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thought: Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Brett Gardner

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Postby greenandgold » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:07 pm

Koby Schellenger wrote:Gardner possesses two, dependant, skills: Speed and discipline. As one goes, so goes the other.


Could you explain how these are dependant? I assume you mean they rely on eachother? I don't really see this.
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Postby Koby Schellenger » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:13 pm

greenandgold wrote:
Koby Schellenger wrote:Gardner possesses two, dependant, skills: Speed and discipline. As one goes, so goes the other.


Could you explain how these are dependant? I assume you mean they rely on eachother? I don't really see this.


Their values are dependant upon each other. Speed is a great tool but if a player is only able to use it in 30% of his plate appearances (OBP of .300) it is significantly less valuable, especially in this case where there is little to no other skills for Gardner. On the other hand, plate discipline without speed is of little value, again, without other important skills like power, because the player will be hampered by his lack of speed and will not be able to take as many bases as other players and will be more likely to be thrown out.

They are themselves dependant upon each other through the metrics used to capture them. As speed declines a player will no longer be able to beat out groundballs and his OBP will decline. Pitchers will no longer have to pitch as carefully because he is not a threat to steal and the quality of pitches he sees goes down.
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Postby greenandgold » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:26 pm

Koby Schellenger wrote:
greenandgold wrote:
Koby Schellenger wrote:Gardner possesses two, dependant, skills: Speed and discipline. As one goes, so goes the other.


Could you explain how these are dependant? I assume you mean they rely on eachother? I don't really see this.


Their values are dependant upon each other. Speed is a great tool but if a player is only able to use it in 30% of his plate appearances (OBP of .300) it is significantly less valuable, especially in this case where there is little to no other skills for Gardner. On the other hand, plate discipline without speed is of little value, again, without other important skills like power, because the player will be hampered by his lack of speed and will not be able to take as many bases as other players and will be more likely to be thrown out.

They are themselves dependant upon each other through the metrics used to capture them. As speed declines a player will no longer be able to beat out groundballs and his OBP will decline. Pitchers will no longer have to pitch as carefully because he is not a threat to steal and the quality of pitches he sees goes down.


I normally think you are insightful Koby but you are reaching for links that don't exist here. Speed has to do with running and only matters after the ball is put into play while plate discipline only matters before the ball is put into play. Are you using some crazy definition of the words I don't understand?

I really don't see any relation between the two and I definatly don't see any reason why one going would imply the other going. If someone loses a step running around the bases are they going to swing at bad pitches? If someone starts to swing at bad pitches are they going to run slower?
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Postby Koby Schellenger » Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:16 pm

Let's examine a player with great speed and great discipline at the plate. Let's say he steals 60 bases in 65 attempts and draws 100 walks. Let's further characterize him as someone who can frequently take an extra base, goes from first to third quickly and is a smart baserunner who rarely makes outs on the basepaths. Our player with great speed will reap the benefits of added base hits because of his ability to beat out throws by the third baseman and shortstop that other players without his speed cannot. If he does not have the speed he might only hit .260 but if he gets 20 infield hits that are attributed to his speed, in 500 ABs he's now a .300 hitter and he will be on base 4% more simply because of his speed. Thus he will be able to utilize his speed more because his OBP is .417.

Now let's say that he tears a hammy and his speed is significantly inhibited. He now steals 20 bases in 30 attempts. He is no longer able to grab the extra bases he once was and occasionally makes an out going from first to third on a single. He still draws 100 walks. The number of infield hits he has as a result of his speed is reduced to 2. He's still a .260 hitter but the extra two "speed" hits only increase his average to .264. This drops his OBP to .383. Effectively, his lost speed directly cost him .034 of OBP or 3.4% less chance of getting on base with each plate appearance. What's more, though hard to quantify, is the lost bases he would have been able to take on the basepaths.

His speed is only valuable if he's able to use it. He's only able to use it when he's on base. The value of speed is directly tied to OBP and in a more loose way, the value of OBP is tied to speed.

It isn't that you can only have discipline if you have speed or vice versa, it's that the value of each is tied to the other. Manny Ramirez and Travis Hafner illustrate this wonderfully. They both have high OBPs and very good plate discipline. But both are quite slow. They are not smart baserunners and probalby cost their team several runs a year because of their lack of speed and mistakes on the basepaths. But if they had Carl Crawford's speed they would be able to add runs for their team beyond what Crawford is able to do with his significantly lower OBP. OBP is the tangible measure of discipline and OBP is affected by average. Speed definetely affects average. There's the most obvious link but certainly not the best.

It shouldn't be too hard to see how the skills affect each other in theory but if you want to see real examples of this, look at players whose only value was OBP and speed and look at their careers once one of their skills go you will find two things:
1. There are not many major league players with just those two skills. Billy Hamilton is one old school player and you can find a few others but there aren't a lot.
2. When speed fails them or OBP fails them, their careers go in the tank quickly because they have nothing to fall back on. An HR hitter who suddenly has warning track power will still be able to hit doubles and provide nearly the same average but that's not the case with speed/discipline guys.
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Postby greenandgold » Sun Nov 26, 2006 8:01 pm

Forgetting your hypothetical players for a moment since they seem to show that speed increases OBP which is not really what we are bickering, where I agree with you is
His speed is only valuable if he's able to use it. He's only able to use it when he's on base. The value of speed is directly tied to OBP and in a more loose way, the value of OBP is tied to speed.

It isn't that you can only have discipline if you have speed or vice versa, it's that the value of each is tied to the other.

But I really only agree with that in the sense that the value of any skill a MLB player has is tied to his possesion of any other skill, so basically in the biggest generality I can think of.

Anyway, this is a worthless arguement and I guess we can stop it now because it isn't going anywhere.
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