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How much does a hitter's performance depend on the quality of pitches he sees?

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Evan Petty is a 22-year-old lifelong student of the game who’s studying Magazine Journalism and Applied Statistics at Syracuse University. Raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Evan remains an ardent J.D. Drew defender.


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Ben and Sam discuss what they see as the worst signings so far this winter.



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Shining a spotlight on the minor mental mistakes and successes that often go overlooked.

There was an axiom tossed about when I was in college, one that I and my other bench-warming teammates were only too happy to co-opt, which held that the dumber you were, the better you played. In other words, the less intelligent a player was, and the less he had going on in his mind (colloquially, the less "in his own head" he was), the more focused he'd be on playing to the best of his abilities. Some rebutted that we spent too much free time during games coming up with theories about why we weren't playing, but you get the idea.

The big leaguers we see on TV have found a way to circumvent this problem, if it even exists. Nevertheless, there remains a mental aspect of the game that often goes ignored, both by sabermetricians (because it's nearly impossible to measure) and by the players themselves (because these mistakes are usually too small to affect their club's opinion of them). I don't mean visualization or Pedro Cerrano's Jobu doll or Turk Wendell's animal tooth necklace—I'm talking about the nuts-and-bolts logic of baseball that, when ignored, costs teams outs and runs, which eventually cost them games.

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November 12, 2009 1:06 pm

Checking the Numbers: Extending the Discipline Detection

12

Eric Seidman

Continuing to look at plate discipline with a discussion of contact rate and swing frequency.

Last Friday, I discussed plate discipline at length, noting that the commonly cited facet of performance extends beyond its synonym of patience and into the realm of making fewer responsive mistakes in a given trip to the dish. I introduced signal detection theory as a means of more accurately measuring which hitters produce the correct responses most often, since having good plate discipline must also cover the optimization of in zone pitches and not merely how often a hitter chases.

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November 6, 2009 12:30 pm

Checking the Numbers: Detecting Discipline

11

Eric Seidman

Taking a look at a hitter's discipline and pitch sensitivities; the numbers on who's more inclined to do so may surprise you.

Ever since Billy Beane wrote Moneyball (right, Mr. Morgan?) in order to prove that the true path to success involved only seeking the services of high-OBP employees, analysts of several varieties have worked diligently to discover market inefficiencies worth exploiting. One of the areas that has risen to prominence recently, likely due to the increased availability of the data, focuses on plate discipline on both sides of the spectrum-for hitters, or induced by pitchers.

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A key figure in the industry sets his schedule for leaving, too many absent friends in St. Pete, plus other notable quotables from around the game.

HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE CYCLED STEROIDS DURING NEGOTIATIONS

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Sitting down to talk to the former All-Star about his career as a player, and his new turn as a minor league skipper.

Travis Fryman has a new career, even if he's hesitant to admit it. A five-time American League All-Star at third base during 13 big-league seasons (1990-2002), the 39-year-old Fryman is now the manager of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Cleveland's affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League. Selected by Detroit in the first round of the 1987 draft, Fryman went on to spend eight years with the Tigers and five more with the Indians, hitting .274/.336/.443 with 223 home runs. Known for having one of the best arms in the game, Fryman came up as a shortstop before moving to the hot corner, where he won a Gold Glove in 2000.

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Clemens tells his side of the story, Beane explains where Oakland's nucleus went, and Cashman artfully avoids the elephant in the front office.

A SYRINGE OF RESPECT, MIKE. A SYRINGE.

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May 23, 2007 12:00 am

Player Profile: John Buck

0

Marc Normandin

The Royals catcher is starting to make the Carlos Beltran trade sting a little bit less for Kansas City fans.

Despite another poor start in Kansas City-Joe Posnanski has already written his annual end of the season column for the Royals-there are a few bright spots on the team. Gil Meche has managed to pitch much more effectively than many analysts thought he would-more on that in a future profile-and John Buck has seemingly secured the catcher's job, despite the offseason acquisition of Jason LaRue. Buck has hit .299/.398/.588 to open the season, and although he has slowed down a bit in May after a torrid April, he finally looks like the hitter the Royals expected back in 2004 when they traded for him.

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Felix Hernandez knows what it's like to be a Spartan, Jose Guillen threatens the holy ones, and that's just Mariners camp.

IF ONLY THEY HAD 300 INSTEAD OF JUST THE 25-MAN ROSTER

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October 10, 2005 12:00 am

Playoff Prospectus: Division Series, Day Six

0

Paul Swydan

The Astros win in thrilling fashion, and the Yankees force a Game Five.

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June 15, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: A New Low

0

Derek Zumsteg

I don't get along with my team. We've disagreed over how the team's been run, from who's been put in the lineup to who's being drafting. Since the ownership group bought the team to save it from possibly moving, they've seemed eager to support Bud Selig and MLB in whatever crazy scheme they come up with. I would bet there are many baseball fans with similarly strained relationships with the teams they support. The Mariners have made it clear in the past that they're interested in acquiring only character guys who are good in the clubhouse, even at the expense of the on-field product. Someone ran some numbers and said "Lovable sells." So the clubhouse troublemakers, the lawyers and the quiet smart guys are all purged once the team takes a dislike to them. The problem is that the M's are willing to do almost anything to get rid of players that fans perceive as having negative qualities or being a problem, while at the same time they're willing to pick up good clubhouse guys with baggage if they think they can get away with it. The Mariners will pick up a guy like Al Martin, who got into a nasty tussle with his backup wife in Arizona, resulting in a lot of counseling and a pinch of jail time. Martin, for his potential legal and character issues, was and remains known for having a great work ethic, an easy guy to get along with on a team, and a good clubhouse presence. The Mariners brought in a bigamist who'd bust up a much smaller secondary wife while running their "Refuse to Abuse" campaign against domestic violence...because they wanted a left-handed bat.

The Mariners have made it clear in the past that they're interested in acquiring only character guys who are good in the clubhouse, even at the expense of the on-field product. Someone ran some numbers and said "Lovable sells." So the clubhouse troublemakers, the lawyers and the quiet smart guys are all purged once the team takes a dislike to them.

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