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Ya, I was surprised that there weren't more big name prospects / decent MLBers in the list of guys given up for closers.
I actually expected more talent to have been sent for closers.
As a member of a forward thinking organization, shouldn't you not mention BJ Upton's SSS data against one particular starting pitcher? By bringing it up, how you did, it sounds like you believe it's significant.
I can almost understand the urge of a live TV announcer saying that. They have to think of things quickly, and ad hoc. But you didn't need to say that, because you could edit your article.
Or are you suggesting some sort of signal in 25 PA?
Considering Trout is probably a 7-11 WAR player, half of Trout is a perennial All Star.
>Big, heavy, men tend to lose quickness, (i.e. bat speed), the key component, more rapidly, when the inevitable decline begins, than smaller bodied types.
If you were of a certain mind, and have access to an ssh account on a computer not in the blackout area, you could google for "ssh tunnel" to ... ahem.. avoid certain issues with blackouts.
WOW @ Sussman's assessment. Even though the Tigers could have gotten a solid MLB hitter, at a cost essentially equal to what he eventually signed*, with a 1-year commitment instead of 4, it was the right call? Even knowing that the expected value of the comp pick is somewhere between $5-8 million?
Sussman, way off here, even excluding the possibility of Iglesias missing time, and the certainty of Dirks missing a bit. This could not have been known, specifically, but depth is an important attribute of successful organization.
I love your work, but this feels... indefensible.
* with a top MLB organization, nonetheless... it's not like the Phillies signed him.
Agreed. And if the Tigers knew about Fister's elbow (the only way you can give them credit for the deal), doesn't that mean they were less than forthright with the Nats?
I'm all for a fleecing, but if you withhold information that you know materially affects the decision, it's dishonest. And, if so, it should affect how people deal with the Tigers.
85% of Greg Maddux is a no-doubt hall of famer. I'm not comfortable putting that label on Tanaka just yet.
Great historical modeling. This is the type of original research I love BP for.
I'd love to see you run a simulation with existing season-data to see how well your component-BABIP-predictor does against the "dumb" TTO/regress to league avg predictor. Would also be really cool to regress to career BABIP in addition.
Cool research, but I would love to see a simulated test of the prediction.
Then I can use it to my advantage in fantasy ;). After all, that's what really matters.
Regarding the last question, on multiple players on one team: one advantage that arises comes from home ballparks. Multiple Rockies hitters means you're exploiting the ballpark effect more frequently.
Otherwise, I think it depends more on the players' skill than whether they're on the same team.
I love this. Looking forward to the series!
Great article Ben, thanks!
I appreciate the respect and deference shown to Leyland. But isn't it just possible that he's got a mental label on Benoit and isn't able to shake it?
"Physics says that the amount of break (assuming a constant force that causes the break) is proportional to the square of the flight time. Or in our case, proportional to the square of the distance from release."
This isn't strictly true, correct? Generally a pitched ball loses around 10% of its velocity by the time it reaches the plate. Since the velocity is declining (presumably at a consistent rate between different pitches), it spends more time traveling the last 15 feet to the plate than the first 15 feet from the pitcher's hand.
Second question: could there be a difference in the amount a pitch slows as it travels to the plate, depending on different rotational profiles? Does more spin on the curve (cmp to less spin) cause additional friction, slowing the ball more?
I think it's unlikely. BP has an article I found with a simple google search on hitter streakiness. They basically found nothing.
I believe it's just an after the fact narrative. Convince yourself of what you'd like, but the study seems pretty conclusive.
It's similar to the hot hand idea in basketball. Seems pretty clear it's just post hoc rationalization. Remove the feedback of whether the ball went in the hoop, and they weren't able to tell when they were hot.
Human brains don't deal well with randomness, so we ascribe a narrative.
I think you'd have to compare WPA to a "closer" baseline, rather than a generic reliever baseline. IE, how much better was Rivera than if a replacement level reliever would have been in the same high leverage situation?
Only pointing out a flaw in your argument, not arguing for the opposite.
"Until someone can conclusively argue there is no difference between high and low leverage innings in value..."
I don't think anyone should have to prove the negative; burden of proof lies on the assertion that a player should be given extra credit due to situational context outside of their control.
In other words, you have to adjust for the context in which the player is placed, otherwise it's not a fair comparison. We do this all the time with park factors.
In fact, I think you'd need to identify how much better Mariano would have been compared to a pitcher in that contextual situation.
The point about pampering (and hedonistic equilibrium) is interesting. But I think the real advantage is in nutrition and training / video methods.
Analogous to the 1970s, when players didn't lift weights as much, and not encouraged by the team. Nolan Ryan has said he was chased out of the weight room with the Angels b/c they didn't want him to get bulky.
The fact remains these players aren't always up to date on cutting edge research. Teams have the resources to follow and implement these plans.
I have to think that ideal nutrition, training, and "perfect practice" approaches yield benefits to players as compared to just letting these young men wing it on their own.
This is a very interesting comment. It suggests two possible explanations: either 300g winners are randomly distributed, or something about the game changes to support 300g winners.
I'm referring to the "bunching" aspect of 300g winners. I think the career length for these guys (>20 years) means it's very likely there will be one at any given time.
Be interesting to see in the future if any of the guys listed here reach 300 wins.
Ha, this gave me a laugh. I played HS ball in SD during the 2000 season against a bunch of these guys. (While we didn't have any future MLB players, we did have a lefty phenom who played MiLB ball for a number of years. And we did win the CIF championship despite not having any elite talent.)
FWIW, I played with Adrian Gonzalez on a traveling team that summer. Even though he had been taken as the #1 pick in the draft, he was one of the nicer guys I've played ball with.
It would be really interesting to examine the effect of multiple DL trips, and to include the length of the DL stay as a factor in the regression.
I had some difficulty understanding the mean/median WARP/ASG. Initially, I interpreted as meaning that many WARP in the season they were selected for the game. That number seemed way too high, so after digging I realized it was career WARP.
As an aside, I must confess I now think in terms of bWAR or fWAR, rather than WARP. I think it's because B-R and FanGraphs have their data open and indexed by google, whereas for BP you have to use their site. Because of the ease of access, I now get most of my news from FG, relying on BP only for the occasional in depth analysis like the Raising Aces series.
Bringing out the "I pay for this site" line appears petulant.
Carlos Santana, Alex Rios, Manny Machado in OBP (instead of BA) leagues.
These are good points, but I could see Towers hedging against Gregorious with one of the TEX shortstops. If they both develop, you can move one of them for huge returns. No prospect is a sure thing, and teams will pay for huge up the middle players.
This hinges on the assumption that Towers wants Upton off his roster. It could make sense, if KT doesn't think they'll compete in the next few years and/or Upton is "just" a 2-4 win player.
I agree it doesn't make a ton of sense, but if Towers is serious, i have to question his situation.
Or how about Anibal Sanchez: "His game is getting ground balls, and he needs a good defense behind him."
Anibal Sanchez, career GB rate: 44.5%
MLB average GB rate: 44%
Not as egregious, but still...
Thanks for pointing this out. The whole article read like Detroit is better / has better matchups, and that Scherzer is significantly better than Parker. I'm almost wondering if the author flipped the teams (that DET has the 61% chance of winning).
The SF rule is a holdover from a simpler era where we were limited to counting statistics and rates calculated with simple math. An era when we didn't have the computational power to run complex formulae, or run regressions. It should be eliminated.
100% agreed on double plays.
For the record, Trout made 404 outs this year (PA - H - BB + GIDP + CS + SF + SH). Cabrera made 404 outs this year. Cabrera had 62 more plate appearances than Trout.
Should Addison Reed really be included in here?
How much of a player's salary gets covered by insurance / disability while he is on the DL? In Guzman's case, how much of the tab did the Rays have to pick up?
Where did you find the pitch timing data, that a slide step knocks of .1 to .2 seconds from the delivery? Seems like it could be a bit higher than that, essentially giving the base away to a runner.
Your suggestion that pitchers would be more effective if they ditched the slide step could be examined by looking at pre-1980s pitcher data compared to 1990s pitcher data (before the slide step was common, and then once it was common). You could compare effectiveness with runners on base (maybe even narrow it down to runner-on-first situations so as to even out the data a bit more; pitchers don't always use the slide step w/ a runner on third, or second).
It would also be interesting to look at PitchFX data for the years we have it, to compare if movement, location, or velocity are significantly different for a pitcher when he's in the stretch.
Instead, you focused on the assertion that pitch delivery is important, and the slide step harms his ability to pitch. I don't see the necessary analysis to agree with you, although I do agree that it is possible this could be an improvement. However, I don't think you did much to advance the conversation or to give good reason why this should be so.
Other interesting questions: which pitchers are better/worse out of the slide step? What type of pitchers (sinkerballers often get more movement with a slower fastball)? Are there more common outcomes b/c of the slide step (i.e., more walks from postural instability, or maybe more homers from pitches being left up in the zone)?
A very long piece full of conjecture and hypothesis, it is just begging to be analyzed more closely.
Yes, and totally justifies the $6 million price tag the trial alone has cost the government. And (according to SI 4/11/11) an investigation that cost 55 million dollars.
Do you honestly believe that the whole Barry Bonds debacle was worth over 60 million dollars of the Justice Dept budget?
Regarding your advice on the rest of the season: I think the high number of closers gone for the year will mean the trade market for closers will be hot, which is another source of closer volatility you didn't mention in the article.
"I guess for every Buster Posey there’s a Matt Wieters or five."
Matt Wieters, age 23-25 (2009-2011), 1438 PA, 5.7 WARP (2.57 WARP/650PA). Tough division, still has significant upside.
Buster Posey, age 22-24 (2009-2011), 644 PA, 4.4 WARP (4.44WARP/650PA). Freak injury, bad player management. Serious upside coming.
(I think I did my math correctly on those WARP/650 PA, but no guarantees.)
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seems strange to use Matt Wieters as an example of a bust at this point in time. I think Mesoraco is worth signing even if he produced 2.1+ WARP/season at C in the few years leading up to his prime.
I believe that is accounted for when they compare a given pitcher's data to the team data. Matt explicitly mentions popups WRT infield foul territory, I would have to imagine it acts similarly for OF asymmetry.
It's possible that there are pitchers who adjust their style to fit a ballpark. But that sounds suspiciously similar to the old claim, "a good pitcher throws to the score" (cough cough jack morris). In that case, the onus would be on the person making the assertion to prove it. I just doubt that there's much of an effect from it.
I'm not as sharp as these guys, but I think this type of analysis isn't particularly appropriate when you're looking at things on a single-game level. Just what my gut tells me.
You wrote: "If the effect of gravity is removed, we can look at the effect of the spin force alone on the baseball."
How did you remove the effect of gravity? Did you chart the initial ball path, estimate the drop due to gravity, and normalize your dataset with that?
Thank you for including this. I'm generally less interested in the interviews with ballplayers, because they generally sound like one another. But this is amazing, heart-felt stuff.
Thank you for stopping by BP. But mostly thank you for your writing. It has meant a lot to me.
My pet peeve: misuse of words. The sentence, "Ironically, Black and Farrell were teammates with the Indians from 1988-90," misuses ironic. It isn't ironic, it's coincidental.
I agree. I have yet to see serious evidence that steroids boost performance in baseball. Before we start moralizing, let's first get that one piece of evidence locked down. And saying, "duh it's obvious look at the records / sizeof bonds /etc." is not evidence. In fact, I suspect that pitchers benefited most from steroid use, due to the fact that it greatly reduces recovery time (something that would benefit pitchers more than hitters).
Secondly, I'm not so convinced that the steroid usage by professional athletes, assuming doctor's monitoring, is bad for your health. A lot of what we know about steroids comes from studying the Lyle Alonso types, who followed the "if a little is good, a whole lot more is better" school of thought.
Finally, assuming (1) performance enhancement, and (2) negative health effects, I'm still not 100% sure I see a moral argument. The "gotta do them to compete" argument misses the fact that there's already a LOT of stuff in sports that "must be done to compete" that is really bad for your health. For example, you cannot be an offensive lineman in the NFL unless you're around 300 lbs. That amount of weight has been proven to be really bad for your health. The average lifespan for an ex-NFL lineman is around 50 years old.
Until we can prove (1) and (2), and are willing to discuss the third point, I'm reserving all judgment for these steroid users.
@clonod I'd imagine that as we look at lower systems in the minors, the analysis is more projection and scout-y than at higher levels. The data just isn't there, and the levels of competition fluctuate so much.
The fact that it seems ESPN-y to you is likely just b/c ESPN has been using scouting language for years so they can cover up the fact that they don't know anything.
Except Stras is only going to throw another 40-50 IP, so he'll probably be shut down in early September.
Would you be willing to wait an extra full day for each article to be published? I'm not. I'll take it sooner, errors and all.
Do you remember what the relative differences were between the better and the worse projection systems? Something like a perfect or two, taken as a whole.
PECOTA ain't perfect. That's why you should use several of them. But if you're not using PECOTA, you're missing out. It informs its projections with player comps using things like body size, injury history, etc. That certainly has value.
No, it doesn't always nail down Ichiro or Javy Vasquez. But other systems have similar shortcomings as well. Multiple tools are almost always better.
While this may be somewhat true, the fact remains that managing his workload is something they could do in MLB just as easily. I don't think the Nationals would have a problem "pulling him after 4 innings if he's thrown 100 pitches", even if it is a shutout.
Plus, with the other service clock hold-downs happening (Posey, Santana, et al.), you know this is a common occurrence in the game. Seems much clearer to me that it's a money thing. Guess we'll find out in a few weeks -- if they bring him up in June, you know it was a money issue.
Jay, great response to a whiner! Much appreciated.
Working with Tom House for a number of years, I learned some significant information that will inform and surround this discussion.
@coachadams5 - mound throwing has to be restricted because of the forces involved. The slope of the mound means significantly more force is transferring through your body (ending up in your arm), compared to throwing on flat ground. So theoretically, while throwing from a mound would be ideal, it has to be limited due to the extra stress it places on the arm.
House always had us work long toss, with a twist: you would kneel then throw. In this way, the lower half of the mechanical chain would be removed from the equation, allowing the pitcher to focus on the upper half of his kinetic chain (abs through arm). As a side benefit, this did everything presented in the article above (range of motion, muscular workouts, increased bloodflow). Additionally, the forces were greatly decreased because of the removal of the leg-generated force, so the risk of injury was virtually non-existent. Further, you had to have excellent mechanics to throw like this (or you fall over), so it worked as a mechanical reinforcement as well.
I fully believe that long tossing is a crucial part of pitcher workouts. However, getting a full head of steam before throwing will only decrease mechanical efficiency (increasing stress on the arm), but will also force you to throw with a different motion, which increases likelihood of injury.
He doesn't say what the sample size is, but it's 10 years worth of data, so it's probably several thousand batter seasons. Yes, the injury effect does affect players, but this suggests 2 things
1) it probably doesn't affect them as much as is thought
2) there aren't too many injury/cold-streak occurrences to significant shift the results
Either way, I would be interested to see the sub-population of this study analyzed based on players who had a DL stint within a week or two of their cold streak. And then this same analysis run with the non-injured population. There's sure to be some confounding going on, but my guess is that it's negligible.
Because guys that walk too much just clog the bases! They aren't real men because they don't swing the lumber.
"his back acted up and he seemed to get religion"
Do you mean literally religion, or do you mean he got religious about strengthening his back/core?
How would you create metrics for confidence? Are you really suggesting that we can use "swinging at more bad pitches" and "taking more strikes" as proxies for confidence? If so, you have a serious task to connect those to confidence, before you can draw ANY conclusions.
Wolf - 1682 IP
Suppan - 2410 IP
Bush - 929 IP
Parra - 332 IP
With the exception of Parra, yeah, these guys are "established". They're just not "good".
I second this suggestion.
That could contribute, but it feels like any effects from that would be minimal. I don't have the source handy, but I remember some studies on the interweb that showed that certain players with "he gets the benefit of the doubt" reputations really didn't get more calls.
With how far away from the other skills this is, I'd think it has to be something more significant than umpire favoritism. Such as skill improvement.
I think Joe is saying "fix the offense" because the Mets will have to pound some opponents into submission next year. As he went over, they really should've pushed for Lackey, but there really isn't much quality left out there. That's why he suggested Sheets.
Further, if they do nothing this season, their aging core is getting 1 year older. Fans in NYC are 1 year more impatient. By adding Holliday and Sheets, they have a shot to make a run this year. Especially if they get Delgado for less than NJohnson money, and he performs to his career norms.
Let's not forget that Scherzer is pretty bright, has shown an interest in applied sabrmetrics, and we could have a high ceiling guy who is also stat savvy. Imagine McCarver interviewing a player talking about BABIP or luck -- think his head would explode?
Because Wells is unlikely to perform at a $100 million level over the next 5 years. If he's an average player, as the article suggests, he might be worth 40-50 million.
There are very few prospect packages, and none that I've seen offered, that could match that surplus value. Having another $50 million (assuming they acquire a market-cost "average" FA to fill that role -- if they don't, they could save 80-100 mil) freed up is a game-changer.
Clearly they should try to maximize the prospects they receive in return, but I haven't seen too many packages that look to provide in excess of 20 million or so in value. This one isn't close -- if they find a team who will make this trade, they need to do it.
Don't forget about the compensation pick the Twins would've gotten had they just let Santana sign elsewhere as a FA. That's usually valued at around $5.5 million.
So 7.3 WARP3 in one year, versus 6.9WARP from 4 player-seasons. Maybe it's not a joke of a trade, but generally when you trade a guy like Santana for prospects, you'd expect the prospects value to greatly eclipse the value you're losing, when you look at it a few years down the road.
I, for one, would never put this kind of thing past KW. One thing I will say about the guy: you never know what he's going to do.
I suspect Epstein would rather trade him 1 year early as opposed to 1 year too late. BOS knows it can afford to eat his contract if he gets hurt, but his trade value will diminish to 0 at that point. I don't see them shopping him, but if they get a mid rotation offer, I can't imagine them not getting rid of Paps.
For a BP discussion, this thread isn't very smart. Quick lookup for Manny versus Edgar, career numbers:
Manny: 18 seasons, 9437 AB, 5589 outs. 68.6 WARP1, 73.1 WARP3. FanGraphs has him at 1870 wRC carrer. FWIW, fielding wise, Manny was about 100 runs below average in the field.
Edgar: 18 seasons, 8672 AB, 5083 outs. 64.3 WARP1, 68.9 WARP3, 1601 wRC (partially a result of injuries).
Seems to me that these are some pretty similar numbers when taken at face value. I do, however, believe that even Manny's poor defense is still worth 10-20 runs / season above a full time DH (yes, defense played poorly is better than no defense at all; unless we're talking Dunn-levels of incompetence). Manny looks to have a slight advantage over Edgar, pure hitting wise. No comment on HoF candidacy of Edgar.
Agreed with mattyc. I think this is one of the smarter "casual" comments I've ever read in an article. Kudos, joe!
While I've never once doubted the intellectual and ethical honesty of the BP staff, I still feel it's very important to disclose at the time of writing what you received gratis. Thanks Will!
@cdmeyers he may only be 11th in VORP, but looking at his WXRL, he's best in baseball with nearly 6 wins added. I think you're misusing VORP a little bit when looking at relievers. Plus, one thing you learn from BP is this: a lights-out closer really is only as good as a pretty good mid-rotation healthy starter.
@evisokey it's difficult to say whether he would've been able to make it as a starter. Could he be effective? Could he hold up to the wear and tear? NYY obviously didn't think so, so they exchanged (what looked to be) a mid-rotation guy and turned him into a HoF closer. Impossible to play 'what if', here, really, but it would have been really difficult for him to give more value to the NYY if he were a starter.
Joe isn't advocating that Rivera is as valuable as Greinke or Mauer or anything; he's just saying that it's a privilege to watch a guy like that pitch. And I agree.
I see that the variance in the SLG_BIP are around 15%. Park effects could thus significantly change the rankings. While my Padres are no slouches defensively, I suspect this is largely due to Petco.
You forget the real reason closers exist: to have the saves category in fantasy baseball. How would we survive if we didn't have to deal with THAT stupidity!
Re-examine the Rios contract. I believe Sheehan did so recently. It's not a great one, but it's light years away from being as bad as Wells.
+1 to edsmedia. Zobrist qualifies at SS, and has been a GREAT help for me this year. I think he's going to regress a LOT, but I still think he'll be in the top 7 or so at SS next year. I'm keeping him, but that's mostly b/c my offense is so weak.
Are these numbers adjusted for markets? Every time I see the BP MORP value, I think of the book, "Diamond Dollars", which discussed how one player might be a boondoggle for one team, but a bargain for another. E.g., if my Padres signed CC Sabathia, they wouldn't get their money back: not only will he not significantly increase their chance at the playoffs, but in a smaller market, those added wins will be worth less than in a big market.
How does Randy Wolf (as your 4th or 5th best starter) push LA away from the title? He projects to over 2 wins (assuming some bad health). I like where baseball is going with their "injury platoons" (aka "role platooning") -- if Wolf gives you 20 starts at his projected rates, you're doing OK if he's at the bottom of the rotation.
Of course, I understand that with LA he might be their 2-3 starter, which isn't good news for LA fans.
Wow. These guys really are the mouthpieces of mainstream media.
How anyone can possibly *still* believe a player\'s awards credentials should be based on his teammates\' performance is beyond me. It\'s like the writers fall in love with a player (*cough* Howard/Morneau *cough*), then anoint them MVP when their teams make the playoffs.
I\'ve read your writing here for 5 years, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoy your game diaries. You\'ve got the perfect pace and style for these -- please keep them up! Suggest to your BP overlords that you should get sent to a few more games this postseason.
Love your work. Hate your teams! With all the good will I can muster, I only hope this season results in no playoffs for either LA or the NYY.
Rob Moore -
Not really going to be able to look at the numbers with any kind of authority for \"manny quitting at the end\"; small sample sizes and such. Relying on the anecdotes -- and I will agree that they were overblown by the media -- he appeared to stop trying even as much as he had before.