It's All About The Hair Cotton - Cubs 8, Phillies 4

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The Cubs overcame major struggles with men on base Tuesday night for a walk-off win. Wednesday night it was Philadelphia's turn to struggle with runners on the diamond. Tyler Chatwood was able to pick up Cole Hamels after an uncharacteristic bad start from the Cubs lefty.

Andrew McCutchen led off the game with a double to center field. He advanced to third on a Bryce Harper fly out with two men down. After a Rhys Hoskins walk, JT Realmuto doubled over Albert Almora's head. Luckily for Chicago, the ball was lost in the ivy for a ground rule double keeping Hoskins at third and Ceasar Hernández struck out to keep it a 1-0 deficit.

Kyle Schwarber doubled, Javy Báez walked, and Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch to load the bases against Cole Irvin. Almora grounded out to short to end the threat.

Singles from Hoskins and Hernández added two more runs to the Philly lead in the 3rd inning. Hamels was the victim of some well-placeed ground balls, but he struggled his first game against his old team with nine hits in four innings.

In the bottom of the inning, the Cubs got singles from Schwarber and Kris Bryant to put two on with none out. Irvin fell behind Anthony Rizzo 3-0 and threw a room service fastball to the big first baseman. Rizzo had the green-light and obliterated a game-tying three-run homer off the Budweiser sign in right.

Chatwood would take over in the 5th inning and he pitched very well, allowing just run the next four frames.

The North Siders broke the tie in a big way in the bottom of the 5th. Bryant doubled and then a pair of walks to Rizzo and Contreras loaded the bases with two out. Almora had another chance, this time he didn't miss. The outfielder jumped on a 1-1 change up for a go-ahead grand slam to the shrubs in center field.

The 7-3 lead was more than enough for Chatwood who cruised, other than a McCutchen solo-shot in the 8th. That was cancelled out by a Báez bomb in the 7th, also good to have him back. Steve Cishek took over for Tyler in the 9th and closed out the 8-4 win.


Source: FanGraphs

Power Perm

Almora has been a much more powerful hitter in May. 10 of his 20 hits this month have been for extra bases, including four homers. After just two extra base hits in April. With his glove, this offense suddenly makes him a big part of the team. If he can keep this going.

Let's Chat Up Chatty

Tyler Chatwood was very good for the Cubs Wednesday: 4 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 3 K, and 1 BB. He has lowered his ERA to 2.86 this season and has looked good. After all his struggles last year, it's really nice to see him do well. He also saved the recently shaky bullpen a lot of unnecessary drama for one night.

Random Reference

Every time I see Almora's hair I think of this.
;

Comments

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  • Chatwood has been good. One walk over four innings. And you’re right about protecting a shaky bullpen.

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    It's a big table tonight. Tyler, Anthony and Albert, your table is ready.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    This table needs to be large enough to seat all of these Cubs knights.

  • That is quite a 'do on Almora. But aside from the fashion faux-pas, congrats on his first career slam. One of the reasons I love baseball so much is how it brings out the kid in me. Despite all the success AA has had, from being drafted #6 to winning a Championship, I'm sure this was a dream come true.

    I predicted double digits for our team. I predicted a wild ride down to the last out. I predicted a white-knuckle ride. I was wrong on all counts. And I love it. I don't need affirmation from Stuart Smalley. I need victory. I got it.

    W, baby!

    The Brewers were losing earlier today, and I was hoping to see our lead increased to 3 games. They came back to win, causing me to yell out the phase whenever they kill Kenny.

    How about Chatwood? I don't mean to repeat myself, but he sucked. He didn't make excuses, didn't whine or pout, he took ownership and worked to fix it. I admire that. I see some early Javy in him, if he can just harness that talent...

    Finally, I know I'm optimistic to a fault at times, but I'm feeling this. This offense is good, and deep. This rotation is good, and DEEP. This defense is good and will be great. The pen is currently thin but currently bears no resemblance to what we will carry into the postseason.

    Snow angels 2.0. All that is missing is a little Robert Allen Zimmerman to carry us home. I'm sure of it. He did it last time. So we just keep rolling, rolling:

    "You said you'd never compromise
    With the mystery tramp, but now you realize.
    He's not selling any alibis.
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And say, "Would you like to make a deal?"

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Cubs have still committed more errors than any team in the NL. That has to tighten up.

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    I love me some RAZ.
    I didn't see anyone mention HAM last night.
    There were more HAMs tonight than on Easter tables.
    Our lineup is really deep and the more Albert plays the better he hits. We need Bote to get his stroke back, and he has been a little unsteady in the field, but I am now seeing us taking more walks, and the more runners on base the more chances we have to score, just like we did in 2016.
    Go Cubs!!

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Funny how guys on base tend to score more than runners that are not on base. Which is why I worry way more about OBP than RISP.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yeah I’m not worried about RiSP either. They get them there. It’s hitting with RiSP that needed work...

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    I'm not worried about hitting with runners in scoring position either. I file BA RISP along side "BA on Tuesday nights with the temperature above 77 degrees between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains." I figure the same thing that GOT guys on base will, more often than not, drive them home. Try to get a hit. Settle for "advancing the runner" if you can't get a hit. Try to put up crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

    One thing I've learned watching baseball is I will drive myself mad when "sequencing" doesn't go my way. Am I frustrated to have runners 1st and 3rd, nobody out and fail to score? Yes. But I also try to remind myself that getting hits, or even hitting the ball, is really hard. There are lots of ways for a runner on 3rd to score if less than 2 outs (I forget how many it is). But the other team knows them too and is doing everything in their power to NOT allow any of them to happen.

    The same thing that got the runners to 1st and 3rd (the ability to get on base) will likely end up getting the team a run later. In some ways I look at it like a lottery. I am not worried about getting the right ticket. I want to accumulate as many tickets (chances) as I can. Fretting about sequencing is comparable to fretting about which lottery ticket to buy.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Well thought out point about OBP Joel but to ME there is just something about being " clutch." With the lottery its ALL luck, while with baseball when you have a man on third , less than two outs, getting that run home is not luck.. Its almost always skill..

    I wish there was a stat that could measure clutch, but there isnt .. we all know PRECISELY when those clutch moments arise and whom we want at the dish in those situations ,, however in the interim, and in MY muddled mind RISP average is the closest thing to measure clutch.. ..

  • In reply to John Nesbit:

    There are metrics that track "clutch" hitting but I don't put a ton of stock in them. Do I think there are certain players that just plain have the knack for hitting in those situations? Yes, I do but on the inverse I think a lot of guys get labeled "unclutch" when actually sequencing or sample size is to blame. I think those always "clutch" guys are a very rare breed, I'm not sure there are ever more than 10-15 in the league at one time and sometimes guys that you think are that way are just excellent at baseball. Mike Trout is right at the top of the clutch list every year but Mike Trout simply hits, men on base or not so that metric for him is meaningless. If the Cubs have one of those guys it's probably Javy as he seems to find a way even when he's swinging at garbage and it happens for him anyway. Overall thought I don't like the discussion in terms of metrics because there are way too many variables.

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    In reply to TC154:

    all true TC, thank you for the response;
    Out of curiosity assuming Baez is YOUR most likely guy you want to see from the Cubs hitters who is the player you LEAST want to see up in a big time situation .

  • In reply to John Nesbit:

    As a general rule I would say Almora and Heyward although both have been hot at times this year. Schwarber doesn't always seem to hit in big situations but he does often walk which is why I like him leading off as opposed to batting 6th.

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    In reply to John Nesbit:

    TC, I have the same hesitation with Schwarber as I do with Baez. Too many K's for a "clutch" player. While he does draw BB seldom are BB particularly "clutch." They are in that they are not an "out" but about the best way for a BB to be "clutch" is to put the tieing or winning run on base (baserunners score more often than non-baserunners), or puts the tieing or winning run in scoring position (or, tieing run to 3B, winning run to 2B) where it only takes a single (possibly) to go ahead. The exception would be "bases loaded tieing or winning run on 3B in the 9th inning. Then I would actually take Schwarber over Baez. He has a weapon OTHER THAN putting the bat on the ball. But the number of times that whole thing takes place (bases loaded, 9th inning, tieing/winning run at 3B) is so seldom that the sample size is far too small (certainly less than 10x for a single player, more than likely less than 3x).

  • In reply to TC154:

    There indeed are players who have “a knack” for hitting in clutch situations. One-time Cub, Pat Tabler, sprung to mind, though his astounding stats mostly came with other MLB teams. Maybe Almora can fill that role too, in addition to playing a pretty nice CF.

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    In reply to TC154:

    If you give me the choice of anyone on the Cubs roster that I want to bat in a "clutch situation" Baez would be on my list but he wouldn't be number 1. I want a guy who can put the bat on the ball. I don't want someone with a 25+% K% unless a HR is REQUIRED to win the game in which case Baez would probably be close to the top of my list if not the top. My #1 choice would actually be Zobrist and not just because he delivered the most "clutch" hit in Cubs (and possibly MLB) history. But he can put the bat on the ball and he doesn't try to be a hero. I would also put Rizzo on that list. Last year I would have put TLS on that list.

    Don't get me wrong. I do think Baez is an important offensive force DESPITE a high K%. Probably the biggest offensive threat the Cubs have. The reason I believe this is that he has so much power that, over the course of the season, he is a net positive (to put it mildly). But in a single plate appearance K% weighs heavily on me. Obviously he might get a hit. Or one of my guys might choose an inopportune time to K. But I think it is less likely. And if they put the ball in play things MIGHT happen.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    As far as Cubs, I definitely agree with Zobrist.. No doubt.. and
    for all the reasons you listed

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    For me it would depend on the situation. You have a guy on 2nd in a tie game or even down a run and you need 1 run, then sure Zobrist fits the bill. If you have nobody on an need that one run, particularly if there are outs recorded already, then I want that HR or extra base hit. If you need multiple runs and there are me on base I definitely want the HR. I was listening to a discussion today on MLB Radio regarding philosophy of scoring runs how contact has it's place, but the highest percentage play is the HR which is why you're seeing guys trying to hit the bottom of the ball to elevate. Call it launch angle or uppercut swing the goal is the extra base hit or HR. In the
    cubs case, that's Javy and this year sometimes Bryant or Rizzo.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Bote has been clutch. Incredibly SSS.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    TC, I mentioned Baez's power being a difference maker. But maybe Rizzo might be close to as powerful AND makes contact. I want a high floor in a "clutch" player than a high ceiling.

    HR are the most efficient way to score runs. All other types require at least 1 other player. So I agree with you that it depends on the situation. If I just need a guy to put the bat on the ball because a single will win it I would go with Zobrist. Maybe even Almora (I still don't trust Heyward but maybe that's not rational/reasonable). If a HR is by far the most desirable result give me Rizzo. Low K rate. Will take a walk if it is offered. Can deliver a HR.

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    In reply to John Nesbit:

    One of the problems with "measuring clutch" is it isn't always clear what the definition of "clutch" is. Different people might use a different definition. For many people the definition is, "I know a clutch situation when I see it." Which is frustratingly difficult when trying to measure something because you never know if you are simply letting other factors determine your decision.

    There is a metric for "clutch" on fangraphs. I don't know how reliable it is. They calculate it using WPA (Win Probability Added--the same thing that generates the graph used in these recaps) and pLI which has to do with leverage index which, as I understand it, is used to not give players who happen to get more opportunities (sequencing) to inflate their total. I agree that there are "clutch situations" but not that there are players who routinely outperform (or underperform) their talent in "non-clutch" situations.

    My philosophy is that if you want you can have all the players who are mediocre (not bad, just not particularly good) but are "clutch". I will take the guys who are good players but "choke" when the pressure's on. I think I'll win more games.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    What a great debate that would make ,,,
    A team of average players against guys who are mostly clutch .. Clearly, obviously no way to measure such a thing ( thank you for the fan graphs note though will check it out ) but I think enough of the clutch guys could find as way on base to make clutch matter ,,maybe . I have just seen SO many average players not deliver when need them too,, it is my personal angst, the bane of my existence..
    One Kirk Gibson clutchily (* not a word) limping around the bases, or even Javy poking one to the opposite field and limping crutchily ( *) to first makes up for a season of Ron Gant, Nick Markakis or even Paul Konerko... grounding out to short or hitting a lazy fly to center

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I like Zobrist too and one reason is that he's been there before and so isn't afraid to take a pitch or two or when he has 2 strikes he isn't going to swing at the next pitch--or will take a walk if that's what's he getting. Younger players seem to get overwhelmed by the situation.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I have enjoyed everyone's comments today. Good discussion and not heated. Nobody was more happy than I was to see AA come through last night in a big situation. I have always said put his kid out in CF and leave him alone. He will make us all proud. I have been on his band wagon since I first saw him at Kane County many years ago. You can just see that he was different from everyone else on the field. I saw the same thing when I saw Javy at Peoria. These guys were born to play baseball. AA makes the team better when he is in CF. Let him play 5 or 6 days a week, and he will save a ton of runs and end up hitting .270 with 10-15 HR's. The more he plays the better he will get.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    One measure of a good clutch hitter is one who does not get himself out by chasing or freezing in a big game on the line at bat. Did the opposition get you out or did you get yourself out?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    44slug, I can see where you're coming from. But how do you know if he was "frozen" on a pitch because of the pressure or if he was frozen because the pitcher simply made a great play? Remember, the pitcher is trying to be "clutch" too.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    John, I am not talking about comparing equally talented players (roughly), one with the reputation of being "clutch" and one with the reputation of rolling over on a pitch and grounding harmlessly to a middle infielder. I am talking about a hypothetical where I would have a team of guys who are incredibly talented and produce at a very high level in every situation OTHER THAN clutch. They get out EVERY TIME in a clutch situation. You could have a team of guys who are OK players otherwise but "have a knack" for coming through in the clutch. In fact, to mirror them they could come through in the clutch EVERY SINGLE TIME, literally without fail.

    If you want to put names on it can we try this. Let's pretend every time Daniel DeScalso came up as the go-ahead run he came through like he did a couple nights ago. Last night Schwarber was up with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs in the 8th inning (similar situation). Go ahead run was on 2B. He grounded out weakly to 2B. Threat over. Let's pretend that that result happened almost EVERY TIME these two guys batted in that situation. Descalso came through in the clutch but otherwise struggled. Schwarber failed to come through in the clutch but, other than that, has an OPS between .740-.750. Meanwhile Descalso has a OPS in the low .600s.

    Put another way, can a "non-clutch" player produce enough in "non-clutch" situations to offset his "failures" in the clutch. Similarly, can a "clutch" player off-set enough other times being an offensive black hole to justify his spot on the team.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    To me the number of games actually decided by a difference in "clutch skill" between the teams is relatively small. MOst games are decided before "clutch" even gets talked about. Unless you are willing to have a solo HR in the 1st inning for the winning team in a 5-1 victory considered "clutch."

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    In reply to John Nesbit:

    Lottery is not luck. It is, however, random. Having the ticket that matches the randomly selected items is "luck." Or at least it is supposed to be assuming there isn't a "fix" in place.

    "Random" actually, to me, explains a lot of "baseball is gonna baseball." So often I will comment, "Weird stuff happens when..." What I really mean is that random stuff will happen.

    To me if I am going to consider someone "clutch" I would want him to do better than I would expect given his "normal/baseline" production in "clutch" situations. So how do I explain how someone could possibly be a good player but struggle in the clutch or vice versa? Simple. Sequencing. On an individual rather than team level.

    I know I am going against a lot of history. I am going against what many of us experienced as a player. The time when we are "hot" or "cold" and the ball looks the size of a beachball or a marble. We "know" things are different during this stretch. But the human mind is really good at finding patterns even where they don't exist (e.g.constellations of stars).

    Not everything in baseball is random. Some match-ups do really favor a batter or a pitcher. Some players are actually better hitters than others. Some pitchers are better pitchers than others. Some fielders are actually better fielders. Perhaps in Jacob Hanneman's case we hope that some fielders are a better pitchers than some pitchers (LOL). But whether a player gets a hit in his 1st PA against a pitcher or his 2nd PA against a pitcher on a given day might be random. If so, then calling him "un-clutch" because his 1st PA (the one where he didn't get a hit) came with a runner on 3B and 1 out and his ringing 2B in his 2nd PA came with the bases empty and 2-outs seems, to me, to be unfair if we then judge him as "less valuable" to the offense. That is why I like stats that assign a value to a given outcome REGARDLESS of context. A 2B has a value for the offense. If the guy hits enough of them he will likely hit at least some of them in situations where it is maximally effective.

    This is why I get frustrated when a player fails to come through with RISP or any other "clutch" situation. Each team is always trying to maximize their advantage. Let's take the game the other day for example. Daniel DeScalso surprised me by hitting a triple to tie the game and scored on an error on the same play. Does this mean he was "clutch"? To me, no it doesn't. Again, maybe it was a good match-up for him. But the fact he got that hit in exactly that situation rather than a game next time he faced that pitcher, possibly a couple days later, with the bases empty and 2 out in an otherwise less consequential PA was random. He didn't get that hit because of, or despite of, it being a IMO "clutch situation". If he does it again in a game next week that doesn't mean I will suddenly want him at the plate rather than a supposedly "less clutch" Kris Bryant (or anyone else we want to label as "unclutch/choke") in a "clutch" situation.

    Maybe this is me just sticking my head in the sand. But it helps make baseball make more sense. It explains how Bryant can go from being very "clutch" (according to fangraphs "clutch" stat) in 2015 to becoming incredibly "unclutch" in his MVP season of 2016 followed by 2 years of being really unclutch in 2017-2018, and being "averge clutch" this year. If it is a "skill" why would it be that volatile? But if it is largely based on randomness of when he gets a hit under similar circumstances then wide swings become not only explainable but expected. This is why I'd rather have Mookie Betts (clutch 0.71) batting than Mitch Moreland (clutch 1.30) despite Moreland having a "clutch" score almost 2x as high. I am not saying that the fangraphs "clutch" stat is flawed particularly or inherently wrong. The thought process that yielded it is solid. And it is probably the best way to measure "clutch" (how much do you help your team to win a given game / number of opportunities you have to execute a game changing play) if "clutch" actually exists as a "skill." But to me it is a number that lacks any real meaning. If it is trying to measure something that has a great deal of randomness involved in it.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Very good analysis. I look at "clutch" in this way... Does a player perform normally in a difficult situation. Pressure and extra adrenaline may work against a player and make them swing to hard or expand the strike zone. For pitchers, they may overthrow. Basically, they get away with from what makes them a good player. Baseball is such a skilled game where being consistent with your technique is so important, trying harder often leads to failure vs relaxing and trusting your technique. Of course, this also means guys who are clutch only succeed about 1/3 of the time as your best hitters hit around.300.

    That's why I really like your Mooke Betts vs Mitch Moreland comparison. Mookie may perform worse than he normally does under pressure but is still performing way better than an average player.

    Then as you point out baseball can be so random. A guy may seem not very clutch at all statistically but then after looking at his at bats he squares up the ball every time in these situations and happens to hit it right at someone. Right before Bryant broke out of his early slump it seemed that way to me.

    This all makes measuring "clutch" incredibly hard to do. Baseball is weird and random... that's what makes it great.

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    "It's the hard that makes it great." Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks).

    So you measure "clutch" slightly differently than I do. I want the player to perform "better" than usual on the belief that if he performs the same then he isn't clutch, he's simply himself. Yours changes the expectations from being "same" to being somewhat less effective during clutch situations so if he does what he usually does it is considered "clutch."

    What scenario is considered "clutch" for you? Does the inning matter or just "stage of the game" (early/middle/late)? Does the fact of a runner being on base factor in or can a guy be "clutch" with the bases empty without hitting a HR, or even XBH? How much more/less "clutch" is a given situation than if one or another criteria isn't present? Put another way, let's say we determine that bases loaded in the 9th inning is a clutch situation why is that clutch and the same scenario in the 5th inning is not? How about the 8th? Or are there gradations of clutch (more clutch/less clutch)? If there are gradations how do you do them? Is it linear or exponential (for exponential, is it 2x as hard to deliver in the clutch in the 8th rather than the 7th, and an ADDITIONAL 2x as hard in the 9th so 4x as hard as the 7th)? Which is more clutch: A double in the 9th inning or the single that drives him in? If we include "squaring the ball up" the ball even if it is for an out is that as clutch as Almora's swinging bunt the other day that scored the tieing run? How about a bloop single where the batter doesn't put a good swing on the ball? For that matter, is a line out more clutch than a 1 hopper back to the pitcher? For that matter, does inning/out/baserunner (state of the game) matter in any of these definitions.

    I am not doing this to be nit-picky. I am not trying to dismiss your ideas. I am not trying to poke holes in your insights. I do this because you are going to "look at his ABs." Which ABs qualify and which don't. And why does this one that differs only slightly qualify/not qualify? The closer you get to a situation that most would agree is clutch (Javy Baez getting a hit the other day, or David Bote's "ultimate GS" against WAS last year) the smaller the sample size. Eventually we get into major SSS issues.

    Here's a fun one. Let's look at the bottom of the 9th when Javy came through in the clutch. Fangraphs keeps track of WE (Win Expectancy) which is where we get the chart we look in the recap (I mistakenly said it was WPA when it is actually WE). If we look at how the inning unfolded Baez's actions appear somewhat less dramatic. In terms of WE Rizzo's double increased the Cubs chances from about 32.7% to 71.9%. Rizzo's double also creased the Win Probability Added by .260. It also increased the RE24 by 1.08. For perspective Almora's FC swinging bunt increased the WE by 30 points, the WPA by an impressive .300, and the RE by 1.00. Baez still drove in the go-ahead run (I don't like the term "game winning run" because it presumes that the other runs were not involved in making this run important) his WE was 16.9%, his WPA was .169 (well below that of Rizzo and Almora and only marginally higher than Bryant's BB at 0.134 for those who think BB aren't "clutch"). His RE was 1.00. Yet I don't recall people talking about Rizzo's and Almora's (and even Bryant) as contributing beyond Bryant being a "good baserunner." As if his BB was inconsequential or even worse, a "wasted PA" or "selfish" for taking a BB.

    My point in this is that there are lots of ways of measuring "value" to a team. As fans we often focus on the moment to remember. Zobrist's double. Bote's GS. Baez line drive. If we are willing to go into counter factuals let's say Bryant didn't get a good jump, or was a little slower and was out at home. The bases would still be loaded for Javy but the game would be tied. Let's say that his exact hit happens. Was that destined to be a no-brainer double with Almora running but not full out sprinting? Or could Harper have gotten there and cut down Almora trying to score the winning run from 2B like he did Rizzo earlier in the game? Again, it is a counterfactual. We'll never know. But when looking at "clutch" it is tempting to focus only on the batter/pitcher. But other things happened to make it possible. No one scored on Rizzo's double and Almora's swinging bunt was far from the thing of beauty that Baez's hit was. But the fact is that both of the had a huge effect on the inning. Though no one talks about them. Weren't they "clutch" as well? According to the numbers, they were as clutch, or more clutch than Baez's hit. And if you think about it it makes sense. Baez was given credit for a single. Again, it might have been a double but there is no way to know on his hobbled heel.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Walks are part of obp. So if a hitter walks with man on 3rd it’s ok but it didn’t bring in the run. Sac flies, ground outs hitting to right side & base hits bring in way more runs than walks. So hitting with RiSP is a pretty important part of getting runs home.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    I agree that a walk in a critical situation (runner on 3B with12st base open) has marginal (if any) value. But what about the game last night. In the 5th inning Bryant singled. Baez BB (YAY!). Rizzo BB. That's 2 more baserunners. Neither of whom delivered a hit with a runner in scoring position. Today people talking about Almora's Grand Slam. He "came through" for the team. I haven't heard people talking about Bryant's single nor Baez's and Rizzo's BB. But 2 of those runners got on via BB. Were those walks "clutch"? Did they have anything to do with a run scoring? In some sense they scored just as many runs as Almora did. Them being on base earlier in the game was also "pretty important part of getting runs home." My offensive philosophy is to get guys on base all game long, try to hit multi-run HR. If you fail to hit HR then having runners on base will result in sometimes scoring runs without having to "hit the ball to the right side" or try for a sac fly. Hits are really rare, actually. So one way to look at the problem is, "since you're likely to get out anyway you might as well have a 'productive out' and advance a runner into scoring position or, better yet, 3B, especially with less than 2 out." My thought is slightly different. Mine is, "If all you have done is advanced the runner and he didn't score as a direct result of your play then you are giving the team an out and that is 1 less chance to do something really hard: get a hit rather than an out." Getting hits is really hard. One philosophy tries not to have to get multiple hits (assuming they are all 1B rather than XBH) but, in so doing, costs themselves opportunities to get hits of any kind. The other tries to maximize chances of getting a hit but the downside is that it will possibly take multiple hits to get the runner in. But if the 2nd guy gets a 1B you could STILL have a runner at 3B with 0 out rather than 1-2 outs.

    Usually I hear about BA RISP when the team struggles with that category in a came that they lose in a close fought affair. To me it is like a basketball fan that complains that a player "choked" on a last second play he was unable to make an easy basket. But that ignores times throughout the game where free throws are missed, other shots are missed. But because they were buried in far less dramatic moments they are forgotten. Or glossed over. The focus becomes the dramatic moment. Meanwhile, if plays are made earlier then the dramatic moment is a non-entity.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    Tell you what. You're right about hits bringing in more runs than BB. But BB are actually MORE VALUABLE than Sac Flies, Groundouts, hitting to the right side in terms of scoring more runs (both scenarios assume a batter is on base, preferably with 0 outs).

    Look at it this way. Let's say a batter gets on base. He is followed by the sequence you list. A flyball puts him at 2B. A ground out to the right side gives a runner at 3B. A base hit gives you 1 run with 2 outs and a runner at 1B.

    Meanwhile, lets say rather than advancing the runner the next two batters draw BB that will result in "fewer runs." So the situation is bases loaded and nobody out. Let's say the next batter gets a base hit (in keeping with your sequence changing only the sac fly and ground out to be BB). That basehit drives in 1 run at least, possibly 2 because there is a runner in scoring position. So the new situation is 1 run (or 2 runs depending on the base hit situation) in, 0 outs, and then, depending on the play either bases loaded, or runners at 1st and 2nd or runners at 1st and 3rd. But, again, NO OUTS. I like my chances of scoring more runs taking the guy with the ability to draw a BB rather than the ability to get a productive out.

    To me it is something like this:
    strike out < unproductive out (any baserunners don't advance) < productive out (baserunners able to advance) < BB < Single < Double < Triple < HR.

    I am not willing to "try for a productive out" at the expense of possibly not making an out at all. The only exception would be a productive out that results DIRECTLY in a run (sac fly/bunt/ground out of any kind that a run scores on that play and not something that that play "set up).

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    This might surprise you. If a lead off hitter doubles and I am given a hypothetical choice for which one will result in "more runs." The choice is that I could choose to either (A) have a productive out and a runner at 3B guaranteed but 1 out or (B) an intentional BB I will take the intentional BB (or simple "pitch around"). The only exception to this would be if all I needed was 1 run to WIN the game. If one run ties it and a 2nd run wins it I want that go ahead run on base. One less thing to have to go my way. If I trail by more than 1 run then baserunners are infinitely more valuable than an advance of a single base.

    If I have runners at 1st and 2nd then a double might score 2 runs. A HR will score 3 (rather than 2). A single will still result in a run scored AND I have another runner that might score on another hit. Think of that BB as a free baserunner. And as I said at the beginning of this thread: baserunners score more often than non-baserunners.

    To me this is where the myth of the HR being a "rally killer" comes from. A HR, by definition, clears the bases. Now to get a run to score you will have to either hit another HR or string together multiple hits. Meanwhile if you keep getting singles every PA results in another run. Which is exciting, but also inefficient and highly unlikely (the highly unlikely part is what makes it exciting).

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Joel, your posts on these matters are exactly how I feel, and agree 100%. I wish I could be so eloquent and patient to make these kinds of posts. There was a time when I basically assigned values to all positive kinds of hits/walks/moving baserunners over/successful stolen bases, and balanced that number in a ratio to making unproductive outs/unsuccesful stolen bases/getting picked off, and the such, and came up with a cool stat/ratio to show how productive players are. I wish I could find it, because I thought it would be so valuable. I'm sure I can think it all out again and try to calculate it all, but not sure I'd come up with all the exact same criteria again. Either way, if I ever come across the worksheet I did, I'd love to be able to share it with you, and I'd bet you'd be able to add so much more and we could come up with a new statistical measurement that compares each players productivity that weighs everything that goes towards helping your team score runs against everything a player does that takes away your teams ability to score runs...

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    THat would be interesting. Look me up on facebook if you'd like to talk about this further and specifically. Put in my name and look for my picture I have here.

  • Perhaps the best news of the day was adbert alzolay in his 2nd Iowa start. 5 innings, 3 hits, no walks, and 1 run over an efficient 65 pitches. Great to see him back on the field

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    And a solid 6 strikeouts over the 5 innings

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    That’s very encouraging. He’s the closest we have to the majors.!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Alzolay could help out the pen. Maples could too.

  • Those were some bombs hit by the Cubs tonight! Yikes! Nice afternoon game Thursday. Then Harper can take his ego to Milwaukee.

  • Nice to see AA heating up (yes I've been complaining about his hitting most of the season). He is barreling the ball much better the last month and also creating some good lift from his swing. AA at .280 with 15 HRs and that defense is a solid major league starting OF

  • Very good to see Chatwood pitching like he is capable of. He seems to save the bullpen when it is really needed. Just curious, where are those commentors who were calling him walkwood and just wanted to release him? Maybe signing him was not the big mistake they claim it was.

  • In reply to John57:

    LOL, there were a lot of Walkwood comments last year, however, they were pretty justified. Chatwood had by far the highest BB% of any starter in the MLB last year.

    But this year is another story. He has been excellent for the Cubs this year. A 3-0 record this year, including last night's win, and there were other Cub wins that he played a big role in this year also. So I'm thinking Winwood is a good moniker to slap on Tyler this year.

  • Chatwood is perfectly suited for the swing role. Good to see him clean up his mechanics. He was hitting 98 mph on the fastball last night with some good movement on his secondaries.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    The guy we have been seeing this season is the guy we were looking for last season as regards Chatwood when he signed as a FA. Whatever he tweaked over the Winter - its worked.

  • If we get this one today, and I think we will......we were THAT close to a sweep! Really wanna see how they do against Houston.....2 outta 3 is plausible.

  • Bases loaded got them great obp with no runs to show for it because they couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position... Plain & simple. Hitting with runners in scoring position matters.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    If you do well getting hits (or getting guys on base) you don't have to be particularly good at hitting with runners in scoring position. Just get lots of guys in scoring position. I'd rather go 4-for-12 with RISP than 2-for-4. Yet the 4-for-12 is considered worse hitting with runners in scoring position. People will post about how frustrating it is and how "You have to hit with runners in scoring position."

    Further, BB are baserunners that don't require the batter getting a hit (which, if you'll recall is really hard). "Free baserunners" mean that it is more likely that you will get hits with runners on base. That is where most runs come from. Especially when your team is behind. To me in the 9th innings a walk is as good as a hit until the go-ahead run is on base. Now I want hits to get him home as fast as possible.

    I think the difference might be frame of reference. Yes, a hit is more valuable than a walk. If that is all you are saying then I agree with you. What I am saying is that if you give me the choice between a BB and rolling the dice with a result other than a BB (including a H, XBH, or out) I will take the BB every time. Hits are rare, XBH are even rarer. And a BB is more valuable than an out in terms of scoring runs in any situation other than tie game runner at 2nd or runner at 3rd and 0 outs. If there's 1 out already then it is not worth using up half of my remaining outs to simply advance 1 base unless that base it HOME PLATE.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    Actually if you are responding to my previous comment to you I replaced your "sac fly" with a BB and your "grounded out to the right side to advance the runner" with a BB. Then I picked up your narrative with a base hit. Why would you get 2 base hits and I'd only get one? But if you insist, fine, my next batter will get a BB too. 1 run in. STILL nobody out. Bases loaded. Potentially as few as 0 hits. I still like my chances. Your strategy REQUIRES the accumulation of outs. Seldom does the advancing of a runner justify getting an out. It just makes the out less damaging. But that isn't the same thing as saying it helps. Particularly in the wa the game is played today where teams try to get as many XBH as possible baserunners are hugely valuable. Mine avoids making outs like the plague.

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    In reply to Milk Stout:

    If you'd like let's take a look at a pair of outstanding players: Javy Baez and Mike Trout. Since we're discussing H, BB, and "non-hit/BB" situations and ignoring defense and baserunning as well sa "intangibles/unquantifiables". They have similar number of PAs (199:203) Similar number of HR and Javy has a HIGHER SLG (.608 to .577--pretty close) because he has a much higher BA (.323 to .289). Trout's OBP is higher because he has a much higher BB rate. His K% is lower but his BABIP is lower as well (Javy sports a .412 going into the day and Trout is sitting at a close to average .291). My guess is that this will get close to canceling out the difference in K%. Which guy is more valuable to his team's offense by his contribution. I'd say Trout. His Off portion of his WAR is 21.1. Javy's is 14.8. That is a difference of close to 50%. The reason? Javy makes outs at a far higher rate than does Trout. By drawing BB Trout brings baserunners to his team. See my comment above about scoring proficiencies of baserunners vs non-baserunners. By any measure I can find that actually credits the player for total contribution to their team Trout outshines Javy and his more BA based OBP/OPS total (Trout and Javy have a virtually identical ISO so their power relative to BA is close to the same).

    So H are more valuable than BB. But the ability to ALSO include BB in the mix can really improve a player's value. And as much as we all love Javy if his BABIP drops 60-70 points to closer to his career average his value will drop. He will still be a really good offensive player. He'd still be a good fielder and a great baserunner. But he wouldn't be as effective of a force for the Cubs offense.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hi Joel, its me again. Sorry to butt in but I am an old retired, disabled Nam vet and enjoy interesting debates. I know I don't know it all and I feel I do learn things from debating with other intelligent people. Besides, I don't have much else to do.

    I pretty much agree with everything you say here except where are you accounting for getting on base from an error or a fielder's choice. By the data, getting on base because of an error is the same as an out. However, it is NOT an out and therefore, by your own reasoning, it is much better than any BB and has many more possiblities of helping the team.

    The other day, Almora laid down a bunt and KB scored from third even though they made a play at home. Almora was given a fielders choice which is equivalent to an out in the stats but it actually was not an out and he drove in a run and was safe at first. A BB would not have drove in a run.

    A statement you made above was: "I'd rather go 4-for-12 with RISP than 2-for-4" but then you say "baserunners are hugely valuable. Mine avoids making outs like the plague." Why would you rather go -for-12 with RISP than 2-for-4?

    Again Joel, I respect your opinions and posts but I do not always agree. I am sorry for "butting in" but when we start looking at stats, they can be very misleading due to the very nature of baseball. When we leave certain items out then we are NOT getting the whole picture which is what is happening with the sabermetrics. At best they are informative but when you only pick out a few and leaving the rest out, the info may not be reliable.

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    In reply to clarkAddson:

    You're not "butting in" and I enjoy an intelligent conversation with you. I will address your points one at a time.

    1. By the data an error is an out but it isn't an out, it is a baserunner. This is true. But errors are actually pretty rare. My list wasn't intended to be exhaustive and lots of things were left out. I didn't mention advancing a base by balk, getting on base by HBP (which might be considered a BB), catcher's interference, etc. Aside from the inherent moralizing involved in deeming something an "error" I don't really worry too much about it contaminating the data over the course of a season. Can it change an inning? Absolutely. But not all of them do and things like that tend to even out over the course of the year. And a lot of things can change how an inning plays out.

    2. Almora's "bunt." My memory of the play was that it was not "laying down a bunt" but a "swinging bunt" where he took a full swing and almost missed the ball but made just enough contact for it to go 30-40 feet. NO batter has he bat control to do that intentionally. The pitcher wisely chose to try to cut down the tieing run at home. It was unsuccessful because of Bryant's baserunning (or, more likely, just plain speed as it was a force play but Bryant got a decent jump) and the fact that the pitcher had to run a ways to retrieve the ball. As I am sure you are aware a FC is not deemed a hit because the pitcher could have thrown out Almora. It wasn't Almora's "skill" to be on 1B as a result of his "hit." You may disagree with this scoring convention but it has been the convention for a long time. You are correct that Almora became a baserunner. An out was not recorded. But, again, a FC that does not result in an out is a very rare occurrence. As a point of fact the bases were loaded so a BB WOULD have driven in the run. But a bases loaded BB is also a rare occurrence.

    Tell you what, I would rather go 2-for-12 than 2-for-4. Going 4-for-12 was obvious because I would be getting 4 hits with RISP rather than 2. But my point stands for 2-for-12 as well without unfairly benefiting my point. Either one is 2 hits with runners in scoring position so likely to result in the same number of runs scored. The reason I say this is that my team had 12 chances with a RISP. Remember, having a runner on 2nd base doesn't even happen in most innings. It isn't exceedingly rare by any means, but a lot of teams work their tails off just to get a runner there where many singles will score a run for the team. A lot of innings end with no runners reaching 2B. Much less 3B. Going 2-for-12 in those situations (a .166 BA I believe but my math may be wrong) is really unusual since most teams have a team BA .100 points higher. It goes back to my lottery description from earlier. Basically while having runners left on base is frustrating to me as a fan ("I want those runs!") it is even more frustrating, to me at least, to have my team completely dominated and barely able to mount a threat. You may have a different opinion. Maybe the frustration of a runner left on base in scoring position is less than the frustration of watching inning after inning of seeing the team completely shut down. My thought is the more times we can have a scenario where a single hit, and the "easiest" hit (a single), score a run I like my chances in the long run.

    3. Sabermetrics. To me the benefit of sabermetrics is that they DON'T leave anything out unless you want them to leave them out. It can lead us to believe that one player is better than another I would argue that those who "just watch the game" leave a lot more out. I pointed out earlier that when Baez got his "clutch hit" the other night there was a great deal of talk about his hit. Some talk about Bryant's baserunning. A couple of mentions of Almora (but usually in the context of Bryant's baserunning). NO ONE mentioned Rizzo's 2B that I recall. Yet THAT had a greater effect on the Cubs likelihood to win the game than anything with the possible exception of Almora's "bunt." We all remember Baez's hit ending the game. And it was wonderful. But a lot of players contributed to the situation to even put him in the situation to win the game with a single. Recall, the game was tied. The Cubs needed a baserunner to tie, 2 baserunners to tie. I don't recall anyone pointing to Bryant's BB to start the inning. Yet if he gets out then the whole inning changes. People's memory of the game drifts to the two run-scoring plays. Those are the events that our minds tell us are important unless we force it to remember another event. Sabermetrics gives credit (or debit) to everyone who participated. And the amount of the credit/debit is proportional to a large body of data for how much that affected thousands of games in the past. And when we do that we see that Baez delivered the cherry on top. And it was sweet. But would have otherwise been unsatisfying without the prior events of the inning.

    I think many people misunderstand what sabermetrics are. They are tools. They can tell you a lot about baseball. In fact, when properly understood, they can tell you more about baseball than watching any number of games. The reason for this is that the human mind is actually not very good at remembering things. Baseball has been recording a lot of things for a long time. It is important, though, that you realize what they are saying. I don't know how many times I have ready comments (and not necessarily from you) saying, "You have to watch the game. Everything you need to know you can learn by watching it played." Often the comment then goes into things like Almora's bunt and how it was something "sabermetrics" won't capture. How it ignores too much. Yet, if I look at a stat I consider "sabermetric" the Cubs chances of winning the game went up MORE on that play than Baez's single. Rizzo's play dwarfed even THAT. His 2B with no outs putting 2 runners in scoring position and allowing, frankly, feeble contact by Almora to score the games tieing run (YAY!). I don't recall RIzzo's double getting much comment, nor "highlights." WPA caught that. RE24 caught that. According to that measure it is staggering that Baez's play that was the "winning run" increased the Cubs chances of winning by about 16 percentage points (only 40% as much as Rizzo's). But because a run scored, and it was the "winning" run people credit Baez. We are treated to a slew of comments about how awesome he is. How "it only took one AB for Baez to change the game." As if no one else did anything that inning until he came up (or maybe Almora's "bunt"). This is not to say that those two events weren't important. But evidence of how those who watch the game value events and how much other events affected the game. My tendency, which will likely surprise no one, is to go with what the stats say. They aren't subject to just what I find "memorable" about the game. I remember a year ago someone tried to dismiss WAR because is said Baez had a WAR at the time of 1.5 yet he'd had 2 "game winning hits" that week. As if those were the hits that "won the game" and all the others were not meaningful. While most fans would acknowledge that "every PA is important" I think Sabermetrics does a better job of saying just how important it is. It leaves nothing out unless you tell it to.

    I actually use a lot of different stats in my posts. I use stats that I feel illustrate my point and do so in a way that is honest. If there is a stat that I think legitimately refutes what I am saying I've also been careful to point it out. I continually strive to better understand the stats that I use. Some of them I have a really good grasp on. Some of them are more tenuous. Some I truly don't understand. So I don't use them until I can understand them. The last thing I want to do is mis-use a stat and have it distort reality or, worse yet, say the exact opposite of what I think it says. I have had people politely correct me when I either typo on a stat or just plain misunderstand what the stat tells me. So if you think I am leaving out stats (possibly that will refute my point) I can assure you it is not intentional. Please point them out to me. I enjoy learning things as much as anyone. If you think that sabermetrics pick out a few events and leave the rest out then you are not looking at the right stats.

    Let's take an example to illustrate this. As you point out "scorekeeping," by convention, leaves out certain things. Or can distort certain things. A sacrifice is recorded as if the PA didn't even take place. But it DID take place and had an effect on the "state of the game." A BB is recorded as if the PA didn't take place. But it also took place. And it had an effect on the state of the game. Both had a result. A sacrifice was deemed a positive thing (though there is evidence that a sacrifice, by creating an out, actually HURTS the offense more than it helps it--short version: Outs are BAD unless a run scores on the play, in which case they are less bad). BA leaves both of these things out. As long as we remember that it is fine to use BA. But BA can also distort things. An out is not a "good" thing. And usually not as "worth it to advance a runner to 2B or 3B" as many of us were taught. At least at the MLB level (the overall lower quality of play at lower levels of baseball such as HS and college, much less little league, can change things somewhat but let's focus on MLB here). And a BB isn't a H. More things can happen on a hit than on a BB. So as long as we remember that these thigns are left off we can use BA responsibly. However, when people point to Javy's BA to "prove" he is better than Bryant others will point to stats that include a strength for Bryant that isn't a strength for Javy (BB). Others will point to another stat: BABIP and point out that Javy is hitting about 60 points HIGHER on balls in play than his career norm (which is very high by itself) while Bryant is hitting well BELOW his career norms (40-50 points). To be fair Javy may maintain his exceptionally high BABIP because he is also hitting the ball HARDER than he has in the past. Intuition and fact agree on this: balls hit hard turn into hits more often than balls hit softly. So there are lots of stats. Each one of them leaves out certain information. Not necessarily as "flaws" in the stat.

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    In reply to clarkAddson:

    One final point. I am sure it seems like I dismiss things that don't comport with my beliefs as "extremely rare." I don't do this lightly. There are stats that DO acknowledge that E, while not truly "hits," are also not necessarily "outs" (though sometimes they are: like when a runner gets to 1B on an error and tries to stretch it 2 bases and is tagged out at 3B--but, again, that is extremely rare). And the number of times that a player gets on base via E is actually very seldom over the course of hundreds of PAs.

    And, finally, for E, WPA does catch them as far as I know. For instance, in the game that the Cubs won on Javy's walk off the other night there was an error. WPA captures the difference in win expectancy after the play was over. HOW/WHY he got there are deemed unimportant in terms of win expectancy. When the play started he was at 1st base with 2 out. When the play ended he was at 3B with 2 out. So the sabermetrics DO account for errors. If you know where to look.

    I also hear that sabermetrics don't show us how good of a baserunner Javy is (for some reason people think Sabermetrics doesn't like Javy). But they do. They keep track of how often he gets an "extra base" as a baserunner over and above how far the batter got (1st the 3rd, 2nd to home, 1st to home). And compare that to an average runner. On that scale Javy looks pretty darn good. It may not capture that "he got a great jump" but, if it didn't mean he got an extra base (or two) then it really doesn't matter. It may be pretty to watch. But it doesn't necessarily matter. But because Javy OFTEN gets a great jump he also gets an extra base MORE OFTEN than an average player. And THAT is caught.

    Stats don't "replace" watching the game. But they have gone WAY past what they were even 20 years ago. And they can yield surprising insights that even the most seasoned "watcher" will usually miss. I keep going back to the Rizzo double. I would guess that if I'd asked people which was the more important event in terms of CHANGING the likelihood of a Cubs win: Rizzo's double or Javy's hit most would have said Javy's hit. Yet the difference from the beginning of each PA to the end shows Rizzo's had a far greater effect on the likelihood of a Cubs win. It WILDLY changed the likely outcome of the game from the Cubs being about 33% likely to win after Bryant's BB to nearly 72%. It flipped it from a likely loss to a likely win. And WPA isn't as simple as "a BB is worth X. Bryant's walk was worth quite a bit more than Heywards IBB.

    A final word of caution: Saying that Rizzo had a higher WPA DOESN'T in that game mean that I am saying Rizzo is a better/more important player than Baez, Bryant, or anyone else. His hit had a big impact on the game. Bigger than any other. But if Bryant doesn't get on base (via a BB--or even if it had been a hit) then Rizzo's double is much less valuable. It was the fact that it put the tieing run on 3B and the winning run on 2B with 0 outs that made it so valuable.

    But WPA has its flaws. For instance, it is a snapshot in time stat. It doesn't change as the game progresses. If a guy hits a leadoff HR that is considered far less valueable than a "walk off HR" in terms of WPA. Yet in a 1-0 game we could argue that that lead off HR was as "valuable" as a walk off. But most lead off HR don't lead to a 1-0 final score.

    All stats need to be seen in their correct context. It is people taking stats out of context that often drives knowledgeable fans like on this board nuts. A stat is a tool. It can lead to profound insights. Many people derisively say, "There are 3 kinds of lies in the world: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics." I prefer another one: "Don't use stats like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support and not illumination." Too often we are confronted with people who try to sound smart by spouting off "stats." Often they fall into the category of "facts" to me. Something that, while true, doesn't really tell me anything about the game nor the player involved. Please realize that not everyone who uses stats does so irresponsibly.

    This board has some VERY good posters who are able to responsibly use stats. It has some that are irresponsible and give people a bad taste in their mouths about stats. It also has some very knowledgeable posters who use trained eyes to evaluate the game using knowledge of pitching philosophy, pitching mechanics, defensive skills, swing mechanics, psychology, etc. It also has some irresponsible ones that fill it with comments trying to sound knowledgeable.

    To me the best posters are those who are knowledgeable, and express that knowledge by not only sharing their knowledge but are willing to learn.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hi Joel. Your posts are very well thought out and I agree with most of what you say but not all. It seems your vast knowledge of stats dwarfs my knowledge and I am learning from you (I thank you for that). Please note that the content of my posts is never meant to be a direct criticism of any one but is only a rebuttal to a certain statement or statements included in those posts.

    I am not capable of addressing everything contained in your posts nor do I wish to. As I grow older, I am gaining more knowledge but have less capacity to recall all that knowledge. This statement also applies to the stats. Sure, the ever increasing stats can and do give us more info on individual ballplayers and baseball itself and if they are all-encompassing of past accomplishments is really immaterial to me. Many of these stats, if not all, affect other stats and if you want to get the complete picture of any one stat, you have to include other stats as well. This is too mind-boggling for me. For instance, your example of Rizzo's double and Javy's game winning hit only take into account that one particular part of the game (at a certain time), and even though both had a major effect on winning the game, neither was the ONLY thing to affect winning the game.

    When someone includes one stat or a number of certain stats to prove their point can only help to prove their point to only a certain extent. There are always other stats that may affect what they are trying to prove that are being left out. Obviously, when you look at the offensive stat of any one play or player you are leaving out other factors of the equation like the other teams' pitching and defense. And what about momentum and individual capabilities of the defense involved in any given play? Another factor is who or how do they consider what is a hit or an error? Many times they may consider a player got on base because of an error when I would think that was a hit and vice versa. I could go on and on but that's the problem I have with these stats.

    I, in no way, would ever be able to prove that trained eyes to evaluate the game are better than perusing the stats but one without the other can not give you the whole picture.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Hi, clarkAddson, it's BarleyPop. Sorry to butt in (ha!), but I want to thank you for your service. I've made a point throughout my life of thanking and shaking the hand of every veteran I come across. I didn't serve, I was the first in my family to go to college because of my family's long history of military service and wartime sacrifice. My Dad was also a disabled 'Nam vet. Thanks again.

    I love the fact you acknowledge that you come here to learn. So do I. I wish more fans would have that mindset. I know a lot of baseball, but I learn from the many who know more than I do. How else do you do it?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thankyou BP. I also appreciate what you have to offer to this site even though I may not agree. Please don't think I am attacking you or anyone else with some of my posts. Its not the poster but some of the content of the posts that I may not agree with.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    You're very welcome, and thanks again.

    It's funny you brought up that last point here during this conversation. It was something I've wanted to address, though I don't know how many will see it. I made a couple of snippy comments the other night, which I try not to do. But there was a reason for that.

    People get things factually wrong at times. It happens, especially during a game post when tensions are high. One poster had been doing it consistently. I let that slide, especially during a game post when tensions are high. But these instances started to bother me because of the point you made earlier. You come here to learn. Cubs Den separates itself from other blogs because of that.

    The poster was making factually incorrect comments. Fine. What bothered me, and led to my snippy comments, was other readers asking him if this was true. They questioned the validity of his "facts" , even admitting they didn't know, and wanted to learn. He doubled down on bad information.

    I didn't reply to the bad info, but to the people questioning that info. I gave them the correct info. I wouldn't want a fan repeating something they "learned" at Cubs Den and looking foolish for being so wrong.

    Thanks again for your service, clarkAddson. Best of health to you, and maybe someday I'll have the honor of shaking your hand.

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    In reply to clarkAddson:

    I couldn't agree more with your last sentence. If you neglect to ever watch a game you can come to vastly different conclusions. Watching and stats are supplementary. If you neglect to ever look at stats beyond the graphics shown in the game you will be missing a lot of "what is going on out there."

    Ultimately, stats reflect reality. They are not a reality in and of themselves. You can find a stat that will justify anything. In fact, Tyler Chatwood leads the team in "doubles/plate appearance" (2/7)! The unwary might conclude you've got to find a way to get this guy in the line up. The context of the stat is that he has had very few PAs to accumulate PAs without hitting a double. And a 28.6% rate of doubles-per-plate appearance is not really sustainable. Or would be an extreme outlier.

    A while ago I addressed this with BarleyPop in regards to Baez. I said when I evaluate a player I see it as looking in lots of different windows of the same house. Each one will give you a slightly different perspective. I look at as many windows as possible to get a proper and well rounded view of the house, how it is laid out, what it has in the interior etc. Each stat is a different window. BP pointed out that when he looked in the house he saw a unicorn pen. LOL

    But, yes, lots of stats affect one another. Hits are included in a lot of stats for pitchers and hitters. Some it is buried. Some it is obvious.

    As for your example of things that are hidden from stats I disagree that they are hidden. Over the course of the data-set for the player do you know that momentum wasn't neutral? Or, more accurately, did the positive momentum and negative momentum cancel one another out? Or how would momentum affect this or that stat? Or let's get really deep, if, as I posit, Clutch might be a construct of fans rather than an objective reality could the same thing be said of "momentum." But I don't know if we want to go there. But if you'd like you can tag a given play as having positive or negative momentum attached to it. Then it would be something that you COULD come up with a stat for. I would be curious to see if it actually mattered. Most people would say, intuitively, "Of course it would matter." But then we come to the same problem you have with errors (you think it was a hit, I think it was an error). You also now have to define how you determined if there is "momentum" involved. Errors have a definition. Basically, as I understand it, the scorekeeper sees a play that "should have been made by a normal player." So, let's say we come up with a "momentum" stat based on how the player did relative to "momentum." But correlation is not causation. In other words, did the player perform because he/his team had "momentum" or do we notice momentum (or lack thereof) BECAUSE of what the player does? For example, if the players get 3 consecutive hits were any of those hits the result of "momentum" or do we say that they had momentum because they got 3 consecutive hits?

    I think part of the problem you are having with stats is just because you can come up with a scenario where the stat COULD mislead someone, therefore the stat is not terribly insightful. Your example of errors is a good one. I remember last year people noted that Javy Baez seemed to be the "beneficiary" of a lot of errors. DeShaies even commented they should come up with a stat for that. The problem is that it is a rare event. Think about it. There are 54 "outs" in a game. Each one affects many offensive stats. The team with the most errors last year had 133 errors. That is less than one error per game for that team. The average (which was pretty close to the median) was 934 (median is 95). So that means in MLB that in the average game there was about 1 error. Since in my experience only a handful of errors are controversial (was that a H or an E) my thought is that incorrectly scored E do not significantly affect any offensive stat. But because it is rare but has a strong effect we can tend to over-rate how much it affects things. Another example of this phenomena is car vs airline fatalities. There are A LOT more fatalities in car accidents than airline accidents. But airline accidents tend to kill (and injure) more people per instance so they get headline news. Leading many people to presume that airlines are less safe than cars because you see a lot more plane crashes with lots of people killed and injured on the 24-hour news site of your choice than you do car crashes. So, let's say Javy was the beneficiary of 4-5 errors. The assumption being that it was his baserunning prowess, speed, or a unquantifiable "Javy-ness" that did it. Maybe it was. Or maybe the player had a bad grip on the ball and it would have happened whether the batter was Javy Baez or Jon Lester. Or maybe it was a rare event but random events tend to cluster which can give a false impression of a "pattern." Quick story: People put on headphones and raise their hand each time they heard a click. They were told (truthfully) that the clicks would be generated by a computer at random intervals. They dutifully participated but several commented that the clicks sometimes clustered close together in time so they weren't random. Actually, they WERE random so they MIGHT or MIGHT NOT cluster. My point is that when something like an error happens might well be random relative to the batter. But a random event might "cluster" around something leading to the impression of a pattern.

    So these problems compound one another. Putting greater emphasis on a memorable event (like a plane crash) and random events clustering sometimes (like the clicking computer) might lead you to a wrong conclusion such as that errors introduce a significant variable into the stat that leads to it being suspect if not outright unreliable. So maybe a player got on base as a result of an error. Maybe it happened a couple times in a short time. If it is something that will affect the batter I think that would be caught. There is a thriving market for "new baseball statistics." If someone were to be able to show a correlation over time that errors actually DO affect offensive stats of the opposing team they could be new baseball heroes for publishing it. And fangraphs and baseball-reference would dutifully record it. If it is being ignored it is probably because it has little actual affect on offensive stats. If you don't believe that is true then please present the information showing that offensive stats are skewed by ignoring E beyond a vague "many times." Just because it is "possible" doesn't mean it is "true/plausible." This has been done before. OBP pointed out that making outs via sacrifices was marginally detrimental to the team, and, more importantly, getting on base via BB could vastly skew data favoring guys with high BA but really low BB rates. Now OBP is fairly common in baseball. But BA focuses on something slightly different so it isn't (nor should it be) abandoned.

    Here is a challenge for you. If you are going to assert that "many times they may consider a player got on base because of an error that I think was a hit or vice versa." For a month, preferably more, keep actual track of these instances. My guess is that there are not very many that are really controversial (H vs E). Who was the batter and if you would have called it an error or a hit. Then come back and post on here that you thought that, for example, Mark Zagunis' "hit" in the 4th inning should have been an error and David Bote's "reached on an error" was actually a double. This way we can verify it and come to a consensus among ourselves if these were, in fact, incorrectly scored. My hypothesis is that it won't be enough to really affect most offensive stats since most offensive stats use AB or PA which is usually a large number. And I would be surprised if you have a batter with 250+ PAs over the course of a season if his offensive stats are "skewed" by scorekeepers calling errors or hits "incorrectly." Besides, isn't it also possible that one time the player might get the benefit of an E called a H but, 3 months later, a play that could have been a H called an E?

    If you are confronted with a stat you don't understand please don't assume it is meaningless or distorts the game. Here are a couple things to ask:
    1. What does the stat purport to measure? Whoever came up with the stat was probably trying to measure something specific and came to the conclusion that this was a good (or better than his/her other) idea.

    2. What else MIGHT it measure? Just because you THINK it is measuring pitching prowess maybe he is allowing fewer H or R because he has 14 fielders and the umpires failed to notice. This is a facetious example but ask this question because sometimes people THINK they are measuring one thing when actually they are measuring something else entirely.

    3. How is the stat calculated? This is what you are doing by pointing out that information formulaically eliminated from the stat could skew the result, or yield an insight.

    4. Under what circumstances MIGHT this stat present skewed results? You are already doing this. This is what you were asking when presenting how whether a play is called a H or an E can affect offensive stats.

    5. How likely is the scenario in #4 actually happen? Just because you can think of something doesn't mean it happens.

    6. Is there any way to normalize #5? Sometimes weird things happen. But usually over the course of a season players face enough good/bad pitchers, good/bad weather, good and bad parks, etc. that it evens out.

    So, as an example let's take an easy one: HR.

    What does it purport to measure?
    Hits resulting in a batter making it all the way around the bases without an error. Pretty straight forward

    What else MIGHT it measure? Ballpark size. Humidity/thinness of air, opposing pitchers, pitch selection during PA

    How is it calculated? Simple tallying of discrete events

    Under what scenario could this stat be distorted and yield skewed results? Really small home park with 300' fences. Lots of fastballs thrown.

    How likely are those events likely to happen? Maybe the lots of fastballs. But then the opposing teams would likely be giving lots of teams lots of fastballs so you could look at how many HR they give up. You can also normalize it based on the team. If the ENTIRE TEAM tends to hit pretty well at home rather than the road then comparing a guy to his teammates can be insightful. The option with 300' fences is kind of implausible on a large scale.

    Is there any way to normalize this? Yes. See above note.

    This will give you a good idea of how to value a stat. As I said above, some people misuse stats. Not necessarily maliciously, but it happens.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Sorry Joel. I am not sure you are understanding what I am saying. I am not putting down any one stat or sabermetrics. I am putting down sabermetrics and stats because they can not possibly consider everything that is involved with each individual play.

    I enjoy "watching" a GOOD well-played game, not keeping nor perusing the stats so please don't think I will be keeping track of anything. I will leave that up to others. To me, that is very boring and time consuming. I do, however, check the stats to gain some info from time to time.

    All I am saying is that the stats are maybe not "hiding" info but NOT including all factors involved when evaluating individual and individual plays, For instance, whether a hit is a hit or an error is totally dependent upon the official scorekeeper. It is simply an opinion of one or many others. No matter, it is only an opinion. not necessarily what I would consider a fact. In addition, most opinions are also dilluted with the possiblity of biases, whether intentional or not. And lastly, like me and you, what one scorekeeper thinks is a hit may not be what another scorekeeper thinks and there are as many as 15 different scorekeepers each day.

    Many of us noticed the difference in double plays when comparing Baez with any one else because of his "rocket" arm. Do the stats account for that? If so, how? Baez is more gifted than most anyone today due to his unbelievable capabilities. If Descalso is playing 2B and runs after a texas-leaguer pop fly and doesn't quite get there before it falls in, it will be determined as a hit even though a more capable 2B player would catch that particular pop-up thereby making the very same hit an out.

    I am not putting stats down. But I am stating they can not possibly gives us a complete, all-inclusive evaluation(s). Previously, you compared Baez with Trout based on stats to-date and I agreed with most of what you had to say. However, that can not determine if Trout's career numbers will be better then Baez's. It only takes into account what has happened up til now.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to clarkAddson:

    I am very much enjoying this conversation, clarkAddson. Let me see if I can address your comments/questions.

    Don't get me wrong. I enjoy watching a good/well played game too. I enjoy it because I enjoy watching baseball. I have many friends who enjoy watching baseball. There is nothing wrong with not evaluating every play using the vast array of tools available to us. When I go to a game I don't even bother keeping score. I just soak it in. The sensory experience. The taste of a hot dog and a "beverage." The smell of the grass. The sound of chatter--or cheering. Seeing how the players go through their motions.

    For what it's worth you don't have to follow the "official scorer" of the game. My guess is at the end of the year you might calculate that you show a player having 2-3 additional/fewer hits because you thought a hit should be called an error. Unless you want to do away with errors entirely. If so I'm listening. I don't like the inherent moralizing telling a player what he "should have done."

    I will assert that using the numbers will account for more of "what is going on" than a single person watching the game on TV or in the stands--or on the field for that matter. There is SO much going on. I didn't realize growing up how much I was missing. Some of it was known to people who understood the game better than a 12-year old, regardless how obsessed. But much of it they didn't know, or couldn't know, because it wasn't available to them (things like WPA that use more data than anyone could possibly store in their brains). And with things like statcast I think the numbers will become more and more accurate, particularly judging defense.

    Which takes me to one of your first questions, "Can stats account for Baez outstanding/elite arm turning double plays?" Yes, it can. And it is really easy. Look at how many DPs are turned by Baez. Usually the "rocket arm" will be a factor more so as the guy who "turns" the DP as the first throw is usually a lot shorter meaning the speed of the throw isn't as vital and can be a problem if thrown too hard. So simply look and see if more DPs are turned with him as the middle man than someone else while accounting for playing time. For instance, Baez has played FAR more innings at SS than anyone else this year. You don't need to look at the stats to know that (though you can!). So it is unfair to say, "Look, he has turned more DPs than anyone else because he has played SS more than anyone else (or even middle infield as the Cubs have used Zobrist, Bote and Descalso, I believe, at 2B). So you could do DP/inning or DP/game (I would do innings as it breaks it down further since every inning has a possibility of a DP). If that "doesn't capture it" well enough then you can go a step further. You could say, "The other team had more RHB in games where Baez played SS meaning he would 'start' the DP rather than end it" you could account for that by separating it out by batter hitting into the DP. If you are saying it is not that he necessarily turns "more" of them but they are simply "better" or maybe get the runner thrown out by more steps that's fine. But it is also, according to sabermetrics, not relevant. The game doesn't actually care how "good" the play looks. It doesn't care if the runner was out by 2 steps or 1/4" It is the out/safe that matters. The player isn't more/less out because of Baez's arm over someone else. Though it is certainly likely that he might, because of his arm strength, get a player out that another infielder might fail to turn. But, again, that would be captured by the data. And since the data does not depend on your memory of how many DPs have been turned by another player (that info is recorded).

    You are correct that defense is one of the hardest things in baseball to quantify that clearly does affect the game. But "hard to quantify" doesn't mean it is impossible. The first thing that comes to mind is to ask, "How do YOU evaluate defense?" I am not doing this to be snarky or argumentative. You say that you watch Descalso and can tell that he does not have the range of Baez. I would say you are right. And the numbers agree with you. There are lots of defensive metrics and I am still getting my mind around them. The pertinent one, as far as I can tell, for your situation would be UZR. What it does is it says, "A SS will generally start here. On a ball hit to X location at this speed (to account for the difference in time it will take to get there between a Texas Leaguer and a line drive smash) a SS will NOT make the play X% of the time and will make the play Y% of the time." So, now we have a baseline based on years of play logs. Then it will be recorded whether or not Baez makes the play. At another point in the season they will observe, as you do, that the same play is one Descalso doesn't make. So rather than being an out that most, though not all, SS will make he is "blamed" for the result. Then, if I understand it correctly (and I may not, sometimes I get different defensive metrics messed up), that will be assigned a value. So let's get more specific. First inning, lead off batter. Let's say theirs a high pop-fly down the LF line. Bryant turns his back on the infield but quickly realizes he doesn't have the angle, nor footspeed, to make the play. Schwarber exerts effort futilely to get to a ball he has almost no prayer of catching. Baez streaks toward the line making a basket catch, smiles, blows a bubble and flips the ball to Bryant who turns and fires it "around-the-horn" in celebration while Lester smiles and claps his hand into his glove in admiration.

    Two weeks later a similar ball is hit. Again, a lead off batter pops one right down the line. Descalso isn't as fast but, more importantly, doesn't get Baez's great read off the bat. Therefore is 2 steps slower. That one the ball drops in 10" inside the line. Fair ball. And extra bases. The batter cruises in to 2B. Lester fixes Descalso with one of his trademark glares. Because baseball has hundreds, or thousands, of similar, or even nearly identical plays, they can say not just "WOW, Baez would have made that play" but, "That is a double that Baez would have taken way. Because there have been a lot of doubles hit since people started keeping careful track a double is worth X number of runs ON AVERAGE. The hitter is credited with that number of "runs" in an almost parallel log of the game used to evaluate defensive players and Descalso is "debited" giving up a double. Meanwhile, Baez SAVED his team that run value.

    Fundamentally, this stat is pretty close to what you would do. They just have data available that allows them to assign a VALUE to it that the FO can look at in the future and decide just how valuable Baez is on defense. This can be a significant factor when deciding if they can afford to sign him long term.

    Again, I am not up to snuff with defensive stats like I am offensive and pitching ones, but this is the principle of what is being done. So whether a run scores or not Baez is credited with making an outstanding play.

    My guess is that as teams gather more and more info such as launch angle and exit velocity as well as exactly how far their fielders had to run to make a play their data-set will get even bigger and more accurate. And therefore, more useful.

    I was talking to cubberlang about this a couple of days ago. I said I want Schwarber to realize he isn't Baez on defense. But he has a strong arm, but not the athleticism to make some plays in the OF. But if he could realize that a ball hit over his head he is unlikely to catch he can turn around and prepare to play a carom he can possibly use his strong arm to hold the baserunner to a single on a line-drive that smashes off the wall. That is more valuable than the 1x out of 15 he catches it and the other 14 times he plays a double into a triple.

    Finally, Trout and Baez comparison for their careers. Trout is 27, almost 28. Baez is 26 and a half. So let's say Trout is a little more than a year older than Baez. In that extra year Trout has about 700 more hits, almost 160 more HR, higher BA/OBP/ SLG, more than 120 more doubles, 530 R, almost 375 RBI. If you are wondering about awards Baez has 1x MVP runner-up. Trout has 2 MVP awards and runner up 4x. Keep in mind, while Trout is a year or so older than Baez he has been accumulating career stats since 2011. Those are years Baez can't just "get back." Obviously it is possible that Trout falls flat on his face in the next couple of years. But that is also possible for Baez. If you are a betting soul I would put my money on Trout, despite being a Cubs fan. He has such a head start.

    That being said, sabermetrics doesn't make any real predictions about how well any players career numbers will turn out. Especially for guys as young as Trout and Baez. Any "predictions" made would be couched in probabilities and with lots of wiggle room since no one really knows how a career will. Traditionally players were considered "in their prime" from about age 27 through about 32 but that is shifting younger.I

  • Joel, for whatever reason I can’t reply to your sabermetrics comment but I have a few questions or comments. Is this a chicken or egg comment ? By that I mean does the sabermetrics data result from the plays made or do they influence the plays made. Seems to me that I can see Javy has the better arm at ss for the cubs, so why do I need the saber stuff? Is that because based on probabilities of the play and Javy’s abilities I can position Javy better than Javy can place himself?

    If sabermetrics is that good why do the teams like the cubs use the shift less than the brewers, who seem to shift every play? Would seem the data would be the same for both teams to interpret. I think stats are neat but i’m Not as enthralled with them because all they do is give me more data to use in some way but it seems they are after the fact results rather than predictive with all the variables, given the batter’s, fielders, pitchers and umpires impact on each play. Theydon’t Call time out and say , wait let me put those variables in for this combination of factors after each pitch/play.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to stix:

    I wouldn't use sabermetrics to try to predict the outcome of a given PA or even game. Though I am comfortable making probabalistic comments in the off-season about what I expect. To me they are more of a tool to understand what is happening in a baseball game at a macro level or, more likely for me, to evaluate what happened because, as everyone agrees, there is a lot going on during a baseball game that isn't obvious. I doubt it "influences plays made" unless it maybe makes a manager think twice about spending an out on a bunt. But he may decide to do it anyway for reasons of his own.

    Remember, Sabermetrics don't say "You have to do..." They are tools to help understand the game. Some people, like myself, interpret them and decide that some plays are bad plays. Sabermetrics doesn't actually say "You should/shouldn't..."

    I think your question about "if sabermetrics are so good why do some team shift more than others?" betrays a complete misunderstanding of what sabermetrics are. First of all, sabermetrics aren't the ONLY thing EVERY team looks at. They are tools, and poweful tools at that, but they are just tools. One possible reason that one team shifts more than the other is that their pitching staff has "stuff" more likely to result in hits to specific places than another team. Surely you are aware that different pitchers tend to bring about different results from the same batter. It seems like you are pinning things onto sabermetrics that you don't understand and then posit that it is because sabermetrics are "wrong."

    As far as being able to see with your own eyes that Javy has a good arm the truth is that you DON'T need to reference sabermetrics to tell you that. I was responding to people asking how sabermetrics COULD indicate that Javy has an exceptionally good throwing arm. So I gave an example. I didn't mean to imply, "And this is the only way to tell you that Javy has a strong throwing arm." I am sorry if I gave that impression. In fact, you don't HAVE TO reference sabermetrics for anything if you don't want to. My study of sabermetrics has deepened my knowledge and love of the game. That doesn't mean it has to for everyone. I do react strongly, though, when I hear it dismissed by people who clearly don't understand it. Which is why I respond when I see it. You can certainly understand baseball without sabermetrics. Just like I believe you can understand it USING sabermetrics. You can absolutely enjoy baseball without it. But I do think it does supplement the knowledge that we have as fans. And sometimes can yield surprising insights. I will never tell someone to "stop watching the game and just read the numbers afterward."

  • Wow, That is some fascinating "stuff" I would have never known without your explanation and I am very impressed, but actually The point I was making was more about the offensive statistics with the defense in mind. In other words, I can see how one may quantify some (or maybe even all) defensive metrics in comparison with other players' defensive metrics but how are they considered in the offensive data. How can the data account for all the defensive differences an individual encounters throughout the year? For instance Trout plays mostly teams in the American league and Baez plays mostly teams in the National league. The american league plays with a designated hitter and the national league plays with the pitchers hitting. I can not say for sure but common sense tells me that comparing some data between the 2 leagues is like comparing apples with oranges. How can the offensive and/or defensive data be compared properly/correctly between the 2 leagues? I would think the pitchers face a larger number of better more capable hitters in the American league compared to the national league because of the DH. Also not all the fields have the same dimensions nor shapes. so how can the data possibly include this in the individual players data when comparing both offense and defense? Is Cinncinnatti's field the "Launching Pad" and does the Oakland field have more ground to cover in the outfield. Some fields have more foul ball ground than others which would definitely have some effect on the individual data in comparison because of popup outs. i could go on but I am probably just boring you. I know it is boring me.

    However, the point I was trying to make is the players are being compared by supposedly using the same factors but actually they are not. Lets say the Cubs have the very best defense in both leagues and every team had to face the Cubs the same amount of games. That would seem to make the comparisons more fair for the players except the Cubs would have an advantage because they would never have to face the best defensive team. How would the data take that into account? Also the comparison I was making between Baez and Descalso is that identical texas leaguer popups are not all the same because some would fall in as hits with Descalso and some would be caught by Baez and registered as an out. How can the data account for all these different factors in the data equally? And even if that were possible, you would have to have a brain that would be the equivalent of a computer to take every factor into consideration to take it all in at once.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to clarkAddson:

    If I understand you correctly you are asking, in the first part, "How can players be evaluated since they play in different home parks and different leagues. The different leagues thing doesn't affect things quite the way you believe, I think. There is a thing called "Park Effects" that analysts use to normalize things and put people on the same scale. Here is an article on baseballreference.com (https://www.baseball-reference.com/about/parkadjust.shtml) A word of warning, it is quite a slog. But the jist of it is that they use multiple years worth of team batting at home and compare it to team batting on the road to establish just how much the home field helps/hurts the team.

    Your Descalso vs Javy question is what I was addressing. The same play. Javy makes the play, Descalso doesn't. Sabermetrics can assign a value to that play and say that, because Javy made the catch the other team didn't have a double. Because Descalso didn't make the play the other team has a double. And that double has a known value. These values can be added up (or subtracted) and the players value on defense can be quantified, or at least close to it. To me this seems far more accurate than simply saying, "I think Javy would have made that catch."

    Your last paragraph is very true. No one's brain can handle all the data in its raw form. That is why it is recorded. It can then be put into a computer and sorted and calculated.

    Here is a question for you. I have explained how I evaluate players and how I handle tricky situations like how to value defense. How do you do it? Or do you just throw up your hands and say, "This is impossible." Any evaluation method would have at least as many problems as sabermetrics does with all the variables you point out. That doesn't mean they are insurmountable. I am ready and willing to learn. How do you normalize players from different years in evaluating players/teams? How do you evaluate the effect of defense in one situation vs. another situation? What would you do to evaluate who will have the better career statistics: Javy or Trout?

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