Comments on: “Stable” Rotations Who Didn’t Win Often This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Neil Fri, 03 Sep 2010 20:00:31 +0000 @26
Yeah, but Jeff, to a be a true fan you gotta go through the bad times.....

By: Jeff Wise Thu, 02 Sep 2010 15:59:32 +0000 Yuck! Why did you have to remind me about that 2008 Mariners team? Miguel Batista, Felix Hernandez, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn. They are just about in that same situation this year.

By: Neil Tue, 31 Aug 2010 21:28:59 +0000 re: #24
Agreed about the difficulty of predictions. What I tried so say (poorly) in #21 was it takes guts to commit oneself to a testable future outcome based on number-crunching of the past. Look at how many pundits have made fools of themselves with their pre-season baseball predictions, with or without numerical analysis, over the years.

No one is going to hold you to your predictions about Hughes and the Yankees in this year's post-season, but if there is not some foresight possible from sabermetric analysis then are't we all just full of hot air?

To cut to the chase, it is gratifying to able explain teams's sucesses after the fact, but how much more powerful to able to anticipate the next good team or individual superstar. Case in point, Johnny's post post #22 in general and with respect to Baustita specifically.

By: John Q Tue, 31 Aug 2010 13:43:39 +0000 Neil,

It's tough to predict things like that. There's always the human element and Hughes can go out there and pitch a 2 hitter in the playoffs, who knows, he has a good k/9 ratio. I think he's 13/47 in the A.L. in k/9. Let's just say though, I wouldn't be surprised if Hughes gets shelled in the playoffs and the Yankees get knocked out in the first round.

The success or failure of teams is very odd sometimes in hindsight. The 1980 Phillies that won the WS was probably the weakest overall Phillie team that made the playoffs during the Phillies 1976-1983 Playoff Run. Basically that team revolved around two players having all time great seasons: Schmidt with a 171ops+ 9.1WAR, and Carlton with a 162era+ and a 9.6 WAR. Then throw in McGraw's 4.1WAR with a 260era+ and there you go.

Those three guys basically carried the Phillies in the playoffs and then you get something like Manny Trillo hitting .381 in the LCS and Bob Boone having a .500 on base percentage and they win the whole thing. In retrospect, I think the '76-77 Phillie teams were the strongest of the bunch.

I was thinking about it yesterday the '77 Phillies kind of remind me of the '53 Dodgers. In the Dodgers case they weren't quite as good with the glove but they were an all-time great offensive team. But on the flip side like the '77 Phils, they only had one good starting pitcher, Carl Eskerne.

By: Neil Tue, 31 Aug 2010 03:19:50 +0000 Point taken, Johnny. What I meant was, I guess, predict this post-season or more generally "the future". Does history ever repeat itself in baseball, statistically speaking? Or is every season a unique set of special circumstances for a team from which no general baseball "truths" can be learned?

By: Johnny Twisto Tue, 31 Aug 2010 02:26:43 +0000 No one can predict next year accurately. The most advanced projection systems are slightly more accurate than the most basic. So maybe those small gains are a point in favor of the analysis being done, but they almost don't seem worth it. Especially when their accuracy is measured over the aggregate player population, but how often do they correctly identify an individual breakout (a la Jose Bautista -- maybe they should have checked with Joe Morgan about his preseason "confidence" levels)?

By: Neil Mon, 30 Aug 2010 23:16:02 +0000 Careful that you don't rouse slumbering Yankee fans with your post(lol). My technical grasp of stats is clearly below yours. Well done!

What I like about your contribution, John, is its predictive nature. You've taken the '77 Phillies and extrapolated to the current season for the Yankees. So to knowledgable Yankee followers out there, will Phil Hughes start a post-season game this year? Does Girardi read our messages in here?

As I understand it, one of the goals of sabermetrics is to predict future performance based on past numbers. Anybody can analyze statistics after the fact but who can predict next year accurately?

By: John Q Mon, 30 Aug 2010 22:14:26 +0000 Neil,

You make a valid point in that starting pitching can be masked by good hitting teams that result in a good W/L record for the pitcher. Good fielding teams can also increase the W/L record and lower a pitcher's ERA.

You're right in that the knee jerk reaction to Christenson's season is that he had a great year because he won 19 games but in reality it was a pretty lousy year that was masked by the great hitting and defense of the Phillies.

The Phillies had two great hitters in Schmidt 151ops+ and Luzinski 156ops+. Plus they got great hitting from part time players like McBride-149ops+, McCarver-145ops+, and D. Johnson-149ops+. Add that up with the great fielding I mentioned above and they were a great team. The big hole was their starting pitching because 2/5 of their rotation (Christenson & Lonborg) were lousy and well below average and another 2/5 of their rotation was horrible (Katt & Learch)

Usually weak starting pitching gets exploited in the playoffs.

You can make a parallel to the 2010 Yankees and Phil Hughes. Hughes is having a pretty mediocre season, 97 era+ and a 1.7 WAR, but he's gone 15-6 so everyone acts like it's a great year. Hughes 15 wins come in large part to his Major league leading 7 runs/per game average. By far he's gotten the best run support in baseball.

The Yankees really only have One good starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettite is still injured so his status is uncertain. The Yankees could easily be knocked out of the first round this year with C.C., Hughes, Burnett, and Vazquez pitching the first round.

By: Neil Mon, 30 Aug 2010 19:04:33 +0000 What I take from your detailed analyses of the Phillies that year is that a bad season (or portion of a season) can be masked by superior performance by the rest of a team. How often have you heard a manager or player say while the player is in the middle of a prolonged slump "As long as the team is winning.....everything's OK"? That slumping position player or pitcher might get a few days on the bench if the team were in a losing streak.

My point is that Christensen's relatively poor season appears not to have been visible to management or fans at the time because of the other stars on the team, the defensive strength, and the misleading nature of W-L record.

By: John Q Mon, 30 Aug 2010 16:01:14 +0000 Neil,

The '77 Phillies were a very odd and unique team.

The '77 Phillies were a great defensive team. They had Schmidt, Maddox, Bowa, McBride, Sizemore all having great years with the glove. And Bob Boone was no slouch behind the plate. Great defensive teams can sometimes cover up mediocre/poor pitching staffs because they can lower the pitchers' ERA.

This team like most Phillies teams of that time period, rode the backs of it's two big stars, Schmidt and Carlton. Schmidt had a 9.6 WAR and Carlton had a 5.8 WAR.

The Phillies could hit as well with Luzunski having a great year with bat although he gave some of that productivity back with his abysmal play in left field. They also got tremendous hitting from a large group of part time players: Bake Mcbride, Jay Johnson, Ritchie Hebner, Tim McCarver and Davey Johnson.

They had a very good bullpen with Garber, Reed and McGraw.

Larry Christen's 19 wins in '77 is a good example of how arbitrary/pointless a stat wins can be. It's definitely one of the worst 19 win seasons by a pitcher in the last 50 years. Christenson was basically a replacement level pitcher with a .5 WAR. There were 36 starting pitchers that qualified for the rate stats that year, lets see where Christenson ranks.

ERA: 24/36
ERA+: 25/36
K: 24th, There were actually two relievers, Gossage & Sutter, that had more K's than Christenson.
K/9: 26/36
K/BB: 21/36
BB/9: 20/36
HR/9: 25/36
Whip: 25/36
H/9: 26/36
SHO: 32nd
CG: 28th

It's extremely hard to find a pitcher with 19 wins who only finished in the top 20 in one of these categories and it was a 20th place finish to top it off. I think Christenson also led pitchers with errors committed by a pitcher with 8.

Christenson pitched the pivotal game 3 against the Dodgers in the '77 NLCS after the #5 starter Lonborg got shelled in game 2.

Christenson didn't do any better in his game 3 start. Game 3 is often remember as "Black Friday" in Philly as the Phillies had a 2 run lead in the 9th with two outs and blew the game. But what's often left out of the story is that Christenson only pitched 3.1 innings and gave up 7 hits with 3 earned runs for a 8.10 ERA. Christenson's poor pitching and early departure no doubt taxed the bullpen in game 3.