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02-07

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3

Painting the Black: The Two-Strike Hitting Skill
by
R.J. Anderson

09-30

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21

Baseball ProGUESTus: A New Take on Plate Discipline--Redefining the Zone
by
Matt Lentzner

09-24

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71

Spinning Yarn: Removing the Mask Encore Presentation
by
Mike Fast

09-07

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13

Spinning Yarn: Home Plate Umpire Positioning
by
Mike Fast

07-20

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14

Spinning Yarn: A Zone of Their Own
by
Mike Fast

06-01

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6

Spinning Yarn: The Real Strike Zone, Part 2
by
Mike Fast

02-16

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59

Spinning Yarn: The Real Strike Zone
by
Mike Fast

10-01

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4

Ahead in the Count: Pitch Data and Walks
by
Matt Swartz

09-24

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12

Ahead in the Count: Predicting Strikeouts with Whiff and Swing Rates
by
Matt Swartz

07-13

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46

Prospectus Idol Entry: Balls and Strikes, Walks and Strikeouts
by
Brian Cartwright

05-24

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31

Prospectus Idol Entry: The Importance of Throwing First Pitch Strikes
by
Brian Oakchunas

05-01

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8

Checking the Numbers: Whiffery
by
Eric Seidman

10-25

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Free Stuff and the Men in Blue
by
Dan Fox

08-05

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Brian Bannister
by
David Laurila

07-27

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0

Lies, Damned Lies: Fixing It
by
Nate Silver

06-28

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Playing Favorites
by
Dan Fox

06-14

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: The Science and Art of Building a Better Pitcher Profile
by
Dan Fox

06-07

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Gameday Triple Play
by
Dan Fox

05-24

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0

Schrodinger's Bat: Batter Versus Pitcher, Gameday Style
by
Dan Fox

12-17

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Ivan Santucci
by
Nathan Fox

07-30

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0

Lies, Damned Lies: Leading Off
by
Nate Silver

05-16

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0

Box Lunch: Balls, Strikes, and the Reds' Win Streak
by
Keith Scherer

04-10

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0

Box Lunch: The Week in Box Scores
by
Keith Scherer

09-03

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0

The Week in Quotes: August 26-September 1
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-03

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0

Prospectus Roundtable: Strike's End
by
Baseball Prospectus

08-07

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0

The Daily Prospectus: Optimism
by
Joe Sheehan

07-18

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0

The Daily Prospectus: Leverage
by
Joe Sheehan

07-18

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0

The Daily Prospectus: Leverage
by
Joe Sheehan

06-28

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0

Analyze This: Starting Over
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-27

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0

Aim For The Head: Feedback
by
Keith Woolner

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Postseason umpiring and an early holiday present for our readers.

"When you get right down to it, no corner of American culture is more precisely counted, more passionately quantified, than the performance of baseball players."
--Alan Schwarz, from the introduction to The Numbers Game

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August 5, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Brian Bannister

0

David Laurila

Sitting down to talk about pitching with the Royals rotation regular.

Brian Bannister is a thinking man's pitcher. Known more for his guile and pitching acumen than for his stuff, the 26-year-old right-hander has established himself as a mainstay in the Royals starting rotation in his first full major league season. Originally a seventh-round pick by the Mets in 2003, Bannister was acquired from them last December in exchange for reliever Ambiorix Burgos. The son of former big league pitcher Floyd Bannister, the USC product has started 17 games for Kansas City and is 7-6, 3.45 in 107 innings.

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July 27, 2007 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Fixing It

0

Nate Silver

Could a Donaghy scenario happen in baseball?

Baseball must be toasting this week's sports pages over glasses of vodka and schadenfreude. Last Friday, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was implicated in a betting scandal. On Wednesday, Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen, under heavy suspicion of doping, was kicked out of the race by his own team. And on Thursday, Michael Vick was scrambling away from reporters in a federal courthouse, rather than opposing linebackers on the field.

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Parsing the data can help us address questions of bias among umpires in calling balls and strikes.

Bias in sports officiating isn't a topic to be taken lightly, and one need only recall the recent furor over a New York Times article written by Alan Schwarz, where he reported a study on racial bias in the officiating of NBA Games. But as discussed in this space a month ago, PITCHf/x data does give us a limited window into asking questions about how players are treated by umpires; today, we'll continue trekking through this new world and see what we can learn about pitchers, hitters, and the umpires who like them, like Ron Luciano with Rod Carew.

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Popping the hood on King Felix as a demonstration of what's possible with PITCHf/x data

"Hell, yeah, I want to throw that pitch. They don't let me, though. They tell me I'm too young, that it's bad for my elbow. I told them I want to throw it."
--Felix Hernandez talking about his slider before the 2006 season


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How different ballparks affect velocity, whether pitchers use the fastball more early in games, and the challenge of quantifying plate discipline.

"Plate discipline though is difficult to measure. Good plate discipline can mean swinging at the first pitch, fouling off the fifth, taking the tenth; it's about hitting when it's possible to do so and walking when not. If it's possible to hit, a walk is a relative failure. Ultimately though, because information as to just how many juicy pitches players swing at and how many unhittable ones they take is non-existent, though walks are an imperfect measure, they will have to do."
--John Hill writing for The Cub Reporter weblog in 2005


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Evaluating the strike zone, the umpires, and some large-scale issues with a tremendous new tool.

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
--Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, said by the King to the White Rabbit


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December 17, 2003 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Ivan Santucci

0

Nathan Fox

Ivan Santucci, 32, is project manager for the Umpire Information System (UIS) created and administered by QuesTec, Inc., of Deer Park, N.Y. He manages technical issues, training, installations, upgrades, and maintenance in the U.S., Korea, and Japan. He's on the road for 80 percent of the regular season, but when he's at home (down Beacon Street from Fenway Park) Santucci is also one of three QuesTec technicians who handle the pitch-by-pitch UIS duties for home Red Sox games. The UIS, which has been a topic of much controversy in its brief MLB lifespan, is a system of video cameras used to evaluate umpires' strike zone accuracy. Baseball Prospectus interviewed Santucci in a series of emails before and during the 2003 winter meetings.

The UIS, which has been a topic of much controversy in its brief MLB lifespan, is a system of video cameras used to evaluate umpires' strike zone accuracy. Baseball Prospectus interviewed Santucci in a series of emails before and during the 2003 winter meetings.

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July 30, 2003 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Leading Off

0

Nate Silver

One of the perks of traveling for work--I've been doing a lot of that lately--is the USA Today planted in front of your hotel room door. Sure, for the most part, McPaper's articles are about as substantive as the "continental breakfast" you're likely to eat while reading it--but now and then, in its own glossy, Technicolor way, USA Today stumbles across something significant. Last Wednesday's sports page featured a headline on leadoff hitters--it seems that there aren't very many good ones these days. As the article pointed out, none of the league's leadoff hitters are among the top 30 players in OBP. Among qualified players, the highest-ranking leadoff hitter is Ichiro Suzuki, 39th as of this writing (Jason Kendall, who has occupied the leadoff spot in Pittsburgh since the departure of Kenny Lofton, ranks 31st). And it's not as if Suzuki or Kendall are walking machines in the mold of Rickey Henderson--Ichiro is a fine player who can hit .340 consistently, but his walk rate is well below league average, while Kendall's OBP is boosted in part by his fearless desire to lean into pitches. Then again, players of the Rickey/Tim Raines profile have never been terribly common. It also doesn't help when teams insist on placing mediocrities like Eric Young or Endy Chavez in the one-hole. Is anything going on here, apart from a one-year fluke?

Last Wednesday's sports page featured a headline on leadoff hitters--it seems that there aren't very many good ones these days. As the article pointed out, none of the league's leadoff hitters are among the top 30 players in OBP. Among qualified players, the highest-ranking leadoff hitter is Ichiro Suzuki, 39th as of this writing (Jason Kendall, who has occupied the leadoff spot in Pittsburgh since the departure of Kenny Lofton, ranks 31st). And it's not as if Suzuki or Kendall are walking machines in the mold of Rickey Henderson--Ichiro is a fine player who can hit .340 consistently, but his walk rate is well below league average, while Kendall's OBP is boosted in part by his fearless desire to lean into pitches.

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Why have Cincinnati's pitchers done poorly? The ball-strike count plays a big part. In a previous column, I noted that the Reds' strike rate was tracking with their wins and losses. This is an essay about the importance of strike rates, but let me get the caveat out of the way: Strike rates play a big part, but of course they don't explain everything. High strike rates don't necessarily mean success. Brian Anderson rarely gives up walks, but he gets hit hard. That said, strike rates have a big influence on outcomes. Pitchers and batters alter their approach to an at-bat on where they are in the count. Whether or not a pitcher works ahead in the count and can use his whole repertoire matters, and it matters whether a batter has to protect the plate because he's behind in the count. Strikes reflect how well a pitcher controls a game. What might surprise a lot of people is that there is no official method of scoring balls and strikes, just as there is no official way to publish a box score. You won't find anything in chapter 10 of the official rules on box score formats or ball-strike tabulations. There is no official method, but for both box scores and pitch scoring there is a customary, standard way of doing things. Under the standard, swinging strikes, called strikes, foul balls on full counts, and balls in play are counted as Strikes. All balls, including those thrown for pitchouts and intentional walks, are counted as Balls. As strikes are recorded now, a called third strike is no different than a 500-foot homer. An intentional ball is no different than a wild pitch.

This is where the Pythagorean record comes in handy. The Reds are actually 21-19, but their expected record is 16-24; because no matter how good their hitting has been, their pitching has been much worse. Going forward, the expected record is the better indication of how the Reds will finish the season.

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Keith Scherer kicks off the first in a weekly series looking at box scores from the past seven days. In his review of the boxes, he'll scan for trends and tendencies, using the names and digits you see in agate type every day.

April 1

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"Now I'm kind of wondering what's next. I went to sleep with `Karate Kid' and woke up to Peter Gammons, which was a little frightening." --Doug Mientkiewicz, Twins infielder, on falling asleep in front of his TV Thursday August 29th

THE NIGHT BEFORE STRIKE DATE

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