Author Topic: Baseball 2018  (Read 20009 times)

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #120 on: June 25, 2019, 07:33:09 AM »
my only knowledge of baseball comes from Peanuts, but maybe I should look into that. I'm getting really tired of football.

Good stuff. Hanging around Mr Baseball was a revelation and a delight (see above... on last page...new page foul ball)

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #121 on: June 25, 2019, 06:31:07 PM »
Answering question from another thread...

WAR is a measure of player value. It stands for “Wins Above Replacement”. Basically, if you sign Player X to play a position instead of a generic major league player, how much better or worse off would you be?

There are 2 main sites collating this data, BaseballReference (their stat is sometimes abbreviated as bWAR), and FanGraphs (their stat is sometimes abbreviated as fWAR). The values are calculated slightly differently* and value slightly different skillsets so sometimes they disagree slightly so you can indicate which site calculated the value in case that’s relevant. The values tend to have larger discrepancies when a player hits very well but fields very poorly or vice versa.

Essentially, both sites work out a player’s fielding or “defensive” value (dWAR, or how much better better/worse they are playing the field by combining different metrics - see footnote below), and “offensive” value (or oWAR). If a player hits better than a league average player, they get a positive oWAR score. If they field poorly (or at least, less well than a league average player would playing the same position), they might get a negative dWAR score (indicating that a league-average fielder would play better). This is the case with Bryce Harper who hits at or slightly above league average, for 0.8 oWAR this far into the season (so on track for ~2.5 oWAR this season), but is a disaster in right field so he picks up -0.6 dWAR for the last ~60 games. This is added together to give him an overall value of 0.2 WAR over all as of June 25th for the current season. It’s a nice round number (and is cumulative, so it can go up and down but almost always increases), but it doesn’t always tell the whole story so you are able to break it down into offensive and defensive numbers if helpful.

So what’s a good score? And what’s a bad score? And why does this all matter?

A major league “replacement level” WAR (ie literally any old major league player from anywhere) will give you between 0 and 2 WAR per season. It’s “replacement level”, because it’s so easily replaceable. You have a million guys on your bench and in your minor league system who can give you this value.

This is from memory, so forgive me if I get a value wrong...

FanGraphs (and I tend to value their metrics more) reckon a team made up of 0 WAR players will win 40 games out of 162. That is (or would be, because it’s never happened) a historically bad season. It’s the equivalent of fielding a team of accountants and bus drivers with some talent. Baseball is a funny sport, so they'd still win the odd game but most of the time they’d be getting annihilated. If you fielded a team of all “replacement” major league level players (0-2+ WAR per player), you’d pick up around 70 wins out of 162. That’s also a terrible season, but is around about where the worst team in the majors will finish. It’s basically a team that’s given up and traded away anyone of any value for young players and happy to be awful for a few seasons, in the hope that the young cheap players will be good and that team will compete in a few years (see: the Jays right now).

A solid season from a good player would be around 6 WAR. A standout season from an excellent player would be 10 WAR. After that, it’s sort of historically good and quite rare. That means if you had this super-player and put them on a team of replacement level players, you’d expect their contribution *on its own* to be worth 8 additional wins to the team. That could easily be the difference between playing in the post season, and going home in October.

A bad score would depend on who you were and what you were being expected to do. If you’re a bench guy making league minimum, 2 WAR a season is great. If you are a superstar (or at least being paid like one) you need to perform. If you stink and start to get a negative WAR rating, you are typically sent to the minors pretty quick (unless there’s a reason a team can’t do that, like Chris Davies with the Orioles - he’s awful, but they’ve guaranteed him $160+m so they have to keep playing him even though he’s costing them games because they need to get value, any value, from his contract).

And this matters because..?

Weighing a player contribution is massive in baseball. It’s unique in that there is no “position” playing. A second baseman in the Australian Baseball League will do exactly the same job as an 8 year old 2nd baseman playing little league, who will also do the same job as a 2nd baseman major leaguer. No other team sport I can think of has that level of substitution. If you ditch a crappy second baseman and bring in a good one, you’ll win more games in the aggregate over a long season. They’ll still strikeout, but at a lower rate. They’ll still miss easy defensive plays, but they’ll make more great ones and turn more double plays. You can see at what rate they’ll do either by checking their oWAR/dWAR respectively (or just their total WAR if you are feeling lazy).

Maybe you don’t have a groundball pitcher, or play in a flyball park so your team doesn’t value the dWAR side of that new 3rd baseman as much but you could definitely use his oWAR batting value. Maybe you have a good team of hitters but need a late game defensive replacement who isn’t great with the bat, but can cover a lot of slots on the diamond at league average level and for a decent price. That’s the kind of determination teams make when signing players and figuring out value.

Ferris - this was long and boring, why do you care?

Good question! Baseball has all this information, and it is available for anyone. There is no hiding in baseball. There is no chummy punditry thought up on the golf course. You can’t Falcao your way to huge money by doing very little, and have high profile agents talk you up to gullible clubs and newspapers. Your contribution is obvious and numbers don’t lie.

You hit, or you don’t. You field well for your position, or you don’t. There’s nowhere to hide and if you stink, we all know it. Bryce Harper is one of the most expensive sportspeople of all time, and I can tell you that a minor leaguer would be better playing defensive right field for the Phillies. WAR is one of the tools I use to do that.

On the open market, a rough rule of thumb is 1 WAR is worth about $8m. Harper is getting around $30m this year, so the Phillies expected him to pick up a respectable 4 WAR for the season to make it worthwhile. That’s a bad assumption for a lot of reasons I won’t go into here and maybe they value his offence more than his defence for some mad reason, but they are still getting absolutely hosed by him and his agent (as I predicted when he signed!) because the Phillies could be getting that 0.2 WAR from a minor league player being paid the league minimum of 500k. They are wasting $29.5m of their payroll gambling on a very inconsistent hitter, accepting he stinks in the field, and they’re *still* being diddled because that prospective cheapo AAA guy they call up would be giving them around 0.6 total WAR this far into the season, or 3 times the contribution of Harper for 1/60th of the price. The relationship with WAR and price isn’t linear (it gets warped because you pay a lot for good players), but that’s the sort of thinking baseball nerds like me get up to.

There are other figures out there that give good player analysis in a manner that is fairly simple and user friendly, and I like the idea that if you are numerate you are ahead of the game. OPS, OPS+, xWOBA, WAR, WPA**... it’s all out there and I find it fascinating. Combine that with the fact that I like watching baseball anyway (it is a series of small moments that builds into something larger, but at a leisurely pace, and in a way that feels addictive and fun), and it becomes a great way to understand the deeper side of the game.

I can go into more detail on how things are calculated or why I like “+” stats (OPS vs OPS+, xWOBA vs OBP) if anyone is interested, though I doubt anyone has bothered to read this far down. If you want to learn more of the nuts and bolts, you can go here on how BBref calculate their bWAR.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/about/war_explained.shtml

I haven’t edited this down (as I’m sure you can tell...) so apologies for any typos or boring prose. Baseball is one of the few things I am still very passionate about, and I’m happy to bang on about it to anyone who asks because I want to share it with everyone I can.

*one site weighs defensive ability using DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), and the other uses UZR (Universal Zone Rating). Personally, I think DRS gives a better measure of fielding value over the short to medium term (ie 0-2 seasons), but UZR is better evaluating defensive contribution over an entire career. I’m splitting hairs of course, because it really doesn’t make a huge difference to the overall WAR score most of the time.

**WPA is fascinating. It stands for “Win Probability Added” and is another cumulative stat like WAR. Basically, your team’s chance of winning the game stands at N% when you come up to bat, or when a ball is hit in your direction. At the end of your plate appearance or defensive play, did you increase your team’s chance to win, or decrease it? If so, add that %age and cumulate it so we can see your contribution. It overrates players in high leverage situations, but what a line of thought to start tracking that. Terrific.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 06:55:03 PM by FerriswheelBueller »

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #122 on: June 25, 2019, 08:54:50 PM »
Love this!

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #123 on: June 25, 2019, 09:49:56 PM »
Love this!

Happy to type out more if you (or anyone else!) has questions on other baseball-related topics.

Like I say, I’m passionate about the sport and happy to try and explain why that is, to anyone else who might be interested. It is unique, and silly, and fun.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #124 on: June 25, 2019, 09:54:05 PM »
If a ball goes for HR but the fielder vaults the barrier and catches, does the HR stand?

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #125 on: June 25, 2019, 09:59:12 PM »
If a ball goes for HR but the fielder vaults the barrier and catches, does the HR stand?

No, it counts as a fielded ball and the batter is recorded out (unless there is a runner on third who scores on the tag up, in which case the official scoring is a sacrifice flyball).

In practice, that never happens because the outfield fences tend to be 10’+ high though if you type “robbed home run” into YouTube, you’ll see highlight reel of lithe outfielders doing Jackie chan runs up the wall and reaching over to catch errant home runs.

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #126 on: June 25, 2019, 10:07:26 PM »
Are there different versions of the game, like in cricket i.e. T20, one-day, test matches??

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #127 on: June 25, 2019, 11:12:28 PM »
Are there different versions of the game, like in cricket i.e. T20, one-day, test matches??

Rounders, mate

Swingball back in the day

bgmnts

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #128 on: June 25, 2019, 11:13:39 PM »
Is baseball still played at a pace which can only be described as glacial?

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #129 on: June 26, 2019, 01:31:01 AM »
Are there different versions of the game, like in cricket i.e. T20, one-day, test matches??

No. The Japanese league has a few slightly different rules which is the closest I can think of, but it is basically the same game.

Is baseball still played at a pace which can only be described as glacial?

It’s a different pace of game altogether. It’s not football or hockey, and that is part of its charm. It doesn’t try to be, and it shouldn’t. With respect, it’s a mistake I see people who are new to the sport make. It has intense moments and excitement in buckets, but it builds and it isn’t go go go from the off. People expect it to be like hockey or soccer, but it’s a different mindset.

It’s warm and sunny, you talk to whoever you came to the game with and shoot the shit. It’s low intensity so you bring the kids. There’s no separated seating because everyone is nice, so you speak to the friendly couple from Kansas City in the seats in front and recommend a whisky place you know.

The game ebbs and flows, and a mosaic of little moments forms a picture.

There’s no clock, so it’ll be done when it’s done. You lose, but that’s ok because you’ll probably win tomorrow. The absolute worst team in the majors will win at least 2 or 3 games a week. It can be disappointing, but basically, it’s fine. No drama. The Jays will be bad for a while, but I’ll still go to the Dome for a bit of gallows humour and you might ruin another team’s streak. No relegation to worry about, mmm. Shit we might win this! Oh we won! Yeah! Alright that was fun. Wave down the beer guy to bring us a few tins.

Compare that with football - intense, aggressive boozing, spend 45 minutes screaming away to enforce your arbitrary tribalism, horse as many beers as you can at half time, clock ticking clock ticking, back out for another 45 minutes of full octane hollering, tick tock tick tock, then it’s over. Exhale. Nothing wrong with that (I go to football games whenever I’m in the UK), but it is a very different mindset. I can go months without watching Villa win. Grim.

It’s fun, and bonkers, and weird, and traditional and modern all at the same time. Baseball is great.

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #130 on: June 26, 2019, 03:22:25 AM »
Are there different versions of the game, like in cricket i.e. T20, one-day, test matches??

Yes, there are. Baseball with the DH (designated hitter) and baseball without the DH are entirely different in terms of roster construction and strategy. And yet MLB is so insane that both versions of the game are combined in the same sports league, interleague play, playoffs, etc.

Baseball with the DH is a sport for soft-brained children.

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #131 on: June 26, 2019, 03:23:33 AM »
(only kidding about the last part, but National League baseball is exponentially more interesting)

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #132 on: June 26, 2019, 03:26:59 AM »
Yes, there are. Baseball with the DH (designated hitter) and baseball without the DH are entirely different in terms of roster construction and strategy. And yet MLB is so insane that both versions of the game are combined in the same sports league, interleague play, playoffs, etc.

Baseball with the DH is a sport for soft-brained children.

I quietly agree with this. I prefer pitchers having to hit and think the DH is a cop out. You’d never catch me saying it audibly at the Dome though.

I don’t think NL and AL are different in the way poo was asking though - he’s thinking more “do some games go for 6 innings instead of 9” or on a “first to score 5 runs” kind of basis. The Japanese NPB allows for draws which MLB does not, and there are a few other quirky differences which is why I mentioned it, but on the whole it is the same game whenever it is played.

Edit: actually, I’ve given it more thought and I agree. The lineup construction thing is a good point, and you end up signing more utility players and defensive substitutions so your team composition is different. I have heard rumours that the push to add the DH to the NL are quietly picking up momentum in the background though, so the discrepancy might only last another few years.

(only kidding about the last part, but National League baseball is exponentially more interesting)

This is probably true. Lots of gaffa-taped together defensive positions in the desperate final few innings as your long reliever pinch runs for that massive first baseman (who was playing as corner outfielder), before being subbed out for a shortstop so you can shift the other guy over to RF.

It’s rare that professional sports openly encourages non professionals to do things they haven’t practiced. It’s like putting strikers in goal for the last 10 minutes, but it happens every game. Lots of fun.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #133 on: June 26, 2019, 08:18:36 AM »
Probably the best thread on CaB at the mo’

Well done Ferris

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #134 on: June 29, 2019, 07:18:16 PM »
So far a wild Game #1 in London. Can't remember the last game I watched where neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #135 on: June 29, 2019, 07:30:54 PM »
wow

bbc downplay it "all level at end of first"

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #136 on: June 29, 2019, 08:06:29 PM »
So far a wild Game #1 in London. Can't remember the last game I watched where neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning.

Both teams batted around in the same inning. That has to be rare.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #137 on: June 29, 2019, 08:10:38 PM »
CC Sabathia is (apparently) a Manchester United fan, and he’s one of the more likeable ones.

As if the Yankees couldn’t get more loathesome.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #138 on: June 29, 2019, 08:29:58 PM »
This game is absurd.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #139 on: June 29, 2019, 09:14:21 PM »
Blimey, should have been watching this one

non-baseball savvy BBC still underselling it...."Yankees 11 points ahead at the half-way mark. Can Boston get back in to this?", "Well, there is plenty of time, Clive"

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #140 on: June 29, 2019, 09:16:56 PM »
Blimey, should have been watching this one

non-baseball savvy BBC still underselling it...."Yankees 11 points ahead at the half-way mark. Can Boston get back in to this?", "Well, there is plenty of time, Clive"

To paraphrase Bob Uecker, only need three grand slams and they're right back in this one.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #141 on: June 29, 2019, 09:20:16 PM »
To paraphrase Bob Uecker, only need three grand slams and they're right back in this one.

Anything is possible in London*

*when the money men dictate it to be so

FUCK LONDON

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #142 on: June 29, 2019, 11:19:49 PM »
Aaron Judge was telling a reporter he saw two fans in London with Yankees hats on, but they had no idea who he was. Introduced himself to them “hi, I’m Aaron”.

State of that.

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #143 on: June 30, 2019, 12:11:22 AM »
Aaron Judge was telling a reporter he saw two fans in London with Yankees hats on, but they had no idea who he was. Introduced himself to them “hi, I’m Aaron”.

State of that.

Turns out they were just Short Round fans.

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #144 on: June 30, 2019, 12:12:58 AM »
(I've embarrassed myself because apparently he actually wears an old NY Giants hat)

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #145 on: June 30, 2019, 12:48:17 AM »
Jays walkoff the Royals, Danny Jansen going yard to seal the deal.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #146 on: June 30, 2019, 09:10:43 AM »
Jays walkoff the Royals, Danny Jansen going yard to seal the deal.

Mad night.

Orioles second successive 13-0 against Indians too

Baseball’s coming home

Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #147 on: June 30, 2019, 12:48:38 PM »
Baseball with the DH is a sport for soft-brained children.

Say what you like about the DH, but it allowed me to watch the Bash Brothers and Reggie Jackson play on the same team (in the only game of baseball I've ever watched live).

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #148 on: July 19, 2019, 08:24:12 PM »
Look, the good people at FiveThirtyEight are here to tell you what Ferris (and any numerate baseball fan) was saying in the winter break.

Quote
Looking at his previous three seasons, a reasonable expected baseline for Harper’s 2019 value for Philadelphia could have been set at about 3.1 WAR — three times his WAR from 2018 (2.4), plus two times his WAR from 2017 (4.7), plus his WAR from 2016 (2.2), divided by six. And lo and behold, if you prorate Harper’s current output (1.9 WAR in 95 games) to a full season, it comes out to … 3.2 WAR. Although there is a growing feeling among some Phillies observers that Harper’s Delaware Valley debut has been a disappointment, he has performed almost exactly how you might have predicted.

Should you pay nearly $11m a year per 1 WAR? No, you should not. The Phillies should hire me - I’d be much cheaper than a 1/3 billion dollar gamble. This is part of why baseball is so fun.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-is-bryce-harpers-old-team-ahead-of-bryce-harpers-new-team/

BlodwynPig

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Re: Baseball 2018
« Reply #149 on: July 20, 2019, 10:14:50 AM »
Make robots play the game

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