Tag Archives: baseball prospectus

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.

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.

Ahead in the Count: Tabling the Discussion

Nobody loves tables quite as much as Baseball Prospectus’s Matt Swartz, so I decided to make my own. Go look at it. Please.

Swartz had written for other sites before, but BP is the grandest stage of them all. I think now is a good time to look back and remember the very first table Swartz published on Baseball Prospectus. On May 19, 2009, in his submission article to that hilarious trainwreck, Prospectus Idol, we saw:

Player 1/Player 2    Deny   Confess
Deny                -3,-3    -15,-2
Confess             -2,-15   -10,-10

It’s beautiful.

Stick to Being an Academic, Thomas

The suggestion box thread on BP Unfiltered is a gift from the SABR gods. The best exchange by far, begins with sabermetric legend Tangotiger defending the right of another commenter to say that Matt Swartz sucks, rehashing the old The Book Blog obsession of content over tone. Some other dude seconds the opinion and adds that comment rating stinks.

So here comes Captain Non Sequitur, former Baseball Prospectus writer, Joe Sheehan. He writes, “That, more or less, is why forums are basically a non-starter. All cost, no revenue.” Tango, obviously annoyed by this customer-unfriendly attitude, responds, “Fangraphs has forums, and they don’t charge their readers. Primer has forums, and they don’t charge their readers. You’ve got to have a better reason for not having a forum considering that you are already charging readers.”

Before we get to Sheehan’s reply, put yourself in his shoes. How would you address what Tango said? You could point out that BP doesn’t have the staff or overhead to moderate forums. Or that the available forum software isn’t up to snuff and the company doesn’t have the money or time to build something better. Or you could just be polite and say that you’re looking into it.

Sheehan, logically, chose none of these:

How about this?

I’ve done sports content as a business for 15 years. By any standard I’m one of a small number of people to do it successfully outside the mainstream, I’ve played most of the roles one can play and holy god I’m sick of listening to you act as if you’ve had 1% of the success the people you criticize have had. How about you grant that I might know what I’m talking about, given that sports content has been my career, without me having to make a business case to someone with no standing to ask for one?

Fangraphs, as far as I can tell, is financed by a rich grandpa. Primer/BTF/Newsstand/Brand of the Day isn’t a business in any real sense of the word, it’s r.s.b ported to the Web and stripped of its spark. That you would make these comparisons shows just how little you understand of Prospectus, how little you’ve ever understood.

Stick to being an academic, Thomas. Stick to your sycophant-laden fora and your above-it-all mien. Stop jumping in here and cheap-shotting a business that you’ve never comprehended on your best day.

But how do you really feel, Joe?

Today we learned that Joe Sheehan is a “sports content” expert and he hates Tom Tango. And I just learned that fora is the plural of forum. So now you know!