Archive for the ‘Roto Relevant Research’ Category

Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins

Sometimes you end up in an entirely different place than you started.

To wit. I was reading about the strike zone, and how it’s shifted for lefty hitters. Jon Roegele over at Beyond the Boxscore did some heavy thinking about how the lefty strike zone works when it comes to balls and strikes, and it’s worth a read.

But the decision to swing or not was not what got me thinking. Instead, I was thinking how unfair it is. How unfair it is that a left-handed hitter is asked to go cover further out past the outside edge of the plate than his right-handed coworkers. They should form a union and complain! Equal zones for equal people. Down with the right-handed-normative machine! These posters practically write themselves.

In any case, this is the zone the players have now, and this is the zone they battle with day to day. And so, it occurred to me, it’s more important for a left-hander to be able to cover the outside part of the plate than a right-hander! They are asked to do more out there. It’s a natural addendum to the problem.

Answering this question took me to the very edge of my ability to query databases and manipulate numbers. That’s sort of sad, considering the question is fairly easy perhaps, but it is what it is. After culling the list of all players with less than 60 balls to the outfield (that got rid of all pitchers), reducing their pull and push numbers to percentages, sorting, averaging and presto: RESULTS!

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Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals

Chris Davis is having a hell of a season. Turns out, he might be getting a little help.

No, not that kind of help. It might be that hitting coaches have a role in their player’s production. An amazing thought maybe, at least to old-schoolers rolling their eyes. Well, duh, that’s why we’ve had them forever. And yet, are we sure that the third-base coach adds and subtracts wins from the team’s ledger? How much impact does the manager have? And the pitching and hitting coaches?

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Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees

Where have all the stolen bases gone? It’s not worth sending out a search party, but players are stealing fewer bases these days:

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cliff lee fourth of july

I’ll be up front. This one won’t wrap up in a tidy bow.

Sometimes, we only glimpse the future, and we can’t quite understand it completely. At least, that’s what I think might have happened to me when I read Steve Staude’s extremely nerdy extremely/great piece on forecasting strikeout rates for different pitcher/batter matchups. Seriously, the piece asks a simple question, but the method and the answer has implications all over baseball.

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Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

You can sing the small sample size song all day — thanks to Ted Berg — but we’re creeping up on some real samples now that we’ve got two months in the book. And one of the most recent things to stabilize for hitters (at 200 plate appearances) was their ground ball rate.

Some recent interviewing, spurred by Joey Votto‘s love of the level swing, and stoked by Alex Gordon‘s changes early in his career, has me wondering about the ideal ground ball rate for hitters. I ran a correlation between ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio and wRC+, and could not find a peak. That’s because you trade times on base (with the ground ball and the line drive) for times walking around the bases (with the fly ball and the home run).

But if we’re talking power, it gets much easier. Fly balls good. Fly balls very good. Fly balls are well correlated with any power metric out there, and you really do have to get them up in order to get them out. It *is* that simple, at least here.

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Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

I love projections. Using empirically-derived weights, they reach back just far enough for data to give us a glimpse into the future. They ignore all the things that we hunger for on a daily level: swing changes, health, mindset, team cohesiveness. Just: what does this player’s past numbers say about his future?

I hate projections. They don’t care about any of the things we care about on a daily level. And if we were all going to play fantasy using the same set of projections, it would be mighty tough to trade players. Or draft players. Or do anything. The beauty is in between the numbers, where our intuition lives.

I use projections, and I also don’t. Of course this is the ‘real’ answer. Much like the debate about stats versus scouts in real baseball, no fantasy baseballer can ignore the day-to-day changes in a player’s profile, nor can they ignore the baseline set by projections. The truth is almost always in between.

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dog fister

It might be the fantasy holy grail – what if you could figure out if a pitcher’s struggles were injury-related — before that hit the newswires? You’d look like a genius on your trades, at the very least.

We looked at off-season injury prediction here — based on past disabled list appearances, and pitch mix — but in-season would be sweet. Looks like there are at least some tools we can use in our efforts.

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