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That's how I read it as well. Nonetheless, good analysis from Ben. Personally I feel that Coke earned this role during the playoffs. The Tigers' failure to acquire another lefty specialist is what will prevent Coke from closing.
This analysis is very good, and reminds me of the article several years ago about why Zack Greinke was "the future of pitching" (before his meltdown). I'm not so sure that Greinke still pitches this way but there must be something to it if that variety and deception can actually get major league hitters out. I will be rooting for Mr. Layne in his future endeavors.
Great job to everyone involved. This was satisfying as a reader not only for its specific subject matter (especially for Max Scherzer and any Detroit reference), but also for its relevance to negotiations and other pure business matters. Maury's point that "you risk shooting up valuable time in a hearing if you get an arbitrator that is not versed..." is valid whether it is a sports-themed arbitration or in other business matters.
Finally, this is yet another example of how one can be enlightened through the lens of baseball. That illumination is what drives me back to Baseball Prospectus time and again. Fantastic series and I look forward to more.
LOL (literally)... Sam this was really really... horrible. Are you sure that you can see the keys you are typing? Is this some sort of 'blind on blind crime' that you're committing? I can't imagine that you, a superior baseball writer, would be able to call out one of your own like that, without some accidental and fantastical sequence of random keystroking, a la the 1000 monkeys who may have in fact typed out Hamlet in entirety. Could it be that you are in a club of other baseball writers who are all in on this conspiracy, and now you are breaking silence not unlike Lance's teammates?
Harry/Dan -- this tool is mesmerizing.
The first hitter card I ran was Mike Trout, because I wanted to see how pitchers have been trying (or should try) to get him out.
In doing so, I thought of a few quick suggestions for you:
1) Allow grouping of pitch types. For example, I wanted to compare Trout's rates on fastball to "off-speed" or "breaking stuff" in general, not by specific type of pitch.
2) Allow grouping of the zones displayed on the grid. For example, I wanted to see quick stats for Trout on pitches high/middle/low in the zone. For the additive stats its not a big deal (but would still be nice), but for TAv and other rates stats, not so much. Very smart, by the way, to put the sample sizes beneath the stats and to mark the units of measurement -- very easy to follow.
3) Same theme as above, allow grouping of years and months or provide some defaults for common use cases (e.g., last three years, first half vs. second half)
4) Maybe add a "Compare" button that allows you to either compare one player to another on a single screen or compare the player to himself under different filters, side-by-side on a single screen. It is of course not hard to take screenshots and mash these up offline, but the product manager in me never wants to invite people to leave my app to do something that is likely a common use case.
5) Not a suggestion, just a comment -- cool that you offer the ability to "Direct Link" to the table as sorted. I imagine that will be heavily used.
6) Fun, but useless in most cases (and certainly so for Mike Trout), would be allowing hitter vs. specific pitcher views. And again, allowing "custom aggregates" of specific pitchers could also provide some interesting (or perhaps completely trivial) analytic jump-off points. For example, how does Josh Hamilton hit against my custagg of the 10 hardest throwers?
Thanks again to you both (and BP) for putting this out there.
Ben - great breakdown, and fantastic use and summary of PITCHf/x data. You kept it at a higher level and made it useful in your attempt to drive home your key points. Fantastic article. Thanks!
Derek, was there a reason that Hanley Ramirez was omitted from this ranking aside from the fact that he has yet to play 3B? He will be eligible at 3B in quite a few leagues just on the fact that he is projected to start there. Certainly the case could be made that he is a 5-star pick, perhaps even ahead of Bautista. Thoughts?
Not sure what's up with that projected PX score. HQ also has an expected PX based on hard hit ball data that puts De Aza's 2011 season at 81 (19% under league avg). Trust the speed, not the power. -Ed D.
Hilarious. Several points of detail to add to Kevin's already incredible reporting:
* During the bench press (14:00) and situps (10:45) sections, Yoenis is wearing Cincinnati Reds gear
* The children clapping and cheering during the tribute to his mother (18:30) is from a popular iPhone app called Toddler Teaser Shapes
* If you missed the catcher's reaction at 3:55, go back and watch again. Never seen anything like it, even in high school ball
* The record breaking HR (5:15) looks to have been a hanging curve which completely missed outside, but then he takes it the other way - seems to have ability to wait on a pitch before using quick hands to drive the ball
* My first thought on his first swing was - "Geez this guy is Miguel Cabrera circa 2003"
Mike, thanks for sharing. Have you considered the impact of occular dominance on the variations? A succinct explanation is here:
It would be an interesting phone call to the umpires' union to see if they would contribute anything like this to a research project.
Great job BP, and thanks Jeff. This information summary is excellent, if not somewhat maddening, for helping me think about the megatrends in baseball management. It seems that the cost of doing business to gain those ever-so-slight advantages on a pitch-by-pitch and matchup basis is higher than I would have expected, with the cost vs efficiency of a reliever. It also seems that any league realignment where the DH is kept is actually more efficient than keeping the extra spot for a reliever, which is counter to what I had expected. Segmenting further into "closer", "ex-closer" and "non-closer", for instance, or somehow into PH vs UT vs everyday regulars could be telling. I could be misinterpreting but it is certainly thought provoking. Kudos!
It's become obvious in recent weeks that the Indians do not have minor league depth at any OF position. The fact that they had to run Luis Valbuena in LF for a week (and lost at least one game due as a direct result) is proof enough. Going out and taking a flier on Neal is a low-risk way to introduce at least a passable warm body rather than a stiff liability.
Historically speaking, it was the club owners who developed and formed leagues, not some commissioner or committee. Impossible today with the structure of league membership as part of MLB. Unless the author has a cousin who is a HOF'er and who also happens to be a industry-leading marketing genius serving as a highly paid consultant to Bud Selig, getting Bud incredibly drunk (yes, cynics, drunker than usual), Bud likely will never agree to it.
Larry - I've got to admit that I've questioned the value of the Tater Trot Tracker on a few occasions, but today it is pretty cool that your work and your readers benefit from the Jeter "3000" HR. Great day for baseball.
It's cold and rainy outside tonight, but I literally just started getting chills. Great story.
That's the one I was looking for. Seems difficult to manage through stats without a lot of practice, and I don't usually have much time so accessibility of stats and easy report creation is key to any research I'd like to do. I feel like I need a baseball-reference.com subscription to do this but I will only spend so much on my addiction.
In any event, WxRL uses the LEVERAGE stat but if memory serves it also lacks the speed component of the runner on base, and the ability of the pitcher to hold runners. It is not a complete stat, in my opinion. The game within the game can be exposed with some tweaks to WxRL, but again I struggle to find a place to start. Any suggestions?
Hank Conger seems like he's being added for his hype rather than his bat. Chris Snyder has been more effective, starting with his rehab stint and continuing into a more steady role as the Bucs catcher.
Tony Sipp has been a real asset so far this season. I am not that good at deriving the stat I'm looking for using the existing BP tools, but he has been used in high-leverage situations very effectively, and also sets up Chris Perez well. He can get a strikeout when it's needed. Case in point was the CLE-SEA game where Chone Figgins was on 2nd with no outs in the 8th, a 1-run game, Sipp and the entire Tribe infield positioned perfectly, pitched to the right spots, held the runner, and just battled to keep Figgins from scoring. It was really impressive.
How could one capture that performance in a high-leverage situation (pitching with a Capable Runner In Scoring Position - "CRISP"?)? I swear I've seen a stat like that before but I cannot find it.
sorry - I hit some combination of keys that posted a partial response. Anyway, the value only being 2.85% over the premium paid seems like an opportunity to convince a club that services rendered by a competing agent for a competing FA could be had at a contract discount to the team while providing equivalent WAR. It would be very interesting to see this same study performed for other "super agents" to provide a comparison.
Nice work Vince. If I were a competing agent representing a player who is vying for the same contract dollars as a Boras client, I would be using this research to my favor. The Boras factor, as viewed from the aggregate, is only a benefit to the player and not the team. To the team, it is a value of a mere 2.85%
When will the position player update happen? Mar. 1st is a bit outdated... Matt Dominguez has been sent down, Bonifacio expects to see more PT... I had an awful fantasy draft last night and need a 3B off the waiver wire ASAP...
Thanks Mike - great links. Loved the Masterson profile. There was some talk about incorporating Pitch F/X data into PECOTA... simply showing this level of analysis on each player card would be a great half-step toward that goal of integration.
This was great. I missed the original article, too, so I'm glad I caught this one.
Another fun ("fun") angle for you guys to explore may be the net impact of the city/state tax on total payroll. That is, for a given team for a given year, how much does the team theoretically save vs. an average team due to their location having a more attractive relative tax? You'd have to first make the aggressive assumption that (free agent) players know everything that you just outlined in this article, but assuming the city/state is effectively "paying" each player the money that the team didn't have to because its offer was deemed equivalent to that of other teams, what is the total net impact on payroll in dollars? Does Houston stretch it's payroll by a million bucks because of this? Again, more of a curiousity than anything.
p.s. Doesn't this make a high school kid even a tad bit more annoyed at being drafted into servitude by the Orioles?
**: And THAT is why the MLB Network is hands down worth the cost of DirecTV, even if you have to cut down a few trees to get a signal.
The matchups are fantastic in both leagues. It's especially interesting that the Giants and Braves are so similar in those made-for-TV dramatic ways: ROY candidates Posey vs Heyward, Bay Area heroes Zito vs Hudson, Young Aces Lincecum vs Hanson, Veteran Wanderers (and Ex-Tigers) Torres vs Infante, Comeback Stories Huff vs Glaus, Dominating Closers Wilson vs Wagner. This really has a lot going for it and will be exciting to watch unfold... if you have a DVR and can record the games during the daytime!
I'm sure you've read it but "Krakatoa" by Simon Winchester is a fantastic book. For those who haven't - definitely a must read. Zambrano has always struck me as more of a Hawaii than Krakatoa, always erupting a little bit. The real Krakatoa of MLB has to be Kyle Farnsworth.
Eric, I may be mistaken, but doesn't Mark Buehrle own the MLB record for most consecutive 6+ IP starts? I remember it as a White Sox fan that he got ejected from the game that ended his streak (after 5.2 IP no less). I just looked up a daily pitching log that I have handy and I show Buehrle with 49 consecutive 6+ IP starts from 5/11/04 through 7/26/05, ending with his start at Baltimore in which he pitched 5.2. Interestingly, the start prior to his streak beginning was also @ BAL with 5.2 IP, and he didn't once pitch @ BAL during the streak -- just the "failure" bookends. (Apologies if I've misinterpreted any data here -- just did a quick lookup of Buehrle triggered by a 5 year old memory.) -Ed D.
Colin, you may want to curb the enthusiasm around voting "often" (unless you mean once each for many different players) ... if I recall past years correctly, ballot stuffing makes Tango mad!
Fun weekend Will. Having lived in three of the four towns, I can say that I love the experience of Midwest baseball and wouldn't trade it for anything (except a Tigers championship).
Hi Will - good stuff as always. This one falls onto the "hurt" vs "injured" fence, but have you heard any rumblings about Wandy Rodriguez since his early season back spasms and shoulder problems? Some physical problem seems to be the only plausible explanation for his performance decline. While his ERD is zero, the real cost to the Astros is out on the field. At some point it would seem that a minor leaguer ought to be called up to displace him for a 15 day evaluation, because it seems masochistic to continue sending him out there and getting pummeled.
Do you mean "corner OUTfielder"?
Maybe I've been missing out on readily available media here, but what program is Boog watching that game on where he can view any half-inning during the game with just one click?
Gammons rules. Of all of the things that could have gotten me pumped up at the 2006 World Series game 2 in Detroit, just walking past him was one of the best. Looking forward to even better content from him through MLB.
Good interview. DeJesus is a player who has been undervalued and generally unnoticed by the baseball media. People had such high expectations for him when he first arrived in the big leagues, that its almost as if he has disappointed folks in a way that makes his 0.290 career average and 15-15 power/speed counting stats seem awkwardly invisible, especially given the fact that he plays for KC. After reading this interview, it seems that he prefers it this way, with his ten-years-and-out philosophy. His passion is not baseball, yet he's pretty good at it. That helps me understand the invisibility of his above-average play, and also why he's not out looking for a shot with a big-market team. He's simply David DeJesus - baseball player. And seems to be very proud of that.
Great article. I imagine that the next level of this, with the "attention zone" of the hitter, will be affected by whether a hitter is a pull hitter or can send balls to the opposite field. Ultimately, seeing the matchup of perceived velocity versus attention zone becomes a scalpel for a field manager seeking to optimize his lineup, compared to the butterknife that is the Lefty/Righty splits that exist today.
Hi Dan. Would you mind running the PA numbers in your final chart for a .300 OBP? .250 and .000 seem a bit harsh. It appears that a .300 OBP rookie would "deserve" around 250 PAs of underperformance vs. a .325 baseline, but I can't tell.
It's an interesting question that you've addressed -- I'm curious to read others' comments and your responses. Thanks.
Good work, Dan. Overall this was a nice analysis, and certainly an interesting topic for research.
First, I would echo MGL's two criticisms. Even though you attempted to control for both runner quality and game situation to a reasonable degree, perhaps even tighter controls could have been applied to tease out additional insights.
Second, the other factor that I don't believe has been mentioned yet is the throwing arm of the catcher. Specifically, is it possible that pitchers with weak-throwing battery mates are more apt to throw to first (once or more) to compensate for their catcher's otherwise poor ability to control the running game himself? I imagine that there is some correlation there that could be skewing your attempte rate and particularly your success rate numbers.
Totally get it; just wondering if Kevin could qualify (with a potential usage scenario) his suggestion that Smoak could come up this year and help Texas in a playoff run in a division where half the starters are LHPs, given his splits (which, as we are both saying, may or may not be real).
What to make of Smoak's RHP-LHP splits? Didn't seem to be a problem in college, and not yet a ton of professional at bats, but .378/.487/.600 vs. RHPs compared to .203/.282/.328 vs. LHPs is striking. Would they dare platoon him in the majors in '09 at the risk of his development?
I got into a fun discussion about Ruth's pitching about four years ago over at BaseballHQ ... the arguments for his being worthy of praise as a pitcher were his ERA+, his Win Shares, and his age (very young). But when the talk got around to projecting him as a clear (would be) All-Star and potential HoF-caliber pitcher with comparisons of his 1916-1917 seasons to other contemporary and future greats like Walter Johnson's '16-'17, Koufax's '65, Gibson's '68, and Guidry's '78, I went to the translated peripherals, as you did here, to put a clamp down on that argument.
Ruth's 1916 numbers translated to 7.2 K/9 and 2.2 K/BB, with a 26% hit rate (BABIP) and 74% strand rate. His 1917 numbers translated to 5.9 K/9 and 1.9 K/BB with a 26% hit rate and 73% strand rate. Just Walter Johnson's lines -- from a peer in the exact same seasons -- showed the gap between Ruth and a true all-time great. Johnson's 1916 numbers translated to 9.1 K/9 and 6.7 K/BB, but with a 28% hit rate and ugly 65% strand rate, and his 1917 numbers translated to 8.7 K/9 and 5.1 K/BB with a relatively "normal" 29% hit rate and 71% strand rate.
As your article suggested, Ruth was the beneficiary of good luck/defense in addition to being a good-but-not-great pitcher.
I ran this report a year ago or so and remember the Top 50 all being from the AL ... it was like #54 or something before I reached my first NL pitcher.
Two quick points on this line of thought:
1) I've inquired about BP's batted ball data in the past, and apparently the source was different prior to 2005 in that the direction of "hits" was not recorded, only the direction of "outs." This could be the cause of your seemingly errant 2004 data point, Ken.
2) Just want to make sure that anyone reading this string of comments recognizes that hitters establish their own HR/FB rates just as they do their own BABIP rates over time. Pitchers, conversely, tend to regress to the mean.
One possible game-theory strategy the Pirates could take is to draft the best player available at 4, especially one that would disrupt an intra-divisonal rival, and use that as a hedge in case they don't get Sano. If they do get Sano, let the pick go unsigned unless he takes a bonus cut. Better to waste the pick (and retain the rights for a year) and land Sano (essentially guaranteeing 1st round talent acquisition) than to use a "budget pick" which could reasonably be selected later on.
I am a bit late to the comments party here, but I'll chime in quickly. Perhaps it is just me, but I think that Tim's introduction is misleading in terms of what he actually covers. It is almost as if he set out to write a very comprehensive article, started writing a draft, but then as soon as he saw his word count closing in on the maximum, he slapped on the "oh well, I guess I'm done now" conclusion and turned in his work.
I think that the base content itself is pretty good for readers who are new to valuation, but as a stand-alone piece of work, it is lacking a smoothly-flowing intro > body > conclusion structure that properly sets the reader's expectations, delivers against them, and leaves them with something tangible to “do on their own” (as promised).
All that said, Tim showed enough potential with this that he earned my third of three thumbs up votes for this week. Even though he explained only a small fraction of what a person REALLY needs to know about the DIY process, he at least convinced me that he understands the DIY process well enough to potentially serve as an instructor on the topic. As someone who has played this role (informally) elsewhere, I know that mastering the process yourself is only part of the job – being able to fully break down the custom valuation components and clearly communicate the technical how-to is the only way to wean a reader off of pre-published or systematically-generated dollar values. I would be curious to read a more in-depth “training” from Tim on this.
I can understand the mixed feelings you have about your pitching expense compared to value - this is essentially the pitching staff that would have won a championship LAST year, and thus you opted to pay for last year's success. While you would be thrilled to have those stats again, it's better when you don't have to pay nearly as much for it.
Clearly this crop as a whole did not go for this amount in last year's auction. If you had gone higher for Upton^2 and left fewer dollars on the table for pitching, who might have been available far more cheaply that could have given that same lottery ticket effect that Nolasco and Lee did in 2008?
That list starts with Brad Penny, based on all scouting reports from the spring.
Nice job Will. Duke's delivery change goes back to August of last season, where he started to have some success. Maybe this is a Cliff Lee style resurgence where repeatable mechanics and a repeatable windup are all of what a guy needed to focus on the pitches and not on his body in motion. It will be fun to watch Pittsburgh this year.
Wow - I guess I am left to believe that a 28-yr old Daisuke Matsuzaka, coming off a season where he's mentioned in the running for the Cy Young, is not one of the 30 best fantasy pitchers in baseball. But Brett Myers? Hmm.
hahaha - proactively blaming the wife. Well played, Clay!
Thanks for the heads up. I can hardly wait to get it.
Generally, HR/FB stabilizes for pitchers between 10% and 11%. Similar to BABIP, HR/FB for pitchers tends to revert to the mean from year to year. Pitchers CAN control their HR/9, but that is mostly based on their groundball rate.
NOTE: Hitters HR/FB rates do NOT revert to the 10-11% level. Hitters establish their own HR/FB rates over time, so those trends are actually interesting to watch vs. the pitchers, where you are really just looking for statistical outliers.
The Tigers could use some of that consistent pitching that Sonnanstine provides. What to give up in return is a big problem though. They\'ll trade him to an NL club.