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I was intrigued by the thought of BP against knuckleball cadets. If the pitcher doesn't know where the pitch is going (which is what most -- all? -- of them say), then assuming it's a well-thrown ball, would batting practice really matter, and for either side?
In other words, do batters actually hit knuckeball pitchers better as they gain experience, or are the data too random to make a case? And if they don't hit the ball better over repeated viewings, and if the pitchers don't know where the ball is going, would it make any difference if the (practice) hitter were a college starter or some Little League scrub?
Ben, when figuring the promotion spend, did the Indians include the salaries of those involved in researching and executing the promotions themselves?
Not that this is exactly what was said in the quoted statment above, but I'd be surprised to learn that a team plows its monthly operating profits back into player acquisition, at least in the near-term. I would think those are different and unrelated budgets.
The AL pitching was so good in 1972 that 295.3 IP of 2.64 FIP ERA was worth only 0.7 WARP? Guh.
Internet? That thing's still around?
As noted above, Mound Ball is a classic. Also, there's betting on a foul on a 3-2 count. (The batter is almost always swinging on that count.)
Today's rosters have *plenty* of room, provided the GMs don't backfill them with worthless pitchers.
What would be interesting -- and probably already conducted -- would be a look at which counts runners are most likely to attempt to steal, and their success rates. Then see how that informed the pitchouts. In other words, did Scioscia call all his pitchouts on hitters' (e.g., 2-0) counts?
I'm not sure I see why "retired" baseball writers no longer have the wisdom or ability to decide who should be in a hall of fame for "retired" baseball players.
I'm not arguing that they always make good choices, mathematically someone with just the minimum 10 years experience as a baseball writer probably never saw Tim Raines play. If active participation (i.e., observation) is one way to achieve "good" voting, how is that person better suited than the retired writer to determine whether Raines' should be in?
His career may be summed as the only candidate whose highest single season WARP was actually higher than his career WARP.
Libel law protects a lot of communication, but it doesn't protect you from getting sued. And lawsuits are expensive, even those you win.
On another note, "one-trick pony" is not an apt description of Mark McGwire. His lifetime OBP was .394. That means he was better at getting on base (i.e., not making an out) than, among others, Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn. It's unfortunate batting average remains out there as such a tantalizing distraction from what is actually a sublime ability: getting on base.
John, I'm guessing that Palmeiro story is the one where Miggy Tejada allegedly doped Raffy as revenge for Raffy sleeping with Miggy's wife. If that's the story you've heard -- and I hope it isn't, btw -- I hope to god you aren't putting much credence in it, as it is the been floating around in baseball circles for at least five years.
"...despite being left-handed"?
Do rightys as a rule throw harder? Or am I missing the joke?
Take a look at Shields' FIP last year, and look at the pitchers *behind* him.
Count me among those who believe no one player could take the Royals from 72 wins to 92 wins, and therefore management has to make its gains incrementally or not at all. Shields is a really good major league pitcher, and they get him at a below market price. That in itself won't get them to the WS, but it's a good start.
In the player profile, Bradley is called "most likely a down-the-lineup offensive threat," but the summary says he "projects as a top-of-the-order hitting center fielder."
Can that apparent discrepancy be chalked up to the difference between the assessment of his skills and how the team would likely use him?
I'm reminded of how Curt Schilling was initially reluctant to OK a trade to the Red Sox because he felt his pitching style wouldn't be effective in Fenway Park. Schilling, you will recall, considered himself pretty savvy when it came to understanding the data. Theo Epstein and other Red Sox management showed him why he was wrong, and obviously they knew best.
N=1, of course, but I think we need to be careful in recognizing just who the expert on a given subject is.
We've all certainly seen writings that point to incorrect strategy or tactics. But I've seen overwhelming writings here (and elsewhere) that support the notion that coaches can actually teach players how to play better. If I'm reading this piece correctly, it's the latter that the author is trying to support. No argument here.
I've been reading sites like BP for 10 years, and I'm honestly not sure I've ever seen a "sabermetric scribe" downplaying the value of big-league coaches.
If Manny Acta becomes the Jays' manager, then we would end up with a nice little rotating triangle between the Red Sox, Indians and Jays and their former (and now current) managers. Nice.
Right -- 102 games. Am wondering myself why the comparison to the DHs.
We heard similar things about John Schuerholz, and then there he was, keynoting SABR 40.
Also, the O's actually finished second. Although I suppose if they win the ALCS (or, god forbid, the WS), "worst to first" would apply.
In both cases, the worst hitter in the respective starting lineup is batting second. #70sthrowback
Beat writers? What a great idea!
Now that interleague play is a fixed and significant part of the schedule, why do we still have separate "league" leaders? Shouldn't all major league players be lumped together?
Wow, major typing problems today. That should be, "he did lead the majors in runs ..."
Regarding batter's intention, Baseball Reference makes it pretty easy to figure out whether situational hitting is a real skill or more or less random.
Jeff Bagwell scored 152 runs in 159 games in 2000. Of course, he also had 700+ PA.
You're right that RBI and AVG aren't useless stats. What is discouraging is the quote from the front office/scouting department person who said, "But acting like some WAR or WARP or whatever leader board is how the MVP ballot should line up is ludicrous.”
Ludicrous is a really strong term, and I haven't seen anyone saying that WARP should be the only metric taken into consideration. But as metrics go, it's considerably better RBI or AVG.
AS for those who wish Trout played a full season in the majors, well, he did league the majors in runs and, for what it's worth, stolen bases. Hey, speaking of which, since the two leagues play so many interleague games, why aren't the leaders combined too? If they were, no Trips for Miggy.
The vote comes down to the mindset of the mainstream writers (who, we must remember, make up the lion's share of the voters), who have for years complained that saber is too narrow, and now must confront the fact that a vote for Miggy is akin to saying defense and baserunning don't matter.
1. Boston sports talk radio (insert your own joke here) is already salivating over the prospect of getting either Leyland or Scioscia. Not sure why they think the Tigers and Angels are such reactive organizations.
2. As for the FO person who thinks the Angels need to change managers, because "sometimes you get stale," keep in mind the Cardinals won the WS in LaRussa's 11th and 16th seasons, respectively, with the team. So much for stale. Scioscia has five years left on his deal, which, at an average salary of $5M/per, means the Angels would in theory be forking over $25M for him not to manage. Seems highly unlikely to me.
3. Can't see the writers picking Braun as MVP this year. They are a judgmental lot, and won't want to be burned like that again.
Jansen has been reactivated and pitched on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21.
For some reason, this piece on the O's rotating roster reminds me about how both the players AND the press (surprise!) used to make a huge stink over then-Red Sox manager Jimy Williams' constant lineup shuffling. The media went so far as to track it in the game recap each day, and the players blamed their own craptacularness on not knowing where they were hitting each day.
Again, I agree about the relative worth of the anon comments, but the thing is, it's far less common for media to repeat anon comments that are *complimentary* toward a teammate, manager or executive.
In reality, more weight (certainly by the MSM but I see it creeping in here too) seems to be given to the negative comments, and it's impossible for them not to affect our perception, proverbial grain of salt or not. It's like we are looking for the bad in people. I just don't see the point. It becomes a race to the bottom.
Anyway, it's easy enough to ignore on ESPN. I just wish it wasn't happening here, too.
I agree about the difference in standards. But my position is that BP's should be higher. Isn't the goal here to get at the truth using facts, not just sell papers?
Say the player quoted was Youkilis. Wouldn't that color the perception of the comments? Or Papelbon? Same thing. There's a bias that strongly influences whatever claim is being made.
Mike Aviles lifetime OBP .310.
Number of times Mike Aviles led off AFTER April 30: 20.
Regression was utterly predictable, but Valentine didn't do anything about it.
"I need someone to point to field decision(s) Valentine has made that lost games"
I can offer a couple pieces of evidence.
Valentine's lineups have often been questionable, to say the least. Mike Aviles, for example, hit first or second in 39 games, for which he has a combined OBP under .280.
And throughout the season, Valentine has left pitchers (starters and relievers) in well past their expiration dates, and I'm not referring to the Lester shellacking. Perhaps early on he was trying to show confidence in his starters, but if so, he never communicated as much.
Two thoughts on the Red Sox stuff.
First, the players brought the management change (and all the subsequent rules, be they overkill or not) on themselves. If they win games, nothing else matters. But they didn't win.
Second, while I expect the mainstream press to use anonymous quotes as a way to stir up controversy, I regard BP as more of a thinking man's site. I can handle seeing an anonymous scout's take on a player. But the anonymous former Red Sox player piling on just isn't worth paying for, IMO.
My 2 cents.
Not to pick a nit with Nate, but the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series the very next year after winning just 83 games in the regular season. I would think the formula isn't just how many wins your team might generate; it's also how many will it need?
More interesting, however, would be Beane's own comments in Moneyball about the regular season, where he said (and I'm paraphrasing) that the first third of the season is to see what you have, the second to fix it and the third is where you make your run.
My question is, do clubs engage much in supplying misinformation, either directly to other clubs or via the media, to improve their chances of getting a desired player? For example, surreptitiously suggesting a targeted player is hiding an injury in the hopes of discouraging other teams from bidding?
I don't disagree. But it gets a little tiresome when people say they definitively DO exist, and then attach all sorts of values to them. They may be right, but without proof, it's so much pixie dust.
Here in Boston, as you may have heard (teehee!), the media are going apeshit over the supposedly dysfunctional clubhouse and how it's bringing down the team. Yet I can't think of a more dysfunctional clubhouse than the 77 Yankees (managers punching star players, a team captain who hated everyone, most starters asking for trades, etc.), and all they did was win the World Series. How come that team never gets mentioned?
It's very true that Joe Morgan has seen literally thousands of major league games in his life. But it's also very true that he could not have possibly processed everything he saw, nor does he remember accurately everything he saw. That's not a problem with Joe Morgan so much as it's a lack of ability/capacity of the human brain. So Joe relies on his (imperfect) memory and the rest of us use computers.
Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that Morgan truly doesn't recognize that the things that made him such a great player are the same things that sabers value so highly. And it's certainly clear from his regular on-air comments that he has never understood the underlying point of Moneyball (hint to Joe: it's not "don't steal").
P.S. I like your comments about consistency.
Is it possible that the reason intangibles can't be quantified is because, like ROUSes, they don't really exist?
I think the reason Joe Morgan questions (read: dismisses) sabermetrics is because he doesn't understand it. But I would agree with the latter part of your comment.
Why, when I see Middlebrooks, do I have scary flashbacks to Shea Hillenbrand?
Ahhh, did not know that.
"Favourite?" I clicked the link just to be sure you hadn't added a cricket expert.
Sergio Santos (27) is a pitcher, not a hitter.
It doesn't even mean missing one start; it means pushing start back one day. In reality, it is no more punishment than a rainout.
Wow, reading this almost makes me forget the Red Sox have averaged 93 wins per season over the past decade and won two World Series in that time.
Theo may/may not have gutted the farm system, but to hold up Justin Masterson as an example is a reach. Recall that he was traded for Victor Martinez, who gave the Red Sox 4.2 WARP in a season and a half, and when V-Mart signed with the Tigers, the Sox got the 19th pick in the 2011 draft, with which they signed Matt Barnes (34 Ks, 4 BB, 21 IP in A ball so far) and Henry Owens (22 Ks, 8 BB, 10.2 IP in A ball).
Meanwhile, JM stunk up the joint in 2009, continued to reek in 2010, pitched great last year, then has regressed so far this year. The answer to the Sox's problems is not yet another starting pitcher with a 6+ ERA.
Who would you rather have: Masterson or Matt Barnes? Today, it'd be Masterson. For the next five to seven years? Barnes.
Baseball could end a lot of arguments by writing the rule so that there is no checked swing call. MLB could say, If the hands go forward, that's a swing.
Of course, then where would Kevin Youkilis be?
Then there's Dustin Pedroia. His career line as a cleanup hitter is .397/.439/.678 with 7 HRs in 133 PA (121 ABs).
When Francona put Pedroia's name in the 4 spot, Pedey said, "It's about time."
I guess he's no Mark McGwire.
Great writeup, Jay, and many thanks for linking to the Brandon McCarthy stuff.
Side note: Has anyone ever mentioned you look like Mark Ruffalo in Safe Men? http://www.markruffalo.net/gallery/Safe-Men/cap004
Publish a picture of you in a Mark Ruffalo t, and I will subscribe to your newsletter that instant.
He plays for the Twins now.
I appreciate these lists to no end. Regrettably, they are out considerably later than last year, and many drafts already have taken place. I would ask that going forward, BP tries to return to the schedule of previous years. (I realize the tier data are now included in the PFM, too, which is a great move.)
Sorry for being redundant; just saw joekendall's comment above that made the same request.
I understand the symbolic notion of using red and green, but please keep in mind, 1 in 10 males is red-green color blind. You are doing us poor cone-deficient slobs no favors!
Yeah, no kidding. Time's a wastin'!
But is it the coaching, or the park?
Up until the point you wrote "He almost got me," you had almost got me, Ben. Good column.
Just for kicks, how many of those teams that met the 2010-11 closer criteria (aka the Boras Postulate) also met your new BL2B metric?
Drew is top 150 all-time in both slugging and OBP. Think about that for a minute.
(And he was top 100 all-time until 2 years ago.)
I only wish this piece would get wider publication as I am tired of arguing that he is (was) an extraordinary baseball player.
Ben, big difference between "army ordinance" and "army ordnance." Just ask Bradley Manning.
Hear, hear. If "seeing" the player was intended to be the criterion, there would be no reason to let anyone but the home team's writers vote for a given player.
Heyman's comments are unfortunate, because 1) they are utterly defensive (and need not be), and 2) they subtract from the (vaguely) legitimate debate over Morris's credentials.
But he does raise an interesting point: If a voter didn't see a player, should they be allowed to vote for that player? I'm guessing Heyman, who was born in 1961, has never cast votes for and against players he never saw.
Oh wait! He voted for Ron Santo, whose final season was 1974, when Heyman was all of 13.
Ah well, there's room for hypocrisy in baseball, too, I suppose. Especially when writing about it.
When does one era end and the next begin? And who decides that?
I see what you are trying to say, but it's a very weak foundation for argument. You are tacitly assuming Rob Neyer has greater knowledge than you that Edgar Martinez used PEDs. That suggests Neyer -- who spent 15 years writing on baseball for ESPN -- knew Martinez used PEDs and isn't saying anything. I'd argue there's no evidence of that.
Here we go with the PED back-and-forth. I hope all those who dismiss anyone who used steroids or HGH in the 1990s/2000s have an equally good explanation for why Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Joe Morgan, Gaylord Perry, et al. should be in the Hall, given their admitted use of greenies, reds, uppers, etc., (and in Perry's case, doctoring the baseball).
I realize this may come across as condescending, and I really don't mean it to, but if drug use is cheating, I don't see the distinction between today's users and those of yesteryear.
You're comparing apples and oranges. Reddick also posted more WARP last year than Mariano Rivera, your gold standard for RP. In fact, his WARP was the same as Jon Lester's.
I like the trade for both teams.
If memory serves, Duquette traded for Mike Lansing's contract; he didn't sign Lansing himself. Lansing was a throw-in to a deal to get the immortal Rolando Arrojo (sort of like Mike Lowell was a throw-in in the Josh Beckett deal, with notably less successful results).
"That basically forces them to throw their best pitcher in that game ..."
Not necessarily. That would assume the WC teams were able to adjust their schedule so that their best pitcher would be available. If your season comes down to the wire, that's not really feasible.
That said, I don't like the idea of playing 162 games and making the playoffs, then playing one to decide if you get to
STAY in the playoffs. Too random.
I'm with baserip4 (above).
I too would take issue with the notion that a longer season is a benefit. If memory serves, by and large the playoff ratings have been dropping over time. I think there IS such a thing as baseball fatigue, and after a month of spring training, 162 regular season games, and two rounds of playoffs, the World Series has, like Michael Scott leaving The Office, segued into the "let's get it over with already" state. What should be the pinnacle event becomes a letdown, an after-thought.
One beauty of baseball is that it still is hard to get into the playoffs. Why dilute that?
Hear, hear. I read Stephen's essay wondering the whole time whether his ire was at the concept of "wins" or the inability of Soriano to throw a shutout inning.
It's really a mixed message. Sounds mostly like frustration over losing a game that could have been won. Players are human and the evidence offered that Girardi made a mistake is unconvincing.
John Perrotto, at season's end you either will hang your head low in shame for being the only one not to pick the Red Sox, or you will look like the (evil) genius you are!
In that movie classic "Spies Like Us," Dan Ackroyd summed up all that is Murray Chass's MO: "We mock what we don't understand."
Chass may be the poster child for willful ignorance, but unfortunately, he's far from the only one. And generally speaking, the bigger the megaphone, the falser the prophet.
According to the Washington Post, Page had an alcohol problem.
Per the article, alcohol cost him his job as hitting coach with the Cardinals, which is ironic given LaRussa's well-documented drinking problems.
Good article, Steven.
This is an interesting and well-reasoned article. I do have a few nits, though. Specifically, I understand the premise that Ethier is not an elite player, but don't necessarily agree with the players mentioned as better candidates for RF.
Upton, sure: Boatload of potential to go gonzo there, but higher risk, too. Pence and McCutheon? Not so much. A quick glance at the BP forecast lines show Ethier's predicted performance is essentially in line with or better than both players in everything but SBs. What McCutcheon gives you in SB, he gives up in HRs and RBI. Ethier can't hit lefties, but Pence can't hit in even months. And Houston's lineup stinks, too (estimated runs: 628), so if you're going to dock Ethier for that, you have to do the same for Pence. Upton, of course, can't escape his Uptonness. Is he a long-term stud, or doomed to a quick and short peak like his brother? (Btw, while many leagues don't use OBP as a standalone, OPS has been standard in every league I've played for at least four or five years now.)
And it's not like Ethier is old: he's 28. I can see the points made about why Ethier is NOT an elite player, and I even agree with them, but I'm not convinced the arguments are any stronger for the rest of the bunch. If memory serves, Ehtier has usually topped his forecast lines. Maybe that's what fantasy managers are focusing on.
You assume that because an owner is wealthy separate of baseball -- and they all are, else they wouldn't have been able to buy the team in the first place -- they naturally will be willing to spend that outside wealth on their baseball teams. While history shows that's what some did (with notable disasters, in fact, the current generation of owners does exactly the opposite. Most businesses (in baseball or outside) are run as independent units, with completely independent P/Ls. It's bad business to plow profits from one unit to beef up another.
So...that leaves us with at least a handful of baseball teams that, in terms of cash from operations, are really weak. The revenue sharing subsidy lessens that disparity. But we can't just look at the revenue and the player salaries and assume that's all that needs to match up. You have the front office operations, the SGA, the debt financing, etc. And after all of that -- and this is my point above -- I can't think of a single lower class team that has the excess cash to make up for a series of bad signings. Boston, Philly, the NY teams, and LA have no such problem. Therein lies the advantage.
Yeah, but there's the problem of statistical noise. The issue isn't just whether spending correlates to winning percentage. Knowing that gives us just a piece of the picture. What we also need to know is whether spending *compensates* for mismanagement, and if so, to what extent?
I would argue that the Yankees' greatest asset isn't their ability to outbid the rest of the market for a player, but then to jettison that same player without it impacting the the franchise on the field or off.
Being able to compensate for major mistakes without taking a hit on the field is a competitive advantage only a few teams have. It's not that the Rays, Pirates, etc. have to be managed *well*; it's that they have to be managed several degrees *better* than the competition. The Yankees et al don't face that problem.
He said "cap and floor."
They wouldn't necessarily have to preclude the spend on the minor leagues from any floor. (Or ceiling, for that matter. In a way, the draft slot salaries artificially set a ceiling on some, though not all, non-MLB players.)
You are changing the parameters of the question. The revenue mismatch is really more a byproduct of the free agent era, although club financial woes date to the launch of the professional leagues (perhaps most pronounced by the Athletics' famous selloffs during the Connie Mack years).
I would argue that the ability to re-sign your own free agents at market value, rather than trading them or seeing them walk because you can't afford them, is a huge advantage.
Furthermore, the richest clubs have s the inherent advantage of being able to eat their expensive mistakes. The margin for error just isn't the same with all clubs.
This is an idea that gets precious little discussion. Not sure why.
It's all so silly. I mean, if the Rays or Twins or A's contracted, what would the Red Sox and Yankees do for a farm system?
Kidding (sort of) aside, let's say you pare the league to the 10 or so teams willing to invest at least somewhat comparable amounts. In such a world, would Steinbrenner (and there's nothing that says greed quite like a guy who inherited everything, then complains that no one else can appreciate what he's sacrificing) settle for the Yankees not making the playoffs every year? Because when so much of one's success is tied to simply outspending the rest of the world, you level the playing field and that success is bound to regress.
Fact is, the Yankees (or Red Sox, for that matter) don't want a level playing field. And that's coming from a Red Sox fan.
At first blush, I would have agreed. Then I clicked on Manning's player card. Lifetime WARP of -6.4.
I won't pretend to know what the pre-MLB expectations were for Manning, but they must have been pretty high. To turn in a negative WARP for his career, well, either the majors were teeming with good centerfielders or that's some pretty serious suckitude.
Stephen, there have been precious few pre-expansion players listed so far. Are you saving up, or is that because the necessary accounts regarding pre-1960 era players are relatively slim?
To be fair, I'm guessing edwardarthur was looking at the outcome, and not how it came about.
Behind every major prospect who disappointed is a story, no doubt.
I would argue it was Danny Goodwin. Imagine taking a guy as the first overall pick -- and he DOESN'T SIGN.
I think it depends on which PECOTA projection is used. Remember it's a scale, not a single number (or line of numbers).
Marc, where would Jacoby Ellsbury rank among LFs? He qualifies as one in most leagues.
I see your point, but I would request that all players be ranked at positions at which they generally would qualify in fantasy. The truth is, we don't always draft guys to use at their primary positions, and doing it Marc's way gives we drafters a much better idea of what we are getting.
Where will Miggy Cabrera be ranked when he sobers up tomorrow?
Agreed. Book publishers/printers are in the business of growing trees. I know this: I am one.
Honus Wagner and Cy Young never made the All-Star team.
Of course, it didn't exist then, either ...
Just so I understand, are you suggesting that the era in which first basemen were allowed to be sloths in the field provided they hit a ton has come to an end?
Nice work, Jay. But please be careful of the percent vs. percentage points use.
Alomar's vote total was 16.3 percentage points, not percent, greater than last year. (By the percent totals, he was up 22.1% over 2009's vote.)
Likewise, Trammell's vote total was 1.9 percentage points higher.
That's the point, though, isn't it? That blaming the unions for high ticket prices is a red herring?
Not to get all Scott Boras, but in each of the biggest contracts (A-Rod twice, Jeter, Sabathia, etc.) ever handed out, the owner was bidding against himself. The only exception
I can think of is Manny Ramirez's deal with the Red Sox, and there were lots of factors at play in that instance. Want to blame someone for ticket prices, look at the owners, not the unions.
Charley Finley was right: Make every player a free agent every year.
That's an interesting take. The average ticket price to see perhaps the worst sports union -- the NHL -- in action is $51.41. http://www.andrewsstarspage.com/index.php/site/comments/nhl_average_ticket_prices_since_1994_95/119-2008-09
The NBA's is $49.47. http://teammarketing.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Fan%20Cost%20Index/NBA/NBA_FCI_08-09.pdf
The NFL's is $74.99. http://teammarketing.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/News/nfl%20fci%202009.pdf
MLB's is $26.74. http://teammarketing.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Fan%20Cost%20Index/MLB/MLB_FCI_2010.pdf
"The fans felt Henry didn't spend enough time or money on the Red Sox because he was in the process of buying legendary English soccer team Liverpool FC."
That's an interesting contention that I'm not sure any poll would bear out. I think it's something of a late blooming narrative. I suspect most Sox fans recognize the devastating number of injuries was the leading factor in their missing the playoffs, followed by the shoddy bullpen effort. I don't get the feeling fans hold Henry accountable for that, nor should they.
So what's next? The Bowie Kuhn Best LF Who Was Traded but Then Wasn't Award?
I totally get that headline and it's among the best I've read here. Well done.
I believe Johnny Cooney had a Joe Kerrigan-like stint (20-25-1 record -- yes, that's right: he managed a tie game) with the Braves, temporarily replacing Billy Southworth in 1949.
One small correction: The "Burnett-y problems" started in the third, not the second.
@sbnirish77, Given how BP had the Red Sox as the top-ranked team in baseball in spring 2010, this is a bit severe, don't you think?
I didn't realize Dan Shaughnessy subscribed to BP.
One nit: The difference between 50% and 54% isn't four percent, it's four percentage points.
Perhaps I'm confused on the timeline you are using for showing weakness and as such misread your point. If we look at Ortiz's 2009 and 2010 seasons as a whole, he certainly hasn't fallen off the cliff, but he clearly has had long spells of utter uselessness.
To wit: Ortiz hit .185 with 1 HR through April/May (178 ABs) in 2009. He then his .234 over 188 ABs in June and July, though that was mitigated by 14 HRs and a .500+ SLG. Yet he ended the season with more than 600 PAs.
He then hit .143/.238/.286 with 1 HR in April this year (56 ABs). And he will end this season with more than 570 PAs as well.
Despite going nearly one-third of the season below the Mendoza line, Boston kept putting him in the lineup. So, again, perhaps I just don't understand the timeline you are using.
"Once you go to being a pure DH, you can't show any weakness in your bat if you're going to keep plate appearances up."
David Ortiz would like a word.
"Does that mean 78% of ESPN owners have abandoned their teams?"
Not necessarily. I'm not in an ESPN league, but I imagine the head-to-head leagues are no different from Yahoo, in which case the playoffs are well underway. So for the large percentage of teams now "out of the money" (so to speak), why bother picking up a player that would make no one's keeper list?
I was going to suggest Mark Buehrle.
Not commenting on anyone in particular, so please don't bother taking offense, but can we all please give this a rest and get back to baseball?
Steven is right here.
Michael Jordan's reported quote, "Republicans buy shoes, too" would apply in spades. Why needlessly alienate fans?
Whenever I read a comment that attempts to pigeonhole a player as a "Moneyball guy," I know the speaker either did not read the book, or did not understand it.
"The issue is that there are too few observations (just 30 teams!) to really interpret a multiple regression in any meaningful way."
Wouldn't that be overcome in this case because you are measuring the entire universe (i.e., 30 teams = the universe)?
This is a good question to ask, Matt.
Industrial engineers use advanced statistical tools in the endless pursuit of 100% yield. And even when all the variables are accounted for, we have the occasional hiccup.
Then there's the notion that making the "ideal" statistical move is an absolute. Certainly there are competing statistical methodologies that produce varying outcomes. Even the most thorough organizations like the Red Sox clearly make moves at odds with the data (see Lugo, Julio).
The data we get from PECOTA is a forecast of player performance on a macro scale (i.e., over the course of a season). Then we further scale that to predict a given performance, matched with other given performances, will produce a larger outcome (i.e., team wins and losses). If memory serves, the Red Sox under Francona have as often as not underperformed their Pythagoream record. That sometimes gets lost when we consider their overall record in that span. (When your guys win a World Series, you don't worry so much that the data say they should have won 102 games, not just 96.) Maybe there's a wrinkle in there on the scaled level that still needs to be worked out, and/or perhaps there's work to be done for in-game statistical use.
Depends on your cutoff of "lost," I guess. Jason Bay and Nate McLouth would qualify in my book, even though McLouth was signed cheap by most team's standards.
Thanks for the link. Problem is, Shawn's article ties revenue, not attendance, to wins. There are many factors that go into revenue; paying fans in the seats is just one of them. And as any Red Sox fan knows, all ticket prices are not created equal.
Matt writes: "The Phillies sold out their 100th straight baseball game last Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, and they are spending about $138 million on player salaries this year. These are not unrelated facts. The Phillies spent just $42 million on salaries in 2001, the year after they won 65 games. Those facts are not unrelated, either."
The argument of attendance-to-wins ratio would be stronger is backed by data instead of conjecture. I'm sure there's a BP study somewhere you could have linked to.
Callison was almost exclusively a RF, 1961 excepted, and in neither case did he ever post a TAv that topped the seasons of the two guys on the list here.
*Says* "he got into juicing after McGwire and Sosa did and he saw the industry hypocrisy and the media hagiography..."
I wonder if you are too dismissive of the media effect in this case, Joe. Clearly, teams from time to time decide even great players aren't worth the headache: Witness the Red Sox trade of Manny Ramirez a couple years ago. "Cowed" is an aggressive and perhaps not particularly accurate way to frame the issue. "Fed up with" was the problem in Manny's case. The corollary for Bonds might be "not worth the headache" or "worn out his welcome."
Marc, whereas there is always room for improvement, not much comes immediately to mind. I have to say I've been really pleased with your work on the fantasy beat this year. Specifically, the Hot Spots are a real plus, and I also liked how you grouped like players in the preseason rankings.
Got a link for the Madlock-Tanner conversation you mentioned here? Would love to read that.
Good interview. One note: Citizen Sports was sold this year, not last year. http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/17/yahoo-acquires-citizen-sports/
Apologies in advance for not recalling who the hitter was, but Strasburg struck out one left batter on what the announcers called a slider that hit 89 mph and rode the outside corner and broke straight down (off the table).
I remember thinking the announcers got the pitch wrong because he gripped it like a circle change. Based on the Pitch-f/x data, I'm guessing I was right. Anyone else remember this?
I think ranking them within the tiers overshoots the point of the tiers. I am thinking -- perhaps mistakenly -- that the players within a tier are essentially the "same"; that is, depending on your need (SB, HR, BA, etc.), one may be slightly better than another within a tier, but that's tied to user preference, not any true superiority on the part of the player vs. his peers. If I'm correct, then ranking them within the tiers is essentially a meaningless exercise.
Does that study show how fast those weightlifters lose their strength when they go off the juice?
I found as more plausible the studies done on the effects of maple bats, which are denser and exhibit superior bending modulii to ash. Players started using maple bats in 1997 (although they weren't approved by MLB until 1998) and Bonds used a maple bat during 2001.
Then there's the weather. 1998 was the warmest year on record, 0.52 °C above the long-term 1961-1990 average, because it was dominated by an extreme El Niño.
The notion that strength = speed certainly has been under-reported. We know track & field and football players, among others, use PEDs to gain quickness and speed. So why has all the attention about PED use been paid to the home run hitters and nothing to the guys who steal bases for a living?
Are PEDs selective, affecting only certain muscle groups and not others? If not, then shouldn't we have seen some change in the base rates for steals during the PEDs era, too?
My point exactly.
sgshaw, I think most observers would accept a controlled study conducted over multiple seasons. But until something can be proved to be repeatable, it can’t really be proved. The studies done by Penn State (Grader and Halleck) on the very real physical changes made to the baseball during that period, for example, are far more convincing that the anecdotal evidence about this guy or that using PEDs of an undisclosed brand and undisclosed amounts over an undisclosed period. We’d never accept such “evidence” as useful in determining, say, whether a new anti-cancer drug has an impact on human health, so why would we ever settle here (except that falling for the PEDs = gazillion homeruns conceit neatly fits our preconceived notions).
What was interesting about McGwire's admission was his statement that he had good years on PEDs and bad years on PEDs and good years while clean and bad years while clean.
It's anecdotal, but a feather for those of us who insist that no proof exists that PEDs translate to on-the-field improvements.
So would the Mark McGwire clone be like the steroids version of McGwire, or the non-steroids version of McGwire?
I've often thought of becoming a golf club.
I should point out that you can the PECOTA spreadsheets to input exactly the settings your league uses, and update it in real-time based on the players drafted. If you use that, it won't matter whether Marc breaks out OF by position. In fact, it's better because it weights the undrafted players both overall and by position based on who is left.
Will Carroll, among others, has studied the effect of a position change on a player's likelihood of injury. Rather than speculating, perhaps we should just consult his work.
Another way to look at the question is, can fielding slump? I would argue that it can.
Or how about, How many fans buy a ticket just to see a particular player?
Assumption no. 2: Demographically, I'd bet the older the fan, the more likely they pay to see the game, versus a particular player.
I'd say the glaring omission would be the fans, aka the "customers."
But what the hell do we know?
One problem is in how GMs structure such contracts. If they would frontload it so the value is where the performance is (expected), a player Damon's age (any player, really) would be much easier to move in the last couple years of a deal.
I always interpreted "hop" to be late movement, not velocity.
It's a very minor thing, but I'm not sure I see your math on Varitek/Wakefield.
The Red Sox paid them a combined $9M in 2009.
As I understand it, Varitek's deal for 2010 calls for a team option of $5M (which they will assuredly decline) or a player option of $3M (plus performance bonuses based on games played worth up to $2M, most of which he most assuredly would not attain). I have not seen anything that suggests he will retire, and I can't imagine he would get $3M+ anywhere else, so I'm assuming he returns. (Perhaps you are hearing something else?)
Wake has a $4M deal. I suspect he will retire.
So, for 2010, the odds are the Sox will be on the hook for $3M to Varitek. Hence, they would have $6M coming off the books, not $7M.
My vote for comment of the year.
DandyDan, remember the song? "Hey hey, holy mackarel, no doubt about it!"
Steven, I like your writing, but in making your case here you jump around a bit and as such it's hard to buy in to your conclusions.
For instance, that the Cubs rarely have the individual league leader in walks is anecdotally interesting but not highly relevant insofar as I can tell.
The discussion of "100 walks" is more of the same. One hundred is just a random number. I don't know why we would give it any more weight than 99 or 101. It's just so-much sportswriter filler.
Re the 1901-72 data, it would be make for a more compelling argument to include the median percentage, not just the high and low marks.
Then you write that a Hendry deal for Burrell would be "perhaps the first time since Dallas Green ... that a Cubs general manager put such an explicit emphasis on adding patience to the club." Isn't that what the signing of Bradley, a injury-prone malcontent, was? Likewise, could trading Bradley away really be considered "an emphasis on adding patience?"
It may be the way you worded that, but in fact Dice-K received far less than $100 million. Perhaps you meant to write that the Red Sox paid $100+ million for him.
Dice-K received $52 million over six years, $2 million signing bonus, $6 million next year, $8 million in each of the following three seasons and $10 million in each of the final two years. The deal includes $8 million in escalators based on awards that could mean he earns $60 million over six years. It's a lot of green, but way short of $100 million.
The Seibu Lions, his former team in Japan, received $51.11 million.
Somewhere, Charlie Finley is smiling.
The time value of money works in a vacuum, but too often I think it is used as rationale where it doesn't apply. There is also opportunity cost, which in many (but not all) free-agent situations should (but doesn't) override the TVM conceit.
I write this in theory, because the arbitration issue inn practice supersedes all of this.
Anything on Wandy Rodriguez? If Oswalt's the key, Rodriguez's the chain.
Right, but would they have broken down sooner on higher pitch counts?
I think you're asking the wrong question. I think the question is, Do pitchers' arms wear down from (over)use?
AS for the list above, Zambrano went on the DL the next month with a right shoulder strain; Schilling pitched crappy in his next two starts, then completely broke down and was out for a month-and-a-half; Pavano went on the DL the next month with an injured right shoulder ... Is there a correlation? You tell me.
There are always outliers, coachadams. Feller was likely one. Nolan Ryan was another. I'm not sure I'd make broad generalizations based on a Hall of Famer, which by definition is an outlier.
Ben, I understand what you're trying to say, but I wouldn't necessarily tie throwing "hard" (as in physical exertion) and throwing "fast" (as in pitch velocity). We simply can't know how hard the great or not-so-great pitchers of yesteryear were exerting themselves.
It's unlikely Mathewson threw fast in the context of today's pitchers. But Mathewson also didn't lift weights; undergo extreme conditioning programs; take dietary and other supplements; have access to legions of physiologists, kinesiologists and other motion experts; etc., that would strengthen his muscles and allow him in theory to throw faster even without necessarily applying more effort (and thus bodily stress) in each pitch.
The brilliance of the book was that Lewis and Beane both saw the the business of baseball for what it is: a matter of efficiency. Critics focused on the relative failure of Jeremy Brown (as if making the major leagues constitutes failure), without recognizing Beane's signature accomplishment simply was to take advantage of all the available start-of-the-art tools that otherwise went ignored by his peers.
Years ago, I recall writers feting Tony LaRussa for bringing a computer into the lockerroom, but really, what did that mean? That he could learn Jose Canseco had driven in 14 runs against Tom Candiotti? Alderson, Beane and their disciples took analysis and application to a much more useful level.
My take is many old- and not-so-old timers don't recognize (or don't want to recognize) this not because they can't grasp it, but because the thought is too unsettling to everything they've previously learned. Instead, it's "Earl Weaver never applied calculus to baseball and look where he got." What's disappointing is that the same group of Luddites fail to see that what made managers like Weaver so successful was his elegant application of the concepts statisticians now take for granted as smart baseball.
I read in anticipation that you were leading up to this line -- "Moneyball brought forth the idea of exploiting market inefficiencies" -- but have some trouble with the rest of the sentence -- "but as more teams took notice, inefficiencies have been hard to find."
I would argue that inefficiencies are no harder to find than they were pre-Moneyball. Rather, the inefficiencies that existed pre-Moneyball are not necessarily the same inefficiencies that can be found today. (In the book, Beane himself alluded to that inevitability.) I would liken it to a factory, where engineers pore over yield data in order to refine each process. In baseball, like in production, every time you raise the quality bar, something that was once "in spec" eventually will be found to be below par.
Moreover, say the Red Sox were to trade for another catcher. Would he play enough to make a difference? Short of obtaining Joe Mauer, Varitek's the starter, for better or worse.
Good point. Frankly, I think the zeal for the game itself places a far second to the energy over the picks.
And I'm not so sure there's anything wrong with that.
This one comes down to, as Bill James said, whether you think the All-Star game is for the fans, or for the players.
If the latter, the argument can be made that a 28-year-old guy who coming into the season had all of 478 at-bats -- in other words, just 75 fewer at-bats than A-Rod had homers at that point) -- and who after the best 200-odd AB of his life now has a career line of .241/.320/.443 belongs with the best 30 or so players in the league.
If the former, however, then grab some bench, Zobrist.
Until David Ortiz can prove he can still outhit Carlos Zambrano, he belongs on this list too.
Are you suggesting Manny has a uterus? Now that's funny!
I'd think Bobby Cox has a fair amount of job security, too. He's the modern Walt Alston.
"Signs point to yes."
Will BP update Vlad's listing to reflect his (presumed) correct age?
(For that matter, will it do the same for Miggy Tejada?)
Is BP going to readjust Vlad's age and forecast based on his "revised" birthday?
Actually, the Yankee payroll is similar to last year's, so you can't really press the point that this year's model is tied to any new revenue. They may be putting the best product they can find on the field, but it's not just about the (new) monies.
No, I'm not suggesting the Yankees weren't involved. Of course they were.
I'm thinking of the matter more in terms of a purely economic problem. But I would take issue with your position that the ballpark couldn't have been built without government assistance, assuming that by "government assistance" you mean tax breaks/funds (and not just the necessary permits that obviously go hand-in-hand with any construction project). Unlike most teams, the Yankees could have used the traditional means -- bond issues, bank loans, cash out of pocket, etc. to finance it. But they had the opportunity to stick the taxpayers and so they did. Given the chance, most of us would have done the same.
And I don't think the issue here is whether the Yankees offer more seats or less; at least, that's not the issue to the Yankees. (Perhaps that's what you are saying -- that it should be.) The Yankees have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, and (I'm guessing) to the rest of MLB, not to their fans. If, thanks to more and larger boxes, seat licenses and other means the Yankees can generate more revenue from a fewer number of seats, I guess I don't see why they should do otherwise.
There's a lot of precedent in baseball for building smaller parks. The Jake is smaller than the old Municipal Stadium (by some 31,000 seats) and no one complained. Memorial Stadium in Baltimore had a greater capacity than does Camden Yards. Likewise for the old Astrodome vs. Minute Maid Park. The new park didn't go up in a day; there was ample time for NY citizens (and ticketholders) to argue the point before it became a fait accompli.
I don't know that I would characterize the demand as "artificially increased." It could be argued that demand is essentially the same, but capacity fell. The bigger issue is that pricing is typical elastic, with ticket prices often rising from year to year anyway.
The Yankees are the wealthiest team in baseball, if not pro sports. And they are that way because they do such a great job of leveraging the system. (By comparison, the Mets are wealthy, but not like the Yankees, despite having the same basic resources to work from.) The criticisms of the taxpayer-funded ballpark are well-founded. I wonder why those same taxpayers aren't tossing out the politicians who signed away their paychecks. That's where the outrage should lie. The Yankees were just doing what the Yankees always do, and will continue to do until New Yorkers stop mindlessly forking over their wallets.
I see your point, and recognize that some (many?) folks feel that activities that are high in \"intangibles\" cannot be measured, but I would argue that line of thinking is prevalent only because the brain power necessary to understand those intangibles is just starting to be directed toward sports.
I would think there\'s a lot to be learned about football, hockey, soccer, etc. There\'s no reason why these and other endeavors cannot be broken down into measurable parts. Industrial engineers do this every day with much more esoteric activities than hockey or football. Also, consider that behavioral scientists and others in droves are studying the effects of one\'s biochemical makeup on performance under stress (with funding that comes from your tax dollars, btw, via the NIH, which in turn funds the grants). We are just scratching the surface of what can be known here. Clearly, there will be many wrong turns -- Bill James didn\'t get everything right the first time out -- but that\'s just part of the learning curve.
Perhaps the way to look at it is not by measuring the improvement/loss versus the previous season, but against the trendline and age-related expectations. One could argue that Clemens at age 34 should have been seeing a falloff in performance season-over-season. Then again, in recent times several other power pitchers (Ryan, Carlton and Randy Johnson, to name a few) pitched at an elite level well past their 34th birthdays.
Will, you have written often of the lack of evidence that proves steroids have a positive effect (I\'m paraphrasing here) on performance. (I agree with your hypothesis, btw.) That said, how do you account for Bonds\' performance from 2000-04, where he put up perhaps the greatest 5-year streak not by a player named Ruth, one well outside statistical models and all after he turned 35.
Moreover, do you believe a Hall voter could reasonably decide to omit a player from their ballot based on the \"integrity, sportsmanship and character\" clause? If so, what would be the circumstances?
I\'m not taking a side here; truly just interested in your opinion.
JJ, you wrote: \"On the other hand, he\'s coming off by far his two heaviest workloads of his career, and his only two years above 200 innings.\"
Actually, he pitched 200+ in 2002, and 190+ three other times. At any rate, I\'m not so sure the pitches thrown isn\'t a better indicator of wear and tear than innings pitched.
That would be \"Justin\" Masterson. Thank you.
When has any current Red Sox player said anything upon the trade or departure of a teammate? Nomar? Silence. Orlando Cabrera? Silence. Arroyo? Silence. D-Lowe? Silence. Pedro? Silence. Damon? Silence.
It\'s the culture, not the ex-teammates.
Manny was making the atmosphere toxic? How so? Could it be that a few local media and fans blew his idiosyncrasies way out of proportion?
Running into walls in pursuit of flyballs is overrated. Slugging .550 year in and year out is not. You can have all the old school, always hustling (but no-talent) Jerry Remys you want. I\'ll take Manny and the WS wins anyday.
\"I haven\'t studied the numbers closely.\"
So, what do you do all day, then?