How much hidden value does a multi-position player add?
Last week, I began discussing a question that has puzzled the sabermetric communityfor a while. How do we put a value on a player's ability to play multiple positions? Most teams have guys who are capable of pulling duty at several places on the field, but they are bench/utility players who serve as backups. What to make of the player who hits well enough to be a starter and fields well enough at multiple positions to be worth starting there?
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Smoking cigarettes is bad for your health. This is not a secret. Six-year-olds know that. And smoking is not just bad, it's really super-duper bad for you. Yet, tobacco companies aren't going out of business any time soon. There are millions of smokers in the United States and more start each day, even knowing all the risks. Why?
Breaking down the debate about sabermetrics between Brian Kenny and Hawk Harrelson.
I don’t know how we got to this point, but the long-awaited grudge match between White Sox color commentator Hawk Harrelson and MLB Network broadcaster Brian Kenny (with occasional contributions from Harold Reynolds) took place last night. Everyone was polite, nobody got sent to the hospital, and Hawk launched a thousand indignant tweets. You can see the whole thing through the miracle of YouTube, if you have ten minutes to spare for Hawk to say five minutes’ worth of sentences twice:
On Wednesday, the St. Paul Pioneer Presspublished a piece by Mike Berardino about how the Twins—well, more like one full-time employee of the Twins—are starting to explore sabermetrics. It's worth a read. The article won't leave you with the sense that the Twins are anywhere close to the cutting edge, relative to teams that aren't the Phillies, but at least they're not opposed to the idea of incorporating statistics into their decision making.
On Thursday, R.J. Andersonposted about apair of Washington Post stories on the Washington Nationals’ analytics department. The Nats don’t have the most analytics-intensive front office out there; even their head stat guy acknowledges that they’re a “scouting-first organization.” But they do have a GM who pays lip service to the value of sabermetrics, a budget that allows them to build databases, and at least a couple of full-time employees doing the things analytics-heavy organizations do. As Post author Adam Kilgore put it, while they may be “scouting-first,” they’re not “scouts-only.”
Gold Glove voting is getting a statistical side. Is that something to celebrate?
So we won this weekend. At least I think we won. At least I think they told me we won.
It was announced that the Gold Glove Awards will add a metric component to the traditional voting of major-league managers and coaches, a presumed victory for everyone who prefers the analytical and objective over the judgment of the human eye.
At the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, the Indians introduce a new sort of sabermetrics, without some of the usual secrecy.
Among the attendees of the second annual SABR Analytics Conference, which took place in Phoenix this past Thursday through Saturday, were statistical analysts from several clubs; some whose names you’d know from Baseball Prospectus or other sabermetric sites, and others who’ve kept a lower public profile. But with the exception of Bill James, whose stature is such that he can continue to play a public role even from the inside, the team statheads weren’t at SABR to take part in panels or present PowerPoint slides. They were there to keep their eyes and ears open for any ideas or developments that might give their employers an edge.
They sat silently in the back rows of conference rooms, or clustered together outside the exits with other delegates from their own clubs, talking quietly or sending messages back to base with their omnipresent phones. Occasionally, one team’s cluster would meet and merge with another’s, chatting amiably like less athletic versions of opposing players crossing paths before first pitch. But even (or especially) among their own kind, their words were guarded: they talked shop without citing specifics. As Zachary Levinewrote last week after returning from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, team employees tell few tales.
Ben and Sam discuss Ben's trip to Phoenix for the SABR Analytics Conference, covering the sabermetrics of marketing, clubhouse chemistry, knuckleballers, bullpen usage, the WBC, Kyle Lohse, and other topics along the way.
Is the dispute between statheads and those who prefer traditional metrics mostly a matter of semantics?
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.
David Murphy covers the Phillies for the Philadelphia Daily News at High Cheese. You can follow him on Twitter @HighCheese.
Are sabermetricians too willing to blame their own mistakes on bad luck?
Well, this year's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has come and gone, and I wasn't able to attend. Worse, I couldn't go to the SABR Analytics Conference either. Of course, I've followed along as best as I could, but there's no substitute for actually being in the room.
We know the Twins use PITCHf/x data. That's about it.
The Twins use sabermetrics. That is the takeaway from Parker Hageman’s interesting Twins Daily piece on Minnesota’s quantitative analysis. Hageman quotes Jack Goin, Minnesota’s Manager of Major League Administration and Baseball Research (and ostensibly the club’s lead quant), throughout the article. Here are some highlights: