Enhanced Gameday is What The Cool Kids Are Doing
The biggest thing to come up in the baseball statistics world this season is the use of MLB's Enhanced Gameday pitch location data. With techniques pioneered by Joe Sheehan at Baseball Analysts (not the one from BPro), and now taken up by many of the top analysts from around the web, it's resulted in some really wonderful descriptive work. Here are some highlights:
- John Beamer took an early look at the reliability of these data. This continues to be a major issue (see Walsh's most recent article below), though there's still enough to the data to be very useful.
- Dan Fox did one of the nicer overviews of the sorts of information you can get with these data in this article.
- John Walsh has investigated pitch types and tried to identify different pitches by the their velocity and movement in-flight.
- Fox took a closer look at the Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, and then followed it up by examining whether certain hitters or pitchers get the benefit of the doubt from umpires (answer: yes, they do).
- Sheehan did a fascinating study on Jake Peavy and Danny Haren, and showed how the enhanced gameday data could be used to show how their pitch selection varied between low and high leverage situations (no shocker, but they throw more offspead/breaking stuff in high-leverage situations).
- Most recently, Walsh has looked at umpires and their accuracy in describing the strike zone (they actually do better than I expected).
- Just today, Fox followed up with a second look at umpires, this time breaking down how much variation exists among umpires (probably about +- 6 pitches), and then documenting that umpires tend to call many more strikes than is appropriate when a hitter has an 0-2 count.
- Sheehan wraps up my highlights by posting a graphic depicting how BABIP (batting average on balls in play) varies on pitches hit in different parts of the strike zone. Great stuff--looks like you can often bust lefties up and in, but righties are probably better pitched down and away.
Carlos Gomez has continued to post interesting analyses of pitching mechanics. My favorite is the one from today on the D-Train--check out, especially, the second graphic showing that Willis's speed to the plate has steadily decreased over the past two years. I don't know how meaningful that is, but given how much he's struggled, one has to wonder...
Coles Back in Baseball
Ex-Red Darnell Coles is now managing in the Nationals system, and did a nice interview with BPro earlier this month. Coles was an interesting case of how a prospect can miss:
- Imagine that you have a 23-year old third baseman who was a former #6 overall pick, and had put up huge numbers in AAA (0.318/0.426/0.607) two years earlier before being derailed by injuries the previous year.
- And then, in his first full season with your club, he hits 0.273/0.333/0.453 with 20 homers, 45/84 bb/k in 521 AB's. Decent little debut for a 24-year old, right? I'd be modestly excited about him.
- Well, he then goes on to hit so anemically (0.181/0.263/0.309) that he loses his job as a starter the next season, and you ship him off to Pittsburgh mid-season.
- He gets a shot at starting only one more season over his career (at age 27), and hits badly (0.252/0.294/0.359).
- He never again secures a starter job, except for one fun jaunt in Japan at age 34 before returning to Colorado to end his career.
Jacobs Field Adding Solar Power
While the actual impact of this on their ecological footprint might not be huge, Jacobs Field announced last month that they are adding a large solar array to their parks' electrical power systems. This array will be sufficient to power the 400-some television sets scattered around their park. I'd be more excited if they could use it to power the lights on the field, but still, kudos to them (and Ohio's Department of Development) for ongoing efforts to become more "green."
Reds Minor Leaguers Having Success
Doug Gray has been doing some terrific work on Reds minor leaguers of late, pointing out recent surges by Danny Dorn (who I'd never heard of...), as well as '06 first-rounder Drew Stubbs. What I really love about those two articles is their use of graphics to help depict changes in performance. This sort of analysis, coupled with ongoing reports of minor league games, continues to make his site the place to go for insights on Reds' minor leaguers (with supplements from Redleg Nation, of course, especially for their exciting spotlight player series).
Meanwhile, Jay Bruce is widely considered among the top 5 (or better) prospects in baseball (could he make the big league team out of spring training next year?). Furthermore, Josh Roenicke (crazy-high strikeout numbers) and Justin Turner have recently gotten some attention from BPro's Kevin Goldstein. Finally, in injury news, Travis Wood's shoulder problem is apparently nothing more than tendonitis (thank goodness), though Homer Bailey's groin pull was bad enough that it was causing him to shift his mechanics enough to "feel it" in his shoulder (eek!).