Author Archives: Demosthenes

MGL Channels Travis Bickle

“Do your research; find the actual memo next time.”

You talking to me? What exactly did I get wrong? Not that it matters in the least. Who the hell are you?

And that’s why he gets to be in the header. MGL hasn’t written a more devastating put-down since this gem (one of the best paragraphs on the internet, in my opinion):

Spike, chill! I don’t get a “pass” because I am MGL. My projections are annually in the same league as the best on the planet. That is why I get a “pass.” And because I am considered one of the pre-eminent sabermetricians in the world. You? I didn’t catch your name?

AndrewN, you’ve been MGL’d.

This Week in SABR War

The Tangettes are revolting. Over on The Inside The Book The Book — Playing the Percentages in Baseball Blog (which reminds me of the Official Stephen A. Smith My Blog), you can witness the uprising in comment form against the God-King Tangotiger.

For those too squeamish for uncensored carnage, Tango said something about Stephen Strasburg and how he (that being Tango) is always right. And then we get to the comments. Here are highlight selections, in chronological order.

Mike Fast:

I don’t know what lesson, if any, I’d take from such a small sample, but it certainly would not be the lesson you [Tangotiger] are proposing.

Ken:

I don’t see how you can beat your chest on this topic, if anything I would expect you [Tangotiger] to post a “my bad”

Mike Fast:

Could your [Tangotiger's] rule of thumb still be right, despite Strasburg’s performance? I suppose it could be. But to try to use his performance as proof that you were right is involving some major arm-twisting and severe avoidance of sound sabermetric principles.

Tangotiger:

This is how it works guys. That’s why the Tom Seaver Rule is needed.

David Gassko (with an instant 2010 SABR Comment of the Year candidate):

Tom,

No, no, no, no, and once more, no. You CANNOT say that Strasburg was lucky, because we are not having this argument ex-post. The question of how Strasburg would do came up before he had ever thrown a major league pitch—therefore, there is NO reason to “correct” bias in his numbers. That would be like regressing to the mean twice. If a pitcher posts a 2.00 ERA in a season, maybe his likeliest true talent projection is 3.00. If a pitcher posts a 3.00 ERA, maybe his likeliest true talent is 3.75. But if a pitcher posts a 2.00 ERA, it does not follow that his likeliest true talent is 3.75. Which is what you are currently trying to argue. Strasburg was a pre-selected subject. Therefore, there is no reason to expect bias in his numbers. What happened happened. Oliver was right. You were wrong. End of story.

Tangotiger:

End of story.

You can say all the rest, but don’t say that.

Nick Steiner:

I agree with many of the points you [Tangotiger] make, but this is incredibly disingenuous.

Tangotiger:

And I’m saying that we observed 75% keeps the conversation open. Telling me “end of story” is the same thing as telling me to shut up. I’m talking, and I’ll keep talking, thanks.

Jeremy Greenhouse:

Tango, this doesn’t feel right. I think that you should take a few steps back from this argument and start running some numbers. Brian’s projection of Strasburg is something he should take pride in, and it seems like you’re summarily dismissing his work without evidence of your own.

And Tangotiger gets the last word (for now):

I was fair then in that thread, and I was fair in this thread.

The Seidman Challenge

I took the Seidman Challenge today. First I had to make it up and then I took it. The Seidman Challenge is to read every word in an Eric Seidman article (no skimming) without interruption.

My opponent was his latest column, “Seidnotes: Those Who Don’t Need Support”. Here’s my running commentary.

  • One paragraph in. This is painful.
  • “Usually, run support is mentioned in passing, as if it is an ancillary character in the tale, a Lloyd Braun or a Kenny Bania. In actuality, the evidence suggests that run support is more or less a Costanza in fueling the end result of a pitcher’s W-L record, the measure relied upon by many in award season.” Even for a BP pop culture reference, that’s horrible.
  • This is a contender for best Seidmanism of 2010: “In addition to listing the wild-card era trailers in run support, I also looked into pitchers with solid winning percentages in spite of the poor run support, which led to an interesting suggestion in the comments section: what if I looked at the opposite topic?”
  • Seidman writes screenplays. He also writes things like, “Yes, the journeyman right-hander who was about as generic of a pitcher as they come, the kind that would result in a video game if the create-a-player feature was left purely on default settings, went 17-4 that season while receiving 6.96 runs of support per nine innings.” To make a joke like that, he has to be the worst freaking screenwriter on the planet, right?
  • Seriously, I think MGL has a better sense of humor.
  • I feel very bad for Christina Kahrl, Steven Goldman, John Perotto, or whoever at BP pretends they copy edit these articles. They really should just try to teach Seidman to write in English (or, as MGL would say, “English”). To wit: “Now, one aspect to keep in mind is that receiving run support doesn’t automatically invalidate the reputation derived from a winning percentage.”
  • Almost there.
  • FREEEEDOM!

It was pretty grueling, but I made it. Do you have what it takes? Are you a true SABR?

Scouts, Statisticians, and Bad SABR

Finally, someone explains the whole stats vs. scouts issue. It all makes sense now!

Today in TUCK! sez

TUCK! sez: And somewhere, Robin Ventura shakes his head

This site is a poor imitation of one great blog already, so I’ll refrain from explaining today’s extremely stupid TUCK! sez comic on the Hardball Times, out of respect to Joe Mathlete. Nevertheless, I can’t comprehend why Tuck would suggest that Nolan Ryan or anyone involved with the Rangers auction at all wasn’t aware of the team’s debt obligations. Does Tuck really think he’s the first person to realize that the new owners will have to take care of that debt?

Tuck consistently produces the worst comics I’ve ever seen, but in terms of sheer stupidity of concept–not to mention execution–this one is in a class of its own.

I’ll indulge myself and touch on execution briefly. These are my issues: (1) Is it actually funnier to say “US Bankruptcy Court -n- Auction House” [sic] than “US Bankruptcy Court”? (2) Why is the American judge wearing a judge’s wig? (3) Does the empty speech bubble represent that Ryan is lost for words or did Tuck just forget to fill that one in? (4) How is the judge’s disembodied right arm coming from a mystery curl that isn’t attached the rest of the wig? (5) Is Judge Nelms’s left hand really just a giant thumb? (6) And why is he so evil?

I Like Eric Seidman

Commeter “rick flair” left a tip to a thread on BodyBuilding.com titled “Professional Actor’s Workout” from August, 2006. The first post begins:

Hey everyone, Eric J. Seidman here. I’m a writer, actor, and director who, if you have not heard of, will have in the next year or so.

Seidman has been a great addition for Baseball Prospectus, since his prediction skills are as accurate as PECOTA’s.

God, that was terrible.

I Really Hope Joe Pawlikowski Is Joking

He needed to share this with the world.

This chick is turning lots of heads.

A girl on the street

Click the image for a zoomed-in version.

I sure hope he knows this girl or I’m missing out on something. Because otherwise, this is too creepy for words.

Why Does Tangotiger Salivate over Kristi Dosh?

July 16, 2010:

Ideally, for [Dosh's] new blog, there’d be [a picture] of her in a red dress, kicking her feet up, drinking red wine at a typewriter.

Later in the same thread:

Ahhh… well, I guess those images are blocked at the office.  Usually it’s p-rn and blogspot.com that is blocked, and, I guess [Dosh's] picture fit into one of those categories.

He’s also posted the infamous “red dress” picture three times now and wanted to in the thread linked above, but his work internet filter prevented him from doing so.

The red dress picture is not this one:

Kristi Dosh

Someone explain this obsession to me, especially since other SABR kittens are out there.

Update: I think this roman à clef from Dosh’s fiction writing blog (WTF?) explains it all.

à

Lest We Forget

James Click, February 2, 2006:

Lest we forget, this is only PECOTA’s third season; wait until you see where BP is three years from now.

evo34, February 27, 2010:

So let’s take a look at how PECOTA projects the top five hitting prospects in baseball to “grow” over the next five years [TAv taken from 10-year forecast]:

Jason Heyward (age 20):
2010: .282
2011: .276
2012: .277
2013: .276
2014: .271

Mike Stanton (age 20):
2010: .265
2011: .264
2012: .265
2013: .259
2014: .257

Desmond Jennings (23 years old):
2010: .269
2011: .269
2012: .278
2013: .273
2014: .270

Buster Posey (22 years old):
2010: .266
2011: .269
2012: .270
2013: .269
2014: .268

Pedro Alvarez (23 years old):
2010: .266
2011: .260
2012: .269
2013: .258
2014: .259

So, basically none of the top five prospects in baseball are projected to improve over the next five years. Apparently, each has already peaked as a mediocre MLB regular. Anyone who has used PECOTA projections over the years will understand how massively different these projections look than those of years past. They (Pease et al.) have essentially diluted the informational content out of prospect projecions to the point where all major prospects are projected to follow an eerily similar career path.

In short, this is worse than New Coke. Someone has significantly changed the algorithm (intentional or not), and there is no documentation of what has changed or why. There is simply no way to trust any of the PECOTA projections for this season — esp. those of prospects. This is extremely unfortunate as long-term projections were the last remaining competitive advantage BP had over competing forecast services (for data forecasts, not editorial content). A full article on this debacle (not another “Unfiltered” side-note) is warranted.

I am not trying to bash BP as much as I am expressing my personal disappointment at not having source for accurate long-term prospect projections for the first season in a very long time. I honestly don’t know of anyone else who takes a numerical approach to evaluating minor leaguers. If anyone does, please post.

So PECOTA makes terrible projections for the top position player prospects and thus PECOTA’s own value falls in a very Heyward’s-career-according-to-PECOTA way. What irony.

Twitter WAR (Wordplay!)

First, Will F**king Carroll noticed something strange about WAR:

WAR says Aubrey Huff better than Albert Pujols. Someone explain this to me.

Then R.J. Anderson noticed something strange about WARP:

WARP says it too; maybe Huff is better marketed

Finally, Patrick Sullivan settles the issue:

Hey if Jenn Sturger thinks Pujols is having the better year, it's good enough for me.