What we see when looking at leaderboards, maybe before we should be.
Back when I was a community news reporter, editors were always stressing the idea that “everybody has a story.” Not everybody is powerful, or newsworthy, or “good,” but everybody has a story. And so it is with early-season leaderboards. Obviously they’re lousy for analysis and their lifespans are short, but they exist, if only for a few moments, and we should acknowledge that they existed, if only for a few moments.
Or, put another way, early season leaderboards are God’s way of showing us how much crazy ish is happening all the time and we don’t even notice it.
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BP and Brooks Baseball roll out their latest assault on your free time.
Up until now, the only way to peruse the PITCHf/x data available at Brooks Baseball was to look up each pitcher's player card individually. That was all well and good, but it made comparing pitchers a painstaking process. Fortunately, Dan Brooks just made that process much easier by building some bona fide leaderboards at BP.
These leaderboards draw on the same dataset you see at Brooks Baseball, custom classifications and all. So now it takes a couple of clicks to look up which pitchers throw hardest or softest, which pitches are hardest to hit, and a whole host of other interesting insights. Use the dropdowns to filter by handedness, month, year, pitch type, role, and minimum pitches thrown. You can access additional data by selecting "Outcomes" and "Averages" in the dropdown set to "PITCHf/x" by default.
You haven't gotten any newsletters this week. Here's what's going on.
After over 2700 editions delivered, our ancient newsletter server shipped its last text-only batch of newsletters last weekend and celebrated by melting down into its component elements. We tried to get the thing back online this week, but have been unable to revive it. So its time for Baseball Prospectus to get a modern newsletter solution.
It's too early to look at statistical leaderboards, but sometimes we have to anyway.
April 19, 2011: "Somehow, someway, Carlos Lee is second with a 53.2 UZR/150. I will literally eat broken glass if he finishes with a positive number this season. (Someone hold me to it.)" —This guy, who is now dead, from eating glass :(
We have such a weird relationship with April stats. I’m trying to think of anything else where we consider a 10-percent sample almost totally useless. On election night, when they show the vote totals, I start to take them seriously once 10 percent of precincts are in. If you could see only 10 percent of a human, you could still probably figure out whether he was tall, fat, into rockabilly, etc. But the first 10 percent of a baseball season is like the first 10 percent of the sausage race in Milwaukee: filled with narrative, almost entirely misleading, and a place where Randall Simon doesn’t belong.
Someone has replaced Prince Albert as the most likely to make history.
As September kicks into gear and the playoff races begin to heat up, another race is piquing the attention of a large population of baseball fans. The difference is that the race to which I am alluding is not assured of producing a winner. In fact, it has not produced a winner since 1967, when Carl Yasztremski led the American League on the mighty triumvirate of batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Leading the league in each of these categories in the same season is referred to as the Triple Crown, and for the first time in quite a while, there exists a strong possibility that the feat will be achieved. Say what you will about the relative merits of the batting average and RBI stats, but cliché saber-oriented rants aside, leading the league in all three is incredibly impressive.
As a reminder—all leaderboards are being presented from 1952 onward. For players preceding the Retrosheet play-by-play era, this technique is sadly not usable. At a later date, we’ll look at adapting what this teaches us to a non play-by-play defensive metric.
Marc inquires about what you, dear reader, would like to see from the fantasy crew in 2010.
The start of the season is closing in on us, so now is the time to ask all of you, the readers, what it is you would like to see from myself and our new fantasy crew this year. In the past, it had just been me, writing two pieces per week, trying to cover a variety of topics in the allotted time. This has always meant that many areas would have to go uncovered, as there was only so much to be done in the old format with one writer. Now though, we have not only multiple writers, but the Fantasy Beat blog, which means more updates and without the restrictive confines of scheduling.
You have already seen the work of newly added Craig Brown, as well as the guys from Heater and their daily Hot Spots column covering positional battles and playing time. I have not blogged much as of yet (thanks , fantasy rankings!) but this will not be the case as the season approaches and begins. This is where you come in--what is it that you want to see on the blog?
The Rickey conversation takes new turns, answering who's least like the speedster among active players, and most like him historically.
Rickey Henderson's much-anticipated Hall of Fame induction speech may have disappointed those who yearned for a proclamation of all-time greatness, perhaps accompanied by a bronze plaque hoisted high overhead. Instead, Henderson took his place among the game's greats with a performance on Sunday that balanced humor and humility, with nary a third-person reference to be heard.
With some of the NPB's best young talent and some of its all-time greats, this is Japan's best baseball entertainment value.
A little late on the start to the season, this Pacific League preview reflects the circuit's intriguing storylines and a much more competitive race for its three playoff spots than the Central League will offer in 2008. Last season, I wrote about the Pacific: