The Applause For Jeter is Still Ringing

September 13, 2009

The applause for Jeter is still ringing as longevity rings true to the clappers.  The question this Neanderthal baseball aficionados may be asking is where does he fit into the hierarchy of Yankees.

While I was known to sport 8 column accounting paper and index cards to compile (hence the tag of Neanderthal) I am doing this from gut, memory and historical data free floating through my brain and a sneak or two into Sam’s library.

1-Ruth-Rank # 1 RF All Time            HOF               James rank #1

2-Gehrig Rank # 1 1st Base All Time HOF    James rank #1

3-DiMaggio # 3 CF All Time    HOF       James rank #5 ( placed in front of Mantle due to fact that Mantle was not best CF of his era nor the best of his home city and was often number #3  his city and undue influence of many old time fans who always said  blah blah about Jolt ‘n Joe and fact that career was interrupted by WWII

4-Berra Rank top 2 catchers All Time    HOF   James rank #1 His job was to move runners along not stare at close pitchers like his Boston rival who cared more for his averages.

5-Mantle # 5 CF  HOF             James rank #3 Loved when the Mick would limp up to plate after a night out at the Copa and hit a 500 foot HR just to make sure then game was ended and he could get a drink asap. But after Doc Gooden the greatest waste of talent I have ever seen and ranked behind Berra as the best player on Yankees many years. The Yankee fans have a proclivity to allow players to waste their talents because they were surrounded by other talent. Example, Gooden and Strawberry were bums later in their careers with the cross-town team but beloved by Yankee fans. Yup, if you beat your wife, had children scattered around the country, drink too much, took drugs and were a Yankee it was all Ok. Of course if you acted like a thug in the Bronx and were not a Yankee then lock um up and throw away the key.

5-Riveria Rank # 1 CL All Time         F-HOF The best of his era and no MVP award.

6-Ford Rank, I would rank among the best pitchers in the clutch, HOF James ranked 22 (Sam do not edit out my words) and if you saw Whitey win the opening game of series after series year after year you would get it. The bottom line is the great Yankee dynasty of the Stengel years was dominated by two over-riding facts, the Yankees had a “major” league farm team in KC after 1955 and the Yankees had great pitching. So to achieve the winning they did they needed pitching and Whitey was Chairman of the Board. He continued his importance during the next Yankee dynasty, the Houk years

7-Jeter Rank Top ????  SS All Time

8-Gomez, Ruffing, Pennock, Reynolds the Yankees of all winning era’s need a stopper to maintain the level of winning they achieved.

9-Gossage one of great RP of All Time, James rank #37 .  One of best of the genre of RP, fun to watch, when baseball was more a blood sport instead of a constant bonding experience between players.  HOF

10- Dickey, Must have been great, and he was a catcher. HOF  James ranked 7

11- Lazzeri, Williams, ect.

No Mattingly, No Rodriguez. To be on the Yankees and considered an all time great you had to have won the World Series. This is not the Cubs and we do not have to worry about Ernie Banks.


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.

Streakiness and the “Fog”

September 9, 2009

An aside on the notion of streakiness (part 1B of the series, if you will).

There have been many studies showing that all streakiness in sports is random. There was an exhaustive study a couple of years ago on Retrosheet that found that hot and cold streaks had no predictive power.

The problem is in the assumption that if a hot streak or cold streak is real, it must have significant predictive power.

In baseball, the standard test of the reality of hitting streaks is serial correlation. Is a player’s performance in one game predictive of his performance in the next? The problem with this is that there’s an enormous amount of “noise” added to the signal. A hot hitter will face Sabathia and go 0-4, a cold one will face a AAA callup and / or get two bloop hits.  Red Sox and Yankee fans may remember a series in NYC (May 27-29, 2005) where Manny Ramirez, one of baseball’s truly streaky hitters, came in 1 for his last 12 and looking awful and went 7-13, each and every one a cheap single; he then left town and put up a 562 OPS in his next 10 games.

The further problem is that in a serial correlation, the end of each streak and the beginning of the next form a pair of points included in the correlation, when our hypothesis is that they should anti-correlate. That further reduces the strength of the measured correlation.

In fact, if you take Manny’s career with Boston and divide it into apparent hot (actually just normal) and cold streaks and remove the anti-correlated data pairs, you do get a significant or nearly significant serial correlation (of linear weights / PA). And as I have noted elsewhere, player seasons often divide into chunks that chi-square tells us are unlikely to be random.

Standard statistical tests of streakiness just aren’t up to the task of demonstrating it’s real. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real — a perfect example of what Bill James calls the “fog.”

I’m 100% certain that a study using experienced baseball scouts could prove the existence of streakiness by having them significantly outperform chance in their ability to predict the end of slumps by streaky players like Manny (as Jerry Remy used to do). IOW, they’d say, “OK, today player X fixed his mechanics and should perform better over the next N games than the last N.” And they would be right most of the time.

Back to School

September 8, 2009

Well, by the time you begin reading this, I have started my first day of high school! Posting may be a bit slog for the next couple of weeks, but expect about 5 post a week beginning in October. I hope you enjoy what we here at The Unobstructed View have to say.

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!

Pedro Showing Off , Or Why Beating Up Bad Teams Doesn’t Matter

September 6, 2009

‘He did it facing a bad lineup’ is one of the weakest excuses of all time. Last time I checked, good pitchers pad their stats against weak teams. If a pitcher won 20 games, do you honestly think that every single one came against a team with a winning record and a top offence? Is Adam Wainwright a poor pitcher because his last four wins have come against four lesser offences? Yet previous to this four game winning streak, his last win was a shutout against the Dodgers. I could pick out a million examples of the above. It’s easy. Pedro has a proved hall of fame track record so him pitching shouldn’t come as a shock. Not to mention one of those ugly intangibles creeping into the picture…that being perhaps he is jacked up to be part of a team headed to the playoffs and is, like Floyd Mayweather Jr told us to do, stepping his game up.

via Pedro Showing Off | FanGraphs Baseball.

I can’t wait until people in the mainstream get this.  A player’s performance is not just what he does against the good teams or the bad teams. It’s the sum of what he does.  By nature, a good team will have a higher winner percentage against bad teams than good because they are bad.  As I am constantly having to tell people that because the Yankees pad their numbers against lesser teams does not prove how overrated they are.  It just proves that they are a good team. Consider that next time you are having your “when it counts”  fit.

Who had the Best Eye? (continued)

August 27, 2009

See previous article for background.

The batters who walked most often per AB in MLB history (minimum 800 walks drawn) are, in order:
Hitter Walks At Bats Walk rate
T Williams2021 7706 .208
B Bonds 2558 9847 .206
M Bishop 1153 4494 .204
B Ruth 2062 8398 .197
E Stanky 996 4301 .188
F Fain 904 3930 .187
G Tenace 984 4390 .183
Cullenbine853 3879 .180
E Yost 1614 7346 .180
M Mantle 1733 8102 .176
J McGraw 836 3924 .176
MMcGwire1317 6187 .176

But some batters played when walks were more or less common. Using the Baseball Prospectus translated stats to adjust for this, and for ease of competition, below is a ranking of batters who had the highest translated walk rate.
At bats walks walk rate
BBonds 9876 2495 .202
MBishop 4492 1074 .193
BRuth 8494 1984 .190
RThomas 5627 1305 .188
JMcGraw 4101 941 .186
THartsel 5099 1146 .184
GTenace 4447 981 .181
TWilliams 7703 1691 .180
EStanky 4321 926 .176

Aha – Ted Williams played when the AL was a league where walks were freely given out; his ‘eye’ maybe was not QUITE as precise as legend has it (but fear not, Splinter fans, his bat still was!). Roy Thomas and Topsy Hartsel played 100 years ago; their names are not as well known, but check out their records. Thomas led the NL in bases on balls 7 times in 8 years. Oddly, Hartsel played in the same city (Philadelphia) in the other league at the same time, and had many of the same skills.

Now… how about we adjust for the players’ (isolated) POWER. Using the formula translated walk rate + .015 – translated ISO ^ 2 * .656, below is the table of Best Eye Hitters – those who would have walked the most often, given they had average power (i.e., equally feared [or not!] by opposing pitchers).
ab w iso walk rate
adj walk rate
MBishop 4492 1074 0.111 .239 .246
RThomas 5627 1305 0.102 .232 .240
JMcGraw 4101 941 0.149 .229 .230
EStanky 4321 926 0.117 .214 .220
THartsel 5099 1146 0.181 .225 .218
MHuggins 5826 1126 0.099 .193 .202
GTenace 4447 981 0.272 .221 .187
Henderson11139 2162 0.189 .194 .186

The Babe was walked more due to his incredible bat more than anything else. Ditto Ted and Barry. The real king of the strike zone was the man whose nickname was…. Camera Eye. Max Bishop, the man who scored 1153 runs in his major league career, which only lasted 1338 games. He had the best eye. Ever.