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dougdirt
01-26-2009, 12:53 PM
That's a load of crap, and really not worthy of you or any poster. Any stat or idea that actually promotes the Reds should be used by the people in their employ. Do I think announcers should espose RC? no. probably too complicated. But OPS? The value of a BB? HELL YES! You do not dumb down to your audience, you raise them up. Marty's 1st job is play by play, his second job is to promote the team, not "tell it like it is", because his telling it like it is, is opinion not backed up by facts. He has 35 years in broadcasting and all he does is spew bile about the teams best players because they aren't Rose, Morgan or Bench. The best SS the franchise ever had, Barry Larkin, was subject to his bile.

The Reds beat writers tend to mail it in. Fay is a joke, Dougherty is an agenda writer, cuz stirring the pot is much better than an actual story.

The Reds only employ their announcers. Marty is a 'legend' so he gets away with a whole lot. The Reds should talk to him about not berating players on air, but they won't. Its dumb and it does indeed hurt your product. Its sad that the Reds don't see it, or won't do something about it.

As for the beat writers.... I won't fault them too much. I have talked with a few beat writers (inside and outside of the city) and really, you do need to write to your audience. Whether its by 'stirring the pot' in which case 70% of the fans actually agree with it because they are casual fans who don't get the entire concept of what it takes to win/lose or by keeping it simple, then its what someone does. Would I love to see a 'close to saberfriendly' beat writer? Absolutely. He wouldn't last two months in this town though. Its tough to educate people in a news paper because you can't print all of the proof in your article to show that OPS is better than AVG or that X stat is better than Y stat. You then are counting on people either 1), knowing the stuff already or 2), going to go find out what you just said. Odds are that the second thing isn't going to happen all that much, and group #1 is a big minority of the population.

TRF
01-26-2009, 01:05 PM
You start with your first article: OPS is better than BA, Here is Why. Don't get too stat heavy, just nudge the people a bit. Talk about how Branch Rickey invented OBP. Why BB's are good. You sew in these ideas in every article. The Reds have to do their part. emphasize more modern, but easy to use stats like OPS in their programs and scoreboards. Educate their players on using them in interviews. If the players use and understand them, the writers will too, because they'll have no choice. If EE in most of his interviews talks up his OBP, anyone that doesn't know what it is will eventually ask. Kind of like on here when people started posting "AFAIK". a few people didn't know what it stood for, and someone asked.

Learning never stops, and it's ok to teach and entertain in a column.

WMR
01-26-2009, 01:14 PM
You start with your first article: OPS is better than BA, Here is Why. Don't get too stat heavy, just nudge the people a bit. Talk about how Branch Rickey invented OBP. Why BB's are good. You sew in these ideas in every article. The Reds have to do their part. emphasize more modern, but easy to use stats like OPS in their programs and scoreboards. Educate their players on using them in interviews. If the players use and understand them, the writers will too, because they'll have no choice. If EE in most of his interviews talks up his OBP, anyone that doesn't know what it is will eventually ask. Kind of like on here when people started posting "AFAIK". a few people didn't know what it stood for, and someone asked.

Learning never stops, and it's ok to teach and entertain in a column.

I'll tell you another smart thing that a beat writer could do: in every column include a web address where all these "AFAIK" type terms and ideas are fully explained for the unwashed masses. Of course you'd also need a beat writer smarter than John Fay... ;)

westofyou
01-26-2009, 01:16 PM
FYI, Rickey was the first to apply OB% as a measuring metric, but he didn't really invent it. FC Lane was pushing Gavy Cravaths worth based on power and walks in the teens.

TRF
01-26-2009, 01:20 PM
FYI, Rickey was the first to apply OB% as a measuring metric, but he didn't really invent it. FC Lane was pushing Gavy Cravaths worth based on power and walks in the teens.

I stand corrected, but even talking about he Rickey used it could be valuable.

Emin3mShady07
01-26-2009, 01:54 PM
Cincinnati is a high profile market? :eek:

No, but Cincy is a much different case from Oakland. Has cincy ever decided to make a full scale move to sabermetrics like Oakland though? They have remained enough of an old baseball type team IMO that the overall team suffered even though the saber friendly guys did well. Plus Beane has never been in a long time winning drought, I mean 13 years without making the playoffs will make any fanbase upset and hungry for someone to blame.


Ummmm the Oakland media circus has more rings than you're giving credit for.

Well, I may be wrong but I think there is a combination factors working here. Maybe, I'm undervaluing the Oakland media, but when Beane took over, the A's they were coming off 4 losing seasons in a row and they continued to struggle the next two years. And as was also suggested other metric guys had preceeded him so his new strategy was not torn apart right away. I feel that if Beane had (this is pretty much speculation on my part) taken over after winning seasons, the media would have crucified him for two losing seasons in a row and not cared about his new approach to the game. But Beane dodged the bullet and went on to win 87+ games in each of the next 8 seasons, which then made it much harder to criticize the way Beane was doing business. Oakland fans may not have understood why they were winning, but the fact of the matter was they were winning so fans backed off - which I think is the key difference between Oakland and Cincinnati. It's not like Beane is spewing propaganda for his regime and the media bases itself off of that which was more of my point than the mellowness of the Oakland media.

Cincy has not been winning, so the media searches for a scapegoat and unfortunately landed on Dunn. Most people understand that Dunn was not one of the reasons the Reds were bad and I don't think the front office did anything to throw Dunn under the bus, but the media attacked him nonetheless. I am sure that the Oakland media criticized its players, but I don't remember Beane coming out and fighting for them which has to do more with my original point that I don't think that the front office shapes media opinion, then, eventually the Ws starting coming and critics were silenced or at very least, quieted. My feeling is that many fans think "well if this guy is so good, why isn't his team winning?" - similar to the anti-Albert Pujols MVP argument and while the FO can have some influence on the media, it plays very little of a role in shaping the overall opinion.

westofyou
01-26-2009, 02:03 PM
Well, I may be wrong but I think there is a combination factors working here. Maybe, I'm undervaluing the Oakland media, but when Beane took over, the A's they were coming off 4 losing seasons in a row and they continued to struggle the next two years. And as was also suggested other metric guys had preceeded him so his new strategy was not torn apart right away. I feel that if Beane had (this is pretty much speculation on my part) taken over after winning seasons, the media would have crucified him for two losing seasons in a row and not cared about his new approach to the game. But Beane dodged the bullet and went on to win 87+ games in each of the next 8 seasons, which then made it much harder to criticize the way Beane was doing business. Oakland fans may not have understood why they were winning, but the fact of the matter was they were winning so fans backed off - which I think is the key difference between Oakland and Cincinnati. It's not like Beane is spewing propaganda for his regime and the media bases itself off of that which was more of my point than the mellowness of the Oakland media.The beat for the A's include the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Contra Costa Times, Sacramento Bee and the San Jose Mercury. The new approach was there prior to Beane and being talked about in the press, by the time Beane arrived the area was firmly entrenched in the culture of the A's and that was one that rose and fell, A's of the 70's then then the Mitchell Page years, then Billy Ball then Jackie Moore, then the Bash Brothers and then the leaving of the guard, then Beane cane along and they went back up in worth and quality.

The A's play in a two team market too, it's very easy to hide a stinky season while teh other team does good, the same goes for the Giants, they both have been doing it for the past 30 years.

dougdirt
01-26-2009, 02:09 PM
You start with your first article: OPS is better than BA, Here is Why. Don't get too stat heavy, just nudge the people a bit. Talk about how Branch Rickey invented OBP. Why BB's are good. You sew in these ideas in every article. The Reds have to do their part. emphasize more modern, but easy to use stats like OPS in their programs and scoreboards. Educate their players on using them in interviews. If the players use and understand them, the writers will too, because they'll have no choice. If EE in most of his interviews talks up his OBP, anyone that doesn't know what it is will eventually ask. Kind of like on here when people started posting "AFAIK". a few people didn't know what it stood for, and someone asked.

Learning never stops, and it's ok to teach and entertain in a column.

May be tough to get that article when your boss would rather see quotes from the players in the game. This could work for offseason stuff though, when you are discussing why the team did what it did compared to other teams.

I agree that the team could be active in using these things.... but this is the same team that hired Dusty Baker, acquired Corey Patterson and Willy Taveras and hired a GM who was asked to leave his last job because he didn't want to incorporate stats much.

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 02:44 PM
You start with your first article: OPS is better than BA, Here is Why. Don't get too stat heavy, just nudge the people a bit. Talk about how Branch Rickey invented OBP. Why BB's are good. You sew in these ideas in every article. The Reds have to do their part. emphasize more modern, but easy to use stats like OPS in their programs and scoreboards. Educate their players on using them in interviews. If the players use and understand them, the writers will too, because they'll have no choice. If EE in most of his interviews talks up his OBP, anyone that doesn't know what it is will eventually ask. Kind of like on here when people started posting "AFAIK". a few people didn't know what it stood for, and someone asked.

Learning never stops, and it's ok to teach and entertain in a column.

Here's the problem with conveying the message, people forget what's it like to be faced with this argument. They also soon forget that the easiest way to get the point accross is to simplify it. As soon as you say on base percentage to someone they get turned off. You have to come from another angle which I had to practically rip from what was being "pushed on me" (as I seen it at the time). Don't say OBP, OPS, SLg% etc., come at them like so.

What do you not want to happen when you go to the plate? Response: Make an out. Exactly, so everything else is better than an out, right? Response: Well of course! And everything else means you get on base right? Yeah. Ok then getting on base is your #1 objective right? Well yeah I guess so!? What do you mean you guess so? The opposite of getting on base is getting out, right! Ok I follow you! Etc. etc. etc.

Once the eyes are opened the hunger begins! Or it doesn't (people have to want to know the truth and put the work in) but you get through to more if you break it down to it's most basic premise. Part of the reason people oppose Sabremetrics is because they don't believe they can ever understand it, part of it is they don't want to put the work in and the other part is they don't believe it will make a difference if they did put the work in. Challenge them but do it on their terms and in a way they can comprehend it. I cannot stress oversimplifying it enough, but not in a way and with a tone that you offend.

BTW what the heck is AFAIK?

wheels
01-26-2009, 02:48 PM
Yeah. I have no idea what AFAIK is either.

I guess we never got TRF's decoder ring.

marcshoe
01-26-2009, 02:50 PM
As far as I know, AFAIK is just a nonsense word.

wheels
01-26-2009, 02:57 PM
As far as I know, AFAIK is just a nonsense word.

Oh....I get it now!

TRF
01-26-2009, 02:57 PM
As far as I know, AFAIK is just a nonsense word.

OMG, I almost responded to this.

heh.

Raisor
01-26-2009, 02:59 PM
OMG, I almost responded to this.

heh.

OMG? There you go using fake words again.

:thumbup:

TRF
01-26-2009, 03:00 PM
OMG? There you go using fake words again.

:thumbup:

gotta stop reading text messages from my daughter.

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 03:02 PM
As far as I know, AFAIK is just a nonsense word.

Good one, I guess that in itself helps prove the point I was trying to make.

TRF
01-26-2009, 03:09 PM
Good one, I guess that in itself helps prove the point I was trying to make.

I have to say, I agree with your approach, but I don't think it needs to be either/or. Start with yours. incorporate more of the simpler advanced stats. I'd love to see WHIP, K/9 and BB/9 used more.

I mean you can go all Raisor and Steel on someone and watch their eyes spin counterclockwise, (23 Nobel Prizes will do that ya know) But explaining why wins for a pitcher isn't really a good way to gauge how good a starter is can be a great start.

Hey, Fay! you gettin' any of this?

dougdirt
01-26-2009, 03:38 PM
I have to say, I agree with your approach, but I don't think it needs to be either/or. Start with yours. incorporate more of the simpler advanced stats. I'd love to see WHIP, K/9 and BB/9 used more.

I mean you can go all Raisor and Steel on someone and watch their eyes spin counterclockwise, (23 Nobel Prizes will do that ya know) But explaining why wins for a pitcher isn't really a good way to gauge how good a starter is can be a great start.

Hey, Fay! you gettin' any of this?

I would rather see K% and BB% than per 9 becuase per 9 can be misleading while the percentages give you a much stronger idea of what they are doing.

And yeah, Fay does get that wins isn't a good way to gauge a starter.

Chip R
01-26-2009, 03:44 PM
You start with your first article: OPS is better than BA, Here is Why. Don't get too stat heavy, just nudge the people a bit. Talk about how Branch Rickey invented OBP. Why BB's are good. You sew in these ideas in every article. The Reds have to do their part. emphasize more modern, but easy to use stats like OPS in their programs and scoreboards. Educate their players on using them in interviews. If the players use and understand them, the writers will too, because they'll have no choice. If EE in most of his interviews talks up his OBP, anyone that doesn't know what it is will eventually ask. Kind of like on here when people started posting "AFAIK". a few people didn't know what it stood for, and someone asked.

Learning never stops, and it's ok to teach and entertain in a column.

The problem is you can't lead off with "OPS is better than BA." First of all, you're going to alienate most of the people you're trying to convert with that statement. Secondly, you're saying it's better but not what it's better at.

If you want to persuade someone who is vehemently opposed to your point of view, you have to jolly them into it. Tell them what BA measures and why it's a good stat for what it is. Then show them what OPS measures and why that's a good stat and why it may be better than BA. Don't make it be a choice where they have to eschew BA if they understand OPS. That's the way it's presented a lot of the time and if it isn't, that's the impression people get. Someone who has been raised on BA is going to take it like you insulted his mother if you tell them BA stinks and OPS is wonderful. Let them draw their own conclusions.

TRF
01-26-2009, 04:18 PM
All good ideas that we'll never see happen.

It's like watching my dog try to eat his own butt.

gonelong
01-26-2009, 04:42 PM
I think a point/counter-point radio show sort of like Hannity/Combs with traditional vs. new-fangled approach would be good radio and would draw a lot of people. It'd give you good/bad guys (depending on your position) to root for. Pit them against each other on all sorts of predictions before the season and then track them as the go along. Debate managers moves, batting order, etc. and then take some calls.

GL

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 04:46 PM
I have to say, I agree with your approach, but I don't think it needs to be either/or. Start with yours. incorporate more of the simpler advanced stats. I'd love to see WHIP, K/9 and BB/9 used more.

I mean you can go all Raisor and Steel on someone and watch their eyes spin counterclockwise, (23 Nobel Prizes will do that ya know) But explaining why wins for a pitcher isn't really a good way to gauge how good a starter is can be a great start.

Hey, Fay! you gettin' any of this?

Right you can start to expand as you get all the basics stuck in their minds. There is still plenty I haven't got to myself but I think I have most if not all the basics stuck in there.

Chip R
01-26-2009, 04:49 PM
I think a point/counter-point radio show sort of like Hannity/Combs with traditional vs. new-fangled approach would be good radio and would draw a lot of people. It'd give you good/bad guys (depending on your position) to root for. Pit them against each other on all sorts of predictions before the season and then track them as the go along. Debate managers moves, batting order, etc. and then take some calls.

GL


Raisor, you ignorant $lut! ;)

westofyou
01-26-2009, 04:56 PM
I think a point/counter-point radio show sort of like Hannity/Combs with traditional vs. new-fangled approach would be good radio and would draw a lot of people. It'd give you good/bad guys (depending on your position) to root for. Pit them against each other on all sorts of predictions before the season and then track them as the go along. Debate managers moves, batting order, etc. and then take some calls.

GL

Even better, put them on TV, but first make them be cajoined twins, maybe connected at the hip, one is all metrics and cold hard reason, the other is old school bat on the ball move it along momentum charged baseball that values character and other unmeasurable aspects.

Each show they wil have a debate and then query the viewership for the winner based on the evidence supplied. the loser then is beaten by the winner with these giant hulk hands.


http://i266.photobucket.com/albums/ii263/firegenie77/hulkhands.jpg

I'd watch that.

RedsManRick
01-26-2009, 04:56 PM
Simply drilling home OBP and not letting up would be a great place to start. The big barrier here is the walk vs. single argument, which would take a bit of time in and of itself.

Once you get people engaged with OBP, it naturally begs the question of how to differentiate between walks, singles, and extra base hits. Then you say, ah, that's why we look at SLG next to OBP. Suddenly, you've got the building blocks for OPS.

The big challenge beyond that is the proper weighting of a guy's OPS versus his defensive and baserunning contributions.

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 04:58 PM
I think a point/counter-point radio show sort of like Hannity/Combs with traditional vs. new-fangled approach would be good radio and would draw a lot of people. It'd give you good/bad guys (depending on your position) to root for. Pit them against each other on all sorts of predictions before the season and then track them as the go along. Debate managers moves, batting order, etc. and then take some calls.

GL

Yeah very on point, the prediction end of it is what sells it. You can't just say this is what's gonna happen and expect them to take it FWIW right then and there. After a while if you are right a majority of the time people are gonna listen to what you have to say. Of course I think it would have to be initially sold differently. Something like the "Pro" and his "sidekick" statistician who has a lot more to say than Seg Dennison. The right pro and the right sabre-zealot could really take off.

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 06:11 PM
Simply drilling home OBP and not letting up would be a great place to start. The big barrier here is the walk vs. single argument, which would take a bit of time in and of itself.

Once you get people engaged with OBP, it naturally begs the question of how to differentiate between walks, singles, and extra base hits. Then you say, ah, that's why we look at SLG next to OBP. Suddenly, you've got the building blocks for OPS.

The big challenge beyond that is the proper weighting of a guy's OPS versus his defensive and baserunning contributions.

It doesn't have to, really it's as simple as what I wrote earlier. Although I still think I am still a tad apart from the norm. But it's like this "in order to get a walk you have to battle the pitcher, in order to get a hit you have to battle the pitcher and his defense, which one is the wiser gamble if you can get it? If you put the ball in play you are risking making an out, you are just playing the odds."

The part where I lose the saber argument is here, pitchers can and will throw you pitches that result in strikes. When that happens you have to put the ball in play or at least be capable of fouling off pitches until they throw some more pitches that result in balls.

Raisor
01-26-2009, 07:15 PM
Raisor, you ignorant $lut! ;)

:eek:

I'm not ignorant.

:thumbup:

RedsManRick
01-26-2009, 07:34 PM
It doesn't have to, really it's as simple as what I wrote earlier. Although I still think I am still a tad apart from the norm. But it's like this "in order to get a walk you have to battle the pitcher, in order to get a hit you have to battle the pitcher and his defense, which one is the wiser gamble if you can get it? If you put the ball in play you are risking making an out, you are just playing the odds."

The part where I lose the saber argument is here, pitchers can and will throw you pitches that result in strikes. When that happens you have to put the ball in play or at least be capable of fouling off pitches until they throw some more pitches that result in balls.

At heart, it's a problem rooted in the establishment of the "at bat" as the building block of offensive performance. If you look at a box score, the primary thing you see is that a guy went X (hits) for Y (at bats). So and so went 2-4. It's hits and outs. That's how the game is discussed at its most common level. Walks aren't even part of the equation, literally. And look at the box score again, walks are listed right between RBI and SO. It's no wonder people discount them; they're something that happens on the periphery.

The first step needs to be establishing the plate appearance as the frame. A guy comes to the plate X number of times a game. In order to talk about how well he did, we need to look at all of these. From there, you have two basic groups of outcomes, outs and not-outs. OBP is simply the new batting average -- it's the stat we look at when we want to answer the question "how often did the batter beat the pitcher?"

From there, it's easy. Homers are the best, followed by triples, doubles, singles, and walks. If you want to know the distribution of those events, which you want to do even when you use batting average, you look at SLG. And if you want to consider both how often the hitter wins and how well he wins, look at SLG.

(note: I think SLG should be revised to include walks. Total bases per Plate Appearance. And while walks aren't as good as singles for RBI, the standard complaint, the base value of the hit doesn't really correlate linearly with likelihood to drive in runners as SLG is currently calculated anyways. Homers aren't 4 times as valuable from an RBI perspective as singles. Triples are barely more effective than Doubles. So it's a bit of a straw man...)

But the first trick, and in my opinion the most important one, is getting people to think of walks as part of the non-out family and not some periphery event. Everything sabermetric really flows from there. The "at bat" construct really screwed things up.

marcshoe
01-26-2009, 07:40 PM
One reason Moneyball found a large audience and, in the proces, increased the number of people willing to check out the new way of thinking was that it wasn't about sabremetrics-it was about people. Lewis got his readers caught up in stories, and along the way introduced them to this young guy in Oakland who had decided to forget everything he thought he knew and look at things in a different way.

Maybe that's the answer--find some good storytellers who can capture an audience, preferably on tv and radio as well as in print. Find something that interests fans more than the numbers, and use stories about these events and people to cause people to rethink the way they look at the game.

Ltlabner
01-26-2009, 07:50 PM
But the first trick, and in my opinion the most important one, is getting people to think of walks as part of the non-out family and not some periphery event. Everything sabermetric really flows from there.

That's where things will get tricky.

Some folks cling to the concept that walks are a sign of a failed at-bat. That it's either a gift from a sloppy pitcher or just a cheap way to get 90' further down the trail. Ultimately it's a consolation price and a second-rate one at that.

My guess is some people will never accept that walks are anything but cheep and dirty.

RedsManRick
01-26-2009, 08:10 PM
That's where things will get tricky.

Some folks cling to the concept that walks are a sign of a failed at-bat. That it's either a gift from a sloppy pitcher or just a cheap way to get 90' further down the trail. Ultimately it's a consolation price and a second-rate one at that.

My guess is some people will never accept that walks are anything but cheep and dirty.

Exactly. Until and unless we can get past this, it's doubtful we'll get much of anywhere in the broader population with things like OPS. Any advancement in understanding is predicated on breaking apart the at bat. The reality is that sometimes a walk is a gift from a wild pitcher and sometimes it's earned by a disciplined hitter. Similarly, some hits come on 98 mph fastballs on the outside corner while others come on waist-high spinning curves.

So my counter argument is this: If don't want to give a hitter credit for a pitcher's mistake, shouldn't we stop counting hits that come on a mistake pitch over the heart of the plate? "But it still takes a measure of skill to hit that hanging curveball" they would retort. I'd agree. And I'd point out that it also takes skill to watch that low, outside slider go by instead of flailing at it. Hitters who are able to get first base when other hitters are making outs due to their lack of plate discipline deserve credit. As Babe Ruth would no doubt point out, the first skill a hitter brings to bear is "pick(ing) a good one...".

This would be my first stake in the ground. Evaluate the outcome of a plate appearance first and foremost by whether or not the batter made an out or not. For unless the batter was intentionally walked, his skill as a batter was directly brought to bare on the outcome. The quality of the non-out, or out (as the case may be), follows from there.

gonelong
01-26-2009, 08:14 PM
Exactly. Until and unless we can get past this, it's doubtful we'll get much of anywhere in the broader population.

Start listing the out total for each of the players. Outs are the hidden cost of production, its not just the $5M/yr the guy costs you, its his 400 outs for the season as well. While this is basically just the reverse of OBP%, I have a feeling that most people would intrinsically understand the concept and accept some of the value of it.

GL

Raisor
01-26-2009, 08:19 PM
Start listing the out total for each of the players.

Fantastic idea.

Mario-Rijo
01-26-2009, 08:23 PM
Start listing the out total for each of the players. Outs are the hidden cost of production, its not just the $5M/yr the guy costs you, its his 400 outs for the season as well. While this is basically just the reverse of OBP%, I have a feeling that most people would intrinsically understand the concept and accept some of the value of it.

GL

I don't wanna get a warning but.....Damn you good! :thumbup:

I couldn't agree more.

RedsManRick
01-26-2009, 08:28 PM
Start listing the out total for each of the players. Outs are the hidden cost of production, its not just the $5M/yr the guy costs you, its his 400 outs for the season as well. While this is basically just the reverse of OBP%, I have a feeling that most people would intrinsically understand the concept and accept some of the value of it.

GL

Same coin, different side. The key is showing people that Dunn didn't go 1-3 and Phillips 2-5. Dunn went 3-5. People can see that 3 non-outs (on bases?) is better than 2 non-outs -- no need to count the outs themselves if you equalize the denominators. The amount of outs follows intuitively as the inverse.

It's when those 2 extra plate appearances just disappear from people's mental calculus that it gets misleading. If you just start listing outs, people would immediately link it to the fact that a guy has more at bats. It wouldn't have the same impact.

Batting average must die. There are certainly reasons why we want to differentiate singles from walks, and we should do so, but the primary measure of batter success is not the place to do it.

Emin3mShady07
01-26-2009, 08:35 PM
Batting average must die.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygQvB6OjHOU

:laugh:

westofyou
01-26-2009, 08:36 PM
Start listing the out total for each of the players. Outs are the hidden cost of production, its not just the $5M/yr the guy costs you, its his 400 outs for the season as well. While this is basically just the reverse of OBP%, I have a feeling that most people would intrinsically understand the concept and accept some of the value of it.

GL

Here's a good list of outs
CINCINNATI REDS
SEASON
2004-2008
REACHED BASE displayed only--not a sorting criteria
RUNS CREATED/GAME vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria
OBA vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria
SLG vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria
AVERAGE vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria

OUTS YEAR OUTS RB RC/G OBA SLG AVG
1 Brandon Phillips 2007 504 232 -.09 -.011 .049 .015
T2 Adam Dunn 2006 442 249 1.14 .022 .048 -.039
T2 Brandon Phillips 2008 442 190 -.59 -.027 .015 -.006
4 D'Angelo Jimenez 2004 438 236 -.20 .022 -.043 .000
5 Felipe Lopez 2005 436 227 1.12 .013 .059 .023
6 Adam Dunn 2004 426 264 2.92 .046 .132 -.004
T7 Adam Dunn 2005 419 260 2.66 .049 .112 -.022
T7 Brandon Phillips 2006 419 189 -.63 -.019 -.015 .004
9 Sean Casey 2004 408 241 2.29 .039 .097 .054
10 Ken Griffey Jr. 2007 406 232 1.29 .030 .060 .004
11 Adam Dunn 2007 402 244 2.43 .044 .118 -.008
12 Edwin Encarnacion 2008 397 198 0.33 .001 .040 -.016
13 Sean Casey 2005 396 218 0.25 .033 -.004 .043
14 Ryan Freel 2004 390 219 0.14 .034 -.069 .008
15 Joey Votto 2008 384 217 1.78 .029 .079 .029
16 Edwin Encarnacion 2007 364 198 0.72 .014 .002 .016
17 Jeff Keppinger 2008 363 154 -1.54 -.029 -.080 -.001
18 Ken Griffey Jr. 2005 360 205 2.73 .031 .149 .033
19 Ryan Freel 2006 350 189 0.22 .020 -.043 -.001
20 Scott Hatteberg 2006 345 209 0.85 .046 -.006 .017

SteelSD
01-26-2009, 09:16 PM
(note: I think SLG should be revised to include walks. Total bases per Plate Appearance. And while walks aren't as good as singles for RBI, the standard complaint, the base value of the hit doesn't really correlate linearly with likelihood to drive in runners as SLG is currently calculated anyways. Homers aren't 4 times as valuable from an RBI perspective as singles. Triples are barely more effective than Doubles. So it's a bit of a straw man...)

That's sort of what Secondary Average attempts to do:

Secondary Average = ((BB + (TB - H) + (SB - CS)) / AB)

Now, that doesn't correlate as well as OPS does with RS/G for teams in 2008 (71.73% SecA:RS/G), so let's take a look at what you're proposing. We'll call it "Top Average":

Top Average = ((BB + TB + (SB - CS)) / PA)

We get a 90.43% correlation between TA and RS/G. Then I made some adjustments using Singles as a baseline (1 Single = 1 Base) and adjusted the rest of the base acquisition types. It wasn't perfectly scientific, but I adjusted the variables by fractions of bases versus actual bases acquired, including things like SB and CS, multiple times. The best correlation I could get versus RS/G was 90.51%. That's an excellent correlation. But the problem is that we're fighting against the 94.5% correlation for OPS versus RS/G and gross Total Bases (92%), gross TB + BB (92.5%), and TB + BB/Game (92.15%) correlations. It's also trumped by the most basic (and outdated) model of Runs Created (94.46% correlation between gross RC and gross Runs Scored).

Good idea, but I can't get it to work.

RedsManRick
01-26-2009, 10:25 PM
The problem with both of those is the use of TB, treating each additional base beyond the first linearly, completely ignoring the base runner advancement value of each hit type (including walks). I would think the way to do it is to use an average base advancement model with separate components for each of the possible base runners, including the one at the plate. Once you have the coefficients, the math is the same as the current SLG, expect you'd include walks.

For the base runner, the coefficient is the same as SLG -- easy. But you'd also have a base advancement value for runners on each base, based on how many bases they advance, on average, given the type of hit (or walk).

So the value of a given hit (or walk) is simply the sum:

(bases advanced by batter) + (bases advanced by runners)

(bases advanced by runners) = (average bases advanced by runners on 1B given hit type * frequency of runners on 1B) + ( average bases advanced by runners on 2B given hit type * frequency of runners on 2B) + (average bases advanced by runners on 3B given hit type * frequency of runners on 3B)

You'd end up with a modified SLG. I imagine you'd get coefficients similar to your standard linear weights, just scaled differently. If you scaled a standard set of linear weights so that a single = 1, as it does in SLG, you'd end up with coefficients like:
BB: 0.65
1B: 1.00
2B: 1.62
3B: 2.26
HR: 3.03

Applying those modifiers to Dunn and Phillips the last 3 years, the changes are interesting:

Dunn
06: .490 to .456
07: .554 to .495
08: .513 to .456

Phillips
06: .427 to .391
07: .485 to .432
08: .442 to .402

This, it would seem, better captures the opportunity cost of instead of walking instead of hitting singles from a SLG perspective. I'm not sure the scale makes any sense per se', but it's interesting to see the effect in any case. I'm not even sure combining it with OBP makes sense, cause you'd be double counting the first base reached in essence. But it still seems like that basic model is the way to go.

AtomicDumpling
01-26-2009, 11:28 PM
The problem with both of those is the use of TB, treating each additional base beyond the first linearly, completely ignoring the base runner advancement value of each hit type (including walks). I would think the way to do it is to use an average base advancement model with separate components for each of the possible base runners, including the one at the plate. Once you have the coefficients, the math is the same as the current SLG, expect you'd include walks.

For the base runner, the coefficient is the same as SLG -- easy. But you'd also have a base advancement value for runners on each base, based on how many bases they advance, on average, given the type of hit (or walk).

So the value of a given hit (or walk) is simply the sum:

(bases advanced by batter) + (bases advanced by runners)

(bases advanced by runners) = (average bases advanced by runners on 1B given hit type * frequency of runners on 1B) + ( average bases advanced by runners on 2B given hit type * frequency of runners on 2B) + (average bases advanced by runners on 3B given hit type * frequency of runners on 3B)

You'd end up with a modified SLG. I imagine you'd get coefficients similar to your standard linear weights, just scaled differently. If you scaled a standard set of linear weights so that a single = 1, as it does in SLG, you'd end up with coefficients like:
BB: 0.65
1B: 1.00
2B: 1.62
3B: 2.26
HR: 3.03

Applying those modifiers to Dunn and Phillips the last 3 years, the changes are interesting:

Dunn
06: .490 to .456
07: .554 to .495
08: .513 to .456

Phillips
06: .427 to .391
07: .485 to .432
08: .442 to .402

This, it would seem, better captures the opportunity cost of instead of walking instead of hitting singles from a SLG perspective. I'm not sure the scale makes any sense per se', but it's interesting to see the effect in any case. I'm not even sure combining it with OBP makes sense, cause you'd be double counting the first base reached in essence. But it still seems like that basic model is the way to go.

Would it be possible to factor in the "modified total bases" gained/lost as a result of making an out?

For example, you can make an out while advancing runners, which would be a net gain in TB even though you made an out -- the "productive out".

On the other hand you can also make multiple outs with one swing, not merely by grounding into a double play but also by hitting a fly ball in which a runner gets thrown out trying to advance for example. This would result in a reduction in total bases.

Could these factors be included or would there not be enough data in the box scores to make this possible?

Emin3mShady07
01-26-2009, 11:39 PM
Would it be possible to factor in the "modified total bases" gained/lost as a result of making an out?

For example, you can make an out while advancing runners, which would be a net gain in TB even though you made an out -- the "productive out".

On the other hand you can also make multiple outs with one swing, not merely by grounding into a double play but also by hitting a fly ball in which a runner gets thrown out trying to advance for example. This would result in a reduction in total bases.

Could these factors be included or would there not be enough data in the box scores to make this possible?

I think in the grand scheme of things looking at games play-by-play there would be enough data, but if you are going to include the "productive out", then you have to also include strikeouts in conjunction with failing to move runners up and successfully avoiding douple plays. I'm sure that there is a somewhat stable DP rate out there somewhere that would be maleable enough to use as a baseline for something like (Bases Advanced = (what RMR said) + [(percentage of outs made in play * percentage of situations where runners can be productively advanced) - (percentage of outs made in play * percent chance of hitting into a double play)] )

Of course individual hitters' tendencies would have to be considered because it is much harder to flyball into a DP than it is to GIDP.

SteelSD
01-27-2009, 09:27 AM
You'd end up with a modified SLG. I imagine you'd get coefficients similar to your standard linear weights, just scaled differently. If you scaled a standard set of linear weights so that a single = 1, as it does in SLG, you'd end up with coefficients like:

BB: 0.65
1B: 1.00
2B: 1.62
3B: 2.26
HR: 3.03

The formula:

((BB*.65)+1B+(2B*1.62)+(3B*2.26)+(HR*3.03)+(SB-CS)) / PA

This pushes the correlation between RS/G and the result of the formula to 92.69%. If we modify the SB*.50 and the CS*1.50, we push the correlation to 93.74%.

Closer, but still not quite there. However, if we apply those adjustments to a formula ignoring Stolen Bases, the product either with BB (using PA) or without (using AB) the result of each does correlate better with RS/G than does simple SLG.

((BB*.65)+1B+(2B*1.62)+(3B*2.26)+(HR*3.03)) / PA

((1B+(2B*1.62)+(3B*2.26)+(HR*3.03)) / PA

The first correlates with RS/G at 92.5%. The second at 93%. The problem is that we can still just look at something like gross Total Bases or gross Total Bases + BB and be just as accurate, and we'd still be more accurate using simple OPS as our guide.

TRF
01-27-2009, 09:41 AM
a perfectly good discussion about how to educate a casual fan about OPS turned into a calculus lesson.

sigh. :)

westofyou
01-27-2009, 09:42 AM
a perfectly good discussion about how to educate a casual fan about OPS turned into a calculus lesson.

sigh. :)

Yep, and I find that way boring, imagine what the guy with nominal interest thinks.

TRF
01-27-2009, 10:01 AM
I think it's a discussion that has a place and a purpose. The Enquirer, The DDN etc. are not that place. A discussion about avoiding outs (stats side) combined with how to approach an AB (coach/scouts side) would be awesome.

marcshoe
01-27-2009, 10:12 AM
a perfectly good discussion about how to educate a casual fan about OPS turned into a calculus lesson.

sigh. :)


I was assuming this was all done to prove the point I made on the previous page. ;)

nate
01-27-2009, 10:18 AM
Yep, and I find that way boring, imagine what the guy with nominal interest thinks.

I find it quite interesting myself.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 10:22 AM
I find it quite interesting myself.

Math Guy?

Not me, liberal arts all the way, I love the numbers, slog in them all day long.. numbers in that plane leave a lot of folks outside looking in. If the goal is to give folks another look at baseball numbers I would do my best to leave the harder math at the door in an introductory conversation, unless you like the glazed look of boredom on the other folks face 90% of the time.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 11:16 AM
What's funny is that after all that math, we see that it isn't really necessary in order to make a giant leap forward in understanding. OPS gets to virtually the same place.

Simply getting away from AVG and towards the use of OBP and SLG, both by themselves and combined as OPS, would be a massive step forward for most journalists and fans.

The interesting thing would be the necessary back and forth, the answering of questions and addressing of concerns. This is where the skill of the enterprising journalist would really be brought to bear. An extended Q&A series after the initial article would probably be required.

nate
01-27-2009, 11:16 AM
Math Guy?

No, I'm a musician.


Not me, liberal arts all the way,

BA - Jazz Composition.


I love the numbers, slog in them all day long.. numbers in that plane leave a lot of folks outside looking in. If the goal is to give folks another look at baseball numbers I would do my best to leave the harder math at the door in an introductory conversation, unless you like the glazed look of boredom on the other folks face 90% of the time.

I felt the last few math-heavy posts were a tangent to the previous "how do we sell OBP?" posts. No, it's not for the casual fan and no, this isn't how one sells it. I didn't think that was the point of these posts. I thought the point of these points was to discuss another metric and some of the more stat-savvy posters just rolled with it.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 11:19 AM
Simply getting away from AVG and towards the use of OBP and SLG, both by themselves and combined as OPS, would be a massive step forward for most journalists and fans.
You can't get rid of the stat that tracks the basic tenet of the game, which is to hit the ball sure then you have to acquire bases and score runs that's a given.

You can stress that the base part is more important than its been given credence for and that the hitting the ball is a vague term in the grand scheme of things. However, I don't want to see that stat vanish, it's pretty telling in its own right.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 11:21 AM
No, I'm a musician.



BA - Jazz Composition.



I felt the last few math-heavy posts were a tangent to the previous "how do we sell OBP?" posts. No, it's not for the casual fan and no, this isn't how one sells it. I didn't think that was the point of these posts. I thought the point of these points was to discuss another metric and some of the more stat-savvy posters just rolled with it.
Right, but my take was we were in the talk show format to educate the masses.

Hey, Jazz is math to me.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 11:23 AM
I felt the last few math-heavy posts were a tangent to the previous "how do we sell OBP?" posts. No, it's not for the casual fan and no, this isn't how one sells it. I didn't think that was the point of these posts. I thought the point of these points was to discuss another metric and some of the more stat-savvy posters just rolled with it.

That's a fair assessment. (though I'm a sociology and political science major myself, so you don't have to have a degree in this stuff to engage in the conversation)

The tangent, however, ended up making the case even stronger. Take a concern about the weaknesses of OBP and SLG and try to correct them. You might be able to improve on them a tiny bit, but not much. Meanwhile, OBP & SLG are significantly more useful than AVG, and not any more difficult to understand.

The challenge won't be in explaining what OBP and SLG are or how they are calculated. It will be convincing fans that they should be used instead of AVG. That's a discussion we've had ad nauseam on this board and would certainly play out in the public sphere as well.

Simply getting the conversation out in front of the masses would be a very productive first step. And it's probably going to have to come from either an ex-player or somebody with an "old-school" reputation and following. It's too easy to reject the argument ad hominem if it come from an established saber guy.

nate
01-27-2009, 11:24 AM
Right, but my take was we were in the talk show format to educate the masses.

Not me.


Hey, Jazz is math to me.

All music simultaneously is and isn't math.

Just like baseball.

nate
01-27-2009, 11:47 AM
That's a fair assessment. (though I'm a sociology and political science major myself, so you don't have to have a degree in this stuff to engage in the conversation)

The tangent, however, ended up making the case even stronger. Take a concern about the weaknesses of OBP and SLG and try to correct them. You might be able to improve on them a tiny bit, but not much. Meanwhile, OBP & SLG are significantly more useful than AVG, and not any more difficult to understand.

The challenge won't be in explaining what OBP and SLG are or how they are calculated. It will be convincing fans that they should be used instead of AVG. That's a discussion we've had ad nauseam on this board and would certainly play out in the public sphere as well.

Simply getting the conversation out in front of the masses would be a very productive first step. And it's probably going to have to come from either an ex-player or somebody with an "old-school" reputation and following. It's too easy to reject the argument ad hominem if it come from an established saber guy.

I think one avenue towards convincing folks of this would showing some of the "softer math" involved. Instead of leaping in with the heavier math from a few posts ago, start with something simple like run differential. Tie that to teams that have been successful.

For example:

"Just like a single baseball game, you can't have a successful season with scoring more runs than you give up(1)."

That's pretty palatable right there. Everyone can relate to that analogy.

"Runs are prevented by pitching(2) and defense(3)."

Again, bite-sized.

"Runs are scored by acquiring bases(4) and not making outs(5)."

A-ha! That makes sense but maybe someone hasn't heard it put that way before. Now we find that without talking any math, we've introduced:

1. Run differential
2. Defense independent pitching metrics
3. Defensive metrics
4. Slugging percentage
5. On-base percentage

Now relate all this to something tangible. Show how the top-10 teams in each of those categories were successful. Then show how teams had a deficiency in one of the areas when they weren't successful.

Anyhow, it's kind of pie in the sky dreaming but it would be a good Baseball Tonight feature on the national stage or a nice pre-game feature on Reds Live in lieu of Chris Welsh putting on a uniform for no apparent reason.

membengal
01-27-2009, 11:50 AM
Lawyer here. Math averse. That discussion looked fun, but immediately went over my head. And then some.

gonelong
01-27-2009, 11:56 AM
You can't get rid of the stat that tracks the basic tenet of the game, which is to hit the ball sure then you have to acquire bases and score runs that's a given.

I often have thought that BA+OBP+SLG would probably fly with most people, and it might just be a bit more accurate than OPS by itself as it would give a bit more value to actually hitting the ball, while giving value to out avoidance and bases acquired. I doubt it would be any worse.

Career
Dunn: 247+ .381 + .518 = 1146/3 .382
Teixeira: .290+ .378 + .541 = 1209/3 .403
Puhols: .334+ .425 + .624 = 1383/3 . 461
Phillips: .262 + .308 + .425 = 995/3 .331
WillyT: .283 + .331 + .337 = 951/3 .317

I think this falls in line with what many camps view these players as, though some will have to come up a bit on some players and some will have to come down a bit.

GL

/woy - would be interested in how many guys with 2000+ ABs have a slugging % more than double their BA. Can you run that one?

BoydsOfSummer
01-27-2009, 11:58 AM
I may have dreamed this, but, I believe I was watching a DVR'd "Prime Nine" on MLB Network the other night, and I swear they used OPS+ whilst ranking the top 9 best hitting seasons.

Imagine my dismay.

_Sir_Charles_
01-27-2009, 11:59 AM
I often have thought that BA+OBP+SLG would probably fly with most people, and it might just be a bit more accurate than OPS by itself as it would give a bit more value to actually hitting the ball, while giving value to out avoidance and bases acquired. I doubt it would be any worse.

Career
Dunn: 247+ .381 + .518 = 1146/3 .382
Teixeira: .290+ .378 + .541 = 1209/3 .403
Puhols: .334+ .425 + .624 = 1383/3 . 461
Phillips: .262 + .308 + .425 = 995/3 .331
WillyT: .283 + .331 + .337 = 951/3 .317

I think this falls in line with what many camps view these players as, though some will have to come up a bit on some players and some will have to come down a bit.

GL

Hmmm...I kinda like that stat. I just don't think it'll fly with most sabermetric fans as it doesn't differentiate between all those 3 things but rather lumps them all together. But I still like it.

Emin3mShady07
01-27-2009, 12:07 PM
Or something like wOBA could be introduced on a mass scale. It's a pretty straight forward number/calculation, and a bridge between the very complex models of Steel and RMR and the basic OPS line.

For anyone curious about wOBA.
http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml

nate
01-27-2009, 12:18 PM
I often have thought that BA+OBP+SLG would probably fly with most people, and it might just be a bit more accurate than OPS by itself as it would give a bit more value to actually hitting the ball, while giving value to out avoidance and bases acquired. I doubt it would be any worse.

Career
Dunn: 247+ .381 + .518 = 1146/3 .382
Teixeira: .290+ .378 + .541 = 1209/3 .403
Puhols: .334+ .425 + .624 = 1383/3 . 461
Phillips: .262 + .308 + .425 = 995/3 .331
WillyT: .283 + .331 + .337 = 951/3 .317

I think this falls in line with what many camps view these players as, though some will have to come up a bit on some players and some will have to come down a bit.

GL

/woy - would be interested in how many guys with 2000+ ABs have a slugging % more than double their BA. Can you run that one?

Aren't you already getting BA via OBP?

nate
01-27-2009, 12:19 PM
Hmmm...I kinda like that stat. I just don't think it'll fly with most sabermetric fans as it doesn't differentiate between all those 3 things but rather lumps them all together. But I still like it.

I think it doesn't fly because it measures one thing twice.

Big Klu
01-27-2009, 12:31 PM
a perfectly good discussion about how to educate a casual fan about OPS turned into a calculus lesson.

sigh. :)


Yep, and I find that way boring, imagine what the guy with nominal interest thinks.

I have a math degree, and I teach Calculus and high-school Algebra II. And even I eventually got bored with the discussion. From my work with high school students, I can tell you that if you start throwing equations at the general public, you will turn them off faster than anything. The populace has accepted Batting Average, because it is simple division. Some people understand Slugging Percentage, but you will lose some of them right there, because it involves multiplying first, then adding, then dividing. If you start throwing around equations like Steel and RMR were using (no offense, guys), and talking about coefficients and correlations, then you are going to lose a whole lot of people.

Emin3mShady07
01-27-2009, 12:32 PM
Yeah, it makes it look like a .330 hitter with a .340 OBP is getting on more than a .260 hitter with a .380 OBP (assuming the slugging % is equal) which is certainly not the case.

marcshoe
01-27-2009, 12:34 PM
I have a math degree, and I teach Calculus and high-school Algebra II. And even I eventually got bored with the discussion. From my work with high school students, I can tell you that if you start throwing equations at the general public, you will turn them off faster than anything. The populace has accepted Batting Average, because it is simple division. Some people understand Slugging Percentage, but you will lose some of them right there, because it involves multiplying first, then adding, then dividing. If you start throwing around equations like Steel and RMR were using (no offense, guys), and talking about coefficients and correlations, then you are going to lose a whole lot of people.

I teach Senior English and mythology, so I repeat what I said before: if you want to get people's attention, tell them a story. :)

Big Klu
01-27-2009, 12:39 PM
I teach Senior English and mythology, so I repeat what I said before: if you want to get people's attention, tell them a story. :)

I am also a history nut, and I agree with you. Your stories (mythology) are fiction; mine (history) are non-fiction--but they both get people's attention.

gonelong
01-27-2009, 01:27 PM
I think it doesn't fly because it measures one thing twice.

Actually it measures it 3 times.

A double is measured in BA, OBP%, and SLG%. Of course that same double is already measured twice with OPS.

I'm not saying its a perfect measure, or for that matter even a better measure than OPS. I suspect its pretty close as a measurement to OPS **AND** palatable to many more people than either BA by itself or OPS by itself.

GL

gonelong
01-27-2009, 01:31 PM
Yeah, it makes it look like a .330 hitter with a .340 OBP is getting on more than a .260 hitter with a .380 OBP (assuming the slugging % is equal) which is certainly not the case.

I think it would (hypothetically) be positioned as a total offensive contribution measurement, not a replacement for OBP.

I think you'd have a hard time finding two guys from a single era that meet those hypothetical criteria.

GL

SMcGavin
01-27-2009, 01:34 PM
Simply getting the conversation out in front of the masses would be a very productive first step.

For what it's worth, this has started to happen in college basketball. I have seen "newer" stats, such as Rebound % (rebounds / rebound opportunites) and Turnover % (turnovers / total possessions), on ESPN broadcasts. The average fan still uses total rebounds or total turnovers to measure his team's ability in those areas, but the fact that the better stats are getting on ESPN and letting people get exposed to them is a plus.

I consider Rebound % and Turnover % as pretty similar to OBP and SLG - relatively easy to calculate and to understand. I am not sure VORP or wOBA or whatever is ever going to catch on with the general public, but OBP and SLG have a chance. A simple start would be getting them on ESPN - when ESPN flashes at the top of the screen during baseball broadcasts "With two outs: .280 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI", if that was changed to "With two outs: .280/.345/.455", it would go a long way.

Mario-Rijo
01-27-2009, 02:09 PM
You can't get rid of the stat that tracks the basic tenet of the game, which is to hit the ball sure then you have to acquire bases and score runs that's a given.

You can stress that the base part is more important than its been given credence for and that the hitting the ball is a vague term in the grand scheme of things. However, I don't want to see that stat vanish, it's pretty telling in its own right.

That's right. BA tells the avg fan that this guy has/has not demonstrated the ability to consistently get a hit. Does it tell the whole story? No but it does tell an important part of it. Therein lies the problem with traditional thinking folks refusal to accept OBP and/or Slg as a substitute, it's not a substitute.

Traditionalists like BB's (and the like) kept seperate because it muddies the picture of a guys ability to get on base when forced to put the ball in play. I know sabermetrics fans view that as a foolish exercise although I'm not quite sure as to the full reason why. I think I know but obviously I don't get it all because I can't figure out how that's not important at all. I have heard that hitting for avg is not a repeatable skill, at least I think that's what I'm getting from others. If that's the stance I don't agree with it. And that's why I can't substitue OPS for BA. However my desire to be more informed and more specific has led me to appreciate OBP, SLG, OPS etc. I can now use them all to paint a much clearer picture, BA included.

Emin3mShady07
01-27-2009, 02:21 PM
I think it would (hypothetically) be positioned as a total offensive contribution measurement, not a replacement for OBP.

I think you'd have a hard time finding two guys from a single era that meet those hypothetical criteria.

GL

Oh, ok. I understand what you are getting at. You would combine the three and make a "superstat" so to speak and replace the individual stats, am or right or at least close?

And those hypotheticals I cam up with are not that rare, this year Dunn had a BA/OBP of .236/.386 = .622. Alexei Ramirez had a .290/.317 = .607, a seemingly very small difference from Dunn. Then adding in the sluggin for both (.513 for Dunn, .475 for Ramirez) the totals come out to 1.135 for Dunn and 1.082 for Ramirez making it look like they were very similar (especially if you divide both numbers by 3) even though their OPSes were very different.

I guess what could be done is something like taking a BA, then add IsoD and add IsoP and dividing the numbers to eliminate extra counting of the same result, but now it becomes too complex again for the mainstream fan and we're back to square 1.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 02:37 PM
I teach Senior English and mythology, so I repeat what I said before: if you want to get people's attention, tell them a story. :)

Bingo, narrative is a the greatest bridge to understanding and seeing the program in a working situation. Joe Campbell has taught me that amongst other things.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 02:45 PM
I often have thought that BA+OBP+SLG would probably fly with most people, and it might just be a bit more accurate than OPS by itself as it would give a bit more value to actually hitting the ball, while giving value to out avoidance and bases acquired. I doubt it would be any worse.

Career
Dunn: 247+ .381 + .518 = 1146/3 .382
Teixeira: .290+ .378 + .541 = 1209/3 .403
Puhols: .334+ .425 + .624 = 1383/3 . 461
Phillips: .262 + .308 + .425 = 995/3 .331
WillyT: .283 + .331 + .337 = 951/3 .317

I think this falls in line with what many camps view these players as, though some will have to come up a bit on some players and some will have to come down a bit.

GL

/woy - would be interested in how many guys with 2000+ ABs have a slugging % more than double their BA. Can you run that one?

This list is a short list, I didn't go higher in BA than .250 but only 10 guys are here.


CAREER
SLG BETWEEN .450 AND .950
AVERAGE BETWEEN .225 AND .250
HR/100 OUTS displayed only--not a sorting criteria
REACHED BASE vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria
SECONDARY AVERAGE vs. the league average displayed only--not a sorting criteria

RUNS CREATED/GAME RC/G SLG AVG HR/OUT RB SEC
1 Adam Dunn 7.20 .518 .247 9.22 327 .211
2 Ken Phelps 6.67 .480 .239 8.40 176 .202
3 Russell Branyan 5.65 .485 .230 8.41 -15 .121
4 Greg Vaughn 5.54 .470 .242 7.32 17 .116
5 Nick Swisher 5.52 .451 .244 6.18 74 .106
6 Bo Jackson 4.90 .474 .250 7.48 -69 .085
7 Nate Colbert 4.81 .451 .243 6.32 -42 .092
8 Ron Kittle 4.80 .473 .239 8.15 -75 .075
9 Dave Kingman 4.71 .478 .236 8.21 -276 .098
10 Steve Balboni 4.34 .451 .229 7.23 -151 .054

nate
01-27-2009, 03:22 PM
Traditionalists like BB's (and the like) kept seperate because it muddies the picture of a guys ability to get on base when forced to put the ball in play. I know sabermetrics fans view that as a foolish exercise although I'm not quite sure as to the full reason why.

Because it's not true. Sabermetric "fans" view BA as measuring a subset of OBP.


I think I know but obviously I don't get it all because I can't figure out how that's not important at all. I have heard that hitting for avg is not a repeatable skill, at least I think that's what I'm getting from others.

But it isn't true that "hitting for avg is not a repeatable skill." I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that. If hitting for avg wasn't a repeatable skill, BA would fluctuate wildly from year to year.

gonelong
01-27-2009, 03:24 PM
And those hypotheticals I cam up with are not that rare, this year Dunn had a BA/OBP of .236/.386 = .622. Alexei Ramirez had a .290/.317 = .607, a seemingly very small difference from Dunn. Then adding in the sluggin for both (.513 for Dunn, .475 for Ramirez) the totals come out to 1.135 for Dunn and 1.082 for Ramirez making it look like they were very similar (especially if you divide both numbers by 3) even though their OPSes were very different.

.290/.317 is a far cry from .330/.340 in my book and a difference of 38 pts in slugging is hardly (assuming the slugging % is equal) . :)

378 vs 360 would still show a pretty good gap IMO, though maybe not as much as I'd like to see between the 2.

GL

SteelSD
01-27-2009, 04:04 PM
I guess what could be done is something like taking a BA, then add IsoD and add IsoP and dividing the numbers to eliminate extra counting of the same result, but now it becomes too complex again for the mainstream fan and we're back to square 1.

One thing that should be mentioned is that OPS doesn't actually count a base hit "twice". For a simple statistic, it's elegant in that the subsets (OBP/SLG) actually track different things and they happen to be exactly the two primary functions of a hitter:

1) Out avoidance
2) Advance as far as possible when avoiding an Out

Those translate to "Opportunity + Distance", which is exactly what OPS rolls up. The reason a base hit doesn't actually count twice is that the OBP side only tracks the Opportunity function while the SLG side only cares about Distance. While we might intuitively think that a point of OPS and a point of SLG created by the same Single are "added" when they're combined to put together OPS, we're not adding two wholes together. We're adding fractions of one whole that were already split apart when applied to the OBP and SLG formulas.

It took a while for me to get my brain wrapped around the concept that OPS isn't the product of OBP + SLG; but rather that OBP and SLG were actually derivatives of what OPS measures (the two primary hitting functions).

Ltlabner
01-27-2009, 04:16 PM
While all of the proposed stats and methods to "sell" them are nice it still doesn't deal with two fundamental issues that would likely need to be resolved before people bought into a newfangled set of numbers.

First, for some bizarre reason some folks find walks distasteful and certainly not a "skill". So any number that includes walks as any sort of positive occurrence will be ignored, or at least discounted. And the reasons they find walks cheap and dirty are not likely to be changed by a simple conversation.

Second, casual fans go to the ballpark for a few hours of escape and entertainment. The reality is they don't really care about any of the numbers used to measure performance, BA included. Basically they glance up at the scoreboard, if the guy's BA is above .280ish they deem him a "good" player and move on. On a principle level, if OPS is suddenly used as that simple number, than yes Joe Casual fan will technically be using a more accurate number.

But the reality is most fans don't care and will have forgotten the BA about 20 seconds later. If the player hits a game winning double the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as clutch. If he strikes out and doesn't hit a 480' homer the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as a fat, lazy slob that gets paid too much to play a game.

So you can have all the nice conversations in a sports-bar you want. Your buddy will go home, have to mow the yard and deal with bratty kids and quickly forget about that POSp+ stat you were earnestly trying to tell him about.

marcshoe
01-27-2009, 04:21 PM
While all of the proposed stats and methods to "sell" them are nice it still doesn't deal with two fundamental issues that would likely need to be resolved before people bought into a newfangled set of numbers.

First, for some bizarre reason some folks find walks distasteful and certainly not a "skill". So any number that includes walks as any sort of positive occurrence will be ignored, or at least discounted. And the reasons they find walks cheap and dirty are not likely to be changed by a simple conversation.

Second, casual fans go to the ballpark for a few hours of escape and entertainment. The reality is they don't really care about any of the numbers used to measure performance, BA included. Basically they glance up at the scoreboard, if the guy's BA is above .280ish they deem him a "good" player and move on. On a principle level, if OPS is suddenly used as that simple number, than yes Joe Casual fan will technically be using a more accurate number.

But the reality is most fans don't care and will have forgotten the BA about 20 seconds later. If the player hits a game winning double the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as clutch. If he strikes out and doesn't hit a 480' homer the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as a fat, lazy slob that gets paid too much to play a game.

So you can have all the nice conversations in a sports-bar you want. Your buddy will go home, have to mow the yard and deal with bratty kids and quickly forget about that POSp+ stat you were earnestly trying to tell him about.

...and then call the banana phone. :p:

paintmered
01-27-2009, 04:23 PM
a perfectly good discussion about how to educate a casual fan about OPS turned into a calculus lesson.

sigh. :)

Where? All I see is arithmetic. :D But God help me, I am a mathematical masochist and I have the degree to prove it.

But I'm with you that any lesson to a casual fan needs to be simple and straightforward while minimizing the quantity of numerical expressions.

TRF
01-27-2009, 04:35 PM
While all of the proposed stats and methods to "sell" them are nice it still doesn't deal with two fundamental issues that would likely need to be resolved before people bought into a newfangled set of numbers.

First, for some bizarre reason some folks find walks distasteful and certainly not a "skill". So any number that includes walks as any sort of positive occurrence will be ignored, or at least discounted. And the reasons they find walks cheap and dirty are not likely to be changed by a simple conversation.

Second, casual fans go to the ballpark for a few hours of escape and entertainment. The reality is they don't really care about any of the numbers used to measure performance, BA included. Basically they glance up at the scoreboard, if the guy's BA is above .280ish they deem him a "good" player and move on. On a principle level, if OPS is suddenly used as that simple number, than yes Joe Casual fan will technically be using a more accurate number.

But the reality is most fans don't care and will have forgotten the BA about 20 seconds later. If the player hits a game winning double the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as clutch. If he strikes out and doesn't hit a 480' homer the night they happen to be at the ballpark he'll be remembered as a fat, lazy slob that gets paid too much to play a game.

So you can have all the nice conversations in a sports-bar you want. Your buddy will go home, have to mow the yard and deal with bratty kids and quickly forget about that POSp+ stat you were earnestly trying to tell him about.

yeah, but at least said casual fan will be griping about the right things. Enough of that griping leads to better informed casual fans.

Who knows what that can lead to.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 05:14 PM
You can't get rid of the stat that tracks the basic tenet of the game, which is to hit the ball sure then you have to acquire bases and score runs that's a given.

You can stress that the base part is more important than its been given credence for and that the hitting the ball is a vague term in the grand scheme of things. However, I don't want to see that stat vanish, it's pretty telling in its own right.

The basic tenet of the game isn't hitting the ball, it's getting on base. Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in. I realize the massive simplification of history (late 1800's in particular), but the popularization of batting average was the first step in obscuring this reality.

I realize we're not going to change things over night, but keeping walks outside of the definition of batting success sets us up for problems. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg sort of thing. We want to keep AVG around because we've decided that getting a hit is the purpose of the plate appearance at bat when the way the game is designed suggests the purpose is to safely reach base.

From a practical perspective, I know AVG isn't going anywhere. But I see no reason to not de-emphasize it immediately.

TRF
01-27-2009, 05:34 PM
I do, because it does measure a skillset. Not as precisely as SLG obviously, but it is quick, and it's what our fathers knew. It's easy to see why it's still around.

As a reader, I'm just tired of the same old same old from beat writers. I want new cliches from players, not the same quotes my grandpa heard.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 05:45 PM
The basic tenet of the game isn't hitting the ball, it's getting on base.

Right, but when the game started the batter asked for the ball delivered high or low, that is the way one gained when they played a game of "base" Personally I want to know how often a player hits the ball, it enriches the mis-en scene.

Emin3mShady07
01-27-2009, 05:52 PM
I don't think average should be de-emphasized because hitting the ball is important as in any case a base hit is more valuable than a walk. That's why I like wOBA because it identifies how important each type of hit is and it takes into consideration avoiding an out and runner advancement.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 06:08 PM
Right, but when the game started the batter asked for the ball delivered high or low, that is the way one gained when they played a game of "base" Personally I want to know how often a player hits the ball, it enriches the mis-en scene.

We're dangerously teetering on the aesthetics conversation again...

But what you're describing isn't batting average. Batting average uses this funny numerator which excludes a whole bunch of times a guy has the opportunity to hit the ball.

If what you want is a stat that tells you "how often a player hits the ball", you're looking for Hits/PA or BIP/PA. I'd love to see somebody start publishing those stats and force people in to defending the current version of AVG.

The current AVG stat is based off the presumption that we should start by ignoring all plate appearances in which the batter wasn't trying to get a hit or wasn't given sufficient opportunity to do so. I guess that tells us something, namely "how often a guy gets a hit when he tries to and has the opportunity to do so" -- but I'm not sure what we do with that.

bucksfan2
01-27-2009, 06:32 PM
The basic tenet of the game isn't hitting the ball, it's getting on base. Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in. I realize the massive simplification of history (late 1800's in particular), but the popularization of batting average was the first step in obscuring this reality.

I realize we're not going to change things over night, but keeping walks outside of the definition of batting success sets us up for problems. It's a bit of a chicken and the egg sort of thing. We want to keep AVG around because we've decided that getting a hit is the purpose of the plate appearance at bat when the way the game is designed suggests the purpose is to safely reach base.

From a practical perspective, I know AVG isn't going anywhere. But I see no reason to not de-emphasize it immediately.

But don't you want a suttle differnece between a walk and a hit? Both you could say are equally important but at the same time they can be vastly different. There is only one situation in which a walk knocks in a run. However there are many more situation in which putting the ball in play will result in a run.

As a fan one of the most frustrating things to watch in a game is a player walk with a runner on third and then see the next player ground into an inning ending double play. When you watch as many games as I do the common occurances don't leave a mark. However the peaks are remembered. No one remembers a walk that leads to a go ahead two run home run. However everybody remembers an inability to get the tieing run in from thrid base with less than two outs.

I think this debate that surfaces quite often on RZ can largely be attributed to one Adam Dunn. I wonder if this same debate persists among other major league baseball forums.

*BaseClogger*
01-27-2009, 06:35 PM
No one remembers a walk that leads to a go ahead two run home run. However everybody remembers an inability to get the tieing run in from thrid base with less than two outs.

I betcha most Red Sox fans remember Kevin Millar's walk that set up Dave Roberts' pinch-run stolen base back in 2004... ;)

jojo
01-27-2009, 06:38 PM
I blame baseball cards.

westofyou
01-27-2009, 06:52 PM
We're dangerously teetering on the aesthetics conversation again...

But what you're describing isn't batting average. Batting average uses this funny numerator which excludes a whole bunch of times a guy has the opportunity to hit the ball.

If what you want is a stat that tells you "how often a player hits the ball", you're looking for Hits/PA or BIP/PA. I'd love to see somebody start publishing those stats and force people in to defending the current version of AVG.

The current AVG stat is based off the presumption that we should start by ignoring all plate appearances in which the batter wasn't trying to get a hit or wasn't given sufficient opportunity to do so. I guess that tells us something, namely "how often a guy gets a hit when he tries to and has the opportunity to do so" -- but I'm not sure what we do with that.
Why persist in telling me something I already know?

Instead of one dogma eating the other why not try and educate while others embrace parts of the game that ain't going away tomorrow or anytime soon.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 07:43 PM
Why persist in telling me something I already know?

Instead of one dogma eating the other why not try and educate while others embrace parts of the game that ain't going away tomorrow or anytime soon.

I guess my enthusiasm came across a bit more strongly than intended...

I realize AVG isn't going anywhere. I wouldn't try to eliminate it from box scores, baseball cards, or stadium displays. But I would like to see an effort to build understanding of OBP and SLG in particular.

Eventually I think AVG could fade in the collective fan consciousness to being a secondary consideration. I don't think that AVG is simpler, easier to understand, or a better answer to the question at the top of the fans mind -- it's just entrenched hard and deep and passed from one generation to the next. If you started over today, AVG would not be created. People don't love AVG because of it's magic ability to convey hitting ability -- it's just what they're used to using.

It's not that I want to remove history or have my dogma eat the existing dogma. Rather, I want fans to be able to discuss the merits of the game in a way that reflects the reality of what's going on. I don't want to have to ignore the guy calling the Reds game because he's obsessed with a pair of stats that aren't really that meaningful and using them to tell me our LF sucks and is overpaid. It's as much about getting past the misinformation and misguided "analysis" as it is espousing any particular set of metrics.

AmarilloRed
01-27-2009, 07:49 PM
I think you can build understanding of the importance of OBP and SLG. without doing away with BA. BA will always measure how much skill a player has in getting hits in his times at bat(I will skip over PA vs. AB for now), so I thing it is here to stay.

AtomicDumpling
01-27-2009, 08:28 PM
Having educated fans would be great, but I would just settle for an educated front office and manager right now. :cool:

If the people running the team were up to date on modern baseball thinking it would eventually trickle down to the media and then to the fans. If Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty were commenting intelligently during interviews about OBP, SLG and OPS then the journalists would take it seriously. The local media is contentedly oblivious to 21st century baseball, and as long as the Reds' management remains stuck in a 1970's mindset the situation is not going to change.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 08:41 PM
But don't you want a suttle differnece between a walk and a hit? Both you could say are equally important but at the same time they can be vastly different. There is only one situation in which a walk knocks in a run. However there are many more situation in which putting the ball in play will result in a run.

As a fan one of the most frustrating things to watch in a game is a player walk with a runner on third and then see the next player ground into an inning ending double play. When you watch as many games as I do the common occurances don't leave a mark. However the peaks are remembered. No one remembers a walk that leads to a go ahead two run home run. However everybody remembers an inability to get the tieing run in from thrid base with less than two outs.

I think this debate that surfaces quite often on RZ can largely be attributed to one Adam Dunn. I wonder if this same debate persists among other major league baseball forums.

Sure. That difference is important. So is the difference between a single and a double, a double and a triple, a triple and a homer. Why exclude walks just because it doesn't advance runners as far as a single does? And if doing things that drive in runs is what we're trying to measure, we should count sac flies as "hits" in the batting average formula. Clearly, we can't measure everything with one number. So what question does batting average answer? I'm not sure.

As for the emotional side, I think you're completely right. A walk is much less satisfying, less memorable than a single. And a double play (or a strikeout) is much more frustrating than a speared liner. But I'd ask the question, what's the point of the stat? What does it tell us? What question does it answer?

Batting average tells us how often a guy got a hit of the times when he came the plate, didn't walk, and didn't make a run-scoring out. But many people interpret that as a very good answer for the question "How good of a hitter is this guy?" or "How likely is this guy to get a hit right now". In reality doesn't answer either of those questions all that well. And particularly regarding the latter of those questions, is that something we should care about? (as a fan watching the game, maybe. as an analyst looking at run production, probably not)

So what does batting average tell us that we care about so much? Again, I'm not sure. From my perspective, batting average is it's own beast. When it was created, it was a fairly easy way to assess hitter performance. Power was a much lesser part of the game. Walks were an issue of constant discussion from a rules perspective. Batting average was the gold standard and was even adjusted a few times to make it better (walks counted as hits at one point in the 1800s).

But these days, it is a value unto itself. For most of the questions we have about the game, we have more accurate ways of answering them. But the long tradition of batting average has created a widely understood standard. It's value is found as much in it's ubiquity, it's function as a common language, as in an accurate measure of value or performance. .300 is good. .240 is bad. We all know this from looking at the backs of baseball cards and looking at the graphic on TV. Announcers tell us hits per at bats every time the guy comes to the plate. It lets us connect to the players, to the game, and other fans. It allows us a consistent way to talk about what's going on, and that consistency is just as important as the accuracy.

And of course, it's not a horrible stat. It has a decent correlation with good things happening. The guy with the .300 average tends to generate more of those positive peak emotional experiences than the .240 guy. The guy who hits .330 tends to drive in more RBI, a very tangible result, than the guy batting .250. It's a good enough proxy for most people. But when a .235 hitter comes along and produces a bunch of positive emotional experiences and a bunch of negative ones, the cognitive dissonance is maddening. We latch on to our comfort stat and build a narrative around it.

I don't hate batting average. I hate the way it's so tied up with our emotional connection to the game that many people are completely unwilling to consider that it might be terribly useful anymore given all of the other stats at our disposal.

SteelSD
01-27-2009, 08:45 PM
But don't you want a suttle differnece between a walk and a hit? Both you could say are equally important but at the same time they can be vastly different. There is only one situation in which a walk knocks in a run. However there are many more situation in which putting the ball in play will result in a run.

OPS understands the difference between a Walk and Hit (so does the RC formula, in fact). In the OPS formula, a Walk is always counted as a non-Out event, but it's never counted as a Base. A BB and a Base Hit have never been valued at the same rate.


As a fan one of the most frustrating things to watch in a game is a player walk with a runner on third and then see the next player ground into an inning ending double play. When you watch as many games as I do the common occurances don't leave a mark. However the peaks are remembered. No one remembers a walk that leads to a go ahead two run home run. However everybody remembers an inability to get the tieing run in from thrid base with less than two outs.

The game's own rules should prevent us looking at a BB in that situation as being anything resembling a failure. A Strike is a pitch a player can be expected to hit. A Ball is a pitch a player cannot be expected to hit. That's why properly identifying the latter moves the Hitter closer toward not making an Out while the former moves him closer. The reason Ball 4 moves the runner to 1B is that it's assumed that the Hitter was not given an appropriate opportunity to hit the ball into play, the Hitter is moved to 1B as a penalty to the opposition, and we move on to the next Hitter.

And what we now know is that we can expect more Runs during that Inning regardless of how many Outs there are because of the additional Runner.

That BB isn't a failure at all. It's actually a penalty to the opposition for not allowing the player a reasonable opportunity to drive in the Run.

As far as people not remembering the BB that allowed a bigger Inning to happen? Well, that's on them and as much as I hear about the "little things" are important, I can't at all figure out why a Walk isn't considered biggest little thing in the game. After all, isn't the ability to figure out the difference between a Ball and a Strike the most basic fundamental hitting concept considering that it's the point at which the clock starts ticking?


I think this debate that surfaces quite often on RZ can largely be attributed to one Adam Dunn. I wonder if this same debate persists among other major league baseball forums.

The devaluation of Bases on Balls persists on pretty much every baseball forum I've read. It has nothing to do with Adam Dunn.

Raisor
01-27-2009, 08:58 PM
I think this debate that surfaces quite often on RZ can largely be attributed to one Adam Dunn. I wonder if this same debate persists among other major league baseball forums.

Go look at the team stats for the 1975 Reds and Phils.

What is the biggest difference between the two offenses?

AVG .271 vs .269
SLG .401 vs .402
HR 124 vs 125
Hits 1515 vs 1506
AB 5581 vs 5592
2B 278 vs 283
3B 37 vs 42

That's about as close as you can get, right? Well, the Reds scored 95 more runs that season. I'd argue that's because the Reds walked 81 more times then the Phils (691 vs 610) Which bumped their OBP up 11 points higher. (They also netted 63 more successful SB's then the Phils).

It has to do with winning baseball.

AtomicDumpling
01-27-2009, 09:00 PM
But don't you want a suttle differnece between a walk and a hit? Both you could say are equally important but at the same time they can be vastly different. There is only one situation in which a walk knocks in a run. However there are many more situation in which putting the ball in play will result in a run.

But don't you want a subtle difference between a single and a home run?

A home run creates at least one run 100% of the time. A single might produce a run.

Batting average not only ignores walks, it also counts all hits the same. By that fact alone it is rendered nearly meaningless.

AtomicDumpling
01-27-2009, 09:26 PM
As a fan one of the most frustrating things to watch in a game is a player walk with a runner on third and then see the next player ground into an inning ending double play.

If the pitcher is not throwing strikes it is better to walk than to swing at balls outside the strike zone. Swinging at bad pitches is a great way to make an out.

If you take a walk in that situation it allows you to score two runs on a double or three on a home run. It gives you a great chance to score multiple runs instead of just one.

I very rarely have a problem with a player taking a walk. Maybe if there is a runner in scoring position with two outs and the pitcher on deck.

Always Red
01-27-2009, 09:48 PM
Go look at the team stats for the 1975 Reds and Phils.

What is the biggest difference between the two offenses?

AVG .271 vs .269
SLG .401 vs .402
HR 124 vs 125
Hits 1515 vs 1506
AB 5581 vs 5592
2B 278 vs 283
3B 37 vs 42

That's about as close as you can get, right? Well, the Reds scored 95 more runs that season. I'd argue that's because the Reds walked 81 more times then the Phils (691 vs 610) Which bumped their OBP up 11 points higher. (They also netted 63 more successful SB's then the Phils).

It has to do with winning baseball.

The Reds also led the NL in stolen bases that year, by a large margin (30), and were a ridiculous 82% successful in their SB attempts as a team. They "outstole" the Phils by 42, and were successful nearly 20% more of the time, which helps to add to that total difference that you cited.

Raisor
01-27-2009, 09:51 PM
The Reds also led the NL in stolen bases that year, by a large margin (30), and were a ridiculous 82% successful in their SB attempts as a team. They "outstole" the Phils by 42, and were successful nearly 20% more of the time, which helps to add to that total difference that you cited.

ahem


(They also netted 63 more successful SB's then the Phils).

Always Red
01-27-2009, 10:03 PM
ahem

Not quite 63, though...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL_1975.shtml

The real reason the Reds of the middle 70's were so good? Pitching. They finally matched pitching with slugging.

But I understand that was not your point. :) And I agree, the OBP was the difference...

Raisor
01-27-2009, 10:08 PM
Not quite 63, though...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL_1975.shtml

The real reason the Reds of the middle 70's were so good? Pitching. They finally matched pitching with slugging.

But I understand that was not your point. :) And I agree, the OBP was the difference...

Net steals SB-CS

Reds 1975: 168-36=132
Phils 1975: 126-57=69

132-69=63

SteelSD
01-27-2009, 10:09 PM
And of course, it's not a horrible stat. It has a decent correlation with good things happening.

Yep. And frankly, if one wants to explain the difference between Batting Average and OPS in a way the general male sports fan would understand, I'd suggest this would be a good start:

You see a very pretty girl sitting in a car parked next to you at a stop sign. She rolls down her window, strikes up a short conversation, and asks if you want to hang out. If you're single (and maybe even if you're not), you say "Yeah, sure!" After all, she's cute, she's interesting to talk to, but you need to find out more before you commit to anything else. You exchange numbers.

You just met a girl named Batting Average (BA). She's attractive and intelligent, but you're gonna' be disappointed when she gets out of that car.

Now, later in the day, you're at the local gym. A girl who's even more attractive walks up wearing a cutoff tee shirt and spandex shorts appropriate to her smokin' hot bod. She strikes up a short conversation that's even more interesting, and asks if you want to go back to her place after she's shown you pretty much everything but naked. Who cares if her name is twice as long? You don't exchange numbers. You go.

You now have met On Base Percentage + Slugging (OPS). She's more attractive, even more intelligent than Batting Average, and you get to see just about every piece of relevant info in one viewing. You don't have to be ready to marry her at first sight, but you'll want to at least date her given her rather obvious...um...attributes.

In short, Batting Average is a cute "maybe", while OPS is the hot certainty you've been looking for. Why is OPS so alluring?

Well, because we know that the basic goals of baseball break down to "Avoid Outs" and "Get as many Bases as possible while avoiding Outs". Teams that do both better than another have a better chance over time of scoring more Runs than a team that doesn't do both well. Batting Average doesn't tell us what actually happened after a Hitter walked to the plate. It tells us whether or not a player produced a Hit, but it doesn't tell us what kind of Hit that was. If you're at work and call your buddy who's at the game is that kind of description going to be acceptable?

You: "Hey, what happened?"

Buddy: "Runner on 1st. Player X got a hit!"

You: "Yeah, but what kind of hit?"

Buddy: <click>

How do you feel about that conversation? The Hitter came to the plate, got a Hit, but you have no idea what actually happened or most likely happened. Let's revisit that conversation from an OPS standpoint:

You: "Hey, what happened?"

Buddy: "Runner on 1st. Player X produced a 5.000 OPS!"

You: "Wow! A two-Run Home Run!! AWESOME!!!"

Now we know what actually happened. A 4.000 OPS produced at least one Run via a Triple. A Double produced a 3.000 OPS and a Single produced a 2.000 OPS for that PA. A Walk produces a 1.000 OPS. As we walk down the list, we're going to be less sure that "Buddy's" description is going to give us any information about the Runner on 1st scoring, but we're still going to be pretty sure that the Runner on 1st advanced but we have no idea where the Hitter is now on the bases. With Batting Average, we can only be sure that the Runner and Hitter advanced, but we have no idea how far and that's the name of the game if we're talking about plating Runs.

Always Red
01-27-2009, 10:12 PM
Net steals SB-CS

Reds 1975: 168-36=132
Phils 1975: 126-57=69

132-69=63

hat tip...;)

Always Red
01-27-2009, 10:16 PM
Yep. And frankly, if one wants to explain the difference between Batting Average and OPS in a way the general male sports fan would understand, I'd suggest this would be a good start:

You see a very pretty girl sitting in a car parked next to you at a stop sign. She rolls down her window, strikes up a short conversation, and asks if you want to hang out. If you're single (and maybe even if you're not), you say "Yeah, sure!" After all, she's cute, she's interesting to talk to, but you need to find out more before you commit to anything else. You exchange numbers.

You just met a girl named Batting Average (BA). She's attractive and intelligent, but you're gonna' be disappointed when she gets out of that car.

Now, later in the day, you're at the local gym. A girl who's even more attractive walks up wearing a cutoff tee shirt and spandex shorts appropriate to her smokin' hot bod. She strikes up a short conversation that's even more interesting, and asks if you want to go back to her place after she's shown you pretty much everything but naked. Who cares if her name is twice as long? You don't exchange numbers. You go.

You now have met On Base Percentage + Slugging (OPS). She's more attractive, even more intelligent than Batting Average, and you get to see just about every piece of relevant info in one viewing. You don't have to be ready to marry her at first sight, but you'll want to at least date her given her rather obvious...um...attributes.

In short, Batting Average is a cute "maybe", while OPS is the hot certainty you've been looking for. Why is OPS so alluring?

Well, because we know that the basic goals of baseball break down to "Avoid Outs" and "Get as many Bases as possible while avoiding Outs". Teams that do both better than another have a better chance over time of scoring more Runs than a team that doesn't do both well. Batting Average doesn't tell us what actually happened after a Hitter walked to the plate. It tells us whether or not a player produced a Hit, but it doesn't tell us what kind of Hit that was. If you're at work and call your buddy who's at the game is that kind of description going to be acceptable?

You: "Hey, what happened?"

Buddy: "Runner on 1st. Player X got a hit!"

You: "Yeah, but what kind of hit?"

Buddy: <click>

How do you feel about that conversation? The Hitter came to the plate, got a Hit, but you have no idea what actually happened or most likely happened. Let's revisit that conversation from an OPS standpoint:

You: "Hey, what happened?"

Buddy: "Runner on 1st. Player X produced a 5.000 OPS!"

You: "Wow! A two-Run Home Run!! AWESOME!!!"

Now we know what actually happened. A 4.000 OPS produced at least one Run via a Triple. A Double produced a 3.000 OPS and a Single produced a 2.000 OPS for that PA. A Walk produces a 1.000 OPS. As we walk down the list, we're going to be less sure that "Buddy's" description is going to give us any information about the Runner on 1st scoring, but we're still going to be pretty sure that the Runner on 1st advanced but we have no idea where the Hitter is now on the bases. With Batting Average, we can only be sure that the Runner and Hitter advanced, but we have no idea how far and that's the name of the game if we're talking about plating Runs.

This should be archived, saved, referred to, and used for educational purposes. This is baseball, 101, a classic, man style. :thumbup:

AtomicDumpling
01-27-2009, 10:24 PM
What if store prices were like batting averages?

I walked into a store and picked up a bag of potato chips. I went to the cash register to pay.

The cashier said "That will be 9 coins, sir."

I said "Nine coins? What is the price?"

Cashier: "Do you want the chips or not? Just give me the nine coins."

I handed over nine pennies and walked out of the store chomping chips.

--

We all know there are several different coins with different values. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are not the same. Some are worth much more than others. So a monetary system in which all those coins were treated the same would be foolish.

With batting average all hits count the same, and walks (which are almost as good as singles) don't count at all. We all know there are several different types of hits with different values. Singles, doubles, triples and homers are not the same. Some are worth much more than others. So a hitting evaluation system in which all those hits were treated the same would be foolish.

RedsManRick
01-27-2009, 10:32 PM
But Steel, most people are too lazy to go the gym. Everybody can drive around in their car...

SteelSD
01-27-2009, 10:35 PM
But Steel, most people are too lazy to go the gym. Everybody can drive around in their car...

Yeah, I made a couple assumptions obviously...;)

dougdirt
01-27-2009, 10:36 PM
I like AtomicDumplings way.... I will be able to afford a lot more with his plan.

Emin3mShady07
01-27-2009, 10:39 PM
I wish I had a car so I might be lucky enough to meet batting average...cuz right now I am seeing a lot of double plays;)

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 12:41 AM
Traditionalists like BB's (and the like) kept seperate because it muddies the picture of a guys ability to get on base when forced to put the ball in play. I know sabermetrics fans view that as a foolish exercise although I'm not quite sure as to the full reason why.


Because it's not true. Sabermetric "fans" view BA as measuring a subset of OBP.

What part are you saying isn't true? Please expound on this if you would. And what's with the parentheses did I do something offensive?


But it isn't true that "hitting for avg is not a repeatable skill." I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that. If hitting for avg wasn't a repeatable skill, BA would fluctuate wildly from year to year.

I agree it would fluctuate wildly. Maybe I misunderstood but I do recall someone making that argument, or at least that is what I thought they were arguing. It's not something I would have just made up, probably couldn't have made it up.

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 01:22 AM
But I'd ask the question, what's the point of the stat? What does it tell us? What question does it answer?

Batting average tells us how often a guy got a hit of the times when he came the plate, didn't walk, and didn't make a run-scoring out. But many people interpret that as a very good answer for the question "How good of a hitter is this guy?" or "How likely is this guy to get a hit right now". In reality doesn't answer either of those questions all that well. And particularly regarding the latter of those questions, is that something we should care about? (as a fan watching the game, maybe. as an analyst looking at run production, probably not)

Basically too me BA is a baseline to start a comparison of players. It's not an end all be all obviously but it serves a purpose. It's why Albert Pujols is regarded as one of the best ever and Pat Burrell is just a borderline All-Star type. They both have great eyes at the plate and they both have good power but only one repeatedly and consistently dominates the game. I wouldn't say Pujols has much if any edge in Discipline or Power but he consistenly hits for a higher avg which sets him way apart. It's because he can consistenly hit where he squares. So too me avg tells me at what level a batter can strike a ball where he squares. Not completely or definitively but what other stat can as come close specifically to that talent to telling me that story? If you have one I'm all ears!

Ron Madden
01-28-2009, 05:32 AM
But don't you want a suttle differnece between a walk and a hit?

As a fan one of the most frustrating things to watch in a game is a player walk with a runner on third and then see the next player ground into an inning ending double play. When you watch as many games as I do the common occurances don't leave a mark.


I've watched a few games myself and I'd say the player that drew the walk did his job, the player that hit into the double play didn't.

:)

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 08:57 AM
Basically too me BA is a baseline to start a comparison of players. It's not an end all be all obviously but it serves a purpose. It's why Albert Pujols is regarded as one of the best ever and Pat Burrell is just a borderline All-Star type. They both have great eyes at the plate and they both have good power but only one repeatedly and consistently dominates the game. I wouldn't say Pujols has much if any edge in Discipline or Power but he consistenly hits for a higher avg which sets him way apart. It's because he can consistenly hit where he squares. So too me avg tells me at what level a batter can strike a ball where he squares. Not completely or definitively but what other stat can as come close specifically to that talent to telling me that story? If you have one I'm all ears!

Albert Pujols: .334/.425/.624
Pat Burrell: .257/.367/.485
Adam Dunn: .247/.381/.518
Tony Gwynn: .338/.388/.459
Craig Counsell: .255/.343/.344

If batting average is your starting point, your opening belief would be that Tony Gwynn is the best hitter and Adam Dunn the worst. You've equated overall hitting ability with "striking a ball where he squares". I'm not sure why your starting point would be on just one component of hitting. Unless you go on to look at OBP and SLG, you'd think Gwynn was a more productive hitter than Pujols and Burrell more productive than Dunn. You wouldn't know that Pujols was massively more productive than Gwynn. You'd think that Craig Counsell was a better hitter than Adam Dunn. Your starting point is misleading because it only identifies a narrow component of hitting.

It's like evaluating fielders by looking at fielding percentage. Sure, it has some use, but it doesn't make sense as the baseline for analysis. If you start by looking at OPS, you get an accurate picture of how productive these guys are as hitters. Now, you might be interested in how specifically they create that production. Do they get lots of singles? Take lots of walks? Hit lots of homers? And at the point, AVG can be useful. But as a starting point? It's less than optimal.

nate
01-28-2009, 09:51 AM
What part are you saying isn't true? Please expound on this if you would. And what's with the parentheses did I do something offensive?

No, I just can't speak for all of the sabermetric "fans," only myself.

For me it's simple:

out avoidance and acquiring bases > just hitting the ball

A nice byproduct of out avoidance is that it forces the other pitcher to throw more pitches. Thus getting into the bullpen earlier.

Unless Dusty Baker is the manager! :cool:


I agree it would fluctuate wildly. Maybe I misunderstood but I do recall someone making that argument, or at least that is what I thought they were arguing. It's not something I would have just made up, probably couldn't have made it up.

Dunno.

bucksfan2
01-28-2009, 10:21 AM
The game's own rules should prevent us looking at a BB in that situation as being anything resembling a failure. A Strike is a pitch a player can be expected to hit. A Ball is a pitch a player cannot be expected to hit. That's why properly identifying the latter moves the Hitter closer toward not making an Out while the former moves him closer. The reason Ball 4 moves the runner to 1B is that it's assumed that the Hitter was not given an appropriate opportunity to hit the ball into play, the Hitter is moved to 1B as a penalty to the opposition, and we move on to the next Hitter.

I disagree completely with you here. A called strike is due to a predetermined strike zone. There are many strikes that are very difficult to impossible to hit. A cutter that starts in on the hands and catches the inside corner of the plate is a great pitch. While a hanging curve ball that stays up in zone is a pitch that can be punished by a hitter. Often times the key hit in a game is on a ball that shouldn't be put in play.

westofyou
01-28-2009, 10:26 AM
Often times the key hit in a game is on a ball that shouldn't be put in play. And often it's not, often it's an out, more often.

lollipopcurve
01-28-2009, 10:28 AM
There are many strikes that are very difficult to impossible to hit. A cutter that starts in on the hands and catches the inside corner of the plate is a great pitch. While a hanging curve ball that stays up in zone is a pitch that can be punished by a hitter.

True. The difference between control and command is meaningful.

Emin3mShady07
01-28-2009, 10:41 AM
I disagree completely with you here. A called strike is due to a predetermined strike zone. There are many strikes that are very difficult to impossible to hit. A cutter that starts in on the hands and catches the inside corner of the plate is a great pitch. While a hanging curve ball that stays up in zone is a pitch that can be punished by a hitter. Often times the key hit in a game is on a ball that shouldn't be put in play.

I think the pitches that get damaged the most are when hitter gets wild IN the strike zone. If he hangs a breaking ball but it is at the batter's eyes, the batter is not going to swing, but if he leaves it at the belt buckle, the ball might be going a long way. Also other pitches like 2 seamers and cutters can creep over the plate and in to the strikezone and the same type of thing can happen as the breaking ball.

blumj
01-28-2009, 11:06 AM
No, I just can't speak for all of the sabermetric "fans," only myself.

For me it's simple:

out avoidance and acquiring bases > just hitting the ball

A nice byproduct of out avoidance is that it forces the other pitcher to throw more pitches. Thus getting into the bullpen earlier.

Unless Dusty Baker is the manager! :cool:



Dunno.
It's almost impossible to convince people of the existence of team offensive strategy in baseball if they haven't seen it work for themselves. Heck, even the Twins, who tend to win often because their pitchers almost never walk anyone, don't appear to realize that they'd win even more if their offense took more walks.

Far East
01-28-2009, 11:14 AM
Is their any merit at all to what Dusty said about Taveras' as leadoff man? I mean the part about "... A lot of people talk about his on-base percentage. I like to think in terms of him getting into scoring position... A guy who had whatever he had, 30-doubles and double-digits in triples and 60 stolen bases. Hes in scoring position a whole bunch of times."

Obviously Dusty is ignoring the fact that Tavaras can't steal first base -- in fact, gets to first base relatively rarely by any means whatsoever.

I'm in favor of his being on the bench, or if he must play then batting ninth, but is there any value at all in Willy's single-digit triples, double digit 2 base hits, and mucho stolen bases to justify his batting lead-off, despite the poor OBP?

An interesting comparison might be between Tavaras and Hairston's OBP, triples, doubles, and SB.

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2009, 11:27 AM
I've watched a few games myself and I'd say the player that drew the walk did his job, the player that hit into the double play didn't.

:)

I'd say the pitcher is really the guy who did his job, pitching around a hitter that had a chance to beat him in favor of pitching to a hitter that he had a much better chance to beat.

Do you guys ever think there is a time, with runners on base, that a better hitter might take a chance on swinging at a close pitch, rather than taking a walk, to avoid letting a hitter with little or no chance of hitting a particular pitcher, come to the plate?

Ltlabner
01-28-2009, 11:32 AM
Do you guys ever think there is a time, with runners on base, that a better hitter might take a chance on swinging at a close pitch, rather than taking a walk, to avoid letting a hitter with little or no chance of hitting a particular pitcher, come to the plate?

Sure the player likely would.

Whether they should is another matter.

wheels
01-28-2009, 11:32 AM
Is their any merit at all to what Dusty said about Taveras' as leadoff man? I mean the part about "... A lot of people talk about his on-base percentage. I like to think in terms of him getting into scoring position... A guy who had whatever he had, 30-doubles and double-digits in triples and 60 stolen bases. He’s in scoring position a whole bunch of times."

Obviously Dusty is ignoring the fact that Tavaras can't steal first base -- in fact, gets to first base relatively rarely by any means whatsoever.

I'm in favor of his being on the bench, or if he must play then batting ninth, but is there any value at all in Willy's single-digit triples, double digit 2 base hits, and mucho stolen bases to justify his batting lead-off, despite the poor OBP?

An interesting comparison might be between Tavaras and Hairston's OBP, triples, doubles, and SB.

Dusty talks about Taveras and his doubles. Did Willy ever have thirty doubles, let alone reach souble digits in triples? Is he talking about career numbers?

I can't see him with 40 XBH in a season. It would be pretty ridiculous to predict that.

Edit: Willy's never had more than 19 doubles and 5 triples in any season.

Dusty is out of his ever loving mind.

TRF
01-28-2009, 11:36 AM
Dusty talks about Taveras and his doubles. Did Willy ever have thirty doubles, let alone reach souble digits in triples? Is he talking about career numbers?

I can't see him with 40 XBH in a season. It would be pretty ridiculous to predict that.


Yet that's what the man said, so either he is ignorant of Taveras actual ability, or he is delusional.

I'm really not happy with either answer. What I am really wondering is why NO ONE in the local media has called him out on that statement. Not one person. Seriously, none of them have access to stats?

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2009, 11:38 AM
Sure the player likely would.

Whether they should is another matter.

In my coaching experience, with runners on base, I always wanted my better hitters to swing the bat, rather than let a lesser hitter have that opportunity.

Don't get me wrong, I want all my hitters to work the count and draw walks, and get on base, but there is a time that I want my better hitters to swing the bat and have the chance to drive in runs that my lesser hitters probably won't.

blumj
01-28-2009, 12:05 PM
In my coaching experience, with runners on base, I always wanted my better hitters to swing the bat, rather than let a lesser hitter have that opportunity.

Don't get me wrong, I want all my hitters to work the count and draw walks, and get on base, but there is a time that I want my better hitters to swing the bat and have the chance to drive in runs that my lesser hitters probably won't.
Which would have to depend on the size of the gap in the quality between your better hitters and your lesser hitters, wouldn't it? If all your hitters were pretty good at hitting, you wouldn't have to think that way.

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2009, 12:16 PM
Which would have to depend on the size of the gap in the quality between your better hitters and your lesser hitters, wouldn't it? If all your hitters were pretty good at hitting, you wouldn't have to think that way.

Yet, even in the major leagues, there is quite a disparity between the great hitters and the average to not so great hitters. I still would rather have the great hitter taking his chances than the lower tier in an RBI situation that means something.

*BaseClogger*
01-28-2009, 12:19 PM
This reminds me an awful lot of Chapter 10 of The Book...

Emin3mShady07
01-28-2009, 12:55 PM
^^I guess in a way it does. I don't know which side of the argument you are on, but they still concluded that in most places taking a walk instead of making an out increases the Run Expectancy and there are only a few situations in a game where an intentional walk makes sense for a pitcher.

blumj
01-28-2009, 01:02 PM
Yet, even in the major leagues, there is quite a disparity between the great hitters and the average to not so great hitters. I still would rather have the great hitter taking his chances than the lower tier in an RBI situation that means something.
But there's more rarely such a great disparity between any particular hitter and the guy batting directly after him, unless it's a pitcher.

gonelong
01-28-2009, 01:48 PM
I'd say the pitcher is really the guy who did his job, pitching around a hitter that had a chance to beat him in favor of pitching to a hitter that he had a much better chance to beat.

Sometimes.

Other times the pitcher will only throw a few boderline pitches he knows the guy has some difficulty handling in the hopes that he'll chase them. In that case I generally chalk it up to both the pitcher and the batter doing their jobs.


Do you guys ever think there is a time, with runners on base, that a better hitter might take a chance on swinging at a close pitch, rather than taking a walk, to avoid letting a hitter with little or no chance of hitting a particular pitcher, come to the plate?

Sure, but I think that is mostly up to the pitcher, the ump, and the guy at the plate to determine when that time is, not us. For some guys that's going to be every time they have the bat in their hands (like Vlad), for others it's probably very rarely a good idea (most guys 6'5" or taller - they have enough to worry about within the strike zone).

The larger problem is that a team has such a weak hitter following one of their better hitters. If the gap is that far between two players, one of the had better be a pitcher or you have either have roster issues or lineup issues.

It really speaks to the problem of having offensive black holes in your lineup as it generally takes a chain of events to score. Those types of offensive players not only have no value themselves, but the sap the value from your better offensive weapons as well.

GL

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 02:20 PM
Albert Pujols: .334/.425/.624
Pat Burrell: .257/.367/.485
Adam Dunn: .247/.381/.518
Tony Gwynn: .338/.388/.459
Craig Counsell: .255/.343/.344

If batting average is your starting point, your opening belief would be that Tony Gwynn is the best hitter and Adam Dunn the worst. You've equated overall hitting ability with "striking a ball where he squares". I'm not sure why your starting point would be on just one component of hitting. Unless you go on to look at OBP and SLG, you'd think Gwynn was a more productive hitter than Pujols and Burrell more productive than Dunn. You wouldn't know that Pujols was massively more productive than Gwynn. You'd think that Craig Counsell was a better hitter than Adam Dunn. Your starting point is misleading because it only identifies a narrow component of hitting.

It's like evaluating fielders by looking at fielding percentage. Sure, it has some use, but it doesn't make sense as the baseline for analysis. If you start by looking at OPS, you get an accurate picture of how productive these guys are as hitters. Now, you might be interested in how specifically they create that production. Do they get lots of singles? Take lots of walks? Hit lots of homers? And at the point, AVG can be useful. But as a starting point? It's less than optimal.

I don't really know why it makes a difference whether I start at avg and work my way to OBP, Slg, OPS, OPS+, etc or if I go from OPS and work backwards. Either way if you don't look at all of them you're analysis will be incomplete.

Chip R
01-28-2009, 02:26 PM
Is their any merit at all to what Dusty said about Taveras' as leadoff man? I mean the part about "... A lot of people talk about his on-base percentage. I like to think in terms of him getting into scoring position... A guy who had whatever he had, 30-doubles and double-digits in triples and 60 stolen bases. Hes in scoring position a whole bunch of times."



It would be if he got on base more often. If he had 60 SBs in one year, just think what he would have got if he had walked a few more times? I like a guy who can steal a base and go from 1st to home on a double. SBs are exciting and fun. But if that's something you can do well, why should you ignore something that can get you on base so you can do that more often? If he were getting on base at a .350 clip and stealing 70+ bases a season, Houston sure wouldn't have traded him and COLO wouldn't have let him go either.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 02:33 PM
It's almost impossible to convince people of the existence of team offensive strategy in baseball if they haven't seen it work for themselves. Heck, even the Twins, who tend to win often because their pitchers almost never walk anyone, don't appear to realize that they'd win even more if their offense took more walks.

It's been said earlier but can be said again... a single and a ground ball double play feels more productive than a walk a strikeout. Our perception of events is greatly clouded by our emotions. The human brain simply isn't good at intuitively breaking apart complex systems which involve a lot of small events in sequence, such as scoring runs. That's what we have math for.

Even when the White Sox were leading the league in run production, their manager said they had to get away from their style of offense. It just didn't feel like they were as successful, despite what the scoreboard said. Many people confuse an enjoyable offense with a productive one -- and will make up narratives about scoring runs on demand in the late innings to justify their bias.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 02:38 PM
I don't really know why it makes a difference whether I start at avg and work my way to OBP, Slg, OPS, OPS+, etc or if I go from OPS and work backwards. Either way if you don't look at all of them you're analysis will be incomplete.

It depends on what your question is. If my question is "how productive is this player offensively", I don't need to look at AVG at all to answer it. If I know a guy's OBP and SLG, his batting average doesn't tell me anything more about how many runs he produces, only how.

You're right, batting average can play a role in getting a complete, holistic understanding of the player's offensive production. AVG is useful as a data point in certain contexts. But it's an odd starting point unless you plan to analyze everything -- at which point the starting point is sort of irrelevant. But creating a holistic understanding of every nook and cranny of a guy's game is rarely the question being asked.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 02:48 PM
I'd say the pitcher is really the guy who did his job, pitching around a hitter that had a chance to beat him in favor of pitching to a hitter that he had a much better chance to beat.

So the hitter advancing a base without creating an out isn't "beating" the pitcher? Sure, he might have beat him harder with a hit, but a walk is always a victory for batter



Do you guys ever think there is a time, with runners on base, that a better hitter might take a chance on swinging at a close pitch, rather than taking a walk, to avoid letting a hitter with little or no chance of hitting a particular pitcher, come to the plate?

Sure. But if you're the type of hitter who has a decent chance to get a hit on a borderline pitch, why is there a crappy hitter behind you? This scenario is predicated on a poor managerial decision in lineup construction. The types of players to whom you give that liberty are precisely the kind of hitters who should have good hitters behind them -- as they are more likely to get on base.

And of course, the batter's skill set HAS to be a primary consideration. Letting Vladimir Guerrero chase that close pitch in the name of capitalizing on an opportunity makes a lot more sense than Adam Dunn to chase. Vlad has a much greater chance of success than Dunn does. The calculus is different and thus so should be the recommendation.

Calling Dunn an "RBI" guy because he hits lots of homers and then batting him 5th or 6th and encouraging him to chase borderline pitches with guys on base is just stupid managing. For example...

But I'll go back to my original point. Rarely is the difference between a hitter and the guy behind him so great that it justifies passing up a free base-runner and a guaranteed non-out for the increased chance of a hit. I think your overestimating the difference between the likely outcomes of a greater hitter "taking a chance" while chasing a borderline pitch and an average hitter getting to bat with yet another guy on base.

In my experience great hitters are great for two primary reasons:
1) They know what balls they can hit well and what they can't and swing accordingly
2) When they hit the ball well, they hit the ball extremely WELL

Even great hitters don't do very well with balls out of their zone. (I believe Ted Williams had a nice chart for this...) Asking a guy to do something he doesn't normally do because of the situation doesn't tend to pay out. It's the batting equivalent of pitching your ace on short rest instead of your back of the rotation starter. It seems like a good idea and you might feel better about it, but history shows us that unless your ace has a proven ability to pitch on short rest, the back of rotation guy is likely to give you a better performance. Is Ted Williams swinging at a ball he gets a hit on 22% of the time really a better option than sending him to 1B and letting the next guy hit?

And I'd reiterate that your manager should be building his lineup such that opposing pitchers are given blatant opportunity to pitch around a guy who can do a ton of damage when he makes contact.

blumj
01-28-2009, 03:03 PM
There are a whole lot of Angels fans who routinely scream at their tvs for Vlad to "take a freaking pitch, for God's sake".

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2009, 03:20 PM
I was just getting some opinion. Looks like you guys have got it all figured out.

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 03:35 PM
No, I just can't speak for all of the sabermetric "fans," only myself.

For me it's simple:

out avoidance and acquiring bases > just hitting the ball

A nice byproduct of out avoidance is that it forces the other pitcher to throw more pitches. Thus getting into the bullpen earlier.

Unless Dusty Baker is the manager! :cool:



Dunno.

Ok I agree, not sure where I came accross as disagreeing with that notion.

Unless it's this:
Out avoidance + Acquiring Bases + Hitting the ball > Out Avoidance + Acquiring bases

The real argument shouldn't have anything to do with BA or OPS. It's all about approach and depending on the circumstances and who you are your approach should vary slightly. But basically your approach should be find a meatball and hit said meatball, if you don't get a meatball don't go swinging at any lemons. If I'm the manager that's what I am preaching, find a meatball and hit it square and if not work the pitcher to death trying to get one. If he doesn't throw you a meatball work yourself closer to the buffet and let's see if the next guy can get a meatball out of him.

Here's the problem though, the guy then throws you a doughnut. Not quite what you were looking for but after already passing on 2 doughnuts you're not in any position to pass on this one. You either hit that doughnut as square as possible and maybe it turns into a meatball, foul it off to the crowd or pass & hope it's a lemon in disguise. My guy ideally would be good enough with the stick to do any of the 2 former and better be right at a high percentage of the time on the latter.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 03:40 PM
Unless it's this:
Out avoidance + Acquiring Bases + Hitting the ball > Out Avoidance + Acquiring bases

If you aren't avoiding outs or acquiring bases, then what's the value of hitting the ball. That's really the issue -- once you have OBP and SLG, batting average doesn't tell you anything new.

It's only real value is as a subset of OBP.

Sure contact ability matters as a driver of both OBP and SLG. We ideally want guys who can foul off borderline pitches or put them in play if necessary. But if a guy can keep his OBP and SLG up while struggling on the borderline pitches, we shouldn't lose perspective. We shouldn't discount the enormous value Adam Dunn provides just because he's not Albert Pujols. Nor should we get confused and think Brandon Phillips is a better hitter than Dunn because he can foul off that borderline pitch.

Batting average can be useful if you're trying to find out what guy is best at fouling off that borderline pitch. But if you want to know which guy you want at the plate to begin with, OBP and SLG are where you want to look.

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 04:07 PM
It depends on what your question is. If my question is "how productive is this player offensively", I don't need to look at AVG at all to answer it. If I know a guy's OBP and SLG, his batting average doesn't tell me anything more about how many runs he produces, only how.

You're right, batting average can play a role in getting a complete, holistic understanding of the player's offensive production. AVG is useful as a data point in certain contexts. But it's an odd starting point unless you plan to analyze everything -- at which point the starting point is sort of irrelevant. But creating a holistic understanding of every nook and cranny of a guy's game is rarely the question being asked.

I agree the starting point is irrelevant, to each his own as long as he comes up with the appropriate answer to the question. And if the question is "how productive is this player offensively" then I am gonna look at his entire game. Why? Because although OPS has the BA already included my theory is that OPS is somewhat unevenly driven by a particular set of skills. Skills that I can get a better look at by looking at OPS broken down (assuming I have no or a limited scouting report). I look at a players PA, BA, BABIP, Walk/PA%, Slg% Doubles, Triples, HR's and what I personally know (generally but factually speaking) about said player either through a scouting report or common knowledge. And then I make up my mind whether or not this guy is good or not and how good and if he can keep it up. From that point on I look at that particular players OPS because I have no questions about his game, at least until something else develops.

nate
01-28-2009, 04:11 PM
Ok I agree, not sure where I came accross as disagreeing with that notion.

Unless it's this:
Out avoidance + Acquiring Bases + Hitting the ball > Out Avoidance + Acquiring bases

Out avoidance includes hitting the ball. So to me, your ">" is "=."


The real argument shouldn't have anything to do with BA or OPS.

It depends on what we're measuring. Hitting the ball or creating runs.


It's all about approach and depending on the circumstances and who you are your approach should vary slightly. But basically your approach should be find a meatball and hit said meatball, if you don't get a meatball don't go swinging at any lemons.

If I'm the manager that's what I am preaching, find a meatball and hit it square and if not work the pitcher to death trying to get one. If he doesn't throw you a meatball work yourself closer to the buffet and let's see if the next guy can get a meatball out of him.

Sure. Hit balls you can hit, don't swing at balls you can't. Protect the plate on borderline pitches.


Here's the problem though, the guy then throws you a doughnut. Not quite what you were looking for but after already passing on 2 doughnuts you're not in any position to pass on this one. You either hit that doughnut as square as possible and maybe it turns into a meatball, foul it off to the crowd or pass & hope it's a lemon in disguise. My guy ideally would be good enough with the stick to do any of the 2 former and better be right at a high percentage of the time on the latter.

I dunno what we're discussing now but I'm getting hungry!

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 04:32 PM
If you aren't avoiding outs or acquiring bases, then what's the value of hitting the ball. That's really the issue -- once you have OBP and SLG, batting average doesn't tell you anything new.

It's only real value is as a subset of OBP.

Sure contact ability matters as a driver of both OBP and SLG. We ideally want guys who can foul off borderline pitches or put them in play if necessary. But if a guy can keep his OBP and SLG up while struggling on the borderline pitches, we shouldn't lose perspective. We shouldn't discount the enormous value Adam Dunn provides just because he's not Albert Pujols. Nor should we get confused and think Brandon Phillips is a better hitter than Dunn because he can foul off that borderline pitch.

Batting average can be useful if you're trying to find out what guy is best at fouling off that borderline pitch. But if you want to know which guy you want at the plate to begin with, OBP and SLG are where you want to look.

I agree with everything you said, but it's what you didn't say. We also shouldn't overvalue a Dunn or the like because of what he does provide. If he cannot foul off that pitch or get a hit as opposed to a strikeout then we shouldn't treat him or others of his ilk like they can. Look I get what you are saying completely, Dunn's OPS is equal to or close to everyone not named Pujols. OPS has BA, OBP and Slg so therefore he is no less than those other guys. But the difference in OPS between Pujols and Berkman is about the same as the difference between Berkman or Chipper (etc.) and Dunn or Burrell. And the difference between them is mostly in BA.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 07:58 PM
I agree with everything you said, but it's what you didn't say. We also shouldn't overvalue a Dunn or the like because of what he does provide. If he cannot foul off that pitch or get a hit as opposed to a strikeout then we shouldn't treat him or others of his ilk like they can. Look I get what you are saying completely, Dunn's OPS is equal to or close to everyone not named Pujols. OPS has BA, OBP and Slg so therefore he is no less than those other guys. But the difference in OPS between Pujols and Berkman is about the same as the difference between Berkman or Chipper (etc.) and Dunn or Burrell. And the difference between them is mostly in BA.

I think that's fair, generally. But it's also a bit of a strawman. I don't think anybody has confused Dunn as being in the same class as Pujols, or even Berkman. Even though Dunn has truly elite power and truly elite plate discipline, both his OBP and SLG fall some measure below those guys'. Dunn has his deficits and they do show up in his OPS.

Let's look at all the guys who have an aggregate OPS north of .850 since 2006.



Rank Name OPS
1 Albert Pujols 1.071
----------------------------
2 Chipper Jones 1.030
3 David Ortiz 1.008
4 Manny Ramirez 0.999
5 Alex Rodriguez 0.986
6 Ryan Howard 0.982
7 Matt Holliday 0.977
8 Lance Berkman 0.971
----------------------------
9 Jim Thome 0.950
10 Miguel Cabrera 0.949
11 Mark Teixeira 0.937
12 Chase Utley 0.934
13 David Wright 0.933
14 Vlad Guerrero 0.925
----------------------------
15 Magglio Ordonez 0.910
16 Aramis Ramirez 0.908
17 Carlos Beltran 0.907
18 Prince Fielder 0.907
19 Hanley Ramirez 0.906
20 Jermaine Dye 0.903
21 Brad Hawpe 0.899
22 Carlos Lee 0.898
23 Alfonso Soriano 0.898
24 Adam Dunn 0.895
25 Pat Burrell 0.887
26 Justin Morneau 0.881
27 Todd Helton 0.881
----------------------------
28 Grady Sizemore 0.876
29 Brian McCann 0.872
30 Joe Mauer 0.872
31 Kevin Youkilis 0.870
32 J.D. Drew 0.868
33 Carlos Guillen 0.868
34 Garrett Atkins 0.866
35 Derrek Lee 0.860
36 Jason Bay 0.860
37 Adrian Gonzalez 0.860
38 Paul Konerko 0.858
39 Carlos Delgado 0.853
40 Troy Glaus 0.852
41 Nick Markakis 0.851
42 Adam LaRoche 0.851


I've created some artificial tiers. The choices for the cutoffs are relatively arbitrary, but they hold together pretty well. Over the last 3 years, Dunn has been comparable to guys like Aramis Ramirez, Prince Fielder, Jermaine Dye, Pat Burrell, and Justin Morneau. And those are guys with top 30 OPS. These guys are the Aaron Harangs of offense. Maybe they aren't "aces", but they are #1s.

By in large, conversations about value and production can be answered by using OPS as the starting point. We know how productive they are and we didn't have to touch batting average. In fact, knowing batting average doesn't really add anything to our assessment of productivity.

Now, you're right, Dunn's low contact rate prevents him from joining the tier 2 guys who otherwise share his power and patience. If we want to know why Dunn isn't as good as Manny or Holliday or Berkman, we'd need to look as his contact rate (batting average) among other things to figure out that that's where his deficit lies. Just like we'd need to see that Soriano and Carlos Lee have trouble taking a walk and Todd Helton doesn't hit for all that much power compared to his OPS peers.

If we're sitting at the ballpark, maybe we do want to see a stat that tells us how likely it is that something exciting is going to happen. If our definition of exciting excludes walks and lumps hits together, batting average serves that purpose. And I have no problem with people using it in that context. But when people want to take the next step and start really evaluating production, AVG loses it's value as a stat. At that point, we need to start looking at OBP and SLG in some combination, and maybe stir in a little base running value to top it off. But we don't need batting average.

SteelSD
01-28-2009, 08:28 PM
I disagree completely with you here. A called strike is due to a predetermined strike zone. There are many strikes that are very difficult to impossible to hit. A cutter that starts in on the hands and catches the inside corner of the plate is a great pitch. While a hanging curve ball that stays up in zone is a pitch that can be punished by a hitter. Often times the key hit in a game is on a ball that shouldn't be put in play.

You can disagree, but we need to understand that your disagreement isn't with me; it's with the game of baseball itself. In this case, I'm just the messenger.

The Strike Zone exists for a reason. Balls that pass outside the strike zone, low or high, inside or outside, are pitches that carry no reasonable expectation of being hit with authority into the field of play. That's why the game penalizes the opponent. Strikes are exactly the opposite and the game doesn't care about the quality of the strike just like it doesn't care about how close to the Strike Zone a Ball is. Strikes are pitches carrying a reasonable expectation of being hit into the field of play with authority so the hitter is penalized for looking at or missing one.


Because although OPS has the BA already included my theory is that OPS is somewhat unevenly driven by a particular set of skills.

Not possible.

Raisor
01-28-2009, 08:32 PM
Everyone. Take another look at that list Rick posted.

Those are the best offensive players in the game. There's really no need to try to make things tougher.

dougdirt
01-28-2009, 09:53 PM
I am not completely sure that what Rick posted is completely accurate. Something like OPS+ would be better given that some guys play in Cincinnati, Boston, Colorado or Arizona and others play in San Diego and Oakland.

The point remains that Dunn is still real good at batting.... but I think a few guys move up and a few guys move down with something a little more accurate like OPS+.

RedsManRick
01-28-2009, 09:57 PM
I am not completely sure that what Rick posted is completely accurate. Something like OPS+ would be better given that some guys play in Cincinnati, Boston, Colorado or Arizona and others play in San Diego and Oakland.

The point remains that Dunn is still real good at batting.... but I think a few guys move up and a few guys move down with something a little more accurate like OPS+.

That's picking nits, Doug. I don't disagree with you, but reordering the list and adjusting guys' OPS by a few points isn't going to change the point. Some guys will move up a little, some down. Ultimately, the message about the value of OPS as an accurate measure of performance, and the limitations of AVG as analytical tool remain the same.

Mario-Rijo
01-28-2009, 10:05 PM
Everyone. Take another look at that list Rick posted.

Those are the best offensive players in the game. There's really no need to try to make things tougher.

I agree it's a great post. And really that's been my only complaint is that some put Dunn in a "tier" that he doesn't belong. I have definitely seen him bunched in with "ok he isn't Pujols but he is right there in the next group", by more than a few posters. But having said that I get where everyone is coming from better now, the Harang part makes sense to me. There are 30 teams and therefore that makes him a #1 on several teams.

jojo
01-28-2009, 10:22 PM
What we really need is a summary metric that doesn't undervalue the ability to get on base and is easy to convert directly into run values.

Emin3mShady07
01-28-2009, 10:25 PM
wOBA:)

BuckeyeRedleg
01-29-2009, 12:51 AM
I think that's fair, generally. But it's also a bit of a strawman. I don't think anybody has confused Dunn as being in the same class as Pujols, or even Berkman. Even though Dunn has truly elite power and truly elite plate discipline, both his OBP and SLG fall some measure below those guys'. Dunn has his deficits and they do show up in his OPS.

Let's look at all the guys who have an aggregate OPS north of .850 since 2006.



Rank Name OPS
1 Albert Pujols 1.071
----------------------------
2 Chipper Jones 1.030
3 David Ortiz 1.008
4 Manny Ramirez 0.999
5 Alex Rodriguez 0.986
6 Ryan Howard 0.982
7 Matt Holliday 0.977
8 Lance Berkman 0.971
----------------------------
9 Jim Thome 0.950
10 Miguel Cabrera 0.949
11 Mark Teixeira 0.937
12 Chase Utley 0.934
13 David Wright 0.933
14 Vlad Guerrero 0.925
----------------------------
15 Magglio Ordonez 0.910
16 Aramis Ramirez 0.908
17 Carlos Beltran 0.907
18 Prince Fielder 0.907
19 Hanley Ramirez 0.906
20 Jermaine Dye 0.903
21 Brad Hawpe 0.899
22 Carlos Lee 0.898
23 Alfonso Soriano 0.898
24 Adam Dunn 0.895
25 Pat Burrell 0.887
26 Justin Morneau 0.881
27 Todd Helton 0.881
----------------------------
28 Grady Sizemore 0.876
29 Brian McCann 0.872
30 Joe Mauer 0.872
31 Kevin Youkilis 0.870
32 J.D. Drew 0.868
33 Carlos Guillen 0.868
34 Garrett Atkins 0.866
35 Derrek Lee 0.860
36 Jason Bay 0.860
37 Adrian Gonzalez 0.860
38 Paul Konerko 0.858
39 Carlos Delgado 0.853
40 Troy Glaus 0.852
41 Nick Markakis 0.851
42 Adam LaRoche 0.851


I've created some artificial tiers. The choices for the cutoffs are relatively arbitrary, but they hold together pretty well. Over the last 3 years, Dunn has been comparable to guys like Aramis Ramirez, Prince Fielder, Jermaine Dye, Pat Burrell, and Justin Morneau. And those are guys with top 30 OPS. These guys are the Aaron Harangs of offense. Maybe they aren't "aces", but they are #1s.

By in large, conversations about value and production can be answered by using OPS as the starting point. We know how productive they are and we didn't have to touch batting average. In fact, knowing batting average doesn't really add anything to our assessment of productivity.

Now, you're right, Dunn's low contact rate prevents him from joining the tier 2 guys who otherwise share his power and patience. If we want to know why Dunn isn't as good as Manny or Holliday or Berkman, we'd need to look as his contact rate (batting average) among other things to figure out that that's where his deficit lies. Just like we'd need to see that Soriano and Carlos Lee have trouble taking a walk and Todd Helton doesn't hit for all that much power compared to his OPS peers.

If we're sitting at the ballpark, maybe we do want to see a stat that tells us how likely it is that something exciting is going to happen. If our definition of exciting excludes walks and lumps hits together, batting average serves that purpose. And I have no problem with people using it in that context. But when people want to take the next step and start really evaluating production, AVG loses it's value as a stat. At that point, we need to start looking at OBP and SLG in some combination, and maybe stir in a little base running value to top it off. But we don't need batting average.

Excellent post, Rick. Great stuff.

mth123
01-29-2009, 06:19 AM
I'd say the pitcher is really the guy who did his job, pitching around a hitter that had a chance to beat him in favor of pitching to a hitter that he had a much better chance to beat.

Do you guys ever think there is a time, with runners on base, that a better hitter might take a chance on swinging at a close pitch, rather than taking a walk, to avoid letting a hitter with little or no chance of hitting a particular pitcher, come to the plate?

I'd say if a pitcher threw one of the plate and the hitter chased, then the hitter did the pitchers job for him.

bucksfan2
01-29-2009, 08:54 AM
I think that's fair, generally. But it's also a bit of a strawman. I don't think anybody has confused Dunn as being in the same class as Pujols, or even Berkman. Even though Dunn has truly elite power and truly elite plate discipline, both his OBP and SLG fall some measure below those guys'. Dunn has his deficits and they do show up in his OPS.

Let's look at all the guys who have an aggregate OPS north of .850 since 2006.

I've created some artificial tiers. The choices for the cutoffs are relatively arbitrary, but they hold together pretty well. Over the last 3 years, Dunn has been comparable to guys like Aramis Ramirez, Prince Fielder, Jermaine Dye, Pat Burrell, and Justin Morneau. And those are guys with top 30 OPS. These guys are the Aaron Harangs of offense. Maybe they aren't "aces", but they are #1s.

By in large, conversations about value and production can be answered by using OPS as the starting point. We know how productive they are and we didn't have to touch batting average. In fact, knowing batting average doesn't really add anything to our assessment of productivity.

Now, you're right, Dunn's low contact rate prevents him from joining the tier 2 guys who otherwise share his power and patience. If we want to know why Dunn isn't as good as Manny or Holliday or Berkman, we'd need to look as his contact rate (batting average) among other things to figure out that that's where his deficit lies. Just like we'd need to see that Soriano and Carlos Lee have trouble taking a walk and Todd Helton doesn't hit for all that much power compared to his OPS peers.

If we're sitting at the ballpark, maybe we do want to see a stat that tells us how likely it is that something exciting is going to happen. If our definition of exciting excludes walks and lumps hits together, batting average serves that purpose. And I have no problem with people using it in that context. But when people want to take the next step and start really evaluating production, AVG loses it's value as a stat. At that point, we need to start looking at OBP and SLG in some combination, and maybe stir in a little base running value to top it off. But we don't need batting average.

I agree with you point. But I think you need many more data points in order to determine the value of each player. You may want to start with OPS thats fine. I may want to start with AVG and that doesn't mean we won't come to the same conclusion once more data points are compared. At the same time what may separate a particular player is a desired skillset.



28 Grady Sizemore 0.876
29 Brian McCann 0.872
30 Joe Mauer 0.872
31 Kevin Youkilis 0.870
32 J.D. Drew 0.868
33 Carlos Guillen 0.868
34 Garrett Atkins 0.866
35 Derrek Lee 0.860
36 Jason Bay 0.860
37 Adrian Gonzalez 0.860


When I look at the list below both Dunn and Burrell there are only two players in this list that I wouldn't take over Dunn. Guillen and Atkins are ones I would pass on if you hold contract and contract length the same. When you begin to compare players a combination of OBP and SLG is a useful point but doesn't tell you much of the whole story. Then again if you look at AVG solely you will get a whole different picture. But when you begin to get a statline, even one flashed on the screen while watching baseball games you can get a pretty good understanding of a players game. If during a TV game they broadcast AVG, OBP, SLG, RBI, HR you can get a pretty good picture of a player.

nate
01-29-2009, 09:39 AM
When I look at the list below both Dunn and Burrell there are only two players in this list that I wouldn't take over Dunn.

I wouldn't take Dunn over Dunn either!

:cool:


But when you begin to get a statline, even one flashed on the screen while watching baseball games you can get a pretty good understanding of a players game. If during a TV game they broadcast AVG, OBP, SLG, RBI, HR you can get a pretty good picture of a player.

I don't really get a measure of a player via RBI. Only his place in the batting order and the rest of his team. Seeing the other stats are nice but as far as getting a good idea at how likely a player is to produce a run, OPS works for me.

princeton
01-29-2009, 09:44 AM
In my coaching experience, with runners on base, I always wanted my better hitters to swing the bat, rather than let a lesser hitter have that opportunity.

Don't get me wrong, I want all my hitters to work the count and draw walks, and get on base, but there is a time that I want my better hitters to swing the bat and have the chance to drive in runs that my lesser hitters probably won't.

you're absolutely right, IMO

also, there can be great disparity in such situations among good hitters. Adam Dunn plates 30 percent of those runners; Carlos Lee plates 40 percent of them. Therefore, IMO, the thought that the next hitter will be similar in quality and can pick up the slack doesn't necessarily hold.

disparity is probably even greater against better pitchers, which are often the games that you really want to win. differences like that keep a manager employed or put him on the street.

jojo
01-29-2009, 09:50 AM
It's begging the question to assume a hitter who plates 30% of RISP could increase that percentage by swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone.

bucksfan2
01-29-2009, 10:01 AM
It's begging the question to assume a hitter who plates 30% of RISP could increase that percentage by swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone.

Or you could say that said player is able to hit/handle more pitches in the strike zone.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 10:04 AM
It's begging the question to assume a hitter who plates 30% of RISP could increase that percentage by swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone.

Maybe hitting a few more that he takes that are in the strike zone.

princeton
01-29-2009, 10:19 AM
It's begging the question to assume a hitter who plates 30% of RISP could increase that percentage by swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone.

yep.

jojo
01-29-2009, 10:24 AM
Maybe hitting a few more that he takes that are in the strike zone.

Therein lies the rub....

gonelong
01-29-2009, 10:42 AM
Maybe hitting a few more that he takes that are in the strike zone.

Absolutely, and I think few would argue that if a guy gets a pitch he can handle he should take a whack at it. How aggressive the guy should be is more likely the fine line were walking here.

Redszone suffers from Dunn-itis here.

You can watch the gears spin in posters heads as these discussions role out. Dunn is the guy they picture in their minds when this is debated. Our biggest problem (as a Redszone group) is that Dunn is such a unique case, a real honest to goodness outlier, that it clouds everything else.

Dunn had enough trouble hitting balls in the zone, much less asking him to expand it, so for him it didn't make much sense to have him expanding his zone. Some view this as a deficiency for the big guy, and IMO it was, second to only his defense. All players have deficiencies. Watching Dunn in a Reds uniform was like dating a hot stripper with a bit of a drinking issue. If you were looking for a night on the town and a possible threesome you were in the right place, if you were looking for Sunday school and brunch with the Family you were setting yourself up for disaster. Dunn was high highs, and low lows. Not everyone can cope with that, or wants to.

The Reds are always trying to make their strippers into Sunday school teachers and trying to convince their Sunday school teachers to wear 5" heals and a mini-skirt to church. It's no wonder they are constantly frustrated at the outcome.

GL

westofyou
01-29-2009, 10:51 AM
Dunn is such a unique case, a real honest to goodness outlier, that it clouds everything else.


Ice Nine I'm telling ya, Ice Nine.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 10:52 AM
I agree with you point. But I think you need many more data points in order to determine the value of each player. You may want to start with OPS thats fine. I may want to start with AVG and that doesn't mean we won't come to the same conclusion once more data points are compared. At the same time what may separate a particular player is a desired skillset.

But you don't always have the time or opportunity to look at the whole set of data points. So given that, why start with one that doesn't tell you very much and may, in fact, be quite misleading? In what situation does starting with batting average make sense?

The argument I would concede is that you know batting average very well. You're very comfortable with it and know instantly how to interpret it. It's second nature to you. Thus, it makes sense to you as a starting point because it immediately gives you an anchor point to consider other things. I don't deny that. But I don't think that's an argument for its continued place as the #1 hitting metric. That decision should be made on the merits, on the utility of the stat -- and AVG falls short.

AVG tells us less about a player than OBP or SLG, and conceptually it's no easier to understand. It's just more familiar. We use average today because we used it yesterday, not because of anything special about it as a metric.



When I look at the list below both Dunn and Burrell there are only two players in this list that I wouldn't take over Dunn. Guillen and Atkins are ones I would pass on if you hold contract and contract length the same.

Would you prefer those guys because you believe the composition of their OPS leads to greater total run production (an assertion which begs proof) or because it is more aesthetically pleasing?

Also, are you just considering offensive production or also defense, aging curves, and position scarcity as well? Certainly those things matter a whole bunch when it comes to making personel and contract decisions, but that's not what this conversation is about.

If it's about park effects, I'd concede that Dunn has gotten a bit of a boost and any rigorous analysis of performance would adjust accordingly.

But to my earlier point, this conversation isn't about best practice in player valuation and or rigorous analysis of offensive performance. That conversation has advanced way beyond this one, as Jojo intimated. I'm talking about what stats can easily understood and widely used by the most casual of fans on a daily basis in the stands, by the watercooler, or on radio call-in shows. In those contexts, batting average just doesn't hold up for any reason other than tradition.

princeton
01-29-2009, 11:03 AM
You can watch the gears spin in posters heads as these discussions role out. Dunn is the guy they picture in their minds when this is debated. Our biggest problem (as a Redszone group) is that Dunn is such a unique case, a real honest to goodness outlier, that it clouds everything else.

I don't think that Dunn is so unique. There are a lot of guys with low batting averages, and those guys tend to fare poorly in the situation described by Randy. Whether a guy can get more base hits by cutting down his swing and guessing less depends on the player-- some guys can do it. But usually the guys that can do it are the ones that are already good hitters, not the Dunn types.

Dunn is very valuable in the great bulk of his plate appearances. however, there are hitters better suited for the situation described. if I'm a pitcher, I want to face Dunn and not a lot of other hitters in those situations.

bucksfan2
01-29-2009, 11:27 AM
Would you prefer those guys because you believe the composition of their OPS leads to greater total run production (an assertion which begs proof) or because it is more aesthetically pleasing?

Also, are you just considering offensive production or also defense, aging curves, and position scarcity as well? Certainly those things matter a whole bunch when it comes to making personel and contract decisions, but that's not what this conversation is about.

When I looked at the list I considered not only offense but age, defense, position, etc. I just assumed that it was a level playing field based upon contract value and length. I would prefer that a player have a higher BA driven OBP. Its not necessarily a knock on taking a walk or getting on base because that is important in itself. Rather most of those players on the list are middle of the order type players and I don't want my money hitters to have contact issues. When you look at Dunn's BB driven OBP he belongs more in the 2 slot rather than the 3-5 slot.



But to my earlier point, this conversation isn't about best practice in player valuation and or rigorous analysis of offensive performance. That conversation has advanced way beyond this one, as Jojo intimated. I'm talking about what stats can easily understood and widely used by the most casual of fans on a daily basis in the stands, by the watercooler, or on radio call-in shows. In those contexts, batting average just doesn't hold up for any reason other than tradition.

I agree but I also think you throw out any stat and without more information the stat by itself not enough. If you throw out that a player has an OPS of .800 does that tell you enough about a player? Wouldn't it matter what the composition of the OPS was, the position he played, the spot in the order he hit? If you have a lead off hitter that has an high OBP driven OPS then that would be very good thing. But at the same time a middle of the order hitter with an OPS of .800 wouldn't be such a good thing.

To me BA is a decent starting spot because it has been the stat used to determine hitters since the beginning. But at the same time you need more information to get a better description of a hitter. If someone tells me a hitter is batting .300 I would think good hitter but would want to know some other measures that lead to a better overall description.

Big Klu
01-29-2009, 11:28 AM
But you don't always have the time or opportunity to look at the whole set of data points. So given that, why start with one that doesn't tell you very much and may, in fact, be quite misleading? In what situation does starting with batting average make sense?

The argument I would concede is that you know batting average very well. You're very comfortable with it and know instantly how to interpret it. It's second nature to you. Thus, it makes sense to you as a starting point because it immediately gives you an anchor point to consider other things. I don't deny that. But I don't think that's an argument for its continued place as the #1 hitting metric. That decision should be made on the merits, on the utility of the stat -- and AVG falls short.

AVG tells us less about a player than OBP or SLG, and conceptually it's no easier to understand. It's just more familiar. We use average today because we used it yesterday, not because of anything special about it as a metric.



Would you prefer those guys because you believe the composition of their OPS leads to greater total run production (an assertion which begs proof) or because it is more aesthetically pleasing?

Also, are you just considering offensive production or also defense, aging curves, and position scarcity as well? Certainly those things matter a whole bunch when it comes to making personel and contract decisions, but that's not what this conversation is about.

If it's about park effects, I'd concede that Dunn has gotten a bit of a boost and any rigorous analysis of performance would adjust accordingly.

But to my earlier point, this conversation isn't about best practice in player valuation and or rigorous analysis of offensive performance. That conversation has advanced way beyond this one, as Jojo intimated. I'm talking about what stats can easily understood and widely used by the most casual of fans on a daily basis in the stands, by the watercooler, or on radio call-in shows. In those contexts, batting average just doesn't hold up for any reason other than tradition.

But that is exactly the reason why Batting Average is, and likely always will be, the statistic of choice. Why do we use pounds and ounces, or gallons and quarts, or inches and feet? The metric system is by all accounts a superior system--easier to learn, easier to convert to different units, and more precise. But Americans persist in using our measurements because they are more familiar, and we are comfortable with them. Scientists and other professionals in certain industries use the metric system, just as sabermetricians use baseball stats that tell more of the story than AVG does. But the average fan (no pun intended) is always going to use BA.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 11:29 AM
The mindset, in the box, has to be "go, go, go," and if the pitch is out of the zone, at the last split second, let it go. It can't be, "I'm only looking for this particular pitch and if I get it, I'll swing." In that scenario, you really let a lot of good pitches go by. I've seen it with a lot of players that I've coached. They come back to the bench with that look on their face, "I really had a pitch to hit in that at bat. I should have hit it when I got it." Hitting isn't easy, but you always have to be ready to pull the trigger when you get a pitch to hit. It may be the only one you will get in that particular at bat. There are periods where players go through funks and just can't pull the trigger. I think the main reason for that is they are looking for the perfect pitch. You don't always get the perfect one, but you usually get one you can drive somewhere.

Problem is, hitters don't have the amount of time to react in the box that a lot of folks have, analyzing, and looking at all the numbers. That is not a swipe. It (hitting) just isn't an easy thing to do nor as easy as these guys make it look on TV.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 11:34 AM
But that is exactly the reason why Batting Average is, and likely always will be, the statistic of choice. Why do we use pounds and ounces, or gallons and quarts, or inches and feet? The metric system is by all accounts a superior system--easier to learn, easier to convert to different units, and more precise. But Americans persist in using our measurements because they are more familiar, and we are comfortable with them. Scientists and other professionals in certain industries use the metric system, just as sabermetricians use baseball stats that tell more of the story than AVG does. But the average fan (no pun intended) is always going to use BA.

Change doesn't' just magically happen. It is made. It's rarely easy, but that doesn't mean we should just be content with the status quo.

I would argue that as the world continues to globalize, the US will be on the metric system by 2050.

gonelong
01-29-2009, 11:34 AM
I don't think that Dunn is so unique. There are a lot of guys with low batting averages, and those guys tend to fare poorly in the situation described by Randy. Whether a guy can get more base hits by cutting down his swing and guessing less depends on the player-- some guys can do it. But usually the guys that can do it are the ones that are already good hitters, not the Dunn types.

I suspect he is very unique in the in the respect that his contact rate is so poor in comparison to his overall production.


Dunn is very valuable in the great bulk of his plate appearances. however, there are hitters better suited for the situation described.

Agreed. Dunn can be had to a large degree in those situations, though, more often than not he was just walked because they wouldn't put anybody behind Dunn of any consequence.

[quote] if I'm a pitcher, I want to face Dunn and not a lot of other hitters in those situations.

Would I rather face Dunn than a guy like Rolen, Manny, Puhols, Berkman, etc? Sure.
Would I rather face Dunn than Encarnacion and the like? The resounding answer from NL pitchers was no. Walk Dunn and take your chances.

Dunn was Robin without Batman in Cincy. Maybe he was a lame superhero, but he was still a superhero. I hope he lands somewhere they understand that so we can see what the guy can really do.

GL

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 11:46 AM
The mindset, in the box, has to be "go, go, go," and if the pitch is out of the zone, at the last split second, let it go. It can't be, "I'm only looking for this particular pitch and if I get it, I'll swing." In that scenario, you really let a lot of good pitches go by. I've seen it with a lot of players that I've coached. They come back to the bench with that look on their face, "I really had a pitch to hit in that at bat. I should have hit it when I got it." Hitting isn't easy, but you always have to be ready to pull the trigger when you get a pitch to hit. It may be the only one you will get in that particular at bat. There are periods where players go through funks and just can't pull the trigger. I think the main reason for that is they are looking for the perfect pitch. You don't always get the perfect one, but you usually get one you can drive somewhere.

Problem is, hitters don't have the amount of time to react in the box that a lot of folks have, analyzing, and looking at all the numbers. That is not a swipe. It (hitting) just isn't an easy thing to do nor as easy as these guys make it look on TV.

I'm very curious now about Dunn's thought process. Is he looking to swing and just really good at recognizing bad pitches early enough to hold up or is he sitting back waiting for one that looks really juicy? Given the number of strikes he watches, he seems to have crafted a pretty darn good career by taking an approach where he only swings at pitches he really likes.

When I try and picture a guy who takes the approach you've described, Brandon Phillips comes to mind. He's swinging unless he can recognize the pitch as one he can't hit. And because he can't seem to recognize the difference between a fastball and a slider from a RH pitcher, he's pretty much toast against them. Maybe Phillips would be better being a bit more discriminate in those circumstances.

I'd guess I'd rather a hitter take the occasional good pitch than constantly chase bad ones. If you get a reputation for taking good pitches, you'll just see more good ones. That's a good problem to have. But if you have a reputation of chasing crap, you'll rarely see a good pitch. Both players would need to make an adjustment, but I'd rather a guy start making his adjust from a position where he's getting stuff to hit.

As we've all discussed, a guy's aggressiveness needs to be based on his natural skills. There's a balance of pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination. I imagine that's got to be factored in to the guy's approach at the plate.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 11:55 AM
I'm very curious now about Dunn's thought process. Is he looking to swing and just really good at recognizing bad pitches early enough to hold up or is he sitting back waiting for one that looks really juicy? Given the number of strikes he watches, he seems to have crafted a pretty darn good career by taking an approach where he only swings at pitches he really likes.

When I try and picture a guy who takes the approach you've described, Brandon Phillips comes to mind. He's swinging unless he can recognize the pitch as one he can't hit. And because he can't seem to recognize the difference between a fastball and a slider from a RH pitcher, he's pretty much toast against them. Maybe Phillips would be better being a bit more discriminate in those circumstances.

I'd guess I'd rather a hitter take the occasional good pitch than constantly chase bad ones. If you get a reputation for taking good pitches, you'll just see more good ones. That's a good problem to have. But if you have a reputation of chasing crap, you'll rarely see a good pitch. Both players would need to make an adjustment, but I'd rather a guy start making his adjust from a position where he's getting stuff to hit.

As we've all discussed, a guy's aggressiveness needs to be based on his natural skills. There's a balance of pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination. I imagine that's got to be factored in to the guy's approach at the plate.

Do you know what it is like to try and hit a 90+ mph fastball? It's much easier for a hitter to adjust to "I'm not gonna swing" than it is to not be ready to swing. How many good pitches do you think any hitter gets against a good pitcher in any given at bat? To hit, you have to be aggressive.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 11:59 AM
Do you know what it is like to try and hit a 90+ mph fastball? It's much easier for a hitter to adjust to "I'm not gonna swing" than it is to not be ready to swing. How many good pitches do you think any hitter gets against a good pitcher in any given at bat? To hit, you have to be aggressive.

I can only imagine how difficult it is. I'm not advocating passivity. I'm just trying to understand your point. Would you consider Dunn aggressive? Because he's a much more productive hitter than Phillips. He makes both makes fewer outs and acquires more bases.

lollipopcurve
01-29-2009, 12:00 PM
I hope he lands somewhere they understand that so we can see what the guy can really do.

What Dunn "can really do" is up to Dunn.

princeton
01-29-2009, 12:01 PM
I suspect he is very unique in the in the respect that his contact rate is so poor in comparison to his overall production.


I guess I don't understand what "very unique" means, but I'm thinking that Adam is same as Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, Pat Burrell... Austin Kearns was pretty much the same player while in Cincy (but now he's really bad)... Jack Cust.

blumj
01-29-2009, 12:02 PM
That's what hitters always say, that they have to think swing until they decide not to. Some hitters are better at checking their swings than others, though. Nobody ever talks about that being a skill, but it sure looks like one.

Always Red
01-29-2009, 12:07 PM
The mindset, in the box, has to be "go, go, go," and if the pitch is out of the zone, at the last split second, let it go. It can't be, "I'm only looking for this particular pitch and if I get it, I'll swing." In that scenario, you really let a lot of good pitches go by. I've seen it with a lot of players that I've coached. They come back to the bench with that look on their face, "I really had a pitch to hit in that at bat. I should have hit it when I got it." Hitting isn't easy, but you always have to be ready to pull the trigger when you get a pitch to hit. It may be the only one you will get in that particular at bat. There are periods where players go through funks and just can't pull the trigger. I think the main reason for that is they are looking for the perfect pitch. You don't always get the perfect one, but you usually get one you can drive somewhere.

Problem is, hitters don't have the amount of time to react in the box that a lot of folks have, analyzing, and looking at all the numbers. That is not a swipe. It (hitting) just isn't an easy thing to do nor as easy as these guys make it look on TV.

I think this is a great description of why hitting is an art, not a science.

The numbers of what actually happened during a game can be scientifically used after the fact, in any number of useful ways. In some cases, given enough sample size, those numbers can even tell you what will probably happen.

But the actual doing of it, is a fine art, IMO. And of course, can change from day to day depending on how the hitter is actually feeling that day. Even taking a walk requires a lot of split-second skill- to not swing at a pitch which might look good, but really isn't, even if it is a strike. A strike that you can not handle.

As an aside, this is what used to drive me crazy about Marty's complaints about Dunn- Marty would constantly say that Dunn is paid to drive home runners, not to take walks. ("Don't tell me about his OBP!") Dunn is Dunn; that is his skill set, that is what he is good at doing. Shame on Marty (and maybe the Reds) for expecting something different out of him.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 12:09 PM
So would you consider Dunn aggressive? Because he's a much more productive hitter than Phillips.

Why is this always about Dunn? He is not the only player in the league.

Yes, he goes through stretches where he is very aggressive, and I start to see that monster player that I always thought he would be. It teases those of us who thought he would hit for a higher average. At other times, I think he is much too selective and lets a lot of pitches go by that he can and should hit because he is guessing or looking for an absolutely perfect pitch. I see that familiar look on his face when he lets a good pitch go by that he really could have driven hard somewhere. No, that isn't a stat, so I don't expect you to understand because it isn't measurable or concrete, but it's something you grow to notice when you are around a ball field all the time observing players. The look doesn't change nor the frustration. You know it when you've seen it over and over, even experienced it, and you usually know exactly what they are thinking. Only my opinion.

jojo
01-29-2009, 12:46 PM
Why is this always about Dunn? He is not the only player in the league.

Yes, he goes through stretches where he is very aggressive, and I start to see that monster player that I always thought he would be. It teases those of us who thought he would hit for a higher average. At other times, I think he is much too selective and lets a lot of pitches go by that he can and should hit because he is guessing or looking for an absolutely perfect pitch. I see that familiar look on his face when he lets a good pitch go by that he really could have driven hard somewhere. No, that isn't a stat, so I don't expect you to understand because it isn't measurable or concrete, but it's something you grow to notice when you are around a ball field all the time observing players. The look doesn't change nor the frustration. You know it when you've seen it over and over, even experienced it, and you usually know exactly what they are thinking. Only my opinion.

Stat heads use their eyes too. The approaches aren't mutually exclusive (they should actually validate one another).

You seem to be suggesting that aggressive hitters are more productive. I suppose "aggressive" needs to be defined explicitly because having seen a lot of baseball (as is true of most of the ORG), for every Wlad, there is probably a 1000 guys with similar approaches at the plate that don't progress past high A ball.

That said, is it really true that "hot Dunn" is aggressive and "cold Dunn" is passive?

Big Klu
01-29-2009, 12:56 PM
I guess the only thing that really bothers me is when a hitter (not just Dunn, but any player) watches a called third strike. I can live with a hitter being selective (even uber-selective) until the count gets to two strikes, but then he has to become a little more protective instead of selective. No, I'm not saying "expand the strike zone". I'm saying "protect the entire strike zone".

Emin3mShady07
01-29-2009, 01:03 PM
I find a called strike 3 more bearable than a strike 3 swinging because it is my mentality that 1 of two things just happened:

1. The hitter was completely fooled and was just going to end up flailing at the ball anyways, and most likely not hitting it very far.

OR

2. The hitter thought it was a ball, and in which case a hitter with a very good eye like Dunn, I'd tend to side with him.

When guys strike out swinging sometimes they chase pitches that would have been a ball which upsets me more than watching a hitter look at a 90 mph 2 seam fastball on the outside edge of the outside corner that they most likely would have done nothing with.

Chip R
01-29-2009, 01:05 PM
Let's not make this into aother Dunn thread. Fair warning.

Roy Tucker
01-29-2009, 01:11 PM
But that is exactly the reason why Batting Average is, and likely always will be, the statistic of choice. Why do we use pounds and ounces, or gallons and quarts, or inches and feet? The metric system is by all accounts a superior system--easier to learn, easier to convert to different units, and more precise. But Americans persist in using our measurements because they are more familiar, and we are comfortable with them. Scientists and other professionals in certain industries use the metric system, just as sabermetricians use baseball stats that tell more of the story than AVG does. But the average fan (no pun intended) is always going to use BA.

Batting AVG is like the cheerleader back in high school that in your mind's eye was ungodly gorgeous and you carried a torch for years for. But then one day, you look back at the yearbook and discover she wasn't as gorgeous as you thought. It was just youth and hormones.

BA (and counting stats) will always hold a place in my baseball heart from when I first learned the game. But I've come to grips in my old age as to where her real value is.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 01:37 PM
Let's not make this into aother Dunn thread. Fair warning.

Thank you!

lollipopcurve
01-29-2009, 02:05 PM
I find a called strike 3 more bearable than a strike 3 swinging

Not always that easy.

What if the called strike is right down the middle and the count is 0-2? What if the swinging strike is a tough 2-2 pitch on the corner?

gonelong
01-29-2009, 02:08 PM
I guess I don't understand what "very unique" means, but I'm thinking that Adam is same as Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Jason Giambi, Pat Burrell... Austin Kearns was pretty much the same player while in Cincy (but now he's really bad)... Jack Cust.

I guess it depends on how fine a grain we want to look at it, and I admit, it's probably splitting hairs.

You'll find some traits in common, no doubt, but its darn difficult to find someone spot on to Dunn. Cust is probably the closest in that list in rate, though he hasn't put up the production that Dunn has in total numbers in any given season. I can't buy that Kearns was anything like Dunn though.

Howards swings at a ton more pitches outside the zone (almost 10%) than Dunn does, and makes considerably more contact inside the zone (12%) than Dunn does.

Thome makes 10% more contact when he swings, Giambi 8%.

Burrell makes 22% more contact outsize the zone and 10% overall.

Very few guys, take so many pitches, lay off so many outside the zone, and then make such inconsistent contact across the board when they do swing.

Some part of that IMO, is that Dunn sees less pitches in the Zone that all the guys listed, anywhere from 3-5%.

GL

/Sorry Chip, last one.

*BaseClogger*
01-29-2009, 02:12 PM
Not always that easy.

What if the called strike is right down the middle and the count is 0-2? What if the swinging strike is a tough 2-2 pitch on the corner?

I don't think he was referring to a strike three right down the middle called on an 0-2 count because that is not acceptable.

However, if a hitter deemed that 2-2 pitch on the corner to be a ball, he shouldn't swing because it is unlikely he would have done anything with that pitch anyways...

Emin3mShady07
01-29-2009, 02:16 PM
Not always that easy.

What if the called strike is right down the middle and the count is 0-2? What if the swinging strike is a tough 2-2 pitch on the corner?

That's just nit picking examples. What if the ump makes a bad call and calls the pitch a foot outside a strike? Or what if its swinging at a curve that bounces at 59 feet or a fast ball at the eyes? These extremes cancel each other out to me and in general I find a backwards K no worse than a frontwards one, and often more bearable because how many times does a hitter take one right down the pipe in an 0-2 count compared to chasing a slider low and way? I'd bet the latter happens more often.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 03:14 PM
Why is this always about Dunn? He is not the only player in the league.

Yes, he goes through stretches where he is very aggressive, and I start to see that monster player that I always thought he would be. It teases those of us who thought he would hit for a higher average. At other times, I think he is much too selective and lets a lot of pitches go by that he can and should hit because he is guessing or looking for an absolutely perfect pitch. I see that familiar look on his face when he lets a good pitch go by that he really could have driven hard somewhere. No, that isn't a stat, so I don't expect you to understand because it isn't measurable or concrete, but it's something you grow to notice when you are around a ball field all the time observing players. The look doesn't change nor the frustration. You know it when you've seen it over and over, even experienced it, and you usually know exactly what they are thinking. Only my opinion.

Dunn is the context, not the content for this discussion. Though I'd love to see Jojo's question addressed (not necessarily by you). What's a good way to assess aggressiveness? P/PA? Let's see what Dunn is actually doing when Dunn is going well and when he's struggling. It's quite easy when you do all of your analysis in your head to craft a narrative based on a biased selection of event that merely fits a preconceived notion of what's going on. I'm not accusing you of that, just saying that it's one of the weakness of the qualitative approach. (yes, I realize that quantitative analysis has its blind spots too)

As for his aggressiveness, I've seen that face too. You don't need to insult me by suggesting my head is too buried in a spreadsheet to notice it. But merely identifying a weakness doesn't get us anywhere. It's one thing to recognize a weakness, it's another recommend a correction. Changing a complex system in the name of addressing a specific weakness can often result in unforeseen consequences.

Sure, Dunn watches very hittable pitches on occasion, sometimes even strike 3. But there are also at bats where he takes a hittable pitch that isn't really in his wheelhouse for a strike and then bombs one 420 feet a few pitches later. If you start telling him to be more aggressive and he swings at everything he can lay the bat on, maybe you push his batting average up with singles push over the SS's head but push his OBP and/or SLG down in the process. With two strikes, there's no benefit to taking a strike, I'll concede. But if you're on a 2-1 count and there's a pitch on the outside 1/3, and you're a guy with poor contact skills who's liable to either whiff or make weak contact, maybe you take it, push the count to 2-2 and try your luck with the next pitch. And if that's your general approach, sometimes that ball you thought was on the edge ends up in the heart of the plate -- but you've already decided not to swing because of the aforementioned reasoning -- and you end up looking kind of dumb.

While Dunn is a very frustrating player to to watch, he's also an extremely productive one. Some people seem mistake the former for an accurate measure of the latter. While Dunn could potentially be better if he could put good wood on more pitches, still taking walks and hitting for power at the same rate, Dunn isn't Albert Pujols.

Even with his weaknesses, he's one of the top 25 most productive offensive players in the game today. In this regard, batting average is quite misleading. When a person's starting point for analysis is batting average (and they adopt the frame of mind that the hitters #1 job is to put the ball in play if at all possible), it can make you quite suspect of a stat or stats which suggest that a player can be extremely productive in spite of a low average.

Aggressiveness can be a good thing. But plate approach has to be appropriate for the skill set of the player. Maybe Dunn would benefit from a more aggressive approach. But merely recognizing that he watches good pitches go by on occasion isn't enough to make the case. Rather, it comes across as a fancy wrapper for an argument that says Dunn needs to hit for a higher batting average to deserve the reputation his OPS would otherwise suggest he deserves.

At this point, I couldn't care less about what people think about Dunn and I'm not trying to convince anybody they should like him or his game. In fact, few Dunn threads were really Dunn threads. They were often using Dunn to illustrate a larger point. He just got caught in the middle.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 03:19 PM
Dunn is the context, not the content for this discussion.

As for his aggressiveness, I've seen that face too. You don't need to insult me, nor do you have to be a scout to recognize it. But my question is about tradeoffs. It's one thing to recognize a weakness. It's another to understand the consequences of changing a complex system in the name of addressing that weakness.

Sure, Dunn watches very hittable pitches on occasion, sometimes for strike 3. But there are also at bats where he takes a hittable pitch that isn't really in his wheelhouse for a strike and then bombs one 420 feet a few pitches later. If you start telling him to be more aggressive and he swings at everything he can lay the bat on, maybe you push his batting average up because of more singles but push his OBP and/or SLG down in the process.

While Dunn is a very frustrating player to to watch, he's also an extremely productive one. Some people seem mistake the former for an accurate measure of the latter. While Dunn could potentially be better if he could swing more while still taking walks and hitting for power at the same rate, Dunn isn't Albert Pujols. There are and were many bigger issues with the Reds offense than Dunn's proclivity to watch too many pitches.

Even with his weaknesses, he's one of the top 25 most productive offensive players in the game today. When your starting point for analysis is batting average (and the frame of mind that the hitters #1 job is to put the ball in play if at all possible), it can make you suspect of a stat or stats which suggest that the player is extremely productive in spite of a low average.

Didn't mean to insult you. I think you, and many others have made your case for Dunn, over and over and over. I think I know where you stand. I don't want to make this another Adam Dunn thread. I was merely stating my opinion about hitting.

bucksfan2
01-29-2009, 03:35 PM
While Dunn is a very frustrating player to to watch, he's also an extremely productive one. Some people seem mistake the former for an accurate measure of the latter. While Dunn could potentially be better if he could swing more while still taking walks and hitting for power at the same rate, Dunn isn't Albert Pujols. There are and were many bigger issues with the Reds offense than Dunn's proclivity to watch too many pitches.

Even with his weaknesses, he's one of the top 25 most productive offensive players in the game today. When your starting point for analysis is batting average (and the frame of mind that the hitters #1 job is to put the ball in play if at all possible), it can make you suspect of a stat or stats which suggest that the player is extremely productive in spite of a low average.

I think we should create another stat and label it Albert Pujols. He is one of the greatest offensive players ever to play the game. All other players really pale in comparison to Pujols.

As for Dunn being one of the top 25 most productive offensive players what metric are you using. I think that leads to an enjoyable debate.

Back to the topic of this tread, small ball, to me that means taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during the game. It has more to do with situational baseball than anything. Back to the strike outs looking. If you have a 2-2 count and you strike out looking on a marginal pitch with no one on base then that is more acceptable than striking out on the same type pitch with a runner in scoring position or a runner on third. When you look back at a season the strikeout goes into the books as the same thing but their importance varied drastically.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 03:49 PM
Back to the topic of this tread, small ball, to me that means taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves during the game. It has more to do with situational baseball than anything. Back to the strike outs looking. If you have a 2-2 count and you strike out looking on a marginal pitch with no one on base then that is more acceptable than striking out on the same type pitch with a runner in scoring position or a runner on third. When you look back at a season the strikeout goes into the books as the same thing but their importance varied drastically.

Couldn't agree more!

princeton
01-29-2009, 04:15 PM
I admit, it's probably splitting hairs.

let's go with that

lollipopcurve
01-29-2009, 04:45 PM
However, if a hitter deemed that 2-2 pitch on the corner to be a ball, he shouldn't swing because it is unlikely he would have done anything with that pitch anyways...

Disagree, unless the count is 3-2. With two strikes and two or fewer balls, you have to protect against anything close.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 05:12 PM
After looking at the post, you are right on it, lollipopcurve.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 05:29 PM
Disagree, unless the count is 3-2. With two strikes and two or fewer balls, you have to protect against anything close.

Even if you're a guy with crappy contact ability? Just for the sake of playing devil's advocate, let's model how it plays out. We can play with the %'s -- I just want to see if we can explore the cost-benefit.

If you swing...
Contact (Yes, Out): 35%
Contact (Yes, Hit): 15%
Contact (Yes, Foul): 10%
Contact (No): 40%

If you don't swing...
Strike: 50%
Ball: 50%

I went with a 60% contact rate because poor contact hitters tend to make contact when swinging outside of the zone 40% of the time and inside the zone 80% of the time. So for a 50/50 ball I split the difference.

I went with a BABIP of .300 mainly to avoid conflict, but it reality I think it would probably be less because if the ball isn't one the guy is inclined to swing out, a line drive is probably less likely than it is when it's a better pitch to hit.

Anyways, here are the results.

If you swing
Good: Chance of a hit: 15%
Neutral: Chance of seeing another pitch: 10%
Bad: Chance of an out: 75%


If you don't swing...
Good: Chance of a hit: 0%
Neutral: Chance of seeing another pitch: 50%
Bad: Chance of an out: 50%

So those are my assumptions. I'm not sure which path is better, but I think it's interesting to play it out. It is worth increasing the likelihood of making an out by 25% for a 15% chance of getting a hit?

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 05:41 PM
Even if you're a guy with crappy contact ability? Just for the sake of playing devil's advocate, let's model how it plays out. We can play with the %'s -- I just want to see if we can explore the cost-benefit.

If you swing...
Contact (Yes, Out): 35%
Contact (Yes, Hit): 15%
Contact (Yes, Foul): 10%
Contact (No): 40%

If you don't swing...
Strike: 50%
Ball: 50%

I went with a 60% contact rate because poor contact hitters tend to make contact when swinging outside of the zone 40% of the time and inside the zone 80% of the time. So for a 50/50 ball I split the difference.

I went with a BABIP of .300 mainly to avoid conflict, but it reality I think it would probably be less because if the ball isn't one the guy is inclined to swing out, a line drive is probably less likely than it is when it's a better pitch to hit.

Anyways, here are the results.

If you swing
Good: Chance of a hit: 15%
Neutral: Chance of seeing another pitch: 10%
Bad: Chance of an out: 75%


If you don't swing...
Good: Chance of a hit: 0%
Neutral: Chance of seeing another pitch: 50%
Bad: Chance of an out: 50%

So those are my assumptions. I'm not sure which path is better, but I think it's interesting to play it out. It is worth increasing the likelihood of making an out by 25% for a 15% chance of getting a hit?

Do you actually think that any of that is running through a hitter's mind when he is at the plate, 2-2, batting against a major league pitcher?

Ltlabner
01-29-2009, 05:44 PM
Do you actually think that any of that is running through a hitter's mind when he is at the plate, 2-2, batting against a major league pitcher?

I shouldn't speak for RMR but I don't think that was the case he was making at all.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 05:55 PM
Do you actually think that any of that is running through a hitter's mind when he is at the plate, 2-2, batting against a major league pitcher?

Of course not. The hitter should have an approach before he steps in the box. He should already know what his plan of attack is going to be if it gets to 2-2 and there's a ball on the outside corner. Presumably, it's his hitting coaches job to figure out if he should be swinging or not, hopefully based at least in part on this type of analysis.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 05:56 PM
None of it happens without the hitter and the mindset that the situation dictates. At 2-2, a hitter should be protecting and swinging at anything close. That needs to be the mindset in that particular situation. You shouldn't get caught looking at anything close.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 06:25 PM
None of it happens without the hitter and the mindset that the situation dictates. At 2-2, a hitter should be protecting and swinging at anything close. That needs to be the mindset in that particular situation. You shouldn't get caught looking at anything close.

I'm not even sure what your first statement means...

The hitter know how he's going to approach a 2-2 count before he steps in the box, correct? Assuming you agree, that's where the decision tree comes in to play. Given a pitch that's "close", there are a set of things that can happen whether he chooses to swing or not swing. Assuming the choice to swing or not swing is based on whichever is likely to lead to the best result (and not based on some morality about "manhood" or "the right way to play the game"), we can look at the likely outcomes to determine the better decision. And, given the percentages of outcome likelihood in that model, swinging or not swinging comes down to taking on greater likelihood of making an out for a somewhat small chance of getting a hit.

But you seem to be suggesting (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that trying to hit the ball is morally superior to watching a pitch that's close -- the likely outcomes of your choice to swing or not swing are a secondary consideration. Personally, i don't see why trying to do something you're not good at and most likely failing (and not getting another chance) is morally superior to waiting it out and hoping for a better opportunity.

This seems awfully similar to the logic that bunting a guy over makes sense because you have to "try" and not just sit back and wait. There's a persistent bias towards action above inaction, even when action is proven to lead to worse results.

Ltlabner
01-29-2009, 06:29 PM
This seems awfully similar to the logic that bunting a guy over makes sense because you have to "try" and not just sit back and wait. There's a persistent bias towards action above inaction, even when action is proven to lead to worse results.

Yep.

It's the same area of the brain that generates the notion that walks are dirty and represent a failing of the batter in some nutty way.

jojo
01-29-2009, 06:36 PM
Save a 3-2 count, with two strikes, a normal hitter has to alter his approach like Randy is suggesting because in those counts he's not only battling the pitcher, he's battling the umpire as well. The count is definitely leveraged to the pitcher. Well maybe Keith Hernandez didn't have to but he had a reputation.....

That's a different scenario than expanding your strike zone just because runners are on base.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 06:45 PM
Save a 3-2 count, with two strikes, a normal hitter has to alter his approach like Randy is suggesting because in those counts he's not only battling the pitcher, he's battling the umpire as well. The count is definitely leveraged to the pitcher. Well maybe Keith Hernandez didn't have to but he had a reputation.....

That's a different scenario than expanding your strike zone just because runners are on base.

Jojo, are you saying that an umpire is more likely to call a given borderline pitch a strike when the batter already has 2 strikes on him?

Couldn't you pretty easily account for that in my model by changing the ump call %s? If there's an 80% chance that the pitch is going to be called a strike, clearly swinging is the better option. If it's a 50% of being a strike, maybe not.

And what do you mean by "normal" -- a hitter with normal contact ability?

jojo
01-29-2009, 07:20 PM
Jojo, are you saying that an umpire is more likely to call a given borderline pitch a strike when the batter already has 2 strikes on him?

No. I'm saying that if he does, you're SOL


Couldn't you pretty easily account for that in my model by changing the ump call %s? If there's an 80% chance that the pitch is going to be called a strike, clearly swinging is the better option. If it's a 50% of being a strike, maybe not.

Not while I'm in the batters box. Basically a hitter really should have a pretty good idea how he is likely to be pitched-there is no excuse to not know. But beyond that, considering how a specific ump is likely to call a specific pitcher on a 2 strike count is intellectual overload in a situation where there is already sensory overload (release point, location, velocity, spin, beak)...


And what do you mean by "normal" -- a hitter with normal contact ability?

By normal I mean not a freak like a Bonds or Pujols, a guy like Wlad who frankly is already swinging if the pitch is in the country, or a guy like Hernandez who was actually likely to get the close calls because his batting eye was considered above reproach.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 07:27 PM
No. I'm saying that if he does, you're SOL

Not while I'm in the batters box. Basically a hitter really should have a pretty good idea how he is likely to be pitched-there is no excuse to not know. But beyond that, considering how a specific ump is likely to call a specific pitcher on a 2 strike count is intellectual overload in a situation where there is already sensory overload (release point, location, velocity, spin, beak)...[/quote]

So when the ball is in the air, the batter isn't doing some quick math that says "what are the chances this thing is a strike"? Hitters talk all the time about different umps calling things differently, so I know that's part of their internal swing/take calculus.

When the batter steps in the box, his approach to the at bat is already going to incorporate his perceptions about umpire bias. So when the borderline ball is headed his way, he's still making some estimate of the odds it's going to be called a strike -- essentially his standard strike zone judgment plus some umpire adjustment if he's deemed it necessary before stepping in.



By normal I mean not a freak like a Bonds or Pujols, a guy like Wlad who frankly is already swinging if the pitch is in the country, or a guy like Hernandez who was actually likely to get the close calls because his batting eye was considered above reproach.

I still don't see why you automatically need to be swinging at a close pitch, especially if you know that it's a close pitch that you stink at hitting. You very well might be better off taking your chances with the ump. I'm not advocating that the batter should be taking the pitch -- just that there's still a decision to be made and it isn't as cut and dry as some would suggest, particularly in cases with a poor contact hitter at the plate.

*BaseClogger*
01-29-2009, 07:34 PM
Off-topic but something that just occurred to me--Rick, have you ever thought about writing and contributing articles?

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 07:52 PM
Off-topic but something that just occurred to me--Rick, have you ever thought about writing and contributing articles?

Thought about it, but I'm not terribly good at thinking through things on my own or producing content on a schedule. I need the back and forth to help develop my points. That's what I find really fun -- exchanging perspectives and learning from each other through the process of "argument" or "debate". Of course, the downside of that is that some people don't like the debate style and take disagreements personally -- especially on message board where inflection and tone can be nearly impossible to convey. Too often, the discussion eventually breaks down before anything is accomplished.

*BaseClogger*
01-29-2009, 08:17 PM
Thought about it, but I'm not terribly good at thinking through things on my own or producing content on a schedule. I need the back and forth to help develop my points. That's what I find really fun -- exchanging perspectives and learning from each other through the process of "argument" or "debate". Of course, the downside of that is that some people don't like the debate style and take disagreements personally -- especially on message board where inflection and tone can be nearly impossible to convey. Too often, the discussion eventually breaks down before anything is accomplished.

I understand. I was just thinking that you could use some of your discussion from here as inspiration for an article topic...

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2009, 08:37 PM
I'm not even sure what your first statement means...

The hitter know how he's going to approach a 2-2 count before he steps in the box, correct? Assuming you agree, that's where the decision tree comes in to play. Given a pitch that's "close", there are a set of things that can happen whether he chooses to swing or not swing. Assuming the choice to swing or not swing is based on whichever is likely to lead to the best result (and not based on some morality about "manhood" or "the right way to play the game"), we can look at the likely outcomes to determine the better decision. And, given the percentages of outcome likelihood in that model, swinging or not swinging comes down to taking on greater likelihood of making an out for a somewhat small chance of getting a hit.

But you seem to be suggesting (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that trying to hit the ball is morally superior to watching a pitch that's close -- the likely outcomes of your choice to swing or not swing are a secondary consideration. Personally, i don't see why trying to do something you're not good at and most likely failing (and not getting another chance) is morally superior to waiting it out and hoping for a better opportunity.

This seems awfully similar to the logic that bunting a guy over makes sense because you have to "try" and not just sit back and wait. There's a persistent bias towards action above inaction, even when action is proven to lead to worse results.

At 2-2, the odds are pretty good that if you leave the bat on your shoulder on a close pitch, you aren't going to get another chance. No doubt you are going to get fooled sometimes and basically freeze. Good pitchers are going to do that to you.

Honestly, I think we simply live on different planets when it comes to a lot of the game. Not a bad thing, but I'm just afraid that my perception of what happens in the batters box is much different than what yours is. For me there is no time to think. You can formulate in your mind what you think is coming at you, but, you pretty much have to be ready to react at whatever is coming at you. It's a split second thing. Recognize, react, and let your skills take over. I don't think there are many good hitters that go to the plate, thinking about drawing a walk. The main concern is to get a good pitch to hit and drive it somewhere. If you draw a walk, that's fine, but the emphasis has to be to swing the bat. As the Dominican's always say, "You can't walk off the island. You have to hit your way off."

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 09:51 PM
At 2-2, the odds are pretty good that if you leave the bat on your shoulder on a close pitch, you aren't going to get another chance. No doubt you are going to get fooled sometimes and basically freeze. Good pitchers are going to do that to you.

Great, that's a starting point. I put the odds of not getting another chance at 50-50 earlier. What would you put those odds at?

And if you swing at a pitch you wouldn't normally swing at because there's a chance it will be strike 3, what are the odds you're going to get a hit or a foul?

My point is that in that circumstance, for some hitters (particularly ones who aren't very good at making contact even in when their instincts tell them to swing), the odds of getting another chance by keeping the bat on their shoulder is better than the odds that something good will happen if they swing.



Honestly, I think we simply live on different planets when it comes to a lot of the game. Not a bad thing, but I'm just afraid that my perception of what happens in the batters box is much different than what yours is. For me there is no time to think. You can formulate in your mind what you think is coming at you, but, you pretty much have to be ready to react at whatever is coming at you. It's a split second thing. Recognize, react, and let your skills take over.

I think we're on the same page, generally speaking. I don't expect a guy to do calculus in the .1 of a second he has to make up his mind. But you seem to be asserting that with two strikes, guys should go against their natural instincts and swing at anything that looks close. I'm not sure I understand how a player changes his approach while being reactive and instinctual.



I don't think there are many good hitters that go to the plate, thinking about drawing a walk. The main concern is to get a good pitch to hit and drive it somewhere. If you draw a walk, that's fine, but the emphasis has to be to swing the bat. As the Dominican's always say, "You can't walk off the island. You have to hit your way off."

If you honestly believe I think guys should go up there looking for a walk, then you haven't read much of what I've written on this board. Everything I've said is centered around getting a pitch you actually can drive and not swinging at stuff you can't. Obviously the point is putting the bat on the ball, but if you aren't very likely to hit the pitch well, swinging at it may not be a good idea.

lollipopcurve
01-29-2009, 09:58 PM
I still don't see why you automatically need to be swinging at a close pitch, especially if you know that it's a close pitch that you stink at hitting.

If in fact you've decided you won't swing at pitches on the outside corner, why would you confine this approach to 2-strike counts, when it would make the most sense to protect the plate?

And if you show that you're willing to give a portion of the plate to the pitcher -- because "you stink" at hitting pitches there or whatever -- they'll work you there relentlessly, and you better adjust or you'll be looking for work.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 10:27 PM
If in fact you've decided you won't swing at pitches on the outside corner, why would you confine this approach to 2-strike counts, when it would make the most sense to protect the plate?

You wouldn't. That's the point. If you don't swing at the pitch normally, there's probably good reason for it. Swinging at it with 2 strikes means you're conceding that the at bat is likely going to end poorly. Obviously if it's quite likely to be a strike, swinging is the better option. But if it's borderline, maybe not.



And if you show that you're willing to give a portion of the plate to the pitcher -- because "you stink" at hitting pitches there or whatever -- they'll work you there relentlessly, and you better adjust or you'll be looking for work.

Yep. "Adjusting" would be a good idea. But not all weaknesses can be fixed by mere adjustment. Dunn isn't going to learn better hand-eye coordination any more than Jeff Keppinger is going to learn to hit the ball 500 feet. In the meantime, voluntarily doing what you're not good at is probably not the best way to maximize your production. And yet some players are able to be effective players despite having weakness that they never correct. Most pitchers aren't able to exploit hitters' weaknesses so easily on demand. Unless maybe that weakness is always swinging at a 2-strike slider that he can't handle...

SteelSD
01-29-2009, 11:19 PM
If you honestly believe I think guys should go up there looking for a walk, then you haven't read much of what I've written on this board. Everything I've said is centered around getting a pitch you actually can drive and not swinging at stuff you can't. Obviously the point is putting the bat on the ball, but if you aren't very likely to hit the pitch well, swinging at it may not be a good idea.

There isn't a player in baseball who actually goes up to the plate looking for a Walk. I understand you know this, but I'm trying to figure out exactly who thinks a ballplayer can make it to the Show and survive while hoping for nothing more than the hope of a free pass every time out.

Everything you've posted on the subject of approach is spot-on. Everything. In fact, it's classic Ted Williams' philosophy. And you've also adjusted it for hitting style by probability.

Ted Williams' three basic rules:

1) Hit only Strikes

2) Never swing at a ball you're fooled on or have trouble hitting.

3) After two strikes, concede the long ball to the pitcher and shorten up on the bat and try to put the head of the bat on the ball.

Now, item three doesn't read "protect the plate on close pitches". But even if it did, that's something a bat control specialist like Williams could do even if he choked up on the bat, but when we have a Hitter who's already susceptible to low-and-away pitches who has a poor OOZ contact rate, choking up in order to protect the plate isn't going to help one iota because it further exposes that weakness. For the rest of the board...

We have a couple hitters over the last four seasons:

Hitter A: 41.4% Out of Zone Contact rate
Hitter B: 68.2% Out of Zone Contact rate

Now, knowing that Hitter A swings 17.7% of the pitches he sees outside the Strike Zone and that Hitter B swings 19.0% of the time (a nearly negligible difference), which one of those Hitters do we actually want swinging at "close" pitches?

Hitter A produced the 6th lowest OOZ contact rate in 2008 for all MLB full season qualifiers. Only 7 hitters saw a lower percentage of first-pitch strikes over a full season versus Hitter A. Hitter B was one of those 7 Hitters, BTW. Kinda' wipes out the idea that Hitter A is seeing a goodly amount of early-count strikes he should be swinging at, and especially when we add the fact that Hitter A saw a fewer percentage of Strikes last season than only three players. Hitter B ranked 14th in that regard.

Both Hitter A and B have the first two components of the Ted Williams' philosophy, but only Hitter B can actively enable the third step due to plate coverage (and they won't do it by choking up on the bat). With a two-Strike count, it's pretty obvious that Hitter A needs to be patient and take chances while trying to work the count back to the point where he'll see something he can hit while Hitter B can be pretty confident that he can make positive contact with the kind of "close" or "borderline" pitches he's likely to see in a two-Strike count.


I'm not sure I understand how a player changes his approach while being reactive and instinctual.

He can't. You obviously understand that a hitter has only 4 to 5 tenths of a second to decide to swing after a pitch leaves the Pitcher's hand. Due to simple biometrics, a taller hitter may have even less time to decide and the idea of a "close" pitch only functions within a realm beyond a hitter's ability to judge. The hitter identifies the pitch as a ball or strike in about the first five to ten feet after the ball travels out of the pitcher's hand and he can only adjust after that if he has almost-unique bat speed or slows his bat to the point that contact is likely ineffectual (See: Keppinger, Jeff).

jojo
01-29-2009, 11:24 PM
Even Ted Williams conceded his approach to the pitcher with two strikes. Basically I think that's all Randy is really saying.

SteelSD
01-29-2009, 11:32 PM
Even Ted Williams conceded his approach to the pitcher with two strikes. Basically I think that's all Randy is really saying.

I don't think that's at all what Randy was saying. If it was, then I can't possibly believe he'd think that he and Rick were on "different planets".

Rick very properly identified context.

RedsManRick
01-29-2009, 11:32 PM
Even Ted Williams conceded his approach to the pitcher with two strikes. Basically I think that's all Randy is really saying.

Which is cool when you have the contact ability of Ted Williams and can pretty reliably get the bat on the ball when you want to and often still put a good stroke on it. But when you have the contact ability of Adam Dunn, choking up for that borderline pitch makes about as much sense as Jeff Keppinger muscling up on one and trying to hit it out the park because he's ahead in the count.

Some people simply prefer the swing because it because feels the guy is trying instead letting the pitcher and ump determine his fate -- even he only manages to get a hit 10% of the time while doing so (20% of the time? What % of the time justifies the swing?...)

We're not talking about every two strike count here, I've been quite clear about that. We're talking about a specific situation with a specific type of player at the dish.

Ron Madden
01-30-2009, 03:49 AM
Absolutely, and I think few would argue that if a guy gets a pitch he can handle he should take a whack at it. How aggressive the guy should be is more likely the fine line were walking here.

Redszone suffers from Dunn-itis here.

You can watch the gears spin in posters heads as these discussions role out. Dunn is the guy they picture in their minds when this is debated. Our biggest problem (as a Redszone group) is that Dunn is such a unique case, a real honest to goodness outlier, that it clouds everything else.

Dunn had enough trouble hitting balls in the zone, much less asking him to expand it, so for him it didn't make much sense to have him expanding his zone. Some view this as a deficiency for the big guy, and IMO it was, second to only his defense. All players have deficiencies. Watching Dunn in a Reds uniform was like dating a hot stripper with a bit of a drinking issue. If you were looking for a night on the town and a possible threesome you were in the right place, if you were looking for Sunday school and brunch with the Family you were setting yourself up for disaster. Dunn was high highs, and low lows. Not everyone can cope with that, or wants to.

The Reds are always trying to make their strippers into Sunday school teachers and trying to convince their Sunday school teachers to wear 5" heals and a mini-skirt to church. It's no wonder they are constantly frustrated at the outcome.

GL

:beerme:

mth123
01-30-2009, 05:39 AM
Maybe hitting a few more that he takes that are in the strike zone.

Agree completely. Get a good pitch to hit. Pick a good one. Etc. etc. etc.

Criticisms of players who can't pull the trigger on "fat ones" in big situations are valid and to that extent I disagree with the current "wisdom" that there is no such thing as "choking" or "being clutch."

That's far different than wanting a guy to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Those are usually not good pitches to hit.

If the point is that the walk is the result of letting good ones go by and not jumping on them when the opportunity is there, I think I think that is a valid criticism when it happens.

For those who think the guy should swing at poor pitches just because there are guys on base, I couldn't disagree more.

Roy Tucker
01-30-2009, 08:18 AM
Good discussion. Interesting thoughts.

So, if the count is 2-2 and a pitch comes that is a strike but the batter can't do much with it, does the modern day hitter try to foul off to pitch to live to see another day (pitch)? Or does he take the same rip and hope for the best as earlier in the count?

bucksfan2
01-30-2009, 08:48 AM
Even Ted Williams conceded his approach to the pitcher with two strikes. Basically I think that's all Randy is really saying.

If its good enough for one of the greatest baseball players of all time then it should be good enough for your average major leaguer. Wouldn't you think?

I would think/hope a player had a different approach every time he takes the plate. It may be slightly different or may be completely different due to the game situation. I would also home that approach changes due to the count. When you have a 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, or 3-1 count I would hope the hitter is more selectively aggressive. If the count is 0-2, 1-2, or 2-2 I would hope the hitter becomes a little less aggressive, tries to hit the ball where it is pitched, and tries to cover the plate better.

jojo
01-30-2009, 09:12 AM
Good discussion. Interesting thoughts.

So, if the count is 2-2 and a pitch comes that is a strike but the batter can't do much with it, does the modern day hitter try to foul off to pitch to live to see another day (pitch)? Or does he take the same rip and hope for the best as earlier in the count?

He swings and hopes.

jojo
01-30-2009, 09:37 AM
If its good enough for one of the greatest baseball players of all time then it should be good enough for your average major leaguer. Wouldn't you think?

I would think/hope a player had a different approach every time he takes the plate. It may be slightly different or may be completely different due to the game situation. I would also home that approach changes due to the count. When you have a 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, or 3-1 count I would hope the hitter is more selectively aggressive. If the count is 0-2, 1-2, or 2-2 I would hope the hitter becomes a little less aggressive, tries to hit the ball where it is pitched, and tries to cover the plate better.

I think that's basically the approach in a nutshell. Hitting is an aggressive activity in the sense the goal is to drive the ball if at all possible. The best chance of driving the ball occurs when the batter swings at a pitch in his comfort zone (as illustrated by the famous diagram in Williams' classic book on hitting).

Granted there are times when simply putting a ball in play greatly increases the odds of winning (i.e. a runner on third with less than two outs in a late and close game). However, in most situations a hitter shouldn't expand his comfort zone just because runners are on base. Driving the ball is most fruitful with runners on after all. A hitter has to expand his comfort zone on all two strike counts.

Asking a contact-deficient hitter to expand his comfort zone is most likely counter productive.

lollipopcurve
01-30-2009, 10:01 AM
I think that's basically the approach in a nutshell. Hitting is an aggressive activity in the sense the goal is to drive the ball if at all possible. The best chance of driving the ball occurs when the batter swings at a pitch in his comfort zone (as illustrated by the famous diagram in Williams' classic book on hitting).

Granted there are times when simply putting a ball in play greatly increases the odds of winning (i.e. a runner on third with less than two outs in a late and close game). However, in most situations a hitter shouldn't expand his comfort zone just because runners are on base. Driving the ball is most fruitful with runners on after all. A hitter has to expand his comfort zone on all two strike counts.

Asking a contact-deficient hitter to expand his comfort zone is most likely counter productive.

Agree.

Ideally, this is how it works. You have to protect the plate with 2 strikes. Furthermore, this informs how aggressive a hitter like Dunn (contact deficient, slugging proficient) should be early in the count. I want a hitter like Dunn hacking at the first pitch he sees that he can drive. He is not likely to see another one, and if the count gets to 2 strikes, I want him sacrificing some power in favor of better contact (if you watched Dunn closely, you could see him shortening his swing at times with 2 strikes). If it gets to 3-2, he can be slightly more selective, given the chance a borderline pitch will net him a walk.

bucksfan2
01-30-2009, 10:07 AM
Granted there are times when simply putting a ball in play greatly increases the odds of winning (i.e. a runner on third with less than two outs in a late and close game). However, in most situations a hitter shouldn't expand his comfort zone just because runners are on base. Driving the ball is most fruitful with runners on after all. A hitter has to expand his comfort zone on all two strike counts.

Asking a contact-deficient hitter to expand his comfort zone is most likely counter productive.

What makes a hitter contact-deficient? Is it swing, approach, pitch recognition, etc?

A hitter defiantly has a comfort zone and a pitcher/catcher/manager/pitching coach should know that comfort zone. A hitter should have the ability to put the bat on the ball when it is in the strike zone. When a pitcher is ahead of the count he doesn't tend to throw the ball in the comfort zone so a hitter needs to be able to cover the strike zone. Hence choking up on the bat and shorten the swing.

What I remember about Barry Larkin and what made him great was his plate presence. When he fell behind in the count he did what he could to advance a runner if the runner was on base. He was able to cover the plate, especially the outside corner. Granted a lot of the times he made an out but in doing so he advanced a runner. If he had struck out looking the runner would still be in the same place. He wasn't looking to make an out but if he made an out he would make sure the runner advanced.

RANDY IN INDY
01-30-2009, 10:11 AM
I don't think that's at all what Randy was saying. If it was, then I can't possibly believe he'd think that he and Rick were on "different planets".

Rick very properly identified context.

Interesting and not at all unexpected.

jojo
01-30-2009, 05:34 PM
Here is an interesting take that was sent via PM (the author has indicated that it would be fine to share publicly). I won't reveal the user name of the sender because I'm not sure if it's kosher to open a potential dialog between the forums but I'll gladly attribute the comments to the author if a mod says it's ok to reveal their identity. This is offered in the interest of discussion:


I have really enjoyed reading your discussion on how batters approach hitting. This is what makes places like Redszone so much fun.

To be honest, I think everyone is missing a crucial element to hitting, although you seemed to have danced around it a bit. A hitter has two very different approaches to hitting in each at bat. One before two strikes and one after.

Before two strikes a hitter is just looking for a good pitch to crush. What this pitch is, is different for every hitter. For Ted Williams, it was only strikes, but for most hitters whether the pitch is a strike is irrelevant until there are two strikes. Williams mainly advised hitting just strikes because he thought that swinging at balls would lead to a bad batting eye. There are many batting instructors, including great ones, that don't give this same advice. The advice most give is to find out what your hitting zone is, what pitches you know you can crush, and only swing at those regardless of whether they are strikes or not.

Many great hitters made a career out of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Hank Aaron loved pitches high and outside, and would constantly plant them over the right field wall. Dave Parker loved pitches low and inside, and would commonly stroke pitches that would have hit his ankles down the right field line for extra base hits. Vlad loves all pitches. (just kidding)
The key is that they only swung at those pitches with less than two strikes. With less than two strikes, the strike zone is irrelevant. If you don't think you can crush a pitch, then let it go by, and who cares if it is called a strike? The strike zone was created in a way that was easy to call, not in a way that accurately represented what was good to hit, especially since that is different for all hitters.

But once a batter gets two strikes, he has to protect the plate. His approach completely changes. He knows that he probably won't get a pitch to crush. Pitchers who give hitters hittable pitches with two strikes do not last long in the majors. Because of this, and the fact that letting a pitch go that gets called a strike leads to the worst of all possible outcomes, an out, the hitter must make sure that doesn't happen. And anyone who has seen a major league game knows that trusting umpires to make perfect calls is a very bad strategy.

The key to batting with two strikes is not knowing which pitches to swing at and which ones to let by, since letting close pitches by is not an option. The key is knowing which pitches to foul off, and which to try to put into play. And the players that have great bat control, like Gwynn, Boggs, Pujols, have very good numbers with two strikes. Not because they have a better eye, but because they have the ability to foul off the bad pitches until they get one they think they can handle.

The ability to foul off tough pitches is the most important ability a batter can have with two strikes. Knowing your hitting zone is the most important skill a batter can have before there are two strikes. At least that is how I see it.
There is a lot more to say about this, but I think I have already bored everyone.

Mario-Rijo
01-30-2009, 05:57 PM
Here is an interesting take that was sent via PM (the author has indicated that it would be fine to share publicly). I won't reveal the user name of the sender because I'm not sure if it's kosher to open a potential dialog between the forums but I'll gladly attribute the comments to the author if a mod says it's ok to reveal their identity. This is offered in the interest of discussion:

An outstanding post and if I may add one thing to that.

The ability to foul off a pitch is in large part a skill not a talent. In other words it's something you can work on and improve not just something you either have or don't have. At least that's my opinion of it. That's also why I think peoples "discipline" appears to improve as they gain experience. Not always because they actually improve discipline but because they are better at forcing a walk due to this.

RedsManRick
01-30-2009, 10:21 PM
I have yet to see somebody make the arugment behind the assertion that you have to swing at the close pitch.

Firstly, we are assuming that said pitch is not in the batter's comfort zone or this conversation would be moot. So we know that said pitch is one that the batter is not inclined to swing at. Any swing he makes is for the purpose of making something positive happen before he loses the opportunity to do so.

As the batter has already decided that the ball is "close" we know he has done some calculation about the likelihood of the balling being a strike. So at what level of uncertainty does he swing?

Semantically, what is the definition of "close"? Are there no degrees? Is it simply "definite strike", "close", and "definite ball"? And even if this is the case, there is an implication of a % chance of a "close" pitch being a ball or strike. The batter doesn't have to calculate this live, but he can know the limits of his judgment.

And given that the pitch may be a ball and may be a strike, and that the batter is uncertain which, surely there is a cost/benefit case to be made for swinging? When there are 0 or 1 strikes, the stakes of taking a strike are low, so taking a close pitch is an easy decision. But the cost/benefit analysis is still there. With 2 strikes, it's merely an issue of the cost increasing. I think I showed earlier a reasonable set of assumptions that suggested it wasn't always in the batter's interest to swing.

Besides a basic aversion for math, I really don't understand why nobody seems willing to engage me on this point. Why does the batter have to swing at a close pitch with 2 strikes? Is there no possibility that the batter is actually better off taking his chances with the ump than an uncomfortable swing? I'm not trying to be dogmatic in my position -- I just want to understand where my logic is wrong.

blumj
01-30-2009, 10:35 PM
I have yet to see somebody make the arugment behind the assertion that you have to swing at the close pitch.

Firstly, we are assuming that said pitch is not in the batter's comfort zone or this conversation would be moot. So we know that said pitch is one that the batter is not inclined to swing at. Any swing he makes is for the purpose of making something positive happen before he loses the opportunity to do so.

As the batter has already decided that the ball is "close" we know he has done some calculation about the likelihood of the balling being a strike. So at what level of uncertainty does he swing?

Semantically, what is the definition of "close"? Are there no degrees? Is it simply "definite strike", "close", and "definite ball"? And even if this is the case, there is an implication of a % chance of a "close" pitch being a ball or strike. The batter doesn't have to calculate this live, but he can know the limits of his judgment.

And given that the pitch may be a ball and may be a strike, and that the batter is uncertain which, surely there is a cost/benefit case to be made for swinging? When there are 0 or 1 strikes, the stakes of taking a strike are low, so taking a close pitch is an easy decision. But the cost/benefit analysis is still there. With 2 strikes, it's merely an issue of the cost increasing. I think I showed earlier a reasonable set of assumptions that suggested it wasn't always in the batter's interest to swing.

Besides a basic aversion for math, I really don't understand why nobody seems willing to engage me on this point. Why does the batter have to swing at a close pitch with 2 strikes? Is there no possibility that the batter is actually better off taking his chances with the ump than an uncomfortable swing? I'm not trying to be dogmatic in my position -- I just want to understand where my logic is wrong.
FWIW, I don't get it either. Are umpires more likely to call borderline pitches strikes on 2 strike counts?

Mario-Rijo
01-31-2009, 05:44 AM
I have yet to see somebody make the arugment behind the assertion that you have to swing at the close pitch.

Firstly, we are assuming that said pitch is not in the batter's comfort zone or this conversation would be moot. So we know that said pitch is one that the batter is not inclined to swing at. Any swing he makes is for the purpose of making something positive happen before he loses the opportunity to do so.

As the batter has already decided that the ball is "close" we know he has done some calculation about the likelihood of the balling being a strike. So at what level of uncertainty does he swing?

Semantically, what is the definition of "close"? Are there no degrees? Is it simply "definite strike", "close", and "definite ball"? And even if this is the case, there is an implication of a % chance of a "close" pitch being a ball or strike. The batter doesn't have to calculate this live, but he can know the limits of his judgment.

And given that the pitch may be a ball and may be a strike, and that the batter is uncertain which, surely there is a cost/benefit case to be made for swinging? When there are 0 or 1 strikes, the stakes of taking a strike are low, so taking a close pitch is an easy decision. But the cost/benefit analysis is still there. With 2 strikes, it's merely an issue of the cost increasing. I think I showed earlier a reasonable set of assumptions that suggested it wasn't always in the batter's interest to swing.

Besides a basic aversion for math, I really don't understand why nobody seems willing to engage me on this point. Why does the batter have to swing at a close pitch with 2 strikes? Is there no possibility that the batter is actually better off taking his chances with the ump than an uncomfortable swing? I'm not trying to be dogmatic in my position -- I just want to understand where my logic is wrong.

Well frankly they don't have to do anything they don't want to. If they quickly diagnose it as a ball fine take your chances. If it were me I'd know what the ump is likely to do on a borderline pitch and what each pitcher I could potentially face is likely to do going in to the game. When you step out after acquiring strike 2 this scenario needs to run through your mind so you can lean one way or the other which increases the likelihood of you swinging or not. I don't think it's clear cut but as a rule you wanna keep your PA alive by whatever means necc. and more often than not an ump will ring you up on anything close with 2 strikes. Because this is one of those non-rule rules that not only players live by but a lot of umps do as well. I think you make a fair point about how the approach should be tweaked according to players but most of those guys aren't the most realistic.

jojo
01-31-2009, 09:04 AM
I think the point is this:

1) with two strikes a hitter no longer has the luxury of laying off a pitch he doesn't like if its in the strike zone;

2) with two strikes a hitter doesn't have the luxury of laying off a pitch that he is unsure is a strike (a borderline one).

These are some key dynamics that contribute to the leverage dramatically swinging in the pitcher's favor when the count is a two strike count. Here's a breakdown of OPS by count from an earlier thread (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57416&highlight=leverage+pitch+count) to illustrate:

http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/2536/opsdistributiontest2ji3.jpg (http://img231.imageshack.us/my.php?image=opsdistributiontest2ji3.jpg) http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/opsdistributiontest2ji3.jpg/ (http://g.imageshack.us/img231/opsdistributiontest2ji3.jpg/1/)

Clearly a two-strike pitch isn't just another pitch.

Concerning "borderline", not swinging is leaving it up to the ump. That's fine if the ump has established his strike zone and you've been paying attention and the pitch is in a location the ump has been ignoring (so there is a "percentage game" that is played). That said, the hitter is trusting the ump will be consistent.

bucksfan2
01-31-2009, 09:54 AM
I have yet to see somebody make the arugment behind the assertion that you have to swing at the close pitch.

Firstly, we are assuming that said pitch is not in the batter's comfort zone or this conversation would be moot. So we know that said pitch is one that the batter is not inclined to swing at. Any swing he makes is for the purpose of making something positive happen before he loses the opportunity to do so.

As the batter has already decided that the ball is "close" we know he has done some calculation about the likelihood of the balling being a strike. So at what level of uncertainty does he swing?

Semantically, what is the definition of "close"? Are there no degrees? Is it simply "definite strike", "close", and "definite ball"? And even if this is the case, there is an implication of a % chance of a "close" pitch being a ball or strike. The batter doesn't have to calculate this live, but he can know the limits of his judgment.

And given that the pitch may be a ball and may be a strike, and that the batter is uncertain which, surely there is a cost/benefit case to be made for swinging? When there are 0 or 1 strikes, the stakes of taking a strike are low, so taking a close pitch is an easy decision. But the cost/benefit analysis is still there. With 2 strikes, it's merely an issue of the cost increasing. I think I showed earlier a reasonable set of assumptions that suggested it wasn't always in the batter's interest to swing.

Besides a basic aversion for math, I really don't understand why nobody seems willing to engage me on this point. Why does the batter have to swing at a close pitch with 2 strikes? Is there no possibility that the batter is actually better off taking his chances with the ump than an uncomfortable swing? I'm not trying to be dogmatic in my position -- I just want to understand where my logic is wrong.

I think there are a lot of reasons to attempt to foul or swing at a close pitch. First of all if you don't and it is a strike you walk back to the bench with a strikeout. You fail to make the pitcher throw more pitches. To be quite honest I don't think there is any math or cost/benefit analysis going threw a hitters mind when he is facing a 2 strike count.

As the post JoJo posted I agree with completly. If you are able to foul off a boarder line pitch with two strikes you get to see another pitch. It allows for the opportunity for a pitcher to miss in your hot zone as well as miss out of the strike zone. To me its working the count. Its making the pitcher as many pitches until the batter or the pitcher folds. To me a strike out swinging in a 10 pitch at bat is much better than a strike out looking in a 3-5 pitch at bat. Anytime you can get the pitcher to maximize his pitches thrown you are doing a good job.

lollipopcurve
01-31-2009, 09:55 AM
Firstly, we are assuming that said pitch is not in the batter's comfort zone or this conversation would be moot. So we know that said pitch is one that the batter is not inclined to swing at. Any swing he makes is for the purpose of making something positive happen before he loses the opportunity to do so.

I think the assumption that there are only two regions into which strikes can fall -- a "comfort" zone and a "discomfort" zone is erroneous. It might be more fruitful to look at it from the pitcher's point of view, from which we can easily see 3 types of strikes:

1. mistakes -- fat pitches in the middle of the plate
2. "pitcher's pitches" -- dominant pitches on the edge of the strike zone
3. everything in between

It is generally true that hitters are advantaged against mistakes, and disadvantaged against pitcher's pitches. Mistakes are in the comfort zone, and pitcher's pitches are in the discomfort zone -- for almost all hitters.

But what about all of those pitches in between -- which happen to be the majority of strikes? Do these pitches always fall into a comfort or discomfort zone for a hitter? No, they don't. When a hitter's going well, the comfort zone is larger. When he's slumping, there may be no comfort zone. He is mutable, he is human. Furthermore, two pitches in the same zone from two different pitchers arrive there differently: LH or RH pitcher, deception in delivery, velocity, break, park factors such as hitting background, quality of light, etc. What appears to be in the comfort zone right away may not remain there, and vice versa.

So, the mindset which says, "I'll swing if it's in my comfort zone, and I won't if it's not" will quickly break down because a) mistake pitches are relatively rare, and b) the hitter will not be able to generalize the majority of strikes he sees as either comfortable to hit or uncomfortable to hit, based on the variety of results he gets from swinging at them.

Furthermore, in the case of a "borderline" pitch -- the only possible strike I'd say a hitter should consider taking at 3-2 -- how well can hitters differentiate a borderline pitch from a strike an inch inside the strike zone? Only certain hitters have that kind of plate awareness, and even those hitters should be aware of certain variables:

What's the umpire's particular strike zone, generally speaking and in that game so far?
How well does the catcher frame borderline strikes?
Is the pitcher a veteran who tends to get the calls?

And is it even safe to say a hitter's plate awareness is equally acute at all times? I don't think so. Even hitters with excellent strike zone judgment will have more difficulty "picking up" certain pitchers than others, and this will affect whether they can discern a borderline pitch from a clear strike.

One more point: if a hitter takes a 1-2 or 2-2 borderline pitch and gets the call, he is LESS likely to get the next borderline pitch. Umpires tend to like to even those things out.

princeton
01-31-2009, 12:43 PM
FWIW, I don't get it either. Are umpires more likely to call borderline pitches strikes on 2 strike counts?

as a batter that struck out a lot, I say yes. bunch of overzealous showoffs.

I'd probably have a different take had I pitched.

RANDY IN INDY
01-31-2009, 12:54 PM
I think the assumption that there are only two regions into which strikes can fall -- a "comfort" zone and a "discomfort" zone is erroneous. It might be more fruitful to look at it from the pitcher's point of view, from which we can easily see 3 types of strikes:

1. mistakes -- fat pitches in the middle of the plate
2. "pitcher's pitches" -- dominant pitches on the edge of the strike zone
3. everything in between

It is generally true that hitters are advantaged against mistakes, and disadvantaged against pitcher's pitches. Mistakes are in the comfort zone, and pitcher's pitches are in the discomfort zone -- for almost all hitters.

But what about all of those pitches in between -- which happen to be the majority of strikes? Do these pitches always fall into a comfort or discomfort zone for a hitter? No, they don't. When a hitter's going well, the comfort zone is larger. When he's slumping, there may be no comfort zone. He is mutable, he is human. Furthermore, two pitches in the same zone from two different pitchers arrive there differently: LH or RH pitcher, deception in delivery, velocity, break, park factors such as hitting background, quality of light, etc. What appears to be in the comfort zone right away may not remain there, and vice versa.

So, the mindset which says, "I'll swing if it's in my comfort zone, and I won't if it's not" will quickly break down because a) mistake pitches are relatively rare, and b) the hitter will not be able to generalize the majority of strikes he sees as either comfortable to hit or uncomfortable to hit, based on the variety of results he gets from swinging at them.

Furthermore, in the case of a "borderline" pitch -- the only possible strike I'd say a hitter should consider taking at 3-2 -- how well can hitters differentiate a borderline pitch from a strike an inch inside the strike zone? Only certain hitters have that kind of plate awareness, and even those hitters should be aware of certain variables:

What's the umpire's particular strike zone, generally speaking and in that game so far?
How well does the catcher frame borderline strikes?
Is the pitcher a veteran who tends to get the calls?

And is it even safe to say a hitter's plate awareness is equally acute at all times? I don't think so. Even hitters with excellent strike zone judgment will have more difficulty "picking up" certain pitchers than others, and this will affect whether they can discern a borderline pitch from a clear strike.

One more point: if a hitter takes a 1-2 or 2-2 borderline pitch and gets the call, he is LESS likely to get the next borderline pitch. Umpires tend to like to even those things out.

That was a really good post!

_Sir_Charles_
01-31-2009, 01:04 PM
I think the assumption that there are only two regions into which strikes can fall -- a "comfort" zone and a "discomfort" zone is erroneous. It might be more fruitful to look at it from the pitcher's point of view, from which we can easily see 3 types of strikes:

1. mistakes -- fat pitches in the middle of the plate
2. "pitcher's pitches" -- dominant pitches on the edge of the strike zone
3. everything in between

It is generally true that hitters are advantaged against mistakes, and disadvantaged against pitcher's pitches. Mistakes are in the comfort zone, and pitcher's pitches are in the discomfort zone -- for almost all hitters.

But what about all of those pitches in between -- which happen to be the majority of strikes? Do these pitches always fall into a comfort or discomfort zone for a hitter? No, they don't. When a hitter's going well, the comfort zone is larger. When he's slumping, there may be no comfort zone. He is mutable, he is human. Furthermore, two pitches in the same zone from two different pitchers arrive there differently: LH or RH pitcher, deception in delivery, velocity, break, park factors such as hitting background, quality of light, etc. What appears to be in the comfort zone right away may not remain there, and vice versa.

So, the mindset which says, "I'll swing if it's in my comfort zone, and I won't if it's not" will quickly break down because a) mistake pitches are relatively rare, and b) the hitter will not be able to generalize the majority of strikes he sees as either comfortable to hit or uncomfortable to hit, based on the variety of results he gets from swinging at them.

Furthermore, in the case of a "borderline" pitch -- the only possible strike I'd say a hitter should consider taking at 3-2 -- how well can hitters differentiate a borderline pitch from a strike an inch inside the strike zone? Only certain hitters have that kind of plate awareness, and even those hitters should be aware of certain variables:

What's the umpire's particular strike zone, generally speaking and in that game so far?
How well does the catcher frame borderline strikes?
Is the pitcher a veteran who tends to get the calls?

And is it even safe to say a hitter's plate awareness is equally acute at all times? I don't think so. Even hitters with excellent strike zone judgment will have more difficulty "picking up" certain pitchers than others, and this will affect whether they can discern a borderline pitch from a clear strike.

One more point: if a hitter takes a 1-2 or 2-2 borderline pitch and gets the call, he is LESS likely to get the next borderline pitch. Umpires tend to like to even those things out.

Oh yeah, and all that has to be decided upon in a fraction of a second. Yep, nice post.

I'd be curious to know how much a hitting instructor works with batters on how to foul off pitches to battle their way through a tough at bat. Do they at all? Is it ALL on the hitter, or are there actually teaching techniques for enhancing it? Just curious.

blumj
01-31-2009, 01:43 PM
as a batter that struck out a lot, I say yes. bunch of overzealous showoffs.

I'd probably have a different take had I pitched.
Now that you mention it, Schilling was hanging around at NYYfans last night, I probably should have thought to ask him.

blumj
02-01-2009, 04:57 AM
Okay, I asked a pitcher, and, as expected, got the opposite reaction.


Borderline pitches are called strikes less with 2 strikes than in any other count, by a long shot. The numbers one year for me were like 70+% of borderline pitches called balls with 2 strikes, vs like almost that same % called strikes, with less than 2 strikes.

Wouldn't having that type of information change the way your offense would approach 2 strike counts, depending on what they know about the opposing pitcher and the HP umpire for each game? Assuming you have hitters who are capable of adjusting their approach based on the information?

Mario-Rijo
02-01-2009, 06:15 AM
Okay, I asked a pitcher, and, as expected, got the opposite reaction.


Borderline pitches are called strikes less with 2 strikes than in any other count, by a long shot. The numbers one year for me were like 70+% of borderline pitches called balls with 2 strikes, vs like almost that same % called strikes, with less than 2 strikes.


Wouldn't having that type of information change the way your offense would approach 2 strike counts, depending on what they know about the opposing pitcher and the HP umpire for each game? Assuming you have hitters who are capable of adjusting their approach based on the information?

That's interesting. Not sure though if it means exactly what we think it means or not. Was said pitcher stinking it up that year in particular? Did he have an unusual amount of balls put in play etc. I'm not saying anything in particular here, just wondering if somethings missing. That just seems like an inordinate amount of pitches called balls. Maybe that's more accurate than we know but I can't help but think something about that isn't or at least just doesn't seem clear.

blumj
02-01-2009, 05:03 PM
I never got any further response. He is a Steeler fan, though, so maybe he's preoccupied. Or maybe he just wasn't interested.

Mario-Rijo
02-01-2009, 05:30 PM
I never got any further response. He is a Steeler fan, though, so maybe he's preoccupied. Or maybe he just wasn't interested.

LOL, ok. Just thinking out loud in my post FWIW.

blumj
02-01-2009, 05:37 PM
LOL, ok. Just thinking out loud in my post FWIW.


http://forums.nyyfans.com/showthread.php?t=111042&page=333

There was some other semi-amusing stuff there if anyone's interested. Or just bored.