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Friday, April 28, 2006
frequently asked question
the frequently asked question is "what are all these weird stats you use?"

on june 19, 2003 i invented the wal con pow system. the wal con pow system breaks a player's performance down into component skills, then uses those skills to predict future performance. it turns out that different skills peak at different ages, and different skill profiles imply different career lengths.

the current formulas are:

wal = w/(aab + w)
con = (aab - k)/aab
pow = xbh/(aab - k)

where w = bb + hbp, aab = ab + sf, and xbh = extra-base hits.

aab stands for "adjusted at-bats". for pitchers, the numbers are a little different because i haven't been able to get at-bat or extra-base hit data. i've been using ip*3 + h for aab, which of course also includes sacrifice bunts, double plays, and caught stealings. so the wal's will be a little lower than they should be, and the con's will be a little high. instead of pow, i've been using hrp, which stands for "home run percentage." the formula is hr/(aab - k).

con tends to peak around age 25. pow peaks at age 28. wal peaks a few years after pow, as players learn that pitchers are afraid to throw strikes.

ip*3 doesn't include errors, so that mitigates things. but were getting too far afield.

the point here is to talk about the value of the wal con pow system.

so what is the value of the wal con pow system? for one, it makes it a lot easier to tell who's going to make it. contact percentage, it turns out, is a good measure of how much trouble a player will have adjusting to a new level of competition. a player with high contact will have very little drop-off, while a player with low contact will have a lot of work to do.

for pitchers, it's a little different. con is an important measure of how dominant a pitcher will be, but wal is more indicative of the ability to move up, because hitters are more selective at higher levels.

the other thing the system is good for is matchups. players with different skills will have different strengths and weaknesses in the batter-pitcher matchup. an example of how this applies can be found here.

the investigation into matchups has made me realize that run-based player analysis is fatally flawed. traditional sabermetric measures include the assumption that a team's win rate can be approximated by its runs scored and runs allowed rates. this assumption causes skills such as defense, speed, and contact to be undervalued, while patience, power, and power are overvalued. i couldn't think of a third thing to put in that list.

but power is overrated in players that don't make contact. those players will have little to contribute against dominant pitchers, but will pad their numbers against soft-tossers. you can see how an analysis based on runs would skew one's perception of such players. examples abound throughout the site.

in closing, thanks for visiting. feel free to use the comments or write to me.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
top prospect wrap-up
i have collected all the 2006 prospect data, to make it easier to find.

here is the top 50 list.

here is the guy i left out.

here is a where are they now? list. also another guy i left off the top 50.

cole hamels is now in triple-a.

here are the commentaries on the baseball america top 10 lists:
dodgers, part 1
dodgers, part 2
red sox
devil rays
blue jays
white sox
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
ty wigginton
ty wigginton has 8 home runs in 70 at-bats. should we be surprised?

Career Batting Statistics for Ty Wigginton:
Year Team Lg. Age Org Lvl AAB W K HR 23 WAL CON POW AVG
1998 Pittsfield NYPL 20 Nym A- 272 16 72 8 18 .056 .735 .130 .239
1999 St. Lucie FSL 21 Nym A+ 456 56 82 21 28 .109 .820 .131 .292
2000 Binghamton East 22 Nym AA 460 26 107 20 30 .053 .767 .142 .285
2001 St. Lucie FSL 23 Nym A+ 9 4 2 0 1 .308 .778 .143 .333
2001 Binghamton East 23 Nym AA 28 5 5 0 3 .152 .821 .130 .286
2001 Norfolk IL 23 Nym AAA 262 27 66 7 12 .093 .748 .097 .250
2002 Norfolk IL 24 Nym AAA 391 44 50 6 29 .101 .872 .103 .300
2002 New York Met MLB 24 Nym MLB 117 10 19 6 8 .079 .838 .143 .302
2003 New York Met MLB 25 Nym MLB 577 55 124 11 42 .087 .785 .117 .255
2004 St. Lucie FSL 26 Nym A+ 8 0 1 0 0 .000 .875 .000 .375
2004 New York Met MLB 26 Nym MLB 314 24 48 12 25 .071 .847 .139 .285
2004 Pittsburgh P MLB 26 Pit MLB 183 23 34 5 7 .112 .814 .081 .220
2005 Indianapolis IL 27 Pit AAA 282 46 56 14 18 .140 .801 .142 .293
2005 Pittsburgh P MLB 27 Pit MLB 155 15 30 7 10 .088 .806 .136 .258

no, we shouldn't.

let's go through his career. wigginton came out of college and and went immediately to low-a. he struggled there but hit for power.

the next year he skipped middle-a and went directly to high-a. he was 21, which is a good age for that level, and he crushed the ball. 21 home runs and 28 doubles and triples in 456 at-bats. his wal was good, his con was good, his pow was very good. at this point, he's lookin like a prospect.

then he goes to double-a and swings too much and strikes out a lot. but he still hits for power. this is common for prospects. they move up and they struggle. then they get it together and move up and struggle. except wigginton got injured.

or that's what it looks like. he only played half a season and he had a rehab stint in high-a. despite that, wigginton was moved up to triple-a. he struck out a lot and didn't hit for power.

at this point ty wigginton is not on any prospect lists. his batting averages are .286 and .250 in the past two years and his strikeout-to-walk rate is 3-1. that's bad, but what the prospect poachers didn't realize is he moved up too fast and did ok, then got hurt, moved up again, and did ok.

when we see these numbers for a 25-year-old we cross him off the list. but when we see these numbers for a 23-year-old who moved up too fast and got injured, we do not cross him off the list. we keep him on the list.

the next year he completely turned it around and made the mets, where he hit for contact and power.

in 2003, the mets make him their starting third baseman. who's ty wigginton? everybody says. he hits .255 and nobody says anything. but he had 42 doubles and triples. and 11 home runs. more importantly, he's playing in the majors and he holds it down. he does not get replaced. most players have trouble their rookie season. ty wigginton did not. he's 25, and he's a major leaguer.

in 2004, he starts with the mets and he hits for contact and power. but the mets have david wright so they jerk him around. first they play him at second, then they trade him to the pirates.

the pirates don't give him regular playing time and he bats .220 for them in a limited sample size. at this point, nobody thinks ty wigginton is good. he's not even starting, and the numbers he's putting up do not look good by any kind of traditional analysis, viz. avg, obp, slg.


so where are we? in 2005 ty goes to triple-a and kills it. then he gets some time in the majors and hits for power. begin 2006. the devil rays get him for nothing.

the pirates didn't realize ty could play. now, instead of a good young hitter in his prime, they have joe randa. randa's a decent player, but he's no ty wigginton. and he's more expensive.

i'm not gonna say ty wigginton is the best in the world or anything. but i will say he's better than people think. if there's still time to get him in your fantasy league, do it.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
my fantasy team
here's who i got:

c jeff mathis
c johnny estrada
3b garrett atkins
ss j.j. hardy
mi russ adams
mi robinson cano
cf jeremy reed
cf ryan langerhans
of alexis rios
util jeff francoeur
util conor jackson

i also have vladimir guerrero. obviously he starts every day. i rotate the other three guys (of-util). i need to make a trade.

here are my pitchers:

sp scott kazmir
sp felix hernandez
sp roy halladay
sp jered weaver
sp -----
p b.j. ryan
p kyle farnsworth
p joe nathan
p huston street

we do a point-based system with an innings limit, so it's actually optimal to have a staff of 5 starters and 4 relievers.

anyway, as you can see, i need to trade a hitter for a pitcher. i've only had two starters with full playing time. but we'll make it happen.

i feel pretty good about my team. it's a 20-team league, with 20 players per team, no bench. i got a lot of young guys that are poised for breakout. i would recommend any of these players to anyone.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
how are they doing?
i thought it would be interesting to take a look at the top prospects and where they are playing.

conor jackson is on the arizona diamondbacks. he's doing well.

delmon young is playing in durham. he's batting .420 with a .455 on-base and a .480 slug.

daric barton is a river cat. he's drawing tons of walks and hitting for contact and power.

francisco liriano is a twin. he likes the strikeout.

jered weaver is with the salt lake bees. he has 14 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings.

jeremy hermida is a marlin. he's on the dl, but don't worry, he'll be fine.

knock on wood. i'm knocking on wood. i don't wanna jinx him.

ryan zimmerman is also in the majors. he's a national.

stephen drew is a tucson sidewinder. he's got 4 home runs in 51 at-bats.

carlos quentin is also a tucson sidewinder. no home runs so far, but he'll get 'em.

prince fielder is a brewer. a little trouble with strikeouts so far, but he's got the hits.

justin verlander is with the tigers. 4 dongs, but he'll get through it.

dustin pedroia is playing second base for the paw sox. he got a late start cause of a strained shoulder.

yusmeiro petit is pitching in albequerque. new mexico can't be a good place for him. thin air + heat = home runs.

jeff mathis is with the angels. catching.

anthony reyes, pitching for the memphis redbirds, has 17 strikeouts and 1 walk in 18.1 innings.

howie kendrick is a salt lake bee. there are many salt lake bees on this list.

andy marte is kickin it for the buffalo bisons.

so far, no one is below triple-a.

russell martin is in vegas. he'll be ready soon. he probably is already.

felix pie has started well for the iowa cubs. power and walks.

chad billingsley is a 51. he's off to a good start.

brandon wood is our first double-a player on the list. he has 8 extra base hits and 6 walks for the arkansas travelers. he also has 18 strikeouts.

chris ray is a major-leaguer. in 6.1 innings he has allowed 2 hits and 1 walk, with 7 strikeouts. and no runs.

bobby jenks. now that i think about it, that rating is a little high. he had great success last year, but a little trouble with walks. not a lot, just a little.

lastings milledge is in triple-a. he's having a good time.

ronny cedeno is a cub and he's playing well.

jonathan broxton is destroying people in vegas.

scott olsen is a marlin.

wily aybar is a dodger and he's killin 'em. in vegas. the 51's. if you get a chance, go see them.

hayden penn hasn't pitched yet, apparently. he's supposed to be on the lynx.

nick markakis is playing in baltimore.

jason kubel is a twin.

joel zumaya is a tiger.

erick aybar is a bee. he's killin it.

jarrod saltalamacchia is the second double-a player on the list. he'll rank higher next year.

hanley ramirez has had a hot start for the marlins.

andy laroche is another dodger prospect. they have too many third basemen, so he's playing in double-a.

chuck james is with the braves. he's looking good.

cesar carrillo is a mobile baybear. in retrospect i may have put him a little high. i fell in love with his curveball.

matt cain is a giant.

adam lind is in new hampshire. with a .600 slug.

curtis thigpen is also a fisher cat. rought start so far.

billy butler is in wichita. he's playing outfield.

alex gordon is also playing in wichita. and he's tearing it up.

kendry morales is a bee.

kurt suzuki is in midland. great strike zone numbers so far (10-1 bb/k).

eddie martinez-estevez is killin it in connecticut.

anibal sanchez is a carolina mudcat. he's lookin good.

neil walker has not played yet, due to a wrist injury. he's with the lynchburg hillcats.

ian kinsler is a ranger, but he got hurt. he'll be back in the middle of the season.

jon lester is in pawtucket. rough start.

jon papelbon is the closer for the red sox. i didn't rank him higher because of his age. i didn't know he'd be the closer, obviously.

that's the list. one guy i haven't talked about is josh barfield. he's off to a good start with the padres.

Career Batting Statistics for Josh Barfield:
Year Team Lg. Age Org Lvl AAB W K HR 23 WAL CON POW AVG
2001 Idaho Falls Pio 18 Sd Rk 281 19 54 4 19 .063 .808 .101 .310
2002 Fort Wayne Midw 19 Sd A 541 30 105 8 25 .053 .806 .076 .306
2002 Lake Elsinor Cali 19 Sd A 24 1 4 0 0 .040 .833 .000 .087
2003 Lake Elsinor Cali 20 Sd A 560 54 122 16 52 .088 .782 .155 .337
2004 Mobile Sou 21 Sd AA 528 53 119 18 31 .091 .775 .120 .248
2005 Portland PCL 22 Sd AAA 523 53 108 15 26 .092 .793 .099 .310

he didn't seem to have enough contact, or power, to make it. but he's so close to the thresholds of breakout that a small improvement anywhere will cause a big improvement overall. i guess i should have had him on the list. i wanted to be contrary, or something, to all those prospect people that said he's so great.

the rest:

chris young is in tucson. he hasn't played yet.

adam jones is a tacoma rainier.

josh willingham is a marlin. mike jacobs is too (and josh johnson, who i probably should have mentioned.)

brian bannister is a met.

cole hamels is in clearwater.

corey hart is a brewer.

nate mclouth is a pirate. so is ronny paulino.

troy patton is on the salem avalanche. that's houston's high-a team.

craig hansen is in portland (maine).

jacoby ellsbury is a wilmington blue rock.

elijah dukes is in durham, along with chad orvella, but chad orvella got called up.

josh banks is with the sky chiefs. their whole staff is good (league, mcgowan, rosario, janssen).

ryan garko is crushin in cleveland. actually, it's buffalo, but "crushin in buffalo" doesn't sound as good. bruisin in buffalo? still no good. franklin gutierrez is crushin there too. bruisin. whatever.

alex gordon we mentioned earlier. he's in wichita. donnie murphy is there too. that's a good little group they got there.

our final player on the list, hong-chih kuo, is a dodger. he's got some strikeouts, and some walks.

triple a teams that didn't make the list:
charlotte knights
columbus clippers
indianapolis indians (although they had paulino. and tom gorzelanny's pretty good.)
louisville bats
richmond braves
rochester red wings (jason bartlett, though)
scranton-wilkes barre red barons
toledo mud hens (wilfredo ledezma)
colorado springs sky sox
fresno grizzlies
nashville sounds
new orleans zephyrs
oklahoma redhawks
omaha royals
portland beavers
round rock express

double-a teams that did not make the list:
all but the travelers, braves, suns, fisher cats, wranglers, defenders, and sea dogs. go to minorleaguebaseball.com for the links. they also have single-a. and everything else. minorleaguebaseball.com rules.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
james loney
i left him out of the prospect list. should i have?

Career Batting Statistics for James Loney:
Year Team Lg. Age Org Lvl AAB W K HR 23 WAL CON POW AVG
2002 Great Falls Pio 18 La Rk 170 27 18 5 25 .137 .894 .197 .371
2002 Vero Beach FSL 18 La A 67 6 10 0 6 .082 .851 .105 .299
2003 Vero Beach FSL 19 La A 469 44 80 7 34 .086 .829 .105 .276
2004 Jacksonville Sou 20 La AA 397 45 75 4 21 .102 .811 .078 .238
2005 Jacksonville Sou 21 La AA 510 61 87 11 33 .107 .829 .104 .284

the thing is, he's young. i said that back in february. the truth is i left him out of the list because i was sloppy, and i didn't look at the dodgers, part two section as i went through the teams.

but to be that young, and effective at double-a, is to be a prospect. a quality prospect. ba left him out of their top 10, which i think was a mistake. i would have had him around sixth.

they say when a player repeats a level you shouldn't put much stock in his numbers. there's something to that, but a bigger truth is when a player is young for his level and succeeds he's a prospect.

so where would i put him in my top 50? how 'bout 37th, right behind andy laroche. that would move jon papelbon down to 51st, who is obviously having success. ranking these guys gets pretty silly. but it's good to have some kind of idea.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
it's a couple of days into the season. so what. shut up and like it.

nl east:

nl central:

nl west:

al east:
red sox
blue jays
devil rays

al central:
white sox

al west:

why'd i pick the twins? i don't know. they do have johan santana. maybe shit will work out for them this year. the indians lost c.c. for a minute. and the other c.c. (coco crisp) for eternity. not that that was a bad trade. it just delayed their competitiveness.

i wanted to put the orioles last but the d-rays pitching is so bad. why didn't i put the white sox first? their pitching is not that good. it's good, but not that good. but maybe i'm being an idiot. they get to run out a decent-to-good starter every day. that adds up over the season (cf braves, 1991--present. of course the braves had better pitchers.)

nl west is a mess anybody could win except the rockies. none of those teams are any good. the central is a little gummy in the middle. will the brewers live up to their talent? will the cubs get anything out of wood and prior? will the astros get clemens back? all of these things could have a big impact.

nl east is easy. the mets don't have the pitching to beat the braves. and those young braves are gonna be better. the marlins are obviously last; the phillies are obviously better than the nationals.

red sox in the east? it's all about curt schilling. healthy schilling adds wins. beckett's good too. blue jays out-power the yankees. al west? i always pick the a's!
Monday, April 03, 2006
the top 50
here's the list. it's opening day!

1. conor jackson
2. delmon young
3. daric barton
4. francisco liriano
5. jered weaver
6. jeremy hermida
7. ryan zimmerman
8. stephen drew
9. carlos quentin
10. prince fielder
11. justin verlander
12. dustin pedroia
13. yusmeiro petit
14. jeff mathis
15. anthony reyes
16. howie kendrick
17. andy marte
18. russell martin
19. felix pie
20. chad billingsley
21. brandon wood
22. chris ray
23. bobby jenks
24. lastings milledge
25. ronny cedeno
26. jonathan broxton
27. scott olsen
28. wily aybar
29. hayden penn
30. nick markakis
31. jason kubel
32. joel zumaya
33. erick aybar
34. jarrod saltalamacchia
35. hanley ramirez
36. andy laroche
37. chuck james
38. cesar carrillo
39. matt cain
40. adam lind
41. curtis thigpen
42. billy butler
43. kendry morales
44. kurt suzuki
45. eddy martinez-estevez
46. anibal sanchez
47. neil walker
48. ian kinsler
49. john lester
50. john papelbon

more: chris young, adam jones, josh willingham, mike jacobs, brian bannister, cole hamels, corey hart, nate mclouth, ronny paulino, troy patton, craig hansen, jacoby ellsbury, elijah dukes, chad orvella, josh banks, ryan garko, alex gordon, donnie murphy, hong-chih kuo.

i'll add comments later. there's games to watch.

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