12 March 2011

Number of 2B Over the Age of 32 since 1971

Tom Verducci recently mentioned that the decrease in older 2B (32 and over with over 130 games at 2B) is due to drug testing.  I find that a bit presumptuous.  The data has not been entirely corrected and there is a greater focus on the value of defense over offense, so there are certainly several reasons why there may be a decrease in older 2B.  It should be noted four other players at the age of 32 had over 100 starts at second, so it might not be as big an issue as Verducci claims.  Then again, this would not be the first time Verducci makes a grand claim without actual evidence (i.e. the Verducci Effect).

11 March 2011

Brian Roberts and the Aging of Second Basemen

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Concern has been mounting over Brian Roberts' back as he has been held out of several practices.  He has downplayed the severity of this injury.  This typically would not be of much concern were it not for two issues:
  1. Historically, second basemen fall apart in their early thirties.
  2. Last year, Roberts was injured during Spring Training and similarly played down concerns over an injury that wound up shutting him down for the majority of the season.
In this post, I would like to establish what could be expected from a population of second basemen who performed similarly to Roberts over their Age 27 to 31 seasons and how that population performed from Age 32 to 36.  I took this population from players whose Age 27 to 31 seasons occurred from 1950 to 2005 and who generated a WAR of 12 to 22.  This group includes Bobby Grich, Davey Johnson, Robby Thompson, Chuck Knoblauch, Lou Whitaker, Dick McAuliffe, Ray Durham, Johnny Ray, Bill Doran, Willie Randolph, Ron Hunt, Damion Easley, Tom Herr, and Johnny Temple.  As a group they had an OPS+ of 109 +/- 8, a WAR of 16.6 +/- 3.3, an OBP of .360, and a SLG of .401.  Brian Roberts, during his age 27 to 31 years, had an OPS of 115, a WAR of 17.9, an OBP of .369, and a SLG of .451. 

After the jump, a run through of graphs showing what can be expected in terms of plate appearances, WAR, chance of being an average player, and chance of remaining in the Majors.



02 March 2011

Orioles 2010 Expenditures in International Free Agency

Baseball America reported their figures on what each team spent on international amateur talent during the 2010 fiscal year.  I have expressed it as a graph below.

Click on the graph to see it larger.  I have color-coded the teams in the AL East and provided a green line to mark the average amount spent on international talent.  The Orioles minor spending on this avenue of talent jives with what Andy MacPhail has said before during his University of Baltimore chat and in a conversation with Ken Rosenthal.  Based on those conversations and the Orioles habits procuring talent from international markets . . . it is fairly obvious that what resources the Orioles do have, they are not being spent on premier amateur talent.  Instead, their academy is being used to collect lower rung talent and bank on being successful at that rung.

Edit: It is also important to note that Cuban signings are not included in these figures.  Otherwise, you would see several teams jumping up by a few million (e.g. Red Sox) and the Orioles staying in place.

27 February 2011

2011 Homerun King Mark Reynolds?

A reader told me to look over at Pinnacle Sports, a betting site that bets on pretty much anything.  The interesting part to us (and is shown below) are the odds on who is the favorite in 2011 to win the home run title in all of baseball.  It goes through Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista, and Adrian Gonzalez before it finds its 7th most likely winner: our very own Mark Reynolds.  This might strike some as fanciful, but Reynolds does have the 3rd most homeruns over the past two seasons and 8th most over the past three seasons.  Based on last year, homeruns were ~15% easier to hit at Camden Yards than at Chase Field.  That might increase his total by about 2 home runs.

In case, you were unaware, the lower the number . . . the better the perceived chance.

In other bets on the site . . . the Orioles 2011 over/under is set at 76 wins, which is about where I have them.

note: I have about 5 articles in various states of completion and have been sick as a dog for a week . . . I should have a flurry of posts some point soon . . . God-willing.

23 February 2011

Simple Graph Comparing Cal Ripken Jr, Derek Jeter, and Chipper Jones

Eutaw Street Hooligans highlighted this atrocious use of statistics and colored spectacles suggesting somehow that Chipper Jones had a better career than Cal Ripken Jr.  Here is an amazing gem: "[Jones] might have been the better overall player [be]cause defensively; they are all about the same as well."

Here is a simple graph that communicates far more than that article.


All three look like great players.  One looks a bit better due to a higher peak.

21 February 2011

¡Dia de los Presidentes!


I think it is a good time to remember Dennis Martinez (aka El Presidente) on President's Day and to wish everyone well today.
Isn't that an old school picture of the Inner Harbor?
Pier 3 or Pier 6.  I would lean toward pier 6.

Any thoughts?  I was just four then.

17 February 2011

Why baseball players use human growth hormone? Part I: Addressing the debate.

Cheating comes in a lot of forms.
This is the first part of a two part series on human growth hormone.

Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) are a difficult topic to discuss.  It is truly rare to find someone who is indifferent to them or at least not emotionally engaged in the discussion.  I find that we, fans, want to see amazing athletic performances, but want these to be as clean and pure as is possible.  We often create dividing lines between things like spitballs, corked bats, corrective lenses, cortisone shots, oxygen treatments, creatine, anabolic steroids, Viagra, caffeine, Ritalin, human growth hormone, and a bevy of other treatments that have been associated with improving performance.  Everyone typically has their own line and many fight for it vehemently.  The line drawn often rarely is with respect to how much certain aids helping in making a performance better and more often drawn by our emotional attachment to different approaches.

Emotional arguments are difficult ones to have as it is difficult to consider evidence that contradicts our position.  Turning a logical argument into an emotional one shifts the debate from one of merits of an idea to the mere capacity of intellectual thought.  This creates a conversational quagmire when trying to parse the data on a subject that is confusing and often misconstrued in the media, in the gym, and on message boards.  What I hope in this two part series is to set the emotional conversation back to zero and build it back up on the merits of the application of human growth hormone, in this case.  That way maybe we can strip the discussion free of our assumptions and weakly based convictions

More right after the jump.

15 February 2011

Has the Orioles defense improved in 2011?

Motherwell's Mark Reynolds
Last week, I read through Andrew Gibson's work on using infield and outfield Defensive Efficiency on ground balls and fly balls, respectively.  I discuss that post over at the Baltimore Orioles Round Table (BORT), but on this blog I wanted to jumped in on something that I felt was slightly undone.  As you may have noticed, almost every statistic these days is converted over to runs.  It is the high falutin' goal of any respectable statistician to devise ways to convert all measures of player performance into how many runs are scored or given.  It permits a great deal of comparison and it is why when guys like us so repetitively use WAR and other run based numbers, others think we are making too much out of single statistics.  We really are not, we are just converting things over to a relatively easy model for comparison.  Converting numbers to runs does not remove problems with the original numbers.  We are all aware that a high WAR due to the defensive component is probably not an accurate portrayal of the player's talent.

My objective in this post is to take Andrew's numbers and convert them over to runs saved/given as well as compare that to other systems like DRS, TZL, and UZR.  All of that after the jump.

14 February 2011

Oh, krikes!

I was just scooped.  I am halfway through my analysis on draft pick performance, doing almost the same exact thing.  I guess that is done for me.

Anyway, I have not yet gotten to it, but read this.

Looks like I will have something cool to read tonight.

13 February 2011

Revisiting the Orioles International Effort

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Over a year ago, we had a succession of three articles assessing the Orioles apparent lack of interest in a Dominican Prospect League where amateurs played in games as opposed to scouts having to watch workouts (batting practice, fielding, running, bullpen, and live pitching).  Briefly put, ESPN Jorge Arangure Jr. posted an article where the Orioles were specifically mentioned by the founder of the DPL as being one of the few teams who did not have any scouts present.  Roch then chased down John Stockstill who said that they have and will see many of these players in workouts.  Finally, Mejia (founder of DPL) is re-interviewed and says that too much was made of comments, but that the Orioles are doing things their own way.

So that leaves us with the perspective that the Orioles are not involved in the DPL because they have seen these players in workouts and in-game situations provided during the DPL's 25 game schedule that most every other team utilizes is therefore of no interest to them.  Got that?

A few days back, Andy MacPhail appeared at the University of Baltimore to talk about his experiences and approach as a General Manager.  Upon being asked about the Orioles international effort, he said:
We're still not head over heels in international scouting. We get criticized occasionally for not spending enough there. But you've got to understand, in the Dominican Republic, the whole game has changed. It used to be you'd go there and see a lot of kids playing baseball. Now there is something called a buscón. They're agents, and what they'll do is they'll take a kid who is 12 or 13 and has some promise. They'll feed them, clothe them, and put them in a workout regimen. They're not playing baseball anymore. What these guys prepare them to do is to come in all these complexes -- and now we have one of them -- and they'll do workouts. They're not playing the game anymore. They're guys who have been developed over three or four years to look good in a three or four day tryout. And there are those old fashioned amongst us who are concerned that's not really the look we need to make a good read on a 17-year-old kid out of the Dominican. We would much rather see them play games. Just think about a lot of US players who wouldn't do that well in a workout, but they are good baseball players because they can play the game. We've lost an element of that in the Dominican, and where we apply our resources is somewhat of a reflection of that.


We are not in Venezuela nearly to the degree that we need to be in. We have our approach in the Dominican. It might not be the best, but Venezuela is definitely something we need to look into in a more studious fashion because the last time I checked, you've got 6 percent of players in the major leagues are coming out of Venezuela and we need to be more active there.
The background we have presented in our own coverage and this current statement do not jive.  MacPhail is complaining about how players in the Dominican Republic do not play baseball and for the Orioles to feel comfortable handing out contracts, they really want to see them play.  However, they were one of the few teams specifically mentioned as not attending games in a league designed to give teams a look at players performing in games.

This is a simple failure of logic.