Silicone. Margarine. O’Doul’s. Why fool around with watered-down imitations when you’ve got the real thing ready and available?
Rightly or wrongly, a lot of attention has been focused on pitch counts in the past several years. That’s partly because of the efforts of people like Rob Neyer, Keith Woolner, and Will Carroll, not to mention those coaches, executives and agents who understand the importance of protecting their golden-armed investments. Pitch counts have become easy to take for granted because pitch count data is more readily available now than it ever was in the past. These days, just about any self-respecting box score lists pitch counts alongside the rest of a pitcher’s line, a far cry from the dirty newsprint days of yore, when pitch count references were about as common as mentions of Reality TV or the Information Superhighway.
But what about when you don’t have pitch count information available? Like, say, you’re at a ballgame, and wondering whether Dusty Baker should send Kerry Wood out for another inning? Or you’re perusing through minor league stats? Or you’re looking at old boxes on Retrosheet, which wonderful as they might be (this, folks, was the first game I ever attended), don’t contain any information on pitch counts?
Well, it turns out that it’s not that difficult to make a reasonable guess at pitch counts based on other information that’s much easier to come by. Looking at a complete set of data from the 2001 and 2002 seasons as provided by Keith Woolner, I ran a simple linear regression of pitches thrown against various other characteristics of a pitcher’s stat line. Here was the formula that I came up with:
In last week’s 6-4-3, Gary Huckabay wrote about the fact that our perceptions are more often colored by the way information is presented than by the substance of the information itself. There are plenty of examples of this, drawn both from the ballpark and the world at large. Get your hands on most any media guide, and you’re sure to see the familiar rotisserie categories–batting average, home runs, RBI–presented prominently in bold face. Now, a typical media guide runs about 400 pages, and there’s plenty of information to go around, ranging from the trivial (Mike Lincoln’s career ERA at Busch Stadium is 14.29) to the frivolous (Joe Borowski’s wife is named Tatum). Thus, should it really be that much of a surprise to find out that in the thick of that pulp forest, the people who rely on media guides to grab information on the fly–like beat writers pushing on a deadline and radio announcers trying to keep a cadence–gravitate toward those bits of knowledge that are literally staring them boldly in the face?
What’s the best pitcher in the world worth?
Let’s imagine for a moment that Pedro was right now putting his 2004 services up on the open market. Of course, that’s not what he’s doing–but indulge me for a moment.
Nate Silver examines PECOTA’s five-year forecasts. Guess who PECOTA picks as baseball’s MVP over the next five years. You’ll be surprised.
The nerdiest part of our preseason blitzkrieg, this is the second of two articles describing the final standings in each league as compiled based on our PECOTA forecasts.
What happens when Nate Silver’s PECOTA system joins forces with Jonah Keri’s boundless energy and Will Carroll’s injury encyclopedia? You get a killer roto team…maybe. Read on to see how BP fared at this year’s Tout Wars National League draft.
Fresh off PECOTA’s maiden voyage into rotoland, Nate Silver publishes the PECOTA-generated roto values used by the BP team at the recent Tout Wars National League draft. Hint: pay the premium for studs.
After using PECOTA-generated roto values at the recent Tout Wars National League draft, Nate Silver runs the numbers to produce values for the AL. Hint: as in the NL, pay the premium for studs. And do everything you can to get Pedro.
The PECOTA system acknowledges that there is a wide range of variance intrinsic to any set of forecasts. What’s more, there’s no reason to expect that this variance will be unrelated to the team that a player toils for. On the contrary, there are myriad anecdotal examples of entire teams who routinely fall toward the top or the bottom of their forecast range. Under Dusty Baker, the Giants have consistently gotten more production than would reasonably be expected from a set of thirtysomethings. Under Leo Mazzone, the Braves have consistently turned waiver wire fodder into good or even great bullpen arms.
Indeed, it’s possible to conjure up an argument like that for just about every team, and some of the time, you won’t even be BSing. Translating player projections into team forecasts is an exercise that caters mostly to the left side of the brain; you’re sure to see some more creative solutions in the coming days as we publish the BP author forecasts, crazed opium dreams like the Cubs taking the pennant. I have myself deviated from the HAL 9000 version in quite a number of cases. Nevertheless, we’ve never had anything quite like PECOTA before, and it’s worth seeing what it has to say.
Moving a top-notch reliever into the starting rotation is neither a new nor a particularly unusual idea. The Indians and Orioles experimented with moving Hoyt Wilhelm into a starting role in 1958, which culminated in a nationally televised no-hitter. Bill Lee and Wilbur Wood began their major league careers as relievers; Goose Gossage received a one-year trial as a starter; Rick Aguilera logged 89 career starts. Derek Lowe, of course, made a successful conversion last year, which may have helped assuage any misgivings on the parts of Bowden and Garagiola.
What’s interesting about this year’s guinea pigs is that Graves and Kim are radically different pitchers. Both were born in the Far East and allow very few home runs; that’s where the similarities end. Graves, statistically speaking, is a finesse pitcher–perhaps the most successful finesse closer since the beloved Dan Quisenberry. Kim is a fire-and-brimstone submariner, striking out a quarter of the batters he faces, sometimes at the cost of allowing others too many free passes.
Do day games really set the Cubs up for failure? To answer the question, I consulted Retrosheet game logs for each game played from 1997 to 2001 (Retrosheet doesn’t have the 2002 data ready just yet). The first series of numbers I ran looked at every team except for the Cubs, with data broken down between day and night games, as well as various permutations on what the team’s schedule had been like on the previous day (afternoon game on the road, and so forth). In the table below, I’ve provided the home team’s winning percentage based on each condition.
Between a careful analysis of what data is available, the creative use of proxy variables in estimating injuries throughout time, and the application of some principles of sports medicine, we are at least in a position to make some educated guesses about the nature of pitcher injuries. Our particular focus in this article will be the progression of pitcher injury rates by age.
Pitching is an unnatural act that invites injury. The stress it places on the
bones of the shoulder, arm, and back is immense. The strain it places on the 36
muscles that attach to the humerus, clavicle, and scapula is remarkable. It is
widely accepted by sports medicine practitioners that every pitch causes at
least some amount of damage to the system.
There is enough evidence to perform at least an exploratory empirical analysis of what types of skills are best accentuated by Coors Field.
As pitchers and catchers report to sunny climes this week–soon to be joined by hitters, beer vendors, and spring breakers–much will be made of the battle for the five slots in the New York Yankees’ starting rotation.
No, the most contentious sports battles of February are fought not in football rinks or hockey stadiums, but in hotel conference rooms in Tampa and Phoenix, where owners and agents will square off against one another all month long in a series of arbitration hearings that will be fully nasty enough to recall the high period of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circuit, except without quite as much hair-pulling.