Monday, March 15, 2010

Online Lately: Cuts, Churches, and Recaps

Yesterday, Carrie Musket reported the first wave of cuts on the 2010 season:
#cubs trim nine on Sunday; Atkins, Patton optioned. Clevenger, Lalli, Kennard, Vitters, Camp, Jackson and Perkins assigned to Minors
Farewell, gentlemen. We will see you in September.

Meanwhile, Tom Tango has taken some time to counter The Church of Baseball's claims concerning sabermetrics. In Part 1, Tango briefly discusses the complexity of UZR, WAR, and WPA calculations, while gracing us with a rare swearword. Also, Rally makes a cameo in the comments and ominously refers to his runic methods of rWAR (Rally Wins Above Replacement) calculation.

In Part 2, Tango takes a lengthy look at The Church's questions. Even if you don't read the original post or even Tango's Part 1, this is well worth reading as a refresher on certain dangers in statistical analysis.

Also, MLBTR finally reached the Cubs in their Offseason Review series. This is a great refresher for those just getting up to date on the Cubs. However, MLBTR seems to imply that Hendry is on a ticking clock, but I'm not too sure, given Tom Ricketts' recent comments.

Elsewhere, Phil of Sabermetric Research looks at some just-enough home runs and comes away asking, "Why don't teams hire Greg Rybarczyk?" A natural progression, I assure you. His line of thinking is interesting. His top reasons for not hiring a sabermetrician:
1. Just a prejudice against them and their low status. They're young smart guys with no baseball experience, and don't fit into the culture.

2. Even though this one study has the *potential* to save $500,000, it probably won't. There might be one or two guys who fit the extreme-JE profile, and the team may not be signing those two guys this year. Also, there's only a small chance that they'd be outbid by exactly $500K, and the information would make a difference.

3. It's hard for the GM to tell if the stud sabermetrician's results are valid or not. Peer review, before and after publication, makes sure the results make sense. The GM isn't in any position to do that himself (and, indeed, nobody is as good as the community).

4. In the past few years, so much intelligence is out there for free, on the various websites, that the team has enough trouble keeping current with that stuff, never mind creating new knowledge. If Greg comes up with this study on a public site, the team has to run in place just to keep from *losing* the potential $500K to teams that know about it.

5. The team doesn't know who to hire. For every good sabermetrician, there are ten mediocrities that won't help you much.

6. Even if you find a few runs, they're runs you earn *on average*. If you find a guy who's expected to hit 2 more HR, he might wind up having a bad year, and your good move looks like it was a bad move. So, in that light, it's hard for teams to actually see and believe that your study saved them $500K.
Still, Phil and I agree: hire sabermetricians. They are valuable.

Lastly, MGL examined the effects of temperature (specifically heat) on ballpark factors. The Cubs and White Sox both made it into the top five changes group, which is intriguing. More importantly -- for us -- MGL is going to look at wind next!

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