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The common statistics

Postby skjelstrom » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:39 pm

I'm not very good with the statistic. I don't know many and don't know how to use them correctly. One I do know is BABIP. But can that really be reliable? So BABIP if I understand correctly is Batting Average on Balls In Play. For batters how does that mean there "lucky" or "unlucky" couldn't they just be placing the ball wrong and its not going to change. Also people tend to base it off of career BABIP's which would make more sense, but that wouldn't work for a player who changes parks, for example Adrian Beltre. His BABIP of .367 compared to a career BABIP of .293 would suggest he would fall. But maybe he is just placing the ball better at Fenway as compared to Safeco or Dodger Stadium.

And for pitchers BABIP if their getting "unlucky" and the fielding is letting them down, its not like their fielding or ballpark is going to change dramatically anytime soon so why would you expect them to do better? Maybe I'm missing something big, but I just don't understand this stuff completely. Any of the statistics gurus care to help me out and explain some things.

What are the correct ways to use the statistics and how can you trust them?

What are some other things to use other than BABIP that work for predictions?
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Re: The common statistics

Postby jake_twothousandfive » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:07 pm

I don't know that I'd call any single statistic a good basis for projections. Good players have a diverse skill set which feed off of one another. I think you need to understand most major statistics to be able to make realistic insights/projections.

BABIP is one of the best luck indicators available and is a quick way to make reasonable forecasts for short term changes in production. Which is why it's so popular. For hitters BABIP tends to return to his career average (provided you have a large enough sample size) because his skill set directly impacts what happens to balls put in play. Line drives translate into hits most often, followed by grounders and finally fly balls. A hitter with an uppercut swing who has a tendency to hit a lot of fly balls will more than likely have a relatively low BABIP.

A pitcher's BABIP will tend to return to league average because over the course of a season he faces every different kind of hitter out there. Collectively these hitters are going to center around some average level of BABIP. Which history shows is between .290-.300.

At least this is my take on things. BABIP is a good statistic that is important for fantasy purposes because, like I said, it can show where changes in production can logically be expected in the immediate future. But keep learning. Baseball is all about statistics, the more you know the better off you'll be.
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Neato Torpedo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:26 pm

skjelstrom wrote:His BABIP of .367 compared to a career BABIP of .293 would suggest he would fall. But maybe he is just placing the ball better at Fenway as compared to Safeco or Dodger Stadium.

RH hitters tend to have a higher BABIP in Fenway because of the Green Monster. There's other field factors that affect BABIP like the size of foul territory, general dimensions, condition of field, and stuff like that. Other than that, there's no reason to believe that a hitter will "place the ball better" at any specific park. Pitchers don't throw beachballs at Fenway Park and fielders don't have to move through sludge to get his batted balls. Some players have some psychological factors that affect their gameplay, but for 90% of players it's not a significant factor. When players are overproducing, fans and sportswriters say that they have a good mindset, and when they're struggling, they say the players have a bad mindset. That's called attribution error, or self-fulfilling prophecy or something like that...the point is, it's a fallacy. 95% of any given at-bat is simply pitcher, defense, batter. The other 5% is umpire, field, mindset, etc etc etc. There are exceptions but people tend to overattribute these exceptions to situations to support an argument they're making.

For batters how does that mean there "lucky" or "unlucky" couldn't they just be placing the ball wrong and its not going to change.

Like you said, basing it off their career numbers makes sense. If a player has had a .280 career BABIP over 6 seasons, no one should be predicting a .315 BABIP. That causes a problem for players that have less than 3 years of experience because there's no reliable baseline to derive a BABIP prediction. (by the way, minorleaguesplits.com has minor league BABIP for all of today's young hitters)

There's actually several metrics that use tertiary stats to calculate approximately what a player's BABIP should be. It's true that batted ball type (grounders vs. fly balls vs. line drives) does have a big effect on BABIP. Last year, fly balls had a 14% chance of landing in for a hit, ground balls had a 23% chance, and line drives had a 71% chance. However, hit type is not the be-all, end-all of determining BABIP. Some guys just flat out hit harder, and hard hits obviously give fielders less time to react. Look at Mark Reynolds; with his career 17.8% LD rate (league average 19.5%-ish), you'd think he'd have a sub-.300 BABIP. However, when he does put the ball in play, he often crushes it. The result is a career .335 BABIP over 3,000+ PA. Speedy guys also have a higher BABIP and are more likely to leg out those infield hits. Ichiro, for example, has a career .306 AVG on ground balls, which is about 70 points higher than the league average.

And for pitchers BABIP if their getting "unlucky" and the fielding is letting them down, its not like their fielding or ballpark is going to change dramatically anytime soon so why would you expect them to do better? Maybe I'm missing something big, but I just don't understand this stuff completely. Any of the statistics gurus care to help me out and explain some things.


Well, BABIP for pitchers is affected by both batted ball luck and by the quality of the fielders. I'd say that the best fielding team in the league would be expected to yield roughly .282-.285 BABIP, while the worst would be expected to yield .315-.320. A 10th ranked defense would be expected to yield .295, and so on. That obviously doesn't guarantee a pitcher to have a BABIP right around there, but you should adjust the baseline for that. Look at Andy Pettitte, for example; he's pitched for the all-hit, no-field Yankees for 12 1/2 seasons, and his career BABIP is .314. However, no defense is bad enough to yield something like Randy Wells' .359 BABIP or good enough for Ted Lilly's .219 BABIP (incidentally, the pitchers with the best and worst BABIPs have the same defense behind them!).

2009's best and worst fielding teams:
Mariners: 85.3 UZR (best team mark since UZR began), .280 BABIP
Giants: 55.7 UZR, .289 BABIP
Reds: 49.9 UZR, .288 BABIP
Royals: -49.1 UZR, .315 BABIP
Blue Jays: -39.3 UZR, .313 BABIP
Mets: -35.9 UZR, .303 BABIP

Look at the Mets on that last one, though. Third worst defense in the league, but their pitchers had a .303 BABIP. We can safely say that their pitchers, as a whole, got a bit lucky. A few dozen hard-hit grounders or line drives went straight to the fielders instead of a foot out of their reach.

Also, in regards to defense, you have to take into account what kind of batted balls the pitcher tends to induce. Let's say a team has a +30 UZR outfield and a -30 UZR infield. Obviously a fly ball pitcher will have a lower BABIP in that case than a ground ball pitcher (keep in mind, though, home runs aren't considered "in play", so while they have a lower BABIP, they will have a higher HR rate). Despite the higher BABIP, though, people generally prefer the GB pitchers since they don't give up as many home runs. But in turn, FB pitchers in parks that suppress HR are preferred to most GB pitchers, given that BB and K factors are equal. (here is a park factor list ordered by best parks for fly ball pitchers, but I don't use/trust the other stats listed there)

If you want to go in really deep, you also have to take in pitch velocity, pitch type, and opponent's plate discipline for pitchers as well as ISO, HR/FB, and plate discipline trends for hitters. And that's just for BABIP. There is no one statistic to look at to explain another one; you have to look at like ten things to fully explain one. Pretty much everything I just talked about is easily accessible on Fangraphs unless I linked to something else. And the last thing I'm going to say is that it's not all in statistics. You have to look at scouting reports and stuff, too. Baseball is neither 0% statistics nor 100% statistics.
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Neato Torpedo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:35 pm

Oh god 917 words
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Re: The common statistics

Postby smoovethug » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:17 am

Neato Torpedo wrote:Oh god 917 words


tl; dr. :-°
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Neato Torpedo » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:44 pm

smoovethug wrote:
Neato Torpedo wrote:Oh god 917 words


tl; dr. :-°

And that's not counting quoted text. :-°
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Syfo-Dyas » Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:57 am

Nice post Neato.
But there are a few things I have to add or correct.

Neato Torpedo wrote:Some players have some psychological factors that affect their gameplay, but for 90% of players it's not a significant factor. When players are overproducing, fans and sportswriters say that they have a good mindset, and when they're struggling, they say the players have a bad mindset. That's called attribution error, or self-fulfilling prophecy or something like that...the point is, it's a fallacy. 95% of any given at-bat is simply pitcher, defense, batter.


You are wrong. Mindset is a huge factor in performance. It has an influence on everything what happens.
Its no accident that there is science called Sports psychology.
And its a mandatory course for coaches in every sports.

Neato Torpedo wrote:If a player has had a .280 career BABIP over 6 seasons, no one should be predicting a .315 BABIP. That causes a problem for players that have less than 3 years of experience because there's no reliable baseline to derive a BABIP prediction. (by the way, minorleaguesplits.com has minor league BABIP for all of today's young hitters)


Those young players in the minors are still in their developmental stage. The only thing you know is, that they got talent, and you can set your expectations according to the level of their talent.
But fulfilling expectations is very difficult, and you cant really predict the speed of their development.
And there are those who dont show their talent early and suddenly something clicks, So even if you got minor league data, predicting anything is foolish.

Neato Torpedo wrote:Mets: -35.9 UZR, .303 BABIP

Look at the Mets on that last one, though. Third worst defense in the league, but their pitchers had a .303 BABIP. We can safely say that their pitchers, as a whole, got a bit lucky. A few dozen hard-hit grounders or line drives went straight to the fielders instead of a foot out of their reach.


Is there evidence that those "few dozen hard-hit grounders" were hit hard? Is there evidence that Mets pitchers induced the most hard-hit line outs?
Or is it possible the Mets pitchers induced the most weak contacts?
Im askin cause Im not familiar with, how UZR works.
Does UZR takes into account:
how hard the ball was hit on every play
the player's reaction time on every ball in play
the angle he takes to the ball, compared to the best angle he should be takin, on every ball in play
how fast he gets to the ball compared to the quickest there is possible.
etc...

Neato Torpedo wrote:There is no one statistic to look at to explain another one; you have to look at like ten things to fully explain one.


Quite right. And still not gonna be enough.
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Matthias » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:20 am

First, I think Neato just broke the Internet. Great post, though.

Second:
Syfo-Dyas wrote:Those young players in the minors are still in their developmental stage. The only thing you know is, that they got talent, and you can set your expectations according to the level of their talent.
But fulfilling expectations is very difficult, and you cant really predict the speed of their development.
And there are those who dont show their talent early and suddenly something clicks, So even if you got minor league data, predicting anything is foolish.

Say I take a 6 sided die and add a little weight onto the side that has the single dot. Statistically, the 6 will come up more often than anything else when it's rolled because it's opposite the heavy side. Now, is it "foolish" for me to predict that a 6 will come up even though it only comes up on 25% of the time? Obviously not. There's a difference between making predictions which have a certain probability of being true and being foolish. I don't think any forecaster, here or anywhere else, would look at a minor league player and say, "They are a 100% lock to produce at X level in the majors." That's why publications like Baseball Prospectus have their improve, decline, stay the same probability metrics. There's an X% chance that this player gets better; there's a Y% chance that this player gets really better; and so on and so on. But if you have a good prediction based off of solid data, the only thing that is foolish is to not pay attention to it.
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Syfo-Dyas » Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:22 pm

Matthias wrote:First, I think Neato just broke the Internet. Great post, though.

Second:
Syfo-Dyas wrote:Those young players in the minors are still in their developmental stage. The only thing you know is, that they got talent, and you can set your expectations according to the level of their talent.
But fulfilling expectations is very difficult, and you cant really predict the speed of their development.
And there are those who dont show their talent early and suddenly something clicks, So even if you got minor league data, predicting anything is foolish.

Say I take a 6 sided die and add a little weight onto the side that has the single dot. Statistically, the 6 will come up more often than anything else when it's rolled because it's opposite the heavy side. Now, is it "foolish" for me to predict that a 6 will come up even though it only comes up on 25% of the time? Obviously not. There's a difference between making predictions which have a certain probability of being true and being foolish. I don't think any forecaster, here or anywhere else, would look at a minor league player and say, "They are a 100% lock to produce at X level in the majors." That's why publications like Baseball Prospectus have their improve, decline, stay the same probability metrics. There's an X% chance that this player gets better; there's a Y% chance that this player gets really better; and so on and so on. But if you have a good prediction based off of solid data, the only thing that is foolish is to not pay attention to it.


Poor choice of words on my part. Obviously we were talkin about predicting BABIP, and not anything.
Still, it has nothing to do with dices.

25%? I suggest you watch the english tv show "The real hustle". Those guys are good. 6 comes up every time. ;-)
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Re: The common statistics

Postby Neato Torpedo » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:18 am

Syfo-Dyas wrote:Nice post Neato.
But there are a few things I have to add or correct.

Neato Torpedo wrote:Some players have some psychological factors that affect their gameplay, but for 90% of players it's not a significant factor. When players are overproducing, fans and sportswriters say that they have a good mindset, and when they're struggling, they say the players have a bad mindset. That's called attribution error, or self-fulfilling prophecy or something like that...the point is, it's a fallacy. 95% of any given at-bat is simply pitcher, defense, batter.


You are wrong. Mindset is a huge factor in performance. It has an influence on everything what happens.
Its no accident that there is science called Sports psychology.
And its a mandatory course for coaches in every sports.


Well yeah, but can a "good mindset" drive a career .300 BABIP to .370? If so, then we can throw every sabermetric stat out the window because success is psychological and the happiest players will win. If so, everyone watch out for Bhutan's national team! ;-7 But yeah, sarcasm aside, I still believe that unless they have an especially poor mindset, it's pretty much entirely pitcher, defense, batter. You can sometimes derive that poor mindset from statistics (high K% + high FB% = swinging for the fences every pitch), but that excuse doesn't go far enough to explain any but a few slumping players.

Neato Torpedo wrote:If a player has had a .280 career BABIP over 6 seasons, no one should be predicting a .315 BABIP. That causes a problem for players that have less than 3 years of experience because there's no reliable baseline to derive a BABIP prediction. (by the way, minorleaguesplits.com has minor league BABIP for all of today's young hitters)


Those young players in the minors are still in their developmental stage. The only thing you know is, that they got talent, and you can set your expectations according to the level of their talent.
But fulfilling expectations is very difficult, and you cant really predict the speed of their development.
And there are those who dont show their talent early and suddenly something clicks, So even if you got minor league data, predicting anything is foolish.

Right, but what I'm saying is you can look at the batted ball profiles, BABIP, etc and compare them to their MLB numbers. Of course they're going to be less reliable, but if someone has a .350 BABIP in 2,000 minor league AB against a .290 BABIP in their rookie year, we can safely predict an uptick in BABIP the following year to .320 or so.

Neato Torpedo wrote:Mets: -35.9 UZR, .303 BABIP

Look at the Mets on that last one, though. Third worst defense in the league, but their pitchers had a .303 BABIP. We can safely say that their pitchers, as a whole, got a bit lucky. A few dozen hard-hit grounders or line drives went straight to the fielders instead of a foot out of their reach.


Is there evidence that those "few dozen hard-hit grounders" were hit hard? Is there evidence that Mets pitchers induced the most hard-hit line outs?
Or is it possible the Mets pitchers induced the most weak contacts?
Im askin cause Im not familiar with, how UZR works.
Does UZR takes into account:
how hard the ball was hit on every play
the player's reaction time on every ball in play
the angle he takes to the ball, compared to the best angle he should be takin, on every ball in play
how fast he gets to the ball compared to the quickest there is possible.
etc...

UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating, and it's based off how many plays a player got in his "zone" as well as "out of zone" plays. I think speed factor is also mixed in the equation somewhere. The zone for a position is defined by an area of x radius from the standard fielding position, adjusted for whether it was a LD, GB, or FB.

UZR is indeed flawed, since fielding metrics are still in their infancy. UZR in 2010 is like OPS in 1993; it only measures a few factors, but it's the best we've got for now. There's some new mechanism that's supposed to be installed in every major league ballpark sometime in the next year or two that measures reaction, routes, shifts, speed of ball, etc. When the data from that starts going up, we'll be able to derive more accurate fielding stats.

However, I wouldn't expect the Mets' 2009 pitching staff to have "beaten" BABIP. Five regular starters with an ERA above 5.00, team ERA of 4.43 (FIP 4.50, xFIP 4.73). Would you expect them to have a lot of weak ground balls compared to the statistical mean?
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