In Baseball Prospectus 2003, we introduced a new rate metric in lieu of Equivalent Average (EqA), which graced the pages of previous editions. This metric, Marginal Lineup Value Rate (MLVr), measures how much offense a player produces compared to an average player. Since the publication of BP 2003, one of the most common questions I’ve received concerns what the scale of MLVr is, or in other words, what a “good” MLVr is.
As a new and unfamiliar metric, MLVr lacks the built-in recognition factor that something like EqA had, which was designed to follow the familiar batting average scale. The tradeoff, however, is that the “units” of EqA don’t measure anything–one point of EqA doesn’t equate to one run, or a tenth of a run, or a fraction of a win, or anything else that’s tangible. Equivalent Average is essentially a dimensionless index that follows offense production, but does not, by itself, measure it. Instead it’s made so that the “installed base” of baseball fans can understand it.
MLVr takes the opposite tack, choosing to express results in terms of runs per game, (and more specifically, runs per game above or below a league average player), rather than a more familiar scale. This makes it more useful for quantitative analysis, at the expense of being more opaque to casual baseball fans.
I swear I’ll quit talking about Moneyball at some point, but I honestly think it’s the Ball Four of my generation. It’s really that good. Anyway, I spoke with a friend yesterday who works in baseball, and he said something that absolutely stuck with me: “The whole book is an indictment of what we see.” And that includes injuries too–perception and accepted wisdom are sometimes tough to fight.
Something as simple as sliding is a good test. You’ll remember a couple weeks ago, I came across some research that showed head-first slides had a lesser rate of injury and an equivalent level of severity than feet-first slides. Again, what our eyes tell us is different. Tonight we have two players in key defensive positions–guys that scouts would almost universally have “great hands”–injuring their best, perhaps only, tools by sliding headfirst.
While he hasn’t done it just yet, it appears that Mike Piazza will be spending at least some time at first base this season. The Mets’ initial fumbling of the decision will push things back a couple of weeks, but the transition is coming. Piazza has fought such a move for years, but a combination of factors–including the Mets’ loss of Mo Vaughn and recent surgery that kept an otherwise healthy Piazza out of the lineup because he couldn’t squat–appear to be breaking down his resistance to the idea.
The Diamondbacks hang in the race despite losing their top three starters. Desi Relaford is having a historic season for the Royals. Brett Myers has been the victim of lousy run support. Plus more news and notes out of Arizona, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.
One of baseball’s most-mocked rules is the Infield Fly rule. Bad comedians making fun of baseball will say they understand quantum mechanics but don’t understand infield flies. Announcers frequently get it wrong, fielders don’t use it to their advantage, baserunners sometimes get confused by it. In fact, the only people who seem to consistently know what’s going on are the umpires.
There are two parts to this: An infield fly, as defined in Rule 2, and the infield fly rule, where in certain situations, the batter is declared out when he hits an infield fly, to remove the force play. With zero or one out and runners on first and second, or first, second, and third, when a ball is popped up, and the umpire declares the ball an infield fly, the batter is out no matter what happens. This is 6.05 (e): No force is on, so the infield can’t slyly let the ball tick off a glove and try to force the runners into a double or triple play. The runners can frolic about how ever they like–tagging up to try and run if it’s caught, or running on the chance it will drop–but they usually just stand on the bag and wait for the next batter to come up. Sometimes, though, things go wrong.
Tuesday night, we got to see a great example in the Giants-Expos game.