julien's baseball blog

Some moves are slightly good. Some moves are slightly bad. I tell you about them.
Friday, January 30, 2004
 
the world wide web
aaron gleeman did a january 29th article on the yankees' infield. it's his usual mix of sabermetric party line and crap.

glaring mistakes:



cannons: nomar, raffy, mini-raffy, others.

and jason giambi has been better than average for four years in a row. but gleeman's not all bad. he made a nice observation about kevin brown (groundball pitcher + horrible infield = era explosion), and the column before that is a good take on the smoltz/eckersley comparison. he underrates their difference as starters, though.
 
third-baselessness
rotoworld:



by the win shares system, sheff was the second-best fielding third-baseman in the national league in 1992, with 5.74 win shares in 1247.2 innings. terry pendleton had 6.26 win shares in 1389.0 innings. those of you who have the lightning calculator advantage have already figured out that sheff had more win shares per 1000 innings: 4.60 to 4.51. tim wallach had 6.09 ws/1000, but he only played 700.2 innings. you know what, from now on, i'm gonna call that 700.7 innings. i refuse to use a number system that switches from base 10 to base 3 at the decimal point. unless it takes a lot of work. i refuse to do a lot of work.

actually, it wouldn't be a decimal point, would it? it would be a decimal/tricycle point, or something.

getting back to the subject at hand, clay davenport has mr sheffield at 25 runs above replacement in 1992. as fun as it is to bash rotoworld, i must admit that he was terrible the other years. i take consolation: 1992 was not sheff's last year at third. 1993 was.

did we learn anything here? i'm gonna say yes.

no, kidding aside, this is an excellent illustration: defense is not only the most difficult thing to measure, but also the most variable. why? the data come entirely from balls in play. do not taunt happy fun ball.

actual (real) good fielders: terry pendleton, tim wallach, charlie hayes, ken caminiti, robin ventura, gary gaetti, wade boggs.

previous generation: mike schmidt, graig nettles, darrell evans, ron santo, brooks robinson, two guys named boyer.
Saturday, January 24, 2004
 
do you wanna get . . . high?
i was hoping someone would ask about this:



coors field has come up a lot here lately, and in my usual shoot-from-the-hip style i said the following:

"coors field, for example, has more of an effect on obp than slg."

many of you (ok, one or two of you) probably wrote my off as a crackpot. fortunately, the other person who red the post decided to ask why. so now i have an opportunity to defend myself. let's see if i can do it.

first off, let's specify what we mean by "more of an effect". slg has more variance than obp, so it may seem like it's changing more when it's not. let's think about it this way: how much does a replacement player's slg have to change to put him in the top 20 (say)?

there are 254 regular hitter positions in the major leagues, but only 164 qualified for the batting title. ok forget this replacement player stuff. let's just say "what's the difference between the 100th-best player and the 20th-best player?" the 100th best ops is wes helms, at .261/.330/.450. that's not important, though. let's do a table.


stat 100thbest 20thbest diff
obp .339 .396 .057
slg .440 .541 .101


before we get too into this, phil, let me respond to your specific claim, viz: ". . . obp is raised by walks and such . . . which coors doesn't have any bearing on." one of the early things you'll notice when you start getting into park effects is that different parks do have a different effect on walks, and even such things as stolen bases, which is really counterintuitive. coors field has the most extreme walk effects in the majors, in fact. in my jan 14 article, i observe that rockies hitters had 329 bb and 2749 ab at home in 2003, 290/2769 on the road. those approximate to wal's of .107 and .095.

it's not walks, though, that cause the increase in obp. it's hits. let's get back to our table. i think it's fair to say that slg has a variance of about twice that of obp. that's michael young at # 100 (obp), followed by his teammate alex rodriguez at #20. the major league leader was barry bonds, at .529. that's why we use #20 instead of #1. second place was todd helton at .458, and then another drop to the best non-altitude obp by a mortal, which was albert pujols' .439. using these numbers makes everything screwy.

in slg, we had carlos pena at #100, garrett anderson at #20. barry bonds is the leader, at .749, followed by that pujols guy (.667) and that helton guy (.630). blah blah blah.

time for more numbers:


rockies avg/obp/slg
total .267/.344/.445
home .294/.372/.503
road .239/.316/.388


first of all, look at how terrible the rockies hitters are on the road. now let's talk business. the difference between home and road obp's is .056. the difference in slg's is .115. that's almost exactly twice, which equals our variance.

so i barely avoided an outright lie. but what's amazing is how close to truth i was. people talk and talk about the home runs, and to a lesser extent the doubles, but what they leave out is the pure volume of hits. look at those batting averages. on the road, rockies hitters were terrible in 2003. and they were great at home. half of the slugging increase comes from batting average alone.

here's the other thing: if you were to say the effect on run scoring at coors field is more due to obp than slg, you would be 100% correct. why? because obp is more important than slg. about twice as important, in fact. so the coors funhouse effect is twice as much dependent on obp than slg. more, even, because as obp increases, its importance increases. think about it: if you have an obp of 1.000, it doesn't matter what your slg is: you score an infinite number of runs. so colorado is actually more than twice as much due to obp than slg.

this is really really surprising, and it shows that the rockies have no idea how to win at altitude. here is what i was trying to get at with my bold statement: that the colorado run explosion is not due to the increase in power, it's due to the increase in contact. obviously it's both, but it's more contact. what the rockies do is acquire people who already make contact, thinking the power increase will help them the most. but these are the players who are helped the least. the rockies current strategy is the worst possible strategy they could have. that's what that means. the players they should be acquiring are people who have trouble with contact. people like preson wilson. right, they did acquire him. good move. another good move is jeromy burnitz. hear me now and believe me later.

maybe the rocks are finally catching on. but they sign people like vinny castilla, who already makes good contact, and royce clayton. you know, royce might work out:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1991 21 26 1 6 0 .037 .769 .050
1992 22 323 26 63 4 .074 .805 .058
1993 23 556 43 91 6 .072 .836 .069
1994 24 387 33 74 3 .079 .809 .073
1995 25 512 41 109 5 .074 .787 .092
1996 26 495 34 89 6 .064 .820 .074
1997 27 581 36 109 9 .058 .812 .112
1998 28 189 14 32 5 .069 .831 .115
1998 28 357 42 51 4 .105 .857 .078
1999 29 468 43 100 14 .084 .786 .109
2000 30 516 45 92 14 .080 .822 .094
2001 31 440 36 72 9 .076 .836 .092
2002 32 346 23 67 7 .062 .806 .082
1998 28 546 56 83 9 .093 .848 .091
2003 33 487 52 92 11 .096 .811 .071


his contact is worse than i thought, and his power is just enough that he might be helped. there's a certain threshold below which coors cannot help you. juan pierre was not helped. he's a slap-and-run hitter, and his contact cannot improve:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
2000 23 201 14 15 0 .065 .925 .011
2001 24 618 51 29 2 .076 .953 .066
2002 25 592 40 52 1 .063 .912 .048
2003 26 671 60 35 1 .082 .948 .057


what the rockies should do is agressively pursue high-wal, low-con, high-pow guys, like adam dunn. for more on contact and coors, see my jan 14 article, which i link for the third time here. also, you should know that pitchers are way different, for reasons i may get into later, but suffice it to say that the rockies want people as much like curt schilling as they can find. for now, i bury you with numbers.

adam dunn:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
2001 22 244 42 74 19 .147 .697 .224
2002 23 538 137 170 26 .203 .684 .152
2003 24 385 84 126 27 .179 .673 .154


another guy they could use is russ branyan:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1998 23 4 0 2 0 .000 .500 .000
1999 24 38 4 19 1 .095 .500 .158
2000 25 194 26 76 16 .118 .608 .212
2001 26 320 41 132 20 .114 .588 .202
2002 27 382 53 151 24 .122 .605 .165
2003 28 177 28 69 9 .137 .610 .194


the other thing the rockies should do is trade todd helton. he is not helped as much by altitude; he's just a great hitter:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1997 24 93 8 11 5 .079 .882 .098
1998 25 535 59 54 25 .099 .899 .131
1999 26 582 74 77 35 .113 .868 .156
2000 27 590 107 61 42 .154 .897 .195
2001 28 592 103 104 49 .148 .824 .215
2002 29 563 104 91 30 .156 .838 .155
2003 30 590 113 72 33 .161 .878 .168


his con is already high. with his low contract, they should be able to get jim thome and prospects in a trade that would help both teams.

jim thome:


year age team aab w k hr wal con pow
1991 21 CLE 98 6 16 1 .058 .837 .085
1992 22 CLE 119 12 34 2 .092 .714 .071
1993 23 CLE 159 33 36 7 .172 .774 .146
1994 24 CLE 322 46 84 20 .125 .739 .172
1995 25 CLE 455 102 113 25 .183 .752 .167
1996 26 CLE 507 129 141 38 .203 .722 .194
1997 27 CLE 504 123 146 40 .196 .710 .182
1998 28 CLE 444 93 141 30 .173 .682 .218
1999 29 CLE 498 131 171 33 .208 .657 .190
2000 30 CLE 562 122 171 37 .178 .696 .182
2001 31 CLE 529 115 185 49 .179 .650 .221
2002 32 CLE 486 127 139 52 .207 .714 .210
2003 33 PHI 583 115 182 47 .165 .688 .200


let's close with a look at past rockies who saw their con jump. first, andres galarraga:


year age team aab w k hr wal con pow
1985 24 MON 75 4 18 2 .051 .760 .053
1986 25 MON 322 33 79 10 .093 .755 .095
1987 26 MON 555 51 127 13 .084 .771 .131
1988 27 MON 612 49 153 29 .074 .750 .172
1989 28 MON 575 61 158 23 .096 .725 .129
1990 29 MON 584 44 169 20 .070 .711 .118
1991 30 MON 375 25 86 9 .063 .771 .083
1992 31 STL 328 19 69 10 .055 .790 .100
1993 32 COL 476 30 73 22 .059 .847 .151
1994 33 COL 422 27 93 31 .060 .780 .158
1995 34 COL 559 45 146 31 .075 .739 .153
1996 35 COL 634 57 157 47 .082 .752 .187
1997 36 COL 603 71 141 41 .105 .766 .162
1998 37 ATL 560 88 146 44 .136 .739 .174
2000 39 ATL 495 53 126 28 .097 .745 .146
2001 40 TOT 402 43 117 17 .097 .709 .161
2002 41 MON 295 39 81 9 .117 .725 .098
2003 42 SFG 272 21 61 12 .072 .776 .128


he is most extreme. another thing, which we see in this case, is players seem to carry their improvement with them when they leave the rockies. dante bichette, for example:


year age team aab w k hr wal con pow
1988 25 CAL 50 0 7 0 .000 .860 .047
1989 26 CAL 140 6 24 3 .041 .829 .086
1990 27 CAL 351 19 79 15 .051 .775 .114
1991 28 MIL 451 23 107 15 .049 .763 .105
1992 29 MIL 390 19 74 5 .046 .810 .108
1993 30 COL 546 35 99 21 .060 .819 .154
1994 31 COL 486 23 70 27 .045 .856 .149
1995 32 COL 586 26 96 40 .042 .836 .163
1996 33 COL 643 51 105 31 .073 .837 .136
1997 34 COL 568 33 90 26 .055 .842 .123
1998 35 COL 666 29 76 22 .042 .886 .122
1999 36 COL 603 56 84 34 .085 .861 .143
2000 37 TOT 582 53 91 23 .083 .844 .116
2001 38 BOS 392 23 76 12 .055 .806 .136


i've got so many ideas i have to end this now. more later.
Friday, January 23, 2004
 
another perspective
here's what david pinto thinks about the alan schwarz article i just finished impaling.

he also has this tidbit. and this. and some other stuff.
 
what i'm trying to do
what i'm trying to do here is cure people of the idea that they need "experts" to tell them about baseball. baseball is like anything else: you figure it out by thinking. luckily, thinking is your species' strong suit. unless you're an ape. if you are, drop me a line, cause i wanna meet the only ape who can read!
 
it's nothing personal . . . i attack everyone.
alan schwarz wrote this article at a third grade level and i decided to make fun of it. no disrespect to third-graders. the title is "whip it good . . . statistically."



2003 obp, oakland: .327, 21st in the majors.



ooooooooh! studies!

thems must be science-ticians!



this is an almost useless article because it completely ignores the idea that different statistical measures can be combined for a complete picture. instead it compares apples and oranges to see which is "best".



actually, the accuracy of an arithmetic calculation depends on the person doing the calculating. the "computer", if you will.



ops has the problem that it counts batting average twice. batting average requires a huge sample size to accrue meaning, so huge that by the time you have it, the player's skills have changed.

so the predictive value of ops is nil. but it is a pretty good quick-and-dirty performance measure. having wrote that sentence, i must admit that i don't believe it. i'd rather see obp and slg separately. actually, for performance, show me avg/obp/slg and i'm reasonably content.

having written that sentence, i must admit that i didn't use the perfect passive particle properly. luckily, we no longer speak latin. or unluckily. latin is an elegant, practical language.



you only get one!

actually, give me one, and i'll take whip. . . . they're both horrible, because they include hits, but at least whip measures something. ops has randomness from so many places that you can't tell anything from it. it's a statistical tower of babylon. i am so literary. i'm writin fuckin literature over here.



wow! we should use this for other things, like politicians!



whip is most affected by control, defense, and luck. its value comes from the extent to which it approximates k/9 and k/bb.



or you could just look at what actually happened.



the pythagorean method is a great, useful tool invented by bill james that, like most james inventions, has been completely overused and blown out of proportion. it may be the single biggest problem in sabermetrics today.

i sum up its limitations: everybody knows that a great closer helps you win a lot of games. but to the pythagorean method, the ninth inning of a close game is no different from the fifth inning of a blowout.

we know there's a problem here but sabermetricians say there isn't. guess what, folks: that's an assumption. and they base all kinds of labrynthine calculations on it.

it's assumptions what kill science.

bill james, by the way, does not overuse his inventions. his current reliever valuation includes a "close game" factor.



oh. good. because squaring things is so hard.



"better".



uh . . . obp is important because getting on base is really good, because outs are really bad.



as long as it's helpful.



dimensions, sure, but total park effects, i don't know. coors field, for example, has more of an effect on obp than slg. that's about the most surprising counterexample possible.

the other thing he said is wrong, too. for an example of a team that scored a lot of runs playing station-to-station ball, look at the 1998 yankees.

most things people say are wrong. including this.



no, he needs strikeouts, too. but if you're left-handed and pitch in safeco, you don't need as much.



batters didn't catch up to him, he just stopped being hit lucky.



read: red.



bill james, for example, is a boston executive.



never heard of it.



this is funny because it's the same thing anti-sabermetricians say:

his job is to win games. if he succeeds at that, he's done his job.



my cat could catch her tail. then she would bite it. then she would stop.



"it has long been my observation---informal, not suported by research---that when a team has a fast outfield, they tend to have a good defensive efficiency record. . . . it is not illogical to argue that certain markers of defensive excellence may be tied to certain positions. if a team allows few stolen bases, we assume that they have good defensive catchers. if a team turns double plays, we credit this to the shortstops and second basemen. it is equally reasonable, when a team has a high der, to associate this more with one defensive postition than with another."

---bill james, win shares



there are 27 outs per team in a nine-inning game. you cannot change that.

better teams actually tend to make fewer plays per game, because they have better pitchers, and better pitchers get more strikeouts, which means less plays in the field.



conclusion: barry bonds is good.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
 
xin nian kuai le!
happy chinese new year!
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
 
a new era
our top 15, from yesterday, with ip & hr:


Rk Player Team K/BB K/9 G/F ip hr
1 C Schilling Ari 6.06 10.39 1.05 168.0 17
2 M Prior ChC 4.90 10.43 1.12 211.1 15
3 P Martinez Bos 4.38 9.93 1.14 186.2 7
4 K Wood ChC 2.66 11.35 1.06 211.0 24
5 J Vazquez Mon 4.23 9.40 0.83 230.2 28
6 J Schmidt SFG 4.52 9.01 0.84 207.2 14
7 B Webb Ari 2.53 8.57 3.44 180.2 12
8 M Mussina NYY 4.88 8.18 1.13 214.2 21
9 R Halladay Tor 6.38 6.90 2.70 266.0 15
10 K Brown LAD 3.30 7.89 3.37 211.0 11
11 E Loaiza CWS 3.70 8.23 1.44 226.1 17
12 A Pettitte NYY 3.60 7.78 1.76 208.1 21
13 R Clemens NYY 3.28 8.08 1.27 211.2 24
14 K Escobar Tor 2.04 7.94 1.54 180.1 15
15 R Wolf Phi 2.27 7.97 1.06 200.0 27


schilling has greatly reduced his home runs allowed, from 37 in 2001 (256.2 ip) to 29 in 2002 (259.1 ip) to 17 in 2003. look at those innings and 2003's 168.0 and you'll say "obv" but it wasn't a shoulder or elbow he hurt it was a comebacker to the hand. so he should be fine in 2004. and that's what we're talking about: 2004.

in light of these numbers, let's do a final re-ordering:


Rk Player Team K/BB K/9 G/F ip hr
1 M Prior ChC 4.90 10.43 1.12 211.1 15
2 C Schilling Ari 6.06 10.39 1.05 168.0 17
3 R Halladay Tor 6.38 6.90 2.70 266.0 15
4 P Martinez Bos 4.38 9.93 1.14 186.2 7
5 K Wood ChC 2.66 11.35 1.06 211.0 24
6 J Vazquez Mon 4.23 9.40 0.83 230.2 28
7 B Webb Ari 2.53 8.57 3.44 180.2 12
8 J Schmidt SFG 4.52 9.01 0.84 207.2 14
9 K Brown LAD 3.30 7.89 3.37 211.0 11
10 M Mussina NYY 4.88 8.18 1.13 214.2 21


halladay is a freak. look at those innings! it's cause he throws so few pitches to each batter. and his home run rates are almost as low as pedro's! schmidt gets penalized for pitching in the most difficult park to homer in for those not named barry bonds. i overstate my case. safeco is probably harder. detroit. los angeles, san diego, and shea are probably about as hard. vazquez gets credit for pitching 4 games in hiram bithorn stadium. that doesn't sound like much, but it's one-fourth of his home starts, and hiram bithorn was the most extreme home run park in the majors in 2003.

there are four pitchers who didn't qualify, but should definitely be in the discussion. 3 are young and one is old:


Rk Player Team K/BB K/9 G/F ip hr
? r oswalt hou 3.72 7.63 1.35 127.1 15
? j beckett flo 2.71 9.63 1.33 142.0 9
? j santana min 3.60 9.61 0.58 158.1 17
? r johnson ari 4.63 9.68 1.39 114.0 16


roy oswalt had groin problems last year. if he's healthy, he's a top 10 candidate. but that's a big if. he was brilliant in 2002, allowing only 17 hr in 233.0 ip, in the park formerly known as home run field.

we've all heard of josh beckett. he was the hero of the world series, the david who killed goliath slinging stones. how good is he really? this kid is for real. he probably belongs in the 7--9 range already. and he's 23.

shannon stewart got the credit, but the man responsible for the twins' second-half surge was johan santana. he's 24, and he's left-handed. in 2002, he struck out 11.38 per 9. some of that comes from his partial use as a reliever, but he'll almost certainly be a top 10. looks like we've pushed out some yankees, and possibly a giant:

correct for park and era, and randy johnson is sandy koufax. i'm not kidding. he's not retiring, though, so he's breaking the pattern. if his body holds together, he could finish as high as #1. expect a top 10 performance.

there's a new crop of young fireballers, and they're taking over. mark prior is the youngest and strongest. vazquez, 27, wood, 26, and halladay, 26, are established as dominators. following them are oswalt, 26, webb, 24, santana, 24, and beckett, 23. the new era of the pitcher is nigh.
Monday, January 19, 2004
 
ultimate prior post
there has been an infinitessimal email response to my previous post, so i thought i'd clear things up a bit:

pedro is still the best per inning starting pitcher. the problem is he don't get enough innings. he's always got some nagging problem with some muscle or ligament somewhere that cause him to miss a few starts. why is prior better than schilling? home runs. hell, this'll be fun: let's rank the major-league starting pitchers.

we'll start with the top 30 in k/9:


Rk Player Team K/BB K/9 G/F
1 K Wood ChC 2.66 11.35 1.06
2 M Prior ChC 4.90 10.43 1.12
3 C Schilling Ari 6.06 10.39 1.05
4 P Martinez Bos 4.38 9.93 1.14
5 J Vazquez Mon 4.23 9.40 0.83
6 J Schmidt SFG 4.52 9.01 0.84
7 B Webb Ari 2.53 8.57 3.44
8 E Loaiza CWS 3.70 8.23 1.44
9 M Mussina NYY 4.88 8.18 1.13
10 R Clemens NYY 3.28 8.08 1.27
11 R Wolf Phi 2.27 7.97 1.06
12 K Escobar Tor 2.04 7.94 1.54
13 K Brown LAD 3.30 7.89 3.37
14 A Pettitte NYY 3.60 7.78 1.76
15 W Miller Hou 2.09 7.73 1.27
16 M Clement ChC 2.16 7.63 2.04
17 T Wakefield Bos 2.38 7.52 1.03
18 T Lilly Oak 2.53 7.42 0.85
19 H Nomo LAD 1.81 7.30 1.00
20 J Peavy SDP 1.90 7.21 0.97
21 A Eaton SDP 2.15 7.18 1.26
22 M Kinney Mil 1.90 7.17 0.91
23 M Redman Fla 2.48 7.13 0.94
24 C Zambrano ChC 1.79 7.07 2.28
25 A Leiter NYM 1.48 6.92 0.99
26 R Halladay Tor 6.38 6.90 2.70
27 L Hernandez Mon 3.12 6.87 1.48
28 K Millwood Phi 2.49 6.85 1.04
29 O Perez LAD 3.07 6.85 1.99
30 K Wells Pit 1.93 6.70 1.55


11 10 10 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 . . . then the 7's mess it up.

why g/f? it is better to get groundballs than flyballs, but most of that value comes from reducing home runs. so far, we've left out freddy garcia, bartolo colon, russ ortiz, matt morris, mark mulder, tim hudson, and barry zito. we're not worried.

let's pare this down to 20, rearranging based on the stats we've listed:


Rk Player Team K/BB K/9 G/F
1 C Schilling Ari 6.06 10.39 1.05
2 M Prior ChC 4.90 10.43 1.12
3 P Martinez Bos 4.38 9.93 1.14
4 K Wood ChC 2.66 11.35 1.06
5 J Vazquez Mon 4.23 9.40 0.83
6 J Schmidt SFG 4.52 9.01 0.84
7 B Webb Ari 2.53 8.57 3.44
8 M Mussina NYY 4.88 8.18 1.13
9 R Halladay Tor 6.38 6.90 2.70
10 K Brown LAD 3.30 7.89 3.37
11 E Loaiza CWS 3.70 8.23 1.44
12 A Pettitte NYY 3.60 7.78 1.76
13 R Clemens NYY 3.28 8.08 1.27
14 K Escobar Tor 2.04 7.94 1.54
15 R Wolf Phi 2.27 7.97 1.06
16 M Clement ChC 2.16 7.63 2.04
17 W Miller Hou 2.09 7.73 1.27
18 T Wakefield Bos 2.38 7.52 1.03
19 T Lilly Oak 2.53 7.42 0.85
20 L Hernandez Mon 3.12 6.87 1.48


that wasn't easy. perez was probably better than hernandez, but we'll give the cuban extra credit for his monster second half.

that's all for now. next time we include innings pitched and home runs allowed, and argue the fine points.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
 
getting our priorities straight
who's the best pitcher in the major leagues?

time's up. it's mark prior.
 
theories are like opinions.
here are the pitching numbers that i alluded to in my penultimate prior post. perfect past post. i have posted past perfect.

yeah: .071 wal .846 con .045 hrp at home .097 wal .861 con .034 hrp on the road. hrp is home run percentage.

that's what i'm sayin! these numbers are crazy! why are these numbers so crazy? know what i'm sayin? i have no idea.

actually, i do have an idea. wanna hear it?

of course you do. the idea is that since the ball doesn't break as much in coors (the players say this; the numbers do too) it's easy to throw strikes there. then the players go on the road and the ball goes all over the place and they don't have as much control.

everybody's got a theory. they're like opinions. everybody's an asshole.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
 
q: will the angels make the playoffs?
a: no. the a's will win the division, and the yankees will win the wild card.

for something completely unrelated, read this entertaining link.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
 
shakin!
this article is an example of how the forces of darkness misinterpret coors field. we must be ever vigilant!



phil's got nothing to lose here. if the braves or the yankees (or the cubs or the red sox) win, then he was just trying to be interesting. on the other hand, if the rockies come through on their 1.5% chance, then he's a genius. actually, their chance is below 1%.



kansas city would be a horrible call.



barry bonds, jason schmidt, and 23 detroit tigers would be a contender. so they're the favorite. but arizona is right behind them. sure, they lost schilling, but they didn't get a full season out of him anyway. and brandon webb is a stone killer. you don't find that k/9 with that g/f anywhere. not even kevin brown.

the lineup is good, too. alex cintron and robby hammock are ready to succeed. robbie alomar doesn't help, but he doesn't hurt. they still have luis gonzalez, and they added a pretty good first baseman. i wonder who gets to keep #11.

i better stop or i'll convince myself they'll take the series. regardless, the rocks are third at best.



uh . . . no. and no.



managing is tangible. bobby cox is a good manager. tony larussa is a good manager, despite his inability to work with young pitchers. is clint hurdle a good manager? the odds are against it.



let's start the discussion with the rockies' home/road splits. in 2003, rockies hitters hitters had 2749 ab, 329 bb, 491 k, 183 2b, 26 3b, and 113 hr. that's about a .107 .821 .143 wal con pow. on the road, they got 2769 ab, 290 bb, 643 k, 147 2b, 5 3b, 85 hr. the power numbers jump out, but look at the strikeouts. road wal con pow = .095 .768 .111. the rockies on the road have average power; at home they have above-average power. but contact goes from bad to above average. it's clear that altitude has a bigger effect on contact than power.

there are lots of mitigating factors: hitters seem to do better than we expect once they leave coors field. the pitching numbers are another surprise; we'll run them in a minute. regardless, it's a lot easier to make contact in coors than out of it.

ok. phil's first point is that the lineup will score "some" runs.

do i have to take this seriously? regardless of how much "some" means, the rockies are not a good hitting team unless they lead the league in runs scored. i'm sorry, that's just the way it is. last year, the rockies were 6th in the majors with 853 runs. they didn't even lead in runs at home, finishing second to the boston red sox. on the road, they were a pathetic 26th.

jeromy burnitz is gonna love coors field, but what the rockies need is actual talent. a healthy larry walker is not gonna make the difference between horrible and great. and vinny castilla will be a disappointment. he already makes good contact, so coors won't help him as much. this offense is bad bad bad. what phil's doing here is overstating every possible chance for improvement. it's one of his favorite techniques.



i'm gonna end this here. phil figures he's established the superiority of the offense, and spends the remaining four points using his favorite technique on the pitchers. the pitching is similar to the hitting: not good enough. and groundball pitchers are not the correct pitchers to get in high altitude. they need velocity. i'll get more into that in a later post. see if you can find the rest of phil's mistakes.



actually, it's more a reflection of the fact that range factor is a bunch of bullshit.

sorry, i couldn't resist.



shake off the evil! don't let it stick to you!
 
i'm such a kidder . . .
peter gammons is the rob neyer of 20 years ago. now his only value is that he talks to all the general managers.

link


    Clubs with spring in their step

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By Peter Gammons
    Special to ESPN.com


    Jan. 11


    This is an eerie time in a red sky morning of an offseason. While most teams have begun humming along with Eddie Vedder ("no matter how cold the winter/there's a spring time ahead"), even after the Vladimir Guerrero bombshell, the oddities of having Greg Maddux and Pudge Rodriguez still out in the marketplace make this a unique January.


    That two Hall of Famers are still looking around at this time of year leads to boundless speculation. This weekend, all of a sudden some GMs realized that the Orioles were out on Guerrero and in on Maddux, and that while the Mets were willing to go to three guaranteed years on Guerrero, it wasn't close to enough to getting him away from Anaheim.


does peter gammons type his own stuff? probably. but for some reason i get a kick out of imagining him dictating a column during baseball tonight (tm) commercial breaks, or in-between phone calls to gm's. we can embellish the image by having someone dial for him, too. how many people does he have working for him?



as serious as dan snyder when he bought the redskins? what about the tigers? are they serious? are you implying, mr gammons, that there are teams that aren't serious about winning? what exactly are you saying?



and re-closed them. does peter know what "fascinating" means?



so they're not 100% committed to winning; they're also committed to attracting hispanic-american and mexican cable interests. does anyone know what "poster boys of the west coast" means?



peter is so smart. isn't peter smart?

ok. i know. quit it. but it's just so easy. in case you're wondering, the cubs will make the playoffs, but the phillies will not. i don't think the marlins will either. i think it'll be braves cubs astros giants. but that's what i say every year.



don't listen to him! he is a servant of darkness! his light is our darkness!



legitimate. how many wins is that? 70? 75? shea is a pitchers' park because it's hard to hit home runs there. the way to maximize that is to get flyball pitchers and groundball hitters. and i don't think peter is being very nice to cement truckers.



what makes orioles fans more deserving than any other fans?



jp ricciardi is smart. therefore, the following are probable: (1) ted lilly will have continued success; (2) pat hentgen will come back strong from tommy john surgery; and (3) miguel batista's 2003 was for real.

dustin mcgowan has a shot. jason arnold doesn't. david bush does.

alexis rios is gonna make it. guillermo quiroz needs to get his strikeouts down, but christ he can mash.

the jays will not sneak into the playoffs in 2004, but they will in 2005.



clemens is a bargain at $5 million. lidge and dotel will be fine. the offense will be fine. richard hidalgo, astro or not, will have a big year:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1997 22 62 5 18 2 .075 .710 .159
1998 23 215 19 37 7 .081 .828 .124
1999 24 388 60 73 15 .134 .812 .133
2000 25 567 77 110 44 .120 .806 .195
2001 26 523 70 107 19 .118 .795 .123
2002 27 390 49 85 15 .112 .782 .118
2003 28 519 66 104 28 .113 .800 .181


his pow is back near his 2000 peak, and it's a good bet he'll stay there.



the royals are fighting for third place in the worst division in the majors. but at least they're trying.



prince fielder will kill the major leagues. but the brewers suck, and always will suck.



at 27, simon pond is enjoying the peak of his career: a replacement-level third baseman. he is much better at baseball than i am.



i am so excited. really. really really. i am really so excited. i can't wait.

i kid because i care.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
 
hot stove cheaters
i was looking forward to espn.com's hot stove heaters this year. i was going to use them as a starting point for a discussion on each team's chances in 2004. they have projected lineups, which is something, and they say things i can criticize.

alas, the hot stove heaters, as we know them, are gone. instead, they give us this crap. so i'm gonna have to do it myself. i hope they still run john sickels' minor-league reports.

we start with . . . the chicago cubs!

2003: 88--74, first in the nl central.

possible lineup:


cf l corey patterson
2b p walker/ grudzielanek
rf r sammy sosa
1b r derrek lee
lf r moises alou
3b r aramis ramirez
ss r alex s gonzalez
c p bako/ barrett


lots of righties . . . dusty could mix things up a bit by moving walker down, or switching 7 & 8, but those don't seem like things he would do. either way, a right-handed lineup is not as big a problem as some would have you believe, and there are left-handed bats on the bench, which we'll get to later. let's run some walconpows:

derrek lee:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1997 22 54 9 24 1 .143 .556 .133
1998 23 456 57 120 17 .111 .737 .140
1999 24 219 17 70 5 .072 .680 .101
2000 25 479 67 123 28 .123 .743 .138
2001 26 567 58 126 21 .093 .778 .141
2002 27 585 103 164 27 .150 .720 .164
2003 28 545 98 131 31 .152 .760 .155


throw out 1999, and he has improved every year. will he ever stop? yo, i don't know. turn off the lights, and let's go. . . . they should turn off the lights in wrigley: it was made for day games. day games are better than night games anyway, but that's another story. speed indicates likely further improvement. this is a great move by the cubs. hee seop choi strikes out too much to succeed in the majors:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
2002 23 50 7 15 2 .123 .700 .086
2003 24 202 41 71 8 .169 .649 .191


old player skills:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1986 23 53 5 18 3 .086 .660 .114
1987 24 565 76 131 49 .119 .768 .187
1988 25 554 80 117 32 .126 .789 .126
1989 26 501 86 94 33 .147 .812 .123
1990 27 532 117 116 39 .180 .782 .132
1991 28 488 96 116 22 .164 .762 .118
1992 29 476 95 105 42 .166 .779 .173
1993 30 85 22 19 9 .206 .776 .227
1994 31 135 37 40 9 .215 .704 .126
1995 32 323 99 77 39 .235 .762 .211
1996 33 424 124 112 52 .226 .736 .234
1997 34 547 110 159 58 .167 .709 .219
1998 35 513 168 155 70 .247 .698 .254
1999 36 526 135 141 65 .204 .732 .226
2000 37 238 83 78 32 .259 .672 .250
2001 38 305 59 118 29 .162 .613 .176


yep, it's mark mcgwire. but we have gone too far afield. prediction for derrek lee: .150 .760 .160 wal con pow, .280/.388/.508 avg/obp/slg.

much better than eric karros:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1991 24 14 1 6 0 .067 .571 .125
1992 25 550 39 103 20 .066 .813 .114
1993 26 622 36 82 23 .055 .868 .096
1994 27 417 31 53 14 .069 .873 .099
1995 28 555 65 115 32 .105 .793 .145
1996 29 616 54 121 34 .081 .804 .129
1997 30 637 63 116 31 .090 .818 .113
1998 31 514 50 93 23 .089 .819 .105
1999 32 584 55 119 34 .086 .796 .159
2000 33 596 67 122 31 .101 .795 .127
2001 34 441 44 101 15 .091 .771 .109
2002 35 530 43 74 13 .075 .860 .088
2003 36 337 28 46 12 .077 .864 .100


whoa, eric karros significantly improved his con over the past two years. maybe the cubs knew something when they made that trade with the dodgers. the dodgers clearly didn't. that conpow translates to an average of .259 + speed, which means he will be a very useful pinch-hitter and spot-starter against strikeout pitchers for a team whose regular 1b has contact problems, like the phillies.

i'm gonna leave this now because i have to fight the forces of darkness.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
 
rotoworld:


    Troy Glaus, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn rotator cuff, is back throwing without discomfort.

    "I can play a game tomorrow," he said. "Now it's just waiting the five weeks until we leave for spring training." Glaus underwent Lasik eye surgery a few weeks ago, so he's had a busy winter. A free agent after the season, he's a good bet to have a bounce-back year in 2004. Source: Los Angeles Times


troy glaus:


year age aab w k hr wal con pow
1998 22 167 15 51 1 .082 .695 .086
1999 23 554 77 143 29 .122 .742 .141
2000 24 564 114 163 47 .168 .711 .212
2001 25 595 113 158 41 .160 .734 .185
2002 26 577 94 144 30 .140 .750 .127
2003 27 320 47 73 16 .128 .772 .142


weird; his pow has declined as he's gotten older. that's not supposed to happen to young players. could be the injuries. even so, his con has improved markedly. 2004 is glaus's age 28 year, the most common pow peak. expect near career highs in all categories.

let's say he's .150 .750 .200. that would work out to a .262/.373/.562 avg/obp/slg. that seems about right.
 
people read this blog?

cpikula666: you just have to weigh a) odds Aurillia
will bounce back vs b) odds Guillen says injury-free
cpikula666: that would be a much more interesting
analysis
AbishaiAziz: I thought by pointing out the lack of
slugging/power discussion, you were disagreeing with
the assessment that Guillen is better
AbishaiAziz: ahh
cpikula666: no, i was just saying the analysis was
boring
AbishaiAziz: fair enough
cpikula666: i think everyone reading that blog knows
by now that guys who walk more, field better, hit for
just as much power, and are younger are probably a
better investment
AbishaiAziz: also a good point

Friday, January 09, 2004
 
the mariners are stupid
carlos guillen is better than rich aurilia.

guillen:


year aab w k hr wal con pow
1998 39 3 9 0 .071 .769 .067
1999 19 1 6 1 .050 .684 .077
2000 291 30 53 7 .093 .818 .101
2001 462 54 89 5 .105 .807 .080
2002 478 47 91 9 .090 .810 .101
2003 393 53 64 7 .119 .837 .088


aurilia:


year aab w k hr wal con pow
1995 20 1 2 2 .048 .900 .278
1996 320 26 52 3 .075 .838 .041
1997 104 8 15 5 .071 .856 .146
1998 415 33 62 9 .074 .851 .108
1999 563 48 71 22 .079 .874 .093
2000 513 54 90 20 .095 .825 .109
2001 639 47 83 37 .069 .870 .142
2002 545 41 90 15 .070 .835 .114
2003 508 37 82 13 .068 .839 .094


aurilia's had some fine years---2001, for example---but we're not talking about what he's done, we're talking about what he's gonna do. and what he's gonna do is get out more often. how do we know? the opposite of out percentage is on-base percentage. the first component of obp is walks. with a probable wal over .100, guillen wins that one easily. the next component of obp is hits. let's look at the formula:


predicted obp = wal + (1-wal)*(pav)


pav is predicted batting average. here's how we get it:


predicted avg = con/4 + con*pow/2 + speed to first


the replacement level on speed to first is 0. ichiro suzuki, juan pierre, luis castillo are in the .070--.080 range. notice that all bat (mostly) left and steal bases.

let's use .070 .840 .110 for aurilia and .100 .820 .090 for guillen (wal con pow). i think you'll agree that the former set of numbers is optimistic, the latter pessimistic. we'll also assume zero for speed to first.


aurilia: pob = .070 + (.930)*(.210 + .055) = .316
guillen: pob = .100 + (.900)*(.205 + .045) = .325


aurilia's number splits the difference between his last 2 years. guillen's, however, is lower than his career average. some of that can be accounted for by the fact that he's a switch-hitter, and therefore bats left-handed the majority of the time. so his speed score should be higher than zero. the rest is due to our pessimism. so it's really not even close.

here's the kicker: guillen is 28. aurilia is 32.

here's the other kicker: guillen is cheaper.
 
what?
what's an "aab"?

aab stands for "adjusted at-bats". aab = ab + sf.

what's a "w"?

w = bb + hbp.

what about the rest of this crap?

wal = (w)/(aab+w)

con = (aab-k)/(aab)

pow = (hr+2b+3b)/(aab-k)

can you tell us any fun facts?

con/4 + con*pow/2 is a good batting average predictor for slow guys.

can you tell us any other fun facts?

no.

somewhere in here i've gotta put that "23" is my abbreviation for doubles plus triples. also i feel compelled to comment that the batting average predictor is also influenced by ground ball to fly ball ratio. those who hit more line drives hit for better average. this can also be seen in the distribution of extra-base hits. a player with a pile of doubles will hit for a better average than a player with a similar pow but more home runs. i've done a lot of work on systematizing this relationship; maybe one day i'll post something about it.

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