CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com
New! Search comments:
(NOTE: Relevance, Author, and Article are not applicable for comment searches)
(not Cole's, Mortimer's, apologies)
In Cole's video of Zimmer, from the side I noticed that his plant leg is pointed back up the hill, so he ends up kind of falling backwards after delivery. Might that be reducing the depth of release, leaving the fastball more hittable than it 'should' be?
(I am not a scout, nor do I play one on tv, but I do read Thorburn's articles a lot!)
This is all true and agreed, but the reason the reaction to Heyman is so snarky is that he IS a troll. He "asks" these "questions" all the time and gives zero indication that he's actually trying to learn from them. Case in point: the Reynolds-Johnson "mystery" is EXACTLY THE SAME as the Marte-Harper one he was grousing about a few weeks ago. I really don't think trying to engage with him is at all different from trying to engage with Hawk.
And really, I agree wholeheartedly with everything Colin says except... does Heyman's question really speak to anything? Any time two position players have differing offensive stats but similar total WAR (or vice-versa), it's due to some combination of: defense, playing time, position, baserunning. Click over to B-R, scroll to the "2013" line, and see which one(s) it is. This takes about 10 seconds. It's not a mystery, and really anyone who's sabermetrically literate knows this already. We also know that defensive metrics are rather uncertain, and people are working on that. I guess it's good to have that point made explicit now and again, but beyond that, I don't see what value or impetus Heyman's inquiry really brings.
I think "WAR Mystery of the Week" would be a pretty fantastic weekly Unfiltered feature, actually.
I'm quite convinced that the revolution will come not from #robotumps, but from #cyborgumps. The K-Zone/Pitch F/X style technology is fundamentally limited by the need for calibration and unpredictable perturbations like the warping of the stadia and the possibility of physical damage to the camera system. However, giving the umps Google Glass-type devices that project the strike zone over what their eyes see (and heck, fair/foul, checked swings, on-field instant replays, all kind of cool stuff) would solve most of the problems, and in a pinch could be reverted to the "old way" if technical problems arise. I think we might see this surprisingly soon, within 10 years perhaps.
In other words, nice Lobot reference.
This is awesome! Really looking forward to the subsequent parts.
Any plans to do the other pitches?
(Also, perhaps I'm in the minority, but I like having summary tables/charts presenting the relevant data right next to each other. Just a suggestion!)
Except the hypothesis already WAS that Choo is uncomfortable in center field, people were saying that since 2 seconds after the trade was announced, so finding three instances of him goofing up is just feeding confirmation bias. These ARE anecdotes -- I saw him drop a catch! I saw the ball land behind him! -- because they were not gathered in any systematic way. Observational data would involve watching all of his plays, or at least some significant fraction thereof, and tracking how frequently he makes mistakes. And the conclusion drawn from that could easily be exactly the opposite, that he's actually incredible outside of the three mistakes. Maybe not, probably not, but we don't know that.
I would go so far as to say that conclusions drawn the 3 gifs are worse than meaningless, they're downright misleading, because they were all taken from the first week of the season. They absolutely do NOT support the hypothesis that "Choo *IS* really, really uncomfortable in center field" in any way, shape, or form, since we know he was essentially new to the position at the time and has much more experience now.
That SEC investigation is still going on, right? If they do drop the hammer in the near future, I'd imagine Loria would be booted out of MLB as fast as (in)humanly possible, to try to distance MLB from the whole "massive criminal fraud to steal from taxpayers to build a stadium" bit.
Is Taillon on a strict pitch count? That start isn't good, obviously, but it doesn't strike me as such a disaster that the performance alone would demand removal after 3 IP (esp. compared to poor Randall's, yeesh).
Thanks for doing the legwork for this. Even with all the caveats of stringer-data, it's an interesting finding.
I do think pretty much everyone in the sports analytics/"stats" community would do well to emphasize that the words "luck" and "nonpredictive" are used pretty much interchangeably. "Unpredictable" sometimes gets put in there as well. When we say "lucky" or "BABIP fluke", sometimes that includes things that are truly lucky like the bloop single landing 2 inches past the fielder's glove, but it also includes things like the hitter making a mechanical adjustment that lets him suddenly catch up to inside heat and get a few good hits before pitchers catch on and adjust, forcing the hitter to readjust and lose that edge, and so on. They are things that can't be found in the standard statistical record or from casually watching the game. So when we look at it through the statistical lens, we see "hey he hit .450 for 10 games then went back to normal, that was just luck" (and from a statistical, long-term view it was!) even though physically it derived from the player's actual skill.
I really think a lot of the resistance to modern statistical concepts comes from that choice of vocabulary. Maybe a better word should be used. I don't have any good ideas, though.
I also think that this is an area where the proverbial marriage of stats and scouts would bear tremendous fruit. Minor league scouting is seeping into the mainstream analytical community, how about getting some Major League scouts involved as well? Maybe someone could talk anonymously, or someone who's retired or between jobs could work with some analysts to study these kinds of things side by side.
Oh my God yes, the most entertaining player in recent memory. He was like a real life video game pitcher: as fast as possible, just FB FB CU (K), FB FB CU (K), FB FB CU (K).
Segura's an exciting young player, but his career won't truly take off until we all agree that his first name should be pronounced "Zhahn" as in "Jean-Luc Picard," rather than "Gene" as in "that other Wojciechowski."
Great work, congrats to McCotter and the other prize winners!
Seconded! I've been wondering about this for awhile. Another example might be keeping the glove a bit high when expecting a curve in the dirt, anticipating a bounce or having to pounce on it from above.
Good article, in need of more comments. A couple:
*I really hate when people act like all people of some subset are the same. Just like Matsuzaka's issues didn't mean Darvish would be a failure, there's no reason that, say, Ryu flopping in the Majors should have any impact on future KBO signings. However, I know that many people including front office types are, well, people, so I don't doubt that such thinking and the implied stakes do exist.
*It still kills me that Aoki was considered something of a long-shot to make the roster after a really poor spring training in 2012 (really first half of spring training). Dude sure adjusted quickly! He can really sting the ball despite sort of odd footwork. I understand not trying to fix what's not broken, but given that he already has roughly ML-average power I wonder what kind of power he could hit for with a more stable lower body.
Oops, accidentally posted. As for why not Grindl or Gennett up..... they need to carry Alfredo "5.84 career ERA" Figaro around in case an opera breaks out?
Heh, yeah... actually it looks like it gets better (worse): unless I'm deeply misunderstanding something and/or a move was made very recently, they only have two position players on the 40-man not in the Majors (or on the DL), Caleb Grindl and Scooter Gennett. So calling up Morris or similar would require a roster move and potentially losing an arm.
TO BE FAIR! they went with 8 because they thought Kyle Lohse might not be able to pitch deep in games yet, what with the abbreviated spring training.
(which should really have been the reason to go from 6 to 7, not 7 to 8, but it is an extenuating circumstance)
Only tangentially related to the actual article (which was great, don't get me wrong!) but in the last table, am I reading correctly that the average MLB team's expected winning percentage jumps from 36% to 60% if they score (at least) the 3rd run while the starting pitcher is still in? If so, it's really remarkable that one extra run, by definition relatively early in the game, can swing the ExpW% so much!
Going into 2012, I recall one of the knocks on Hamilton being that he ironically wasn't a very "good" base-stealer in terms of technique. I didn't notice it mentioned here... has he improved in that area, or did his success at AA convince scouts that his schtick will play in the Majors?
I will give $1 million to any announcer to refer to him as that on a Major League national broadcast, should the opportunity arise. Seriously, I will acquire $1 million and give it just to make this happen.
Also offering $250k for a "Johnny Bench called."
I agree with everything you say, but I think we need to exercise caution when using phrases like "making it up". People here get it, but to most baseball fans that sure sounds like "just pulling numbers and formulas out of some body orifice that are different today than yesterday so that we can "demonstrate" the superiority of the guy we perceive today as being the best player." "Refining" might be a better euphemism.
How on earth is not-dumbing-down the vocabulary disrespecting you? It is literally the opposite.
Could just make a "has ML experience" category -- that might actually be really interesting.
I'm kind of curious about his football prowess, myself!
This is awesome. It's such an important area of research, and it's great to see that we now have some tools to even begin to tackle it.
I'm trying to reconcile how throwing more pitches increases risk of injury, but a large increase in innings pitched corresponds to a reduced risk of injury. Did I understand that correctly? Wouldn't more pitches and more innings seem to go hand-in-hand?
Also, is there any way to consider single-game factors? (e.g. "having a game with 130+ pitches thrown corresponds to X% increase in likelihood to go on the DL next season [same season?])
Chris Archer needs to go to bed earlier.
Last year KG said Matt Moore had #1/ace upside, this year you have his upside as a #2. Is that a case of different people/different opinions, or has something about his stuff/projection been revised downward?
Also, it's interesting to me that Guerreri is repeatedly described as "athletic", but there is some concern that he won't get his previous velocity back. I'd think velocity projection and overall athleticism would go hand-in-hand -- is there something specific that scouts look for that portends higher velocity in young arms?
Really enjoyed this, it's well thought-out and thought-provoking! I wonder if any teams have actually tried something along these lines, looking for the "extra 2%" as they say.
A couple thoughts:
1)I've long wondered if "chemistry" works how some say "clutch" does: it can't make you better but it CAN make you worse. I have a hard time seeing positive feelings promoting prolonged success (I'm guessing the warm fuzzies from team bowling night get dashed pretty quickly if the next game is a 0-12 blowout loss), but I can see how even a highly-paid professional might get in a mindset like "it's late August, we're 15 back, my contract's not up for two years, no one else here gives a crap, why should I?" as losses start piling up, making the team underperform their 'true' talent.
2)There's an assumption behind a lot of this that "good chemistry" = good/friendly relationships. It occurs to me that these are highly competitive young men we're talking about, and I could see some of them thriving on negative feelings and not-so-friendly rivalries, even with teammates. The whole "chip on your shoulder thing". Especially since baseball is a more or less individual sport.
Chemistry might then become a sort of balancing act, trying to figure out if the benefit of having the grump is worth the deleterious effect he might have on others' moods/production.
3)I wonder how much of the necessary information could be gleaned from discrete interviews with coaches. It may not be entirely reliable, but they probably know most of the "Bob likes Dave and Dave likes Sam but Sam hates Bob because Bob made a move on his wife. Pedro's in a bad mood today because noobs in his WOW guild screwed up a raid last night..."-type stuff, and could probably be used to piece together a decent picture of the chemistry network.
The other problem with referring to the descendants of the aboriginal people of these continents as "Indians" is that there is a large and growing chunk of the population with roots in actual India. The logo needs to go NOW, obviously, and honestly the nickname - for both the team and the ethnicity - needs to follow shortly, for practical concerns if nothing else.
Yes and no; those rules aren't arbitrary, they're there to try to prevent corrupting factors from affecting the test. The rules were violated, so corrupting factors couldn't be ruled out (legally, if that makes sense), so the test was thrown out.
As for whether the regfrigerator storage could actually affect it... Will Carroll wrote something about how the Braun team was able to prove that doing so could produce the elevated levels found that were reportedly found, but as far as I know now other journalist picked up on that, and he's, ahem, been wrong before.
Is the framing that nice? It looks pretty noisy to me, but I'm not a scout.
The first pitch especially looks a bit low and outside to me, but Colin's convinced me that it's basically impossible to judge balls and strikes from this camera angle/placement. However, Bonds had maybe the best eye in history, so if he thinks they're balls I'm inclined to agree!
There's still the two Championships with St. Louis -- I'd guess he'd need at least that many with the Angels to be better remembered as an Angel than a Cardinal.
Though there's one (remote, granted) possibility that might make a fun discussion: what if Pujols never wins a World Series with LAA, but DOES break Bonds' HR record? Is he then more a Cardinal or an Angel, for HOF purposes? The ultimate goal is championships, but the Hall explicitly rewards individual achievement...
I'm pretty sure that in this scenario, more or less zero teams would opt to have pitchers bat. The risk of injury is just too great, there's zero advantage at all to having your own pitcher hit, and the advantage of taking away the opponent's DH will not be seen to outweigh the risks to a team's own pitchers (rightly or wrongly might be arguable, but given how cautious teams are with pitchers in general, I'm quite certain that's how teams would see it). I also don't get the DH salary argument that some have put forth: most teams would just use the spot to rest old/injured players and/or hide the defensively-deficient, just as they do now.
Well, pitchers' WARP is based on FRA which just seems really borked to me (see also: 315 IP * 2.78 ERA/3.19 FIP = -1.3 WARP... http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=JONES19500112A). Fangraphs has Shields worth 4.9 and 4.3 WAR, and B-R has him worth 4.7 and 2.2 WAR over the last couple years. Those seem more reasonable in my eyes. The Fangraphs rankings are 17 and 18 those years, and B-R 11 and 40. All told those would make him approximately the 20th best starter in baseball over the last couple years.
Not that anyone has to agree with that valuation, but food for thought.
Could you clarify the comment on Cheslor Cuthbert's makeup, or makeup in general? In the "Explanation of Risk" he's specifically commended for good makeup, but there are also comments on lost focus and poor conditioning. I thought makeup was, well, basically the opposite of those things -- being very dedicated to baseball and always working to improve. I don't mean to knock Mr. Cuthbert specifically, I can't imagine how difficult the professional/cultural adjustment is, but the makeup comment seems incongruous with some of the assessments of his weaknesses?
When I saw news of the Hanson-Walden trade this morning:
"Whaaat? The Braves got fleeced!"
::checks stats, remembers last 2 years::
"Whaaat? The Angels got fleeced!"
Tommy Hanson, forever a budding ace in my mind. Hope he works it out in LA, he was fun for awhile.
I'm totally on board with what Sheehan said on Twitter: now the Braves have to trade Kimbrel. His value will (probably) never be higher, and you just know some team will give the farm for him. Detroit maybe? ...Yankees? ........Angels?
That Mitch Brown picture... I'm not sure if the proper response is "???" or "!!!"
Fantastic article, as others have said!
The point about future stadium plans is an interesting one. The Marlins shenanigans might come back to bite MLB pretty hard in about 10 years, when inevitably the teams that built their new stadiums in the early 90s (Baltimore, Cleveland, etc.) start complaining that they "cannot remain competitive" in such "outdated facilities" and want taxpayers to build them new ones.
Or impossible to measure?
I know, I feel like we're through the looking glass somehow. Stat nerds love defense! Jocks love the fat guy! Up is down! Left is right! Dogs and cats living together!
This thing especially kills me: "But Trout excelled in the kind of numbers that weren't even considered a few years ago, mostly because A) They were impossible to measure, and B) Nobody gave a hoot."
On what planet are extra-base hits, stolen bases, and robbing home runs things that nobody gave a hoot about?
Very cool, I'd only vaguely heard of this guy. Thanks for the insight!
Following up with myself, apologies for double-post: Fast pretty strongly suggests on the Book thread that it's about getting pitches called correctly:
Do we know if "framing runs" are more about getting pitches that should be called "balls" instead called "strikes", or is it about getting pitches that should be called "strikes" in the first place called correctly? Most people, and this article (which was both amusing and thought-provoking!) typically assume the former, but Fast's observation that it's almost entirely about smooth, distraction-less receiving would seem to suggest the latter.
(or maybe good framing catchers get the "rulebook" strikezone called more accurately? -- i.e. get high and low strikes that typically are called "balls" called correctly instead?)
(come to think of it, do catchers have "personal strike zones," like umpires? Like do certain catchers get, say, more outside pitches to left-handed hitters called strikes than the composite career tendency of their umpires would predict? Sample-size might be an issue, but I'd think someone who's been around for a million years like Molina might show some distinct tendency)
Marisnick is that well-regarded? Could be, I guess. I thought the write-up here was unflattering and he got eaten alive in AA.
Anyways, I get that a big part of the value the Marlins got was sending Buehrle and Buck and the last few years of Reyes' contract away. I just believe quite strongly that if they're really serious about "rebuilding" they should have kept the bad contracts, maybe even sent some money with Reyes, and gotten d'Arnaud included. Or elite talent from another team.
But that's, ahem, not Loria's top priority.
If you're going to actually rebuild, then don't you get as much talent as possible? Escobar might in theory be pretty good but he's 29 and sucked out loud last year, not to mention his various off-field concerns. Alvarez is a crummy back-end guy, Mathis is Mathis, and the rest... maybe I'm wildly misreading the industry appraisal of these guys, but are any of them even MLB Top 50 material? Nicolino is the only one who even strikes me as a likely Top 100 guy. Honestly, I'm not even sure I'd take this return over what the Brewers got for Greinke, and that was for two months of one guy.
Instead they opt for "salary relief", which seems like a wasted opportunity. Johnson and Reyes have health issues of course, but they're both among the best in MLB when they play and they're both in their primes. I just think you *have* to turn that into an elite prospect or two.
And that's before considering that it's the Marlins and they're less likely to sign top free agents than I am. Or maybe Loria got word that the SEC's going to come down hard and he's saving up for some lawyers.....
Phenomenal piece. I want to print out copies and distribute them to people who don't "get" mental illness.
Regarding Hamilton, do you know if any of his past/present/potential employers have any plans for helping him stay safe and sober after his contracts are up? Maybe it's not their business or responsibility, but I've heard of teams paying for players' college educations -- is there any indication of some sort of "lifetime accountability partner" or similar being a part of contract talks, or at least something teams have considered as a nice thing to do?
"While trout adds base stealing and speed to power, the sum of all those tools doesn't produce as many runs as cabreras power without speed."
Yes it does, like 20 runs more -- Trout VORP: 76.6, Cabrera VORP: 59.4. Think the position adjustment is too kind to Trout? Trout TAv: .357, Cabrera TAv: .332, and that's before ANY position adjustment or defense. Also, I'm not sure if this is included in VORP and TAv or not, but Trout's speed advantage manifests not only in base stealing but in base *running* -- scoring from first, going first-to-third on singles, etc. Over the season that adds up to many extra runs (Trout: 8.7, Cabrera: -5.5).
If you want to argue that Cabrera was more "valuable" due to the particulars of his team context, fine. But relative to MLB as a whole, even disregarding defense, Cabrera had an awesome, MVP caliber season worthy of praise and song......and Trout crushed it.
Joe Girardi was fired the very year he won it, wasn't he? (In Florida)
Fun piece! It's too bad we don't get to see GMs' individual responses. I wonder if some are significantly better than others at this.
Lots of doubles maybe?
DEATH TO THE STARS!
Seriously, on what planet were the March 2012 versions of Bryce Harper and Brett Jackson and Francisco Lindor remotely of the same value/quality as prospects? The system didn't enable easy comparisons, it enabled lazy, misleading comparisons, and we're all better off with the more granular approach.
Likewise, Tim Alderson for Freddy Sanchez. If I recall correctly, that move was mostly panned at the time, but looking back that trade was made about 2 minutes before the wheels came off the Alderson Prospect Bandwagon. I think Sabean was pretty shrewd there.
You were not.
Very interesting starting point, though I think it's not enough to draw any conclusions. Just from the info in the article, in 2011 one LCS was won by the team with the lower payroll, and in 2010 both were. It would be interesting to see results for all series in the Wild Card era.
Also, just a minor clarification: what the payroll figures you have reflect? I gather they're from Cot's, but those/these don't quite align with Opening Day payrolls (http://content.usatoday.com/sportsdata/baseball/mlb/salaries/team). Is this actual money paid in 2012? Not that it changes your results, I'm just curious.
I ended up going 1)Trout 2)Cano 3)Cabrera on my IBA AL MVP ballot, because they're actually pretty close in VORP: Cabrera leads by 7 runs. I don't really trust FRAA either, but I estimated that average/slightly above defense at 2B was worth more than 7 runs more than below average defense at 3B.
Thanks for writing this. Honestly, I thought this had been pointed out years ago, and I've been absolutely baffled by the overwhelmingly negative response to the new format. This is how it should always have been, and how it should remain.
Hein Robb! I remember watching him in the 2009 WBC. He got a called strike on an actual MLB player (Jorge Cantu maybe?) as a 17 year old, which was pretty damn cool. Then said MLB player homered and I figured that strike would be the pinnacle of young Mr. Robb's pitching career. Very cool that he seems to have a future.
Not a Twin, but speaking of South Africans: is there any hope for Gift Ngoepe? It'd be a shame for a name like that to never grace the Major Leagues.
Here's what I don't get: why is winning the Triple Crown automatically equated to "must be the MVP!" this year? By my count, four Triple Crown winners did not get the hardware: Ted Williams twice, Lou Gehrig, and Chuck Klein. Each of them won MVP awards in years that they DIDN'T get the Triple Crown, so clearly the voters back them were using additional criteria. Why are we beholden to this Triple Crown = MVP idea all of a sudden? Why does Interesting Non-MVP-Guaranteeing Statistical Coincidence + A Long Time Since It Last Happened = Automatic MVP And You Are Hypocritical And Intellectually Dishonest If You Disagree?
I don't mean to pick on you, specifically, because many, many, many people seem to think along the same lines, but the logic here is utterly baffling to me.
Such language, Mr. Jaffe!
For the record, Ben Lindbergh's ballot is correct. Let the flame war commence!
Of course I write that then refresh and see your reply to MGL, so I guess that addresses my first question!
It's interesting that you mention Alex Gordon as a breakout player, since his 2012 hitting is almost identical to his 2008. The difference in WARP value is almost entirely in defense. Between those years of course he had two fairly horrible, injury-plagued years, and one excellent one, and those color the perceptions. We don't usually think about it like this, but the weaker correlations for young players could go both ways -- does that mean that large declines in performance (injury-related or otherwise) are more likely for younger players than those at their peaks?
Also, did you try looking at the correlations by year of experience instead of age? I'd guess that there's a similar shape since age+experience overlap to an extent, but differences might be enlightening, especially for players way ahead of or behind the curve.
(If it wasn't obvious, I'm thinking about Justin Upton as I make these inquiries. And at all times in general)
Yeah, they look like 80-85 wins in '13 to me. It's funny, before this season I figured they'd be good for ~85 wins and that's about where they'll end up, give or take (well, give) a couple. The first few months were such a disaster -- Alex Gonzalez got hurt, Wolf finally ran out of gas, Axford and KRod forgot how to pitch, Weeks forgot how to hit, Aramis Ramirez had a slow start, Mat Gamel got hurt, then in June Marcum got hurt. All those things happening at once buried them in the standings. Then basically post-Greinke trade they start firing on all cylinders, going on this huge tear to finish pretty much where I thought they would before the first half collapse.
I agree with the assessment that they'll be an average-ish team next year, barring some crazy trade. The starters should be worse, but the bullpen should be better, and a full year of Segura and Weeks presumably not hitting .160 for 3 months should help buoy the expected declines of... well, every other position player. The end result will probably be something like this year's, maybe a few fewer wins, but without the insane luck swing making them look like a complete implosion or the best team in MLB.
Another thing about 2013 is they won't have the Astros to pick on anymore. The only cupcake in the division should be the Cubs, which won't help their Wild Card chances any.
Awesome data, thanks for the follow-up!
Incidentally, where do you get data on steals by base? I've been interested in steals of home for some time but haven't been able to find much about them...
It's not a potshot. McCarver said, per this article: "Terrible play. You can’t do that,” McCarver said. “This is a terrible baserunning play right here; you can’t make the first out at third base, or the third out.”
Mr. Woods then laid out pretty clearly why that platitude is NOT true. Then he explained why in this particular circumstance details coincided in such a way that it might be a bad idea -in this particular case-. So the platitude is rejected, though the conclusion might happen to still hold. As the author said, it's a quibble.
Now, to quibble with the quibble: the 75.6% success rate includes steals of second, third, and home, right? I'd think the bulk of that is steals of second, and I'd think that the success rate stealing second is higher than stealing third, since the throw is farther. Thus, I'm not sure that number actually proves the point, though I could be wrong.
If the Orioles have actually improved relative to TOR and BOS, that would hurt TOR's and BOS's numbers, right? Granted, probably not as much as injuries, but did you consider/quantify that impact by any chance? (i.e. how much worse are those teams in games NOT involving the Orioles this year?)
It's his third year post-surgery, no?
If I ruled the world, I would require that your first paragraph be included in any discussion of this decision, whether the writer is arguing for or against. The Nationals are acting on the advice of medical experts, and challenging the Nats' decision is tantamount to challenging that 1)the risk to Strasburg's health is worth the potential reward, and/or 2)that the experts are wrong in their assessment. Either/both of those things could be true, but it takes a hell of a lot more evidence to show than "zomg Rizzos so dumb they could have just moved him to relief/started him only on Saturdays/started him only against the division/taught him to throw a knuckleball/whatever".
First of all, I'd like to echo the sentiment that while it's disappointing that Kevin's gone, it's also very exciting to see what the future holds.
SPECIFIC PROSPECT COVERAGE WISH:
You may be/probably are already planning this, but when you compile the scouting reports for prospects and information like fastball velocity and repertoire, could you please make that data available in an easy-to-download-and-analyze format? Even with the subjectivity, imprecision, and sample bias errors, having such data available publicly would enable all sorts of awesome analysis.
How well does low-minors velocity correlate with Major League/Pitch F/X velocity or strikeout rate? Do prospects who throw curveballs do better than those with sliders? How does fastball-changeup velocity separation change as a prospect advances up the ladder? Questions like that would be fun to investigate in a systematic way, and while I'm sure many BP writers will tackle some of those, it would be best for the baseball community as a whole to make that data accessible to hobbiests as well (perhaps not free, necessarily, but available in some capacity).
Honestly........... I kinda dug that song. It had a pretty melody, she has a good voice, and the bongo thing was an interesting pairing with the "gothic" vibe of the tune and look.
Her Facebook page is a gem of unintentional comedy, though! "Runae Moon is a youtube star. She has done both song covers and originals and never ceases to awe people."
"I am known by my peers as the lil goth rocker chic lol.....I am only 5 feet tall but can do huge things!"
Ah, that makes for sense. Thanks for the fix!
I thought he just hadn't specifically mentioned raises due to Kemp, Kershaw, etc. as Mr. P. mentions, but then I look at the 2013 compensation page from BP Cot's, which appears to reflect the trade (i.e. includes AGon, Beckett, Crawfod), puts the payroll at $183M for 21 players. I can't see how filling out the roster would add $60M+ like Maury figures...?
Weird idea that occurs to me, bleary-eyed, at work after midnight: does a pitcher's hitting (really, contact) ability (say, measured by BA) correlate with his average fastball velocity? Both skills derive in significant part from being able to move one's arms really fast... :)
I've only been in STEM fields so maybe it's different from the rest of the population, but honestly, when kids started getting real internships and then jobs age 21-22 they developed professionalism and maturity pretty damn fast.
The thing that gets me about Castro is that he's generally been quite young for his levels. I'd think being around older people would influence him to get his act together quickly, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I know I know, baseball players, but most of them don't do things like that GIF up there.
That said, it's hard for this deal to not pay off in the end, if only because pre-2012 CBA free agent wins cost $5M-$6M, and I'd think that number would only go up with draft pick compensation nerfed. He's only getting paid for 1.5-2 wins or so, and he's already worth a bit more than that (either as a crummy defensive SS or presumed mediocre-average defensive 2B).
If he does eventually break out and get on the HOF track, as this article suggests, then obviously the deal is a huge steal. I have a hard time seeing that happen, though: he's been in the Majors for almost 3 years now and has shown very little growth, in fact basically none if you don't think this year's more equitable 2B-HR distribution is permanent. As the careers of young middle infielders go, I bet he ends up a hell of a lot closer to Luis Rivas than Alan Trammell.
We played something similar but just threw the ball (or sometimes frisbee). I believe it was just called "500".
I think Parks is rubbing off on you...
How much wood could a wood chuck if a wood chuck could wood?
Wow, thank you for such detailed responses! It's very interesting to see how a professional uses such tools. Looking forward to your next piece!
This piece is awesome, and thank you so much for sharing!
On the off chance you're still reading the comments, I have a couple of questions:
1)A couple of the metrics you mentioned you use, percentage of RBI opportunities converted and first pitch strike percentage: I'm really curious how you used these. Did you find players converting RBI% at a high (or low) rate continued that through the season? Or is it more of a way to identify players who are under/overvalued by traditional stats? (My understanding is that the year-to-year correlation of that stat is pretty low, but I'm willing to be told I'm wrong)
And for first pitch strike %, higher is probably better but game theory would suggest that you'd want it to be less than 100%, or else hitters would know something hittable is coming right away. Is there an 'optimum' value you look for? Or more generally, how would a metric like that be used in player evaluation?
If those details are trade secrets, I understand :)
2)More of a nuts-and-bolts question: How does the 40 man roster limit work exactly? Is there a deadline, like every day at midnight they do the final addition/subtraction tally and you have to have <= 40 players on the roster by then? Or is it more instantaneous, like if a deal would put you over 40 players it cannot be processed until another move is made? And if it's like that, is there some order in which you have to submit transactions in order for it to go through? Also, what happens if a team DOES go over? I assume someone (presumably the most recent addition) is ineligible, but does the team also get fined/otherwise penalized?
At any rate, thanks for taking the time to write the piece and read the comments!
For me, two things. One, I don't think he's really declined that much. His secondary skills are all still there -- power, walks, and steals. His BA and BABIP are well below career norms and he's still a league-average (or slightly above) hitter per TAv, wOBA, and OPS. If his BA bounces back even a little, which is likely, he's at least solidly above average, with some possibility of getting back to elite territory.
Two, they said this was the year, things have changed, they have a new stadium and a new commitment to fielding a championship team! Yeah, that lasted like 90 games. They're 8 games out in the Wild Card despite Reyes and Ramirez having subpar seasons and Johnson and Bell sucking ass. They could plausibly get back in it this year and would have been a favorite again next year, even without any major moves. Instead they dumped one of their best players -- and the closest thing they had to a homegrown star -- for a #4/5 starter and a Tim Collins starter kit. Oh, and "payroll flexibility," snicker.
"...in theory the club could use the cash freed up to retool the team in the offseason..." Sure, OR use it to do legal battle with the SEC :p
I used to be something of a Marlins apologist. "They signed Carlos Delgado!" "The Beckett trade was defensible!" No more. To hell with this team.
I believe it consistently underprojected him because he could maintain a really high infield hit rate, which is no longer true since he's slowed.
Very cool! Speaking of book projects, I'd be super interested in a written history of BP with all the juicy, sordid details...
Have you tried bases-per-hit? (or "power factor" as it's sometimes called) I've been confused for awhile about why we use ISO instead of that.
Great info, thanks for the response!
I have another question. We've heard about "cascade injuries" where altering one's motion to compensate for an injury in one area leads to another injury somewhere else on the body. Both ARod and Utley (as rcrary notes) have had knee problems as well, is there any reason to think that they might be related to the hip injuries/surgeries? (maybe reduced range of motion in the hip causes them to put more stress on the knee when running, or something?)
"Wherever he has been" is two places, Cincinnati and Toronto, and he's been in Toronto since 2009. It's safe to assume they know what they're getting into.
There's a wrinkle on Alex Rodriguez's health issues that I think merits further investigation. Before the 2009, ARod, Chase Utley, and Mike Lowell each had arthroscopic hip surgery on torn hip labrums. My understanding is this procedure was relatively new to baseball players at the time. Also, it's worth noting that Utley and Lowell had the same surgeon (Dr. Bryan Kelly).
All three of them had relatively strong 2009 seasons (after returning from rehab), and then saw precipitous declines in both their production and playing time thereafter. Lowell actually retired after putting up a .238 TAv in 2010, and Utley might not be long for the majors either (.256 TAv in a handful of at-bats since missing the first half). ARod is doing fairly well, by comparison.
Those three are kind of linked in my mind because they're on playoff teams and their injuries happened around the same time. Others who had similar surgery around that time are Alex Gordon, Carlos Delgado, and Brett Myers. Gordon actually improved thereafter, Delgado had a strong last ~100 ABs then retired, and Myers has been kind of stinky since with no discernible trend (granted, his issues are numerous).
So of the 6, the four guys who had the surgery at age 30 or older saw enormous declines in both durability and production and/or retired. It's a teeny tiny sample, but I think it's worth wondering if the effects of this particular surgery makes it less suitable for baseball players, for people past their physical primes (say over age 30), and/or if the particular rehab procedures to get the hip back in baseball shape were/are not sufficiently developed yet.
Maybe Corey Dawkins can shed some light?
More importantly, it's politically part of the US and its people are technically US Citizens. I just assume it's considered part of the "World" for Futures Game purposes in order to give more options for assembling that team.
Bingo. If answers are random, you still won't see 50% on every individual set because sometimes guesses cluster randomly.
It would be fun to try it with like 800 people instead of 80 and see what the results are. Then compare with 800 scouts on the same set. Maybe KG can call in some favors to make it happen!
Still, it was a fun exercise. Great idea, Mr. Miller!
The thing about Tate, from the perspective of the peanut gallery, is that he just sounded like a sure-fire bust from the moment we heard of him. So he's tall and athletic but has no real baseball ability? It sounded like one of those guys in the NBA draft every year who's 6'10" with a 38" vertical and a 9" wingspan, who can't shoot or handle or rebound or pass or defend. He was (is?) basically the Marcus Haislip of baseball, and I think that's why a lot of people were pretty quick to write him off.
So his performance in 2011 was really encouraging, granting the small sample. His K/BB was close to 1 and a K% of < 20% ain't too bad at all. Unfortunately for him and the Padres, his K% spiked (or perhaps, rebounded) this year against A-ball pitching. It sure sounds like that comes from the basic weakness, his inability to make consistent contact, and that's a scary mountain to have to climb. Still, per your piece on tools goofs with poor early performance, that 2011 season gives at least some hope that he might figure it out. Bill Hall, I recall, sandwiched a decent year between two crappy ones before taking off.
Still, I don't really understand why you'd take this sort of player #3 overall.
In the interest of making Mr. Goldstein angry, this piece has inspired a hypothetical trade and an unfair player comparison.
Trade: Wil Myers for one of [Jameson Taillon,Gerrit Cole] makes a lot of sense for both teams.
Comparison: the description and the numbers of Oscar Taveras are both kind of Vladimir Guerrero-y.
I had a similar thought about individualized starting schedules. I think the biggest problem might be managing criticism: a starter who gets put on a longer recovery schedule than they others could be perceived as "lacking toughness" by teammates and fans. That pitcher would probably fight hard against it, and such criticism (from teammates) could affect performance. The team would have to be good about making sure "blame" was focused on the front office, and then the plan would have to actually work well, lest it go the way of the closer-by-committee (thanks, BOS '03).
I'm 100% with you on your assessment of Vizquel -- good, not great, player who stuck around a remarkable amount of time. It's funny that he'll likely be voted into the HOF by the same people who hold it against, say, Fred McGriff or Rafael Palmeiro (PED issues aside) that he's "just a compiler," someone short of greatness who simply played a long time. It's true for Palmeiro, and it's true for Vizquel as well. But hitting for power is what selfish show-off steroid users do, while defense is Good Fundamental Team Play, and in the end, isn't that what matters? (Career WARP: McGriff 45.4, Palmeiro 62.8, Vizquel 28.6)
To make a HOF case, you have to reject defensive stats (which, for the record, I do) and argue convincingly from a scouting standpoint that his defense was all-time great. I am not a scout, nor do I play one on TV, but Vizquel struck me as being astonishingly gifted at converting fielded balls into outs, but having "merely" average-or-slightly-above range for a shortstop, making him very good but less-than-legendary. Am I way off-base there?
Which isn't to say that he didn't have an excellent, entertaining career. I think my lasting memory will be from opening day this year, when he came in as a 45-year-old fifth infielder for the game-ending double-play. Man, that was awesome.
Tons of players had awful first (usually partial) seasons in the low minors, but literally everyone I could think of who went on to have a Major League career showed at least some skills by their second season (usually notable power, and/or OBP). The "best" I could come up with was Bill Hall, who sandwiched a mediocre year between two awful ones before breaking out.
I think the implications for team building are deceptively complex. While it's true that most raw toolsy players don't plan out, it seems like the ones that do show some aptitude right away -- Matt Kemp, Jimmy Rollins, Mike Trout, etc. So it's not that taking flyers on these guys is bad, it's that a team usually gets a pretty early indication whether or not that player is going to pan out. So the question is, what to do with the ones who make it through their first full year without showing much?
Maybe teams should "give up" on these guys asap and give the roster spot to someone else, if another prospect at the same position comes along? Or maybe the opposite, they should play more? Like, arrange a pre-game scrimmage before every actual game or something, instead of doing drills? I feel like there's an inefficiency that could be exploited here...
The Barnes and Noble near my house used to have an actual, physical copy of the Win Shares book. I used to gaze in awe and wonder at its sheer size, and dream that some day I might understand what lay therein.
Now seeing a peak of how it works... what on earth took 7000 pages to convey?
Being young(ish) and not well-versed in baseball history, I frequently get thrown when "the other" Frank Thomas gets mentioned.
This is the most informative "power ranking" I've ever read. ESPN should be interested!
It's about a gentleman with a dark complexion and, ahem, "a big, big love."
I was thinking a lefty with a good pick-off move. Or perhaps a pitcher with a double play-inducing sinker...
I think the illegality argument is that in order to have the anti-trust exemption, the CBA must be bargained "fairly and in good faith," or something, and the CBA covers amateur players (via the draft) whom both the owners and the players, the two parties in the CBA negotiation, have a vested interest in screwing, and is therefore not really 'fair.'
So challenging the draft has at least some legal merit, but it's tantamount to challenging the anti-trust agreement, and the League will fight that with the fury of 1000 suns. Plus, the player who challenges it would almost certainly be blackballed from ever actually playing in the Majors, so it's in each amateur's individual best interest to play along.
(I am not a lawyer, I just play one on baseball comment threads)
The writers would probably never go for him regardless of what he does, but I think Adrian Beltre will have an interesting case if he ages gracefully (by which I mean a handful more 4 and 5 win seasons in TEX).
Also, obviously they're just beginning their careers, but it's not unthinkable that Andrus and/or Feliz could make it. Or Kinsler, for that matter; you'd never bet on anyone to follow the Jeff Kent career path, but it's been done.
So, no shoe-ins, but they've got some possibles. If we set the O/U of HOF on the 2012 Rangers at 0.5, I just might take the over.
Crazy late to this article so no one's going to read it, but just to put it out there: maybe the Royals moved Myers to 3rd to increase his trade value?
Thinking about it... Myers to Pittsburgh for one of Cole or Taillon actually makes a lot of sense for both teams. The Royals really need a strong starter for the future besides Duffy, and the Pirates really need a middle-of-the-order bat besides McCutchen.
I get the feeling that there will be a greater-than-usual number of unsigned picks, mostly HSers outside the top 10 or so who want to take a shot at college and being top-5 in 3 years. Have you heard any predictions or worries about something like that happening?
This isn't related to the walk issue, but I think it's important for sabermetrics in general:
ISO isn't a great measure of power because it doesn't scale with batting average. Bases Per Hit (I'll call it BPH, some call it "Power Factor") does a better job of measuring that skill in isolation. For example, right now Pedro Alvarez and Robinson Cano have the same ISO, .212, but Alvarez is hitting .199/.256/.410, while Cano is hitting .286/.342/.498. (slight apparent arithmetic error in Alvarez's stats due to rounding) Alvarez has more raw power, in the sense of hitting the ball a longer way, as shown by averaging over two bases per hit (.410/.199 = 2.06) vs. less than two for Cano (.498/.286 = 1.74).
Basically, if you hold ISO constant, as BA goes down BPH goes up. However, the underlying skill is power, not "ISO", which is just a proxy, so usually -- not always, but frequently -- a hitter's power is about he same and increased ISO correlates with a BA spike, so when BA goes down of course ISO goes back down.
Jones's ISO has gone way up but so has his batting average, up to .317 after sitting around .280 for awhile. Right now he's averaging 1.94 BPH. If he keeps that while returning to a BA of .280 his ISO will fall to about .260. That's pretty much exactly in line with what Table 1 shows.
Granted, power (BPH) and BA are probably somewhat correlated since they presumably derive in part from the same underlying skill (velocity off the bat), but as Mike Fast showed from HIT F/X data last year, BA and power come from basically opposite effects in terms of launch angle (BA goes higher near 7 degrees, HR frequency peaks around 35 degrees). The real question is basically if Jones learned how to launch pitches at a HR-friendly angle better than in the past, and if so, if that skill is sustainable. If it is, the walks will come, since pitchers will stop challenging him.
Since we don't have HIT F/X data, I suggest that comparing historical BPHes would give us at least a decent idea about the second. If you've got the time (maybe a future article), it would be interesting to look at players with similar increases in BPH, and how sustainable they are, if they beget higher walk rates, etc.
Whew, sorry for the essay. None of this is meant to detract from your work. You've had an epic, Jones-ian breakout this year yourself, and hopefully that $85M contract is right around the corner :)
A bit late to this party, but...
Do draftees unsigned by the deadline become free agents?
And signing amateur American free agents is uncapped, right?
If those are true, then... enormous loophole? Agent demands draftee get paid, penalty be damned. Team either pays + penalty, or player goes becomes a free agent and gets paid.
Next year no one bothers trying to pay their picks, everyone becomes a free agent, players get paid some semblance of their actual worth, agents get paid, teams get talent, everyone wins. Hooray for a happy ending.
You may say I'm a dreamer...
At least we're not doing "B-Harp" or "M-Trum" or "L-Ort". I consider this an upward trajectory.
Which isn't to say we can't do better. I'm a big fan of the early/mid-20th century style. Mike "The Flying Fish" Trout seems pretty natural, though it would be better if he were a Marlin. Speaking of, "Joltin' Giancarlo"?
"Oil Can" Boyd is another one of my favorites. Perhaps we can update it for the 21st century... "Fuel Cell" Cabrera?
As for Mr. Harper, in honor of his immortal debut coif, I nominate "Squirrel Attack." Though a 2011 Cardinal probably has dibs...
I don't habitually minus you, so I'm speculating, but 1)it seems like you post a LOT -- you might want to dial it back a bit -- and 2)complaining about getting minussed is just going to get you minussed more, which in fact I did just do.
His sudden lack of walks is really something. What happened to the guy who hit .200 and OBPed .400? Do the A's have him on some sort of reverse-Votto plan where he HAS to swing at the first pitch or something?
That Jeri Ryan joke was awful.
...I'm still laughing.
Re: Clement, I mean that the 3rd pick in 2005 would be amongst the most valuable of all time, thereby making Clement one of the worst selections ever. Apologies, I was too caught up thinking/fantasizing about Upton and Tulo and McCutchen and Braun to write clearly.
Great article! Some thoughts:
*It seems like many of the top classes are skewed by having one superawesome talent, while to me a "worst pick" to me means completely whiffing with a high pick in a deep draft. Also, pitchers' WARP tends to be somewhat lower than position players' (see also: JAWS standards by position), so pitching-heavy drafts are probably underrated by your methodology. I wonder how the results would change if you capped WARP at like 40/player max.
*It will be interesting to see when you update this article in 10 years (:)) how some modern drafts fare. Several have mentioned Matt Bush, but I'm wondering if Jeff Clement will end up with a place on the most valuable picks list. That 2005 first round was downright monstrous: Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and maybe Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Zimmerman have some shot at the HOF based on their careers to date, while Alex Gordon and Jay Bruce are or could very soon be All-Star-caliber players, not to mention solid contributors like Ricky Romero, Cameron Maybin, and Mike Pelfrey. And that's just the first round! And I forgot Jacoby Ellsbury was in there. And Matt Garza. Mostly I just want to talk about how the 2005 draft was awesome. Holy crap, the 2005 draft was awesome.
*Finally, a question: 1975 wtf? How can a whole year's worth of talent be so worthless? I'm really, really curious what happened there. (Paging Steven Goldman?)
It's hard to quibble with the Clemens selection on objective grounds, but I will cast a vote for Pedro Martinez as the top SP, because
1)I think Pedro's 1999-2000 peak is the best anyone has ever pitched, ever, and
2)Roger Clemens is awful and gross.
I suspect MGL is correct, though I'd really like to see that study done.
Another thing that might be interesting to look at, though it might run into some sample-size issues, is the effect of overall major league experience. I'd think that closers who had many innings of experience before their first opportunity would do better in their early opportunities, and be given more, than rookies thrust into the role (presumably mostly middling prospects/suspects for crummy teams out of the race in September, though that might be changing). It'd be nice to see the data, though.
Is Arenado really that certain to exhaust his rookie eligibility this year? Not saying it's wrong, just surprising since he was in A ball last year.
Also, am I hallucinating, or was this article posted a few hours ago and then taken down?
Yeah, I'll buy that traditional stats and even FIP may overrate him quite a bit, but there's just no way that 315 innings of better-than-average ERA is worth over a win *below* replacement level (1976).
It's not like that was some one-year BABIP fluke or anything; dude's run prevention was pretty solid throughout his career.
The thing is, everything that is said in those quoted paragraphs, stripping out defense, etc., also applies to FIP, right? Jones' FIPs are still pretty good.
At any rate, FRA does a lot more than just look at TTO, right? Looking at 1976 vs. 1978, his FIPs are quite similar, why is FRA a full run lower in 78? I notice his BABIP was quite a bit higher in 78 than 76, so given similar FIP* it might attribute more run prevention that year to the pitcher....but does that really make sense? If the things with known good year-to-year and run prevention correlations are similar, why would *increasing* the rate of hits allowed *reduce* the number of runs attributed to him?
*the other thing of course is that his HR/9 is way lower in 1978, and I wrote a long thing about that before noticing the BABIPs, but long story short K and UBB rates were better in 76 so FIP works out to be similar, and I estimate it should only change his RA by at most about .3, not 1.0, so unless his HR rate is in a denominator somewhere that shouldn't be it...
Jones' FRA is usually pretty bad considering the run environment, hence the low WARPs. I guess that means he had really good sequencing luck, or something?
Colin, or whoever at BP: we really, really, really need a detailed assessment of FRA, and comparisons with FIP, SIERA, etc. It could be right, but it spits out enough head-scratching valuations that I can't really trust it without more convincing (See also: Cain, Matt and Hernandez, Felix).
Izturis barely counts as an Expo, but he's been a useful player with a cool name for quite awhile now. Perhaps a less romantic milestone than being the last Expo, but he's got a good shot to end up the last, best infielder Izturis from Barquisimeto.
It's mildly interesting (okay, not at all interesting) that he and Guerrero both ended up being (arguably, in Vlad's case) more identifiable as Angels than Expos. I got to see them hit back-to-back bombs against the White Sox a few years back, a real treat from two of my favorite players. Brandon Wood had his first Major League hit that game to. I thought that was going to be something I would tell my grandkids..... hah.
Anyways, the last Expo will be Livan Hernandez. He is indestructible; possibly a vampire, possibly a terminator, possibly both. Except instead of destroying humanity, he eats innings for crummy teams.
Awesome work as always, and I'm a fan of your artier/nuttier stuff as well.
A bit late, but hopefully you can answer: am I understanding correctly that you say Donovan Tate's upside, like perfect world everything-goes-right projection, is as a "6" player? If so, and I admit this is probably unrealistic expectations on my part, but to me that's kind of disappointing, considering all the raves I've heard about his tools. What separates him from someone like Trout, whose presumably similar tools project him to be a 7+ overall talent? (besides on-field performance, of course) Is it just that Tate's swing makes contact and power somewhat mutually exclusive?
Incredibly sad to see you go, Steven. On top of general talent and thoughtfulness, your historical story-telling perspective is pretty unique in online baseball discourse.
Best of luck in your new ventures!
As an outsider sitting in the proverbial mother's basement, I have to say that I'd rather have any of these guys at their maximum predicted contract than Pujols, Prince, Reyes, Wilson, or Darvish (inc. posting fee) at the ones they actually got.
Awesome article! If I may ask, how many teams did you poll? I'm curious how Moore got an average of six years but a max of eight. Were some teams really hesitant to sign a young pitcher for more than a few years?
Chad Fox was awesome. It's really pretty impressive that he was still trying to play in 2009. That's just pure #want.
Thanks for doing these articles, they're a lot of fun and make me nostalgic for the late 90s, when I thought most of these guys would become stars.
Johnny Bench called!
Does Detroit's front office have an ownership mandate to get prospects, or at least high-bonus first round pitchers, to the Majors quickly? Illitch sure seems bent on winning a World Series asap, and Bonderman, Verlander, Porcello, and probably Turner all got zipped to the Majors with just a year or two of development time.
Also, more generally, is pitch-to-contact 'easier' to teach than strikeout ability? Or at least, does encouraging pitchers to do that move them through the system quicker?
If they're out of it at the deadline, Milwaukee might be willing to part with Greinke for a shortstop, a center fielder, and a handful of B and C prospects......
Not Jeff Karstens??
Oh man, Alex Escobar was basically my first favorite prospect. I actually had no idea he was trying to play as recently as 2007. I'm fairly astonished that he has only the second-most DL time since 2002.
Too lazy to look it up myself, but that strikes me as a fairly enormous number of catchers. Is this year an outlier in that regard?
Congratulations, Mike, it's more than deserved! Sad to see you go, but I might have to start rooting for the Astros now.
I'm very sad for your loss, Jason, and for your friend's family.
Thank you for writing this. After tragic events, hacky writers always say something like "It puts things in perspective" or "It really makes you think" and leave it at that. It's true, but their conclusion is wrong, like you said: such events emphasize how life is transient, so the thing to do is get the most out of it that you can, and if watching grown men chase a ball around is what lights your fire, that's fantastic. Do it with gusto.
How would you grade Dillon Thomas' poetry tool?
Oh God, "Kyle Waldrop"? First Mike Stanton, then Adam Eaton, now this? Mothers, don't name your outfielders after middling pitchers.
I've said this before: the reason one cannot find evidence of persistent "closer mentality"/clutch/whatever is that the psychological effects are inherently transient. The pressure a pitcher feels the first time they've got a lead on the line is nothing like their 100th. The intensity of a hitter's first 9th-inning World Series at-bat is nothing like the 10th.
Pressure might help someone like David Ortiz focus in clutch situations... until they get used to it, or they start to expect it, or they show up in a bad frame of mind, and then it's back to normal. Pressure might crush someone like Farnsworth at first, then they come back a couple years later a bit more mature or confident, and hey suddenly closin' ain't no thang. Eventually it all comes out in the wash, so data people say "there's no such thing as clutch!" because in the long term it evens out.
So can anyone close? Yes, given enough opportunities. Of course real teams can't afford to wait around for things to get fixed (nor is 'just keep letting him take his lumps, he'll figure it out' always the right approach), so they do, and should, try to put people in those situations who can handle it psychologically from the get-go, and remove those who can't. In that sense, the "closer mentality" is real. But it doesn't make a real difference in the long-term so it's not worth paying a premium for.
I'd guess they (correctly) feel they have that DH type in ARod. This season will probably be one of transition, but this time next year (if not July) they'll probably have a healthier, defense-ier player at 3rd.
Please, Bud, and future commissioners, do not ever change this. Having an actual difference between the Leagues is something that's beautiful and unique and makes baseball much better than the other major sports.
Hmm, I didn't think it was a BP article, but that's pretty much exactly what I was thinking of, so thanks!
Honestly, you're not alone. I'm not so sure that there ISN'T a sabermetric case to be made....if one includes his postseason accomplishments. I recall seeing an article that argued somewhat convincingly that in terms of value-added-to-franchise or something, his game 7 performance was worth something like 50 regular season WAR. For the life of me I can't find it (I think Joe Sheehan linked to it once)...
Of course one would have to account for his whole postseason career including the less-than-legendary performances, and then figure out how to incorporate that into JAWS (I don't think negative postseason performance really hurts the value of the team, so you can't just add postseason WAR to regular season), and then recalculate JAWS standards for everyone... it gets complicated, and better left to someone smarter and less busy than I, but I don't think it's safe or correct to assume that the postseason stuff just washes out overall. For better or for worse, it's about winning World Series, and that game 7 was perhaps the best individual performance in terms of winning one. And an overall 2.96 ERA in 52 WS innings is pretty great as well.
Honestly, I didn't. I agree that this is probably uncommon.
I guess I don't get your point. You say "My guess is that you did not. My guess is that you came up with a higher number for Martinez than for Jeter. That’s because of evidence." How so? The evidence says that steroid users weren't any bigger. The evidence says that more pitchers than position players used steroids. The evidence says that the first player caught under MLB's testing policy was Alex Fucking Sanchez. Though I don't disagree that it's probably true that more people would suspect Martinez, I think it flies completely in the face of the evidence. What am I missing?
Kevin's 'strongly hinted' that this was a major factor in their decision a few times on the podcast.
Pretty sure the year he spent at JC satisfied the one-year wait requirement.
I'm just posting to commend you on a fantastic post. I agree completely.
I'd think they'd want them front-loaded. Maximizes their NPV, they could invest more earlier and come out way ahead.
Also, I think the decline in his slugging might have been masked by an abnormally high (for him) HR/2B ratio in 2011. He's usually a bit under 1.0, last year he was 1.28, second-highest of his career. His XBH/H was a career low.
ARod has a contract like that I believe, perhaps a few others. Anyways, Goldstein mentioned in the podcast that the basic calculus for a big deal like this from the GM point of view is "if it works and we win, no one cares about the $$$, and if it doesn't work I won't have a job so it's someone else's problem," and there's also the economic reason: front loading maximizes the net present value of the contract, which teams don't want.
Basically, $25M now > $25M in 2018, so $35M now >> $15M in 2018, because 1)average player salaries are expected to rise, 2)team revenue is expected to rise, 3)money saved on that player now could be spent on an additional player now in order to increase the value of the franchise (i.e. win). So it's better to put off paying much of the money (based on expected inflation rate) til the future, because a fixed dollar amount is worth "less" then than it is now.
For what it's worth (nothing), I think this kind of thinking is overapplied, or at least naively applied, in much of modern economics/business practices, including baseball. But that's the way they think.
I kind of want Milwaukee to sign Manny to play first, because it would be funny.
I was just the other day thinking about how I'd love to read something like this. As long as it doesn't leave out any of the sordid details!
Quite late to this party, but one to add: Geremi Gonzalez, who was killed by lightning in 2008.
I know it's accepted in these parts that small market teams can/need to build their farm system by signing top talents who fall in the draft, but is this really true? Baseball America ran a little thing a few weeks ago tracking signability picks who fell, and it wasn't exactly inspiring:
Jered Weaver is excellent, Kazmir was, then there's Stephen Drew who's good-not-great, a few decent players like Daniel Bard and Xavier Nady, and a whole bunch of Roscoe Crosby and Vince Sinisi.
It's hard to say whether this is better or worse than typical draft performance since it's only about 20 players, etc., and it doesn't include players who weren't top-15 ranked but still signed for 1st round money (like Matt Tuiasosopo or Jason Adam). A more systematic study would be very interesting (paging Rany Jazayerli?). But I think it demonstrates that the Majors aren't exactly bursting with superstars who could have been Pirates and Royals if only they'd ponied up a couple extra $mil.
The facts are, 1)not many of the elite talents really slip during the draft (usually only one or two) so most teams aren't actually losing out, 2)even the elite talents are unlikely to pan out, and 3)the draft talent outside the top 5 or so (really the top 1) is pretty flat. There simply isn't much difference between then #8 and #17 guys, or the #20 and #50 guys, so spending a large premium to get the "better" one isn't really a great investment, or a huge difference-maker.
The more I swish the new rules around in my head, the less convinced I am that they're really going to hurt small market teams. Sure it restricts the Pirates from signing 4 1st-round talents, but it also restricts the Red Sox from doing the same. Instead, smaller market teams get more picks, and they won't have to go "over slot" to make them worthwhile players (since the slot numbers are more realistic and presumably fewer top talents will fall and still expect big paydays), giving them an actual advantage over the bigger market clubs. Honestly, I kind of like it.
Of course, as others have pointed out, the amateurs get screwed pretty hard, and that pisses me off (in general I favor more money to amateurs vs. established players, but that's another discussion). I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but my understanding is that amateur drafts in all sports are possibly/probably illegal as currently constituted, since they are covered by a collective bargaining agreement which is collectively bargained by two parties that both have a vested interest in screwing the people covered by the draft.Of course, the NFL's age limit was widely thought to be illegal too, so...
For some reason I thought he was too old to be on the U-25 list, but yeah he's still just 23... Is he really less valuable than Tommy Hunter at this point? Because if so: ouch.
Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman... Cabrera, Penn, Lis, Loewen... Matt Riley... Offhand the only top pitching prospect the O's have had in the last like 15 years who really succeeded was Bedard (Britton merits cautious optimism). Is this just extraordinarily bad luck or is there something systematically wrong with their ability to transition pitching talent to the Majors?
Also, I miss Chorye Spoon.
Interesting! Thanks for the info.
That's interesting, I thought it was the opposite: young players get hurt just as much but heal more quickly. Not saying you're wrong, obviously, just surprised. Is there enough good data to make an assertion like that?
Perhaps a dumb question, but is there a reason scouts don't use the radar gun to try to track batspeed as well? I'd guess it's nearly impossible to aim at the right spot every time, but I'd think if you timed every swing, chucked the low and high extrema, and averaged the rest, you could at least isolate players with really extreme ability either way, and possibly generate some sort of relative ranking...
With my question, I meant "what are they telling you that's different?" Better bat speed or something?
Didn't mean to be flippant or leading with the earlier one, though I can see how it might have sounded like that. Apologies! Honest question!
It seems like the best AAA hitters are frequently these lifers in their late 20s who have no real big league future. What separates LaHair from the Fernando Seguignols and Joe Dillons, who had similarly excellent numbers but no one took seriously as Major League contributors?
(not comparing LaHair to those guys as players, they were just the first two names in my head who were similarly dominant at AAA)
Off the top of my head, '06 and '11 were probably the two weakest TLR Cardinals teams I can remember, at least at the start of those years. Baseball is awesome.
Completely understand where Jason's coming from, but I feel quite strongly that if there's one Ween song that's meant to be at-bat music, it's from The Mollusk: "Waving My Dick In the Wind".
Nah, he'll be starting at 3rd for the Brewers next year.
Is there any chance the Red Sox are negotiating with other teams (i.e. the Angels)?
Sure, but that's exactly how the Sox have leverage: they have the asset so they can name the price, and the Cubs can either capitulate or get something that's not quite as good, or at least isn't the thing they wanted most.
Regarding burned bridges, I agree it's highly unlikely but it's not practically impossible (in the sense that they literally have the contract) that they'd keep Epstein and have him just collect paychecks while other people run the show. It's also worth remembering that they had a similar awkward situation a few years ago, when Epstein quit for a few months then came back.
27* balls in play
How often do individual pitchers even allow 30 balls in play? That's gotta be pretty rare, especially in the modern TTO-happy era.
Seriously, I'm only JUST getting used to "'Mike Stanton' is a young outfielder."
First rainout, eh? Guess everyone was in for a big surprise at Scottsdale!
Thank you, try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waiter...
I actually think Derek Jeter's career was "defined" by a different 2001 postseason moment: the flip to get Giambi at home in the 2001 ALDS. That was what unbreakably cemented his reputation as a 'gamer'/'great instincts'/'plays above his tools' guy, not to mention his reputation as an excellent defender. I swear writers were still giving him Gold Gloves in 2010 because of that play.
Which isn't to imply that it wasn't a great play, because holy shit yes it was.
Are the strike zone definitions used based on the rulebook definition, or on Fast's findings about how the zone shifts based on batter handedness?
Grew up in Wisconsin, and there it usually means the same thing. Sometimes, though, it's also used like in the piece -- "black ice under the snow" -- because... it sounds even scarier, I guess?
Funny thing is, having gotten into baseball in the late 90s/early 00s, I always mentally associate Conine with the Orioles, not the Marlins.
You know, whenever I think about Jeff Conine in 2011...
Not Colin, but:
3)I believe it's because errors are more likely on groundballs than fly balls, so GB pitchers get a little "boost" to their Earned RA relative to FB pitchers.
4)From the article: "Fair RA separates what a pitcher has done from our estimate of his defensive support."
I think Ryan's single-season strikeout record is beatable. Randy Johnson came within 11 not long ago and had a few seasons over 350. Just in today's game, I think Verlander, Lincecum and Felix have the stuff and durability to potentially take a run at it (though of course nowhere near the K/9 needed yet), and if Lord Strasburg stays healthy and builds stamina... I wouldn't put it past him.
One guy who has the K/9 to do it is Brandon Morrow. So far, too much suck has limited his IP, but is it impossible that he could keep it together one whole season and whiff 350+? Oliver Perez had that one great year... /dreaming
The unmentioned records that I don't expect to see challenged in my lifetime are Bonds' walks, single-season and career (and by extension his single-season OBP record). The only non-roidy guy with a season in the top 20 in the last 50 years is Jeff Bagwell (non-roidiness debatable, apparently), with 149 to Bonds' 2-freaking-32. Peak-Bonds had a combination of batting eye, contact ability, and power that I don't think we'll ever see again, and without that no one will get the 100+ IBBs needed to challenge it.
Also, a quirky one that won't be challenged without a rule change: Maury Wills' 165 games played in a single 162-game season.
(Actually, it occurs to me that with rain delays and scheduling vagaries a player could be traded early in a season to a team with 4 fewer games played, and if he plays every possible game with each team it could be done...)
Apologies if this has been covered and I missed it, but have you looked at effects of batter positioning yet? Maybe LHBs typically stand closer to the plate.
Using a longer timeframe like that might work. If the vagaries of actually making postseason play are still uncomfortable, one could tie it to salary expenditures over that timeframe -- like team must spend $350M on players over 5 years or be ineligible for revenue sharing for three years, or something.
Actually one could do an either/or type thing -- spend $X or make the post-season at least once over Y years to keep eligible. That might be fairest...
I think your blame is a bit misdirected: it's the owners who set the budgets, but I think the GMs do the best they can to win with the money they're given. They're competitive people too (some are even former players).
The thing is, this is true in all sports, regardless of anything. The Cowboys and Redskins typically spend more than the Packers and Jaguars. Adding or subtracting revenue sharing, salary caps, relegation, what have you, isn't going to change the basic fact that some teams/owners have and/or are willing to spend a lot more money than others.
Your last question is a very salient one: the whole point of revenue sharing is to keep teams profitable regardless of on-field success, so that they can continue to operate period. Deadspin keeps trying to argue that the Pirates' turning a modest profit is some sort of huge scandal, but it's just not. There are a fixed number of wins available each season, so even if every team gives max effort, someone is going to lose. Spending more is no guarantee of better results (recent Cubs, Mets, and Astros teams know all about that), so what you'd see without revenue sharing is the worst teams operating even more cheaply to ensure profitability, if they're not just contracted. The people with enough money to own a major sports franchise got that money by making good financial decisions, and spending hundreds of millions to own and operate something that isn't basically guaranteed to turn a profit is not a good decision.
Are there better ways to do revenue sharing, then? That's the real argument, and the answer is "probably," but since most league revenue isn't centralized (by which I mean most revenue comes from gate receipts and regional broadcast rights that go to particular teams, rather than national broadcasts that go to the league itself a la the NFL) the issues get pretty complicated. Offhand I've never seen or thought of a better way. I don't think we'll see a real change unless and until MLB starts broadcasting most of its games itself on MLBAM/the MLB network.
Something I've been thinking about recently -- this is actually the second complete generation of young O's starters to flame out in recent memory, after the Cabrera/Loewen/Penn/Lis group. I think the only Major League starter or any significance they've developed in those 14 years is Erik Bedard (maybe Rodrigo Lopez...?).
I think there's something very wrong in the player development train in that organization, at least on the pitching end.
I've been remembering that Japanese guy the Brewers had awhile ago who had the wicked curveball and absolutely no control whatsoever, but for the life of me I could never recall his name. Takahito Nomura! Thanks so much, haha.
This column, and his series, are great. Thanks for all the work.
A bit late, but if you do get around to answering: does this analysis account for the player's teammates in the lineup? Maybe the numbers are skewed for Gardner because he knows he could be on with Granderson/Teixeira/ARod (yes, and Jeter...) behind him, so the actual WPA a steal adds to his team is less than the average for MLB/history (since he'd score from first on an XBH anyways).
You know bowling balls are as notable for their density as their shape, right? Jacobs is very heavy for his height. That's all it means.
I'm rooting for the Brewers to get Upton and play him at short.
I disagree with most of this. I don't think upward regression from any of those guys was really expected -- two are aging speed-only guys and one has a length injury history and cleary declining power. And while I agree that most of this year's acquisitions were reasonable bargains, what was the expected offensive upside? Best case, Cust gives what, 20-25 HR as a DH? Olivo gives 15 HR with a .290 OBP? I know they're going all-in on defense, but literally the only guy they acquired with an offensive upside better than "pretty good for the position" was Smoak, who's pretty much sucked (I contend Figgins and Bradley were clearly declining, OBP-only hitters when they Mariners got them in the first place). So even best-case the Mariners offense was going to be sub-mediocre, and that's if *all* the little gambles paid off.
Then there's the matter that almost *none* of their gambles have paid off. Ryan's probably the closest and he's OBPing .323. Yes it's hard to predict, and no one's going to be perfect, but it's the responsibility of the organization (and ultimately the GM) to figure out which guys are worthy gambles, players who still "have it," and which guys are just washed up. I think their track record under Jack Z pretty clearly shows that they cannot do this, at least for hitters, so his ability to ever assemble a viable offense is absolutely in question.
Yes, thanks for the explanation! That all makes sense.
I do wish something to this effect had been posted at the beginning of the article or on Unfiltered, to avoid the appearance of ripping on Matt/Fangraphs.
Regarding the meat of the article, Colin, you've convinced me that SIERA isn't really better at measuring a pitcher's performance than FIP or similar metrics, but I always thought what was really interesting about SIERA was the interrelatedness of the components that Matt discovered. Like, how higher SO% leads to lower BABIP, or that more total baserunners leads to a higher -percentage- of baserunners scoring. Are those effects 'real' in practical terms, or are those also consequences of excessive statistical manipulation?
Also, regarding the RSME tables in the final section, are those differences significant at all, or are they within the margin of error of the estimate? (my statistical knowledge is pretty rudimentary, so I'm not quite sure what the proper word is) Especially the final one with the normalized SDs, is 1.84 really better than 1.87 or is it like the RSME is 1.84 +/- 0.05 so you can't really say it's "better"? I'm also surprised ERA is that close to the estimators. Does this mean that the "true" ERA ability of pitchers has much less spread than measured due to fielding and batted-ball luck?
Yeah people make this argument all the time and I have never, ever understood it. The complexity of the formula or calculation process seems to be a problem for exactly one guy: the person who has to code it into the database. Everyone else just looks up the final results, so if Statistic B is 1% better than Statistic A then, unless B takes some ungodly amount of resources to compute, *B is better* and should be used, period. An incremental improvement is still an improvement, and the complexity of the calculation means diddly-poo to the end user.
(assuming that B is, in fact, better, and that the perceived improvement isn't illusory)
Also, isn't SIERA just "an ERA estimator that accounts for a pitcher's ability to control BABIP"? Unless I'm missing something huge, despite the length introduction it really wasn't any more difficult to "understand" than, say, VORP.
"And I think that the way the timing of this happened, it puts the focus more on the personalities involved than on the quality of research."
Then why on earth is this being published now, at the very same time the former BP author is writing about this stat on a different website? Why not two weeks ago? Or in August? Or in the off-season? I hardly believe switching from SIERA to FIP is an urgent change that must be made and justified this very second unless there's some sort of legal/IP issue involved, in which case just say that. Doing this now seems intentionally confrontational and needlessly petty.
No, but on Unfiltered a few days ago Rob McQuown posted in an Unfiltered comment that Lowe is getting +0.5 WARP on batting+baserunning+fielding. Not only is that a surprisingly large number in a vacuum, but I'd guess most pitchers get negative WARP from those things, so it pushes him up the WARP charts disproportionately.
It gets said from time to time, but in my opinion nowhere near enough: the imprecision in WARP is pretty huge. 0.5 WARP seems like a lot -- half a win! -- but it's all of five runs. I don't think you can even say that a pitcher with 4.0 WARP has definitively pitched better than one with 3.0, much less for smaller WARP differences.
I do think BP authors (everyone, not just Anderson) should be more careful when discussing these stats. It's frequently implied that pitchers' WARP entirely reflects how well they've pitched. While broadly true, WARP also includes contributions from hitting, running and fielding that, while perhaps not significant individually, can add up to produce a non-negligible contribution (e.g. ~12% of Lowe's WARP).
St. Louis wants a closer, eh? Milwaukee should trade K-Rod for Rasmus!
A few years ago I was doing an internship in Cleveland, Ohio, and one day after work I went with a couple of friends, 20-something-year-old American college students, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the time there was a special exhibit on The Doors, so we went in, split up, and poked around looking at Jim Morrison's old report cards and such. Eventually we reconvened, and one of my friends goes "So have either of you actually heard of 'The Doors'?", and my other friend says, "Well, I've heard of 3 Doors Down..."
Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I managed "yeah, they did 'Light My Fire'..." At least they'd heard of that song.
Just goes to show how hard it is to know whose legacy will live on on popular memory. But I think it's for this very reason that we have Halls of Fame and the like: we can preserve what's significant in our time so that future generations might remember it as well. They might think us quaint or backward or having terrible taste, but at least these things won't be completely forgotten. I'm not a huge Doors fan myself, but I think it'd be a shame if only historians and music nerds ever heard their stuff. At least with the HoF there are now a few patrons who've heard of them when they otherwise wouldn't have, and if even one of those people goes home and checks out a few songs and finds something they really like, it's more than served its purpose.
In a similar way I like the 'time capsule' element of the All-Star game. Yes, many of the participants are less-deserving than established greats, and many of the deserving participants will be forgotten in a few years' time, but those rosters are preserved forever. Some boring summer day in 2043, Stephen Goldman Jr. will be flipping through historical All-Star rosters on baseball-reference.com and come across a long-forgotten outfielder named Randy Winn, and get inspired to make that day's YCLIU column a retrospective on Winn and Robert Fick and other forgotten All-Stars of the early 00's, and I think that's far more valuable than reaffirming for the 6000th time that Manny Ramirez is really good.
VORP is based on run prevention, pretty much just (LG_FRA - FRA)*IP (or Fair_IP). Hence Jon Niese ahead of Tim Lincecum. You're talking about peripherals, which are better indicative of pitcher quality (reflected in SIERA) and thus future run prevention. Descriptive vs. predictive stats.
Thanks! I wondered if positional defense and/or hitting might be part of it, but figured those contributions would be too minor to account for the difference. Never even thought of baserunning!
Yeah, VORP looks 'right' now, but how on earth is Lowe still 0.6 WARP ahead of Halladay despite inferior run prevention numbers in fewer IP? Does the WARP calculation need to be updated separately with the missing starts?
Your writeup of Sano gave me a Joel Guzman vibe -- big and getting bigger, sliding down the defensive spectrum, and an iffy approach undermining massive raw power. Are their any differences in Sano's game at this age that might keep him off that same path?
I have heard that there is some evidence that CT scans, and particularly multiple CT scans, have been linked to increased cancer risk. Do you know if this is true, and if so, at what point do the benefits outweigh the risks (i.e. when should you actually use one)?
Thanks for all the great info!
Pretty sure the first round IS televised, a la the NFL. It was the last 2 years...
Corey Hart was drafted as a 1B, moved to third, and eventually RF (actually played..... stood around in CF a little bit in the Majors).
I swear there are 3 or 4 commentors on this site that are just plants to make sure the discussion is at least a little like the rest of the internet.
I should say with regards to the arbitration clocks, that I see the promotion schedule playing out thusly:
-Hosmer up now
-Moose/one starter up in August, on 2012 Opening Day roster
-Other 2 starters up June 1, 2012
By doing that, they'll have brought these guys up more or less within one year of each other, but their arbitration clocks will be spread over 3 years if I'm calculating things right.
1)Clearly they're gambling that the super-2 thing will disappear in the next CBA. I don't think there's anyone alive except the prospective super-2s themselves, most of whom aren't in the MLBPA (being prospects in the minors still), who still wants it around.
2)I think in the big picture there is real, tangible value in staggering the arbitration/contract decisions. Say they do as your source said, and promote Hosmer+Moustakas+Montgomery+Duffy+Lamb all at once on June 1 of 2012. Come the 2015 offseason, if all those guys perform up to expectations (unlikely perhaps), the Royals could be looking at about a $50 million payroll increase in one offseason. No one (well, the Phillies I guess?) wants to deal with that.
Say further that the team's shown steady improvement those 3 years, winning 70, 75, then 83, putting them on the fringes of contention. The team looks promising but hasn't accomplished anything yet, and attendance has increased but they're far from selling out. Deciding who among them to keep/cut/trade would be both a nightmare and a shot in the dark -- what if they stop improving and the team is stuck in mediocrity? What if they become contenders but the fans don't show up?
By arranging things such that only 1-2 arbitration/contract decisions are made per year, each successive decision is made with more information about the shape the team is taking. If spending an extra $7.5 mil on Hosmer now helps avoid a $50 million mistake in a few years, it's absolutely worth it.
3)Like others have said, I wouldn't entirely discount the possibility of Hosmer (and perhaps Moose next year) getting Longoria'd. If the Royals offer Hosmer 8 yrs/$64 mil next week, even Boras couldn't in good conscience say that accepting it is not in the player's best interest.
*worth $6.7 mil in 2016
I don't think he's making that assumption, or at least it's not necessary to his point. Assuming ~5% salary inflation, I get that each WARP will be worth about $6.7 million. In that case Braun would only have to be a ~3 win player for the deal to be 'worth it.' If inflation is ~10%, aggressive but not impossible, he'd only have to be average (~2 WARP) to be a positive value to the team.
Now I think betting on anyone to be even average in 2016 is nuts, especially for a team with serious financial constraints, but I can see the logic. Melvin's essentially betting that 1)salary inflation continues/accelerates, and 2)Braun will be at least average to slightly above from 2016-2020. There's a real chance, perhaps not a great one but a real one, that both those things will come to pass.
There is also intangible value to keeping Braun happy, showing fans and prospective signees that the team is willing to spend, and setting the precedent for signing their next great young player to a jillion-year below-market deal. Phase 2: draft/sign great young players...
*Do young players in the DR and other countries really get more/better defensive instruction than American high schoolers? I guess it wouldn't surprise me due to the Academies in those countries, but I'd never thought about that.
A lot of thoughts on the topic, presented in random list form:
*I'm not convinced there even has been a decline. I know you mentioned that response in the podcast, but it doesn't get addressed much in the article.
*We need to be clear about what time frame over which this decline is supposed to have taken place. 5 years? 10? 30? In the short term, if there has been a decline, it could be due just to random variations in the talent pool.
*To answer the scouting director's (presumbably rhetorical) question: Matt Bush was a top-10 draft prospect in 2004 (actually went 1-1, but for budgetary/political reasons, of course). That spectacular, expensive failure might make other teams leery of doing the same, related to Dave T's point. (also, iirc, BJ Upton went #2 in 2002 as a defense-first guy, though obviously that's not how he turned out)
*Teams' handling of prospects has perhaps changed, primarily in the interest of getting bats to the majors more quickly. For example, Justin Upton barely got a chance to play SS in pro ball, and Wil Myers got moved to corner OF this past winter. The economics of the game and free agency are probably the driving force behind that, since productive young players are infinitely cheaper and more valuable than the various Raul Ibanezes on the FA market. Teams would rather get them to the majors ASAP than force them to develop defensive skills, even if they have the tools for it.
*Furthermore, if players know that they can force their way to the Majors with the bat, they might not be so motivated to work on their defense. This is pure speculation, but Brett Lawrie comes to mind.
*Defense might be appearing to decline due to better hitters and/or other league trends. League BABIP jumped significantly in 1993 or so, presumably due to some combination of juiced ball and juiced players. Since BABIP is related in part to hitter skill, strength and batted ball velocity, better hitters leads to more balls falling into play, which leads to defenders appearing to be worse. That doesn't mean the defenders of the 90s and 00s are any worse than those of the 70s and 80s, just that harder-hit balls are more difficult to get to. Smaller parks with less foul territory probably has a similar effect -- more hard-hit balls in play, or at least fewer outs on poorly-hit ones.
How much correlation is there between salary and quality for individual players? I did a little googling and didn't find anything.
We can all think of many glaring salary/quality discrepancies. Jon Lester was a much better pitcher than Oliver Perez last year. Buster Posey was better than Todd Helton despite making like 1/30 the salary. I think that, between strong rookie performances and old players playing out huge contracts and the low-per-annum/long-term deals for young stars, it might not be as strong as one might think at first. I'm sure it's positive, but I'm very curious what the number is.
Not really a response to your post, but to avoid a double: regarding team payroll/winning correlation, I think the correlation-causation problem must be considered as well. I remember off the top of my head that the Angels and the Rockies both increased payroll dramatically after their World Series trips, mostly be resigning their own players.
Problem with karma?
Clicked on "plus," went more minus.
Admins, please debug!
(for serious, I saw his comment was rated very negative and didn't think that was appropriate, so I clicked the + sign and it went from -11 to -12. I tried again on Mr. Cthulu a few posts later and he went from -13 to -15)
I'll give you credit, it takes a brave soul to print criticism of Pavement on the internet, under your real name no less.
I agree with everything you said, but it should be remembered that "disappointing" isn't the same thing as "bad." I had a first-class seat on the Wieters bandwagon, all giddy about a Gold Glove catcher who hit like Mark Teixeira. Instead we basically got Damian Miller, a good player but nothing like the HOFer I thought he'd be (granted he's less than 2 years into his career so there's some small glimmer of hope left).
I'm curious about repeat "winners"... how many people (if any) have been on the Worst-Best Player top 5 in multiple years? Did anyone do it for two different teams? What's the lowest combined WARP for a player who was his team's best player in two different years?
This would be a fun spreadsheet to play with! :)
One thing about Bautista's 2010 that I don't think gets talked about enough is that of his 54 HRs, 53 -- that is, fifty-goddamn-three out of fifty-four -- of them were pulled (or at least hit to the left of dead-center) according to hittracker:
I looked at a bunch of other power hitters and no one had a split nearly that extreme. That is of course by no means a scientific study, but clearly he had abnormally good luck either in getting more inside pitches than typical or in not missing the really mashable ones (or both). His OPS platoon splits bear that out too, showing a .200-point reverse advantage (.1030 vs. RHP, .842 vs. LHP).
What I read about his adjusted swing, opening his stance and all, suggests that this pull-everything approach is by design. He is certain to see a lot more low-and-away stuff this year, now that the League has had months to prepare and adjust.
All that said, clearly some significant part of his power spike is real, and PECOTA looks right on the money to me, especially in terms of ISO.
Ah, I was reading it completely wrong. Thanks.
Do the coordinates on the plots really line up like it looks on the screen, i.e. does 0.5 to RHB = 0.0 to LHB? If so, it's interesting to me that a few pitchers (Verlander, Harden, Cain) seem to hit roughly the same spot regardless of batter-handedness...
I took it as merely reminding anyone who might actually be seriously reconsidering their BP subscription that this article wasn't something they paid for the privilege of reading. Essentially it headed off any "I paid for THIS???" type criticism (not that I noticed any).
Heh, Pokemon was the first thing I thought of too...
Thoroughly agree, the article was hilarious and fascinating.
I will always support decisions to publish oddball stuff like this, even if it forces me to remember that something exists that I had tried desperately, desperately to forget.
Leon Lee wandered down to the local ballpark one lonely Gwangju night in search of something special, and found a man standing alone on the diamond with a massive sack of balls swinging a huge, unlubed bat – Hee-Seop Choi! And at once Lee was overcome with realization and regret, for why hadn’t he (or anyone else in baseball) ever noticed it before? Pine tar! Choi never used enough pine tar on his bat! Lee whipped it out right then and there (his cell phone, that is!) and dialed up his old friend Jim Hendry…
Hendry signed Choi to a one-year, $500k deal for 2011. Choi was called up on May 6 to replace the struggling Carlos Pena (who was later dealt to the Yankees for Manny Banuelos, after Mark Teixeira’s sudden retirement to pursue a career in lawn bowling) and batted .286 with 43 homers (good for a .409 OBP) over the final five months, adding another 6 dingers in the post-season including a 9th-inning grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series to defeat the Yankees and win the Cubs’ first championship since 1906.
Well, one of PECOTA's most famous predictions was Wily Mo Pena's big year...
Neil, I'm curious what you think of Matt Swartz's suggestion of using revenue sharing to subsidize contracts for homegrown players on small-market (or small-payroll) teams. Topic for a future column?
"whether you considered the curve his bread or his butter, without it he was toast."
Actually, at $5M/win, that makes him almost exactly a $16M asset (though of course not a bargain).
One main reason Young's WARP totals are close to Beltre's is that Young has generally been much healthier in his career. On a per-playing-time basis, Young's been worth about 0.004 WARP/PA for his career, while Beltre's at 0.0056 WARP/PA. If the Rangers medical staff has some trick to keep Beltre healthy, he could be quite a bit more valuable.
The HOF voters don't use a WARP standard, so avg JAWS reflects how they valued each position. The average second baseman that the voters elected has more WARP than the average elected left fielder, for example.
Edgar Martinez compares favorably in *overall value* to the average corner infielder despite having less than zero defensive value, because he was that damn good as a hitter.
...what? Marcum was worth 2.4, 3.1, and 4.6 WARP the last 3 years in Toronto, so he's at -least- a 3-win talent. At $5 mil/win, 3 WARP each for two years is $30 mil value plus the draft picks like you mention, less the $10 mil you figure, and he's worth $23 million surplus (trying to follow your method). Taking $25 mil as Lawrie's value, that's basically even value, using your numbers. This is all before considering the expected bump in Marcum's performance from switching to the NL (and specifically away from the AL East), or whether Lawrie is overrated.
At any rate, Lawrie's hardly a can't-miss All-Star, and Marcum's a proven quality starter (borderline #2 the last two years, actually) with two years of arbitration left. It's not like they traded Jesus Montero for Carlos Silva or something. No need for histrionics.
I just want to say that before reading this, I had never heard of Gabe or Jennie Paul, but I found the piece quite fascinating. Thank you!
That guy played 3B reasonably well in the past, and that Beltre dude might be off to greener ($$$) pastures...
Given the Rays' impending fire sale, and their need to make room for Hellickson, I'd see if they'd be willing to part with Matt Garza for Brett Lawrie (and possibly/probably Mat Gamel and others). That way the Brewers could bolster their rotation AND keep Prince for one last playoff run.
If they do trade Fielder, another partner that makes sense is Toronto, who needs a real first-baseman, has Overbay's contract expiring, and has good starting pitching coming out their ears. Romero and Morrow are probably untouchable, but I'd imagine they'd entertain offers for just about anyone else.
Under the Knife was one of the main reasons I started reading Baseball Prospectus back in 2003. I'd just like to add one more "thank you," for improving my understanding and enhancing my enjoyment of the greatest game on earth.
Not saying "good bye," though, because I'll be following you on Twitter or Tumblr or wherever you end up!
Santiago Casilla was once a highly-regarded prospect for Oakland named Jairo Garcia. You might remember him...?
*Bruce Seid, I'm a dummy
Excellent piece, good job. It's a horrible situation, and I think Dylan's decision is entirely reasonable.
Brewers Scouting Director Bill Seid sounded pretty frustrated, though:
"We offered a nice contract and bonus. There's nothing that we didn't try to do. We did everything in our power to get him to be a Brewer. You need to talk to the Covey family to get their side of it. They will have to explain what happened."
Granted, it was Aug. 16 and he was probably pretty tired when he made his statement.
There's also value to the selling team in making itself worse, to get better draft picks.
Jiwan James' tools "rate with anyone in the system not named Domonic Brown..." ...including Anthony Hewitt? Is Hewitt still getting borderline-legendary scouting reports? His numbers suck, obviously, but I'm wondering if at least the tools are still there...
Manny Parra making the top 12 despite making more or less the league minimum is downright amazing.
It seems to me that the most important takeaway is that swing% and contact% stabilize so quickly. Do you have any plans to use these tools to analyze other areas that suffer from sample-size issues, like platoon splits or 1st half/2nd half performance?
I like what RBI actually does, fixing up existing facilities, helping leagues organize, providing scholarship support for participants, etc. I just wish MLB would market it as "doing our part to help clean up the inner cities," and not "encouraging inner city [black] youth to play baseball."
The header for Conger says "Progress Both At And Behind The Plate," but the paragraph just reiterates that his defense needs work. Has he made any progress on defense since last year?
I'd been thinking off-and-on about how to this exact study. Thanks!
Out of curiosity, did you check if there's any predictive significance to hot streaks within a single game? For instance, does a guy who's 3 for 3 get a fourth hit more often than his career averages would predict? I'd guess the teensy sample size would lead to nothing significant, but I could plausibly see "feeling hot" (or more pragmatically, having the pitcher figured out) being more effective on that time scale.
Understandable, and I apologize if I put you in an awkward situation. I worded the second question poorly, I meant it to be more generic than it came out, similar to tsam's. I am mostly wondering about the agent's perspective on when a minor league player is ready for the majors, and what you do if a player is promoted before you think they're ready (or if the promotion is long overdue, a la Brandon Wood). Not to imply your feelings about any player in particular, but this situation must happen from time to time. If you're looking for topics to write about in the future, I think that would be something interesting to touch on.
It's not hard to read between the lines and figure out the player being discussed in the article, so I have a question relevant this particular player's circumstance. Since MLB players cannot be suspended for use of the particular substance in question, and the next positive test results in a lifetime ban, there has been some talk amongst fans that the team should promote him to the Majors as a bullpen arm to preserve his career.
So I guess my question is twofold: does this still hold true given his repeated positive tests in the minors? And if so, do you think such an action would be advisable for a player in his situation, or do the dangers (being unready for MLB competition and/or the "big league lifestyle") make it unwise?
"end-stage Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell" -- no one is trivializing their body of work, but by 2005 they were pretty mediocre.
You're probably right in the medium term. The big difference I see is that Pujols, Holliday, Carpenter, and Wainright is a much better core than Lee, Berkman, Oswalt, Pettitte, Hampton, Myers, Pence. They'll be a legit WS contender for the next couple years at least. It's one thing to try to limp along an 85-win team, but the Cards right now are Championship-caliber.
Also, the Cards' farm system has at least produced some decent cheap contributors the last few years -- Duncan, Ankiel the OF, Schumaker, etc. -- so there's at least some hope that they might be able to keep developing useful support.
It looks to me like J.C.'s work doesn't so much answer the question "at what age does a baseball player's performance peak?" so much as it answers "how does aging, in isolation, affect a player's performance?"
While this might not be of much practical value in and of itself, I'd think that combining it with some information on catastrophic injury rates could help one build a pretty spiffy career arc projector, not to mention inform the multimillion dollar investments GMs have to make.
So this really needs a companion piece quantifying injury rates as a function of age (and position). Though I suppose we've needed that for, well, forever. I'm guessing, like many others, that including major injuries shifts the peak age down, though I'd be curious to see exactly how much.
Based on a cursory glance of past free agent lists, the increase in AM significance over the last few years could just be due to improving free agent classes. 2007's looked pretty bad, 2008's was better (though led by the Yankees re-signing a bunch of people like ARod and Rivera), and 2009 was a rare year that featured two true perennial All-Star talents on the free market (Teixeira and Sabathia).
It's axiomatic that inferior free agent classes boost the free agents' compensation relative to what they "should" get, as teams in win-now mode compete for the best available. That might be worth studying in detail in the future.
What injury keywords or descriptions are precursors to major injuries, treatments or surgeries? Like how "forearm soreness" is often indicative of an elbow ligament injury and impending TJS.
Seconded. I don't have as much time to follow MiLB as I used to, and the MLUs were indispensable for keeping up with both well-known and lesser-known prospects this year. More in-depth write-ups from time to time would be great of course, but I really don't want to lose the quick daily blurbs.
The "Quick Hits" here are nice, but IMO they are a step back from the old format since there's so much less information.
Regarding the diminished HFA in the last game of the series, I wonder if the home team is essentially not trying as hard. If they have already 'won' the series, and given the established HFAs in the first few games that is likely, they may be more inclined to rest some starters, whereas the away team might be trying to "salvage a win" and thus keep their lineup intact.
I'd think this effect would be lessened during pennant races, where some teams will be under more pressure to win every game while others will have punted the year and replaced veterans with rookies, regardless of being home/away.
It would be interesting to see HFA by month, or pre/post-ASB. The effects might cancel each other out, but it might shed some light on the fatigue issue.
Similarly, how does Hu compare to Alcides Escobar? I have always thought them comparable, but you (Kevin) seem to be especially enthusiastic about Escobar. Does Hu have similar potential?
I have a pitching instruction question. The difference between a two-seam and four-seam fastball is essentially the orientation of the seams with respect to the direction of spin. So for pitchers who have a very "straight" fastball -- Kevin mentioned Jeff Samardzija on Twitter last night -- why not just have them rotate the ball in their hand a bit before throwing it?
Not so much to change the character of the pitch, but I'd think you could gain an extra inch or two of movement with a relatively minor adjustment.
I should say "strong" or "meaningful," not "good."
Also, what constitutes a "good" r-squared varies depending on context. In something as complicated as baseball, a correlation of 0.45 is very good. In a high school physics experiment, it's very bad.
Thank you for this. I'd been wondering about something along these lines for awhile now, but was never able to organize it into a cohesive idea, much less figure out how to investigate it.
Are you writing for BP regularly now? I've really enjoyed your articles the last few weeks.
Eh? All sorts of people on Cot's are listed with "mutual options," and it's exactly what she said -- either party can activate it. I think Varitek's was phrased differently because the options are for different amounts.
To me, the marked change in Jackson's K/BB and HR rates indicates that the Tigers' coaching staff was able to bring out his underlying talent. Perhaps the Rays can be faulted for not accomplishing the same, but I find it unlikely that he would have had this breakout if he hadn't been traded. Edwin Jackson is exactly what people mean when they say "he needs a change of scenery."
Heck, I'd say something like (Davis, Jennings, Niemann and Brignac) is a better package than anything the Phillies are offering for Halladay, and it wouldn't set the Rays back one iota.
I'm can't imagine that benefit is worth the expense of acquiring him. It's at most about 5 games against him (I counted 3, actually, against the Red Sox -- fewer for the Yanks and Rays -- if he stays with the Jays).
If you have, say, a 40% chance of beating the Jays on the days he pitches, and a 70% chance of beating the replacement-level pitcher who replaces him, that's a net gain of 1.5 wins (from 2.0 to 3.5 expected). Taking the max value of $4.5 million/win, that's a high-end estimate of $6.75 million in value from that.
Since 1)you will probably face him fewer than 5 times and 2)the effect is less pronounced against a better team (since you're less likely to win anyway), I just can't see avoiding him being a deciding factor. The benefit is certainly dwarfed by that of simply having Halladay make a half-season of starts for you. However, it might be enough to add a few million to the incentive pot, though, bumping the Yankees up into the White Sox/Giants bracket...
Isn't the problem that right now it's by rule a judgment call? The umpire tries to gauge the player's intent to swing, or somesuch thing. They'd need an objective definition to computerize it.
And wow, I kept calling Brian "Tim." I'm really sorry for that, and I think it's a sign that I need to stop commenting and get back to work...
Which isn't to say that I necessarily disagree with your overall point, that you're not sold on the translation. I was referring to your first paragraph and what Tim meant by his comment. Sorry for the double post.
Because translations are based on relative performance. What Tim's talking about is the time machine problem -- teleport Jeff Suppan back to the 1910s in the condition he is now, and his conditioning, repertoire, velocity, command, strategy, etc. would likely be lightyears ahead of anybody else's.
Of course it's not really fair. Take a young Walter Johnson to the present day and give him a modern ballplayer's upbringing and he could be the same Cy Young-winning legend. Or perhaps he'd never get the feel for a change-up and wash out of Rookie ball. It's impossible to say. But that's what this article was trying to do -- take a stab at what a pitcher with Babe Ruth's (pitching) talents might look like today. It's not necessarily terribly meaningful, but I thought it a fun exercise.
What we know is that he was one of the most dominant pitchers of his day. How does his dominance compare to Koufax's, or Santana's? That's what translations are for.
That was really cool, excellent article! Honestly, I wasn't a fan of your first few articles, Brian, but the last two have really won me over.
Also, I must disagree with the idea that the discussion should have been significantly condensed. It probably could have done without the little rehash of what DTs are for -- we're at BP, we know that -- but that's nitpicking. When you're doing your own translation, as Brian is here, you need to be really explicit about what you're doing and why. he managed to do it thoroughly without getting caught up in the minutiae. Superb job.
Well I voted for her the first week, didn't vote for her last week, and haven't decided yet which way I'm going on this one. Basically, she's a very, very talented writer, and I can see her writing articles for BP that I would read - game stories come to mind - unlike a lot of the participants in this contest.
But yeah, the three pieces so far have been ho-hum at best. The talent is clearly there, but it hasn't translated into a killer piece yet. So if/when I vote/d for her, it's voting on upside, and hoping she develops more like Grady Sizemore than Ryan Sweeney.
Amusing article, Joe, but I think you're underselling Wieters a bit.
Yeah, I read them all, and voted, but then re-opened a few of them later to read the new comments. It's people like me that are why you can't use votes/view! (Incidentally, does refreshing the page count as a new view?) Seems like the problem could have been avoided with both Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down buttons, but honestly I don't think it will be much of a "problem" really -- people with a low percentage likely aren't going to last long.
On the subject of Weeks, I wonder if there might be some benefit to Weeks (and others with chronic wrist problems) to use a lighter bat? It's hard to say how it'd affect the rest of his swing, but all things being equal less force should be required for his swing. It'd probably reduce his power but might help his contact rate.
Or writing "he may yet rival fellow “old-man skills” DH David Ortiz’s numbers this season." like it's a good thing ;) I've been really enjoying the little anachronisms.
Excellent article, tho!
Fantastic, fantastic article.
\"avoiding outs\" is not a tool, at least not in the traditional sense that KG has been using for years.
Just off the top of my head, is it more difficult than normal to play center field in Colorado? His fielding numbers in Houston were notably better. Thinking of what Will said in that Unfiltered post a couple weeks ago, perhaps Jocketty has some metrics that indicate that Taveras is likely to be a better-than-\"expected\" defensive asset.
Building on that, Volquez, Cueto, Harang, Arroyo, AND Owings were all FB-oriented pitchers last year, per ESPN stats. Thus building outfield defense might be disproportionately beneficial to the team\'s success.
Why then they feel the need to employ a defense-only shortstop....
Where would Greg Golson rank if he were still in the system?
That\'s a basic assumption made in low-level physics classes, but it\'s not true, the air exerts some pretty non-negligible (for real life applications) drag on the ball, slowing it down. I think the bigger issue is that baseballs tail and break pretty harshly, and the effect is amplified the more they\'re in the air. I\'d think it would be much easier to get the ball to home plate *accurately* on two short, low-level throws. But in a situation like that one, I agree, the right decision is probably to throw it long and pray it lands in the right spot.