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Great writing, Meg. Many of these issues came to me in 1968 when a friend and I looked up at an open window of a bus carrying the <span class="teamdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/team_audit.php?team=OAK" target="blank">Oakland Athletics</a></span>. They were in Milwaukee to play a special, but official, game, against the <span class="teamdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/team_audit.php?team=CHA" target="blank">Chicago White Sox</a></span>.
We were teenagers asking about what it was like to be a major-leaguer. They made it clear they didn't want to be there. It had been a long night and they had a long ride to the South Side of Chicago and another game the next day. They didn't feel like heroes; they didn't act like heroes.
The experience didn't cause much harm. I already had been let down by the Braves when they left town a couple years before that. It reminded me that the joys of baseball are about my experiences, not theirs. It later became about sharing those joys with my sons. The talismans were about my experiences and those of my sons, not those of the athletes. It was about how I felt after victories and losses, good seasons and bad ones. I still love baseball and respect the players, but I don't live through their lives. I live my own life up in the stands. It makes be happy.
The 1993 Indians certainly didn't have a big payroll a year before entering Jacobs (no Progressive Field) but Hart knew the foundation built by Hank Peters would be a powerful force.
At best, payroll is a fragment of what leads to keeping the customer satisfied. It seems likely the Braves looked into their crystal ball and saw high-priced mediocrity that would look out of place in their new suburban paradise.
Do the players ever see evaluations of themselves along with an explanation of what it means? For example, a player might not understand how "maximum effort" is not necessarily a good thing. Reading such candid and blunt appraisals might get varying reactions, depending on the player's maturity.
I look forward to reading some examples!
Maybe the Tribe has already fallen from contender status, sorry to say.
jlapham, Talented pinch hitters and a good bullpen also help make it work.
As an aging Indians fan, Sands reminds me of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=23499">Gomer Hodge</a></span>, which to say: Enjoy it while you can!
Should it be "Fact?" but the act remains:
Word missing in second paragraph? "work they done"
Another rationale for batting the pitcher 8th is that it allows you to remove him from the game sooner. I believe Maddon mentioned that factor at least once. Sometimes that first guy out of the bullpen isn't much worse than the starter. Also, the pinch hitter can be selected to make a favorable matchup with the opposing pitcher and the subsequent reliever can matchup with the opponent's upcoming hitters -- also advantages. It also make a bit more sense in home games because the pitcher already got the top of the inning in before being lifted. Other factors include the kind of hitters at the bottom of the order. Sometimes it makes sense to put speedy/low on-base guys down there and they can perform well in bunting situations with the pitcher up. Sluggers, not so much, so a pinch hitter makes sense. With two outs, if that speedy guy steals second with the pitcher, it might make sense to lift the bunting pitcher for pinch-hitter with the superior <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> chance (although this rarely happens).
This is terrific! Readers' Digest for core baseball fans.
Is the comp predictive, or just about where a player is now? So might we expect McCutchen to follow Willie's career arc from now on, or does it just represent how he got to this point?
How does PECOTA do with big groups of players? For example if you added up all of the Indians or all of the American League and compared it with PECOTA did it produce similar numbers. Also, it seems that if PECOTA gets the playing time right, it does much better with the predictions for all of the other factors.
Only 25 here. Disappointed not to see Welington Castillo.
I wonder what this means for Rymer Liriano. Sure looks like the Padres figured they could do better. He might do better if he is traded.
Great start. I look forward to this kind of analysis taking into account the relative value of balls and strikes. Some strikes cannot be hit well; some balls can. Some strikes are better than others, etc. These factors also change among hitters as we see by differing heat charts.
Maybe this is legend, but I have been led to believe what your call fidgeting by the outfielders might actually be adjustments based on the anticipated pitch (shortstops have been known to relay that information) or just based on the count (two strikes, he is more likely to go the other way).
Have any of you seen Mike Aviles' throw from the left-field corner to double up a runner at first base? That belongs in this discussion of great throws. And he's usually an infielder.
I rarely think or complain about the length of the schedule in June or July, but I do curse it in early April or even March when I watch the Tribe in the snow. Rarely have much problem in the fall, though. Mostly, the more games the better. In my experience, only beat reporters and football fans really complain about the number of games. The rest of us enjoy it.
Zachary, there must be some sort of rule against reliving yourself on the mound.
I recall many of these writers admitting they favor the teams they were writing about, even saying "we", as I recall. Isn't associating you wishes and expectations the surest way to submit to bias? Does BP even expect or request unbiased writing, at least on an intellectual level? I think most of these writers would admit their lives would be a smidge better of they could follow a winning team this summer and would do so with no regret or shame. It seems the nature of sports to start "liking" the team you experience often, so finding somebody who watches the team a lot who also does not have a hometown bias would be very difficult and rare. The flip side are the fairly frequent naysayers who also dump on their own team and predict doom. I find them dreary and avoid their company!
Wouldn't it be logical for the Rockies to use Hawkins and Brothers as a righty/lefty closer team? Every other inning is about matchups, why not the ninth?
First guy I thought of was Joe Torre, who went from C to 3B and won a batting title.
Offense for catchers tRends has tended
and maybe even
But overall, I'm impressed with BP's editing.
I suspect the higher-priced players are the one's most likely to underperform and the next tier are the ones that usually become the following year's starts. But that's entirely intuition! It certainly seems that the premiere players from last year almost always decline (Cabrera and Trout are exceptions. Your results here seem to present a mixed result.
Also, has anyone figured out the real-life split on pitcher/hitter spending?
It seems the reaction to a new collective bargaining agreement is almost as important as what it actually says. I doubt many people expected many players to eventually sign for below the qualifying offer, and it has only happened once so far. Still, this means some players and agents will need to do some soul searching next year without the benefit of knowing what the 29 other clubs think of the player. Also, some teams will consider making a qualifying offer while fearing the player will actually take it! Even with the rules staying the same for several years, the reactions might be different each offseason.
"Fantasy career"? Help me wash that from my brain.
Always missing from lists like this are the slightly bad guys who move to being terrible. Usually, you can find them on my Strat-O-Matic teams.
Maybe I need to follow more.
The headline on this was so bad, so unappealing, I had to read it! And Mr. Brooks, meet Mr. Lindbergh. The beat writers are expected to Tweet during the game, during the time when they would prefer "crafting" their stories. This is mandated by the bosses, some of whom rarely go to baseball games, let along write about them on deadline. I would suggest somebody compile the actually helpful, in-game Tweets, but I fear it would be a very short story.
Loved it, especially the position battles. Is this the first, so far, this year? Will they be collected in one spot on the site?
Will all positions be covered like this? I hope so! Did I miss any already published?
He was a third baseman in the Dodgers' system before becoming a catcher. Francona told local writers yesterday that the experiment is real, but nothing is certain.
The list of players eliminated for consideration is more interesting than those who got in. I have to think reform is coming.
Can someone direct me to a definition of WPA?
After watching him many times the last couple of seasons, I concluded the source of his inconsistency was the varied ways he lands on his left foot. Sometimes he almost looks like he anticipates running to first, he steps so much in that direction. I think that varies his rhythm and release point.
I think we should go back to the term "stopper" from the late 70s and 80s when referring to relievers who came in an "put out the fire." Doesn't it make sense to have your best pitcher on the mound when it counts the most, whatever that inning might be? Yes, let them start and inning when possible, but that doesn't always work, creating a moment when you need the best matchup possible.
Because everyone loves trivia: It freaked me out that you had the left OPS (red) on the right and the right OPS (blue) on the left.
I respect BP for writing this. It adds to your credibility to admit and analyse your mistakes.
This little spat clearly shows the difference between baseball and football. When football players do their little sack dance when they are 30 points behind, TV fans seem to love it even though anyone with any sense would realize how stupid, childish and perhaps offense it is. In baseball, the issue is cleared up quickly with at most a few hugs and stage punches.
But Brian raises a good point. It's also good to hear about players who are shaping up to be mediocre or worse. It gives perspective.
Still, this is a great feature.
And one of the best features of these new thinkers is that they are challenging conventional wisdom and the best of them are also challenging their own conclusions, too. The next steps might look at the "whys" of certain trends and conclusions and that is why I suggest the social scientists might play a role. For example, in the debate about the need for a single closer role, the sociologist might be able to say yes/no some players just don't have the "gumption" (technical term) to get that final out and what can be done about it.
I certainly wasn't thinking of econometrics as a social science. That's a little like calling sabermetrics a social science. A person hearing that might say "Well, in a way as it deals with people, but most of its tools are quantitative." I was thinking more about sociology and psychology and their branches. For example, if statistical analysis can't explain why a manager continues to call bunts, maybe a psychologist could. I think most of us can agree that baseball is played by humans who often aren't rational. If by econometrics you meant somebody like Kahneman, who tries to explain why people tend to be irrationally risk averse, then I have to agree.
As for the point about writing, I was sincere, but probably a bit harsh, but sincere. Reading my previous paragraph reminds me that everyone needs an editor!
Maybe his presence blocked the development of somebody with more potential?
Maybe some GMs are buying in to the fan popularity of these guys, although the fellows on your list were not what I recognize as charismatic! It does built fan loyalty when favorites don't get traded much.
Another asset SABR could offer is the diversity of thought and experience. SABR members come from many fields, including the humanities and social sciences that are virtually absent from sabermetric research. Yes, sabermetrics writers often wear blinders when it comes to these resources.
Also, most BP writers, like this one, would benefit from an experienced editor. The grammar and editing are OK but most of them write as if they are paid by the word. Sometimes the writers take a long and winding path to making their points and other times they don't even get there. SABR also has its windy writers and its quality varies,too. However, SABR does include talent that can provide valid criticism of sabermetrics, if only they felt it would be received politely.
Sabermetrics and scouting have their cliches, too. I hope they turn to those next with great velo.
Some of us SABR members appreciate sabermetrics but we are so old we can't help but insist on a healthy measure of skepticism. I think the next step will be writers conversant in multiple disciplines to explain not just "what" a player did and can be expected to do, but also "why" certain things happen. For example, the statistician can figure out the odds of getting three outs in the ninth but the old baseball people would say those outs are tougher to get than in the third inning. What would a psychologist say about that?
Yeah, the Indians certainly "waffled" Reed last night. As for Balfour and Perez, when do you think a blip becomes a trend with relievers? It seems like they can go downhill fast or suddenly find their stuff and start thriving for a while. How do you avoid being behind the trend all the time?
So this is PECOTA taking account of THIS SEASON'S performance and adjusting it's prediction for the rest of the season? How often does this re-assessment done? Every day?
Do these PECOTA numbers represent so far this year, what we can expect the rest of the way or something else? They are so limited I must assume they are not for a full season.
Another factor, Po, would be the possibility of the Tribe trading for pitching help.
Reading these articles made me watch Carlos Santana more closely and he richly deserves to be on this list. I expect Yan Gomes to get more and more time at catcher and Carlos plays more at DH and 1B.
Perhaps the Indians could get back in the race by trading Chris Perez to the Tigers.
Or better yet, go to Strat-O-Matic where almost everything counts.
Yeah, that's why casino gambling is boring and foolish. When it's just luck, the more you play, the more certain your are to lose.
Jason, for comparison purposes, I would like to know how many pitchers had quality starts and did win? What's the winning percentage for pitchers with quality starts?
I wonder how soon Yan Gomes will be the Tribe's starting catcher almost every day.
Context is everything. Reading this so many years later and knowing how these guys progressed, mostly to failure, it can be depressing.
I wonder was knowing Fausto's real age would have done to his PECOTA. Probably a lot, I'd guess.
Just found this. It could be great for my razzball league!
Regarding that first pitch to Goldschmidt, sometimes you see a catcher try to avoid turning his hand palm up only to have the ball break so much it it glances off the end of his glove. Then the announces might accuse him of being lazy. Ha! the woes of the hard working catchers.
Also: "Goldschmidt had a .769 OPS vs. right-handed hitters and a .996 OPS vs. left-handed hitters."
Did you mean pitchers instead of "hitters."
After being selfish for a couple innings, I realized going to a baseball game, for a child, is mostly about special time with Dad. We all had more fun after that.About 25 years later, they are taking me to games.
Great detail. Often, relievers flash excellence and all we learn are a few words in a quote like "he improved his mechanics" without elaboration. It will be interesting to see if this continues.
It certainly is no sure thing that Profar is up to stay. If he does go down, is he eligible to go back on this list?
Prices are missing.
Last night the Giants showed a strike zone for Pablo Sandoval that showed he is proficient at hitting over .350 in three zones out of the strike zone. It would be interesting to know if a coach knows these zones and teaches the batters to lay off certain pitches regardless of whether they are strikes or not. Personally, I doubt a player can be so discerning to effectively tell the difference, but, heh, I'm an ignorant fan. And would a coach be more effective by changing his approach according to the traits of individual hitters, or preaching the same-old same-old to everybody?
Maybe you have explained why Sabermetrics is so threatening to some folks. If it could explain and predict every event, baseball would no longer be interesting or worth doing or watching. I doubt that will happen and I hope it does not.
Was this posted too late? Confused about the day references
Ben, has any team installed pitchFx in a batting cage so hitters can practice their pitch selection? Maybe install a giant Gong to give them feedback?
Fascinating. As a non-mathematician, I have the following comments/questions. Is anything in baseball truly random in the same sense as rolling dice is random? Human will abounds through all of this. And just as pitchers aren't the same through the season, they also aren't the same year-to-year, plus hitters and pitchers are always talking about "making adjustments" so it can even change within a game. Your basic point that "it's more complicated than we originally thought" seems sound and certainly worth pursuing. I know everyone is looking for the simple, elegant declarative statement but ...
Nice to see new content on the weekend. Thanks
Hey, I listened to the end and I will again!
The Depth Charts list Mr. Layne as on the outside looking in, giving rise to the possibility that his Major-League pitching days could be over. Perhaps the Padres expect big league hitters will soon adapt to his deception and pound him like the minor-leaguers did when they got two of three looks at him in a single game as a starter. Especially when you figure the Major League hitters and coaches have access to these same videos and data.
My grumpy old baseball fan comes out when I see folks look at last year's performance and predict (I admit with great validity) that last year's superstars will be this year's superstars when my "experience" tells me that rarely happens. Sometimes what makes sense on one level does not make sense on another level. My suspicion is that it might take more that just statistical and baseball expertise. Perhaps it takes a social scientist to tell us why an individual cannot sustain excellence.
Thanks. That brings back memories of secretly reading that book in the school library and wondering why baseball didn't pay attention. They still aren't. What the Rockies did last season was not a fair test.
I recall something like this being proposed in a 60's book called "Percentage Baseball". It was not politely received by old-liners, which made me, a a teenager, think it might have merit.
Interesting to think about who would be the best managerial choice for these youngsters.
Nicely done. Nice to see guys like Merejo included. It's fun to follow these extremely young guys as they go on and off the lists as they mature.
If you call it "dumbing down", of course people will act negatively. But if you use words and terms only an in crowd understand or make them look up or assume the meaning you will turn people off. PB does some great things in this area, like highlighting the formulas when you mouse over it. But when you use jargon and take an attitude like Jason's you are going to turn people off. That's what I meant by respect. Explaining things thoroughly is not dumbing down, it's good writing.
I agree Dutchman, even the part about me not being restrained.
I'm annoyed by the excessive jargon in this article. Always a problem on this site, it's way to much here. What does "average run" mean? Should that be runner, run-scoring ability? I resent being expected to know the latest jargon. Just explain yourself. "Two plane break and velo" Are you too lazy to spell out velocity or explain to the folks you treat like dummies what the latest scout jargon is? Please show me some respect.
I've heard Boras called many things, but this is the first time I've read "Impatient."
When both guys are going against a same-side pitcher, isn't it worth considering the bench for both of them. Even a blank spot for a day might be better.
And please define terms for us dummies. Took me a while to figure out what ADP meant. Sorry for the nit!
Beating Pythag would be a good title to a baseball novel.
Daniel, I would appreciate it if your links like "on the hard stuff" in the Wainwright section opened a new page instead of directing me off your story. It would make it easier to look at your background and not lose my place when I come back to your essay. Thanks for considering it.
Yeah, I appreciate any time you help us SOM dice rollers.
Is PECOTA assessing the team as it is constituted right now, the team that played all of last year (maybe 40 guys, including some who might never play again) or something in between?
Seems to me that teams that trade away quality for future do quite poorly with only a few exceptions. Has BP ever looked at that. It might make sense to a businessman to trade his best player for a bunch of prospects, but it angers the fans and often fails. Before free agency, good players often stayed on bad teams and garnered the affection of the fan base even as the team lost. Those days are gone, but if a player is performing, is a model citizen and the fans like him, why not keep him instead of betting on the flavor of the month?
Where have you gone Ryan Howard? To the hospital maybe, or better yet, the gym.
The Indians and other teams have tried this before: collecting a group of well-worn pitchers in hope of finding five gems. The problem is recognizing which gem is real and which is pyrite! We all know that March stars often decline to becoming June's waiver claims. Francona has a chance to earn his salary and it will be fun to watch. This is where statistics help least -- finding the guy who suddenly finds the magic and defies all reasonable expectations.
A joy to see the Tribe get aggressive for once. They have not shown much ability in the draft, so why not take an alternative route?
And PECOTA says six Indians will wiff more than 100 times, and that's before Bourn signs up. Do you feel a draft?
As and Indians fan I am so proud to have three guys on this list. Maybe we will return to the glory days of Cory Snyder.
Reading "Citi Field’s vast alleyways" makes me wonder if the size of outfields have been quantified as far as square feet. Just from memory of watching an occasional game on TV, this seems like an exaggeration.
I would like to suggest the Indians' signing of Wayne Garland to a 10-year deal worth (gasp!) $1.3 million. In today's money it might have been worth it. He did have one decent season.
Dan, I know folks don't comment on this much, but that might be because you handle things so thoroughly. I try to read it every day. Keep up the good work!
Just curious. When you say "next level" do you mean the minors or the majors?
Thanks for the succinct update. This could be a daily read.
Russell, great job! Did you work for the Florida Board of Elections in 2000?
Warren Spahn on Stengel: "I'm probably the only guy who worked for Stengel before and after he was a genius."
I think Acta skipped the Yankees segement of his career and wend directly from the Boston Braves to the New York Mets.
I read this often, but never understand what is meant by "significant boring action." It's the kind of jargon that the writer expects us to nod at as if we understand, but it is never really explained. Doesn't every pitch bore through the air? What is different about this pitch?
Yeah, I slept in this morning but is it April Fools day and I didn't know it?
I very much enjoy this format using the entire team of writers providing succinct writing on solid topics. Thanks.
I wonder if any TV stations have sold this time, as in "This Tater Trot brought to you by Ore-Ido Tater Tots?"
It's an American game, it deserves the American spelling of "Favorite."
Hey, a man can dream, right? It would be interesting to know what the numbers folks think is an adequate sample of games to get a good read on where a team will finish the season. Obviously, it's continuum constantly getting more accurate as the season goes along, but there can be a point when somebody has to admit they are going to be better than expected. And remember, the Tribe faced a lot of injuries in 2011 that they MIGHT avoid this season.
Oh! My virgin ears!
Until they find some objective way to test arm strength and durability, it will always be arbitrary and quesswork. But at least they are paying attention to what little the stats do say about the work load for young pitchers. I think I first heard about this regarding Warren Spahn, who started late because of WW11 and went on to a long career. Ditto for Koufax -- light workload in younger years but not nearly as long a career. I'm sure somebody has doctors looking at this because it is as much a medical as baseball question.
When I look to renew my subscription, I probably won't think of this crap as a positive. But who am I to talk? I got bored after the three paragraphs and moved to the last one, hoping there was a point here. And there isn't; this guy was trying to wax poetic without doing the hard work of finding something new to say.
At the risk of sounding like a newbie (I'm not), exactly how do you distinguish "command" and "control." Seems these terms mean different things to different people and for some, they are alike.
As I read this, I kept thinking: "I need to remember this stuff!" Thanks
I read a lot of these prospect summaries, and I often get the feeling management uses them to send a message to the player that they have flaws that must be worked on. Maybe they think having the media repeat what they also are saying is a form of emphasis.
It seems to me that a ball moving a tenth of an inch inside this tube might be enough to frustrate a batter trying to "square up" a pitch and hit is solidly. That would seem to call for more mis-hits in the form of weak grounders and popups against knucklers than other pitches, and that seems like something pitchFX could tell us. As for perception, well it wouldn't be surrising to learn we are exagerating. I know I have seen a couple of knucklers up close and it sure LOOKED like it fluttered and we all know what folks say about perception!
Interesting that football capitalizes Commissioner and Finance Committee but not Major League Baseball. Does that represent an attitude?
Has anyone ever compiled a lineup of players who best represent replacement level at every position? I understand the concept, but it would be nice to visualize a real human who plays at a 0 WAR level.
I'd like to know a little more about the voting, such as how many participated and who is alowed to participate. Can I vote, for example? Is there a chart somewhere showing all of the results?
Noting that Hurdle has seen some success reviving the Pirates, it might be interesting to look at the emotional side of being more aggressive. Yes a caught stealing or outfield assist can be costly, but if it removes passivity in other parts of the game, it might have value that is tougher to measure.
I agree HeavyHitter.
With Choo, Sizemore, Buck and Brantley all out today, it seems the Indians need an outfielder more than a starter. Brantley should recover quickly, but Choo and Sizemore are gone long-term and Buck will always be Buck. Tribe started Valbuena and Carerra today, so the need was apparent.
It would have been interesting to see PECOTA or some other type of pojection for how these rookies would do in the majors. Can PECOTA work in the middle of the season?
I have Sirius but I don't get channel 209 because I would have to play extra. Will you be posting it here as a podcast?
For us old guys: Rico Carty.
I very much appreciate Carty going back to previous BPs and showing what they said about these late bloomers. That helps me make judgments about what I read this year.
I wish he had spelled out NPB just once for us ignorant folks. I infer it's the Japanese league, but that's only an assumption.
Looked at this expecting to read about Asdrubal Cabrera.
I always fear for the folks who turn their backs to the plate and chat with a neighbor, ignoring the game -- very dangerous. As for me, I once felt like prs130, but I've seen too many folks hurt and would be OK with the screen being extended. The odds of being hurt are considerably less than 1/1,000,000. And my greatest fear is some yahoo jumping over my back and pushing me to the ground to grab a $5 ball. By the way, I have two balls caught at MLB games and I didn't have to push anyone aside to get them.
Damn, this might wind up costing me money! Good luck be sure to write as much as possible in your reporting/editing jobs. Editing is honorable work, but there's less fun in it.
More revenue sharing without a salary cap (except ticket sales like the NFL) makes a lot more sense, especially from a players' standpoint. But Steinbrenner would go nuts because he thinks World Series titles are his birthright. The only reason his dad didn't win more is stupidity in some of his player choices. The Yanks did best after his second suspension when he had to leave the team in the good hands of Gene Michael. If Georgie had wound up with the Indians, as he once intended, he would have ended up with mediocrity at best and more likely an abomination of bad player decisions and fired managers.
Maybe something simple like the average OPS of batters faced so the LOOGY shows up against Morneau and the closer gets credit for punching out Plouffe.
In the comparables they should list minor-league coaches Francoeur might hope to emulate.
It used to be possible to have conversations like this at a ballgame, before "advances" in automated stadium noise.
I like PITCH/fx and hope it stays. I also want to continue using umps exclusively in the games because I like the human element. And most of all, I reserve my right to protest a call while sitting 450 feet away! Very nice article.
I now know what "stochastic" means and why I never was able to rationalize bullpen selection.
Gee, that Babe Ruth trade was pretty big, too.
Too bad it couldn't have been Strat-O-Matic.
Well done. Christina Kahrl has become my favorite writer in the short time I've subscribed to Baseball Prospectus.
I am forced to assume ADP stands for Average Draft Position, but I would prefer these acronyms be spelled out at least once.