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Question for the stat Gurus


orca1963
I read Money Ball and loved it--not so much for the stat stuff, though it was interesting--but for the behind the scenes it gave. I have seen a lot of really deep and well researched analysis here and to be honest it usually loses me at some point. My question--as I hate looking all this stuff up--is what have the A's done since BB initiated his philosophy and how many of the teams that have won it all since the book would have rosters he would have put together stat-wise?
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What philosophy are you referring to?

 

All Beane has done is try to find places within the market that are undervalued and exploit them (which I'd imagine is the same thing _any_ GM should try to do....right?). It happened that when Moneyball was written, that walks were one of the things that was being undervalued.

"I wasted so much time in my life hating Juventus or A.C. Milan that I should have spent hating the Cardinals." ~kalle8

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I am referring to the philosophy of--and for right or wrong this is what I got out of the book--of putting more weight on certain stats than the old school way of scouting and drafting. For example when he drafted the catcher who didn't have a "baseball body". I believe a lot of that had to do with his approach at the plate (walking as you pointed out). I am just trying to find out from the people that put a lot of passion and energy into stats how that type of thinking has played out over the last few years, esp in terms of WS winners...hopefully that makes sense.
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I don't know that you'll get a single right answer to what you are asking. With regards to Jeremy Brown, the catcher that Beane wanted because of his OBP, he's now out of baseball. One thing that I've observed is that you don't really want people who just get on base. You want good hitters who will allow themselves to take a walk if they don't get a pitch to hit. The difference being that if your only skill is not swinging at the ball, teams will eventually find that out and they will force the hitter to take the bat off his shoulders.

 

One example of a player like that is Mark Bellhorn. He basically had two good years. They were the only years he hit above .250, but he also had OBP of over .370 both of those years. The Red Sox traded for him before the 2004 season and were able to get him cheap because he had an awful 2003. The move paid off when Bellhorn gave them decent defense at 2B and an OPS+ of 109 fueled by an OBP of .373. That was just one of the moves that led to the Red Sox winning that year. The Red Sox brought him back next year. It made sense, going into 2005 he had good years in two of the previous 3 years. He presumably would have had a good projection in any forecasting system. But he never hit again, and was cut the following season. He continued to show a decent walk rate in the stops he got after that, but if you can't hit the ball a walk rate isn't going to do anything. He's an extreme example, but it makes the point.

 

To get back to the As. Last year they gave Jack Cust his biggest chance to play in the majors. Before last year, Cust's longest stint in the majors was 73 ABs in 2003 with the Orioles. He put up a .260/.357/.521 line that was good for a 129 OPS+. But his best position is DH and he only got 4 ABs over the following 3 seasons. So the A's give him a shot last year, and even though he only hit .256 his OBP was over .400 and his slugging was over .500 which equaled an OPS+ of 147. He's continuing to put up a .400 OBP this year, but his slugging is down to .435. He's valuable now, but if his power doesn't go back up, pitchers will catch on and Cust may walk himself out of the league again.

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Brown is 28 and has 10 major league ABs. He doesn't have any significant future as a major leaguer.

 

Cust only slugged .504 last year. He didn't slug above .450 from 2003-2005 in AAA. I think it's fairly easy to imagine that he won't be the powerhouse that he was last year. Branyan type power only applies in a weak way. Branyan never went through a 3 year power dip like Cust did.

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Brown is 28 and has 10 major league ABs. He doesn't have any significant future as a major leaguer.

 

Was that in response to end pointing out that Brown's problems were personal, not performance? His minor-league numbers are pretty solid. Sure, not screaming "#1 draft pick!" But how many #1 picks flame out anyway without personal problems? I've always felt the Brown comment is made (this is not what I think you're going for, fwiw) because it sounds 'good' to say: "#1 overall pick that failed!" Take that, Billy Beane! http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/wink.gif

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#1 overall pick? He was the 35th player selected in the draft. It's not at all like that's never happened before. He had decent stats in the minors and then retired due to personal reasons. Anyone who tries to use Jeremy Brown as an attack on Moneyball or Billy Beane has an extreme bias against modern analysis.
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Brown is 28 and has 10 major league ABs. He doesn't have any significant future as a major leaguer.

 

Was that in response to end pointing out that Brown's problems were personal, not performance? His minor-league numbers are pretty solid.

 

They look solid enough, but I don't know enough about the park effects of minor leagues to really gauge them. All I pointed out that one of the people featured in the Moneyball draft is out of baseball and doesn't look to have any kind of future in the game. And I specifically pointed it out because orca mentioned him in his post.

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Great stuff everyone, but what I am really looking for is this: Take the teams that have won, say, the last 3-4 WS. Would these be teams that would follow the Money Ball way of placing a value on a player? Or would they fall into the category of building a team based on putting fans in the seats based on name recognition? Power players? Great D?

 

If this is still not clear what I am trying to get at I will be forced to admit to my wife that I am indeed--as she points out often--pretty poor at comunicating. Regardless I thank you all for your input.

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Great stuff everyone, but what I am really looking for is this: Take the teams that have won, say, the last 3-4 WS.
Wouldn't it be better to look at all playoff teams since the post season seems to be pretty much a crapshoot. The Red Sox seem to value OBP.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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Wouldn't it be better to look at all playoff teams since the post season seems to be pretty much a crapshoot. The Red Sox seem to value OBP.

Excellent point. I do remember the book stating that as well.

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#1 overall pick? He was the 35th player selected in the draft.

 

No, #1 overall for the A's is what I meant -- he's listed as having been a 1st Rd. pick (must have been supplemental round), and I didn't do my due diligence... and worded it clumsily to boot! http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/smile.gif

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Brown was Oakland's 5th pick overall. They had 7 first round picks because the lost 3 Type A players: Giambi, Damon, and Isringhausen. Brown wasn't supposed to go that high (or at all), but Beane had extra picks to take a flyer on players that might not have otherwise been drafted. Also, Brown probably didn't sign such a large contract as another "true" first round pick might have. Having that many picks they almost had to take a flyer on some lower level ones just to keep payroll down. They took Swisher with their first (16th overall) pick. He seems to have been an ok pick.

The #1, #1 has pitched in a whopping 6 MLB games. Though that might be expected from the Pirates.

But take away points from Beane for calling Milwaukee stupid for drafting Fielder.

The poster previously known as Robin19, now @RFCoder

EA Sports...It's in the game...until we arbitrarily decide to shut off the server.

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The Red Sox have done very well in exploiting undervalued markets. Granted, they also have the payroll to sign stars, but many of their bench players and relievers have come cheap. Ortiz, Casey, Cora, Crisp, Loretta, Bellhorn, Hinske, Kielty, Millar, Kapler, Pokey Reese, to name a few. For the most part these were players rejected by their previous teams, or they came cheap. And while they weren't all high OBP guys, the Red Sox correctly recognized they each were strong in one or two particular areas, so if use judiciously could be a valuable contributor to the team. For me that's the central lesson to Moneyball; figuring how to maximize your return without just throwing millions at every problem.
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What I got out of Billy Beane was he found what was undervalued and likes to reduce risk. OBP wasn't set in stone as the best way to build any team at any point in the future. There may be a time when everybody likes OBP so much they ignore BA and guys who hit for average but don't take many walks will be cheaper for their production than high OBP guys. That is a great way, IMo, to handle small market teams since they have to be frugal. That does not mean a team that can outspend everyone would do as well following that philosophy. OBP will always be more valuable than BA but if everyone is willing to pay top $ for it then it may not be as cost effective.

As far as Boston goes they got guys for their bench who were cast off by their former team because they could afford to give them more than other teams would for a bench player. So it's hard to give them credit for having enough to spend more than other teams on part time players. Though they have done far more with their resources than teams like Seattle does.

Part of the Beane philosophy is to draft older players. He doesn't like drafting high school kids because they are higher risks. Which was why he didn't like Prince. That philosophy has worked for him but it did mean he missed out on Hart, Hardy and Prince for no reason other than age. He also liked Keith Ginter so his approach isn't infallible when it comes to evaluation. IRRC he also didn't really value defense all that much but to me that may be the next undervalued asset. I wouldn't be surprised if Beane starts to find great defenders in the near future.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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Brown was Oakland's 5th pick overall. They had 7 first round picks because the lost 3 Type A players

I love being way off-base! Hooray! http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/embarassed.gif

Thanks for clearing up the misconception(s), Robin. Certainly makes the pick or 'reach' for Brown a lot more understandable. What a haul of draft picks for Oakland that year.

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That's usually a good debate. I don't know why personally, but it's viewed as not fitting the definition of BABIP, as in, it's not considered "in play". IIRC there's a thread on this in the Stats forum.

 

EDIT: Yep, the BABIP thread. Here's a response in the thread from logan3825 --

 

"It is a measure of what a defense did behind the pitcher. A defense, except on rare occasions, can not do anything about HR."

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So is it fair then to use this stat when comparing Ryan Braun to Kosuke Fukudome? If it is a measure of the defense behind the pitcher, how come it can be used as a measure of a players offensive prowess (or lack thereof)? It kind of seems like it might be a measure of how well a hitter can "hit them where they ain't".
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BABIP is the best way to determine luck. If one player has 40% of his balls in play land as hits (C. Jones) and another only has 20% (R. Weeks), we can statistically say one has been luckier than the other. A guy that strikes out and doesn't make contact (3TO) will still have a high BABIP but a low BA, so we know it isn't bad luck that is preventing him from getting more hits. The first two can be expected to regress towards the mean in BABIP. Stat heads would say it's inevitable that the first player will see his BA drop, the second will see his BA rise, and the third is about where he will stay.

 

****Don't quote me on those numbers, or relative numbers. I was just throwing names out there to give some perspective. They could be totally off, but I used the names to help make a point.

The poster previously known as Robin19, now @RFCoder

EA Sports...It's in the game...until we arbitrarily decide to shut off the server.

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So is it fair then to use this stat when comparing Ryan Braun to Kosuke Fukudome? If it is a measure of the defense behind the pitcher, how come it can be used as a measure of a players offensive prowess (or lack thereof)? It kind of seems like it might be a measure of how well a hitter can "hit them where they ain't".

For a batter, it's more a sign of how lucky or unlucky he's been, since 'hittin' them where they ain't' can only be controlled so much. .300 is regarded as being the approximated median. It's important to check out players' BABIP over their careers, though -- some guys do tend to keep it higher than others.

 

I noticed yesterday that both Braunie & Prince are right near .300 BABIP.

 

 

Stat heads would say it's inevitable that the first player will see his BA drop, the second will see his BA rise, and the third is about where he will stay

 

Nice explanation of the 'practical application' -- I think the general sense is right-on, but I'm no stat expert.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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For a batter, it's more a sign of how lucky or unlucky he's been, since 'hittin' them where they ain't' can only be controlled so much. .300 is regarded as being the approximated median. It's important to check out players' BABIP over their careers, though -- some guys do tend to keep it higher than others.

 

Luck is a decent-sized chunk of a hitter's BABIP, but it is important to remember that a hitter has a great deal more control over his BABIP than a pitcher has on his BABIP allowed. That's because the ability to hit line drives consistently is a fairly stable skill, and over 70% of line drives drop in somewhere for a hit.

 

As a result, the best way to tell whether a hitter has been lucky or unlucky isn't to compare his BABIP to the league average BABIP (Like TLB said, usually around .300), but instead to compare his BABIP to his expected BABIP, given his line drive % (Dave Studeman over at The Hardball Times site calculated a while back that all you have to do to get a surprisingly solid estimate of expected BABIP is add 12% to line drive %).

 

A couple of links from BrewCrewBall:

 

1. Jeff Sackmann's excellent overview

 

2. A recent look at which Brewers' hitters have been BABIP lucky and unlucky so far in 2008.

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Well, there's verfification of the whole "I'm no stat expert" thing.

 

Luck is a decent-sized chunk of a hitter's BABIP, but it is important to remember that a hitter has a great deal more control over his BABIP than a pitcher has on his BABIP allowed. That's because the ability to hit line drives consistently is a fairly stable skill, and over 70% of line drives drop in somewhere for a hit.

 

That's a very good explanation, thanks.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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