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.

4 Comments

I like the green party 002169 counter, much better than payday loans. Keep up the good work.
Richard

I had tried to fix that before hand but forgot about it. Thank you for reminding my dad so I could change it. As far as he’s going, he finished radiation a week ago Monday. He feels fine some days but is fatigue others and is bothered by the catheter on every day. A week from now, the radiation induced inflammation should be gone and it can be removed and a cat scan taken.

Hi Mateo,

I was sitting watching the snow fall while reading this blog. It was a nice reminder that Spring Training is not far away and that will be followed by warmer and sunnier weather here in Iowa.

As a kid, I probably got on base more often via a walk than a hit so I appreciated the On-base percentage. I was a good base runner, although we often played with a no stealing base rule, since we seldom had a catcher — we usually just let the ball hit the backstop and someone from the hitting team would throw it back to the picture. Obviously I never played “organized” ball, on;y sandlot or pick-up games. A walk was usually callled after eight pitches without a hit or an out and I could foul ball just about any pitch.

You have become a very good writer. I have read through most of your blogs and am impressed. You have a way of holding the reader’s interest even though I am not a reader of baseball statistics nor do I follow baseball.

Since my brother is not sending many emails nor calling all that often, can you drop me an email now and then letting me know how he is doing?

I enjoyed our last visit, running for pizza, watching baseball and football, walking to find Bill and Peggy and John in a restaurant.

Take care.

Richard

gwyllum@bernardtel.com

Richard- Although I thought I had answered this comment within the month that it was posted, it seems apparent as I re-read this entry for an internship application–Who would have thought that would happen when you first left this comment?–that I did not in fact provide a formal response to it. So here it goes:
Now living in the norther Midwest, I see the snow and weather you were talking about here and the longing for warm weather. I think one of my biggest not regrets, since I really had no choice in the matter, but disadvantages in growing up in a city such as New York was never having that type of sandlot baseball at my fingertips. I hope I was able to provide enough information for you back then, but I think you got more than enough firsthand when you made your trip down just a couple months later. I did really enjoy that trip as well as the subsequent ones and I hope we can meet up sometime soon.

Hello, observers of baseball. Let me know what you though of the entry no matter what you thought of it. Additonally, let me know if you'd like to see me do anything in specific or what I'm doing right or wrong when I do write entries.

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