Category Archives: Articles

MGL Engages in Severe Avoidance of Sound Sabermetric Principles

To bring you up to speed, Colin Wyers tried to set the record straight on parallax as it relates to the strike zone and TV broadcasts. He made the fair point that camera angles and zoom are deceiving; the most reliable arbiter of ball/strike calls might just be the home plate umpire. Though I, for one, welcome our new PITCHf/x overlords. Anyway, a controversial call to Lance Berkman in Game 2 of the ALDS might have been a fair one after all.

But MGL was having none of that.

I say poppycock! I claim I can call most pitches almost as well as the pitch f/x graphics you see on TV. How can I do that even with all those camera problems that Colin talks about? Well, when you watch thousand [sic] of games and you get feedback from umpires, batters, pitchers, AND, most importantly, the “pitchtrax” graphics on TV over the last 5 or 10 years, you somehow mentally can make all the necessary adjustments, the same way that a batter can figure out whether a pitch is going to be a ball or strike (Jeff Francouer and Pablo Sandoval excepted of course) in less than 1/2 a second. In other words, for every pitch you see, you have seen that same pitch in the same visual location hundreds of times, and you have also seen what the umpire calls it, the reaction of the players, and many times, the exact location according to the TV strike zone graphic. You can reach into your memory bank, and call the pitch pretty much as well as the average umpire, the average player, the pitchtrax graphic, etc.

Bully for poppycock, but MGL was basically saying, “Screw your science and computers. I know what I’m doing.” This argument by experience–without a whiff of evidence–just reeks of the mythical old-school Baseball Man.

Fortunately, Mike Fast was there to call out MGL.

MGL and Dave [Smyth], it’s easy for you guys to claim that when you don’t have to offer any proof.  I’m extremely skeptical of your claims.

Later…

Put another way, what percentage of pitches do you call correctly, and how did you determine that?

And after some MGL flimflammery,

This thread is is [sic] pointless. It’s just like all of MGL’s favorite announcers and managers.

Kind of a non-sequitur, but still, that’s got to sting. And it did, as MGL replied,

Thanks Mike. That is a real nice thing to say…

If you can’t take the heat, don’t make a summary judgment in a thread on The The Book–Playing the Percentages in Baseball Blog.

They’re Trying to Bore Us to Death

It works so well for FanGraphs, it was only a matter of time before all SABR took a page out of The R.J. Anderson Manual of Style. Chase Gharrity brings us BP’s own FG-esque look at Tim Stauffer. I must say he reaches a powerful conclusion.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the FanGraphs Empire

I am sick and tired of FanGraphs. Their player pages remain the gold standard, both in information and usability. But it’s their “stories” that really bother me. What happened to actual analysis or discussing interesting baseball issues? Questioning the conventional wisdom? Nowadays, the author picks a player, spends 15 minutes looking at his player page, decides whether to highlight his xFIP, BABIP, LD%, or HR/FB, and spends another 10 minutes writing up why Player X is underpeforming/overperforming because his Stat Y is so far from the league/his career average.

Unless it’s Dave Allen or Albert Lyu, in which case the author spends a couple of hours writing an R script to perform a local regression of swings, home runs, or ground balls by plate location. Having done that, he picks a player, spends 10 seconds updating his script with the right player IDs, runs it, takes 2 minutes uploading his graphs to WordPress, and 5 minutes explaining what’s in said graphs. It’s important to avoid giving anything that could be construed as an opinion in this last step.

As “FagGraphs” said succintly in a comment on another post here, “You might as well have just posted a link to his player page.”

(I won’t ape the Pozterisk, but to play devil’s advocate, it’s nice to know that sabermetrics has grown to the point where someone can now earn a good amount just by mailing it in with some vaguely-sabermetric articles. Mainstream acceptance, here we come!)

I looked over the 30 or so most recent posts. And only those written by Dave Cameron, Carson Cistulli, or Alex Remington didn’t neatly fit into my overly-simplistic description. That’s pretty sad. There was word vomit on Matt Stairs, Juan Uribe, the Rockies, Madison Bumgarner, Will Venable, Zach Greinke, P.J. Walters and James McDonald, Robinson Cano, Pedro Feliciano, and Carlos Lee, to name a few. And not one has any analysis I could see.

As for the writers who break the mold, in Remington’s case, it doesn’t matter in the end since his articles were–as always–super boring and on the intellectual level of a middle schooler. Cistulli’s writing often crosses the Kahrl Line, but he has his fans (graphs! I hate myself). And everyone knows that Dave Cameron is the rock of the FanGraphs blog.

The decline of FanGraphs may be overshadowed in intensity by the decline of the Hardball Times or in longevity by the decline of Baseball Prospectus, but it was a site that held promise to be everything  a SABR could hope for and didn’t strive to appeal to idiotic mainstream fans. That the blog is now nearly indistinguishable from TMI activates the weeping circuit in my robot motherboard. If the FanGraphs overlords could manage to fire a few (or all) of the other contributors, SABR everywhere would have reason to smile.

Attention, Daves: for $10 a post, I’ll rip all the SABR out there a new one. Hell, it’s got to be better than Jack Moore finding the world’s stupidest correlation.

Predicting Strikeouts with Wh- zzzzz…

In his article today throwing down the gauntlet against FanGraphs (and their Swartzianly-boring writers), Matt Swartz penned some of his finest prose yet:

For every one percentage point above average in the previous year’s strikeout rate, the following year’s strikeout rate is likely to be about 0.73 percentage points above average. However, for pitchers with the same strikeout rate the previous year, a pitcher with one percentage point higher swinging-strike rate only will have a 0.12 percentage point higher strikeout rate, which is not statistically significant.

Fascinating!

He even included six really killer tables, including something I can only call a Super Table:

The Super Table

Even more fascinating!

But then Tango had to go and kind of spoil the fun.

Anyway, BP was really strong today, as Will F**king Carroll led with “One of the hardest things I have to do is explaining [sic] what I do.” How about something like, “I write about sports injuries”? But that wouldn’t capture that certain je ne sais quoi of Under The Knife.

He went on to say, “The outright arrogance of some statheads and the inability to market any of the tools they’ve developed have held things back.” Can’t… write… irony… too great.

Tango Rushes to Summary Judgment

It’s surprising that the always-contrarian Tango is so upset that some unimportant Cub was injured by a flying piece of a broken bat since that position is so, well, trarian. Isn’t Tango the champion of letting the employees settle their own workplace safety issues? And being hit with sharp pieces of wood in the workplace seems like a workplace safety issue. (I especially like his line, “This is a workplace issue. Keep your righteous indignation to yourself.” Oh, the irony.)

I don’t necessarily think that things shouldn’t change, but I’m a little surprised no one has called out Tango on this (there are no comments on his post as of this writing). The Tangettes are slaves to Tango’s will, sure, but aren’t they also slaves to disagreeing with public opinion?

End of story.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

MGL calls Dayn “Dayne” Perry “supposedly smart” and then says his article is “dumb”. And he misspells his name to boot! The cherry on top, though, is this gem from the comments:

The sad part is that Dayne Perry used to be one the regulars at BP. Surely he knows this is poppycock…

It turns out he has a history of declaring things poppycock. So don’t get too excited, Dayne. Nevertheless, I’m excited to break out the “poppycock” tag here for the first time.

This Post Brought to You by “The Unsubscription”

Are you sitting down? Because Will Carroll has a potentially revolutionary idea which he calls “the unubscription.” As I understand it, visitors to a site will be presented with a choice, either watching a sponsor’s commercial before getting to the content or paying a small subscription fee to avoid the ads.

It’s genius because it’s so simple. How has no one thought of this before? Will F**king Carroll is a man of ideas.