Is This Guy For Real?

October 6, 2009

[picapp src=”2/8/b/d/San_Francisco_Giants_e29a.jpg?adImageId=4525753&imageId=5032425″ width=”450″ height=”594″ /]
I have never seen such a motion in all my life. The man is amazing at what he does.
Tim Lincecum is a God at pitching.


An Un-Clutch Clutch Rebuttal

October 4, 2009

Industrial fasteners are made worldwide; the major producer for the USA except for the military is Taiwan. Nuts from small sizes ¼” to about 1” are made on cold header machines. These machines literally punch a hole through the wire (steel). The quality is very consistent. The variation from one respect maker to another does not affect functionality.

However the start of the wire is not as consistent as the drawn wire is after the beginning of the coil.Nor is the end of the coil. The machine takes some time to start up and produce 99.5 % quality nuts, the other .04% are rejected by the machine perhaps the balance get passed QC.

The humidity in the factory, the age of the oil, the age of the machine, the speed of the machine, the type of steel wire, the skill of the mechanics who set the machine up and the shape of the dies used all are factors that reflect upon the finished product. (Note the nuts next process is threading).
What is the point of this? Whitey Ford, Billy Pierce, Sandy Koufax. And Don Newcomb, Johnny Antonelli and Roger Clemens.
Humans are not developed to produce the same results on a consistent basis as are machines. Many of the same factors that affect machines affect ball players and emotions. Yes emotions play a key role in how anyone performs and no amount of charts or graphs can dissude me of that.
We all have known peers who may have done great in law school but never could pass the bar. Doctor stories where one doctor consistently performs better under certain conditions than other doctors. The type that handles the tough cases.
Co-workers who when the tough situation arises runs and hides and kids in soccer who run from kicking the ball at goal.
I understand that the current vogue is to dispute “clutch.” And while it may not prove out over an entire career any long time student of the game knows that certain players at certain times are more apt to produce in pressure situations.

Perhaps the effort to prove statically that “clutch” does not exist is simply the inability to prove that it does.


A Talent / Value Adjustment You’ve Never Thought About

September 28, 2009

(Exclusive to this web site!)

One of the great missing adjustments to even our most advanced stats is the adjustment for the quality of the opposition. A given stat line put up in the AL East means something rather different from the NL Central. Compounding the problem is that the adjustment needs to be iterative; once you have calculated the opposition quality for everyone and adjusted all the stats, you have to paste the adjusted stats over the originals, recalculate the opposition quality, and so on, again and again until the values stabilize. I do that with my adjusted standings at SoSH, but no one, AFAIK, has ever done that with individual hitting and pitching lines.

How exactly would you do this? You could just take opponent overall quality, which would in fact be your best adjustment for value. But an interesting and in some ways better alternative would be to include handedness. For instance, each LHB would get an adjustment based on the numbers versus LHB of the LHP pitchers he faced, and a separate adjustment for the RHP.

(As an aside, if you’re studying whether some hitters have persistent quality-of-opposition splits, you have to do it this way. AFAIK, no one ever has — the few studies showing no such persistence have used opponent ERA, which adds a huge amount of noise. Jon Lieber in his prime was a great pitcher vs. RHB and a lousy one vs. LHB; why count him as average vs. everyone?)

This notion of adjusting for opposition quality by handedness immediately suggests a value adjustment I’ve never heard mentioned. As a rule, elite LHB face a better quality of LHP than do average LHB. Not only are they more likely to not get benched against a C. C. Sabathia, they are hugely more likely to face a nasty LHR in the late innings. The differences among LHB are mitigated (slightly? more than that? I don’t think anyone knows) by this. The quality-of-opposition adjustment I just outlined would put the proper distance between the Alex Coras and Adrian Gonzalezes of the world. And this would be hugely desirable and interesting — when you’re assessing talent, that is.

Now, the funny thing is this: when assessing value, this can probably be safely overlooked. It’s built into the way the game is played now that this will happen. That we are underestimating how much better Gonzalez is than Cora is pretty much negated by the better pitching Gonzalez faces as a result.

However, there is probably a small but very interesting class of exceptions to this rule. You would expect there to be some hitters who get too much or not enough respect from opposing managers, and thus face more or fewer LHR than they ought to based on their own platoon splits. You would adjust for this by finding the correlative relationship between LHB platoon splits and the percentage of time they are at the platoon disadvantage, and then calculate the expected number and quality of LHR they faced versus the actual. The players with the biggest differences, in both directions, would make for very interesting lists. It’s possible that some of the “noise” in platoon splits is actual signal; as LHB establish reputation, managers begin to match them up with their lefty-killers. But reputations lag behind reality, both at the start and end of careers (David Ortiz may now be seeing tougher LHP than other LHB of his quality).

(As an aside, I know that Trot Nixon’s career path of splits vs. LHB was made completely nonsensical by the genius of Jimy Williams, who benched Nixon against even the easiest LH starters but never pinch hit for him against even the toughest LHR. So he was probably leading the league in toughest quality of LHP faced despite being nowhere near the top of the list for overall LHB quality. That’s the sort of guy it would be neat to identify and adjust.)


Strikeout Balance- What’s your preference?

September 23, 2009

Let’s Take a Look at Pedro, Circa 2000

September 23, 2009

I have friends who are complete non-baseball fans, but big-time math-science geeks, i.e., they’re folks who understand the normal distribution of natural phenomena and can appreciate exceptions. I have entertained them greatly by reading the leader boards from those two years in descending order. Especially 2000, where the 2-5 finisher in most stat categories were tightly clustered.

Let’s play “what’s the next term in this sequence?”!

ERA: 4.17, 4.14, 4.13, 4.12, 4.11, 3.88, 3.79, 3.79, 3.70 . . .

How many people had 1.74?

WHIP: 11.52, 11.48, 11.18, 10.79 …. 7.22

Opposition OBP: .306, .303, .298, .291 … .213.

Opposition SLG: .392, .384, .374, .371 … .259.

This (as well as 1999, of course) is an essentially superhuman performance. If there had been a league as much better than MLB as MLB was to AAA, and then another league with the same performance differential, Pedro would have still been the best pitcher of that league.


Defensive Spectrum Be Damned

September 12, 2009

Over the last 10 years or so, the “advanced” statistics that became popular evaluated players against a position specific offensive baseline – VORP, for example. If a shortstop and a second baseman had the exact same batting line, the shortstop would rate higher by that kind of metric, due to the fact that second baseman hit better as a group than shortstops. As such, it’s become exceedingly common to see people write things like “he’s got enough offense to be valuable as a shortstop, but he doesn’t hit enough to play second or third”.

Positions are essentially just a way to arrange players in a manner that produces the most efficient defense possible. You can literally play anyone anywhere – there’s no rule preventing the Nationals from sticking Adam Dunn at shortstop, for instance. They realize, however, that they will field a better team by minimizing the amount of times that Dunn has to move laterally in order to make a play, so they hide him at first base.

From Cristian Guzman and Position Changes

I agree in heart with this post.  However, I believe it misses a couple of crucial points.  It does not take into account how a player can get used to his position, or how he can have a skill set that is more attuned to a position’s needs.  For instance, a third baseman needs less lateral range than a second baseman, who in turn needs less back and forth range than a shortstop,  and the defensive spectrum fails to recognize this.  UZR is not perfect, and no measure but FieldFX ever will be.  However, this is such an imperfect science, I don’t expect that we will ever be able to grasp all the nuances of defense.


A September To Forget, Or Why We Need A New Wildcard Format

September 7, 2009

It seems unfair that a divisional winner essentially has no advantage of a wild card winner. The wild card winner should be put at more of a disadvantage. If they add another wild card team and make the two duke it out in a three game series in three days at the home of the team with the best record and then force the winner to play the next day in the home of a divisional winner. Then, cut out some of the superfluous off days during the next two rounds and the whole thing won’t take any longer than it currently does.

via A September To Forget | FanGraphs Baseball.

You know what, I agree.  The wild-card as it is right now rewards coming in second place too much.  This would add real excitement, and truly make second place mean second place again.  Seeing a straight three-game set would also be fun, and give a real advantage to the fourth place team over the fifth place team.  This is a great suggestion!