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May 1, 2009 12:43 pm

Checking the Numbers: Whiffery

8

Eric Seidman

An evaluation of who's been inducing hitters to swing and miss.

On May 28, 2007, Freddy Garcia took the hill for the Phillies, squaring off against the Diamondbacks in a standard, run-of-the-mill game that would ultimately have no bearing on the standings. Nor would it boast any outstanding feats you'd have cause to recall. Quite simply, the meeting served as the perfect example of a nondescript game that lives in the memories of a few avid baseball fans for one minuscule reason or another. Though Garcia proved to be a bust for the Phillies, he pitched very effectively in this particular outing, missing a flurry of bats. By missing bats, I am not referring to the shorthand for fanning a hitter, but rather the literal definition: he induced a lot of swings and misses. A quick glance at the box score shows that Garcia recorded 18 swinging strikes against the Snakes, an impressive tally, and one he had not reached in almost two years. Swinging strikes are rare in major league baseball, especially when compared to the other events capable of occurring on a pitch, and they usually signal some sort of overpowering of the hitter, whether that's with a deceiving off-speed delivery or an ample supply of late movement.

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March 13, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: Running Afoul

0

Jay Jaffe

Has the perceived decrease in foul territory brought by the new stadium boom contributed to the surge in home runs over the past two decades?

Last time around, after discussing how the baseball itself may have changed in a manner that helped to boost home run rates over the past two decades, I took a look at the myth of the shrinking ballpark. To recap, the notion that the stadium construction boom that's taken place over the past 20 years has left us with a game full of bandboxes is actually a false one, at least when it comes to fence distances:

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January 10, 2008 12:00 am

Schrodinger's Bat: Getting Shifty

0

Dan Fox

Repositioning the infield and its effects on history, defense, and batting.

When asked what he did in the winter when there is no baseball, Rogers Hornsby famously replied that he would "stare out the window and wait for spring." Fortunately, these days fans of the game have plenty to keep them occupied in the cold winter months. Not least amongst the off-season events is looking forward to the baseball-oriented Christmas loot that keeps us busy until spring. While not the massive haul of our Jay Jaffe, I'll keep warm with a new Cubs fleece from my lovely wife and keep occupied with Lee Lowenfish's hefty biography of Branch Rickey titled Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman and Cait Murphy's romp through the 1908 season Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History; both additions to my library courtesy of my in-laws.

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October 26, 2006 12:00 am

Going Back in Time

0

Clay Davenport

Vintage Base Ball games have become a popular pastime. While attending one in Baltimore, Clay Davenport becomes part of the action.

I finally got around to looking through my library for a book that had rules of the 1860s in it, but I couldn't find the ones I had in mind, and so I just decided that I'd go and see what the rules were by watching. I was pretty certain that balls on one bounce were still being called outs, and that they weren't allowed to retire runners by throwing the ball right at them ("soaking"). There certainly wouldn't be any gloves, but beyond that I really didn't know what to expect. Saturday came and the weather was great for the middle of October, clear and sunny, if a touch cool. Traffic turned into a mini-nightmare thanks to some road construction I didn't know about, so by the time we had gone off the highway and worked our way through local streets to the park, the two teams had already started the first game.

It turned out I was right about the one-bounce and no-soaking rules, but there were plenty of others that caught me by surprise--some that I remembered after seeing them in action, and a few that I had never heard of. Some of the chatter was amusing, such as the oh-so-polite calls of "Well struck, sir!" that followed a nice hit. The first game sailed right along; the Elkton club was pretty clearly the better team and won handily, although I wasn't keeping track of the score. I was chatting throughout the game with another SABR member whose curiosity had been aroused by the same e-mail I had gotten. The first game over, we both went over to the exhibit of old bats that had been set up while the players took a short break.

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October 14, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: LCS, Day Four

0

Joe Sheehan

The NLCS becomes a battle just as the ALCS is edging towards an end.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160835748_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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Jim digs back and looks at the best starting efforts by the Mets and Cardinals in the era of divisional play.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160845280_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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October 7, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: Division Series, Day Four

0

Joe Sheehan

The A's won a Division Series, and they did it their way. The Tigers are one win away from joining them in an ALCS matchup no one predicted.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160276734_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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November 3, 2004 12:00 am

Is Patience a Virtue?

0

James Click

Are patient hitters better hitters, or do free-swingers get a bad rap? James Click has the answers.

Even if you had never seen baseball before, you could infer from the multitude of replays and even the superfluous dirt-cam introduced in the World Series this year that an at-bat is a complex series of events that requires lengthy analysis. Or you can divide it into two separate events: decision and result. From the batter's perspective, the decision is simple: swing or do not swing (there is no try). Once that choice is made, the batter can additionally influence the outcome if he chooses to swing, or he transfers the decision to the umpire if he does not.

In order to determine if the decision was "good" or not, we must evaluate both the choice and the effectiveness of that choice. For example, if the batter chooses not to swing, that choice can be deemed "correct" if the pitch is called a ball or "incorrect" if it's a strike. (Though many of you may debate that in light of some of the recent strike zone interpretations by our friendly umpiring crews.) Once the batter has decided to swing, the results become more varied and therefore more difficult to evaluate.

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Ted Frank wrote:

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