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Most interesting thing I've read on BP in ages. Thanks!
The numbers in the Jays' line don't seem to make sense, but what would I know?
I thought re-hiring Gibbons was a huge mis-step by AA, but I'm having to rethink. Even in the seeming chaos of the early part of the season, each player had a set of clearly defined roles and Gibbons kept them in those roles (even the odd ones like Bautista as emergency backup infielder).
A couple of years of Farrell has made me appreciate how organized Gibbons is. You just never see the endless parade of relievers being warmed up then not used that was a Farrell trademark. Gibbons had McGowan warm up and then not pitch on the weekend, and that was notable because we've seen that sort of thing so rarely this season.
Articles like this one are why I happily pay to subscribe. Thanks.
Wouldn't a regression analysis or analysis of variance help you sort out the effects of the variables you list?
Rios was injured in 2011, playing with a sore foot for some or all of the season. The 2012 bounceback was pretty predictable (if you believed that the foot problem had been solved). There's no obvious reason for him to regress to the 2011 numbers.
I only saw Nishioka play in person once, in this game: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR201104020.shtml
In the 4th inning, with his team down 1-0, he led off with a walk, stole second, went to third on a groundout, and then scored to tie the game -- his team's only run in what turned out to be a one-hitter. He also made a couple of excellent plays in the field.
That day, he was the only Twin worth watching. It's sad to see where his career has gone since that day.
In behind all the goofy fun, there's a really good idea here. Why aren't they showing baseball-themed movies? Why can't we get winter ball there? Why isn't it better integrated with mlb.tv? (For that matter, how long will the insanity of people not being able to get the local team's games on mlb.tv continue?)
This way of looking at it sure makes Detroit jump out as the team to bet on, doesn't it? One strong team in a division where the other teams are all long-shots. But is the division really that predictable?
The Vegas odds are a reflection of gamblers' evaluations of the teams chances of winning, which isn't a very objective measure. Would be fun to then compare this to, say, Pecota's projected team WAR or some other relatively objective measure of each team's chance of winning.
Any game that pushes the Red Sox into last place is a gem as far as I'm concerned.
And Gose's goofy smile -- which never left his face after he hit his first ML homer in the 9th -- was kinda fun to see.
Sorry for the type: 228 ISO. He's better, but he's not THAT much better.
The two teams I watch the most often are the Jays and the Angels, so I've seen a lot of Mathis over the past few years. And he looks like a different hitter this year -- more aggressive, more confident. He's swinging for the fences in a way I never saw him do as an Angel. To me the stat that really jumps out is his 288 ISO this year. He never came close to that as an Angel.
The Jays are getting rid of players who don't fit into their long-term plans -- getting as much as they can for each of them. I'm guessing that the next two to go will be Lind and Cecil.
What a terrific debut article. Thanks and welcome!
Hey, I love this. Biggest surprise (for me) is Red Sox 2nd base.
Yeah yeah. Compare the Pecota projected standings with actual standing for each season. For most teams, they are reasonably accurate. For a few teams, Pecota always expects them to do far worse (or better) than they actually do. And the bias is always the same year after year, so it isn't random error.
Yes, but the health woes weren't there at the beginning of the season. And according to your chart, the Jays' chances have IMPROVED since the three starters were injured.
Go back over the past 5 years and you'll see that PECOTA systematically underestimates the Jays (and a couple of other teams). It is a long-term problem with the logic behind the calculations.
Here's how I see it: Pecota systematically underestimates the Blue Jays, and has for years. BP takes the Pecota team ratings (and resultant playoff odds) seriously, and as a result you get foolishness like this.
This is the first time in June that one of the AL East teams has fallen out of the top 10. Of course, the team that fell out is in first place in the division.
OK, last time I was at a track, one of the races had only six horses. I know nothing whatever about horses. But I could see that 5 of the horses were standing around before the race, basically looking bored. And once horse was racing around like crazy, looking eager to get started. I put $10 down on the only frisky horse -- the longshot in the field -- and won about $200. It may be a fluke. But I think I was seeing that one one of the horses was really ready to race. In my inept, uneducated way I was scouting the horses. It worked.
Check out Pecota predictions for Jose Bautista for the past four years and compare those to scouting reports. The stats may be scientific, but they don't know to look for something like a changed batting stance.
Sign me up for the movement. Yan is hitting 359/391/565 in AAA, and was almost as much fun to watch as Lawrie in spring training.
The person who deserves to be suspended because of this incident is Miller, not Lawrie.
Trevor Story (Rockies) was #45 in 2011. Reid Brignac (2004) might eventually amount to something.
If Jed Lowrie hits his Pecota projection for this year, he'll be at 5.2 at the end of the year.
Amazing story, Larry. Thanks for digging it up.
It's always more fun in person. One of the most memorable games I've seen in the last couple of years was an Intercounty Baseball League game in Barrie with Paul Spoljaric of the Barrie Baycats pitching against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was great just sitting on the cheap wooden benches with my son watching the game.
The game even sort-of made the news: http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1702513
the "Around the Horn" at the end of that piece is worth reading, too.
@ Nathan: No, I think the Mariners will.
@ James Bond: Agreed on the Rogers Centre. But there are ways to make the experience better. The 200 level is far more comfy than the 100 level, and cheaper. But I prefer to be way up in the 500s -- on the third base side on sunny days, and the first base side on cloudy ones.
If more people had followed your advice and watched Jays' games last year, I don't think the MVP voting in the AL would have been close. Joeybats has been awesome to watch.
Last year I found myself checking out Cubs games on MLB TV just to catch Castro. I like "(d?)evolution" as a description of how he's progressing. Cubs games are inherently fun to watch anyway, as long as you aren't a Cubs fan.
I'd also check out the Angels' games after the east-coast games were done. Initially I was watching to see how Wells did, but increasingly it was to enjoy watching Peter Bourjos play the outfield. But the Angels didn't exactly make this list this year.
Guess I have to bookmark Bleacher Report now, eh?
Thanks for the Davies clip. Not to mention all those great articles.
Ha! In the time it took me to draft a comment complaining that the math in the Visual Depth Chart was screwy, you fixed it. Way to go!
Psst! It's 2012. You're only supposed to make that mistake in January each year.
As a Toronto fan, I'm remembering how miffed we were when Burnett chased the big bucks and left the Jays for the Yankees. How sweetly that worked out! :o)
The Tony Fernandez thing sounds like it might have been one of the cases of collusion. Was that one of the "collusion years"?
Dirk can be very entertaining and playful on Twitter. What keeps taking me by surprise, in his book and on his blog and on Twitter, is how much honesty and openness and painful self-awareness there is amongst all his goofing around. I enjoyed watching his brief stint with the Jays, and was sad when they released him. But as a ball player, he's right on the fringes. As a writer, he's very much in the big leagues.
I hope he enjoys Italy, and vice versa. I wonder what the Italian word for Garfoose is.
Terrific, entertaining article -- thanks! Would love to see you do the same for pitchers, to see who (if anyone) it turns up.
Articles like this drive me crazy. This deal is complete theft from the point of view of the Rockies -- it's a brilliant trade. But do you acknowledge that? No. Why aren't we being given the impact of this trade on the Rox?
Sometimes it's like the Red Sox and the Yankees are the only teams that exist.
This usually doesn't happen on BP. The reason I come to the site is the balanced coverage of all the teams.
Was Christina Kahrl's grandfather on the Richlieau too? Can we have her back?
Very happy to see Gary Gillette on the board to give a real publishing viewpoint. What you're missing is a tech person who can help stretch what the website can do.
I wish there was a way to "like" an article. This one definitely deserves a big pile of likes.
What sort of writer misquotes his own mother? It's "you bet your SWEET bippy."
Some of the food stalls at the Rogers Centre also intermittently sell poutine.
As far as I can tell, the most points you can score with 7 letters is Vazquez (37), but that also has the two-Zs problem. If I wasn't at work I'd try to figure out the highest-scoring 7-letter name using the standard 100 tiles.
For example, how much is C.C. Sabathia worth to the Blue Jays? Not only would getting him away from the Yankees obviously strengthen the BJ's rotation, but it ruins the Yankees' rotation. How much of a financial bonus is it worth to inflict that damage on an opponent?
I think you're grossly underestimating AA's inventiveness. I'd expect to see several radical changes to the batting order and rotation over the winter. For starters, I'd be surprised if Lind or Snider were Jays next April.
The column spacing is weird, with narrow columns at the left of the table and wide ones at the right.
And as Patrick said, could you please rank the teams 1-30, with a +/- column showing which are doing better/worse than the day before?
I think the Blue Jays decided to sell draft picks on the notion that the draft rules are about to change, and this is probably their last chance to get some over-slot money -- so the kids should grab it while they can. Not a bad sales pitch.
Just when I was starting to wonder why I subscribe to BP, you come up with something like this to make me very happy. Thanks!
Litsch is injured and skipping the start against New York.
Another thing about Litsch that isn't apparent until you watch him play is that he's a terrific fielder. That, coupled with his high ground-ball rate, has gotten him out of trouble a few times already this season.
Terrific explanation of Colon's treatment. Thanks!
I'm surprised that no-one's mentioned Roy Halladay. In his second game, he came within one out of a no-hitter. But that first game was five innings, three runs allowed.
One down side of a more aggressive running game for the Jays: both Rajai Davis and Aaron Hill have missed games due to injuries suffered while running the bases (as has Jayson Nix).
The Vernon Wells trade shows that it IS possible in some cases to get out from under sunk costs. I was a little surprised that the Mets didn't swing similar trades this winter. They would have had to pitch in some money in the deals, but sure covering part or most of a sunk-cost salary is better than covering it all.
The atmosphere at the Sunday game in Toronto was incredible. It was hard to even get into the Dome because of the huge lineups for tickets. An hour before the game, at the bank of ticket booths near Gate 7, police were preventing people from joining the lines so that the ends of the lines didn't block traffic. The lines at the booths near Gate 9 went for nearly a block.
Once you got inside, the atmosphere was electric -- like a playoff game. Again, huge lineups for everything. And people cheering every strike when the Jays were pitching.
I took my son. He's already bugging me to take him to another game. :o)
Does Jeff Mathis having a high likelihood of injury help or hurt the team?
It's good to see Reed Johnson and Tim Collins on this list. Some players are just fun to watch!
Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes,
Others clicked minus
faster than you could click plus.
Life's like that some days.
Argh -- screwed up by a
keying error. My entry
was supposed to read:
What a fun idea!
Some of these are brilliant,
Some are just one star.
What a funny idea!
Some of these are brilliant,
Some are just one star.
Could you please put your proofreader on waivers and call up a new one from AAA?
That would be interesting to look at: is there systematic bias in these? Easy enough to look at initial predictions and results for each team over the years.
I'm guessing that fans of most teams think that "their" team is consistently underrated.
(Of course, the Jays ARE consistently underrated.)
The Jays would probably willingly part with the likes of Jesse Litsch or Jo-Jo Reyes, but do the Cards have enticing enough prospects to do the deal?
Argh -- posted in wrong window. Please ignore.
The Jays would probably willingly part with the likes of Jesse Litsch and JoJo Reyes, but do the Cards have enticing enough prospects to swing a deal?
Richard Griffin has some interesting things to say about the deal in his blog this morning: http://thestar.blogs.com/baseball/
It will be interesting to see which version Joey Bats turns up to play in 2011. Last year, he had two really bad months: April and June.
If the June version (4 hrs, 0.179 AVG) plays all of 2011, AA gets tarred and feathered for this contract. (But notice that even at that rate, Bats would get 24 HRs on the season.)
If the May/July/August/September version of Bautista shows up for the whole summer, he gets 64ish HRs on the season and bats around .300.
I don't think that either of those extremes is going to happen.
One more thing that people seem to forget. He played most of last season with a hernia.
When I heard that changes were coming, I was afraid that you'd drop some of my favourite writers. But they are all still here, and your free-agent signings sound terrific. Thanks so much!
Toronto is the 4th largest market in the league, after NY, LA and Chicago, no? Both in terms of population and economic data.
I've seen Ray pitch a couple of times, including one of his starts for the Jays. He was more impressive than his reputation -- or his stats -- would lead you to expect. I was disappointed when he was injured in 2009.
Argh -- sorry for the typos in that. K/9 or 12 and BB/9 of 3.2.
So many more you could have talked about, too. They have Joel Carreno, Brian Jeroloman, Alan Farina, Luis Perez, Robert Ray, and Darin Mastroianni all on the 40-man roster.
The one out of that group who really intrigues me is Farina: 1.29 ERA, 7K/9 or 12 and BB 9 of 3.2, 0.808 WHIP...
Speaking of Scott Boros, I noticed a couple of nights ago that some teams have piles of Boros's 120 clients on their rosters, and some have few or (in the case of the Blue Jays) none. I was wondering if that was a statistical fluke, or do the Jays and Boros not like dealing with each other?
Has anyone ever looked at agent/team relationships? Do some agents particularly like to deal with some teams? Do they help those teams build? Do some teams and agents completely avoid each other?
Please don't move Texas to the AL East. The division is tough enough without them, eh?
I don't think the concept of "tools" is nebulous at all. Listen to Alex A talk about the players he wants to sign and he talks in terms of "high ceiling" -- which in effect means runs fast, throws hard, and so on. Those things are readily quantifiable, and scouts do so constantly, although the methods they use to do so sound pretty primitive. AA's preference is to sign toolsy players and hope that the organization has the ability to teach them how to play the game to the best of their ability. That's another part of the equation that's missing: the organization's ability to teach game skills. I don't think it is a coincidence, for example, that the Rays and Jays have become factories for producing outstanding young pitchers.
There is one other factor in the Sox' favor: the schedule. The Rays and Yankees play each other a lot in September. If one of those teams sweeps the other or comes close to it, the Sox can gain a lot of ground on the team that gets swept.
But that's a big "if."
Arencibia's major "adjustment" from 2009 to 2010 was getting his vision corrected. Now that he can actually see the ball, he's hitting it better.
I thought "will be strange not to see Arencibia mentioned on this list" -- but there he is anyway.
Scrabble was just sent down to triple A, so good call there.
I was playing with the Team Audit page for the Jays yesterday, and noticed what happens if you sort the hitters by OBP:
The top three hitters by OBP are Shawn Camp, Yunel Escobar, and Shaun Marcum. Yeah, tiny sample and all that, but I thought it was pretty funny.
Konerko may or may not have a bigger bust, but there's no way Youkalis is prettier.
John Buck, the All-Star most likely to be traded this month?
Hey, I called that one! Nick Green, eh? Not so exciting after all.
Hmmm. Why are the Jays clearing a 40-man roster spot? Scott Richmond? Or something more interesting?
Edwin Encarnacion (202/304/511) is just a strikeout or two from joining the club. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Jays with three of 'em at the end of the season.
At Sunday's Jays/Yankees game, the ballboy caught a fair ball as it zoomed down the left-field line. He looked pleased with himself until someone told him what he's done. A few moments later, the third-base umpire walked up to the ballboy very solemnly and demanded to have his glove. The boy gave the glove to the umpire, who slowly walked it over and gave it to a policeman (who returned it to the boy a few minutes later when no-one was paying attention to them).
A little while later, the Jays' mascot came over with a roll of yellow police tape. He sat the ballboy down on his stool and taped off a tiny little triangular area for him to sit in.
All goodnatured fun -- and funny as hell at the time. The game hasn't lost all of its humour.
I love articles like this. I've heard the term for years, but have never seen it properly explained before. Thanks!
Sigh. "Any..." I sure wish we could edit our comments!
Ant word on how well Brett Wallace is doing defensively at 1st base?
Interesting that most of the iPads for sale on eBay this morning are listed by individuals, not stores. http://computers.shop.ebay.com/Tablets-/171485/i.html?_nkw=ipad&_catref=1&_fln=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m282 There are oceans of them on Craigslist, too.
My son has a Wii, and I buy him stuff for it quite often. Some of the games are from Nintendo, but many of them aren't. I buy them from online stores, from a variety of bricks and mortar stores -- or used on eBay. I can shop for the best deal on each game. He can (and does) trade them with his friends.
Fair enough. Part of it is an emotional reaction to a lot of publicity for a product that I really can't see any use for whatever. It genuinely has me totally befuddled. I read something like Will's article and what jumps out are the ways in which the iPad would drive me totally crazy. I'm clearly not part of the intended market -- which is odd, because I love gadget.
There must be some fanboy gene that I'm totally lacking. I'm going to shell out hundreds of bucks for something that doesn't stream video as well as my laptop does? That can only run one program at a time? Where I can only buy additional applications from one monopoly seller? And so on. I really don't get the appeal of this thing at all.
Wells has hit just .244/.267/.341 in spring training. Worse, he has looked like it's hurting him when he throws the ball to the infield. The chronic injury is to his left wrist, but I'm wondering if there's also a problem with his right hand or wrist. When asked about his left wrist, he said "just how much my hand has improved over the course of the last four or five weeks has been encouraging." (http://bluejays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100330&content_id=9020296&vkey=news_tor&fext=.jsp&c_id=tor) I have no doubt that he's still hurting, and I think it's getting worse.
Mark Rzepcynski's biggest concern is no longer his workload. It's his broken finger. Out at least six weeks, eh?
OK, your response had me curious, so I checked the box score. I remember having the "live" box score on my screen in a little window as I worked that afternoon.
Here's the game: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2010_03_13_tormlb_atlmlb_1
It seems to be a confused score-keeper. O'Flaherty came in to pitch the 7th as part of a double switch, with Hinske replacing Glaus at first. In the "live" box score, this came through as Hinske pitching the inning (and presumably O'Flaherty playing first).
Sorry for the mis-information!
I noticed one spring training game where Eric Hinske was pitching. He threw one no-hit inning against the Jays. Just some springtime fun or is he serious about this?
What a great series of articles!
I was thinking that there were three variables that weren't adequately being considered. One of them was spray, which I'm glad to see was introduced to xBABIP.
The other two are speed (I'm not convinced that triples is a reliable proxy) and fielding response.
By this last one, I mean the extent to which the fielding team adjusts to the perceived hitting patterns of each hitter. Looked at the other way, what effect does a fielding shift have on a batter's BABIP? When the outfielders move back to defend against a home-run hitter, does that help or harm the hitter's BABIP?
Jason Frasor's ugly ERA is the result of one-third of an inning against the Braves when his change-up wasn't behaving. In a real game he likely wouldn't have kept throwing change-ups. Or at least that's the official excuse.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jays trade Frasor and Purcey for a shortstop, tho the rumored trade partners are the Cubs and Twins. Unless AA can fool the Cubs into trading Castro, I don't see much scope for a pitcher-for-shortstop trade there.
Far from it. He may start the season on the DL. http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/35883609/ns/sports-player_news/
There's actually lots of hope in Toronto. AA is a huge talent upgrade at GM. It might take a while for that to show itself on the field, but as a Jays fan I'm the most optimistic I've been in about a decade.
True, but the TV commentators' remarks about him "breaking down" after throwing only 6 pitches on Saturday didn't sound too optimistic.
The last sentence of the Jays thing seems to just
So where would a healthy Shaun Marcum fit in this?
Possibly a brain cramp on my part, maybe something I heard in an interview.
I don't think the idea is that Lind would lost at bats to Ruiz. Ruiz would sometimes get to DH with Lind in left field. Ruiz can also play 3rd and 1st -- I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Ruiz get a lot of starts and see Overbay warming the bench.
There's a typo in the years on the Blue Jays line -- both are given as 1995.
The worst baserunning I ever saw -- sometimes like something out of a slapstick movie -- was by Ken Williams. Not exactly a stupid guy.
Above, not about. I wish you could edit your messages here!
What a great article! I'd love one of you to look at the other players last year who were about the PECOTA 90% projection or below the 10% projection. I wonder if there are patterns?
I think we tend to see the physical signs and interpret them psychologically. As Russell said, "most of the time, it seems that the commentator is projecting what he feels into the head of the player on camera." And I suspect anyone watching the game does that. So you see Wells (who used to foul off many pitches until he got the one he wanted) swinging at bad pitches or taking strikes, and describe it in terms of lost skills -- or project some psychological explanation onto it. A lot of those "human element" explanations are describing measurable events.
David Ortiz is perhaps a better example. For the first two months last year, he looked awful and his stats were awful. For the rest of the year, he still looked awful but his stats were much better. Did he "make adjustments" -- or was he just get luckier? Or was there some injury we weren't told about. Or was some psychological factor at work? We'll never know. But the stats for the later part of last year don't tell us what our eyes could see: Ortiz's swing was still pretty profoundly different than it had been in previous years.
The conversation started as "he's really lost his swagger compared with a few years ago" and went from there. I think the difference main is that we were assuming that "lost confidence" could be regained, whereas eroded skills or age are irreversible.
Is losing ability to foul off pitches really something that someone ls irreversible, or does it depend on other variables? I can see arguments both ways. In this case, it could have been any of the above -- or it could have been his wrist injury. Who knows? But my point, that many of these supposedly psychological factors can be broken down or re-expressed in terms of measurable variables, still stands.
So much of this stuff is measurable. I remember at a game in the fall talking with a friend about how Vernon Wells is "less confident" than he was a few years ago. As we talked about it, the examples of this "loss of confidence" were all of measurable behaviours: He doesn't foul off pitches as much as he used to. He swings at more bad pitches. He takes more strikes. (I don't know if any of those are in fact true -- they were based on the impressions of two devoted Jays fans. It would be interesting to test the assertions.)
I think an awful lot of the executive functions display themselves in measurable behaviour.
I'm not at all convinced about Ortiz. Even when he was playing well at the end of last year, his bat speed and reaction time both looked noticeably slower than in previous years. He still looked lost out there. I don't think its going to take long for pitchers to adjust. I think your scout has it right, except for the "however" bit.
Sorry, too early in the morning for me to be doing actual thinking. Thanks for the correction.
From FoxSports: "The Blue Jays will directly benefit from Barajas signing a major-league deal, receiving a supplemental draft choice between the first and second rounds. The Jays offered salary arbitration to Barajas, a Type B free agent, and he declined. The team would not have received a pick as compensation if he had signed a minor-league deal."
So the supplemental pick the Jays get doesn't cost the Mets anything? I'd assumed it was at their expense.
Don't the Mets also lose a first-round draft pick because they've signed Barajas? Type 1 free agent and all that? How can he be worth $1 million and a draft pick?
I guess I'm part of the 0.56%. I have no interest in Apple products, and one of my major reasons for that is the lack of customizability.
The thing that strikes me about the iPad is that it is totally aimed at consumers of information, not creators. I think it is the first computer that's totally like that. I absolutely don't see the point of having a computer that only lets you see what others have created, but I am very far from the target market for anything Apple makes.
I don't think that presentation and use of stats has to be the opposite of easy communications. To use your example: “Albert Pujols was about two wins better than Zack Greinke last season (10.8 WARP1 vs 9.0)” meets the needs of both groups.
One thing that was striking about Baseball Idol was that people voted for well written, entertaining articles AND good stats. But I think Ken's win was a clear vote for compelling, entertaining writing.
Part of what is great about this site is that it provides both a real depth of stats and a lot of good (and clear and entertaining) writing. I read pretty much everything that's posted here, and enjoy almost all of it.
Seriously? Or are you jest kidding me?
Four runs left on the table by each team. Thirty teams. So 120 runs left on the table. But the situation only came up 97 times. Buzzzzzz ... click ... that ... does ... not ... compute.
What am I missing?
You really think Frank Thomas might have something left in the tank? What we saw in his last few weeks in Toronto in 2008 sure looked like someone running on empty.
I believe the Jays' Gene Tenace adventure has finally stumbled to a close.
I'd be fairly surprised if Lyle Overbay is still a Blue Jay come opening day. They seem to have been trying hard to trade him all winter. Some other club is going to think they need him as spring training progresses.
Gibbons worst at teaching strikeout avoidance and worst at teaching home runs? That's an interesting accomplishment.
People here at my office were looking at me, too, though I managed to stay in my chair. What a great line!
I was reading the Onion, then switched to BP and started reading this. Then the phone rang and distracted me, and when I got back to the computer I forgot that I was no longer on the Onion. I read this through, getting increasingly pissed off that it wasn't funny. Then got to the bottom, saw who had written it, and went "duh."
It could have been funny, you know. Buying the Rangers, forcing the Marlins to actually use money to get players -- lots of scope for a possible Onion treatment.
One of the reasons I subscribe to BP is the historical analyses like this one. What a terrific piece. Thanks! I wish we could have more articles like it.
Wow, you didn't even mention the Jays' outfield. Not a word on Rios! Incredible that some teams' outfields were even worse.
Jays' payroll is still just under $80 million. From their website: "That's NOT including the $10 million owed to B.J. Ryan or the $6 million sent to Philly as part of the Halladay trade."
Intriguing! Would be interesting to also look at player/manager pairs, too. Over a player's career, you could look at how often a player ran with second base open and how that stat varied, depending on who was managing the game. Aggregate that for each manager and you get a much more precise measure of managerial aggression.
Track the percentage of successful steals at the same time and you get a measure of how effective each manager was in managing baserunners. In fact, you'd end up with a great chart showing aggressive/passive on one axis and successful/unsuccessful on the other.
I was wondering if you had any comment on the Jays signing left-hander Willie Collazo, infielder Jesus Merchan and outfielders Jorge Padilla and Chris Lubanski to minor-league deals. I can see the point of taking a bet on Lubanski finally getting his act together, but I can't see the point of signing any of the other three -- all in their late 20s or early 30s with no real hope of up-side surprises. Just filling out the minor-league ranks as cheaply as possible?
I really like how Alex Anthopoulos's trades so far have all been win/wins. You're going to be more (and better) trade opportunities if you go in with an attitude of making deals that help both parties, rather than trying to screw or outsmart the other guy.
As a writer, he's no rookie. As an editor, he sure seems to be. Very different skill sets.
The fun factor is important. I think it is why Ken Funck won the BP Idol thing -- his pieces were the most entertaining, the best written. The most fun. Joe and Christina are the other two writers you had who are always just fun to read. I love how Christina plays with the language in her pieces. Her content is usually interesting and the bits of cleverness make me smile. The one thing I'm not seeing you focus on in the SotP pieces is what you are intending to do to raise the quality of the writing. I think bringing Tommy on board will help with that.
I wish you'd focussed on finding a really experienced managing editor to raise the general standard of the writing rather than assigning the role to a writer with no apparent editing experience. The skill-sets are really different, and as far as I can see John P. is going to have to be learning the new skills on the fly. You pretty much just decided to convert your center fielder to a pitcher because he seems to have a strong arm -- and you're doing it without giving him time in the minors to get some coaching.
"9: The difference between the Blue Jays' actual number of wins in 2009 (75) and their Pythagorean expectation (84)." And in the Tim Kniker article I just read, Cito Gaston did brutally badly in calculation for the Archimedes Award for effective use of relief pitchers. Coincidence?
I'm wondering the extent to which Cito Gaston's last-place showing was the result of BJ Ryan's melt-down.
Halladay drew attention to himself by almost pitching a no-hitter in his first major league game. I think he would have been part of the discussion 10 years ago.
I don't see why you're not going 30 deep -- in this case, adding those extra 10 would have made you focus on how Marco Scutaro might do in his first season as an every-day player, and might have focussed people on a potential end-of-draft bargain.
I can't remember a comment on BP that was anywhere near as idiotic. A rating of -100 sounds about right. (I wonder if some stats wank out there is thinking about analyzing the ratings #s?)
I heard AA interviewed on The Fan last night. What strikes you immediately is that he is much more professional -- and just plain much smarter -- than JP. One of his basic attitudes was that he would get a much better deal if he could make it a win for everyone concerned. He also understands that future good deals are more likely to happen with that attitude. His answer to "are you finished trading for the winter" was something along the lines of "I've barely started." All very encouraging.
No umpires, no players, no-one representing the union -- basically a committee of senior executives. The sort of group you'd expect will come up with incremental tweaks, not new viewpoints or radical innovations. The committee would be stronger if its members were more varied.
Randy Wolf's last couple of years are reminding me of Al Leiter. Lots of injuries and basically useless, then he has what looked like a career year in 1995. So off he goes to the Marlins (who I thought were suckers for signing him) -- and his career really takes off. Obviously, the Brewers are hoping for that too.
I was trying to figure out exactly how to express that idea. Yes, you get several tangible and intangible benefits. You one year of presumably great pitching. You get another year of him being a role model for some pretty talented but very green pitchers. You don't piss off the baseball fans in Scarborough. You presumably sell a few extra tickets, especially if AJ Burnett is the opposing pitcher.
This really jumped out at me, after what has gone down the past week:
"DL: Cito Gaston recently said that he'd like to see you draw more walks.
AH: You know what? I'm at the point where… I don't know. I'm sure that he would. Obviously, I don't walk all that much, but does that take away some aggressiveness? I mean, I kind of like where I'm at right now..."
I wonder how "I'm at the point where..." was going to end.
Presumably BP could do a logical analysis of this: the correlation between wearing a cup and time spent on the DL. For that matter, the correlation between wearing a cup and fielding percentage. I can't imagine wearing one of those things and being able to field an infield position effectively.
All we need to get started is data on which major leagues wear the things and which don't. Will, you wanna go do some data gathering in locker rooms for us?
As a Jays fan I'm mildly surprised that Wells and Rios weren't on your list of underachievers.
I sort of assumed one of the other two would win, which would have been fine. But I've been voting for Ken pretty consistently through the contest, and am really pleased to see him win. He got my only vote the last round. I think he and Matt were the best pure writers in the contest. That, coupled with imaginative story ideas and solid research skills, makes him a really worthy winner. I look forward to reading his articles.
I do feel kind of badly for Brian and Tim. All three of the final articles were outstanding, and any of these these guys would have been credible winners. I hope we get the chance to read more of their work, too.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this. It's made for great reading.
Selecting any of the final four would work for me -- they pretty much were four of the five best writers in the original.
I didn't like some of Matt's pieces as much as many other people did, but I voted for him at least twice and am sorry to see him eliminated for lacking such a peripheral skill. His writing was consistently solid and at his best he was the cream of this crop.
How about: the effect on player stats on home-field scoring decisions.
How often do you see a fielding miscue called a hit? My impression is that some scorers -- perhaps most scorers -- make some of their calls to make the home team look good.
You can presumably get at scorer bias statistically. Team error rates at home vs on the road; home vs visitor error rates at each park, and so on. Is it possible to come up with a correction factor for scorer bias, then apply that to player stats? I suspect the biggest changes would be to fielding stats.
(Yes, I realize that it would be tough to come up with a clean statistical adjustment. The Red Sox DO field more cleanly than the visitors at Fenway -- they know where the balls hit off the wall will land and such. But I think that looking for possible scorer bias might show us some interesting things.)
Hmmm. How come those red Xs are getting bigger? Are they going to get bigger still as this thing goes on?
Brian is the first contestant to be eliminated that I've voted for most weeks -- including this week. I'm really sorry to see him go. I've pretty consistently enjoyed his articles and hope to see him writing somewhere regularly.
A couple of story ideas:
1. Pitching coaches, batting coaches -- which ones can be shown to improve players' stats, and which ones are ineffective or worse?
2. Switch hitting: which players do it effectively, and which ones should stick to one side of the plate?
3. The two articles on La Russa made me wonder if there is any relationship between how intrusive a manager is and how well the team does.
4. The Marco Scutaro question: How often is the utility infielder actually more effective than the every-day guy he sometimes replaces?
Or rank the unbreakable records by order of how unlikely they are to be broken. I suspect "most career losses by a manager" would prove to be the most unassailable of all -- but is it?
On the cliches one -- how about "what commonly held beliefs in baseball are shakiest?"
I just looked over the box scores of the games played on Thursday. I could see a couple of story ideas. I wonder if any of the contestants will see the same things? If they do, I'm curious to see if they actually work as story ideas.
It is kind of cool having such a narrow topic. As a reader I can sort of play along.
I was thinking the same thing. You really think that the Yankees wouldn't trade Sabathia for Halladay in a second if they had the chance? I think it Santana/Halladay is a more even trade, but I'd go with Halladay both for the extra innings he pitches and the way he acts as a role model for the other pitchers on the staff. You can make a good case that the reason the other Jays pitchers have overachieved, especially the past two seasons, is that they are all trying to emulate Roy's work ethic.
It is starting to get much tougher already. The round 3 articles were much better written -- and, for me, on more engaging topics -- than those in the first two rounds. I voted for five of the eight, and considered voting for two of the three that I didn't vote for.
Brittany is a really polished writer, but I think the topics so far, not to mention BP's basic approach to baseball, just didn't fit her strengths. I think hers was pretty clearly the weakest entry in a really strong round.
My favourite piece in the contest to date. Original, careful research, interesting presentation, beautiful writing. You hit it out of the park.
Who is Tyler? You're seeing some contestant that I'm not!
I voted strategically this time. Two of the pieces I especially liked (Funck and Kniker) got a lot of negative comments, so I voted only for those two, in case either was in danger of elimination. I'm glad to see them both get through. Sorry to see Jeff eliminated, though. A good writer who seemed to offer a lot. I guess I'll just read him at Cot's.
... and more informative!
The best-written article I've read so far, but it keeps promising things it doesn't deliver. Where's the comparison between the author's stats and Carews? Between Halladay and Peavy? The intro is cute but really misleading -- it is exactly the sort of apples-to-oranges comparison that translation stats can't handle.
I was stopped cold at "The homerun rates get a nice little boost here, but it is small enough that it could still just be noise in the study." That's so easy to check -- it makes it sound like you haven't heard of measures of statistical significance. Then I read back again and found a really unsettling vagueness to the analysis of the stats.
The first one so far that I've given an immediate thumbs up. At first I thought it was going to be really lightweight, but the original research in the latter part of the article swung me around. It's the best-written so far, too.
I'm supposed to vote for someone who thinks 33 is "old age"?
Lost me right from the initial 60-something word mess of an opening sentence. I thought the ideas were presented in a way that was muddled and unconvincing.
The intro is lame and generic and the writing is really clunky, but it introduced me to a concept I didn't know gently enough. I just wish it didn't read so much like a second-year university essay.