When we say that certain stats "stabilize" after a certain point, we don't mean that they'll stay stable.
It happens every May. Someone on your favorite team is having an uncharacteristically good (or bad) year. This year, David Wright got his groove back, while his former teammate Jose Reyes lost his way. Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Ruiz started hitting home runs for no apparent reason. For a while, Albert Pujols (!) was stuck in a very public home run drought. Early in the season, analysts and fans have learned to (properly) dismiss these runs as small sample size flukes. They’re something to keep an eye on, but... he'll be back to normal soon.
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Mike continues his investigation of HITf/x data to glean more insights into whether pitchers can prevent hits on balls in play.
In the first part of this study, I used detailed batted ball speed information from HITf/x to examine the degree of skill that batters and pitchers had in quality of contact made or allowed. Here, I will look deeper into the question of why some batted balls fall for hits and others do not.
A few weeks ago, during the division series, Brandon McCarthyremarked on Twitter that it would be more interesting for TBS to show a diagram of the batter hot and cold zones for every batter than to show the PitchTrax strike zone and pitch location graphic. He argued that knowledge of the hot and cold zones would give viewers additional insight into the battle between the pitcher and the batter.
Which pitchers prey on infield flies? Is inducing popups a repeatable skill?
Yesterday, Jason Collette penned an article about infield flies that ties in with a discussion I’ve been having over the past few weeks with one of my former writers at The Hardball Times Fantasy, Jeff Gross, and one of his readers, Alex Hambrick. Additionally, BP readers JoshC77 and kcshankd wondered in the comments section of Jason’s article whether the ability to induce infield flies was a repeatable skill for pitchers. Today, I thought I’d try to answer that question and present some of the research I’ve conducted in my conversations with Jeff and Alex.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article entitled “When Pitchers' Stats Stabilize,” in which I looked at how “stable” (or how “repeatable,” in terms of being a “skill”) a number of stats were—infield flies among them. In the article, I found that infield fly balls, as a rate of total batted balls, took roughly 0.6 years to “stabilize.” In other words, this initial research suggested that infield fly-ball rate was indeed a very repeatable skill. But in my discussions with Alex, I’ve come to suspect this may not necessarily be true—or at least not in the way my previous research suggests.
Do the Rockies have an unearned reputation as a second-half team?
On August 22, the Rockies languished 11 games behind the first-place Padres in the National League West. Tommy Bennettkept the faith despite the team’s predicament, but aside from his beard (whom I’ve anthropomorphized since our first encounter), few observers shared his belief in a rosy denouement in Denver. With a double-digit deficit in the loss column and just 39 games to play, the Rockies appeared to have gotten themselves into another nice mile-high mess.
Of course, we know what happened next: fast-forward less than four weeks, and the standings look quite a bit different: on September 18, the Rockies trailed the Padres by a single game. In retrospect, maybe we should have seen this coming. After all, the Rockies have made a habit of reeling off late-season victories in the last few years. In 2007, they famously won at a .613 clip to force a 163rdgame and earn a spot in the NLDS after a .500 first half. In 2008, the team finished with a losing record, but after going 39-57 before the All-Star break, played at a .530 pace in the second half. And finally, last season’s Rockies finished the first half six games over .500, but played .608 baseball the rest of the way. Earlier this season, the club was even criticized for its apparent unconcern, ostensibly arising from the confidence imparted by its players’ past second-half successes. Case closed, right? The Rockies are a second-half club.
Dan takes a closer look at platoon splits, responding to some questions about why splits aren't taken more seriously in sabermetric circles.
That quote is from one of my favorite authors (himself a big baseball fan), and was appropriately used by Nate Silver when he introduced the PECOTA system in the 2003 Baseball Prospectus. The concepts embodied in the quote have been on my mind the past couple of weeks, ever since I mentioned Wily Mo Pena's platoon split in my inaugural column and received a healthy dose of reader feedback.