Examining the pitchers whose worm-burning and flyballing styles mesh best and worst with their clubs.
We tend to operate with certain assumed axioms in the world of fantasy baseball, one of which is that pitchers who generate ample groundball contact and avoid the tightrope of excessive flyball contact are preferable. And the risk-reward is certainly apparent in the numbers: Last year big-league hitters mustered just a .144 average on flyballs but slugged .443, compared to a .243/.263 line on grounders. Sure, you give up more base hits on the ground, but they tend to be singles with limited potential to really do stand-alone damage. Flyballs, on the other hand, leave yards and lead to runs.
But all pitchers, and all pitching contexts, are not created equal; there are some guys whose stellar groundball rates mean less because they pitch in front of porous infield defenses, while others who walk on the wilder side in the sky are better bets on account of stellar fly-catching troupes patrolling the grass behind them. Now, the variance here isn’t extreme for most pitchers, but it isn’t insignificant either. Major-league leader Brett Anderson induced 380 grounders last year, and had he done so in front of the most efficient infield unit (the Giants) he’d have benefitted from an extra 26 out conversions over the course of his 180 innings relative to the worst unit (Philadelphia).
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A look at whether road games in pitchers' parks mitigate the Coors Field effect for Rockies hitters, and other such questions.
That deafening buzz you heard when the 2016 MLB schedule was released last week? No, that wasn’t the product of a primetime network special, with a slow reveal of key matchups, Opening Day pairings, and an outline of which television partners get to broadcast the most Yankees-Red Sox games. It was the members of Baseball Twitter trying to one-up themselves about the lack of a primetime network special, with a slow reveal of key matchups, Opening Day… okay, you get it. We were poking fun at another league.
It’s a bit of an industry, making projections on who’s going to be a New York Yankee. Felix Hernandez was a future Yankee forever until the Mariners made sure that he wasn’t. Just this week, that infamous Royals graphic placed Mike Trout on the Yankees already. And the terrific New York Daily News-er and 80-grade Internet troll Andy Martino gave his Mets followers a little “FY” treatment regarding Matt Harvey.
There was some chatter on Twitter this morning about park factors, and Marc Normandin made the point that all of the most common park-adjusted offensive stats out there (TAv, OPS+, wRC+) use "generic" run-based park factors, not component park factors. (Baseball Prospectus does have component park factors which we use in PECOTA, and we use those to generate our run-based park factors, but we use run-based park factors in TAv.) Marc wondered if using one-size-fits-all rather than the component factors might lead to inaccuracies—after all, we know different parks affect different types of hitters in different ways, and our park adjustment methods here don't account for that. (Marc isn't the first to raise this point, by the way.) So why do we all do it this way?
Max examines all the factors that influence pitch velocity, lays out his simple and complex approaches to making PITCHf/x information more accurate, and determines how hard the Nationals are really throwing.
Cooling off the radar guns No more calling Strasburg's 91 mph pitch a 'changeup'. It's disheartening to like 98% of the rest of us for whom 91 is a 'fastball'.—@BMcCarthy32
A new way of adjusting for a player's environment.
One of the fascinating things for baseball fans is the differences between ballparks--the role that the very park itself plays in baseball is probably unique in sports. Different ballparks bring a very different character to the proceedings, and of course, they can even change the course of the events on the field.
It doesn’t help that MLB’s rules on the subject can be remarkably vague on the subject--at one point it states that “[a] distance of 320 feet or more along the foul lines, and 400 feet or more to center field is preferable,” which does little to indicate what might be allowed. This, of course, gives great latitude to ballpark designers, and they’ve taken advantage of that latitude.
Which teams and which players will get the least and most benefit of the few venues in play for October baseball?
A park factor, as used here, is a measure of how a team's home field changes their statistics. It results from a combination of many factors-the distance and height of the outfield fences, angles, foul territory, visibility, field surface, and weather, to name a few. It is not the case that the Yankees have a high park factor for home runs (PF) because the Yankees hit a lot of home runs. To get a high PF, you need to hit and allow more home runs in your home games than you do in your road games. An average effect on HR is written as '100'; a better-than-average park will score something like 120, which means they get a boost 20 percent above average, while a poor hitters' park would score 90, or 10 percent below average. Players are also graded on who has the best and worst fit to their stadium-not on how well they hit home/road, but how well their profile matches or doesn't match what the park gives.
Wrapping up the review of home-field advantages to see if there's anything extra we might be missing.
This is the fifth and final article in this series on home-field advantage. The first four parts of this series have revealed many things. In the first article of this series, we studied what home teams are able to do more frequently than road teams; we learned that they pretty much do everything better, hitting more home runs, reaching base more frequently on balls in play, walking more often, striking out less often, stealing more bases, making fewer errors, and recording more complete-game shutouts. In the second article, we learned that nearly all home teams enjoy relatively similar home-field advantages over time, with the exception of the Rockies, and that the vast majority of year-to-year fluctuations in teams' home-field advantages are random fluctuation. The third time around demonstrated the important role of distance and familiarity in determining home-field advantage, and noted that home-field advantage was much larger in interdivision games than intradivision games, and was especially large in interleague games. We discovered something quirky in the fourth article of this series, that not only was the first game of the series not any more likely to exhibit home-field advantage, but the penultimate game was. More peculiarly, it was statistically significant, indicating that it is not all that likely to be merely noise. I received many e-mails and comments suggesting reasons that this peculiar effect may be real, or expressing skepticism that it is more than merely noise. This indicates that there is probably more to be learned about home-field advantage, and more that is not immediately obvious.
The new Yankeee Stadium has received a lot of press this spring for the large number of homeruns hit there so far. On April 21, 2009, Buster Olney wrote at ESPN http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4080195 "The New York Yankees might have a serious problem on their hands: Beautiful new Yankee Stadium appears to be a veritable wind tunnel that is rocketing balls over the fences...including 17 in the first three games in the Yankees' first home series against the Indians. That's an average of five home runs per game and, at this pace, there would be about 400 homers hit in the park this year -- or an increase of about 250 percent. In the last year of old Yankee Stadium, in 2008, there were a total of 160 homers."