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Well written and thought out piece by an A's fan...


True Grich

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Ten things I believe about baseball without evidence

 

Excerpt:

 

To me, the biggest difference between the A’s in the playoffs and the Giants in the playoffs is Pablo Sandoval. Because there may not be anyone in baseball right now better than Sandoval who does damage even when he does not get a good pitch to hit. He can turn pitches in the dirt, in his eyes, and/or six inches off the plate into a hit. He’s almost immune to prediction state manipulation by opposing pitchers. And Hunter Pence, though not as extreme as Sandoval, has similar characteristics.

The A’s simply do not pursue those types of players. Players like Sandoval tend to have low OBPs, because they swing at so many bad pitches. Minor leaguers with that profile flop far more than they succeed, so they’re a bad risk to take. But there are times, against a good pitcher on a good day who is simply not giving hitters a good pitch to hit, that it is valuable to have a player who often does damage even with a bad pitch to hit. And those times happen more often in the playoffs.

 

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That piece was not written in jest... it was even picked up by Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk.  Ken is a very thoughtful and smart guy, I have no doubt that he was really putting thought into how baseball is analyzed.

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interesting... i agree well written though it seems another examples of statisticians trying to use numbers to decribe reality...  anyway here my take..

 

thought 1, disagree, there is a clear definition between fact, opinion, and belief to me, the problem is that people are convinced their beliefs are facts.

 

thought 2, i agree. i have said many times stat analysis missing the reality of the game, this is well put example of that concept.

 

thought 3, disagree, it does matter on pitches that are not swung at.  some catchers frame better etc.. and can perhaps buy more strikes.  its a small difference, but it is an issue.

 

thought 4, partially agree, there is no way to quantify this is the problem.  the predictive state will always vary based on things like the pitchers control, how bad did i miss the last pitch, or did i hit it hard foul.. i would argue the number od predictive states to be much higher that inferred here, and literally changing from pitch to pitch.

 

thought 5, agree.  a pitchers best pitch might be a change, but some batters hit a change well so it might not be the best choice for example,  plus as i said in the last one is also relevant

 

thought 6, makes sense, not much to add there

 

thought 7, disagree.  it isnt that simple i dont think.  hitting a ball hard when you dont get your pitch is only part of it.  there is also "fighting it off" as they say to stay alive till you are able to hit your pitch.  doing damage on a bad pitch is nice, but it also likely means you got yourself into a hole to have to swing at said bad pitch.  not sure thats a positive.  Angel fans all know Vlad, he was the kind of that stuff... but i think Sandoval creates his own situations more than a lot of other hiiters that put him in that place.

 

thought 8, duh

 

thought 9, duh part deaux

 

thought 10, whatever.. lol 

Edited by floplag
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The A's traded away Yoenis Cespedes, the exact guy you are describing in Sandoval just 80 lbs lighter.

 

Those of us who dared to say that the A's traded away their soul when Yoenes Cespedes was shipped to Boston for Jon Lester were torn apart by those who insisted - based solely upon statistics - that Cespedes wasn't that good. This article explains why we were dead on.

 

For instance, once I got in an argument in which I did not believe that Sean Doolittle pitched better to certain catchers than others. The stats did not agree with me, albeit perhaps with a small sample size. But my objection wasn’t to the numbers, adequate sample size or not, it was to the lack of any sort of underlying physical/psychological mechanism where this these numbers could derive from. Sean Doolittle throws 90% fastballs. What the hell difference physically/psychologically does it make what catcher is back there catching it? It’s the same pitch, no matter who is catching it.

 

This is something I have believed for years - that the catcher makes very little difference in the way a pitcher performs. This was used as justification for years to start Jeff Mathis, even invoking the meaningless statistic of CERA. It stands to reason that if a catcher consistently catches your best pitchers, fewer runs will be scored while he is back there. That doesn't mean that he is responsible for the better performance or that he "calls a better game". The pitcher ultimately decides what pitch is thrown in a given situation.

 

Belief Without Evidence #9: A lineup without holes scores runs exponentially, not linearly

This is probably the easiest of my hypotheses to disprove. But I have the gut feeling that one guy who is an automatic out in the middle of a lineup can take a rally that might score five runs and drop that rally down to 0 or 1 runs.

Although he wasn't in the middle of the lineup, this also made me think of Jeff Mathis. How many rallies were killed because he came to the plate in the middle of them? Even if he didn't make the last out of the inning, the out he made reduced the possibility of further damage being done in that inning.

 

 

To me, the biggest difference between the A’s in the playoffs and the Giants in the playoffs is Pablo Sandoval. Because there may not be anyone in baseball right now better than Sandoval who does damage even when he does not get a good pitch to hit. He can turn pitches in the dirt, in his eyes, and/or six inches off the plate into a hit. He’s almost immune to prediction state manipulation by opposing pitchers. And Hunter Pence, though not as extreme as Sandoval, has similar characteristics.

 

I immediately thought of Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad used to swing at some horrible pitches, but often he would put them in play. Throwing him junk off the plate wasn't necessarily a way to get him out, and you weren't often going to pitch around him. His mechanics were often jacked, and you would shake your head at some of the pitches he chased, but he was a difficult hitter for pitchers to adjust to. As the author said, you wouldn't want a lineup full of guys like this, but it makes sense that having a couple of guys who can do damage on less-than-perfect pitches increases your chances of big innings.

 

This was a very well written piece that makes sense on a lot of levels. I believe that this guy is onto something.

Edited by Vegas Halo Fan
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