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CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby AquaMan2342 » Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:23 am

bigwords wrote:Yeah, I think there were flaws in AquaMan2342's assessment of the volatility/predictability of various stats. For one thing, the article was written in 2004 just as the blowback against steroids was heating up. I'd love to see a more contemporary analysis given that HR rates have fallen and more increased attention to that aspect of the game.

I agree with BloodySox's deconstruction of how you can't pick out a few guys to run an analysis.

Even more so, in the article that AquaMan points out from Baseball Prospectus, it indicates that XBA is the most predictable of stats. What's XBA? It's expected batting average based on peripherals like strikeout rate and walk rate, which tend to be extremely stable.

For all those concerned about Pedroia's batting average next season, note that he has an extremely high XBA at .316. It's based on a 92% contact rate and a reasonable 7% walk rate. He doesn't strikeout that much, meaning he puts the ball into play. Therefore, we can expect a very very good batting average from him next season. In fact you can have more confidence that Pedroia has a great batting average next season than X player has 40 HR.

I just want to point out one more thing. Pedroia's production this season didn't come out of the blue. In 2007, BEFORE Pedroia's breakout year, Baseball Prospectus used their PECOTA system to rank the best prospects in the game. Here's the article: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... cleid=6153

Here was their rankings:

1. Alex Gordon
2. Evan Longoria
3. Tim Lincecum
4. Chris B Young
5. Phil Hughes
6. Dustin Pedroia
7. Alexi Cassila
8. Felix Pie
9. Clayton Kershaw
10. Chris Ianetta

In the same article, they compared the PECOTA scores for all those players under the age of 25. SORTED BY UPSIDE FACTOR.

Pedroia ranked #24, just behind Kazmir, Hughes, and Hamels, and ahead of Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, and Ian Kinsler.

My point is that there seems to be this general impression that Pedroia has come out of nowhere and that his 2008 season was a statistical aberration. But it's not true. Many sabermetricians always thought VERY VERY highly of Pedroia.

Again, please don't misinterpret this to mean that I'm saying you should draft Pedroia ahead of Prince Fielder. Read my last post before this one. I tried to give a full view of how I measure Pedroia in drafts.

BloodySox has my assessment of Pedroia very accurately. And just for the record, not that it makes a difference, but I'm a Yankees fan.



Given that statement, are you universally saying that any player who has a good contact rate will automatically have a high batting average? That's ridiculous.

As far as the timing of the article goes, it's less a profile of the amount of homers in general as it is each individual player. The makeup of the game's best players is a lot different than it was in 2004, so I don't see where there would be problems applying given formulas in today's game. That's why Adam Dunn hits exactly 40 homers every year. ;-7
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby bigwords » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:44 pm

"are you universally saying that any player who has a good contact rate will automatically have a high batting average?"

The answer is no. That's NOT what I'm saying. Pirates 3b Andy Laroche had a good contact rate this year and a pitiful batting average.

That said, the first requirement of a good batting average is to put the ball in play. If you don't make contact, there's no way to get a hit. And so there's a high correlation between batting average and contact rate.

When we look at someone who has a good batting average, we can measure peripheral statistics like plate zone discipline and the ability to make contact to see whether these things support the good batting average. In Pedroia's case, they do.

Furthermore, you may not see why you can't apply statistics from 2004, how steroids shaped the stability of home runs in that era, and why the non-volatility of home run performance in 2008 shouldn't be questioned, but unfortunately, they do matter. I've actually researched related issues to this one and have found that a lot of the truth we once knew about home runs can no longer be taken as such.

Sorry. Pulling the name of one guy (or even a few guys) out of a hat isn't scientific. For every Adam Dunn you can name, I can name several guys who performed like Prince Fielder -- someone whose HR output decreased by 38%. We can go back and forth with names, but the fact is that you really haven't come close to demonstrating your statement that runs and average are more volatile categories than home runs. I said at the beginning that I'd remain open-minded if you want to show me evidence of that. I'm still open to consideration, but I'd need to see data that's contemporary and large enough to be considered scientifically valid. And if you knock me for using "science," consider the fact that you're the one making grandiose statements about the volatility of certain categories. I'm not trying to be a "tool," as you said. I just wanted you to go a bit deeper. You made an interesting statement that actually CAN be proven true, if true. Don't be like Yoda. Show me the proof.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby Old_Style » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:55 pm

Snakes Gould wrote:i dont even know what we're debating anymore. all i know is, im not taking pedroia in the top 30 players, in any format.


What if it's a 5'9 and under league?
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby AquaMan2342 » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:42 pm

bigwords wrote:"are you universally saying that any player who has a good contact rate will automatically have a high batting average?"

The answer is no. That's NOT what I'm saying. Pirates 3b Andy Laroche had a good contact rate this year and a pitiful batting average.

That said, the first requirement of a good batting average is to put the ball in play. If you don't make contact, there's no way to get a hit. And so there's a high correlation between batting average and contact rate.

When we look at someone who has a good batting average, we can measure peripheral statistics like plate zone discipline and the ability to make contact to see whether these things support the good batting average. In Pedroia's case, they do.

Furthermore, you may not see why you can't apply statistics from 2004, how steroids shaped the stability of home runs in that era, and why the non-volatility of home run performance in 2008 shouldn't be questioned, but unfortunately, they do matter. I've actually researched related issues to this one and have found that a lot of the truth we once knew about home runs can no longer be taken as such.

Sorry. Pulling the name of one guy (or even a few guys) out of a hat isn't scientific. For every Adam Dunn you can name, I can name several guys who performed like Prince Fielder -- someone whose HR output decreased by 38%. We can go back and forth with names, but the fact is that you really haven't come close to demonstrating your statement that runs and average are more volatile categories than home runs. I said at the beginning that I'd remain open-minded if you want to show me evidence of that. I'm still open to consideration, but I'd need to see data that's contemporary and large enough to be considered scientifically valid. And if you knock me for using "science," consider the fact that you're the one making grandiose statements about the volatility of certain categories. I'm not trying to be a "tool," as you said. I just wanted you to go a bit deeper. You made an interesting statement that actually CAN be proven true, if true. Don't be like Yoda. Show me the proof.


Did you see ;-7 ? Just wondering. I'm quite aware that Adam Dunn proves nothing.

How did said article not prove that average is more volatile? Because it was written in 2004? Even if HRs were more volatile than before (which they might be.....you should find some evidence to prove that to me), do you really think it has become so unpredictable to overturn the evidence found in the article?

Granted I did not make an argument for runs and assumed that it must be more volatile than at least HRs and SBs simply because it has absolutely nothing to do with a player's ability. All he can do is get on base and hope that he is assisted around the bases by the actions of other players. I think I mentioned Sizemore and his higher power numbers/stolen bases but lower runs scored....almost undoubtedly due to the absence/suckiness of V-Mart and Hafner. I'll have something soon on this though.


Your statement:

For all those concerned about Pedroia's batting average next season, note that he has an extremely high XBA at .316. It's based on a 92% contact rate and a reasonable 7% walk rate. He doesn't strikeout that much, meaning he puts the ball into play. Therefore, we can expect a very very good batting average from him next season. In fact you can have more confidence that Pedroia has a great batting average next season than X player has 40 HR.

No we can't. You can say he has a better chance than a lot of players of doing this. But that's all. Look at Robinson Cano's statistics.....being a Yankees fan you should know them quite well. Explain to me why he hit .271 with the lowest K rate of his career and nearly the same walk rate after hitting over .300 the previous two years. Is Pedroia immune to the possibility of a dropping average? Absolutely not.

Another issue I have is your use of XBA......are you sure we're looking at the same statistic? I hear XBA and I think of Extra base hits/total hits. Just wondering.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby bigwords » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:02 pm

XBA doesn't mean extra base hits. It means "expected batting average." Expected based on peripheral stats like strikeout and walk rate. If you re-read the linked article, you'll see that a batter's K-rate and BB-rate are highly stable, even more so than HR-rate. Even in 2004. A batter's K-rate and BB-rate (which are stable because they depend very little on an opponent's defense) contribute to the XBA.

Yes, it's true that batting average does vary. But over large sample sets, BA tends to approach XBA. The reason why I can say that Pedroia is likely to have a very good average next year is not based on his BA. It's based on his XBA.

I know that's confusing, but it forms the basis on how to make good evaluations of a player's future performance. It's also a reason why you can assume that Robinson Cano will improve in the batting average category next year.

Players who make contact with the ball usually have good batting averages. But it's not always the case. There is certainly a good deal of luck involved. Sometimes hit balls go to fielders. Sometimes hit balls find gaps. That's why I often pay attention to statistics like Balls in Play Average to get an idea whether a batter is getting lucky or not. Cano had a subpar average this year based on some bad luck. His XBA was .287 compared to a BA of .271. As unlucky as Cano was in 2008, he was lucky in 2007. He had a BA in 2007 of 306, but an XBA of .296. The previous year in 2006, he had a BA of 342 but a XBA of 315.

Cano isn't the hitter that Pedroia is, from a batting average category. Pedroia this year had a XBA of 316, which is excellent, even higher than Cano's 2006 level, slightly. Contact rate is only one of the measures that go into XBA. You need to look into his walk rate and his fly ball rate, his line drive rate, his speed, etc.

I think this debate is important. Some people want to make this solely about, "Is Pedroia worth drafting at X position?" You're right, we're not debating that. I give AquaMan credit for bringing up an interesting observation about the volatility of certain categories. Maybe it belongs in a different thread. I just wish he could have backed up the point better because it is a VERY interesting observation that would have quite a bit of value for fantasy owners if given some evidentiary weight.

I didn't say that Pedroia is immune to dropping average. In probability, his average will drop. I can only say that it's very likely he'll be a superior hitter going forward (without indicating a specific batting average for next season). I can say that batting average may not be as uncertain as your gut tells you and that there's good value in a player with peripherals to support a great batting average. There's some evidence that Pedroia could have Ichiro-like value (by that, I mean a strong contribution to your teams BA) at a very shallow 2b position.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby Neato Torpedo » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:05 pm

1. Alex Gordon Miss
2. Evan Longoria Hit
3. Tim Lincecum Hit
4. Chris B Young Miss more or less
5. Phil Hughes Miss
7. Alexi Cassila No consistent playing time
8. Felix Pie Miss
9. Clayton Kershaw We'll see
10. Chris Ianetta Miss

2002 Top 10 prospects
1. Josh Beckett Hit
2. Hank Blalock Miss
3. Sean Burroughs Miss
4. Nick Johnson Miss
5. Mark Prior Miss
6. Wilson Betemit Miss
7. Juan Cruz Miss
8. Ryan Anderson Miss
9. Joe Borchard Miss
10. Mark Teixeira Hit

My point: NEVER use prospect rankings to determine a player's major league standing.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby bigwords » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:16 pm

You can't use prospect rankings to determine a player's major league standing. But you can look backwards and use prospect rankings as circumstantial evidence to validate a player's sudden major league success.

By the way, Neato Torpedo, that 2007 prospect list you cribbed from me (which I cribbed from Baseball Prospectus) isn't your usual prospect ranking. It's not a subjective list. It was spit out by computers, believe it or not, using a highly complex formula that measured upside. It's a list based on quantitative measurements.

Your contributed 2002 list, on the other hand, is Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, right? THAT is subjective. I think you're comparing apples and oranges here. I know the point you were trying to make. But it's a different point for a different day, not applicable to anything that was said earlier in the thread.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby Neato Torpedo » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:26 pm

*goes back and reads the original post*

Oh. :-/
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby AquaMan2342 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:59 am

From the article I linked to:

it's important to clarify what is meant by batting average being subject to great deal of "luck." This is not to say that all major league hitters are equal when it comes to AVG, and the differences evident between them are entirely random. Rather, players have a theoretical AVG-ability that varies from player-to-player, but the sample size of a season is too small to accurately reveal that every year. The high volatility of AVG from year-to-year--the statistical "noise," if you will--is sufficiently large enough to obscure the differences between many major league hitters of similar ability.


I don't know how that doesn't get my point across.

Another response to the HR volatility argument: The article I linked was written in 2004 yes, but it's not pertaining to the total amount of homers hit in a certain season by a group of players....it's solely focused on looking at each hitter as an individual player....so even if they were on steroids, the study's purpose is to be able to feel comfortable in predicting that given player's rates. Something like that still applies. Not to mention that the R-Squared correlation found in HR rates was over 5 times greater than that of average. If by chance the gap has closed....it's impossible to believe it's closed nearly that much.

Last thing I'll write about this: Pedroia is a great young player. Are you going to get good production out of him? Yes. But take a look at the "League of Champions Mock" thread in this Leftovers section. Ped is taken in the mid-2nd round, perfect for our argument. Yes, a bit is probably some playoff-time sentiment, but in a 5X5 situation, how does he look compared to who falls below him (2nd base has become a far deeper position in the last few seasons, so the position scarcity is quickly becoming a moot argument....I think a lot would agree)? Manny, Santana, Carlos Lee, Sabathia, Peavy, Morneau, Lincecum, Berkman, Webb, Beltran, Soriano, Ichiro, Vlad to name a few. It's pretty clear he won't outproduce any of the previously mentioned hitters in the power categories, and most of these players career statistics have shown they wouldn't yield much in the area of runs compared to Pedroia's best season so far. In short, I feel like the opportunity for disappointment with that 2nd round pick is a lot higher than the opportunity for satisfaction.
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Re: CBS Sportsline Initial 2009 Ranks: Thoughts?

Postby bigwords » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:09 pm

You note the comparison in production between Pedroia and Manny, Santana, Carlos Lee, etc.

I think it's important to compare Pedroia to other 2b, and compare those other players you name to others at their respective positions. Comparing players at different positions directly in terms of HR or R totals isn't wise. If you only had one player on your team, you can do that. But you're not JUST choosing Pedroia vs. Manny. You're choosing whether to take Pedroia at a certain draft spot and an outfielder later or Manny at that draft spot and a 2b later. Thus, when you look at Pedroia's run total, you might note that he could get 50 more runs than the 2b you'd pick a few rounds later. And question whether the outfielder picked a few rounds after Manny would get 50 fewer runs. He'd probably come closer to Manny's run total. Manny might hit X number of home runs, and Y number of home runs more than the outfielder taken a few rounds later. Is Y significant enough to erase Pedroia's runs advantage? (VORP is a statistic that goes to some of this.)

I don't think 2b is nearly as deep as you imagine. A number of guys have closed the gap on Utley, and there's some sleepers, but I don't think it's nearly as deep as 1B, 3b, OF, and P. I think the 2nd round is too aggressive on Pedroia, even for me. However, I think there's a solid case to be built that Longoria in the 2nd round is a much more foolish pick. Not because Longoria isn't great. But because there's a much better possibility that the 3B you take five, ten, even fifteen rounds after Longoria may match him in production than the 2b you might take five, ten, fifteen rounds matching what Pedroia will do...even if he regresses somewhat next season.
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