PDA

View Full Version : John Dewan: Reds don't use our stuff



RedsManRick
05-21-2009, 08:16 PM
I attended a presentation by John Dewan (founder of Stats Inc and Baseball Information Systems, inventor of numerous defensive stats, and author of The Fielding Bible) at Northwestern last night. They work in some capacity with 15 teams, including year-end team analysis, detailed player analysis, etc. Apparently teams rely heavily on 3rd parties for advanced scouting data.

The biggest takeaway data-wise was that shifts are grossly underutilized in both the OF and IF and that superior positioning can provide big time gains. Chase Utley in particular set the plus/minus record based on the extreme nature of his position relative to the handedness of the batter. It's interesting stuff.

Anyways, I asked him afterward if he had done any work with/for the Reds. He said that he's only worked with the White Sox and that their president, Steve Moyer, manages the relationships with other clubs. They have not done any business with the Reds and said something like "Jocketty and that crew are pretty well set in their ways."

I'm not looking to start a flame war on the Reds FO. For what it's worth, John came across as quite defensive of the plus/minus system, particularly when I asked about the value of hit f/x data and automated electronic measurement systems generally. So I could see him being a bit dismissive of the effort of people using other products.

But anyways, thought I'd share...

westofyou
05-21-2009, 08:19 PM
"Jocketty and that crew are pretty well set in their ways."Which could also mean they compile and obtain data from our competition.

Falls City Beer
05-21-2009, 08:24 PM
Pretty impolitic response from a guy who's shilling stuff.

RedsManRick
05-21-2009, 08:24 PM
Which could also mean they compile and obtain data from our competition.

Exactly -- I didn't take his assessment as an unbiased observation.

bucksfan2
05-22-2009, 09:41 AM
RMR aren't there some teams that don't shift? I can't remember correctly but I had always thought that Bobby Cox hated the extreme shifts, especially in the infield. As a Red fan, the past decade you got used to seeing all kinds of different defenses because of Jr and Dunn in the lineup.

I would like to see what kind of information Jocketty and his staff use. Jocketty worked with LaRussa for years in St Louis and LaRussa is known to have binders full of split information at his disposal during every game. Every organization uses a different interpretation method of the information they receive. I can see where Dewan would pimp his method while also be a little negative towards clubs who scorn his methods.

jojo
05-22-2009, 10:00 AM
Great stuff RMR.

While Dewan really wouldn't know exactly what the Reds do, his comment probably isn't out of whack in the grand scheme of things. We know from statements that the Reds use stats in some fashion probably most likely as an aid in advanced scouting at the major league level. That said, it's pretty difficult to believe that the Reds have completely embraced sabermetrics when it comes to planning/personnel decisions/strategy. My guess is, the Reds use sabermetrics in a "ducks in a row" fashion-its a final check or validation on that level (but not necessarily a reason not to do what they want to do).

In other words, the Reds organization still very much falls on the conservative end of the spectrum where the "eyes" have it.

lollipopcurve
05-22-2009, 10:06 AM
In other words, the Reds organization still very much falls on the conservative end of the spectrum where the "eyes" have it.

Meanwhile, Krall, who is in the front office, indicates that Jocketty considers all points of view and everyone is encouraged to weigh in on decisions. Yet, you conclude that the eyes generally hold sway over the numbers, despite this first hand account. I guess some biases are not to be broken.

jojo
05-22-2009, 10:10 AM
Meanwhile, Krall, who is in the front office, indicates that Jocketty considers all points of view and everyone is encouraged to weigh in on decisions. Yet, you conclude that the eyes generally hold sway over the numbers, despite this first hand account. I guess some biases are not to be broken.

Jocketty was essentially run out St Louis because he couldn't work with the stats guys on the level that ownership envisioned.

This isn't a bias. This is an opinion that tries to embrace everything we know.

Do the Reds use stats? Yes-every FO does. The issue is to what extent.

There is a huge difference between listening to all opinions and how each is weighted.

It's extremely difficult to envision Jocketty leading with sabermetrics. I'm sorry, it just is and that's not borne from a bias.

bucksfan2
05-22-2009, 10:10 AM
Great stuff RMR.

While Dewan really wouldn't know exactly what the Reds do, his comment probably isn't out of whack in the grand scheme of things. We know from comments that the Reds use stats in some fashion probably most likely as an aid in advanced scouting at the major league level. That said, it's pretty difficult to believe that the Reds have completely embraced sabermetrics when it comes to planning/personnel decisions/strategy. My guess is, the Reds use sabermetrics in a "ducks in a row" fashion-its a final check or validation on that level (but not necessarily a reason not to do what they want to do).

In other words, the Reds organization still very much falls on the conservative end of the spectrum where the "eyes" have it.

Why?

I think we would all be surprised to the extend that the Reds have embraced statistics. I don't necessarily think they are gung ho sabermetrics, no do I want them to be gung ho sabermetrics. Any team that goes to one extreme or another is likely to fail. Its the teams that develop the best balance of both worlds that are successful. It also doesn't help to have a limitless pocket book.

I have said this before, but I would love to see what stats the Reds value. What numbers they use and what they discard. There are only so many data points you can take from a given game. Once they are taken you can create any type of statistic you want. It is the interpretation, and which stats an organization values that would be interesting.

IMO Jocketty gets a bad knock because of the perception that he is anti-saber. I think the reality is that he isn't Billy Beane, but he also isn't a tobacco chewing traditionalist that values his eyes over anything else.

nate
05-22-2009, 10:12 AM
Meanwhile, Krall, who is in the front office, indicates that Jocketty considers all points of view and everyone is encouraged to weigh in on decisions. Yet, you conclude that the eyes generally hold sway over the numbers, despite this first hand account.

I don't see how Jojo's "guess" (his word) is contradictory to the article from the other day. Nor is it a put-down or dismissive. It's simply an evaluation of "how they roll."


I guess some biases are not to be broken.

So it seems.

jojo
05-22-2009, 10:13 AM
I think the reality is that he isn't Billy Beane, but he also isn't a tobacco chewing traditionalist that values his eyes over anything else.

I haven't framed the issue as "either/or"....

traderumor
05-22-2009, 10:14 AM
I'm sure there are some folks who lean on the "stats" side that chew tobacco, and even spit.

Hoosier Red
05-22-2009, 10:18 AM
Jocketty was essentially run out St Louis because he couldn't work with the stats guys on the level that ownership envisioned.

This isn't a bias. This is an opinion that tries to embrace everything we know.

Do the Reds use stats? Yes-every FO does. The issue is to what extent.

There is a huge difference between listening to all opinions and how each is weighted.

It's extremely difficult to envision Jocketty leading with sabermetrics. I'm sorry, it just is and that's not borne from a bias.

In my experience some stat guys are royal pains in the keister. Of course so are some scouts. Maybe he couldn't "get along" with the guy because the stats guy was a little know it all. Or maybe because he is.

The fact that he was run out because he couldn't get along with one stats guy points to our favorite three words. "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE"

Falls City Beer
05-22-2009, 10:21 AM
Walt Jocketty is one of the more intellectually-curious and non-doctrinaire GMs in existence. Just because he hasn't gone "all-in" on any particular philosophy is no criticism of him.

jojo
05-22-2009, 10:40 AM
In my experience some stat guys are royal pains in the keister. Of course so are some scouts. Maybe he couldn't "get along" with the guy because the stats guy was a little know it all. Or maybe because he is.

The fact that he was run out because he couldn't get along with one stats guy points to our favorite three words. "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE"

St Louis doesn't have just one stats guy though.

The situation in St Louis was a power struggle between Jocketty (baseball man) and Luhnow (business degree type with no baseball pedigree). Jocketty is not a dimwit. I repeat he's not and no one is painting him that light. This is the point though-Jocketty's trust lies in LaRussa and Duncan. Luhnow's trust lies in guys he brought in such as stat-head on steroids, Mitchel Lichtman and Ron Schandler etc. Luhnow very aggressively refashioned the Cards scouting and player development with an emphasis on the "new" approach.

The situation in St Louis was precipitated by a clear difference in philosophies. If Jocketty was inclined to lead with stats, there wouldn't have been such a fracture or battle for ownership's ear.

Jocketty is a smart guy and it should be assumed he listens to all opinions. That said, it's a difficult leap for me to make to accept that he came to Cincinnati and completely changed his core beliefs.

Luhnow is Vice President of Amateur Scouting & Player Development in St Louis. Guess who Jocketty brought in as the Reds VP of Scouting, Player Dev. and International Ops? Bill Bavasi.

bucksfan2
05-22-2009, 10:48 AM
St Louis doesn't have just one stats guy though.

The situation in St Louis was a power struggle between Jocketty (baseball man) and Luhnow (business degree type with no baseball pedigree). Jocketty is not a dimwit. I repeat he's not and no one is painting him that light. This is the point though-Jocketty's trust lies in LaRussa and Duncan. Luhnow's trust lies in guys he brought in such as stat-head on steroids, Mitchel Lichtman and Ron Schandler etc. Luhnow very aggressively refashioned the Cards scouting and player development with an emphasis on the "new" approach.

The situation in St Louis was precipitated by a clear difference in philosophies. If Jocketty was inclined to lead with stats, there wouldn't have been such a fracture or battle for ownership's ear.

Jocketty is a smart guy and it should be assumed he listens to all opinions. That said, it's a difficult leap for me to make to accept that he came to Cincinnati and completely changed his core beliefs.

Luhnow is Vice President of Amateur Scouting & Player Development in St Louis. Guess who Jocketty brought in as the Reds VP of Scouting, Player Dev. and International Ops? Bill Bavasi.

JoJo what you described sounds like a complete overhaul of a system that Jocketty has built. Jocketty turned StL into a perennial playoff contender as well as a WS champ. IMO Jocketty did what many managers would have done in a similar situation.

Falls City Beer
05-22-2009, 10:51 AM
JoJo what you described sounds like a complete overhaul of a system that Jocketty has built. Jocketty turned StL into a perennial playoff contender as well as a WS champ. IMO Jocketty did what many managers would have done in a similar situation.


As with most situations, it came down to money; Luhnow promised contention on the cheap, brought to bear a clearly-articulated "method" for doing it, so he muscled his way in. Pretty much a garden-variety business-model shift.

jojo
05-22-2009, 10:52 AM
JoJo what you described sounds like a complete overhaul of a system that Jocketty has built. Jocketty turned StL into a perennial playoff contender as well as a WS champ. IMO Jocketty did what many managers would have done in a similar situation.

Jocketty was basically fired.

westofyou
05-22-2009, 10:56 AM
Jocketty was basically fired.

Branch Rickey got fired once or twice too.

REDREAD
05-22-2009, 10:58 AM
Jocketty was essentially run out St Louis because he couldn't work with the stats guys on the level that ownership envisioned.
.

That's how it was reported, but I doubt it was that simple.

It seems to me that St Louis had an "up and comer" that they wanted to set up to eventually take over for Jocketty. Maybe it was justifiied, maybe he had a better system than Walt.. I agree that is possible.

It seems to me that Walt likes to be the guy that runs the show and wasn't really thrilled with having to train/share power with his replacement.

I don't think it was a matter of Walt just being closed minded because the new guy was a champion of a certian stat system.

I guess time will tell though, we'll see where St Louis is in a few years after the new guy has time to make his changes. I really don't follow the Cards close enough to remember what changes the new guy made.. maybe his system is better than Walt's.

jojo
05-22-2009, 11:02 AM
Branch Rickey got fired once or twice too.

There is nothing wrong with being fired. For the purposes of this conversation though, the point was that it wasn't Jocketty's idea to leave.

lollipopcurve
05-22-2009, 11:04 AM
There is a huge difference between listening to all opinions and how each is weighted.

It's extremely difficult to envision Jocketty leading with sabermetrics. I'm sorry, it just is and that's not borne from a bias.

Saying someone does not "lead with sabermetrics" is not the same as saying he defers to the scouts, which is what you have said.

The clear implication of the interview with Krall is that all opinions are considered in the interest of making the best decision, not that certain opinions are given greater weight than others. That's your invention (based, I'd say, on Jocketty's unforgiveable and original sin of having butted heads with number crunchers in St, Louis). Why is it impossible for you to believe that Jocketty may weight scouting information more heavily in re: certain decisions, and sabermetric information more heavily at other times?

I think it's worthwhile to take into account this comment from Krall, a guy who came to Cincy to run the same database (BATS) he/they had been using Oakland:


For me, the more games you watch the more you'll gain an understanding of what a big leaguer is. I was fortunate enough that when I started working in Oakland, I probably watched 400 games that summer on video. And I was charting all of the games while I watched them. You start to learn what a big league fastball looks like. You see how a ball comes off a big league hitters bat, and what they swing at and what they don't. The more games you watch, the more experience you get. You can't really go out and learn it in a 2-week training course.

Based on this quote, I'd say anybody who suggests a GM should "leading with sabermetrics" in in how he assembles and runs his front office is living on a baseball fantasy planet.

jojo
05-22-2009, 11:20 AM
Saying someone does not "lead with sabermetrics" is not the same as saying he defers to the scouts, which is what you have said.

I think that's splitting hairs. Jocketty's guiding philosophy seems pretty clear.


The clear implication of the interview with Krall is that all opinions are considered in the interest of making the best decision, not that certain opinions are given greater weight than others.

Once again, IMHO, one has to ignore an awful lot to beleive that when all things are considered, a majority of decisions in the Reds FO are informed most by stats.


That's your invention (based, I'd say, on Jocketty's unforgiveable and original sin of having butted heads with number crunchers in St, Louis).

Really, I've tried hard to explain the reason for the opinion. Bias has zilch to do with it.


Why is it impossible for you to believe that Jocketty may weight scouting information more heavily in re: certain decisions, and sabermetric information more heavily at other times?

He's human and humans tend to go with what they trust the most when making important decisions about something they care deeply about. Like I said earlier, it's for that very same reason that I'm sure that Jocketty listens to all opinions. That said, everyone approaches problems through a certain prism defined by their guiding philosophy and that prism will win the day most of the time.

traderumor
05-22-2009, 11:24 AM
That quote from Krall above really stuck with me, with a current example of what he is talking about to possibly be Matt Maloney. Since starting to pay attention to certain things, through being a member here, you start to see a pattern, whereby a guy will be doing very well in AAA, but doesn't get the call and doesn't get the call.

Many start yelling for the guy, "Free Norris Hopper, free Chris Denorfia, free Johnny Gomes, free Chris Booker, free Brad Salmon" and they don't get the call, maybe a September callup as a courtesy. Then, they get here, and you see why they have been "blocked" all this time.

They are a very good professional ballplayer, good enough to excel at the highest level of the minors, mastering the minors, if you will, they just aren't a major league talent, even though the minor league numbers say they should be.

westofyou
05-22-2009, 11:27 AM
Many start yelling for the guy, "Free Norris Hopper, free Chris Denorfia, free Johnny Gomes, free Chris Booker, free Brad Salmon" and they don't get the call, maybe a September callup as a courtesy. Then, they get here, and you see why

It's like the turkey buzzards and Hinckley Ohio, it's an annual event.

traderumor
05-22-2009, 11:35 AM
I will add, even with my untrained eye, going to some Clippers games illustrated this to me. Whether it be bat speed, or tracking flyballs, or command for a pitcher, it was evident why these guys were toiling in AAA. I guess if I was trained, I would start to recognize the positive and not just the negative case.

Johnny Footstool
05-22-2009, 01:20 PM
I'm sure there are some folks who lean on the "stats" side that chew tobacco, and even spit.

Nope. SABR membership requires pipe tobacco and a smoking jacket. Monocles are optional, but encouraged.

lollipopcurve
05-22-2009, 01:35 PM
Really, I've tried hard to explain the reason for the opinion. Bias has zilch to do with it.

Your reason for making the assumption that, within the Reds' FO, statistical information is merely a toll booth check-in on the way to making decisions based on "eyeball" scouting accounts is what you have read about Jocketty's falling out in St. Louis. That's it, so far as I can tell. The interview with a guy currently working in the Reds front office, who offers several comments/examples suggesting statistical information shares more or less the same platform with scouting information in the Reds FO, has re-calibrated your viewpoint on Jocketty exactly zilch degrees, I'd say.

As I've said before, the hardcore saber guys have never forgiven Jocketty for what happened in St. Louis, even though they have no real knowledge of what went on there, and their opinion of him has been frozen in time, immune to whatever new information comes out. IMO, of course.

traderumor
05-22-2009, 01:44 PM
Nope. SABR membership requires pipe tobacco and a smoking jacket. Monocles are optional, but encouraged.No spitting? What about Brandy?

Big Klu
05-22-2009, 01:50 PM
No spitting? What about Brandy?

She's a fine girl.

bucksfan2
05-22-2009, 02:16 PM
As I've said before, the hardcore saber guys have never forgiven Jocketty for what happened in St. Louis, even though they have no real knowledge of what went on there, and their opinion of him has been frozen in time, immune to whatever new information comes out. IMO, of course.

How did the mainstream media report Jocketty's eventual separation with StL? IIRC all that was really said was that there was a falling out between Jocketty and a new direction of ownership.

IMO the saber reporting was more in depth, but also skewed in a way that made Jocketty look anti-saber. It happens all the time in reporting where a reporter with predetermined beliefs that looks favorable upon his beliefs and unfavorable upon the opposing side.

I don't fault either sides. I don't fault the Cards for wanting to go in a different direction. The owners own the team and that is their perrogative. I also don't fault Jocketty for refusing to change his methods leading to his canning. His resume speaks for itself and it was clearly evident that Jocketty could go elsewhere and get another GM job.

jojo
05-22-2009, 04:52 PM
Your reason for making the assumption that, within the Reds' FO, statistical information is merely a toll booth check-in on the way to making decisions based on "eyeball" scouting accounts is what you have read about Jocketty's falling out in St. Louis. That's it, so far as I can tell. The interview with a guy currently working in the Reds front office, who offers several comments/examples suggesting statistical information shares more or less the same platform with scouting information in the Reds FO, has re-calibrated your viewpoint on Jocketty exactly zilch degrees, I'd say.

I'm not sure why you've chosen this as an axe to grind but my position is this simple and straightforward- the Reds fall on the traditional/"more weight to the eye" end of the scouting +stats spectrum. I have zero idea why that is apparently offensive.

Do the Reds use stats? You bet. There isn't a FO in baseball that doesn't and I'm pleased that the Reds are getting on board. That said, is the Reds organization a stats-heavy FO compared to other FO's in the league? Given their leadership, that argument is a very, very tough sell. Why do I argue that? Castellini has a history. Jocketty has a history and so do the ones he surrounds himself with. Jocketty, Castellini, Miller, Bavasi, Walker, Bonifay, Reynolds and Bennett rely heavily on sabermetrics? Really? Really!?!


As I've said before, the hardcore saber guys have never forgiven Jocketty for what happened in St. Louis, even though they have no real knowledge of what went on there, and their opinion of him has been frozen in time, immune to whatever new information comes out. IMO, of course.

The narrative I've outlined earlier for Jocketty's exit is pretty well documented.

But lets step back and examine this issue for a second.

Why would "hardcore saber" guys hold any grudge against Jocketty? This is an especially pertinent question given the assertion that "they have no real knowledge of what went on there". It can't be both ways. It just cant.

Also, the premise that "hardcore stats guys" hate scouting is about as false as any premise could be. Most (hardcore, stat-leaning guys) that I interact with would argue that stats and scouting make the perfect marriage so the idea that a collective of stat heads hate Jocketty because he couldn't get along with Luhnow has no legs just on the face of it.

Heck, I bet scouts have become obese eating the free ballpark dogs that "statheads" have bought for them as the statheads engage scouts for their opinions in any given park.

Besides, if it weren't for the fact the St Louis plays in the same division as the Reds, I could give a rip about what they do in their FO. I have no idea why a "collective" of statheads would give a rip.

BuckeyeRedleg
05-22-2009, 05:03 PM
I'm sure there are some folks who lean on the "stats" side that chew tobacco, and even spit.

Present.

*BaseClogger*
05-22-2009, 06:19 PM
is the Reds organization a stats-heavy FO

I would go so far as to argue there is no such thing...

AtomicDumpling
05-23-2009, 02:20 AM
I don't find it surprising the Reds have not purchased the stats packages and metrics offered by Dewan's company. I would be shocked if they had.

There are three reasons I am not surprised:
1. The Reds are too cheap and profit-minded to spend money on information.
2. The Reds are way behind the curve when it comes to using modern analytics.
3. Jocketty and Baker wouldn't understand them anyway.

Given that both Jocketty and Baker have expressed derision for rock-solid proven stats like on-base percentage I greatly doubt they would be willing to adopt the more advanced metrics marketed by Dewan.

There are companies with better products than Dewan's, so hopefully the Reds are using those packages, but I doubt it. Dewan is known for exaggerating the relevance of his metrics (The Fielding Bible for instance). He is a slick salesman, but that doesn't mean his products have no value -- just not as much as he claims.

Jocketty has made very few impact moves in his tenure thus far, but the ones he has made have not been sabermetrically inspired.

westofyou
05-24-2009, 12:40 PM
I found this in an old Bill James interview.

James T: It seems that a lot of teams are trying to develop their own proprietary systems of measuring fielding efficiency. As a fan, the one readily available fielding stat to which I attach some credence is zone rating. What do you think of this particular metric?


Bill James: Itís useful. Zone rating was created by John Dewan, who is a good friend of mine, but when it was originally created he made a series of what seem to me like obvious mistakes, and it was years before he got around to correcting them. So John and I used to have huge arguments about zone rating once every two years, regular as clockwork. He has tried to adapt the stat to address my concerns, but I donít see the data regularly enough to know where we are on it right now.

James T: Todd Walker was a perfectly serviceable second baseman in 2002 according to his zone rating. Then in 2003 he had a very poor year by that same measure. I think fans perceive general fielding ability as a constant. But is it? Does fielding efficiency fluctuate as much as hitting or pitching ability?


Bill James: I would guess that it fluctuates more than hitting ability, because fielding depends on such a wide range of skills. You have a hamstring problem, thatís going to effect your fielding. You have a sore arm, a bad elbow, a sore shoulder, you might be able to hit with it, but it will effect your fielding. If you lose confidence, it effects your fielding. If you lose quickness, I would guess it effects your fielding before it effects your hitting. So I would guess that fielding is more variable, more unpredictable, than hitting.

Another point in favor of this argument: look how much fielding roles change over time. Bernie Williams is very much the same hitter now that he was ten years ago, but nowhere near the outfielder. Ruben Sierra had basically the same batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage last year that he did in 1988, but he was a top defensive right fielder then. Now heís a DH.

People think of fielding as a constant because, for good reasons, they donít trust fielding stats, and donít monitor them from day to day. Since fielding stats are kind of a cipher, weíre not always aware of changes in fielding performance, when, if a playerís batting average dropped 20 or 30 points, we would certainly be aware of that.