Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Updated Hitter Projections

The player pages haven't changed, but I did add a hitter update in an excel spreadsheet on the right hand side of Baseballprojection.com.

Some things that are not yet in the new program: Runs, RBI, SB, CS, and any estimate of playing time. For every player I just project 350 plate appearances, which is about what they'll get if they play every day from here on out.

The projections include all the pre-2009 minor league data that went into last winter's projections, but no 2009 minor league data. Exceptions are Brandon Wood, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Wieters and Jake Fox, who I entered by hand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

David Wright

I've been reading this thread on David Wright. It made me wonder what the proper weights are for projecting a player, varied by the component. I looked at strikeout rate, walk rate, homer rate, and BA on balls in play. The hitters I used are guys who had 400+ AB in 4 straight years from 1982 to 2005. I'm using the first 3 years to try and project year 5. The weights are year-1, year-2, year-3, and LG average.

For K, the weights I get are 7/3/2/1, which yields a new .235 K rate for Wright.

BB: 9/5/4/1. Not a whole lot of regression needed when you have 3 full years of these players. Wright comes in at .133 per PA, the only part of his game where he's playing at his normal level.

HR: 11/7/5/2. For David, a .043 rate per contact (AB-K) which means 12 more homers, and a projected season total of only 16.

BABIP: 10/7/6/10. Here's where regression plays a big role, but still gives a rest of season figure of .368. We can do a better job by considering batted ball data and player speed, but that's it for tonight.

I didn't do extrabase hits, but assume 20 2b and 3 3b, put the pieces together, and I get a rest of season line of 303/395/475. That does surprise me a bit, I didn't think his power projection would drop so much. But he's still a great player, even if that's all he does from here on out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Outfield Ratings for pre-Retrosheet

A few weeks ago I asked people to rate, on a scale of 1-5, the defensive play fro some outfielders who played from 1900 to 1950. Only 3 people answered the call, but I'll take what I can get (thank you to those who helped), and compare them to my system, JAARF (Just Another Adjusted Range Factor).

I'll score my results as either hit if it reasonably matches the subjective rating, foul if it isn't horrible, and whiff if it's too far off. There were a few misses, but overall I'm happy with the results given the crude data I worked with. Even with today's advanced defensive stats, there are still a few whiffs where either the numbers or the impressions of observers are way off. Take Torii Hunter. His UZR is a bit below average though he regularly amazes Angel fans, including this blogger. I'm not going to go on an anti-UZR (or anti-TotalZone) diatribe, but I'm still quite content to have Torii in CF every day.

Anyway, the ratings. First is a number, 1 to 5, average reader response. 5 is better, 3 is average. Second is career JAARF runs at the position.

The hits:
Averill, cf, 2.3, -59
Carey, cf, 4, +103
Cobb, cf, 3.3, -15
Dom Dimaggio, cf, 5, 74
Goslin, lf, 3.7, 66
Heilmann, rf, 2, -70
Hooper, rf, 5, 150
Joe DiMaggio, cf, 5, 81
C Klein, rf, 2, -57
L Waner, cf, 4, 33
D Lewis, lf, 4.5, 48
Speaker, cf, 5, 182
P Waner, rf, 4, 55
Cy Williams, cf, 2.5, -16
T Williams, lf, 2, +3

I counted Williams as a hit since this stat only shows him through 1954, after that TotalZone takes over and rates him below average for his remaining years. It looks like a normal career progression, and Ted was an OK fielder when he was younger, and 20 years too early for the DH role after that. I'm proud of having Speaker with the big rating.

The fouls: Not good ratings, but not clearly wrong:

Crawford, rf, 3.7, -48
Bob Johnson, lf, 2.7, 46
Kiner, lf, 1, -16
Manush lf, 2, 28
S Rice, rf, 3.7, 91
Simmons, lf, 3, 105
Slaughter, lf, 3, 40
Z Wheat, lf, 3.3, 109
Cramer, cf, 2.7, -70

Perhaps these can be explained partially by position, most of these are corner outfielders who rate about average but have good numbers - They weren't especially good, thus they were stuck in corners, but might have been better than some oafs out there. Cramer is the opposite in center, he was a bit below average, but compared to much better outfielders his run rating is very low.

The ones who don't fit the pattern are Crawford, who probably should rate better, and Kiner, who should rate worse.

The whiffs:

Medwick, lf, 2.5, +97
Nicholson, rf, 1, +26
Mel Ott, rf, 2.5, +87
Roush, cf, 4, -8
Ruth, rf, 2.3, +103
Veach, lf, 2.7, 72

Mostly bad fielders who rate well by some flaw. I don't think Ott was a bad fielder, but I tried to keep my own opinion out of it. Roush was considered a great defensive centerfielder, perhaps the best in the NL of his day. Ruth? I've got some thoughts on this but with his high defensive ratings (justified or not) he and Bonds have very similar profiles on the WAR charts. Except for pitching, of course.

So overall, the ratings are probably right 50% of the time, wrong 20% of the time, and inconclusive 30%. I'm only doing themjavascript:void(0) because it has become an obsession, to rate every damn player who ever played the game.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Praise for a few announcers

The normal thing for bloggers to do is wait for announcers to say something stupid, then write a post explaining exactly how they are stupid. Whole websites have been built around this concept. Sometimes, though, credit is due.

Today's game of the week features Tampa Bay and the Mets. David Wright is currently hitting .350 but is on pace for 170 strikeouts and only 10 homers. It is certainly a weird season. Ken Rosenthal brought these numbers and mentioned Wright's .480 BABIP. Even Tim McCarver seemed to grasp regression to the mean, as he (rightly) doesn't think Wright will continue striking out at a 170K pace. It was a discussion you'd be more likely to read at a site like the Hardball Times.

Wright is having an odd mixture of good and bad luck. There's some bad luck in that he's not making contact with balls he normally hits. Some bad luck in that balls he normally hits out of the park are staying in. And quite a bit of good luck in that balls he does contact are dropping in for hits. The thing about Wright is that he's not the best at any aspect of the game, but is well above average at just about everything. It's weird to see him with an extreme BABIP, and an extreme whiff rate.

I would think Wright will almost certainly hit more like his .300, 30 hr, 115K self from here on than the statistical freak he's been so far. He's having as good a season as he normally does, but it is difficult to see how one could consciously trade off one's abilities to get to where he is now.

Want a higher BA at the expense of homers? This can probably be done by shortening your swing, going with the pitch, etc., but that approach should decrease your strikeout rate, not increase it.

If you consciously swing harder, and do so at the expense of strikeouts, I can see where such an approach could increase your BABIP and your K rate at the same time. But that would approach should not kill your power, should it?

I'll add a little batted ball data from Fangraphs. Wright is hitting slightly more line drives (25% to 23% career) at the expense of ground balls. Not a big enough increase to explain the huge BABIP increase. He's hit 3 more line drives than his career averages would expect, yet has 20 more hits in play. His flyball percentage is unchanged, so it's hard to see why he's stopped hitting homers.

Just a weird season for Wright, but I expect him to display his normal profile of skills going forward.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fact Check for Rob Dibble

I generally try to ignore most of the blabbering from the announcer's booth during games. But sometimes they just get on their points and just keep hammering at it, getting on my nerves. So I have to put my 2 cents in through the small forum I have into the baseball world, this blog.

Today it's Rob Dibble, talking about the greatness of Derek Jeter's defense. He's telling us that Jeter didn't win a gold glove until 2004 because Omar Vizquel was in the league.

Fact: Omar Vizquel won AL gold gloves every year from 1993 to 2001.

Fact: When Omar's streak was broken, the new gold glove shortstop was a guy who currently plays on the left side of the infield for the Yankees.

Fact: It was not Derek Jeter.

A-Rod broke the Vizquel streak, and had Vizquel declined/gotten hurt/been traded to the National league earlier, it is likely that A-Rod would have had a gold glove earlier, not Jeter. Jeter did break A-Rod's streak, of course, with some help from his manager and team, who decided to take A-Rod out of the competition.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Raw Power

I was checking out some of the new data released by MLB, hit f/x, which tracks the ball after it makes contact with the bat. I'm not going to be able to attend their conference in San Francisco, and I don't know how to do all the perl coding that downloads the games and parses the xml into databases, but on this thread at Inside the Book, Harry Pavlidis was kind enough to post the data in CSV format.

Anyway, I was looking at average speed off bat as an estimate of raw power, but that isn't clean enough. If a player has a low average speed off bat, it could be because he is swinging weakly, but it could also be that he is not making solid contact, making too many popups or weak grounders and not enough solid line drives.

It appears that the optimal angle of the ball off the bat for real solid contact is about 11 degrees, this represents a slight uppercut that will get you some extra bases. So for raw power, I looked at average speed off bat when the angle is between 6 and 16 degrees. This will tell us how hard a player hits it when he connects. The sample size is very small, it looks like the dataset only covers a portion of the 2009 season, so I'm looking at players with at least 8 of these "solid contacts"

The ones who hit the ball the hardest:

102.5 Scott Hairston
102.2 Albert Pujols
101.2 Miguel Cabrera
98.8 Mike Cameron
98.1 Robinson Cano
96.9 Jason Bay
96.8 Adam Dunn
96.6 Vernon Wells
96.3 Justin Morneau

Cano and Hairston are surprises, the others are legit long distance hitters.

Average seems to be around 90 MPH.

The lowest:
78.5 Geoff Blum
79.3 Ichiro! (So much for his supposed raw power)
80.9 David Eckstein
81.5 Jason Giambi (is his bat speed lost to age?)
82.0 Joe Thurston
82.4 Mike Aviles
82.8 Kelly Johnson
83.0 Magglio Ordonez
83.5 Nate McLouth
84.4 Dexter Fowler
84.9 Nyjer Morgan

David Ortiz is below average at 87.4, but he ranks right between Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria. This is not what I would expect since those two are hitting for tons of power. It makes me wonder how consistent the data are, and if there are some quirks in ballpark setups.

Torii Hunter didn't make the list as only 5 of his hits are included in the dataset and meet the angle off bat criteria. His average is 87.8, which seems strange to me as Torii has hit a bunch of homers this year (including one as I type). From watching just about all of his games, when Torii hits one, he crushes it.

The Angel Lineup, small samples be damned:
C Napoli 95.4 (one hit)
1B Kendry Morales 96.6 (4)
2B Howie Kendrick 89.5 (3)
SS Erick Aybar 89.1 (8)
3B Chone Figgins 91.5 (6)
RF Bob Abreu 89.7 (9)
CF Hunter 87.8 (5)
LF Juan Rivera 102.5 (6)
DH Vlad Guerrero (no hits qualify)

Without any minimum amount of hits, Lance Berkman takes the top spot (109.3, 4 hits). Manny Ramirez (103.6, 7) is up there too.

At the other end, Kevin Millar (71.6, 6 hits) and Alexei Ramirez (73.4, 6) are not making things happen. A few pitchers make the list with numbers in the 20's, these have to be bunts, I don't think it's possible to take a full swing, make solid contact, and get that result.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

2009 Draft

Picking back to back with the 24th and 25th picks, the Angels take a pair of high school outfielders. At #24 it's Randal Grichuk from Texas, and at #25 Michael Trout from New Jersey. I don't know anything about either, but I like the names and the idea. The Angels haven't taken an outfielder in the first round since Darin Erstad in 1995. The result is that they've had to spend the big free agent bucks on outfielders. Sometimes it works (Guerrero, Hunter, Abreu) and sometimes it doesn't (Finley, Matthews). I like the idea of taking position players here, as most teams went after pitching, and pitchers can be such a crapshoot anyway. With 7 more picks in the first 5 rounds, the Angels will have their chances to add some arms anyway.

As for the names, they both bring back memories of Angel greats from the past. Grichuk will probably have to answer to "Bobby" at some point, and Trout will be known as the "little fish".

Monday, June 08, 2009

1970 World Series was Tainted

I was watching an Orioles classic game, game3 of the 1970 world series against Cincinnati, when the announcer said this, very matter of factly, about Red's pitcher Tony Cloninger:

Striken with a mysterious eye ailment in 1967. A reaction from steroids, and uh, he was nearly blind in one eye. His vision's all right now.

He threw ball four to the hitter and the announcers found other things to talk about. Not a hint of anything possibly wrong.

He was probably roided up for this game. I'm sure they were talking about corticosteroids. But you never know.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Randy Johnson 300 Wins

I wanted to see this game, going down to Nationals stadium last night only to have the whole thing rained out. I didn't try again today but at least got home in time to watch most of the game. Johnson pitched great for 6 innings, making a great defensive play nad watching Brian Wilson get a very close call in the 8th with the bases loaded, a 3-2 count, and a one run lead.

I believe some active pitcher is going to win 300, but damned if I know who, and it's likely at least a decade away unless Jamie Moyer can keep making 30 starts a year to age 51.

There are now 4 pitchers to win 300 while pitching in the era of the 5 man rotation, Maddux, Clemens, Glavine, and Johnson. A few pitchers are ahead of Johnson's pace, but he got a late start (first win at age 25) and nobody can be expected to match his late peak.

Looking at the average wins by age of those 4 pitchers I get:

Age Wins
28 106
29 124
30 137
31 152
32 165
33 181
34 201
35 219

CC Sabathia, 28, is ahead of Glavine, behind Maddux and Clemens, and ahead of the average.

At age 30, Buerhle is 9 behing the average, and Santana is 21 back.

Roy Oswalt, 31, is 21 back, and Roy Halladay is 25 back of the 32 year old average.

Tim Hudson, 33, is 35 back of the average, and hasn't pitched yet this season.

Take any one individually, and the odds are stacked against him, but I think one of these guys will come through.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Request for Help

On rating some outfielder defensive ability. I'm looking for students of baseball history here, because most of you never saw these guys play. I'm guessing most of you were not even alive to see these guys play.

I'm working on a rating system for defensive ability for the days before retrosheet data is available. The players below started their careers no earlier than 1900, and I am rating them through 1955. What I need is an opinion on how good they were, compared to the average player at their position (so if I were to ask how good Carl Crawford was, you compare him to the average left fielder, don't bother trying to figure out how he stacks up against Carlos Beltran or Torii Hunter. But I won't be asking about Carl Crawford. Sam Crawford maybe).

What you can do:

Rate these players from 1 to 5, with 1 being a terrible defender, 3 about average, and 5 being a great defender. I can't ask you to ignore stats for players who you never saw play, but try as best you can to base your rating on what opinions you might have read about them, instead of running off to Baseball Prospectus or open a copy of Total Baseball to see how they rate there. And consider their ability compared to the position I list them at, even though many may have played multiple outfield positions. "I don't know" is an acceptable response, if you have knowledge of some players and are reading the names of others for the first time. Rate them based on your opinion of their careers defensively.

The left fielders:
Sherry Magee
Zach Wheat
Duffy Lewis
Bobby Veach
Charlie Jamison
Goose Goslin
Heinie Manush
Al Simmons
Joe Medwick
Bob Johnson
Ted Williams
Ralph Kiner

center field:
Ty Cobb
Clyde Milan
Dode Paskert
Tris Speaker
Max Carey
Cy Williams
Edd Roush
Lloyd Waner
Sam West
Earl Averill
Doc Cramer
Joe DiMaggio
Dom DiMaggio

Right field:
Sam Crawford
Harry Hooper
Babe Ruth
Sam Rice
Harry Heilmann
Paul Waner
Mel Ott
Chuck Klein
Wally Moses
Bill Nicholson
Enos Slaughter

If you want to help, please post in the comments section below. I'll give a week, hope to see some responses, then post my ratings for this group.