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Cyclone792
03-30-2006, 06:07 PM
FWIW, unrelated to this article, there's also a new book out on James by Scott Gray, The Mind of Bill James: How a Complete Outsider Changed Baseball (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385514646/sr=8-1/qid=1143755275/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-0508552-6146205?%5Fencoding=UTF8)

Here's the article:

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2006/03/30/numbers_cruncher/?page=1



Numbers cruncher
When it comes to baseball statistics, analyst Bill James wrote the books

Bill James, the author, statistician, and baseball fanatic, was hired by the Red Sox as senior baseball operations adviser in Nov., 2002. (For The Globe Photo / Dave Kaup)

By Kelsie Smith, Globe Correspondent | March 30, 2006

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- You can't MapQuest 445 Tennessee St. Not technically, anyway.

It's on a block that doesn't actually exist, the street ending where it runs into ''The Kaw" -- what locals call the Kansas River.

But drive east down Fifth Street -- past Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio until the curve in the road at Fifth and Tennessee (here in Lawrence, the streets are named from east to west in the order in which they entered the Union) -- and there it is, shoved into an awkward corner lot, 15 feet from the train tracks, another 15 from the river.

The house is simple white, with wood siding, cobalt blue trim, and a clue that gives Bill James away -- resting atop a cobblestone pillar, an oversized baseball.

Perhaps it's fitting that the most mysterious member of the Red Sox' front office works at this mystery address in Lawrence, Kan., a quiet college town some 1,470 miles from 4 Yawkey Way.

The godfather of modern baseball statistical analysis, James is among a growing number of sabermetricians (a term he coined) being hired publicly by major league teams. The 56-year-old broke onto the scene with his revolutionary ''Baseball Abstract" in 1977, a book he produced annually for 12 years.

His ideas have been lauded and laughed at, excoriated and extolled, but here in this small, Midwestern world, James listens to none of it -- the bad or the good. He just works. The house-turned-office is simple. A few prints hang randomly on the walls and some baseball memorabilia lines the mantle. Homemade bookshelves constructed of raw boards resting on stacks of bricks stretch from floor to ceiling and trace the walls of James's office. Boxes are strewn about the floor, an old computer monitor sits abandoned on a table, and papers cover the desk -- it's five rooms filled with a lifetime of obsession.

The humble little house didn't always sparkle.

According to James's wife, Susan McCarthy, a tall, slender redhead who works from home as an artist, the place was in such bad shape a few years ago that the insurance company refused to cover it unless they fixed it up.

''It really did look bad. It just needed to be painted and the yard looked terrible," she recalls, sitting in the much more stately living room of the James's massive, vintage Victorian home on Ohio Street, just a few blocks from the office. ''Bill was supposed to be taking care of getting someone to mow, and he let months go by. He just doesn't like to take care of stuff like that."

What James does like to take care of are numbers, at least some of them.

''I'm utterly uninterested in any numbers that aren't connected to baseball," says James, who majored in English and economics at his beloved University of Kansas. ''If you put a dollar sign in front of it, I don't understand it. Math requires discipline. I work by obsession rather than by discipline."

In Kansas, James practices his obsession alone, saying he's ''too damn disorganized" to hire the help he needs (and, pausing quizzically asks, ''Are you looking for a job?").

And so the place is quiet. That is, except for the seven trains that rumble by each day on the tracks right outside the office window, shaking the shelves but going completely unnoticed by James as he talks about his work with the Red Sox.

Writing his ticket

This is James's fourth year as senior baseball operations adviser for the Sox. What that title means, or, rather, how much weight it carries, has been widely speculated. Does James affect daily rosters? Does he suggest shifts in the outfield in the middle of games?

Go ahead and ask him, but good luck getting a straight answer. Bill James is not a yes-or-no kind of guy. He will let you in, but just a little. No names, of course. No specifics. But shortly after returning from an eight-day trip to Fort Myers, Fla., in February, James described one of the 16 ''work projects" he picked up at spring training.

''There's a player on our team who we might keep or who we might trade," he generalizes. ''And there's an issue about his performance last year about which we need specific information. The specific information is, do players who have this tendency ever get over it or is it permanent?

''I need to study that, and I need to get that done within a week or two because I need to send it to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] because Theo needs to make a decision. Is this guy going to stay with us or do we involve him in a trade?"

His work today, it seems, has come a long way from that first Abstract, which wasn't exactly a success. James doesn't remember how much it was or how many he sold, but McCarthy remembers all too well -- at $3.50 a piece, the ''1977 Bill James Baseball Abstract" sold about 50 copies.

The second abstract fared slightly better, according, of course, to McCarthy, who remembers it sold more than 100 copies. James, whose last full-time day job was working at the Stokely-Van Camp pork-and-bean plant in Lawrence in the late 1970s (where he worked as a security guard and boiler room attendant, among other things), bumped up the price a whole 50 cents, a testament to the fact that, for him, this was about passion before profit (McCarthy says James wasn't sure what he was doing was worth any money, so he had a hard time charging people for it). But by the sixth edition, James had an agent, a book deal, and a little peace of mind.

''It finally allowed him to think, 'Yes, I can really do this,' " McCarthy says. ''Up to that point, it was still questionable because he certainly wasn't making enough money when it was self-published. It was a huge deal for us because neither of us ever had any money at all. Now we had some, and we were able to buy a house."

James does remember that book deal. He remembers feeling relief that the burden of self-publishing was gone. Talking about it, though, his tone is matter-of-fact. But ask him about his days working for agents on arbitration cases, and you see glimpses of that 11-year-old boy in Mayetta, Kan. (population about 300), who fell in love with baseball in the summer of 1961.

He tries to explain why arbitration was so fun. He proceeds haltingly, as he often does, changing directions in midthought, searching for an applicable analogy.

''It's sort of like playing lacrosse or stairwell field hockey or some game that nobody else played, but you loved it and played it all the time," he says. ''Everybody told you what a crappy game it was and why don't you play basketball or something normal. And then, all of a sudden, you're in a situation where there's a million dollars on the table and everyone has to play a game of stairwell field hockey with you. It's kind of like, 'Hey, this is fun. All these guys are trying to play my game.' "

Behind the scenes

James no longer plays alone. Today aspiring sabermetricians form groups across the country as Jamesian philosophy becomes more widely accepted. But perhaps the two most important Bill James devotees are John Henry and Epstein. Henry first read a James abstract in the early 1980s and says as an adult he waited for new Bill James books like he waited for new Beatles albums as a kid.

''In the summer of 2002 Theo [Epstein] and I were discussing the future GM," Henry wrote in an e-mail. ''[Theo] was standing in the doorway of my office, smiled and said, 'We should hire Bill James to be our general manager.' While he was being lighthearted about it, both of us knew that what was called 'Moneyball' was really 'Jamesianball.' "

Henry found James's e-mail address, and sent him an introduction and an offer all at once. He asked, among other things, simply, ''Why don't you work in baseball?" and added, ''We're intent on building an open, warm, and exciting working environment for the best in the game on and off the field. With or without you, we are going to be building on what you have introduced to the game we love."

James had been working on the fringes of professional baseball for more than 20 years when he got that first e-mail from Henry. He had arbitrated and secretly consulted for other teams, including the Royals in the 1990s. In those days, admitting James might be right was a Major League Baseball faux pas (he says there was ''very strong resistance" to his ideas in the organized baseball community for about 15 years), so part of his agreements with teams was silence, and that didn't bode well for James, who responded to an e-mail requesting an interview with, ''Oh, I talk to everyone." His early work with teams was frustrating and unsuccessful, a pattern he has broken since joining the Sox. And while Henry's pitch was quite compelling, James says he didn't need to be convinced.

''I was always battling the fact that people didn't really understand what I was talking about," James says. ''Theo and John Henry understand what I'm saying usually before I finish the sentence. When I tried working for other teams . . . I was talking gibberish."

Then, trailing off in notable Jamesian fashion and slipping into an impersonation, he adds, ''It was a failure to communicate, in the words of Cool Hand Luke. Did you ever see 'Cool Hand Luke?' "

In Boston, communication is not a problem. When James was hired in November 2002, the Sox didn't hesitate to make it public. Assistant GM Jed Hoyer says announcing James's hiring was never a question.

''Why hide it?" Hoyer says. ''It's something we're very proud of. We want to hire the best employees possible and from our standpoint why would we hide that?

''One thing with Bill is he's been a lightning rod for controversy, because there's a lot of conflict surrounding the sabermetric community, and he's considered kind of the godfather of that, but he doesn't care what people think about him, say about him. In that aspect I think he's perfect for Boston. He's unflappable."

James says he feels welcome to voice his opinions to the front office, but generally waits until someone asks. How important is he to the Sox? ''If I were to drop dead it would be quite awhile before the Red Sox noticed." Do they make moves you don't recommend? ''Yes, sometimes I'm filing a minority report," such as this spring, when James argued vociferously against one player and the Sox invited him to spring training nonetheless.

Feeling at home

Many of James's opinions are vented in the requisite quarterly reports. The first three years James worked for the Sox, one of those reports was a free agent analysis submitted to Epstein shortly before Thanksgiving. This year, because he ''had a different relationship with the committee that was steering the Red Sox" during Epstein's absence from the team, James didn't submit a free agent analysis.

Generally, though, the report details every player who might be a free agent in the upcoming season, an estimate of what he will sign for, and James's comments -- longer comments on players whom the Sox might be interested in, ''one-word" comments on the others. (Henry says James's reports are so valuable that ''a long time from now" James should publish them in their entirety).

A project James was working on after returning from Fort Myers involved comparing players' strikeout rates in the minor leagues with their strikeout rates in the majors. James predicts a player strikes out more in the majors than in the minors ''almost 100 percent of the time." He is trying to find out how the numbers relate so scouts have a guidepost for determining if a prospect should be moved down the list based on their current strikeout percentage.

It's the kind of thing James loves -- it's the work he loves from the place he loves. It's walking down Massachusetts Street (Lawrence's downtown, chosen because the town's settlers were from Massachusetts) without being noticed. It's KU basketball, and keeping stats at his son's Little League games. And, after all these years and all those books (26), it's about still loving baseball. Sure, this place feels a world away from Fenway, but it was here that James grew up in harmony with one fundamental Boston tradition.

A Kansas City A's fan as a child, James read ''The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant" annually, and he's been quoted as saying, ''Kansas City hates the Yankees more than Boston does." He also made sure his children (Rachel, a sophomore at Hollins University in Virginia; Isaac, a senior at Lawrence's Free State High School; and Reuben, a sixth-grader) got the message, reading the book at least twice to each of them.

McCarthy says the kids always knew their dad was famous in the baseball world but didn't realize how famous until he got the Sox job. Rachel is the only one in the family who reads stories about her father (her parents stopped long ago), and Isaac is the only one sabermetric-minded.

So when your own kids don't really think you're all that big of a deal, and you live in a town where celebrity reaches its zenith on the floor of the Jayhawks' Allen Fieldhouse, a baseball stat guy, no matter how genius, enjoys unbridled anonymity.

''I realized the other day that Isaac's best friend has no idea who I am," James says laughing. ''That's fine. That's perfect, actually."

Serious approach

Perhaps it's that humbling existence that keeps James so modest. As the inventor of the Runs Created stat, and Major League Equivalency, which predicts how a minor league player will perform in the majors, along with several others stats, James's contributions to baseball are undeniable. Still he remains hesitant to claim his work has any real value.

His two favorite hobbies -- baseball and crime novels -- are things he says ''respectful academics wouldn't touch." Whatever causes James's self-effacing style, he says it's left him ''spending a lot of time declining invitations to take myself seriously." But writing 26 books is serious business, and James admits a staid approach when it comes to his passions.

''I'm every bit as serious about trying to figure out baseball as an economist is about trying to figure out the economy," he says. ''[When I read crime novels], I'm just as serious about trying to figure out what happened there as an academic is trying to figure out something about cancer research. It's not that I really believe it's important. I'm not under some illusion that this actually makes any difference. I just take a very academic interest in things that are not academically appropriate."

Academic or not, James's work has secured his place in baseball lore and, at present, in the Sox' front office. And when the senior baseball operations adviser does drive the 51 miles from Lawrence to the Kansas City International Airport, and takes the inevitable two-flight trip to join his colleagues on Yawkey Way, Henry says James's presence turns grown men into little boys.

''When he arrives for a stint in Boston, it really feels like baseball's wizard has arrived," Henry says. ''There is a feeling of wonder and awe from those of us who really appreciate Bill's genius and demeanor. He is one of a kind."

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2006/03/30/inviting_e_mail_from_henry/



Inviting e-mail from Henry

March 30, 2006

Most of the original e-mail John Henry sent to Bill James, inviting him to work for the Sox

Bill,

Rob Neyer gave me your email address. I'm John Henry, principal owner of the Red Sox. I'm taking the liberty of writing you because I am a long-time fan of yours and your work.

If I may ask, why you don't work in baseball? Rob told me that at one point you did consult for the Royals. I would think you might find it quite rewarding to work with a group of like-minded people within MLB. Theo Epstein, our Asst GM, said to me recently, ''Why don't we recruit Bill James?" I was a little shocked because I think so many people in MLB fail to acknowledge your contributions to the game.

We're intent on building an open, warm and exciting working environment for the best in the game on and off the field. With or without you, we are going to be building on what you have introduced to the game we love. We have access to great universities. We have access to highly intelligent people who love the Red Sox and thrive on devising strategies. But most of all we have a commitment to the people of New England to bring a world championship to a community that lives and dies daily with the fortunes of their Old Towne Team.

We're engaged in this epic, long-term battle/saga with the New York Yankees. We are determined to achieve what no long-suffering, die-hard Red Sox fan believes can actually happen. Wherever we go across the nation, Red Sox fans come out in large numbers. They're all waiting to be delivered. It's not an exaggeration. Short of war, there has not been a bigger quest since King Arthur's days. We've joined together, we're having a lot of fun and it's just beginning here.

Perhaps there is a way to fulfill your mission in baseball beyond the significant achievements you have already attained.

Best Regards,

John

There's been some lengthy discussion on SoSH about one specific section of the James article, which I have extracted and quoted below ...


Go ahead and ask him, but good luck getting a straight answer. Bill James is not a yes-or-no kind of guy. He will let you in, but just a little. No names, of course. No specifics. But shortly after returning from an eight-day trip to Fort Myers, Fla., in February, James described one of the 16 ''work projects" he picked up at spring training.

''There's a player on our team who we might keep or who we might trade," he generalizes. ''And there's an issue about his performance last year about which we need specific information. The specific information is, do players who have this tendency ever get over it or is it permanent?

''I need to study that, and I need to get that done within a week or two because I need to send it to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] because Theo needs to make a decision. Is this guy going to stay with us or do we involve him in a trade?"

SoSH discussion on that very quote can be found at ... http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?showtopic=4661&st=0 ... essentially some Boston fans are pondering if that very player in question is Bronson Arroyo. It is unknown whether or not the player in question really is Bronson Arroyo, but it's an interesting tidbit nonetheless considering the recent Arroyo/Pena trade.

traderumor
03-30-2006, 06:18 PM
Ooh, cryptic messages. That's what keeps forums interesting.:D

Cyclone792
03-30-2006, 06:24 PM
Ooh, cryptic messages. That's what keeps forums interesting.:D

:laugh:

Yep, and in no way am I suggesting that it is Arroyo, just an outside possibility. On SoSH, there's been a plethora of names thrown around, from Mohr to Clement (beaning incident) to Lowell to Snow to Nixon, etc. etc. and it goes on and on.

There's some possibility he was referring to Arroyo, but from his quotes it's impossible to determine with any certainty whether it's Arroyo or not. Just one of those things that makes you scratch your head and go "Hmmm ..."

If I was pinned down to guess who, my guess would be Clement and the dropoff in his performance after being beaned. But even that is just a type of rough guess, not much more.

Johnny Footstool
03-30-2006, 06:49 PM
If I was pinned down to guess who, my guess would be Clement and the dropoff in his performance after being beaned. But even that is just a type of rough guess, not much more.

Or Arroyo's bloody ridiculous decline in K/9. Just another rough guess. :)

marcshoe
03-30-2006, 11:52 PM
So, what is the history of players whose k/9 ratios drop recovering to their previous form?

(have to say I liked what I saw today in that regard, but it is just one game, of course.)

fwiw, I immediately thought of Clement and the ball-to-the-head thing. But who knows?

Eric_Davis
03-31-2006, 03:57 PM
So, should no one ever attempt to make a trade with the Red Sox as long as Bill James works for them? .....unless you have your own Bill James clone working for you?

What this tells me is that the Red Sox are a team that is willing to make a trade at any time, and that you should always have ongoing discussions with them. And, that it's an organization where you can make an offer towards their weaknesses in the minor leagues, and pull from their strengths (assuming their strengths will help your weaknesses).

Also, if you have Bill James working for you for four years, then you should have one of the top 3 minor league systems in baseball. Well, do they?

westofyou
03-31-2006, 04:04 PM
Also, if you have Bill James working for you for four years, then you should have one of the top 3 minor league systems in baseball.Why would they have one of the top 5 systems? Jame's specialty isn't drafting talent, nor scouting.

Dom Heffner
03-31-2006, 04:15 PM
There was also an article in Esquire this month that was awesome. One thing mentioned in the article is that James said that lineups are pretty arbitrary and that it doesn't matter what order you place people in, you get the same production.

Did I interpret that incorrectly?

Eric_Davis
03-31-2006, 04:17 PM
As an advisor he has a book on every player in professional baseball in america, which would allow you to trade minor league talent for minor league talent (AAA for A players), thus by one trade at a time, developing your system in the best in baseball.

I don't know how the RED SOX rank, but I'd guess that they would be in the top five of most minor league rankings.

traderumor
03-31-2006, 04:27 PM
So, should no one ever attempt to make a trade with the Red Sox as long as Bill James works for them? .....unless you have your own Bill James clone working for you?

What this tells me is that the Red Sox are a team that is willing to make a trade at any time, and that you should always have ongoing discussions with them. And, that it's an organization where you can make an offer towards their weaknesses in the minor leagues, and pull from their strengths (assuming their strengths will help your weaknesses).

Also, if you have Bill James working for you for four years, then you should have one of the top 3 minor league systems in baseball. Well, do they?I would say that the Red Sox are an organization with a competitive advantage by hiring someone who knows what they're talking about and can give good advice to help them win baseball games. The other teams should be just as busy trying to identify and secure their own competitive advantages. For example, the Braves and A's have and retain the services of GM's who consistently put together winning baseball teams.

It's just like any other business. The successful organizations have talented people in the right positions and give them the latitude to do their things AND listen to their advice. Bad ones do things like allow nepotism or good ole boy networks to influence hiring decisions or do not hire people smarter than themselves for job security. I'll let you guess which model the Reds have followed the last 10 years. :)

Sabo Fan
03-31-2006, 04:31 PM
There was also an article in Esquire this month that was awesome. One thing mentioned in the article is that James said that lineups are pretty arbitrary and that it doesn't matter what order you place people in, you get the same production.

Did I interpret that incorrectly?

Interestingly enough, there was a question in today's BP chat with Jay Jaffe about that topic that came out of a question about sabermetrically inclined managers:


Q: Anti-sabermetric due to poor batting orders? One of the first take-aways I got from James' work in the early '80s was batting orders didn't make that much difference in terms of runs or wins assuming no interaction among variables. However, there is interaction among variables meaning what makes a batting order good or bad is not putting high OBP guys first but putting players who could help each other near each other. Meaning put the fastball hitter in a spot where he would get more fastballs such as after 2 or 3 fast runners.

Jay Jaffe: You're right in that batting orders alone don't make much difference, 1-2 wins a year, maybe -- but then 1-2 wins often means the difference between the Wild Card and golf in October.

Sometimes when we kvetch about batting order, it's really a proxy for complaining that certain mangers neglect the importance of OBP while overvaluing small-ball maneuvers such as the stolen base and sac bunt. That kind of stuff gets me riled up, at the very least.

Dom Heffner
03-31-2006, 04:38 PM
To me there is no way to test for this because we cannot predict the pitches that a player will see during his AB, which vary depending on the batting order.

Bonds is awesome, yes, but his HR and walk totals would vary if he had Ortiz, Cabrera, and David Wright batting behind him versus Michael Tucker, Ron oester, and Herm Winningham.

In one scenario you have to pitch to him and in the other you don't, so I'm not sure how he can say it doesn't mattter.

The guy is obviously a genius, so I'm probably not looking at it the wrong way, but to me, I'm not sure how he can test this model by using a computer program or mathematical model because there is no way to look at what pitches a guy would see.

Someone steer me straight here. :)

westofyou
03-31-2006, 04:41 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/sports/basketball/19score.html

Are the Mets Out of Order? It Doesn't Matter

By ALAN SCHWARZ
Published: March 19, 2006


For a player so seemingly perfect, David Wright is causing his manager some real headaches.

Wright, the Mets' 23-year-old third baseman, has done it all in his first season and a half in the majors, hitting for average (.302) and power (41 home runs), with speed (23 stolen bases) consistency and the plate discipline of a veteran.

Wright's versatility and aptitude suggest that he could hit anywhere in the batting order, his varied skills meeting every prerequisite.

The mounting debate among the news media and the fans has left Mets Manager Willie Randolph, who will make the decision, understandably chafed by rampant suggestions and theories from those who will not. Perhaps he will find some comfort in what the statistics folks have to say: It does not matter.

Randolph, a lifelong baseball man, retains a traditional image of what the top of his lineup should look like: A leadoff speedster (in this case, José Reyes), then a patient bat-control man (perhaps the new catcher Paul Lo Duca), then a veteran all-around hitter (Carlos Beltran), then the top slugger (the newly acquired Carlos Delgado).

This would push Wright — whom Randolph kept in the 7 and 6 holes most of last year to protect him from undue pressure — to No. 5 in the order, despite his growing reputation as the Mets' most potent offensive threat.

Randolph claims to be considering all his options, including having Wright hit as high as second.

"David saw more pitches than anybody on our team last year," Randolph said. (Wright's 3.98 pitches each plate appearance were the Mets' most.)

But for all the debate about where players should bat, deeper statistical methods have revealed that the order barely makes a difference — and the difference can be quite counterintuitive.

Mark Pankin, a financial adviser based in Lincoln, Va., has developed one of the most advanced computer models of lineup behavior, a method that simulates all the interactions among hitters and their tendencies to hit doubles, draw walks and more.

Using last year's statistics, Pankin turned it loose on the Mets and a half-dozen plausible batting orders.

Whether Lo Duca, Wright or Beltran batted anywhere from second to sixth, each order scored at rates of 4.82, 4.83 or 4.84 runs a game — which over a 162-game season would be a difference of merely three total runs.

"No matter how you look at it, switching hitters around only makes a difference in the second decimal place," Pankin said. "It basically doesn't matter."

This same conclusion has been reached by Bill James and dozens of other lineup empiricists.

And one irritated manager. In 1972, the Tigers' Billy Martin pulled names out of a hat to order his lineup against Cleveland, and wound up with the plodding slugger Norm Cash batting leadoff and the anemic shortstop Eddie Brinkman at cleanup. Deliciously, Brinkman wound up in the middle of the afternoon's key rally, doubling home the tying run and scoring the game-winner in the Tigers' 3-2 victory.

Many have posited over the years that putting batters in reverse order of overall skill — something the renegade manager Bobby Bragan tried a few times in the 1950's and 60's, including having the slugger Eddie Mathews bat leadoff — would produce the most runs, by virtue of those hitters getting more plate appearances over the course of a season. But Pankin's model demonstrated that it was not quite so simple.

Strangely enough, Pankin found that the most efficient lineup (assuming Reyes led off, an inevitability) featured Lo Duca second, then Delgado, Wright, Cliff Floyd and then Beltran; the worst had Wright batting second and Beltran third. (Even allowing Beltran to improve from last year's disappointing New York debut did not change matters much.) The reason, it appears, comes in how managers gear their lineups toward first-inning potency, at the expense of later innings.

A Reyes-Wright-Delgado start did enjoy the best first inning — but carried with it a 59.3 chance that the Nos. 4 or 5 hitters (Floyd and Beltran) led off the second inning, costing that frame more than the first inning had benefited. With Reyes-Lo Duca-Delgado-Wright-Floyd-Beltran, the best hitters (Delgado and Wright) usually came up with either runners on base in the first or led off the next.

"You weaken the first inning a bit, but you strengthen the second," Pankin said.

It appears as if Pankin is on to something. According to Stats LLC, over the past five seasons, more runs were scored in the first (1.16) than second (0.97) innings. But the average of those two (1.06) was still lower than any inning until the seventh — when relievers start taking over — suggesting that managers are indeed overplaying their first-inning hands.

So perhaps Wright's supporters should not worry so much about where he hits — as long as he hits.

"I really don't care," Wright said. "I'm still going to go up there with the same approach hitting second that I'd be hitting seventh or fourth."

In the end, when it comes to lineups, it's mind over doesn't matter.

Roy Tucker
03-31-2006, 04:43 PM
Ooh, cryptic messages. That's what keeps forums interesting.:D
http://www.radioarchives.org/annie/ring.gif

Doc. Scott
03-31-2006, 05:42 PM
There was also an article in Esquire this month that was awesome. One thing mentioned in the article is that James said that lineups are pretty arbitrary and that it doesn't matter what order you place people in, you get the same production.

Did I interpret that incorrectly?

His point of view has evolved. I remember an article in the 1988 Baseball Abstract that tested the Red Sox lineup of that year in different configurations. The one where Wade Boggs was at the top scored the most runs despite the fact that he was slow on the basepaths. Boston had been leading off with Ellis Burks, the guy with the second-worst OBP of the starters (ahead of only whoever was catching that day). He did say that the change in runs was not humongous, but it was somewhat different.

Most managers and Marty Brennaman are still catching up with this.

pedro
03-31-2006, 06:45 PM
I thought the Mets article was weak because they did not try to see what the results would be if Reyes didn't hit #1

IslandRed
03-31-2006, 07:20 PM
Exactly, pedro. What's the use of an analysis that doesn't ask the one question screaming for an answer?

Dom Heffner
03-31-2006, 08:15 PM
His point of view has evolved. I remember an article in the 1988 Baseball Abstract that tested the Red Sox lineup of that year in different configurations. The one where Wade Boggs was at the top scored the most runs despite the fact that he was slow on the basepaths. Boston had been leading off with Ellis Burks, the guy with the second-worst OBP of the starters (ahead of only whoever was catching that day). He did say that the change in runs was not humongous, but it was somewhat different.


Please correct me if I am wrong here because I really want to understand this stuff. I find James intriguing because he has totally changed the way I think about stats.

My problem with the Red Sox model is that we have to base the stats used in the study on something, and he is basing them on stats used in standard lineups.

This is an important distinction because we can't assume Wade Boggs would have the same number of anything hitting in a drastically different place in a lineup.

I mean, if Wade Boggs OBP is .400, it's not .400 with the #9 hitter behind him, it's .400 with the #2 hitter behind him or #4 hitter. That changes things because he is seeing better pitches with better hitters behind him. I just think there are some huge assumptions that need to be accounted for. They may have done that, it's just a question I have.

I may be looking at this wrong, so someone help me out, but I don't know how James is using the base data.

REDREAD
03-31-2006, 08:16 PM
To me there is no way to test for this because we cannot predict the pitches that a player will see during his AB, which vary depending on the batting order.

Bonds is awesome, yes, but his HR and walk totals would vary if he had Ortiz, Cabrera, and David Wright batting behind him versus Michael Tucker, Ron oester, and Herm Winningham.


I agree 100%.. computer simulations are based on assumptions, therefore they may or may not reflect reality.

For example, how does the program adjust based on who's on deck? Does it? Does it assume the pitchers pitch Bonds the same way whether there's men on base or not? Does it assume pitchers have the ability to "reach back" for something extra in a tight spot (I don't know if they can or not, but some pitchers claim they can)..

I find it really hard to swallow that lineup construction makes no difference. Maybe it makes little difference if you're the Yanks or Red Sox and have a stud at every position.. But what if you have a lineup with 7 Womacks and 2 Dunns? I can guarantee more runs are scored if you bat the two Dunns back to back, as opposed to having one Dunn bat 4th and the other Dunn bat 9th.

KronoRed
03-31-2006, 09:02 PM
http://www.radioarchives.org/annie/ring.gif
Kewl.

4256 Hits
03-31-2006, 10:16 PM
What I believe about putting together the best line-up means putting the teams best hitters (highest OPS) at the top of the order so that they will get the most at bats.

Cyclone792
04-01-2006, 01:53 AM
Regarding batting orders, this article is interesting ...

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/constructing-lineups/

I was going to also copy/paste, but it has a plethora of links and charts so everybody is best off just using the actual link to The Hardball Times. The most interesting section to me I quoted below ...


The Book Says: (http://www.insidethebook.com/)

Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2 and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality.

The Book (http://www.insidethebook.com/) is referring to the recent publication of the work of Tom Tango (TangoTiger), Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin.