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Message #4274 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  All
From:  
Anonymous  
Subject:  Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/16/07, 11:48pm

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Message #4275 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Anonymous
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/17/07, 2:56pm
graphic
OPS is a bit of a simplicity as a stat, being based on a simple sum that adds two quantities with different ranges (0-1 for OBP vs. 0-4 for SLG). But it combines what seems to be the most important factors to run scoring: the ability to get guys on base and the ability to advance them along the basepaths with extra base hits. So the observation between runs scored and team OPS shouldn't exactly surprise anyone. It's an interesting point in this article as it attempts to break down runs scored into one of the most important components (walks, AVG, OBP, SLG, etc.)

But to really write that the ability to reduce runs against comes down to ERA?! Translation: the author should have skipped the entire second half of the article. ERA is solely a representation of the number of earned runs you give up and unearned runs represent a fairly uniform percentage of the total runs each team allows each year.

2006 Data
St. Louis Cardinals 5.38% - MIN
LA Angels 10.39% - MAX

I guess I'm just tired of people making these "amazing discoveries" in the field of baseball stats. People shouldn't try to reword absolutely obvious observations into something new.

I'm done with my rant now. Thanks for listening/reading.

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

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Message #4277 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest35778 (IP: 68.37.135.173)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/20/07, 9:14am
If ERA is such an obvious stat, then why did three pitchers with way above average ERA's get over 100 million in the free agent market this year?

I'm tired of the brain dead know-it-alls, who completely miss the point of something written, then think they are such Genuises.

The obvious point of this article, genius, was that teams can vastly improve their performance by looking at two simple stats. They don't need some over-analyzed stat that some "genius" with nothing better to do thought up.

Here's another appropriate "obviuos" statement for you - KISS (keep it simple stupid)!

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Message #4278 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Guest35778 (IP: 68.37.135.173)
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/20/07, 4:08pm
graphic
It's not that I'm saying teams shouldn't look for pitchers with low ERAs; that's exactly what they should do. Run prevention is run prevention. It seems somehow that you entirely missed my point.

I know many teams continue to pay through the nose for middle-of-the-road journeymen pitchers. Guys who've had a history of being just that; average.

But when it comes down to analyzing how teams should find ways to limit runs against, isn't it obvious, or as you spelled it, "obviuos", that the pitchers with the lowest ERAs are exactly those pitchers who allow the fewest runs? It should be.

ERA measures runs allowed per nine innings, so it had better correlate well with runs allowed.

At least with the OPS statement, that stat is one of many that factor into the number of runs scored by teams. OPS doesn't measure runs scored; it measures ability to get on base and ability to hit for power. The author doesn't mention that teams should find the players that score the most runs to improve the number of runs a team scores each season.

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Message #4280 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/20/07, 4:46pm
graphic
And by the way...none of the aforementioned pitchers earned $100 million dollars in their contracts. That was the sum of their combined contracts.

Adam Eaton
3 yr - $24.5 M
Career ERA+ - 92 (8% above League Average)

Jason Marquis
3 yr - $21 M
Career ERA+ - 94 (6% above League Average), including 3 of his six full years with ERA+ better than league average

Gil Meche
5 yr - $55 M
Career ERA+ - 96 (4% above League Average)

Putting them all together, we've got 11 yr @ $100.5 M, or roughly $9.14 M/year. All three pitchers are entering either their Age 28 or Age 29 seasons, and all have attained the magic number of 6 years of service time to become eligible for free agency for the first time.

Let me preface the next statements with this: As a GM, I don't think I would sign Gil Meche or Jason Marquis to deals of this magnitude and I haven't had time to look at complete salary data for starting rotations from last year. But in this day and age, I don't think $9 M/year is a completely unheard of price. Especially for 3 guys that have been as close to league average
over their 6-year careers.

You have to realize that while these three pitchers may not be top-of-the-line, true Ace pitchers, half of all Major League pitchers over the past 6 years performed worse than this triumvirate. It's this other half of MLB pitchers that teams can take a chance on and get bargain-level prices for.

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Message #4282 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest35965 (IP: 69.141.76.197)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/21/07, 9:12am
Newey, why do Gil Meche's stats not make any sense? His Winning %, in particular?


http://www.helium.com/tm/153467

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Message #4283 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest35965 (IP: 69.141.76.197)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/21/07, 8:29am
Newey, you're not making any sense. On the one hand you say that it is obvious (sorry I mispelled it, my Mom, my Aunt, my sister-in-law, and my girlfriend are all English or Reading teachers, and they have forgiven me) that teams should be looking for low ERA pitchers, but on the other hand you go on to defend $100 million in Guraunteed contracts (never said they each got $100 million) given to pitchers with well above league average ERA's.

Thanks for making my point for me.

And, by the way, Meche, Marquis and Eaton have all pitched the majority of their careers in parks which generally favor the pitchers.

Also, since when is 5-10%, or the variance between runs allowed and ERA, if I understood your stats correctly, not that meaningful. If the average team scores 750 runs, that's 38 to 75 runs. Or how many games a year?

Do you realize that most of the people who read what you wrote do not understand your stats concerning ERA and runs scored. And that even more don't care. KISS!

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Message #4284 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Guest35965 (IP: 69.141.76.197)
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/22/07, 6:23pm
graphic
I'm sorry that you, the apparent author of the original link, took so many of my statements as personal attacks.

Of course teams should look for pitchers with low ERAs.

But they aren't always readily available, as most of them have already been locked up by their current teams in multi-year deals. You make it sound like pitchers that have better than league average ERAs are waiting on shelves with slashed price tags. That's hardly the case now and will never be again. Pitching is too valued in today's game and the current money market.

So most teams that are in need of a starting pitcher during the offseason have to decide which of the 8-10 players to go after and then compete with other clubs for their services.

Free agent pitchers just aren't cheap anymore, regardless of their status as an ace or a #4 guy. The mere fact that they've pitched in the major leagues for 6 straight years automatically qualifies them to a certain contract level.

During the 2006 season, 73 different pitchers started at least 30 games for their team(s). Of those 73, around half (36) had reached free agent status in their careers by their service time. The average salary for these veteran starters was just over $8.5 million dollars last year.

So if you'd like to compare the average salary to a league average ERA or ERA+ (that I used from baseball-reference.com, which is adjusted for ballpark), then we can see just how much these three guys were overpaid.

Adam Eaton
Yearly Salary - $8.17 M
Predicted - (0.92)* $8.5 M = $7.82 M

Jason Marquis
Yearly Salary - $7 M
Predicted - (0.94)* $8.5 M = $7.99 M

Gil Meche
Yearly Salary - $11 M
Predicted - (0.96)* $8.5 M = $8.16 M

So, of course, the Gil Meche deal looks the worst out of these three. But the Royals have been known for desperation in the past, and they seem to keep on rollin' with this one.

But looking at the other two, I just don't see anything that seems all ridiculous within the current free agent market. Now you and many other people could make a very valid argument that the entire market is out of control and that pitchers such as these shouldn't make annual salaries of $8 million. And I'd probably agree.

But the real dollar values for these deals come down to the current baseline salaries and the high-demand, low-supply field of veteran starting pitchers.

And one more response before calling this post quits...

You mention that these pitchers have ERAs that are well above league average. But that's hardly the case. None are even 10% above league average.

Even if they were, 10% above league average works out to an extra 0.45 earned runs/9 considering a league average of 4.50. Spread out over an entire season, the additional 0.45 works out to 9 extra runs over the entire season (180 IP).

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Message #4286 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest36253 (IP: 69.141.76.197)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/23/07, 6:38am
Newey, you are once again making my point for me.

You say, of course teams should be looking for below average ERA pitchers, but then go on to try and justify pitchers with above average LERA's being paid high salaries. Just because many teams make dumb decisions, and give pitchers with over LERA's big money, does not justify the practice.

Which is my point exactly!

If teams looked at just ERA, or percentage of LERA, and stocked their team with pitchers who pitch to below the LERA, they can improve their winning percentage. It's simple, but you keep trying to make it complicated, when you try to justify pitchers with above LERA's being paid big money (my guess is you've written elsewhere saying the contracts were reasonable, and feel you have to keep justifying that point of view).

I never said it would be easy, all I said was that is how teams can improve their winning percentage.

Billy Beane wins because he keeps it relatively simple. Paul Depodesta lost because he tried to do what your doing, come up with magic formulas, which only confuse and complicate what needs to be done.


Gil Meche will be paid $11 Million this year (average) and has pitched to 105% of the LERA in his career, and 103% in his contract year, last year.

Mike Mussina will be paid $11.5 Million this year (average) and has pitched to 80% ot the LERA in his career, and 80% last year.

One of those salaries is wildly out of whack, and in my opinion, just in terms of winning ballgames, it's Meche's.


I don't think you'll ever really understand what I originally wrote.

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Message #4287 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest36253 (IP: 69.141.76.197)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/23/07, 3:07am
Newey, here is a list of the free agents that were available this year with career ERA's below the League average:

Zito
Pettittie
Schmidt
Mulder
Maddux http://www.helium.com/tm/151895
Wolf
Ohka
Padilla
Woody Williams
John Thompson
Trachsel
Suppan
Sele
M. Batista

http://www.helium.com/tm/167328 (Appropriate article discusses issue of Meche, Eaton and Marquis signings)

In addition, here's a list of Pitchers traded this off-season with career ERA's below the League average (and appropriate article links):

D. Davis
B. Bannister http://www.helium.com/tm/153425
F. Garcia http://www.helium.com/tm/153417
Horacio Ramirez
J. Jenings
R. Johnson http://www.helium.com/tm/153459
B. McCarthy http://www.helium.com/tm/153464

Not sure what your definition of readily available is.


These three articles discuss the free agent signings:

http://www.helium.com/tm/142580

http://www.helium.com/tm/142563

http://www.helium.com/tm/142577


Sorry you did not understand my article, the point of it being how teams could Simply improve their performance by following two Simple stats in regards to players. KISS.


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Message #4290 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Guest36253 (IP: 69.141.76.197)
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/24/07, 1:08pm
graphic
http://baseballgm.blogspot.com/2007_02_24_archive.h
tml

I'm alright having you include me as part of your articles as I think we've been having an interesting back-and-forth discussion on this topic. But I would hope that you at least not misrepresent what I said. As far as players that are readily-available, I was talking about:

1) Starting pitchers, not relievers
2) Free agents that were getting new contracts, not pitchers being traded, and
3) Pitchers with at least 6 years of MLB service time, freeing them from their original drafters

I'm sure once these factors are applied, your list (which also includes Brian Bannister who has all of 38 league-average innings in his young career) will be reduced significantly.

That being said, I'm willing to concede on the support of the contracts. I'm sure I got caught up in the initial debate of listing ERA as an indicator of runs against, that I decided to disagree just to disagree. I think regardless of which stats anyone decides to look to, as you said, none of these pitchers really "deserve" what they will be paid in the coming year(s). I'm with you on this one. Gil Meche probably shouldn't make $11 M over two years...

And I do understand your point; that teams can easily look to ERA in choosing who to sign and to what money. And it's not that I think it's a bad idea; it's a very effective and simple tool to look at improving your pitching staff.

My only real comment came from your original article in which you talked about how ERA correlated with runs allowed. And in the fact that you mention how the 4 NL and AL teams that gave up the fewest runs last year also had the 4 lowest team ERAs in each league.

This seemed much too obvious and I didn't quite understand why it was stated the way it was. Just like a team that scores the most runs/game will lead the league in runs scored (because each team plays the same number of games), the rate stat of lowest team ERA will almost always result in the fewest number of runs allowed by a team over the entire season (barring some unforeseen number of unearned runs).

Maybe I was looking for too much in your article, or at least something similar to your point on the correlation between OPS and runs scored when it came to runs allowed. And I probably was a bit harsh on it in my initial comments.

But I have enjoyed reading your articles and hope you continue the good work.

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Message #4291 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  All
From:  
Newey  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/24/07, 1:45pm
graphic
This post will probably be anything but simple (not using the KISS method). But I think it looks at some of the dangers in looking only at ERA+ or LERA; more specifically, that any LERA value under 100 is absolutely "good" or that any value over 100 is absolutely "bad".

I think we need to look at the context of these values to the league-average ERAs and establish what the true difference between some % above or below this average really means for teams when it comes to winning.

6 of the pitchers from the above free agent list weren't more than 3% better than league average for their careers.

Randy Wolf - 103 ERA+ (3% better than league average)
John Thomson - 103 ERA+
Miguel Batista - 103 ERA+
Steve Trachsel - 101 ERA+ (1% better than league average)
Jeff Suppan - 101 ERA+
Aaron Sele - 101 ERA+

We've been discussing relative value of starting pitchers with above or below league average ERAs. So I'd like to compare starters to starters from this point forward, if you'll grant me the premise. And regular starters, at that. We'll look at all pitchers who had at least 140 IP in the 2006 season.

LERA 140+ IP S-ERA Min Max Med
NL 4.49 49 4.30 2.98 6.02 4.20
AL 4.56 45 4.37 2.77 6.36 4.40

LERA - Overall league average ERA
140+ IP - # of pitchers in each league to throw min. innings
S-ERA - Starter's average ERA with at least 140 IP
Min, Max, and Median ERA for this group of starters

We see that the regular starting pitchers have a collective ERA 0.19 runs less than the overall league averages for both the NL and AL. This inherently make sense, as teams use a majority of their effective pitchers in the starting role when possible. We also see that the median values are close to the average (S-ERA) and that the ERAs are approximately normal in their distribution.

My point with these numbers is this: Is there really that much of a discernible difference between the seasons of a pitcher with league average vs. +/- 3% of league average ERA? Let's look at an example from the American League.

IP BB K W-L ERA %SERA VORP
Pitcher A - 196.0 55 134 13-9 4.27 97.7 33.1
Pitcher B - 181.2 81 160 15-13 4.31 98.6 26.4
Pitcher C - 200.0 70 156 15-10 4.50 103.0 29.2

VORP, created by Keith Woolner of Baseball Prospectus, is a league, park, and position-adjusted measure of a player's worth over a readily-available replacement level player (Major league back-up/AAA call-up). For pitchers specifically, it's a measure of "the number of runs a pitcher surrenders below what a replacement level pitcher would have given up in the same number of innings".

http://www.stathead.com/articles/woolner/vorp.htm

10 points of VORP correspond to roughly one win. So Johan Santana (VORP 79.6), clearly the best pitcher in baseball, is worth almost 8 wins more to his team than a replacement level pitcher would be.

Although Cliff Lee of the Indians was probably the best fit for
the league average S-ERA (Pitcher B), I chose Ted Lilly of Toronto instead to compare favorably with the hitter's parks that Pitcher A and Pitcher C call home. Pitcher A is Jose Contreras and Pitcher C is Vicente Padilla.

VORP does depend on playing time, or innings pitched in this case, and is part of the reason that Padilla had more value than Lilly this past season. But we also see that Contreras and Padilla pitched about the same amount and that the differences in their S-ERAs (~5-6%) only results in a change in VORP of 4 points. These four points add about 0.4 wins to Contreras' team over what Padilla could have provided. Certainly not significant enough to say that one pitcher should be considered a "good" free agent and the other one not.

I know both Padilla and Contreras each have career LERAs under 100, but I wanted to use just a single-season example to show what the spread of these numbers really amounts to.

I echo my sentiments from the previous comment that the 3 pitchers listed in the original article got contracts that were above and beyond what their skill set should have warranted. But we should know that the difference between the career LERAs of these three: Eaton (108%), Marquis (106%), and Meche (105%) and some other starters likes the ones listed above: Trachsel, Supppan, and Sele is really not as much as the percentages may seem.

I know the author of the original post understands this with his skepticism shown in the recent deals for Suppan ($10.5 M/year), Miguel Batista ($8.33 M/year), and Vicente Padilla ($11.25 M/year); three pitchers with just slightly under average career ERAs.

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I look out the window and wait for spring."
-Rogers Hornsby

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Message #4292 of 6634  *NEW*
To:  Newey
From:  
Guest36457 (IP: 69.141.76.197)  
Subject:  Re: Most Critical Stats for Building a Winning Team
Date:  2/24/07, 3:06pm
Yes, the idea is to get pitchers with the Lowest possible percentages of the League ERA on your team.

The players with the lowest percentages of the LERA invariably have the highest winning percentages Above that of the teams they pitched for. Pedro is by far the best pitcher in Major League history in this aspect, which, in my judgement, makes him the greatest pitcher of all time:

http://www.helium.com/tm/152006


You'd think that would be obvious to people, but it's not. Mike Mussina has a very high career winning percentage above the teams he pitched for, but many people do not realize this and discount Mussina as a pitcher:

http://www.helium.com/tm/170432


There is not that much of a difference between say Meche or Vincent Padilla, but you well know if you plug both of them into a computer simulation and run it often enough to get rid of random luck, the Padilla team will beat the Meche team by a significant margin.

Which is why I do not understand Meche's current winning percentage, but have a pretty good idea what is really behind it.


Obviously, the lower the percentage of the LERA the better for winning games. Sounds simple, but when have the majority of baseball teams followed a simple path to Winning?

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