Tag Archives: baseball prospectus

Brevity Is Great

To thwart those hoping to call me a hypocrite, I’ll cut straight to the chase. Matt Lentzner, in his most recent Baseball ProGUESTus column, wastes several hundred words and a whole article to express what I can do in 26: Sample size is important; please include it. And wouldn’t it be cool to have the sample size this stat stabilizes at (according to Pizza Cutter), too?

Wait, I know I can do better. sample size rulez. context iz cool 2. That’s seven words and only 38 characters, leaving plenty of room for sweet hashtags, #imisspizzacutter. If this is your topic for a column on likely the biggest stage in sabermetrics, just sit on it and try for something more interesting and original.

As always, the BP commenters were right on point. skyojohnny chimed in first:

This is one of the most important articles I have ever read in BP and I bet that it will also be one of the most overlooked.

#smh

By the way, it’s bad enough BP couldn’t come up anything more clever than “Proguestus” for their guest writers’ column. That has to be literally the first idea they came up with. To spend time brainstorming names and ending up with something so banal would make me sad. But to capitalize the “guest” is insulting. Because I’m so dumb, I wouldn’t get it otherwise. Thanks, guys.

Baseball Prospectus Disowns the Idiot with the Stats Software Package

No doubt inspired by my comments on Matt Swartz’s harebrained relaunch of SIERA, Colin Wyers officially called out Swartz for his shoddy work and ignorance of statistics. It’s awesome, really. I’m not being ironic when I say it’s exactly what sabermetrics should be. And he managed to do it in 3,000 words, instead of the millions Swartz has written so far about his idiotic stat. I’ll link it again for everyone; please go read Wyers’s article.

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.

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.

Questions to Ponder, Vol. 2

Why is Jesse Behr now calling himself an “Executive Assistant”? He does realize that’s corporate-speak for secretary, right? (And thank you to SABR legend Brian Cartwright for the tip.)

Questions to Ponder, Vol. 1

Why is Jesse Behr a “Special Assistant” at Baseball Prospectus? What does that even mean?

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.

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.

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?

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.