URL Weaver: All in the Family

It is only a matter of time before Major League baseball teams take the “assistant hitting coach” thing to its illogical conclusion. Hitting instructors everywhere! In the trees, on the team plane, everyone a hitting instructor!

While the every smart front office looks for an edge which keeps their players producing at maximum output all the time, there might just be a more efficient way to get hitting tips and tricks through to the players: let them teach each other.

That is exactly what happens every day in every big league clubhouse, if we’re being honest. Players get to together, talk shop, hang out, compare notes when they aren’t making plans to eat enormous steaks.

Inevitably, some players are physcially capable of feats which more other humans are not. It doesn’t serve much perhaps if you are an everyday regular Major Leaguer and you ask Albert Pujols or Mike Trout for hitting tips.

“How do you avoid getting burned by the slider, Mike?”

“I wait.”

“You wait? What do you mean, you wait?”

“I wait until I’m sure it’s a slider, then I don’t swing.”

“But that guy throws 96! Doesn’t waiting that long leave you exposed to the fastball? Don’t you get beat inside etc?”

“Lolnope. I’m Mike Trout!”

Hardly a productive meeting and exchange of ideas. Torii Hunter, former member of the Angels, struggled to get his timing back after returning from a brief layoff this past June. He told reporters this week that when he needed help, he didn’t look within his own clubhouse, he looked to Miguel Cabrera.

“I’ve always been impressed with him at the plate, the way he swings,” Hunter said of Cabrera. “In June, I looked at his video and it helped me out. Don’t tell him that, he might get kind of pumped up. He’s one of my favorite hitters in the game.”

Don’t tell the guy who won the Triple Crown he’s good, we don’t want his head swelling.

Having Miguel Cabrera standing mere feet away from him at all times is SURE to protect the 37-year old outfielder for regressing to the mean like he was shot out of a cannon aimed directly at the mean.

Most 35 and older hitters post a BABIP higher than their on base percentage, right? That’s completely normal and in no way a flashing beacon of warning for Tigers fans. Nope, not at all.

And the rest

It’s Jackie Robinson‘s birthday today and the Google Doodle in his honor is amazing.

A review of the Terry Francona book, crafted with love by the CHB himself. [ProJo]

Mike Trout, single-handedly saving the baseball card industry. [OC Register]

Emma Span on the most frustrating part of the PED debate: it never changes. [Sports on Earth]

Jake Peavy says pressure got to the White Sox down the stretch, which is rare only that he admitted it. [CSN Chicago]

Justin Verlander might particpate in the WBC after all. Rejoice! [Hey, man]

The Cardinals are adding a massive eyesore to the (ever so slightly) publicly funded ballpark, though it is nowhere near what was initially promised! Give the Best Fans in Baseball a proper sandbox, DeWitt. [St. Louis PD]

Stephen Strasburg has thrown and will continue throwing baseballs during the winter. Stand by, further updates as events warrant. [Nationals Journal]

I don’t know what Jack Moore is on about here. Ballpark effects aren’t real. Pitchers only change their approach drastically when pitching at home or away because of coincidence. Now please examine the microsplits I compiled via arbitrary endpoints. [Fangraphs]

Chase Headley agreed to terms with the Padres. Extension watch is on! [Gaslamp Ball]

Five players who probably should be bought out immediately. [Baseball Prospectus ($)]

Comments (8)

  1. you mean “mere feet” instead of “mere feat”?

  2. I’d like to explain the problem I personally have with park adjusted statistics, and it has nothing to do with believing that all ballparks are the same. Among less rigorous sabermetrics adherents, this phrase comes up often “Ballpark X was much better for left handed power this year than last” to explain why a leftie suddenly hit more home runs at home.

    Well, no, it wasn’t. Unless the walls were brought in, it’s the same freaking park. Park adjusted statistics often fall into the classic correlation – causation dilemma.

    Since it is impossible to fully account mathematically for park effect (due to impossibility of isolating variables) I would humbly submit that the most honest way to approach the subject is to say “Player X did hit for a lot of power but we should take that with a grain of salt because his home park is generally friendly to lefty sluggers.” So, um, maybe everyone who doesn’t buy into park effects (to a lesser extent, defensive metrics, but that’s a story for another time) isn’t a complete luddite.

    • Park adjusted statistics often fall into the classic correlation – causation dilemma.

      There is a difference between the statistics and the people citing them.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with your suggestion about grains of salt. There are some changes, over time, which can impact the way a park plays. But just like I believe we’ll see with Petco this year, environmental effects play much greater than the actual dimensions of the park.

      • I would argue the statistics have the same shortcomings as the commenters because of the underlying assumption that park effects change annually.

        For instance lets take the Jays for familiarity:

        From 2009 to 2012, the Jays park effects for HR were; 0.99, 1.358, 1.186, 1.03.

        You and I might propose that the reason for this is that the Blue Jays had the Dwayne Murphy hitting philosophy, the rise of Jose Bautista and the man in white to blame for these numbers. Someone else might regress these numbers to ‘park adjust’ the home runs hit by the Jays (as was frequently done in prior years). Even a four year average depends to a huge extent on the personnel rather than the park.

        The same is true of strikeout statistics. Seattle’s SafeCo field, for example, ranks high on the park effect every year. One might assume that Seattle pitchers, in a neutral field, would have fewer strikeouts. Yet a player like Brandon Morrow has not seen his strikeouts dip at all leaving the park.

        I’m not saying there’s no value in thinking about it, and the Volquez article is a perfect example of that. But to look at all of the variables involved and think we can assign a number confidently to this just seems crazy to me. A ballpark can be good for fly ball pitchers, but you will never be able to say with certainty that it improves fly ball rates by (15-20%). You just can’t disassociate the impact of personnel on these stats.

        • Park effects can change annually because of the environmental effects Drew mentioned. If a year is markedly warmer than average, balls will fly farther – more humid than normal keeps them in the yard.

          Similarly, at the SkyDome and the 4 other retractable-roof parks, the number of times the roof is closed over the year can affect how the ball travels.

          The differences may be small, but they can add up to something significant, maybe not the 15-20% you speak of but certainly more than zero. I believe all the blame for this can be placed on a single butterfly in Beijing.

  3. Reading that Emm Span piece was nice and all but those comments really hurt my head… The only part I disagree with is she states that getting caught using PED’s is less offensive then getting a DUI. More like the complete opposite, people are more likely to shrug their shoulders at a DUI and crap their their pants when we all find out A-Rod is juicing again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *