New WSJ Piece(s)

Dave · April 27, 2009 at 6:48 am · Filed Under Mariners 

My latest Wall Street Journal article was published today, and this one is actually relevant to the M’s upcoming series. As mentioned in the piece, the White Sox have yet to throw out a base stealer this year. Opponents are 18 for 18 against them. They were last in the AL in CS% last year as well. The M’s should run like mad men in this series. Ichiro, Chavez, and Gutierrez should be heading for second base practically every time they get on.

I’ve also begun contributing shorter pieces to WSJ’s “Heard On The Field” section, which encompasses little nuggets from various sports. Today’s section includes a quick bit on Zach Greinke’s current run of near perfection.

Comments

17 Responses to “New WSJ Piece(s)”

  1. georgmi on April 27th, 2009 8:29 am

    Check my reasoning, please–if failing to prevent a stolen base only has a .15 correlation to run prevention, wouldn’t it also be true that stealing a base has a similar minimal correlation to scoring a run?

    In other words, if it doesn’t matter that much whether your catcher guns down base stealers, it also doesn’t matter that much if your runners steal a base, right?

    Of course, an opportunity to point and laugh at A.J.Pierzynski is a laudable goal in itself…

  2. Dave on April 27th, 2009 8:38 am

    Sort of, but not really. You can’t quote the inverse as true because the distribution is different.

    For instance, if you had a team of nine great base stealers, who could all swipe 50+ bags at an 80% success rate, your base stealing prowess would have a significant impact on your run scoring. A catcher who can only throw out 20% of all base stealers doesn’t have an equally negative impact, however, because he doesn’t play 162 games against teams who can run well.

    Catcher throwing is diminished in value with respect to runners base stealing due to the difference in opponents.

  3. georgmi on April 27th, 2009 8:51 am

    OK, that makes sense. I figured there had to be something more to it. Thanks!

  4. RoninX on April 27th, 2009 9:29 am

    Interesting piece. I’ve seen a number of pieces on runs saved by catchers via throwing out base runners and the span usually seems to be from about +5 to -5 over a season (from best to worst). But has anyone looked at what the what the “deterrence factor” is in having “cannon arm” behind the plate? If there is not a large value in limiting SB% (at least within normal ranges) is there a value in limiting SB attempts?

    I searched a bit and haven’t found anything, but it seems like this could conceivably be done by estimating steal attempts prevented based on a known high quality arm (Pudge in his ____ year prime for instance). Over a given number of years how did teams change the baserunning patterns vs. Rodriguez then as compared to Pierzynski now?

  5. littlelinny6 on April 27th, 2009 9:31 am

    Dave,
    If this is true about catchers then why is Clement not on the M’s? I thought one of the main concerns with him was his inability to throw out basestealers?

  6. DMZ on April 27th, 2009 10:11 am

    There’s a ton of research on that, Ronin.

  7. Sidi on April 27th, 2009 10:17 am

    Is r value really a good of a way to evaluate the impact of a small part of the game? On one hand it does seem like a direct measurement of what we want to know, but my gut instinct says it will always give you a low value for any one part of the game because there are so many other parts to winning or losing.

    I may have to try to sit down and crunch the numbers for things like outfield defense or quality of #1/#5 starting pitchers tonight, I have a feeling the correlation will come out surprisingly low on those as well.

    Edit: Nowhere near as low as .15, obviously. But as a guess I would say even #1 starter (ranked by your favorite stat) would be well under .5, maybe even under .3.

  8. Graham on April 27th, 2009 10:32 am

    I thought one of the main concerns with him was his inability to throw out basestealers?

    His terrible footwork is the big concern – it leads to more passed balls, wild pitches, stolen bases, etc. He’s just all around bad at catching.

    That said, I think the impact of C defence in general is wildly overstated :)

  9. Dave on April 27th, 2009 10:41 am

    my gut instinct says it will always give you a low value for any one part of the game because there are so many other parts to winning or losing.

    The correlation is to run prevention, not winning and losing.

  10. Sidi on April 27th, 2009 10:48 am

    Ok, I misread it. That makes much more sense.

  11. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on April 27th, 2009 10:59 am

    Good stuff, Dave.

  12. Robo Ape on April 27th, 2009 11:14 am

    Hey Dave,

    I’ve been a long time WSJ subscriber and I have to say I think your pieces thus far have been really great and add a lot to the paper. Keep up the good work.

  13. Pedro on April 27th, 2009 11:15 am

    But has anyone looked at what the what the “deterrence factor” is in having “cannon arm” behind the plate? If there is not a large value in limiting SB% (at least within normal ranges) is there a value in limiting SB attempts?

    If you can throw out over 30% of the runners, you basically want them to run more often. The break-even point is roughly around a 72% success rate. Interestingly, the actual overall success rates in recent years are:

    2000 – 68.8%
    2001 – 68.8%
    2002 – 68.2%
    2003 – 69.4%
    2004 – 70.2%
    2005 – 70.6%
    2006 – 71.4%
    2007 – 74.4%
    2008 – 73.0%

  14. Catherwood on April 27th, 2009 11:26 am

    That is interesting: there seems to be a steady upward trend in success rate (though with only ten years, that could be an artifact, of course).

    If true, I wonder why? Maybe ubiquitous video of pitchers allows runners to really tune to any tells they might have about whether he’s going home or to first, and that maybe gives them a little better jump?

  15. DMZ on April 27th, 2009 11:33 am

    Just looking at success rate obscures a lot of information though. I’d be leery of drawing conclusions just from that.

  16. RoninX on April 27th, 2009 12:33 pm

    @ DMZ – I would imagine so, if I could come up with a way to start looking at it :) Unfortunately, I must be missing a key term or not looking at the right sites because I’m still not finding what I was looking for, if anyone has a link I would be grateful.

    @ Pedro – but the question is, when do people stop running more? Also, I must be a total dunce because I am not finding the league totals on baseball reference.com but what are the SB attempt numbers to go along with those rates?

  17. Red Apple on April 27th, 2009 1:12 pm

    Yes, please do steal with abandon so that we don’t feel tempted to waste outs with sacrifices!

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