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October 5, 2006 12:00 am

 Prospectus Today: Division Series, Day Two 0

The Play is the talk of the water coolers, but plenty of other things happened on an abbreviated second day.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160071649_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.

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March 28, 2005 12:00 am

 2005--Setting the Stage 0

Five players who could follow in the footsteps of 2004's biggest surprises.

As Bill James wrote 20 years ago--I'm obligated by contract to quote James in at least one-third of my articles--"A chart of numbers that would put an actuary to sleep can be made to dance if you put it on one side of a card and Bombo Rivera's picture on the other."

We recognize the tale that the numbers tell because while the specific numbers may be unique from player to player, the patterns tend to become recognizable. We look at Miguel Cabrera's two rows of numbers and hear in our minds the echoes of numbers we've seen before next to names like Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson. A stroll down Randy Johnson's lines conjures memories of other pitchers who found greatness after taming their wild heat, from Nolan Ryan to Sandy Koufax.

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January 26, 2005 12:00 am

 Prospectus Today: Fun with PECOTA 0

The new PECOTA projections are out, and there's some interesting information in that spreadsheet.

I like to have some fun with these when they come out. For instance, here's what PECOTA thinks the home-run leaderboards will look like at the end of the year:

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September 23, 2004 12:00 am

 Prospectus Triple Play: Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals 0

The Diamondbacks are going the way of old teams, just faster than most, while the Tigers and Royals can find silver linings in their under-.500 seasons.

August 6, 2003 12:00 am

 Lies, Damned Lies: Quantum Leap 0

However cruel, the taunting had proved prescient. Back in 1997, Guillen had time and an abundance of raw talent on his side. Bouncing between four organizations and failing to demonstrate any development, Guillen had regressed to the level of benchwarmer; his career .239 EqA entering the season was below replacement level for a corner outfielder. If not for his powerful right arm (an impressive tool, but overrated in its importance) and his much-tarnished Topps All-Rookie Team trophy, Guillen might have been riding shuttles between Louisville and Chattanooga or selling real estate instead of holding down a fourth outfielder job in the bigs.

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February 6, 2003 2:15 pm

 Prospectus Feature: Playing the Armchair Arbitrator 0

No, the most contentious sports battles of February are fought not in football rinks or hockey stadiums, but in hotel conference rooms in Tampa and Phoenix, where owners and agents will square off against one another all month long in a series of arbitration hearings that will be fully nasty enough to recall the high period of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circuit, except without quite as much hair-pulling.

February is a rough time of year to be a sports fan. As I sat down in front of the television on an appropriately dreary Sunday afternoon, my viewing options included an exhibition hockey game played in Florida, a football game played in a hockey rink, and a seniors golf tournament. How many more days until pitchers and catchers report, again?

No, the most contentious sports battles of February are fought not in football rinks or hockey stadiums, but in hotel conference rooms in Tampa and Phoenix, where owners and agents will square off against one another all month long in a series of arbitration hearings that will be fully nasty enough to recall the high period of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circuit, except without quite as much hair-pulling.

Unlike Debbie Debutante and Spanish Red, salary arbitration appears poised to make something of a comeback. Only five arbitration cases went to a hearing last winter, a figure that tied for the lowest total ever. Twenty-one pairs of players and owners are prepared to take their cases to the mat this time around, and although a number of those cases are likely to be settled beforehand, both sides seem less willing this winter to compromise on dollar figures for the sake of creating goodwill going forward.

Gary Huckabay covered all of the arbitration basics and then some in a recent 6-4-3, so I won't rehash those here, except to reiterate that the single most important criterion in resolving each case is a player's previous track record of playing time and performance. The true value of that track record can be meaningfully different from the most reasonable expectation for his performance in the upcoming season, not to mention the factors an arbitrator actually weighs.

What I'll do in the balance of this article is present data from our PECOTA forecasting system for some of the most prominent upcoming arbitration cases, in order to discuss which players have the best chance of turning in performances that are out of line with their previous histories. Just for kicks, I'll play Armchair Arbitrator too. Keep in mind that I'll be taking into account information that the real arbitrators will not be allowed to consider, and that an arbitrator will sooner make a decision based on batting average or won-lost record than more meaningful measures.

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February 21, 2002 12:00 am

 Doctoring The Numbers: Do Lefties "Break Out" More Than Righties? 0

In response to a reader's e-mail questioning whether, as Conventional Wisdom states, left-handed pitchers tend to develop later than right-handers, Neyer wrote:

October 12, 2000 12:00 am

 Call It In The Air! 0

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_32 = 'Approximate number of batting outs made while playing this position.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_34 = 'Bases on Balls, or bases on balls allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_35 = 'Bases on balls allowed per 9 innings pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_36 = 'Batters faced pitching.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_37 = 'Balks. Not recorded 1876-1880.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160184488_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.