The 2008 OPA! Gold (and Lead) Gloves

That running sound of people stampeding toward something isn’t Black Friday shoppers.  (Did you know that Christmas and Chanukah used to be religious holidays?)  It’s all my Sabermetric brethren running to the servers of Retrosheet (Can I take a moment and gush about Retrosheet and how cool they are?) for the newly posted 2008 play-by-play data file.  Last night, I told Mrs. Cutter, “I just got my early Christmas present.”  She just nodded and smiled.

With the release of the new file, I can run the 2008 season through some of my favorite syntax programs.  First on the list is my defensive rating system, OPA! (out probability added above average).  By way of a short introduction, OPA! breaks fielding into its component parts (range, fielding, arm, and catching the throw on ground balls, for example) and eventually sums it all up in a neat little run value.

First, let’s award some Gold (and Lead) Gloves.  These go to the players who saved (or bungled away) the most runs at their position during the 2008 season.  A player who spent more time at the position will have more of a chance to rack up more runs saved (or bungled), but we’ll adjust for that later.  The reason that there’s no catcher award is that I can’t really measure catcher defense with OPA!  Runs saved (or bungled) are in parentheses.


Position OPA! Gold Glove (AL) OPA! Gold Glove (NL) Real Gold Glove (AL) Real Gold Glove (NL) OPA! Lead Glove (AL) OPA! Lead Glove (NL)
Pitcher John Garland (2.54) Kyle Lohse (2.76) Mike Mussina (1.06) Greg Maddux (1.89) Fausto Carmona (-2.56) Brandon Webb (-5.13)
First Baseman Mark Teixeira* (13.93) Albert Pujols (16.32) Carlos Pena (2.90) Adrian Gonzalez (13.28) Richie Sexson (-14.11) Mike Jacobs (-18.92)
Second Baseman Mark Ellis (17.88) Chase Utley (11.93) Dustin Pedroia (3.20) Brandon Phillps (-0.71) Brian Roberts (-11.94) Richie Weeks (-12.38)
Third Baseman Scott Rolen (14.58) Chipper Jones (9.89) Adrian Beltre (9.97) David Wright (-9.00) Mark Reynolds (-10.43) Edwin Encarnacion (-16.45)
Shortstop Mike Aviles (8.58) J.J. Hardy (13.03) Michael Young (1.08) Jimmy Rollins (-3.77) Edgar Renteria (-11.68) Stephen Drew (-13.25)
Outfield Jacoby Ellsbury (25.83) Ryan Braun!!! (23.67) Ichiro Suzuki (6.38) Carlos Beltran (11.89) Jason Bay* (-35.79) Brad Hawpe (-47.75)
Outfield Franklin Gutierrez (24.96) Randy Winn (23.11) Grandy Sizemore (-3.50) Nate McLouth (-11.60) Jermaine Dye (-25.62) Adam Dunn (-20.43)
Outfield Denard Span (16.31) Cody Ross (19.50) Torii Hunter (-21.02) Shane Victorino (4.16) Torii Hunter (-21.02) Gregor Blanco (-16.34)


A few notes.  I know that Bay and Teixeira both started out in the NL and made their way to the AL in 2008.  Oddly enough, the next logical candidate for the AL OPA! Gold Glove (someone who did well with the glove and spent time in the AL) was Casey Kotchman, for whom Teixeira was traded.  If Bay is removed from consideration altogether for his lead glove because of his league-hopping, then Nick Swisher (-17.90) would assume his mantle.  (Perhaps that’s the wrong word given that we’re talking about futility in outfield defense?)  If you want a purely AL first baseman to give the OPA! Gold Glove to, then it would go to Daric Barton. 

An aside: that gives Oakland the best first baseman in the AL with Barton, Ellis and his Gold Glove at second, and Jack Hannahan was actually the 2nd best AL (and MLB) third baseman behind Rolen.  Bobby Crosby, their SS, was 3rd best in the AL.  There’s hidden value in defense, eh Billy?

Then, there’s the outfield issue.  Like the actual Gold Glove voters, I considered “outfielder” to be a generic term.  In fact, most of the winners of the OPA! awards spent time at two or even all three of the outfield positions (Ellsbury and Gutierrez played all three.)  If you want to look at each outfield position seperately, the winners of the Gold and Lead Gloves (AL/NL) in each league were:

Gold Gloves
LF – Johnny Damon/ Ryan Braun 
CF – Carlos Gomez/ Cody Ross
RF – Franklin Gutierrez / Jason Werth

Lead Gloves
LF – Jason Bay*/ Adam Dunn
CF – Nick Swisher/ Lastings Milledge
RF – Jermaine Dye/Brad Hawpe

The depressing thing is that the BBWAA voters didn’t pick any of the “correct” choices at any of the positions.  Adrian Gonzalez at first base was about as good as they got.  And they lazily selected Torii Hunter again (all three AL OF winners were repeats), despite the fact that he won a Lead Glove.

Ryan Braun, after “winning” a Lead Glove last year at third base, won a Gold Glove in left field.  This speaks to how poor left fielders are at fielding in general and also the fact that outfield defense is really prone to a lot of variation.  In other words, just about anyone can have a good year in the outfield.

Chase Utley.  What the heck does that guy gotta do to get noticed?

More 2008 stuff coming soon…


Off Season To-Do List

Yes, here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving Day, but you don’t have to live here to give thanks!

Aftering going over many hills and through the woods, eating large quantities of turkey and all the trimmings at my mother-in-law’s house and then sleeping it off, it’s time to talk about my off-season sabermetric to-do list.

Finally I finished programming everything into my batting projections, and published the results last week. However, in order to do a comprhensive eveluation of a player, in addition to batting we also need baserunning, defense and pitching, in the end all expressed in runs, so that they can be summed into a number representing the total contribution.It’s one thing to be able to show how any hitter projects, but without knowledge of speed, arm and defense, it’s hard to make a final judgement.

In yesterday’s Roundtable, we were asked for our World Baseball Classic starting lineups for the U.S. Derek Jeter and Michael Young are the two best hitters at shortstop, but both are among the worst defensively. Jimmy Rollins is good but not as good with the bat, but has the good defense to be most people’s overall choice as the best U.S. born shortstop. Another example is in the Pirates’ Roster. Brandon Moss plays rf, lf and 1b, and the past four seasons his translated wOBAs have been .339, .335, .334 and .331. Andrew McCutchen plays cf. His wOBAs the past three years have been .342, .322 and .323. Moss looks to have a slight edge in batting productivity, but compared to corner outfielders (.347) and firstbasemen (.357) he’s way below average, while McCutchen is only slightly below all centerfielders (.330). Add in that BP’s baserunning stats show Moss as dreadfully slow whiel McCutchen has a reputation for being very fast, and that Moss is regarded as a poor fielder to McCutchen’s good, and you might conclude that McCutchen should be in cf, McLouth in lf, and Moss in AAA.

The first question usually asked about pitching analysis is if it will be DIPS compliant. Yes and no. The problem with DIPS is that it has an all or nothing approach. Pitchers get no credit for the number of base hits allowed, and full credit for everything else. My pitching projections will be very similar to the batting, and each component will have it’s own regression factor. I need to do work on determining the exact values to be used, but BABIP is about 20% pitcher and 80% defense. Therefor, it will be regressed much heavier than homerun, walk and strikeout rates. One problem I will have with pitching is that the available minor league statistics don’t cover all the categories – missing things like batters faced, intentional walks and hit batsmen for many or all seasons.

My fielding and baserunning will need play by play. Just today RetroSheet released the 2008 dataset. My formulas will be very similar to what Colin, Pizza Cutter and Dan Fox have done, but I want to also use them on minor league data. GameDay has play by play available for all minor games starting on 2006, which will also solve the missing pitching categories.

Before any of that data can be used it needs a database to hold it. Right now I can do Retro and major league pfx centric processing. I am working, on and off and now back on, on a database design that will hold Baseball DataBank, KJOK, RetroSheet and pitch f/x data, and be able to have daily automatic updates from GameDay of both major and minor league games. After the database is constructed, scripts have to be modified to download and parse the all of the GameDay files, inserting the values into the database.

What am I thankful for?

The 2008 Retrosheet event files.
It’s probably going to take me until the weekend to get everything set – you know, I’m sure, how hectic the Thanksgiving part of the week can be. But after that, I hope to be slicin’ and dicin’ the 2008 data for some super fantastic fun-time statsapalooza!
[Super fantastic fun-time statsapalooza only available in participating blogs. Some restrictions apply. See your blog for complete details. Offer not valid where prohibited.]

World Famous StatSpeak Roundtable: November 26

Today, the roundtable shares some turkey with the usual StatSpeakers and Victor Wang, of The Hardball TImesVictor is the recipient of SABR’s Jack Kavanaugh Memorial Award given each year for the best baseball research by someone who isn’t old enough to vote.  Victor chimes in on his thoughts about Chase Utley, the Seattle Mariners embracing the dark side, the World Baseball Classic, the world in general, and women!

And since it’s Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), on behalf of Colin, Brian, and Eric, we are thankful to all of you out there who read StatSpeak.  The two most powerful words in the English language are “Thank you.”  We hope that your Thanksgiving Day is filled with those two words in abundance.

Question #1: The Seattle Mariners recently announced that they would be implementing an entire department for statistical analysis.  Given that Jack Zduriencik is considered as more of an “old school scout” type guy, how much influence do you think the statistical department will actually have with the Mariners?  Is this a sign we can finally end the silly stats vs scouts debate?

Victor Wang: Honestly, I am not sure how much Jack Zduriencik is going to use his new statistical department. I do think that this will be one of the more interesting storylines of the off season and definitely something to keep an eye on in the future. I think this is a great sign for Mariners fans that their new GM is willing to keep an open mind and integrate statistical analysis and a sign that people are understanding that the best front office combination involves both scouting and stats. It might take a while but it definitely looks like the Mariners rebuilding process is off to a good start. The AL West looks like it’s going to be very competitive in the future, with Oakland and Texas having arguably the top two farm systems in all of baseball and now Seattle getting its act together.

Brian Cartwright: If I was running they’re department, first I’d set up the relational database that has the names, vitals, and baseball stats for every professional and notable amateur player on the planet, along with all the queries I could think of. I’d want the boss to be able to sit down and ask of it “Show me all the good fielding secondbasemen with power”. Step two, attach all the traditional scouting reports to that player as well. Scouts use numbers for different categories, put those into tables and weight them like Marcels. Do the system so that the boss can access all the scouting data that he’s familiar with, plus all the stat data in a friendly and convenient form. Stats and scouts each have their place, find a good way to blend them.

Colin Wyers: There doesn’t need to be a tension between “stats” and scouts, and I don’t think there’s much of one anymore in the professional baseball community.

It’s important to note what modern baseball analysis does, at least when it’s done properly – it takes and systematically analyzes populations of players in order to find essential truths about baseball. For a variety of reasons (most having to do with accessibility) that’s been done with the official statistics and box scores of the game. But it doesn’t have to be. A “sabermetric” analyst working for a team could do an awful lot with raw scouting reports, and I like to think that real teams do this.

I think the real tension is between analysts and narrativists. Somebody like Murray Chass or (sadly) Tom Boswell isn’t arguing from a tools perspective. The argument isn’t even over statistics, per se – VORP and RBI are both, last I checked, numbers. Baseball teams use advanced metrics and scouting, to varying degrees; that war is over, at least in the broader strokes. (At least I think so – I don’t get invited to a lot of MLB front offices, so I don’t really know first-hand.)

Eric Seidman: If Jack made it a point as much as he did to discuss this part of his evaluative team, they aren’t going to just sit there.  I have no idea to what extent the Mariners fused scouting and stats during the Bavasi era or even the Gillick era, but probably not as much as they will now.  The stats vs. scouts will never die, because old-time writers need something to complain about.

Pizza Cutter: Are they hiring?  It would seem foolish that Zduriencik would establish a whole department and then not use it, so they’ll have to have some influence.  Given that the team has shelled out a lot of money on some really awful contracts (Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Silva), they’d do well to listen.  And the stats vs. scouts thing will never die.  Statisticians who give the human mind credit for how much information it can process are rare.  Scouts who understand how easily fooled the human mind is by all that information are rare as well.

Question #2: Japan’s pro league recently drafted a female pitcher in their amateur draft. How long until MLB does the same?

Victor Wang: I think it’ll be a long time before a female pitcher is going to get drafted because she throws a mid 90s fastball. I think if it is to occur in the near future it will need to be someone, like the Japanese pitcher, who does something like throw a knuckleball or throws submarine. If someone decides they want to do something like that then maybe there’s a shot that it occurs in 5-10 years. However, with softball being an option for girls, I just don’t see something like this happening anytime soon. I would love to be proven wrong though.

Brian Cartwright: 15 or 20 years ago there were a handful of women who got to play winter ball, the old Hawaiian league I believe. If he Pirates can sign two pitchers who have never played baseball, there should be some women out there who qualify. It only takes one daring GM to do it here. But, after looking at 2000 some batters projections for this year you realize how very few players in the minors are good enough to play in the majors. I’m sure there are probably many women who could do OK in the low minors, but it might take a long time to find one who could succeed at the higher levels.

Colin Wyers: I suspect if you had asked the Japanese equivalent of StatSpeak this question a few weeks ago (do they exist?), they would have shrugged and gone, “Someday? Maybe?” It’s the sort of thing that sneaks up on you. The thing to keep an eye on is the adoption of amateur women’s baseball (not softball) players.

Eric Seidman: Never.  I hate how short and terse that sounds, but this will not happen in my lifetime.

Pizza Cutter:  Let’s see.  If I have a daughter, 18 years.  There have been girls who have played in the Little League World Series, and eventually, one of them will get a college scholarship, and maybe just maybe get drafted.  It’s hard to put a time frame on it, and I’m not one to say that it’s very likely given that girls are pushed to softball, but as a function of pure probability, it’s bound to happen at some point. 

Question #3: This week the Pirates signed two pitchers from India and a shortstop from South Africa to minor league contracts. Is it worthwhile yet to scout the “developing” baseball world? 

Victor Wang: While you never want to close yourself off from a pool of talent, I’m not sure if it’s yet worthwhile to scout the developing baseball world. It seems like it might take some time for legitimate talent to be produced. Using the NBA as an example, it took a while for Europe to start consistently developing basketball once basketball became popular over there. And I doubt that baseball will ever become as popular as basketball overseas.

I think the biggest benefit right now in scouting developing worlds is the relationships that could be built. If a team could sign say a baseball version of Yao Ming for cheap, the payoff would be tremendous, especially with prices for prospects in the Dominican and Venezuela skyrocketing.

Brian Cartwright: Like my previous answer, sure we can find guys who can play in the minors, but I think it takes an established baseball tradition, playing the game everyday since you were 10, to refine the baseball instincts. Taiwan and Korea have a lot of people, and they have played baseball for a long time. In 1983 I did statistics for the World Friendship Games, in which both competed and did well. There are a surprising amount of Taiwanese in the minors today. But, as seen in the WBC, teams like Holland, Italy and South Africa struggle to be competitive, let alone India. It probably is worth the risk to sign a guy who looks good, our minors are already filled with guys not going anywhere. In doing so now you can establish contacts that 10 or 20 years from now might be vital when a true prospect comes along.

Colin Wyers: There is a risk involved. It’s very possible that somewhere like India simply isn’t able to sustain the development of baseball players at a high enough rate to be worth the risk.

But at the same time, if it does pan out, you have a foothold in a talent market before everyone else, getting exclusivity at first and a lot of benefits thereafter. We see right now an unequal amout of access to the talent markets in Latin America and Asia – if there is baseball talent to be had in India, the Pirates could be really helping themselves out here.

Eric Seidman: It is bad to be closed-minded, especially when it comes to scouting.  The two Indian pitchers were on a reality show, and we don’t know if they will pan out, but this world is vast and there is bound to be talent all over the place.  Pat Gillick helped create the Blue Jays teams of the 1970s-80s by launching scouting probes into Latin America, which, back then, probably seemed as odd as scouting into India and South Africa does today.  These players might not pan out, but it never hurts to try.

Pizza Cutter: It would be silly to avoid an untapped pool of talent.  The trick is that these guys will be the rawest of the raw.  They may be physically talented, but likely don’t have “tools” yet, which come from actually playing the game and honing those skills.  Places liek India and South Africa don’t have a huge baseball program.  (The two pitchers from India had never held a baseball until earlier this year.)  But then, India and South Africa are both British colonies with a cricket-playing history and that’s sorta the same thing.  My guess is that slowly, kinda like it was with Venezuela and now it is with Japan, we will start to see more and more of these gentlemen get the call to MLB from those countries.

Question #4: The Phillies took a big blow this week when they heard that Chase Utley could miss the first 2 months of the 2009 season.  They recently optioned Tad Iguchi to AAA, who filled in admirably when Utley went down in 2007.  They also have Eric Bruntlett and could promote prospect Jason Donald.  Would this three-headed monster be sufficient for the 30-40 games Utley could miss, or should the Phillies pursue a better stopgap?

Victor Wang: The length of Utley’s injury will obviously be a crucial factor in the Phillies’ decision. If he only misses 30-40 games I think the Phillies will be fine with Donald or Iguchi. The Phillies could also use this time to “showcase” Donald to other teams as he is blocked off at 2B and SS for the long term and probably won’t have enough bat to stick at 3B. Unless Utley is out for a much longer period, I don’t think the difference between Donald and say a guy like Jeff Kent would be that great to worry about. I would say they should focus more on getting a LF and another starter before investing resources in a stopgap 2B.

Brian Cartwright: Sorry Eric, but this could be ugly without Utley. Iguchi offensively is league average at 2b, but Bruntlett is brutal. Then again, the Phils won the Series even with Utley having little power after the beginning of June. Iguchi would be an acceptable place holder unil Utley is healthy.

Colin Wyers: They can go ahead and kick the tires on the handful of utility players on the free agent market – Craig Counsell would be a decent fit and would be a guy that understands that he’ll eventually be returning to the bench. David Eckstein could be another guy in that mold, depending on how he sees himself at this point. Ray Durham might work. They’re going to have to wait until a lot closer to spring training, though – at this point nobody wants to sign on to caddy for Utley when there’s still a posibility of going to a team where they have the chance to start.

Eric Seidman: Iguchi and Jason Donald should be fine in terms of being slightly above replacement level while Utley is out.  For all we know, he may only miss 10 games, so it is tough to determine the next course of action until more is known about his expected recovery time.  If complications arise and 2 months turns into 5 months, then a guy like Ray Durham would be solid to have, but I cannot see him missing more than one month, and they have been fine when he has missed time like that before.

Pizza Cutter: Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder and people will actually realize what a valuable player Chase Utley is.  Iguchi and Bruntlett are, at best, replacement level players.  But then again, that’s the whole point behind the concept of “replacement level.”  They’re spare parts, and the stuff that’s available for free out there is going to be just as rank.  Basically you’re talking about signing a utility infielder to replace the Utley infielder for a few games, and then have him morph back into a utility role when Utley comes back.  They’re not going to trade for an actual 2B as a stopgap, because he’d then have to ride the bench and you’ve traded something away for something else.  This is a bad situation.  I say play Iguchi and hope.  It’s probably about the best you can get at this point.

Question #5: The World Baseball Classic is coming up.  Which nine players should take the field for the USA in the first game of the tournament?

Victor Wang:

Joe Mauer, C

Grady Sizemore, CF

Mark Teixeira, 1B

Alex Rodriguez, 3B

Josh Hamilton, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Jimmy Rollins, SS

C.C. Sabathia, P

Mauer may not be a prototypical lead off hitter, but he would have some of the best on base skills on the team. The toughest choices for me were between Lance Berkman and Mark Teixeira and Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia. I gave the edge to Teixeira because of superior defense and Pedroia wins the tiebreaker with his scrappiness.

Brian Cartwright:

c Matt Wieters

1b Mark Teixeira

2b Chase Utley Dustin Pedroia

ss Derek Jeter

3b David Wright

lf Matt Holiday

cf Grady Sizemore

rf Josh Hamilton

dh Milton Bradley

sp Tim Lincecum

Colin Wyers: Off the top of my head (or as close to as possible – I had to look up a few things, mostly do to with citizenship):

C Joe Mauer

1B Mark Teixeira

2B Dustin Pedroia

SS Jimmy Rollins

3B Alex Rodriguez

LF Matt Holliday

CF Grady Sizemore

RF J.D. Drew

I think you can win a few baseball games with that team.

Eric Seidman: Mauer, Tex, Kinsler, Rollins, A-Rod, Giles, Holliday, Sizemore, Adam Eaton on the mound.

Pizza Cutter:

c – J. Mauer
1b – M. Teixeira
2b – B. Roberts
3b – A. Rodriguez
ss – J. Rollins
lf – M. Holliday
cf – G. Sizemore
rf – J. Hamilton

sp – C. Sabathia

Catching, the US has Joe Mauer to call on, even over my personal favorite Brian McCann.  At first, it’s a little bit more crowded with Berkman, Teixeira, Howard, Fielder, and even a guy like Kevin Youkilis.  Tex is probably the most complete player of the bunch, although I’d take a guy like Youk along for the ride.  Now that Chase Utley is hurt, I guess second will fall to Dustin Pedroia, but I’d personally give the call to the ever-underappreciated Brian Roberts.  Short should go to Jimmy Rollins (although I suspect that Jeter will get it), and third will go to A-Rod (if he wants to play… if not, David Wright will do nicely).  I’d personally like to see an outfield of Sizemore, Holliday, and… wow, there really aren’t a lot of outstanding American outfielders.  Josh Hamilton (one year?)  Adam Dunn (StatSpeak drinking game players, take a shot!)  Brad Hawpe?  On the mound, if you look at the leaders from last year in FIP among starters, the top eight are Americans.  My Game One starter would be C.C. Sabathia.

Neyer discusses wOBA and some Sabermetric philosophy

From the “stuff we’re reading” file: Rob Neyer over at ESPN has an extended post about embracing wOBA (a creation of Tom Tango) and a few other issues worth commenting on.  Neyer’s one of the more Saber-savvy gentlemen over at ESPN and he’s worked extensively with Bill James, and it’s cool to see these concepts creeping into the mainstream. (h/t: The Book).

But don’t stop reading there.  Rob goes on to discuss another issue which are worth a little discussion.  The first, and more important, is the issue concerning Baseball Prospectus and the fact that while they have been the industry gold standards for a while in terms of player metrics, their flagship stuff like PECOTA, VORP, and WARP are proprietary.  They do have the right to keep whatever they so desire under their hat (and I, for one, pay my annual subscription dues to read it), but Neyer brings up an interesting hypothetical:

But that science-vs.-enterprise dynamic can be tricky. The methodology behind BP’s metrics is not, to my knowledge, peer-reviewed. If one or two people make a big mistake, would anyone else know? Now, let’s jump ahead and say that two or three years down the line, the big mistake was discovered internally. Would BP announce to the world that all those numbers over the previous three years had been wrong? Or would the guys running the show decide that the loss of credibility (and potentially, revenues) isn’t balanced by the loss of integrity?

One of the charming things about Sabermetrics is that it’s grown up as mostly a field of amateur hobyists who have too much free time.  If I screw up on something here at StatSpeak, I know.  (It’s the only time I ever get comments!)  But that’s the beauty of peer review, and I love that sort of dialogue for its own sake.  The luxury that I have is that I can screw up and it means nothing more to me than a red face over having blundered.  For what it’s worth, I do trust that the people at BP are smart, dilligent people who double-check their work and each other’s work, but they are humans and humans make mistakes.

Rob points out that “Science works best under blue skies, with little thought of green.”  And here’s a philosophical point that is becoming very real in Sabermetrics.  Sabermetrics has started to see that green influence creep into it.  BP started out as a buch of people throwing around ideas on Usenet.  Now, they’ve got a business model and some of those same folks have gone corporate.

In fairness to BP, they wouldn’t survive if they weren’t putting out something good, and while we may not know the exact machinations of how something like VORP works, we have a general idea through what they have said and the concept makes sense.  Plus their stuff generally passes the “smell test” and things like PECOTA projections have been shown to correlate pretty well with actual performance.  It’s not that I worry about their stuff being bad/wrong/misleading, it’s that I worry that the science part of Sabermetrics might stagnate.  When I developed OPA! (my fielding system), I was writing the syntax that did all the calculating at the same time that I was posting the articles on it.  I got some feedback through that process that I incorporated into the system.  OPA! is a better measure because of it.  Imagine for a moment that PECOTA were open-source.  Someone out there would probably figure out a way to make it better.  It’s not.  But, that’s the trade off that you make in a closed source system.  Nate Silver, who probably has poured hours on end into that system (as well as any of the BP folks who have helped him) certainly would see no return on his investment of time, at least financially.  Would he have created the system to begin with had that incentive not been there?  I don’t know Nate, and I don’t know what his answer would be.  Maybe he would.

This is a grown-up moment for the field.  This is a philosophical turning point and one that, like most philosophical issues, doesn’t have an easy answer, or even an real answer.  Do we want to be scientists in the strict sense or are we OK with the idea that some people will keep a few secrets and charge a few dollars to see them?

Introducing the BaSQL wiki

Picking up where I left off in my SQL tutorial series, I’ve started the BaSQL wiki, which is meant to be a (hopefully, the) central clearinghouse for information on how to commit sabermetrics using a relational database.

The wiki is editable by anyone, but please remember: it’s supposed to be browsable documentation. If instead you have questions that need answering, there is a support group forum that goes along with the wiki. Go there and ask as many questions as you like.

This is only the start; I will be adding more pages as time goes on, and if you feel you have something to contribute, please add some pages (or edit existing ones) yourself.

This doesn’t rule out any further articles, by the way.

Finding the breakout

From the stuff we’re reading file: Michael Lerra over at THT has an article on finding the next breakout pitcher.  He likes Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, and John Danks.  And umm… Paul Maholm.  Actually this is the type of work that I really look forward to in the off-season.  Predictor systems usually predict just about everyone to basically pick up where they left off last year with maybe an adjustment for age or similar players.  And for what it’s worth, usually everyone picks up about where they left off last year with a little adjustment for age.  The trick is to find the guy who will break out.  I’d trade all the forecasting systems in the world for one that could locate the breakout guys.

This is the world I’m bringing a child into: Mrs. Cutter is pregnant, and I have to wonder about a world where just about anything that the human race is capable of doing is available in game/reality show format.  The Pittsburgh Pirates just signed two pitchers who won a reality show in India.  That may or may not be a prize to sign with the Pirates, but…