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Thread: SLGBIP

  1. #1
    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    SLGBIP

    In a game last week, a big argument started over Masset and whether or not he's been any good, and/or will be any good the season. It basically boiled down to an argument that many have been having here and other baseball forums for awhile.

    Batting Average of Balls in Play, and Can a Pitcher Control It?

    I won't go into great detail about the history of the this argument, since it's been done many times on this site, and is really very boring and math heavy.

    But here is the basic summation.

    It was discovered that there is a very small range between most pitchers in their BABIP. It's usually right around .300. There are exceptions, but they are rare. From this, many Sabermatricians have concluded that pitchers have little control over their own BABIP. Therefore, in determining the skill of a pitcher, you do not need to look at hits, since they are what's behind his BABIP.

    This is why advanced stats like FIP and xFIP, use only homers, K's and walks to determine a pitcher's skill level, and ignore hits.

    Many watch games and see guys get lit up, and refuse to believe that this was luck, or that the pitcher had no control over the hits he gives up.

    So that's the gist of the argument.

    I am not actually going to get into this argument in this thread, but instead offer an alternative view of this subject. I think this might spark a better discussion. Or maybe I am way off and be proven to be an idiot in the first page. We'll see.


    What about Slugging Percentage of Balls in Play?

    Wouldn't that be a much better stat to look at and try to understand? I think intuitively, it makes sense that a pitcher can control the slugging percentage of of the balls put into play. At least much more so that just whether or not the ball was a hit.

    If you are just looking at hits, you have to admit there is a lot of luck involved. Bloopers, grounders that find holes, the quality of the defense, official scoring decisions, etc.

    But there is much less luck involved in a double, triple and of course, almost no luck involved with a homer. Sure there are some doubles that should be singles and triples that should be doubles, but most doubles and triples are ripped. It's hard to get a bloop double, or ground a ball through the hole for a triple. Most extra base hits are earned, and likewise are earned by the pitcher as well.

    Has anyone looked at SLGBIP to see how it varies from pitcher to pitcher? I would love to see any work on this.

    And SLG combines homers with hits, but emphasizes homers more than singles, since a homer is counted as 4 times more valuable that a single, when it actually is worth a bit more than 3 times a single. The same for doubles and triples. They are overvalued in slugging percentage too.

    So SLGBIP would include singles, but value them less than homers, doubles and triples, which makes sense, since there is more luck involved in singles than in extra base hits.

    Anyway, I would love to see any research on this and I would really love to see a pitching stat like FIP that uses SLGBIP instead of homers.

    Any thoughts?
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  3. #2
    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNext44 View Post
    In a game last week, a big argument started over Masset and whether or not he's been any good, and/or will be any good the season. It basically boiled down to an argument that many have been having here and other baseball forums for awhile.

    Batting Average of Balls in Play, and Can a Pitcher Control It?

    I won't go into great detail about the history of the this argument, since it's been done many times on this site, and is really very boring and math heavy.

    But here is the basic summation.

    It was discovered that there is a very small range between most pitchers in their BABIP. It's usually right around .300. There are exceptions, but they are rare. From this, many Sabermatricians have concluded that pitchers have little control over their own BABIP. Therefore, in determining the skill of a pitcher, you do not need to look at hits, since they are what's behind his BABIP.

    This is why advanced stats like FIP and xFIP, use only homers, K's and walks to determine a pitcher's skill level, and ignore hits.

    Many watch games and see guys get lit up, and refuse to believe that this was luck, or that the pitcher had no control over the hits he gives up.

    So that's the gist of the argument.

    I am not actually going to get into this argument in this thread, but instead offer an alternative view of this subject. I think this might spark a better discussion. Or maybe I am way off and be proven to be an idiot in the first page. We'll see.


    What about Slugging Percentage of Balls in Play?

    Wouldn't that be a much better stat to look at and try to understand? I think intuitively, it makes sense that a pitcher can control the slugging percentage of of the balls put into play. At least much more so that just whether or not the ball was a hit.

    If you are just looking at hits, you have to admit there is a lot of luck involved. Bloopers, grounders that find holes, the quality of the defense, official scoring decisions, etc.

    But there is much less luck involved in a double, triple and of course, almost no luck involved with a homer. Sure there are some doubles that should be singles and triples that should be doubles, but most doubles and triples are ripped. It's hard to get a bloop double, or ground a ball through the hole for a triple. Most extra base hits are earned, and likewise are earned by the pitcher as well.

    Has anyone looked at SLGBIP to see how it varies from pitcher to pitcher? I would love to see any work on this.

    And SLG combines homers with hits, but emphasizes homers more than singles, since a homer is counted as 4 times more valuable that a single, when it actually is worth a bit more than 3 times a single. The same for doubles and triples. They are overvalued in slugging percentage too.

    So SLGBIP would include singles, but value them less than homers, doubles and triples, which makes sense, since there is more luck involved in singles than in extra base hits.

    Anyway, I would love to see any research on this and I would really love to see a pitching stat like FIP that uses SLGBIP instead of homers.

    Any thoughts?
    I personally think there is something to what you are saying. I don't think it's prudent for anyone to completely be dismissive of what happens behind a pitcher as just bum luck. I do think there is some relevance. In fact, I think more should be looked into of the correlation to xBABIP for pitchers - taking line drives into more account.

    I guess my main contention, though, is that this relationship would be smaller - if it exists - than it does with hitters.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Homers aren't Balls in Play unless they are inside the park homers, so they need to be excluded.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Two minor points:

    1) Part of the FIP assertion is not that you can ignore BABIP/hits completely because they're random. Rather, it's that if you are measuring a guy's ability to throw strikes (BB%) while missing bats (K%) and keeping the ball in the yard (HR%), you're already capturing his ability to influence balls in play -- because it comes from the same underlying skills that drive those three metrics.

    2) Again, it's not that BABIP is random. Firstly, we need to recognize that we're only looking at established major leaguers. Put you or I up there and we would have a BABIP way north of .300. We're looking at the very top end of a skill such that you can only make the majors and stay there if you're capable of sustaining a BABIP in the .300 range. Therefore, to the point, it's not that the skill doesn't exist, it's that it's nearly impossible to detect -- to separate out from the randomness that exists naturally within a group of pitchers at the upper bounds of possible skill.

    I would be surprised if looking at something like SLGBIP told us something that FIP doesn't -- but I'd be curious to see the study.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 06-07-2010 at 12:41 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Member blumj's Avatar
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    "Reality tells us there are no guarantees. Except that some day Jon Lester will be on that list of 100-game winners." - Peter Gammons

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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showp...7&postcount=97

    And thats exactly what I was looking for (what can I say, the strawman remark bothered me as I was asking a question, not at all wanting to take sides). What I was getting at though, as a measure of a pitcher getting hitters to hit the pitch the pitcher wants,...how about a stat that shows, when a ball is put in play, how many bases on average are acquired by the batter...maybe that is SLGBIP...I don't know. I don't know if it would even matter or if it would vary between pitchers. I would simply be interested to see the results between say, a Johnny Cueto 2009 and a Josh Fogg 2008. And even after that I would like to stack it up against a pitchers BABIP to see how it "correlates", if I am using the correct statistical term.

  8. #7
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    The obvious point which sometimes gets overlooked in the BIP discussions is that, after hit type, the biggest determinant is defense.

    As noted in the above linked BP article: "Looking at 2007-09 together, we can see some patterns emerge. Preventing hits on balls in play seems to be largely related to infield defense, but preventing extra-base hits on balls in play is largely related to outfield defense."

    Were Reds pitchers in the mid to late 2000's particularly poor at allowing extra base hits? Well, given an OF that includes Dunn and Junior, just about any pitcher is going to give up more than his fair share of doubles and triples.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  9. #8
    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    I remember from Moneyball that DePodesta, for one, thought pitchers had some control of XBH% in addition to the normal FIP components of walks, strikeouts and home runs.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    2) Again, it's not that BABIP is random. Firstly, we need to recognize that we're only looking at established major leaguers. Put you or I up there and we would have a BABIP way north of .300. We're looking at the very top end of a skill such that you can only make the majors and stay there if you're capable of sustaining a BABIP in the .300 range. Therefore, to the point, it's not that the skill doesn't exist, it's that it's nearly impossible to detect -- to separate out from the randomness that exists naturally.
    Good point. There's only so low a BABIP can realistically be against major-league hitters, and there's only so high it can be before the guy gets shipped out. In any given year, that range of actual abilities present in the major leagues is more than covered by the range of BABIP margin of error, which can be 30-40 points either side of .300 for a starter and even wider for a reliever. That's why McCracken initially came to the conclusion he did -- within any given season, the noise of randomness completely overwhelms any distinctions of ability. It takes several seasons for the ability of the Madduxes of the world to come through in the data.
    For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible

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    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Thanks!

    I could only open the Dewan article, but it was very informative, if difficult for a not math guy like me to understand. Here's his conclusion, which seems to be agreeing with my point.

    What does this tell us? Again, if you want to know something about a pitcher’s skill at prevention runs, you can learn a lot from his defense-independent performance. The metrics will tell you more than his ERA or OPSA alone. However, knowing how a pitcher prevents different types of hits does add some useful information about a pitcher’s skill, unlike BABIP.
    I do disagree with one thing he says, which is that "BABIP is excluded because it is never statistically significant.". That is just a typical closed minded over reaction to the data that frustrates me most about some saberematricians. BABIP does have some statistical significance, the issue is how much.

    Clearly how many K's, walks, and homers a pitcher gives up tells us the most about how good a pitcher is and will be. But judging from the many exceptions, it doesn't tell us everything we need to know.

    While RMR is right that these three elements do tell us something about a pitcher's ability to control hits, it doesn't tell us everything. And since so many other factors are involved in BABIP, especially defense, it's hard to separate what the pitcher controls and what he doesn't when it comes to hits allowed.

    That's why I was trying to find something that did tell us more about the pitchers ability to prevent hits. Maybe SLGBIP will do that, or maybe it will lead us to finding something else that does that, or maybe it's a dead end. But I am not happy with FIP or xFIP or any other DIPS. It just misses too much to be used with any real accuracy. I think Sabermatricians need to find someway to include a pitcher's ability to control hits in a stat about his skill level. I don't disagree with the premise of DIPS, I just think they need to be improved.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    I'm glad someone else is thinking this way. Although I feel sorry for anyone who thnks like me.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNext44 View Post
    Thanks!

    I could only open the Dewan article, but it was very informative, if difficult for a not math guy like me to understand. Here's his conclusion, which seems to be agreeing with my point.



    I do disagree with one thing he says, which is that "BABIP is excluded because it is never statistically significant.". That is just a typical closed minded over reaction to the data that frustrates me most about some saberematricians. BABIP does have some statistical significance, the issue is how much.

    Clearly how many K's, walks, and homers a pitcher gives up tells us the most about how good a pitcher is and will be. But judging from the many exceptions, it doesn't tell us everything we need to know.

    While RMR is right that these three elements do tell us something about a pitcher's ability to control hits, it doesn't tell us everything. And since so many other factors are involved in BABIP, especially defense, it's hard to separate what the pitcher controls and what he doesn't when it comes to hits allowed.

    That's why I was trying to find something that did tell us more about the pitchers ability to prevent hits. Maybe SLGBIP will do that, or maybe it will lead us to finding something else that does that, or maybe it's a dead end. But I am not happy with FIP or xFIP or any other DIPS. It just misses too much to be used with any real accuracy. I think Sabermatricians need to find someway to include a pitcher's ability to control hits in a stat about his skill level. I don't disagree with the premise of DIPS, I just think they need to be improved.
    You ever notice how a lot of pitchers who are known to be injured or recovering from injury tend to have their babip go way up without much change in peripherals? Eventually, they either give up or figure out how to pitch more effectively again, but it sure seems to be real.
    "Reality tells us there are no guarantees. Except that some day Jon Lester will be on that list of 100-game winners." - Peter Gammons

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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNext44 View Post
    I'm glad someone else is thinking this way. Although I feel sorry for anyone who thnks like me.
    It just makes too much sense if you ask me.

    There's no one cure-all end-all pitching stat, but this one would add a nice piece to the puzzle I believe.

  14. #13
    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by mth123 View Post
    Homers aren't Balls in Play unless they are inside the park homers, so they need to be excluded.
    Very astute observation. But I think it more of a semantic issue. Not sure what to call it then, maybe even just an asteriix to say that it includes homeruns, even if they technically aren't balls in play. And it would change how it is figured out, I think, but that's above my pay grade.

    Thanks
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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    High five! nate's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by kaldaniels View Post
    It just makes too much sense if you ask me.

    There's no one cure-all end-all pitching stat, but this one would add a nice piece to the puzzle I believe.
    Isn't what you're asking for SLG against?

    As Rick said, how many bases a batter takes is also a part of defense.
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  16. #15
    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: SLGBIP

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Two minor points:

    1) Part of the FIP assertion is not that you can ignore BABIP/hits completely because they're random. Rather, it's that if you are measuring a guy's ability to throw strikes (BB%) while missing bats (K%) and keeping the ball in the yard (HR%), you're already capturing his ability to influence balls in play -- because it comes from the same underlying skills that drive those three metrics.

    2) Again, it's not that BABIP is random. Firstly, we need to recognize that we're only looking at established major leaguers. Put you or I up there and we would have a BABIP way north of .300. We're looking at the very top end of a skill such that you can only make the majors and stay there if you're capable of sustaining a BABIP in the .300 range. Therefore, to the point, it's not that the skill doesn't exist, it's that it's nearly impossible to detect -- to separate out from the randomness that exists naturally within a group of pitchers at the upper bounds of possible skill.

    I would be surprised if looking at something like SLGBIP told us something that FIP doesn't -- but I'd be curious to see the study.
    They actually are not minor, but very smart, important points.

    1) I agree, to a point. I think DIPS do leave out enough guys whose skill to prevent hits is not represented fully in their K, BB or Homer rate. My point is not to replace DIPS, but just to refine them, and I think there needs to be improvement on how it measures a pitchers ability to supress hits, especially XBH.

    2) Completely agree, and it actually is one thing that annoys me the most about DIPS, that too many people, even published journalists, who get this wrong. Unfortunately you are in the minority, or at least in the minority of people who I have read on this subject. Just because we can't detect a skill with stats doesn't mean it doesn't exist. For me, it just means that we have to look harder, and be more creative.

    But this also works perfectly into the Masset argument. Masset had a good K/BB rate, and low homer rate, but he has not been as effective as he should be. Is this because he's just not very good at supressing hits and XBH, or is it because he's had a lot of bad luck. He simply as not pitched enough for us to know yet.

    Right now, the only way to answer that question with any authority is to let him pitch and see how he does. If he keeps giving up hits and XBH, then the won't stay around much longer and it's probably because he's just not very good at supressing hits and XBH. But if at the end of the season, he's pitched effectively overall, then his early woes were probably just due to bad luck.

    What I am trying to find is a way to get a better answer to that question without having to wait on his future performance. I think if we can find a way to include SLG in with DIPS, we might make some headway on it, or at least come to a better understanding on the whole issue.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein


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