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Thread: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

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    It's showtime! RedEye's Avatar
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    Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Interesting post over at FanGraphs today about the dependence of stats like BABIP and HR/FB on the quality of hitters a pitcher faces. I think it is an example of how "new" stats are constantly regenerating and questioning the conventional wisdom of their previous findings. This time, it has to do with the role of "luck" in assessing a pitcher's performance. Here's a snippet of the conclusion:

    [This] means we shouldn’t just think of things like HR/FB and BABIP as a pitcher getting “lucky” or “unlucky” based on the quality of the balls in play, but also by the quality of the opponents. Tim Lincecum‘s opponents have an OPS of .675 this year. For reference, that’s about 2009 Randy Winn, who had a wOBA of .302. Josh Beckett‘s opponents have an OPS of .767 this year. That’s roughly 2010 Chipper Jones, who has a .349 wOBA.

    Luckily, that’s as big of a difference as you’ll generally find. However, sorting out even the most minor differences has some significant value. I don’t have a panacea, but it’s something we should keep in the back of our minds when analyzing players. It often goes overlooked.
    Thought this might be good fodder for conversation--especially considering the tenor of some of the other threads on the board right now. Thoughts?
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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by RedEye View Post
    Interesting post over at FanGraphs today about the dependence of stats like BABIP and HR/FB on the quality of hitters a pitcher faces. I think it is an example of how "new" stats are constantly regenerating and questioning the conventional wisdom of their previous findings. This time, it has to do with the role of "luck" in assessing a pitcher's performance. Here's a snippet of the conclusion:



    Thought this might be good fodder for conversation--especially considering the tenor of some of the other threads on the board right now. Thoughts?
    With readily made PBP data, it's nearing the time where competition can be adjusted in a formula. This is interesting.

    It makes sense if you think about it.

    Take for instance, HR/FB ratio. We assume pitchers can't control that but hitters can. So if a pitcher faces a lot of guys with higher career HR/FB ratio than other pitchers, we'll dismiss the pitcher's HR/FB as being "unlucky" when in reality it makes sense that it should be inflated.

    I think this is intuitive.
    "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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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by Brutus the Pimp View Post
    With readily made PBP data, it's nearing the time where competition can be adjusted in a formula. This is interesting.

    It makes sense if you think about it.

    Take for instance, HR/FB ratio. We assume pitchers can't control that but hitters can. So if a pitcher faces a lot of guys with higher career HR/FB ratio than other pitchers, we'll dismiss the pitcher's HR/FB as being "unlucky" when in reality it makes sense that it should be inflated.

    I think this is intuitive.
    Yes, I think it is intuitive. Earlier in the article, actually, Bronson Arroyo is listed as as one of the pitchers (along with Lincecum) who routinely faces lower-quality competition. This jives, I would think, with our general sense of why Bronson improved when he made the move to the NL and the Reds--once freed from the shackles of the AL East, his skills played that much better. I think it is exciting that there now seems to be a quantifiable way to back up an assumption that many made right away.
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    I agree, Brutus. I think the quality of the opponent(s) have to start being factored into the equation with respect to statistical analysis.

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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    I agree, Brutus. I think the quality of the opponent(s) have to start being factored into the equation with respect to statistical analysis.
    I think that's what the Fangraphs article is saying as well.
    "Iíll kind of have a foot on the back of my own butt. Thatís just how I do things.Ē -- Bryan Price, 10/22/2013

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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    I've always thought that there are hitters who murder lesser pitchers, while others can pretty much get their knocks off anyone to some degree. Of course, backing that up statistically is quite a challenge.

    If you ran a regression, with a hitters wOBA (or OPS), vs. the pitchers he faces wOBA against (or OPSA), the incline of the slope would tell you how competition-dependent that hitters numbers are.

    The same (in reverse of course) could be done for pitchers.
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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    I've always thought that there are hitters who murder lesser pitchers, while others can pretty much get their knocks off anyone to some degree. Of course, backing that up statistically is quite a challenge.
    Verily. The oldest veterans square off at most a 100-ish times and that's over many years with a wide variety of career arc.

    If you ran a regression, with a hitters wOBA (or OPS), vs. the pitchers he faces wOBA against (or OPSA), the incline of the slope would tell you how competition-dependent that hitters numbers are.

    The same (in reverse of course) could be done for pitchers.
    It'd be fun to look at.
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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Couldn't it be done for all pitchers with a specific ERA+, WAR, or other other metric, thereby showing who hits "good" pitching and who really takes advantage of "poor" pitching?

    Or is that comparing an orchard of apples to an orchard of oranges?
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    Re: Fangraphs: Who You Face Matters

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Couldn't it be done for all pitchers with a specific ERA+, WAR, or other other metric, thereby showing who hits "good" pitching and who really takes advantage of "poor" pitching?

    Or is that comparing an orchard of apples to an orchard of oranges?
    I think it would certainly tell us a little bit more about a player. Currently we rely on offensive statistics to differentiate talent levels but don't consider some players might have faced tougher (or weaker) competition. I think there are some outliers that would be helped with such a project.
    "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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