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Doctoring The Numbers column archives.


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March 15, 2006

Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Nine

by Rany Jazayerli

Rany forges ahead in his draft study with a look at college shortstops, third basemen, and outfielders.

March 7, 2006

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: The Draft, Part Eight

by Rany Jazayerli

The Good Doctor returns with Part Eight of his draft study, focusing on college hitters.

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 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.

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 6, 2003

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: Hot Starts, Part III

by Rany Jazayerli

Welcome to the third and final instalment of my look at the meaningfulness of the first few dozen games of a team season. (Go back and review Parts 1 and 2 here. There will be a test later.) This final article looks to merge a team's starting record with its established performance over the past few years, to come up with a formula that most accurately projects its final record based on the available data. Warning: If you thought Part 2 was laden with too many equations, you're not going to like Part 3 any better. I ended Part 2 with a projection that the Royals, based on their 17-5 start, are projected to finish with about 97 wins. The folly with that logic should be self-evident, but let me share some evidence with you to make the point a little more clear. When the Royals' record reached 13-3, my inner circle of fellow Royals fans finally got serious about questioning whether such a strong start really meant anything in light of the team's 100-loss season in 2002. I decided to look for comparable teams throughout history that had gotten off to a similar start. Using my database of all teams from 1930 to 1999, I found a total of 75 teams that started the season either 12-4, 13-3, or 14-2. Sixty-three of those teams, or 84%, finished above .500. As a group, they finished with a .545 winning percentage. But it's not all roses. Because I then whittled down that group to look only at those teams that had played less than .420 ball the previous season, which corresponds to a 68-94 record or worse.

April 28, 2003

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: Hot Starts, Part II

by Rany Jazayerli

Welcome to Part 2 of our look at the importance of hot starts. If you haven't already, read Part 1 first. We'll wait for you to get back. Last time, I looked at how teams fared at season's end after starting the season with a particular record, varying the data by looking at starts of varying lengths. While I pointed out general trends in the data (as well as the exceptions that proved the rule), I did not sum up the data concisely into a single, coherent formula to predict a team's final record. That's what today's article is about. In Part 3--yes, there will be a Part 3--I want to examine how the interaction between a team's record at the start of the season, and its record the previous season, affects its final winning percentage.

April 22, 2003

Premium Article Doctoring The Numbers: Hot Starts (a.k.a. Should Royals Fans Get Excited Yet?)

by Rany Jazayerli

Today, I want to look at the relevance of a hot start on a team's overall winning record. (I know--where do I get these ideas?) As I write this, the aliens who have collectively taken over the Kansas City Royals' entire roster are 14-3, the best start in team history. Not to be outdone, the Yankees are 15-3 and have outhomered their opponents this year by the miniscule margin of 35 to 4, which is a stat that deserves its own DTN article, if not its own episode of The X-Files. And both teams are trying to keep up with the Giants, who after Sunday's loss are 15-3 despite outscoring their opponents by the downright-reasonable margin of just 107 to 81. The topic of the meaningfulness of hot starts has intrigued analysts since the Tigers' remarkable 35-5 start in 1984 persuaded Bill James to look at the subject in his 1985 Abstract. One of the major problems with this sort of data analysis is just getting the data for the day-by-day standings for every day in baseball history. James, working by hand, only had data from 1965 to 1984, but then he did not have the services of the incomparable, indispensable David W. Smith (the W. stands for "Support Project Retrosheet!"), who graciously provided me with just the data I needed.

August 30, 2002

Doctoring The Numbers: The Five-Man Rotation, Part 3

by Rany Jazayerli

To wrap up our series on the merits of the four-man rotation, let's look at some of the ancillary benefits of making the switch: The four-man rotation simplifies a starter's between-start schedule. Most teams have their starters throw on the side once between starts, but no one really knows whether it's better to throw on the second day after a start, or the third. It's not even clear whether starters should throw only once. In Atlanta, Leo Mazzone has had continued success doing things his way: he has his starters throw twice on the side between starts instead of once. (He does this because he feels it gives the starter the same increased sharpness that comes from working on three days' rest.)

August 20, 2002

Doctoring The Numbers: The Five-Man Rotation, Part 2

by Rany Jazayerli

August 13, 2002

Doctoring The Numbers: The Five-Man Rotation

by Rany Jazayerli

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