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Kc61
08-10-2012, 11:27 AM
Risking a controversial subject here, but I'd like to learn more and see some views on this subject.

IMO, the OPS stat masks the real problem with offenses like the Reds'. A number of important, starting players get a pass because their OPS is acceptable or good. While a good shorthand, OPS can be very misleading and requires deeper analysis.

The slugging half of OPS usually is the dominant half numerically. Slugging percentages generally are higher than OBPs. When a player has a high slugging percentage, his OPS tends to be good. Yet, many such players are low BA and low OBP hitters.

So, on the Reds, Jay Bruce has a .326 OBP and a .481 SLG. Pretty good OPS of .806, but he doesn't get on base much and his BA is .243.

Ryan Ludwick has a .329 OBP and a .535 SLG. Huge differential there. His good OPS of .864 is heavily weighted to slugging, not getting on base.

Frazier is similar, .323/.520. Cozart .294/.407.

Here's my point for discussion. I think that simply saying that guys like Ludwick and Bruce have a good OPS may give them too much credit because a team full of power hitters who don't get singles and don't get on base is often sub-par offensively. (Reds currently have 583 singles, while the Cards have 721.)

Hope the issue I'm presenting for discussion is clear. Fire away.

westofyou
08-10-2012, 11:41 AM
Lot's of #5 hitters on this team this year.

This offense needs some BA driven hitters to move the offensive game around more.

powersackers
08-10-2012, 11:43 AM
Both are equal parts of the equation. 1 plus 1 equals 2. A balanced lineup should reflect that. Reds just don't have a balanced lineup.

Kc61
08-10-2012, 11:50 AM
Both are equal parts of the equation. 1 plus 1 equals 2. A balanced lineup should reflect that. Reds just don't have a balanced lineup.

Actually, I've been reading about this and OBP seems to correlate more to run production than SLG. Yet SLG is more dominant in the OPS formula.

I guess stats like wOBA try to weigh these factors more accurately to give a better reflection of actual performance.

Still, we all tend to use OPS (myself included), it's a helpful shorthand, but I think it can hide a player's real strengths or weaknesses.

bucksfan2
08-10-2012, 12:00 PM
Lot's of #5 hitters on this team this year.

This offense needs some BA driven hitters to move the offensive game around more.

Team has too many players that are above average sluggers for their position but below average at getting on base. The problem is they don't really have anyone coming off the bench who does anything different. Both Frazier and Heisey are very similar to their starting counterparts.

RedsManRick
08-10-2012, 12:27 PM
You're right, KC. From the perspective of scoring runs, OBP is worth about 70% more than SLG. So OPS puts too much emphasis on SLG and not enough on OBP (to say nothing of the silliness of adding two fractions with different denominators).

OPS is basically no longer used in sabermetric circles. It has largely been replaced by wOBA, weighted On Base Average. Basically, it's OPS with better inputs placed on the OBP scale. There's really no reason NOT to use it.

It's explained clearly, in depth here: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/offense/woba/

One common complaint is that you can't calculate it yourself, which is basically true. But you can only calculate OPS is you have OBP and SLG already. And if you're on the internet, just use Fangaphs and it's there.

Some might complain that they won't know what "good" looks like, but people had the same problem with OPS until they started using it regularly. And unlike OPS, it's not a new scale -- it's like OBP: .300 is bad, .320 is poor, .340 is solid, etc.

And as others have said, the team is suffering from a lineup full of guys built to be RBI guys without having enough guys to be the runs being driven in. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of building a team based around a fixed set of runs, but a lot of this team's slugging ability is being wasted due to the lack of baserunners.

The Reds offense is 9th in the NL AVG, 9th in OBP, 5th in SLG -- and 8th in runs scored.

If you could make the effort to start using wOBA instead of SLG (again, it's just as easy to look up as OPS is), I'm sure that would be helpful in setting the trend around here.

I can't strongly enough recommend "The BOOK" by Tom Tango and company.

http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml

Even a read through the chapter previews available on his website can be illuminating.

Kc61
08-10-2012, 02:15 PM
If you could make the effort to start using wOBA instead of SLG (again, it's just as easy to look up as OPS is), I'm sure that would be helpful in setting the trend around here.

I can't strongly enough recommend "The BOOK" by Tom Tango and company.

http://www.insidethebook.com/woba.shtml

Even a read through the chapter previews available on his website can be illuminating.

My understanding from the chapter is that wOBA essentially replaces OPS. It uses an OBP-like scale, but considers both on base performance and power in a more sophisticated and accurately weighted manner than OPS. Is that a fair description?

I guess OPS has one advantage - you can easily break it apart into the OBP and the SLG aspects. I assume you can't do that with wOBA.

P.S., thanks for the explanation RMR, it's extremely helpful.

RedsManRick
08-10-2012, 03:32 PM
My understanding from the chapter is that wOBA essentially replaces OPS. It uses an OBP-like scale, but considers both on base performance and power in a more sophisticated and accurately weighted manner than OPS. Is that a fair description?

I guess OPS has one advantage - you can easily break it apart into the OBP and the SLG aspects. I assume you can't do that with wOBA.

P.S., thanks for the explanation RMR, it's extremely helpful.

Yep; that's a very good summary of wOBA.

You're right in that there's value in understanding where a guy's production is coming from; but OPS doesn't tell you that any more than wOBA does. You can only break OPS in to SLG and OBP if you actually have the guys' OBP and SLG in front of you. At that point, OPS isn't telling you anything new.

If all you have is OBP and SLG, OPS is a quick shorthand for estimating overall production. But if you have OBP and SLG, there's no reason you can't also have wOBA -- you just have to choose to use Fangraphs as your go-to data source. For people used to using B-R or ESPN, that's a change.

AtomicDumpling
08-11-2012, 04:22 PM
OPS is a mongrelized statistics that doesn't make a whole lot of sense at first, but it does correlate very well with run scoring at almost exactly the same level as wOBA does. OPS is a Frankenstein stat that is built using bits and pieces of other stats just like Frankenstein was built using bits and pieces of different bodies. OPS is not pretty but it gets the job done very well. It is accurate despite being ugly and sloppy.

wOBA is the best stat to measure offensive production, but OPS will tell you the same thing. Both of them are light years better than Batting Average, which often tricks people into thinking some hitters are better than others when they are actually far inferior.

There are two huge flaws in Batting Average. All hits count the same despite it being very obvious that some hits (home runs, triples, doubles) are far more likely to produce runs than other hits (singles). A good stat would weight those hits proportionately. The other huge flaw in Batting Average is that it totally ignores Walks and Hit By Pitches, which contribute to run scoring almost as much as singles.

On-Base Percentage fixes one of those flaws by including walks and HBPs into the equation, but it still doesn't account for the differences between walks, HBPs, singles, doubles, triples and home runs. OBP correlates much better with run scoring than Batting Average does.

Slugging Percentage suffers from one of the same flaws as BA by ignoring walks and HBPs, but Slugging Percentage does weight the hit types. So a home run is 4x as valuable as a single while a triple is 3x as valuable and double 2x as valuable as a single. The problem with that is those hit types are not actually worth 4x, 3x and 2x as much as a single in the real world of run scoring. So Slugging Percentage actually overvalues extra-base hits while failing to value walks and HBPs at all. Still, SLG correlates much better with run scoring than Batting Average does and is very close to as accurate as OBP is.

It turns out if you add OBP and SLG together it makes a thing of beauty -- OPS. The flaws in each base stat (OBP + SLG) are canceled out by the overvalues in the opposite stat. For example, since SLG overweights the value of extra-base hits it negates the fact that OBP ignores extra-base hits completely. OPS correlates even better with real-world run scoring better than OBP or SLG do individually.

wOBA is a linear weights stat where each individual event (single, double, triple, home run, walk, HBP etc) is factored into the equation at its proper contribution to run scoring. That is called using "Linear Weights" to establish the value of each event and that is the origin of the "w" in wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average. wOBA also includes Stolen Bases and Caught Stealings, so it is not a pure hitting stat but rather an offensive stat. Intentional Walks do not count, although I think it is debatable that they should count.

Here is the wOBA formula:
wOBA = (0.69×uBB + 0.72×HBP + 0.89×1B + 1.26×2B + 1.60×3B + 2.08×HR + 0.25×SB -0.50×CS) / PA

Those linear weights can change each season based on the run scoring results in the MLB games for that season.

Some versions of wOBA do not include Stolen Bases, while other versions even include Reached-Base-On-Error (RBOE) stats. The FanGraph stats use the formula above that includes SBs, CSs and does not include RBOEs.


Here are the 2012 stats for the Reds hitters and their team ranks for each stat.



Name AVG AVGrank OBP OBPrank SLG SLGrank OPS OPSrank wOBA wOBArank
Joey Votto 0.342 1 0.465 1 0.604 1 1.069 1 0.444 1
Ryan Ludwick 0.266 6 0.335 3 0.549 2 0.885 2 0.370 2
Todd Frazier 0.273 4 0.331 5 0.527 3 0.858 3 0.360 3
Jay Bruce 0.243 8 0.326 6 0.481 4 0.806 4 0.341 4
Brandon Phillips 0.295 2 0.334 4 0.453 5 0.787 5 0.341 4
Drew Stubbs 0.231 10 0.302 9 0.391 8 0.694 10 0.313 6
Scott Rolen 0.240 9 0.320 7 0.388 9 0.708 6 0.309 7
Chris Heisey 0.268 5 0.309 8 0.397 7 0.706 7 0.305 8
Zack Cozart 0.246 7 0.292 11 0.406 6 0.698 9 0.304 9
Ryan Hanigan 0.274 3 0.354 2 0.350 11 0.704 8 0.302 10
Devin Mesoraco 0.218 11 0.297 10 0.367 10 0.664 11 0.281 11
Wilson Valdez 0.216 12 0.246 12 0.241 12 0.487 12 0.218 12
Miguel Cairo 0.154 13 0.176 13 0.212 13 0.387 13 0.175 13

You can see that OPS and wOBA give you almost the exact same order for each player. The notable exception is Drew Stubbs, whose performance rates much better via wOBA than OPS. Much of this difference is likely the Stolen Bases that are included in the wOBA formula. Another interesting tidbit is Ryan Hanigan, who excels in AVG and OBP but lags badly in SLG, OPS and wOBA.

The takeaway is this, while wOBA is considered a more pure, mathematically sound statistic to sabermetricians you can still use the more easily calculated OPS and essentially get the same picture. You can also see how a reliance on AVG would give you a seriously deformed perception of reality.

Valdez and Cairo are far below replacement level according to any statistical measure.:eek:

Why not use that list above as the daily batting order? :confused: Is it too crazy to put that .465 OBP at leadoff? Should we make sure our most productive hitters get the most opportunities?

Another interesting aspect of linear weights is the strikeout. Linear weights can be applied to outs as well as hits. It turns out that a strikeout is no more harmful than other types of outs. We often hear that striking out is worse than hitting into an out because when you strike out you can't advance any runners. But it turns out that striking out also helps you avoid fielder's choice plays where a lead runner gets retired and double plays (not only grounding into double plays but also hitting line drives that cause a runner to get doubled off, or hitting "sac flies" that result in a runner getting thrown out trying to advance). The negative and positive effects of strikeouts cancel each other out and the end result is that strikeouts are just another out.

Wonderful Monds
08-11-2012, 04:26 PM
It's for this reason that I'm not the biggest fan of WAR. Defense and base running are definitely important, but I don't think that they should be weighted exactly the same as offensive contribution. That's where we end up with silly things happening like Brett Gardener being proclaimed a top 5 player in the league.

nate
08-11-2012, 04:26 PM
I posted this earlier in the year but here's a great infographic on how OPS and wOBA weighs events differently.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/woba5.png

Article here (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/a-visual-look-at-woba/).

Raisor
08-11-2012, 05:45 PM
So how different is the top ten list of each stat this year?

nate
08-11-2012, 06:21 PM
So how different is the top ten list of each stat this year?

Excellent question!

By OPS:


Name OPS wOBA
Joey Votto 1.069 0.444
Andrew McCutchen 1.040 0.434
David Ortiz 1.023 0.421
Mike Trout 1.010 0.441
Ryan Braun 0.972 0.410
Miguel Cabrera 0.965 0.405
Carlos Ruiz 0.958 0.407
David Wright 0.952 0.399
Carlos Gonzalez 0.951 0.403
Edwin Encarnacion 0.940 0.400

By wOBA


Name OPS wOBA
Joey Votto 1.069 0.444
Mike Trout 1.010 0.441
Andrew McCutchen 1.040 0.434
David Ortiz 1.023 0.421
Ryan Braun 0.972 0.410
Carlos Ruiz 0.958 0.407
Miguel Cabrera 0.965 0.405
Carlos Gonzalez 0.951 0.403
Edwin Encarnacion 0.940 0.400
David Wright 0.952 0.399

AtomicDumpling
08-12-2012, 12:21 AM
Excellent question!

By OPS:


Name OPS wOBA
Joey Votto 1.069 0.444
Andrew McCutchen 1.040 0.434
David Ortiz 1.023 0.421
Mike Trout 1.010 0.441
Ryan Braun 0.972 0.410
Miguel Cabrera 0.965 0.405
Carlos Ruiz 0.958 0.407
David Wright 0.952 0.399
Carlos Gonzalez 0.951 0.403
Edwin Encarnacion 0.940 0.400

By wOBA


Name OPS wOBA
Joey Votto 1.069 0.444
Mike Trout 1.010 0.441
Andrew McCutchen 1.040 0.434
David Ortiz 1.023 0.421
Ryan Braun 0.972 0.410
Carlos Ruiz 0.958 0.407
Miguel Cabrera 0.965 0.405
Carlos Gonzalez 0.951 0.403
Edwin Encarnacion 0.940 0.400
David Wright 0.952 0.399

So both lists consist of the same 10 players. It goes to show that OPS and wOBA both reach the same conclusions via different methods.

Raisor
08-12-2012, 06:34 AM
The only difference I saw was Easy Edwin Encarnacion on thw wOBA list instead of David Wright. Couple of guys were flip flopped in order also.

RedlegJake
08-12-2012, 11:16 AM
So essentially using OPS is perhaps not as mathematically as exact but arrives at basically the same overall conclusion in cases where the hitter isn't a huge base stealer.

wOBA would help quite a bit for Billy Hamilton types (or Drew Stubbs) who steal a whole lot or hurt guys that get caught a disproportionate amount in quite a few attempts. That alone makes it better in my opinion because it does give those guys their true value and includes the damage they might do if they're caught.

I think intentional walks should be included though. If Joey is considered so dangerous they'd rather walk him I think that should be measured as part of his overall contribution despite the fact it was essentially a gift. It was still largely a cause of his prowess and not always just the situation. They wouldn't walk Miguel Cairo in that situation very often.

Even then, though, it still shows there is no single stat that can be used perfectly by itself to tell you about a player - you still need the individual components to tell how the stat was arrived at. Is he a base stealer, a slugger, a high average high OBP type with little power, etc. Is he a leadoff hitter or a cleanup hitter or a guy to hit 2nd or 5th? I don't think there will ever be a single perfect stat. OPS and wOBA do tell in very general terms is this player good and in general how good? But it really reveals little else without looking further.

AtomicDumpling
08-12-2012, 03:34 PM
So essentially using OPS is perhaps not as mathematically as exact but arrives at basically the same overall conclusion in cases where the hitter isn't a huge base stealer.

wOBA would help quite a bit for Billy Hamilton types (or Drew Stubbs) who steal a whole lot or hurt guys that get caught a disproportionate amount in quite a few attempts. That alone makes it better in my opinion because it does give those guys their true value and includes the damage they might do if they're caught.

I think intentional walks should be included though. If Joey is considered so dangerous they'd rather walk him I think that should be measured as part of his overall contribution despite the fact it was essentially a gift. It was still largely a cause of his prowess and not always just the situation. They wouldn't walk Miguel Cairo in that situation very often.

Even then, though, it still shows there is no single stat that can be used perfectly by itself to tell you about a player - you still need the individual components to tell how the stat was arrived at. Is he a base stealer, a slugger, a high average high OBP type with little power, etc. Is he a leadoff hitter or a cleanup hitter or a guy to hit 2nd or 5th? I don't think there will ever be a single perfect stat. OPS and wOBA do tell in very general terms is this player good and in general how good? But it really reveals little else without looking further.

Good post Jake.

I agree that intentional walks should count in the wOBA formula for the same reasons you mentioned, especially when you consider that many unintentional walks were really intentional in that the pitcher pitched around the hitter and walked him on purpose even though the catcher didn't stand up and stick his glove out to the side -- yet those pitch-around walks do count in the formula. The argument against including intentional walks in the wOBA formula is that they often depend on the hitter's slot in the lineup and whether or not the next hitter is good or not. So the intentional walk is affected by the other players surrounding the hitter in question rather than purely his hitting abilities alone. In a way, you could say the Intentional Walk is a team stat like RBIs or Runs Scored. However, a cursory look around the league will show you that the best hitters tend to get more intentional walks than inferior hitters do, so the skill of the hitter definitely affects his likelihood of receiving an intentional walk. For those reasons I believe the intentional walk should be included in the wOBA formula.

Another factor that should be included in the wOBA formula is PickOffs. Players are penalized for being caught stealing so they should also be penalized for getting picked off -- they have the same affect on the team in terms of run scoring. You could also argue that a player should be penalized more for getting caught stealing third than for trying to steal second because the damage that he did to his team's chances of scoring is greater, the difficulty with that is the Caught Stealing stat does not differentiate the base at which the runner got busted.

mth123
08-12-2012, 03:52 PM
Good post Jake.

I agree that intentional walks should count in the wOBA formula for the same reasons you mentioned, especially when you consider that many unintentional walks were really intentional in that the pitcher pitched around the hitter and walked him on purpose even though the catcher didn't stand up and stick his glove out to the side -- yet those pitch-around walks do count in the formula. The argument against including intentional walks in the wOBA formula is that they often depend on the hitter's slot in the lineup and whether or not the next hitter is good or not. So the intentional walk is affected by the other players surrounding the hitter in question rather than purely his hitting abilities alone. In a way, you could say the Intentional Walk is a team stat like RBIs or Runs Scored. However, a cursory look around the league will show you that the best hitters tend to get more intentional walks than inferior hitters do, so the skill of the hitter definitely affects his likelihood of receiving an intentional walk. For those reasons I believe the intentional walk should be included in the wOBA formula.

Another factor that should be included in the wOBA formula is PickOffs. Players are penalized for being caught stealing so they should also be penalized for getting picked off -- they have the same affect on the team in terms of run scoring. You could also argue that a player should be penalized more for getting caught stealing third than for trying to steal second because the damage that he did to his team's chances of scoring is greater, the difficulty with that is the Caught Stealing stat does not differentiate the base at which the runner got busted.

IMO, all outcomes are impacted by the other hitters. Its fun to try to isolate an individual guy's stats by applying theoretical formulas and the exercise itself can be instructive, but nothing happens in a vacuum and these stats only go so far in telling the tale.

RedsManRick
08-12-2012, 03:57 PM
IMO, all outcomes are impacted by the other hitters. Its fun to try to isolate an individual guy's stats by applying theoretical formulas and the exercise itself can be instructive, but nothing happens in a vacuum and these stats only go so far in telling the tale.

Sure, nothing happens in a vacuum. But over time, most of that extra stuff tends to even out. And unfortunately, the stuff that doesn't even out can skew the traditional stats quite a bit -- particularly HR & RBI due to park effects and RBI opportunities created by teammates.

Obviously no statistic is a perfect representation of reality. But if your'e trying to get a number that does the best job we can at capturing a guy's contributions at the plate, the wOBA approach beats out anything else we've got.

Kc61
08-12-2012, 04:27 PM
In thinking about it, there's no substitute for looking at more granular stats.

OPS, wOBA, both are useful stats when you want a single number to represent a player's offensive output or, in the case of OPS, overall hitting output.

But a single composite number only tells you so much.

You can look at wOBA or OPS, then look at its component parts. You can analyze OBP by looking at walk rate, hit rate, etc. You can break down SLG by looking at extra base hits generally, then homers, then doubles. You can then add the gloss of BA to see how often the batter gets base hits of any type. You can look at K rate, walk rate. You can look at RBI and runs scored, although team dependent. You can look at batted ball percentages.

I think the big advance is that years ago folks thought BA was the best single number catch all stat. Clearly it is not. But to get the full picture of any hitter I think you need more than just a single number bottom line stat.

RedsManRick
08-12-2012, 04:40 PM
In thinking about it, there's no substitute for looking at more granular stats.

OPS, wOBA, both are useful stats when you want a single number to represent a player's offensive output or, in the case of OPS, overall hitting output.

But a single composite number only tells you so much.

You can look at wOBA or OPS, then look at its component parts. You can analyze OBP by looking at walk rate, hit rate, etc. You can break down SLG by looking at extra base hits generally, then homers, then doubles. You can then add the gloss of BA to see how often the batter gets base hits of any type. You can look at K rate, walk rate. You can look at RBI and runs scored, although team dependent. You can look at batted ball percentages.

I think the big advance is that years ago folks thought BA was the best single number catch all stat. Clearly it is not. But to get the full picture of any hitter I think you need more than just a single number bottom line stat.

It all depends on what you're trying to do. Because we can take your argument to the ridiculous extreme and say all we need to know is how many of each kind of event happened. The question you're trying to answer determines what kind of data you need. There are times when you need a measure of overall aggregate production. There are many times when you don't.

AtomicDumpling
08-12-2012, 04:58 PM
In thinking about it, there's no substitute for looking at more granular stats.

OPS, wOBA, both are useful stats when you want a single number to represent a player's offensive output or, in the case of OPS, overall hitting output.

But a single composite number only tells you so much.

You can look at wOBA or OPS, then look at its component parts. You can analyze OBP by looking at walk rate, hit rate, etc. You can break down SLG by looking at extra base hits generally, then homers, then doubles. You can then add the gloss of BA to see how often the batter gets base hits of any type. You can look at K rate, walk rate. You can look at RBI and runs scored, although team dependent. You can look at batted ball percentages.

I think the big advance is that years ago folks thought BA was the best single number catch all stat. Clearly it is not. But to get the full picture of any hitter I think you need more than just a single number bottom line stat.

I agree with you for the most part. There is not one metric that will tell you everything there is to know about a hitter. If you want to know what style of hitter a guy is then you need to look at multiple stats. If you simply want to know which hitter is better then you can get that information real fast by looking at his wOBA or OPS.

If you want to know why one hitter is not as good as another you can look at all his stats to find out where he is lacking. For example, you can examine his BABIP and line drive percentage to see if his wOBA is likely to improve or decline in the future. Or you could look at a hitter and see that he has a good batting average and wonder why his wOBA is so poor, so then you decide to look further at his OBP and SLG to understand that he is a free-swinging slap hitter who doesn't bring anything to the table except weak singles.

I think some people (not you specifically Kc61) want to find a flaw in OPS or wOBA so they can justify a continued faith in batting average as a meaningful statistic. To me the two HUGE flaws in batting average render it not only a useless statistic but even make it a downright misleading statistic that tricks people into making some dead wrong assumptions about certain hitters.

Kc61
08-12-2012, 05:11 PM
The reason I started this thread is because the Reds have some players who are applauded around here because their OPSs are good. In looking deeper, I found a number of them to be strong in the SLG component and relatively weak in the OBP component.

One might surmise, just by looking at the composite numbers, that these guys are all fine.

But when you look at the team as a whole, you get a home run oriented, extra base hit team that doesn't get on base much and hits precious few singles.

Having read the discussion, I think that players with a good OPS and wOBA probably do have more offensive value overall. But the slant towards power and away from OBP is only detected by looking at more granular stats.

I disagree that BA has no value, it is a key component of OBP. So in breaking down a hitter's good OBP or bad OBP, you might look to see if there is a consistent BA pattern and how it factors in.

This discussion is quite interesting to me, but I have one additional question.

What is an acceptable wOBA? I recall reading that the scale mirrors OBP, so that .340 might be good. I think the NL is certainly below that currently on the average. Any insight on that score would be appreciated.

Brutus
08-12-2012, 05:14 PM
The reason I started this thread is because the Reds have some players who are applauded around here because their OPSs are good. In looking deeper, I found a number of them to be strong in the SLG component and relatively weak in the OBP component.

One might surmise, just by looking at the composite numbers, that these guys are all fine.

But when you look at the team as a whole, you get a homer run oriented, extra base hit team that doesn't get on base much and hits precious few singles.

Having read the discussion, I think that players with a good OPS and wOBA probably do have more offensive value overall. But the slant towards power and away from OBP is only detected by looking at more granular stats.

I disagree that BA has no value, it is a key component of OBP. So in breaking down a hitter's good OBP or bad OBP, you might look to see if there is a consistent BA pattern and how it factors in.

This discussion is quite interesting to me, but I have one additional question.

What is an acceptable wOBA? I recall reading that the scale mirrors OBP, so that .340 might be good. I think the NL is certainly below that currently on the average. Any insight on that score would be appreciated.

I believe average is generally just above .330, so anything over .335-.340 would be an above-average hitter.

FWIW, I agree with your thoughts on batting average. I think it's important for guys to put the ball in play and hit the ball hard to all fields. Those extra bases gained by runners advancing over the course of a season can add up.

mth123
08-12-2012, 05:15 PM
It all depends on what you're trying to do. Because we can take your argument to the ridiculous extreme and say all we need to know is how many of each kind of event happened. The question you're trying to answer determines what kind of data you need. There are times when you need a measure of overall aggregate production. There are many times when you don't.

Please provide an example of when we "need" a single measure of aggregate production. If a team is looking to invest talent or money in acquiring or keeping a player or if its trying to size up their own strengths and weaknesses, I'd bet that they look deeper as KC described. If they are looking at situational substitutions, I'd guess that other factors like splits and how a guy does against certain types of pitchers would be important. I honestly can't think of any decision that would require a team to have one all encompassing measure of production for any individual player.

Its nice for fantasy analysis or leagues that determine results based on that stat and sure makes for fun discussion in a bar or on a message board, but I don't really see a "need" for that one all encompasing stat.

nate
08-12-2012, 05:52 PM
Finding wOBA to be the most accurate index of offensive measurement currently available does not mean one dismisses it's components as useless.

jojo
08-12-2012, 09:16 PM
Finding wOBA to be the most accurate index of offensive measurement currently available does not mean one dismisses it's components as useless.

I've never understood that argument when it gets made either.

I guess it's progress. Stats like FIP and wOBA used to be attacked as too granular on redsone in the past. Now thy aren't granular enough. But that's always been the correct approach- looking at a player through multiple metrics, both indices of true skill and luck.

AtomicDumpling
08-12-2012, 09:35 PM
I believe average is generally just above .330, so anything over .335-.340 would be an above-average hitter.

FWIW, I agree with your thoughts on batting average. I think it's important for guys to put the ball in play and hit the ball hard to all fields. Those extra bases gained by runners advancing over the course of a season can add up.

True, those bases do add up and are very important. They are also built into the linear weights of wOBA already. That is why a single is worth .89 runs in the wOBA formula while a walk is worth .69 runs. Since the correct value of hits and walks are already factored into OPS and wOBA there doesn't seem to be any added value in favoring players with good batting averages over players with lower batting averages with similar wOBA scores, in fact doing so is likely to mislead the observer.

AtomicDumpling
08-12-2012, 09:49 PM
Finding wOBA to be the most accurate index of offensive measurement currently available does not mean one dismisses it's components as useless.

True, I don't think anyone has argued that wOBA is the only stat you will ever need. All stats can shed light on the game and help us understand how things work. If you want to understand the complete picture you need to study many different stats. wOBA is the best one-stop-shopping metric to determine who the best and worst players are overall, but if you are building a team or setting a lineup you need to look deeper. For instance, if you are a manager trying to decide which pinch hitter to send to the plate there are many factors to consider above and beyond wOBA or OPS.

The original post in this thread asked the question of whether or not OPS was a misleading stat that could cause some players to be over-rated relative to their real production. So far the posts have shown that OPS and wOBA are very accurate and reliable (though not perfect) and do not have misleading components that could detrimentally affect a team like batting average does.

Why do some people take shots at sabermetric stats as being good for "fantasy baseball" as opposed to real baseball? Does it make sense to accuse people that have a different opinion of being fantasy baseball aficionados instead of intelligent baseball observers? It is ironic because fantasy baseball relies on old-school stats like batting average, RBIs, Saves, Wins and ERA rather than any advanced sabermetric statistics. Fantasy baseball has more in common with the 20th century than the 21st.

Brutus
08-12-2012, 09:51 PM
True, those bases do add up and are very important. They are also built into the linear weights of wOBA already. That is why a single is worth .89 runs in the wOBA formula while a walk is worth .69 runs. Since the correct value of hits and walks are already factored into OPS and wOBA there doesn't seem to be any added value in favoring players with good batting averages over players with lower batting averages with similar wOBA scores, in fact doing so is likely to mislead the observer.

I was more referring to OBP in general, not so much wOBA. You're correct that wOBA is regressed factoring in base/out states, so naturally those bases would be accounted for to a large degree.

RedsManRick
08-12-2012, 10:41 PM
Please provide an example of when we "need" a single measure of aggregate production. If a team is looking to invest talent or money in acquiring or keeping a player or if its trying to size up their own strengths and weaknesses, I'd bet that they look deeper as KC described. If they are looking at situational substitutions, I'd guess that other factors like splits and how a guy does against certain types of pitchers would be important. I honestly can't think of any decision that would require a team to have one all encompassing measure of production for any individual player.

Its nice for fantasy analysis or leagues that determine results based on that stat and sure makes for fun discussion in a bar or on a message board, but I don't really see a "need" for that one all encompasing stat.

Well, voting for an MVP is one place. Deciding how much to pay a guy requires an overall measure of production. Obviously splits are useful, but you need to know what it all adds up to because you have to acquire whole players. I don't think teams look at those aggregate numbers very much -- but they have a place. Really, I can't believe this is a question for debate.

jojo
08-12-2012, 11:19 PM
Please provide an example of when we "need" a single measure of aggregate production.

Think of an aggregate measure such as wOBA as important context as it gives a measure of a player's total offensive value and it allows his total value to be compared to baselines such as league average.

For instance, a 100 RBI season confers certain things about a player's performance.

But consider Ruban Sierra's 1993 season: .233/.280/.390, OPS=.670, wOBA= .296, wRC+ = 83.

He also was a defensive liability.

So a "run producer" viewed through an aggregate prism was actually a below average bat that was overall a pretty glaring liability when looking at his total worth.

Plus Plus
08-13-2012, 12:09 AM
Think of an aggregate measure such as wOBA as important context as it gives a measure of a player's total offensive value and it allows his total value to be compared to baselines such as league average.

For instance, a 100 RBI season confers certain things about a player's performance.

But consider Ruban Sierra's 1993 season: .233/.280/.390, OPS=.670, wOBA= .296, wRC+ = 83.

He also was a defensive liability.

So a "run producer" viewed through an aggregate prism was actually a below average bat that was overall a pretty glaring liability when looking at his total worth.

Just out of curiosity, are there cases where the inverse is or could be true? That is to say, are there players who have had seasons with high wOBAs or OPSs but low "what-did-he-do?" stats such as HR, RBI, R, or BA?

I began to look but quickly realized that I am not very good at finding this.

mth123
08-13-2012, 02:59 AM
Think of an aggregate measure such as wOBA as important context as it gives a measure of a player's total offensive value and it allows his total value to be compared to baselines such as league average.

For instance, a 100 RBI season confers certain things about a player's performance.

But consider Ruban Sierra's 1993 season: .233/.280/.390, OPS=.670, wOBA= .296, wRC+ = 83.

He also was a defensive liability.

So a "run producer" viewed through an aggregate prism was actually a below average bat that was overall a pretty glaring liability when looking at his total worth.

So, in Sierra's case, what conclusion do you reach by looking at wOBA that you wouldn't reach by looking at his other stats? Are you arguing that wOBA is better than RBI? OK. That's like saying a gun is a better weapon than a rock, but sure, I agree.

The argument is that you should look at the components as KC stated in post 20. I prefer that approach as opposed to calculating one "all encompassing" theoretical stat that is somehwat removed from the actual results. I have the same problem with WAR, FIP, xFIP, wRC+, etc. Let me see the pieces and I'll temper them with contextual stuff like BABIP, the parks involved, the player's health, the line-up he's in, his position in it, etc. I don't like that being done for me in a stat that is billed as all encompassing but isn't really all encompassing.

jojo
08-13-2012, 03:50 AM
So, in Sierra's case, what conclusion do you reach by looking at wOBA that you wouldn't reach by looking at his other stats? Are you arguing that wOBA is better than RBI? OK. That's like saying a gun is a better weapon than a rock, but sure, I agree.

The argument is that you should look at the components as KC stated in post 20. I prefer that approach as opposed to calculating one "all encompassing" theoretical stat that is somehwat removed from the actual results. I have the same problem with WAR, FIP, xFIP, wRC+, etc. Let me see the pieces and I'll temper them with contextual stuff like BABIP, the parks involved, the player's health, the line-up he's in, his position in it, etc. I don't like that being done for me in a stat that is billed as all encompassing but isn't really all encompassing.

You asked about the value of an aggregate stat. One of the most powerful pieces of info a good one like wOBA provides is context and it does it away clear and concise way. Another major advantage is that it provides a way to examine total value as a opponent of other aggregate stats (i.e. WAR). Things like wOBA and FIP aren't licenses to ignore the contextual things that might artificially raise or lower the metric's value.

As Nate alluded earlier, I really don't see the argument here.

Kc61
08-13-2012, 06:23 AM
I believe average is generally just above .330, so anything over .335-.340 would be an above-average hitter.

FWIW, I agree with your thoughts on batting average. I think it's important for guys to put the ball in play and hit the ball hard to all fields. Those extra bases gained by runners advancing over the course of a season can add up.

Fangraphs' glossary section does provide a Rule of Thumb scale.

.320 is deemed an average wOBA. .340 above average. .370 great. .400 excellent. (I didn't know excellent was better than great, but whatever.)

.300 is deemed poor. .290 is deemed awful.

When you look at 2012 and plug in the "league stats" (i.e., stats for the entire league) in Fangraphs, you get .312 for the NL in wOBA. You get .320 for the AL. You get .316 for all of MLB.

AmarilloRed
08-13-2012, 10:35 AM
I'll take the other side a bit. BA is very useful for determing how good a hitter someone is. OPS and OBA don't do that in the same respect,they include walks and other things into the calculation. Both of those stats are very good at determing someone's ability to get on base and score runs, it's not as good as BA at determining how much ability they have to hit a baseball. That's the main reason I think BA is still tracked, and why it hasn't been replaced yet.I do see value in the other stats, but I also think BA has just as much value.

jojo
08-13-2012, 10:44 AM
Fangraphs' glossary section does provide a Rule of Thumb scale.

.320 is deemed an average wOBA. .340 above average. .370 great. .400 excellent. (I didn't know excellent was better than great, but whatever.)

.300 is deemed poor. .290 is deemed awful.

When you look at 2012 and plug in the "league stats" (i.e., stats for the entire league) in Fangraphs, you get .312 for the NL in wOBA. You get .320 for the AL. You get .316 for all of MLB.

Average actually "rolls" from year to year with league average. It's easy to calculate by just calculating wOBA for league average stats.

As a measure of "good", "great", or ugly, a difference of . 010 of wOBA translates into roughly 5 runs/600 PAs (i.e. an average full season). Ten runs equals 1 WAR.

So if .320 is average, a wOBA of .340 would be about 1 WAR above average over the course of a season (600 PAs).

The math is actually really easy when it ones to back of the napkin noggin' noodling.

jojo
08-13-2012, 10:48 AM
Just out of curiosity, are there cases where the inverse is or could be true? That is to say, are there players who have had seasons with high wOBAs or OPSs but low "what-did-he-do?" stats such as HR, RBI, R, or BA?

I began to look but quickly realized that I am not very good at finding this.

I can't think of an example of an empty wOBA given what we know about the value of SLG and OBP but people have argued that Ichiro is "empty" because his game has generally lacked power and was driven by singles.

Kc61
08-13-2012, 10:50 AM
How does wRC+ fit into this equation?

jojo
08-13-2012, 11:18 AM
How does wRC+ fit into this equation?

Think of it as a second generation version of Bill James' RC only it is based upon wOBA and is set to league average (i.e. 100 is league average for wRC+).

Here's a link explaining wRC from fangraphs:

http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/offense/wrc/

Scrap Irony
08-13-2012, 11:42 AM
Is there a wOBA+ similar to OPS+ somewhere on the interwebs I can use?

Speaking of, does wOBA take in park effects to its calculations?

Fun with wOBA:
Red ranks per wOBA in major league baseball, by position:
C Hanigan 19th .308
1B Votto 1st .444
2B Phillips 6th .341
3B Rolen 22nd .309
Frazier 5th .364
SS Cozart 16th .300
LF Ludwick 12th .372
CF Stubbs 28th .309
RF Bruce 17th .342

Looks like a bunch of league average with a HUGE hole in CF. (Not that many of us didn't know that already.)

Kc61
08-13-2012, 11:56 AM
Think of it as a second generation version of Bill James' RC only it is based upon wOBA and is set to league average (i.e. 100 is league average for wRC+).

Here's a link explaining wRC from fangraphs:

http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/offense/wrc/

Only thing that doesn't make sense to me is the following. Fangraphs says that wRC+ is set so that 100 is league average.

If you push the "league stats" button on Fangraphs, you get an average wRC+ for the NL of 94 and the AL of 99. And, this is consistent with a simple look at the NL team wRC+s, only two teams are over 100, the average seems surely below 100.

Anyone know the explanation?

jojo
08-13-2012, 11:57 AM
Is there a wOBA+ similar to OPS+ somewhere on the interwebs I can use?

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=17,d

jojo
08-13-2012, 12:00 PM
Only thing that doesn't make sense to me is the following. Fangraphs says that wRC+ is set so that 100 is league average.

If you push the "league stats" button on Fangraphs, you get an average wRC+ for the NL of 94 and the AL of 99. And, this is consistent with a simple look at the NL team wRC+s, only two teams are over 100, the average seems surely below 100.

Anyone know the explanation?

I haven;t really thought much about this but a first guess to give you something to poke at, the difference might be due to individual wRC+'s being park adjusted whereas "league" wRC+ isn't (for obvious reasons). Could be wrong but that's a guess.

Dan
08-13-2012, 12:08 PM
I'll take the other side a bit. BA is very useful for determing how good a hitter someone is. OPS and OBA don't do that in the same respect,they include walks and other things into the calculation. Both of those stats are very good at determing someone's ability to get on base and score runs, it's not as good as BA at determining how much ability they have to hit a baseball. That's the main reason I think BA is still tracked, and why it hasn't been replaced yet.I do see value in the other stats, but I also think BA has just as much value.

Here's how to think about it: baseball has a game clock. That clock ticks 3 times each half inning and 27 times per team per game. Obviously I'm talking about outs. Each out that is made moves the clock one tick closer to ending the inning or the game. You want the clock running as long as possible while at bat and as little as possible while in the field.

As long as the clock is "running" while you're at bat, you have the opportunity to score. The only way to prevent the clock from ticking is to get on base. Thus, while BA is alright as a measurement, OBP is much more valuable. The higher a player's OBP, the less he contributes to the clock ticking down. This results in more opportunities to score runs.

This is also why it's important for players to steal bases at a better than 80% clip, and why bunts are almost never the best way to use an at bat. Caught stealing and sacrifice bunts that don't result in runs are ineffective over the long run.

Kc61
08-13-2012, 12:12 PM
Is there a wOBA+ similar to OPS+ somewhere on the interwebs I can use?

Speaking of, does wOBA take in park effects to its calculations?

Fun with wOBA:
Red ranks per wOBA in major league baseball, by position:
C Hanigan 19th .308
1B Votto 1st .444
2B Phillips 6th .341
3B Rolen 22nd .309
Frazier 5th .364
SS Cozart 16th .300
LF Ludwick 12th .372
CF Stubbs 28th .309
RF Bruce 17th .342

Looks like a bunch of league average with a HUGE hole in CF. (Not that many of us didn't know that already.)

Heisey is .306 wOBA in 278 PAs. Mesoraco is .281 wOBA in 165 PAs. Valdez is .218 wOBA in 130 PAs. Cairo is .182 wOBA in 112 PAs. Among the current bench guys, only XPaul is above average, at .378 wOBA, but only 36 PAs.

These bench numbers pull down the team wOBA, to state the obvious.

Kc61
08-13-2012, 12:19 PM
.

As long as the clock is "running" while you're at bat, you have the opportunity to score. The only way to prevent the clock from ticking is to get on base. Thus, while BA is alright as a measurement, OBP is much more valuable. The higher a player's OBP, the less he contributes to the clock ticking down. This results in more opportunities to score runs.

.

BA as an alternative to OBP is insufficient. Agree.

But BA is useful as a component of OBP. OBP is not only about walking. It's also about getting base hits, including mere singles.

Some people think BA is mostly luck. Sure, homers and strikeouts mean something, but a regular hit baseball may or may not drop in, it's mostly luck, they would argue.

But if you look at hitting safely as a skill, BA is important as a component of OBP, which, in turn, is a component of OPS or wOBA.

As an aside, I think the Reds could use some more BA. Wouldn't hurt.

Dan
08-13-2012, 12:53 PM
BA as an alternative to OBP is insufficient. Agree.

But BA is useful as a component of OBP. OBP is not only about walking. It's also about getting base hits, including mere singles.

Some people think BA is mostly luck. Sure, homers and strikeouts mean something, but a regular hit baseball may or may not drop in, it's mostly luck, they would argue.

But if you look at hitting safely as a skill, BA is important as a component of OBP, which, in turn, is a component of OPS or wOBA.

As an aside, I think the Reds could use some more BA. Wouldn't hurt.

That's a good word. Insufficient. As for batting skill, I'd look at OPS combined with K/BB rate. Most good hitters have a K/BB rate that's 3/1 or less. That is, they K about 3x or less than they walk. The very best hitters tend to walk as much or more than they strike out. The numbers of each don't matter. I'm only talking about ratios.

To bring scouting into this a bit, the reason for that is that a player that walks a bunch knows which pitches are good to swing at and which are not. This comes from pitch anticipation and recognition, and pitch path projection (picking up the spin and speed of the ball to adjust the swing so that the fat part of the bat to hit it). So if a good hitter can use his eye to determine which pitches to swing at and which to not swing at, strike outs tell you how aggressive a player is on pitches he thinks he should swing at. Being aggressive on pitches in the strike zone is key, because they're easier to hit.

Whether batted balls are caught is also somewhat a matter of luck, but the best hitters can usually hit pitches to a general location. Gwynn once talked about watching the fielders as the pitcher released the ball, then adjusting his body mid-swing so that when he made contact, the ball would go away from the moving fielders. Naturally that didn't always work, but it probably got him that extra 1-2 hits per week that let him be a great hitter.

All this talk and we haven't even mentioned about gaming pitchers to get your pitch to hit (being purposely late on a fastball, for instance, to induce the pitcher to try throwing another one, for instance.) It's all a chess match.

Kc61
08-13-2012, 01:27 PM
That's a good word. Insufficient. As for batting skill, I'd look at OPS combined with K/BB rate. Most good hitters have a K/BB rate that's 3/1 or less. That is, they K about 3x or less than they walk. The very best hitters tend to walk as much or more than they strike out. The numbers of each don't matter. I'm only talking about ratios.

.

Fangraphs has a BB/K stat. Of the main Reds hitters this year, Votto and Hanigan are 1.00 or above, so they BB as much as they K.

Mes and Rolen are .50 or more, they BB half as often as they K, a 2 to 1 ratio as you framed it.

Ludwick, Bruce and Phillips are at .40 or better, they strike out slightly more than twice as often as they BB.

The guys who are more than 3 to 1 (Ks to BBs) are Cozart (.30), Stubbs (.32), Valdez (.23), Heisey (.20), Cairo (.15).

This correlates to some extent with OPS for these hitters, with exceptions. Rolen and Mes do better in K/BB than their OPS would show, although each has a relatively low BABIP.

This could be my most sabermetric post, ever.

Dan
08-13-2012, 02:24 PM
Fangraphs has a BB/K stat. Of the main Reds hitters this year, Votto and Hanigan are 1.00 or above, so they BB as much as they K.

Mes and Rolen are .50 or more, they BB half as often as they K, a 2 to 1 ratio as you framed it.

Ludwick, Bruce and Phillips are at .40 or better, they strike out slightly more than twice as often as they BB.

The guys who are more tha 3 to 1 (Ks to BBs) are Cozart (.30), Stubbs (.32), Valdez (.23), Heisey (.20), Cairo (.15).

This correlates to some extent with OPS for these hitters, with exceptions. Rolen and Mes do better in K/BB than their OPS would show, although each has a relatively low BABIP.

This could be my most sabermetric post, ever.

That BB/K ratio is also a pretty good way of projecting prospects through the minors. That's why I'm excited to see Hamilton holding his own at AA and about the possibilities with Winker, while I'm holding my opinion on H-Rod and my breath on Gregarius.

Scrap Irony
08-13-2012, 02:30 PM
These bench numbers pull down the team wOBA, to state the obvious.

If you add Frazier to the bench, it becomes much, much better.

But yeah, I agree-- the bench needs some help.

RedsManRick
08-13-2012, 02:47 PM
Only thing that doesn't make sense to me is the following. Fangraphs says that wRC+ is set so that 100 is league average.

If you push the "league stats" button on Fangraphs, you get an average wRC+ for the NL of 94 and the AL of 99. And, this is consistent with a simple look at the NL team wRC+s, only two teams are over 100, the average seems surely below 100.

Anyone know the explanation?

It's also possible they use the previous year's baseline instead of having a baseline that consistently evolves during the current year. Thus, if offense is down compared to last year, average would be a bit lower.

RedsManRick
08-13-2012, 03:05 PM
BA as an alternative to OBP is insufficient. Agree.

But BA is useful as a component of OBP. OBP is not only about walking. It's also about getting base hits, including mere singles.



Some people think BA is mostly luck. Sure, homers and strikeouts mean something, but a regular hit baseball may or may not drop in, it's mostly luck, they would argue.

I know what you're getting at here, KC, but the reality is that nobody things BA is mostly luck. Nobody is making that argument.


But if you look at hitting safely as a skill, BA is important as a component of OBP, which, in turn, is a component of OPS or wOBA.

As an aside, I think the Reds could use some more BA. Wouldn't hurt.

This is a good summation of things. The reason batting average isn't all that useful form a performance measurement standpoint is two fold:

1.) It excludes one of the two ways of avoiding an out
2.) It treats all hits as equal

Where is average useful? It's useful in understanding the composition of a team's performance. All else being equal, I'll absolutely take a higher average over a lower one. Give me a team that hits .300/.350/.425 over one that hits .250/.350/.425 8 days a week.

The problem is when this turns in to a preference for a team or player that hits .275/.325/.400 over one that hits .250/.335/.420.

The key insight, as you point out, is that hits are biggest component of OBP. The "luck" comes in to play when you try to use a guy's past performance to predict his future performance. Because hits include both the opposing defense and a degree of "random" variation in terms of where the ball goes, given a particular sample of say 600 PA, the "hits" component of OBP is less predictive than the "walks" component.

Or put another way, if we're trying to predict a guy's performance, we need a bigger sample for plate appearances to predict the "hits" part of OBP than we do the "walks" part. I love hitters like Robbie Cano, Ryan Braun and Joey Votto that we know have the skills to hit for a high average on an ongoing basis.

Understanding a guys' "hit" skill a huge part of analyzing his future production. This might be where you'd want to bring batting average in. But looking just at batting average leaves in that stuff (defense & hit location) that don't have as much to do with the guy's skills. If I'm actually takign the time to analyze the guy, why not just look at the drivers of batting average. What pitches does he swing at? How often does he make contact? Does he tend to hit grounders or fly balls? All of this information is freely and easliy accessible.

As a real quick, easy way to get a snapshot of a guy's hit tool or to get a feeling for how he's performed this year, batting average has its place. But once you get beyond that, there are better data to use.

RedsManRick
08-13-2012, 03:06 PM
Fangraphs has a BB/K stat. Of the main Reds hitters this year, Votto and Hanigan are 1.00 or above, so they BB as much as they K.

Mes and Rolen are .50 or more, they BB half as often as they K, a 2 to 1 ratio as you framed it.

Ludwick, Bruce and Phillips are at .40 or better, they strike out slightly more than twice as often as they BB.

The guys who are more than 3 to 1 (Ks to BBs) are Cozart (.30), Stubbs (.32), Valdez (.23), Heisey (.20), Cairo (.15).

This correlates to some extent with OPS for these hitters, with exceptions. Rolen and Mes do better in K/BB than their OPS would show, although each has a relatively low BABIP.

This could be my most sabermetric post, ever.

Looking at K:BB ratio and ISO is a very solid, very quick way to understand what kind of hitter a guy is that strips out some of the more luck driven aspects of performance.

Steve4192
08-14-2012, 09:23 AM
Another interesting aspect of linear weights is the strikeout. Linear weights can be applied to outs as well as hits. It turns out that a strikeout is no more harmful than other types of outs. We often hear that striking out is worse than hitting into an out because when you strike out you can't advance any runners. But it turns out that striking out also helps you avoid fielder's choice plays where a lead runner gets retired and double plays (not only grounding into double plays but also hitting line drives that cause a runner to get doubled off, or hitting "sac flies" that result in a runner getting thrown out trying to advance). The negative and positive effects of strikeouts cancel each other out and the end result is that strikeouts are just another out.

Yes and no.

The problem I have with comparing strikeouts to other kinds of outs is that it treats other outs as a foregone conclusion. It completely filters out the positive results of making contact (namely hits), even weak contact. Putting the bat on the ball is always better because it gives you the opportunity to do something other than make an out. A bloop that drops in, a slow roller that stays fair, a fielding error, etc. Those potential positive benefits FAR outweigh the occasional GIDP or forceout.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these old school fossils that hates the strikeout, I'm just not a fan of the 'same as any other out' theory since it completely ignores the positive outcomes of putting the bat on the ball.

Steve4192
08-14-2012, 09:40 AM
I'll take the other side a bit. BA is very useful for determing how good a hitter someone is. OPS and OBA don't do that in the same respect,they include walks and other things into the calculation. Both of those stats are very good at determing someone's ability to get on base and score runs, it's not as good as BA at determining how much ability they have to hit a baseball.

I would argue strikeout rate tells you more about a hitter's ability to put the bat on the ball than BA does. There are plenty of guys with high BAs who also whiff on a lot of pitches.

Kc61
08-14-2012, 09:49 AM
Yes and no.

The problem I have with comparing strikeouts to other kinds of outs is that it treats other outs as a foregone conclusion. It completely filters out the positive results of making contact (namely hits), even weak contact. Putting the bat on the ball is always better because it gives you the opportunity to do something other than make an out. A bloop that drops in, a slow roller that stays fair, a fielding error, etc. Those potential positive benefits FAR outweigh the occasional GIDP or forceout.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these old school fossils that hates the strikeout, I'm just not a fan of the 'same as any other out' theory since it completely ignores the positive outcomes of putting the bat on the ball.

Here's another way of looking at it. Your point, in different words.

The impact of a strikeout is generally the same as other outs. Yes, it's better than a double play, it's worse than a sacrifice fly (usually), but generally, an out is an out.

The impact of NOT MAKING CONTACT is more serious. It eliminates most positive outcomes for a plate appearance.

The problem with strikeouts is not so much the impact of the K itself, but the fact that the batter failed to make contact.

When people say they don't care about strikeouts, or strikeouts are just like any other out, they are only addressing the impact of the strikeout itself. But the failure to make contact - leading to the strikeout - is clearly a negative.

jojo
08-14-2012, 10:24 AM
Here's another way of looking at it. Your point, in different words.

The impact of a strikeout is generally the same as other outs. Yes, it's better than a double play, it's worse than a sacrifice fly (usually), but generally, an out is an out.

The impact of NOT MAKING CONTACT is more serious. It eliminates most positive outcomes for a plate appearance.

The problem with strikeouts is not so much the impact of the K itself, but the fact that the batter failed to make contact.

When people say they don't care about strikeouts, or strikeouts are just like any other out, they are only addressing the impact of the strikeout itself. But the failure to make contact - leading to the strikeout - is clearly a negative.

The value of contact is included in the run values derived from base/out states. When averaged over all situations, the value of a strikeout is not really different than the value of a contact out. That said, I think clearly a poor power/poor contact approach is a losing proposition and a plus-plus power/poor contact approach can be very valuable. There are lots of combinations in the middle that can be impactful (i.e. overall there is more than one way to skin a cat with many routes adding up to a valuable approach).

Here's a link that you should find very interesting though because it seems to be very on target with your argument about contact:

http://www.tangotiger.net/strikeout.html

Kc61
08-14-2012, 10:45 AM
The value of contact is included in the run values derived from base/out states. When averaged over all situations, the value of a strikeout is not really different than the value of a contact out. That said, I think clearly a poor power/poor contact approach is a losing proposition and a plus-plus power/poor contact approach can be very valuable. There are lots of combinations in the middle that can be impactful (i.e. overall there is more than one way to skin a cat with many routes adding up to a valuable approach).

Here's a link that you should find very interesting though because it seems to be very on target with your argument about contact:

http://www.tangotiger.net/strikeout.html

Very interesting article reflecting a study indicating that a drop in Ks may result in a higher BA and wOBA, an increase in Ks may result in a a lower BA and wOBA.

_Sir_Charles_
08-14-2012, 11:07 AM
Is it just me or is this entire thread filled to bursting with nerds and geeks?

Just kidding. Very interesting discussion...keep it rolling.

Steve4192
08-14-2012, 11:45 AM
The value of contact is included in the run values derived from base/out states. When averaged over all situations, the value of a strikeout is not really different than the value of a contact out.

I don't dispute that.

Problem is, 'contact out' is defined by events that happen after the bat is placed on the ball that the batter has no control over. Strikeout is defined by the batters own actions (whiffing on a pitch). By using the term 'contact outs', you are basically filtering out all the positive things that can happen when a batter makes contact and only keeping the unfortunate afterbirth.

I have no problem with saying that failed contact situations are no better than no-contact situations. But contact should always be preferable to no-contact, simply because something positive can come out of contact. The same can not be said of strikeouts.

jojo
08-14-2012, 11:49 AM
I don't dispute that.

Problem is, 'contact out' is defined by events that happen after the bat is placed on the ball that the batter has no control over. Strikeout is defined by the batters own actions (whiffing on a pitch). By using the term 'contact outs', you are basically filtering out all the positive things that can happen when a batter makes contact and only keeping the unfortunate afterbirth.

I have no problem with saying that failed contact situations are no better than no-contact situations. But contact should always be preferable to no-contact, simply because something positive can come out of contact. The same can not be said of strikeouts.

Batters have significantly more control over the fate of a batted ball than pitchers do.

Batters can sustain significant deviations from .300 in BABIP. Pitchers as a group do not demonstrate such an ability.

AmarilloRed
08-14-2012, 01:44 PM
I would argue strikeout rate tells you more about a hitter's ability to put the bat on the ball than BA does. There are plenty of guys with high BAs who also whiff on a lot of pitches.

I'll argue that point. A high BA means you'll be making less outs, all outs as well as strikeouts. If either Bruce or Stubbs could hit for a .300 BA, I expect you'd see a big drop in their strikeouts-as their plate discipline would have improved markedly. I don't expect that to happen though.

Kc61
08-14-2012, 02:01 PM
If anyone is knowledgeable on defense and park adjusted pitching stats, that would be a good way to move the discussion along. I know FIP and xFIP, ESPN uses DIP% (the Reds fare better in DIP%), anyone with knowledge about these stats a primer would be helpful to many of us. Thanks.

Dan
08-14-2012, 02:13 PM
I'll argue that point. A high BA means you'll be making less outs, all outs as well as strikeouts. If either Bruce or Stubbs could hit for a .300 BA, I expect you'd see a big drop in their strikeouts-as their plate discipline would have improved markedly. I don't expect that to happen though.

Would you say a player that strikes out 130 times or more in a season is not a good hitter in general?

Kc61
08-14-2012, 02:35 PM
Would you say a player that strikes out 130 times or more in a season is not a good hitter in general?

To interject, I don't know how anyone could make such a generalization.

Right now, of the top 30 in MLB in strikeouts, many of them are big home run hitters. 3 have 30 or more homers. 11 have 20-29 homers. 6 have 15-19 homers.

So 20 of the 30 top K men have 15 or more home runs.

I've always thought you need to look at what a player does to compensate for the strikeouts. Some players compensate fairly easily with long balls. It only takes 40 at bats to hit 40 homers so a high K man has plenty of chances to hit the long ball.

At the same time, high strikeout hitters may have difficulty in other areas. Of the top 30 K men in MLB this year, less than half have an .800 OPS or better. Only three have .850 OPS or better. Only 11 of the top 30 K men have an OBP of .340 or better.

On the BA side, not one of the top 30 K men in MLB is hitting .300 or better. Only two, Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton are hitting .290 or better.

So you have to look at the whole picture, but it seems tough to be a high average or high OBP man if you are also a high K person. It may be more likely a hitter can compensate with power.

Dan
08-14-2012, 03:04 PM
To interject, I don't know how anyone could make such a generalization.

Right now, of the top 30 in MLB in strikeouts, many of them are big home run hitters. 3 have 30 or more homers. 11 have 20-29 homers. 6 have 15-19 homers.

So 20 of the 30 top K men have 15 or more home runs.

I've always thought you need to look at what a player does to compensate for the strikeouts. Some players compensate fairly easily with long balls. It only takes 40 at bats to hit 40 homers so a high K man has plenty of chances to hit the long ball.

At the same time, high strikeout hitters may have difficulty in other areas. Of the top 30 K men in MLB this year, less than half have an .800 OPS or better. Only three have .850 OPS or better. Only 11 of the top 30 K men have an OBP of .340 or better.

On the BA side, not one of the top 30 K men in MLB is hitting .300 or better. Only two, Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton are hitting .290 or better.

So you have to look at the whole picture, but it seems tough to be a high average or high OBP man if you are also a high K person. It may be more likely a hitter can compensate with power.

You're right. But it looked like AmarilloRed was making just that generalization, saying that as batting average goes up, strikeouts go down. And that's just not the case. The player I was thinking of with 130 (really 129) was Votto last year. And he's arguably the best hitter in baseball. I was trying to get Amarillo to do what you say, and look at the entire picture and not just focus on strikeouts. :beerme:

RedsManRick
08-14-2012, 03:13 PM
Would you say a player that strikes out 130 times or more in a season is not a good hitter in general?

The very best hitters in baseball:
- Hit for a high average
- Take walks
- Hit for power

Striking out that many times makes it difficult to hit for a high average. Given that, it would be difficult for that player to be among the very, very best hitters in baseball. However, if he takes enough walks to keep his on base average up and he hits for power when he does connect, he can still be a very productive hitter.

130 strikeouts over 650 plate appearances equates to a player striking out 20% of the time. Last year, 7 of the top 30 players with the highest wOBA met or exceeded that strikeout rate:


Name wOBA K% BB% ISO BABIP
Matt Kemp .419 23.1% 10.7% .262 .380
Curtis Granderson .394 24.5% 12.3% .290 .295
Michael Morse .387 21.9% 6.3% .247 .344
Alex Avila .383 23.8% 13.2% .211 .366
Alex Gordon .382 20.1% 9.7% .200 .358
Mike Stanton .378 27.6% 11.6% .275 .314
Corey Hart .373 20.7% 9.3% .226 .323


All of them hit for very good power. Most of them walked a good amount. Some of them had abnormally high BABIPs that represent some combination of just making a lot of really good contact and luck.

Bottom line, striking out a lot makes it harder to be an elite hitter. But it certainly doesn't prevent you from being one. If you have two guys who are otherwise exactly the same, the guy who strikes out less is better. But that is never reality and focusing on skill/outcome instead of the whole package is a good way to unnecessarily limit the pool of talent you want to play in.

Big Klu
08-14-2012, 03:13 PM
Is it just me or is this entire thread filled to bursting with nerds and geeks?

Just kidding. Very interesting discussion...keep it rolling.

http://www.ourhonordefend.com/wp-content/uploads/nerds.jpg

AmarilloRed
08-14-2012, 03:17 PM
You're right. But it looked like AmarilloRed was making just that generalization, saying that as batting average goes up, strikeouts go down. And that's just not the case. The player I was thinking of with 130 (really 129) was Votto last year. And he's arguably the best hitter in baseball. I was trying to get Amarillo to do what you say, and look at the entire picture and not just focus on strikeouts. :beerme:

I don't believe I was the one who raised the issue of strikeout rate vs. BA-that was Steve. I do believe you will see less strikeouts if you raise your BA from the low .200s up to .300-but players strike out more now than they did in the past.It used to be an emabarassment if a player struck out 100 times or more in a season-that's not the case now. It's also the case that you're simply not going to see as many players hit .300, .280 or .290 is more the norm now. I simply want to make the point that I feel BA is very important in determining a hitter's skill, IMO.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 03:41 PM
Yes and no.

The problem I have with comparing strikeouts to other kinds of outs is that it treats other outs as a foregone conclusion. It completely filters out the positive results of making contact (namely hits), even weak contact. Putting the bat on the ball is always better because it gives you the opportunity to do something other than make an out. A bloop that drops in, a slow roller that stays fair, a fielding error, etc. Those potential positive benefits FAR outweigh the occasional GIDP or forceout.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these old school fossils that hates the strikeout, I'm just not a fan of the 'same as any other out' theory since it completely ignores the positive outcomes of putting the bat on the ball.

The "positive results of making contact" are already factored into the wOBA score so it is not correct to give a hitter extra credit for making contact. Those "other outs" actually are a foregone conclusion.

In other words, the bloops that drop in, the slow rollers that stay fair etc are already being counted as base hits and the hitter has already received full credit for those in his wOBA score.

It sounds like you are arguing that some of the outs a hitter made were not really outs because he didn't strike out.

Secondly, you say "putting the bat on the ball is always better because it gives you the opportunity to do something other than make an out" and you are 50% correct. It does give you an opportunity but the result is not always better. The part you don't mention is that putting the bat on the ball also gives you the opportunity to do something far worse than striking out. You can hit into a fielder's choice play where the lead runner in scoring position gets thrown out instead of the hitter, which is a far more damaging outcome than a strikeout. Putting the bat on the ball also gives you the opportunity to hit into a double play -- not only a traditional ground ball double play but also a line-drive double play where an infielder catches a line drive and doubles off a runner, or a failed sacrifice fly double play where an outfielder catches a fly ball and guns down a runner at 3rd base or home plate. All of these happen many times every day in MLB and they all cause far more damage to a team's run scoring chances than a mere strikeout does. When considering the good things that happen from making contact you also have to consider the bad things that can and do happen. When both the good and bad outcomes from avoiding strikeouts are all factored in to the equation it turns out that strikeouts are no worse than contact outs. This has been proven mathematically by using the results of thousands of real MLB games. You can read The Book by Tom Tango to see how it was done. Other groups have proven this as well but The Book is the most common resource.

The linear weights of various outcomes (such as strikeouts and hits) are measures of what actually occurred on the field in real MLB games, so we don't have to guess what happened after contact was made because we already know.

What the data show is that for many hitters who try to cut down on their strikeouts and make more contact it can actually harm their offensive production by reducing their frequency of extra-base hits and drastically reduce their SLG, OPS and wOBA. Another factor is that players who often go deep into counts tend to both strike out more and walk more. So if a hitter makes an effort to make more contact he not only reduces his chances of striking out he is also reducing his chances of walking, which can lead to a lower OBP even though he is making more contact.

Statistics show us what has already happened, they don't necessarily predict what is going to happen in the future. wOBA, OPS and the linear weight of a strikeout (that proves Ks are no more or less harmful than other outs) are recorded history and the results can't be disputed. Now as a player you can take that history and learn from it and decide to make an alteration to your hitting approach to see if it improves your results in the future. For instance, if you think you are striking out too much you can alter your approach to maximize your contact rate and see if that helps your overall production (wOBA) or not. Depending on how much power and speed you have it might work or it might not. You will have to track your wOBA for an extended period after the adjustment to find out. You can't just assume that a better contact rate will always equal a better wOBA because that is not true. Some of the most productive hitters in the history of the game struck out a lot. The list of all-time strikeout leaders reads like a Hall of Fame lineup. The top 50 strikeout leaders are nearly all Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers or almost Hall of Famers. There are a lot of major league hitters out there that can compensate for high strikeout rates by hitting for power and taking walks. After all, it is the doubles and home runs that really put runs on the scoreboard for their teams much more effectively than the bloopers that fall in or the swinging bunts they beat out.

For the average human it is a good idea to maximize contact at the plate. But for those truly special players with incredible power it would be foolish for them to go to the plate just looking to maximize contact. If you have the ability to hit the ball hard then wait for your pitch and hit the ball hard and good things will happen despite the strikeouts.

Keep in mind that when changing a hitter's approach to maximize contact and reduce strikeouts it is not going to only change the outcome on the occasions when he makes contact instead of striking out. Changing his approach will also have an effect on the balls he would have hit well using his old approach. Cutting down on his strikeouts may also have the unintended side affect of cutting down on his extra base hits and walks.

So now we have shown that changing your approach to avoid striking out can hurt your team's chances of scoring (by hitting into more double plays and fielder's choices) and it can also hurt the individual hitter's statistics. When advocating for increased contact and fewer strikeouts a person should be fully aware of the positive and the negative effects this change in approach can bring to the table. Too often we hear commentators talking about the good things that can happen by just making contact, but rarely do we hear anyone talk about the bad things that can happen.

Cooper
08-14-2012, 03:58 PM
I also believe much of what steve4192 is saying (at least i think i do). I don't need the speech about K's being just like any other out -i agree with that, but contact does support an opportunity to have an increased babip, as well as ROE, and a productive out ( i know, i know).

Steve4192
08-14-2012, 04:02 PM
I don't think that is true at all. The "positive results of making contact" are already factored into the wOBA score so it is not correct to give a hitter extra credit for making contact.


I understand that.

I wasn't talking about wOBA at all. I was going off on an unrelated tangent in regards strikeouts versus contact-based outs. All I am saying is that making contact is superior to swinging and missing. I find the entire concept of 'contact outs' to be silly, since the batter has very little control over what happens after he makes contact. If you put the ball in play, good things can happen. If you don't put the ball in play, nothing good can happen.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 05:10 PM
I don't believe I was the one who raised the issue of strikeout rate vs. BA-that was Steve. I do believe you will see less strikeouts if you raise your BA from the low .200s up to .300-but players strike out more now than they did in the past.It used to be an emabarassment if a player struck out 100 times or more in a season-that's not the case now. It's also the case that you're simply not going to see as many players hit .300, .280 or .290 is more the norm now. I simply want to make the point that I feel BA is very important in determining a hitter's skill, IMO.

Would you hire a cashier who thought all coins had the same value?

Would you use a hitting statistic that thinks all hits have the same value?

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 05:12 PM
I understand that.

I wasn't talking about wOBA at all. I was going off on an unrelated tangent in regards strikeouts versus contact-based outs. All I am saying is that making contact is superior to swinging and missing. I find the entire concept of 'contact outs' to be silly, since the batter has very little control over what happens after he makes contact. If you put the ball in play, good things can happen. If you don't put the ball in play, nothing good can happen.

.. and bad things can happen too. Some of them are far, far worse than striking out. That seems to be the part that people don't think about.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 05:24 PM
If anyone is knowledgeable on defense and park adjusted pitching stats, that would be a good way to move the discussion along. I know FIP and xFIP, ESPN uses DIP% (the Reds fare better in DIP%), anyone with knowledge about these stats a primer would be helpful to many of us. Thanks.


I will cut and paste a post from an old thread in here to address your questions. It explains the differences between FIP, xFIP and SIERA as advanced pitching statistics that are more predictive of future pitching performance than ERA or WHIP.



You touched on a key point regarding McCarthy's FIP of 2.86, which was 5th-best in baseball last year. The number of home runs a pitcher allows is a big component of the FIP formula. However in reality the pitcher does not have much control over his HR/FB rate, so there is a considerable luck variable in his HR rate. (Pitchers give up more/less home runs per fly ball based on luck rather than skill.) HR rate is also strongly affected by ballpark, which works in McCarthy's favor as well because he pitches in Oakland's huge yard.

That is where xFIP comes in to save the day. xFIP uses a regression factor to compensate for the wild extremes a pitcher sees in his HR rate from season to season and ballpark to ballpark. McCarthy's xFIP was 3.30 in 2011, which was 19th-best in baseball -- still very good but not sensational like his FIP was.

Then there is SIERA, which factors in batted ball types (ground balls, fly balls and line drives) into the equation, unlike FIP and xFIP which only consider strikeouts, walks, HBP and home runs. FIP and xFIP assume league-average BABIPs for all pitchers. SIERA assumes better BABIPs for high-strikeout pitchers. McCarthy's SIERA was 3.49 and was 30th-best in baseball -- still very good but not nearly as impressive as his FIP.

McCarthy's stellar FIP was driven primarily by his fantastic walk rate of 1.32 walks per nine innings, which was 3rd best in baseball behind Josh Tomlin and Dan Haren. Once you factor in his mediocre strikeout rate and lucky HR/FB rate his xFIP and SIERA begin to fall back to the pack. It appears some of the changes he made in his philosophy were more effective than others in improving his performance. The reduced walks were more effective than the improved ground ball rate.

The key things a pitcher needs to control in order of importance are his strikeouts per nine innings, his walks per nine innings and his ground ball to fly ball ratio. Pitchers that are effective in those ratios are likely to consistently have good seasons. Pitchers who lag in one or more of those categories may have good seasons here or there if they get BABIP-lucky or home run rate lucky, but by and large will be less effective. Roy Halladay, Zach Greinke, Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez and Dan Haren are the consistently good studs of SIERA. Guys like Jair Jurrjens, Jeremy Hellickson and even Johnny Cueto to some extent may be expected to see significant performance drops from the great stats they put up in 2011.

FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant
xFIP = ((13*(FB% * League-average HR/FB rate))+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant

SIERA has proven more accurate in predicting ERA than either FIP or xFIP.

It is interesting that Cueto is outperforming his SIERA again this year. I think one key reason for that is his spectacular ability to control the running game. He has not given up a steal of second or third base all season while 8 runners who attempted to steal were thrown out. Plus he has picked off 7 runners. That is a total of 15 base runners who reached base against him but were subsequently eliminated and created an out for their teams. That is a huge bonus for Cueto and the Reds.

RedsManRick
08-14-2012, 05:44 PM
It is interesting that Cueto is outperforming his SIERA again this year. I think one key reason for that is his spectacular ability to control the running game. He has not given up a steal of second or third base all season while 8 runners who attempted to steal were thrown out. Plus he has picked off 7 runners. That is a total of 15 base runners who reached base against him but were subsequently eliminated and created an out for their teams. That is a huge bonus for Cueto and the Reds.

Great insight. I don't know what "replacement level" looks like in terms of controlling the running game, but that's more than half a games' worth of "extra" outs that won't show up elsewhere. That along with whatever control pitchers have over sequencing (stranding runners) makes up a a decent chunk of the difference between actual results and SIERRA or FIP.

That seems ripe for a study, though controlling for the catcher could be tough.

It's interesting, Fangraphs' uses FIP as their basis for pitcher WAR. Baseball-Reference uses runs allowed. Both approaches have pros and cons* and both sites are completely above board on how they do it. Tom Tango recommends taking the average of the two.

*Fangraphs omits things that we know matter and are within the pitchers control, but can't measure well. Baseball-Reference includes things that we know are outside of the pitchers control, giving the pitcher credit for both his defense and luck.

Personally, I prefer the Fangraphs approach because at least we know where we're starting and we can make adjustments to account for things we think are missing as we see fit. With the B-R approach, it's hard to extract the extra things.

Kc61
08-14-2012, 05:48 PM
It is interesting that Cueto is outperforming his SIERA again this year. I think one key reason for that is his spectacular ability to control the running game. He has not given up a steal of second or third base all season while 8 runners who attempted to steal were thrown out. Plus he has picked off 7 runners. That is a total of 15 base runners who reached base against him but were subsequently eliminated and created an out for their teams. That is a huge bonus for Cueto and the Reds.

Cueto's SIERA is 3.67. His xFIP is 3.66. His FIP is 3.04. His ERA is 2.45.

When you say he is outperforming his SIERA I assume you are comparing it to his FIP and/or ERA.

I find that Reds pitchers usually have a higher FIP than ERA because the defense is very good, so the ERA reflects that good fielding, the FIP doesn't.

Usually xFIP is LOWER than FIP for Reds pitchers because xFIP compensates for the Reds home run stadium. Not in Cueto's case this year. Probably because he has allowed so few homers, only 8, 4 home and 4 away, the impact is different.

Notably the impact of SIERA on Cueto v. his xFIP is nill this year. Perhaps means that batted ball type doesn't have much impact, a good distribution by Johnny.

Thanks for the cut and paste, I'm learning a lot in this thread.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 05:51 PM
Great insight. I don't know what "replacement level" looks like in terms of controlling the running game, but that's more than half a games' worth of "extra" outs that won't show up elsewhere. That along with whatever control pitchers have over sequencing (stranding runners) makes up a a decent chunk of the difference between actual results and SIERRA or FIP.

That seems ripe for a study, though controlling for the catcher could be tough.

It's interesting, Fangraphs' uses FIP as their basis for pitcher WAR. Baseball-Reference uses runs allowed. Both approaches have pros and cons* and both sites are completely above board on how they do it. Tom Tango recommends taking the average of the two.

*Fangraphs omits things that we know matter and are within the pitchers control, but can't measure well. Baseball-Reference includes things that we know are outside of the pitchers control, giving the pitcher credit for both his defense and luck.

Personally, I prefer the Fangraphs approach because at least we know where we're starting and we can make adjustments to account for things we think are missing as we see fit. With the B-R approach, it's hard to extract the extra things.

Yes the catcher is definitely part of it so I shouldn't have given all the credit to Cueto for his success in controlling the running game.

In fact the entire Reds defensive unit is a big reason Cueto can outperform his FIP, xFIP and SIERA each year. Those stats are after all called Fielding Independent Pitching stats because they are attempting to quantify how much of a pitcher's ERA is really due to his skill and pitching ability rather than the result of his team's defense and his ballpark's size and environment. So a pitcher that plays for a good fielding team in a big, sea-level ballpark is likely to outperform his SIERA. Cueto has the advantage of excellent defense behind him, but has the disadvantage of a hitter-friendly ballpark.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 05:59 PM
Cueto's SIERA is 3.67. His xFIP is 3.66. His FIP is 3.04. His ERA is 2.45.

When you say he is outperforming his SIERA I assume you are comparing it to his FIP and/or ERA.

I find that Reds pitchers usually have a higher FIP than ERA because the defense is very good, so the ERA reflects that good fielding, the FIP doesn't.

Usually xFIP is LOWER than FIP for Reds pitchers because xFIP compensates for the Reds home run stadium. Not in Cueto's case this year. Probably because he has allowed so few homers, only 8, 4 home and 4 away, the impact is different.

Notably the impact of SIERA on Cueto v. his xFIP is nill this year. Perhaps means that batted ball type doesn't have much impact, a good distribution by Johnny.

Thanks for the cut and paste, I'm learning a lot in this thread.

I think you picked up on it real fast. Everything you said is correct.

Steve4192
08-14-2012, 06:05 PM
.. and bad things can happen too. Some of them are far, far worse than striking out. That seems to be the part that people don't think about.

Of course bad things can also happen, but ONLY bad things can happen when you strike out. A strikeout is 100% likely to use up an out. Making contact is less than 70% likely to use up an out. I'll gladly take the occasional GIDP and force-out if I can improve my odds of not using up an out at all.

AtomicDumpling
08-14-2012, 06:18 PM
Of course bad things can also happen, but the ONLY bad things can happen when you strike out. A strikeout is 100% likely to use up an out. Making contact is less than 70% likely to use up an out. I'll gladly take the occasional GIDP and force-out if I can improve my odds of not using up an out at all.

Ok, just remember that in addition to possibly making two outs instead of just one you are also eliminating an extremely valuable runner who is often on 3rd or 2nd base, which greatly harms the base-out state and slaughters your teams run expectancy (and win expectancy) for that inning. That double play or fielder's choice that eliminates a lead runner is far more harmful than an extra single is beneficial. What that means is it takes 3 or 4 extra singles to compensate for 1 extra fielder's choice or double-play.

The overall math has proven that strikeouts are not worse than other outs on average over the course of a season. If you factor in the harm that maximizing contact can inflict on your SLG and wOBA it becomes even less wise to alter your approach.

RedsManRick
08-14-2012, 06:39 PM
Of course bad things can also happen, but ONLY bad things can happen when you strike out. A strikeout is 100% likely to use up an out. Making contact is less than 70% likely to use up an out. I'll gladly take the occasional GIDP and force-out if I can improve my odds of not using up an out at all.

It's easy to talk about individual outcomes and which ones we prefer. Sure, a ball in play is better than a strikeout -- no question. But the reality is that we never have an opportunity to choose between those two things.

We choose between players. And players are a complex system of skills and approach that combine to create a set of plate appearance outcomes. While it's fun to imagine what would happen if we could just get a player to trade some of his strikeouts for contact without lowering the quality of contact and without lowering his walk rate, every single person on this board would be behind it.

But it doesn't work that way. You simply cannot change one part of what a hitter does without affecting the rest. And once you have two hitters who put up similar OBP and SLG, how they go about making their outs doesn't really have any bearing on their overall productivity.

In that strikeouts limit a player's ability to get on base, they're bad. But if the player offsets the strikeouts with walks and/or power, he (and the team) come out ahead.

On the flip side, you can be one of the better contact hitters in the game, like Ichiro, and still put up a craptastic .263/.290/.360, .284 wOBA -- good for the 12th worst wOBA in baseball this year. Yes, balls in play are better than strikeouts. And if a player could trade strikeouts for balls in play without affecting the quality of the balls he hits or his walk rate, he'd a more productive player. But that's not a trade that an individual player can make (or he likely would have already done so), nor can a team choose when it gets which outcome.

If you're in a situation in which a ball in play is of particular value (e.g. bottom of the 9th, tie game, runner on 3rd base, 1 out), by all means don't bring in your strikeout king to pinch hit. But the rest of the time, it's simply a distinction that isn't worth worrying about and which often results in us ignoring something that really matters.

defender
08-14-2012, 06:49 PM
Batting average measures an important part of offensive production. Players that are very good at BA are productive hitters. BA is less helpful looking at players who are less good at BA. If we know a guy hits .271, I am sure many of us would trade Miguel Cairo for him, but it is not really that much information.

OPS is a very good measure of production. The fact that a player can OPS >1.000 is all you need to know he is an MVP candidate. As OPS gets lower, it gives us less information. As Kc noted players who OPS is heavy on SLG will be over rated by OPS.

wOBA is a good measure of production, but still gets less useful when used to evaluate players who are less good at it. No one statistic is good for all players, because players are in the lineup for different reasons.

Each statistic is best at measuring players good at that stat. Each player should be judged on what he is good at (the reasons he is on the team).

AmarilloRed
08-14-2012, 11:18 PM
Would you hire a cashier who thought all coins had the same value?

Would you use a hitting statistic that thinks all hits have the same value?

Apples and oranges. BA is a part of OPS and OBA, but BA doesn't throw walks into the calculation, so there are aspects of those stats that don't conform to hitting ability. I recognize BA has it's limitations, but you can say the same for OBP and OPS. It takes no hitting ability to draw a walk, unless you include plate discipline.

HokieRed
08-15-2012, 09:19 AM
Apples and oranges. BA is a part of OPS and OBA, but BA doesn't throw walks into the calculation, so there are aspects of those stats that don't conform to hitting ability. I recognize BA has it's limitations, but you can say the same for OBP and OPS. It takes no hitting ability to draw a walk, unless you include plate discipline.

Not sure of last statement here. If I am pitching to a player who has no hitting ability, I can assure you he will never walk.

RedlegJake
08-15-2012, 01:57 PM
Historically, I think there is an important function here that can't be ignored either, that is, pitchers throw much harder now as a group than they did in the twenties/thirties when there were so many amazing low strikeout high average hitters. Hitters could use heavier bats, lower bat speed and place hits much more successfully when the average pitched ball was maybe low 80s to mid 80s and only a rare Lefty Grove or Walter Johnson got it into the 90s. Much easier to be a prima dona about striking out. There is a definite historical rising curve to overall strikeouts as pitchers across the board became bigger, stronger and threw harder and harder. It's not as easy to be a Wee Willie Keeler or even a Tony Gwynn in today's game. And look at what we call low strikeout totals today - 50? 60? a season. That would have been a fairly high total in the 20s or 30s. I think that's what made Ichiro so amazing in his prime- a rare ability to slap at the ball that just isn't supposed to be able to be done anymore with any success. He would probably have hit .420 in the twenties or thirties. Again pitch recognition is a lot easier when the ball is going 15-20 mph slower out of the pitcher's hand.

Kc61
08-15-2012, 02:27 PM
I've been reading about WAR (the baseball kind). Is WAR for an offensive player impacted by number of plate appearances? Is it a "counting stat" in any way?

I've noticed that Votto's WAR for this year is 4.8 but in the last two years (working backwards) was 6.9 and 7.3. Does his injury and reduced PAs figure into this?

I would note that Votto's wOBA is higher in 2012 than the two previous years. Yet his WAR is the lowest in 2012.

Would appreciate info, thanks.

jojo
08-15-2012, 02:34 PM
I've been reading about WAR (the baseball kind). Is WAR for an offensive player impacted by number of plate appearances? Is it a "counting stat" in any way?

I've noticed that Votto's WAR for this year is 4.8 but in the last two years (working backwards) was 6.9 and 7.3. Does his injury figure into this?

I would note that Votto's wOBA is higher this year than the two previous years. Yet his WAR is the lowest in 2012.

Would appreciate info, thanks.

WAR is basically a rate stat that summarizes a player's total value over a discrete amount of playing time. So yes, playing time matters (that's why you'll often see me compare productivity on a per 600 PA basis).

Kc61
08-15-2012, 02:38 PM
WAR is basically a rate stat that summarizes a player's total value over a discrete amount of playing time. So yes, playing time matters (that's why you'll often see me compare productivity on a per 600 PA basis).

I see. So when WAR is translated into "wins" that number will be dependent on playing time.

Is there a stat (e.g., WAR/600 or the equivalent) that projects wins over a "full season"?

jojo
08-15-2012, 03:48 PM
I see. So when WAR is translated into "wins" that number will be dependent on playing time.

Is there a stat (e.g., WAR/600 or the equivalent) that projects wins over a "full season"?

Not that I can think of off of the top of my head... you can rough justice an estimate by dividing his WAR by PA and then multiplying by 600.

UZR/150 is essentially normalized for 600 PAs of playing time. So another approach is to use wOBA to calculate runs/600 PAs above average and add that to his UZR/150, correct for position, then add 20 runs for the difference between average and replacement level and you'll get something close to what his full blown WAR would be. It sounds alot harder than it actually is-really.

Here's another wrinkle to consider. A player could have more WAR through May then he does through June for instance, if he had a stellar May but an abysmal June. In other words, Dunn has actually lost some WAR given his recent very poor performance. In other words, while WAR is dependent upon playing time (assuming a constant level of performance, his WAR will increase with playing time) but it's also dependent upon the level of performance. I think this is intuitive but it's easy to forget.