FJMing an FJM

Recently, I wrote an article at Baseball Daily Digest about the putrid off-season the L.A. Angels have been, well, not enjoying. Someone at Halos Heaven, who does not list his real name or any contact information, decided to give it the FJM treatment for which I am very honored. However, I’d like to respond to some of the factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies in his rebuttal. I suggest reading both my original article and his rebuttal to place the following in context.

In case you are unaware, FJM is the acronym of a now-defunct baseball blog called Fire Joe Morgan. They were known for quoting snippets of articles and responding to each one to debunk what the author is saying.

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The following article was written at the website “Baseball Daily Digest” about the Angels off-season.  It’s a well written article, but [...]

First, I enjoy the placing of Baseball Daily Digest in quotations as if it’s some unknown website. It’s only run by the CFO of Baseball Prospectus. Secondly, I enjoy the back-handed compliment, “It’s a well written article, but…”

He’ll go on to be pedantic about my misspelling of Joel Pineiro’s last name. As a writer, I absolutely should be responsible for spelling every word correctly. However, transposing e’s and i’s is a common mistake among many fluent English speakers. The author uses it as a weapon to assault my intelligence. It’s easy to spot weak arguments when the opposition uses personal attacks rather than factual argumentation.

I never heard the Angels were in on Cliff Lee.  In fact, everything I read about the Lee trade claimed that that trade came together rather quickly and the Phillies probably could have gotten more if they had let other teams know they were willing to trade him.

This is where Google and providing links is key. Throughout the article, the author simply throws out comments without much evidence as if we are simply supposed to accept his word as fact. The Angels had been trying to obtain Lee as far back as last April.

This article is from the L.A. Times:

Last year’s Cy Young winner has a 3.14 ERA, and Howie Kendrick could be part of such a trade.

$30,000,000 deal.  The reason the Angels are a dominating team, and Cincinnati is well, Cincinnati, is they are smart enough know a bad deal when they see one and have the self-control to know when to walk away from that bad deal.

How is it a bad deal? $5 million per year is slightly more than the going rate for one win above replacement level. Chapman has the potential to produce as highly as Roy Halladay. Not immediately, mind you, but at some point.

The Angels gave Fernando Rodney an $11 million, two-year contract which has about the same average annual value as Chapman’s deal. Rodney is a severely mediocre player. Would you rather give $5 million to Rodney or Chapman? It’s not even a debate. Relievers of Rodney’s ilk are a dime a dozen.

This simply sounds like an Angels fan being blind to his team’s shortcomings.

The author of this article failed to mention the amounts the former Angels signed for with other teams.  The Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers have committed a total of 10 years and $123.5 million to the three Angel free agents, compared to 5 years and $33 million for the three players recently added by the Halos.  In two years, when Rodney’s and Pineiro’s contracts end, Figgins will be 34 and Lackey will be 33 with approximately $60 million remaining on their contracts.

This is a completely valid point. For the sake of completeness, I should have included as much information as possible. Hindsight is 20/20 however.

The Angels committed about $33 million total to Pineiro, Matsui, and Rodney. Their contributions combined will barely match Chone Figgins in 2010 unless all three outpace their CHONE projections:

  • Pineiro: 2.4 WAR
  • Matsui: 1.1
  • Rodney: 0
  • Figgins: 3.2

And remember, WAR on FanGraphs doesn’t factor in base running, so we would take away some points for Matsui and add a few for Figgins.

Now, of course, it can be argued that 3 WAR contributed by multiple players is more valuable than 3 WAR from one player. However, we are not counting the contributions of the players the Angels would have used if they did not sign Rodney. Who they would be would have depended on the results of the upcoming spring training.

Also counting in Figgins’ favor is the fact that he would remain the team’s top on-base and base running factor. Scarcity counts for something. Supply and demand.

[...] but Pineiro wasn’t signed to replace Lackey and the Angels didn’t replace their third baseman with a relief pitcher.

It doesn’t matter what the motive was behind the transactions. Imagine I’m trying to find the best selection of fruit. I currently have an apple, a pear, and a banana, but I decide I want something with citrus so I replace the pear and banana with a lime and lemon. I may not have directly swapped out the pear and banana but they were subtracted while the lime and lemon were added.

This is a fairly elementary concept. I’m surprised I have to explain it to someone who is apparently so much smarter than me.

Pineiro replaces Matt Palmer or Sean O’Sullivan in the Angel rotation

So who replaces Lackey?

while adding Brandon Wood to the lineup.

This is thrown in there as if it is assumed to be a good thing for the Angels. Is there no worry that he will fail to live up to the Angels’ expectations? Will he slug 25+ HR in the Majors like he did in AAA?

The Angels lost Figgins, who is at the very least a 3 WAR player, and are replacing him with a prospect — a very good one, but a prospect nonetheless. We can’t just assume he’ll OPS .900 like he did in AAA.

Rodney becomes just another arm in the Angel pen, with the potential to step into the closers role if Fuentes falters.

Ignoring the money behind the Rodney signing becomes hypocritical after criticizing me for doing so. The Angels are paying him over $5 million (AAV) and he will produce just barely over replacement level — he’s been at 0.3 and 0.4 WAR the past two seasons.

[...] the Cuban refugee might be in the major leagues by the time the Pineiro contract expires.

It is a common trend among fans to simply care about the team currently slated to make the Major League roster in the current calendar year, but adding Chapman would have been a smart move for any team that could afford him, considering the contract he eventually signed.

The author previously said about the Angels, “they are smart enough” with regard to handling contracts. That’s why the Angels were heavily pursuing Chapman, right? Ken Rosenthal reported that the team was “trying like crazy” to sign him.

In essence the author is using doublethink here.

  • The Angels are smart enough to sign only good contracts; signing Chapman would have resulted in a bad contract.
  • The Angels tried “like crazy” to sign Chapman.
  • Therefore, the author needs to logically reconcile one of the two beliefs, either that signing Chapman would not have been bad or that the Angels are not as smart as he gives them credit for.

Abreu stole 30 bases last season with a 79% success rate, Figgins had a success rate of 71% while swiping 42.  Abreu would be the most dangerous base stealing threat on a lot of teams.

“A lot” — I don’t think so. However, that’s not the point. We’re talking about the Angels, not other teams. Without Figgins, the Angels lose their most significant base running threat.

Maicer Izturis led Figgins in EQBRR (Equivalent Base Running Runs, from Baseball Prospectus); however, he did so in 40% fewer attempts (444 to 270). Knowing what we know about statistics and regression to the mean, Figgins would likely have led Izturis in an equivalent amount of attempts.

Figgins was second on the team in ’09, and led the team every year from 2004-08. To argue that losing Figgins’ base running is not significant is to be very, very wrong.

I’m not suggesting Brandon Wood is fleet-footed, but he did steal 68 bases (19 CS) in his minor league career.

He attempted two stolen bases last year in AAA Salt Lake. He attempted to steal 22 times in 2007 and ’08 combined. All told, he attempted 87 stolen bases in 434 singles, 294 walks, and 31 HBP’s for a total of 759 times on first base. 759 into 87 brings us to 11%. Eleven percent of the time Wood was on first base, he attempted to steal second base.

Chone Figgins, meanwhile, has been on first base 813 times via single, 412 times via a walk, and 6 times via HBP for a total of 1,231 times on base. He has attempted 376 stolen bases. 1,231 into 376 brings us to 30.5%. Over thirty percent of the time Figgins has been on first base, he has attempted to steal. That’s about three times the rate of Wood.

The author isn’t suggesting Wood is fleet-footed because he isn’t and will never be, especially at the Major League level. This argument is entirely disingenuous.

Regarding base on balls, the loss of Figgins will hurt, but the Angels did add a hitter who’s capable of drawing a walk when they signed Matsui.  Matsui’s walk total from last season of 64 would have placed him 3rd on the team, plus he’s replacing Guerrero who had a total of 19.

Don’t forget where each player bats in the lineup. Plate discipline and OBP skills are more important at the top of the lineup, where Figgins was. SLG is more important in the middle of the lineup, where Matsui will hit (presumably #5).

Other than Kendry Morales and Erick Aybar, all of the other Angel regulars performed right around their career averages.  Of those two, Aybar is the most likely to repeat his performance.

This is why the projecting should be left to the experts. The author does not give any evidence why we should expect the Angels hitters to continue to hit at their previous career averages other than that they are their career averages. Meanwhile, the projections which are developed by experts who have put in thousands of hours of time attempting to perfect the art (an unattainable goal, by the way) factor not only past performances but weight in other factors such as age and is regressed.

If Sabermetrics and projections don’t interest you, that’s your prerogative and you are certaintly entitled to your opinion. However, when you put your own biased opinion on the same level as an objective system worked on by experts is where the opinion/fact line becomes blurry.

As mentioned in my J.A. Happ article at BDD, there is always the chance — and not an insignificant one — that a player will under- or out-perform his projections. However, the goal of the projections is not to nail the player’s performance down to the thousandth decimal point (although it would be nice); it is to provide a probability of production.

When CHONE says puts a 4.23 ERA next to Scott Kazmir’s name, it is not saying he will definitely put up a 4.23 ERA or close to it; it is saying that the most likely outcome is that he puts up an ERA in that vicinity. CHONE doesn’t consider every factor, and actually considers very few. CHONE may miss some significant factor that leads to future success for Kazmir.

All told, though, I’ll take CHONE’s projections any day over Joe Fan’s projections that heavily weigh one season’s worth of data and don’t properly weigh previous seasons. Scott Kazmir’s production in 2005 is almost irrelevant when trying to project Kazmir in 2010.

That 11 out of 14 ranking is a bit misleading, as the Angels suffered with injuries and the use of rookie pitchers.  The signing of Fernando Rodney should insure fans will not see the likes of Rafael Rodriquez (5.58 ERA), Shane Loux (7.46 ERA in 12 games as a reliever) or some other triple-A pitcher.  Plus, those first half numbers were inflated by departed relievers Justin Speier (5.18) and Jose Arredondo (6.00).

Certainly valid points. However, his points are all irrelevant as it pertains to the addition of Rodney. Rafael Rodriguez wasn’t a shoo-in for the Major League roster prior to the Rodney signing. Additionally, the Angels are still paying him $11 million when it is likely that he will not even reach 1 WAR in his two years there combined.

Weaver’s career ERA is 3.73 and he’s only had an ERA over 3.91 once in his career. Why, all of a sudden would his ERA balloon to 4.10? It won’t.

Again, we’re dealing in probabilities. Why would his ERA increase? He had a .288 BABIP. Pitchers can’t control their BABIP. The league average BABIP is around .300. The most likely scenario is that Weaver has a BABIP around .300, which will lead to more base hits dropping in and less runners being stranded on base (he stranded 76% compared to the AL average of 72%).

Additionally, Weaver’s walk rate has increased every season since he’s been in the Majors. Not significantly, but combined with a slight BABIP and LOB% regression, that all could be enough to push his ERA on the wrong side of 4.00.

A disparity of about .3 runs in ERA isn’t terribly large especially as it pertains to projections.

Kazmir’s ERA after joining the Halos on August 29th was 1.73 in six starts. His career ERA is 3.83. The only season his ERA was over 4.00 since his rookie season was during 2009 while suffering from thigh and forearm problems.

I won’t advocate completely ignoring Kazmir’s production in his month-plus with the Angels, but I would suggest taking it with a huge grain of salt. We are dealing with a really small sample size here. As an Angel, Kazmir had a meager .261 BABIP and 83% strand rate. That is very unsustainable, since pitchers can’t control BABIP.

Additionally, Kazmir has only reached 30+ starts in two of the five seasons in which he has been starting regularly. He has durability issues. In 2008, he reached the seventh inning only 6 times in 27 starts (22%). Last season, he did it 9 times in 26 starts (35%). John Lackey, as an example, reached the seventh inning 19 times in 27 starts (70%).

An Era of 4.53 from Santana in 2010 would be right around his career numbers (4.53), but Santana has shown he’s capable of much better performance when healthy.

Remember that the whole purpose of the response to my article was to show me how wrong I was. For the Pineiro and Santana projections, he essentially admits they’re spot on, but he can’t just pass up the opportunity to argue with something.

Sure, Santana is capable of being better than a 4.53 ERA pitcher. Is it likely? Not in 2010, based on the information available presently.

Since his rookie season, the only time Saunders has had an ERA over 4.53 was in 2009 when hit the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Notice the selective endpoint of 4.53. His career ERA (something the author is very fond of up until it comes to Saunders) is 4.22. He really hasn’t been pitching regularly enough for us to come to concrete conclusions about his ability.

However, Saunders’ 2008 was fluky. His BABIP was a very low .267. His career average is .292. The odds of it being close to .300 are very high, since pitchers can’t control BABIP and the league average is .303.

Furthermore, Saunders’ strikeout rate stayed below 5.0 per nine innings for his second consecutive season while his walk rate climbed above 3.0 per nine. The strikeout rate is way too low and the K/BB ratio is also too low (1.6). Last year, the following pitchers had a K/BB ratio of 1.6 or lower: Braden Looper, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Doug Davis, John Lannan, Trevor Cahill, Jeff Suppan, and Ian Snell. Of the group, Lannan, Davis, and Marquis had ERA’s between 3.88 and 4.12 but xFIP between 4.41 and 4.69.

That’s the kind of company Saunders is in.

After returning from shoulder stiffness, Saunders went 7-0 while compiling an ERA of 2.55. Saunders isn’t a staff ace, but he’s much better than given credit for.

I’ll take “Lending too much credence to small sample sizes” for $400, Alex.

I’m curious how the Angels could have easily improved the rotation.  The Angels did not have the players the Blue Jays wanted for Roy Halladay.  And who knows if the Angels were even contacted regarding acquiring Cliff Lee.

I guess none of these guys would have worked in a deal for Halladay. Definitely not. (Got your sarcasm detector?)

Even though the Angels lost Figgins and Lackey, did they really have the least productive off-season?

I’ll take “Taking an intentionally and obviously hyperbolized statement too literally” for $1,000 Alex.

There’s no way to definitively state that one team had a more unproductive off-season than the other because they are all trying to reach different goals. To quibble with the statement that the Angels had the least productive off-season is to engage in semantics. No, maybe the Angels didn’t have the least productive off-season but it wasn’t productive.

Another season where the Angels outdid their Pythagorean.  Is anyone still surprised by this?

Again, take probabilities into account here rather than concrete black and white terms. Is it possible that the Angels will yet again out-perform their PWL by five games or more? Yes. Is it the most likely scenario? No. Revenge of the RLYW projected the 2010 season and came up with the Angels going 81-81. More reliable projected standings will come as final 25-man rosters are decided at the end of spring training, but I’d be surprised if any projections are as optimistic about the team as the author is.

UPDATE: The PECOTA projections are out. Angels: 76-86, 4th out of 4 in AL West.

Have [the Mariners] improved enough to overcome their fluky season as Pythag suggested and to catch the Angels in 2010?  They would have to have at least a 12 game improvement.  I don’t think they did.

Yet another example of the author simply throwing his opinion out without any facts to back it up, as if we should automatically accept it on face value. I sincerely hope I have not been so arrogant.

However, he is right to point out that the Mariners outperformed their PWL much more so than did the Angels. I neglected to look at the Mariners PWL when I wrote the article and it’s something I should have considered in retrospect. As such, the author may have a point that I am overrating the Mariners.

And being financially responsible by not re-signing a pitcher who has started the last two seasons on the disabled list to an $82M+ salary is not waving a white flag.

Take a look at this list and tell me where Joel Pineiro ranks. Factor in projected production and salary. Pineiro, prior to ’09, had been worth less than 1 WAR in each season and all totaled just over 2 WAR. In 2010, CHONE projects Pineiro to be worth 2.5 WAR. That seems fair but it is a significant step down from the 4.8 WAR he was worth last season.

If you are happy losing out on Halladay and Lackey and content with Pineiro, again, that’s just fine and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. If you argue, however, that Pineiro is just as suitable as the aforementioned, then we are operating on separate planes of reality. Pineiro is a marginal upgrade for his pitching role and overall the Angels’ starting rotation is worse than it was last year.

This is just too stupid to comment on as I have nothing against DeVry graduates, waiters, nor ugly women.

Neither do I. I have not yet attended a fancy college nor have I held a fancy job nor have I dated any significantly attractive women. This is another example of taking something much too literally. It is an analogy for the Angels’ off-season: everyone else is having fun at real colleges, working awesome jobs, and enjoying great relationships while you (the Angels) are settling for the above.

In an effort to be contrarian, the author simply came off as obtuse.

Before I close, I would like to applaud Halos Heaven for its mature group of commenters. The following intelligent comments can be found beneath the author’s response:

  • some dudes blog nobody has ever heard of. (ESPN disagrees)
  • the literal definition of “sophomore”
  • “nerd” (a term with which I brand myself proudly, by the way)
  • the idiot Baer, whose knowledge of the Halos is obviously nil.
  • This Baer guy is a jackass
  • that idiot
  • Unknown Blogger

I am thankful that the commenters here and on SB Nation’s Phillies blog The Good Phight are much more rational and mature than those that showed up to respond to the author’s FJMing of my article.

I forget the term, but there’s a way to describe valuing something more while you have it and less when you don’t. I think that explains a lot of the vitriol shown by both the author and the Halos Heaven commenters. John Lackey was certainly great while you had him, but now that he’s gone it’s easy to focus only on his DL stints and high ERA. Meanwhile, they completely ignore it for Joe Saunders.

It’s fine to be just a fan of a team, to just watch and not care about any of the numbers and to root really hard for a guy when there’s no reason to. However, if we are to engage in an intellectual debate, the subjectivity must be left at the doorstep. Notice the persecution complex shown by the commenters:

  • “I dont know what it is but writers, scouts, TV talking heads, ESPN all love to hate us.”
  • “wow! another of that anti-angels bandwagon…”
  • “we dominate in years the media assumes we’re dead. [...] they wouldn’t dare point out the ways seattle overachieved”
  • “I love that all the ‘nerds’ can’t figure us out.”
  • “Hard for me to care about yet another member of the blogosphere foretelling our demise. He can join Buster Olney, Karl Ravich, Tim Kurkjian, Peter Gammons, well you get the picture. According to those fine folks at various sports media outlets we’ve been lucky, more than successful year in, and year out. Screw ’em.”

If you truly have a solid foundation for your arguments, then you wouldn’t need to resort to logical fallacies and ad hominems. I am very disappointed, Halos Heaven.

Leave a Reply

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39 comments

  1. James K.

    January 28, 2010 12:10 PM

    Hmm, you seem a little touchy here Bill. Nothing wrong with putting BDD in quotation marks, as far as I can tell. And I don’t think that opening paragraph was a back-handed compliment. You can compliment a writer’s style and still disagree with his point of view.

    If you’re going to address every dumb comment in a comments section you might not have much time to do anything else.

  2. Bill Baer

    January 28, 2010 12:20 PM

    I thought I was gentle, James. I tried to keep it clean and objective. Apologies if it didn’t come off that way.

    As for the insults, let’s put it this way: would it have been better if the author hadn’t made the remark? I think so. The “but” after the compliment is like when someone says, “I’m not trying to be racist, but…” and follows it up with an incredibly racist comment. It’s as if he’s trying to justify the insult by leading with a weak compliment.

    If you’re going to address every dumb comment in a comments section you might not have much time to do anything else.

    Ah, the luxury of the unemployed!

  3. ShooterB

    January 28, 2010 01:07 PM

    I’d back you up here, but…

    It just so happens that my sister is bottom-of-the barrel ugly and has waited tables ever since dropping out of DeVry. Over the line, Baer. Over the line…

  4. ShooterB

    January 28, 2010 01:31 PM

    May your fries never arrive with ketchup, you soulless monster!

  5. hk

    January 28, 2010 06:52 PM

    To borrow (and slightly alter) a line from Lloyd Bensten, “I knew FJM. FJM was a friend of mine. Halos Heaven, you’re no FJM.” If anything, Halos Heaven is much more Joe Morgan, than it is FJM.

  6. John McG

    January 29, 2010 10:14 AM

    Bill, another amusing writing. I have made crashburnalley.com a daily visit. I agree with hk. Saying the Halos Heaven author is doing an FJM is an insult to FJM.

    Anyway, on to my comment here about your response. I agree with much of it, but I’m not sure you’re being fair when you say that the Angels were pursuing Lee in disagreement with the Halo article. Pursuing Lee wile he was an Indian was one thing, but as a Phillies fan, I’m fairly certain that Amaro did NOT shop Lee around. How were the Angels to know the Phils were looking to move him? As I recall, at the time of the trade, lots of people questioned why the Phils were in such a rush to move Lee for an underwhelming group on prospects (for the record, I think Amaro moved him so fast just so Phillies fans did not get too used to having Halladay and Lee, followed by an even bigger uproar when Lee was moved a week later). Oh, and should I link to articles asking that very question, or do you recall the same articles??

    Other than that, I’m pretty much with you. Thanks for the entertaining writings.

  7. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 10:34 AM

    Pursuing Lee wile he was an Indian was one thing, but as a Phillies fan, I’m fairly certain that Amaro did NOT shop Lee around.

    That’s a fair point. I’m having trouble finding off-season Angels-Lee pairings, so you and the quoted author could be right about that.

  8. ecp

    January 29, 2010 11:14 AM

    John McG is absolutely correct. According to Ruben Amaro – and sorry, I can’t find the link now – when he decided to “shop” Lee, he called Jack Zduriencik and said “I have a shot at Halladay; are you interested in Lee?” No other team was given a chance – despite the fact that it was known that the Angels were interested in him while he was still with the Indians.

  9. Jim G. (WiHaloFan)

    January 29, 2010 12:26 PM

    Bill-

    Nice job, but…

    Just kidding, you did a great job. I hope you didn’t take that post personally, just as I don’t take this one as an insult to me.

    Thanks. See you in the World Series.

  10. Carlos

    January 29, 2010 01:25 PM

    You still do not address why the Angels continuously outperform both the pre-season projections and their overall pythag every season since ’04. You dismiss the authors presumptions and offer “facts”, yet these facts are consistently wrong with regards to the Angels. Forecasting numbers is hardly an exact science. I could easily look at a guy’s stat sheet and go “Yeah, he’ll probably have an ERA between 3.80 and 4.40.” I understand its not that simple, but its not that complicated, either. I sincerely love how advanced this stuff has become, but the numbers mean nothing without context. The Angels continuously winning 90+ every year when the “experts” say otherwise should give you some pause, right?

    And as far as Lee and Halladay go, its completely ignorant to assume one team or another may have had a shot at any particular player. Halladay seemed dead set on going to the East Coast, and as someone mentioned before, no one knows if any other team had a shot at Lee. Plus, you have to consider what kind of hole trading for a player of that caliber would blow into their roster. And as for Chapman, there is a huge difference between $20 million and $30 million when you’re talking about a guy who may not contribute till 2012. For a team like the Reds, who won’t really contend until then anyways, it makes sense. When you’re trying to win RIGHT NOW, why would you want to tie up so many payroll dollars in a guy that will be helping your AA team? (for the record, I completely agree about Rodney, and I’m far from convinced Pineiro is the new Derek Lowe. However, I don’t see either of those guys really damaging the Angels 2010 season).

    Overall, I agree with the premise. The Angels got worse this offseason, the rest of the division got better. That hardly makes them a 76 win team, as BP is predicting. Anyone who ignores all the data and just goes with their gut is missing a big part of the picture, but the same can be said for the guy who only looks at the numbers and doesn’t consider what those numbers might be missing.

  11. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 01:32 PM

    Carlos, I don’t think too many people understand projections. PECOTA isn’t saying anything outlandish. Check out this explanation by Colin Wyers at Baseball Prospectus:

    www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/index.php?type=1&p=1494#46846

    In case you don’t feel like reading the whole thing:

    Simply put: Even if we are correctly predicting everything – everybody’s raw hitting and pitching stats, everyone’s playing time, etc. – correctly, there is still some random variation.

    How much? I mean, a lot. The standard deviation of win percentage over 162 games simply due to random variation (or “luck,” if you prefer) is a little over six games. Events within one standard deviation occur 68% of the time.

    Two standard deviations above and below the mean occur 95% of the time.

    Angels win range @ 1 STDEV: 70-82
    Angels win range @ 2 STDEV: 64-88

  12. red floyd

    January 29, 2010 01:43 PM

    @Bill Baer

    Fine. They’re using a normal bell curve. So the Angels have beaten pythag/PECOTA for 5 years running, and most of them by more than 6 games (your definition of 1STDEV).

    That means that each year is a .32 chance of going outside that one SD. So the probability of that happening five years in a row, strictly by chance is .32^5 or .003 or 0.3%.

    Something is wrong with the models.

  13. Tom C.

    January 29, 2010 02:03 PM

    Bill, that was awesome. I believe the youngsters might say that Halos Heaven just got “owned.”

  14. ihearhowie2.0

    January 29, 2010 03:22 PM

    Bill Baer definitely doesn’t come off as defensive or insecure about his writings here. Not at all…

    Lee and the Angels were never more than a rumor.

    So much of this back and forth is opinion (whether or not Chapman’s contract is a ‘bad’ deal, what makes a ‘bad’ deal, etc.)

    Look at Chone Figgins’ 2008 and 2006 before falling head over heels with his contract year in 2009.

    Look at John Lackey’s injury history and tell me the Angels putting $82+ million behind him is a good idea with their entire core of players hitting arbitration at the same time.

    I *personally* think it’s hard to get bent out of shape over 1 and 2 year contracts so 6.5 million on a DH who can walk is not something people are worried about. Some might actually call it..gasp…responsible!

    And as an Angels fan I’ll just say not many people who follow the team put much credence into win-projections because the Angels outperform them every year. So while I’m sure PECOTA serves as some scientific truth around here, it’s more of a punch line with Halos fans. Don’t ask me why, most figure because Scioscia’s philosophy results in more low-scoring, close games and that our roster is built around manufacturing that 1 crucial run.

  15. TheOptimist

    January 29, 2010 03:25 PM

    To emphasize Red Floyd’s point, here are the Angels wins vs. PECOTA projections for the last 6 years (2004-2009): +12, +8, +8, +10, +12, and +16, an average of +11. That kind of consistency is not an accident. Furthermore, get a team wrong that many times in a row by that much and it should be understandable when that teams fans start laughing at you and any prediction you make.

  16. 101halo

    January 29, 2010 03:47 PM

    Couple of points:

    “So who replaces Lackey?”

    Not Pineiro. The expectation is that one of Weaver, Santana or Kazmir will do that. For perspective, Lackey and Weaver’s stats up through age 26 are remarkably similar. My bet is on Weaver or Kaz.

    “Figgins was second on the team in ‘09, and led the team every year from 2004-08. To argue that losing Figgins’ base running is not significant is to be very, very wrong.”

    Over the last two years, Figgins’ success rate has been 71% and 72%. And he’s 31 years old, so that’s likely not going to get better. The “break even” point according to articles I’ve read on FanGraphs states that at a success rate of less than 75%, a baserunner is actually hurting his team (I’ll admit that I don’t know the math behind this, only that it is cited frequently).

    “However, Saunders’ 2008 was fluky. His BABIP was a very low .267. His career average is .292. The odds of it being close to .300 are very high, since pitchers can’t control BABIP and the league average is .303.”

    You cite a .300 BABIP as gospel a couple of times in the article, and that pitchers have no control of their BABIP. This makes absolutely ZERO sense. Pitchers typically settle in at their own career average given whether they’re a fly ball or a ground ball pitcher and other factors. I’ll be the first to admit .267 is unsustainably low, but BABIP is not “uncontrollable” by a pitcher. Are you telling me that Miguel Batista’s .316 BABIP over the last 5 years is due to bad luck as opposed to him sucking?

    “I won’t advocate completely ignoring Kazmir’s production in his month-plus with the Angels, but I would suggest taking it with a huge grain of salt. We are dealing with a really small sample size here. As an Angel, Kazmir had a meager .261 BABIP and 83% strand rate. That is very unsustainable, since pitchers can’t control BABIP.

    Additionally, Kazmir has only reached 30+ starts in two of the five seasons in which he has been starting regularly. He has durability issues. In 2008, he reached the seventh inning only 6 times in 27 starts (22%). Last season, he did it 9 times in 26 starts (35%). John Lackey, as an example, reached the seventh inning 19 times in 27 starts (70%).”

    First, there you go again with the BABIP thing. Then, rather than address the ERA question, you go off on a tangent about durability. Which, by the way, is a valid concern, but was not the point at hand.

    “UPDATE: The PECOTA projections are out. Angels: 76-86, 4th out of 4 in AL West.”

    When was the last time PECOTA actually got the Angels right? Do tell.

  17. Carlos

    January 29, 2010 03:55 PM

    I understand projections. I work with them every day. BUT,you always have to discuss your projections and make proper adjustments for things the formulas can’t account for. The Angels have a young yet experienced roster. If conventional baseball wisdom says players tend to slowly improve into their late 20′s then decline into their 30′s, why are they being projected to finish last all of a sudden? The Angels top four starters are all under 30 and have had decent levels of success in the past, including the recent past. Pineiro is unexciting, but is at least likely to be an upgrade on what would have been their other 5th starter options. The entire infield is under 30 and (with the exception of Wood) has had enough big league experience to tell us that at least a good deal of their production from last year can be sustained. If Wood falls on his face, Izturis is perfectly capable of being league average or better. As for the outfield, Rivera is only 31 and is solid as long as he’s healthy. Hunter and Abreu are a year older but had no drop off in production last season, so there’s no reason to think they won’t be productive again this year. Matsui is an upgrade over Vlad, who simply doesn’t have the bat control he did a few years ago. The bullpen won’t be great, but there is some upside with Jepsen and Bulger. Scott Shields is coming back from a non-arm injury. Fuentes and Rodney will give you a heart attack, but Scioscia seems to manage his pens pretty well, as frustrating as some of his decisions can be.

    Overall, its s deep roster with no real holes. No great players, but certainly no bad players. It’s just frustrating that so much of the focus is on the potential regression of all these young players, with absolutely no thought given to the possibility that some of them might actually improve.

  18. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 04:53 PM

    @ihearhowie2.0

    Bill Baer definitely doesn’t come off as defensive or insecure about his writings here. Not at all…

    Angels fans definitely don’t come off as defensive or insecure about the 2010 season. Not at all…

    Look at Chone Figgins’ 2008 and 2006 before falling head over heels with his contract year in 2009.

    Figgins’ walk rate has improved every season he’s been in baseball. His generalized defensive contributions have improved over the past four seasons. He’s an on-base machine, and when he’s on base he’s a threat.

    He has a skillset that will age gracefully, as opposed to Ryan Howard for example, whose skillset figures to age poorly.

    Look at John Lackey’s injury history and tell me the Angels putting $82+ million behind him is a good idea with their entire core of players hitting arbitration at the same time.

    Didn’t seem to faze the Red Sox, who have seven arb-eligible players after the 2010 season. Granted, the Sox also have $50 more million to play with.

    I *personally* think it’s hard to get bent out of shape over 1 and 2 year contracts so 6.5 million on a DH who can walk is not something people are worried about. Some might actually call it..gasp…responsible!

    I agree, the Matsui signing is actually decent. However, it was pretty much their biggest addition of the off-season. Unless you think Pineiro is bigger and then you just prove my point again.

    @TheOptimist

    get a team wrong that many times in a row by that much and it should be understandable when that teams fans start laughing at you and any prediction you make.

    Except PECOTA is consistently right.

    vegaswatch.net/2008/09/evaluating-april-mlb-predictions-2008.html

    @101Halo

    Not Pineiro.

    I don’t think you guys are quite understanding this.

    Last year’s rotation was:

    Lackey, Weaver, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir

    This year’s rotation will be:

    Pineiro, Weaver, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir

    Only difference is that the rotation is sans Lackey and added Pineiro. So, Pineiro will be replacing Lackey.

    Re: base running, stolen bases aren’t the only factor. EQBRR also counts “taking the extra base”. Figgins isn’t a terribly efficient base-stealer, but provides a ton of value otherwise when he’s on the bases.

    You cite a .300 BABIP as gospel a couple of times in the article, and that pitchers have no control of their BABIP. This makes absolutely ZERO sense.

    That pitchers cannot control their BABIP is a well-established fact.

    www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8932

    Then, rather than address the ERA question, you go off on a tangent about durability.

    His projected ERA isn’t really something to argue about. His career average is 3.83; projecting him to have an ERA around 4.23 isn’t exactly ground-breaking. And remember, it’s about probability. Check out my latest article at BDD about how to interpret projections:

    www.baseballdailydigest.com/2010/01/29/what-pecota-says/

    @Carlos

    you always have to discuss your projections and make proper adjustments for things the formulas can’t account for.

    PECOTA is constantly evolving.

    why are they being projected to finish last all of a sudden?

    A mediocre starting rotation, the loss of their main source of OBP, and a mediocre bullpen?

    The Angels had the third-best OBP in the AL last season. Without Figgins, they’ll be lucky to reach #7.

    Even with Lackey, their staff ERA was 4.45 to the AL average 4.46 and they downgraded. They barely, if at all, improved the bullpen.

    The Angels top four starters are all under 30 and have had decent levels of success in the past, including the recent past.

    This is about as vague as you can be. You know who has had success in his past? Juan Pierre. Nelson Figueroa. Rico Brogna. You don’t make a mountain (future production) out of a molehill (one season of not-bad production).

    That’s why you should trust the experts.

    Pineiro is unexciting, but is at least likely to be an upgrade on what would have been their other 5th starter options.

    To reiterate:

    Last year’s rotation was:

    Lackey, Weaver, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir

    This year’s rotation will be:

    Pineiro, Weaver, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir

    The entire infield is under 30 and (with the exception of Wood) has had enough big league experience to tell us that at least a good deal of their production from last year can be sustained.

    Again, you throw this out there without a shred of evidence as to why this should be accepted as fact. Oh, right, they’re under 30. All players under 30 repeat their previous level of production.

    You go on to list vague qualities of the outfield but still no reasons why the team as a whole is any better than a mid-80′s win team.

    Overall, its s deep roster with no real holes.

    This is yet again vague. What, to you, is a “hole”? Is it starting Adam Eaton on Opening Day? The Angels may not be in such dire straits, then. But they have a mediocre pitching staff and will be noticeably worse at getting on base and moving around the bases, and didn’t do a whole lot to improve the power production.

    It’s just frustrating that so much of the focus is on the potential regression of all these young players, with absolutely no thought given to the possibility that some of them might actually improve.

    No, they can improve and I’ve stated that explicitly. It’s not the most likely scenario, and that’s what the projections give you: the most likely scenario at the 50th percentile (mean).

  19. LA Angels

    January 29, 2010 05:23 PM

    Bill, you don’t even know the girl I’m dating… she has an amazing personality!!!

  20. True Grich

    January 29, 2010 05:37 PM

    If Allen Iverson was an Angels baseball player, he’d’ be holding a news conference right now and he’d be saying..

    I know it’s important, I honestly do but we’re talking about projections. We’re talking about projections man. (laughter from the media crowd). We’re not talking about the actual 2010 standings. We’re talking about projections. Not what actually happens on the field, but we’re talking about projections right now.

  21. TheOptimist

    January 29, 2010 06:10 PM

    “Except PECOTA is consistently right.

    vegaswatch.net/2008/09/evaluating-april-mlb-predictions-2008.html

    I’m sorry, I just got through proving that PECOTA has been CONSISTENTLY WRONG ON THE ANGELS, THE TEAM WE’RE DISCUSSING, and you bring out an article that says in general they’re better than professional sportswriters at predicting standings. Way to dodge the point, dude.

  22. Carlos

    January 29, 2010 06:15 PM

    You listed their pitching staff over the last two months of the season. Palmer, O’Sullivan, Ortega, Adenhardt, Loux, Moseley, Oliver, and Bell all made too many starts over the first half of the season. Lackey and Santana were slow to recover from early arm injuries, and Saunders worst performances of the season were attributed to an arm injury as well. You mention Jered Weaver’s increasing walk rate, but fail to mention his increasing strike out rate. John Lackey is 4 years older and has a strike out rate on the decline each of the last four years. I don’t think its that crazy to think Jered can replace Lackey’s role on the club.

    The point is, if the five guys you listed as the 2010 rotation really do make the majority of the starts, is it really so far out of the realm of possibilities that they will be good enough to duplicate the production of last year’s mish-mash collection of rookies and nomads?

  23. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 06:38 PM

    an article that says in general they’re better than professional sportswriters at predicting standings.

    All right, here’s PECOTA up against the best:

    www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=564#34764

    You can stick your head in the sand all day. Doesn’t change the fact that there are no better non-Sabermetric projection systems out there. And you’ve yet to provide an alternative.

    Palmer, O’Sullivan, Ortega, Adenhardt, Loux, Moseley, Oliver, and Bell

    And they relate to 2010 how?

    It’s funny Carlos, you count Lackey’s injuries against him and put the blinders on when it comes to the Angels. Like I said, being a fan is fine, but if you want to argue about this as intellectuals, you have to take them off. I have no interest in debating fans; fans do not argue rationally.

    The point is, if the five guys you listed as the 2010 rotation really do make the majority of the starts, is it really so far out of the realm of possibilities that they will be good enough to duplicate the production of last year’s mish-mash collection of rookies and nomads?

    The Angels had a league-average ERA last year. I’ve been saying that the Angels are a mediocre pitching team. We agree on this, apparently.

    You mention Jered Weaver’s increasing walk rate, but fail to mention his increasing strike out rate.

    2008: 7.74 K/9
    2009: 7.42 K/9

    I don’t think its that crazy to think Jered can replace Lackey’s role on the club.

    You Angel fans are way too focused on role-playing.

  24. Daniel

    January 29, 2010 06:47 PM

    I find it amusing that you continue to cite baseball prospectus in defense of every counterpoint someone has made to your article.

    First, you never addressed the fact that PECOTA has missed by an average of 11 games on the Angels the last five seasons. The probability of that being a fluke is almost zero. You call baseball prospectus’s rankings as more reliable. Why have they missed so badly on the Angels? And here’s the question I really want answered: Why will they finally be reliable this year?

    Second, Scott Kazmir started 6 times for the Angels last year (as you point out when you talk about the small sample size of his performance). So why do you include him in the rotation? The Angels rotation for most of last season was some variation of Lackey/Weaver/Saunders/Santana/random AAA player who was not equipped for the majors. So in essence, the Angels are replacing two pitchers. Kazmir will replace Lackey’s 27 starts while Pineiro will replace Sean O’Sullivan/Trevor Bell/Anthony Ortega. Sounds a lot better when you look at reality, right?

    Third, Figgins is a wonderful player, and the Angels will certainly miss him. It’s certainly true that his walk rate has increased, but his SB rate has decreased each year, and he certainly stands to get slower as he ages. That does not bode well for his baserunning value. There is also at least one person (Keith Law) who feels that his season last year was rather fluky.

    Your blanket statement about BAbip is untrue as well, as there are pitchers who have some control over balls in play, such as extreme ground ball pitchers. Many people credit Pineiro’s turnaround last year with his development of a two seam fastball. His GB/FB percentage rose to 1.53 in 2009.

    The stuff about Chapman is overblown, one way or the other. He’s not expected to contribute to a major league roster this season. Fernando Rodney (while a bad signing, in my opinion) has a much greater chance of putting up positive WAR than Chapman.

    Saunders is not going to pitch all season like he did after he came back from injury last year. But it’s irresponsible to ignore that he and the team admitted he was pitching with an arm injury during the period where his ERA jumped from 3.66 to 5.3 in a month and a half. He also has three seasons worth of career numbers to get to his career 4.22 ERA. How many more innings to you need?

    There are so many inconsistencies in your arguments that it’s hard to take them seriously. You talk about small sample sizes, but ignore that outside of an 11-game sample last year, Scott Kazmir has been much better than the projections show. You cite PECOTA projections and talk about “trusting the experts”, but fail to address why those projections and experts have CONSISTENTLY missed badly on the Angels the last five seasons. You blast your targets for making vague, unsubstantiated comments and then make vague, unsubstantiate comments like “scarcity counts for something.”

    You make some good points, but I disagree with the conclusion of your analysis. Whoops, I’m not allowed to say stuff like that. “Backhanded compliments” aren’t allowed here.

  25. Daniel

    January 29, 2010 06:55 PM

    “You can stick your head in the sand all day. Doesn’t change the fact that there are no better non-Sabermetric projection systems out there. And you’ve yet to provide an alternative.”

    I think the burden of proof is on the guy supporting a system that has missed by an average of 11 games the last 5 seasons.

    “Palmer, O’Sullivan, Ortega, Adenhardt, Loux, Moseley, Oliver, and Bell

    And they relate to 2010 how?”

    Well, conveniently enough, those guys made a combined 41 starts last year. If the Angels five projected starters make as many starts as they did last year, that combination of pitchers will start less than 20 games. Even if they started 30 games, that’s a significant improvement for 2010 (yes, the year we’re talking about) over the Angels league average ERA last season.

  26. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 07:33 PM

    I find it amusing that you continue to cite baseball prospectus in defense of every counterpoint someone has made to your article.

    You would prefer I not cite experts?

    The probability of that being a fluke is almost zero.

    I’d like to see your math on this.

    Why have they missed so badly on the Angels?

    The Angels win an inordinate amount of one-run games.

    Tom Ruane found zero correlation between a team’s one-run success in one season to the next.

    www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/scholars/ruane/articles/onerun.htm

    Ruane wrote, “In other words, how a team does one year in close games is absolutely
    no use in predicting how it will do the next. Things like that are
    usually called ‘the breaks of the game’ or, more succinctly, luck.”

    I don’t expect that Halos Heaven will enjoy reading that, but thems the facts.

    If you have a theory as to why the Angels consistently win one-run games, I’d love to hear it. And don’t give me vague, “Ah, it’s all Mike Scioscia blah blah”. Show me your work.

    Sounds a lot better when you look at reality, right?

    Not really. The Angels got a 4.74 ERA out of non-Lackey/Weaver/Santana/Saunders/Kazmir starters. You make it sound like they combined to mimic Adam Eaton. A 4.74 ERA is about average for a #4 starter.

    www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/how-good-is-your-4-starter/

    Over 150 innings, a 4.74 ERA pitcher will allow 79 runs while a 4.10 ERA pitcher will allow 68, a difference of 11 runs.

    There is also at least one person (Keith Law) who feels that his season last year was rather fluky.

    It was. But he’s still a 3.5-5 WAR player. He was worth nearly 7 WAR in ’09.

    Your blanket statement about BAbip is untrue as well

    That’s funny, because I linked to the article which contained the transparent research of someone who is much smarter than you and I combined. But I guess you know more about statistics than an economics major at an Ivy League school.

    And thanks for providing your research.

    there are pitchers who have some control over balls in play, such as extreme ground ball pitchers.

    Tim Wakefield is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball right now who consisently posts an abnormal BABIP.

    Aaron Cook is an example of an extreme ground ball pitcher. His career BABIP? .306.

    Derek Lowe? .299.

    Felix Hernandez? .310.

    Paul Maholm? .310.

    Roy Halladay? .299.

    Those are taken straight from the top-five ground ball pitchers over the past three calendar years.

    He’s not expected to contribute to a major league roster this season. Fernando Rodney (while a bad signing, in my opinion) has a much greater chance of putting up positive WAR than Chapman.

    Like I said, fans have a tendency to only look at the upcoming year. Chapman provides value for much longer than the two years that Rodney will “help” out.

    He also has three seasons worth of career numbers to get to his career 4.22 ERA.

    What are we arguing about here? I never insinuated that Joe Saunders was the next coming of Adam Eaton. 4.22 sounds about right. The projections have him between 4.15 and 4.57.

    Scott Kazmir has been much better than the projections show.

    Career average ERA: 3.83
    CHONE: 4.23

    Like I said, a disparity of 0.4 is not that large given variation. Read my article about PECOTA at BDD on how to interpret projections. You’re thinking in black and white terms, and if you do that you will never, ever walk away happy after reading projections.

    You blast your targets for making vague, unsubstantiated comments and then make vague, unsubstantiate comments like “scarcity counts for something.”

    You intentionally left out what I wrote after that, which was “Supply and demand.”

    When you have a surplus of something, its value drops. When you have a scarcity of something, its value increases.

    If you’re going to quote me, don’t do so dishonestly.

    I think the burden of proof is on the guy supporting a system that has missed by an average of 11 games the last 5 seasons.

    I’ve provided more than enough evidence. You haven’t provided one lick other than your persecution claim that PECOTA hates your Angels.

    Even if they started 30 games, that’s a significant improvement for 2010 (yes, the year we’re talking about) over the Angels league average ERA last season.

    As shown above, the improvement is marginal. 11 runs.

  27. Jake

    January 29, 2010 08:19 PM

    “The Angels win an inordinate amount of one-run games.

    Tom Ruane found zero correlation between a team’s one-run success in one season to the next.

    www.baseballthinkfactory.org/btf/scholars/ruane/articles/onerun.htm

    Ruane wrote, “In other words, how a team does one year in close games is absolutely
    no use in predicting how it will do the next. Things like that are
    usually called ‘the breaks of the game’ or, more succinctly, luck.”

    I don’t expect that Halos Heaven will enjoy reading that, but thems the facts.

    If you have a theory as to why the Angels consistently win one-run games, I’d love to hear it. And don’t give me vague, “Ah, it’s all Mike Scioscia blah blah”. Show me your work.”

    Wait, so attributing that to the team’s manager isn’t acceptable, but “They’re just lucky” is?

    I understand not modifying the system because a team puts together one season where they beat the projections by about 10 games because of 1 run wins, but the Angels have strung together several seasons of beating the projections by 8-12 games.

    The fact that this has happened seems to be more likely a flaw in the system behind the projections than them happening to get lucky 6 or 7 seasons in a row.

  28. Adam Tolbert

    January 29, 2010 08:28 PM

    You can crunch numbers all you want to. There’s a human element to the game that can’t be measured by stats. The Angels scout and develop as well as any team in baseball and part of that includes valuing the character and smarts of the player.

    To build a winning organization you have to set the right tone and attitude. The Angels have done that ever since Stoneman and Scioscia took over in 2000. Winning 1 run games isn’t luck or “the breaks” as you say. It’s character, clutchness, and smarts.

    Mark it down: Every baseball writer will pick the Mariners to win the division this year (maybe even the Rangers), then the Angels will win 95 games and the division. Again. Then stat gurus will scratch their heads and say, “But the run differential and VORP and zone rating say…blah blah blah.”

    It’s comical at this point.

  29. Bill Baer

    January 29, 2010 08:52 PM

    Wait, so attributing that to the team’s manager isn’t acceptable, but “They’re just lucky” is?

    If you understand anything about statistics, luck is a perfectly acceptable explanation.

    The fact that this has happened seems to be more likely a flaw in the system behind the projections than them happening to get lucky 6 or 7 seasons in a row.

    Look at their record in one-run games the past few years. What’s your explanation for that? Studies have clearly shown that teams do not have the ability to control that.

    @ Adam

    Not even going to bother to respond. If you don’t take the time to understand statistics, then you can’t criticize their use. That’s why I’m not writing a hockey blog, because I don’t know the first thing about hockey.

  30. 101halo

    January 29, 2010 09:53 PM

    “It’s not that pitchers don’t control BABIP—it’s that pitchers barely differ in their abilities to control it, because the only control they have is to try and stay unpredictable.”

    @Bill Baer – This is from the BP article you cited in regards to pitchers having no ability to control BABIP. Even the article itself acknowledges that it’s not that pitchers have NO control, it’s just that it’s not complete control.

    “Even if they started 30 games, that’s a significant improvement for 2010 (yes, the year we’re talking about) over the Angels league average ERA last season.

    As shown above, the improvement is marginal. 11 runs.”

    Alright I’ll bite… then why does PECOTA have the Angels giving up 55 more runs than last year?

    …and I have to agree with other posters… you ignore the mediocre-at-best starts from the Angels minor leaguers last year, while including Kazmir in your analysis as if he was the rotation all year, as well as fail to acknowledge that Lackey missed more than the first month of the season.

  31. red floyd

    January 29, 2010 10:23 PM

    The probability of that being a fluke is almost zero.

    I’d like to see your math on this.

    I gave you the math earlier.

    5 years in a row, off by at least one SD. Probability of that happening by chance? 0.3%

  32. TheOptimist

    January 29, 2010 10:49 PM

    “All right, here’s PECOTA up against the best:

    www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=564#34764

    You can stick your head in the sand all day. Doesn’t change the fact that there are no better non-Sabermetric projection systems out there. And you’ve yet to provide an alternative.”

    Why would I give you an alternative? The entire point of my post is that using PECOTA to declare yourself right about this particular organization is silly because PECOTA has been HISTORICALLY BAD at predicting that organization for a statistically significant period of time. That they are generally the best predictor for other teams is simply irrelevant, they have consistently failed to predict this team correctly and they have done so by a stunningly consistent margin (again +8 to +16 for 6 straight years.) It was pointed out a couple years ago that you could get a far better estimate of the Angels record at the end of the season by simply adding 10 wins to PECOTA’S projection.

  33. TheOptimist

    January 29, 2010 11:20 PM

    “The Angels win an inordinate amount of one-run games.

    Tom Ruane found zero correlation between a team’s one-run success in one season to the next.”

    OK, gonna call your BS on this one. Angels record in non 1 run games in 2009: 70-47, .598 WPCT. 1 run games: 27-18, .600 WPCT.

    2008: Non 1 run- 69-41, .627 WPCT. 1 run- 31-21, .596 WPCT.

    2007: Non 1 run- 69-49, .584 WPCT. 1 run- 25-19, .568 WPCT.

    2006: Non 1 run- 64-51, .556 WPCT. 1 run- 25-22, .531 WPCT.

    2005: Non 1 run- 62-41, .601 WPCT. 1 run- 33-26, .559 WPCT.

    2004: Non 1 run- 73-49, .598 WPCT. 1 run- 19-21, .475 WPCT.

    In other words, you bought the “they’re just lucky” excuse hook line and sinker, and never even thought to actually look at the data, which wonder of wonders, shows the Angels WPCT in 1 run games to be equal or worse to their record in non 1 run games, exactly like your buddy Tom Ruane says should happen for winning teams. Better find another excuse, because this one just ran dry.

  34. ArchAngel_7

    January 29, 2010 11:42 PM

    Bill, as a Statistical Process Control analyst part of my job is to interpret the data collected and create histograms detailing how well a process is in control. I also use the trends that appear to make determinations as to what the probable causes are for unnatural variations that appear in the charts. While I have not seen the PECOTA predictions for the entire league in regards how accurate they have been over a number of years, I assume from what you have said that they have been fairly accurate.
    However, looking at how they have applied to the Angels over the last 6 years there is enough data collected to make an analysis. We have 6 groups of 162 samples. The nominal being the number of wins PECOTA has predicted with a +/- 6 upper and lower control limit. This is more than enough data to indicate that the trends that appear are not based on luck.
    If the results had landed on either side of nominal during this period, one could make the argument that it was natural variation in the data. That however is not the case. The actual results have landed several points above the upper control limit in six straight samplings. That is not luck, 972 data samplings in six subgroups all but preclude the possibility of it being based solely on luck.
    So despite the overall statistical effectiveness of PECOTA the Angels anomaly cannot be explained simply as an aberration. Why is that? It is most likely due to factors that the PECOTA is unable to correctly measure. The skill of a manager to create matchups that throws off the probability curve. A superior understanding of game strategy that is not definable by numbers and the skill in the system of be able to identify mechanical issues in a player’s game and improve them beyond what is normally seen. In short, Statistical Analysis of the PECOTA results strongly indicates that the reason it fails to properly predict the Angels success is that the organization is better at utilizing players and controlling game related situations than other organizations. The Human element cannot be quantified by numbers. This is why human Chess Masters consistently defeat their computer opponents.

  35. Bill Baer

    January 30, 2010 09:13 AM

    @101halo

    I would re-read the article by Swartz. If you read that and concluded that he was saying that pitchers do have the ability to control their BABIP, then we were reading two different articles.

    @Red Floyd

    That’s not how you do that math. Not even close. It’s as if you think anything outside of one standard deviation is an outlier, and that’s not true at all. Generally speaking, anything outside of three standard deviations can be considered an outlier.

    Each season is independent. Furthermore, you’re using the odds of PECOTA missing outside of one standard deviation. As mentioned previously, going outside of one standard deviation is nothing spectacular. Only 68% of the data should be found within one standard deviation. 95% will be found between two.

    @TheOptimist

    Essentially, you’re saying that if you roll a die a few times in a row and get a 5 each time, we should label the die unfair. You should check out some of the casinos out there on the left coast and see how that blows over.

    shows the Angels WPCT in 1 run games to be equal or worse to their record in non 1 run games, exactly like your buddy Tom Ruane says should happen for winning teams.

    Is anyone arguing that the Angels are the Washington Nationals? You doth protest too much.

    @ArchAngel

    A simple test for significance would suffice. At the .02 level I don’t get a statistically significant result. No significant results anywhere in the .9′s. Feel free to try it yourself.

    That is not luck, 972 data samplings in six subgroups all but preclude the possibility of it being based solely on luck.

    This is dishonest math. You’re counting every single game, when we’re talking about seasons. Six years is our sample size, not 972. Unless you’d like to e-mail Nate Silver and find out what his predictions were for every single game the Angels played over the past 1,000 games.

    The skill of a manager to create matchups that throws off the probability curve. A superior understanding of game strategy that is not definable by numbers and the skill in the system of be able to identify mechanical issues in a player’s game and improve them beyond what is normally seen.

    This is all well and good, but there’s no evidence for this. This is akin to arguing as a creationist with an atheist that God exists because he is responsible for miracles. Great, but where’s the evidence that He exists?

  36. spc7---Ray

    March 06, 2010 11:24 PM

    Actually this was a very good article.but some things were missing-How about the starting pitching the Angels used last year? I lost count! Thats one big point that was missed and although I always liked Vladdy, Matsui will play the whole year-Im not sure most of you have played the game. You use so many stats to prove your points. when it is all said and done match the whole roster,all 40 in 2009 with the 40 in 2010 and I think the 2010 Angels are at least as good and might be better-Also the Angels used there money very well-John Lackey will never be worth 82 million. The Angels were very smart in passing on him.I see the Angels winning about 95 games and playing the Yankees again in the ALCS- Im just not sure that they will beat the Yankees this year either. I hope they do

  37. spc7---Ray

    March 06, 2010 11:46 PM

    In summary stats are great but they dont always win games or Titles–Id Love to see a 20 game winner on the Angels again and 3 or 4 guys hit 30 to 40 Home Runs-So tell me why have the Angels done so well these last few years? I think its because they have a great core of players and a manger that knows how to use them–If you want to look at stats what about Ted Williams? He was one of the greatest hitters ever and the Red sox did very little his whole carear and his World Sieries stats were horrible. No stats are great and will always be a big part of baseball but they dont play the game-One Final note–Defensive stats are horrible and never reall show the true value of any of the players. I remember an article that Stan Musial was interviewed in-he was asked if the Cardinals could use Ralph Kiner a hall of famer with the Pirates. Stan asked the reporter “where would he play?” Musial was in right Martain was in center and Slaughter was in left–Ralph Kiner was more famous than the other two because he hit 50 home runs but as a fielder he just wasnt as good as any of them and Musial was totally right–So where are your stats? Still it was a real interesting article but I still dont think you played the game

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