Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Talent Flow, Part 3

Prior to Season 20, I played a little game to see if I could come up with a simple number to summarize preseason talent movement among the 8 divisions (See "Talent Flow Update" way back on Aug 12).

I just assigned a value of 1 to Type B FA's, 2 to Type A's, and 4 to "Super A's" (just a term I made up to describe the highest-quality free agents); and then just applied the values to each Type A and B free agent move (if a team lost a Type A free agent, that was -2 for that division, etc.).  Then I applied the values to trades involving Type A and B-caliber players.  Finally, I just totaled up the scores of the divisions.

Then I wondered if this simple metric had any predictive value...could it predict which divisions would win more games than in the previous year (knowing, of course, that this simple number didn't capture most of the free agent moves, none of the prospect promotions, etc.).

For Season 20, the Talent Flow predicted the direction of win-loss changes for 6 of 8 divisions.  75%.  It didn't do nearly as well predicting the magnitude of W-L changes, so for Season 20, I'd have to say the predictive value of my number was mixed at best.

How'd it do last year

It only predicted the direction of W-L changes for 4 divisions correctly...if my dog could throw darts she'd likely do that well.  Only 2 divisions had pretty big talent moves (+ or - 5 or more) - AL East and NL South lost a lot of talent, but both divisions had big win improvements.  So Talent Flow predicted neither direction or magnitude right in those cases.

The verdict is in:  my Talent Flow Number sucks as a predictive tool.  Maybe all the other talent moves unaccounted for by my number overwhelm preseason trades and A and B free agent moves.  Maybe the usual performance variations from year to year render it meaningless.  Maybe (??), because my number is mostly based on the bigger-name FA moves, we're overpaying for those free agents.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A HOF Case Comparison (Republished from last preseason)

Here are the stats for two players, as independent as we can easily get them. 

No Wins, no Losses - too dependent on team.

No Saves, GS, or GP - too dependent on coach usage.

These are the stats that I think best represent the effectiveness of the pitcher. Ideally, we could control for the defense behind the pitcher and the home park, among other things, but the quick-and-dirty is perhaps the best we can easily do given the stats provided by WhatIf.

Color Code
Red = Average or Worse
Orange = Good/Very Good, but not Great and/or under 145IP.
Green = Great Season with 145IP+

Player A had 7 "Great" seasons.
Player B had 6 "Great" seasons.

Player A had 5 "Good/Very Good" seasons of significant (100+) IP, plus 1 "Good/Very Good" lower-IP season.
Player B had 8 "Good/Very Good" seasons of significant (100+) IP, plus 1 "Good/Very Good" lower-IP season.

Player A had 1 "Average or Worse" season of significant (100+) IP, plus 2 "Average or Worse" lower-IP seasons.
Player B had 0 "Average or Worse" seasons of significant (100+) IP, plus 2 "Average or Worse" lower-IP seasons.

Let's focus on those "Great" seasons, but not on the W/L from them. Instead, we're going to judge effectiveness on the mound by ranking ERA, WHIP, OAV, OBP, and SLG against. A top 3 finish is in bold.

In the 13 "Great" seasons, here are the ERA rankings:
Player A - #3, #4, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10
Player B - #1, #2, #5, #11, #12, #13

In the 13 "Great" seasons, here are the WHIP rankings:
Player A - #1, #2, #4, T-#5, #8, T-#9, T-#9
Player B - #3, T-#5, T-#5, T-#9, T-#9, #13

In the 13 "Great" seasons, here are the OAV rankings:
Player A - #3, #6, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13
Player B - #1, #2, #4, #5, #7, #8

In the 13 "Great" seasons, here are the OBP rankings:
Player A - #1, #2, #6, #7, #9, #10, #13
Player B - #3, #4, #5, #8, #11, #12

In the 13 "Great" seasons, here are the SLG against rankings:
Player A - #4, #6, #7, #9, #10, #11, #12
Player B - #1, #2, #3, #5, #8, #13

In case you were unsure, Player A is a 4-time Cy Young winner and perhaps a lock for the HOF - Bartolo Escobar.
Player B is a 1-time Cy Young winner and probably not going to make it - Zack Damon. This is not because he was any less effective as a pitcher over his career, or any less dominant at his peak, but instead because he had the misfortune of being a middle reliever rather than a starter and so did not accumulate enough wins or awards. I feel some responsibility for this as his owner for 3 seasons.

During those 3 years he was 46-14, but it was the third season - which was not the best of the 3 (his Cy Young and best season was the first of the 3) - where I used him in such a fashion as to allow his W/L to reflect his abilities at the expense of saves. He went 26-4 that season and it was his only ML season without a save or save opportunity. It was decried as a gimmick, and the Cy Young instead went to Escobar. Granted, Escobar was more effective that season, but the voting was close as I recall, and Damon had the better W/L record.

A difference of 2-3 votes for Escobar in Season 9 going to Damon's 26-4 record, and suddenly Escobar has only 3 Cy Youngs and Damon has 2 Cy Youngs.

Had I successfully traded for Damon a few years earlier (and still used him in such a way to let him accumulate wins) or not let him walk in FA where he went back to part-time closer costing him wins, and Damon is easily (by his effectiveness) a 200-90 W/L pitcher, at least.

This whole thing is evidence of a very simple (to me) point - these two pitchers were basically the same player in World Major Leagues when they were on the mound.

That one was a SP and the other was used/misused as a MR/sometimes closer is a silly reason to draw distinctions between them for purposes of HOF voting, just like it was for purposes of Cy Young voting.

I'm not sure if I am voting for either of them yet, but I am pretty sure I won't be picking just one and leaving the other out.

For me, they may as well be joined at the hip in HOF voting - just as they are in statistical effectiveness.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Individual Records Updates From Season 21

We had lots of action on the individual records from last year, and as you can imagine most came in the pitching arena.

Luis Contreras continued his records assault with a number of new marks.  He threw 4 complete games to move into a tie for 1st on career list with 57.  He took over the career Quality Starts lead with 382.  He upped his career shutouts record to 28 (2nd place has 17).    And he became the new career wins leader with 265.  Next up:  career strikeouts (this year).

Keith Caldwell
had one of the best seasons in Major Leagues history and entered the career lists in a big way.  He posted the 5th-best single season ERA (1.57), the 3rd-best OBP allowed (.234), the 2nd-best WHIP (.84), and the best slugging % allowed (.232).
On the career lists, he tied Miguel Rojas for best career OBP (.262) and became the new career WHIP leader at 0.98.

Miguel Rojas lowered his career-best ERA mark to 2.02, and kept his career OBP-allowed lead at .262 (tied with Caldwell).

Norm Long, Mike DeJean and Garry Brinkley all passed former leader Cesar Carrasquel on the all-time innings-pitched list.  Long currently leads with 3664.

Philip Herndon upped his career saves to 473, but doesn't look like he'll get to 500.

On the hitting side, I don't know if we'll ever see single-season records again, but there are still impressive career marks going up.

Jae Nakano
hit.231, and his lifetime average slipped to .342.  But as it appears he is not going to get a contract this year, he will retire as the career batting average leader.  He'll also go out with 3274 hits, the only player in Major Leagues' history with 3000+.

Rico Uribe had a bit of an off year (.950 OPS), but maintained his lifetime OPS  lead with an incredible 1.000.  His RC/27 dropped to 8.85 but is still the career leader there as well.  I may be wrong, but I believe Uribe is the only active player on any of the top 5 career batting lists.                

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interview with zbrent716

1. Tell us a little about yourself in real life.

I'm an over-educated (and arguably under-employed) nearly middle-aged, single guy from NY state currently living in northern FL and wishing to move back to the northeast.

2. What do you like best about HBD, and what do you like least?

I think I like negotiating trades with other owners the best about HBD. Related to that is one of the things I probably like least, and that is a deal negotiated at arms length and agreed upon by two (presumably) adults is subject to approval by those not involved with or privy to what back-and-forth went into making the deal.

3. What's the most under-appreciated player rating and why?

Patience. Most owners don't look at it at all, and I look at it too rarely, but for the true studs it can make a world of difference because it helps determine (once the initial 5-year contract is up) whether you're likely to re-sign then below market value or whether they're gonna command a max (or near-max) deal and you'll be left with only the FA compensation picks (which almost never yield the same sort of talent).

4. Which common appliance would you most like to remove from your home?

Dishwasher, but mainly because the one I have is atrocious. It's the first one I've ever had and it doesn't effectively "wash" shit, but I feel obligated to use it since I finally have one.

5. Hottest actress ever?

Can I call Kathy Ireland an actress based solely on Necessary Roughness? ( Yea, I didn't think so either. I'll say Salma Hayek.

6. What popular song past/present do you most identify with?

When I'm optimistic (which is most of the time) - What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

7. If you ever write a book (song, screenplay, etc.) what will it be about?

Foreign/International Legal Research. It's more exciting than it sounds.

8. You can have dinner with any 3 people - past or present, alive or dead, fictional or real Who’s sitting around the table?

This is a tough one, and my answer would change often. For now, I'll say my best friend John (someone to help tell the story and remember the one-liners), Mae West, and George Carlin.

9. (optional - your own question & answer)

What's the best thing about WhatIfSports right now? Hoops Dynasty.