Table of Contents

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Sabermetric Library resource

A while back, I posted a preliminary topic list for a baseball class I was working on at BtB. I've continued to add to this list and flesh it out as time as gone on. I thought I'd re-post it here as a more or less permanent storage least until it becomes to unwieldy. At some point, I will try to go through and format it to be more pretty, but for now it's functional and that's about all I'm interested in.

Baseball physics, biology, and psychology

Alan Nathan's Terrific physics resource:

How can we describe the different pitches that are thrown?

Why do breaking pitches break?

Physics of baseball-type videos:

How do hitters make contact with a baseball (neuroscience-wise)? What happens when the ball hits the bat (physics)?

How do fielders track down fly balls?

Myth, or Reality

Do players go through hot & cold streaks?

  • Psychology of Baseball by Stadler, chapter 5 & 6
  • The Book by Tango et al, chapters 1 & 2
  • Dave Cameron

How valuable are batter/pitcher matchup numbers? And other small sample size questions.

  • The Book by Tango et al, chapters 1, 3
  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 9-2
  • Bridging the Statistical Gap by Seidman, chapter 4
  • Regression by Studeman
  • Regression by Wyers: One, Two, and Three
  • Books on randomness: Fooled by Randomness by Taleb. Drunkard's Walk by Mlodinow
  • Pizza Cutter on how many PA's you need to get reliable hitter or pitcher statistics.

Do clutch hitters exist?

  • The Book by Tango et al, chapters 1,4
  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 1-2
  • Bridging the Statistical Gap by Seidman, chapter 6

How did steroids affect the on-field game of baseball? Did they?

Fielding isn't really that important, is it?

Are scouts being replaced by statistics?

  • Moneyball by Lewis, chapter 2 (draft board discussions)
  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, "extra innings" by Perry
  • The Baseball economist by Bradbury, chapter 11
  • Something on the Fan Scouting Report, maybe my thing:
  • Perry at BPro

Do umpire strike zones really vary all that much?

Speed guys add as much value with their legs as power guys do with their bats, right?

  • Anyone have a good article on this? Ideally using something like Dan Fox's EqBRR? I think John Walsh might have done some speed stuff at some point along with his arms stuff...? I don't want to just do SB's, it's gotta be all baserunning.

Players today just aren't as good as players in the past.

  • Between the Numbers by BPro (Silver's article has flawed methods, but good discussion)
  • THT Annual 2008(?) by Gassko (All-time pitcher rankings, adjusted for era difficulty)
  • Dan Fox: One and Two
  • David Gassko on evaluating past eras: One, Two, and Three
  • Error rates as an indicator

What we want most from our pitchers is consistency, right?

Are curveballs bad for young arms?

  • Dun et al. 2008 in American Journal of Sports Medicine: Curveballs not more stressful than fastballs (PDF in my database)

Do home teams really have a home-team advantage? If so, why?

  • Stadler, 2007, Psych of Baseball, pp.174-179.

Is there such a thing as the sophomore slump? Why?

Evaluating Value

Why can't we just judge hitters on AVG/HR/RBI?

Why can't we just judge pitchers by W/L record, ERA, or save totals?

How can we assess a player's fielding?

How can we best estimate a players impact on scoring runs? Winning?

Judging trades and free agent signings: how much money is that player worth, dollar-wise?

  • Something on Runs to Wins to $, perhaps by Tango?
  • Cameron
  • Wang in By the Numbers, prospect values
  • Wang on Santana, prospect values
  • Wang at draft pick values: One and Two
  • Wang: Hardball times 2009 Annual, expansion of prospect values
  • Diamond Dollars by Gennaro, chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8

How much does home park matter? How can we deal with that problem?

How can we evaluate managers?

  • MGL in Hardball Times 2009 Annual
  • Gassko in Hardball Times 2008 Annual

How should we decide end-of-season awards? Hall of fame?

  • Not sure on articles (recommendations?). Discussion would likely involve context-neutral vs. context-sensitive statistics, average vs. replacement baselines, and for hall of fame, peak vs. accumulated value. This might end up being a good way to pitch the player value discussions rather than a topic in and of themselves.
  • Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers - Cy Young Predictor
  • Sky Andrecheck on award prediction
  • David Gassko: THT 2010 Annual and This
  • Sky A on writer biases

Game strategy

When is sacrifice bunting a good idea?

  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 4-2. (selected as a contrast to...)
  • The Book by Tango et al, chapter 1, 9
  • Red Menace:
  • MGL from 2009

Can we really just use average run- or win-values to determine game strategy?

How can we best use our relievers?

  • The Book by Tango et al, chapter 8
  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 2-2

What is the best way to make out a lineup?

  • Baseball Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 1-3
  • The Book by Tango et al, chapter 5

When should we steal bases?

Team-level analysis and front office strategy

This part could definitely use expansion, both in topics and article.

How can we best estimate team winning percentages?

Should cities build stadiums for their local sports teams?

  • Baseball Between the Numbers, chapter 6-2
  • Anyone know a good original economics paper on this? I think I remember reading something by Zimbalist, but haven't found it yet.

How do teams make money?

  • Diamond Dollars by Gennaro, chapters 2 & 3
  • Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 6-1

Do teams cycle?

  • Between the Numbers by BPro, chapter 8-3
  • Anything else on this issue?

How do players age?

  • I'm thinking about using the Bradbury article & the Birnbaum/Tango responses as a way to discuss sampling bias.

General summaries of sabermetric ideas

Other cool things

Friday, January 08, 2010

Current activities

I finally finished a post at Red Reporter that I've been working on for almost a month (and planning since September). I'm not sure the result is as fabulous as all of that would imply, but it's an investigation of the degree to which the Reds were hurt by playing time shortfalls in it starters compared to simply failing to perform when healthy. Punchline: aside from Volquez (who accounts for 35% of the overall ~7 WAR shortfall), mostly it was simply a failure to perform.

At BtB, I'm managing the Sabermetric Writing Awards. I thought of the basic idea for the awards while working on my baseball class (more on that in a sec). The BtB crew were very enthusiastic about it when I pitched it to them, and in the internal discussion, the idea expanded from ~3 categories to the 7 we are currently running. Nominations are going pretty well, though I think there is a bias toward stuff done over the past few months. Still, I've already seen a bunch of stuff that I had missed, and that's sort of the main point.

The baseball class, which I announced here, starts on Monday. I'm a bit anxious about it, but I think I'm about as well-prepared for it as I can be, and I'm excited to get started. I'm perhaps naively hoping that the students will follow my obsession in player valuation, but we'll see. First thing I'm going to do is have them pick the topics for the semester. It will probably be the case that this class will be the extent of what I can do baseball-wise for at least the first half of the semester. But one of my classes ends at spring break--just as spring training really gets underway--so that should help.

I also wanted to link to my post on the Hall of Fame ballot from December. It's gotten some decent play (Neyer link, for example), and apparently Sky did something similar at ESPN this week. The one guy I left off of my ballot, Dawson, is the guy who got in--but I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is all of the deserving individuals who should have gotten in before Dawson.