M’s Blogosphere Update: New M’s blog @ http://noslenblog.blogspot.com/
And I swear better link listings are on my to-do list for the U.S.S. Mariner.
Some stats in the air today, and I want to go off an riff briefly.
Statistics tell us things. To be useful, a statistic must convey information. That seems obvious, right? It’s not. Meaningless information is thrown at us all the time, stuff without reference or relevance.
This is particularly true in the world of baseball. If you only know one stat for every player, you’d want on-base percentage. OBP tells you that in x% of a player’s plate appearances, they got on base on their own merits without making an out (since DPs don’t count, errors don’t count). A team has 27 outs, and not making outs is how you score runs. OBP is the life of an offense. It’s a meaningful and interesting statistic. AVG, SLG, ERA, they all tell you something direct about a player’s actual performance.
Then there’s more complicated replacement-level stats, like Keith Woolner’s Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), or era-neutral comparison stats, like Clay Davenport’s Equivalent Runs (EqR), all park-adjusted. They give a measurement of how many runs you gain or lose between Player X and Player Y. That’s useful information derived from real things.
Aaaaaaand then there are the short-hand, rough-cut stats. This + this (and + 1.4 this when it’s Tuesday) = this Super Number. Then compare super numbers to determine the best player!
They’re junk stats — sweet, attractive, filled with empty calories and no nourishment of thought or advancement of progress.
OPS allows you to roughly say “Player X is better than Y, but I don’t know what that gap means” and all of the SLOB and OB2SLG and the rest have the same problem. If I created a stat called Super USS Mariner Player aPproximation of Universal Measure of Performance and calculated it as
[(2*AVG) + (6*OBP) + (2*SLG)]
It would prodce a pretty number like .280 or something similar, and you could compare and rank players to your heart’s content… but you’d have learned nothing. You know less about the players than you did before you came up with the super stat. The difference between .280 and .285 tells you nothing about the performance of a player* except that one is incrementally better on a scale you don’t know.
Step back to OBP for a second. Over 600 PAs, a 50-point difference in OBP is 30 times on base. That’s a meaningful number. That’s runs for a team. AVG tells you something: in 450 ABs, you know that 50 points of batting average means (what) 12 extra hits? That’s runs, too. Anyone can estimate this stuff and compare player value over a season and even in part-time play.
So what’s more useful to a fan, a SUMPPUMP score of .340 or knowing a player’s OBP is .300? If you knew both, you’d realize hidden in the SUMPPUMP is probably a higher slugging than OBP, but it’s hidden — without both pieces of information, you know *less* from a complicated calculation than you knew when you started because calculating it requires you have both SLG and OBP… what’s the point? Why not create a stat like SUMPPUMP 2, which is calculated as
This is clearly the best stat ever invented. It has the same correlation to run scoring as OPS! Who wants cupcakes? Theeey’ve got frosting…
If you want one stat for use at the ballpark and for easy sketching, use OBP. Get it park-adjusted if you can, but even if you can’t, use OBP. It’s simple, it works, it’s easy to use, it makes sense.
* Yes, I realize this means I’m pro-EqR while anti-EqA, but my EqA opinions get much more detailed and complicated than I think anyone wants to read.
You know what I don’t believe? Jason made two posts in a day. All hail Chef Barker!
You’re never going to believe it — I’ve updated the Big Board for the first time in over two months.
In the minors, you’ll notice quite a few holes. The M’s have lost a number of players due to minor league free agency (or by choosing to release them) since the season ended, and rather than make guesses about promotions, etc., I’ve simply left them alone. We’ll have a better idea about all this stuff come spring.
The major league roster, on the other hand, is in a state of if-the-season-started-tomorrow. I hope that one doesn’t scare you too much — I have an Ibanez-Winn-Ichiro outfield, as well as a Bloomquist-Guillen left side of the infield. Shudder. Players with dollar signs around their names are arbitration eligible.
In updating this I looked at minor league transactions all the way back to October 1st, but it’s certainly possible I missed something. Now that I think of it I’m sure I missed that Indy league pitcher they signed awhile back, but it’s not certain where he’ll be assigned come the start of the season, so that’s my excuse for now.
Enjoy, and as always, drop me a line if you see something amiss (that includes you, Dave).
Oh, and thanks to Toshio and Bob for suggesting JapaneseBaseball.com as a new source for, well, Japanese baseball.
The “Sasaki back to Japan” scenario is interesting, if only because it raises the question of who would take his place as the M’s closer. I know Rafael Soriano is a popular choice among fans, and we’ve certainly seen how good he can be. That said, I still think he’s more valuable as a starter — or barring that, a high-workload reliever — so he wouldn’t be my choice. I do think the obvious option is sitting right under our noses, however — Julio Mateo. Mateo was one of the best relievers in baseball last season, limiting opposing hitters to a .220/.257/.382 line with no platoon split worth discussing.
In any event, when you have good, cheap relievers like Mateo and Soriano, there’s no reason to spend $6M on the likes of Keith Foulke or Eddie Guardado. Or $8M on Kaz Sasaki, for that matter.
Oh, and here’s another way it’s interesting. What do we get in exchange for him? I’d be happy just saving the $8M for next season, but if we got a decent player as well, all the better. I’d love to go check out Yomiuri’s roster, but unfortunately the Japan League website no longer comes with an English option. If anyone has another source (in English) for what we used to be able to get there, I’d love to hear about it.
If the Yankees sign Sheffield to a 2-year deal, one of two things happen:
– either they suck defensively for two years or
– they’re going to make some wacky changes
They’d have 3 OFers signed to huge deals: Matsui, Williams, and Sheffield. Williams can’t play center anymore, it’s that simple, and one of the possible solutions the Yankees might have tried this off-season was moving Williams to left, Matsui to right, and Jeter to center. There are other solutions, like trading for Beltran (which would have been their ace move if they wanted to burn into the WS again). Now they’re locked into that OF, and the best they’ll be able to do is ugly: Sheffield and Williams on the corners (pick your poison) and Matsui in center.
Let’s say they’re not satisfied with that, and sign another CF and push Williams to DH, as has also been rumored. This now requires Giambi’s knee (and the rest of him) to be consistently healthy next year, and in turn means that Nick Johnson’s forced out and would almost certainly be traded.
There are some who think Nick Johnson hasn’t lived up to his potential, and he’ll never be the hitter people saw when he was hitting .350/.500/.900 in AA at age 12 (warning: exaggeration)(but not much), because of his injury issues. But in overall offensive value when they were in the lineup (warning, Dave: look away) Nick Johnson was just behind Edgar Martinez in EQA. I don’t particularly care if you think EQA is bunk, but everyone should recognize that Nick Johnson can rake. He’s not the kind of power-and-speed guy that might age better later in his career, but I think Johnson’s going to have a year where he terrorizes the league all year long and maybe stubs his toe and misses 3 games.
If the Yankees sign Sheffield, either they’re punting outfield defense (again) and also likely letting Soriano and Jeter stay where they are (punting infield defense)(again), or there are moves yet to happen that will result in Johnson putting on another uniform next year. If he went somewhere with a crack medical staff (and I’m sure Will Carroll’s got some thoughts on this), and if he goes somewhere with a bunch of quacks (“the continuing stoooooory of a quack who’s gone to the dogs”), he probably won’t fare as well (this, incidentally, is a good argument why being a player isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: your entire career and earning value is tied up in your health, and your health is closely tied to the trainers and doctors your team employs, which can range from amazing to pretty bad).
All of which is to say I’d love to see the Yankees sign Sheffield, because it means they’re giving themselves at least one other problem. It baffles me sometimes why baseball’s most dominant and resource-intensive team makes moves like this that don’t solve the problems in front of them… but it’d suck if they weren’t so disfunctional, sat down in Tampa, and made a list like:
– Fix defense. Problems include Jeter, Soriano, Williams
– Get pitching. Fill open rotation slots with good pitchers
– Get younger. We’re old and should pay attention to that, or we’re going to find ourselves in an even worse position in a couple of years. Where possible, fufill the first two objectives while bringing the team age down or, at worst, keeping it at the same level.
Oh, and on Kazu — I like Kazu in the sense I like having cool characters around, but in the winning-team sense… yeah, seeing him go wouldn’t be so bad.
Now this is interesting. The Yomiuri Giants reportedly are interested in convincing Kazuhiro Sasaki to come back and play in Japan this year. The Mariners should be interested in doing darn near anything necessary to help accommodate any team who wants to take his $8 million salary off their hands. Sasaki’s contract is the albatross that doesn’t get mentioned, but that money could be reallocated in a much better fashion. The Mariners have right-handed relievers coming out their ears, and his salary level is reserved for the premier closers in the game, of which Sasaki is clearly not a member.
This is a pretty weak denial by Bavasi, by the way: “At this point, that’s all there is to it.” And at this point, I haven’t eaten lunch today, but I sure plan to. Let’s hope that this is a case of where there is smoke, there is fire, and the M’s can find an extra $8 million in salary for 2004 by convincing Kazu to head back to Japan.
Also, reports out of the New York media (warning: truth optional) have Gary Sheffield being offered a 2 year, $20 million contract by the Yankees, and the Braves looking to counter at around $11 million per season. If Gary Sheffield is only worth $10 million, how on earth can Raul Ibanez be worth more than about $1.5 million? That signing is going to look worse every day as the offseason progresses.