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westofyou
04-28-2007, 12:37 PM
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6159


The Giants aren’t as bad as 4-8 or as good as 8-0. They are what they were leaving the Cactus League: a team with one clearly above-average hitter, a ball-in-play staff fronting a subpar defense, and far too many players who remember the heyday of Lee jeans and untied Adidas. That they struggled in the season’s first four series shouldn’t have caused me to go on the air and decide to change my opinion of them. They’ll be on the fringe of the NL West and wild-card races all year long, their chances hinging heavily on how many innings they get from Tim Lincecum and how many ABs they get from Bonds.

I’m not sure why I made these mistakes. For years, I’ve been pounding the idea that two weeks, four weeks, even eight weeks of baseball is as likely to be deceptive as it is informative, so much so that a number of you are likely clicking over to Hit List or Lies Damned Lies or Paris Hilton—you know who you are—rather than continue reading another rant about this. I’m writing about it again today as much as a self-flagellation exercise as anything else, I guess. I’m annoyed with myself for making stupid statements on the air, for falling into the instant-analysis trap, rather than sticking to my guns and repeating the mantra—it’s just not enough time to reach conclusions. Doing radio is fun, and to be blunt, pretty important to both the business side of BP and Joe Sheehan. Doing it poorly, however, serves no one.

Is there anything that can be gleaned from the season’s first four weeks, any real information that might be useful in figuring out where we stand? I hesitate to dip my toe in these waters, but I will say that I’ve noticed the following things that I suspect may be useful going forward. The threat of confirmation bias is present in much of this, but I’m comfortable with saying…

* Parity, 1980s style, is back in a big way. There are only three or four very good teams—the Red Sox, Indians, Mets, and maybe the Yankees—and just a couple of truly bad ones, the Nationals and Royals. The 24 teams between those two groups are just a mess, and delineating various virtues from among them a nightmare. We’re going to spend the year overreacting to the ones that string together six-game winning or losing streaks, when that just won’t mean all that much.

* The Cubs’ problems are greatly overstated. They have managed to underperform their indicators by more than a win a week, and that won’t last. Just two NL teams have a better run differential than their +13, and I expect they’ll be leading the NL Central by the All-Star break.

* The hot trend in baseball, wrapping up players for a long time before they can reach the market, is the only rational way of spending the extra money coming into the game. It adds some risk for the teams, but consider that the competitive market for talent last winter priced Gil Meche at $11 million per season. The Cubs, it is rumored, may sign Carlos Zambrano for $16 million per before he gets out there. For virtually any player of value, a team will be better off locking him up rather than allowing competition for his services. This is a sharp reversal from the talent market of 2002-2004.

Falls City Beer
04-28-2007, 12:49 PM
I agree with a number things the author wrote: 1. Parity most certainly is back. You're just ignoring it if you don't think it's true.

2. Four weeks can be and cannot be informative or predictive.

However, when you follow a team as closely as most of us do the Reds, you DO know what you have as a team (i.e., what you can or should expect from the 25 men on the roster); you also have SOME inkling of what your team's minors have in store for you. The only real x-factor for us informed fans at this point is what this team can pick up via trade.

So while it might be "overreaction" to say that we know how the whole division is going to shake out over the course of the year by examining only 4 weeks of the season, I think it's fair to say that informed fans know what they can roughly expect from their own squad, if not the rosters of other teams.

And I don't see any reason why the Reds can't be as bad as the Royals this season.

westofyou
04-28-2007, 12:52 PM
And I don't see any reason why the Reds can't be as bad as the Royals this season.

I got one.

Strength of schedule. The Royals play 3 teams that are picked to be above .500 17 times. Plus they play the Bosox, Yankees and Angels 6 times each.

Falls City Beer
04-28-2007, 12:59 PM
I got one.

Strength of schedule. The Royals play 3 teams that are picked to be above .500 17 times. Plus they play the Bosox, Yankees and Angels 6 times each.

That may be true. But the Reds are getting serious beatdowns within their own division (the only team they've beaten in their own division is the Cubs--and they will certainly fall below .500 against the Pirates tonight); better hope that doesn't keep up or they just might end up beneath the Royals, both in record and pythag.

westofyou
04-28-2007, 01:04 PM
That may be true. But the Reds are getting serious beatdowns within their own division (the only team they've beaten in their own division is the Cubs--and they will certainly fall below .500 against the Pirates tonight); better hope that doesn't keep up or they just might end up beneath the Royals, both in record and pythag.
Royals sit at -32 already, Reds -11. That's almost a full run a game, serious catchup. Better get on my rally cap.

RFS62
04-28-2007, 01:10 PM
If the Reds hitters who are in a slump right now don't come out of it, we're doomed.

To be this close to .500 with all the players in a funk is encouraging to me.

I don't think we're seeing the real team.

And that works both ways, I know.

StillFunkyB
04-28-2007, 01:49 PM
If the Reds hitters who are in a slump right now don't come out of it, we're doomed.

To be this close to .500 with all the players in a funk is encouraging to me.

I don't think we're seeing the real team.

And that works both ways, I know.

Yes, and I would much rather have them in a slump right now in April, and May if it means they will be on track in August, and September.

pedro
04-28-2007, 03:37 PM
If the Reds hitters who are in a slump right now don't come out of it, we're doomed.

To be this close to .500 with all the players in a funk is encouraging to me.

I don't think we're seeing the real team.

And that works both ways, I know.

They could really use some RH pop at 1B and Edwin has to start hitting. Otherwise, they're screwed.

M2
04-28-2007, 04:06 PM
The Reds don't have the best model. Hard to look at this team and imagine it's going to be good at any particular facet of the game. For it to put together even a mildly interesting season, something unforeseen's going to have to emerge.

pedro
04-28-2007, 04:20 PM
The Reds don't have the best model. Hard to look at this team and imagine it's going to be good at any particular facet of the game. For it to put together even a mildly interesting season, something unforeseen's going to have to emerge.

And that's on top of the already unforeseen emergence of Hamilton.

The offense has been much worse so far than even I would have imagined. The starting pitching OTOH, has been much better. Either way, this team, as currently constructed, is still is unlikely to win more than 80-85 wins under the best of circumstances.

D-Man
04-28-2007, 04:45 PM
The offense has been much worse so far than even I would have imagined.


The offensive BABIP is .266, which would be historically low it if were to continue. The hits just are not falling in, and I expect it to turn around in a pretty substantial way.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

Falls City Beer
04-28-2007, 04:47 PM
The offensive BABIP is .266, which would be historically low it if were to continue. The hits just are not falling in, and I expect it to turn around in a pretty substantial way.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

Good point. I think this offense gets a pretty serious bum rap. I too think it will click, as long as Hamilton keeps getting ABs and Edwin is put in the lineup every single day, come hell or high water.

But unlike most, I'm still not sold on this rotation. At all.

And the bullpen just flat-out speaks for itself. It doesn't need my help.

Cooper
04-28-2007, 04:54 PM
Good stat D-Man.

Didn't realize it was that low.

RedsManRick
04-28-2007, 05:10 PM
Thanks for the heads up on that stat, D-Man. Just to show how "unlucky" the Reds have been:


According to Dave Studemund of The Hardball Times, league-wide BABIP generally equals LD% + about .110 in the AL and .100 in the NL.
-The Baseball Analysts

Here's the THT data pared down a little:


BA OBP SLG ISO GB% LD% FB% BABIP eBABIP difference
FLA .278 .353 .471 .193 42% 19% 39% .338 .290 0.048
PHI .274 .367 .441 .167 45% 18% 37% .316 .280 0.036
COL .261 .340 .362 .101 46% 20% 34% .318 .300 0.018
SF .250 .308 .385 .135 48% 17% 35% .288 .270 0.018
NYN .295 .365 .465 .170 41% 22% 37% .336 .320 0.016
SD .257 .330 .413 .155 41% 19% 40% .304 .290 0.014
LAN .267 .336 .381 .114 46% 19% 35% .303 .290 0.013
PIT .239 .300 .362 .123 45% 17% 38% .283 .270 0.013
ATL .261 .350 .444 .184 43% 19% 38% .302 .290 0.012
MIL .272 .342 .453 .181 43% 19% 38% .301 .290 0.011
HOU .240 .321 .372 .133 45% 17% 38% .276 .270 0.006
CHN .269 .325 .414 .145 43% 21% 36% .314 .310 0.004
STL .250 .317 .364 .114 45% 18% 37% .279 .280 -0.001
WAS .240 .319 .345 .106 44% 19% 37% .285 .290 -0.005
ARI .238 .317 .371 .132 39% 18% 43% .266 .280 -0.014
CIN .235 .310 .380 .145 39% 22% 39% .266 .320 -0.054
AVG: .258 .331 .401 .144 43% 19% 38% .298 .290 .008

The last column can basically be read as "luck", with positive being lucky and negative being unlucky. The bottom line is that the Reds are walking a lot and have good ISO SLG, but just aren't getting as many hits as their batted ball data would suggest. Furthermore, no other team is even in the Reds in terms of being unlucky. The AVG eBABIP difference is nearly .001, suggesting the LD%+.1 formula is a little low at the moment. But if you make it .11 to bring the average closer to 0, the Reds get even less lucky. I can understand anybody being a little wary of this sort of analysis and certainly the Reds don't have a great contact lineup in the first place, but they aren't THIS bad. Give them even half of that difference, 25 points of BA and they're an above average offense. Give them all that difference, and they're top 5.

traderumor
04-28-2007, 06:05 PM
The offense could still be Ok, but this offense, with Hamilton replacing Aurilia and Gonzo an upgrade over Clayton (who isn't), it is still the same one that struggled big time post trade. Griffey may have already used up his nine lives, which leaves you with Dunn, who just isn't excelling as "the man" in the lineup. He clearly needs help and fast. It could still come in house, those two balls EE hit last night give him a two homer night in some ballparks, including his home one. Talk about BABIP, he crushed those balls and had nothing to show for them.

But, could this be the norm since this is what we have seen from the last month of last season through the first month of this one?

dsmith421
04-28-2007, 07:17 PM
It certainly doesn't help that the entire team seems to have embraced the Vladimir Guerrero batting philosophy. Which is fine if you're Vladimir Guerrero.

Generally, the Reds' at-bats this year have been abysmal. Unlike the offenses of a few years ago that would wear down the opposition through patience at the plate, this hacking philosophy is just getting us nowhere. If that's Jacoby's philosophy, he needs to be fired yesterday.

pedro
04-28-2007, 07:21 PM
My guess is that with guys like Hatteberg, Conine, Valentin and Gonzalez getting a good number of AB's that the reds will have a somewhat low BAPIP this year, even though it does stand to improve from where it's at.

WVRedsFan
04-29-2007, 01:56 AM
If the Reds hitters who are in a slump right now don't come out of it, we're doomed.

To be this close to .500 with all the players in a funk is encouraging to me.

I don't think we're seeing the real team.

And that works both ways, I know.

You saw he real team tonight IMHO. Despite the screwy lineup, you saw a team where everyone contributed in some way. Even Dunn walked. Ross and EdE got 2 hits each, and Conine was magnificent. Couple that with good pitching and you get a big win. All that against a lefty that had given us trouble in the past. Nice.

There is no doubt that our starting pitching is better. Arroyo and Harang will 90% of the time be on and good. Belisle should be at the 70% level soon and Lohse around 60%. That's not too shabby. That Milton fellow is around 50%--the norm for 5th starters. The bullpen needs improvement, but I have a feeling they're working on that.

Now, if could get Dunn, EdE, and Ross up to what they should be doing, we're in business regardless of Narron's boneheaded moves. They should win in spite of him. At least, I hope so.

VR
04-29-2007, 02:08 AM
There are a few signs I am really encouraged by.

The pitching staff has the best k/bb rate in the majors, along with the fewest bb's (quite a large lead there, actually)
Very counter to Reds baseball 2000-2006 version.

What I don't like is all the unearned runs so far...but the defense they put out there is categorically better than previous years...they'll come around.

Eric_Davis
04-29-2007, 02:28 AM
You can gleen one thing from the first four weeks.

Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are useless.

Eric_Davis
04-29-2007, 02:30 AM
Pretty good defense today in support of Belisle. Two DP's and no errors....at least statistically. I didn't see the game.

Maybe our pitchers need to work faster. Belisle said that the rhythm was great today.

GAC
04-29-2007, 08:28 AM
Good article woy. Offensively, this team looks bad; but probably falls somewhere in the middle IMO. I think the starting rotation is for real and much improved. This offense is dependent for run production on guys like Jr, Dunn, Freel, and EE primarily. You can now throw Hamilton in that mix; but it wasn't a given going into ST and/or the season. But thank God for what he (and Conine) have contributed so far. He certainly won't make us miss Kearns.

I take a good hard look at the standings coming to the end of this April and it's like I'm in a bizzaro world. And why are alot of the teams we consider contenders struggling, for the most part? They are having problems with their bullpens. It has really hurt the Yanks, and they are out looking. But if they can't find it, even with the money they can spend, then how is anyone else?

So far....


AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS AVG
Dunn 85 15 22 4 0 5 10 13 32 5 0 .357 .482 .839 .259
Griffey 59 8 15 5 0 1 9 12 5 0 0 .380 .390 .770 .254
EE 73 6 14 1 0 0 7 6 14 2 0 .272 .205 .477 .192
Freel 79 14 21 3 1 0 1 9 15 5 3 .348 .329 .677 .266

Hubba
04-29-2007, 11:10 AM
and they will certainly fall below .500 against the Pirates tonight); better hope that doesn't keep up or they just might end up beneath the Royals, both in record and pythag.
:mooner: