Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Angels currently have 29 games left to play in 2006, and barring a stirring comeback, they won't have any more to play after that.

Let's say that our Lads win two-thirds of their games from here on out, basically taking every three-game series. Let's say they go 20-9.

This will get the Halos up to 89 wins.

In order to win the division, the A's would have to go better than 13-17 over their remaining 30.

Let's even say that the Angels do very well against Oakland, and go 5-2 against them over our last seven games together; that means Oakland would have to go better than 11-12 to beat us out, and we'd have to go 15-7 against the remainder of our opponents.

These outcomes are certainly possible, but with every error and baserunning mistake, we seem to toss our chances into the dustbin. As the Rev points out, we did make up a similar deficit to our current situation over the course of July, so we might have it in us -- but the rest of the league has to chip in and knock down Oakland to help us out.

The odds against are long right now, but not quite infinite. The bartender is prepping for last call and the Fat Lady is doing vocal exercises, but neither one has acted.


This must be link to Halofan day:
Jered Weaver gets a high percentage of his outs from flyballs. Stat-guru theory says that the likelihood of these types of pitchers being good is lessened by the fact that they are prone to giving up the longball. And yet... these analysts never predict which game that will occur - when will all the homers rain down, when will the power strikeouts happen? They talk a lot about the coming regression to the mean, but cannot deliver the time and date of their own prophecies.

The smug stat gurus and their vague pronouncements are like astrologers who will give you broad generalizations of a personality type that kinda-sorta ring true, but turn to your daily horoscope and is it predicting that those personality traits are going to lead to anything specific on this exact date, for sure? Nope, never. Just another vague forecast.
I'm not entirely sure what brought on this red herring rant (the Rev's comments reference this intro at Lookout Landing, which deserves some scorn, as I'll get to shortly), but as perhaps the statiest stathead of the Halosphere, I figured I'd go ahead and respond.

First of all, no "stathead" ever claimed that he could predict what would happen in any specific game, and any one that ever did (or who was "smug" about it) was lying.

More importantly, whatever the opposite of "stathead" is (the scoutiest scout?), if he tells you he can predict what will happen in any specific game, he's lying to you, too. There isn't a man or woman on Earth, or in its history, from Henry Chadwick to Connie Mack to Casey Stengel to Mike Scioscia to Rex Hudler, who has that ability.

The projections of anyone, be they based on stats, scouting, intuition, or Miss Cleo, are based on the odds of something working in the long term. Mike Scioscia doesn't know on what days Vlad is going to go 0-for-4, else he would rest him on those days; he doesn't know when he's going to hit into an inning-ending double play instead of hit a home run, else he would pinch hit for him in those situations.

What Mike Scioscia does know -- and what everyone else knows, in this case, because it ain't exactly a mystery -- is that, in the long-term, Vlad's going to come through in big situations more than anyone else we've got, and more than most of the guys the other teams have got, so you play him. You play the odds.

Even the most micro decision -- e.g., whether or not to send a runner around third toward home -- is based on a macro consideration of the odds. If anything is 100% certain, no decision has to be made. But in most situations that is not the case; I doubt he has some kind of insta-calculator in his head, but when Dino Ebel sends a guy, he's basically saying, "I believe that the odds of this guy scoring, and the benefit to the team if he does so, outweigh the odds of his being thrown out and the damage it will cause." Sometimes he might be wrong, but even if he sends a guy who will make it 95% of the time on a play, sometimes that guy will be thrown out. If Dino Ebel, or anyone else, knew which 5 times out of 100 the guy wouldn't make it, I think he'd get promoted to Benevolent Dictator pretty fast.

The "pronouncements" of statheads on these things are no more "vague" than the pronouncements of anyone else. All anyone can do is do the best they can to evaluate the odds.


Anyway, let me address the Lookout Landing post that got the Rev so riled up.
If Jered Weaver had a few more innings under his belt, his GB% (30.4) would rank third-lowest among qualified starters in all of baseball, between Eric Milton (30.2) and Cliff Lee (32.4). The home runs haven't come yet, but they will, because Weaver's had an unsustainable level of luck keeping the ball in the yard. Oh yeah, he's also had an unsustainable level of luck on balls in play and leaving baserunners stranded. Which all boils down to an unsustainable ERA. Young phenom? He's good, but he's not even the best pitcher on his own team, let alone someone who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the guy who shut down the Anaheim lineup last night. Unless you're saying "Jered Weaver is no Felix Hernandez," in which case, yeah, go nuts.
I was going to go through this thing nuts and bolts, and have just spent a lot of time crunching numbers, but it really comes down to the the claim that Jered entered last night's game with an "unsustainable ERA". To which I say:

No freaking duh.

What, you mean he's really not going to have a 1.95 ERA his whole career? Thanks for the update.

Obviously Jered Weaver was never going to keep his ERA under 2.00. This is not a revelation. This is not analysis. And it doesn't take any understanding of any kind of stats or anything else to know that.

And as for thec omparisons to Felix ... at the Fangraphs site, they list something called Fielding Independent Pitching, which was developed by Tango Tiger to determine what a pitcher's ERA should be based on home runs allowed, walks allowed, and strikeouts.

After last night, Jered's is 3.73.

Felix's is 4.02, and his career mark is 3.68. (It appears that these numbers are not park-adjusted, by the way.)

They are both terrific young pitchers. Both are "phenoms". And you could make a good argument that each is the best pitcher on his team. Anyone trying to claim that there's a huge gap between them at this point is talking with the wrong head.

The only smugness in the room is Mat Gleason, and his partner-in-crime, Matt Welch, both of whom are happy to shout down and insult anyone who disagree with them, using adolescent taunts to do it.
There *is* a huge gap between Weaver and Felix.

FIP doesn't normalize for flukey HR/FB rates, which both pitches have. If you look at xFIP, Felix is a full run better (3.68 to 4.65). That's pretty significant.
I take the point that FIP doesn't account for the HR/FB rates.

But most of their peripherals are very close -- Felix strikes out 20.8% of batters, Jered 21.0%. Felix walks 7.8% of batters (UIBB only), Jered 6.5%. If you were to give Jered Felix's BABIP, his WHIP would go up to 1.28; Felix's is 1.37.

These are two very good young pitchers.
Except that, where Felix is an extreme groundball pitcher, Weaver's the exact opposite. That's going to cause a huge long-term ERA separation.
JEFF ... all I am asking for is an actual prediction ... If your shit works, work it please ... I want to see some magic in this lifetime ...

What is your definition of HUGE and what is your definition of LONG-TERM ... and what does it mean for your methodology if you are (oh dear) wrong with your prediction after that time period?

I couldn't ever get Miss Cleo to quantify SOULMATE, and most stat-wonk predictions are her flavor of vague and the rationalizations behind their failure to accurately tell us anything involving foresight often mkae Uri Geller look like he has come clean.
Over the course of their respective careers, Felix Hernandez will post an ERA at least, say, 0.75 runs better than Jered Weaver, unless one (or both) of them makes a dramatic change in how he pitches. Chances are it won't even take that long.

Congratulations on knowing absolutely nothing about statistics, though. You're truly a piece of work.
Your "unless" qualifier smells of wuss.
Making projections like that based on the pretty small sample sizes we have ... can't say there's really enough data to assert that. I haven't seen the definitive evidence that HR/FB regresses to the league average as much as you're saying, and it's worth noting that Weaver's FB% in the minors was less extreme than it has been thus far in the majors.

But if you want to make definitive projections about a guy with less than 100 IP in the major leagues, and has been a professional baseball player for around 14 months, knock yourself out.
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