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Thursday, June 30, 2011


My favorite pitch from Worley last night was the brush back to Pedroia. Maybe next time he'll autograph a ball when he's asked.

I was always a little higher on Bastardo than some things I read. Loved his strikeout ability, and thought he could survive with his slightly high walk rate since he is a lefty.

Obviously the walks and health concerns could easily bite him, but the kid is promising.

Right on Weitzel. Nothin like Homegrown Heat. I hope Cole brought his broom.

"once you start using stats that tell you what should have happened (but didn't) to predict what might happen in the future (but probably won't), you've got a whole 'nother set of problems"

who's talking about prediction?

wOBA is simply better at doing the same thing OPS and OPS+ are allegedly doing. I submit that it should be just as easy to explain wOBA to a casual fan. Something like, "wOBA recognizes that different kinds of hits and times on base have different values, so it weights them differently"... OPS isn't a terrible back of the envelope, rough approximation, when you're at the ballpark, or don't have access to a computer... but if you have to look up OPS+ anyway (which you do), why not just look up the vastly better wOBA instead?

wRC and wRC+ are different (though also better); the former is a counting stat (with different actions weight properly), the latter, like OPS+, compares against league average

In Utley's case, there might not be much difference (less "gained here"), but that's because Utley is very good at both OBP and SLG

Is there a wOBA+, or a rough equivalent?

wRC+ = wOBA with park adjustments etc. the equivalent

I don't know about that, haven't seen it.

Anyway, Fangraphs is your friend. Here is the main page for the Phillies:

"once you start using stats that tell you what should have happened (but didn't) to predict what might happen in the future (but probably won't), you've got a whole 'nother set of problems"

Actually, most of the sabermetric stats are pretty good at predicting the future if interpreted right.

I remember the forgettable season Cole Hamels had in 2009, when everyone questioned his ability, attitude, and manhood. The rest of us, who use and (somewhat) understand sabermetric stats assured all of you he would be fine.

Fast forward to 2011, and Cole Hamels is one of the top 5 pitchers in MLB! :)

there you go; thanks Shawn.... I missed that part of the definition.

Worley, Stutes and Bastardo were firing on all cylinders last night. It was if Justin Bieber knocked on my front door, I was so giddy.

I don't want to get into the whole debate about walks vs hits vs slg, but the deficiency of SLG is that it does not account for walks as either a positive or negative effect.

wOBA is defined to adjust so that walks can be counted as a positive event.

That is all :)

wOBA credit for hitting a groundball through the 2nd baseman's legs > wOBA credit for lining a single into CF.

According to Fangraphs, Chase Utley's 35 games since returning frmo injury have been worth a half win MORE than Ryan Howard's entire season already?

Most encouraging thing about VW's performance last night (besides the obvious) was the fact that in the 7th inning, after 100 plus pitches, he hit 92 twice on the gun to Ortiz. Then kept firing strikes and quality pitches in the 7th, after the leadoff walk.

The kid has done a great job the past 2 years, but that was probably a big mental step for him to take. He pushed past 100 pitches and went right through the heart of the lineup when he was tiring.

The Blue Jay series this weekend, has "let down" trip written all over it. Hope they play up for Doc on Saturday. That is a huge day for him.

WAR values 2nd baseman, especially good defensive 2nd baseman a LOT more than slow, 1st baseman, not known for being great defenders.

Chase Utley's baserunning, defense, high OBP, wOBA and positional adjustment give him a HUGE boost over Howard when it comes to WAR calculation. Usually Howard could keep pace based on his offense alone, but this year, he's just not been mashing to his usual pace.

lorecore: That falls into the category of showing you what happened rather than predicting the future.

It measures what happened while the batter was at the plate, and how that helped his team score runs. In the aggregate, reaching base on an error is slightly better than a single.

All hitting statistics include factors that are not controlled by the hitter. Batting average doesn't give less credit for a ground ball hit slightly out of range of a slow fielder. RBIs and runs scored are inherently correlated to batting order position. You could even argue that HBP are, to some degree, out of the batter's control - yet they still count in wOBA because whether it was through any skill of his own, the batter still reached base, avoiding an out and allowing an inning to progress.

Reaching base on an error falls into the same category - whether it was through any skill of the batter (a hard hit ball with lots of spin) or not (a weak ground ball that a fielder just kicks), it was an event for that hitter that helped his team's offense. That's what's being measured.

speaking of fangraphs, this article sums up what all the fuss/debate is often about. imagine the debate we'd have around here with Zach Greinke's season to date:

lucky or sucky?? that is the question.

I see the calculation.

Now apply the results in the real world. Chase Utley in 35 games has done more for the 2011 Phillies team than Ryan Howard has in 80.

Does anyone agree with that other than Fangraphs?

lorecore, that's interesting, and again, exposes the deficiency of the WAR stat.

Fangraphs WAR, in my opinion, is hopelessly obscured by the bizarre UZR statistic. I have no idea how it works, and judging by its year-to-year variance, neither do its creators.

There's nothing weird or controversial about wOBA though - read the equation, it's actually really straightforward.

The other thing about WAR is the positional adjustments - it's somewhat silly to compare players' WAR, one-to-one, when they play different positions. The replacement level is higher for 1st basemen than it is for 2nd basemen - in Phillies terms, if Howard got hurt they could replace him with Ross Gload (if he was healthy, but ignore that for a minute), while if Utley got hurt they would replace him with Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez. If Utley and Howard put up the exact same hitting and fielding numbers, Utley will have a higher WAR. Does that obscure a comparison using WAR? In my opinion, yes.

"that's interesting, and again, exposes the deficiency of the WAR stat"

perhaps; or maybe it's actually true? It doesn't seem logical, I'll grant you that, but since the Phillies' cumulative WAR does more or less gibe with their real-world win total, I'm inclined to look further into it rather than dismiss it out of hand.

I get your point DH, especially about UZR.

But yes, I would think if Utley and Howard posted the exact same statistics over a year, that would make Utley much more valuable because he is that much harder to replace than a 1B. There are more "replacement players"

Not arguing for the validity of the stat or the measurement, lorecore, but the question you ask is incorrect, as I see it.

You ask, "Has Utley done more in 35 games for the Phillies than Howard has done in 80 games?"

The question, I would think, should be, "Has Utley outperformed a replacement level 2nd baseman more than Howard has outperformed a replacement level 1st baseman, in 45 less games?"

Fatalotti has it right, I think.

Youkilis out today after fouling that ball off his foot.

DH Phils: I agree with you that WAR can be a little wacky because of base running and fielding, but the positional adjustment makes total sense.

Say Utley and Howard finish with the EXACT same stats, and assume these stats were very good. Now ask yourself this important question:

How many 1st basemen put up comparable stats, and how many second basemen put up comparable stats. Not many second basemen are going to put up those types of numbers, and my PhD in economics tells me to apply the rules of supply and demand - Chase Utley is more valuable.

on topic, another fangraphs article proclaiming Zobrist is a MVP candidate again this year, of course, using WAR:

Am I misunderstanding this, or are there people (on BL or elsewhere) arguing that Utley's 35 games this season is more valuable than Howard's 80?

Is that really happening?

No Youk, no Ortiz. If the Phils don't mail this one in, they've got a shot at the sweep.

R: I'm not saying they aren't better stats, but

1. they are still flawed
2. they are harder to explain
3. really, how much better are they?

If a stat tells me that Prince Fielder is really 56% better than league average rather than 54% better; that has value to some, but to most it's well within the ballpark, mental margin of error we all have. They are pretty much the same thing for most of us. I don't think the perfect meta-stat will ever be invented until the NSA devotes all their super computers to analyzing historical trends, pitchfx. hitfx, & fieldfx...which would actually be a better use of government money than teaching Chinese hookers to drink responsibly on the job or studying the effects of cocaine on menstruating monkeys or minting 1 billion $1 coins to be warehoused because no one uses them (yes, all of those are real things)

yeah, WAR is an overall "value" stat

I think if you wanted to know which guy has done more for the Phillies, you could do better than a WAR comparison. In fact, with a hurt Ross Gload, if Howard got hurt, would anyone be surprised if the Phillies moved Utley to first base and put Valdez at second? Each team's circumstances are different, and I think to accurately compare players, you need to take that into account.

If you were starting a team tomorrow though in a giant fantasy-style draft, picking a roster only for this year, Utley absolutely has more value than Howard, partly because of his position.

No Billingsly, we're saying this:

The question, I would think, should be, "Has Utley outperformed a replacement level 2nd baseman more than Howard has outperformed a replacement level 1st baseman, in 45 less games?"

If that's the case, then yes, cause replacement level 2nd basemen are awful.

According the lineup posted to the right, the Phils aren't mailing it in today. Francisco in for Brown, but the rest of the starters are in.

Perhaps Cole can finally get that 10th win. He's pitched well enough to get it the last two starts, perhaps the 3d time's the charm.

"2. they are harder to explain"

I don't buy this, at all, and have already said why.

They are enough different, for different kinds of players that it matters. Again, Prince Fielder is phenomenal at both OBP and SLG, so it won't affect him as much.

And I also already said that OPS is fine when you're at the ballpark, or not near a computer, and you just want to add things up (which shouldn't really be added, but never mind)... but since OPS+ has to be looked up anyway, you may as well look up and use the better stat instead.

Shawn: If that's what the argument is, then I have even less interest in it. Seems like an exercise in semantics, which means it'll take about three threads until it goes away.

Tough task today looking for the sweep with Lester on the hill. If the Phils could only muster two runs on Lackey and his 7+ ERA, Lester should mow them down, no?

it's not an argument; it's something that came out of a separate discussion

***it was an event for that hitter that helped his team's offense. That's what's being measured.***

Which is stupid because a stat should tell us how good the player is, not how good his result was (reaching on an error).

If you were starting a team tomorrow though in a giant fantasy-style draft, picking a roster only for this year, Utley absolutely has more value than Howard, partly because of his position.

I disagree with this slightly. In this fantasy world, will a "healthy Utley" play more than 120 games? To me, that holds some value.

I agree that a "healthy Utley" at 2B is heads and shoulders above every other 2B in baseball, outside of perhaps Pedroia, Phillips and Kinsler, but

I'm stopping. I'm not getting suckered into this. formatting is about 1 million times better than Fangraphs for looking up stats...

Thus, B-R has a Format+ of 1000 and is the better statistical aggregate site for quick discussions online.

"Which is stupid because a stat should tell us how good the player is, not how good his result was (reaching on an error)."

There is, naturally, much discussion about how much reaching on an error is part of a hitter's skill. You realize some players reach on error more than others, right? Why might that be?

""healthy Utley" at 2B is heads and shoulders above every other 2B in baseball, outside of perhaps Pedroia, Phillips and Kinsler"

actually, there is no perhaps; a healthy Utley at 2nd, is head and shoulders above every other 2B in baseball, period, and was arguably only less valuable than Pujols, covering the years 2005-2010 combined...

R. Billingsly: did you just knock Utley for health related issues and say Kinsler might be better?

WAR is based off a fantasy world of replacement players at every position who all have equally replacement level skills of hitting/fielding/base running.

Its a great idea and innovation and it does a pretty good job of leveling the playing field between slugging middle infielders compared to corner defenders.

But in the end its just telling you a story about what wold happen in fantasy land. Why are so many ppl hellbent on trying to apply a player's value in fatnasy land to his actual on-field value?

it's not fantasy land, lorecore, it's based on dollars spent in the real world for actually available players

I think about it like this.

Let's say, that in 35 games, a replacement level 2nd baseman's production could be quantified under the variable A. In the same 35 games, Utley's production could be quantified as B.

The difference in production is B-A=X.

In 80 games, a replacement level 1st baseman's production would be equal to C and Howard's production over 80 games would be equal to D.

The difference in production is D-C=Y

The question then becomes, is X>Y?

Convoluted method of thinking, but it works for me.

Howard will heat up though soon, and when he does, he will win us games.

As of today: he is striking out more as he's on pace for approximately 180+ strikeouts at k rate of 31% vs 30% career and he's walking more than last year at a pace of 80+ walks this year 12% rate vs career 12% rate.

his ISO is 54 pts below his career average and his HR/FB % has declined tremendously to 18% vs career 29%.

His LHP / RHP splits are interesting. although his BA is about the same on either side, his BABIP is 400 vs LHP and 265 vs RHP. He has no homeruns vs lefties though, and his SLG is basically missing vs LHP. Although he will heat up vs RHP, if he continues to be a complete non-factor against LHP, he will continue to be pitched around and neutralized vs left handed heavy bullpens/staffs.

I don't think his adjustment at the plate has made any difference, and if anything, has sapped some of his opposite field hitting. he has very few hits on the opposite side of the field and he has had trouble with inside pitches from RHP.

but we at beerleaguer already knew all of this. interesting though to take stock in him in the first half of the year.

I don't think anyone in this discussion is off base. I like to look at WAR statistics because it helps give me a better appreciation of the game and helps me understand the intricacies of supply and demand in the MLB and what positions are scarcer and harder to play.

Its not like the teams with the most WAR will win the world series. although there is some correlation to that effect :)

When Fangraphs and B-R cannot even agree on how to calculate WAR (and both use different measures), its value as a stat is borderline.

As to why some guys reach on errors more than others? Hell, it might just be sample size, it might be their baserunning speed (a speedy guy is more likely to reach 1B than a slow slugger). Using it a a measure of a player's skill is somewhat silly.

R: it is a fantasy world. the concept of a team having a replacement level 1B, 2B, 3B, etc. all readily available who all perform at their positional values equally is as fantasy world as you could possibly get.

Again, I completely understand the concept and reasoning for findnig marginal value of position players over your run of the mill $400k player. Hats off to the people who created it, def huge step forward.

Also, what is an Error at this point? The determination of what constitutes an error is probably the most biased statistic in baseball. A human scorer judges it and it varys from player to player and park to park and even the guy's mood that night. Using it as a benchmark for a stat and then extrapolating that out as a supposed skill despite a tiny sample size (Really, how many "reached on errors" does the average ballplayer have in a season?) is ludicrous.

All were seen as mid-level prospects with fringe Major League ability. Yet one always got a sense the Phils were playing it close to the vest, with Bastardo in particular"

Remember the heat people got on here for being high on Bastardo?

but, NEPP, that's exactly why it's included! The difference between a hit and an error is quite arbitrary (not to mention bloops versus line drives at somebody), and, as you note, they aren't super common. Which is why they don't count for much! They are a very minor component of the stat.

As for ERA+, my biggest complaint is its limitations (which also apply to ERA-). ERA+ merely tells me how good a pitcher's ERA was based on that of his peers thta season and based on park effects. Other than that, its pretty empty. Two guys could have the same ERA+ but one is a smoke/mirrors guy and the other is simply dominating the competition with awesome peripherals.

For example, Jair Jurrjens has a much better ERA+ than he having a better year than him? Obviously not. Thus, its a nice stat to throw out there but it has severe limitations. Stats like pitchers WAR help fill that gap by accounting for those peripherals.

If you had told me in January that Antonio Bastardo would be our closer going into July, I'd probably be pretty concerned.

Bastardo was different than Stutes. Scouts knew he had good stuff including a really good slider and decent velocity. The issue with him was that his changeup wasn't good enough. The main issue though was simply one of health. Keep your fingers crossed but every year of professional baseball in Bastardo's career has been marred by at least 1 DL stint annually. Dude just couldn't stay healthy.

The issue with Bastardo was his changeup/durability to start. LHP relievers with a good fastball/slider combo though definitley have a place in MLB.

"the concept of a team having a replacement level 1B, 2B, 3B, etc. all readily available who all perform at their positional values equally is as fantasy world as you could possibly get"

I dunno, I'd call it a theoretical construct. No, it doesn't map the real world exactly, but then neither does the frictionless world, but that doesn't stop physics from being useful.

“06/29/11 Philadelphia Phillies outrighted Brian Bocock to Lehigh Valley IronPigs.”

NEPP: wOBA is measuring what happened in a hitter's at bats. Results are highly, but not perfectly, correlated with skill. Nobody is claiming that reached-on-errors is a skill being extrapolated from wOBA - they're essentially just counted as singles, because in terms of results, that's usually what they are.

r: agreed.

The day I drop a feather and bowling ball out my window and they both hit the ground at the same time is the day when I'll vote Ben Zobrist for MVP.

R & R. Billingsly:

Have you guys ever heard of Robinson Cano?

Wow, does this mean they've actually removed Bocock from the 40 man roster? Now, would someone please explain to me why he was ever ON the 40 man roster?

WHo is going to take his place, Scwhimmer? Kratz? Pujols?

Strange and interesting discussions today. We must be winning.

Vance Worley takes no prisoners.

aksmith: He was an intrical part of Amaro's maniacal plan to have a 40 man roster consisting entirely of utility infielders?

lorecore wins.

BBeard: Im thinking Kratz.

When your backup catcher who can't hit has to be yanked late in the game for defensive might as well give a catcher who could possibly hit as your backup.

Question is - do you just get rid of Schnieder now?

Utley > Cano

You really want an interesting discussion? Reconstruct Castillo's pitching night from the box score below:

Was at the game last night sitting in the nosebleeds. Was Worley (not too mention the other two) as impressive as he seemed? I had a pretty bad vantage point but everything looked to be on the corners and down. And even from 350 feet away you can see the kid has attitude. Fun night at the old ballyard. I'm now 6-1 on the season, but have no more tickets. Maybe Dangerous Dave should send me a few comps.

lorecore, I've yet to read the fangraphs article, and I eventually will, but I wonder, what do you have against Ben Zobrist as an MVP candidate, in theory?

Because he has as many HR as Raul Ibanez.

Because he has as many HR as Raul Ibanez.

I read that Zobrist for MVP article on Fangraphs...its exactly that type of ridiculous crap that makes them get so much criticism. Ben Zobrist is not an MVP category, not even close. Having a high UZR in a very small sample size of maybe 1.5 months of 2B reps doesn't make him an MVP...sorry guys, it just doesn't.

I actually consider myself more of a sabr guy than most, so i dont want to come across as bashing advanced stats. The guys who create them are very smart and have done tons for the game, and probably 99% of them have great value when used properly, including WAR.

JW - Liked your article.

To me , besides playing through the inury woes, the remarkable thing about the first half of this season has been how well the Phils have done at winning games without the offense hitting on all cylinders for any sustained period.

Great pitching , both from expected and unexpected sources has been fun to watch.
Imagine when they get hot and stay hot with the bats.

Bubba: You just know when the bats heat up, the pitching will go south. It always works that way.

I haven't seen BAP around this morning so I just thought I'd help out.

I'm not convinced UZR has value even in large sample sizes.

The other thing about advanced statistics is that they put no emphasis on situational hitting. While I agree with the general principle that most of what we call good or bad "clutch hitting" is small sample size variation, I can see how these stats might undervalue, say, a left-handed pull hitter who hits better with runners on base because you can't overshift your infield against him.

Oh and on Youkilis,(sounds like a cough drop doesn't it) it was probably just my imagination but I could swear I heard that foul hit his foot from way up at the top of the stadium. That looked really painful.

Zobrist cracked the WAR code. Play all over the diamond at a decent level, but in small samples so you UZR skyrockets and your position value is maxed out, while getting on base at a decent clip.

Ben Zobrist had an amazing 2009 and was likley one of the top 10 players in the whole league. He should recieve praise for that season. His 2011 has been a nice bounce back from a poor 2010, but falls short in so many other categories when compared to the league's best.

How cool is it that JW categorizes Roy Oswalt (154-89, 3.20 career) as part of the back of the rotation and nobody even mentions it?

lorecore, fwiw, I agree that these stats should be used with discretion... simply citing two players' WARs as definitive (especially getting all worked up over tenths of wins) is problematic in isolation.

on the other hand, I'd like to suggest that highlighting one or two players for whom a stat seems off (in WAR's case, it's either "too high" for someone like Zobrist, or maybe Crawford, and "too low" for Howard) is not terribly helpful (like, one player's low WAR is not proof, or even evidence, that it's a terrible stat)... WAR overwhelmingly conforms to what we already know. That it shows us some things we don't know (rating certain players higher or lower than we'd other wise have done) is a reason to investigate it more thoroughly and understand its terms, not a reason to dismiss it.

Is the WAR code kinda like the Bible Code?!?

DH Phil - In this rotation with Halladay/Hamels/Lee, Oswalt is a '4'

I think UZR has value in large enough sample sizes and in conjunction with other statistics. Personally, I like Total Zone and the +/- rating better but again, sample size is key in all of them.

I'd love to see some analysis done on the batted ball F/X system that is being installed in all 30 ballparks but I suspect that MLB will keep that as proprietary data for a while.

donc - Thanks.
Andy said I was a pesimist the other day and I was trying to even things out by being an optomist today.
Won't let it happen again.

R: again, agreed. I think we're on the same page.

NEPP: i was also excited for those batted ball f/x cameras to help, but you may be right about holding on them for the time being.

Bubba: Always happy to help.

Yo, newer thread

Am I the only one that hopes Lidge and Blanton stay on the DL for the rear of the season?


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