Monthly Archives: May 2010

Matt Swartz Engaged in Twitter War with Unwashed Masses

If the Phillies ballpark was actually as small as opposing announcer think it is, the Phillies would have about 8 HR today.

@Matt_Swa Ubaldo has at least 23-24 more starts. He'll be pretty close to 25.

Wait, just to clarify, you think Ubaldo Jimenez will win close to 25 games? Bc you think he can win 17 of 24 starts? Clarify?

@Matt_Swa We need to define "close". I don't think its inconceivable that Ubaldo wins 22-23.

@jrniemeyer Wow I'll take the under on that. His BABIP is .232 and his HR/FB is 2.2%. I think the ods he wins even 20 are <15%.

@Matt_Swa And there is no chance that his BABIP regresses towards the mean after this season? Can't this season be the outlier?

@jrniemeyer Odds are BABIP going forward is .300. Of course it could be .200 and .400. What are odds 3.50-skilled pitcher wins 12 of 24 GS?

@Matt_Swa Obviously you are saying its 15%<. You run the rest of this season 1,000 with how he has started, he wins 20 more than 150 times.

@jrniemeyer 15% corresponds with a guy who wins 13.2 per 33 GS pitcher's odds of getting 12 W in 24 GS.

@jrniemeyer which also corresponds to 0.1% chance of winning 17 in 24 GS to get 25 wins.

@Matt_Swa Those numbers only apply in a vacuum. Feels like you are failing to take into account progression and current year.

@jrniemeyer What do you mean a vacuum? His SIERA is about the same as last year. How good do you think he is now?

@Matt_Swa Not to mention, his last 22 starts of last year? 12 wins. He has to do less that this year...and presumably he is better.

@Matt_Swa (Regular season)

@jrniemeyer So lucky before in one way, lucky this year another way. So throw out all we know about science and baseball in one swoop.

@jrniemeyer You've switched to arguing 20 instead of 25 when you realized the odds were 1 in 1000, correct?

@Matt_Swa False, I'm addressing one thing before I address another...trying to address two points at the same time via twitter is insane.

@Matt_Swa I also never said he would win 25..I said close...which we never defined.

@jrniemeyer You're correct that you are dodging the ball. You did disagree with 15% chance of winning 20, which I showed my work. Show yours

@Matt_Swa You are asking me to show you numbers that tell you his odds of winning 12 of 24 is more than 15% when he has 20 in his last 30?

@jrniemeyer What were ths odds of winning 20 of 30? Outliers happen but that doesn't mean they were probable. What are the odds per game?

@jrniemeyer People who don't understand statistics just assume past outcomes repeat. Does this sound like you or not?

@Matt_Swa I'm not going to pretend I am a sabermetric genius and I'm not saying he will win 20 of 30 again be he doesn't have to, to win 20.

@Matt_Swa I'm also not saying that it is probable that he wins 20. I'm saying that its 15% or more....

@jrniemeyer I said <15%. I think probably about 14% which corresponds with a P who can expect to win 13 per 33. Where's your disagreement?

@Matt_Swa I know just enough about Prob/Stats to make me look stupid. I also think we aren't on the same page.

@Matt_Swa He's won 46% of his last 76 games. Is that too small of a sample size for ?(not being a smart ass, seriously asking)

@jrniemeyer It's a biased sample because he was handpicked. To win 46% of your games, you need to be capable of >15 W over 50% of the time.

@jrniemeyer Look for a list of pitchers who have won 46% of games in 76 game spans. Does Ubaldo fit?

@Matt_Swa I have no idea if he fits. Look at that same list and tell me if they fit that same list after 3 full years of starting.

@Matt_Swa Essentially you are saying is that 82% of his career starts are not the norm....I don't know how to argue against that.

@jrniemeter You handpicked a player that is most extreme in a luck category and are carrying his numbers forward.

@jrniemeyer W luck-based in the first place. I don't even know why you dropped the other 18% of his starts. This is all so cherry picked.

@Matt_Swa But your fallacy is that you are asking me to prove a negative. And I think his last 76 is closer to the mean this his first 16

@jrniemeyer It's not proving a negative. We're having a statistical argument.

@Matt_Swa You are asking me to prove that something will happen that is already happening....I don't know how to do that.

@jrniemeyer And your fallacy again and again is cherry-picking numbers and assuming statistics repeat themselves.

@Matt_Swa And again, that's false. I'm not saying the numbers will repeat themselves all the time,they only have to repeat 16% of the time.

@Matt_Swa And do me a favor...you tell me when his numbers will stop repeating themselves and the rate of decline in which that will occur.

@jrniemeyer Regardless, you are saying that I'm way off in saying Ubaldo wins 13 per 33 GS. You also have no sense of why you disagree.

@jrniemeyer Rate of decline is wrong. Expect future luck to be 0. Decline is just what it looks like when you start adding it to old luck.

@Matt_Swa Fine, we'll take it point by point. 13 per 33 is wrong. That's 39%. He has 39 wins in 92 starts. That's 42%.

@Matt_Swa It's close to 14 wins than it is 13. And since we are arguing % pts, that makes a difference.

@jrniemeyer Stop using old numbers, esp bc P was selected=

@Matt_Swa Old numbers?? It's the same damn numbers you are using! How did you get 13 of 33?? By using new numbers????

@jrniemeyer Because I know about how often pitchers with 3.50 ERA skill win 13 games. Look at preseason projections.

@jrniemeyer PECOTA had him at 13, CHONE at 11, ZIPS at 14. That's because that's the expected win total of pitchers his caliber.

@Matt_Swa So I should let Ubaldo's last 9 starts have no bearing on this argument?

@Matt_Swa To quote you look at this list of pitchers that win 13 games a year...does Ubaldo fit that list?

@Matt_Swa (Look at A list...not "this" list) sry.

@jrniemeyer Correct, because it was clearly based on luck. His SIERA only went from 3.60 to 3.35.

@jrniemeyer j.santana, e.jackson, k.millwood, y.gallardo, j.danks, m.buehrle, j.niemann, a.burnett, r.romero, r.nolasco. about right?

@Matt_Swa My argument is that this is his outlier year....I don't think he will keep this pace up for his career.

@jrniemeyer And that's my point. You are assuming luck persists into future. Old luck happened. New luck should be assumed to be zero.

@Matt_Swa Based on that 13 out of 33 he'll win 17 games this season. What do you think the odds of that happening are?

@jrniemeyer about 50%

@Matt_Swa Sorry, 14 as he does 20. I can't subtract.

@jrniemeyer yes.

If you insert his last 9 starts, would they have an impact on ZIPS or PECOTA's numbers?

Because even if you use ZIPS numbers without the past 9 starts UJ should still win 18, 50%. I don't think 2 wins should drop it 35%.

@jrniemeyer Since his DIPS stats did not change, I really doubt it.

@Matt_Swa Regardless, there is no right or wrong with this argument because we aren't against yes/no rather %'s of yes/no. So I'm done, lol.

@Matt_Swa But I appreciate you taking the time to argue this with me even if you do think I'm misinformed. Sabermetrics is a little rough...

Who Is Tangotiger?

It seems a fitting beginning to Praiseball Bospectus to tackle the biggest question facing SABR today: who exactly is Tangotiger? An introduction is far from necessary, as the 2006 book he co-authored with Mitchel Lichtman and Andy Dolphin, The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, and its accompanying blog are necessary reading for all SABR. And he’s a statistical consultant for the Mariners and Blue Jays to boot.

Tangotiger is an obvious nom de plume, but I–like many people, I expect–assumed that Tom Tango was his real name, as “Tom M. Tango” appears on the cover of his book. But that’s not the case. According to Maclean’s magazine, “his real name a closely guarded secret.”

Long known in the online sabermetrics world as “Tango­tiger,” he tacked on the “Tom” and dropped the “Tiger” solely to have something semi-respectable-looking to put on the cover of The Book. “There are a lot of old-timers who think that I should sign my Christian name,” he blogged in 2008. “I don’t see why it’s anyone’s business other than mine.”

So what do we know about Tango? In the About the Authors section of The Book, we learn, “Tom Tango runs the Tango on Baseball website and has consulted for major league baseball teams. He lives in New Jersey.”

Keep in mind that Tango’s consulting gig with the Mariners began (as far as I can tell) in 2009 and his gig with the Blue Jays in 2010. It’s not much of a clue, but he’s worked with other teams before Seattle and Toronto. Not that it matters;  in the Maclean’s profile, Tango says, “Take all my past and current employers, colleagues, peers and readers, and I have met exactly one person.” One person? Who could it possibly be?

In the end, our best clues come from another profile, this from the Toronto Star. A lot of the information here was reported earlier and elsewhere, but it makes for a convenient summing up of the public information on Tango: from Montreal, lives in New Jersey, married, one child, male, 40-something, “trained computer programmer,” works in corporate America.

To find out more, we’re going to have to investigate in more uncommon ways. Well, the first known use of “tangotiger” is in a September 17, 1917 article in the New York Times, “All Seek an End to Sedition Mixup”:

“We want the question of free speech thrashed out fairly and squarely in the open,” [National Secretary of the Friends of Irish Freedom John D. Moore] said. “We want a jury trial for our speakers. On the other hand, the Fusion city administration and the Tammany county officers are trying to get the soapbox into politics. They have made a tango-tiger combination, which is working overtime to force us to be tried by one man of their section instead of by a jury of twelve.”

As for what a “tango-tiger combination” is, that warrants its own post.

It’s not really noticed again until March, 2004, when he’s referred to twice as an “analyst extraordinaire” from Baseball Primer on the Hardball Times. Baseball Primer is now the Baseball Think Factory and their archives are completely effed, so that’s a dead end. Extensive Googling, though, suggests that a comment from June 11, 2001, might be his first appearance on the internet. He says, “Would be nice to run a regression analysis of OBA/SLG/BA v R/game…” Note that he lists the slash stats in super-SABR order, thus confirming that this is the true Tangotiger.

By the way, he’s been on BBTF so long, his user ID is 11. For comparison, Chris Dial is 71, Voros McCracken is 76, and MGL is 80.

The first legitimate media mention of the actual Tangotiger came in the Seattle Times, in an article titled “Pitching and Defense Go Hand in Hand” published on June 1, 2005, where he’s called “research wizard Tango Tiger.”

The name Tom Tango or Tom M. Tango doesn’t really appear until 2006, which makes sense, considering he invented it for the cover of The Book.

So we explore elsewhere. Domain registration information for insidethebook.com gives us the ZIP code of 07932, in Florham Park, New Jersey. Unfortunately, domain registration information for Tango’s personal research site, tangotiger.net, lists 08837, in Edison, approximately 20 miles away. Both though list a contact number of 1-800-555-1212, which is just National Directory Assistance. In a 2006 comment, he says The Book is buyable by check sent to

TMA PRESS
PO BOX 21
FLORHAM PARK, NJ 07932-0021

The earliest archived version of his now-defunct Geocities site, Tango on Baseball–from 2002–doesn’t give away anything. Although his e-mail address then was tangotigre@aol.com, whereas now it’s tangotiger@yahoo.com. Was tangotiger already taken on AOL?

Obviously, Tango is really smart and quite serious about his privacy. Barring a bonehead mistake on his part, the public isn’t going to know who he is unless he wants us to. But combining the publicly available information with what’s obvious from reading his non-sports posts on The Book blog, there’s a profile to be on the lookout for. So the next time you’re in northern New Jersey and meet a 40-something, white (come on, he loves hockey), married, one-child-having, libertarian-leaning Canadian who works for large corporations doing database stuff, graduated college in 1990, and loves escrow accounts, he might just be Tangotiger!