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September 13, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Seven

by Rany Jazayerli

Rany returns with a look at the value of high-school hitters drafted between 1984 and 1999.

August 2, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Six

by Rany Jazayerli

Rany returns with his newest installment on assessing the value of draft picks.

June 9, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Five

by Rany Jazayerli

Measuring the value of drafted hitters and pitchers in an effort to quantify the difference, if any, between the two.

June 2, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Four

by Rany Jazayerli

Having established that there is no longer any difference between high schoolers and collegians in the draft, the question now is, "why not?"

May 25, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Three

by Rany Jazayerli

Rany Jazayerli has more on draft history, including a conclusion that may surprise you.

May 19, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Two

by Rany Jazayerli

What pool of players to emphasize at the draft table--college or high-school--is one of the game's ongoing debates. The data indicates that one group has a decisive edge in value.

May 13, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft

by Rany Jazayerli

In the first of a series, Rany examines 15 years' worth of draft data to establish some basic rules.

March 28, 2005

Premium Article 2005--Setting the Stage: Breakout Hunches

by Rany Jazayerli

Five players who could follow in the footsteps of 2004's biggest surprises.

March 17, 2005

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: A Star No One Sees

by Rany Jazayerli

He's more than just underrated; Bobby Abreu is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

February 22, 2005

Top 50 Prospects: The List

by Rany Jazayerli

Our annual list finds two highly regarded young hitters battling for the top spot.

August 18, 2004

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: Chasing Wes Ferrell

by Rany Jazayerli

Having embarrassed the meek, the good doctor now celebrates the strong by counting down the best-hitting pitchers in baseball.

August 16, 2004

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: Chasing Ron Herbel

by Rany Jazayerli

What kind of list has Ben Sheets in between Sterling Hitchcock and Ryan Dempster? Not one you want to be on. The good doctor shines a light into some deep, dark corners of the batter's box.

July 14, 2004

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Amazing Danny Kolb

by Rany Jazayerli

Imagine spending a week at your cubicle at work, slaving away at that TPS report, and then as you hand it to your boss, she tells you, "Thanks, but the company just decided that they didn't need the report after all. I was just about to e-mail you the memo." That's about how I feel right now. Having painstakingly put together an article on Danny Kolb, which centered around Kolb's incredible stretch of surrendering no extra-base hits all season, I was all set to have the article published during the All-Star Break--and then Kolb ran into the unstoppable force that is the PECOTA-powered Wily Mo Pena on Sunday. (Yes, I'm aware that Jason LaRue homered off Kolb before Pena did. But I've been working as a journalist long enough to know it's considered poor form to let the facts get in the way of a good story.) So the article is ruined. But you're going to have to read it anyway, unless you really want to hurt my feelings. I've taken the liberty of making some small changes to the piece, in light of Kolb's Sunday meltdown. Most of the points made in the article still stand, even if the punchline has been spoiled.

June 3, 2004

Doctoring The Numbers: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

by Rany Jazayerli

It takes a lot these days to awaken me from my slumber and coerce me into penning a column for BP. Between taking care of a baby daughter at home and starting my own medical practice, the truly important things in life--like baseball analysis--have gotten short shrift of late. But finally, I have found a topic that arouses my passion. A question so intriguing as to get my heart racing, my blood pumping, my brain thinking. Finally, a puzzle worth being solved, a code worth being cracked. That question, of course, is: "Does Alex Sanchez have the emptiest batting average in major-league history?" Consider the evidence. Bolstered by an obscene number of bunt hits, Sanchez was hitting .359 going into Wednesday night's game, which ranked him third in the American League. (By the way, who had the exacta on a Melvin Mora-Ken Harvey-Alex Sanchez top three at this point in the season?) But Sanchez's impressive ability to hit singles is neutered by his inability to do anything else: hit for power (eight extra-base hits), reach base by other means (four walks, no HBPs), or make effective use of his speed (11 steals, 10 caught stealings). For the season, Sanchez is hitting .359/.371/.431. His batting average may rank third in the league, but his 802 OPS ranks just 43rd--in a tie with Jose Cruz, who's hitting .237. Put succinctly, Sanchez's batting average is about as empty as Le Stade Olympique. But is it the emptiest ever?

May 3, 2004

Rockies Try the Four-Man: The Right Team for the Test?

by Rany Jazayerli

Very quietly, with almost no fanfare whatsoever, one of the most significant developments of the year just occurred in Denver. As reported in Denver Post, the Rockies are switching to a four-man rotation. Let me repeat that: the COLORADO ROCKIES are going to a FOUR-MAN ROTATION. In one stroke, Dan O'Dowd has mixed together two of the most compelling issues in baseball analysis today--how to win at altitude, and how to optimize the usage of your pitchers.

March 3, 2004

Baseball Prospectus Basics: How We Measure Pitcher Usage

by Rany Jazayerli

So to understand the methods we use to analyze pitcher usage, it's important to appreciate that while every team in baseball today employs essentially the same usage pattern--starting pitchers work in a five-man rotation, with four or five days of rest between starts, and never relieving in between--that usage pattern is far from the norm historically. As recently as 30 years ago, starters were expected to start every fourth day, with only three days of rest between starts. This does not appear to have had a detrimental effect on the pitchers of that era; in fact, over half of the 300-game winners of the live-ball era were in the prime of their careers in the early 1970s. There is no definitive proof that pitching in any kind of rotation is a necessary ingredient for successful pitching staffs. Through the 1950s, starting pitchers would routinely get six or seven days off to pitch against a team they matched up favorably against, then return to the mound on just two days' rest for their next start. There is no evidence that starting pitchers who relieve on their days off between starts suffer adversely for doing so. Starting pitchers routinely made 10 or 15 relief appearances a season for the better part of half a century.

March 2, 2004

Baseball Prospectus Basics: A Brief History of Pitcher Usage

by Rany Jazayerli

In the beginning, there were no rotations. There were no relievers. There was only one pitcher, and the term "everyday player" had no meaning. In 1876, George Bradley started all 64 games for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, completing 63 of them; his teammates combined to throw four innings all year. Of course, in the early days of the National League, the task performed by the pitcher bore little resemblance to what we call "pitching" today. At various times in the first two decades of professional baseball, the distance from the pitcher to home plate was less than 50 feet; a walk required nine balls; bunts that landed in fair territory before skidding to the backstop were considered fair balls; hitters could call for a "high" or "low" pitch; pitchers could throw the ball from a running start; and curveballs and overhand pitches were illegal. The game changed quickly, and it quickly became impossible for a team to rely on a single pitcher for its entire season. And once that point was reached, the question of how best to maximize each pitcher's usage was born.

February 24, 2004

Top 50 Prospects: The List

by Rany Jazayerli

After some 28,000 words of spirited debate in Parts I through IV of the Top 50 Roundtable, Baseball Prospectus unveils its Top 50 Prospects list. Rany Jazayerli will be along tonight to discuss.

December 11, 2003

Live from the (Mock) Winter Meetings: Team-by-Team Breakdowns

by Rany Jazayerli

Following up on yesterday's article, here is the definitive list of every transaction made at last weekend's Mock Winter Meetings in Chicago. The list of moves includes a blockbuster trade for Mark Teixeira, cheap contracts for Trot Nixon and Juan Gonzalez, and a surprise new home for Vladimir Guerrero.

December 10, 2003

Live from the (Mock) Winter Meetings: Everybody Loves Wayne Gomes

by Rany Jazayerli

A week before representatives from all 30 teams descend upon New Orleans for the annual winter meetings, a collection of equally knowledgeable but considerably less experienced men and women--our readers--gathered at a restaurant in Chicago with the same purpose: to craftily mold their teams' rosters, through canny trading and judicious use of the free-agent market, into the best team that money--a strictly budgeted amount of money--could buy. And like any good reality TV show, there were a couple of twists along the way. The mechanisms of the event were simple. The first 30 attendees to sign up were assigned a team in advance, and instructed to pore over their team's roster, look over the free-agent market, and come to the event prepared to wheel and deal. Each team was also given a firm budget number in advance that they could not exceed. The event began with each team announcing its list of non-tendered players, who then immediately went into the free-agent pile. All free agents were then represented by the remaining attendees, along with myself and Nate Silver. Will Carroll presided over the event, playing the unenviable role of Bud Selig.

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