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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Duds at BP

At Baseball Prospectus we unveiled a new look today. We hope you like it and look for more changes in the future...

OPS: A Brief History

Nice article from Alan Schwarz in The New York Times related to OPS and the proper weighting of its elements. Schwarz cites the work of Victor Wang published in the August 2006 issue of SABR's By The Numbers newsletter. His article...

The OBP/SLG Ratio: What Does History Say?

The correct relative contribution of OBP and SLG in "OPS-type" statistics has been the subject of some discussion recently. Here, the author checks historical team run records to see which ratio gives the closest correlation to runs scored.

There has been much debate and research in the past issues of By the Numbers about how much more valuable OBP is to SLG. Values ranging from 1.5 to even 3 have been brought up. No one, however, has actually compared the various values of OBP to SLG to the runs scored of a team. To solve this, I took the OPS and runs scored from every team since 1960. I then adjusted the OPS using the different suggested coefficients for OBP. The adjusted OPS I used were OBP weighted by 1.5, OBP weighted by 1.8, OBP weighted by 1.9, OBP weighted by 2.0, and regular OPS. These OBP weights have all been suggested in one place or another.

The results:

OBP Coefficient Correlation to R

1 0.8386
1.5 0.8394
1.8 0.8408
1.9 0.8407
2 0.8405

We can see that normal OPS has the worst correlation when compared to each adjusted OPS. The correlation keeps improving until the coefficient reaches 1.8, when it starts to decline but still has a higher correlation than with a coefficient of 1. However, the correlations remain very close to each other.

The data shows that the best coefficient to use when weighting OBP is 1.8. This was also confirmed by Tom Tango though I am unaware where his study is located. In fact, The Hardball Times currently uses a stat called "GPA," which adjusts OPS using a 1.8 coefficient for OBP and divides by 4 to make the stat on a similar scale to batting average. If anyone is interested in the complete set of data that contains all teams from 1960 and there adjusted OPS with runs scored, please contact me at the e-mail address below.

This is a subject I've written on in the past and so for those interested...

  • DePodesta and OPS

  • A Closer Look at Run Estimation

  • Run Estimation for the Masses

  • OPS as a Run Estimator

  • Contextualizing OPS
  • Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    VORP is Absurd

    Was tipped off to this little ditty from Murray Chass of the New York Times.

    Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

    I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that's their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans' enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers don’t.
    Talk about a lack of intellectual curiosity. Whither Chass' colleague at the Times Alan Schwarz?

    To me the idea that attempting to appreciate the game on a different level somehow diminishes the enjoyment one receives from the other levels is what is truly absurd. People aren't that one-dimensional and one could certainly argue that quantitative analysis in many respects enhances our appreciation for the human element of the game by helping us see in a different way the range of human abilities that come into play and how those abilities interact with, among other things, random chance.

    While one would hope that new sources of information and new ways of knowing would extend in some way to everyone, this piece reinforces the notion articulated by Max Planck and quoted in Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:

    "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generations grows up that is familiar with it."

    Friday, February 23, 2007


    In September of 2003 I authored my first post on this blog at the urging of my friend and co-worker Jon Box. In that post I noted that I chose the title "Dan Agonistes" in reference to Milton's famous poem Samson Agonistes written in 1671. Agon in Greek means "to struggle" or "wrestle" since this blog was intended to discuss my struggles or wrestling with various issues.

    At the time I had intended to write mostly in my field of Information Technology with a fair dose of history, Christianity, natural science, and sports. What I quickly found in my next three posts was that I rather enjoyed writing about baseball (I did start another blog to discuss a service oriented software development project) and although I have from time to time written on other subjects the content has increasingly skewed towards baseball. Writing about the national pastime on this blog certainly helped me hone my writing skills and led directly to first writing for The Hardball Times and now Baseball Prospectus.

    Well, this is now the 1,000th post (much to the mortification of my dear wife) and I have to admit that I'm a little surprised I'm still writing. Like many bloggers I think that writing about a topic helps me to think systematically and logically as well as come to opinions or conclusions on various issues. And so contrary to the notion that blogging is all about ego (it certainly is to some degree) I prefer to think that blogging is a form of self education. At least it has been for me.

    Over the course of the last three and almost one half years there have been several posts that were my favorites. You'll notice that more than two hundred of those are listed on the right. But there are other posts that clearly the favorites of others, judging from the traffic reports I look at occasionally anyway. Some of those are:

    The series of posts I wrote on C.S. Lewis' Miracles

    The series of posts on Run Estimation

    Sabermetrics 101

    What is a Normal Career Trajectory?

    Old Pitcher Skills?

    Thanks for reading and I hope to keep the conversation going...

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Gyroball Redux

    Another interesting article on the gyroball written by Jeff Passan on Yahoo. Will Carroll offers some explanation as well on BP Unfiltered including a NY Times link to an article written by Lee Jenkins.

    The Passan article seemingly causes more confusion as he says:

    The theory behind the gyroball is this: When a baseball spins sideways, like a bullet, it should cut down on the amount of resistance on its path to the plate. Without the same amount of air resistance as a regular fastball, which rotates backward, the four-seam gyroball should not experience the same slowdown and look as if it's exploding toward the plate.

    A perfect gyroball should be straighter than the crease on a pair of slacks.

    "It doesn't move," Tezuka said. "It doesn't move at all."
    This differs from the way the pitch was described by Alan Nathan a few months ago when he noted that the pitch would have a very small amount of break away from a right-handed hitter and using slightly different model would behave much like a cut fastball but with more drop. The confusion remains.

    More Aging

    In an effort take baseball fans minds off of the Jeter/A-Rod soap opera, today in my column on BP I start wrapping up a series of off seson ramblings by further exploring the relationship between team age and performance in response to some excellent reader questions.

    In epitome, the three-year trend in team age has some (but not very much) predictive power in terms of record, team age and payroll are more highly correlated in the free agent era, and when we apply the standard individual performance curve to teams what you find is that there is really very little correlation between the two because of the fact that older players who remain in the league are actually better than younger ones. And I even throw in an analogy from Charles Darwin and apply it to baseball...

    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    The Top 100

    The prolific Kevin Goldstein releases his top 100 prospects on Baseball Prospectus this morning. Royals fans will no doubt be pleased as Alex Gordon makes the top spot and because it appears Mark Teahen will be moving to right field. In addition Billy Butler is at #21 and Luke Hochevar is at #23. Chris Lubanski just barely misses the top 100. The Devil Rays have 7 players in the top 100 as do the Rockies:

    24. Troy Tulowitzki SS 22
    33. Franklin Morales LHP 21
    39. Dexter Fowler OF 21
    46. Jason Hirsh RHP 25
    49. Chris Iannetta C 24
    66. Ubaldo Jimenez RHP 23
    70. Ian Stewart 3B 22

    Other teams:

    Yankees 5
    Angels 5
    Diamondbacks 5
    Brewers 4

    Here are the top 100 sorted by team:

    5. Brandon Wood SS Angels 22
    28. Nick Adenhart RHP Angels 21
    78. Erick Aybar SS Angels 23
    85. Sean Rodriguez SS Angels 22
    88. Hank Conger C Angels 19
    47. Hunter Pence OF Astros 24
    57. Troy Patton LHP Astros 21
    62. Daric Barton 1B Athletics 21
    67. Travis Buck OF Athletics 23
    97. Javier Herrera OF Athletics 22
    40. Travis Snider OF Blue Jays 19
    43. Adam Lind OF Blue Jays 23
    51. Jarrod Saltalamacch C Braves 22
    79. Matt Harrison RHP Braves 21
    80. Brent Lillibridge SS Braves 23
    98. Neftali Feliz RHP Braves 19
    12. Ryan Braun 3B Brewers 23
    14. Yovani Gallardo RHP Brewers 21
    75. William Inman RHP Brewers 20
    87. Jeremy Jeffress RHP Brewers 19
    50. Colby Rasmus OF Cardinals 20
    36. Donald Veal LHP Cubs 22
    42. Felix Pie OF Cubs 22
    82. Sean Gallagher RHP Cubs 21
    3. Delmon Young OF Devil Rays 21
    10. Evan Longoria 3B Devil Rays 21
    11. Reid Brignac SS Devil Rays 21
    25. Jeff Niemann RHP Devil Rays 24
    45. Jacob McGee LHP Devil Rays 20
    77. Wade Davis RHP Devil Rays 21
    100. Elijah Dukes OF Devil Rays 23
    8. Chris Young OF Diamondback 23
    29. Justin Upton OF Diamondback 19
    31. Carlos Gonzalez OF Diamondback 21
    76. Miguel Montero C Diamondback 23
    91. Alberto Callaspo 2B Diamondback 24
    16. Clayton Kershaw LHP Dodgers 19
    20. Andy LaRoche 3B Dodgers 23
    32. Scott Elbert LHP Dodgers 21
    54. James Loney 1B/OF Dodgers 23
    6. Tim Lincecum RHP Giants 23
    64. Angel Villalona 3B Giants 16
    73. Jonathan Sanchez LHP Giants 24
    19. Adam Miller RHP Indians 22
    35. Chuck Lofgren LHP Indians 22
    60. Trevor Crowe OF Indians 23
    44. Adam Jones OF Mariners 21
    59. Jeff Clement C Mariners 24
    74. Brandon Morrow RHP Mariners 22
    63. Sean West RHP Marlins 21
    68. Ryan Tucker RHP Marlins 20
    71. Christopher Volstad RHP Marlins 20
    94. Brett Sinkbeil RHP Marlins 22
    18. Fernando Martinez OF Mets 18
    26. Philip Humber RHP Mets 24
    30. Mike Pelfrey RHP Mets 23
    34. Carlos Gomez OF Mets 21
    93. Christopher Marrero OF Nationals 18
    27. Brandon Erbe RHP Orioles 19
    55. Billy Rowell 3B Orioles 18
    96. Pedro Beato RHP Orioles 20
    52. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B Padres 25
    89. Cesar Carillo RHP Padres 23
    95. Cedric Hunter OF Padres 19
    37. Carlos Carrasco RHP Phillies 20
    99. Kyle Drabek RHP Phillies 19
    15. Andrew McCutchen OF Pirates 20
    83. Brad Lincoln RHP Pirates 22
    38. Eric Hurley RHP Rangers 21
    61. Edinson Volquez RHP Rangers 23
    41. Clay Buchholz RHP Red Sox 22
    48. Jacoby Ellsbury OF Red Sox 23
    86. Michael Bowden RHP Red Sox 20
    4. Homer Bailey RHP Reds 21
    9. Jay Bruce OF Reds 20
    53. Joey Votto 1B Reds 23
    24. Troy Tulowitzki SS Rockies 22
    33. Franklin Morales LHP Rockies 21
    39. Dexter Fowler OF Rockies 21
    46. Jason Hirsh RHP Rockies 25
    49. Chris Iannetta C Rockies 24
    66. Ubaldo Jimenez RHP Rockies 23
    70. Ian Stewart 3B Rockies 22
    1. Alex Gordon 3B Royals 23
    21. Billy Butler OF Royals 21
    23. Luke Hochevar RHP Royals 23
    7. Cameron Maybin OF Tigers 20
    17. Andrew Miller LHP Tigers 22
    13. Matt Garza RHP Twins 23
    81. Glenn Perkins LHP Twins 24
    84. Kevin Slowey RHP Twins 23
    90. Chris Parmelee OF Twins 19
    58. John Danks LHP White Sox 22
    69. Ryan Sweeney OF White Sox 22
    72. Josh Fields 3B White Sox 24
    2. Philip Hughes RHP Yankees 21
    22. Jose Tabata OF Yankees 18
    56. Joba Chamberlain RHP Yankees 21
    65. Humberto Sanchez RHP Yankees 24
    92. Dellin Betances RHP Yankees 19

    Projection Systems

    Nice article on ESPN by BP alumn Jonah Keri on projection systems. I liked this bit:

    "With all these tools at their disposal, you might expect the experts to achieve huge success rates, routinely nailing the vast majority of their projections. But various studies, done by industry leaders and outsiders alike, peg the success rate for a typical weighted three-year projection system like Marcel at about 65 percent. The goal for primo projectionists is to eke out a bit more accuracy, for a year-to-year success rate approaching 70 percent. A perfect projection system, or even something close to it, is widely considered to be impossible -- at least until stat-generating robots replace human beings at Yankee Stadium."
    That's a testament to the inherent variablity in the game and in the end what draws us to it.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Team Running - New York Yankees

    Today in our continuing series we'll take a look at the Yankees baserunning in 2006. As a team the Yankees finished 28th at -9.28 runs when not considering EqSBR and 21st (-9.33) when EqSBR was included. Johnny Damon came out far ahead of any other Yankee at +3.28 runs and has historically been a very good baserunner (my data goes back only since 2000).

    Year Opp EqGAR Opp EqAAR Opp EqSBR Opp EqHAR Total
    2000 76 3.18 56 3.21 45 -0.69 59 3.84 9.53
    2001 28 0.32 41 -0.99 38 0.82 47 2.24 2.39
    2002 40 -0.64 37 2.11 36 -0.11 42 -0.39 0.97
    2003 41 -0.79 37 1.75 51 1.16 56 -0.83 1.30
    2004 31 -1.02 27 0.11 41 0.09 52 4.50 3.67
    2005 42 0.64 19 2.84 54 1.66 66 0.04 5.18
    2006 49 -0.12 36 2.16 35 -0.41 52 3.28 4.90

    Totals 307 1.57 253 11.19 300 2.52 374 12.67 27.95

    Damon has been particularly effective in advancing on hits and fly balls and has been a break even basestealer and runner when advancing on ground outs. In 2006 he ranked 5th in EqHAR and in 2000 ranked second overall to Tom Goodwin, in 2004 he ranked 19th overall, and in 2005 ranked 7th.

    On the flip side Jorge Posada has been the worst baserunner in baseball from an aggregate perspective since 2000. Here is the shortlist.

    Jorge Posada -25.5
    Jim Thome -23.4
    Benjie Molina -22.7
    Frank Thomas -21.2
    Javy Lopez -21.1
    Pat Burrell -19.5
    Paul Konerko -15.2
    Victor Martinez -13.6 (starting in 2002)

    Keep in mind that these numbers are not a direct reflection of running speed but rather the intersection of running speed, judgement, and opportunities. Still, opportunities even out over the course of seven years for regular players and so there is clearly a heavy dose of running speed involved.

    As far as 2007 is concerned it now appears we won't be seeing Bernie Williams and so there will be some addition by subtraction although Hideki Matsui was -0.06, -0.99, and -0.19 from 2003 through 2005 and so he's basically been a break-even runner as well. Interestingly Bobby Abreu has been consistently inconsistent and depsite turning in a good 2006 (+3.94) and 2004 (+4.16) has had other poor seasons (-3.05 in 2005, -3.48 in 2003, and -3.42 in 2000). The primary difference appears to be how well he's done in EqAAR which is inherently more variable.

    Equivalent Stolen Base Runs
    Name Team SB PO CS EqSBR
    Derek Jeter NYA 33 0 5 1.90
    Bobby Abreu NYA 9 0 2 0.44
    Kevin Thompson NYA 2 0 0 0.42
    Jorge Posada NYA 3 0 0 0.28
    Gary Sheffield NYA 3 0 1 0.22
    Bernie Williams NYA 2 0 0 0.19
    Jason Giambi NYA 2 0 0 0.19
    Hideki Matsui NYA 1 0 0 0.15
    Miguel Cairo NYA 13 2 1 0.14
    Kevin Reese NYA 1 0 0 0.10
    Alex Rodriguez NYA 12 0 4 0.02
    Bubba Crosby NYA 3 0 1 0.02
    Aaron Guiel NYA 2 0 1 -0.38
    Nick Green NYA 1 0 1 -0.40
    Johnny Damon NYA 25 0 10 -0.41
    Andy Phillips NYA 2 0 2 -0.82
    Robinson Cano NYA 5 2 2 -0.93
    Melky Cabrera NYA 12 1 5 -1.18

    Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp OA ExHAR EqHAR HARate
    Johnny Damon NYA 52 0 8.23 3.28 140
    Melky Cabrera NYA 36 1 6.18 1.34 122
    Miguel Cairo NYA 13 0 1.80 0.46 126
    Andy Phillips NYA 15 0 3.25 0.43 113
    Kevin Thompson NYA 5 0 0.45 0.39 186
    Terrence Long NYA 4 0 1.04 0.33 131
    Nick Green NYA 7 0 1.07 0.24 123
    Aaron Guiel NYA 5 0 0.88 0.21 124
    Bubba Crosby NYA 8 0 1.43 0.20 114
    Bobby Abreu NYA 16 0 4.48 0.19 104
    Andy Cannizaro NYA 1 0 0.03 0.09 390
    Kevin Reese NYA 1 0 0.03 -0.03 0
    Sal Fasano NYA 3 0 0.12 -0.12 0
    Craig Wilson NYA 4 0 0.37 -0.16 59
    Kelly Stinnett NYA 4 0 0.24 -0.24 0
    Robinson Cano NYA 39 0 5.83 -0.27 95
    Gary Sheffield NYA 10 0 2.28 -0.28 88
    Hideki Matsui NYA 18 0 2.92 -0.37 87
    Alex Rodriguez NYA 41 1 7.37 -0.52 93
    Bernie Williams NYA 29 1 4.91 -1.54 69
    Derek Jeter NYA 60 1 6.33 -1.81 71
    Jason Giambi NYA 44 1 5.45 -3.50 36
    Jorge Posada NYA 46 0 6.78 -4.21 38

    Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp ExGAR EqGAR GARate
    Nick Green NYA 6 0.74 0.32 1.43
    Hideki Matsui NYA 7 0.16 0.07 1.40
    Kelly Stinnett NYA 4 0.24 0.06 1.23
    Kevin Reese NYA 2 0.06 0.04 1.67
    Jaret Wright NYA 1 0.01 -0.01 0.00
    Alex Rodriguez NYA 26 2.22 -0.02 0.99
    Bubba Crosby NYA 3 0.03 -0.03 0.00
    Derek Jeter NYA 24 1.25 -0.03 0.98
    Craig Wilson NYA 1 0.03 -0.03 0.00
    Bobby Abreu NYA 10 0.28 -0.10 0.66
    Andy Phillips NYA 9 0.70 -0.10 0.85
    Terrence Long NYA 1 0.11 -0.11 0.00
    Sal Fasano NYA 2 0.11 -0.11 0.00
    Johnny Damon NYA 49 3.70 -0.12 0.97
    Aaron Guiel NYA 5 0.28 -0.13 0.55
    Gary Sheffield NYA 4 0.15 -0.15 0.00
    Miguel Cairo NYA 13 0.61 -0.24 0.61
    Melky Cabrera NYA 24 1.93 -0.33 0.83
    Robinson Cano NYA 32 3.20 -0.35 0.89
    Kevin Thompson NYA 6 0.61 -0.44 0.27
    Jason Giambi NYA 18 1.06 -0.68 0.36
    Bernie Williams NYA 31 1.94 -0.75 0.61
    Jorge Posada NYA 20 1.22 -0.79 0.35

    Equivalent Air Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opps ExAAR EqAAR AARate
    Johnny Damon NYA 36 5.82 2.16 1.37
    Miguel Cairo NYA 7 1.36 0.62 1.46
    Melky Cabrera NYA 28 2.76 0.60 1.22
    Andy Phillips NYA 12 1.29 0.41 1.32
    Bobby Abreu NYA 12 1.40 0.39 1.28
    Hideki Matsui NYA 11 1.49 0.22 1.15
    Derek Jeter NYA 43 3.07 0.17 1.05
    Nick Green NYA 2 0.59 0.15 1.25
    Bubba Crosby NYA 4 0.65 0.14 1.21
    Aaron Guiel NYA 2 0.00 0.03 6.54
    Craig Wilson NYA 2 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Terrence Long NYA 1 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Kevin Reese NYA 2 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Kelly Stinnett NYA 1 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Sal Fasano NYA 2 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Alex Rodriguez NYA 32 2.07 -0.02 0.99
    Gary Sheffield NYA 2 0.04 -0.04 0.00
    Bernie Williams NYA 22 3.11 -0.14 0.95
    Jorge Posada NYA 31 3.80 -0.21 0.94
    Kevin Thompson NYA 4 0.64 -0.64 0.00
    Robinson Cano NYA 19 1.46 -1.41 0.04
    Jason Giambi NYA 19 1.60 -1.41 0.12

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    And More Changing the Rules

    In the last post I covered, for the most part, the rules on the field that will be changing in 2007. This was the first time rule changes had been made since 1996. Here is a link to the official document and there are a few others as well.

  • Rule 4.10(d) has been amended so that a regulation game called with the score tied now becomes a suspended game.

    Only common sense. Now if they would only do the same for games "suspended" because of rain.

  • A Casebook Comment to Rule 6.05(a) has been added to the rules to prohibit fielders from catching a ball in the dugout or other out-of-play area. Fielders may no longer enter the dugout to make a catch. Fielders may still reach into the dugout to make a catch but they may no longer step into the dugout to do so.

    Specifically the rule states that fielders "must have one or both feet on or over the playing surface and neither foot on the ground inside the dugout or in any other out-of-play area." Seems obvious. A fielder shouldn't be allowed to record an out while not on the field of play.

  • One base, if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made rom the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched.

    This codifies the existing interpretation.

  • A new Casebook Comment provides that a pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop when sing the set position with no runners on base. However, the Casebook Comment provides for the mpire to declare a quick pitch if, in the umpire’s judgment, the pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard (for which the penalty is a ball when no runners are on base).

    This also seems like a codification of what the normal practice has been.

  • There were also scoring rule changes (section 10.00 of the rules) made, a summary of which can be found here. One of the interesting changes is that the wording in rules 10.09(b) (not 10.08(b) as the document says) has been changed so that a batter will be awarded a hit on a sac bunt if "ordinary effort" rather than a "perfect play" would have retired him had the fielder not chosen to try and put out another runner.

    There is also now a possibly wider definition of defensive indifference covered under rule 10.08(g) (and not under 10.07(g) as the document says). Under the old rule "No stolen base shall be scored when a runner advances solely because of the defensive team’s indifference to his advance. Score as a fielder’s choice." Under the new rule the scorer is instructed to take into account the "totality" of the circumstances. This could be interpreted as including when a catcher and/or pitcher simply seem unconcerned with the runner and even when a half-hearted play is actually made on the runner. It'll be interesting to see how scorers use the new wording.

    In other changes:

  • Added requirement that relief pitcher must be credited with at least 1/3 of an inning pitched. (Rule 10.19(c))

  • Corrected parenthetical to "exclude" catcher’s interference, not “include” it. (Rule 10.16)

  • League empowered to order a reversal, even if official scorer does not wish to change the call. (Rules 10.01(a) and 10.01(b)(1))

    Interesting. Taking a little power away from the scorer.

  • Wild pitch of passed ball should not be charged if defensive team makes an out before runners advance. (Rule 10.13 Comment)

  • Batter not charged with grounding into double play if batter is called out due to interference by preceding runner. (Rule 10.02(a)(17) Comment)

  • Caught stealing, not charged if batter would not have earned a stolen base if safe. (Rule 10.07(h))

  • Added obstruction to the list of events that preserves a consecutive game hitting streak. (Rule 10.23(a))
  • Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Changing the Rules

    For the first time in more than a decade there are some rule changes that will be implemented in 2007. Among them (from the story with my comments below):

  • Time between pitches: The allotment for delivering the ball with no one on base has been reduced, from 20 seconds to 12. The price for each violation is a ball.

    It'll be interesting to see if this is actually enforced. I can't imagine it will in any but the most egregious cases since it'll be difficult to implement the timing. Still, a nice idea.

  • Batter's box presence: Conversely, an automatic strike will be assessed each time a batter violates the rule requiring they keep one foot in the batter's box throughout his at-bat, except for certain game-play conditions -- during which he is still not allowed to leave the dirt area surrounding the plate.

    Now this one is more interesting and is easily enforceable since it will be visible to everyone. The wiggle room is obviously in the "certain game-play conditions".

  • Ball scuffing: Rule 3.02 now calls for an automatic 10-game suspension for any player who intentionally defaces the ball. (Previously, a first offense led to the pitch being called a ball, a warning to the pitcher and an announcement of violation.)

    Wow. This one certainly has some teeth to it and will undoubtedly lead to appeals if a player is so punished.

  • No reason for rosin: The same Rule 3.02 now specifically prohibits placing "soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sandpaper, emery paper or other foreign substance" on the ball. The rule's penalty phase dictates, "The umpire shall demand the ball and remove the offender from the game. In addition, the offender shall be suspended automatically for 10 games."

    Same as above - could this be in response to "Gamblergate" in the 2006 World Series?

  • Gender objectivity: The rulebook now includes the disclaimer that references "to 'he,' 'him' or 'his' shall be deemed to be a reference to 'she,' 'her' or 'hers'" where applicable.

    I'm curious as to just how many places in the rule book this might apply to?

  • Update: Interesting comments from Nate Silver on BP Unfiltered. I especially liked "I watched parts of the first inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, trying to time the break between pitches under this definition (this is harder than you’d think, since FOX was usually more inclined to show a close-up of Roger Clemens' flaring nostrils than the batter getting ready for the pitch)." Amen. See this column. And as Nate points out the variability in time between pitches if often the result of the batter and not the pitcher and so the rule about keeping one foot in the box will likely make a bigger difference.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Throwing Arms

    Nice article this morning by John Walsh on outfield arms over at THT. For Rockies fans it should be nice to see both Willy Taveras and Brad Hawpe in the upper right hand quadrant of his scatter plot (note to John, keep the scatter plots coming as we really really like them). Hawpe's defense and particularly his throwing arm have been one of the better kept secrets in baseball the past several seasons.

    This also ties in with a comment I heard Assistant GM for the Rockies Bill Geivett make on the Denver sports talk radio station yesterday. In talking about the Jason Jennings trade he first discussed Taveras' defense and especially his throwing arm as an asset in the large outfield spaces of Coors Field.

    Here's a couple other links I forgot Yesterday:

  • Nate Silver on PECOTA

  • Rockies Top 10 Prospects
  • Aging and the Cubs

    In my column today on BP I discuss the aging of teams and how that might relate, in the big picture anyway, to winning games on the field. In that column I showed an example of the Detroit Tigers from 1980 through 2006 and how team age tracked with winning percentage to a certain degree.

    I thought it would also be interesting to take a look at the Cubs and so the graph below tracks the Normalized Weighted Age or NWA (defined as the weighted age of the team divided by the mean weighted age for the league and year where weighted age is calculated by weighting plate appearances and innings pitched and then multiplying the position player age by .6 and the pitcher age by .4) and winning percentage by year.

    What's interesting here of course is that as the Cubs teams of the late 1960s with Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins matured they improved. In the 1970s the team age fell to around league average and the record hovered just under .500. As the 1980s dawned the team initially got younger before Dallas Green brought in a set of veterans (Larry Bowa, Ron Cey, Gary Matthews, Dennis Eckersley) that took them to a .596 winning percentage in 1984.

    Those veterans then moved on or retired and a very young team (Mark Grace, Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Greg Maddux) in 1989 was able to become an exception to the general rule and win the division. The team then got older in the early 1990s (Grace and Ryne Sandburg being the core) and returned to mediocrity before bringing in veteran pitchers like Kevin Tapani and Terry Mullholland and position players Gary Gaetti, Mickey Morandini, Scott Servias, and Lance Johnson along with a maturing Sammy Sosa for their Wild Card berth in 1998.

    That team as well was on its last gasps and quickly crashed although they restocked with veterans Eric Young, Matt Stairs, and Jon Lieber to remain respectable in 2001. The young pitchers combined with a good mix of veteran and young positions players had the Cubs in the "sweet spot" in 2003 and 2004 although they did not capitalize. The last several years are more painful but obviously the team has gotten younger (especially on the mound in 2006) and performed poorly.

    Given the massive free agent spending this winter the NWA for 2007 will likely rise to the 1.2-1.5 range and Cubs fans anyway, expect the winning percentage to rise as well.

    Dayton Moore Speaks

    Good friend Ron Hostetter posted a nice overview of a talk Royals GM Dayton Moore gave at his brother's church several days ago. I thought these snippets (questions and answers that Ron paraphrased) were interesting...

    Moore expressed his belief that the success of a baseball player depends mostly upon his moral character. He mentioned that there were several players in Kansas City that he felt did not have the character needed to be successful, and those players are now gone. (Affeldt? Burgos?)
    And then a question...
    Q: What will happen with Mark Teahen?

    A: Teahen will ultimately play the outfield. He could play third or DH to spell other players, but ultimately, he will be an outfielder.

    And the answer to another question related to Zack Greinke but not specifically related to him it didn't seem...
    We're finding that a lot of our players come from broken homes, and who have never really learned wrong from right. They are immature and don't know how to handle being on their own. We've created a new Character and Leadership Program in the minors to help teach players these things. We discuss things like "how did Jackie Robinson react, and how would you react?" We hope to give these kids some direction and develop them into strong young men with character.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Links on a Wednesday

    Just a couple of interesting links today.

  • Interview with Steve Stone - Will Carroll has a great long form interview with Stone on BP today. I was particularly interested in Stone's description of why it is he often "first guessed" managers and players rather than waiting to second guess or simply not taking the chance of being wrong. Like Will, I grew up watching and listening to Stone and continue to think he is among the best announcers in the game. It's strange that he doesn't have a regular broadcasting gig for the upcoming season.

  • Josh Hamilton - A very well-written piece on the Devil Rays former first round draft choice who was drafted by the Cubs in the rule 5 draft and then sold to the Reds. It will be interesting to see what Hamilton has left after eight surgeries and the punishment he's inflicted on himself in the way of drugs and alcohol.

  • Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Team Running - Arizona Diamondbacks

    Last week in my chat on Baseball Prospectus a reader had the following question:

    JK (Boston): Hey Dan - I know he hasn't been flashy with his moves - but is there a GM that has done a better job of positioning his team for the future while also putting together a competitive team for 2007 than Josh Byrnes? The D-backs have youth and talent at every position and even with some of the back-ups (Callaspo and Hairston) - he's also collected three average/slightly above average starters capable of 200 IP's over the last 8 months without giving up a Grade A prospect and without a nausiating long-term contract. I know Rizzo and Garigiola are responsible for most of the prospects...but Byrnes has done everything he should since taking over.
    I couldn't really disagree with JK and so along with their fancy new uniforms this got me to thinking about the youth of the Diamondbacks and how that translates into good baserunning.

    In a column in the series I wrote last summer I noted how the metrics I've developed correlate with age. For example, the following graph shows the correlation between EqHAR (advancing on hits) and age.

    As you can see the relationship is fairly strong at an individual level with a correlation coefficient of .74 and so you would expect that young teams would generally do well in the overall baserunning. That's not always the case, however. Florida did finish second in overall baserunning at +8.88 runs (not considering EqSBR) and were also the youngest team in terms of their position players at 25.82 years (weighted by plate appearances). But other young teams included Tampa Bay at 27.78 who finished 21st in baserunning and Atlanta (27.87) who finished 24th. The D'Backs were in fact not a young team in 2006 and were 20th in terms of age of position players at 30.19 years. Of course they'll be getting younger with the departure of Luis Gonzalez to Los Angeles and Craig Counsell to Milwaukee.

    In any case it would appear that Orlando Hudson (pictured above) and Stephen Drew along with Eric Brynes are in place to each pick up a few runs on the basepaths for the Snakes in 2007.

    Equivalent Stolen Base Runs

    Name Team SB PO CS EqSBR
    Eric Byrnes ARI 24 2 3 2.15
    Stephen Drew ARI 2 0 0 0.62
    Chris Young ARI 2 0 1 0.26
    Andy Green ARI 1 0 0 0.24
    Conor Jackson ARI 1 0 0 0.15
    Carlos Quentin ARI 1 0 0 0.10
    Damion Easley ARI 1 0 1 -0.14
    Chad Tracy ARI 2 0 1 -0.19
    Alberto Callaspo ARI 0 0 1 -0.44
    Luis Gonzalez ARI 0 0 1 -0.44
    Jeff DaVanon ARI 10 0 4 -0.67
    Shawn Green ARI 4 0 4 -0.68
    Orlando Hudson ARI 9 0 6 -1.50
    Craig Counsell ARI 15 2 8 -2.86

    Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs

    Name Team Opp OA ExHAR EqHAR HARate
    Orlando Hudson ARI 40 0 5.42 3.01 156
    Luis Gonzalez ARI 56 0 8.99 2.99 133
    Jeff DaVanon ARI 22 0 2.61 1.19 146
    Eric Byrnes ARI 44 0 7.62 1.11 115
    Stephen Drew ARI 17 0 3.96 0.46 112
    Chad Tracy ARI 56 2 7.73 0.30 104
    Craig Counsell ARI 32 1 4.49 0.16 104
    Carlos Quentin ARI 10 0 1.80 0.14 108
    Alberto Callaspo ARI 1 0 0.68 0.06 108
    Brandon Webb ARI 3 0 0.75 -0.01 99
    Juan Cruz ARI 2 0 0.02 -0.02 0
    Chris Young ARI 8 0 1.51 -0.04 97
    Russ Ortiz ARI 1 0 0.06 -0.06 0
    Tony Clark ARI 7 0 1.98 -0.09 96
    Enrique Gonzalez ARI 3 0 0.84 -0.10 88
    Scott Hairston ARI 2 0 0.10 -0.10 0
    Jason Grimsley ARI 2 0 0.20 -0.20 0
    Chris Snyder ARI 11 0 2.44 -0.23 90
    Andy Green ARI 9 0 1.63 -0.45 72
    Conor Jackson ARI 33 1 3.31 -0.63 81
    Johnny Estrada ARI 29 1 5.19 -0.81 84
    Damion Easley ARI 14 1 1.15 -1.12 2
    Shawn Green ARI 40 1 4.68 -1.21 74
    Miguel Batista ARI 5 1 1.45 -1.30 11

    Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs

    Name Team Opp ExGAR EqGAR GARate
    Stephen Drew ARI 18 2.39 0.66 1.28
    Orlando Hudson ARI 36 3.47 0.55 1.16
    Damion Easley ARI 15 1.01 0.28 1.27
    Shawn Green ARI 22 2.10 0.27 1.13
    Andy Green ARI 8 0.54 0.11 1.20
    Chris Young ARI 10 0.55 0.09 1.16
    Orlando Hernandez ARI 2 0.05 0.05 2.02
    Craig Counsell ARI 30 2.29 0.03 1.01
    Luis Gonzalez ARI 26 1.71 0.00 1.00
    Miguel Montero ARI 1 0.05 -0.05 0.00
    Livan Hernandez ARI 1 0.09 -0.09 0.00
    Brandon Webb ARI 3 0.11 -0.11 0.00
    Chris Snyder ARI 14 0.78 -0.14 0.83
    Jeff DaVanon ARI 11 0.36 -0.16 0.54
    Carlos Quentin ARI 12 0.96 -0.19 0.80
    Miguel Batista ARI 2 0.50 -0.24 0.53
    Alberto Callaspo ARI 2 0.38 -0.29 0.25
    Chad Tracy ARI 28 1.07 -0.46 0.57
    Johnny Estrada ARI 18 1.67 -0.52 0.69
    Tony Clark ARI 9 1.50 -0.72 0.52
    Conor Jackson ARI 24 2.65 -1.50 0.43
    Eric Byrnes ARI 32 3.01 -1.59 0.47

    Equivalent Air Advancement Runs

    Name Team Opps ExAAR EqAAR AARate
    Shawn Green ARI 23 2.67 1.29 1.48
    Jeff DaVanon ARI 21 3.23 1.03 1.32
    Damion Easley ARI 11 1.83 0.60 1.33
    Johnny Estrada ARI 13 1.97 0.38 1.20
    Eric Byrnes ARI 23 0.92 0.30 1.32
    Chris Young ARI 7 0.76 0.25 1.33
    Tony Clark ARI 5 0.41 0.21 1.50
    Carlos Quentin ARI 3 0.56 0.17 1.31
    Conor Jackson ARI 35 4.04 0.12 1.03
    Chris Snyder ARI 3 0.24 0.11 1.46
    Brandon Webb ARI 2 -0.04 0.04 0.00
    Scott Hairston ARI 2 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Alberto Callaspo ARI 2 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Brandon Lyon ARI 1 0.00 0.01 0.00
    Orlando Hernandez ARI 1 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Miguel Batista ARI 2 0.02 -0.02 0.00
    Craig Counsell ARI 21 3.26 -0.04 0.99
    Andy Green ARI 4 0.40 -0.05 0.87
    Orlando Hudson ARI 22 2.17 -0.12 0.94
    Chad Tracy ARI 43 4.21 -0.17 0.96
    Luis Gonzalez ARI 23 3.38 -0.49 0.85
    Stephen Drew ARI 11 1.79 -0.82 0.54

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    The Business of Sports

    Nice post by David Pinto at Baseball Musings on the MIT Sloan Sports Business Conference. Baseball Prospectus' own Kevin Goldstein was a panelist and it sounds as if the conference was a success. I especially liked this:

    Ricciardi also had the best line of the day when asked about clutch hitting. He talked about how there are players who don't panic in certain situations, who can "slow the game down." He mentioned how David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were like that and added, "I've known Manny since he was 15, and I don't think he knows the game is on the line." The Boston crowd loved it.
    I also found his description of this company pretty interesting. I wonder how much Cubs tickets to the World Series will go for? The site currently does not have baseball but apparently it will be coming soon...

    Update: Sal Baxamusa has a nice overview of the conference on The Hardball Times and Kevin Goldstein notes how J.P. Riccardi gave a mention to VORP.

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    SABR At Altitude

    This morning I had an excellent time attending, along with 27 other members, the annual "Hot Stove" meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SABR hosted at Breckenridge Brewery right across the street from Coors Field. Before the meeting got under way a door drive consisting of MP3s of game 5 of the 1948 World Series were given away. Needless to say I didn't win and after treasurer Paul Parker noted the passings of Lew Burdette, Steve Barber, and Hank Bauer over the past few days the main program got under way.

    Next, Parker introduced Beverly Coleman and Mary Leisring who now chair the Activities committee for the chapter and who have planned several events including our annual banquet which will be held at Coors Field this season in the visitors clubhouse, a trip to see the Rockies minor league affiliate in Casper Wyoming on July 14-15, and a trip to see the Sky Sox play here in Colorado Springs at some point in the season. Tom Virdon then spoke about organizing a trip to the annual SABR convention in July with a possible stop off in Kansas City where the Yankees will be playing directly before the convention. Tom is also a veteran of attending baseball tours and handed out literature that looks very interesting. Discussion of these and other chapter related topics can also be found on the message board.

    Then it was on the main events.

    First up was Chip Atkison (who incidentally is a data stringer for STATS, Inc. at Coors Field) who presented an overview of the book Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game, by David Block and Tim Wiles. Atkison provided a nice synopsis of the book and the various myths about the development of the game that it sheds light on. Interestingly, the book contains back ground that goes all the way back to the 14th century and the various ball games that were played.

    After Atkison spoke Parker introduced the primary subject of the meeting - the humidor. Relating information from the "environmental chamber's" (as the Rockies prefer it be called) creator, Parker mentioned the following:

  • The chamber can hold 400 dozen baseballs

  • The chamber is designed to keep the ball at the MLB specifications which dictate that it be between 5 and 5.25 ounces and 9 and 9.25 inches in circumference

  • The Rockies receive 4 to 5 shipments of balls per season

  • When the balls are received that are removed from the shipping boxes and immediately stocked in the humidor where they can remain for up to 2 months before they make it into a game

  • Before each game 10 to 12 dozen are removed from the chamber (possibly 4 to 5 hours before the game), rubbed in Delaware mud by the clubhouse man, and then returned to the chamber until game time.

  • The balls that will start the game are taken out somewhere around 20 minutes prior to the game and new balls are retrieved from the chamber during the game.

  • Parker then mentioned an Associated Press article published this morning that states that the commissioner's office has advised teams that all baseballs used in play must be stored at 70 degrees. Joe Garagiola Jr. stated:

    "We have contacted all 30 of the clubs, and they have all confirmed to us that they will all be storing their baseballs in a temperature-controlled facility. We`re not going to have humidors every place, but every place will be temperature controlled, and so I think there will be a very high degree of uniformity."
    Apparently the majority of teams were already doing this and to me the move makes a good deal of sense. While in many places an environmental chamber may not be cost effective, certainly controlling for temperature seems like a good minimum step. Further Garagiola said that they've mandated that teams only use balls manufactured in the current year.

    Next, Parker introduced Dave Dresen, who presented a synopsis of an article published in 2003 in the Professional Geographer regarding baseball at Coors Field. The article can be summarized as follows:

  • Although one might expect balls to travel about 10% farther at Coors per the model that Robert K. Adair used in The Physics of Baseball, balls actually travel about 6% further (using 1995-1998 data from STATS). I included some more recent data in my column on the subject of Coors Field back in June

  • Evidence from the meteorological devices installed at Coors during the 1997 season showed that the primary wind vector opposes balls hit to right field and helps to explain why flyballs at Coors Field don't travel as far as would be expected.

  • When the dimensions of ballparks are taken into account the average fly ball actually ends up closer to the wall in St. Louis (old Busch Stadium) than at Coors. Overall Coors has a 3% advantage over the other National League ballparks

  • As a result, it is likely that personnel (poor Rockies pitchers) coupled with the general difficulty of pitching at altitude (flatter trajectories on curve balls and pre-humidor shrinking and hardening of baseballs) are the major reason for the increase in homeruns

  • Finally, Walter Sylvester, who works in the Baseball Operations department for the Rockies, was introduced and opened the floor to questions from the group. In answering one question he noted that a sample of balls are tested when they come out of the chamber to ensure they still meet specifications with the ones that fail the test being used for batting practice. He also opined that he thought that eventually bats may come under the same scrutiny as baseballs and that he thought that the baseballs used in the bullpens by pitchers also come from the chamber (which makes sense since a pitcher warming up should use baseballs that are as close to those used in the game as possible).

    Regarding the chamber it is his view that at the end of the day it really comes down to personnel. In fact and most interestingly, he seemed to lean more towards the position that the chamber shouldn't be used since it can and should be made to work to the Rockies advantage both on the field and psychologically (for example an ad for the firm 5280 in the visitor's clubhouse reminding the opposing teams of where they are). Although he wasn't asked about roster construction in those conditions (I did ask the question afterwards and he said he thought expanding the number of pitchers, for example, would be situational in terms of how the season was progressing) nor about the so-called hangover effect for Rockies hitters, he made the point that excellent pitchers such as Roy Halladay and Luke Hochevar have come out of Colorado and so it is possible to succeed at altitude with good players (of course the counter argument that the same rules don't apply at the high school and college levels wasn't addressed). To this comment he received a nice round of applause. He also cited the improved pitching of the Rockies in 2006 on the strength of Jason Jennings and Aaron Cook and not the chamber as most responsible for run scoring being down a bit at Coors.

    In answering a question about using chambers at the minor league level he had some disparaging words for Colorado Springs calling it "the worst environment" to play baseball in. Still, he thinks there may be some advantage although the Rockies with Jeff Francis and the Dodgers with Jackson in Las Vegas have sought to avoid too many starts in those environments.

    Yours truly then jumped in and asked to what the front office attributes the upturn in run scoring over the final 28 games of the 2006 season at Coors Field? The chart below tells the tale.

    In answering the question Sylvester noted that he assists with arbitration cases for the Rockies in the case of Matt Holliday who looked great in September, the team attributed the higher run environment to a myriad of causes including September callups and the team being out of the race and the player's relaxed. He apparently did not see any significance in it and explicitly denied that anything was different with the chamber. In looking at trends like these over short time spans he also noted that he's a big believer in examining strength of schedule and in this case even the possibility of wind patterns that were out of ordinary. Certainly this is a small sample size and so it will be interesting to see whether Coors plays more like it did the first 53 games of 2006 (8.96 runs per game vs. the league average of 9.00) or the final 28.

    There were also questions related to the signing of Matzuzaka in Boston and the inevitable Todd Helton questions related to the recent trade talks. The front office still considers Helton a big asset on offense (Sylvester is a big believer in working deep counts, drawing walks, and tiring starters and mentioned that "not making an out is very valuable") and is hoping that his conditioning program will allow him to regain some of his power this season. However, at 33 he said the organization certainly "hopes" Helton can get better but acknowledged the aging curve is working against Helton while working in favor of Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, and Brad Hawpe.

    When asked if the shortstop and catching positions are Troy Tulowitzki's and Chris Iannetta's for the losing, he definitely agreed that they would have to play themselves out of jobs. He also sees the team doing a lot more running in 2007.

    All in all an enjoyable morning in February with snow still on the ground.

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Losing Weight and Getting Younger

    Wouldn't that be great?

    This week my column on Baseball Prospectus focuses on the trend in decrease in player weight for players who debuted in the second decade of the twentieth century. After exploring a few theories as to why this occurred I zero in on the upsurge in the number of players used during that period which resulted in younger and therefore smaller players entering the game. The following graph shows the trend.

    The remainder of the article discusses some of the reasons why this upsurge occurred and I draw an analogy between the experimentation in baseball during this period and the Burgess Shale fossils.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    All-Stars 2008

    Yes, the Yankees have received the 2008 All-Star game. There has been some controversy about it with critics wondering whether it makes sense to host the game in a park about to close and since it is likely the Yankees will be playing in the post season which is a more fitting way to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium. To me, it makes sense to honor historic parks that are on the way out since the new parks will be eventually get their turn.

    The 2007 game will be played on July 10th at AT&T Park in San Francisco and Commissioner Bud Selig announced on January 15th that Busch Stadium in St. Louis will serve as the host of the 2009 Midsummer Classic.

    The following are a few notes released by on some of the background surrounding the 2008 game.

  • The 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be the 79th Midsummer Classic.

  • This will be the first time in baseball history that an All-Star Game has been held in a ballpark in the final year that it will be open.

  • It will mark the fourth time that Yankee Stadium has played host to the All-Star Game, joining 1939, 1960 (the second ASG of the season) and 1977, and it will be the eighth Midsummer Classic staged in New York City (Polo Grounds, 1934 and 1942; Ebbets Field, 1949; and Shea Stadium, 1964).

  • The National League has a 2-1 advantage in the three previous All-Star Games played at Yankee Stadium, winning the last two contests. The American League won by a 3-1 score in 1939; the National League blanked the A.L. 6-0 in 1960; and the N.L. prevailed 7-5 in 1977.

  • The Yankees have had the most All-Star players (112) and the most total All-Star selections (349) of any other Major League Baseball franchise since the Midsummer Classic originated in 1933.

  • Derek Jeter is the only Yankee to be named the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player since the MVP was first given in 1962. The Yankee captain earned the honors after a 3-for-3 effort with two RBI and a run scored in the 2000 All-Star Game at Atlanta's Turner Field.
  • The Man Behind the Numbers

    Great article profiling Sean Forman of baseball reference.

    Team Running - Chicago Cubs

    In our second installment of team running metrics I offer the Chicago Cubs. As a team the Cubs ranked 11th without EqSBR included at +2.66 runs and 9th when it was included at -2.94 runs. Essentially the Cubs did fairly well because no one did really really badly. Even their worse runner in Michal Barrett (-2.25) only cost them a couple runs while most everyone else, for example Jacque Jones at +.06, was mediocre. Of course, the team will look much different in 2007 with Alfonso Soriano in centerfield (-4.41 in 2007 near the bottom), Mark DeRosa (-1.87), and Cliff Floyd (+.15) in the outfield and with hopefully a full season from Derrek Lee at first base. I certainly wouldn't look for them to improve as the team has gotten older (they had a weighted mean age in 2006 of .98 and so were slightly younger than the average Major League team and age is correlated with doing well in these metrics).

    Equivalent Stolen Base Runs
    Name Team SB PO CS EqSBR

    Juan Pierre CHN 58 1 20 1.40
    Jacque Jones CHN 9 0 1 0.99
    Ryan Theriot CHN 11 1 2 0.11
    Carlos Zambrano CHN 1 0 0 0.10
    Greg Maddux CHN 1 0 0 0.10
    Angel Pagan CHN 4 0 2 0.06
    Jerry Hairston CHN 3 1 0 -0.02
    Cesar Izturis CHN 0 0 1 -0.24
    Neifi Perez CHN 0 0 1 -0.24
    Tony Womack CHN 1 0 1 -0.29
    Aramis Ramirez CHN 2 0 1 -0.32
    Todd Walker CHN 0 0 1 -0.44
    Phil Nevin CHN 0 1 0 -0.63
    Matt Murton CHN 5 1 2 -0.79
    Freddie Bynum CHN 8 0 4 -0.80
    Derrek Lee CHN 6 0 4 -0.87
    Michael Barrett CHN 0 1 1 -0.90
    Ronny Cedeno CHN 7 0 8 -2.81

    Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp OA ExHAR EqHAR HARate

    Todd Walker CHN 31 0 3.21 1.55 148
    Matt Murton CHN 45 0 6.68 1.43 121
    Neifi Perez CHN 20 0 5.43 0.98 118
    Juan Pierre CHN 47 1 5.36 0.81 115
    Ryan Theriot CHN 15 0 2.34 0.63 127
    Freddie Bynum CHN 10 0 1.00 0.31 132
    Tony Womack CHN 5 0 0.89 0.23 125
    Angel Pagan CHN 15 0 1.35 0.18 114
    Ronny Cedeno CHN 32 1 6.64 0.18 103
    Cesar Izturis CHN 3 0 0.14 0.08 155
    Scott Moore CHN 2 0 0.71 0.07 110
    Juan Mateo CHN 1 0 0.68 0.06 108
    Will Ohman CHN 1 0 0.02 0.02 198
    Phil Nevin CHN 9 0 1.48 -0.01 99
    Derrek Lee CHN 14 0 1.37 -0.03 98
    Sean Marshall CHN 1 0 0.04 -0.04 0
    Carlos Zambrano CHN 2 0 0.04 -0.04 0
    Glendon Rusch CHN 1 0 0.08 -0.08 0
    Jerry Hairston CHN 5 0 1.57 -0.10 94
    Henry Blanco CHN 17 0 1.92 -0.42 78
    John Mabry CHN 10 0 0.89 -0.50 44
    Michael Barrett CHN 27 1 3.31 -0.51 85
    Aramis Ramirez CHN 47 1 7.69 -0.57 93
    Carlos Marmol CHN 2 0 0.64 -0.64 0
    Jacque Jones CHN 33 1 4.32 -0.73 83

    Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp ExGAR EqGAR GARate

    Ronny Cedeno CHN 32 3.27 1.23 1.38
    Neifi Perez CHN 13 0.91 0.92 2.01
    Ryan Theriot CHN 7 1.17 0.77 1.66
    Juan Pierre CHN 66 6.80 0.24 1.04
    Jerry Hairston CHN 6 0.27 0.17 1.65
    Carlos Marmol CHN 1 0.12 0.15 2.19
    Tony Womack CHN 4 0.17 0.14 1.84
    Michael Restovich CHN 1 0.02 0.08 4.39
    Angel Pagan CHN 10 0.88 0.07 1.09
    Cesar Izturis CHN 6 0.23 0.03 1.12
    Greg Maddux CHN 1 0.26 0.01 1.04
    Freddie Bynum CHN 10 1.25 -0.01 0.99
    Carlos Zambrano CHN 3 0.17 -0.02 0.89
    Bob Howry CHN 1 0.03 -0.03 0.00
    Derrek Lee CHN 1 0.04 -0.04 0.00
    Todd Walker CHN 17 0.81 -0.04 0.95
    Henry Blanco CHN 15 1.31 -0.05 0.96
    John Mabry CHN 15 0.62 -0.06 0.91
    Geovany Soto CHN 2 0.07 -0.07 0.00
    Phil Nevin CHN 9 0.36 -0.17 0.54
    Jacque Jones CHN 36 2.68 -0.23 0.91
    Aramis Ramirez CHN 33 2.82 -0.67 0.76
    Matt Murton CHN 38 3.00 -0.80 0.73
    Michael Barrett CHN 25 1.32 -1.16 0.12

    Equivalent Air Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opps ExAAR EqAAR AARate

    Juan Pierre CHN 45 5.02 1.84 1.37
    Derrek Lee CHN 11 1.11 0.75 1.68
    Ronny Cedeno CHN 11 0.94 0.47 1.50
    Michael Barrett CHN 17 0.93 0.31 1.33
    Ryan Theriot CHN 7 0.07 0.28 5.08
    Greg Maddux CHN 1 0.24 0.10 1.42
    Todd Walker CHN 17 1.62 0.08 1.05
    Scott Moore CHN 2 0.03 0.06 2.92
    Neifi Perez CHN 10 -0.02 0.05 0.00
    Jacque Jones CHN 20 1.34 0.04 1.03
    Cesar Izturis CHN 4 -0.03 0.03 0.00
    Tony Womack CHN 2 0.01 0.02 2.16
    Geovany Soto CHN 1 0.00 0.01 0.00
    Sean Marshall CHN 1 0.00 0.01 0.00
    Buck Coats CHN 1 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Jerry Hairston CHN 1 0.01 -0.01 0.00
    Matt Murton CHN 29 3.08 -0.30 0.90
    Freddie Bynum CHN 5 0.68 -0.68 0.00
    Phil Nevin CHN 6 1.03 -0.68 0.34
    Henry Blanco CHN 13 0.69 -0.69 0.00
    John Mabry CHN 5 0.70 -0.70 0.00
    Aramis Ramirez CHN 28 3.03 -0.85 0.72
    Angel Pagan CHN 6 1.39 -1.04 0.25

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Chat Transcript 02/06

    The chat transcript from today can be found on the BP. Thanks to everyone who participated and all the great questions.

    I was having some difficulty with the chat interface (special characters caused some posting problems) and so I had a couple of answers I wanted to get to but couldn't post. In any case here was one particular question I found interesting:

    maxexpos (Montreal): Hey Dan, Could you rank this year's crop of Rookie...Managers? Thanks

    Here is the entire answer....

    Dan Fox: To recap, here are the five rookie managers for 2007 in no particular order.

  • Fredi Gonzalez – Marlins

  • Bud Black – Padres

  • Bob Geren – A's

  • Ron Washington – Rangers

  • Manny Acta – Nationals

  • All of these guys would seem to be players managers and certainly in the case of Geren, he better be since Ken Macha was fired for supposedly not being much of a communicator. There was a nice article in USA today on these guys and I especially liked this quote:

    And Gonzalez, 42, has been reading statistical books by baseball historian Bill James to get a better understanding of slumps. "Sometimes, you have to make a knee-jerk reaction, switching the lineup because a guy is 0-for-12," Gonzalez says. "The great players have a 0-for-20 or a 1-for-35. So, we've got to live with it."

    How can you not be rooting for Gonzalez after that?

    Washington will certainly be the most interesting to watch since he's kind of a character and is the ultra-player's manager it would seem from the comments I've heard him make this offseason. Acta and Gonzalez will probably get very long leashes since both teams are still developing. Black is also interesting in that he's a pitcher and is the only one to have never never managed in the minor leagues.

    Gonzalez, Washington, and Acta were all third base coaches recently and I've (with help from fellow SABR member Neal Williams) done a little work on seeing what effect those coaches have on overall advancement on hits (a derivative of EqHAR) in the period 2000-2006. Here are their number of opportunities (the number of opps that likely would have influence over), the number of runners who were thrown out, and the number of theoretical runs above what would have been expected given the quality and quantity of the opportunities and taking into account how the runners performed relative to other opportunities that the coach was not likely an influence on.

    Name Opp OA EqHAR
    Ron Washington 1730 45 10.6
    Manny Acta 1032 17 8.1
    Fredi Gonzalez 1249 25 -13.7

    Acta comes out on top on a per opportunity basis and ranks 29th of the 75 coaches that were looked at during the period. That said, I also discovered that there is no correlation from year to year in terms of coaches (both when they stay on the same team and when they move) and so there is probably very little to learn from this other than Acta was more fortunate and Gonzalez was not.

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Total Running - Colorado Rockies

    I thought it would be interesting to take a look at various teams and their baserunning using the metrics I've created. Starting close to home is the Rockies, who ranked 23rd in all of baseball with a -9.35 runs aggregating all four measures. If you take EqSBR out of the picture, however, they finished 9th at +3.60. The highest they finished in any single category was 6th in EqHAR at +3.91.

    This offseason the Rockies have made much of getting faster and the addition of Willy Taveras should certainly help, especially in hit advancement. On the other hand Jamey Carroll (pictured left) is a pretty decent baserunner overall and his playing time looks to decrease with the signing of Kaz Matsui and the emergence of Troy Tulowitzki. Carroll was the victim of some broken hit and run plays to be sure although he also has a tendency to get picked off. In addition, the core players who get on base in Garrett Atkins, Todd Helton, Matt Holiday, and Brad Hawpe will continue to be mediocre to poor and so as a team I wouldn't look for them to improve by much.

    Equivalent Stolen Base Runs
    Name Team SB PO CS EqSBR
    Garrett Atkins COL 4 0 0 0.66
    Kazuo Matsui COL 8 1 1 0.43
    Eli Marrero COL 3 0 0 0.43
    Jason Smith COL 3 0 0 0.43
    Ryan Spilborghs COL 5 0 2 0.34
    Jeff Salazar COL 2 0 0 0.25
    Troy Tulowitzki COL 3 1 0 0.13
    Jorge Piedra COL 1 0 0 0.10
    Luis A. Gonzalez COL 1 0 1 -0.21
    Chris Iannetta COL 0 0 1 -0.24
    Danny Ardoin COL 0 1 0 -0.24
    Jeff Baker COL 2 1 0 -0.39
    JD Closser COL 0 0 1 -0.44
    Matt Holliday COL 10 0 5 -0.63
    Yorvit Torrealba COL 4 0 3 -0.68
    Clint Barmes COL 5 0 4 -0.70
    Todd Helton COL 2 0 2 -0.75
    Omar Quintanilla COL 1 0 1 -0.77
    Cory Sullivan COL 10 1 6 -1.67
    Choo Freeman COL 5 0 6 -1.91
    Brad Hawpe COL 3 0 5 -2.12
    Jamey Carroll COL 10 3 12 -4.97

    Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp OA ExHAR EqHAR HARate
    Jamey Carroll
    COL 45 0 6.09 2.42 140
    Clint Barmes COL 23 0 2.91 2.00 169
    Garrett Atkins COL 59 0 10.50 1.64 116
    Troy Tulowitzki COL 8 0 1.82 1.17 165
    Choo Freeman COL 11 0 2.04 1.14 156
    Kazuo Matsui COL 15 0 1.35 0.62 146
    Brad Hawpe COL 37 0 5.53 0.48 109
    Jeff Salazar COL 9 1 2.03 0.38 118
    Yorvit Torrealba COL 11 0 1.54 0.36 124
    Ryan Spilborghs COL 13 0 1.54 0.35 123
    Chris Iannetta COL 8 0 0.94 0.28 130
    JD Closser COL 5 0 0.24 0.23 196
    Ubaldo Jimenez COL 1 0 0.02 0.02 198
    Omar Quintanilla COL 2 0 0.03 0.01 117
    Miguel Ojeda COL 1 0 0.01 -0.01 0
    Byung-Hyun Kim COL 3 0 0.08 -0.04 48
    Aaron Cook COL 2 0 0.05 -0.05 0
    Jeff Baker COL 3 0 0.94 -0.09 90
    Eli Marrero COL 3 0 0.87 -0.10 89
    Josh Fogg COL 5 0 0.83 -0.10 88
    Jeff Francis COL 3 0 0.14 -0.14 0
    Jason Jennings COL 4 0 0.15 -0.15 0
    Ramon Ramirez COL 2 0 0.34 -0.34 0
    Matt Holliday COL 47 1 7.70 -0.50 94
    Danny Ardoin COL 4 1 1.43 -0.85 40
    Jason Smith COL 8 2 1.51 -1.03 32
    Luis A. Gonzalez COL 7 1 1.33 -1.06 21
    Cory Sullivan COL 24 2 4.38 -1.28 71
    Todd Helton COL 67 1 10.79 -1.46 86

    Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opp ExGAR EqGAR GARate
    Jamey Carroll COL 45 3.47 1.22 1.35
    Clint Barmes COL 25 2.58 0.58 1.22
    Jeff Salazar COL 4 0.52 0.57 2.10
    Garrett Atkins COL 27 2.07 0.57 1.27
    Chris Iannetta COL 6 0.44 0.18 1.40
    Matt Holliday COL 28 2.90 0.15 1.05
    Troy Tulowitzki COL 5 0.25 0.14 1.57
    Jeff Francis COL 5 0.25 0.09 1.38
    Jason Smith COL 3 0.12 0.08 1.67
    Omar Quintanilla COL 1 0.11 0.04 1.41
    Josh Fogg COL 1 0.11 0.04 1.41
    JD Closser COL 7 0.34 0.04 1.13
    Jason Jennings COL 4 0.18 0.04 1.22
    Ryan Spilborghs COL 10 0.75 0.03 1.03
    Ramon Ramirez COL 1 0.08 0.02 1.19
    Aaron Cook COL 2 0.14 0.01 1.10
    Byung-Hyun Kim COL 1 0.03 0.00 1.04
    Sun-Woo Kim COL 1 0.03 0.00 1.01
    Cory Sullivan COL 25 1.99 -0.05 0.97
    Eli Marrero COL 4 0.24 -0.06 0.76
    Danny Ardoin COL 18 1.99 -0.09 0.95
    Choo Freeman COL 16 1.47 -0.12 0.92
    Kazuo Matsui COL 9 0.51 -0.14 0.73
    Ryan Shealy COL 2 0.44 -0.17 0.61
    Luis A. Gonzalez COL 15 1.66 -0.19 0.89
    Miguel Ojeda COL 4 0.39 -0.21 0.47
    Jeff Baker COL 3 0.25 -0.22 0.13
    Yorvit Torrealba COL 12 0.88 -0.23 0.74
    Todd Helton COL 18 1.04 -0.37 0.65
    Brad Hawpe COL 35 2.60 -0.81 0.69

    Equivalent Air Advancement Runs
    Name Team Opps ExAAR EqAAR AARate
    Choo Freeman COL 4 1.67 0.46 1.28
    Jeff Salazar COL 6 0.61 0.38 1.62
    Kazuo Matsui COL 9 0.66 0.34 1.52
    Danny Ardoin COL 4 1.28 0.26 1.21
    Todd Helton COL 39 4.98 0.26 1.05
    Troy Tulowitzki COL 3 0.55 0.19 1.35
    JD Closser COL 4 0.91 0.17 1.19
    Chris Iannetta COL 1 0.12 0.15 2.27
    Luis A. Gonzalez COL 5 0.51 0.15 1.29
    Miguel Ojeda COL 1 0.01 0.02 3.56
    Omar Quintanilla COL 1 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Aaron Cook COL 4 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Eli Marrero COL 3 -0.01 0.01 0.00
    Jorge Piedra COL 1 0.00 0.01 0.00
    Jason Jennings COL 1 0.00 0.00 0.00
    Jeff Baker COL 1 0.01 -0.01 0.00
    Yorvit Torrealba COL 4 0.02 -0.02 0.00
    Jason Smith COL 2 0.02 -0.02 0.00
    Cory Sullivan COL 24 1.31 -0.03 0.97
    Matt Holliday COL 32 2.23 -0.08 0.96
    Clint Barmes COL 11 0.86 -0.12 0.86
    Byung-Hyun Kim COL 2 0.23 -0.12 0.47
    Jeff Francis COL 3 0.13 -0.13 0.00
    Brad Hawpe COL 20 2.61 -0.29 0.89
    Ryan Spilborghs COL 10 1.40 -0.29 0.79
    Josh Fogg COL 4 0.82 -0.47 0.43
    Ramon Ramirez COL 1 0.47 -0.47 0.00
    Jamey Carroll COL 41 6.44 -1.19 0.82
    Garrett Atkins COL 30 2.25 -1.24 0.45