Friday Links (19 Feb 10)

Links? Sure, go nuts:

  • Padres’ Blanks leaner, keener (U-T). Tim Sullivan talks about Kyle Blanks, who has dropped a lot of weight since the end of last season: “He remembers the early days of that diet as ‘miserable’, but the results were swift and gratifying.” As someone who has lost 20 pounds since October thanks to The Hacker’s Diet, I can attest that those first few days suck, but your body quickly adjusts. Good for Blanks, not just from a baseball standpoint but from a general health standpoint.
  • I’ll tell you my two favorite activities at Friar Fan Fest (Gaslamp Ball). Bonus points for referencing George Lazenby and Huey Lewis.
  • Most and fewest players getting a hit in a game in 2009 (Baseball-Reference). No team had more players get a hit in a game in 2009 than the Padres on July 31 against Milwaukee. Seriously?
  • San Diego Padres: Draft Review (Fangraphs). Marc Hulet looks back at Padres drafts for 2006-2009.
  • Padres Bloggers Want no Part of Jermaine Dye in San Diego ( Steve from Friarhood, Daniel from Friar Forecast, and I weigh in with our two cents… or I guess that’s six cents total.
  • Moorad: ‘I’m pleased with the progress to date’ (U-T). Quoth Padres owner Jeff Moorad: “The organization continues to evolve, but I’m pleased with the progress to date. Most importantly, indications suggest that our fans are hearing us when we talk about our commitment to building a team that can win consistently, prioritizing the fan experience and affordability, and our commitment to the San Diego community. We have work to do, but I feel confident about the future.” [h/t reader LynchMob]
  • The San Diego Padres should consider marketing themselves to Catholics (Gaslamp Ball). First off, no. Second, the Cardinals might have a better claim on the title “Team of Catholicism.” Third, and finally, no. [h/t Mike at Avenging Jack Murphy]
  • The Verducci Effect (Baseball Analysts). Jeremy Greenhouse finds that “the Verducci Effect, like most everything else I tested, is not significant in predicting future injuries. Injuries are hard enough to predict as is, and there’s certainly no straightforward rule of thumb.” In other words, take Tom Verducci’s list with appropriate buckets of salt.
  • Rabbit Maranville Is Not a Nazi (Baseball Researcher). Fascinating… just fascinating. [h/t Hardball Times]
  • The compilation: MLB team-by-team top-10 prospects (Hardball Times). Matt Hagen rates the Padres as the #12 farm system in MLB.
  • Bullpen Gospels: Betrayed By The Meal Ticket (Baseball America). Reader LynchMob passes along the latest from Friend of Ducksnorts Dirk Hayhurst: “Now it’s not only my arm that hurts; it’s my house payment, car payment, wife and family. It’s the gas tank and the heating bill, the appliances and groceries. It’s all the things I took for granted when I was strong and feeling invincible, demanding uninterrupted prosperity from my right limb. There’s enough resistance in this profession, the last place you expect to find it is in your own body.” Here’s to a quick and full recovery.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave…

Not Your Father’s Sabermetrics

John Sickels made some comments the other day that got folks’ attention. I started writing an article about it, but then everyone beat me to the punch and I lost my motivation.

I’ll just say that I generally agree with Sickels, although I also recognize that there is an audience for the stuff he finds esoteric. The current flood of information and constantly emerging tools may further alienate some people from a more analytical approach to baseball; at the same time, it may inspire others to conduct research that could one day prove useful. To the interwebs:

  • Get Off My Lawn (Minor League Ball). Sickels kicks it off: “I’m finding that as I read the most advanced sabermetric stuff regarding major league players, my eyes glaze over and I start to get the grad school feeling again: why am I reading this? I’m not enjoying it. I want to watch a baseball game.” Amen, brother.
  • On staying off John’s Lawn (Hardball Times): John Barten adds his thoughts: “I don’t begrudge people who want to improve on existing metrics and factor in new knowledge to produce more precision… That being said, I ask for two things from those who build new metrics. One, have patience with those who share your sensibilities, but not necessarily your skill set. And two, when you introduce a new metric or write a piece of analysis based thereon, make it a point to go out of your way to write for both the math majors and laypersons alike.”
  • Be Stupid(er) (Baseball Prospectus). Will Carroll weighs in as well: “Keith Woolner wrote about the Hilbert questions, things baseball would address over the next decade, in one of the early BP annuals. Here in 2010, I think that instead of answering more and more esoteric questions in the next ten years, baseball analysis as a whole would be better off pausing and trying to explain some of it to the guy in Aisle 4, Row 8, Seat 113.”

Yeah, a lot of what’s going on in sabermetrics makes my head spin and I don’t understand the need for it. But eventually, some of this stuff may come in handy. I look forward to that day and to hearing the condensed version…

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4 Responses »

  1. Are there any “Barfield’s Got Your Back” t-shirts left in inventory? Yes, yes there are. Welcome back, Josh, although I don’t expect to see you on the major league club.,73391263

    Felipe Lopez’s career has been uneven, and anybody betting he’ll repeat his 2009 season would be bucking long odds, but there’s a part of me that thinks “Sign Lopez, trade Eck to St. Louis” would measurably improve our chances in 2010. Their career OPS+ numbers are too close to worry about, but Lopez is 5 years younger.

  2. Is Lopez still a free agent? he won’t be a bad bet for that idea, TW and save some money in the process. Unfortunately, i think you are right about Barfield but he too isn’t a bad cheap bet.

    GY: about John Sickels’ article, he’s right, there are too many complicated new stats for the fans to understand. Having said that, it’s a nice new field for some fans to dive into. The problem, i’d say is like having an engineer that has designed something ingenious and useful but unable to present that idea to other people to pursue or even to just get them equally excited about. Plus, it’s a new era and there are plenty of new ideas, probably would be only a handful useful ones going forward. It’s an exciting times but let’s not forget to enjoy the baseball games.

  3. Geoff,

    Another question to think about if you have a chance …

    I’m a huge fan of Everth Cabrera and am optimistic about his future and continued progression as a ballplayer. With the recent signing of Josh Barfield to a minor league deal, however, it got me thinking about young infielders who have breakout seasons, and how it may not be predictive of future success.

    For example, take a look at Cabrera and Barfield’s rookie seasons:

    Everth (22 year old SS): 438 PAs, .255/.342./.361, 25 bags, 2 HR, 8 3B, .951 FLD%
    Josh (23 year old 2B): 578 PAs, .280/.318/.423, 21 bags, 13 HR, 32 2B, .987 FLD%

    Looking at numbers alone, I see a couple solid players, one with a bit more selective batting eye, tremendous speed, who plays at a premium position, and the other who brings some considerable pop and above-average speed and defense to another up-the-middle defensive position. At minimum, both players seem promising.

    I guess my question is this: is there any indication from Cabrera’s rookie numbers that he won’t end up like Barfield? Does the fact he gets on base more often and plays a more marquee position really make him that much more valuable than Josh was after the ’06 season? I think it does – somehow – but would like to get your take.

  4. Ryan, I’d say there are two big differences. The first is what you already noted, a much better eye, 1 BB per 9.5 PA and 1 per 8.5 in the minors; I believe this is huge in terms of long term success because big league pitchers will expose a hitter’s weaknesses if the hitter doesn’t know the strike zone (see K. Greene, et al). Barfield’s minor league BB rate was 1 per 13.9, slipped to 1 per 19.3 in that rookie season, and has completely disappeared his last two seasons in the minors, 1 per 28. We can see from this that not only does Cabrera have a much better eye, but he maintained his plate discipline when jumping to the majors while Barfield did not.

    The second is Cabrera was a year younger and had never played above A ball, a total of just 221 minor league games, while Barfield already had a full year at AAA and 3 times as many minor league games. I think this puts Cabrera at a much higher level of development, relative to age, than Barfield was when he put up his rookie line. This bodes well for further development and likelihood of improvement, imo.

    Time will tell, of course, but when I look at those two lines, informed by the analysis of BB rate, minor league experience and age, I’m very optimistic about Cabrera’s long term chances for success.