Monday, March 23, 2009

Baseball Nowadays is All About the Factoring of This and That

ESPN is all about keeping up with the status quo and when it comes to sports they have their own terminology, depending on the person at the microphone. But to come up with a statistic for this and a statistic for that when if you really got down to it the game of baseball is not played any differently its just that it's covered WAY TOO MUCH IN DEPTH.

Simply put, a pitcher needs good defense behind him and not to lay a pitch into the hitter's zone.
He should have done his homework and known what a hitter's tendencies were before he took his warmups before the ump yelled "Play Ball!"

There are ballparks that favor the hitter and ballparks that favor the pitcher. Do we really need numbers to prove this obvious fact?

In the March 9, 2009 edition of ESPN magazine here are some excerpts that I'm talking about.

If ballpark figures factor out and the Giants play solid defense, Randy Johnson could improve his stats from last year with Arizona.

Johnson's new park, AT&T can mean up to a 15% difference in hits and homers, ERA and WHIP as well. Whip? In the words of Devo, Whip it Good!

According to ESPN writer, Brendan Roberts, the average ballpark has a factor of 1.00 with a higher number favoring hitters and a lower one benefitting pitchers. Last year Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark, or the Bob) had a park factor of 1.135, while AT&T was at 1.045.

So if those numbers hold, the Big Unit (Randy Johnson) should have better stats than last year, a year when he had a sub 4.00 ERA in 30 starts.

A solid defender in the outfield can reduce extra-base hits and become a pitcher's friend (the best is still the double play). For example, the Baltimore Orioles put slick-fielding Adam Jones in centerfield and he helped fly-ball pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie retain his solid fantasy standing.

All these numbers were created for the fantasy player. If an agent came up to me and spewed all these numbers at me I'd think he just heaved vegetable/numeral soup at me.

Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)- a fielding metric that uses detailed play-by-play data to calculate the runs a fielder saves (or costs) in comparison to the average- shows us that Seattle's regular 2008 outfield of Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and Wladimir Balentien was more than 12 runs below average when prorated over 162 games. This off-season, the Mariners acquired two of the game's best defensive outfielders in Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez.

The new outfield should provide a boost to the fantasy value of fly-ball pitchers Jarrod Washburn and Brendan Morrow.

As Tristan H. Cockcroft, of ESPN mag, says: Pitching is like poker. In the long run, skill wins out, but in the short term, it is sometimes better to be lucky than good.

Cockcroft goes on to say you might think a ground ball pitcher would have a better HRs-to-Fly balls ratio, but that's not true. The reason those pitchers surrender fewer homers is that they allow fewer fly balls. 'Cause once the ball is in the air, there's still about a 10% chance it'll leave the yard.

Taking all these factors into consideration Cockcroft says you can identify the "luckiest" and "unluckiest" pitchers. From that you can pinpoint pitchers who could be overvalued.

I'm not biting.
In general, it's all common sense. Then you come up with some way to factor numbers into the equation and THIS is supposed to help you draft the dominating fantasy team? The things that are being factored are oddball. How 'bout if you play at a park that is usually windy? Doesn't the wind have an effect on balls in the air? Wouldn't you then want a ground ball pitcher? And, oh my, hopefully the groundskeeper did his/her job so no little rock aided and abetted in the bad bounce of a ground ball.

These computations are Bizarro World, if you ask me. Because I can't see how your numbers can be consistent. Like the game itself, you cannot account for some things that happen. So to say one guy is lucky and the other is not is rather insignificant.

I suppose the better stat would be how a player shakes off the bad bounce or he just lets it get the best of him until he is no longer in the big leagues.

(thanks ESPN for the fodder. We can all use a good laugh now and again.)