The Poor Man’s Analyst

Big News

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If you’ve been reading here for…oh, I guess five minutes, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of both baseball and sabermetrics. About a week ago, I was contacted by Pizza Cutter (note: not his real name) of the Statistically Speaking blog about writing there. I’ve been a big fan of StatSpeak for about two years now, so it was with much joy that I accepted his invitation. My first post is about differing run environments, using the careers of Roy Halladay and Sandy Koufax to help illustrate the point.

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January 8, 2009 at 6:12 PM

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Intro to Sabermetrics

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I was looking at some blog stats tonight and realized that some people have missed some of the more important posts on this site, simply because they haven’t been on the front page. So I’m going to “reprint” some of them (probably only one more after this) in this space, in order to increase their popularity within the site. Read on… Read the rest of this entry »

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January 7, 2009 at 1:52 AM

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From the Archives: Outside Pitch

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A little Sunday reading for you…

Mike Marshall is probably the most polarizing figure in the (small) world of pitching mechanics. His ideas are so drastically different from the norm that it is difficult for people to take him seriously. Also, a lack of results in pro baseball have given his doubters more ammunition.

Marshall claims that his style of pitching a baseball will end arm injuries, and allow pitchers to throw more efficiently than they do now. While the second claim has been refuted by many, and I don’t agree with Marshall on that point either, the claim that pitcher health is all but certain is pretty much accepted. But are people willing to give up performance in exchange for health? There are ways of incorporating some of Marshall’s teachings into the current pitching motion that could greatly increase the chances of staying healthy. Guys like Roger Clemens and Dan Haren, whether knowingly or not, display certain aspects of the Marshall pitching motion. You can find the Jeff Passan article on Yahoo right here.

If you would like to learn more about the Marshall pitching motion specifically, you can visit his site here (be warned, it’s a HUGE amount of reading), or read a primer by Chris O’Leary here.

For those of you who missed it the first time, the Jeff Passan Yahoo article is below.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=Aoed4ocYk2a3.8zz7CqRSdwRvLYF?slug=jp-marshall051007&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

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January 4, 2009 at 2:02 PM

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Dollars Per Win

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Today at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron wrote up a good explanation of the dollars per win system that MLB teams choose to operate under. Part of the analysis in effect shows why young players are so cost-effective, and in turn shows why teams like the Rays can compete with such a low payroll. Something that is often missed when looking at big free agent contracts is that just because a player is paid a billion dollars doesn’t mean that he’s overpaid, relative to the rest of baseball of course.

Now, I know there’s some sentiment that teams don’t pay for wins linearly, because a six win player is worth more than three two win players. While I agree with this in theory, major league teams just don’t operate this way. If you just look at the dollar per win costs for the multi-year contracts handed out to hitters last year, the cost per win was $4.3 million for guys with an average win value of 4.4 wins per player. Alex Rodriguez signed for about $3.8 million per win last year. Teams just don’t pay exponentially more for higher win value players than they do for average and below players. You could argue that they should (and I would probably agree), but they don’t. The dollar per win scale is linear.

So just because Sabathia and Santana are being paid boat loads of money doesn’t mean that they’re being paid more than their expected production because of their “marquee status.” In some cases, that may happen (Derek Jeter would be an example, maybe), but that’s more the exception than the rule.

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January 2, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Replacement Level Pitching Part II

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In part one of this, I talked about why we compare players versus the baseline of a replacement player instead of a bench player. Then, I showed what a sub-replacement level pitcher looks like in Kei Igawa, and gave an example of a replacement level pitcher in Sidney Ponson, who fits the definition perfectly. Now we’ll get on with the rest of it, talking about how to value pitchers in differing roles and situations, like Joba Chamberlain, Chien Ming Wang, and Andy Pettitte.

"Yea, that's right, it's Armani"

No, the Yankees do not have new alternate road uniforms

Andy Pettitte threw 204 innings with a 4.54 ERA this past season. Chien Ming Wang threw only 95 innings in an injury-shortened season, putting up a 4.07 ERA. Wang was better, but pitched in fewer innings, so who was more valuable to the Yankees? The same question can be asked about Joba Chamberlain and Mike Mussina. If you remember from part one, I said that replacement level for relievers is lower than it is for starters. So we also need to look at the time Joba spent in the bullpen, and also account for the fact that the 8th inning is more important than the first inning before saying how valuable he was. It might sound a little complicated, but I promise you it’s not, once it’s all spelled out in plain English. More after the jump…

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January 2, 2009 at 4:08 AM

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From the Archives: Pictures and Steroids

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It’s been well-documented that home run rates shot up in the mid-1990s. It’s also been well-documented that some of baseball’s best sluggers didn’t achieve their respective feats the same way our heroes of the past did. It is suspected that a relatively large portion of professional baseball players were using steroids in this time period, which is the oft-cited reason for the increase in home run rates. While this explanation is logical and seems to pass the smell test, we cannot prove it.

In this article at Sabernomics, the economist J.C. Bradbury weighs in on steroids and home run rates with some very interesting graphs. If you’re going to read the article, make sure you don’t just glance at the graphs and skim through it–there’s some important information in the text that’s worth reading. Let’s see if you can find the trick. In case you missed it the first time, here’s the link again:

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2006/05/pictures-of-deception/

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January 1, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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Replacement Level Pitching, in English

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There’s been a lot of talk around the internet recently about replacement level players. This seems to have been sparked by FanGraphs adding a whole bunch of new features, exposing fans with a passing interest in stats to some of the more complex sabermetric ideas and concepts. I say FanGraphs is responsible because most of the conversation has been focused on hitting, which is expected because most of the new stats there have been hitting stats (and their accompanying articles/explanations).

So here today, I’m going to be talking about replacement level, and how it can be applied to pitching. To illustrate the concepts, I’ll be using some guys like Kei Igawa, Sidney Ponson, Joba Chamberlain, Chien Ming Wang, and Andy Pettitte. Each one of these pitchers represent a portion of the concept that may raise a question. So while Igawa might not serve a purpose on the field, he will in this article. [Edit: This got kind of long, so I’m breaking it up into two parts. I’ll have something else up tomorrow, and then part two should be up on Friday]

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December 31, 2008 at 5:55 PM

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