Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finally, the park factors

I have completed the outfield park factors to be used with zone rating. Some of them, I'm not totally comfortable with, but this is the best I could do with the data I have.

Here's how I did it: I looked at every outfielder at each position from 1987 to 2006, and totalled their chances (balls in zone) and zone rating runs. So, for example, Brian Giles has seen 394 chances while playing for a team in Jacobs field, with a total run value of 15.9. While playing left field for teams that do not play in Jacobs, Giles has seen 929 chances and a -31 run value. Note that I do not have home/ road splits, which would make the calculations easier and much more accurate. I compare Giles while playing for the Indians to Giles playing left for other teams.

The next step is the match innings. Reduce Giles' 929 'other' chances to 394 for purposes of the Jacobs field LF rating. Repeat for every outfielder for 20 years, and total. The matched innings method has some cool things about it, and some problems.

One problem is a player dominating the sample. Giles represents 2/3 of the sample for PNC park. Ken Griffey Jr. represents 3/4 of the Great American CF sample (amazing since he's missed seemingly 3/4 of the games). I chose to reduce their matched innings so that no one player is more than 50% of the sample.

A cool thing is that Manny Ramirez is exactly 0% of the sample for Fenway, left field. Manny is, more than anyone else, the player who inspired me to start this work. Its just that he's never played left field anywhere else, being a RF for the Indians. I like this because I'm using a diverse group of players and not Manny to figure the stat that will be used to evaluate Manny.

Ok, matched innings done, samples cleaned up. What next? Did someone say regress?

I thought so. But I'm not regressing to zero. There's no reason to regress a 37 foot wall like Fenway to the same value as an 8 foot wall. Fenway is regressed to other 37 foot walls, in other words, not regressed at all. There are a number of walls between 18 and 25 feet, and they are all regressed together, to their mean (which is less than Fenway), and finally all other parks regressed to what's left over. The run values to regress to are: (per 400 chances), -14 Fenway, -9 other big walls, and +1 other parks. Regression is 50% at chances = 470.

STATS inc. did some revisions to the zones they use for Coors field around 2001, so for Coors I only use 2001+ data. Before that, Coors severely depressed zone ratings.

The one that really sticks out at me is PNC left field, with a -13 rating. The big wall in that park is RF (also a -13 rating). If Brian Giles is excluded completely, the PNC LF rating would be -7. Giles was a good left fielder in Cleveland, and despite his age a good one in San Diego, but had poor zone ratings in PNC left. Whether this is a real park effect or a fluke I don't know.

In just a bit I'll present a link to the data. There are two ways to use it. One is to figure run value per 400 chances. The other is straight from raw zone rating. Example: Manny Ramirez has a .750 zone rating for -25 runs per 400 chances. Either:

A) Add 14 runs back to his total, now -11 or
B) Add .042 to his zone rating, now .792, and figure plays made and run value from there.

And here it is:

Outfield Park Factors

Sunday, October 29, 2006

OF defensive park adjustments

I don't have them, yet. But I did put together outfield positions totals by ballpark for 1987 to 2006.

OF totals by park and position

Only one park has more than +10 runs per year, and just barely at that. There are a lot more parks with positive values, which is what I expected. No park really makes it easier to catch flyballs, at least by much, but some parks make it very difficult. So while a few parks will have large negative vlaues for ZR, like Fenway, Enron, Camden Yards RF, most parks/positions will show a slight positive value, since this is a zero sum game.

Some of the parks with large negative values are no longer in use, such as Mile High and Exhibition (Blue Jays for you newcomers). Pretty much the current in use parks with negative values are Fenway, Enron, and Joe Robbie LF, and Camden and Metrodome RF, as expected. Others I did not expect are PNC right and left, and all the Coors positions. Great American ballpark CF is almost certainly due to Griffey being the primary player there, not a park effect. PNC might just be due to bad Pirate OF's, but its worth checking out. I though STATS redefined the zones used for Coors, so I'll have to check and see if the low ZR values are coming from early years or if there is still a problem with their data.

Parks may not be listed under their "official" name, as I don't respect corporate naming rights unless I get a share of the money. Sometimes I use the corporate name, its just whatever I like best in any case, for example I prefer "cellular" to "Comiskey II" simply because its easier to distinguish from the original Comiskey.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Free Agent Hitter Projections


My, my what an ugly group. When I first had this ready I thought I made a mistake in my salary equation and was getting it too low. Nope - plugging Albert Pujols in I get a value of 30 million.

Bonds leads the way even with a very conservative playing time projection, since he's 42 and has had quite enough injuries recently. He's just such a dominant hitter that 100 games of Bonds will put a lot of runs on the board. Frank Thomas doesn't look so good here - the projection is based on 3 years and he's been healthy only in one of those. Its quite possible given his age - 39 in 2006 - that he's put up a last hurrah. If so we'll be glad when the A's sign him for 2 years and 15 million as the recent rumors are saying.

Jim Edmonds is still a fine player. The numbers say +4 in center, which is hard to believe for a 37 year old without basestealing speed, but last night's catch against the Mets makes me believe its right on Jim. Cardinals would be fools to not pick up his 2007 option. Edmonds probably has one year left in him before he breaks down completely.

Soriano and Carlos Lee - those numbers make me want to just say no, given we already have 3 corner outfielders. Carlos Lee projects to a typical Carlos Lee season - decent bat but not that much better than a typical LF, and poor defense to bring him down. Soriano was way better than this last season, but the projection fits right in with his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Where do you want to bet? That Sori had a career year? Or that he's suddenly found a new level of ability at age 30? Still, both players will make 2.5-3 times what I say they're worth. Let someone else pay it.

Mike Cameron is a better player than each, and he fits our team's needs better as well. We've got a pitching staff that gives up flyballs. Lets get a premium flychaser. Cameron is not a middle of the order hitter, but he's got enough pop and patience to help batting 6 or 7, and fast enough for Scioscia and Ebel to have fun with him on the bases. I say go hard after Cameron while others are chasing Soriano and Lee.

Nomar Garciaparra is interesting, of all the players here he's the one where I'd say he's got much more ability than a simple projection gives him credit for. Of course the one good year in the 3 year projection is the most recent one, so he may not be a bargain at all. We're not getting him for 3 mil as the simple projection says, but maybe offer him 2/20 or so.

Lineup, 2007:

3B Figgins
1B Nomar
RF Vladimir
DH Anderson
LF Rivera
CF Cameron
2B Kendrick
C Napoli

bench: Izturis, Molina, Quinlan, Erstad. Last spot for Kotchman, McPherson, or Morales. Perhaps on of them beats out Quinlan. They'll get their chances since somebody is going to get hurt.

That's a scary lineup, and also a defense that should avoid playing the way we did in throwing away the 2006 season.

Free agent pitchers, the projections

Free agent pitchers

From my projection system. Barry Zito does not rank at the top of the list, though he will probably get the most money. Well, either him or Jason Schmidt. Zito is the youngest of the top guys, so he'll be worth more of long term contract than guys like Clemens and Maddux, who for all I know might retire.

The stats all assume that each pitcher will pitch in a neutral park, neutral league (I guess a theoretical one that has them facing an equal number of national and american league teams) and average defense.

The dollar value is from a formula I've been playing around with. I have no idea if its useful or not. Its based on wins provided above replacement, and assumes that wins at the high end are more valuable. In other words, five starters who are 1 win over replacement (but still below average) are not worth as much as one pitcher who is 5 wins over replacement (i.e. a superstar pitcher).

Its a good thing the Angels have 6 starters ready to go (or hopefully, in Bart's case). Its a pretty weak group. The best relievers are probably Mike Timlin, Justin Speier, and Aaron Fultz. Kerry Wood could be intriguing as a reliever. But for the most part, teams should hope their farm systems can fill needs. It would be very difficult to build a staff from this tired out crew.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I watch most of my Angel games on MLB.com The archives are great, over the winter I'll be able to comfort myself with the best games, like Jered Weaver's debut.

I didn't realize until recently just how cool the site is, like the MLB gameday feature. It gives pitch by pitch results with velocity and break. There are 2 velocity numbers, looks like the speed leaving the pitcher's hand and the pitch crossing the plate. The second number is generally a little over 10 mph slower than the first.

I'm not so sure about the break, though. Looking at a pitch by Verlander, I see 100.5 for velocity and 15.5" for break. The next pitch is 81.5 and 8.3" for break.

So his fastball is breaking more than his curve? I think not. I'm not sure what's going on here.

I'm glad to find out that I threw harder in my prime than I originally thought. I probably could have hit 85 on a major league gun. The radar guns I've been clocked on were pointing at the target, not at my release. I was in the low to mid 70's. The radar gun you see on TV is reporting speed at pitcher's release.

So I could have thrown as hard as Jamie Moyer. Now if only I had his control...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ken Macha, one cool dude

You won't find too much praise for an Athletic on this blog, but Tim Salmon's at bat in the 8th called for an intentional walk. We all know what the at bat meant for Salmon. I was a little pissed at Scioscia for bunting with Willits - by doing so he's just daring the A's to walk Salmon and set up the DP.

Macha had Street pitch to Salmon. Class move. Salmon popped up anyway. Maybe this one will go to extra innings.