Who's costing their team the most with their situational outs in 2013?
Occasionally I get asked why such-and-such a player has a True Average that seems out of line with what their OPS (or some other offensive rate) would suggest. There's a lot of potential answers to that -- TAv is a bit more precise in how it weights various events, and it has park and league quality adjustments. But I find that most people understand those answers pretty intuitively. There's one that seems to confuse people a bit more often.
There was some chatter on Twitter this morning about park factors, and Marc Normandin made the point that all of the most common park-adjusted offensive stats out there (TAv, OPS+, wRC+) use "generic" run-based park factors, not component park factors. (Baseball Prospectus does have component park factors which we use in PECOTA, and we use those to generate our run-based park factors, but we use run-based park factors in TAv.) Marc wondered if using one-size-fits-all rather than the component factors might lead to inaccuracies—after all, we know different parks affect different types of hitters in different ways, and our park adjustment methods here don't account for that. (Marc isn't the first to raise this point, by the way.) So why do we all do it this way?
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.
Ken checks to see how many of his pre-season Over/Unders the readers called correctly and picks the most prescient BP reader.
Last spring in this space I introduced a contest entitled “Setting The Line,” wherein I selected two key players from each American League and National League team, set a benchmark for what their 2011 season might produce in a given metric, and invited participants to select whether each player would score Over or Under that line. Now that the season is over and we are into awards season, it’s time to announce a winner. By a landslide, the most prescient prognosticator this year was Matthew Kenerly, who ran down Rex Babiera in the home stretch by choosing the correct side of the line on 39 of 50 players. No one else had more than 37 correct, so Matthew showed himself to be head-and-shoulders above the crowd and has our permission to proclaim himself the wisest of all BP readers, a title I’m sure will earn him due deference during comments section discussions throughout the coming year. Less importantly, Matthew has won himself a free copy of Baseball Prospectus 2012 with as many author signatures as I can manage to round up this spring. Well done, Matthew.
As the Cardinals and Rangers approach the end of their series, we offer a reminder to their skippers: batter-pitcher matchups aren't very predictive.
With the Cardinals facing elimination, Game Six will be an all-hands-on-deck endeavor. Both managers are scouring their rosters for any potential advantage, and as part of that effort, they’ll probably be referring to historic batter-pitcher matchups. Should La Russa lean heavily on a player like Octavio Dotel, who has historically done well against Rangers hitters like Adrian Beltre and Michael Young? Or should he opt for the players with the best overall performance, regardless of what the matchups say?
Let’s say we want to predict the outcome of a particular batter-pitcher matchup. I’m going to lean heavily on True Average, which is scaled to look like batting average but captures a player’s total batting value (so a player gets a little credit for a walk and a bit more for a single, all the way up to a home run).
Though third base is typically reserved for big boppers, you'd be excused for believing that this year's production at the hot corner was the product of shortstops.
While putting together this summer's squad of Replacement-LevelKillers, I noticed something alarming. It's been an awful year for third basemen, both in the number of marquee players who have served time on the disabled list and in terms of their overall offensive production—so bad, in fact, that as a group they're being outhit by second basemen, and are basically even with shortstops. The dreaded Chone Figgins’ return to the hot corner isn't enough to explain this phenomenon, so again I must ask: Just what in the name of Larry Wayne Jonesis going on?
Jay takes a tour around the worst outfield predicaments among contenders and how they can remedy their problems.
Continuing what we started on Friday, the Replacement-Level Killers is our semi-annual all-star team of ignominy, highlighting the positions at which poor production threatens to sink contenders, plus each team’s options as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. I've loosely defined contenders as teams no more than five games out of a playoff spot, so this turkey shoot now includes the Twins—who have won 3 of four since the All-Star break—as well as the also sub-.500 White Sox and Reds, while excluding the 47-47 Mets. Having gone around the infield and behind the plate the last time around, we turn to the outfield and designated hitter. Note that while I'm using WARP here, the criterion isn't as strict as having a WARP below zero.
Checking in on the pre-season over/unders to see who's exceeding or underperforming expectations halfway through the season.
Last spring in this space I introduced a contest entitled “Setting The Line,” wherein I selected two key players from each American League and National League team, set a benchmark for what their 2011 season might produce in a given metric, and invited participants to speculate about whether each player would score Over or Under that line. Now that we’ve reached an approximate midpoint to the season, I thought it worthwhile to take a look at where these players are compared to their set line and identify how well our readers have done at picking the over/under, both collectively and individually.
A lot of younger veterans are having huge starts to their years, but are the stat lines legit, or will they be turning back into pumpkins soon?
Last year around this time, I wrote a series of articles about the “All-Bounceback Team,” highlighting aging players who were off to such great starts that they had already provided more value than they had during the whole previous season, and predicting whether they could continue on at that level. In trying to put together a similar list this week, I noticed there are far more young veterans surpassing their recent performances than there were older veterans reclaiming their mojo. Thus, I’ve decided to use this year’s columns to identify whether these players’ performance so far points to a “Bounceback” for a veteran player, a “Breakthrough” for a young player who has never experienced much success, or is merely the “Balderdash” of small-sample success that’s doomed to erode.
Thirty players who need to step up their games in 2011.
All spring training clichés go out the window on Thursday. It will be Opening Day for 12 teams, with the other 18 beginning their seasons the following day. There will be no more talk about pitchers just getting their work in and hitters grooving their swings. Managers will no longer be talking about how the results don't matter.