December 12, 2013

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## Valuing the intentional walk

The most popular way of measuring the run impact of a batting outcome is called linear weights, first introduced by Pete Palmer in the 1980’s and discussed at length in the Sabermetric Wiki.

Using linear weights, you can compare the impact of a single to a double, or a walk to a home run. The linear weight value of an intentional walk, for instance, is usually stated as being between .16 and .18 runs. That’s what you get when you calculate the expected runs for the BaseOut situation that exists after each intentional walk, subtracting the expected runs for the BaseOut situation that existed before the intentional walk, and dividing by the number of intentional walks.

This "Expected Runs" method is the most common method for calculating the linear weight of any event. But it isn’t the only method, and for some events like intentional walks, steals, caught stealing, and bunts, it isn’t the best method.

The alternative method for calculating linear weights is described in detail in The Book (Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin) on pages 17-22 and the values for events is shown in their Table 4. Simplified, the alternative method substitutes the actual runs scored after an event in the remainder of the inning for the expected runs for the resulting BaseOut state used in the "Expected Runs" method.

Usually the Expected Runs method is preferable because it normalizes to an average lineup for most events, and removing the context of lineup improves the predictive ability of the linear weight. But for strategic events, like intentional walks attempting a steal or bunting, it is better to include the context of the actual lineup, because that context is a major factor in the strategic decision to attempt that play.

For example, the defensive team can elect to intentionally walk any batter, even the leadoff batter, if it wants to. But the intentional walk is usually reserved for certain BaseOut situations, types of batters and places in the lineup.

Both methods of calculating linear weights take into account the actual BaseOut situation in which it occurs (that is why both methods have a value for the intentional walk that is lower than a non-intentional walk), but only the actual runs method includes the factor of the actual lineup position in which the intentional walk occurs.

Here are the linear run values calculated by both methods over the last four years. As you can see, the "Actual runs" method yields a result that is typically a tenth of a run lower than the "Expected Runs" method.
```Intentional Walk Linear Weight Value
Year    N  Total Exp Runs  Total Exp Runs  Total Actual Runs LW EXP Runs LW ACT Runs
Before         After            After
2005   1216         932          1148             1038        0.177         0.087
2006   1410        1067          1318             1217        0.177         0.106
2007   1323        1016          1249             1129        0.176         0.085
2008   1310         974          1220             1065        0.187         0.069
Total  5259        3990          4935             4449        0.180         0.087```

Whether the particularly low value for 2008 calculated by the actual runs method is just a sample size aberration or whether it is a result of better insight by teams into when to intentionally walk a batter will take several more years of data to figure out. I suggest that the average linear weight value for the last 4 years by the "Actual Runs" method , .09 runs, be used for all analysis of a batter’s offensive value.

Posted by Peter Jensen at 7:37pm (3) Comments

## Bullpen usage chart

Daily Baseball Data has a nice little feature: a table of each team's most recent bullpen usage. You can use this page to view how often relievers have pitched in the last four to seven days, and how effective they were. It's useful info and well-presented.

Posted by Dave Studeman at 2:58pm (2) Comments

## Citi Field’s new dimensions

ESPN Fantasy has a detailed review of Citi Field's impact on David Wright's hitting, including the impact on his home runs. Supplied with data by the formidable Greg Rybarczyk, they make a good case that Mets' hitters have lost a lot of home runs to the new Citi Field dimensions. But something doesn't add up for me.

The Mets have actually hit and allowed more home runs at home than on the road, 62 vs. 51. In other words, this year's very simple home run park factor of 1.12 would favor Citi. Plus, Greg's data calculates that the Mets and their opponents would have hit 34 more home runs if they were still playing at Shea. That would be a total of 96 home runs at Shea this year, which would give it the largest home run park factor in the majors (1.74). The second highest would be Yankee Stadium at 1.51. I may be wrong, but I don't think Shea was ever known as an extreme home run park.

It could be that Citi Field is indeed a terrible place for home run hitting, but I think I'll wait a little while before drawing any conclusions.

Posted by Dave Studeman at 2:09pm (0) Comments

## This year’s drama

There's a new Batted Ball Report available for those who have pre-purchased the 2010 THT Annual. This week's report finds a surprising strength of Mark Reynolds' and also asks which teams are at the most critical stage of the season—and which aren't?

Posted by Dave Studeman at 3:42pm (0) Comments

## The manager bump

Jim Tracy is off to an incredible start as manager of the Rockies. As of this writing the Rockies are 19-7 since Tracy took the helm, including a streak of winning 18 games out of 19. Quite a contrast from Clint Hurdle's 18-28 start to the season. Now, being a lifelong Rockies fan (despite growing up in Florida and never seeing Colorado before that love was a decade old) and even briefly a Rockies employee, I had seen this movie before. In fact, the recently deposed Hurdle was once the new savior. After taking over for a 6-16 Buddy Bell, Hurdle led the Rockies to a 21-9 record in his first 30 games at the helm in his first managing gig.

That's what got me thinking ... is this normal? Does getting rid of the old ball and chain rejuvenate, reinvigorate players? Does a new style of management help players relax? Does the desire to please your new boss make you reach back for a little something extra? Does clearing out old clubhouse tensions and biases create a new, more productive environment? And thus, are there real energies here that are exceptionally managed by the Leyland's and Torre's of the world? We can't specifically tackle any of these questions, but we can approach them in the aggregate.

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