January 2011

Sabermetrics (the explanation)

Many have read the phenomenon known as Moneyball by Michael Lewis. So then, many know that Billy Beane,
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used statistics such as On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage to find undervalued players. What most people don’t know is why. This is where the title “Observing Baseball” comes into play. I didn’t get why either until I applied that knowledge to games that I watched. When one truly observes baseball, everything makes more sense.

But enough of the fancy words, let’s get to explaining. I will list different Sabermetric statistics and show why they help to find the value of a player.

On-Base Percentage- For those who don’t know, this statistics measures how many times a batter got on base over the total amount of times he appeared at home plate. This is as opposed to the common statistic of Batting Average. This statistics is obviously tilted more to the favor of hitters who walk a lot:
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The advantage that it holds over Batting Average is that hitting goes through hot streaks and slumps, walks are a state of mind so they are a consistent source of base-runners. For example, Mark Teixera (is that right?) has a Batting Average of around .200 in the month of April but his On-Base Percentage always stays around .100 above his Batting Average and he helps his team in that way and is not completely dead weight. The idea behind it is: the more base-runners a team has, the more chances they have to score. To them, the only difference between a single and a walk is that the walk probably made the opposing pitcher throw more pitches and is even better than a single.

Slugging Percentage- If any of you had the following question about On-Base Percentage, “Mister, isn’t there any value in the player that hits for extra bases, because you would still need four walks before you got three outs to score a single run and those don’t seem like good odds to me,” you would have a good point. Slugging Percentage is the Total Bases [(Singles*1)+(Doubles*2)+(Triples*3)+(Home Runs*4)] of a hitter over the number of At-Bats. This gives you how many bases a hitter gives you every At-Bat. This is how staisticians evaluate how well a hitter can hit for power instead of the scout’s way of watching them. I personally like both but prefer the stats if you can get them because it helps to remove yourself as an evaluator and prevents instinctual decision. Moving on… this statistic prefers players who hit doubles, triples and Home Runs as opposed to singles. So:
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Instead of this:

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I don’t feel like making separate categories for them but there are various statistics made out of combining the On-Base and Slugging Percentages. The simplest and most common is On-base Plus Slugging percentage which is just the two component statistics. The second is Gross Production Average which takes into account the Sabermetrician’s thought that On-Base is 180% more important than Slugging Percentage so this is (On-Base*1.8)+(Slugging Percentage). The final hybrid is Runs Created, which is like a modified slugging percentage in which Walks are entered as Singles and the Total Bases are over Plate Appearances instead of At-Bats. 

Range factor- Onto the fielding statistics. Range factor is less Sabermetric in the fact that it is a low tech version of UZR (more on that later). It can be affected significantly by luck. Now, Range Factor is the number of assists and putout a fielder has times 9 over the number innings that player played. It is meant to show how much ground a player can cover by using how many plays the fielder was involved in but does not account for the plays where the ball comes right to the fielder.

Ultimate Zone Rating- The high tech Range Factor, Ultimate Zone Rating divides the field into different zones and identifies how well a fielder got to balls hit in the different zones compared to the people at their same position that year and shows how many runs the fielder either cost or saved their team. This is the statistical measurement for fielding. All the other stats are just this stat derived in different ways. For example, Ultimate Zone Rating plus accounts for the player’s home park. So a player in snug Fenway wouldn’t get more credit than a player in a more spacious park like PETCO to name one.

Pitching Statistics- There are almost no individual pitching statistics. There are three types of Sabermetric statistics

1. Ratios per innings pitched- This includes the likes of ERA, K/9, BB/9, H/9, WHIP etc. These are just to see what a pitcher would do over nine innings using the numbers that stats already show. For example, what sounds better 10 walks over 22 innings pitched or 4.09 walks per nine innings pitched.

2. Defense independent or Park independent statistics- This would include DIERA which takes your defenses range or arm out of the equation. So this stops your right fielder’s incredibly heavy feet from affecting your ERA if he doesn’t quite get to a ball that turned into a double. It would also include ERA+ which takes your home ballpark out of the equation so a Rockie’s pitcher can compare to a Twin’s pitcher.

3. Component Statistics- This would be CERA which calculates what a pitcher’s ERA should be by using his Strike-outs, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, Hit Batters, and Walks. My only complaint about these is that they tend to favor pitchers that strike out a lot of hitters. So under this system a Trevor Cahill should do worse than Jonathan Sanchez every season. It discounts the fact that a pitcher can make a ball get hit softer and will then have less hits on balls in play than a pitcher who gets hit harder.

I hope this explains any questions you have about stats, and for the record, I haven’t been lazy the past… what has it been, twenty days. It’s just that nothing that important happened.

New Year’s Resolutions

First, Happy New Years to every one.

Second, I was thinking of my new year’s resolutions and realized that they were all ballhawking related. So, I thought I should share them with anyone who cares. Hey! I heard that thought. You don’t hear me thinking mean thoughts like that about your hopes and aspirations. Then again, you don’t have my powers of super awesome mind reading.

Anywho, here are my goals for the following season in ballhawking. Not necessarily in this order.

1. Go to AT LEAST 40 baseball games.- I went to 20 games last year and started about half way through the season so this should be do-able.

2. Average 4.0 balls per game.- I was hovering around 3.5 in the last two months. So, I think this could be achieved. Note: at this point I am still a pitcher. Ergo, I am absolutely horrid at tracking balls in the air and catching them. For example, my only game ball was a ball that I overran and then scrambled to get. This can obviously be improved by pure experience.

3. Go to 10 stadiums.- I am definitely going to the 3 South-East stadiums. There are 8 stadiums that I can get to otherwise. That is eleven by my count. This definitely depends on how my dad is feeling in the summer (whether or not he is in the mood to schlep me or not) . However, the 3 South- East are a definite as this is the Marlins’ last year in Dolphins… no Land Shark…. whatever that Stadium is called now, and I want to get me a commemorative baseball.

4. Get 100 baseballs.- This is dependent on how many games I go to, but if I go to 40 and keep my pace for last season. I would… finish… just… shy… of 100. Wow, that was deflating.

5. Catch a game homer at Citi field (preferably, before anyone else does it).- It has never been done before by a mygameballs.com member because of the ballhawk’s death valley that is right field and the left field furthest from home plate in the major leagues, but Citi Field ballhawks tend to lie closer to the dugouts and therefore there is no professional competition in left field. However, there is an over hang that prevent a home run from going more than ten rows back. So, I can see why they are by the dugout but, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

6. Get five game-balls total.- Now this one, I’m not too sure of. If I sit in a spot to do it, t’will be a piece of caketh. But if I don’t, then it will be near impossible because only 7 people achieved this feat last year. And that, is why you never start a sentence with a conjunction.

7. Lead the mygameballs.com community in Umpire balls for my first full month of ballhawking.- The only reason this would be difficult is if I am going for Home Runs in Citi Field there is an evil gate that prevents fans from going to the dugout seats (umpire tunnel) from the outfield. Therefore, I would have to get to the dugout seats by getting tickets from exiting fans, a fickle source. Besides that, I have a secret weapon to get umpire balls. This is why I only expect to lead for my first month because I know Citi Field ballhawks will want to know where I got it and then have just as good of a chance to get an umpire ball as I do.

8. Be in the Top 10 for mygameballs.com at some point in the season (preferably after the last game of the world series).- Now if I average 4.0 balls per game. I would only have to go to… 35 games to be in the 2010 top 10. Like I said, many of these (if not all) are dependent on the degree to which the first goal is accomplished.

9. Post entries regularly. This is the hardest goal yet. This goal depends not on whether I know Spanish or can catch a baseball. It is a matter of pure sit-down-and-write-itness. I was previously known as the “if only he applied himself he could do well” kid. This might shine through if I am tired from running around and blogging on back-to-back-to-back-to-back games which will probably happen if I want to go to forty games (considering I will lose most of April, May, and September to Fordham P Baseball).

10. Aaand a Paaartriiidge iiin a peaaar treee.- I like round numbers and nine doesn’t really accomplish this goal. So, I wanted to have a tenth goal but had no actual tenth goal and so this is just to fill up space and satisfy my round number goal and… Why am I still writing?

Anyway, I hope your New year’s resolutions are accomplished as well (unless they make mine even a degree harder ’cause like I said, I don’t feel like applying myself that much more.) and I’ve said it a million times to other people but what ever you never, ever, exaggerate anything, especially your goals.

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