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Is Baseball Prospectus a reliable website? Projects 2019 Brewers to finish first?

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Offline  Is Baseball Prospectus a reliable website? Projects 2019 Brewers to finish first?
#1

Posted: February 07, 2019, 3:10 PM Post
Posts: 679
So the title is obviously a nod towards the Steamer projections thread and not an actual question. I posted this there as well, but figured it could use its own thread as I'm sure we all like to see positive stuff about the Brewers.

In that thread I talked about Steamer, projections in general and how ZiPS and PECOTA would be interesting to follow. I also expected those systems to like the Brewers more, as they had in the past. But now with PECOTA projections out, I'm a bit surprised at how much more positive they are. Win totals are down, but that's more to do with the entire division projected at .500 or better, it's going to be a real bloodbath!

https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/dc/

The interesting thing about the Brewers individual projections is that none of them seem unrealistically high. The pitching ones are, as they tend to be, fairly conservative. Interesting to see that they expect Brandon Woodruff to be our most valuable pitcher in terms of WARP. Also noteworthy that they project the Brewers to have the 2nd best defense in the majors (Behind Cleveland) in terms of FRAA.

The projection for Cubs pitching made me look a bit deeper; I knew they overperformed their peripherals, but hadn't quite realised it was quite this bad, Along with having the oldest pitching staff in the majors last year, it's not surprising that it's not projected very highly.

Cubs 2018
ERA-: 7th
FIP-: 17th
xFIP-: 23rd
DRA-; 21st
K-BB%: 25th

(All of those non-ERA metrics are better at predicting future ERA than ERA itself is)


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#2

Posted: February 07, 2019, 3:14 PM Post
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Location: New Berlin, WI
Any projection system that shows the Cubs pitching staff finally coming down to earth and being mediocre or worse gets an A+ in my book.


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#3

Posted: February 07, 2019, 5:13 PM Post
Posts: 1328
If the Cubs only won 82 games, it would be like Christmas everyday.


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#4

Posted: February 10, 2019, 10:24 PM Post
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If anything about these projections stands out it is that the Cubs are going to be bad defensively and the Brewers are going to be the second best in baseball. That doesn't see all that likely to me.


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#5

Posted: February 11, 2019, 4:48 AM Post
Posts: 679
That the Brewers will be very good defensively doesn't seem unlikely to me at all. They were one of the best teams defensively in 2018, and should be good again. Keep in mind that this is Baseball Prospectus, so their defensive metrics include pitch framing, which Grandal is one of the very best at, while Contreras is not good at all at it. The difference between Contreras and Grandal alone accounts for 32 out of the 46 run differential. FRAA really doesn't seem to rate Baez or Almora very highly though. They're no gold glove type of players, but rating them as below average seems a bit harsh.


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#6

Posted: February 11, 2019, 9:08 AM Post
Posts: 924
Lathund said:
That the Brewers will be very good defensively doesn't seem unlikely to me at all. They were one of the best teams defensively in 2018, and should be good again. Keep in mind that this is Baseball Prospectus, so their defensive metrics include pitch framing, which Grandal is one of the very best at, while Contreras is not good at all at it. The difference between Contreras and Grandal alone accounts for 32 out of the 46 run differential. FRAA really doesn't seem to rate Baez or Almora very highly though. They're no gold glove type of players, but rating them as below average seems a bit harsh.


Serious question, does tagging included in defensive metrics?


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#7

Posted: February 11, 2019, 9:22 AM Post
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I have a feeling you might not actually be serious, but any credit for Baez's sublime tagging poetics would go to whoever made the throw in question since the computers aren't able to recognize or capture Javier's true artistry as a tagger outter.


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#8

Posted: February 11, 2019, 9:41 AM Post
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sveumrules said:
I have a feeling you might not actually be serious, but any credit for Baez's sublime tagging poetics would go to whoever made the throw in question since the computers aren't able to recognize or capture Javier's true artistry as a tagger outter.


If the computers can recognize a catcher's pitch framing ability (although I think the reputation and in-game consistency of the pitcher at the time has more to do with it than the catcher) it is only a matter of time before MVP caliber tags are recognized by the skynet.


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#9

Posted: February 11, 2019, 9:49 AM Post
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Location: New Berlin, WI
As much disdain as I have for the Cubs(well mostly their "fans"), they won't be bad defensively barring injury. Especially if they can plug Russell back in at SS. I think pitch framing is wildly overvalued, I don't believe pitch framing can save double digit runs over the course of a season. Their primary defensive holes will be Schwarber in LF and Zobrist wherever he plays. Baez is also more of a solid defender at SS while he's an easy plus defender at 2b.


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#10

Posted: February 11, 2019, 10:25 AM Post
Posts: 514
KeithStone53151 said:
I think pitch framing is wildly overvalued, I don't believe pitch framing can save double digit runs over the course of a season.


Interesting. So you don't think routinely and regularly turning walks into strikeouts or changing a would-be 2-1 count into 1-2 can make even a 10 run difference over the course of a season? Saved baserunners, advantageous pitcher's counts, escaping a bases loaded jam on a borderline 3-2 pitch, etc. A look at how many extra strikes the good ones get called in their favor would probably be an eye opener for you.


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#11

Posted: February 11, 2019, 10:52 AM Post
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I think the fact that there is so much weight that is put on good and bad pitch framing is a sad commentary on the ability of MLB umpires. Shouldn't there focus be on the ball as it passes over (or around) the plate, not as it land in the catcher's glove?


Last edited by Patrick425 on February 11, 2019, 10:54 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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#12

Posted: February 11, 2019, 10:53 AM Post
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I get why people are skeptical of framing metrics, or defensive metrics in general, because there definitely is a lot of noise in there. At the same time we know teams are trying to figure out the same things (hopefully with more accuracy) & the publicly available metrics are the closest approximation that we have.

I think the thing to keep in mind with framing is the sheer volume of opportunities. A fielder that plays all year will maybe have a chance to impact about 450 balls in play. Last year Yasmani had 6,851 framing chances according to BPro. Of course the value of an individual pitch is marginal compared to the value of a ball in play, but with the multitude of opportunities I can buy a spread of a couple two tree wins a year between the best & worst framers.


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#13

Posted: February 11, 2019, 10:54 AM Post
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True Blue Brew Crew said:
KeithStone53151 said:
I think pitch framing is wildly overvalued, I don't believe pitch framing can save double digit runs over the course of a season.


Interesting. So you don't think routinely and regularly turning walks into strikeouts or changing a would-be 2-1 count into 1-2 can make even a 10 run difference over the course of a season? Saved baserunners, advantageous pitcher's counts, escaping a bases loaded jam on a borderline 3-2 pitch, etc. A look at how many extra strikes the good ones get called in their favor would probably be an eye opener for you.


There are many factors that could go into a pitch being called a strike other than just a catcher's influence--most notably the umpire and the pitcher at the time, but also the batter and the game situation at the time. Ideally, all of these things could be controlled for and taken into account by the statisticians who measure the validity of pitch framing, but it's still an awfully young idea, let alone statistic, so it is prudent to take it with a grain of salt.


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#14

Posted: February 11, 2019, 11:12 AM Post
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sveumrules said:

I think the thing to keep in mind with framing is the sheer volume of opportunities. A fielder that plays all year will maybe have a chance to impact about 450 balls in play. Last year Yasmani had 6,851 framing chances according to BPro. Of course the value of an individual pitch is marginal compared to the value of a ball in play, but with the multitude of opportunities I can buy a spread of a couple two tree wins a year between the best & worst framers.


This is a great point.

All of those opportunities were working with Dodger pitchers and half of them at Dodger stadium. We'll see what happens this year.


Last edited by Oxy on February 11, 2019, 11:13 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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#15

Posted: February 11, 2019, 11:12 AM Post
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Location: New Berlin, WI
True Blue Brew Crew said:
KeithStone53151 said:
I think pitch framing is wildly overvalued, I don't believe pitch framing can save double digit runs over the course of a season.


Interesting. So you don't think routinely and regularly turning walks into strikeouts or changing a would-be 2-1 count into 1-2 can make even a 10 run difference over the course of a season? Saved baserunners, advantageous pitcher's counts, escaping a bases loaded jam on a borderline 3-2 pitch, etc. A look at how many extra strikes the good ones get called in their favor would probably be an eye opener for you.


Most stats I find show at best 1-2 additional favorable calls per game for the best pitch framers with a significant sample on the season. And only 2 or 3 guys have averaged 1 or more additional favorable calls per game over the last 3 season...Grandal is not one of them. A significant majority of those favorable calls are probably not the critical situations that you are describing. The umpire will probably have less focus on a first pitch than on a critical full count pitch with runners on base.


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#16

Posted: February 11, 2019, 11:24 AM Post
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Location: New Berlin, WI
Oxy said:
There are many factors that could go into a pitch being called a strike other than just a catcher's influence--most notably the umpire and the pitcher at the time, but also the batter and the game situation at the time. Ideally, all of these things could be controlled for and taken into account by the statisticians who measure the validity of pitch framing, but it's still an awfully young idea, let alone statistic, so it is prudent to take it with a grain of salt.


+1. I'll add there's no way statisticians can take every factor into account. Spoiler, I bet whoever catches against the Brewers gets a bunch of favorable framing calls whenever Braun is at bat. Probably the same for knuckleheads like Puig. Maybe the manager was recently in the umpires ear and the umpire will either give his team a couple favorable calls, or "teach him a lesson" and go the other way. The number of factors in play are off the charts, hence why it's so noteworthy how few players get on average more than 1 favorable call per game over the course of a season.


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#17

Posted: February 11, 2019, 1:04 PM Post
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The poo-pooing I'm seeing here of the effect of superior pitch-framing is based upon publicly available stats. The data we're seeing may be rudimental but the top-tier analytics departments employed by some major league clubs go way beyond what we're privy to. Since I've heard about, and rarely seen, the types and level of data these departments generate, I can only revert to scenarios like that offered earlier. When the elite pitch framers turn a ball into a strikeout it can have a profound impact that only theoretical math can quantify. Ending an inning versus walking in a run for instance. And how do you calculate what happens beyond that batter? A strikeout in place of a based loaded walk not only saves one run, it might save 2-3 more runs that would've followed. How do you account for the saved pitches thrown? Or avoiding an upcoming unfavorable matchup and getting into the dugout? How do you calculate with rudimental stats the effect of significantly more 50/50 counts turning into your team's favor, 1-1 counts turning into 1-2 as opposed to 2-1.

It's something that none of us can view on paper or online. You have to be able to conceptualize the compound effect. sveumrules did a great job illustrating this by pointing out the number of chances a catcher has to influence a result. There is a tremendous variance that can be swung in a team's favor or out of its favor. No stat we fans can currently lay our eyes on does any justice illustrating the effect.


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Offline  Re: Is Baseball Prospectus a reliable website? Projects 2019 Brewers to finish first?
#18

Posted: February 11, 2019, 1:18 PM Post
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Location: New Berlin, WI
True Blue Brew Crew said:
The poo-pooing I'm seeing here of the effect of superior pitch-framing is based upon publicly available stats. The data we're seeing may be rudimental but the top-tier analytics departments employed by some major league clubs go way beyond what we're privy to. Since I've heard about, and rarely seen, the types and level of data these departments generate, I can only revert to scenarios like that offered earlier. When the elite pitch framers turn a ball into a strikeout it can have a profound impact that only theoretical math can quantify. Ending an inning versus walking in a run for instance. And how do you calculate what happens beyond that batter? A strikeout in place of a based loaded walk not only saves one run, it might save 2-3 more runs that would've followed. How do you account for the saved pitches thrown? Or avoiding an upcoming unfavorable matchup and getting into the dugout? How do you calculate with rudimental stats the effect of significantly more 50/50 counts turning into your team's favor, 1-1 counts turning into 1-2 as opposed to 2-1.

It's something that none of us can view on paper or online. You have to be able to conceptualize the compound effect. sveumrules did a great job illustrating this by pointing out the number of chances a catcher has to influence a result. There is a tremendous variance that can be swung in a team's favor or out of its favor. No stat we fans can currently lay our eyes on does any justice illustrating the effect.


So basically what you're saying is...me saying "I think pitch framing is wildly overvalued" and "I don't think pitch framing saves 10 runs" cannot be proven definitively correct or incorrect by the data we have available to us? Maybe a front office has data that could prove it one way or another, but we as fans can't? So I have my opinion, you have yours...and that's perfectly fine.


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Offline  Re: Is Baseball Prospectus a reliable website? Projects 2019 Brewers to finish first?
#19

Posted: February 11, 2019, 1:38 PM Post
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I'm only poo-pooing on how definitive and precise the stat is-- not it's importance. If the stat actually measures what it says it measures, it is clearly very important. Whether it DOES that is a difficult question to answer.

I surmise that by the time it is definitive, there won't really even be umpires on the field making real-time calls. It will be kind of like tennis or golf. Balls and Strikes will be called immediately by a computer, and all other calls on the field are mostly obvious--i.e. players just play until there is a close call/dead ball and one team disputes it so they challenge and go to the eye in the sky.
Right now, field umpires at the MLB level are more likely to just get in the way and waste money than they are to actually contribute to calling a game.


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Offline  Re: Is Baseball Prospectus a reliable website? Projects 2019 Brewers to finish first?
#20

Posted: February 11, 2019, 2:32 PM Post
Posts: 60
Oxy said:
I'm only poo-pooing on how definitive and precise the stat is-- not it's importance. If the stat actually measures what it says it measures, it is clearly very important. Whether it DOES that is a difficult question to answer.

I surmise that by the time it is definitive, there won't really even be umpires on the field making real-time calls. It will be kind of like tennis or golf. Balls and Strikes will be called immediately by a computer, and all other calls on the field are mostly obvious--i.e. players just play until there is a close call/dead ball and one team disputes it so they challenge and go to the eye in the sky.
Right now, field umpires at the MLB level are more likely to just get in the way and waste money than they are to actually contribute to calling a game.


You're right in saying a computer could be used for balls and strikes. A computer could relay the call to an umpire behind the plate wearing an ear piece. Calls would be near instantaneous. However, umpires would always be needed because too may calls are not obvious. Even some obvious calls are not as simple as it appears. W/o umpires, which team would make the "obvious" calls? There would be far too many challenges by the "wronged" team and games would be longer by an hour or more with entirely too much inaction waiting for a call. The current system needs tweaking (max. 90 secs from the time the head-set is put on to overturn a call or the call stands), but it's not bad except for the huge discrepancy in balls and strikes. MLB has to correct that part of the game and the highly controversial pitch-framing will be a thing of the past.


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