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Why do I love BP? Just one reason is the wonderful allusions to (and mentions of) people/subjects like Robert W Chambers.
Maybe, but I suspect that winning ballgames will put more butts in the seats than anything. MLB isn't the minor leagues, where a good portion of the audience is there to see individual players or prospects as opposed to cheering a specific team to victory. Minor league teams exist to develop players, not to win championships, so if all he brings to the Reds is "sideshow attraction" attendance, that isn't going to be enough.
That said, as a Reds fan, I'm obviously hoping he turns out more like Eric Davis-lite.
If only we could get Frost to write a collection of made-up Sam Miller columns...
So, what temperature would a urine sample have to be stored at to maintain integrity of the sample? The only thing in his entire statement that seems odd is his indication that the FedEx box containing the sealed samples was stored in a Rubbermaid container in his basement office.
Thanks for the nice article, R.J. One question, though - isn't saying that hitters with a tendency to strikeout are more likely to have a low, two-strike TAV kind of like saying that players that walk a lot tend to take more pitches on 3-ball counts? In other words, pretty obvious, and not necessarily a flaw in the correlation between 2-strike TAV and TAV in general?
I'm not sure how much I like #2. Granted, I do hate the random category collections - "He was one of only three players to hit 17 home runs, steal 23 bases and have more than 84 RBIs every year in the 15-year period from 1977 to 1991" so I guess it makes sense to hate it, but I also think that players that are genuinely good at multiple things deserve more recognition and acclaim than they currently get.
So, I know the new injury analysis team had a tough act to follow after Will Carroll's departure, but it's articles such as this one that show that BP's injury coverage remains just as great as it was before. Good stuff - learned a lot.
"Low-value evidence is still evidence. I had no opinion on the steroid use of either Edgar or Derek before this discussion. Because Rob Neyer suspects Edgar more than Derek, and Rob Neyer is more likely to know something I don't know, I now ascribe a higher likelihood to Edgar than Derek as a potential steroid-taker."
Actually, this is not evidence - this is the fallacy of arguing from authority. Just because someone intelligent and well-known says that something is true or likely to be true or more likely to be true (etc) doesn't make it true or provide evidence that it is - it still has to be proven.
Thank you for writing this, Colin - I'm normally a big Rob Neyer fan and have read his work for a decade and a half, but I was left shaking my head after reading the article you're referring to. Perhaps we're misinterpreting his sentiment, but it sounds very much like he's saying that it's okay to form conclusions and opinions without evidence, and I find that is just lazy thinking, whether we're talking about baseball or any other subject. I think it's far better to assume an initial state of ignorance and then go searching for evidence and answers. And if you can't find evidence or answers for one side or another? Then you table the issue until you can.
"MLB isn't going to fry the reigning MVP on a borderline case. Everything these guys say after they're caught is sound and fury."
Yeah, except that MLB isn't frying anybody right now - the information was leaked before the entire process was completed. If the entire process had finished and MLB then announced that Braun had tested positive, that would be one thing, but that isn't what's happened. We can't consider MLB's conclusion and stance on this definite until the appeals process has ended.
This isn't directly related to the subject of the post, but this seems the best place to put it: I just want to thank everyone responsible for getting the wonderful Advanced stats section added to the Pecota cards. I'd missed the wide range of data available on the old DT pages and this addition is exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks.
Awesome set of studies, Rany - really great stuff and a fascinating read.
To philly - if I understand this all correctly, the discounted WARP applies to each year of the respective players' careers. As Rany stated in Part 1, the gap closes a little bit each year, but the point is that, over the 15-year career that Rany is using as his framework, the younger player is enjoying a discounted WARP advantage each year.
That means the difference in quality - and return on investment - for the younger player is substantially greater than just 1.17 discounted WARP.
Nice additions - is there any chance we can get more of these advanced statistics incorporated into the Pecota cards? I like the predictive aspects of Pecota, but I really miss the wealth of information that was broken down and presented on the old DT pages. It's a small gripe but it would be nice to have.
Also, any idea when advanced stats will be available for pre-60's players again? Again it's a small thing and I'm sure it's being worked on, but it would be cool to have again.
Anyway, thanks for the recent updates and additions, and keep up the great work.
Wow. I'm not a Yankees fan and i don't have any particular fondness for Jeter but this is still really cool. Breaking down and summarizing a player's entire record of hits in one big graph-thing is pretty sweet.
Nice to see some love for Doctor Who. I was exposed to it as a kid through PBS and have never stopped being a fan, and I agree that it would be cool to see some kind of baseball reference. One of baseball's ancestors, cricket, has been featured a few times, though, as one would expect from a British show.
This was a fun and informative article, thanks. When I was about 14 or so I invented a baseball game, but used a modified version of (then-current) 2nd Edition AD&D rules for the dice rolls. I came up with ratings for each player that translated into modifiers for an "attack" roll (the batter) and a "to hit" number (modified by the quality of the pitcher and defense) and then depending on who the batter was, a successful roll on a 20-sided die would indicate a hit and then another die would be rolled to determine "damage" (what type of hit it was). Depending on the quality of the hitter, different dies were used. I can remember that I also made a roll of 0 equivalent with a strikeout and a natural 20 was an automatic home run.
Were you to ask me what sort of article I would find most unlikely to grace the "pages" of BP, I think MLB slash fiction would be near the top of the list.
Which isn't to say I'm offended or bothered by it - nor am I particularly enthused by it - it was just kind of a surprise - "wait, did I see that right?"
What I am enthused to see is that BP is willing to try things that are different. It may not always be to everyone's cup of tea, but the intentional and definite direction BP seems to be taking recently in bringing in fresh voices and new perspectives is a definite plus in my book.
So long as you believe that you already know it all, you'll never know anything. I first came here many years ago from an old Rob Neyer link and the newness of the ideas is what kept me on. I'm glad to see that that approach hasn't changed, even if it does take different forms.
I enjoyed the video format, I do not read BP at work and I'm generally interested in hearing about many different players. That being the case, video is more engaging when relaxing at home and I have no issue listening or watching the entire thing.
Given the objections above, an all-video version is probably not going to be approved, but I would be very happy with a video UTK once a week or even an audio version.
Wow, awesome news! I also have hated to see BP writers whom, in some cases, I'd been reading for years (over a decade, in some cases) go elsewhere, so it is definitely great to see one of the founding five come on board full-time.
I understand the point of this - as someone who has worked in various forms of customer service for a long time I have a lot of experience with finding alternate explanations for more complicated realities.
But I don't think what they need is "2)" from the above examples. I think what they need is stories - of a kind - as was noted above, people like stories. Basically "2)" above is just asking people to believe something because BP said so and while I love BP and would generally believe something BP (or BJO, or Rob Neyer, or BA, etc) says more than I would say, Murray Chass, that's because I'm already familiar with the nuts and bolts behind these writers/websites.
For your average person, when you say something like that you're basically asking them to take something on faith, and I don't see how asking them to take BP - or any other advanced analysis - on faith is better than people having taken traditional analysis on faith for so many years.
Going back to my own background, I think what people really need is not necessarily simplification, but relation. Most people's daily lives do not involve reading about SIERA or how Bill James calculates Win and Loss Shares for Catchers. Most people's intellectual stimulation during the day is more mundane than that, so they need something that relates these different perspectives to perspectives and experiences in their own lives.
In some ways it's almost like poetry - a poet that just mopes or bitches or preaches is not going to evoke much or be particularly involving. But if, instead of just telling, he begins showing examples - senses of taste, touch, etc, or evocative analogies - suddenly it becomes real to you, as the reader or listener, because the poet has given you something that is common ground, and which allows you to translate the poet's experience into your own.
This is the sort of direction that, I think, would work better. I don't know what Joe Morgan said about the BRM on-air, and if some kind of relation was attempted but, again, in my experience this is the best way of explaining to people how to troubleshoot their cable modems and to explain how their bank account works, so I really feel like it would work well for statistical analysis, too. and it's a lot easier to do in writing than on TV, where time is more limited and the viewer can't just go back and re-read something he or she didn't get.
I guess overall what I'm saying is, my view of statistics - which I did study in college - is less math-oriented, and more concept-oriented. Of course the math is necessary, and you need math knowledge to perform statistical work. But the numbers are really just tools - if the perspective and vision that's guiding the analysis is flawed or biased, it doesn't matter what the numbers say. And frequently you can use any handy number system for the purpose of illustrating a point or view if you aren't making actual claims to what the real numbers are, as, again, Bill James did recently at BJO.
At my current job I do some (light) statistical analysis and I have found that - as Will states - when you shove a bunch of algebra in people's faces they don't really get it. But my experience is that people want to know why they should believe this new thing they have never heard of before, as well. Ironically, I find that baseball is very much an "everyday" sort of thing for most people, not out of the ordinary at all. If you can give people an analogy for what you're trying to explain, using a scenario from something they're familiar with, they will latch onto it and understand.
Actually, it seems to me that Christina Kahrl's been doing that for years and years at BP already - that's probably why she's one of everybody's favorite writers. And I seem to recall Will doing a great deal of this in explaining weird injuries and conditions in UTK. So maybe more of the storyelling just needs to be incorporated into the more stats-heavy articles here, on other sites, and over the airwaves.
Expanding on this somewhat, it isn't that overspending isn't bad - obviously I'm sure the Steinbrenners would like their money spent well. But while for most teams, whose payroll possibilities are much more limited than those of the Yankees, overspending for talent can be deadly. You have limited room for error. But for the Yankees being able to pay extra is almost an extra weapon in their arsenal.
I think we would have to see Cashman running a more fiancially-limited team to see where his true abilities lie. Were he to take control of the Cardinals or the Pirates and continue to overpay, then that would be something else. Until then, for all we know Cashman is simply taking advantage of a resource he knows he has access to. It still doesn't mean it's smart to overpay, because it isn't and Cashman should get dinged somewhat for that, but it's definitely a different situation in NY than it is elsewhere.
Is it surprising that they miss those debates? Probably not.
And I understand what you're saying - is it really fair to pillory these people when they're no more flawed than the average human being? Probably not.
But then I look around at what "average" human beings do to each other on a daily basis and wonder if that's much of an excuse...
But, specifically, I think most of your average Joes are not particularly aware of Jim Rice or his career any more than as a vague name they remember as a Red Sox star from yesterday. People for whom Rice helped define a time in their lives are almost all going to be either Red Sox fans or people who wrote about/covered baseball at that time.
If he did help define a time in the lives of a majority of baseball fans of that era, then that is something that, as you say, might be deserving of enshrinement. I personally am doubtful Rice had that kind of impact on the sentiments of baseball fans, as a whole, in that time. I don't actually know that, though, so it's speculation on my part.
The real problem I have with this kind of argument, though, is that it's a sort of "if/then/maybe" argument based on something it would be rather difficult to actually prove. That doesn't mean you're wrong - but I think it means we're still in the realm of speculation.
Re: Jim Rice and comments above -
While I think it is kind of a case of the ship having already sailed - he's in the HoF so it's probably time to deal with it and move on - I do understand why people use statements like "garment-rending travesty" (not that I believe that Jay is being literal - he's clearly being hyperbolic for humorous effect, as well).
Even if Gray Ink, Black Ink, and the HoF Standard and Monitor tests were up-to-date tools, did anyone see any of the mainstream media trotting these tools out to justify their votes? I sure didn't. No, they were justifying their votes based on statements that Rice was "the most-feared slugger of his time" or that OBP wasn't properly valued then so he should be given a pass - as if Rice would have suddenly started getting on base more often if someone had told him it was a good idea, and ignoring the fact that there have always been players who get on base a lot, regardless of era, and their value is real whether the media and the other players/teams realize it or not.
I don't want to generalize, I know there are some very smart people with reasonable arguments who supported Rice, but to me, at least, they seemed to be a clear minority.
And a great many of Rice's most vocal supporters were making things up to justify something they had already decided was true long before they had ever seen any evidence or compared him to other players in a rigorous fashion.
This kind of thinking is the very antithesis of intelligent discourse and analysis and is the reason why people like Jay are still annoyed about it. If the majority of Rice's supporters had been reasonable in their evaluations, and used arguments that make sense, as well as actual facts, I don't think any of the Jim Rice brouhaha would have occurred. And to be fair, obviously there are people who were anti-Rice in a very unreasonable way, as well, but I didn't see any of them writing for BP or ESPN or Hardball Times or Baseball Analysts, nor did Joe Posnanski come off that way.
In the end it really wasn't about Rice, it was about people reaching into what Bill James called the "bullshit dump" to justify their pre-existing beliefs, something that continues to go on today with Jack Morris supporters. You wanna put a guy in the HoF for being a league-average workhorse for two decades and having a couple shining moments in the postseason? Fine. I don't agree, but fine, at least that's accurate.
But when people just make things up, like that Morris pitched to the score - or that "it's not about stats, it's about impact", as a prominent writer for CNNSI.com stated one evening on the MLB Network - as a rational person I have to draw the line at that kind of thing. I mean, what does that even mean, "it's not about stats, it's about impact"?
And I can understand, hey, everyone makes mistakes, right? But when you look at something like Joe Posnanski's various rundowns on Blyleven and Morris and see that Morris was not particularly good at turning on the juice in close games and did most of his best work against sub-.500 teams, I mean, at that point you expect a reasonable person to think, "Oh, hey, yeah, I maybe should think this over some more" instead of ignoring it and spouting more baloney.
In other news, it's awesome that *my* childhood hero really is super awesome! Can't wait for you to get elected, Barry!
Courtesy of an excellent article by Dave Fleming, over at BJOL:
Lee Smith, ranked alongside all of the currently-enshrined relievers, plus Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman (for a total of 8) is:
- 3rd all-time in saves
- 5th in ERA+
- 4th in innings pitched
- 2nd in K/9
- 4th in save conversion
- 3rd in preventing inherited runners from scoring
- 3rd in terms of usage in high-leverage situations (only the two active relievers, Hoffman and Rivera, were used more often in those situations)
- 4th in Win Probability Added
Tell me that isn't a HOFer. Seriously. I used to dismiss Smith, and after learning all that, how can you not support him as a HOF candidate?
One thing I've noticed is that several teams currently out-performing their projections - the Blue Jays, the Royals, the Mariners, the Pirates and the Reds - have Defensive Efficiencies in the top 10 of all MLB.
Recently Bill James did a study on under- and over-performing teams, and one of the conclusions he drew was that one seeming feature of teams that over-perform their projections is strong infield defense. Obviously DE includes more than just infield defense, but all the same it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the season, fpr the Jays and for the other "surprise" teams.
This particular line of reasoning reminds me of an argument I once had with someone on a different website - a forum, actually - about historical vs non-historical characters in a work of historical fiction based on a period of ancient history. The particulars aren\'t really relevant - the main thing is that this person refused to accept that certain characters from the novel did not, actually, exist. He kept coming back to the idea that we can\'t prove they *didn\'t* exist, so even though there was absolutely no evidence in the historical record for their existence, we can still say they existed. This is, of course, nonsense. You can speculate all you want, but if a personage does not appear anywhere in the historical record, you cannot jump to the conclusion that they *did* exist simply because you have no direct proof - proving a negative is a billion times more difficult than proving a positive because the very fact of its having never happened means it doesn\'t leave the kinds of traces a positive occurrence does.
In other words, maybe Jim Rice would have been capable of walking and getting on-base a lot more if people had desired that he do so, and maybe not, but the fact that he did not, in fact, walk and get on-base a lot is all we actually have to go on. You can\'t jump to the conclusion that he was actually better than his record based on speculation that he might have had an ability he rarely demonstrated. To parrot a recent blogpost of Joe Posnanski\'s, regardless of whether walks and OBP were always fairly-valued by press, fans, players, management, etc, or not, doesn\'t change the fact that they were plenty valuable, and regardless of perceptions, there have always been, in baseball\'s history, players who *did* get on base a lot and walk a lot, and those accomplishments had the same real value regardless of what the perceptions of the time were.
I am open to the possibility that Jim Rice might be an HOF - just like I\'m open to the possibility that clutch hitting, as a persistent skill, might actually exist - but I have yet to see convincing arguments demonstrating that Rice not being an on-base machine was the result of the times or team/fan pressures rather than simply because that wasn\'t the kind of ballplayer that he was.
That wouldn\'t be \"Sweet Lou\" Piniella, would it?
That is so awesome! I\'ve been reading you guys since \'98 - my sophomore year of college, when I first encountered a Rob Neyer link to your stuff - and am just so happy for you guys to get the official recognition you\'ve so long deserved.
Hopefully future years will see Joe Sheehan, Steven Goldman and other members of the BP Staff get the recognition they deserve.
Once again, this is awesome!
As a Cincinnati fan I would not trade my franchise for the Marlins, even with the aforementioned 2 WS titles in the last 11 years.
Excellent stuff, Joe. I thoroughly enjoyed your systematic deconstruction and breakdown of all eight awards.
The contrast between this sort of reasoned, intelligent analysis and the knee-jerk, fallacious critiques of modern baseball analysis is astounding, and really shows up the lack of understanding present in a lot of writers who really ought to know better (see: Joe Posnanski\'s similar breakdown of Tom Boswell\'s piece about how Pujols shouldn\'t have been NL MVP).