What teams (and other researchers) can do to find out what makes their prospects tick.
Time to put on my other hat. Let's leave the wonderful world of sabermetrics behind for a few minutes and venture into the world of psychometrics. In one of my former lives, I conducted (neuro)psychological testing, mostly on children and adolescents, as part of my graduate school requirements. I'm proud to say that I administered the Rorschach only once. Because they made me.
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How reading a pitcher is like reading a book, and why being self-conscious can make you bad at baseball.
Last week, I began a series on player development and what a stathead like me can say about how to assess a player's progress. One of the most maddening things about baseball fandom (and, um, on the inside of the game too) is when prospects who are supposed to take the team into a brave new era don't pan out. Every team has "the name that shall not be uttered" in polite company. He was a can't-miss blue-chipper whom everyone figured would be the next Willie Mays. Except that he turned into the next Willie Bloomquist.
Closers are unusually erratic when they're faced with an unexpected save situation, but are they any less effective?
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at what happens when a closer enters the game in a save situation after his team has handed him a lead with little warning. What we saw was that when a pitcher had only a short time between his team giving him the lead and his first pitch, his velocity and break tended to be a bit more erratic. The effect seemed biggest when the transition from lead to closing situation was near instant, but it quickly fell away and then died out completely around 15 minutes of warning time.
Rather than rushing to judgment when a team makes a move, take a moment to consider what you might be missing.
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.
Jason Wojciechowski is the founder and sole author of Beaneball, a blog about the A’s. He also contributes to The Platoon Advantage on more general baseball topics. His college thesis was in computational number theory but he is now a labor lawyer with a Twitter addiction (@jlwoj).
Putting a big chill on the hot-hand theory of player performance at the plate.
Flash forward to July, 2010, as Prince Fielder is being interviewed after a Brewers win. Fielder has just gone 4-for-5 with two home runs, and the announcers tell Fielder that he’s gone 9-for-his-last-12 over the past few days. Fielder says, "Yeah, I’ve been feeling great and seeing the ball really clearly the past few days. Some days, you just see the ball better than others."
A good chunk of what passes as mainstream baseball analysis is actually a mish-mosh of half-true folk wisdom, overly-romantic ideas stolen from Hollywood, and (most grating to my ears) really bad amateur psychology. How's that for a thesis statement?
An initial look at the extent of the home-field advantage in terms of its incidence on in-game results.
In every sport and at every level, the home team wins more games than the visiting team. While this is true in baseball, it's less the case than in other sports. Throughout baseball history, the home team has won approximately 54 percent of the games played. Nearly every aspect of the game has changed drastically over the last century, but home-field advantage has barely changed at all. Consider the home-field advantage in each decade since 1901:
Bob Tewksbury, former major league pitcher and current Red Sox sport psychology coach, discusses how the mental aspect of the game can affect on-field performance, and how that mental aspect can be altered for the better.
Known for having outstanding control, Tewksbury spent 13 seasons as a big league pitcher, compiling a career record of 110-102 with six teams. Originally with the Yankees, he had his best season in 1992 when he went 16-5 with a 2.16 ERA for St. Louis. After retiring, Tewksbury received a Master's Degree in Sport Psychology and Counseling from Boston University. A player development consultant for the Red Sox in 2004, he has been in his current role since 2005.