better spectrum of forecasts. Because young players like Harper are so unique, there are fewer comparable seasons as you mention, which should drive higher forecast dispersion. This is the most fascinating feature of PECOTA to me but it doesn't get much attention (are the percentile forecasts even published anymore?), maybe because it is difficult to consume, or maybe because it doesn't work very well. Ideally, PECOTA would not only adjust the width of the tails, but also the skew (provided there was a statistical basis for that, obviously). In this way it would do better than other systems not by better forecasting the mode, but by better forecasting the mean. I'd love to hear if Colin thinks there is room for further development or focus on this aspect of PECOTA given how competitive the forecasting market has become.
You could argue they are more talented than teams projected to be within spitting distance in the win column, like KC, CHI, CLE, and SEA, but divisional strength is a headwind and there's very little difference in the forecasts for those teams anyway. So if you want to be PO'd about being projected last within that (effectively equal) cluster, then fine. But I can't see an argument to project them ahead of anyone else in the AL that is based on talent and not what happened last year.
One day that Justin Verlander guy will learn how to pitch.
"If not, the Tigers will just make a trade at the July deadline."
Agree with this 100%. I think the Tigers are preserving their optionality. They have enough of a talent gap vs. the rest of the divisionn that they can test out Rondon and use a closer by committee approach until they can find a trading partner for an upgrade if Rondon fails. If he succeeds, they can save resources to upgrade somewhere else or plug a hole caused by injury at the deadline.
Shouldn't we be able to evaluate this assertion statistically, i.e. determine the likelihood that the delta between his expected performance and his actual performance isn't due to random variation? I would guess the error in fair ERA estimators is great enough that there will always be a good supply of players who exceed their peripherals long enough to be called exceptions, when in fact they are just errors in the model well within the bounds of what one should expect. I'm not saying this is the case with Hellickson, but rather that we should be able to have a statistically informed view on this, right?
Is it bad if the weighted average expected ERA for the top 10 projected innings contributors for your team is 4.95? I think that's bad....
If you think you can sleep with PECOTA's wife and get away with it, think again.
Superb integration of ignorance and arrogance in one post. A+.
I'd love to see that addressed, too. I think it's outside the realm of this study but maybe Alan knows the answer anyway. If delivered at the same velocity, the only difference should stem from whether or not the pitch type impacts the spin rate off the bat, holding the launch angle constant. I suspect that there's enough friction between the bat and ball at impact (on solid contact, anyway) to arrest the incoming spin altogether such that it has no impact on the outgoing spin rate, and thus no effect on distance for a given velocity and launch angle. But that's just a hunch and I've never seen a conclusive answer. Would love to hear what Alan has to say.
That Twins rotation makes me cry. Eyeballing it, I wouldn't be surprised if PECOTA forecasted a full one K/9 gap between that rotation and the next worst in baseball.
As a Twins fan I'm happy with this trade. Span is a valuable player but one can't discount the risk that another concussion sidelines him for half a season or more, or ends his career entirely. It wasn't that long ago that his symptoms sounded an awful lot like Morneau's, or Corey Koskie's before him. I'm happy that he bounced back and happy for him that he's going to a contender. But I am also happy that the Twins traded him. The benefits of cost control are greater for contending teams, and by the next time the Twins contend Span will be at or near the end of his cost-controlled years anyway. And finally I'm encouraged that the Twins targeted one high upside arm instead of a package of 2-3 arms with back-of-rotation upside to try to fill current holes on a team that will be terrible anyway. I think that offers a positive signal about what they're trying to do. I'd like to see the same thing done with Willingham.
High praise for Will Carroll indeed.
You have the logic reversed. We don't underestimate the tenacity of Loria because we don't like him; we don't like him because of his tenacity in disregarding the investments fans, the Miami community, and taxpayers have made in his ballclub.
I nailed this, but had an advantage since I'm a fan of the team whose manager failed to secure a vote. I agree wholeheartedly with his omittance, but it is funny to note that he is a very recent winner of the actual MOY and has finished in the top 3 in 70% of his managerial seasons.
The case for Cabrera is as simple as feeling compelled to vote for the player who accomplished a statistical feat that hasn't been achieved in 45 years, one that has historically been considered the ultimate domination of one's offensive competition. If voters are uncertain enough about the proper quantification of speed and defense I can see them voting for Cabrera out of deference to the "known" property of having won the Triple Crown. I guess what I'm getting at is voters whose reputations are at risk (key difference b/t voting behavior in the BBWAA vote vs. the online vote) might be motivated by fear of regret, and they probably view voting for a Triple Crown winner as leaving less room for criticism than choosing Trout.
Mr. Octobear is undeniably awesome.
Sweeto Zito Defeatos Los Tigros?
His swing is just flat out awful. In fact, I've never really watched him before and I've been struck by how ugly his entire game is, from his swing to his throwing motion to his posture to his general mannerisms to his crazy eyes and hobo beard. He has to have one of the ugliest games in the majors, and definitely the ugliest among guys who are actually good. I'm not trying to be mean; it just startled me to watch him play.
Interesting. The perception that the new format is less advantageous for the higher seeds probably stems from the belief that it is more difficult to win consecutive games, i.e. that allowing the lower seeded team to win 2 games at home forces the higher seed to win 3 in a row, which is more difficult than winning any 3 independent games. That shouldn't be true in an infinitely long season, but maybe it has some merit when we're talking about consecutive "win or go home" games. Maybe being faced with elimination changes team performance in a way that lowers the odds of winning games, or at least consecutive games. For example, a team pulls its starter early and blows through its bullpen in an elimination game, decreasing its win expectancy in subsequent games, when it would otherwise have ridden the starter longer to no detriment (let's say the team ends up scoring 5 runs a couple innings later and had a greater cushion than it realized). I can throw out other theoreticals, but they all stem from the possibility that win probabilities in playoff series are conditional and not independent as you assumed in your simulation. Do you think there's any merit to that?
We just called your "knee pop" the balk move in college, i.e. there was no pretending it was anything other than a balk. Tough to do it subtely enough to avoid detection by umpires but obviously enough to bait the runner. It is definitely a skill.
There is a completely different injury probability curve for pitchers and position players. Pitchers are typically afflicted by repetitive stress injuries, i.e. those whose probability accumulates with usage. Position players occasionally are as well (throwing elbows, wrist ailments, maybe obliques), but a lot more often there is a specific incident (hit by pitch, pulled hammy, dislocated shoulder, etc.), i.e. those in which the probability of injury on any given play is independent of any preceding plays. So Zimmerman's injury probability is essentially unchanged from play to play, game to game, and there's thus no more reason to sit him today than there was yesterday. In that case your reasoning holds - it's baseball, there's risk, you could get hurt on any play, but that's no reason to sit.
But with a pitcher, the injury probability accumulates over the course of a season due to the susceptibility to repetitive stress injuries, so every pitch/inning that passes makes injury more likely. The relationship is exponential, so the increase in risk from inning 0-50 is very small while the increase in risk from inning 250 to 300 is much larger. With perfect information you could map this curve and have a team policy that no player would be allowed to exceed the number of innings that increased risk of injury beyond some predefined percentage, depending on your risk tolerance. With someone coming off of TJ surgery like Strasburg, the entire curve is shifted upward and the injury threshold occurs at a lower innings count.
Of course that level of specificity is impossible in practice, but that's in theory what the team should be doing to the best of its ability based on the information available. And that's what the Nats are doing. My point in my other post below is that there's no reason to believe that you or I can map that curve for Strasburg any better than the Nationals, so we have little room to question the medical merits of the decision. It sounds more like you question their risk tolerance (i.e. their injury threshold) or their right to take an opportunity to contribute in the postseason away from one of their players.
One final point, as you note elsewhere in relation to Dusty Baker, one can't conclusively prove that he destroyed Mark Prior's arm because there are so many other factors that influence injuries. But just because there are other factors you can't control doesn't mean you should ignore those that you can.
Not convincing to you. But convincing to those who are able to combine a) more and better data than you have with b) a much more complete mosaic of injury and recovery outcomes than you possess based on hundreds of combined years of observing and correlating pitcher injuries with usage patterns. So just recognize that you and all of us are operating at an information disadvantage here, and are in a better position to question the strategy/implementation of the innings limit than its medical merit. And of course keep in mind that inconclusive data doesn't mean a theory isn't valid, it just means that presently available data doesn't prove it (think Higgs boson until a couple months ago).
I think you make some wild assertions here, including that he was capable of "pitching his team to a Championship" (when that would require 220+ innings on the season) and that there's "nothing wrong with him physically" (when the guy is coming off of a major surgery with historical evidence indicating the recovery process is still ongoing). I know it's fun to be a hero and everything, but if you work out the differential b/t the Nats' championship odds with and without Strasburg (as some others have indirectly alluded to), it is going to be somewhere in the fraction of a percent range. He's already done the most important part, which is add enough value in the regular season to get his team (almost certainly) into the playoffs. So what would you risk for that miniscule increase in odds? A 10% chance of a second TJ for Strasburg? 5%? It's really low in my book, effectively zero percent, so I'd shut him down whenever I felt like I was hitting an inflection point in the risk curve. It's the team's job to be rational about these things, and that's why it was smart to take the decision out of Strasburg's hands, and why one has to respect management's willingness to stick to the original plan.
I like your plan. It would level the playing field for my Twins, whose rotation would be unaffected.
I'd like to see Jason leverage his increased clout to ink a tell-all book deal with fake Yu Darvish.
Does the ferret have Alpo gas?
I suspect CalWhite is one of those crazed chimpanzees Riley was talking about.
We're a week removed from Melky's positive test and two days removed from Colon's. Between those cases we've got "insane breakout year" and "late career resurgence" written off as steroid-induced mirages (using hyperbole here, not saying this should be the case), and Pierzynski is the nexus of the two. I don't think it should surprise anyone that this article, written at this time, would bring PEDs to mind. And that's where I would agree with Matthew's "sad" comment, in that it has become more difficult to take outlier performances at face value, and that robs some of the fun of following the game. I don't see anything wrong or really even controversial about that statement.
Incidentally, after watching the Olympics, I think a 50% usage rate would be just slightly over half the rate in some other sports, so maybe things aren't so bad....
If all you wrote was the first sentence of your second paragraph, you'd get a +1 from me.
The toughest part of this equation is knowing what directive Terry Ryan got from ownership. I think it's pretty clear they need to do a full-on rebuild, and I would guess Ryan recognizes this, but I don't know if ownership wants to endure the public backlash if they ship off all their respectable players. The preference for major league players in return for their trade chips signals that ownership doesn't think it has the political capital with the fanbase to willingly diminish the major league team. It kills me as a Twins fan, because they lucked into some great deadline trade bait this year, with Willingham healthy and on pace to hit 40 homers, Liriano with a resurgence leading up to the deadline, Span a cost-controlled, up the middle player reemerging and avoiding a recurrence of his concussion problems, Doumit proving adequate enough at catcher that he's pretty valuable, Burton emerging from nowhere, etc. I mean, the stars aligned on some of these guys to bring back more value than one would expect, and almost certainly more value than they'll command at any future point. And yet nothing was done outside the underwhelming Liriano trade, which as far as I can tell has the purpose of locking up two 25-man roster spots at replacement level production for the league minimum for the next few years. To me this all points to a very long rebuild, in which the Twins let the existing roster rot on the vine and rebuild entirely through the draft. That was a painful strategy before, and it's even worse under the new CBA since they won't collect draft picks when these guys leave via FA. So yeah, I'm pretty depressed. Ever realize you fundamentally disagree with you favorite-team-since-childhood's core philosophies? It's not fun.
0-32 with 31 K's to start his pro career, for those who don't feel like looking it up. This is around the time your little league coach starts giving you the bunt sign every time up.
His downside is not $4 mm. First of all, he doesn't have the raw talent of Giolito, so if he is similarly injured he will still be worth less. Secondly, he could suffer a torn labrum or something else more serious than an elbow injury. Thirdly, he could just wear down or generally lose effectiveness, sliding him down draft boards (keep in mind he was a borderline 1.1 in a terrible draft class). Fourth, the draft class around him could prove stronger, also pushing him down the board. And finally, he will have no leverage as a college senior, so it's hard to imagine him having a strong hand in negotiations.
I think about it this way. How many ways are there for him to do better than $3.8 mm under this same draft system next year? Very, very few - basically he has to maintain or improve last year's performance while avoiding injury and hoping the surrounding draft class doesn't push him down the board. Although that may be the "base case," the risk is almost entirely to the downside, as there are myriad ways for him to earn a smaller payday.
They don't. The curves were all shifted vertically to intersect at age 27 to show the different trajectories in the decline phase. That red curve would probably start at .240 or so if shown on a raw basis.
d'oh, reply fail
3. Replace Chris Berman with a live chicken.
LRLLRLRRR are my guesses for the hits.
All based on count, previous pitch (entire historical pitch sequence and results would add useful info IMO, not that you could reasonably have provided this), pitch location, pitch movement, and batter's swing (timing, extension, etc.).
Two big differences to me: 1) PEDs endanger the health of players; 2) "traditional" cheating has some natural constraints that keep it from being widespread and having a material impact on the overall game. On point 1, the harm of traditional cheating is constrained to the game, which has no intrinsic value, while the negative health effects of PEDs extend well outside the game to players past, present, and future. On point 2, until regular testing was implemented, there was no natural bound on PED-based cheating, while "traditional" cheating has some natural checks stemming from the fact that it's conducted in plain sight (bats break frequently, cameras catch foreign subtances, etc.).
Adair is correct if both balls are squared up, but it's easier to square up a ball with a lighter bat, as it allows for quicker adjustments to the swing path once the swing has started. That's the benefit of corking, not adding distance by swinging faster. Under Adair's reasoning, major leaguers should be swinging 40 oz. bats, since that weight (roughly - it varies by strength of the player) provides the optimal balance of swing speed and mass to generate the fastest batted ball speed. But nobody uses a 40 oz. bat because the loss of bat control results in less optimal contact, which more than offsets the benefit of greater mass in practical use against a moving object.
Not equally enjoyed, however.
Kevin, do you think that Sano is just getting impatient because people are pitching around him and he doesn't want to keep the bat on his shoulder, or do you think there is a legitimate pitch recognition or plate discipline concern?
I think tandem starters are tricky in practice because for the back half you need to find pitchers capable of throwing a starter's workload who are also capable coming into games at a variable point in time. That last part isn't as easy as it may sound, both because starters typically have a pregame routine designed to get them mentally and physically ready for a particular time, and because "being ready" for whenever you're needed entails throwing in the bullpen, which is physically taxing. This wouldn't be as big of a challenge if the first guy in the tandem pitched well, but if he struggles and your second guy in the tandem is constantly getting up and down, it could be a problem. Maybe you could have 1-2 short relievers available to bridge the gap if the first guy shits the bed, such that you could guarantee the 2nd guy in the tandem wouldn't enter before the 4th inning under any circumstances. But that would have its own problems. And you definitely need more than just 10 pitchers as a previous poster wrote - what happens if both tandem guys get lit up and you're in the bullpen by the 4th inning? If you have to tap into any of your 8 tandem starters for relief work the system breaks down.
I understand your mathematical point, but if he maintains a 1.27 WHIP over a statistically meaningful sample size I'll not only eat my hat but the hats of every BP subscriber. The hit and walk rates will both go up. Those would be dreamland comps for him.
Fun article. As a Twins fan, choosing between 15-50 and 30-30 for Buxton, my answer is yes please.
I agree. Looking at the video more closely, he seems to have a very long stride, which understates how fast he's running. Another thing that stands out is he accelerates EXTREMELY quickly. He's at full speed a couple steps out of the box. I wonder if his 1st to 3rd speed is as impressive as his home to first or base stealing speed.
The most Boras could realistically extract from anyone next year is 5% above #1 slot, i.e. 5% more than he could have gotten with a straight slot bonus from Houston this year with no fuss. Why? Whoever drafts first isn't going to be convinced he's worth both the first overall pick AND loss of the next year's first rounder (especially since said team will likely have another high pick). And any pick below #1 overall would require > 15% over slot just to match the #1 slot amount, triggering the forfeiture of TWO first round picks (not to mention the luxury tax). I can't see anyone doing that for a guy who was not even a clear cut #1 overall in a weak draft class. So how is Boras going to get materially more than he could have gotten just by playing it straight and taking #1 slot money from Houston? And how is that worth the risk? The only way it makes sense to me is if he goes indy league, becomes a free agent, and signs for substantially more than the draft will allow in 2 years.
I think Boras will definitely make the arguments you guys outline to the Pirates and try to force them to pay up, but that's still going to net Appel maybe $3.2 mm, which is less than half what he'd get signing for #1 slot money. I just can't figure out how this math would lead Boras to signal signability challenges to Houston, or for that matter why signability would ever really come into play at the #1 overall pick under the new rules.
I understand why the Astros wouldn't want to mess with a signing risk, but why would Appel ever send the signal that #1 slot money wasn't good enough? The risk/reward seems terrible for him, as outlined in my previous comment. Put it this way - if merely signalling a signing risk slid him from 1st to 8th, he's now got to convince the Pirates to go $4.3 mm over slot just to match what he would have gotten as slot money at #1 overall to Houston. And his only leverage to extract that is threatening to go back for his senior year of college, which is a risk, also outlined above. How does that make any sense? It seems more likely to me that the Astros simply preferred Correa, the Twins preferred Buxton, and for the next five teams any small preference they might have had for Appel over their actual draft choices, if any, was outweighed by increasing signing risk as the slot amount quickly stepped down. I assume Kevin has more information than I do and the Astros really were worried about signability, but I still don't understand the strategy from Appel/Boras. The cynic in me thinks Boras is using Appel as a guinea pig to figure out a way to keep the new draft rules from restricting his clients' paydays (and, by extension, his own).
Can someone help me understand how Appel could possibly be a signing risk for the Astros at #1 overall (I understand why he became a risk the further he dropped)? With a slot system in place and no more major league deals, how much better can he hope to do than taking slot money at #1 overall? What leverage does he have? He's a college junior, so he goes back for his senior season and risks injury, degraded performance, or a stronger competing draft class just to get drafted #1 again next year with the same slot system in place? That seems like a terrible risk/reward. Or is it actually likely that teams will blow through slot and offer $10+ mm to a late first rounder and eat the luxury tax? Or does Boras have something up his sleeve to foil the new slot system (e.g. playing independent league ball for a year until becoming a free agent)?
FWIW, his hand position and swing plane scream "fastball right under the hands" to me (though I wouldn't try it with my fastball), but I haven't seen enough of his ABs to know whether anyone has approached him that way or whether it has worked. I recall him destroying a high fastball in one of his early ABs, hitting a missile off the center field wall, but that's about it. I'd love to hear the observations of others who have seen more of him.
That's what I was thinking while reading this as well. I had sort of the inverse thinking as Ben, i.e. instead of pitchers choosing NOT to throw him fastballs, they might be choosing TO throw him breaking balls b/c the book on him says he can't hit good ones (I don't know if he can or can't, but the point is that the data could be showing a willful selection of breaking balls rather than a fearful avoidance of fastballs).
Seconded. If the mainstream media's portrayal of Harper is right, we can count on him to hit a home run off Hamels, cartwheel into home plate, then run out and take a dump on the mound. I don't want to miss that.
I think it's driven more by the principle of loss aversion than by the save statistic, though the creation of the save statistic led managers to coalesce around 3 runs as a lead needing protection. People attribute greater negative utility to losing something they feel they aready possess than they attribute positive utility to gaining something unexpectedly. There have been many experiments showing that people, even intelligent people, make the wrong decision from a probabilistic standpoint due to this phenomenon, so we shouldn't be surprised to see it in baseball. I think when a team carries a lead into the 9th they feel the win is theirs to lose, i.e. its something they possess that they must defend. In a tie game, or one in which the team is losing, there is no feeling of possession of the win, so the behavior is different. The psychological value of an eventual win in the first situation is greater because it is seen as defending something that's already possessed, while a win in the second scenario is valued less b/c it is an unexpected gain. This is despite the fact that the wins, of course, are of equal value, unless you believe that clubhouse chemistry affects performance, in which case not all wins are equally valuable. But that's a different topic. Add to this the fear of regret if you use your closer in a tie game and still lose, and then don't have him available to "protect" a win the next day, and you have a pretty easy explanation for why bullpen usage is as it is.
Sorry for the diatribe, but it always sort of bothers me when closer usage is chalked up to neanderthal managers slavishly following the save statistic. I think it's a lot more complicated than that and those kind of statements come off as arrogant and dismissive to me.
The Twins are 2 million times more likely to make the playoffs than I am to win the Powerball. Those sound like pretty good odds to me.
Sadly, promoting a potential utility infielder ranks as one of the highlights of the Twins' season thus far. Thanks for the coverage/perspective.
See Aaron Hicks
I'm hoping he keeps it up b/c I want to be able to root for him with no strings attached. Sports are full of impulsive moments so if he is fundamentlaly a jerk it will probably come out. You have to think this is probably the first time in his life he hasn't felt superior to everyone else on the field, so perhaps that's given him some humility. It will be interesting to see whether he sustains that as he establishes himself in the big leagues, or whether he is just innately an a-hole as he's been characterized and his true colors will show as he gets comfortable. But man, it's crazy how hard he hits the ball even when he doesn't square it up. And how hard he plays in general. Part of me wonders whether there's a reason we don't see other major leaguers playing so hard (e.g. wear and tear over 162 games and season after season) or whether he's just a different animal altogether.
I almost minused this for being idiotic, but it also made me laugh, and that's usually enough for a plus. So in the toughest decision I'll make all day, I did nothing.
Mostly because if there's no pain or decreased performance, there's no call for surgery no matter what the MRI shows.
"The truth be told .. EVERYTHING is [as] wrong in Boston right now as it was last September."
Funny enough, this part is actually true in an unitended way: what's wrong across both periods is that good players are either hurt or playing poorly. All the other stuff is just noise.
I do think the Sox took too big of a risk with the bullpen, but the main problem is just bad play from good players. Unfortunately some people's jobs involve providing answers to dumb or unanswerable questions, so we get meaningless stories about beer and chicken.
I remember that game by Paul O'Neill, the one where he tipped his cap to the crowd and said "Sorry, this video cannot be watched on this site at this time." Always a class act.
Twins fans wish that was the Nick Blackburn. About 2 years ago he apparently set his sights on the 6/8/4/4/2/3.
If he's always standing at the pointy end of the vector, isn't he the perfect fielder?
Current fielding analysis and any future incremental improvements will be obsoleted once people really start working with Hit F/X and then Field F/X data. We will be able to quantify the difficulty of plays using Hit F/X data by looking at historical out conversion rates for different vectors of balls in play. These vectors are all that matters for evaluating balls in play (well, almost - spin matters too). Everything else is an extremely crude approximation, including batted ball types and zones, and with crude inputs comes crude outputs. With this vector database we could credit fielders for their aggregate number of outs created above or below average for the actual balls in play they faced, and prorate this to a full season like we do with plate appearances or WARP. Then, using Field F/X data, we will be able to divide up their defensive contribution into positioning vs. playmaking skill. In addition, the vector data will be used to significantly refine BABIP projections for pitchers and hitters alike (no more hypothesizing whether a pitcher's low BABIP is sustainable due to a knack for inducing weak contact, as this will be measurable). If I worked in this industry or had the free time to do it, this is all I would be working on, and I have to believe someone is right now.
I don't think the Twins asked him to do this much b/c they had such a stellar bullpen while he was there and Gardy is such a formulaic manager. Come the 8th inning, Robogardy went boop-beep-boop, initiate [Rincon + Nathan]. Except that one game where he said "command link severed; default setting: crush, kill, destroy" and choked out Rick Anderson. That was weird.
I'm guessing this has to do with the business terms, or lack thereof, between MLBAM and Twitter.
Does Magic's involvement matter at all? I don't see how his inclusion in the ownership group will have any impact on the product or its P&L. Does anyone go to a game, buy merchandise, or watch a team on TV because of the ownership? I understand that his name excites LA sports fans, but I would think that effect would evaporate after the first 3 game losing streak. Maybe it spurs some season ticket sales in the short term...?
No, I think Jason got pranked. I would love to know by whom, if Jason even knows yet.
Hardly deserving a roster spot makes him one of the 400 best in the world at something that generates billions of dollars in revenue.
"the Twins can’t do anything particularly well on a consistent basis besides bunt and get hurt"
So true, but so hard for a Twins fan to read in February....
Clearly the next logical step is advanced comment analysis. VORC, +/- added, ASTPPACO (Average Share of Total Pluses Per Article Commented On), etc. must be in some stage of development. And I assume Nate Silver will forego covering the election and spend his time modifying PECOTA to predict future commenter performance.
Phht, get real...how can you GM a team from your mom's basement?
For Enrico Palazzo alone!
Two pretty clear differences in my opinion: 1) LASIK doesn't cause serious health problems, thus the league doesn't need to ban it to prevent players from feeling obligated to damage their bodies to keep up with their peers; 2) while for many people LASIK offers some small eyesight benefit vs. contacts or glasses, its primary benefit is convenience.
Almost like the beat writers' retort to the stathead push that got Blyleven inducted. Interesting angle.
This article is fan-f'ing-tastic! A great explanation of a nebulous injury that I have always had a difficult time fully understanding. I had surgery for a Type II tear while in college and never made it back to pitching. Still can't throw (now learning to throw lefty) or lift. In my case I had some small rotator cuff tears (nothing major) and a loose capsule (Corey, I've posted a comment to one of your articles before about thermal capsulorrhaphy, which I had done). Anyway, it's amazing how quickly you can go from 100% healthy to caput. Gave me a new respect for the durability of major league pitchers and also a better understanding of injury cascades (in my case I think the shoulder laxity developed b/c my shoulder strength deteriorated while recovering from elbow surgery the previous year, thus putting more stress on my labrum - but that's just my hypothesis).
I'm curious, though - is this considered a "wear" injury as opposed to one caused by a specific indcident? It felt to me like the former but I've never been sure.
Thanks for the great article!
If I remember correctly, the Twins believed his defensive struggles at 2B hurt his offensive production, and cited this as a reason they wouldn't consider moving him back to 2B when there was a clear need. With a strong arm but limited range, he seemed like a better fit for 3B than 2B anyway, but perhaps he has a slow first step.
The Twins have consistently had one of the worst infields in baseball and yet Cuddyer has barely played any 2B or 3B for them. If it was at all possible for him to play a passable 2B or 3B on an even semi-regular basis the Twins would have tried it; if they couldn't stomach it, I don't think anyone will be able to. As an injury fill-in or as part of a late-inning double switch his ownership of an infielder's glove is worth something, but not much.
My take is that thoughtful writers and fans feel an onus to defend Braun to counterbalance the reactionary mainstream. I don't think they feel loyalty to him, but to the idea of due process. The problem is that, in arguing vehemently for due process, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Braun probably is guilty. I mean that literally, i.e. > 50%, so if I was putting my life savings on the line I would not take even money on his innocence. If you turn these arguments into real-money wagers people would check their hyperbole at the door. My own view is he's probably guilty, though not necessarily, so I'll just wait to see what happens. But it's easy to have boring (if rational) opinions when you don't have to sell them.
Please help me understand how his free speech was impeded. As far as I can tell, he exercised his right to free speech and others did the same by expressing their disagreement via the minus button. Free speech doesn't entitle you to an audience.
If I'm not mistaken these results could easily be caused by the right combination of Dos Equis and Old Spice.
I'm willing to bet there's no such thing as *a* beer with dodgerken.
I see what you are saying, but I think a pretty reasonable line can be drawn. Wins are heavily influenced by events that happen when the pitcher in question isn't even on the mound and thus has zero control over, either directly or indirectly, i.e. run scoring by the offense and run prevention by the bullpen. ERA may incorporate things that are not directly in the pitcher's control, but these things are at least indirectly in the pitcher's control (if your defense stinks and a hit will allow a run, you can try harder to get a strikeout). I agree that one should more heavily weight those things the pitcher controls directly, but I would rather do this by looking at K and BB rates and to a lesser extent GB rate independently than by relying on a smattering of DIPS as the ultimate arbiter, as doing so normalizes some things (BABIP and in some cases HR rate) that shouldn't necessarily be normalized, particularly for players at the extreme end of the talent spectrum like most of those who warrant consideration for these awards.
In my mind these end-of-season awards are designed to reward accomplishment, not skill. If that is the goal, it doesn't matter what *should* have happened, it only matters what *did* happen. When evaluating skill and thus expected future performance, it matters more what *should* have happened, because over time that's what *will* happen.
It's a mathematical question and only sounds fascist when you politicize it. The point is simply that if it was possible to objectively measure the best at something, 100% of rational voters would choose that person even if he was only fractionally better in that objective metric. The distribution of votes is not representative of the relative merits of the candidates, and shouldn't be interpreted as such.
Whoever designed those things is obviously a Flint Tropics fan.
Hilarious. Nice work!
But what about this galloping allegation?
Dave St. Peter (Twins' President) indicated on Twitter that the payroll reduction stems from the expectation of lower revenue in '12, which is a reasonable assumption coming off a 99-loss season.
I suspect the "philosophical difference" cited by Pohlad in Bill Smith's firing was that Smith wanted to keep spending to fix the team and ownership didn't think that was prudent given the base case expectation of lower revenue in '12 and the magnitude of the downside if Smith's plan didn't work and the team still stunk. If I'm thinking about multi-year commitments (Cuddyer, external FA's), I need to think about what my budget will look like in 3 years; if I suspect that this team will not contend in 2012 or 2013, revenue will fall, my budget will fall, and my long-term commitments will grow as a percentage of that budget, reducing my flexibility. I think ownership's concern over that risk was much greater than Smith's, who no doubt felt this team could bounce right back.
There are many reasons to ding Smith and I'm glad he's gone, but he was boxed in on Mauer and I won't hold him accountable if that ends up being a bad contract. After finally getting taxpayer dollars to fund a new stadium, it was impossible to let Mauer walk.
Terry Ryan coming back is good only in the sense that it makes another big, damaging deal (trade or FA signing) less likely. But that's mostly because it makes any significant deal at all less likely. Ryan built a legacy of shrewd moves but also inaction during his tenure as GM. He was never willing to risk overextending himself to add significant pieces to a contender, and constantly patched over holes with washed up vets. He can right the ship, but he will bring no fresh thinking, no creative moves, and I hope he is not the medium-term answer.
Having Krivsky back in the mix makes me nervous. He seemed to be a driving force behind bringing in washed up stiffs like Juan Castro and Tony Batista, and then had a bad showing as GM of the Reds. He shares a philosophy with the existing Twins brass, a philosophy that has worked in repeatedly winning a dysfunctional AL Central but nothing more, and on top of that has already shown flashes of tactical incompetence. I'm not excited to have him back in the fold at all.
On top of all this, the Twins still have Gardenhire at the helm, and his preference for grinders (and hogies?) over talent is a problem, as it has become clear that he is not a good evaluator of talent and yet has considerable influence over personnel moves and roster construction.
In short, "getting the gang back together" is good only insofar as it reduces the likelihood of further screwups with long-term implications. Unless Terry Ryan spent his sabbatical reading Baseball Prospectus and perusing Fangraphs, a legitimate turnaround requires fresh blood, and we apparently aren't going to get that.
That's not a true statement. Their only significant salary commitment to a player over 30 is Pavano.
Worth noting that he was at "no doubles" depth. At that depth I think it was a tough play but one that is probably made 50% of the time. Looked like he drifted on it a bit, perhaps realizing it was going to be a jumping play against the wall and not wanting to get there too early. At least he didn't Jose Canseco it off his head for a walk-off homer, though that probably would have locked up the Rudolf Clausius Award for him.
So Jim Leyland should be skipping Verlander's turn in the rotation when the Tigers play the Twins. Fascinating.
Mike - Nice work and I like the study. A couple of thoughts I had:
In practice, pitchers/catchers/coaches integrate this data-driven approach with qualitative assesments of hitters (using video, scouting reports, etc.), and the combined analysis is much more meaningful than just looking at data-driven hot and cold zones. If I know a hitter stands close to the plate but does not have quick hands, the only way he is hitting a good inside fastball is by cheating, which opens him up to an offspeed pitch outside. I don't need much data at all to predict his vulnerabilities and develop a strategy - he can hit one or the other but not both, so I just need to know which is which. The amount of data I need to determine that would be statistically insignificant in a study such as this one. So in other words, I think the integration of qualitative information alleviates or at least significantly reduces SSS problems for those who are actually making these decisions. This is also why, with advance scouting, pitchers' approaches to hitters can change numerous times throughout a season as both pitcher and batter make adjustments, even though partial season data wouldn't be statistically significant.
One other note, I view hot/cold zones as nearly meaningless without any pitch-type overlay. It's pretty rare that a strategy would entail throwing any pitch you want as long as it's high and outside, for example. That makes the sample size smaller still, but as noted above this can be overcome by integrating qualitative information.
I second your "less obvious" move, but only if it comes with a reality show starring whoever that hitting coach is and Delmon Young.
It's like that feeling when someone surprises you with a gift and then you see them handing one out to everyone else, too.
This is true - nobody is catching the ball with their palm on purpose. The difference from one side to the other is just the framing technique, which catchers work on a ton.
My favorite part of this article is that it bridges the gap between old school (qualitative) and new school (quantitative) analytics, which is desperately needed. For baseball insiders who already know how important framing is, quantification of that value allows it to be compared to the value of other skills (hitting, etc.) in determining a catcher's overall value. For baseball outsiders who don't believe a skill exists unless it has been quantitatively proven to exist, this is hopefully enlightening, as it highlights that though this is a subtle skill, it is real and exceptionally valuable.
This is a great article, thanks Derek. I knew he was having a terrible year but didn't realize his stuff had regressed so much. Combined with the DL stints, my guess would be he is struggling through a more serious shoulder problem than he is letting on. I agree the Twins should offer him arbitration, but that's it. If he makes it to free agency without shoulder surgery I'll be surprised.
Not sure about Bowden's plan (though I recognize he is being asked to come up with a simple solution to a complex problem in Minny). Without some significant additions this offseason the Twins are at best "in the mix" in the Central next season, and would need a lot of luck to make any kind of postseason run. I don't think that kind of team should be trading away a good, cheap up-the-middle player in a deal where the centerpiece is a relief pitcher, because it's entirely possible it won't matter how good or bad the bullpen is until Storen starts getting expensive anyway.
My hopes for the offseason are:
1) try to re-sign Cuddyer for a similar salary and < 3 years
2) acquire a competent backup catcher so Mauer can play more DH and 1B and stay healthy
3) buyout Nathan's option, let Capps walk, patiently wait for a good reliever to fall between the cracks during Closerpalooza, and fill in the gaps with internal options and value FA pickups
4) upgrade Casilla at 2B (Barmes, Ellis, Johnson, Hill if his options are declined, etc.) and make Nishioka the starting SS, with Casilla and Ploufe as utility players/fallback options
5) OF/DH is where it gets tricky - retain Span in CF, if Cuddyer is re-signed Benson and Revere can duke it out for the remaining COF spot, if not then they are both in with pretty thin backup (Tosoni, et al), try like hell to find a DH option (Pena, Thome again?, ???)
6) install Slowey as the 5th starter
The way I see it that patches a lot of holes but still doesn't put together a really good team; it just puts some competent players around guys you hope are healthier or produce like they're capable of producing next year, while avoiding any big long-term commitments in case things go south again and you need to rebuild. Still, that could be enough to win the Central. In order to really regain their status as the favorite in the Central and make a postseason run, the Twins need to also trade for a frontline starter and/or a very good COF to replace Cuddyer (allowing them to choose between Revere and Benson for the other corner rather than rely on both to pan out). Neither is practically available for the Twins in FA (weak FA OF class, too expensive to acquire frontline starter in FA). I won't speculate on trades but I think the real "bold move" for the Twins is trading a package of their top young prospects (maybe inlcude someone coming off a breakout year like Rosario) for 1 or 2 difference makers at the ML level. I wouldn't do this at any cost, but I'd at least consider it, and it would certainly be much more of a bold move than the Span for Storen/Lombardozzi swap.
Corey - is the thermal procedure still being used? I had that done in 2000 and it basically reversed itself over the course of my rehab, such that I never made it back from surgery (though I also had a SLAP tear repaired). I opted to hang 'em up rather than get more surgery, but in 2007 I visited Dr. Andrews to see whether I should bite the bullet and get something done since I couldn't throw, lift, or carry heavy things with my right arm. He told me he had reverted back to the traditional "fold and stitch" method even though it is more invasive because thermal capsulorrhaphy was reversing itself as in my case. Given his leading position in the industry, I'm curious whether others have followed suit or whether people are still using the thermal procedure, or if there have been any other recent developments.
Odds Perlman make it to the majors? Wondering how many of my high school alma mater can cram their way into the big leagues simultaneously. Anybody know what the record is for that?
It goes like this:
1) Gardy misguidedly hands the #3 and #4 spots in the rotation to Blackburn and Duensing in spring training, based on a flawed evaluation of their abilities (in Blackburn's case compounded by his completely frivolous long-term contract).
2) This leaves the actual 3rd and 4th best pitchers as it seemed at the time (Baker and Slowey) to battle it out for the 5th spot. Baker wins this battle and Slowey gets sent to the bullpen.
3) Slowey struggles to adjust to the pen and expresses his frustration with the change in role. He is demoted and labeled "not a team guy." The Twins as an organization are intolerant of "makeup issues," so Slowey becomes an outcast.
That's pretty much it. It's not unheard of for guys like this to come back with the Twins (Perkins this year), but it takes a while to fully extricate oneself from the doghouse and I don't think they're going to pay Slowey $3+ mm next season to pitch in AAA. Perkins wasn't making much money (~ $500k) when he got banished to AAA so they could let him sit there. If the Twins don't move Liriano or Pavano in the offseason, clearing a spot for Slowey, I think he'll be traded, and for very little return b/c otherwise he's a non-tender candidate (though non-tendering a mid-rotation starter due $3 mm is insanely stupid). Quite frankly I think they would have already moved him for a minimal return had Kyle Gibson not gotten hurt.
So is there some fear that his 80 power will have to be sacrificed in order to make sufficient contact at higher levels? I recall reading that his swing is extremely violent and there is some wonderment among scouts that he is able to do that in game with so much success. Just wondering if any scouts are making the case that his hit tool is iffy enough to potentially jeopardize his power tool, which is what makes him a potential generational talent.
Well, Bill Smith couldn't afford to keep Delmon AND overpay Cuddyer this offseason, so might as well dump Delmon now, right?
For his next trick, watch Smith turn a #3 starter into a journeyman reliever.
For me it came in high school in the form of peer pressure to bean someone on the other team when one of our guys got hit, even when it clearly wan't intentional. The machismo of it was lost on me at the time - I refused to do it b/c I didn't want the baserunner. I never heard a coach talk about it (through college).
Unfortunately, the beanball/brawlfest thing starts at an age when boys are trying to prove they are men and becomes permanently ingrained. The dumbest thing is, as you say, they aren't even real fights. It's mostly shoving and occasional cheap shots. And if somebody pulls a Johnny Cueto and fights vale tudo when backed against a wall, he's vilified.
Wow, sweet dodgerken meltdown. Don't think of it as censorship, Ken. It's more like Adopt-A-Highway litter teams cleaning up trash so no one else has to look at it. We're just doing our civic duty. Now, back to Yahoo, where your politically charged non sequiturs will surely win you a few thumbs up.
Well said, Mike. +1 for parsimony, for preserving the practical interpretation of terms, and for having a sound basis for including a term ex-ante rather than throwing everything in a blender, weeding out the high p-values, and then making up an interpretation for the remaining terms ex-post.
Is that viewed as a negative b/c of limited potential to generate sink? Or is it just a neutral observation?
He talks in a pleasant tone and makes me feel smart without thinking. I like that. Also, he has beautiful eyes, and his hair smells like cinnamon.
You have a fatally flawed understanding of what happened. What do you think was in those toxic instruments, anyway? Cow farts?
If anyone should understand the dynamics that drive executive pay, it's someone who comments on the salaries of professional athletes. Alas, no.
The rest of the article is typical simplistic, incendiary, populist commentary on an incredibly complicated series of events involving an ecosystem in which millions of bad decisions rooted in greed were made, but in which only those with concentrated decision making power can be broadly observed and criticized. I hope your article lambasting the anonymous bimbo at Hyde Park Cafe in Tampa in 2005 who couldn't stop talking about flipping properties is forthcoming, because it is equally deserved.
Revere's arm is terrible. Like, so bad it would be a liability at DH. He will play some RF, but only out of necessity, not b/c his arm is good enough. It's seriously one of the worst arms I've seen on a MLB field.
Please give us something valuable for Matt Capps. Sincerely,
And in that capacity his lack of power was actually a blessing, as it made him perfectly suited to fire warning (track) shots.
I get excited to watch this guy play and then I remember or am reminded that he's a prick. It's deflating. I don't need him to be a great guy, but it will be a lot easier to root for him as a non-partisan fan if he's something less than a flaming asshole. Hopefully some mentorship does the trick, and, failing that, some humbling struggles, and, failing that, a few beanballs once he reaches the majors.
These are excellent shots - nice job grabbing the screen caps. The second one (first one in your second post) is exactly what I was thinking these might look like. It is clearly an emergency hack - he is beat on the pitch and just trying to stay back and throw his hands at the ball to foul it off. If that's not on a 2-strike count I'll eat my hat. When the ball gets that deep the arms are going to extend sooner and put the outstretched glove in the path of the swing arc. And look at the extension of Butera's arm. If that is an outside pitch to a righty he can't even reach out that far b/c he'll be reaching across his body (even if he's set up on the corner, which he would be). So that's why I'm thinking lefties are more prone to inducing catcher's interference.
The other shots aren't as obvious. In the first one Crawford is beat, but it doesn't look like an outside pitch (looks down the middle, but home plate isn't visible so hard to say). Still, if you look at his back arm you can tell he is dropping the bat into the hitting zone early just to make contact. The 3rd swing looks more normal, but he is leaning back a bit and it is again an outside pitch.
In general he also looks like he stands at the very back of the box, which though not unusual, would be a contributing factor.
Could be part of his regular swing (does he have a long swing? does he stand back in the box?) or could be part of his emergency hack, in which case you might find the occurrences skewed toward 2-strike counts. Just a couple thoughts.
Just saw Mike's post - maybe some supporting evidence for what I'm talking about.
70% of the interference calls on your list are by left-handed hitters, which I think is interesting. Assuming lefties do generate more intereference calls historically (would be interesting to see), I was just theorizing on why that could be. If I think about when interference happens, it tends to be when a batter takes an unusually long swing to make contact with an outside pitch. For left-handed hitters, this would be pitches on the glove side of right-handed catchers. Catchers can reach out further to receive pitches on their glove side since they don't have to reach across their bodies. So what I'm thinking is the intersection of the glove protruding slightly further forward and the hitter taking an awkwardly long swing would cause catcher's interference, and that would be a lot more likely with a lefty at the plate than a righty. If it is a structural advantage of left-handed hitters and not a random occurrence attributable to catchers, maybe it should be included in OBP. Of course we'd have to see more data to evaluate this, but I think it would be interesting.
I don't mean to be overly critical, but I've read this article before. A lot. You know what would be more interesting? An exploration of why such a purportedly fundamentally flawed practice remains commonplace in baseball. The answer isn't that managers are dumb - it's not that simple, and rather than sound smart by suggesting it is, I think it actually just sounds ignorant and condescending, which is never an attractive combination. And to top it off, it's a topic that's been beaten to death. This isn't directed solely at Steven or the above commenters, by the way.
I think it's important to keep in mind that the ambition of most managers isn't to win games but to stay manager, and while the best way to do that is to win games, other things matter as well, including the way in which games are won and lost, player morale, etc. I believe that in cases where we routinely observe sub-optimal in-game decision-making it is driven by the manager's incentives diverging from maximization of single-game win probability. In this particular case, I would postulate that loss aversion has as much to do with closer usage patterns as the save statistic, and a lot more to do with it than manager IQ.
But I'd love to see BP explore these kind of issues in more depth. I think it would bring a really unique angle to the site and help bridge the gap with the traditionalists.
If I had to guess, I'd say the minuses are driven not by the fact that you didn't get the joke, but by the fact that even while acknowledging it could be a joke and not a typo, you used the theoretical typo to take a shot at BP's quality.
I have a different theory on this topic, and it relates to survivorship bias. How much you throw when you're 8 years old has absolutely nothing to do with how strong your arm is when you're 30. People don't seems to challenge this idea when this topic is raised, but it is bunk. What throwing a lot as a youngster does do is put more mileage on arms at a younger age, thus weeding out the non-durable arms before most of us ever know they exist. Same for lack of pitch counts, poor strength and conditioning regimens, etc. The point is, major league pitchers of yore were the survivors, the ones who had already proven to be supremely durable because their less durable counterparts had succumbed to injury. That is a valuable attribute, to be sure, but what we don't see is all the pitchers that died along the way who were actually more talented, that could have made it with more careful handling. I believe what has happened over time is the "babying" of pitchers has raised the overall talent level of major league pitching, at the expense of durability. So we have more Ferraris, and fewer Fords (err, maybe Hondas). I'll take that tradeoff.
Also the veggie loaf scene: "So not only does this thing exist, but you've also deprived everyone of cake." Hilarious.
Suzyn Waldman is the Rocky Dennis of radio broadcasting.
Rumor has it Suzyn Waldman is the reason MLB Advanced Media started providing the home/away audio feed option in Gameday.
If it's more important to you to sit and watch a game with a perfect view than it is to experience the game alongside your fellow fans, then stay at home. It's really simple. You can't enjoy the benefits of a live game without also suffering the inconveniences - they go hand in hand. Everyone can determine for his or herself if the pros outweigh the cons. One thing they cannot do is impose restrictions on others' enjoyment of the game simply to suit their own preferences. If you want the power to do that, society is filled with such opportunities - might I suggest joining a country club?
Mark me down for Red Sox, Astros, A's, pass, pass, and Rays.
Oh god, they gave up Bullock? For Diamond? Really? Sigh. The Twins need another command and control pitcher like I need another hole in my head. Meanwhile what actually would be nice to have is someone who at least COULD be a high leverage reliever one day. You know, so they don't have to pay the back end of the bullpen $20 mm. Who cares if Bullock flames out; as Diamond himself shows by virtue of being a Rule 5 pick, guys like him are pretty easy to obtain. It's tough to argue with their success, but the Twins drive me nuts sometimes.
It's Duensing, not Blackburn, who should be in the pen in lieu of Slowey, and I don't know why he's getting a free pass. The rotation should be Liriano, Pavano, Baker, Slowey, and Blackburn. If they don't like Slowey or think he can't stay healthy in the rotation, they should try to trade him. Every day he's in the bullpen his trade value diminishes. On top of that who wants a flyball-oriented right-handed control artist in the pen? He's completely unusable in high-leverage situations. If they trade him, Duensing moves into the rotation and Gibson is brought up. If they don't trade him, Gibson gets called up when somebody gets hurt. With Duensing in the pen there's no need to carry two mediocre lefties in addition to Mijares, so Neshek can get an extended look in middle relief instead of being dumped for nothing, or Slama can get a look, or Burnett, etc. etc. Blackburn stays in the rotation and gets a chance to get back on track and stay there. Forget about the sunk cost argument - the contract is indicative of the Twins seeing enough in Blackburn that they shouldn't be giving up on him yet. So I agree with Peter that he should be in the rotation. The odd man out should be Duensing, who is no surer of a thing than Blackburn despite 200 BABIP-enhanced innings in the majors, not Slowey, who is better than both.
My reaction when Blackburn and Duensing were prematurely named to the rotation was, great, now the 3rd and 4th best starters on the team are competing for the 5th spot in the rotation, that makes perfect sense. And here we are, destined to watch Blackburn and Duensing flail away in the rotation while Slowey works middle relief. Between Blackburn's propensity to suck and Pavano's to get hurt, we'll probably see Slowey in the rotation soon enough, but I just can't help but feel this is yet another year the Twins will willingly give away games in the first half with bad personnel decisions only to hope that rectifying them in the second half will allow them to steal away another division title. The blogosphere rumor is that Slowey is another talented player who isn't subservient enough to the "Twins way" to win playing time over inferior players who are. I don't know if that's true or not; it's plausible, and if it is in fact true it sure is frustrating as a fan.
One element of the blackout restrictions not discussed here is the Saturday afternoon monopoly that Fox has, and this would be much easier to address. This is actually the biggest PITA for me; I don't live in my favorite team's market, so I can watch them on MLB.tv pretty much whenever I want - except for the time I am most frequently able to do so! Saturday afternoon would probably make up 1/2 of all my baseball watching if there weren't any blackouts, b/c it's also usually when I have the most time to flip around and watch other teams. I think Fox's contract runs through 2013, but it would be easy for MLB to stipulate in the next contract that MLBAM would retain the right to make broadcasts of every game available online, subject only to local blackout restrictions. Now, clearly Fox paid for that exclusivity, and MLB will only exclude it from the next contract if it thinks it can make those dollars up elsewhere, but it seems like there would be better ways to monetize Saturday afternoon baseball than by showing only one game. Unlike Sunday or Monday night, I'm not committed to sitting in front of the TV on Saturday at 4 pm, so if there's only one game on and I don't care about it, I'll do something else. If I could watch virtually any game, I'd do it. I don't know what the implicit value is for Saturday afternoon exclusivity - perhaps it is so high that MLB can't turn down the money - but it seems like MLBAM should reclaim rights to these games as a first step toward reducing fan frustration with blackouts.
I don't think market size appropriately reflects the attractivenes of Tampa/St. Pete as a baseball market. There are myriad problems. For one, like any new team, there is no history, so attendance, merch sales, etc. are completely reliant on the team winning enough to rise to national significance, which is tough to do in the AL East. Second, the local population is transient - very few people in the area have any innate pride in local sports teams b/c most people didn't grow up in the area. On a related note, many residents moved down from other prominent baseball markets and bring their loyalties with them (Yankees fans, most notably), which limits the team's ability to build a core fan base. Third, a significant portion of the population is migratory and isn't around in the summer months. Fourth, the population is old in general, which I suspect is not good for attendance (the 80 year old duffer is more than offset by the lack of a family of 4 at the ballpark). Then, on top of all that, you have the stadium, which is both crappy (least character of any park I've been to - might as well be watching at home on the big screen) and in a bad location. The point is, even with a new stadium, and even though it's a decent size market on the surface, I don't really see a team thriving in the St. Pete area.
First, I wish you and all Stern grads named Greg unbridled success, as I myself am one.
Now then, I have always seen a few problems with real-life tandems, despite their handiness in sim games like Hardball Dynasty:
1) Invalid assumptions about performance: "Let’s assume that the [first] four innings of statistics -- the by-inning statistics -- are representative of what a pitcher would throw in innings five through eight." I don't think that's a valid assumption. Starting pitchers are accustomed to set pre-game routines based on a known starting time (not quite - obviously some variation for the visiting pitcher - but less variation than when the 5th inning will begin). I think altering that routine would noticeably degrade performance, largely b/c it would hamper the type of fine tuning in the bullpen that is important for starters, resulting in higher BB rates and poorer command of secondary pitches. I say this largely given my own experience and not based on statistics, but I suspect there aren't enough examples of starters moving into a tandem role to create a meaningful sample anyway.
2) Workload management: There is some leverage in starting pitching - a starter's going to be throwing long toss, maybe flat ground, plus 30-40 pitches in the bullpen before entering a game, and he has to do that every time no matter whether he throws 60 pitches or 100. When he throws 60 in-game pitches every 4 days a higher percentage of arm wear is being allocated to warm-up than if he throws 100 in-game pitches every 5 days. In other words you aren't maximizing the wear on your staff's arms, which I think would be costly over the course of a long season. In the shorter term, a strict 4x2 tandem would leave only 4 bullpen arms, only 1 of which could be a long man, so if one or both tandem pitchers can't make it through 4 innings the bullpen will get gased very quickly.
3) tbwhite's last point above, which is dead on, echoed by others. Sure, it could be cheaper, but every free agent knows he won't get paid. I think you'd attract long men who can't find a job as a starter, and the rest of your pitchers would be youngsters not yet eligible for free agency. As soon as they are free agents they will leave, as they won't earn fair value in arbitration. And draftees other than college seniors probably will not sign with a team that employs that strategy either, as they also know they won't get to be a regular starter, with the associated money and glory.
I don't mean to be outright dismissive. Over time you could see some experimentation with tandems. Perhaps teams will experiment with the 5th slot in the rotation, particularly those like the Twins who are long on mediocre starting pitching (though not the Twins themselves as they would never try something unorthodox). But I don't think a full-on 4x2 tandem rotation will ever happen, nor do I think it would work nearly as well in practice as theory might suggest.
What were Nishioka's splits? His RH stroke looks very long, especially for a contact-oriented hitter. Seems like something that could be exposed when he faces pitchers with better stuff, if it wasn't already an issue in Japan. His LH swing is much more compact, and obviously more important for his overall production, but I was just curious.
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Now a no brainer
I answered this above. Irrelevant articles are a tax on those who don't wish to read them, as they can't be identified and skipped with zero cost. One article is a negligible tax, but the proliferation of content on this site has brought a lot of dubious material and the tax is mounting. In my view this has been going on for about a year now (BP Idol, half-baked statistical articles, etc.) and has culminated with Emma's piece above. What you are seeing in the comments section is a boiling over for many who feel the same way. I've seen similar sentiments expressed in other articles over the past year, but they seem to have coalesced over this article since it is so far removed from what BP has traditionally produced. So the outright dismissal of those who object as being homophobes is largely misplaced in my view - the "trend" that people are talking about goes far beyond this article or the topic of homosexuality - that's just so simple-minded of an explanation that I have a hard time believing so many commenters subscribe to it.
FOr my purposes, I have time to read maybe one or two BP articles per day, and with those constraints I am disappointed to waste time reading even 1/3 of an article like this before realizing I don't care about it, b/c I could have spent my time on something much more interesting. So why am I wasting time commenting here if I am so time constrained? First, because I value what BP is and could be enough to invest some time into expressing my opinion. And second, because I'm in India and can't sleep due to jet lag. :-)
On the constructive side, I think BP desperately needs to improve its interface if it is going to publish this much content. The interface is just terrible. I sometimes see an article that looks interesting but don't have time to read it that day. With all the new content, much of which I don't care about, the article I want to read gets pushed down the page and I never end up reading it. I just feel like I am missing good stuff b/c there is too much stuff I don't care about to wade through. In that sense 3 valuable articlas are worth more to me than the very same 3 articles plus 10 I don't care about, even though I'm getting "more." If there was a better layout or easier navigation to articles by specific authors, or filtering so I can just never even see articles written by certain authors (not going to be rude and call anyone out here), that would be tremendous. If I could have skipped this article outright I would not be here commenting on it, after all.
Just my honest thoughts. I don't know how the complaints here are being interpreted by BP staff, but I feel like they are being mischaracterized and dismissed too quickly by many commenters and thought it might help to share my views in a a little more detail.
That's what you think this is about? "Fandom?" Sheesh. I'd love to hear your spin on 2 girls 1 cup.
And by the way, how many unpalatable articles should one be expected to identify as such and skip in search of the reason they came to the website in the first place? Surely it's more than one, but the cost of irrelevant or objectionable content isn't zero, so I don't think the "just don't read it if you don't like it" argument holds water.
I honestly thought the NSFW warning was a joke. That seemed far more likely than BP actually publishing NSFW content. Oops.
Reply button isn't working for me, unfortunately. But Colin, I realize that it would be a little abstract in that your leaderboard projections wouldn't be tied to specific players. In fact they wouldn't really be leaderboards at all, but they'd be exactly the charts in the article, only on an apples-to-apples basis (the charts in the article are apples vs. oranges b/c you are comparing forecasts w/ variance = 0 vs. actuals w/ realized variance; just clarifying my point as I realize that you, of all people, don't need that explained to you). I just think a lot of people's first reaction when looking at PECOTA is that it's pessimistic, and such an analysis would do a good job highlighting that it's not, while also being an interesting check on PECOTA's percentile forecasts (by virtue of comparing the expected league-wide distribution to past results). So it's not really that I would hope to have a better forecast than the next guy on how many guys will hit more than 40 HR (unless someone wants to take a prop bet :-)), but just that it could help illuminate the PECOTA forecasts for people who don't understand this issue and be a fun article to read for those that do.
Shouldn't you be able to aggregate the individual percentile forecasts to come up with better estimates for these expected leaderboards? The problem, as you have laid out, is that aggregating the PECOTA means implicitly assumes no variance, so it will always underestimate the tails (which is what any leaderboard represents). But the most differentiated attribute of PECOTA is that it forecasts variance, so BP is really in a unique position to make leaderboard forecasts. Maybe you don't think it's worth the time, but it would make for an interesting article. If nothing else it would address the "PECOTA thinks the HR leader will only hit 40 HR - that's crazy!" comments, which aren't accurate (PECOTA would say it is 95% confident that nobody will hit more than X HR, and X would be a much higher number than the highest mean projection). Just a thought.
It's tough to say why a team might fare as poorly against one opponent over so many games, but I have a theory on the Twins, and it's one that doesn't hinge on ex-post character assessments. It ties into what I posted above.
1) The Twins typically have a long-sequence offense.
2) The Twins' lineup is heavily skewed toward lefties.
3) The Twins never have bench depth.
4) The Yankees generally have bullpen depth.
Take all these things together: you have an offense that usually needs a sustained rally to put up a crooked number, a rally that can be short-circuited by exploiting some obvious platoon splits in the starting lineup, with no suitable bench options to offer a tactical solution, facing a team with the bullpen depth to aggressively play matchups (not b/c they have great lefties, but b/c they typically have enough depth that they don't have to leave a righty in to face a lefty b/c he is their last quality arm in the bullpen). I think this dovetails well with the Twins' well-publicized inability to hold a lead against the Yankees, which is just a symptom of being outscored in the late innings when matchups become more important. This is all just a theory, but I find it plausible and better (or at least more therapeutic) than just chalking a < .250 winning percentage against one team in a half season's worth of games up to luck.
As an aside, I am a Twins fan and also an Ohio State fan - is Gardy the John Cooper of MLB (.702 winning percentage as the Buckeyes' head coach but 5-18-1 combined against Michigan and in bowl games)? Where is our Jim Tressel?
Nice writeup. I know you don't specifically include "Bench" in these assessments, but adding an inexpensive right-handed bat with some pop would be one of my top priorities in addition to those you mentioned. Matchups will continue to be a big problem for the Twins in a short series with a lineup core that is very lefty-heavy and nothing but automatic outs on the bench.
This article reads as if the Rangers are the team that held the 2-0 lead heading into the 8th and squandered it due to Wash's mismanagement. Let's keep in mind that the Giants' win expectancy was already 95% when they came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th, and was 98% by the time Wash brought in Lowe. Did he make some dumb decisions? Yes. Is that a bad sign re: the remaining games? Well, it's not good. But are those decisions the reason the Giants won this game? No. Matt Cain is. A great game for him and the Giants.
You're right, you didn't claim it was criminal - didn't mean to attribute that to you. My comment, filed as a reply to yours, was sort of a hybrid reply to your comment (acknowledging that Cueto wasn't exactly backed into a corner), BillJohnson's comment above, and Will's post. Point being, I find the vitriol against Cueto comedic - he fought dirty, but he fought, which is (duh) what happens in a fight. Sometimes people get hurt. That he might have caused a "career-ending" injury is driven in large part by the circumstances.
It was dirty, but criminal? No more so than punching someone or hitting them in the head with a baseball on purpose. If I'm not outraged that there's a fight in the first place, how can I be outraged when someone actually succeeds in injuring someone else? That's the entire point.
I would click the '+' all day if it counted.
I see a lot of "the Yankees will sign everyone," followed by "no they won't, look at these 3 guys that signed with someone else." Of course both of those comments are missing the point. The big-market teams won't sign everyone - it's impossible - they'll simply sign more than their fair share of the available talent. They already do this via the free agent market but it would be further exaggerated by making the draft a free market as well. Our brains aren't really wired to observe when a team signs 1/20 of the top talent available vs. 1/30, which is why the conversation devolves into specific player examples, but would anyone disagree that consistently signing a disproportionate share of talent is an advantage, and that having greater financial resources in a free market provides you with that opportunity? We might disagree on the extent to which that advantage should be neutralized, but it is certainly an advantage, and one that would increase if the draft is made a free market. I personally prioritize league parity over ensuring amateurs are paid full market value, but I recognize that that's a personal preference and others might feel differently.
Everything's relative, right? If so, Bill Smith thanks you for the compliment.
I suppose Sano's growth spurt points to him being as young as advertised, but if he is 19 rather than 17 how would the outlook for him change? Or asked another way, how rare would his performance be? I'm curious what your "perfect world projection" would be for him if he was on the older end of what some speculated when they looked into signing him.
"is that more or less statistically significant than having so many 50-plus homer seasons during the "steroid era"?
I think the choices here should be "less or laughably less."
The #1 thing I want to know about Slama is why he's been moved up so slowly given his ridiculous numbers. I wonder if the coaching staff/FO has given him specific things to work on before he's deemed ready, or if they just don't think much of him (maybe they think he's thrived in the minors on a funky delivery that won't work in the majors?). It might be difficult to coax a comment out of him but the Twins blogosphere is dying to know what the hold up is.
I'm not positive about this, so someone correct me if I'm wrong. I believe the teams own their local broadcast rights, not MLB, so generally speaking MLB doesn't actually have the right to show you in-market games. If they wanted those rights, they'd have to cut a deal with teams, many of whom either already license the rights to an RSN or own their own RSN and make money off of advertising and affiliate fees. When viewership moves from TV to MLB.tv the RSN is cut out of the loop and loses dollars, while MLB gains dollars. So while you personally are willing to spend more money if you could watch local games on MLB.tv, > 100% of those dollars would go to MLB while the RSN, and consequently the team, would lose dollars without some compensation from MLB. It's more complex than this and there are certainly people here who can add more, but I think this is the heart of the issue.
FWIW, the Saturday restriction kills it for me, too. That's when about 75% of my MLB.tv consumption would occur, so without it I've gone back and forth on whether a subscription is worth it. I'm not sure when Fox's exclusive rights to those games expire, but maybe something can be reworked at that time. I think it will be tough to make the per sub economics work, though. MLB.tv subs, as high demand baseball viewers, are worth way more than the $120 MLB.tv subscription to Fox based on the ad revenue they generate.
12% if the difference b/t the 87% Ichiro was credited with by WPA and the 75% Automated Teller is saying kind of makes sense, based on Ichiro doing about 3/4 of the work needed to turn the win expetancy from near zero to 100%.
I think you have to factor in the prosperity of the MSA in addition to the population. This doesn't disprove your point at all as the Twin Cities are a wealthy area, but I thought I would mention it. FWIW, if you multiply MSA population by per capita income the Twin Cities rank 12th in the country. If you account for multiple teams in the top MSA's the Twins rank 17th in MLB by available market dollars. That's basically the definition of mid-market in a 30-team league.
To Luke's point, though, the payroll increase this year makes them a mid-market spender and is related to the stadium, which is one of the ways to extract more money from the population as you put it. It took them 10-15 years to get a new stadium built - who's fault was that? Some would say taxpayers, some would say Pohlad. Reasonable people would probably say both. But residents/taxpayers are influenced by politics, general interest in the sport (which is influenced by climate, culture, age, etc.) and other things that are not encapsulated in the population/per capita income figures for the MSA. The point is, I think the Twins are probably naturally a mid-market team but were forced to act like a small-market team for a while due to factors outside those mentioned in your comment. As such, I think it just is what it is - they are mid-market now and should be thought of as such, but you can't dismiss their past accomplishments on a limited budget by claiming they had the ability to spend more money if they wanted to.
This is in reply to nmennis.
I believe Tommy is using 7% as a proxy for MLB salary inflation, to show that Mauer's contract in the out years will likely still be relatively attractive, i.e. that his contract is unlikely to be an albatross in the final years (barring injury) because $23 mm in 8 years will be equivalent to only $13.5 mm today. He's not asserting that the Twins' 2018 salary obligation can be funded by investing $13.5 mm at 7%. I think it's better to view Mauer's salary as an item on the P&L (and thus funded out of receipts) rather than viewing his contract as a debt obligation that must be fully funded today.
As an alternative if you just want audio, buy the ooTunes Radio app and tune in you hometown radio station over your iPhone. It's a $5 app instead of a $15 (and potentially more in the future) annual charge.
As Shawn writes, there are better apps for box scores and player info.
If you want live video, this is your only choice. I used it last season and it works better than I expected on 3G.
Really what this app gives you is Gameday plus mobile video rights if you've already bought video rights via MLB.TV. I don't think that's especially compelling for $15, but it's also not crazy.
This is different than losing a nominal closer, it's losing one of the best relief pitchers in baseball and filling those high leverage innings with someone vastly inferior. The leverage creates a multiplicative impact, so pointing out that it's only 4% of the team's innings severely understates what the Twins are losing. Furthermore, the "closers are over-hyped" argument is that there's no mystique to closing and you are best off putting your most capable reliever in the highest leverage situations. In other words, the "position" of closer is over-hyped, but the existence of high leverage innings is real and having a lights-out reliever to pitch them is extremely valuable.
I still think the Twins are favorites for the division, but I also thought they were a 90 win team before this. I think it's a tighter race now, but Guerrier is pretty capable and the return of Neshek and presence of Slama provide a couple other options that should keep the bullpen from becoming a complete liability.
I think the point Matt was trying to make there is that major league pitchers are all of sufficient skill to make it to the majors in the first place, and within that elite class of pitchers there is no difference in line drive rates. If you compared different classes (major leaguers vs. little leaguers, each facing ML hitters) you would see a difference, but not when you're comparing the best in the world to the 25th best in the world. I think he was just using K rate as an example to show that even the worst pitcher in the majors is still very good and capable of making major league hitters swing and miss a lot - especially compared to the zero % of the time they'd swing and miss off of most of us.
Great job, Matt.
I'm trying to reconcile how missing bats entirely is a skill while missing the very center of the bat is not. This seems to imply that when hitters either guess correctly or properly identify a pitch mid-flight they make square contact at a similar rate regardless of the pitcher, but when they guess incorrectly or mis-identify the pitch mid-flight they generally miss altogether. There have to be discrete scenarios like this - if it was a normal distribution of swings around an estimated point of contact a higher swing and miss rate would also lead to a lower rate of square contact (fatter tails so less probabiity in the middle). This is kind of what the first responder was getting at, I think.
So it seems like what pitchers really control is whether the hitter guesses correctly or properly identifies the pitch mid-flight - if yes, square contact rate is the same for every pitcher; if no, a swing and miss is likely regardless of the pitcher. One final thing on this last point - I wonder if mediocre pitchers have higher foul ball rates against them. I recall whenever I moved up to tougher competition (former pitcher myself) guys got a lot better at fouling off good pitches when they were fooled. It occurs to me that one of the key abilities of a hitter might be to take scenario B above where they are fooled and turn it into a foul ball instead of a swing and miss. And a key skill for pitchers is to have good enough stuff that if the hitter doesn't correctly identify the pitch there's no chance to make contact. Just something to think about. Has anyone ever looked at foul ball rates?
I'm really just throwing this out there because I think it's interesting. Maybe I'm missing some other way these things could both be true (missing bats is a skill, missing the very center of the bat is not).
Again, nice job on the article. It made me really think about how the game works, which is fun.
SIERA normalizes past ERA for things outside a pitcher's control and is therefore a better indicator of pitcher skill than ERA.
There's your 20 word explanation. If you want more:
It is not explicitly a predictive model because it does not incorporate aging, but it is as good as or better than any other metric that does not incorporate aging at predicting future ERA.
Yes, I'd say a first degree polynomial is simpler than a second degree polynomial - rounding of the coefficients doesn't have anything to do with it. If you don't gain any accuracy with the squared term it shouldn't be there. I think the concept behind SIERA makes a lot of sense and I'm hoping future iterations prove to be more accurate, but version 1.0 appears to be a more complex and no more useful predictor than xFIP.
evo34 beat me to my second thought. The assertion that the average of the two is more accurate than either one used separately is one that can and should be tested. If the errors of the two models are correlated averaging them isn't going to do much.
Keep working on it though. I like the concept and it seems to at least have the potential to better predict certain unique cohorts, which would be quite valuable.
How much better does SIERA need to be than xFIP to outweigh its increased complexity? If its accuracy doesn't improve with future iterations and it's not significantly better at predicting performance of specific types of pitchers, why would one use it over the more parsimonious option? I'm not saying it can't be improved, but if it isn't then it's DOA right?
Your post highlights one of the toughest challenges in convincing the masses to pay attention to advanced statistics. Most of the metrics strive to adjust for things that are dificult to observe, and most fans don't believe these adjustments are significant enough to worry about. I would go so far as to say that most fans aren't even capable of undertanding them. Even smart people get tripped up in macro econ by the concept of comparative advantage. Beyond that, many people are smart enough but view baseball as an entertainment product and aren't willing to invest tons of time to advance their knowledge of the game in 1% increments. Positional adjustments are a basic concept to most people on this site, but you are more likely to see common fans adjusting for a guy's spot in the lineup than his position (i.e. he's a good player, especially if he's your #8 hitter). You can't even begin talking about VORP until people accept that these adjustments are necessary and buy into the way in which you make them, and that will be a very, very tough slog.
I love this idea. To take it a step further, with new internet connected TVs allowing for TV-based widgets, why couldn't you design one that would show a live look at win probability for any game you're watching? If it's internet-based you wouldn't necessarily need to get broadcasters on board (although somehow you'd have to match up the widget to the game you were watching). MLB could leverage its Gameday feed to offer this directly, or maybe someone like DirecTV could offer it as another way to lead the cable/DBS pack in sports.
I was immediately reminded of this Max Planck quote:
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
Time will be the dominant force in the adoption of advanced stats, and there's little you can do to accelerate that beyond getting Superman on the payroll to speed up the Earth's rotation. BP should keep doing what it's doing and be ready to capitalize when the world is ready to listen. Keep in mind the iPad traces its roots back 20 years to the Newton - sometimes you just have to wait until the time is right.
Reply isn't working and neither is the Pecota file. I'm having the same problem as Peter7899. Getting a message that the file is corrupt.
My thoughts exactly. I like the statistical work that's being done, but much of it seems like it should be happening behind the scenes until a full article or series of articles is warranted. Some of the stats articles over the past 6 months or so are basically working papers - a first glimpse at something potentially useful or an interesting hypothesis that is tested on too small a data set to be conclusive. I would rather one important question be answered conclusively and written about formally than 10 be explored in articles with no/limited/statistically meaningless conclusions. I suspect that BP views publication as a measure of productivity, but the comments in this thread suggest that the decreased signal-to-noise ratio is putting off a fair number of readers.
Perhaps these working papers should be labeled as such, or put in a "statistical sandbox" area where they are understood by readers to be rough ideas or preliminary statistical work. Many of your readers would skip these entries entirely, but some would actively engage in the discussion and probably generate some good ideas for further research/refinement.
I think the value of those things accrues to the media outlets, not the teams.
Ex ante they'd support the latter, but ex post they'll support neither. The result will drive the evaluation of the decision, as it always does. If we forced everyone to write down their opinions right now, though, I think you're right that most would support the 3-man rotation, if for no other reason than the old "rely on the guys that got you here" mantra.
Would be kind of cool to come up with a stat for individual at bats that is similar to expected runs, i.e. one that shows the expected OPS of a batter by count. If you did that, you could weight blown ball/strike calls by the delta in expected OPS for the hitter and figure out which team was most affected by bad calls. Perhaps you could even translate this into the impact on expected runs, and ultimately, WPA. Just thinking this would allow you to properly weight blown calls based on context. Six blown ball/strike calls could be no big deal or a huge deal depending on the situation.
I wonder if you have thoughts on something else that popped into my head a couple times as I was reading your previous articles. You discussed the effect of location on perceived velocity within the framework of the swing arc (i.e. you have more time to square up an outside pitch than an inside pitch). But I was wondering this, also. Does the location also make it more or less difficult to judge velocity and movement and react accordingly? I'm talking about perspective/angle on an object in motion. If it is coming directly at you it is much harder to judge its motion than if you have an angle on it. So an inside fastball is more difficult to judge, while an outside fastball is easier. Just to be completely clear, with the outside fastball you actually see it moving across your field of vision and getting larger within your field of vision. With a fastball straight between your eyes you can only determine velocity by judging the pace at which the ball is getting larger. The extra visual information on the outside fastball should make it easier to identify and hit. I don't think this add/subtracts perceived velocity, as you could misjudge the velocity in either direction, but it seems like it would disrupt timing in a disproportionate way, i.e. more for an inside pitch than an outside pitch.
Of course that is just fastballs where there is no/minimal break. With a breaking ball, it might be easier to judge the speed if it is thrown low and outside for the same reason as above, but the break may be more difficult to judge if thrown there because it would be occurring in the same plane as the hitter's eyes. This would give you the same poor read on the break as you have on the velocity of a fastball aimed right between your eyes. If the breaking ball is thrown inside, the velocity might be more difficult to judge, but you will have a better perspective on the break, so maybe net net it is easier to hit.
This all makes me think about why a good changeup is so effective. If you are a 2 pitch pitcher (fastball, breaking ball) and you throw a breaking ball away, the hitter can identify the speed, know it is a breaking ball, and decide when and where to swing (or not). If you also have a changeup, identifying the speed of an outside pitch no longer tells you everything you need to know about when and where to swing. You now have to read the break (or guess), which is difficult to do given your poor perspective on the break of a low outside pitch. An inside changeup would also be troublesome, but for a different reason. As mentioned above you have poor perspective on velocity on inside pitches, and while you have a good perspective on break, the break of a changeup looks similar to that of a fastball. So you really could have a difficult time identifying a good changeup no matter where it is located.
I'll stop rambling. Just curious whether you have any thoughts on this aspect of pitch location.
Love the topic and always look forward to your articles, Eric. I used to pitch and find it interesting now to think about the science behind what I learned intuitively over the years.
On this topic specifically, I think this is exactly why hanging sliders are so dangerous. The sequence of low outside fastball-hanging slider would have similar perceived velocity, and of course movement on the hanging slider would be minimal. That puts the pitch squarely in the at risk category.
I think this also relates to the concept of "speeding up the bat" of a hitter, which you'll occasionally hear ex-player broadcasters refer to (I'm sure I've heard McCarver say this, which is telling given he was a catcher). That language never made sense to me, but the basic point was you don't really want to throw an offspeed pitch inside. I think this is the intuitive, player's way of describing what you're referencing in this article. "Speeding up the bat" doesn't literally mean anything, it just means the offspeed pitch loses a chunk of its perceived velocity differential when thrown inside, making it easier to hit.
True enough, though fouling a ball off his own groin might be an offset.
To answer your question, he had 14 plate appearances. Less one pitch and one PA for the HBP and you get 43 pitches in 13 PAs, or 3.3 pitches/PA.
But I don't think pitches/PA is the right way to think about it. I could average 3+ pitches per PA in the majors by simply standing in the batter's box and not moving. Delmon struck out 5 times in 12 AB's, so he starts with a nice buffer of 3+ pitches per PA in > 1/3 of his PA's just by having at bats so terrible he doesn't even put the ball in play.
His problem is that he isn't selective enough, so he never walks and makes either weak or no contact when he swings. Joe's stat about his swing % is a good way to show that he's not making progress in that area. This is no better exemplified than in game 3, when he swung at the first two pitches he saw and hit two shallow popups.
I like the hybrid idea, Will, and you're right that you would still need an ump back there for other types of calls anyway, so he could serve as a backup for balls/strikes.
I should have been more specific in my reference to Eric's article. He mentioned in there that for a particular Padres game he was initiaully using Pitch F/X appeared to be miscalibrated, as every pitcher was shown to be throwing a couple MPH below his average velocity for the entire season.
My main issues with using Pitch F/X are accuracy and reliability. There needs to be some kind of redundancy or something built in so there's literally zero chance of failure during a game. What do you do if Pitch F/X breaks and you have no way of calling balls and strikes? It can't even happen once ever. Not sure if it is that reliable yet. Once it is, I'd be more in favor. As far as accuracy, I don't know how it could be tested but it is pretty clear from watching these playoff games that whatever TBS is using is not accurate. That could be a measurement issue or simply a poorly defined strike zone for particular batters as others have mentioned. Finally, at least with human umpires there is SOME chance of accountability. What do you do if Pitch F/X is somehow miscalibrated (it happens - see Eric Seidman's recent articles on perceived velocity) and is calling an obviously faulty strike zone? Call out a technician and put the game on hold? Accuracy and reliability should be fixable but you can't use an automated system until it is extremely reliable.
Maybe I'm biased b/c I used to pitch but this has bugged me for a while now. The strike zone is tiny and "working up in the zone" basically means throwing it down the middle. I suspect the strike zone has shrunk to promote offense because chicks dig the long ball.
I think saying a team does the little things or plays the game the right way is like saying a girl has a great personality.
Reply's not working, but kradec were you being sarcastic re: Darling? I think he may be worse than Joe Morgan.
Mark McGwire is the guy I think of when it comes to full extension.
This makes me wonder what the biggest limiting factor is for catchers defensively. Is it pitch calling? Receiving? Arm strength? Arm accuracy? Agility? Durability? I know they are all important but I wonder if there are one or two that most frequently make coaches say "this guy can't handle catcher." I guess another way to phrase that is what is the rarest skill that capable catchers possess? Maybe Kevin has some insight on that.
1) Catchers don't see from the same angle as hitters, either. It's a different enough perspective on the ball that there is zero ancillary benefit to your eye at the plate, although there might be some small benefit from gauging the strike zone of that particular game's umpire.
2) Round up all the guys in the world who can OPS > .750 against major league pitching. Now hold tryouts to see how many can play acceptable defense at catcher. It's a handful. In the entire world. Now see how many can play 1B. There are tons. Way more than enough for every team in the league. That's why it's the worst hitting position on the field.
I would much rather see a slow but throroughly researched study of these issues where there is some truly valuable insight than a rapid fire series of articles with flawed analysis that invalidates the conclusions. In other words, please, I'm begging you, stick with your plan even if it takes a while! This article was excellent.
There are only a handful of different narratives that win MVP's. I think I'd approach this problem by figuring out what statistical information characterizes those narratives and use that to predict the winner, rather than using conventional statistics in some combination.
Some of these narratives are mentioned in the previous comments. One criterion might be best player on a team that barely made the playoffs. Worth more points still would be best player who also performed well down the stretch on a team that finished strong to narrowly secure a playoff spot (as opposed to a team that stumbles to the finish and barely hangs onto a playoff spot). And maybe points in those cases should be scaled by how much better the player is than his teammates (a rough way of describing the "he carried his team to the playoffs singlehandedly" narrative). You would also get points for being by far the best player in the league (Mauer), fewer for being at least in the argument, and zero for anything else even if you had a really good season. You should also get points for doing something really spectacular for awhile, again like some of Mauer's stretches this year. The basic idea is that you need to do something to rise into the public's conscience and then sustain that awareness through the end of the season. Being really good over the course of a season but never jumping off the charts seems to only have a chance in the "toss-up" years like the AL in '08.
Those are just a few examples among many that I can think of, but the point is the MVP is driven by narratives so reverse engineering those narratives and their preference among voters is probably the best way to predict MVPs.
Thanks for the reply, Matt.
I suppose runs scored would follow a lognormal rather than normal distribution, since they are a product of multiple independent events. If you charted log(runs scored) I bet you'd get a normal distribution (long right tail would be gone), and the variance of that distribution would be more indicative of true volatility in run scoring for a team (wouldn't be skewed by blowouts). That would probably be the best method to come up with an adjusted variance metric. Then I'd regress that against the difference between wins and pythag expected wins. The analysis becomes a little more esoteric (what is a logrun?), but the conclusion would be stronger, I think.
If you take out the skew with that methodology I'd be interested to see what happens. My intuitive guess is that you'd see variance have little predictive value for the overall population, but significant predictive value for the individual cohorts, i.e. variance is good for the bad teams, and bad for the good teams. But I could be wrong. In fact I hope I'm wrong because that would be more interesting.
I'm not sure I understand the second paragraph of your response. I'm saying divide the population into "+ run diff" and "- run diff" and redo the regression of "wins minus expected wins" vs. "adjusted variance" for each of those cohorts. If you divide them based on run differential (as opposed to actual winning percentage) you shouldn't have any bias. In other words, it shouldn't be any easier or harder for a team in the "+" cohort to outperform or underperform its pythag than for a team in the "-" cohort.
Thoughts? Thanks again for the reply.
Interesting stuff. I would like to see a little more exploration of the negative correlation between variance and performance vs. pythagorean record. Intuitively, good teams should benefit from low variance while bad teams should benefit from high variance. If Team A scores 6 runs a game with zero variance and Team B scores 5 runs a game with zero variance, Team A will win every game. If you add variance to either team, it will hurt Team A's winning percentage and help Team B's. As variance becomes infinite Team A's winning percentage will approach 50%. I'm not sure if I understand why your findings would suggest that low variance is uniformly good. I realize this is relative to the pythag model, but if the pythag model is a good approximation in aggregate, then I would think that a team with a positive run differential should outperform if it has below average variance while a team with a negative run differential should outperform if it has above average variance. Maybe if you divided the sample into two cohorts--teams that outscored their opponents and teams that were outscored--the results would look different. Just a thought.
I was also curious about the adjusted variance metric that you created. You mention that it is uncorrelated with runs scored, but does is there any pattern to the residuals? If so it could introduce some bias. It seems like it would be better to regress variance in runs scored against runs scored and use the residuals as the predictors of the difference between wins and pythag predicted wins. Again, just a thought.
Like the article overall. Thought-provoking = good.
Eric, are strand rates for individual pitchers correlated season to season? In other words, is there any statistical evidence that stranding runners is a sustainable skill? It is a common part of the baseball narrative (e.g. a bulldog mentality, buckling down when you really need to, etc.), but is it real? The Pitch F/X data you present on Cain suggests that he's doing something different with runners on, but historically speaking, does everyone tend to revert to the 72% mean strand rate or are there examples of pitchers who are persistently above or below that?
Enjoyed the article.
This is absolutely correct. Van Slyke was referring the to the sport of baseball, not the business of baseball. It was a poor choice of words...I think what he really meant is that baseball is as pure of a meritocracy as you'll find, not that it is capitalistic.
It's still not 100% about merit (e.g. guys who are out of options being kept on the ML roster over better players with options, etc.), but it's pretty pure and that's what he was getting at.
I think it would be much more instructive to test this hypothesis with breaking balls since there is no discrete "wrist snap" involved in throwing a fastball.
Ah, makes more sense. I interpreted your "from 4 day to 5 day" comment too literally.
Anyway, the larger point is that it would be nice to see a regression for this type of study so we know whether the variation is statistically significant or not. I'm afraid we may otherwise draw conclusions (see havybeaks' comment below) without sufficient evidence.
Thanks for doing that, Eric. It would be interesting for a future article as you get more data to do a regression of the paired differences to see whether they are significantly different from zero. Hard to tell from the raw numbers whether there is anything to be gleaned from the numbers. At first glance nothing jumps out at me as "looking" significant, but that doesn't really mean anything. I do find it curious that average velocity was down in all 3 groups with an extra day of rest, though again, it may not be statistically significant. Thanks for the follow-up to the comments, though. Much appreciated!
Yeah but Jamey's point, with which I concur, is that the proper way to test this is to look at the average velocity and movement differentials (i.e. Pitcher A fastball velocity on 3 days rest minus Pitcher A fastball velocity on 4 days rest, etc.) within each cohort rather than the absolute numbers. That would eliminate any bias within the cohorts (e.g. those with the highest velocity might happen to be the ones who threw on short rest most often). You need paired data to do that, which reduces degrees of freedom, but it is really the right way to do this test. Just a suggestion.