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Are Walks Good or Bad in 5x5?

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Postby rainman23 » Fri May 26, 2006 7:20 pm

I've gotta say this seems like a fairly pointless discussion. Would Soriano be a better fantasy (and real life) player if he suddenly acquired some plate discipline? Well, yes, he would. In every plate appearance, guys on base or no, he's going to start seeing better pitches. Even a notorious hacker like Soriano is going to hit pitches in or near the strike zone better than the crap he habitually swings at. It may not be a dramatic increase in some categories, but there is going to be improvement across the board.

Let's say I'm right. I just gave you the answer. What was it you were going to do with this knowledge again?
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri May 26, 2006 8:56 pm

rainman23 wrote:I've gotta say this seems like a fairly pointless discussion. Would Soriano be a better fantasy (and real life) player if he suddenly acquired some plate discipline? Well, yes, he would. In every plate appearance, guys on base or no, he's going to start seeing better pitches. Even a notorious hacker like Soriano is going to hit pitches in or near the strike zone better than the crap he habitually swings at. It may not be a dramatic increase in some categories, but there is going to be improvement across the board.

Let's say I'm right. I just gave you the answer. What was it you were going to do with this knowledge again?


I think you missed the point...I'm saying that Soriano might actually not be as good as a fantasy option if he took more walks. His hr and rbi rates very well could drop while his runs and sb's might go up but that would be very lineup position dependant. In any case he would have a different stat line probably closer to Crawford with a bit less speed and a bit more power than to a power/speed mix. What we would do with this knowledge is determine if a guy actually starts showing the tendancy toward better plate discipline (something that as mentioned earlier a lot of players tend to do as they get older) then if we had formulas in place to track the expected effect of this increase in plate discipline we might have a better idea of what to expect in the 5x5 categories as a result.
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Postby blibros » Fri May 26, 2006 10:59 pm

First, let's be clear about the question:

Are we asking

1) Does a particular player's power and average improve if he increases his walk rate; or is it

2) Given players of identical ability from a rate perspective (per AB), is a higher walk rate better?

Regarding #1 - I ran correlations on 4 years of data, and of course I can't find them now. I do recall the correlation between BB rate and batting average is extremely low - 2-2.5%. That is without even subtracting out IBB, which reduces the correlation even further. I really need to find the data, but what I recall is that players with higher walk rates also have higher strikeout rates - not really that surprising as they take more pitches. So any gain from improved "selectivity" is largely offset by decreased contact rate. I do seem to recall that higher BB rates correlate with higher SLG, but even if true you are left with the chicken-egg question. Correlations do not imply causality. I will hunt around for the data next week.

Regarding #2 - I did an analysis comparing 2 identical average players in a current day AL-only 10 team league environment, assuming the only difference is that player A walks 30 times more while player B gets 30 more AB. With those 30 BB, player A will score 8.5 runs and steal about 1.5 bases. Player B, with his 30 more AB will produce about 1 HR, 4.5 RBI, 3.5-4 Runs, and .3 SB.
Netting it out, Player A has an advantage of 4.8 Runs and 1.2 SB vs. Player B with 4.5 RBI and 1 HR. So the average player shows an advantage from the BB, but it is very slight. All the BB in this scenario are assumed to be non-intentional.

Note that relatively few players are average in SB, which is really the key stat in the analysis. If the player isn't much of a base stealer you are better off with the AB than the BB.

In shallower leagues the equation may be quite different, but I haven't done that work up. Players are significantly better hitters, so they will produce more HR with those extra AB. Runs and RBI rates will both increase, though I would guess RBI would go up more. So in shallower leagues, I wouldn't be surprised to see the AB become equal to or greater in value. Of course the entire value question also becomes tied to how you value a SB, which is a contreversial subject.

So the simple answer is that if you have a base stealer you want him to BB, and if not you want him to get more AB.
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Sat May 27, 2006 12:24 am

blibros wrote:First, let's be clear about the question:

Are we asking

1) Does a particular player's power and average improve if he increases his walk rate; or is it

2) Given players of identical ability from a rate perspective (per AB), is a higher walk rate better?

Regarding #1 - I ran correlations on 4 years of data, and of course I can't find them now. I do recall the correlation between BB rate and batting average is extremely low - 2-2.5%. That is without even subtracting out IBB, which reduces the correlation even further. I really need to find the data, but what I recall is that players with higher walk rates also have higher strikeout rates - not really that surprising as they take more pitches. So any gain from improved "selectivity" is largely offset by decreased contact rate. I do seem to recall that higher BB rates correlate with higher SLG, but even if true you are left with the chicken-egg question. Correlations do not imply causality. I will hunt around for the data next week.

Regarding #2 - I did an analysis comparing 2 identical average players in a current day AL-only 10 team league environment, assuming the only difference is that player A walks 30 times more while player B gets 30 more AB. With those 30 BB, player A will score 8.5 runs and steal about 1.5 bases. Player B, with his 30 more AB will produce about 1 HR, 4.5 RBI, 3.5-4 Runs, and .3 SB.
Netting it out, Player A has an advantage of 4.8 Runs and 1.2 SB vs. Player B with 4.5 RBI and 1 HR. So the average player shows an advantage from the BB, but it is very slight. All the BB in this scenario are assumed to be non-intentional.

Note that relatively few players are average in SB, which is really the key stat in the analysis. If the player isn't much of a base stealer you are better off with the AB than the BB.

In shallower leagues the equation may be quite different, but I haven't done that work up. Players are significantly better hitters, so they will produce more HR with those extra AB. Runs and RBI rates will both increase, though I would guess RBI would go up more. So in shallower leagues, I wouldn't be surprised to see the AB become equal to or greater in value. Of course the entire value question also becomes tied to how you value a SB, which is a contreversial subject.

So the simple answer is that if you have a base stealer you want him to BB, and if not you want him to get more AB.


That's exactly the type of stuff I was looking for. The only variable you leave out is the obvious one - extremely high or extremely low average guys sway our decisions on whether we like them to walk based on whether we want their average to count more or less. AB's give us a drop-off in runs/sb's but an increase in hr's/rbi's and you've quantified what the average player can do. If we were to adjust those numbers based on team and spot in the batting order I think we'd get a good idea about whether a player that starts changing his selectivity at the plate (either becoming more or less selective) is going to help or hurt his 5x5 roto value.
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Postby bleach168 » Sat May 27, 2006 1:10 am

So the simple answer is that if you have a base stealer you want him to BB, and if not you want him to get more AB.


Good stuff. My problem is that it makes traditional 5x5 fantasy baseball counter-intuitive. A player who draws a walk has benefitted his team yet (sometimes) punished his fantasy owner. That's just wrong.
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Sat May 27, 2006 1:21 am

bleach168 wrote:
So the simple answer is that if you have a base stealer you want him to BB, and if not you want him to get more AB.


Good stuff. My problem is that it makes traditional 5x5 fantasy baseball counter-intuitive. A player who draws a walk has benefitted his team yet (sometimes) punished his fantasy owner. That's just wrong.


That's exactly why I brought this subject up. Walks are widely considered by people that follow the stats end of baseball to be very important both to the player and to the team. What people often overlook is that while they help the player and the team they don't always necessarily help the STATS that the player puts up - at least not the ones we use in 5x5 roto leagues.
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