View Full Version : How do they expect the offense to function?

During the end of the Bowden years and then again during the O'Brien era, the reds seemed to evaluate starting pitchers by the number of wins the starting pitcher had a couple of years ago. We heard about it with Ramon Ortiz and Paul Wilson and Jimmy Haynes. "He was a 15 game winner two years ago" like that was an individual accomplishment and not a function of the quality of his teammates. As a predictor of future success that particular measurement didn't work out very well. Anybody who has played any fantasy game could have told them as much.

At it's root the whole moneyball idea is to find a place where the market for talent is undervalued and exploit that inefficiency. The A's looked for On Base Percentage which is the single most valuable offensive number and defense. The idea was that Your gus would get on base and not use outs on offense and on defense you would turn more of the balls in play into outs.

The reds on the other hand seem enamored with power. Cantu, Gill, Gonzales to a lesser degree Phillips....they're all decent enough players whose primary offensive value doesn't lie in their ability to get on base, but in their ability to drive the ball for extra bases. David Ross is in the same bin. His OBP is negligible. Almost all of his offensive value lies in his homers. Cody Ross was the same way.

Given that the offense already has Dunn and Junior and a park where even powerless players can crack out a homer now and then, is this a reasonable approach to building a team?

Johnny Footstool

07-30-2007, 12:32 PM

During the end of the Bowden years and then again during the O'Brien era, the reds seemed to evaluate starting pitchers by the number of wins the starting pitcher had a couple of years ago. We heard about it with Ramon Ortiz and Paul Wilson and Jimmy Haynes. "He was a 15 game winner two years ago" like that was an individual accomplishment and not a function of the quality of his teammates. As a predictor of future success that particular measurement didn't work out very well. Anybody who has played any fantasy game could have told them as much.

At it's root the whole moneyball idea is to find a place where the market for talent is undervalued and exploit that inefficiency. The A's looked for On Base Percentage which is the single most valuable offensive number and defense. The idea was that Your gus would get on base and not use outs on offense and on defense you would turn more of the balls in play into outs.

The reds on the other hand seem enamored with power. Cantu, Gill, Gonzales to a lesser degree Phillips....they're all decent enough players whose primary offensive value doesn't lie in their ability to get on base, but in their ability to drive the ball for extra bases. David Ross is in the same bin. His OBP is negligible. Almost all of his offensive value lies in his homers. Cody Ross was the same way.

Given that the offense already has Dunn and Junior and a park where even powerless players can crack out a homer now and then, is this a reasonable approach to building a team?

Short answer, no.

OBP needs to drive the offense. SLG is an important ingredient, but OBP is the base.

RedsManRick

07-30-2007, 01:40 PM

The reds on the other hand seem enamored with power. Cantu, Gill, Gonzales to a lesser degree Phillips....they're all decent enough players whose primary offensive value doesn't lie in their ability to get on base, but in their ability to drive the ball for extra bases. David Ross is in the same bin. His OBP is negligible. Almost all of his offensive value lies in his homers. Cody Ross was the same way.

And there's the rub. At some point there are absolute values to things. Sure, the market might price something inappropriately, either high or low, relative to it's real value, but those real values don't change much. Speed helps. Slugging helps a lot. But OBP is life, and it doesn't seem like Reds brass understands that.

And so we end up having this debate of "Big Ball" (homers) vs. "Small Ball" (speed) and the real issue, OBP, goes undiscussed. You can score a lot of runs by getting guys on base and hitting home runs. You can score a lot of runs by getting guys on base and moving them around with speed and singles. But if you can't get guys on base, you can't score a lot of runs.

FWIW, I just ran the correlates of run scoring to date in MLB. Here are the R-squared. They are all positive.

0-.2, very little correlation

.2-.4, medium correlation

.4-.7, strong correlation

.7-1, very stong

BA: 0.65

OBP: .729

SLG: .800

OPS: .888

SB: .136

Bottom line. OBP matters. SLG matters. Combined we can gauge even better. Slugging continually correlates higher.

But here's the problem. Improving SLG at the cost of both average and general OBP doesn't help, because of the interaction effect between these skills. Player A's low OBP makes player B's high SLG less valuable more than the flip side due to the limit of outs per inning. Outs cost you opportunities to slug. A low slugging, non-out event might not score a lot of runs, but it still gives you another opportunity to slug.

Put another way, OBP is a an average of a binomial distribution: on base or out. A low OBP means a lot of bad outcomes. There's no in between. SLG is an average of 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 bases. So a "bad" slugging % can be a lot of good, but suboptimal outcomes (ie. singles).

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