Author Archives: Demosthenes

One Idiot with a Stats Software Package

if tRA is FIP having a nightmare SIERA is giving two idiots a stats software package and telling them not to ask questions

Just when you thought this blog was dead and buried, Matt Swartz comes riding to the rescue. At FanGraphs, he has a new five-part series on everyone’s favorite stat, SIERA. Because last time around, as Swartz trumpets, he and his partner in stupidity crime, Eric Seidman, “didn’t totally appreciate why it worked.” And the name “skill interactive” was completely misleading, too. It’s not like you two devoted more than 10,000 words and its own five-part introductory series on Baseball Prospectus about it last winter. This time, though, Swartz has totally got this.

He isn’t shying away, though. He answers the questions SIERA-atics (like myself) have often asked, like, “Why aren’t there more terms in this equation?” To which he says, in Part Two, “Excellent question. I’ve added (BB/PA)^2, (SO/PA)*(BB/PA), a run-environment variable, and percentage of innings as a SP! And all only because they improve my RMSE!” Swartz even managed to flip the sign on one of the preexisting terms with no explanation why.

I don’t know anything about FanGraphs’ business, but bringing on Matt Swartz and letting him revamp SIERA has to be a waste of money. A one-percent improvement over xFIP would be valuable to a team, I imagine, but to the average fan, it’s worth zero. Maybe less than zero when it’s impossible to explain in English the rationale for the stat.  (Though we’ll have to wait until Part Four to see the comparison between the two, I wouldn’t bet the improvement is close to one percent. And there’s always a good chance that the comparisons aren’t done correctly anyway.) So they’re paying Swartz to blather on about something pointless at best and wasting Dave Appelman’s time in having to add it to their database. The rich grandpa lives on.

Somewhat surprising to me is that the FanGraphs commenters are being uncharacteristically kind to Swartz and his Frankenstein stat. Baseball Prospectus commenters, less so.

Cyril Morong Thinks This Is Interesting

It’s not:

Paul Konerko had the highest May OPS of his career, .902. The next highest is .846. So given that hitting is down in MLB this year compared the rest of his career, this is pretty interesting. In fact, Konerko’s May OPS in every year of his career has been less than the full-season OPS.

Will F**king Carroll Is Unpopular, Confused

These are actual tweets.

First:

So if I’m using a third-party Twitter client, am I not seeing DMs or not getting any the last couple days?

Second:

Ok. It works. Just wasn’t getting DMs. DM drought. Weird week, people, weird week.

I can feel Will’s pain here. Normally, general managers just send him a DM.

This Is What You Get When You Pay by the Post

(or: FanGraphs, Written by a Robot?)

FanGraphs Posts Where Everything After the Title Is Superfluous

And don’t forget that these articles are all from the last two weeks. Let me repeat that. All of these articles were published in the last two weeks!

Now, here’s a special bonus list! And these are only from the last two weeks as well.

FanGraphs Posts Where Only One Word after the Title Is Needed

Full credit for the idea for this post belongs to “FagGraphs,” perhaps Praiseball Bospectus’ best commenter.

Update: Apparently, there’s been a Twitter account dedicated to this for a little bit! And it’s funny. Everyone please go check out FanGraphs As Tweets.

I May Have Found a New Lead Quote

Tangotiger:

Don’t question my motives. If you don’t think I’m above reproach, you should really not bother reading or writing here.

Look Out, Mrs. Tango

Tangotiger, revealing a side we haven’t seen before:

OPS is fine, if that’s all you have. But, don’t be too serious about it. Think of OPS as your f-buddy.

He doesn’t finish the analogy, though. If OPS is your “f-buddy,” what’s wOBA? Your girlfriend? Your wife? I shudder to think the implications of this.

I Wish Dave Allen Was Never Born

What the hell is this crap?

Look at that mess. What the hell is it? Apparently, it has something to do with Ryan Theriot’s swings, but you can’t be sure.

I know what it really is, though. It’s just another in a long parade of terrible heat maps created by people who shouldn’t be allowed to use R. (I mean, really? It’s impossible Ryan Theriot is at his best on swing two feet past the outside edge of the zone.)

Ever since Hephaestus axed open Zeus’ head and Dave Allen sprung forth, the SABR community has enjoyed lots of neat charts. And as was bound to happen, the man co-opted Allen’s ideas and now anyone can simply copy and paste a heat map into existence on their computer. An understanding of how to smooth and regress is not required.

Carl Craword 2010 Strikeouts, from Baseball Prospectus

This blood splatter analysis is originally from an article by Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus about how BIS blows. That article seems to be gone (Bed Jedlovec and his Beatdown International Syndicate probably got to Steven Goldman), but discussion–and the charts–live on at The Book blog.

Brett Gardner's something plotted by something, from Fan Graphs

The usually-not-crappy Jeff Zimmerman posted this, along with a mind-boggling number of other terrible heat maps on Fan Graphs.

Ryan Howard's fly ball distance on soft stuff thrown by right-handed pitchers... sure

We can thank TruMedia for this. As you can clearly see here, Ryan Howard’s fly ball distance against soft-throwing righties… is… well, the trend is obvious. Pitchers have been tie-dying the zone in an effort to contain Howard’s mammoth raw power.

Mark Buehrle's fastballs to righties, from Fan Graphs

Even FanGraphs has gotten in on the bonanza. But they’ve taken it to the next level: create your own heat maps. Shown here is a typically-incomprehensible one from Mark Buehrle’s page. And when this feature was announced at the end of January, the readers went nuts:

  • “I have such a huge boner for this.” –The Nicker
  • “Heat maps rock my world. FanGraphs rocks my world.” –shibboleth
  • “This is cool. I’m just starting to understand pitch fx so what do these maps mean?” –MauerPower

I’ve saved the best for last.

Curtis Granderson's "old" swing, from Pending Pinstripes Curtis Granderson's "new" swing, from Pending Pinstripes

These come from Pending Pinstripes, and I think the article is about how Curtis Granderson’s new swing is making everyone throw up? I’m not sure.

Sabermetrics got along well without heat maps for a long time. I know it seems that pitch location data is just begging for them and they’re just so darn easy to make, but cool it, people. It’s played.