Tag Archive | "Statistical Analysis"

Conversations With A Blogger: Mike Grabowski

The month of August is coming to a close which means the United Cardinal Bloggers have another assignment for their member blogs.  This month, the bloggers take time to get to know each other and share those thoughts with you.  It is everything you want to know about a blogger, even when you didn’t want to know us at all.

UCBRedBirdsYellowBat

Mike Grabowski is the guy you’ll read about here on i70baseball as he took some time to answer a few questions for me.

It is important to point out, first and foremost, that Mike is a successful salesperson in the Chicago area who has a girlfriend and does not live in his parent’s basement.  Take that, stereotypes!  It is also important to note that whether or not Mike actually lives in his parent’s basement or has a non-imaginary girlfriend is based strictly on him telling me otherwise and no fact-checking has been performed, I’m taking him at his word.

Mike writes for “Red Birds, Yellow Bat” which is part of the Cards Conclave.  He relies on sabermetrics to drive his discussions, though he doesn’t weigh his articles down with statistical analysis.  His style is easy to read, humorous and timely.  It’s nice to see him putting that English degree from University of Iowa to work in the lucrative world of blogging.

My singular qualification for being here is a short-lived blog entitled St. Louis Perfectos, where I once suggested the Cardinals provide Jaime Garcia sedatives before pitching on the road.  –Mike in his introduction for the Cards Conclave.

I asked Mike some questions.  Mike provided some answers.  Now we’ve come to share them with you:

Why blogging?

It’s a way for me to have some fun during the season and force myself to write a bit. It’s also nice to interact with the UCB members and have people to share the ups and downs of the season with.

Why the Cardinals?

Actually, when I decided to start a blog, I wanted to pick another team to write about or just focus on MLB in general. My feeling was that I’m too invested in the Cardinals and would just end up writing a bunch of post that made me sound like a crazed fan. Ultimately, I couldn’t deny my love of the Cardinals, so I just own my “Kozma has to go” posts.

Earliest baseball memory?

It’s probably not my earliest memory, but I remember the first time I saw Ozzie do the back flip in person. That type of thing will stick with you.

Favorite twitter account to follow?

I get a lot of enjoyment out of the feeds from various UCB members. My favorite non-Cardinal related Tweeter is Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron).

You can spend time with one Cardinal, any Cardinal at all, and talk baseball. Who and why?

Stan. That’s the only answer, right? If it can’t be Stan, then Mozeliak pumped full of truth serum. Not that I think he’s hiding anything, but I want him to reveal his 5 year plan.

What should fans expect when they read something with your name in the byline?

Most of the time I have no idea what to expect.

Favorite current Cardinal?

Yadi. Duh.

Give Mike a follow on Twitter @RealGrabowski

You can read Mike’s work at Cards Conclave weekly.  Also, make sure to drop by the official United Cardinal Bloggers website and check out all the interviews being conducted, including Dan Buffa’s discussion with me.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.
You can find his work on Yahoo!InsideSTL, and here on i70.
Talk baseball with him on Twitter @poisonwilliam

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David Freese Cracks Top Ten Right Now

Fans of MLB Network know that they have been subjecting players to “The Shredder” for statistical analysis to determine the top ten players at each position right now.

In an episode of the show, hosted by Brian Kenny, that will air Friday night, i70baseball has learned from an MLB Network executive that St. Louis Cardinal David Freese will indeed be featured as one of the top 10 thirdbaseman in baseball.

Photo Courtesy of/Copyright Erika Lynn

Photo Courtesy of/Copyright Erika Lynn

The “Top Ten Right Now” series is enjoying it’s third incarnation and will feature a Cardinal third baseman for the first time when Freese’s name is revealed.  Sabermetric Godfather Bill James and former Oriole second baseman Bill Ripken will be on hand with Kenny to help analyze The Shredder’s results and provide their own lists for comparison.

Bill James:
“The only thing you like about him really is the bat. He [has] a terrific bat, quick bat, hits the ball hard [to] straightaway center. He’s not a defensive wonder, he’s not a base stealer, but he does hit.”

Freese has garnered some attention since his now famous heroics in the 2011 Post Season.  However, it was 2012 that helped solidify that Freese could be seen as a consistent contributor to the Cardinals roster.   A player that has battled injuries for most of his career, Freese was able to take the field for 144 games last season and show solid production while he was at it.

Bill Ripken:
“When King Albert left and went out to Los Angeles to play with the Angels, here’s one of the guys that picked up the slack.”

He would reach career highs in almost every offensive category, posting a .293/.372/.467 “slash line” while hitting 20 home runs and driving in 79.  He was a spark plug at times for the 2012 team and added much needed depth in the lower part of the lineup.  He would achie his first appearance in the midsummer classic after being voted in as the final roster spot by fans on the heels of a very successful social media campaign for the position.

Brian Kenny:
“Freese has established himself now as a solid contributor to the Cardinals.”

“He’s a player who isn’t great at any one thing, but is above average everywhere and that makes you an excellent player.”

“Last year, [he had] 20 homers, .293 batting average, 57 walks. Just enough power, average and plate selection to add up to sixth in OPS among qualifying third basemen last year.”

Freese’s future looks bright for the team and the team is currently in negotiations with the home town hero to avoid arbitration and possibly secure him to a long term deal.

The show will air at 8pm Central Time on MLB Network, Friday February 8th.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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The Big Question Might Be The Big Z

Carlos Zambrano.

There are very few names that will launch most any baseball writer into a tirade quicker than that one. Zambrano is the type of player that is seldom loved in our end of the spectrum that is baseball but when he is, that writers will quickly come to his defense. More often than not, writers are quick to point out all of the wonderful flaws that surround the pitcher known simply as “Z”.

As a writer myself and a lover of baseball, I dislike the term “off-season”. There truly is no off-season in baseball, it simply becomes a time of year when Major League Baseball is not operating games with the thirty clubs that we all follow so closely. It is this time of year, the administrative time of year, that games shift to winter ball and our focus turns to our team’s adjustments being made for the following season.

Today we have learned, thanks to an interview with Mark Carman at 610 Sports, that Dayton Moore has identified a possible fit in Kansas City for the game’s most interesting character, Carlos Zambrano. From that interview:

We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it because that’s what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor. Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easy going, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts but I believe in our coaching staff and we’ll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We’ll see how that particular situation unfolds.

Let me try to break the mold of the two types of writers I just described and let’s take a look at the two sides of Carlos Zambrano. First, we will drop by our friends at Baseball-Reference for some pure statistical analysis:

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS GF CG IP R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2001 20 CHC 1 2 15.26 6 1 1 0 7.2 13 13 2 8 4 2.478 12.9 2.3 9.4 4.7 0.50
2002 21 CHC 4 8 3.66 32 16 3 0 108.1 53 44 9 63 93 1.449 7.8 0.7 5.2 7.7 1.48
2003 22 CHC 13 11 3.11 32 32 0 3 214.0 88 74 9 94 168 1.318 7.9 0.4 4.0 7.1 1.79
2004 23 CHC 16 8 2.75 31 31 0 1 209.2 73 64 14 81 188 1.216 7.5 0.6 3.5 8.1 2.32
2005 24 CHC 14 6 3.26 33 33 0 2 223.1 88 81 21 86 202 1.146 6.9 0.8 3.5 8.1 2.35
2006 25 CHC 16 7 3.41 33 33 0 0 214.0 91 81 20 115 210 1.294 6.8 0.8 4.8 8.8 1.83
2007 26 CHC 18 13 3.95 34 34 0 1 216.1 100 95 23 101 177 1.331 7.8 1.0 4.2 7.4 1.75
2008 27 CHC 14 6 3.91 30 30 0 1 188.2 85 82 18 72 130 1.293 8.2 0.9 3.4 6.2 1.81
2009 28 CHC 9 7 3.77 28 28 0 1 169.1 78 71 10 78 152 1.376 8.2 0.5 4.1 8.1 1.95
2010 29 CHC 11 6 3.33 36 20 2 0 129.2 55 48 7 69 117 1.450 8.3 0.5 4.8 8.1 1.70
2011 30 CHC 9 7 4.82 24 24 0 0 145.2 80 78 19 56 101 1.442 9.5 1.2 3.5 6.2 1.80
11 Seasons 125 81 3.60 319 282 6 9 1826.2 804 731 152 823 1542 1.319 7.8 0.7 4.1 7.6 1.87
162 Game Avg. 14 9 3.60 36 32 1 1 207 91 83 17 93 174 1.319 7.8 0.7 4.1 7.6 1.87
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/8/2011.

If you took a look at that chart and did not know who it belonged to, you would be in full support of Dayton Moore pursuing this opportunity. He is a top of the rotation type starter that can dominate when he is on his game.

The true test, however, is Zambrano off the field. Face it, the Royals are a very young franchise right now. Guys like Jeff Francoeur not only add production, but leadership to the clubhouse. Frenchy is the type of guy you want around the young players, showing them the ropes and teaching them life outside of, and around, the game.

Like him or not, Zambrano has had some meltdowns. He walked out on his team last season. He gets visibly upset on the field and has been known to fight with his teammates, even in the dugout during a game.

The player that takes the mound would be a game changer for the Royals.

The player that has had so many public problems would be a distraction to a young team.

Those two points are hard to put on a scale and weigh out. Dayton Moore has that choice before him right now. Is the risk of the possible chemistry problem worth the reward of what the player can provide on the field?

What works in the Royals favor is the situation in Chicago itself. The Cubs are going to cut bait with Zambrano, so if they can find a trade partner to send them a bag of balls and pick up $1 million of the horrible contract he is under, they will take it. It puts Moore in a good position to move a low level prospect and barely pick up any salary in order to acquire a potential front of the line starter. Again, the Royals General Manager had this to say:

He has a no-trade clause for 29 other teams so he is going to have to be comfortable wherever he goes and there is a lot of money attached to his deal. There is a vesting option that is a part of that worth $18 or 19 million going forward. We certainly wouldn’t want to put ourselves in a position where we have to honor a contract of that nature.

I don’t envy GMDM on this one. It is not as clear cut as you would like it to be.

The quotes utilized in this article were provided by MLBTradeRumors.com and have been credited to CSNChicago.com’s Dave Kaplan.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Does Crime Pay?

If you’re looking for a hard hitting article that sheds light on crime in sports, you clicked on the wrong article. This article might be more to your liking.

Is stealing bases worth the risk?

This article is about a different crime; The Stolen Base. If you’ve watched the Royals for any amount of time this season, or previous seasons you’ve probably noticed that the Royals organization wants you to know that the Royals are pretty good at stealing bases. In fact as of this writing (mostly on Thursday 8/18/11, all stats referenced in this article are based off the games ending on 8/17. By the time today roles around they will have changed) they are tied with Yankees as league leaders in stolen bases at 120. The problem is the Yankees are tied with the Boston Red Sox in another statistic; Wins, 74. It’s nice that the Royals lead the league in a positive offensive category. However, as a fan I’d like to see that offensive category mean something. The Yankees are stealing bases and winning games. If the Yankees are doing it, it must be a good idea, right?

I’ve been writing for I70 Baseball for about six months. This will be my first attempt at using statistical analysis to make a point. Maybe I should clarify. I haven’t actually done the research yet we’ll find out together. The way I look at it, when a team is on offense the goal is to score runs. I do not fancy myself a Stathead, but I know one thing: Teams that score more runs than their opponents at the end of nine innings are undefeated. Because of this I’m going to look at the correlation between a team leading the league in stolen bases, and see if that means they end up near the stop of the league in runs scored.

To accomplish this I looked back five complete seasons; essentially the Dayton Moore era in Kansas City; and looked at the top five teams in stolen bases from the American League. Here is the Data:

2006:
1. LA Angels – 148 SB, 11th in RS, 766 R, 89 Wins, 2nd in ALW
2. NY Yankees – 139 SB, 1st in RS, 930 R, 97 Wins, Lost in ALDS
3. Tampay Bay – 134 SB, 14th in RS, 689 R, 61 Wins, 5th in ALE
4. Baltimore – 121 SB, 10th in RS, 768 R, 70 Wins, 4th in ALE
5. Seattle – 106 SB, 13th in RS, 756 R, 78 Wins, 4th ALW

2007:
1. Baltimore – 144 SB, 9th in RS, 756 R, 69 Wins, 4th in ALE
2. LA Angels – 139 SB, 4th in RS, 822 R, 94 Wins, Lost in ALDS
3. Tampa Bay – 131 SB, 8th in RS, 782 R, 66 Wins, 5th in ALE
4. NY Yankees – 123 SB, 1st in RS, 968 R, 94 Wins, Lost ALDS
5. Minnesota – 112 SB, 12th in RS, 718 R, 79 Wins, 3rd in ALC

2008:
1. Tampa Bay – 142 SB, 9th in RS, 774 R, 97 Wins, World Series Runner Up
2. LA Angels – 129 SB, 10th in RS, 765 R, 100 Wins, Lost ALDS
3. Boston – 120 SB, 2nd in RS, 845 R, 95 Wins, Lost ALCS
4. NY Yankee – 118 SB, 7th in RS, 789 R, 89 Wins, 3rd in ALE
5. Minnesota – 102 SB, 3rd in RS, 829 R, 88 Wins, 2nd in ALC

2009:
1. Tampa Bay – 194 SB, 5th in RS, 803 R, 84 Wins, 3rd in ALE
2. Texas – 149 SB, 7th in RS, 784 R, 87 Wins, 2nd in ALW
3. AL Angels – 148 SB, 2nd in RS, 883 R, 97 Wins, Lost ALCS
4. Oakland – 133 SB, 9th in RS, 759 R, 75 Wins, 4th in ALW
5. Boston – 126 SB, 3rd in RS, 872 R, 95 Wins, Lost ALDS

2010:
1. Tampa Bay – 172 SB, 3rd in RS, 802 R, 96 Wins, Lost ALDS
2. White Sox – 160 SB, 7th in RS, 752 R, 88 Wins, 2nd in ALC
3. Oakland – 156 SB, 11th in RS, 663 R, 81 Wins, 2nd in ALW
4. Seattle – 142 SB, 14th in RS, 513 R, 61 Wins, 4th in ALW
5. Texas – 123 SB, 4th in RS, 787 R, 90 Wins, World Series Runner-Up

The average rank in runs scored is 7.16, or a little worse than half. Average number of wins is 84.8, might win you a bad division. There are two World Series runner-ups in this group. There are the 2010 Mariners, who were one of the worst offensive teams in several years. Ten of the teams made the play-offs. There is no correlation between stealing bases and scoring runs, and there is even less correlation to overall team success. When I look at who the teams are on this list I make two observations. The first, teams with bad offenses use the stolen base to make up for their line-up’s weaknesses. As you can tell this doesn’t work that well. The stolen base will not make up for a weak offense. The second, is teams with good offenses do everything well, and will use the stolen base get better.

It’s obvious the Royals strategy to be aggressive on the base paths is coming from the front office. I thought the problem was a Trey Hillman thing, but Ned Yost has been even more aggressive. The Royals were 6th in stolen bases last season, see how well that worked out? Now that we have some evidence that stealing bases is a break even proposition at best. Let’s try and figure out if attempting a crime spree is hurting the offense.

I tried to find a statistic of caught stealing runners that would eventually score had they remained at first and their out not been recorded. But apparently I’m not smart enough to find it. If someone knows where I can find it send me an email. I find it hard to believe no one is tracking this. But no fear, we’ll see if the Royals have enough caught stealing numbers to impact their runs scored numbers.

Remember when I said the Yankees lead the league in stolen bases? They do NOT lead the league in caught stealing. The Royals do, 47. Right now the Royals are 6th in the league in runs scored, 540. Even if all the 47 caught base runners scored; which is preposterous; they would only move up to 4th in runs scored, 587. If you use the Pythagorean Expectation this is worth 2.33 wins for the Royals. But that is a best case scenario. Let’s say all of those guilty base runners were in scoring position. A base hit would score them. The Royals are batting .267 as a team. This would net the Royals another 12 runs. Throw that back into the Pythagorean Expectation and you’re looking at .60, just a little over half a win.

I’ve been concerned that the Royals aggressive base running has been hurting their chances of scoring more than it’s been helping. After going through these numbers I’m not sure it matters. Bad offenses will struggle to score no matter how many bases are stolen. If you want to increase wins, preventing runs is the best way to do that. But I don’t need to write an article to spell out the Royals shortcomings on that side of the equation.

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