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jdeich
229 comments | 582 total rating | 2.54 average rating
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jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

"Not the tying or winning run" and the base-out situation should factor in. It's understandable trying to score in a one-run game, or take second if you're the lead/only runner. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45436">Matt Kemp</a></span> thrown out trying to advance to third in a 6-1 game smells more TOOTBLAN-esque. The runner's *ahem* athleticism should also be considered. The <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=28343">Babe Ruth</a></span> incident would be more defensible (one-run game, singles hitter Meusel at the plate) if he had more than... Ruthian speed.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Regarding the juiced baseball hypothesis: An enterprising baseball journalist could get their paws on some MLB-used baseballs through foul balls, home runs, courtesy tosses from third outs, etc. From there, a product quality firm could measure basic physical properties (mass, recoil, rotational inertia, coefficient of friction, acoustic properties, etc.) of each ball with off-the-shelf tests, then do destructive testing (freeze then slice it into cross-sections for measurements) for good measure. This wouldn't be perfect, since balls might be slightly altered by being struck, differing storage conditions, etc. However, it would detect large changes over time. MLB teams should already do this discreetly every March or April, given the economic and competitive value of knowing how to price power vs. contact vs. pitching. If the Padres were to notice that the new season's balls are more like the 2014-era stones, they might see if less observant teams would be interested in acquiring Schimpf post haste.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

No one "deserves" to be hit in the head with a fastball. The whole "Let's all injure each other" machismo is dumb enough without escalating to a potentially career-ending (or even life-threatening) injury to the eye or brain. If Machado's slide was meant to cause injury (and I don't think it was), let the league handle it with suspensions and fines, like adults. Heck, as a "regular person", if I intentionally threw a baseball at someone's head, I'd assume a felony charge or two.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

A wrinkle that will be hard to resolve: How many of those HBPs were intentional? Those are more likely with the batter tied (0-0) or ahead in the count, which skews the data. No manager is going to signal for the "message pitch" ahead 0-2. The added 'strikeout risk' would be larger than you describe in this article if intentional HBPs are a meaningful fraction of total HBPs.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

One interesting variable is that screen real estate varies so much by the flavor of media. TVs are now enormous, and taking a 3" stripe across the bottom for fancy stats barely impacts the aesthetics. People streaming the game on a computer monitor will need to squint, and that 3" stripe will be illegible on a smart phone.

Mar 24, 2017 10:14 AM on Always Tell Me the Odds
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

All parties agree that right after a heated argument with his partner, Chapman went to his garage and fired a gun eight times into the wall and window. She fled the house with her infant daughter. If that happened to someone I knew, I would implore her to grab her stuff while the police are still present, leave town, and change her name. I would never tell her "Well, that's perfectly legal behavior. We certainly can't form a negative opinion about that upstanding gentleman. It might cause him distress! Isn't *he* the real victim here?"

Feb 06, 2017 11:20 AM on Here We Are Again
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

There's likely an interesting parallel article about the most WPA earned by any batter in one game. #1 on the Play Index is a little-known platoon outfielder with only 3 plate appearances that day. But man did he make them count. #5 is "more traditional": <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=22084">Jimmie Foxx</a></span> going 6-for-9 with 3 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=HR" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('HR'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">HR</span></a> and 8 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=RBI" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('RBI'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">RBI</span></a> in a marathon. But even that was a game "won" by a guy going 17 innings in relief and only giving up 14 runs. Hall of Very Good candidate <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=21834">Wes Ferrell</a></span> gets the rare 11.1 inning blown save. And the whole thing took 4 hours and 5 minutes. Oh, 1930s baseball. You lovable scamp.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

A first-order predictor might be where you are in the batting order, platoon advantages, etc. If you're facing the leadoff hitter, the chance of trouble three batters hence is higher than if you're facing the #7 guy. It's my understanding that Leverage Index doesn't incorporate the abilities of individual hitters and pitchers.

Jan 04, 2017 11:36 AM on The Bullpen of My Dreams
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

I'm not sure why gender is a footnote, given that the discrepancy is much larger. Is there any 21st-century precedent for a corporation with ~$9B+ in annual revenues that employs virtually zero females for leadership, corporate, front office, and people management roles? There are legally defensible Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (e.g., accurately throwing and/or hitting 95+ mph fastballs) that can be used to largely explain the gender bias in on-field employees. But how has MLB not been dragged into court over their all-male owners, GMs, managers, coaches and other non-athlete personnel? Are they seriously arguing that no women are qualified to be so much as a bench coach?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

I was disappointed that this article didn't run more numbers on whether "the yips" had any meaningful outcome. If Lester doesn't behave conventionally (rarely throws to 1B) but excels through other means (quick to the plate), "the yips" are cosmetic. This year, opponents had a pedestrian <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=SB" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('SB'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">SB</span></a> success rate against Lester. They got 3 bunt hits, but 30 NL pitchers allowed at least 3. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45548">Jon Lester</a></span> fielded 20 ground balls or bunts, and recorded 19 outs with zero errors. Is there any evidence that this is a vulnerability? Is Lester a worse defender than, say, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=1117">CC Sabathia</a></span>?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Why don't teams cultivate unusual home fields as a competitive advantage? This covers "quirks" (Boston's outfielders play caroms off the Green Monster well) but also overall design. The Yankees specialize in acquiring left-handed power bats because they're extra-useful in their home stadium. Teams with spacious outfields can make sure that all three outfielders have some speed-- maybe the 4th outfielder is slow, but plays mostly on the road. Visiting teams don't necessarily have this luxury. If I were a team's stadium designer, I'd want a stadium that was as unconventional as possible without negatively impacting the fan experience.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

Rickey thought it was policy that articles written about Rickey would eschew all pronoun and surname references that could be replaced by "Rickey".

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Swanson: You may have thought you heard me say I wanted to hit a lot of baseballs, but what I said was: I will hit all the baseballs you have.

Aug 17, 2016 10:35 AM on Dansby Swanson
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Do professional athletes have their performance compromised by fear or intimidation? Or were <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Bob+Gibson">Bob Gibson</a></span>'s glare and brushbacks just interesting narratives for the fans to talk about? If fear "works", maybe it's strategically useful to cultivate that reputation with psychological ploys, aggressive play or "extracurriculars" like charging the mound. If not, it's probably wise to be nice and avoid the risk of suspensions or injuries.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

A little Googling suggests "blanchissage" is being used for "shutout" the way an American writer would refer to a "clean sheet" for the pitcher.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

The Orioles are paying <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=46716">Mark Trumbo</a></span> $9M this year, so there's a profitable niche for 1B/OFs who embrace the "Hulk Smash!" philosophy at any baseball vaguely near the plate.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

His reputation (and inevitable comparison to Rivera) isn't helped by association with the Twins, who have been famous for postseason woes. Bonus: <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Mariano+Rivera">Mariano Rivera</a></span>'s post-season line vs. the Twins: 14 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=G" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('G'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">G</span></a>, 16.2 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=IP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('IP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">IP</span></a>, 0.00 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=ERA" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('ERA'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">ERA</span></a>, 8 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=H" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('H'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">H</span></a>, 14 K, 1 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BB" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BB'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BB</span></a>. 7 of the 8 hits were singles. Yikes.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Other metrics used by BP have similar issues with returning nonsensical results given valid inputs. For example, 44 players currently have a negative <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=TAv" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('TAv'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">TAv</span></a>. This list is "topped" by <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=66336">Hansel Robles</a></span> (-.430) who had the misfortune of a <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=GIDP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('GIDP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">GIDP</span></a> in his only plate appearance. Since TAv's "job" is to report what a player's batting average would be if it captured all aspects of performance, it should never be below .000. (You don't need GIDPs for a negative TAv: <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=65945">Tim Adleman</a></span> is -.010 by virtue of being 0-for-8 with 5 K. Otherwise you could argue that nothing but GIDPs is worse than striking out every time.) It may help to test BP's other metrics for limit behaviors. For example, would a team full of perfectly incompetent hitters (.000/.000/.000, 27 K/9) be projected to win negative games? Conversely, would a team full of Mike Trouts and Clayton Kershaws be projected to win 163+ games? Considering semi-ludicrous extreme cases should reduce your model's errors at the edges of plausible performance.

May 23, 2016 10:21 AM on Overcoming Negativity
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Turning that around, without high-WAR players, your reliever doesn't pitch in many high-leverage save situations because you're usually losing. Let's look at WPA differently. Let's say next year, the Nationals convert <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=66018">Bryce Harper</a></span> to an offensive "closer"-- a pinch hitter who only bats in critical situations. Harper might have a high WPA, despite few plate appearances. Wouldn't the Nationals be better off keeping Harper in his current role? The argument about elite closers should be "Do I get more wins from an elite closer by instead using him as a 1970s-vintage 'fireman'?" <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Mariano+Rivera">Mariano Rivera</a></span>'s best season by both bWAR (5.0) and WPA (+5.4) remains 1996, when he had 5 saves and 107.2 <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=IP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('IP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">IP</span></a>. Baseball Reference has <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=23345">Willie Hernandez</a></span> (1984) as #3 all time for WPA in a season, with +8.65. (Only 1985 Gooden and 1940 Feller are higher.) Non-legendary pitchers named <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=23448">John Hiller</a></span> (1973; #5) and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=20584">Doug Corbett</a></span> (1980; #13) are also on the all-time list. What links them? Good but not otherworldly relievers who pitched 120+ IP.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

Baseball front office jobs are like any other office jobs, and should be covered under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and other critical Equal Opportunity legislation. MLB's revenue was $9.0B in 2014. The threshold for a "normal" business to make the Fortune 500 this year was $5.19B. If MLB was an entertainment company that sold streaming video (like Netflix, #474) instead of baseball games, they would be ranked #310 or so, bigger than media giants like News Corp. If a Fortune 500 company solely considered, interviewed, and hired males for highly-compensated managerial and front office jobs, they would be targets of massive class action lawsuits. Unlike the on-the-field jobs, there are no Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications (e.g. the ability to hit a 90+ mph slider) that could be explained by gender. There's also no "pipeline" excuse; the Rangers semi-recently hired a 28 year old GM with no on-field experience, so they can't claim any front-office job has decades of specific requirements. How does MLB get away with having only males at top positions without a massive class action lawsuit? As an aside, who is the "highest ranking" female in an MLB organization? Zero female principal owners, zero female general managers, zero female managers, zero female bench coaches, etc. Justine Siegal was hired by the A's as a coach for its Instructional League team in October, but that was apparently a two-week gig. Anyone in a position of power that I'm missing?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Cuba Gooding Jr. is available to be her agent.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

A strong devotion to this concept could lead to a 'Moneyball' niche for the Nationals-- signing talented players who have on-field difficulties for psychological reasons. As another Ankiel-level example, the 2004-2006 Royals would likely have won more games if they had better handled Zack Greinke's needs during his early career.

Jan 21, 2015 2:52 PM on Rick Ankiel's Third Act
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Per Forbes, Ted Lerner is the 3rd-wealthiest MLB owner, worth ~$4.3B. He's 89, helming a franchise that's never won a playoff series. DC last won a World Series in 1924, before he was born. Lerner was born, raised, and educated in DC, and built the vast majority of his wealth there. He also owns a piece of the Wizards and the Capitals. He's about as "DC" as you can get. He may simply be looking for the best path to a World Series win in his lifetime. He may also be playing the long game-- the Nationals will eventually pass on to his family, and the franchise's ongoing value would get a big boost from a World Series or three. As a quick example, Forbes appraised the Nationals at $480M in 2012, $631M in 2013, and $700M in 2014.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: -1

I'm curious how the actual BBWAA voting for Pedro will turn out. Con: "Only 219 Wins! Fewer than Jerry Reuss", "Only two 20-win seasons!", "Aside from his 1993-1994 stint with the Padres, he was terrible!", "He can't be unanimous because reasons!" Pro: Duh, of course he should be in. He'll get in, but with a percentage that makes you scratch your head. I suspect at least a few "Back in my day!" writers will overlook him.

Dec 31, 2014 10:56 AM on The 2015 Results
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

His career OPS is .654, and over the last three years it's been roughly the same (.652) despite the 2014 disaster. The average NL shortstop put up a .689 OPS in 2014, and Cabrera has played all his home games in Petco. That's an average-ish middle infielder bat attached to an average shortstop glove, with a small bump for being an excellent baserunner. His 2014 nose-dive is obviously a concern, along with the off-the-field issues. But he's the kind of player that a well-funded team can take a chance on, because if he returns to his 2013 +3-WAR form, he's very valuable. It's entirely possible that the on-the-field problems were a symptom of his off-the-field problems as well, and the right leadership could bring him back to form. Hoping for Everth to go back to 3-WAR form (risky, but reasonable) isn't like hoping he'll hit 30 homers next year (historically unprecedented).

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Keep in mind that Vegas isn't interested in predicting the outcome of the game. They're interested in predicting the outcome of the betting. If MLB fans believe the Royals to be favorites (rationally or otherwise), it's the job of the industry to create a line that shows the Royals as favorites.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

"Luck is the residue of design." - Branch Rickey, GM of the St. Louis Cardinals, 1919-1942.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

I am curious about Russell's take regarding whether Aroldis Chapman has been rocking his peers, putting suckas in fear, and or making tears.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Get ready for September baseball, where the expanded rosters reward the manager who is willing to make situational pitching changes with abandon.

Sep 03, 2014 10:32 AM on Time vs. Pace
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 10

I was hoping Adam Dunn could hang around another 2-3 years, hit his 500th home run, and ignite confusion among old-old-school sportswriters who obsess over both milestones and batting average.

Sep 02, 2014 7:18 AM on Bo Gone
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Article idea: A "heat map" of where high-HBP batters get hit. They're hit a lot because they're putting their thigh, upper arm, heavily-armored elbow, etc. in the way, and not the more fragile bits. The modern-era HBP champ, Craig Biggio, is 10th all-time in plate appearances, and that's with 4 seasons as a catcher. In 1997 he was hit 34 times and played in 160 games. Some day, his giant elbow guard will be in Cooperstown.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

PECOTA projects him at +1.8 wins combined for 2015-2017, so maybe trade him for $10M and a sack of baseballs? That said, Howard's projections probably worsen if you re-run them today, vs. preseason. The more immediate issue is: Why aren't the Phillies platooning him? He has a career .730 OPS against lefties, and that includes his good years. He has negative value as a baserunner and defender. And yet the Phillies bat him #4 nearly every game. He's made 96 starts out of 106 games. It would cost the Phillies $0 to bench him against lefties and bat him #6 or #7, starting today. Even the Phillies' sad farm system must have someone (Tyler Henson? Cameron Perkins?) who can bat righty and sort of play 1B if Darin Ruf continues to flounder. They're not going to the 2014 playoffs, so why not experiment?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

A hypothetical system where all minor leaguers are trained extremely well would raise the level of play at both the major and minor league levels. Given the fraction of each team's income derived from selling tickets and merchandise, that's in the interest of every owner, even in the unlikely scenario where adoption is league-wide and simultaneous. In practice, of course, not all teams innovate at the same rate, and those that did this early could create a competitive advantage for a few years. With wins priced at $5-7M on the free agent market, this is a possible path to cheaper wins, and it doesn't even cost you draft picks.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

I've been pleasantly surprised that Billy Hamilton has become a player who is very valuable even if he remains at the break-even point on steals. His OPS is above the NL average for CFs (.743 to .727), and the defensive systems agree that he's (at least) a better-than-average defensive CF. Overall, he's been a ~+3 WAR player, and we're only 60% of the way through the season. He'd be worthy of All-Star consideration even if he wasn't the active player most likely to produce a "Wow! I've never seen that!" moment on any given night.

Jul 14, 2014 2:08 PM on The Big-Market d'Arnaud
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

The laugh is on Kotteras, because the successful bunt lowered his 2014 slugging percentage to a mere 1.167.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

(I understand the draft pick consequence.... but .222 SLG? You think they'd at least tell Stephen what their number would be in two weeks.)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Did the Tigers try to make an offer? They're a high-payroll playoff-likely team whose shortstops have hit a cumulative .193/.252/.222 through 41 games.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

What about stadium shenanigans? Let's say you look at your lineup and you have no credible power threats, but good speed in your outfield. Move the fences to 450+ feet, make them 15' high, and approximate baseball from 100 years ago? Do all changes to stadium dimensions require league approval? Can they be done at any point, even small changes during the season?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

It may be worth tracking who fields each bunt. I recall A-Rod having a lot of trouble with bunts when he came to the Yankees, presumably because the charge-scoop-throw action was much less used during his prior shortstop days. Shortstops also probably don't practice bare-hand grabs often. Bunting when the shortstop is the lone left-side defender might be an even more fruitful tactic, even though shortstops are usually excellent defenders in the general sense.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

This is excellent analysis in plain language. BP often does the former well, but it's good to see the second part getting more attention.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

PECOTA thinks Cano is worth 5.2 WARP. In CF, they start Abraham Almonte (0.5), But at every other position, the Mariners field a player worth 1.5-2.5 WARP. Absent Cano, they'd presumably play Nick Franklin (2.5 WARP in 2013) at 2B. Franklin's value is glove-heavy, so they can't slide him to DH, and thus lose him to AAA. So adding Cano is still +2.7 WARP, despite a worst-case situation where the backup choice looks unusually good, but yet can't move laterally to replace a different starter. Yet adding two half-Canos looks worse unless one can play CF, since they'd be replacing MLB starters who average around 2.0 WARP each, and the Mariners would only total +1.2 WARP for the two Half-Canos (+2.6 each). Keep in mind that high-end free agents displace starters, not the 25th man, and starters aren't usually worth 0.0 WARP. Now, the starter they displace often does displace the 25th man, but with reduced playing time, the value of that is minimal unless an injury happens. A more thorough study (for example, constructing a 'what-if' tree for each team's WARP change upon losing each starter) could find the optimal strategy. Matt Swartz answers what teams _are_ doing (a start), but not necessarily what they _should be_ doing. As your thesis shows, those don't always intersect.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

Have batters increased their swing rate year-by-year against Scherzer on 1-1 counts? Assuming they all watch video, listen to coaches, and read this column, they should be thinking "It's 1-1. Here comes my pitch to hit."

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 15

His closer celebration should just be to yell "Hey, hey, hey! It's Maaaaaaaaatt Albers!" Then all the Astros could jam on homemade musical instruments.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 7

Aren't you worried that the recently-launched Buzkashi Prospectus will get your goat?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Has anyone taken a good look at how pitchers perform (relative to predictions) when they join or depart the Cardinals during Yadier's career? There's the obvious stuff (throwing out basestealers is good for the ERA), but is there a reliable trend in BB%, K%, etc? If so, is it explainable just by framing/etc., or does it imply the pitcher is actually throwing better?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 12

PECOTA also confirmed that in the darkest timeline, the Astros all sport pencil-thin mustaches and pointy goatees.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Determining *which* players are "on the field winning the games" is valuable in a business that spends ~$100M/yr on 25 people, and disproportionately on a subset (free agents) of them. Pollis' argument is that free agents are overpaid relative to their alternatives. It costs ~$5-7M to upgrade a free agent signing by ~1 expected win. Pollis' findings suggest you come out ahead by instead investing that money in scouting and development. Go back 10 years and look at the MLB draft. Of the 41 first-round picks: - 8 have never played in a major-league game, including the #1 pick. - 9 have produced 0.0 or less career bWAR. - 13 have produced between 0 and 5 career bWAR. - The top 3 players outproduced the bottom 38. That's a very unusual market, even for sports. (26 of 29 2004 NBA first-round picks played in 80+ NBA games. 21 played in 400+.) Pollis' approach gains strength when half of the MLB draft's first round are busts. Turning one bust into even a +10 WAR pick (Neil Walker) is worth $50M-70M of free agent upgrades.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

It would be interesting to include the impact on plate appearances or WAR as well-- for example, many of the catchers "survive" (still are on MLB teams), but regress to backup roles with reduced playing time, salary, etc. Or they spend half the season on the DL. A 7-year contract with a catcher is probably much riskier than the hazard ratio implies, because there's a good chance that years 5-7 are spent playing every 5th day, or platooning in between DL trips. While other premium defensive positions can also regress, multiple positions can feed into "4th OF", "utility infielder", etc., whereas "backup catcher" has a tighter labor supply that allows for things like Henry Blanco's 16-year MLB career.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

The Maddon article is fascinating. (Example: Runner on second, two outs. Batter grounds out on a close play. Maddon is drilling the runner to run hard and try to score while the defense is napping in case he wants to challenge the call at first.) Of course, the counter-Maddon strategy has defenses running around tagging random runners after the third out has been signalled by an umpire, just in case. These are clear incentives inherent to the replay system, but it also raises the risk of an injury (to either team), looks unsportsmanlike, and it will be confusing to fans. Under the current system, a "close play" can be defined pretty loosely, because you lose almost nothing for trying. Plus, the runner is probably not going to get much of a glance, so he may try this even if the runner was out by a full step.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

It would be helpful to take a 'snapshot' of predictions before the 2014 season, and publish a review of its predictive power after the season is over. Obviously, you'll tweak and improve the model as time goes on (using 2014 data as it becomes available), but as a result it wouldn't be fair to compare the September 2014 model to 2014 performance. Pre-season snapshots will clearly show your progress to the audience.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

What is Rickey doing these days? If the only thing stopping Billy Hamilton from the "automatic SB" is reading the pitcher and getting an ideal jump, who better to teach it? Rickey swiped bags at 76% in his age 40+ seasons.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

Let's say you sign an Olympic-quality sprinter who played, say, high-school baseball competently. Given the athletic gifts that person already has, how likely is it that you could train them to be a MLB-quality defender in the outfield? After a year of intensive practice (positioning, jumps, routes, catching the ball, etc.), could their range/acceleration qualify them as a late-game replacement for the aging slugger you stick in the corner outfield?

 
jdeich
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Exactly. A rational opponent would offer that scout $80K and cover his moving expenses. A rational team would then counter-offer $100K and a personal assistant. Another rational opponent would then come along, and this spiral should continue until that scout is still the "best buy" on the market, ~$7M in total benefits annually. Unlike on-field talent, that +1 win/year might come from a scouting department, and you might split that $7M over 12 top people to get +1 win every year. But look at any MLB draft with enough time for 20/20 hindsight. 10 years ago: The Padres picked Matt Bush first, passing over some guy named Justin Verlander. Jered Weaver went 12th. Dustin Pedroia went 65th. Ben Zobrist went 184th. The system is highly imperfect, and there is a lot of room for a better front office to generate an advantage. Heck, someone deserves credit for "Well, here's the 439th pick. My report says that this Will Venable kid looks promising. Let Justin Nelson fall to 440th." It doesn't take many decisions like that to provide millions of dollars of value. It's just that the successes and mistakes are largely invisible at the moment they're made, unlike a bad free-agent signing. Now, how you structure that offer is debatable, but as a start I'd recommend: Every time a "homegrown" player (defined in some detail) plays in X MLB games (or Y appearances/IP for pitchers), $Z goes into a kitty, and the team divides it systematically among the first scout to write about him, the person who made the pick, his minor league coaches, etc. For sufficently large values of Z, that organization would draw in top talent.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 21

Adapting from Wikipedia: "Buzkashi: Horse-mounted players compete to drag a goat carcass toward a goal. Traditionally, games last for days. Riders wear heavy clothing and head protection to protect against other players' whips and boots. If available, a calf is less likely to disintegrate during play." That seems to be a very thorough description of play. Financial tip: buzkashiprospectus.com is likely available at a reasonable rate. Some acronyms are easier to remember for buzkashi. For example, 'WHIP' stands for 'whip'.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

What is your estimate of the variance of general manager performance? It's not a perfect process, and you'd have to do it well after the events happened (to know if they succeeded) but you could pool results from drafts, trades, free agent signings, etc. It should be possible to hindcast who the best general managers of, say, 10-15 years ago were. From there, a second-level analysis that looks for leading indicators of GM excellence (or its opposite) might be fruitful. This will be challenging (you're dealing with N=30 at best, and significant turnover), but you might get some broad strokes. It seems like a wide-open field of research, but I might be simply unaware of the prior art here.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

The subheading begs for a future arbitration projection section titled 'Dollar dollar bill, y'all.'

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 1

Quick-n-dirty adjustment to layman's terms, assuming both players made a pact to lollygag at league-average levels: Cano's career AVG: .309 Cano's career AVG, adding back 49 singles from lollygagging: .318 Jeter's career AVG: .312 Jeter's career AVG, removing 104 hustle singles: .303, calm eyes The injury link is very hard to quantify, since you can take Jeter's durability (or Ichiro's, etc.) as disproof as much as you can take Cano's durability as proof. You can't take either as evidence of anything without much more work. Crudely, you could compare home-to-first times vs. (leg) injury frequency for many players (sorted by speed?), but survivor's bias might get gory and leg injuries are going to be small sample size events.

 
jdeich
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The gap is not the only measureable outcome. There would be a difference between what you found (~40%/40%) and either 80%/80% or 10%/10%. This would indicate that people of all races have a different view of the HOF candidacy of Clemens despite objectively comparable cases (all-time greats on-field, significant PED evidence off-field). It could also more conclusively differentiates between "White respondents have a bias against Bonds" and "Respondents of other races have a bias for Bonds", which the Bonds-only data cannot address.

Feb 11, 2014 10:15 AM on Interpreting the Polls
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

The core of the article is that white respondents view Bonds *differently* from other respondents, and that this gap is not present for other famous players of various races (citing Mark McGwire, Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens). Bonds specifically produces a statistically-significant, racially-associated polarization across many polls. You're oversimplifying this too far to "Bonds is unpopular." There are players who are popular among white and black fans (Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr., etc), and there are players who are unpopular among white and black fans (Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, etc.). That's not very unexpected. A more accurate simplification of Lewie's observation is "Bonds is unique in that he is unpopular with white respondents, yet semi-popular with other respondents."

Feb 11, 2014 9:50 AM on Interpreting the Polls
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

To be fair to Arroyo, his thing since 2004 has been "throwing 200 average-ish innings in HR-friendly home parks". I'm not sure that the NL->AL gap is scarier than the Great American Ball Park effect. He could do well in a home park that suppressed his high HR/9, especially in front of a good OF defense (e.g., Gordon/Cain/Lough). Great control, and his K/9 isn't awful for a starter. He'd be better than the #4 for most AL teams. I agree with Alex that 3 years is scary, however. Maybe if the contract was laden with incentives, or had 1-2 club option years.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

If the difference between Bourjos and Trout in terms of steals is attributable only to reluctance on the part of Bourjos, that falls squarely on the coaching staff to fix promptly. With a free market value of several hundred thousand dollars per run created, that excuse doesn't fly.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

I picked Felix Hernandez because he's likely to continue having an above-average LI (career = 1.04, as high as 1.13 when the Mariners are not especially horrible). He's going to be in lots of close games: 1) He is good at the pitching of the baseballs, and the opponents' run total will have a low average and low variance. 2) Seattle's offense is generally awful, and their run total will have a low average and low variance. Also, he pitches deeper into games (6.6 IP/GS) than the average AL pitcher (5.9 IP/GS), and most high-LI situations occur in the 7th or later. It's an even larger effect historically-- Bob Gibson had 4 straight years with LIs of 1.10 to 1.19 when many games ended 2-1 or 1-0. I don't see how it would be "not worth the effort" when the system is already applied to a subset of pitchers. LI is calculated for all pitchers. Wouldn't this just entail removing a "if reliever, then ..." decision?

 
jdeich
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If I'm reading this article correctly, WAR is only impacted by LI in the case of relief pitchers? As in, if Felix Hernandez pitches a perfect 8th inning up 2-1, he's credited with "standard" WAR for that inning, but if a reliever pitches the same perfect 8th inning, he gets "enhanced" WAR due to high LI? Conversely, if a reliever gives up a home run, he gets a larger magnitude of WAR adjustment than the batter did? Does it matter if the batter is a pinch hitter? It seems like LI's impact should be symmetric, even if the symmetry is "LI doesn't count for anyone". One extra win created by the offense should equal one extra win surrendered by the pitching/defense, regardless of the names given to roles.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 10

His drawback is that he would catch the ball, then refuse to ever throw it to another player while he runs around with it.

 
jdeich
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Not to tarnish a tasty narrative, but Alex Rodriguez didn't ground out in that game with the bases loaded with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Griffey on 1st, Coleman on 2nd, third open. 12.6% less Schadenfreude Above Replacement Jerk by my calculation. Surreal box score moment: "9th inning, 1 out: Jack McDowell replaces Mariano Rivera pitching". Footnote: Did Jack McDowell suffer a Lidge-after-Pujols breakdown after giving up The Double in that game? Ace-level, durable starter with a (questionable) Cy Young on his shelf before that moment. Next season (age 30) he's terrible, then 6, 14, and 4 starts. and retired at 33.

 
jdeich
(50647)
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Fantastic article. With a bonus Stefon riff.

 
jdeich
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What's your take on the future prospects of two glove-heavy CFs: Jim Edmonds (2016) and Andruw Jones (2018)? Seems like either would be at least as likely as Sheffield, and possibly higher on the list.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

(Alberto Gonzales was the Attorney General associated with the "Enhanced Interrogation" memos. Alberto Gonzalez is the utility infielder. Both were let go from their jobs after three years in DC.)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

That was torture.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Re: Playoffs: Let's say that Russell's hypothesis is true and teams are leaving a couple wins on the table by choosing a 5-man rotation. You'd have to balance the odds of making the playoffs against your odds of success in the playoffs (assuming the 4-man negatively impacts October health). The economics of baseball dictate that small-market teams have to gamble to win. It's possible that the 4-man rotation is both superior to (better average result) and more risky than (higher variance due to injury) the 5-man rotation. The underdog should embrace that role.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Aside from the (more important) quality issue: Would a four-man rotation yield a cost savings? On one hand, "#5 starters" command more money than a swingman would. On the other, signing guys as your #1-#4 will probably cost you more because of (real or perceived) increased risk of injury.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

Does a Nick Punto batting helmet really qualify as "game-used"?

 
jdeich
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Thoughts on Bagwell and Piazza's chances this year? 58% and 60% respectively in 2013, solid resumes, good longevity, zero substantive links to PEDs, well-liked by fans, etc. Bagwell has the "career with one team" thing that voters historically like.

 
jdeich
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I've been amazed for some time that teams that have a couple dozen millionaire employees have not gone with Plan Carleton/Miller. It's not hard to believe that one happy superstar is worth half a win more than one unhappy superstar, and you can probably get a "star" anthropologist or psychologist for $200K/yr. How many Michael Young type signings have been justified by a "leadership" or "chemistry" reputation? Those cost millions of dollars, and no one knows if they add wins. Bringing in someone quantitative like Kraus would be the best sell to ownership, to show the value in a language they'll be receptive to. Then again, you might hit the same problem that Russell has brought up regarding his "team nutritionist" plan: Baseball is a culture that resists change, and you can always wait for someone else to take the risk of being first to try something new.

 
jdeich
(50647)
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Great article! I assume that while you're recording the rate of spin, TrackMan also records the orientation of the axis of spin. Any chance of a "spin-off" article on how that impacts results?

 
jdeich
(50647)
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He had a .923 OPS vs. LHP in 2013, right around his career average. His decline was vs. RHP (79% of his PAs, admittedly), so the short half of a platoon with Dunn may work out. Treating Konerko kindly may also be worth $2.5M to the CWS just in terms of attendance and merchandise.

Dec 05, 2013 8:55 AM on Last Call for Paul
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 10

As far as the time delay, you could try to find tape of the May 14th, 1988 game between the Braves and Cardinals (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLN/SLN198805140.shtml). Jose DeLeon was a starter on an off day who got pressed into corner outfield work in a 19-inning game. They swapped corner outfielders to try to 'hide' him, and his position in the box score is recorded as "LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF-LF-RF".

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Aside from the off-the-field exclusions (Rose, A-Rod if he ever plays again), is there an active candidate for the "3,000 hits but not HOF Club"? (Assuming strong longevity... regular play through age 40/41.) Jimmy Rollins? Michael Young? Carl Crawford? Nick Markakis? Everyone else seems either too good to avoid induction (Pujols, Cabrera, Beltre, two solid years from Ichiro, a good second act from Cano/Wright/Pedroia), or too unlikely to hang on as a starter (Beltran's health, Juan Pierre's terribleness).

 
jdeich
(50647)
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What should teams pay per win? Is $5M/win too high? Is $7M/win still worth it? Historically, what is the return on investment of going from 80 wins to 85, or 85 to 90? Obviously, with more success comes playoff revenues, increased attendance, more merchandise, etc. That might also be a case for the non-linear value of a top player-- adding one 6-win guy will move more seats and merchandise than adding three 2-win guys that casual fans have never heard of.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

If you visit, don't miss the Bobby Grich exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Toiled Nobly in Total Obscurity.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Another testable hypothesis: Size of team's market and/or media coverage. Does a player get more consideration if they play for a team like NYY/BOS/LAD, vs. the same performance in a less media-friendly town? Might also want to include runners-up in some of these tests. There area lot of examples of a deserving player not only failing to win, but ending up inexplicably low on the ballot. (Willie Mays coming in 6th in 1964, etc.)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 7

Watchgate and luxury cap issues yield an updated total of 101 problems.

Nov 08, 2013 8:01 AM on Backup Planning
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 13

Even the random number generator thinks the Marlins aren't signing any free agents.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

Joe Posnanski's reply to Murray Chass printing irresponsible hearsay about Stan Musial: http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/men-of-honor/ Everything I've seen from Chass recently makes me agree with Posnanski's take on Chass. Good journalists write to get readers interested in the subject. Chass writes to draw attention to himself, and anti-intellectual screeds are just the latest incarnation of that.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Re: Peralta. Is there a weight where you have to go to the El Guapo corner of the bullpen for stamina reasons? How fat can a prospect be and still get the call to the majors?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

The usual refrain here is to separate processes from outcomes. Matheny's decisions should only be evaluated based on information Matheny had at the moment he made them. It's entirely consistent to consider those moves (Maness vs. Gomes and Siegrist vs. Ortiz) to be simultaneously wise and unsuccessful.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

What's odd is that Randy Choate is presumably on the postseason roster as a LOOGY. He faced only 141 batters in his 64 appearances in 2013, 70% of which were lefties. His maximum pitch count in 2013 was 25, and both times he threw 20+ pitches were in blowout losses. His career OPS against is .793 vs. RHB and .555 vs. LHB. So if Matheny isn't going to use him in key situations vs. LHB when he's warmed up, what is he saving him for?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

If the Cardinals "clearly [take] a different approach during their RISP plate appearances", to such great effect (+132 OPS), why don't they do it all the time? Are there hidden costs to that? For example, does shortening their swing and avoiding strikeouts result in reduced pitches per plate appearance? That is likely a good trade in a RISP situation, but applied all the time, it would reduce opposing pitchers' fatigue. Is the effect muted during double-play situations, vs. other RISP situations? If the Cardinals are warding off strikeouts by slapping ground balls, that strategy is less appealing with 0/1 outs and a runner on 1st. (Obvious warning: Even smaller sample size.)

Oct 28, 2013 7:56 AM on Is Cardinal Magic Real?
 
jdeich
(50647)
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Thank you for including "His father is the District Attorney!" By the end of the series, I was yelling it out loud in synch with the television.

 
jdeich
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The hard part for me is that for every 2013 Cardinals, there is a 1978 Yankees or 1986 Mets to consider. The first key step will be making some falsifiable hypotheses, even if it's fuzzy prediction. Let's say you were able to survey teams in April, and predict whether they would exceed their PECOTA projection, meet it (within some range), or fall short. (Maybe you make some corrections for injuries.) In theory, that's how chemistry (and/or good management) should show up-- everybody outplays their previous level of talent. Even then, you'd have to account for changing personnel. If you accept that the 2013 Cardinals were improved by Molina's leadership, you might not expect an improvement in 2014, since Molina will still be there. But a team that has had a lot of turnover might be ripe for this kind of analysis.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Do you think it would be sufficient to show a component-level difference that is easier to measure than "learning"? For example, eliminating the food choices 21-year-olds will make independently (spoiler alert: cheeseburgers) and replacing them with a team-wide fitness diet (*) might show up in things as simple as: - Home to first times (replacing fat with muscle) - Days missed due to illness - Swings taken in the cages (endurance, morale) - Minutes watching video (energy level, attentiveness) - Total hours at the park (morale, energy level, focus) Some of these might be detectable in a month. Do you think that would be compelling enough to spur a full-year investment? (*): I'd also require FitBits or their more advanced equivalents on all players. Very small investment for a very rich data source.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

The Tango analysis also considers only situations with the bases empty, where the batter can only advance himself. The analogy to the IBB is apt. But (as shown above) teams will shift on Ortiz even with a runner on second. A bunt single there is in between a "regular" single and a walk, because you're less likely to score the runner. While the cost of striking/popping out is higher because of the situation's leverage, there may be base-out situations where the necessary success rate is quite low. (With 0 outs, even a sacrifice is not a terrible outcome.) On the qualitative end, have we seen players try to "hard bunt" (to push it into shallow LF) to try to re-create the Cano double, or score a runner from second? (Often the LF is shading towards CF as well, so the left-side infielder would have to field it running away from the diamond.) Or is that not worth the risk of missing the bunt, given the gift-wrapped single opportunity?

 
jdeich
(50647)
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The Houston comment is funnier if the other box is checked.

Sep 09, 2013 10:34 AM on Monday, September 9
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Fantastic and insightful work. It may be hard to communicate to wider audiences (as uncertainty is in science, medicine, economics, etc.), but it would keep analytically-minded analysts in check. Too often you'll hear borderline calls stated as absolutes, "Posey was a better hitter than McCutchen in 2012!", when they're within the intuitive measurement error. This analysis should readily extend to baserunning. Much like hitting, you have discrete end states with a "responsible party" (assuming defense averages out over large N). Pitching follows similar logic. Defense... I think we can differentiate the exceptional from the average, and the average from the abysmal, but finer distinctions are likely not yet reliable. My personal guesstimate is that anything less than a gap of 1.0 to 1.5 WAR over a full season isn't significant. This may be an olive branch to the traditional community when it comes to awards. WAR becomes a tool to establish who makes up the "top tier", and then discussions of more qualitative factors can weigh in. (Such as the somewhat infamous "Cabrera moved to 3B to help his team!")

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Is there any incentive to not use all challenges? (Other than saving for a future bad call.) For example, it's the sixth inning, and my previously-reliable starter walks the first two batters on eight pitches. I don't have a reliever warm. I can use my one conference to buy time, and then pounce on any reviewable play to stall for more, knowing that the chance of a bad call per inning is very low. Maybe the batter hits a ball three feet foul of the base. Can I challenge the 'foul' call? Somewhat more sportsmanlike: If there's two outs in the 6th or 9th, shouldn't I challenge any remotely questionable call? Even if I'm thinking it's 95% likely to stand? All of this could lead to longer games, which isn't in MLB's best interest. If nothing else, they should couple this to reductions in how often batters may request 'time', enforce 8.04 (the time limit for a pitch with bases empty)etc.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Agreed. You would not expect a unimodal distribution when teams have different resources. Each team has some expectation value of wins coming into the season, and you might imagine a Gaussian centered on their PECOTA projection. The league's distribution would (after enough seasons to settle the noise) look like a sum of these peaks. Because the payrolls are not random, patterns emerge over time-- if you guessed the Yankees' record in 2025, you'd probably pick a number over .500. A hypothetical league with 15 teams owned by the Steinbrenners and 15 teams owned by Jeffrey Loria would be sharply bimodal. Also, horrifying. It might be interesting to bin the data by payroll, possibly as a ratio to the league average. In 2012, the 5 highest payrolls won 95 (NYY), 81 (PHI), 69 (BOS), 89 (LAA), 88 (DET). (Avg: 84.4) In 2012, the 5 lowest payrolls won 79 (PIT), 72 (KCR), 55(HOU), 94 (OAK), and 76 (SDP). (Avg: 75.2)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Another data point would emerge from looking at swing rate as a function of a proxy for rest: 1) Game played in the same city as the day before. 2) Rest day (travel required). 3) Rest day (no travel required; e.g. homestand). Maybe break down category #2 by the distance of the travel. To exclude September callups, etc., maybe only look at "everyday" players. Presumably that fourth outfielder is more rested than the starters.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

Author regrettably missed an opportunity to use the phrase "Straight Outta Cumpton".

Jun 17, 2013 12:00 PM on The Profar-Free TA
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 8

It may also be job insurance for the manager. If the manager uses a conventional strategy and there is a negative result, the focus is on the player. If the manager does something unconventional (not necessarily riskier, just less common), the focus will be on the manager. In an extra inning game with no lead, the payoff for a successful early use of a closer is invisible-- a run a lesser pitcher would have given up is averted, no one scores, and the game continues. Failure is visible-- the game ends suddenly. There's no outcome where the manager's decision "obviously" leads to a win. See also: NFL teams punting on 4th-and-short in their opponent's territory. It's statistically indefensible, but fans will remember the time they went for it and failed.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

You might consider the distance from the center of the strike zone, relative to the pitcher's historical distribution of pitches to batters of that handedness. If a pitcher tends to pitch low and away to similar batters, and demonstrates excellent control, the chance that the HBP to the shoulder is intentional is higher. On the other hand, if Henry Rodriguez is on the mound, it's pretty clear there's no intention behind the location of any of his pitches.

 
jdeich
(50647)
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Err.. 1990 Yankees is correct. 1991 is the typo. Damn you, lack of edit button.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

He's referring to the 1991 Yankees. 1990 is a typo. There's a discrepancy between the B-Ref record of the 1991 draft (http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?team_ID=NYY&year_ID=1990&draft_type=junreg&query_type=franch_year) and this article, however. B-Ref only lists 16 players with MLB experience (Pettitte, Posada, Everett, Spencer, Wasdin, Ledee, Militello, Ohme, Eenhoorn, Ojala, Heathcott, Leach, Wilson, Dunbar, Rios, Jordan, in order of descending WAR). They got most of their value in rounds 20-28, with six major leaguers including Posada/Pettitte. 1st round pick was Carl Everett, who is now ironically a dinosaur.

 
jdeich
(50647)
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It might be interesting to address this question more broadly. You could simulate the outcomes of different lineups and look at the production gap between the optimal lineups and actual lineups as a function of year. in theory, as MLB offices warm to advanced analysis, that gap should decrease. A separate question might be how the #2 spot should be filled by good teams vs. bad ones. Does the answer change if you're the Tigers, with figuratively and literally huge #3/#4 hitters, but not a ton of talent elsewhere? What about the historically-bad Marlins?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

One simple TV thing that I've seen casual fans stumble on is 3-sig-fig decimals instead of percentages. Most people don't think of a probability as "OBP = .383", even though it is accurate. They think "38.3%", which is equally accurate. Or just round off the (largely meaningless) third sig-fig and go with "He gets on base 38% of the time". .376 and .384 are largely indistinguishable in terms of skill, especially in June. This simplification works for PitchFx on my local broadcast. They put up how often a pitcher throws each pitch (60% fastball, 20% slider, etc.) and/or the speed of each. It's an information-rich profile for the experienced fan, but a casual fan can make sense of it once they know the names of the various pitches. (Offer not available for Yu Darvish games... "He has thrown a double-reverse rising fork-curve... once.")

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Might be interesting to compare SB% when the game situation dictates a steal is common vs. a steal in an unexpected situation. Based on the research in the article, the author wouldn't need to decide a priori what is "unexpected". You'd begin with a big matrix that says "On 2-1 counts, runner on first (only), a steal is attempted X% of the time, and successful Y% of the time". Outcome would be expected steal rate vs success rate. Hypothesis: There is a small success advantage to stealing at odd moments, but the value of that success outweighs it. For example, stealing 3rd with 2 outs is unexpected (for good reason), but the cost:benefit analysis is bad enough to negate the raw advantage in SB%. That said, there might be some inefficiencies worth exploiting somewhere.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

During his playing days, Don Mattingly was frequently ranked #1 on "The 'Stache List".

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

The flip side of the Leiter argument is that he is assuming that a professional pitcher is not trying his hardest every inning, and thus has the ability to 'reach back' and give full effort when the situation is critical. It's like the 'clutch' argument. If a player can focus during a critical moment to deliver exceptional results, shouldn't he work to maintain that focus every time he hits/pitches?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Compromise: Predict female umpires. While there are counter-arguments about size/strength (*) in terms of playing professionally (**), there is no excuse for why 70 of 70 MLB umpires are male. It's not the physical prerequisites-- those have been handled by age 60+ jowly men who appear to regularly dine at PaunchBurger. At least a couple women have already umpired at the minor-league level. (*): Also, young girls get pushed to play softball instead of baseball, and don't get as much practice hitting overhand pitching with the smaller/lighter ball. (**): While the English-language rulebook is written with male pronouns, Rule 2.00 notes that "Any reference in these Official Baseball Rules to “he,” “him” or “his” shall be deemed to be a reference to “she,” “her” or “hers,” as the case may be, when the person is a female." Am I correct that a woman could legally be on a MLB roster tomorrow if offered a contract?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

I'm wondering what kind of response he was hoping for from "You stand too low, you can’t see the—I mean, there’s parts of it, you’re not going to see everything. But experience and judgment tells you what’s a ball and what’s a strike." There's also conflict between "Little League you see guys pulling the balls all over, and you go, ‘Oh, look, he fooled the umpire.’ Well, that’s easy, easy. It doesn’t happen at the major-league level." and quotes like "If you catch it correctly, with the palm up and on the plate, you’re going to get it called a strike. If you don’t, it’s going be called a ball." Best argument for robo-umps yet-- he's admitting that the catcher can reliably fool him away from the rulebook definition of a strike.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 1

This effect is strengthened if you don't stick to a strict "75, then 50" split. In other words, if the opposing manager stacks his lineup with lefties against your starting RHP, maybe he gets pulled after 50 pitches, and his tandem LHP comes in to throw 75. I assume the counter-strategy would be a meh blend of LHB/RHB or forcing switch hitters into the lineup. That doesn't invalidate the LHP/RHP tandem idea, so it seems like an equilibrium strategy. Tandem pitchers (and their agents) would have to be OK with not getting many official "Wins". This may become a (stupid) obstacle that blocks this idea in practice.

 
jdeich
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Might be interesting to interview an umpire on this topic. It's essentially a tactic of deception/obfuscation. Do umpires resent it, or do they just see it as a game, like pitcher trying to nibble at the corners and 'widen the zone'?

 
jdeich
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I think you buried one of the more interesting aspects of the analysis-- the ability to construct a "rotation" from pitchers who are not worth very much on the open market. As long as you're the only one pursuing this strategy, it should be inexpensive to target starters who lack the stamina to be efficient after 50-75 pitches. This does raise a couple questions: 1) How does the cost of 8 fringy tandem guys compare to 5 good starters and 3 middle relievers? 2) From there, is it more cost-effective to upgrade to less fringy tandem guys, or add wins via offense/bullpen? 3) Does the Astros' farm system lend itself to this? Do they have enough guys to promote to try this without spending much on the free market? The Astros are the perfect team to try this-- no DH, and it might be gentler on young arms to have them throw 50-75 pitches every 4th day vs. 100 every 5th. Given the quality of the on-field product in 2013, experimenting with novel ideas may generate positive press, and help re-brand the franchise as "Tampa Southwest" instead of "the AL's Miami".

 
jdeich
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I'm surprised the recent Hunter Pence scouting report (http://imgur.com/5shihWH) wasn't mentioned. I believe the scout was one G. Brisbee.

 
jdeich
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In the very unlikely event that David Ortiz's hitting streak continues, Streak Games #50, #51, and #52 would be @NYY, and possibly the most rabidly-covered baseball thing that ever was. (#56 and #57 would be LAA at Fenway.) Imagine a first-inning walk on four pitches. Massachusetts might secede. Equally probable: By the beginning of June the Yankees are starting Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, and Hideki Matsui, and somehow they're all hitting .300.

 
jdeich
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You'd want to somehow tease out the effect of windup vs. stretch, controlling for the fact that better pitchers have fewer baserunners, and there are strategic differences in pitch selection with runners on base. (Simple examples: More incentives for fastballs that the catcher easily handles. Less willingness to bury splitters in the dirt. Trying to coax grounders with a runner on first.) Maybe looking at how individuals perform in blowouts, where the running game is less important and pitchers are instructed to just worry about getting the batter out. Or looking at PitchFx so that you're looking only at the velocity/break/whiffability of one pitch at a time, etc. If the effect of a full windup is tiny, your suggestion of always pitching from the stretch would be a strategic breakthrough.

May 03, 2013 10:24 AM on Time to Unwind
 
jdeich
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This is derived from the observation that in the year 3030, skunks are not compatible, like deer and cows and owls. So many rules and regulations say you're not allowed.

May 03, 2013 10:04 AM on Baseball Out of Context
 
jdeich
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My understanding was that in the year discussed, everyone want to be an MC.

May 03, 2013 6:27 AM on Baseball Out of Context
 
jdeich
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Going by the gifs, the catchers must be dreading Pablo's PAs. I wonder how many times he's pulled off the dreaded "WP on swinging strike".

 
jdeich
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You can edit "Paul Householder" and "high-five" into any paragraph from Doug Thorburn's "Raising Aces" and it's awesome. "Paul Householder’s timing and sequencing of the rotational elements of the delivery are the key to his torque (and thus velocity), and he takes advantage of strong early momentum to make the most of his closed stride. The righty maintains stable balance despite a slight drop-and-drive element to his delivery, and he finishes with above-average posture that flashes plus." "It is particularly rare to find a player with plus grades in every category, and though balance and posture have long been elements of Paul Householder's high-five, his newfound ability to maintain an ideal release point in conjunction with improved momentum and tremendous torque have elevated his high-five to the next level. Householder received an average repetition grade of 50 due to occasional variations in timing, but his plus marks in consistency reflect the fact that he brings the same delivery to the table in the majority of his high-fives. The Reds deserve credit for identifying a player with sound mechanics who would transition well into their system, as well as having the coaching skills to further enhance his high-five."

 
jdeich
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Why would a player need to demonstrate more than one baseball skill? Isn't Herb Washington the counterexample to this logic? He never hit, fielded, or pitched. He just ran fast, and he was allowed to be a member of the A's for two seasons.

 
jdeich
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This alleged "mullet" tool is really just a subset of the greater Hair Tool, where Oscar Gamble is an 80 and Matt Holliday is a 20. Oscar had plus-plus diameter with excellent command, and the hat-perch was easy at a big-league level. A very young Jason Parks said Oscar's toolsy mustache was "a two-plane secondary offering with late life." The rest of the facial hair was fringy, but if he could add/subtract and take advantage of his bigs-ready chin, it would have had star power.

 
jdeich
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Only one roster spot if you use him in road games. Top of the 1st, the little person leads off, nominally playing the same position as the player who will replace him right after the PA. Or in the NL, he pinch hits instead of a standard hitter in any situation where a walk has especially high value (i.e., all bases empty or runner on 1st). You were going to burn one bench spot anyway, so the cost of the little person is only one spot. With sufficient OBP, he'd be more valuable than Herb Washington, who really did waste two roster spots, and had negative WARP because he got caught stealing so often. I agree that the only reason this hasn't been tried again is public relations.

 
jdeich
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The images at the bottom are great. It might be interesting to contrast the styles of (successful) base runners like that, to look into how many feet of each steal is from the lead, the jump, and raw speed. There are some good numbers on pitchers' time to home plates, and catchers' 'pop' times. You could probably come up with the 'schedule' (in seconds) of how much time a runner has to steal on 10th/50th/90th percentile pitcher/catcher tandems, and what that implies in terms of lead/jump/run.

Apr 11, 2013 7:47 AM on Chris Young Goes Coco
 
jdeich
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I can't help wondering if Hack-tor just doesn't recognize pitches well out of the pitcher's hand (in general), and that leads to both his framing problems and his ridiculously poor batting eye. (2012: 5 BB in 227 PA, vs. 52 K.) Does good framing ability correlate with a good batting eye? Obviously the catcher has the advantage of knowing what pitch was called, but he still must react to the precise location and break of what is thrown. Josa Molina certainly isn't selective at the plate, but I'm wondering about a larger trend.

 
jdeich
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True. Only 8 more SB for Pujols to join the prestigious "100 Club". :)

 
jdeich
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Here's his list of B-ref comps through age 23: Alan Trammell, Mark Koenig, Granny Hamner, Cass Michaels, Edgar Renteria, Lou Bierbauer, Fred Carroll, Buddy Kerr, Ozzie Guillen, Roberto Alomar. It seems like his long-term risk is very high, given his limited MLB experience. What other players look like good comparisons to Andrus? Obviously, if he's Trammell or Alomar, $120M is still a good idea. But how do the Rangers know he's not one of the (more numerous) Buddy Kerrs?

Apr 02, 2013 9:51 AM on Elvis In the Club
 
jdeich
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It seems like the Nationals have a wealth of pitching prospects with nasty shoulder/arm injuries on their resume. Is this due to a willingness to take draft risks on guys with histories, or did the injuries tend to occur within the Nationals' system?

 
jdeich
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As long as other people think mid-30s "pretty good" free agents are worth $15+M/yr for long contracts, you gain a competitive advantage from doing nothing on that front. You beat the Yankees by letting them absorb the A-Rod, Teixeira, and Jeter contracts this year, along with the money they'll spend on the random DL stints that will happen on the wrong side of 35. (Hi, Travis Hafner!) There's a baseball cost to not being able to sign the Josh Hamiltons of the world. However, you may get more value from going the Tampa route and plowing that $125M/5yr into an amazing scouting/coaching/training system, flyers on reclamation projects and "what ifs", etc. Any MLB team would look better (in 2013) if an anonymous donor covered Boras's alleged $60M/4yr price tag and got them Lohse last week. He'd be very likely to add wins over the #5 starter that would be demoted. But in the absence of this mystery donor, everyone found other things to do with $15M/yr. There's always another place to spend money. If teams start saying no to outlandish contracts for various Lohses (Loshii?) the salary demands will come down towards their actual baseball value.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 22

Batters will also get drilled in the minors for stealing in a blowout. It's stupid and it hurts people, but it is done. Billy Hamilton still stole all of the things. Everyone in the ballpark knew he was going. He stole on pitchouts. They could have replaced his signs with the manager yelling "HEY, BILLY WHO IS ON FIRST, STEAL ON THIS NEXT PITCH" through a bullhorn, and Hamilton yelling back "OK. I HEARD YOU AND WILL BE STEALING, GOOD SIR. FULL STOP." He would steal bases on a boat. He would steal bases with a goat. Also, Michael Bourn has been worth +19 bWAR over the last 4 years. The Reds would be _thrilled_ with "no better than Michael Bourn", especially at Hamilton's salary.

 
jdeich
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As a thought experiment, imagine Joe Girardi brings Rivera in to pitch a scoreless first against the Angels. Then, a 'setup' guy pitches a scoreless second. Finally, Andy Pettitte comes in, gives up 3 ER over 7 IP, and the Yankees win 4-3. Here, everyone did the same job as in a 'traditional' 4-3 victory (*), but you're assigning less value to Rivera because his inning came first. Suddenly, Pettitte has a much higher 'leverage' despite throwing the same pitches and getting the same results. That's the disconnect. Further, ask yourself if Rivera is more or less important than the 'setup' guy in this hypothetical game. Now, there are real differences in pitching the 9th. The offense can alter their strategy to 'play to the score'. The offense can deploy pinch-hitters and pinch-runners aggressively. They can make substitutions with minimal concern for the resulting defensive implications. But I don't think this adds up to "twice as important" when the runs are added up at the end of the game. (*): Actually, Rivera would have been forced to pitch to the top of the lineup, so he'd have a harder-than-average task. In a close game, this is an argument for having Rivera pitch the 8th if the #1 or #2 hitter is leading off, and letting the 'setup' guy handle the 9th against weaker hitters. Nobody does this, but it would help.

Mar 22, 2013 10:44 AM on Ranking Rivera
 
jdeich
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There's a philosophical argument about how much extra value is Rivera's there. For example, if the starter had prevented a run in the 1st (middle-to-low leverage) it would have had the same impact on the score as Rivera preventing one in the 9th. It also gives the player credit/blame for something beyond his control. If the Yankees adopted a bizarre bullpen setup where Mariano Rivera always pitched the 6th inning if the game was close, he still would have to get 3 outs. Presumably, he would strike guys out, induce weak contact and keep his low BABIP, and suppress HR rates. How much "less great" would he be only because of his manager's odd decisions?

Mar 22, 2013 8:29 AM on Ranking Rivera
 
jdeich
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Mike D deserves a mention. I listened to an audio documentary on the subject, and my understanding is that he and Mr. Carew had a similar number of hits.

Mar 22, 2013 7:39 AM on Best Hit/Power
 
jdeich
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Why are there not legions of cutter-exclusive copycat relievers? Is it the injury risk, or is there something about Rivera that can't be replicated? The only (lesser) comp I can think of is Joakim Soria.

Mar 22, 2013 7:31 AM on Ranking Rivera
 
jdeich
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I think public nudity is frowned upon in Cincinnati. He might have options on the road vs. the Giants, however.

 
jdeich
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In addition to stealing a kajillion bases, he posted a .410 OBP in A+/AA last season. The various projection systems are all over the place on Hamilton (understandably), but if he can put up a .360 or so OBP, tear up the basepaths, and play acceptable CF, that's a 2-3 win guy who is 22 years old. Brett Gardner has no power, and was worth +10.7 bWAR in his two full seasons with the Yankees. His minor-league SB% and his major-league SB% are identical. It's not clear why you think Billy Hamilton will get thrown out "a lot more" in the majors. Yes, the pitchers have better moves and the catchers have better arms. But Hamilton is 22 years old, and he's been stealing bases despite poor jumps and technique. That's all teachable, and he's likely to gain a step with experience.

 
jdeich
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Kila hit 19. He just did most of it in AAA. It's an average outcome. PECOTA gives a range of forecasts for exactly this reason. He didn't play well enough to stick in the majors, but he did hit for moderate power as projected.

 
jdeich
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I have used "Not out" percentage to describe OBP to casual fans with success. It's more accessible than batting average, because there's less denominator weirdness with walks, etc. With a few exceptions, it's the chance that the batter won't cause an out to happen. (This also makes fielder's choices more intuitive.) Maybe the acronym isn't needed if you're trying to appeal broadly. Also, percentages are more accessible than decimals. If broadcasts listed a hitter as "2012: Not out: 38.3%. League average: 34.2%", anyone with even a basic understanding of the rules can guess what it means. It might be a compromise between making analytical people happy (a useful stat is on the screen) and bringing in new fans. Fair or not, filling up broadcast space with decimal places doesn't scream "Welcome, new person." I'd make a similar argument for supplementing or replacing ERA with "Runs per 9 Innings". Explaining earned vs. unearned runs is complicated, and there's good evidence that pitchers have plenty of responsibility for unearned runs. (And conversely, we don't penalize the pitcher when a run is prevented by an amazing defensive play.)

 
jdeich
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Right now, only 16% of US households don't have cable, and I'm guessing the proportion is lower among baseball fans. Additionally, some of those 16% are a growing sector that don't have cable because they get programming through the internet. Rather than moving backwards and broadcasting through the air, they would be smart to allocate those dollars towards expanding their Internet content.

 
jdeich
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I suspect Tim Wakefield remains available at the right fee. However, if we're exploring Kenny's hypothesis that someone may "open up an academy and start churning out these guys", we would have to assume that a team could find at least one AAA-caliber proxy for BP purposes.

 
jdeich
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Idea #1: If Rob Deer is still alive at the time of your passing, they get mailed to him.

 
jdeich
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The knuckleball question might be addressable by looking at how batters perform against knuckleballs (relative to their own baseline) as a function of how often they see them. My pet hypothesis is that the knuckleball's value stems from its novelty. If there were ever 10 or 15 knuckleball starters in a league, hitters would take BP against it. Right now, there's little to no incentive to take BP against the knuckleball. Let's charitably say Dickey makes 35 starts, and goes 7 IP per start. That's 245 IP, enough to lead the league these days. The average AL team pitched 1449 innings in 2012, so Dickey's covering ~16.9% of the Jays' innings. You play even a division rival 19/162 (~11.7%) of the time. So even if Dickey is healthy and successful enough for 245 IP, you'd expect to face him for 1.98% of your PA. Maybe 12 times for an AL East starter. It drops to ~4 PA if you're in another division. How much BP are you going to take against a pitch you'll only see for 12 PA out of 600 under the worst of circumstances?

 
jdeich
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Fantastic and apt headline.

 
jdeich
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Do MLB teams employ video for this? With sufficient resolution, they could probably clock throws during drills, and measure where they arrive. I'm not sure how easy it would be to use a radar gun even during batting practice, as the origin of the throw will move around a good bit. But a drill where a shortstop stands on an 'X' while a machine chucks enough ground balls to either side randomly could produce consistent results. Failing that, maybe there's a niche market for a baseball with embedded accelerometers.

Mar 11, 2013 11:25 AM on Arm Strength
 
jdeich
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Jimmers is also only 50 strikeouts away from the all-time strikeout record. I'd view that as an achievement. Only 53 men have been allowed to rack up 1500 strikeouts and still be sent out for another game. 14 are in the Hall of Fame, and another ~6-10 so have the on-field resume to get in. Plus, it's Jim Thome. If he did it, he'd probably smile and laugh while they handed him a Golden Sombrero and Taters trophy. Heck, you could award that trophy to the strikeout leader each year going forward, and Thome would probably show up and bearhug the recipient every year. I hope he's got another year in the tank. Just a fun player to have in the game.

 
jdeich
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This should be a recurring event that rotates among MLB's teams. We've agreed to multiple Olympic tournaments (including the 2000 Games, with a US/Cuba final) and the WBC, and no one's head exploded.

 
jdeich
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It also means a farewell to "Prospect who is blocked by _____." The Nationals are trying to make Anthony Rendon into a 3B/2B type for this reason. This is part of why the Yankees look like they're in trouble this year. Not only are they thin on depth, they have a plurality of starters who are old enough to require frequent rest. They may be paying ~$200M and still getting a healthy dose of Eduardo Nunez, Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, etc.

 
jdeich
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1) It would be worth controlling for ground-rule doubles, where the runner can't score from first. B-Ref didn't seem to track these separately, though, and they're pretty scarce. But if you had the data, you'd discard these. 2) Also, Fielder may have hit more "no doubt" doubles than Torii Hunter. Here, I'm thinking of hits where the only question was whether a faster runner could have made a triple out of it. These would make scoring from first easy, relative to short gappers or flares down the line where the batter has to hustle to beat the throw to second. 3) For the first-to-third-on-a-single issues, the typical lineup behind Trout was: Hunter (R), Pujols (R), and Morales (S). Behind Cabrera, it was most often Fielder (L), Young (R), and Boesch (L)/Avila (L). It's possible that Trout saw a lot more singles to LF than Cabrera did while on base, which implies the gap is a little wider than it looks at first glance.

 
jdeich
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Honkbal is subtly different from Honkbag, as a quick Google will reveal. Both involve batting skills, however.

 
jdeich
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I'm not aware of a way to quickly tabulate this, but it would be a good check of PECOTA to compare the WARP projected in the pre-season for 2012 to the WARP assigned to players in 2012. The number of wins available each year is constant, and a well-normalized system should roughly obey this.

 
jdeich
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I could see the opposite being a problem for the next couple years. First base coach signals hold, Harper sprints through the sign, pulls sunglasses out of his back pocket, dons them while sliding into second, all while yelling "I got this." I think he's also a higher injury risk than the average 20 year old in peak physical condition, because man does he like diving and sliding. And eyeblack. But mostly diving and sliding.

 
jdeich
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Update: Ben from Lost has been upgraded to Harold from Person of Interest. Somewhere nearby will be a better-dressed but more growly Batman.

 
jdeich
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Conversely, the Mariners' run totals behind Felix: 699, 756, 794, 671, 640, 513, 556, 619. Some of that is Safeco Field-- the run suppression helps Felix, but it also keeps games close, increasing the chance of a bullpen decision. But a lot was offenses like 2010, where the second-most valuable offensive player (Gutierrez) hit .245/.303/.363, one of three regulars with OBPs over the SABR-Mendoza line of .300. Felix is signed through 2019 (plus 2020 option), and I'm not sure moving the fences and signing 12 DHs will fix this obstacle to 300.

Feb 28, 2013 7:58 AM on Count to 300
 
jdeich
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3) He very likely pitches for the Yankees through 2017, who last had a losing season in 1995 and have failed to score 800 runs once (789) in that time span. Five more years where he's likely to have good run support and competent bullpen help (to avoid getting no-decisions when they surrender leads) has to be worth 10 or 15 wins of expected value.

Feb 28, 2013 6:30 AM on Count to 300
 
jdeich
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I also got curious. Apparently, whatever PEDs that pitcher may have taken didn't help him find the plate. His friend wasn't accused of using while he was in the minors-- his alleged involvement was during his MLB service. This could explain the author's surprise when his friend's name surfaced in the Mitchell Report. Again, if the allegations were true, his friend was in a rough spot. He made it to the majors "late", and was a fringe guy on a team that wasn't going far. He must have had sleepless nights where he knew he was unlikely to get a second chance as a professional baseball player. Some people would take those risks with their health in order to get a (real or perceived) edge. Maybe he convinced himself it would be "just for a little while, until I settle in" or "just until I sign that first big contract" or "just this stuff, not the really bad stuff". To me, that's a different story than more famous cases, where it looks like a sure-fire Hall of Famer started using because he felt overshadowed by a couple of other top players. You'd like to say "Put your health first, and money/fame second.", but you can check your local police blotter and find out that a lot of people break the law for a lot less payoff.

 
jdeich
(50647)
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Fantastic article. It made it easy to see both the temptations and the risks. You were making your decisions when your career track was right on the border of being an MLB regular, and you probably have a lot of "what ifs" in both directions. Thank you for sharing.

 
jdeich
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Thank you for the follow-up article. The approach covered a lot of concerns I mentioned in my comment on the previous one. Of the variables you investigated, I didn't see age. It's a reasonable hypothesis that younger players would feel the effects of "chemistry" more than seasoned veterans. This is both because of the sociology (younger players value social interaction with teammates more highly) and because they have lower knowledge/experience (veteran players know what things are important to performance and what can be ignored). Let's say a team has post-game outings. Younger guys might care a lot about who is invited, who talks to who when they're out, etc. "Chemistry" might matter a lot to those guys. Older players might skip it to spend time with their families and get enough sleep, which might immunize them against potential positive and negative impacts. Is this easy to tease out from the general trend of "younger players are improving, older players are declining", in terms of performance?

Feb 26, 2013 7:40 AM on Can't Buy Me Chemistry?
 
jdeich
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Of the "3000 hit threats" listed (neglecting A-Rod and Pujols, who could retire tomorrow and have the on-field resume for the HOF), Jimmy Rollins would least devalue the milestone. Player, age of last completed season, hit total, bWAR, fWAR: Damon, 38, 2769, +52.1, +45.9 Pierre, 34, 2141, +15.3, +28.1 Rollins, 33, 2024, +40.1, +48.8 Young, 35, 2230, +22.1, +29.0 Rollins is already almost the best guy on the list, and in any scenario where he reaches 3,000 career hits, he's going to add about 6 productive (~2+ WAR) full seasons plus maybe a 'farewell tour' as a part-timer. He could slide over to be a good 3B at some point, whereas the other guys are generally defensive liabilities at weaker positions. Unlike Pierre/Young/Damon, Rollins has useful secondary skills to keep him off the bench through periods of BABIP misfortune. He could probably stay a ~15 HR threat, and add ~20-25 steals while keeping up his high success rate. Throw in that his SS defense is still above-average. He'll never lead the league in batting average or walks, but he's not horrible there. He has a lot of the miscellaneous boxes checked (WS ring, MVP trophy, strong 'peak' period, 3x All-Star (*), 4x GG, well-liked player who has avoided controversy) that the voters like to see. If he gets to 3,000, he's a HOF lock, especially if he spends his whole career in a Phillies uniform. Voters sure love them some single-team guys. (*): Strangely, he was passed over in his 2007 MVP season for Jose Reyes (understandable) and JJ Hardy (???) despite being healthy enough to play 162 games that year.

 
jdeich
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Rougned Odor also has a 7 'name' tool.

 
jdeich
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Kirk Gibson was named to two All-Star teams (1985 and 1988), but declined the invitation. Can't blame the voters for that one.

 
jdeich
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(However, I will point to the landmark case of Det. Roger Murtaugh vs. This #$&!, with respect to one's willingness to endure clubhouse drama.)

 
jdeich
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It could be misleading. It's probable that seasoned, adult professionals would have very different outcomes from their less experienced colleagues. I'd predict that "team chemistry" declines in importance as age and salary rise, but I admit to that being little more than a hunch.

 
jdeich
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One related question might be: How much value does roster consistency have? One would think that being a Marlin in 2013 would be bad for morale-- guys are going in and out the door every week. Is it helpful to get more than X% of your innings or roster spaces from the same guys as you did the year before? (This issue also has a causality arrow problem. Let's say low roster turnover correlates to better results. It is because teammates 'gel' and the higher morale leads to better performance? Or is it because successful teams don't have as much impetus to make changes, and players are happy to stay with a winner?) Chemistry would be part of this-- if a guy hates being on a team, he's more likely to seek/accept a trade, or sign elsewhere when he can. This would only hint at chemistry, but at least it's comparatively straightforward to measure.

 
jdeich
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You might also try body-mass index (BMI) as a proxy for fatness. It's not a perfect measurement by any means, especially with respect to heavily-muscled people, but it separates your Prince Fielders (BMI 38.4, and only if you believe his listed weight of 275) from your Jon Rauches (290 lb, but BMI = 29.6). Unless of course, some equipment manager can slip you a table of uniform sizing data.

 
jdeich
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The only way the Pirates get competitive with their budget/philosophy is to luck out on a few lottery tickets. From 2008-2010, Sanchez added ~5.5 WAR in aggregate. Then the wheels came off, caught fire, exploded, and destroyed several nearby vehicles. He's now 30 years old. It's not that unlikely that 2012 was his "Adam Dunn 2011" year, and he can snap back to a major-league average pitcher at a steep discount. Failing that, the bullpen might be a choice. He's a lefty (with a normal platoon split) who strikes guys out when he finds the plate. The lower workload might also give his tendonitis a break.

Feb 07, 2013 9:26 AM on Yippee Callaspo
 
jdeich
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"His record, 12 wins and 11 losses for 2010, 15–9 for 2011, and 16-7 for 2010, shows consistent improvement." Somewhere, Phil Hughes is wearing out his phone trying to book this panel. "Did you know I once won 18 games? Felix Hernandez only averages 14 wins per year, and Matt Cain only averages 12! Some silly people gave them each $20M per year! Ho, ho. P.S. I'll take only $18M, for realsies."

 
jdeich
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Will Owings be healthy enough to pitch at all? Even if his true talent is around what he showed in his worst seasons (ERA of 5-6, ERA+ of ~75), he could have some value to a team as a mop-up reliever, if his bat otherwise earned him a bench spot. His career batting splits are too small of a sample size to draw any real conclusions, but it's worth noting that he has a .914 OPS vs. RHP and a .549 OPS vs. LHP. He clearly doesn't look like a starter unless practicing improves his approach, but it will be interesting to see if he can cobble together a role like "pinch hits, some platoon work at 1B, pitches in blowouts to keep the real bullpen fresh". His cumulative value might hold up even in the NL, where bench space is at a premium.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

The panel's explanation for their decision is bizarre, given that there is $1.25M in play between the two offers. 1) Choo's status as "a national hero in South Korea" is cited, despite appearing in neither side's case. One would think the club might object to the panel bringing in their own topics. 2) Choo's 2012 OBP of .376 is described merely as "respectable", despite the fact that it's a crucial metric, and he was 10th in the AL. 3) The panel states that "Cincinnati’s stadium is a smaller park in which he could hit over 20 home runs with more RBIs." Why would this alter his salary? It's just a consequence of his ballpark's dimensions and meteorology. It doesn't make Choo more valuable, as his home runs diminish in significance in a higher-scoring environment. 4) The panel also notes "I am most impressed that his new team is to play him in center field, the position I consider probably the most important, defensively speaking." Really? More valuable than catcher, shortstop, and second base? It still boggles me that MLB and players' agents allow millions of dollars to be at stake in front of arbitrators who freely admit (in the first article in this series) to having little understanding of baseball. If the arbitrator had said something completely ridiculous like "Choo is moving to CF, which I consider unimportant, since they rarely have to perform the crucial task of tagging out runners.", could the player's side contest the validity of the hearing?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

I agree, although I am surprised that some boutique firm has not sprung up to meet this need. Take the Chase Headley example. In order to write the "Player" side, you must address park factors. Both sides would want to discuss his defensive ability, and the value of playing a position of at least middling difficulty. Someone brought up that the Padres stink, as if Headley has much of a say in that. Etc. None of these are well-understood by the non-fan. I tried to imagine Chase Headley being in the room during the discussion presented, and can't imagine him coming out of there without being angry. He literally has millions of dollars on the line, and he's at the mercy of three people who might think "Well, if this guy had the heart of a winner his team would successful, right?" Sports are also unusual in that a lot of people have strong opinions based on ... nothing much. If the topic was Chase Headley, Accountant, you'd probably be more likely to listen to documented, certified measures to assess his job performance. But because he's Chase Headley, Baseball Player, someone could get away with saying "He never hit .300!" and impact his salary.

Feb 04, 2013 12:39 PM on The Insider's Intro
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Well, this sounds legal.

Feb 04, 2013 6:01 AM on Clemens' 20 K's
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Why do both sides concede to a format where the decision makers "usually have little baseball experience or background"? With millions of dollars on the line, one would think that both sides would want to avoid the "crapshoot" uncertainty introduced by novices. America has a large number of legal experts in every subfield, and a large number of devoted baseball fans. Why not pull from the intersection of those two groups?

Feb 04, 2013 5:57 AM on The Insider's Intro
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Sam brings it with 900 Newtons, crush you like croutons.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: -1

Of these two things: A) One person is allowed to hijack an article's comments with 60+ repetitive replies. B) That person is mocked publicly by BP staff. BP should be asking which of these two things is the bigger problem. (Most) brick-and-mortar stores do not follow "The customer is always right!" when one customer is yelling and making unreasonable demands, even if it is a paying customer. I don't know why businesses whose product is "articles and discussion" would not follow that precedent.

Jan 11, 2013 12:39 PM on Casting Our Ballots
 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 0

Can't the Nationals quietly shop both Morse and LaRoche and see what each would bring back? Or does LaRoche have trade protections? Over the length of their contracts, the difference between the two players doesn't seem all that large.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: -1

Are you arguing that Gaylord Perry's doctoring of baseballs was not a "carefully planned, pre-meditated and ongoing process of cheating to give [Perry] an advantage on the field"? What about Cobb deliberately trying to injure other players, in an era where a torn ligament probably ended a career?

Jan 09, 2013 7:17 AM on Casting Our Ballots
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

Why is 'use of drugs' unique among bad behaviors? Should Ty Cobb have been excluded? Was Babe Ruth a good role model for children? Was Gaylord Perry? Miguel Cabrera has had issues with domestic violence, drunk driving, threatening people at a diner with a gun, confrontations with police, etc. He's been arrested multiple times, and if he wasn't Miguel Cabrera he'd probably be in jail. Should he be excluded from future consideration? He's not exactly a good role model for children. Where do you draw the line?

Jan 09, 2013 6:46 AM on Casting Our Ballots
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Dennis Martinez also absolutely kills Jack Morris in Nickname over Replacement Player.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

It conveniently sidesteps the longer/better pitching career of Frank Tanana, who doesn't technically count because he spent part of his age-39 season with the Mets before retiring. (Surprisingly, Tanana hit a respectable .155/.183/.207 as a 39-year-old with 1 career PA before that.)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 6

It's not especially close in some of those cases. pWAR according to bRef: Bret Saberhagen: 56.0 Dave Stieb: 53.5 Chuck Finley: 54.3 Kevin Appier: 51.9 David Cone: 58.2 Kevin Brown: 64.5 Rick Rueschel: 64.6 (lots of other contemporaries) ... ... ... Jack Morris: 39.3 A head-to-head comparison that makes this simpler: Frank Tanana. Pitched 1973-1993, virtually never out of the bullpen, all but part of 1993 in the AL. 4188 IP. ERA of 3.66, ERA+ of 106. 2773 K, 1255 BB, 1.27 WHIP. 52.6 WAR for pitching, +0.5 for defense. Jack Morris. Pitched 1977-1994, virtually never out of the bullpen, all in the AL. 3824 IP. ERA of 3.90, ERA+ of 105. 2478 K, 1390 BB, 1.30 WHIP. 39.3 WAR, +0.4 for defense. Nearly identical eras, especially if you subtract 1973 when Tanana pitched 26 IP. And Frank Tanana outperformed Jack Morris in every way that matters. Morris was 254-186, compared to Tanana's 240-236. This is because over their careers, Morris got 4.9 runs/game of support, and Tanana got 4.4 runs/game of support. Possible outcomes: 1) Frank Tanana is a Hall of Famer. Jack Morris isn't. 2) Both Morris and Tanana are Hall of Famers. 3) Neither Morris nor Tanana are Hall of Famers. #1 and #2 have been decided in the negative by the BBWAA, as Frank Tanana got precisely 0 votes when he came up in 1999. This leaves Outcome #3.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

JAWS ranks the all-time greatest 1B as: Gehrig, Foxx, Pujols, Cap Anson, Roger Connor, and then Bagwell at #6. He hit for average and power, took his walks, ran the bases well, and played acceptable defense. Stir in his longevity (10th all-time in games at 1B), and that he played his whole career with one team. He's only on the outside looking in for now because of rumors, not evidence or even a direct accusation, concerning PED usage. It's shameful.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

In Piazza's record 1996 (155 SB allowed), he caught nearly all of the Dodgers' games (1255 of 1466 IP). 10 different pitchers threw at least 50 IP, and it's unlikely that they all had terrible moves. They had one definite advantage (fewer than average baserunners allowed) and one definite disadvantage (all 5 SPs were right-handed), but it's hard to overlook the common element of Piazza, especially when it persisted over his entire career, and followed him when he was traded in 1998. The 12 seasons Piazza played 100 G at catcher, and his rank in the NL for SB allowed: 1993 NL 108 (1st) 1994 NL 76 (1st) 1995 NL 88 (1st) 1996 NL 155 (1st) 1997 NL 112 (3rd) 1998 NL 115 (1st) 1999 NL 115 (1st) 2000 NL 110 (1st) 2001 NL 114 (1st) 2002 NL 125 (1st) 2005 NL 82 (2nd) 2006 NL 97 (1st) This doesn't point at 12 different pitching staffs.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

I understand that fancy stats like framing were a long way off, but I'm surprised that contemporary news sources weren't noticing that Piazza was routinely setting modern-day records for stolen bases allowed. If you look at seasons where catchers allowed 100 stolen bases, it's very era-dependent: 1) From the origins of the game until 1918, it's routine (302 times). Deadball era plus flimsy mitts equals constant stealing. 2) From 1919-1975, not one catcher allows 100 SB in a season. 3) Since then, there were 87 catcher-seasons where it happens. Piazza owns the worst (155 SB, 1996), and has the most (8) of these seasons, despite playing in the heart of the steroid era where scoring was at historically high levels, and steals should have been valued low. To be fair, most of the names on that list of 87 were valuable players (Biggio x3, Carter x6, Simmons x2, etc.), because you don't get to give up 100 SB in a season and still be penciled into the lineup unless you have a lot of other appeal. But it's weird that the beat writers didn't notice that everyone was lining up to steal on Piazza.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 13

I interpreted the omission of McGwire as a PED vote, especially in light of: "Edgar Martinez: I’ll say it again: designated hitters are people, too, and he was the best one ever with a .312/.418/.515 triple-slash line that was as pretty as his swing." [8,674 PA, 147 OPS+] "Larry Walker: The critics can say he was a Coors Field creation and too fragile, but I’ll say he had a 141 OPS+ with a triple-slash line of .313/.400/.565 in 8,030 plate appearances" McGwire was as fragile as Walker, but hit .263/.394/.588 (163 OPS+) over 7,660 plate appearances. Walker was a good defensive RF and solid baserunner until the injuries took their toll, but 22 points of OPS+ is nothing to sneeze at. By fWAR, it's very close (McGwire 70.6, Walker 73.2, Edgar 69.9). Palmiero wasn't the hitter than any of the above were (.288/.371/.515, 132 OPS+), and he's at least as tainted as McGwire.

Jan 03, 2013 6:10 AM on The Hall of Fame Ballot
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 8

The source material is so rich that you can't address it in one article. There wasn't even a mention of "Angels fan growing up" as a Scouting Report, or "Reverse last night (loss)" as a Key to the Game.

Dec 28, 2012 7:26 AM on How to Pitch
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

My reaction was also that the article's tone was borderline. I'm equally confused as to why polite but critical comments like Hoot's are being 'voted down'. There are other less polite comments in this thread that may deserve that, but there should be room on BP for polite disagreement. The first thing I thought of when I heard of Ryan Freel's suicide was that he had a series of severe concussions that played a large role in his retirement. He had trouble reading, he had bad headaches, he had mood swings that weren't previously common for him, etc. All the warning signs were there. There is a medically significant link between repeated head injuries and depression, among other mental health conditions. That doesn't exclude other factors (like Freel's drinking, or issues we aren't aware of), but the possibility of causation should be worth more than a passing mention. Too many announcers and fans still have a "Walk it off!" attitude towards head injuries, and there should be a serious conversation about certain rules (catchers blocking the plate, etc.) that make them more common.

Dec 26, 2012 3:06 PM on Remembering Ryan Freel
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 6

Honorable mention to "WHOOOOOOOP!" for a narrowly missed tackle, if we may include non-baseball annoying terms.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 12

Somewhere in Central America, people are watching MLB during their summer off-season, then posting on Spanish-language web sites: "Even if you don't understand English, this 'Kevin Millar' burro is very irritating."

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 9

I propose replacing "Intentional Talk" with a 3-hour show where Kevin Millar is placed in a suit covered in layers of squeaky toys, and contestants are allotted time to whomp on him with wifflebats. The winner of the competition is given five extra minutes with the bat. The audio of this show will be preferable to "Intentional Talk" so long as Millar is muzzled. This show would leverage the popularity of Honkbag (http://www.honkbag.com).

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 10

Comparing the three big base stealers (accounting for more than 2/3 of the team SB) for the 2010 Rickeytastic A's for their previous, Rickeyless seasons: Cliff Pennington: 7:5 in 2009, 29:5 in 2010. Drastic uptick. Rajai Davis: 41:12 in 2009, 50:11 in 2010. Uptick. Coco Crisp: 32:3 in 2010 (75 G). 13:2 in 49 G in 2009, and 20:7 in 118 G in 2008. Uptick. Oakland was very efficient in 2012 as well, with their 79% success rate trailing only PHI (83%), LAA (80%) and MIL (80%). Like Davey Lopes, Rickey showed he could still steal bases long after his legs had aged. (Lopes stole 47 at age 40, in only 99 G.) That process of learning to rely less on blazing speed and more on careful observation and deception should make for a great coach. Not even Rickey could teach a young player to run like Rickey, but if he can pass on even a fraction of his mental game, he's well worth whatever they're paying him. Maybe the Reds will hire Rickey, and see what he can turn Billy Hamilton into. I expect catchers will just receive the pitch and sob into their mitt.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

He's also 372 professional hits away from Pete Rose's total. Most American fans would not "count" his 1,278 NPB hits any more than they consider Sadaharu Oh the home run king. However, the Yankees could still try to market it as an event, particularly in Asia. Ichiro's marketing appeal is not a negligible benefit on a $13.5/2yr contract. Ichiro still draws fans to the ballpark. His was the 3rd most popular MLB jersey in 2012, despite toiling most of the season in Seattle with mediocre performance. I don't pretend to know the exact numbers, but it's probable that the Yankees view this as ~$7M for baseball services and ~$7M for advertising. Extremely popular players like Jeter and Ichiro tend to "break" the $5M per added win assumption.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Let's assume for a moment that environmental conditions affect the knuckleball significantly. Is it legal for the Jays to adjust the Skydome's roof and/or HVAC differently on a day Dickey will pitch? They obviously couldn't make it 50 degrees with saturating humidity if they still want fans to attend, but subtle changes are in the realm of possibility. Staff from the Metrodome have admitted tinkering with the HVAC during a game to try to discourage visitor home runs (http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/story?id=1585964), but there's a bright "cheating" line there to me because they provided different conditions for each team. But can the Jays just say "I know it's 75 and sunny out, but we're going to keep the roof closed and the A/C on today for both teams."?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

If Rolen retires, doesn't he have a similar HOF case to Brooks Robinson? Rolen: 2038 G, .281/.364/.490, 122 OPS+, +66.6 bWAR, +75.0 fWAR. Brooks: 2896 G, .267/.322/.401, 104 OPS+, +72.7 bWAR, +94.6 fWAR. Brooks had much more longevity and got more value from his glove, but the total package is pretty similar on the B-ref numbers. Fangraphs has an even more glowing assessment of his defense which creates a gap between them; however, it's not clear that "Not as awesome a defender as Brooks" should disqualify anyone. I don't think Rolen will get in, but that's a different discussion from whether he should.

Dec 13, 2012 12:48 PM on Thursday, December 13
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

As a minor enhancement, you should look at each pitcher vs. their team's win% only in games that the pitcher did not start. As is, you're double-counting, which reduces the size of the effect you're looking for. (I propose calling this "the 1972 Steve Carlton effect".) For example, Kris Medlen is more of an outlier than you have him. Atlanta was only a 82-68 (.547) team on days when Medlen didn't start.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 13

I think you're assigning your opinion of Brian Wilson's personality to too many fans. This article has a disappointing undertone of "Everybody agrees that..." I personally would prefer to watch a league populated by Wilsons over a league full of players who mumble through agent-approved answers like "God willing, I just hope I can help my team win some ball games." in response to nearly any question. Judging by the feedback at the McCovey Chronicles, a good number of Giants fans will miss him. My impression of Wilson is that he finds baseball compelling, but the associated lifestyle absurd. Therefore, he mocks the "seriousness" of being paid millions of dollars per year to play a game. From his interviews, he struck me as a very bright guy. It's possible that the routine of answering "You got another save tonight. How did that feel?" just bores him, so he makes a game out of it. At the end of the day, if I had to pick out professional baseball players to dislike, there is an unfortunately long list of players who have had encounters with law enforcement for drunk driving, spousal abuse, pulling a gun on people at a restaurant... and that's just the reigning AL MVP. Bizarre Taco Bell ads are way down that list.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

I hereby nickname him: 'El Super Mercado'. (For readers who do not speak Spanish, that translates to "The Super Mercado".)

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Has anyone documented the Jeter gift basket phenomenon? Were they top-of-the-line, or random stuff from the nearest store? Were they customized to the recipients? Did he send them personally, or did he employ an Assistant of Basketry? So many important questions.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

Fun statistical note on Deacon White being a barehanded catcher: In 1871, he played 29 games at catcher, and B-Ref has him at 109 passed balls and 34 errors. Insert Mike Piazza Hall of Fame joke here.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

It's similar to my favorite argument against "clutch": If a player had the ability to will himself to play better in big situations, shouldn't he be willing himself to play better every day? Upton is a healthy (144+ G every full MLB season so far) 28-year-old who should be at his physical peak. Describing him as an "upside" guy means there's something in his mental/psychological makeup (coaching, brains, attitude) that is deficient but fixable. This just raises the question: If it's fixable, why didn't anyone fix it previously? One hypothesis is that moving him out of Tampa into a new environment would spur the 'fix', but in general Tampa has an excellent reputation for player development. Atlanta has had mixed results of late developing young hitters.

Nov 29, 2012 10:34 AM on Upton Goes to A-Town
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

"In the early part of his career as a Red Sox, [Manny Ramirez] became symbiotic of what was wrong with the Dan Duquette administration." That's kind of an awesome typo.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

It still baffles me that Bryce Harper probably makes the list of most-booed players. (Someone needs to invent BooFx.) I'm not sure what he'd have to do to be a more fun player to watch, and all the rumors of jerkishness haven't added up to any big controversies. The closest he's come is the "clown question" incident, which I'd defend as an appropriate response to an objectively stupid question, especially given Harper's religious beliefs. That said, I'd bet if you looked at the individual videos of the events that make up his +5.4 BRR, you'd see an uncharacteristic number of plays that were either large positives (snatching an extra base when he had no business doing so, like the GIF above) or large negatives (TOOTBLANs). It would be interesting to sit down with the Nationals 1B/3B coaches and hear what they think of Harper's style of play.

Nov 28, 2012 7:56 AM on The Year in Hustle
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

4) 60% of the time, he gives 110% every time.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 5

The underlying question is whether "least valuable" is a rate stat or a counting stat. I tend to think of it as "Reverse JAWS" where you need both Peak Terribleness as well as Consistent Horrawfulness over the full season. Figgins has the PT (slugging .271 counts), but his low CH (only 194 PA) thwarts his quest for LVP. It's not fair to reward Figgins for a relative handful of screw-ups. The Michael Youngs and Casey Kotchmans are out there, day after day, night after night, churning the stomachs of their team's fans, kicking baseballs, watching called strikes, ignoring boos, keeping more talented players firmly screwed to the bench, and bringing the sanity of their managers into question. That's the soul of Least Valuable, and if you don't agree, you hate freedom and puppies.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 3

In 1984, Cal Ripken finished 27th in the MVP voting (one 10th-place vote), after hitting .304/.374/.510 with 27 HR while playing excellent defensive SS, playing all 162 G, and putting up 9.8 bWAR.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 0

Also worth noting: The Rangers hit him #5 or #6 for 123 G of 2012, and doubled down and batted him #2 (11 G), #3 (14 G) or cleanup (6 G), including a 5-game run at #3 in September. Young squandered his own chances, but further sabotaged Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, David Murphy, and Mitch Moreland, all of whom hit lower in the order. Plus, he frequently hit behind Hamilton and Beltre, forcing them to cry into the infield dirt at the sites of their stranding. It takes a special kind of bad player to grit/clutch/intangible a way to ruin the heart of the highest-scoring lineup in MLB. By comparison, Kotchman hit #8 most often, taking PA from various Lou Marsons in the AL's worst non-Seattle offense.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 14

I will nominate Michael Young. His qualifications overwhelm any of your choices: 1) Hitting .277/.312/.370 over 156 G and 651 PA. While many of your choices provide low quality, they lack Young's high quantity. 2) Playing either no defense (82 G at DH) or bad defense (at 1B/3B) in a common way to earn a LVP. But Young took it to the next level by playing inexplicably bad defense at two key positions he no longer has any business playing: 2B/SS. 3) Anyone can be horrible in Cleveland. Who would notice? But Michael Young was out there, day after day, being horrible on a 93-67 team that collapsed at the end of the season to lose their division by one game. If Texas had played virtually anyone else at DH, they would have won their division. That's true low value. 4) He takes his franchise sabotage off the field as well, by commanding $16M in 2012, $16M in 2013, and having the veteran-y rights of being able to block trades. One-dimensional badness like Loney's just doesn't measure up.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

PS: One outcome would be figuring out if coaches are paid fairly. If Davey Lopes creates +2 wins worth of baserunning, he should be being paid like a +2 win player, or else another team (Hi, Pittsburgh!) should make him that offer.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 6

I agree with CJ's point that the historical problem is that coaching has been difficult to quantify, and therefore people chose to focus on the problems they can analyze. That said, some people mistake "The effect is unknown." for "The effect is negligible." Measuring the quality of a coaching staff (in aggregate) might be feasible now. One could assess a team of players relative to preseason projections such as PECOTA. Excellent coaching should produce a signal-- e.g., statistically improbable numbers of players excel at a particular aspect of the game. To give an example, Davey Lopes is often cited as a model first base coach. Before he came to the Phillies in 2007, the team had 92:25 SB:CS. In 2007, they improved to 138:19. A good chunk of this improvement came from transforming how Shane Victorino played (4:3 SB:CS in 153 G in 2006, 37:4 in 131 G in 2007), but they also got significant contributions from unlikely sources (Carlos Ruiz stealing 6:0). The pattern persisted (136:25 in 2008, 119:28 in 2009, 108:21 in 2010) while Lopes was there, even as the Phillies got older as a team. Lopes then went to the Dodgers, who went from 92:50 (2010) to 126:40 (2011) and 104:44 (2012, despite Matt Kemp's injuries). This isn't an exhaustive study, as it neglects the age and quality of the personnel, but it's suggestive of deeper exploration. One would imagine that hitting and pitching coaches could be evaluated in similar fashion. If a new hitting coach arrives and multiple players tick upwards in their BB%, contact%, etc., that may be causative. PitchFx could look at a pitching coach change's impact on inputs (velocity, location, etc.) and outcomes (BB%, K%, etc.). If a new manager arrives and the entire team outperforms their 50% PECOTA projection, that suggests causation as well. It will be a small signal amid noise, but there's little reason to think the impact of good coaching is still "unmeasurable" in 2012.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 6

You should see if any newspapers in southern Florida would be interested in running stories based on this kind of research. While fans now know (if they didn't know already) that Loria is fleecing them, the degree might be underestimated.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

Sadly, the presented analysis lacks a deep dive into The Mathis Impact. Mathis is coming off his best offensive season ever, where he more than doubled his total career's bWAR. Plus, his career 1.150 postseason OPS shows his clutchy, gritty #want.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

(The 'all results' links presently go to the AL IBAs.)

Nov 14, 2012 8:10 AM on National League
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 5

Molina caught 709.2 IP in 2012. Converting one walk into a strikeout has a value of ~-0.6 runs. As a very rough approximation, if Jose Molina can convert one walk into a strikeout every 10 IP or so, he's right around 50 runs/year. You could do a more detailed analysis and figure out the linear weight for converting one ball into one strike on a frequency-averaged count, but the super-rough figure of "stealing" one strikeout per 10 IP doesn't seem intuitively out of line. As another example, if you plot all regular American League home-plate umpires by K/9, they ranged from 8.9 (Dan Iassogna) to 6.2 (Sam Holbrook) in 2012. K/BB ranged from 1.88-3.58, almost a factor of 2. There's already huge variation in umpire tendencies, and it's not unreasonable that a Crafty Molina could sway a malleable umpire by ~0.8 K/9, when umpires vary from each other by 3x that.

Nov 13, 2012 2:00 PM on The 50-Run Receiver
 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 0

In other news: Jordan Danks and Bobby Korecky received first-place votes for the AL RoY. Brandon Gomes, Brad Mills, and Adeiny Hechavarria got third-place votes. J.P. Arencibia got a first and second place vote for AL MVP. J.A. Happ and Bruce Chen received first-place Cy Young votes.

Nov 09, 2012 7:15 AM on American League
 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 1

It's also the story of the 2002 A's. Moneyball talked a lot about how they were cobbling together value from undervalued or discarded pieces like Chad Bradford, Ricardo Rincon, Scott Hatteberg, etc. However, the A's made the playoffs largely of their core of young starting pitchers (Zito, Hudson, and Mulder), and their two best position players (Tejada and Chavez) were homegrown stars signed before Beane was GM. Analogy to 2010-2012 Giants: { Zito, Hudson, Mulder } = { Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner } { Tejada, Chavez } = { Posey, Sandoval } { Random dudes like Hatteberg } = { Random dudes like Blanco } 'Moneyball' tried to make it sound like Beane beat the world with the Bad News Bears, but the reality is that Beane took a team that should have been somewhat above average and made them excellent through sabermetrics. That's still an amazing accomplishment (and a skill worth millions of dollars on the free market), if less obviously dramatic to the general public.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 0

Kyle Lohse strikes me as the 'Easy Decision' outlier. He just completed a 4yr/$41M contract with 2 injury-shortened bad seasons, a decent enough 2011, and an unexpectedly good (and luck-inflated) 2012. At age 34, is the risk of offering 1yr/$13.3M worth the draft pick? How much is the Cardinals' compensatory pick worth, historically? (I couldn't figure out the ordering system from the 2012 list.) Assuming the Cardinals think Lohse is really worth closer to $8M in 2013, is the pick worth $6M+?

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

With Jeff Mathis locked up through 2014 (!) by the Blue Jays, and David Eckstein retired, intangibles will command a premium price this offseason. The Rangers will have to look to Young to give 110% Grittiness Over Replacement Player, because as you probably know, it's not something that can be coached.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 2

Ham has at least a +3 VORS.

 
jdeich
(50647)
Comment rating: 4

Other contracts worth considering: - Ryan Howard: $125M for 2012 (age 32) to 2016 (age 36) on a National League team that is forced to put him in the field. - Carl Crawford: $142M for 2011 (age 29) to 2017 (age 35). Generated +0.4 bWAR in 161 games total in the first two years. - Vernon Wells: $126M for 2008 (age 29) to 2014 (age 35). Generated -0.3 bWAR in 208 games in 2011 and 2012. A good topic for an article might "What was the largest contract ever signed that went well, as seen from the end of the contract?" Derek Jeter? ($189M for 2001-2010, +39 bWAR) Carlos Beltran? ($119M for 2005-2011, +31 bWAR) Chipper Jones? ($90M for 2001-2006, +26 bWAR)

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 4

If a team gets plenty of early wins, they can be confident of playoff contention when the front office can still make personnel decisions before the trade deadline, and make more informed decisions about call-ups, etc. It would also impact decisions about giving days off to slightly injured or older players in September, etc. It will never "feel" that way, but in terms of your team's health and fatigue, you want to coast into the postseason vs. making a late run. The psychological effect would be the opposite, of course. How these two forces shake out should be a testable hypothesis: Bin postseason-qualifying teams by their September records, and see how each subset did in the postseason. Conventional wisdom is that 'hot' teams (meaningfully higher win% in September relative to April-August) would do better. But it's possible that April wins actually help you -more- than September wins.

Oct 15, 2012 10:37 AM on The Case for Cano
 
jdeich
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Future article idea: Looking at the change in aggregate player OPS (or FIP for pitchers) relative to the regular season, binned by the number of years in MLB and/or number of trips to the postseason. Do rookies as a group play better or worse than you'd expect from their regular-season stats?

Oct 12, 2012 11:38 AM on Are You Experienced?
 
jdeich
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Travel also matters. It would be interesting to look at regular-season home-field advantage in the first series of a homestand (where the home team has also traveled prior to the game), vs. home-field advantage in the second or later series. A dedicated analyst could also look at home-field advantage as a function of: 1) Rigor of travel (miles as the crow flies is probably sufficient as a first guess, but some stadiums are hard to get to even after you've landed) 2) Number of days since last travel. 3) Era (Ty Cobb didn't have a charter plane waiting for him.) 4) Number of time zones crossed. I'd expect that all four are more significant than the +0.27 wins per 552 games of extra postseason "excitement" advantage. #1/#4 are well-documented in the NFL, where east-coast teams do worse than expected when playing night games on the west coast.

 
jdeich
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The mechanical advantage of the ordering (visitors bat first) is unclear. It influences player substitution, but each side gets an advantage: 1) The visitor can choose pitchers and defenders based on the score. With a one-run lead, they can put in their best pitcher/defense and aggressively substitute based on match-ups. With a tie, they can more strongly consider the impact on future innings. 2) If the visiting team took a lead in the top half, the home team can aggressively use bench players to pinch hit or run, because they know they have to score or lose. If its tied, they know they have to think about additional innings. Short version: Does 'bats last' necessarily overcome 'pitches/defends last'? What percentage of extra-inning games are won by the home team? Bigger or smaller than the 54% generic home-field advantage?

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 6

It seems odd to penalize 2012 Miguel Cabrera for not being able to out-hit 2011 Miguel Cabrera. Possibly also forbidden by quantum mechanics.

 
jdeich
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Small wish list for this interesting new feature: The big one would be merging umpire information with PitchFx data to see the percentage of strikes and called strikes. This is perceived to be the largest impact that an individual umpire's style impacts a game. I noticed you can add Balks via 'Statistic Selection', but it should make the standard report, as it's a more direct decision of the umpires. These are (too) rare, but multi-year trends may emerge down the road. Ejections (managers or players), if the data is available. Base stealing information (SB, CS, Pickoffs) might be a good illustration of what pitchers feel like they can get away with.

 
jdeich
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Re: Andy van Slyke: Barry Bonds finished in the Top 1 in MVP voting in 1992.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 10

When people bring up Ichiro, the conversation always turns to his hit total. But really, his case should be made as a multi-dimensional player. My favorite comp is Roberto Clemente-- an excellent defensive right fielder, who also gets 'trailblazer' credit for being the first Latino player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Look around MLB a generation or two later, and the explosion of MLB's popularity in the Caribbean during Clemente's career is obvious. Ichiro wasn't the first player from Asia, but he was the first superstar. UZR only counts recent players, but among them Ichiro is 5th behind only Beltre, Andruw, Crawford, and Rolen. He won 3 of the first 6 Fielding Bible awards for RF as well. Ichiro isn't quite the hitter Clemente was (when you consider their eras), but he also stands among the game's all-time greats as a baserunner. Suffice to say that the "integrity, sportsmanship, character" portion of the voting instructions apply more to Ichiro than a number of his contemporaries, and Kirby Puckett for that matter. Throw in the standard 'trophies' (10 Gold Gloves, RoY, MVP, 3x SS, 10x All-Star) data, the JAWS-style 'high peak' argument, and the voters will put him in easily.

Sep 26, 2012 11:02 AM on Is 12 Enough for Ichiro?
 
jdeich
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The Endy Chavez NLCS play remains my favorite defensive moment this century, both for its athleticism and for occurring in a tied Game 7. It was the play little kids imagine making when they're standing in Little League outfields. http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=2968151

 
jdeich
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At least as much statistical data about players in the Negro Leagues as is available for their MLB contemporaries.

 
jdeich
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Comment rating: 4

1) The increase in pitches per PA might also explain the lower defensive efficiency observed in the modern game. Batters who aggressively hack at sub-optimal pitches may be more prone to weak contact. All-or-nothing hitters may put more pressure on the defense when they do make contact. To use two archetypes, Mark Reynolds and Juan Pierre have very similar career BABIPs (.310 for Reynolds, .313 for Pierre) despite Pierre's obvious advantage in speed. 2) Defensive efficiency and BABIP ignore home runs. An all-or-nothing slugger like Reynolds puts a fair number of bad pitches beyond the reach of the defense. In older eras, the preferred high-contact approach may have meant that those same pitches may have been laced into the gaps. Defensive efficiency 'blames' outfielders for not being able to reach 'no doubt' doubles and the like, but doesn't 'blame' them for home runs. Overall, it would surprise me if defense actually got objectively worse, given the greater strength and speed of the modern athlete, coupled with improvement in positioning brought about by the availability of video. There may be too many variables in play to conclusively determine this, however.

 
jdeich
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First, you're correct to divorce Dusty Baker from the team's record. Joe Torre won a ton of games with the Yankees despite several tendencies (bullpen management being the best example) that seem suboptimal. The Yankees might have been even more dominant with a better manager. You instead want to think about Dusty the way we think about his players-- value over replacement. Given what Baker can control (daily lineups, substitutions, calling for bunts/steals/pitchouts/etc.), how does he change the results of baseball games? Something like Win Probability might help-- isolate plays that are certainly or likely to be 'manager calls' (sacrifice bunts, steals by guys who rarely try to steal, pinch-hitting, intentional walks, etc.) and see how each managers' decisions played out in terms of impacting the chance to win after that play. Over hundreds or thousands of such plays, you might be able to see the signal under the noise, and separate good processes from dumb luck. You could also look at how each new player on a team performs against predicted production. This is a measure of the staff as a whole, but if nearly everyone on a team outperforms expectations, that lends credibility to the hypothesis that the manager and his staff are having a positive impact. It's an underexplored topic, to be sure. And managers may (or may not) have significant influence on their team through off-the-field abilities related to leadership, preparation, etc. But there's plenty of anecdotal cases (see Patterson, Corey... or the infamous Adam Dunn bunts) where Dusty seemed to be out of his mind and nearly anyone would have been a better choice.