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I'm from Chicago; I'm a raging anti-Ketchite!
Earlier today -- before this announcement -- I was thinking of how exciting it is to be a Cubs fan right now, and how amazing it's going to be when this team reaches its peak and hopefully wins a World Series. While I'm extremely sad that Jason will no longer be writing and podcasting for my enjoyment, I think that moment when the Cubs win the World Series will be just a little sweeter because I'll know Jason will have had a hand -- however small -- in creating it.
RIP, Jason. Good luck, brother.
Has your projection of Kris Bryant's defense changed from the preseason? I'm starting to hear some interesting reports on that end.
And of course: this is an excellent product - big thanks to the prospect team for their efforts.
Probably because Johnny Giavotella is 4 years younger than Chris Getz and therefore has never had an age-30 season. Makes for a hard comparison.
Oops - pardon me - just saw the "ETA" field in the write-up. I'll show myself the door.
I'd been looking for more info on Matt Wisler - thank you for the detailed write-up.
Any thought as to his ETA - perhaps mid-2014?
The linked Kansas City Star article includes a quote that illustrates another reason why the evolutionary change will be slow: the players. When asked about the lineup switch, Eric Hosmer said: "I understand the role of a No. 2 hitter and I’ve hit there before."
Eric Hosmer understands the *traditional* role of a #2 hitter, which is to hit behind the runner and execute other small-ball tactics. If Eric Hosmer changes his game simply because his manager puts him in the #2 hole, then some of the benefits of the change will be lost.
This isn't to pick on Hosmer, but just to point out that the evolution towards optimal lineups will take more than front offices dictating strategy to the field managers. There's got to be a wider cultural shift within the game, which will take place over a more extended timeframe.
Very funny stuff. Well done.
I can only imagine how envious Jason Parks is that he didn't come up with this idea for himself.
I thought MLB was enforcing the "catcher's box" - has that eroded over time? On a couple of these supposedly great framing jobs, the catcher appears to set up well outside the catcher's box.
The list itself is a lot of fun, but will take time to digest and will have a lot of on-going value as a reference point.
The notes, however, are pure gold and provide instant satisfaction; well done. If there happen to be more notes that were left on the cutting-room floor, I recommend publishing them in a separate article.
Rodriguez was with the *Rangers* when Jay-Z bragged of making "A-Rod numbers"? Man, I'm getting old.
Fun article, Sam. If you haven't already, I recommend checking out the Rap Genius podcast; they've done some very cool interviews.
No, Kevin Orie.
How dare you suggest that Dan Vogelbach is built like an offensive lineman!
Offensive linemen are muscular and athletic.
I'm so hoping that KG opens a new Baseball Prospectus account under a pseudonym so he can troll Jason in the comments section.
Great stuff, Sam. And as someone who has Giancarlo Stanton on his fantasy team, I approve of this plan.
Just downloaded this episode, first ever listen to the podcast.
To confirm something that Sam suspected: no, nobody else wants to hear more about the insects. :)
This was a really, really well-written article. I know you don't think of yourself as a good writer, but you really maximized this piece given the word count limitation.
I do think there is one important factor that went unconsidered: inflation in player salaries. Salary inflation is the single biggest reason that Pujols' contract ended up providing such value to the Cardinals, and given the general expectation (gleaned through comments here and there) of real increases in cable TV revenue in coming years, I think we could see significant salary inflation. If this happens, even a $130M contract for Trout could end up being a bargain.
Good point! Obviously hadn't thought of that.
However, I'm not sure I'm responsible for considering every possible alternative to ensure 100% certainty. If I was wrong, I'd be happy for someone at BP to clarify, and I'll gladly apologize and retract my comment.
I find it amazing when people jump all over KG (or any of the other prominent prospect raters) when they provide a player ranking substantially different than the consensus. My *favorite* thing about these lists is to see which players are rated substantially different, and why. It's an indication that KG (or KLaw, etc.) has access to information about that player that we don't, and allows to evaluate whether maybe, just maybe, it's time for us to update our prior beliefs about the prospect.
Also conspicuous by his absence, at least at the tail end of this list: Jedd Gyorko. KG has been pretty vocal about his belief in Gyorko's ability to hit. I'd bet $1 he's on the "just missed" list.
I'm surprised as well.
However, it appears that 2012 draftees weren't eligible for the list. Add those players in, and May falls off.
Also, if I recall (from the podcast), I believe KG finalized this list a few weeks ago. It could be that the list became just a tiny bit stale as BP held on to it while finalizing the remainder of it's Call-Up product.
Thanks for the list, KG.
For the record, I have no problem with the $4 supplementary product (other than frustration over it only being accessible on the Kindle platform). However, Joe Hamrahi (link below) promised that the list would be available here "as soon as we can publish it after the ebook is available."
Were this the case, the list would have been published on Monday. It seems to me, however, that the BP pageviews were kept high on Monday and Tuesday with the trading deadline content, so the decision was made to hold off on publishing this list so as to drive fresh traffic to the site. And while that is a perfectly reasonable business decision, it wasn't what had been promised. I recommend being a little more careful in what you promise.
KG: reports have Arodys Vizcaino going to the Cubs. If that is true, is my current excitement warranted? Because I'm *really* excited!
Great article, Dan. A lot of us who have been BP readers for a long time initially came here for the original research and the empirical bent of the analysts, but I can't tell you how neat these "behind the curtains" pieces are. I'm looking forward to more articles in the series.
Chuck James had *historically* high fly ball rates. As there's really no "scouts vs. stats" divide anymore - beer and tacos, after all - James represents one of stat-heads' last 'victories'. Baseball America had James as a top-10 prospect when stat heads looked at his fly ball rate and realized there was no historical precedent for a pitcher of that type to experience major league success.
So I guess I'm saying he's not the best example of a guy with great minor league numbers failing to achieve in MLB. His lack of MLB success was predictable.
Nice piece, Midget. Welcome to the club.
And forget that 5x5 nonsense - go play Scoresheet. I made the switch in 1998 and haven't thought of going back.
-Jivas (a/k/a Wolverine Boy on the Score, though it's been awhile since I've contributed and used that moniker)
Great work, Sam.
KG: From the outside, it seems kind of ridiculous that the A's have been well out of contention for the last 3 years yet have not given Chris Carter a legitimate chance to sink or swim at the big league level (124 total PAs). Is there something we're missing as outsiders? I'm not particularly confident in his ability to consistently hit major league pitching, but I'd rather he get a legit shot than keep mashing in AAA and not really knowing for sure. Thanks!
Very interesting stuff, Jason. I have to say, though - the utter lack of ability to find a comparable player whose tools actualized leads me to believe that some teams in the industry are not correctly "pricing" the risk inherent in these sashimi raw "assets" and are overvaluing them to some extent.
Cool stuff, Sam. I have to say that, while I understand that older video would be limited, it's sad to see a retrospective with video of Old Vlad (Orioles, Rangers) rather then peak Expos Vlad.
And believe it or not, there's a semi-comparable player at his peak right now. The player that has swung at the highest percentage of pitches out of the strike zone in 2012? Josh Hamilton.
And one of those walks was intentional. Romo had a 1.50 ERA last year, and a unheard-of SIERA of 0.97.
Absolutely no idea of the strike zone, and drafted by Jim Hendry? I'm shocked. #notshocked
Careful, Sam - Tim Tebow's handlers just had a Twitter picture removed in order to protect his image, so I imagine you'll now be hearing from Josh Hamilton's people.
Seriously, though - another great f***ing piece.
Cool stuff, Sam.
By the way, did you see Bonifacio's double? It would have been a single for 80-90% of MLB hitters, but hustle and speed turned it into a two-bagger.
I'm a Cubs fan, so I'll leave this here:
In all seriousness: cool story, bro.
Actually, that may not have been right. I just read that the Dodgers called up Eovaldi to pitch in the bullpen, so perhaps those two 1-inning starts were to prepare him for his major-league role.
I am a financier of sabermetrics. I think pitcher wins are beyond dumb. I thought Jamie Moyer's win (and resulting record) was one of the most awesome and inspiring things I'd seen in months.
Keltner - see here:
Jason - is there a reason you avoided using the word "screwball" to describe a pitch with reverse-slider movement? I assume the term refers to a specific type of arm action that Darvish doesn't use to get the effects you're describing?
Exactly - after the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce thing last year, there was NO WAY Brendan Ryan was getting the benefit of the doubt there.
Which is fine by me. Tie goes to the guy making history.
Great - thanks for the insight. I checked a few places and hadn't seen any sort of explanation for it.
KG - the Eovaldi move looks unusual. There doesn't seem to be an opening in the Dodgers' rotation (Harang has an ERA over 5 but has 23 Ks in 16 IP); is it possible that they're moving Eovaldi to the bullpen? I'd understand bringing him up and using him in an Earl Weaver-ish manner, but isn't it too soon to use him as a one-inning guy?
(Or maybe I'm reading too much into this).
As calculated, does the value of the Merchant pick *include* the contributions of Ken Griffey, Jr.? If so, the value of that pick is overstated since Griffey wasn't available for Pittsburgh to select.
I cast my vote for Mike Leake's Pitchability. You can keep the flamethrowers, I'll watch this guy pitch any day of the week: changing speeds, hitting locations, getting ground balls, fielding his position, and always staying cool. He's an artist out there, and he can handle the bat to boot.
Wow. Great stuff, Sam - very creative and thought-provoking.
Baseball is so unique in this way. I may be more of a football than baseball fan, but I couldn't care less if an NFL running back had ever produced a line of 23-104-2 (or whatever). The data produced in baseball just has a certain poetry to it.
Very, very cool and useful resource. Thanks!
The Strasburg pitch to Duda actually raises a point I've been thinking about the last couple of years: I think there's a visual distortion from watching games via the center field camera when the catcher has to move his glove across the plate to catch a ball, wherein the pitch "looks" to break across the plate (in the direction the catcher's glove moves) when it may not actually do so.
In the Strasburg pitch above, the Nationals catcher (presumably Wilson Ramos) moves his glove from over the plate into the right-handed batters box, making it look like the changeup breaks like a left-handed slider. What I've wondered is - does the pitch break, or does it head in a direct/straight path to its ultimate location? Are we confused into thinking there was a big break because we confuse the movement of the catcher's mitt with the movement of the ball?
Sam - not sure if you watched David Price's first start, but he threw a tilt-a-licious slider to a right-handed hitter for a swinging strikeout, and that pitch was as filthy as filthy gets. That was the single pitch I saw this week that most sticks out in my memory.
A 1-day contract for Tim Raines would re-start his 5 year wait to be Hall of Fame eligible, I assume. Might not be a bad thing - some of the new blood may have voting privileges by the (Keith Law et al.), while some of the older BBWAA folks may ... no longer be voting.
I'm lucky enough to be in a profession where I have wide latitude to set my own schedule. Tomorrow is a scheduled day off and will be filled with baseball. The early-games shenanigans really doesn't do much to weaken my enthusiasm for "Opening Day", although I may be in the minority there.
(However, I do have to admit - tonight's game being a one-game series is particularly odd).
Sam - you may want to update your BP username. I don't think "SamMillerOCR" fits anymore, and thank goodness for that.
It's the "extra" 2 years that I don't understand - the difference between a 10-year commitment and a 12-year commitment. Would Votto really have balked if the Reds had proposed to tear up the last 2 years of his deal and to roll it into a new 10-year deal comparable to the ones Pujols and Fielder got? Given that he had a full 2 years until free agency, while those deals were made by actual free agents able to negotiate with any team?
To state this in financial terms, the firm (and their owners) can diversify their risk, while their employees usually cannot since so much of their wealth is tied up in their human resource.
This issue comes up a lot in the corporate governance literature.
Sorry, one more clarification: "To an economist, this is irrational."
This isn't true. Behavior that does not maximize one's own utility would be considered irrational, but the assumption of risk aversion is a common one (in many settings, the standard assumption) in economic literature. (That is, risk-aversion is baked into the individual's utility function, if that wasn't clear.)
Again, pardon if this is nit-picky - I love pieces like this - but I'm in a profession where one picks nits over things like this. :)
Small clarification, Sam - prospect theory postulates that humans are "loss averse". This is a slightly different than the economic concept of risk aversion, although the difference is probably meaningless for this setting.
That aside: once again, a great piece. Great to have you here at BP.
Great stuff, Sam.
No disrespect to any of the current or former BP staff, but reading your initial pieces here makes me feel as if the gap created a couple of years ago by the departure of Joe Sheehan has finally been filled.
FYI - relative to other MLB owners of big market teams, the Ricketts family does *NOT* have a deep pocketbook. Perhaps relative to the Tribune Company (at least compared to their perceived willingness to spend), but it's an open question as to whether the family could really "afford" to buy the team in the first place. Not quite as bad as the Frank McCourt purchase (particularly given hindsight), but bad nonetheless.
Yes. He had 17 Ks in 9 IP. He wore down during his brief minor-league run last year - see KGs mention of his college workload - but before wearing down the pitching lines from his first couple/few performances were INSANE.
Timely article, Stephen. I was trying to think of historical precedents for Jeremy Lin yesterday, and Fernandomania was the first that sprung to mind in that the substance matched the hype (Lin, unlike Tim Tebow, has had consistently outstanding individual performances).
I don't think the workload issue works very cleanly as a cross-sport analogy, but your broader point about nature is a very interesting one. It's going to be fun to watch Jeremy Lin develop (hopefully the kid can handle all this hype), and wonder when the next baseball shooting star will come along.
As always - BP's willingness to make the process transparent is appreciated, as is the hard work to try to get this right.
Regarding the comparables issue - leaving other issues aside for now - the sticking point for me is less that some comparables are clearly wacky, but that the *projections* are influenced by the errors in those comparables. The comparables obviously drive some portion of the projections, and because this one visible element of the system is clearly wrong, our confidence in the projections themselves is reduced. Given the presence of other issues over the last 2 years, for me personally my confidence in the projections is REALLY low.
Again, I almost feel guilty discussing this openly. I've just reached the point where I've lost all confidence that Nate's old PECOTA system - a system which I trusted to tease some meaningful relationships out of the data that weren't being picked up elsewhere - will return.
I know I'm not the first to point this out, and I'm intentionally bringing this up in a low-traffic thread, but young players are only being compared to major-league players. If you sort the position players on age, every single 19-year old is compared to Robin Yount, Wayne Causey, and Ed Kranepool.
I understand that an immense amount of work must have gone into converting PECOTA from Nate Silver's initial Excel spreadsheet-palooza and in maintaining/updating the process since - and I respect the hell out of everyone at BP who's gone through this every year - but simply put, PECOTA hasn't been "right" since it left Nate's hands. There are a few tangible issues - the one raised here and another I repeatedly raised in a Beta testing page (and over e-mail) a couple of years ago that was ignored - and many more intangible "that just ain't right" issues (e.g. Rockies' position players last year).
At this point I use PECOTA as just another data point to provide a forecast (among the swath of other projection systems), and when PECOTA provides an outlier I assume it's the result of an error rather than some prescient bit of information (e.g. the famous Wily Mo Pena forecast or Brandon Webb's insane comparable list the year he got called up).
I've been pretty patient with the process - at least I think I have been - but at this point I'm just sad. I've given up hope.
KG: just asking - obviously I have no specific reason to believe otherwise - but how likely is it that Cespedes is actually 26 years old right now? Is it close to 100%? Thanks!
Great stuff, KG.
I'm surprised I haven't seen any questions (here or Twitter) about Moore over Harper/Trout. While I understand that there *is* a such thing as a pitching prospect, short of a Strasburg-type monster it seems difficult to imagine any pitcher returning the value of a Harper or Trout if either approach their ceiling.
I'd love to hear you expand on that choice, to which I'm sure you gave a LOT of thought.
Jason, I just listened to the podcast where you and Kevin joked about what your column for the White Sox would look like. Here's an idea: for that system only, make the article about what could go RIGHT.
Cool stuff as always, KG.
I have to say, I do think you're *slightly* misrepresenting the type of players that sabermetrically-inclined people champion as miscategorized Quad-A players; I think most of us recognized that Brad Eldred (for example) would never make enough contact to maintain a palatable batting line.
There are definitely players - Roberto Petagine being maybe the most prominent example - that a lot of us to this day swear would have hit if he'd only been given enough of a chance. Dallas McPherson ... not so much. I guess what I'm saying is that statheads have enough sophistication to look into the *details* of a player's minor league batting line before championing their cause, rather than assuming that anyone slugging .550 in the PCL can hit in the big leagues.
I'm guessing that's a bit strong for an *expectation*. LaHair's 2011 PECOTA weighted mean forecast was .266/.335/.457; while he had success in 2011 (including 20 games in the big leagues) he was also 28 this past season.
I'm starting to seriously believe that at least some MLB front offices will refuse to hire you because it will remove you from the writer pool.
Tony Gwynn was very careful with Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State, refusing to pitch him in relief the same weekend as his start and generally keeping his pitch count down.
Sure, Strasburg got hurt his second year of pro ball, but it wasn't a result of overuse by Gwynn.
Because it's his non-throwing arm, he should be ready by Spring Training.
See? This is why I could never be a baseball writer. In response to the question "What's wrong with Mariano Rivera?", my article, in its entirety, would read:
"He has a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-unintentional-walk ratio this year. There's nothing wrong with him."
Somehow, I'm guessing that wouldn't meet BP's word count requirements.
(Great article Jay!)
Re: Larry Doby/narrative - he went through much of what Jackie Robinson went through in AL cities and parks.
I thought it was awesome when MLB retired Jackie Robinson's number across the game, but I think it would have been a little more awesome if they'd retired Robinson's number for NL teams and Doby's number for AL teams.
Very interesting - great article!
From a game theory standpoint, I always thought the optimal mix was to randomize with likelihoods weighted by the strength of the pitch. That is, for someone like Colon it might be 80% fastballs and 20% sliders, with a computer generating a random sequence of pitches with those probability weights.
While there are certain counts where you may want to deviate from a random strategy (i.e. 3-0), I'd love to see a team try it out in spring training or in the low minors. Under specified conditions game theory predicts randomization as the optimal strategy in certain games (i.e. rocks-paper-scissors), and I'd be interested in seeing such a strategy in practice in baseball.
KG: Wilin Rosario sounds an awful lot like Miguel Olivo.
Great stuff, Jason. Bravo.
I'd like to echo the commenters above regarding your reports on the prospects themselves. I was looking forward to your assessment of the prospects on the field that night.
I read it as if he meant to say "laminated" and therefore I assumed it to be a minor editorial error.
Did they really have to get a stereotypical unathletic geek to play Paul DePodesta? DePo played football at Harvard for crying out loud!
Re: Kyle Blanks - yes, that would be interesting. Could you imagine Kyle Blanks in LF with Brad Hawpe in RF in PETCO Park (now that Rizzo is in at 1B)? What's the record for triples in a game?
David Ross may be the best backup catcher in the league, but he's *not* the second-best catcher in the league.
The criticism of Ben Revere is only because we were all unaware that he warned the British.
Is it safe to say that Mesoraco has passed Wilin Rosario as the best catching prospect in the minors?
Wow. That was as thorough and complete a take-down as I've seen in some time. Bravo, sir.
Well written, Stephen - great turn of the phrase. I literally LOL'd at "You can’t be an “RBI whore” unless your team propositions you."
"For the first time, readers will be able to peruse the writings of some of Baseball Prospectus' most famous alumni including Keith Woolner (Cleveland Indians), Keith Law (ESPN), and Christina Kahrl (ESPN)."
Apparently Nate Silver isn't as famous as he thinks he is! :)
Awesome. Thanks much for the response.
KG: any reports on Carlos (Matias) Martinez from this weekend? Expectations were unfairly high, and the box score was ugly.
I've been going to games in Wrigley for about 25 years, and every time I go there with someone who's going for the first time, that's *exactly* what I tell them.
There were similarly offensive shirts and headbands that related to Kosuke Fukudome being Japanese. That's right, Cubs fans made racist jokes about their *own* players as some sort of a tribute to them.
I always tell people that I'm a "fan of the Cubs", because I don't want to be associated with "Cubs fans" as a group.
By the way Emma, nice article.
Just saw KG's tweet. Great news.
No Jose Altuve? :(
Great question - I've always wondered this. I think it's the first 20% of players, if I recall.
I suspect the players who gain Super-2 status are relatively nondescript relief pitchers and utility infielders/4th outfielder types - the guys that teams aren't really *worried* about gaining Super-2 status. Unless there's some change in the number of those types of players in a given year, teams are probably going to be safe waiting until ~June 1 to bring up Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, et al.
Would like to know if I'm wrong on that, though. :)
I'm rooting for Dontrelle Willis to make it back...it's fun to watch him pitch. Would be great to see him carve out a niche like Livan Hernandez (albeit a different niche).
I'm *very* excited to try this out. Thanks for adding the feature.
I root against Brett Myers as well.
Great stuff, Jason. It was clear that you had been through some stuff from listening to your voice in the podcasts, and this piece really completes the picture. Bravo.
Not to be "that guy" (while totally being "that guy"), but I can't help but think the process would be slightly less painful with a more healthy diet, regular exercise, and perhaps less frequent alcohol consumption.
(I'll show myself out).
I suspect they would faint over the sight of a 6'3" 225-pound shortstop and quickly realize that they would have to give maximum effort to more than 3-4 players in each lineup.
I know you guys hate comps, but the description of Brett Jackson reminded me an awful lot of Marlon Byrd (current version), maybe with a little more power. Is that fair?
I'm receiving a message saying they I have to subscribe to see the Depth Charts, even though I am a subscriber and I am currently logged in. Anyone else with this issue?
A couple of thoughts:
(1) Unless I've screwed up, the average "Improve" number is 23%. I believe this should be 50% by construction.
(2) Based on a super-quick review, a couple Rockies hitters (Fowler, Iannetta) have what appear to be optimistic projections, and as noted about the Chacin projection is pessimistic. I recommend double-checking the Coors Field park factor.
(3) I'm hoping future version of the spreadsheet have the SS/Sim metric. This is/was very helpful for Scoresheet players.
Long-time Prospectus reader and subscriber - been a subscriber since Day One of the paid service, actually. I have to be honest - I wasn't familiar with most or all of the new writers that BP recently brought in, and to some extent I was skeptical.
I'm less skeptical now. Really, really fun article.
Yeah, they certainly measure something that has some value, but what they measure is highly team- and context-dependent.
Wonk - for future reference:
profits and losses (i.e. making money) = income statement
assets and liabilities = balance sheet
Yes, I'm a dork. :)
KG - I don't disagree with your position (well, maybe a teeny weeny bit). Mostly, I was just *wondering* so I could better process your remark on Ackley, so thank you for the response.
KG: did they play a doubleheader in the Eastern League playoffs, or did that game go to extra innings? (Pettitte 4 IP, Warren 6 IP).
Also - just wondering - are we to believe that Ackley's game was his best at Triple-A because of the runs and the RBI, or was it his best game considering things most of us tend to value?
Matt: great work as always. Thanks.
KG: I'm pretty late to this game (I have a really good excuse, I swear!), but let me state that I have a *VERY* hard time imagining Brett Myers' issue as a "one-time" thing given the details that emerged. It seems more likely that that was the only one time anyone else found out.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my comment.
This is certainly an interesting article, but I have one question: why are all of the statistics provided on a per nine-inning basis? If we want to remove the effect of strikeouts on Mo's ability to prevent hits, why not look at BABIP? If we want to remove the effect of ground balls on HR rate, why not look at HR/FB?
I don't mean to come across as combative - you know these things better than I do (and I'm assuming it was some sort of data availability issue) - but absent an explanation it seems a bit sloppy.
So, a rating scale with average, and three ratings above and below average?
Can I recommend a scale from 20-80?
I have no idea why this comment was rated negatively. Seems like a fair question to me.
Remember when the Expos couldn't even make September call-ups because MLB wouldn't foot the bill for a few weeks' of league-minimum pay? Man, those were (NOT) the days....
David: great interview. It's neat to be able to get insight like this here at BP.
Kerry Wood's pitch counts from 2003 are even more alarming. I'd bet that Mark Prior's data from 2003 would look worse, but I'm in no mood to look and make myself sad.
Hmm...now where was it that I read about that idea to tandem Leake and Volquez.... :)
It'll be interesting to see how the Rockies "phase out" Todd Helton given that they just signed him to a 2-year contract extension....
Will: regarding Mike Leake, I'd love to see the Reds use Edinson Volquez in tandem with Leake, similar to how the Cardinals used Matt Morris in tandem with Rick Ankiel when the former was coming back from TJ surgery and the latter's inefficient use of pitches limited him to 5-6 innings most starts.
I was wondering exactly how you were going to address what that last "P" stood for with respect to this article. :)
Does it make sense for the Nats to have him pitch out of the stretch on occasion even with no runners on base? While the point about his refining his mechanics from the stretch is more of a cover-up to a service-time excuse than a real reason to keep him in the minors, if it's something he can work on to get better, well ... he ain't pitching much from the stretch right now.
As a die-hard Cubs fan who watched this game on TV as a 9-year old (in utter amazement at the awesomeness of Ryne Sandberg), as soon as I saw this article on the front page my morning got a little better.
Awesome - thanks Will.
Re: Brian McCann
Will - is this a long-term issue? McCann is one of the most valuable properties in baseball given his age, position, and production, but this seems pretty scary. Will his vision be returned to "normal" by wearing glasses, or is there any permanent residual loss in vision from the two surgeries he's had?
I second this request - I'd love to hear what you think about what the Cubs did today (mostly Castro, but also moving Cashner and Vitters up a level). Personally, as a Cubs fan, I am extremely pessimistic about Castro's future development (despite his obvious ability) given the team's history with players with similar skill sets.
Re: Barry Zito
Wins, Will? Really? Wins? Burnett has slightly more WARP over that period despite having missed the *first* one-and-a-half seasons of that period recovering from Tommy John surgery, so a more apples-to-apples comparison would be even more favorable to Burnett. Besides, don't most people consider Zito's falloff to have occurred once he joined the Giants? His WARP from '07-'09 was 3.1; Burnett's over that period was 7.6.
There's a fair point to be made about Zito's relative effectiveness over his post-Cy Young career - one that can be made without cherry-picking statistics.
Before the season started I looked through his stat lines, PECOTA comps, and projections and I concluded something along the following lines:
20% Ryan Braun-ish (.900+ OPS)
20% Jayson Werth-ish (.850-.900 OPS)
30% healthy Wilo Mo Pena-ish (.800-.850 OPS)
15% Wladimir Balentien (.750-.800 OPS)
15% minor leaguer
But the start to his season has been insane. KG: are there any recent historical comps for this level of performance in the minors?
I would love to know why this comment was rated down by a couple of folks (at least). There is nothing at all inflammatory in the speech, unless people are offended by the concept of a control group.
Wow. Outstanding, outstanding article Matt. While there remain a number of folks at BP who do an outstanding job, it's research-intensive articles like these that add to our knowledge of the game that remind me why I started reading BP in the first place (a long, LONG time ago).
The empirical work was worthwhile in and of itself, but the application of game theory to bring it all together was the proverbial cherry on top. Definitely something to chew on.
(Unfortunately, no time to chew...I have a game theory final exam to study for!).
Another great piece to an outstanding series. Thanks.
Sammy Gervacio: priceless. Best of luck to the young man. Another great reminder of why I love baseball.
On a partially related note, I find it amazing that the announcers (and the Houston reporter, at the linked article) failed to reference Mike Fetters as a point of comparison for Gervacio's pre-pitch routine. We got only Pascual Perez and Carlos Marmol as comps. Alas, old habits of player comparison die hard.
Don't have too much time to look through these at the moment, but I clicked on Babe Ruth's card and noticed question marks in his Total Bases figure. Any additional commentary here would simply expound on the obvious.
Also: I assume he has a separate pitcher card? Obviously, this type of issue only affects 1% or so of all players, but it is a (very) minor issue to have batting and pitching performances on separate cards.
The Logan White Q&A's were among the most fascinating pieces of work here on BP in the recent past - his track record speaks for itself, and it was great to get a behind-the-scenes look into how he blends objective information with the subjective information he gets from his scouts. Great job, David.
Awesome - thanks. I'm looking forward to the article.
Great stuff as always Matt.
In yesterday's comment section, I recall you mentioning that you'd make the full spreadsheet of e-BABIP available, but I don't see a link above. Will this still be made available?
Thanks KG. The Prior comp here is a valuable one.
There is an outstanding and very short blog post by Keith Law (ESPN Insider) that breaks down why the marginal value to the Nats of extending Strasburg's arbitration eligibility by a year is very, very small. Maybe I'm being selfish here - I want to see him pitch! - but if they were making a "business" decision to send him down (i.e. based only on money), I think it was the wrong decision.
Wow - I just realized that all of the charts with multiple rows of data are sortable! Clicking on any column header will sort the data in ascending/descending order. It's not yet clear how this is beneficial - for example, sorting the comparable players by year rather than by rank doesn't seem very useful - but it sure is darn cool.
I see that you've rolled out the PECOTA cards in full. Congratulations to yourself, Clay, and everyone else who has worked very hard to reach this point.
HOWEVER ... there is still some work to be done on your end to increase confidence that the forecasts in the current year cards are "right", and speaking for myself (and I'm guessing some of the others among the Beta testers) my confidence is nowhere near full until *someone* addresses our questions about if and why the 2010 projections appear to be more highly skewed upwards than prior year projections.
Much like the comments that were made on the prior "torch & pitchfork" comment sections, you can't imagine what the perception is on the outside of BP's silence on this issue. Please pardon the all caps here (and the double negative!), but YOU CAN'T NOT ADDRESS THIS QUESTION. It won't magically disappear if you ignore it.
Again, congratulations, and thank you for the opportunity to help out.
Thanks for the reminder. In any event, my guess is that people don't use the PECOTA cards strictly to take the forecasts at their face value - otherwise, the spreadsheet would suffice. Rather, they use the information on the cards to develop independent expectations on player performance in the coming year(s). So regardless of whether PECOTA uses BABIP or SIERA (which, obviously, it doesn't use), this is information that will *greatly* facilitate the processing of statistical information contained within the cards in developing these expectations.
I'm guessing that a lot of people go to FanGraphs to obtain current and historical statistical lines that include this type of information, and I'm further guessing that BP would prefer that these people stay on the BP platform full-time. Personally, I always start with BP pages (either DT cards or PECOTA cards) when looking up individual player stats, but I often end up moving elsewhere - FanGraphs for BABIP/FIP/etc, ESPN for splits. If my recommendations above are implementable, at least some of this movement could be limited.
Thanks for correcting some of the items that were raised in the other beta blog. Hopefully you'll have a chance to look into or address some of the other questions that we raised in the comments on the prior blog, chief among them the apparent greater upward skewness of the 2010 PECOTAs (which Mike reiterated above).
I'm not going to have much time to look at the pitcher cards over the next few days - a shame, because I'm excited to be able to do so - but I wanted to add a few comments based upon a cursory glance:
(1) Really tiny point: in the Projected Playing Time box, it indicates where the pitcher appears to slot into his team's rotation. I got a huge chuckle from seeing Danny Haren's position as "Starter-2", because your depth chart has Brandon Webb as the nominal #1 starter. This may just be a single oddball case, but I'm guessing most of your readers don't put much stock into the perceived rotation slot of starting pitchers.
(2) Whither SIERA? It would be great to see SIERA (or another ERA approximator) to provide some additional context to the ERA on each line (to be fair, BABIP *is* included, which certainly helps).
(3) I had meant to raise this in the hitter's blog, but it works here as well: it would help to have an index on the Platoon graph. I'm guessing that the 3 rows provide platoon splits for BA, OBP, and SLG, respectively, but that's not specifically outlined on the graph.
(4) Another thing I forgot to add about the hitter cards - and please advise if you'd prefer these to be included on the comment section of the other blog - but would it be possible to have BABIP included on the hitter cards? Similar to SIERA for pitchers, it would add context to the batter lines - for instance, one might be able to see how much of the projected improvement forecasted for Jay Bruce relates to regression/progression to the mean in his BABIP.
I need to go do real work. I have to say, though: once you guys get all the bugs worked out here, these new PECOTA cards are going to be phenomenal.
I'd like to second the re-introduction of the Beta onto the cards (or at least the spreadsheets). It represented useful information.
Also, prior year cards had a Similarity Index figure to help identify the extent to which the comparable players matched with the target player (e.g. Ichiro's 17 indicating that his comps were less meaningful than average). Is there a reason why this has been omitted this year?
The projections appear to be *far* more skewed upwards than last year. Some examples - these are the differences in SLG between a player's 90th percentile forecast and median forecast, and then the difference between the median forecast and 10th percentile forecast, for each year (all math done quickly and in my head):
Player (2009) (2010)
Marlon Byrd (.088, .088) (.072, ,017)
Aramis Ramirez (.074, .070) (.073, .052)
Adam LaRoche (.077, .085) (.088, 056)
Kelly Johnson (.075, .064) (.095, .035)
So, I think this is why there is a larger difference between median and weighted mean forecasts in 2010 - the distributions are skewed upward in 2010 versus 2009.
I'm heading out for the evening. I apologize for the volume of posts!
Pardon the numerous posts - I don't mean to monopolize this forum - but from the time the very first PECOTA spreadsheet was released this year I wondered: why no MLVr on the spreadsheets this year, or on the cards for that matter?
I used to like using MLVr to sort position players by offensive value for Scoresheet purposes.
Let me join the chorus - too late, but still - of those who think the changes that were made to the pages are outstanding. When the pages are fully functional, they'll be phenomenal.
One minor quibble - and this may just be a function of the beta pages being temporarily housed at the moment - is that on last year's pages, the header of the internet window was the player's name, whereas on the beta cards it's "Baseball Prospectus - Your Source For All Things Baseball". It's much more convenient to have the player name in the header, where it's visible both on the top of each internet window, as well as on the taskbar. I've found myself on numerous occasions while perusing the current beta cards asking myself..."whose card am I looking at again?" And answering that question involves scrolling all the way to the top of the page, or inferring from the player comments at the bottom of the page. This issue doesn't take place with the 2009 cards.
Again, this may be a temporary issue, but I wanted to point it out.
The 10-year forecast says that it is park-neutral, but the 2010 line appears to be taken directly from the players' 2010 actual weighted mean line (that is, inclusive of ballpark effects). I've reviewed this for: Rafael Furcal, Chin-Lung Hu, Starlin Castro, and Jeff Baker.
Hmm...I still see the same thing. I see a median OBP of .395 for Utley, with a weighted mean of .378, which is near his 10th percentile projection of .377.
I do see the note about changes being made tonight, so this might be another fluke.
Josh Willingham's weighted mean OBP is between his 20th and 30th percentile forecasts, even though his projection appears to be skewed heavily rightward on OBP. So there's an error here for some players.
Chase Utley's weighted mean OBP is approximately equal to his 10th percentile forecast. This must be an error; there is no reasonable degree of skewness that would cause this to result.
Mike: you are correct that my posts contained an error in thought - this is the cost of trying to observe, conclude, and write in a few minutes during lunch.
Generally, the median and weighted mean should not vary based on the variances at all, *assuming* that the distributions are identically distributed. However, in this case, even if the rate statistic distributions were identically distributed, the playing time distributions are NOT - higher percentile projections are accompanied with more playing time, so therefore a projection with greater variance should (in my opinion, based on the above) lead to a greater difference between median and weighted mean. (So I think we disagree on this point.)
More interestingly: are this year's projections more *skewed* than prior year projections? Because - aside from the difference being caused by the playing time as noted above - a difference in skewness would be a far more interesting explanation....
If you guys do look into this, I'd be fascinated to know what you find out. The range of forecasts appears to be quite disparate this year compared to prior years, and intuitively it seems more of a true representation of player performance. However, I do recall Nate mentioning that he had tested his percentile ranges against actual outcomes and determining that they were, in fact, representative of reality.
That's because his weighted mean projection is for a .296 TAv this year. See my comments below ... the differences between the medians and the weighted means are unusually large.
Some examples of players and the difference between their median and weighted mean slugging percentages - I've picked young power hitters for whom you'd expect large differences between median and weighted mean outcomes:
Player ('09 diff, '10 diff)
Jay Bruce (.026, .007)
Carlos Gonzalez (.031, .009)
Matt Kemp (.018, .004)
Just a few examples.
Based upon a cursory glance, it seems to me as if the difference between the median and weighted mean forecasts are *much* larger than they've been in prior years. (Of course, if this is a fundamental change, it's not necessarily "wrong" simply because it's different).
I looked at a few players (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Cameron Maybin) and was extremely surprised at the differences, which I don't recall typically having been so large in past years.
I then looked up a few players from last year - 2009 cards are still available if you search for a player and choose to see their PECOTA card - and sure enough, the differences just don't *seem* nearly as large in the past (I checked Ian Stewart and Matt Kemp for 2009).
Obviously not a ton of empirical evidence there, just an observation. As I have time, I'll keep trolling to see if anything else stands out.
Yes, this is not standard odds notation. Standard notation would dictate that 2-1 is 33%, that the likelihood of the occurrence is 2-1 *against*. I'm not suggesting that you (or Kevin) are wrong or off, just that it is an unconventional way to state odds.
Thanks Dave. It really does help to have BP acknowledge the extent of the problem that is plainly evident to all of us.
You may also want to address *why* you've released a new update today, when looking at the projections both on the site and the spreadsheet, it seems abundantly clear that there are still a number of bugs in the system. While your post above seems to get at this - although, to me, it doesn't move the needle at all - why should we trust the current updates rather than the 2/25 projections?
For me, having access to another set of projections that likely contain a number of errors - different ones than prior versions - only further muddles the process of trying to identify what production I can reasonably forecast for players this year. In short, in my opinion providing the current updates (presuming that they're wrong, which I believe they are) only makes the matter worse.
I may only speak for myself, but I recommend getting it right and then giving us the final, ACCURATE product.
"4. Make a big public apology."
THIS. I understand making mistakes, but I feel like nobody at BP has come close to acknowledging the extent to which this process has been screwed up this year.
Dave: with all due respect, this post ain't it.
This is seriously insane. A number of the projections are wholly dissimilar to projections that were up a short while ago (from the 2/25 weighted means spreadsheet), which were dissimilar to the projections from prior spreadsheets, which were dissimilar to the projections in the book. Which version - if any - are we to trust?
All of the Rockies' hitters numbers are WAY DOWN from the 2/25 spreadsheet. There must be an error in the park factor for Coors - although I don't see a similar downward adjustment to the ERAs of the Rockie pitchers.
I'm an extremely loyal guy who strongly gives the benefit of the doubt to those who have earned it - which BP most certainly has - but the repetitive issues with the PECOTA projections this year have broken me. I'll refrain from using bad language in this forum, but holy cripes am I upset about this.
I was just under the assumption that all such situations are like Nook LaLoosh in "Bull Durham".
Just kidding, of course.... :)
Kevin: I believe you've made somewhat dismissive comments about Rinku and Dinesh in the past, but there are those of us - and, to be fair, I'm not sure how small the minority is - that would LOVE to get an update into their progress, no matter how much of a long shot they individually may be.
The statistics from their debut looked solid, but I know far too much to read anything of significance into those stats. Thanks.
I feel as if I may owe Wendell Kim an apology or two...
The Comments area of the site needs to be modified so I can give this upstanding young person a +1,000 instead of just a +1.
Will - any word on Edinson Volquez? I don't believe I've seen an update (anywhere) since he was put on the DL. Thanks!
Ah, yes, re-reading Will's comment I can see that. :)
I suppose my energies could have been better focused addressing the entry itself, which I enjoyed and about which I have much to say (though not necessarily the time or energy to do so).
In my opinion, the entries for Week 3 are of a far higher quality than they were for Week 2, and my enthusiasm for the competition is correspondingly much higher.
I second the comment by strupp - I thought he could have added to the article by using JAWS scores rather than his unnamed subjective Hall of Fame liklihoods.
Otherwise, I thought it was a fun article to read. I think there's a lot of value in that; it wasn't a hugely important piece of research, but there was some useful information, and it was a fun read.
As a former Sociology major who completed a research paper on gender sport socialization and Title IX, Billie Jean King is one of my heroes; however, Bobby Riggs was 55 years old when King beat him in 1973. It is fairly obvious that the best women tennis players simply cannot compete with the best mens tennis players, a fact which in no way minimizes the accomplishments or abilities of the women players.
King's victory over Riggs was an important moment, but it's equally important that we not extrapolate too significantly on the actual outcome - especially since Riggs soundly defeated Margaret Court the previous year.
The only thing I could think about as I read this was - had he read Rany's work from a few years back? Or other research work on the draft? In my opinion Matt's work thusfar in the "Idol" competition has been stellar, but I wonder if he realized that this data set (or comparable sets) has already been analyzed in all of the ways he has initially done here; as noted above, I'd love to have seen him identify an unanswered question and at least attempt to add new information to the conversation.
That said, I haven't read all of the other pieces as of yet, and this may still prove to be one of the best this week.
Steven - great work. Nice piece.
Quick heads-up: there appears to be a number missing in the batting line in the third to last paragraph: ".25/.222/227".
When I think of Matt Stairs and I see the lines he put up from 1997-1999 above, I think of how much harder it seems to be for Billy Beane to scare up these types of players nowadays than he did in the late '90's. While Jack Cust is a nice player and had one flukishly great offensive year, one of these things is not like the other.
Bingo. That's exactly where he lost me as well.
Great article, Joe. I'd keep laughing, but I need to go look at Wieters' PECOTA card again.
I echo the sentiments of someone above that a mention of Wieters' ability to turn around the city of Baltimore would have been a nice touch; I'm sure a reference or two to The Wire could have been thrown in. :)
Can't Craig Counsell still be an "extra coach on the bench" even if he's on the DL?
His PECOTA card does not agree with his DT card....
Joe's point still stands, however - given all of the evidence that is available (you don't think he was going to keep fielding at a Rate of 120, do you?) and the unique circumstances surrounding his use, Bocock probably was the least qualified major leaguer of the decade.
Wow. Just, wow. Great read, and while a more detailed follow-up would be appreciated, David, you did a fine job of getting him to open up given the limited circumstances surrounding the interview.
I will be pulling for Brian Barton to make the most of his baseball career, although I'm sure he'll be successful whatever he chooses to do when his playing days are over.
Wow...neat. I'm not particularly active in the Comment boards here, and it never occured to me that my comment might be specifically addressed.
Joe: why no link to Jay's article from "about a year ago"? By providing some of the information from the article but not a link to the article itself, it leads me to believe that Jay's conclusions differed from your own. While there's nothing wrong with that, if this is the case than at the very least it seems somewhat disingenous to use information he presented without providing the whole picture.
Don\'t forget Jose Macias! Zero-point-four WARP1 in 394 PA over two seasons, with an EqA of about .220.