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I'm just starting to get used to the idea that he's pretty good. Nice defense and he's already starting to feel like an institution at the top of the order.
I can't say I find the visual evidence of the catchers' skills (and lack thereof) overwhelming. About 80% of the gif s to me just look like pitchers who hit the target get the call (and vice versa). Maybe flicking the glove up on the low balls is doing something?
In AAA now, is Trevor May a more or less complete, MLB-ready product?
What's really impressive is how they produce MLB players at all given that it's nowhere near a top sport there.
Yes, I hate waiting for the challenge in the NFL and I have really, really hated it in spring training. The game is slow enough already. This needs to be done with close to zero seconds wait.
But I guess I'm also not of the opinion that it's such a crime against humanity to have human error and its consequences out on the field. Especially when you are talking about 162 games. It comes out in the wash. If you can't stand winning or losing a game here or there on bad calls you probably don't have the patience for baseball anyway.
I agree. Make it terrifying to fail on a challenge and keep them to a blessed minimum.
This uncertainty definitely does keep wages down in other lines of work. It's everywhere.
The reason smart, highly educated people in baseball are making less than similarly smart, highly educated people elsewhere is because "replacement level" is high and it's hard to tell who can beat that level reliably (and "reliably" is a huge part of it--someone might, e.g., come up with one super-clever, super-valuable Moneyball inefficiency, but does that mean that person can keep pulling those rabbits out of the hat?). I mean, there's a whole army of baseball nerds who do front-office-type analysis JUST FOR FUN! Cuz it IS fun, it's baseball. PERK!
I'm very interested in your model though. It's an interesting question and maybe you can prove me wrong.
I just thing you are so, so, so wrong about the uncertainty argument (So wrong!). The huge difference between baseball players and the vast majority of other jobs in existence, including front-office employees, is that we can isolate and quantify with a very high degree of precision how much more a baseball player has contributed than a replacement-level guy. In fact, I suspect it's this difference that makes baseball interesting to a lot of BP's readers.
Please, by all means, go ahead and try to figure out projected WARs for front-office types. And after you do that, for the sake of the economy at large, create a similar value-above-replacement stat for lawyers, doctors, CEOs, engineers, computer programmers, mechanics, etc., etc., etc. That would be very useful!
Oh yeah, that's still big though.
Thanks, that first point is very interesting assuming it still stands up. Predicting 85% of the future variance is gigantic.
I'm generally impressed, but a few slightly skeptical questions:
1. How repeatable a skill is catcher framing? Can we (or, say, PECOTA) use it to predict future results?
2. If the same catcher tends to catch the same set of pitchers (and those pitchers tend to be caught by that catcher), we don't really have much ability to attribute the skill of getting the calls to one or the other, right? Are those catchers regressed to the mean? Is the extent of that problem quantified?
3. It's very difficult to get a sense of how good this information really is. Do you feel like you've got this skill nailed 99% for every catcher in baseball (as strong as, say, the ability to quantify offensive contributions), something less than that but still fairly strong (like some of the quantitative measures of ordinary defense), or somewhere less than that?
And up isn't even necessarily better than down. Up in part means (1) you aren't going to graduate a lot of your best prospects to MLB and (2) you are picking high in this year's draft (i.e., your team is currently bad).
Anyone in the minors who might make mlb on makeup as their only plus tool? I always think of nick punto as a rampaging force of makeup.
Good news! Through the magic of thrift stores, you can exchange your dollars for mugs to your heart's content!
There should be an unwritten rule of baseball that you cling to an MLB job, any job, with a deathgrip until it's pried away from you by the indignities of age, injury, etc. Mariano in no way should be retiring. He could still be a closer for Christ's sakes. Jeter needs to get over himself and land a bench job with the Indians or something after playing out his existing contract. If you can play in MLB at age 40-something, you owe it to the world to do it. It sends the message that playing MLB is the world's greatest privilege and that everyone who's good enough to sit in one of those 30 dugouts does it, and no one who's not good enough does.
I recall the "endowment effect" from psych 101. Experiment: professor randomly hands out either a mug or $1 to each student. On the way out the door, the students get a chance to exchange one for the other. But regardless of mug or $1, the students will have a strong preference to hold on to what they got.
I bet there's an endowment effect with prospects. Once you rank them, you "own" them, overvalue them, and it's hard to let them go. Good data in this article supporting it.
Yeah, that would be cool.
Also like seeing Josmil Pinto so high despite only exploding onto the prospect scene in the last year, and at a relatively advanced age. Pinto and Thorpe both went from guys I'd never heard of (even as a Twins fan who follows prospects) to guys on BP's top 101 in less than a year. Not bad.
Maybe I missed it, but a list of--or a link to?--the 30 players we're talking about would help. Enjoyed article.
Listed at 6'7'' on Baseball Reference. That's pretty close to Lebron and he sure could hit.
Lebron got me thinking about who the best-hitting player was that was over 6-5 or so. You get a lot of first basemen types around that height, but I'm struggling to think of really tall guys that could hit.
It's an awesome defensive outfield, but sort of un-Yankees-ish. The Bronx...Defenders.
Good article. I don't think too many Twins fans think their recent misfortune is the result small-market poverty. It was bad decision making, and a lot of it looked bad to fans in real time. Ramos for Capps and Hardy for ...nothing. At that point I think people stopped thinking he'd had some bad luck (i.e., the development paths of Gomez and D. Young) and started figuring that he just wasn't very savvy.
But he's not evaluating trades in a vacuum, he's evaluating the org's/GM's overall trade performance over a time span. So Bill Smith doesn't get "credit" for Gomez's good years because he traded Gomez away before he was good (for Hardy, who Smith also traded away before he was good).
My casual observation is that good/bad farm systems just don't translate into MLB wins/losses on any sort of reliable timetable. And as the recent unloading of major contracts over the last year or so illustrates, huge and bad salary commitments aren't necessarily destiny either.
Don't teams nullify the need to do this by simply keeping the outfielders at the same positions, but shifting where they play? I mean, if you need to cover right field better, you just shift everyone over a bit. If your guy in right is a statue, you probably are already shifting your fast guys in center and left over towards him a bit, and if right field is a particularly likely place for the ball to land, you would just shift a little bit more. (just like the way infields usually shift)
By the way, Teixeira's low hall likelihood is illustrated all the more effectively by the fact that he's been in the league over a decade and I still can't spell his damn name (and for some reason, my spell check OKs me if I incorrectly invert the i's and e's)
Fun article. Since you mention the problem with throwing everyone into the same bucket of 50% likelihood, here's a suggestion for a new individual player stat: The % of players with similar WAR/age totals who end up making the hall. Pujols would be a 100%, Tiexiera would be what, 20% or something. At one point, BP was chucking out new stats like this every week. Quick, somebody invent an acronym!
As a Twins fan, what really stands out to me is how many legit prospect names didn't even make the article. Guys like Max Kepler, Travis Harrison, Adam Walker, and Niko Goodrum for instance. Chopped liver these guys ain't.
Would also love to hear something about Miguel Sulbaran, who the Twins got for Drew Butera.
Love the way you're doing these and a joy to read. Sad you had to stop at 10.
Curious if Kyle Gibson (player from my favorite team) missed the list due to his impending MLB start on Friday or because he just missed. He is getting to be a bit of a senior citizen on these prospect lists.
Also, I am super-nervous that Buxton is being overhyped. Also excited that he might not be.
Thanks for the little blurb on Harrison. He intrigues me, but does seem to get overlooked a bit.
Look Bucko, for one thing, fangraphs and BR WAR give Hrbek 42 and 36 WAR respectively, so you might want to recalibrate that cute little WARP machine you operate.
Second, he's something like the 5th- or 6th-best position player in Twins history, and Killebrew, Carew, Puckett, and Oliva already have statutes, and certain statue fascists think that Mauer shouldn't get one until he retires. Does the statue-less Bob Allison have a beef? Maybe, but...
Hrbek has won 100% of all Twins World Series victories, which is the sort of thing teams remember when deciding for whom to build statues. He's second in Twins RBIs, home runs, and walks. Third in games played. He simply removes people from 1st base when necessary to win playoff games. He has a modestly popular fishing show.
Anyway, Sir, your article is the sort of thing for which no statue should be built, and if one WERE built for this article, I would write an article about how it was the stupidest statue ever.
High and Tight? Chin Music? The Brush Back? I think the name should continue to celebrate throwing baseballs more or less at peoples' heads.
Thanks, great article! I suspect that this year the Twins continue to build a farm system that has already come a long way in the last year or 2. Rebuild away.
Jason, I recall you mentioning loving Max Kepler and was a little surprised not to see him on your list. Care to comment?
(And any chance BP will put out another prospects-focused podcast?)
He has all of 13 innings pitched post-TJ above rookie-ball level. Who knows what he is at this point?
I'm looking at the guys who've hit the most MLB homers in the last 3 years, and it is striking how you can hit 25-30+ homers a year and not necessarily be all that valuable. Konerko, A. Soriano, E. Encarnacion were all fine, but gave a ton away on non-power tools. Reynolds, Dunn, and Howard combined for 260 homers in 3 years and were all not too far off replacement level.
Still, as someone who can just scout the stats, not the players, how can you not go with a guy who hit 28 homers in the Midwest League as a teenager? Especially when even the bulls on Buxton don't think even the minor-league stats will start flowing for a couple years. Guy A had 60 XBHs in the Midwest League, Guy B is fast and looks good in a uniform.
#2 seems like a terrible idea given how fresh off TJ Gibson is and how it would impact his team control. The starting rotation is going to be a disaster next year whether Gibson's on it or not. Might as well give him at least a few months in the minors rather than pushing it.
It's pretty clear that the MLB team remains in rebuilding gear for the near future, but the good news is that the effort seems to be working. Once this top-ten is major-league ready, they should be a strong core for a contending team. The Twins should add to that core with a high pick in next year's draft and, I would bet, a trade or two of our current MLB outfielders.
Yeah, props on the amount of work you and the team are putting into the prospect stuff here. Your podcast with Kevin Goldstein will always be your greatest and most enduring contribution to American culture, but this other stuff's good too.
He's a perfect piece as the Twins move toward their ultimate long-term goal of a 100% bunting offense.
Typo: Mauer is 29 now and was 26 when he had his .365 average in 2009.
Thanks for the tender morsel for Twins fans. As you say, we need it right now.
"Since 1950, 80 pitchers, including Cain, have pitched at least five consecutive 200-inning seasons before turning 30. Do you know what the most common number of 200-inning seasons pitched by those same pitchers over the rest of their careers was? Zero."
But PECOTA's 10th percentile forecast for Cain (and 10 others) is for over 200 innings? That doesn't give me much confidence in the PECOTA projection.
Little things like taking credit for comparing Mauer to Jason Kendall in 2009 sort of grate on me. Mauer's been worth about 16 wins since you made that projection 3 years ago, while Kendall was worth about 8 over the same age period. Should you really be taking credit for that prediction just because Mauer had a single injury-plagued year? It's hardly been proven right and really its' been far wronger than right so far.
I do love these, and it will be nice not to have to wait so long for the Twins this year! The upside of sucking!
Fifthed. We get a lot of scouty goodness on prospects, which I love, but it's fun to get it for the MLBers too.
It seems there's a problem with the fact that the "baseline" for each pitcher is going to be a function of which catchers have caught the pitcher most over their career. Even pitchers with considerable track records will often have a big part of their total innings caught by a single catcher or two. So, e.g., if a catcher is terrible at framing pitches, but he's compared against the career baselines of the pitchers he's caught, he's not going to look so bad because those pitchers' baselines were largely created by him.
Maybe it's just fear of spelling his name, but Rzepczynski seems like he should be getting a little more attention here as more than just throw-in fodder. A lot of team control, great strikeout rate, and overall impressive results in the AL East as both a starter and reliever. He could be a dominating lefty bullpen arm or a good starter in St. Louis. Really, he's the biggest piece for the Cards, isn't he?
Kevin, thoughts on Trevor Plouffe? His prospect status seemed like a thing of the past last offseason, but he's been one of the very best hitters in the international league this summer and he hit OK in a brief call up. Of course he also looks like a failed SS looking for a position.
Sano had 4 errors to go with the 4 hits last night. Is there any concern he'll have a glove that only plays at DH, let alone SS?
Care to reconsider? Rosario must of thought you were dissing him, cuz he just jacked 2 more tonight.
Just so Kevin doesn't have to do all the work...
Looks like mostly SS with a little 3rd too. A trio of errors at SS already.
I've been impressed with Dozier's offensive numbers this year. Any info on his defense? Does listing him as SS/2B mean he's really a 2B in MLB?
I hope the Twins have good doctors giving them realistic assessments of whether Mauer can continue catching in the future without seasons like this becoming routine. They sort of doubled down on Mauer catching about a year ago by trading Wilson Ramos last season, and since Ramos would be exactly the type of guy they'd try to acquire if they moved Mauer to a corner, trading for a catcher involves the sort of "admitting of mistakes" that GMs don't tend to like.
The recent run has been 100% due to the starting pitching (with an assist from the defense), and it simply can't keep up at this pace. In a beautiful, beautiful fantasy world where all the team's position players returned healthy for the rest of the season, the offense could take the baton for the rest of the ride. But that seems like a pipe dream at best. Mauer's back, but not "back," which is probably the most concerning thing of all. He seems like he may need an offseason to get his legs under him again. Span doesn't seem to be quickly returning from his concussion symptoms. Ick, we've seen this before. Speaking of which, will Morneau ever return to form? Twins fans don't like to think about it. Cuddyer and Casilla have graciously carried the offense for a month, but they're not the types to do it for a season. Kubel and Thome could take over if they return healthy, but unless Span, Mauer, and Morneau join them (theoretically, Delmon Young could decide to help), it's hard to see where it all comes from. It's been fun for a while, but when the opposing team's announcers haven't heard of 2/3rds of your lineup on a daily basis, you probably aren't going to be able to keep cruising into the playoffs.
You've got Mauer confused with Morneau both in the article and on the front-page teaser.
Oddly enough the Twins have won 9 of 11 or whatever it is with some of the ugliest lineups we've seen all season. The starting pitching has been great, which explains a lot of it, but the AAA lineups have contributed too. Before this stretch my ambitions for the season were so low that I just wanted to see the Twins play good baseball for a couple weeks at some point in the season. Now I've got that and I'm greedy for more!
Bubba Starling, Cam, and Brickhouse. The Royals were drafting mostly based on how much they liked players' names, weren't they?
Great draft summaries, btw. Thanks.
Fair enough. I guess we will find out fairly soon, as I can't believe he will be in the minors too much longer.
Gibson's striking out 9.6 per 9 with minimal walks in AAA this year. Are AAA hitters so bored with his fastball they can't bring themselves to hit it? I understand that his stuff just might not be filthy enough to allow a pure-ace ceiling, but the floor is insanely high--he's all but a good major leaguer *right now* and almost no one else on the list has done that well at nearly as high a level. Command-and-control innings eater seems like awfully low ambitions for someone like that. Isn't he at least a good #3 without any further development at all, and easily in striking distance of high #2/low #1?
Speaking of impatience...where are the 2011 statistics? I don't recall this ever being a problem before. This is a big part of why I'm a subscriber.
"The laws you're talking about implicitly assume that they would make the same amount of money if they sat on their hands. They wouldn't. Teams on the margin will spend more, and compete in bidding more."
I'm just saying that teams will spend more if it's profitable to spend more and sit on their hands if it's profitable to sit on their hands. But you're saying teams will spend more on player salaries after the expansion even if it's not profitable to spend more. That's what I don't get. Ok, salaries will be bid up higher. But before or after the playoff expansion, why would anyone bid an amount on a player that they expect will be more than what that player will provide in return?
"the marginal revenue of a win is higher to a lot of teams, and they bid up salaries"
Right, but I still don't understand why they would bid up salaries in a way that's not commensurate with the expected extra marginal revenue a win will add. Why would they? By your own argument, they'll lose money if they do.
The Pirates in your example may suffer from that system, but that's only because the benefits of the system flow to good teams and the punishment falls disproportionately on the bad teams. In the aggregate, the point holds: teams under your hypo would on average see increased revenue per win, and they would spend on wins in a way that's in proportion to (but less than) that expected added revenue.
(I wonder if, as you add up the numbers, the key thing your model is missing is that if regular-season games matter more--basically the premise of your argument--than the owners will make more money on regular-season games too.)
I'm not buying. On the one hand, a win will be worth more in the sense that making the playoffs will be a matter of degrees and there will be more potential revenue to chase. But to some degree that will be offset because you won't need to win as many games to make the playoffs. As you approach 100% playoff participation, the value of regular-season wins necessarily declines as you go. (see, e.g., the NBA) So the Yankees have to worry more about being second-best in the AL East, but they have to worry less about being third-best.
On a more basic level, the amount an owner is willing to spend on a player win is necessarily a function of how much that win will return to the owner. If a player win is worth $6 million to an owner, it's *worth* $6 million to an owner. If spending more on players causes owners to earn less, spending more on players is exactly what the owners won't do. You're saying both (1) that there will be more revenue in the collective pot due to the extra playoff games BUT (2) the extra playoff games will cause the owners to spend in a way so that they actually lose out on that money and then some. "Conservative" estimates aside, I find that very unlikely.
I'm always fascinated by how strongly some people react to even the faintest hint of moral disapproval in a baseball column.
"While his fracture will still require several weeks to heal, the potential time lost is nothing compared to missing the rest of the year"
This is nitpicky, but the potential time lost is a significant fraction of the rest of the year. Maybe one fifth to one third of the rest of the year, not "nothing" compared to it.
Yikes, what happened with Wimmers?
Enjoyed the article. I think there's a lot of things that can go right as well as a lot of things that can go wrong though. Even sans Morneau there's a strong hitting core and with him it could be truly excellent. Both on the pitching and hitting side, there were as many players who underperformed as who overperformed last year. Despite the Twins' typical unlikely success, last year their success was entirely likely given the personnel. And the team's not that different this year.
Any basis for that comment or was your account hijacked by a pessimistic fortune cookie?
Could we please have a moratorium on naming people who work in baseball geniuses? The average sabermetrically slanted site seems to crown (and re-crown) about a dozen baseball geniuses a year, along with maybe 10 dozen complete and utter halfwits, while maybe pausing to notice one or two others who fall somewhere between those extremes.
In the Twins' defense, they haven't actually traded Liriano and don't appear to be looking to do so at this point for whatever reason.
I do agree with much of your article, but the flip side of the Twins being self-destructively harsh with certain non-conformers is that they actually are trying to get players to conform to certain values, instead of simply indulging talent to whatever extent talent exists. They cultivate a certain culture and a sense, if you will, of organizational justice that does pay some dividends to them. (Although sometimes it just drives you nuts because it seems like they like or dislike certain players for reasons totally divorced from baseball-playing ability.)
It would be interesting to know who's insured and who isn't and see if that affects the way the teams treat injuries. You could certainly imagine teams being content to take it slow and safe with an injury if they have the player insured, but might have pushed him out there more quickly if they were just burning money every day he was off the field.
And if that's true, this list is entirely outfielders and RHP.
Question: how many of these guys are likely average or better center fielders on defense at the MLB level?
"But it does raise the question—exactly how much money would overcome the pain of self-contradiction? Just ask Joe Mauer."
How exactly does Mauer not contradicting himself about a deadline suggest that Pujols will contradict himself about a deadline?
"Mauer plans on ending contract negotiations if a deal isn’t struck by the end of spring training"
Are you not publishing a context-neutral measure for pitchers anymore? You have tAV for batters, but I assume the ERA and FRA numbers for pitchers include adjustments for park and league, etc. For my money getting the context-neutral numbers is a big deal.
Defensively, Mauer's projected at -2 at catcher and McCann's a +2 (every catcher seems to be in that narrow range). Mauer's averaged about +5 FRAA a year over his career and McCann about -4. Have you changed the way you calculate this stat? They're both at similar spots in their career, so it seems odd me me.
Also, Justin Morneau as Mauer's #1 comp? They're pretty disimilar hitters (and fielders for that matter).
I must bravely defend my beloved Twins from this eggregious slander! Their starters were only middle-of-the pack if you compare them to NL teams, which dominate the top half of the rankings. (And lest you need reminding: NL starters cheat by pitching to pitchers!) They had something like the 3rd-5th best starting staff in the AL, depending on how you slice it.
Well said. This year, with both Thome and Kubel screaming for PAs against RHP, Cuddyer's versatility may be the only thing keeping him from being simply the short side of a RF platoon. It will be interesting to see how Gardy uses him, as he's sort of a Twins institution at this point.
"what we're calling nFRAA for now"
Let's hope not for long. Seriously, get the marketing people in on this or something. Major points subtracted for (1) being unpronouncable as a word ("en-frah"?) and (2) having both upper- and lowercase letters. Ick.
Whether you agree with doing so or not on Bagwell, I fail to see how waiting for a little while on players from the steriod era is either "noxious" or "character assissination," let alone McCarthyite. Additional evidence and perspective may very well be forthcoming. People seem to have a mistaken belief that not voting for someone for the hall of fame on the first ballot is the same as convicting someone of a crime.
Thanks, I always enjoy these. Especially enjoyed the way you laid out the various steroid issues. A thousand comment wars could probably have been prevented if we could all just adopt those 6 points as a national starting point for the argument.
Any thoughts for someone like Olerud whose value comes so much from his defense? If your defensive measurements underestimate him by even 15% or so, he's over the standard, and as far as I know, that would be well within the margin of error of current advanced defensive metrics. Or would he need to sail over the JAWS standard with room to spare given the possibility his defense was overestimated?
Teixeira and A-Gonz limit the market for Pujols a bit, don't they? When you don't have those two gorillas bidding, the Cardinals mostly face competition from teams who have actual budgets, like them.
Thanks! Any plans to put it on the player pages? (you should)
Man, SIERA's great! Now, if I could only find it on the website...
I bet a lot of rule-5 guys would turn out great if, after they were acquired, they learned to throw the best change-up in baseball.
A good farm system and a few nice pieces at the MLB level, but looking at the top 10 under 25, it just doesn't look like they have the starting pitching to be a good team in the near future. Am I wrong?
"The Twins have lost to the Yankees in the ALDS in each of their last five trips to the postseason."
It's "only" four of the last five trips.
Denard Span at #1. Could this be a product of playing between plodding and generally not good defensive corner outfielders in Minnesota this year? Bad corner guys is going to give him more chances per batted ball, no?
Isn't Pavano's 4.15 SIERA significantly better than league-average? Aren't these things usually calibrated to put league-average at 4.50?
Head-to-head record. And both the Yankees and Rays had the tie-breaker on the Twins, so the Yankees eliminated the Twins from the pursuit of the #1 seed with their win in the first game Saturday. In other words, now the best the Twins can do is tie for the best record, and that won't get the #1 seed for them.
"There are a lot of different shapes that performance could take, however, and that means there’s more variance in any single component than is reflected in the percentiles. So the correct test of the percentiles is the overall level of performance, not the underlying components."
There is no way you'd get this by looking at the PECOTA cards. If the percentiles don't mean anything for the broken-out components, don't make it look like they do. Among other things, it just makes the system look bad, when, just for one example, a guy like Mauer, who's essentially hitting his 50th percentile TAv projection right on the nose, has a number of home runs this season that system _appears_ to say is nigh impossible.
Just my 2 cents. Enjoying the series.
Doh! You will be missed.
Humility, transparency, intellectual and regular-type honesty. These are things I like to see from BP. I think a lot of us have seen a gap between what BP has been recently and what an industry leader in this department should be. I'm looking forward to seeing that gap shrinking.
As a Twins fan, allow me to offer my thanks. The Twins's postseason failures of the last decade have repeatedly been "explained" by sauce-inspired theories that have always smelled funny to me. Power pitching does not magically become a better way to win ballgames when the playoffs start!
Mauer's just worried he's going to be Wally Pipped by Drew Butera.
Helmets. Any idea what the new helmets would do to the concussion rate? Are they twice as good? More or less?
He fits my point nicely. He hasn't really shown much weakness at all, but how ready have Boston fans been to run him out of town based on a couple bad Aprils? People were all but writing his obituary last year and in early 2010. It's hardly a given that he'll reach 4000 PAs in his 30s.
Once you go to being a pure DH, you can't show any weakness in your bat if you're going to keep plate appearances up. Half a bad season and the inability to continue playing the field took Jermaine Dye from feared bat to obsolete in a second. Even Thome kept playing 1st into his mid-thirties. Guys without gloves at 30 just aren't going to get a ton of plate appearances over the rest of their career...and maybe that's what Dunn's thinking with his strong preference to not DH. Whether GMs see it that way is another question.
"But the downside is that, in collating all these assumptions into a single number, we invite people skipping all the details and going straight to the conclusion, sometimes not caring about the operating assumptions..."
That's fine for some people. But look, I don't know how TVs work, and I don't especially want to know. But I do want to buy the best TV. It's useful if some magazine of TV nerds that I feel I can trust distills TV goodness into a single number. Even if I act on their advice, don't be too shocked if I can't tell you exactly how they do it.
Is there any atmospheric, temperature, or wind effects that would cause an MPH or two difference on a pitched ball?
Hasn't Jeter hinted that he is interested in owning at some point? Last I heard owning a baseball team is pretty expensive, so I bet he's looking for big money. I bet they end up with a shortish length, high salary deal, maybe 2 years at 25 each or 3 years at 20 each (what I put).
Well, a good system would line up monetary incentives with the production of high-value products. Like you say, this certainly isn't always true in "real life," but that's not exactly a good thing.
I don't have any dog in the fight of what to change about the current system (if anything), and I'm sure it could be that the best way to build franchise value is to build a consistent contender, but (1) winning games is zero sum and (2) there is a fair amount of inertia to which teams tend to win. There can only be so many consistent contenders.
Isn't it possible that for some franchises, like the Pirates, it's actually more profitable in the long run to stay at the very bottom of permissible payrolls? I have to wonder if the Rays, who've actually gotten less profitable while building an absolutely extraordinary ball club, are actually improving their franchise's value all that much (again, leaving new-stadium issues aside). If they're at best a modest economic success story while being a massive baseball success story, it's not very inspiring for other small clubs, is it?
Nice writeup well-enjoyed by this Twins fan. Interesting comment on the Kirby statue, as that seems like the general consensus of the people I went with too. I wonder if the artist didn't add a little menace intentionally to remind us that our memories of Kirby are...complex.
Also, A.J. Pierzynski likes being a villian to Twins fans. The arrangement works for everyone.
I just don't feel this way. He was insanely good, but I just don't know how insanely good he would have been had he not--and I know people don't like this word--cheated. Given that, how can I care how well he played?
This gets it right. Deservedly, Bonds is a symbol of what was wrong with baseball for a generation (and surely to some extent is ongoing). As a fan I don't want him on my team for that reason, lost WARP be damned. I assume most feel the same way. It's clear, simple logic and I find it mystifying that it could infuriate anyone.
Is there any link to the Playoff Odds Report on the site? I have to google it every time.
Since Wilson Ramos may be a key part of a Cliff Lee deal, would you do a bit on his injury next time out?
Bill, you're right about the Twins being mid-market rather than small-market now, but the reason for the switch in spending isn't the death of Pohlad; it's the new stadium. The Twins continue to spend nearly the same percentage of their revenue on player salary basically every year (about 52%), it's just they have lots of additional revenue now.
Also, not only do the Twins know that taking walks is good, they also understand that allowing walks is bad! They lead MLB in both stats, and have dominated the BB-allowed stat for years.
Thanks for your involved discussion of your model. Forgive me if you've explained this already, but how do you price the value of compensation picks when you may not have to provide them? It's easy to value the picks alone, but you only will end up providing the picks if providing picks is less costly than offering arbitration. Depending on circumstances, offering arbitration may be far less costly than providing picks or far more costly. So how do you deal with that?
Thanks for the nice interview. He's pretty effusive about Revere, which I like to hear.
Plenty of Twins bias from me, but I think if the Twins' pitching can manange to be average, they win the division handily. The White Sox have the opposite angle--if their offense can manange mediocrity, they probably could win the division--but I think it's a longer shot.
Mauer's career rate is pretty similar to his projections, which as Jay showed, should give the Twins nice value over the life of his contract, even if you discount them later on. Awesome as it would be, I don't think the Twins are counting on 8 more 2009s. A 900 OPS with massive OBP and AVG? I'll take that over the contract, thanks, even if it's not from the catcher position the whole time. More than that--which he's clearly capable of--would be gravy on the hot dish. I'm not concerned about him not living up to the contract if he plays, just if he's injured too much. I guess if his worst years = Doug M.'s best + 30 points of AVG, maybe that's just fine.
And I saw what you snuck in there about him "arguably" being the best catcher in the game. Just name someone who's "arguably" better than him. I dare you!
What Jay said about him being a bit slight is interesting too I think. He probably doesn't want to get too bulky due to catching, but dudes in his family are not small, so I suspect if he moves from catcher he'd grow some prodigious muscles and hit, I don't know, 120-140 homers a year. Something like that.
In reply to Bergstrom, Mauer led the American League in all 3 triple-slash categories last year. He was a better HITTER in all facets than Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, etc. I mean, it may end up being a career year, but...Doug Mientkiewicz?!?!? *Breathe, breathe.*
He's obviously a different commodity as a 1st baseman, but I don't think Mauer looks too shabby in that company.
I am afraid about injury limiting his career, but to Krissbeth, he did play 29 games at DH last year. The backup catchers going forward, Jose Morales and Wilson Ramos, actually look a little better than Redmond, especially Ramos (though he may become trade bait). And like I said, 2009 year may end up being a career season, but scouts have been saying Mauer would come into power eventually, and it's not like you just flukishly bomb 30 homers instead of 10 for no particular reason.
Anyway, you guys clearly don't love Mauer enough. You probably hate other things that are obviously wonderful too: puppies, freedom, children's laughter, etc.
(And, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I actually thought Helton's been more or less worth his contract over the breadth of it, although I think backloading has the Rockies paying a lot for Helton in his decline phase.)
I think it's sort of interesting you're still beating the move-Mauer-from catcher drum. Does the difference in injury risk really overwhelm the difference in positional shifting? Obviously he's an entirely different commodity as a first baseman or DH.
As a practical matter, Mauer just won't be moved from catcher until it's an immediate physical necessity. But I'm not saying you're crazy, as I'm about Mauer's size and my knees would explode in about the second inning of the first game I played at catcher. If it were up to you, when and how would you move him out from behind the plate?
I think it's letting you off the hook a little if you don't do a ranking within the tiers. I mean, if you actually had to draft I assume you'd have some order of preference. Whatever criteria you use to choose who's in what tiers, use to determine who's where within the tiers. Plus, comments starting "You jerk, how can you rank x above y..." are half the fun of these.
Agreed that that these are fairly awesome overall and should complement, not replace the PFM.
Thanks for continuing to address these issues. I wish the numbers had been finalized better before printing the annual, but I'll nonetheless love reading it like I always do.
I'm still not sure why some pitchers' performances went down and why relative pitcher performance changed so significantly from the early PECOTA versions to the more recent ones, but I guess ultimately I don't really need to understand. I just want to hear that the latest version is the one you can take to the bank, and it sounds like you are close to saying that.
The Twins beat Oakland in the 2002 LDS. So they've won one playoff series since 1991, not zero.
I've brought up the problems with the Twins depth charts several times and haven't seen a response. 1. The Twins are projected to score only about 800 runs with an 802 OPS, which is essentially impossible, and 2. the Twins' pitchers' projections have gotten considerably worse with each new version of 2010 PECOTA, and BP has given no explanation for why ANY pitcher's projection would get worse (the change I understood was that pitchers were being UPgraded to their 75% percentile projection). Pat Neshek went from being projected for an ERA of 3.86 to 6.24 after February's tinkering with PECOTA. Almost every Twins pitcher's ERA went up as well. Maybe there's a good explanation, but I haven't seen it yet.
I don't begrudge people their opinions on the Twins, but I just can't get BP's own numbers to make sense. I guess I'm just grappling for what I can believe in here and for a little bit of explanation.
First, you simply can't score only 804 runs with an 802 OPS unless something is historically bizarre (the run estimate for the Twins has come up from 778, but it still is way too low). In the last 3 years, there have been 7 teams with OPSs between 790 and 810. They scored an average of 867 runs with a high of 887 and low of 845. On the other hand, teams scoring between 790 runs and 810 runs averaged a 774 OPS, with a high of 785 and a low of 761.
Second, I've heard no explanation for why a team's pitchers' ERAs would go up from the earlier versions of PECOTA to the most recent (2/20). Here's what I've heard (with the 2/13 version):
" There is really only one significant change that went into this projection set from the last one - the pitchers are shown based on their 75% score, not their 50% score."
So you'd expect ERAs to go down, but in fact most Twins pitchers' ERAs have gone up significantly from the 2/1 version to the 2/20 version, and the changes are anything but uniform among pitchers (some pitchers improve slightly, but some go up more than 2 earned runs!). Based on the EqERAs in the 2/1 spreadsheet, BP's Twins depth chart gives you a team EqERA of 4.25. The EqERAs on the new 2/20 spreadsheet give you 4.49. So a pretty major overall jump.
Third, the pitchers' ERAs on the 2/20 depth chart are even worse than what's on the 2/20 spreadsheet. I get a team ERA of 4.55 using the ERA figures in the 2/20 spreadsheet, but a 4.74 ERA using the figures on the depth chart. Apparently "ERA" means something different on the depth chart than on the spreadsheet.
I'd love to use the PECOTA data they're putting out, and to read articles like this and feel like I'm learning something, but I just don't know what I can rely on.
I also posted this on the Twins depth chart and haven't seen any explanation:
"You have the Twins scoring 778 runs with an 802 OPS. If runs and OPS have the same relationship they've had the last couple years (a pretty darn close relationship btw), you're underestimating their runs scored by about 80 runs. I assume there's some glitch here.
Also, all pitchers' ERAs have gone up and some dramatically. Neshek was a predicted 3.86 ERA in the 2/01/2010 PECOTA spreadsheet, but is now predicted at 5.50!
I guess while it's still "beta" you don't know exactly what you're getting."
Agreed, this is ridiculous.
Here's what happened. BP had the Twins winning the division by about 3 or 4 games. Then the Twins added Orlando Hudson, a significant improvement of at least a game or two. Then PECOTA got rejiggered and all the pitchers were upgraded to their 75th percentile projection or something. Except all the Twins pitchers' projected ERAs went up with no explanation.
So now, PECOTA has the Twins with a losing record. I ran projections using the first PECOTA spreadsheet and had the Twins winning the division by a significant margin.
BP's snarky attitude just doesn't work when they're way wrong, and I'm pretty convinced they're way wrong here.
I've said this before in comments, but I think that Baseball Prospectus often shoots over the heads of even its advanced, top-1%-of-the-baseball-geeks market. You can assume that everyone reading an article here is interested, smart, and graduated Sabermetrics 101. Don't assume that they've memorized and studied every stat you've created and recently graduated with an advanced degree in statistics.
If half your readers are going to have to make a stop at the glossary to keep advancing in an article, you're not doing a very good job communicating. If it's 3 or 4 stops, well, who's still reading at that point?
A nice post, Will. I'd just encourage BP to write for its target audience a bit better in addition to focusing on the other 99%.
Just thanks. I love all things JAWS. Also appreciated the response re: Pedro and Sandy.
I appreciate you're trying to fix things and keeping us up to date. As a long-time BP fan, my confidence in the system as is is pretty shaky right now, but keep me updated on advances and you can win me back.
As a Twins fan I was quick to note that they are predicted to have an 802 team OPS but score only 778 runs--way too few for that high an OPS (off by about 80 runs). I noticed that other teams seem to be off too, so maybe it's a system-wide thing. (E.g., The Yankees scoring only 821 runs with an 825 OPS would be shocking.)
You have the Twins scoring 778 runs with an 802 OPS. If runs and OPS have the same relationship they've had the last couple years (a pretty darn close relationship btw), you're underestimating their runs scored by about 80 runs. I assume there's some glitch here.
Also, all pitchers' ERAs have gone up and some dramatically. Neshek was a predicted 3.86 ERA in the 2/01/2010 PECOTA spreadsheet, but is now predicted at 5.50!
I guess while it's still "beta" you don't know exactly what you're getting.
Re: 2-13 update. Adding Orlando Hudson made the Twins 3 games worse? Please explain.
Ok, Pridie got picked up by the Mets. My bad on that one. I won't doubt you again.
Does pulling out Mauer's 3rd comparable (Kendall) really have anything at all to do with Mauer's future? I mean, he's comparable because, like Mauer, he had a great start to his career as a catcher. And then Kendall suddenly became rather mediocre (I don't know his story, injuries or just degrading, doesn't matter). But I don't really see that Kendall means that having a great start to your career as catcher means that you are then going to suddenly become mediocre. It's just that Kendell happened to.
With comparables it seems you're trying to statistically devine some predictive similarities using a big batch of possibly comparable players, not that you can point to an individual and say: Look out, he's destiny! I understand that comparables add predictive power to the overall model, but (a.) I doubt it's really a huge amount of additional predictive power compared to more elementary statistical prediction methods and (b.) I wouldn't necessarily expect comparables to add significant predictive power for any particular player, let alone if you're talking about only 1 of the particular player's comparables, let alone comparable #3. Correct me if I'm wrong here.
Enjoyed the article. The Twins have an excellent more defense-oriented catching prospect in Wilson Ramos coming quickly up the ranks (some speculation he may backup Mauer this year), so this question will certainly be out there. But then BP has been predicting disaster for Mauer as a catcher for a long time now. He certainly won't move until we see either a dramatic decline in his currently strong defense or significant catcher-related injuries. So we just wait and keep our fingers crossed.
I wonder about the revenue return of a stars 'n scrubs team versus a team that wins the same amount, but with more equally spread talent. I'd guess the stars 'n scrubs pull in more fans, but I don't know. Might be an interesting area for further study.
Can you explain or point me to an explanation of the environment in which PECOTA figures its "raw" projections? Exactly how raw are we talking here?
Are these projections against league-average opponents and do they account for league and divisional difficulty, park factor, etc.? I'm guessing every player gets the same "neutral" context in the raw projections and then gets expected actual context in the playing-time projected set, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
"I used an AR(1) covariance matrix to control for within-subjects effects (i.e., player talent level)."
I'd like to believe your conclusions and learn something from this article, but you're just talking over my head. Can you actually explain and justify to the average reader what your process was, or do I need to come back after I've gotten an advanced degrees with an emphasis in statistical analysis?
I'll add that I find this problem a lot with BP. I'm smart, I'm educated (I actually tutored college-level stats for cripes sakes), and I'm been reading this website for 6 years. Don't make me take 4 trips to wikipedia or your glossary to get through an article.
I find the idea that what's in the annual might be merely BETA-level work a little disturbing. I keep up with updates posted on the web, but I reference the book throughout the year due, in large part, to its convenient book form. Also, I sort of view the annual as your "flagship" publication. If you don't want to be an easy target, get it right by the time you go to press.
And if you're finding errors that made it into the book this year, please post these clearly so we know what to take with a grain of salt.
PECOTA had a similarly rosy MLB projection for Revere prior to last season--before he'd even played a game in A ball--and I wouldn't get too excited about it. I'd be very surprised if he saw any playing time in the majors this year, let alone more than Pridie, who's likely to be on the bench at the start of the season.
Quentin 2009 PECOTA prediction: 848 OPS
Actual 2009 numbers: 779 OPS
2010 PECOTA prediction: 893 OPS
How does underperforming last year's prediction by 68 OPS result in projection boost of 45?
Not that I'd be shocked to see him hit 893, but I'm really curious what PECOTA is thinking.
What's the status of defense in the WARP score on the PECOTA spreadsheet? Catcher d? Updated d system or same old?
Related question (or suggestion for another discussion): What's the ERA of the best robot humans can make, which is not permitted to throw over 90mph?
For promptly loading the bases, and somehow, somehow, somehow not letting anyone score in inning 12 in game 163, Robert "Akeppelypse" Keppel you will always have my thanks.
I look forward to some John Olerud analysis next offseason.
Relatedly, has his career WARP3 been downgraded by BP lately? I looked a while ago and it was up around 80, now much lower. I'm guessing the issue is evaluation of his defense.
JAWS and your HOF columns are one of my favorite things about this site.
Here's to better results in 2011.
Was this a bad year for PECOTA or just PECOTA-informed fantasy baseball drafts? I can't imagine I'm the only one who leaned on BP and ended up with a team of McClouth, JJ Hardy, Kelly Johnson, Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman, Matt Wieters, Milton Bradley and other relative disappointments. Or was it just me?
Can you link to the Nate Silver graph of marginal win value that you repeatedly reference?
Agreed that the third digit determines the decade. Nineties have nines in them. I don't really care about years 1 through 9 one way or the other.
If it doesn't make sense for the Twins, a likely contender, to have Joe Nathan for $10 million, why would they be able to find another team willing to pay through the nose in a trade for him?
Your premise is that the Twins would get a position player as good for the Twins as Nathan in a trade and that this player would make essentially no money. Then with the extra money, the Twins could sign a $10 million free agent and fill another hole. But why would any team trade a player of equal value for Nathan if the player they're trading away makes little or no money? Do the other MLB GMs have some irrational love of Joe Nathan?
I could see netting a couple mediocre players in a trade plus free-agent signing, but then you're creating a full-size hole by trading Nathan and only half-filling two holes in return. This especially doesn't make sense if the Twins already have a weak bullpen, as you suggest (although I'm not really sure that's true), since it would just be trading from weakness to address weakness.
Good gracious I hope you're right about Delmon. He had a tough year in 2009 with his mother's death early in the season, so I think that the optimism is well-placed.
I can't wait to see what the Twins get in the trade for Ramos.
"...leaving the Mets to swoop in with a package that now reads like a bad joke."
The Twins got Carlos Gomez, K. Mulvey, P. Humber, and D. Guerra for the last year (2008) of Santana's contract. Santana put up a 7.3 WARP3 in 2008. Gomez has given the Twins 4.7 WARP3 in 2008 and 2009 and has now been traded straight up for JJ Hardy, who's under team control for 2010 and 2011. Mulvey and Humber have been poor in brief MLB play, but Mulvey was traded for reliever J. Rauch this year, who put up 2.1 WARP3 for the Twins (big part of Twins late divisional push). So, on one hand:
Twins traded away:
7.3 WARP3 from Santana in 2008
2 supplemental round picks
On the other hand, the Twins got:
4.7 WARP3 from Gomez in 2008 and 2009
2.1 WARP3 from Rauch in 2009
Maybe 4-6 WARP3 from JJ Hardy in 2010 and 2011
D. Guerra (?? young prospect with upside)
P. Humber (not exciting, 5th, 6th starter type)
I think the salary paid out on both sides here is about a wash (I think JJ's salary in 2010-11 will about equal Johan's 2008 salary the Twins would have paid and the other salaries are minimal).
I might be missing some angles, but do you really think this was a joke of a trade? Frankly, as a Twins fan who was very skeptical at the time, I think it turns out to have been a solid move.
The Angels are next?!? What about the Twins?
Nice analysis from both the Twins and Brewers perspectives here on the trade, but you really miss the boat by not pointing out the fun-factor Gomez brings. People just really fell in love with his crazy, spastic self. He sold way, way more jerseys than his play merited. If he only makes the Brewers marginally less competitive, he'll make them substantially more fun to watch.
Re: Mauer = best:
I feel like this argument needs numbers. Here's the total WARP3 from 2006 to 2009 of the players I figured were around the top:
H. Ramirez: 30.9
A. Rodriguez: 29
L. Berkman: 27.5
C. Jones: 26.1
M. Cabrera: 24.4
I think that's something like a top ten, though I'm probably missing a few people. I think WARP3 does a pretty good job of incorporating all the factors mentioned so far: defense, positional hitting, splitting time at DH, power vs. average, adjusting for league difficulty, etc.
I'm a Mauer fan above all others, but Pujols seems to be in a class by himself. I sort of agree that it's not really arguable--I mean, over the past four years he's been like 1.3 Mauers. You can argue age, but I agree that you'd have to balance Mauer's higher injury risk against it. Let's call Mauer the best player in the American League. (Btw, the guy who really seems to get jobbed in all this best-player-in-baseball talk is Utley, who doesn't really ever seem to be mentioned.)
Where Mauer really could have distinguished himself is if he'd pursued that football career simultaneously and was QBing the Vikings on Sundays too. That would have been hard to match.
Morneau's an above-average defensive 1st baseman by my estimation. I'm looking both at FRAA and just having watched him play. Do you know something I don't here?
And Morneau isn't overrated, he was playing injured. He was the best overall 1st baseman in the league at the all-star break, and would have hung out near the top if he'd stayed healthy. His current OPS comes after having nosedived from around 1050 at midseason.
And even if his true value were around 850 (he's hit about 880 since his breakout season in 2006), that's not really anything to sneeze at, is it? I'm not sure what team you root for, but when it comes to the Twins, you don't get anything close to 850 when you replace him (see discussion re: Young, Delmon above).
And since I'm bothering to post, let me just add that Joe Mauer is awesome.
A couple things:
1. Just because teams are doing their best to play the game by its present rules, doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to argue that the rules should be changed. I guess you're saying if the teams really had a problem with the size of the checks they'd write smaller ones--but if they did they suffer a competitive disadvantage to other teams that did. That's not to say a rules change is justified, but just that it's not hypicritical to argue for one just because you're doing your best to under the present rules.
2. Second, you seem to ignore the fact that the draft clearly has a leveling function--it is arranged to give the worst teams the first picks, after all. Whether or not it's a "myth" that it is supposed to have this function, it does, and you don't really address the argument that it should do even more leveling in favor of the poor and pathetic.
Any system that allows some to spend more and some to spend less will systematically favor the bigger spenders. That doesn't mean the system is bad--actually I think they have the mix about right--but don't pretend to be scandalized by the fact that the smaller spenders are going to try to eliminate as many opportunities for differing spending as possible. That's not 5-year-old behavior, that's rational ballclub behavior.
My outrage is not "mock," Joe. I REALLY think it was--and is--cheating to take steroids and play baseball. I REALLY think cheating is bad. Is this so difficult to understand? Do we really need to go through the grade-school lessons of why cheating is bad, who it hurts, what it undermines, etc.? Or is the contention that using steroids wasn't cheating? Please.
I implore you to stop treating each steroids story as an indictment of those who criticize steroid users, instead of an indictment of the people who actually, you know, cheated and profited from it?
The analogy of the NFL to the WWE is right on. It's a freak show, and anyone who cares about baseball wouldn't point to the NFL as any sort of relevant comparitor.
C. Young, K. Johnson, Hardy, and Martin: the same I-drafted-based-on-PECOTA quartet that's sunk my fantasy season so far.