The lesson that many people take away from Michael Lewis's best-selling book Moneyball is that On Base Percentage (OBP) is the only way to build a good baseball team. What is often missed is that the book is really a tale of economics, about finding inefficiencies in the market and exploiting them. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the baseball market was inefficient at judging the value of OBP. Realizing this, the low budget Oakland A's were able to build a successful offense on the cheap.
If you want fame, acclamation, and All-Star recognition, maybe playing time--more playing time--is the best way to judge.
Welcome to the latest edition of Prospectus Toolbox. We're back to conceptual topics this week-we're not going to talk about a specific statistic or report, but rather the factor that effects how statistics and performance are perceived. That factor is time, specifically playing time.
Jim pays tribute to those players who don't slug much, yet still manage to get on base.
For instance, last year just three of the 147 players with 502 or more plate appearances were column reversers. Leading the way was Jason Kendall at .367/.342, followed by David Eckstein at .350/.344 and Brad Ausmus at .308/.285. For Kendall, it marked the third consecutive season he's made the list after never having done it in the first eight years of his career. In 2005, he was joined by just one other player out of a possible 144, that being then-Marlin second sacker Luis Castillo; 2006 is only the second time in Castillo's 11-year career he has not reversed columns. His current career totals stand at .369 OBP and .358 SLG.
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Jim reviews who was best at getting on base, and finds a record that may never be touched.
Baseball's three most-famous "clubs" are the 300-Victory, 3,000-Hit and 500-Homer. If pressed, I'm sure that we could all name a good percentage of the members of those esteemed bodies because we are good citizens and it is our duty to know such things. Because they are counting stats subject to the vagaries of time and space, though, are they really the most prestigious clubs to which a ballplayer can belong? In light of the power explosion of recent times, is membership in the 500-Homer Club the laurel it once was? Should it represent a golden key to the front door to the shrine at Cooperstown? That the question is even on anyone's lips illustrates that we need to call attention to other clubs.
Keith checks in with all kinds of fun facts from the completed season.
\nMathematically, leverage is based on the win expectancy work done by Keith Woolner in BP 2005, and is defined as the change in the probability of winning the game from scoring (or allowing) one additional run in the current game situation divided by the change in probability from scoring\n(or allowing) one run at the start of the game.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_18 = 'Adjusted Pitcher Wins. Thorn and Palmers method for calculating a starters value in wins. Included for comparison with SNVA. APW values here calculated using runs instead of earned runs.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_20 = 'The number of double play opportunities (defined as less than two outs with runner(s) on first, first and second, or first second and third).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_22 = 'Winning percentage. For teams, Win% is determined by dividing wins by games played. For pitchers, Win% is determined by dividing wins by total decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_23 = 'Expected winning percentage for the pitcher, based on how often\na pitcher with the same innings pitched and runs allowed in each individual\ngame earned a win or loss historically in the modern era (1972-present).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_24 = 'Attrition Rate is the percent chance that a hitters plate appearances or a pitchers opposing batters faced will decrease by at least 50% relative to his Baseline playing time forecast. Although it is generally a good indicator of the risk of injury, Attrition Rate will also capture seasons in which his playing time decreases due to poor performance or managerial decisions. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_31 = 'The Baseline forecast, although it does not appear here, is a crucial intermediate step in creating a players forecast. The Baseline developed based on the players previous three seasons of performance. Both major league and (translated) minor league performances are considered.
The Baseline forecast is also significant in that it attempts to remove luck from a forecast line. For example, a player who hit .310, but with a poor batting eye and unimpressive speed indicators, is probably not really a .310 hitter. Its more likely that hes a .290 hitter who had a few balls bounce his way, and the Baseline attempts to correct for this.
\nSimilarly, a pitcher with an unusually low EqHR9 rate, but a high flyball rate, is likely to have achieved the low EqHR9 partly as a result of luck. In addition, the Baseline corrects for large disparities between a pitchers ERA and his PERA, and an unusually high or low hit rate on balls in play, which are highly subject to luck. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_32 = 'Approximate number of batting outs made while playing this position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_33 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats. In PECOTA, Batting Average is one of five primary production metrics used in identifying a hitters comparables. It is defined as H/AB. ';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_34 = 'Bases on Balls, or bases on balls allowed.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_35 = 'Bases on balls allowed per 9 innings pitched.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_36 = 'Batters faced pitching.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_37 = 'Balks. Not recorded 1876-1880.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_38 = 'Batting Runs Above Replacement. The number of runs better than a hitter with a .230 EQA and the same number of outs; EQR - 5 * OUT * .230^2.5.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_39 = 'Batting runs above a replacement at the same position. A replacement position player is one with an EQA equal to (230/260) times the average EqA for that position.';
xxxpxxxxx1160407218_40 = 'Breakout Rate is the percent chance that a hitters EqR/27 or a pitchers EqERA will improve by at least 20% relative to the weighted average of his EqR/27 in his three previous seasons of performance. High breakout rates are indicative of upside risk.