Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Rockies Trade Rumors
When asked for comment, Todd Helton was all like "wtf"
After promoting top pitching prospect Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies have nearly finalized a trade for Roy Halladay in a package centered around Omar Quintanilla.
More details as events unfold.
(look I can make trade rumors, TOO!)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Free Agent Frustration
Thursday, January 15, 2009
IsoD - Quantifying Plate Discipline
In my limited evaluation of players, IsoD and IsoP are the true measures of a player's talent. There's always some baseline batting average, but you can dismiss most of the fluctuations in that to BABIP. Issue is, this only really works for more experienced players (more stats to look at).
Let me give you somewhat of a numerical example.
Derek Jeter had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2008, and if you look at strictly OPS, it WAS the worst of his career. Does this mean that he's washed up and done for? Well, let's take a look at the numbers.
As I mentioned earlier, BABIP (lucky drops, gaps, etc) can account for year-to-year fluctuation in a player's batting average. If that player's IsoD and IsoP are consistent with his career norms, then I wouldn't read too much into a drop in OPS.
In 2008, Jeter batted .300/.363/.408, good for an OPS of .771. Not really great (especially if you take his defense into account), but a .300/.363 player is hardly something to sneeze at. Argue salary on your own time.
Anyhow, Jeter is a career .316/.387/.458 batter. So his batting average is a bit lower than his career numbers. Let's look at his IsoD. For 2008, it's .363-.300, or .063. For his career, it's .387-.316, or .071. So comparing .071 to .063, we're really not talking about a massive difference, only .008. If you look at his career IsoD's (per season) and get the standard deviation on them, that shows up as .010. That just means that this IsoD fluctuation is within a year-to-year fluctuation.
The thing that somewhat interests me is the fact that his AVERAGE is down .016 AND his IsoD has dropped. It should also be noted that his career IsoP is .142, and in 2008, it was only .108. That's a more significant drop.
To perhaps explain the low Average, we can look at his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). In 2008, Jete's BABIP was .336. That's high, compared to league average, but when looking at an individual batter, you want to compare it to his career BABIP instead - which is .361 for the Captain.
What have I gleaned from this? Something is happening with Jeter outside of simple fluctuations, or at least something happened in 2008.
From this point, we've determined his power swing has diminished. Turn him over to the team Strength and Conditioning coach, get him some Wheaties, get him to work on putting the ball into the gap. He'll be fine.
But I never settle at this. Anecdotal evidence is nice, but can I tie numbers to this situation?
My last (easy to find) source is his Plate Discipline data, which is generously provided by Fangraphs.com.
In 2008, Derek Jeter swung at 23.7% of balls outside of the zone, which is only a 1.8% increase from the previous season. However, this number is up 8.2% from 2005, when Jeter posted a healthy .389 OBP (and a .080 IsoD along with it). To complement the increase in out-of-zone swinging, his contact rates outside of the zone ALSO went up 18.6% since 2005 (Out-of-zone contact can lead to poorly hit balls, resulting in doubleplays, etc - unless your name is Vlad Guerrero, then it's a HR). His in-zone discipline has remained right about the same from previous years.
So what have we learned just from looking at like 8 numbers on Fangraphs? Well, 1. We know he's gotten unlucky, based on the .025 drop in his BABIP. 2. We know he's getting a bit impatient, from both his low IsoD, and his increase in swinging at (and making contact with) balls outside of the strike zone.
So now when your Yankees fan friend comes up to you and says "hey you're a big [expletive] baseball stat dork, tell me why Jeter [expletive] my [expletive][expletive] last season" and you can say "Well, let's see. He isn't walking as much as his career average (IsoD!) and he isn't hitting the ball for as much power as normal (IsoP!), maybe he's just getting impatient (Swinging %!!!)"
Look at you, you sabermetrician, you!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
To Close or Not to Close
Monday, December 15, 2008
2009 – Who plays where? A mathematical look at lineup construction.
|Name||Position(s)||2008 OPS||2008 VORP||2008 UZR @ #1 position||2008 UZR @ #2 position|
|Clint Barmes||2B, SS||0.79||19.1||2.1||-3.9|
|Ian Stewart||3B, 2B||0.804||10.3||2.7||0.3|
|Ryan Spilborghs||CF, LF||0.875||17.7||-3.8||-0.8|
|Garrett Atkins||3B, 1B||0.78||18||-7.4||-5.6|
|Carlos Gonzalez||CF, RF||0.634||-6.6||2.7||4.1|
|Seth Smith||RF, LF||0.785||3.7||-2.5||1.1|
|Jeff Baker||1B, 2B||0.791||11.2||-1.5||-3.8|
|Scott Podsednik||CF, LF||0.656||-0.7||-4.6||-0.8|
|Omar Quintanilla||2B, SS||0.635||-3.6||-0.2||-0.8|
The above should have a few notations to it: Barmes’ and Tulowitzki’s 2008 UZR performances are most likely low due to hasn’t-played-there-in-awhile (Barmes) and injury concerns (Tulo).
So let’s get to the point. Not everyone buys OPS, not everyone buys VORP, but I’m sure most everyone will buy one or the other.
If you don’t know what either is, I’ll give a quick rundown on what they both are.
OPS = OBP+SLG = On-Base percentage + Slugging percentage.
OBP = On Base Percentage = (Hits + BB + HBP)/Plate Appearances
SLG = Slugging Percentage = (1*1B’s +2*2B’s + 3*3B’s + 4*HR’s)/AB
OBP is essentially how often a player doesn’t make an out. SLG is batting average, weighted for extra base hits.
VORP = Value over replacement player = A park-adjusted measure of how many runs a player will provide above/below replacement level player will add to his team. For more information on VORP, refer to Keith Woolner’s Introduction to VORP article.
UZR = Ultimate Zone Rating = Number of runs prevented based on defensive play
So this chart here basically tells us how many runs a player will add to the team’s offensive totals with his bat, and how many he’ll prevent with his glove.
The Rockies have a good number of options at each position, both defensive and offensive. The question is which will be the best, and how can we adjust players to maximize runs?
The All-Bat Lineup
C: Iannetta (VORP 30.4)
1B: Garrett Atkins (VORP 18)
2B: Jeff Baker (VORP 11.2)
3B: Ian Stewart (VORP 10.3)
SS: Clint Barmes (VORP 18)
LF: Seth Smith (VORP 3.7)
CF: Ryan Spilborghs (VORP 17.7)
RF: Brad Hawpe (VORP 29.7)
The saddest part of this might just be that 3.7 VORP in LF. Smith would most definitely produce better than that given an entire season. The lack of Tulowitzki is surprising, especially with Baker at 2B and Barmes at SS, but there’s a couple things to note:
1. Tulowitzki slumped terribly early in the year, but finished strong;
2. Tulowitzki was hurt for a good amount of time this season. Even with the terrible slump, he’d probably be good for about 12-15 runs over the season were he to play the entire season;
3. Stewart’s VORP would be similarly higher, probably around 20+ were he to get a full 550AB as a starter, bumping Baker from the lineup when Tulowitzki reemerges at SS and Barmes is slid back to 2B.
Depressingly, this is our best lineup. 56.8 runs above replacement, above a AAA squad. Granted, if we added in the runs if Stewart and Smith were full time players, and adjusted Tulowitzki’s numbers a bit to somewhere between this season and 2007, the number would look far better. But as it stands, we are hurting somewhat from Holliday’s absence.
The next lineup to look at is the all-glove lineup.
C: Iannetta (UZR doesn’t really apply to catchers)
1B: Todd Helton (UZR 5.1)
2B: Clint Barmes (UZR 2.1)
3B: Ian Stewart (UZR 2.7)
SS: Omar Quintanilla (UZR -0.8)
LF: Ryan Spilborghs (UZR -0.8)
CF: Carlos Gonzalez (UZR 2.7)
RF: Seth Smith (UZR -2.5)
Again, things that stand out:
1. The lack of Tulowitzki is again no good, but remember he had quad problems all season. A properly rehabbed quad will more than likely move Tulowitzki from the -3 he’s sitting at back to the +5 rating he was at last season.
2. Quintanilla’s low UZR surprised me, but it might also be due to a lack of range, just because he’s a smaller fielder. He has a good glove and makes good plays on the balls he can get to, but he’s not really ideal; the bigger SS has taken over the thoughts of a lot of GMs. He plays as a just below average fielder, but again, it’s Range vs. Ability to make plays, and ErrR (runs avoided by not making errors) is above average for Q, while RngR (runs avoided by ability to get to balls) is definitely below.
3. Spilborghs really didn’t log any time at RF this season, but an ideal defensive OF at this point (that doesn’t involve bringing up Cory Sullivan) would have Smith in LF, Spills in RF, and Gonzalez in CF.
4. Brad Hawpe is absolutely awful in RF. Like atrocious. I mean oh my lord he’s bad. If you just do VORP + UZR to see how many runs Brad Hawpe added to the team this season overall, he’s at a nice -8. He has to be moved to LF or the Rockies need to move to the AL.
Now, as if this wasn’t all terribly nerdy enough, I’ve topped myself here. I used a computer program to tell me how many games each guy should start over the course of a season. It takes the #runs scored + #runs prevented by each player, above/below the level of an average player, and it maximizes the total number of runs scored and prevented.
The computer’s ideal lineup is:
CF: Seth Smith
The concept here is that Smith may not really be that great in CF, but his Offense+CF defense is better than Gonzales'. You might think that his CF defense would be bad enough to move him to RF and put Spills in CF, but the concept here is that the combination of Smith's CF defense and Spilborghs' RF defense is better at preventing runs than Spilborghs in CF and Smith in RF.
Now, I haven’t messed around and made Atkins some sort of garbage player, I used per-game run production from Baseball Prospectus and UZR ratings from Fangraphs, and then just ran the numbers. I didn’t demand Atkins play less than 50 games, I didn’t tell the program to bench Hawpe. In the case of Atkins, it becomes a case of a declining bat plus an already sub standard glove results in becoming a backup. And Hawpe’s issue that his atrocious OF defense simply kills his playing time.
If you read my previous post, you know that I think Atkins should be traded in favor of starting Ian Stewart, and maybe netting some young pitching. In this model, Atkins plays a grand total of 36 games, all at 3B, as Hawpe gets all the 1B time when Helton isn’t playing. I'm not sure how poor Hawpe would be at 1B, but if I say he's exactly as bad as Atkins, he'll still get the playing time thanks to a stronger bat.
The thing I learn from this? Defense is more important than people may think. If the Florida Marlins were defensively stronger, I'd wager they'd improve significantly. Defense is supposed to be a strong point of the Rockies, and it seems that just by the numbers, we're not playing optimally.