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Monday, June 08, 2009
-- Not-at-all-rumor-or-news-related post --
So our good friend Mike Podhorzer IMed me earlier tonight while watching the Braves/Pirates game. He told me that the Braves announcers had mentioned MGL's UZR and UZR/150 and talked about finding stats at FanGraphs. I've heard announcers talk about slightly more advanced concepts on the air, but never anything like this. Incredible.
Posted by Derek Carty at 9:57pm (2) Comments
Rangers' closer Frank Francisco is still having injury troubles, and C.J. Wilson picked up the save in his stead last night (his fifth of the year). Francisco will be re-evaluated today, but for those looking for saves, Wilson needs to be picked up now. His skills are very borderline for a closer, but if you really need saves, he's worth a pickup.
Before you do, though, I'd check on the availability of Leo Nunez. Matt Lindstrom is struggling, and Nunez is next in line. Asked who his closer was yesterday, Manager Fredi Gonzalez gave Lindstrom his vote of confidence... sort of (h/t Brad Evans at Yahoo!). He also said that his "responsibility as a manager is to 25 guys, and the Florida Marlins, not just one guy. We're trying to get the win for the club."
Expect Lindstrom to be ousted with another couple of bad outings, which are likely to happen given his poor skills. Nunez becomes the guy to own, and he probably has the skills to hold down the job for a while. Kiko Calero is lurking, however, and is showing the best skills in the bullpen. He's currently being used in front of Nunez in the 7th inning.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:33pm (0) Comments
As if I needed to tell you that. But consider this now, from John Dewan at ACTA Sports (h/t Tango at The Book Blog). It's the average distance Ortiz is hitting the ball, broken down by batted ball type.
+--------+--------+---------+-------+ | Season | Liners | Fliners | Flies | +--------+--------+---------+-------+ | 2007 | 205 | 302 | 310 | | 2008 | 214 | 296 | 275 | | 2009 | 158 | 278 | 261 | +--------+--------+---------+-------+
As the lack of home runs should have been indicating, Ortiz just isn't hitting the ball as far. While some psychologists think Ortiz's struggles are in his head (h/t to our friend John Halpin at FOX), it's not really looking that way.
No recommendations here; I just thought it was worth pointing out. Holding onto Ortiz is probably better than trading him for a bag of balls (or trading him for Jason Vargas), although if you're lucky enough to be the guy who got Adam Dunn or Ryan Ludwick for him, I'd be all over it.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:20pm
As I was compiling the numbers for this year's data, I was wondering how I would mess up this year. As a reader thankfully pointed out, I forgot to include the Util only players like Big Papi and Travis Hafner in the mixed-position list.
So below are your updated spreadsheet with the corrections made.
In the Yahoo spreadsheet David Ortiz is the only addition, and in the ESPN one, Ortiz along with Jim Thome and Travis Hafner, are added in. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Posted by Paul Singman at 7:12am
For those following along, I dedicated last week to Braves SP Javier Vazquez. I first stated my belief that he'll be a top five fantasy pitcher for the rest of 2009 and then briefly explored the claim that he bunches his hits and walks together. I found little evidence to suggest he did, but there were some things I didn't get a chance to look at. Today, I'd like to go a couple steps further and look at some of these things.
First, while I found that Vazquez was merely league average-ish at bunching hits and walks, I didn't check how similarly-skilled pitchers performed. I also didn't check the quality of the hits, treating every hit and walk equally. Unfortunately, I ran out of time today and didn't get to look at a few other things I would have liked to, so I'm sure you'll all be happy to hear that there should be yet another follow-up in the coming days.
Also, please note that, because we're digging into somewhat complicated matters, this may get a little technical for some readers' likings, and the charts certainly aren't as straight-forward as many of you would like. Please don't feel overwhelmed. I'll do my best to summarize, in simple terms, what's going on at the end of each section.
Note: All data presented in this article was arrived at using the stupendous Retrosheet for the years 2004 to 2008.
Comparison to his peers
As I noted in my previous article (and as a few commenters also made note of), it would be best to compare Vazquez not only to league average, but also to similar skilled pitchers (henceforth known as 'peers').
To define "peers," I selected all starting pitchers who were within 0.25 LIPS ERA points (to assure that they were exhibiting similar skills to Vazquez and not getting lucky) and within 0.05 WHIP points (to assure that there weren't differences in the overall number of hits and walks allowed that would skew the study) for each year. Arbitrary, yes, but that's kind of the nature of the beast. This gives us a sample of nearly 11,000 inning appearances from 2004-2008. The results are shown below:
The format of this chart is a little different than last time. Each column shows the percentage of time that this exact number of hits and walks were allowed in an inning (as opposed to the percentage of time that at least this many hits and walks were allowed, as was displayed last time. This was done to make for easier comparisons to the next couple charts).
The important thing to take away from this is that Vazquez's peers don't perform much differently than league average and that Vazquez doesn't perform much differently than them. In fact, we see almost the same exact net result: the bunching of 1.6 fewer hits and walks than his peers per 216 inning appearances (his average number pitched since 2004). If we remove the innings with two hits and walks, it drops to the same 5.4 deficit we saw last time as well.
Let's dig a little deeper...
Damage done by hits and walks
In my first study, I didn't include the actual damage done by the hits and walks, but simply looked at the raw totals. It was suggested that perhaps Vazquez's problem isn't how many hits and walks he bunches together, but the types of hits (i.e maybe more doubles and homers than singles and walks). Using Linear Weights, we can check this pretty easily.
If you're the kind of person who's interested in the specifics, you can click here to see the average damage done per single inning of a particular type. Here, it appears that more damage is done to Vazquez than both league average and his peers in innings with two, three, or four hits and walks, but he has been able to make up for it a bit by bettering (or tying) both the league and his peers in innings with 5 through 11 hits and walks.
After finding this, I combined the frequency with which Vazquez allows each type of inning with the cumulative damage done by the walks and hits in that type of inning (scaled to 216 inning appearances). You can see the breakdown by inning type here. Vazquez seems to take the biggest (relative) beating in innings with four hits and walks, and these innings happen frequently enough to wreak a little havoc.
For those who would rather not be bored with the specifics (the majority of you, I'm wagering), below is a chart with (hopefully) an easily understandable version of the final effects. This takes into account both the frequency with which Vazquez allows each type of inning and the cumulative damage done by the walks and hits. It has been scaled to show the net linear weighted effect per 216 inning appearances (Vazquez's average since 2004). I've also broken these effects up by types of innings: those with at least 2 hits and walks, 3 hits and walks, and 4 hits and walks.
To put it into simple terms, what we're seeing is that Vazquez's peers are a bit better than league average, but Vazquez himself is a bit worse than both. At best, he's about 2.2 runs worse if we only focus on 2+ H/BB innings (about 0.08 points of ERA). At worst, he's about 4.2 runs worse if we only focus on 3+ H/BB innings (about 0.17 points of ERA). While some of this may be noise, it still looks like it might be justifiable to dock Vazquez's value a little bit... just don't go crazy. I still believe that an ERA below 3.30 is a very real possibility for Javy.
As always, comments are welcome. As I mentioned earlier, I'll probably be doing one final follow-up in the coming days.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (15) Comments
For the past two weeks, I have focused on bailing and will continue to do so into a third week. By now, you’ve likely seen the first couple bail trades and received notification from a couple other teams that they’re bailing, too. The problem right now is the teams that have ended their 2009 seasons have likely scooped up what was easily available and dealt enough to bloat the rosters of a couple other teams.
Despite the intentions of a couple more teams to bail, those competitive teams who didn’t luck out in round one of bail season have the same constraints (roster violations, cap problems, not as attractive cheap player) dealing with you, a third, fourth or fifth team to declare, as they did with the first movers. This leaves you sitting in lower half of the standings with no real chance to win it all but no chance to sink to the bottom for free agent priority.
This is an uncomfortable place to be as your team can’t take the free-for-all risks on players the last place teams do nor can you expect to catch-up to the roster-enhanced teams at the top. Likely, you have already lost out on Carlos Gonzalez in free agent priority and stood no chance of grabbing the newest Washington Nationals closer Mike MacDougal.
What is needed, though rarely advised, is a strategy that straddles the fence between competing in 2009 and setting-up for a run in 2010 and beyond. In real life, people understand that sitting on the fence of a two-sided battle leaves one open to crossfire from both sides. In fantasy baseball, that knowledge leads many to conclude and/or advise that fantasy players should either go all out (Flags fly forever!) or quit entirely on the current season.
These intuitively appealing conclusions are then buttressed by the math of expected payouts that provides the sheen of mathematical certainty. If you decide the likelihood of finishing in the money is already small, the chance of winning everything is zero. Multiplying that probability by the payouts for each money finish gives an expected payout.
An easier way to figure this, and the one I believe is more frequently employed, is a payback analysis. If the first place finish is 10 times the entry fee, then one needs win just once every 10 years to break even. Who isn’t confident they can win more frequently than that? So the decision to go for it all next season has been intuitively and mathematically justified.
The monkey wrench is there are considerably fewer teams who can accept your out-of-time players and/or expensive keepers. What do you do? Many force a bail deal and end-up making trades that marginally look better for themselves only to see a piece get hurt, lose their job or get traded to the other league before 2010 rolls around. This isn’t the best option.
A better decision is to toss out the all-or-nothing, flags-fly-forever advise and the expected outcomes/payback analysis and semi-punt the season. Yes, sit on the fence. The question is how to execute this fence-straddling decision.
First, the counting categories on offense are nearly impossible to semi-bail on because every team knows home runs, RBIs, wins, strikeouts and saves. The place to look are the ratios categories. These escape the simple math of “+1” involved the counting categories.
Why? Ratios are basically weighted averages, and these are not intuitively appealing but work very slyly to improve a team on both ends. A ratio category worsens with every hit or walked allowed and every at-bat without an accompanying hit. That provides three ways to improve: by adding players who are net gains, subtracting net losses and avoiding negative outcomes.
Typically, this is easiest to do by dumping hitting in favor of pitching. Given your unimpressive performance, you’re likely in the bottom half of the pitching ratios anyhow. Every team has good hitters and understands them much better as a result of ease of counting math. The difference between the bailing team’s hitters and the winning ones are just magnitude. The teams at the top have 10 or more contributing hitters and those near the bottom have 7 or less due to inexplicable ineffectiveness (David Ortiz), injury or lack of opportunity.
What you do is look to deal your hitters for the other guys pitchers. A three-or four-for-one trade that nets you Yovanni Gallardo sets-up a possible ratio run as time passes. Given the ubiquity of the harmless middle reliever, you also begin to shed your mediocre starting pitching when you can’t trade it to set-up a synergistic situation that has you adding a high inning great ratios starter and avoiding high innings mediocre-to-bad ratios SP.
Does this work? Do you believe a team can successfully straddle between bailing and competing? Have you done it, intentionally or not?
Posted by Eric Hinz at 1:22am (2) Comments
For fantasy owners in weekly leagues, nothing's worse than a bad Monday—surveying the standings and finding that you're already 20 points down... that your hitters compiled more K's than a Duke basketball press release... that your starters pitched like promotional stars for "Up"... that your relievers rushed home baserunners like a hot take-out meal.
Well, we've decided to brighten one (un)lucky person's day. Each week, we'll put out the call for fantasy owners who had terrible, awful Mondays. The GM with the lowest point total for that Monday wins. To help set the person back on the right path, the winner will receive a year's subscription to Heater Magazine.
For this contest, we're concerned only with online points-based leagues with weekly scoring periods that start on Monday. Entering is easy:
2. Put Worst Monday in the subject line along with your Monday point total.
3. Attach a screen shot of your roster and their points scored for Monday. (You can paste the screen shot in a Word document and attach that.) We need the screen shot—don't spell out the tallies in the email.
4. Add brief biographical material.
Entries that don't meet these criteria will not be considered. Don't submit an entry until all of Monday's games are finished.
We'll sift through the entries on Tuesday and announce the winner on Wednesday. We'll award one subscription per week; ties will be broken through random draw.
Best of (bad) luck!