In this new series, I will highlight one of my least favorite SABR tropes, starting off an article by name-dropping Voros McCracken and explaining DIPS. First off, Matt Swartz in his recent, three-tabled article, “Adjusting defense efficiency by the quality of pitching“:
Fausto Carmona throws a hard sinker on the outside corner, but Ichiro Suzuki turns it into a well-struck ground ball by going the other way, splitting the defenders on the left side of the diamond. We know who should get credit for the single on the Mariners’ side of the box score—there was only one guy with a bat. But who on the Indians will take the blame for the single? Is it Carmona who made the pitch, or the defenders who could not get to the ball fast enough?
Bill James invented Defensive Efficiency, measuring the percentage of balls in play that a defense turns into outs. It became apparent just how useful this would be for evaluation of team defense when Voros McCracken famously concluded that, “There is little if any difference among major-league pitchers in their ability to prevent hits on balls hit in the field of play.” A natural corollary to this thesis says that to measure team defense, one should use Defensive Efficiency rate.
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.
He even included six really killer tables, including something I can only call a 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.
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