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Do pitchers get worse at the plate the more time they spend in the minor leagues?

One of the most-used arguments in favor of extending the DH rule to the National League is that the sight of a pitcher flailing about with a bat in his hands every two or three innings isn’t anyone’s idea of competition at the highest levels. This argument can be countered in several ways.

One could be the following: pitchers aren’t much worse at hitting than some oversized sluggers are at circling the bases (notice how I avoided using the word “running”). So why not make baseball a bit more like football? You could have a defensive unit and an offensive one, plus the special teams (the runners). That way, we would always see the best performers in each aspect of the game.

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You might not know it from watching the World Series, but it often makes sense for a manager to pinch hit for his starter before the late innings.

Believe it or not, 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.

Mitchel Lichtman, or MGL, has been doing sabermetric research and writing for over 20 years. He is one of the authors of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, and co-hosts The Book blog, www.insidethebook.com. He consulted for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2004 to 2006, as well as other major-league teams. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Nevada Boyd School of Law. Most of the time these days you can find him on the golf course.


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How having to hit or run the bases affects pitching performance in DH-less ballgames.

Let's play myth-busters, shall we?

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September 7, 2009 4:23 pm

Checking the Numbers: Pujols and the Simulation Gauntlet

9

Eric Seidman

So, how unlikely is unlikely as far as that bid for the Triple Crown goes, anyway?

While scoping out the season of the one and only Albert Pujols a couple of weeks ago, I attempted to quantify his chances of attaining the Triple Crown. At the time, Pujols led his league in dingers, stood deadlocked in the RBI race with Prince Fielder, and trailed Hanley Ramirez in batting average by a rather large margin. The methodology implemented in that piece was back-of-the-envelope at best, as the dependency of the inherent variables should have precluded the multiplication of separate probabilities. Since home runs automatically correlate to runs batted in as well as batting average, and because a higher batting average would, in theory, lead to more steaks, the three legs of the race are not independent of one another and therefore cannot be multiplied together to determine the Triple Crown likelihood. Though a more accurate process is unlikely to yield drastically different results than the 0.74 percent I found initially, the perfectionist in me felt it necessary to re-run the numbers through a more complex and accurate simulation in order to determine Pujols' chances.

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Explaining where we're at with DIPS, BABIP, and how much you can blame the pitcher for anything in particular.

"Twenty-five hits a year in 500 at-bats is fifty points. Okay? There's six months in a season, that's about 25 weeks. You get one extra flare a week-just one, a gork, a ground ball with eyes, a dying quail-just one more dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium!"
--Ron Shelton, Bull Durham

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October 16, 2006 12:00 am

Future Shock: Monday Morning Ten-Pack

0

Kevin Goldstein

Kevin checks out the newsmakers in the winter leagues.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160988517_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 16, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: LCS, Day Six

0

Joe Sheehan

Our servers, like the Cardinals bullpen and the A's, crashed. Only two of those get to come back.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1161098296_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 14, 2006 12:00 am

Future Shock: Where Did the Tigers and the Athletics Come From?

0

Kevin Goldstein

Even Alexis Gomez came from somewhere (Kansas City). Kevin tells us how the Tigers and A's acquired the rest of their postseason difference-makers.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160846402_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 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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The Mets and Cardinals finally got underway in a game that no player on either team had the biggest effect on.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160760884_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 12, 2006 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: The Games Go On

0

Joe Sheehan

The death of Cory Lidle cast a pall over the League Championship Series, but baseball marches on.

\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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_19 = 'Support Neutral Lineup-adjusted Value Added (SNVA adjusted for the MLVr of batters faced) per game pitched.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_21 = 'The percentage of double play opportunities turned into actual double plays by a pitcher or hitter.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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).'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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. '; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_25 = 'Batting average (hitters) or batting average allowed (pitchers).'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_26 = 'Average number of pitches per start.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_27 = 'Average Pitcher Abuse Points per game started.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_28 = 'Singles or singles allowed.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_29 = 'Batting average; hits divided by at-bats.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_30 = 'Percentage of pitches thrown for balls.'; xxxpxxxxx1160675929_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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