Monday, February 20, 2017

Season 24 All-Star Coverage

The mid-season classic is here, so let's take a look at who this season's All-Stars are!

In the American League, the squad is led by the only player in this season's game with double digit appearances, as Delino Santana is on the team for the 10th time.  Other than him, only 2 other players have more than 3 appearances in the All-Star game!  The top two teams in the power rankings, Helena and Little Rock, lead the way with 6 All-Stars each.  12 AL All-Stars are making their first appearance in the big game!

In the National League, it's Albert Valenzuela of Buffalo making his 9th appearance that leads the way, and Durham hurler Valerio Baez gets a mention for making his 7th All-Star team.  The NL team is well spread out, with Chicago, Durham, Honolulu and Las Vegas all tied for the most All-Stars with four.  Only 8 NL All-Stars are making their first appearance.

Here are the complete rosters!

American League All-Stars
Starters
Player
Team 
Appearance
C
Richard Tateyama
Little Rock
5th
1B
John Greer
Boston
2nd
2B
Sean Lewis
Helena
3rd
3B
Tuck Chester
Little Rock
1st
SS
Delino Santana
Charlotte
10th
LF
Al Hughes
Helena
3rd
CF
Steve Miller
Little Rock
2nd
RF
Max Acevedo
Helena
2nd
DH
Javier Martis
Boise
1st

Pitchers
Player
Team 
Appearance
P
Butch Gray
New York
1st
P
Ubaldo Jose
Tampa Bay
3rd
P
Dusty Cook
Madison
5th
P
Shawn Olson
Helena
1st
P
Ned Perez
Helena
2nd
P
Matty Prieto
Nashville
2nd
P
Ben Shoppach
Boise
2nd
P
Bernie Maduro
Charlotte
1st
P
Yoshinori Chang
Wichita
2nd
P
Ham Sampson
Seattle
3rd
P
Nicholas Cox
Little Rock
2nd
P
Anibal Santayana
Cleveland
1st
P
Norberto Johnson
Madison
1st

Reserves
Player
Team 
Appearance
P
Butch Gray
New York
1st
P
Ubaldo Jose
Tampa Bay
3rd
P
Dusty Cook
Madison
5th
P
Shawn Olson
Helena
1st
P
Ned Perez
Helena
2nd
P
Matty Prieto
Nashville
2nd
P
Ben Shoppach
Boise
2nd
P
Bernie Maduro
Charlotte
1st
P
Yoshinori Chang
Wichita
2nd
P
Ham Sampson
Seattle
3rd
P
Nicholas Cox
Little Rock
2nd
P
Anibal Santayana
Cleveland
1st
P
Norberto Johnson
Madison
1st

AL All-Stars by Team
Helena 6
Little Rock 6
Boise 4
Boston 2
Charlotte 2
Madison 2
Nashville 2
Cleveland 1
Kansas City 1
New York 1
Seattle 1
Tampa Bay 1
Wichita 1

National League All-Stars
Starters
Player
Team 
Appearance
C
Deven Hernandez
Honolulu
1st
1B
Julio Park
Durham
4th
2B
Albert Valenzuela
Buffalo
9th
3B
Elmer Miller
Honolulu
2nd
SS
Gary Womack
Buffalo
1st
LF
Bert Crosby
Durham
1st
CF
Ken Ingram
Chicago
6th
RF
Vic Hall
Louisville
3rd

Pitchers
Player
Team 
Appearance
P
Nicholas Gil
Las Vegas
4th
P
Gene Bonilla
Chicago
2nd
P
Boomer Lange
Chicago
4th
P
Allan Blackley
Chicago
4th
P
Tim Blair
Syracuse
5th
P
Ralph Moseley
Richmond
6th
P
Joshua Ramsay
Syracuse
2nd
P
Wiki Mateo
Las Vegas
3rd
P
Sal Nelson
Honolulu
3rd
P
Valerio Baez
Durham
7th
P
Chipper Savage
Honolulu
2nd
P
Henderson Stratton
Durham
1st
P
Endy Parker
Rochester
1st
P
Raul Alburquerque
Burlington
3rd

Reserves
Player
Team 
Appearance
C
Alfonso Estrada
Rochester
1st
1B
Horacio Guzman
Las Vegas
1st
2B
Deivi Perez
Rochester
1st
3B
Miguel Armas
Syracuse
3rd
SS
Brendan O'Neil
Oklahoma City
3rd
LF
Rogers Dixon
Las Vegas
2nd
CF
Jeanmar Pulido
Houston
2nd
RF
Darryl Matthews
New York
2nd

NL All-Stars by Team
Chicago 4
Durham 4
Honolulu 4
Las Vegas 4
Rochester 3
Syracuse 3
Buffalo 2
Richmond 2
Burlington 1
Houston 1
Louisville 1
New York 1
Oklahoma City 1

Results
Final - 10 Innings
American 4
National 5
W - Alburquerque
L - Shoppach
HR - A.Hughes, D.Perez

All-Star Game MVP - Deivi Perez, Rochester - 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI
Home Run Derby Winner - Julio Park, Durham - 29 HR
Futures Game MVP - Josias Valdespin, New Britain - 3-4, R, 2 RBI

Friday, February 17, 2017

Season 24 Power Rankings #2

Season 24 is halfway done, so it's time to check in with a new edition of the power rankings!  At the top, the back-to-back champs Helena played well enough to hold on to the #1 rankings, with Little Rock once again a very close #2, still playing excellent ball.  Chicago jumps up 1 spot to take the #3 position, while the top 5 is rounded out by two teams surging up the rankings.  #4 Rochester jumps up 12 spots after posting the best record in Kenny Powers over the last 40 games, showing major improvement across the board.  At #5 is Durham, up 5 spots, who has surprisingly good pitching stats for playing in a pure hitters' park.   Now let's see who the biggest climbers and biggest falls since the last rankings were!

Biggest Climbers: #4 Rochester (+12), #18 Buffalo (+9), #19 Madison (+9), #22 Monterrey (+8), #8 Boise (+7)

Biggest Falls: #30 Burlington (-11), #24 Houston (-10), #14 Syracuse (-8), #32 New York (NL) (-7), #17 Seattle (-6)

Here are the complete rankings, good luck in the second half!

Pitching Offense LAST 40
Team  W L PREV Rank Chg Rank Chg W L
1 Helena 50 31 1 3 0 2 1 23 17
2 Little Rock 56 25 2 10 0 1 0 24 16
3 Chicago 52 29 4 4 2 11 3 28 12
4 Rochester 48 33 16 2 6 12 9 29 11
5 Durham 48 33 10 5 4 10 5 27 13
6 Honolulu 47 34 5 11 0 4 4 24 16
7 Las Vegas 48 33 3 7 -2 15 -6 24 16
8 Boise 48 33 15 26 3 3 2 26 14
9 Wichita 46 35 8 8 6 14 -2 22 18
10 Richmond 46 35 7 1 0 27 -2 23 17
11 Louisville 44 37 12 21 -4 7 4 23 17
12 Charlotte 43 38 9 13 7 9 -7 20 20
13 Kansas City 38 43 17 20 1 6 1 21 19
14 Syracuse 45 36 6 6 -2 23 0 19 21
15 New York (AL) 41 40 20 13 0 24 3 23 17
16 Oklahoma City 37 44 13 17 -11 8 8 18 22
17 Seattle 42 39 11 16 -4 25 -5 19 21
18 Buffalo  35 46 27 15 9 20 -2 20 20
19 Madison 40 41 28 23 4 21 3 21 19
20 Nashville  39 42 18 29 -6 12 -2 19 21
21 Salem 37 44 24 9 6 29 0 18 22
22 Monterrey 36 45 30 18 4 26 2 22 18
23 Cleveland 38 43 21 25 1 16 -3 17 23
24 Houston 37 44 14 22 -4 19 0 13 27
25 St. Louis 33 48 29 12 3 32 0 17 23
26 Boston 32 49 22 32 0 5 -1 15 25
27 Oakland 35 46 26 31 0 17 0 16 24
28 New Britain  30 51 23 28 2 18 -12 15 25
29 Tampa Bay 33 48 32 30 -3 22 4 18 22
30 Burlington 31 50 19 19 -17 28 2 11 29
31 Washington 33 48 31 27 -2 31 0 17 23
32 New York (NL) 28 53 25 24 -5 30 -9 8 32

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Season 24 Power Rankings #1

Season 24 is out of the gates and it's time to check in with the first power rankings of the regular season.  And there's a new #1!  It's the back-to-back defending champions Helena!  Coming in at #2 in the preseason poll, the defending champs have shown they are primed to gun for a three-peat.  You could definitely make an argument for the top spot for #2 Little Rock, up 8 spots from their preseason ranking, as their offense is dominating opponents while still putting up respectable pitching numbers. #3 Las Vegas is also up 8 spots from the preseason rankings, while previous #1 Chicago and Honolulu round out the top 5.   Now for the biggest climbers and biggest falls since the preseason rankings!

Biggest Climbers: #17 Kansas City (+14), #14 Houston (+10), #19 Burlington (+10), #2 Little Rock (+8), #3 Las Vegas (+8), #13 Oklahoma City (+8)

Biggest Falls: #32 Tampa Bay (-17), #27 Buffalo (-11), #29 St. Louis (-10), #11 Seattle (-7)

Here are the complete first rankings of the regular season, it will certainly be interesting to see how the season plays out, good luck to all!

Pitching Offense
Team  W L PREV Rank Rank
1 Helena 27 14 2 3 3
2 Little Rock 32 9 10 10 1
3 Las Vegas 24 17 11 5 9
4 Chicago 24 17 1 6 14
5 Honolulu 23 18 8 11 8
6 Syracuse 26 15 13 4 23
7 Richmond 23 18 3 1 25
8 Wichita 24 17 5 14 12
9 Charlotte 23 18 7 20 2
10 Durham 21 20 9 9 15
11 Seattle 23 18 4 12 20
12 Louisville 21 20 6 17 11
13 Oklahoma City 19 22 21 6 16
14 Houston 24 17 24 18 19
15 Boise 22 19 12 29 5
16 Rochester 19 22 18 8 21
17 Kansas City 17 24 31 21 7
18 Nashville  20 21 20 23 10
19 Burlington 20 21 29 2 30
20 New York (AL) 20 21 14 19 21
21 Cleveland 21 20 17 26 13
22 Boston 17 24 25 32 4
23 New Britain  15 26 28 30 6
24 Salem 19 22 22 15 29
25 New York (NL) 18 23 23 13 27
26 Oakland 19 22 27 31 17
27 Buffalo  15 26 16 24 18
28 Madison 19 22 26 27 24
29 St. Louis 16 25 19 15 32
30 Monterrey 14 27 32 22 28
31 Washington 16 25 30 25 31
32 Tampa Bay 15 26 15 27 26

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Special Report - Kenny Powers: Pitching Analysis by the Numbers

As the season gets under way, here is a special report put together by cosborn detailing his methods for analyzing Starting Pitchers.  Thanks to cosborn for his contribution to the blog!

Kenny Powers: Pitching Analysis by the Numbers
by: cosborn

Last season, I posted a few comments in the league chat about pitchers, pitcher ratings and my method or system for evaluating pitchers. I’ve also (as is usual each season, worked to refine the formula a bit more, and the following is based upon a couple slight tweaks to the system.)

When I started trying to figure out the correlation between pitcher ratings and pitcher performance, I wanted to find pitchers I could use for my study. (I’ve run this exact method in several leagues, and the results are nearly exactly the same, BTW.) It turns out that I had two pitchers for the last four seasons - BC Escobar and Casey O’Neill.

Escobar has a steady OVR of 77 and O’Neill an OVR of 70. If OVR works, Escobar ought to be a better pitcher than O’Neill. The actual performance of the pitchers says, “No.” In fact, O’Neill might be a little bit better. Why? What ratings actually serve as lead indicators of performance?
Some ratings appear to be obvious such as control and splits. But what is the effect of pitch quality? How many good pitches does a pitcher need? Are there any interrelationships between and among the ratings? What about velocity and ground ball to fly ball ratio?

Here are the cumulative numbers for O’Neill and Escobar for seasons 19-23:


Sea
Innings
Wins
Losses
Opp BA
Opp Slg
Opp OB
WHIP
ERA
Escobar
20
203.33
10
14
0.254
0.338
0.396
1.43
4.51

21
211.33
9
13
0.260
0.331
0.422
1.34
4.39

22
218.33
12
11
0.241
0.304
0.372
1.22
3.96

23
210
12
9
0.253
0.324
0.398
1.34
3.69










O’Neill
20
206.67
12
14
0.253
0.331
0.427
1.41
3.92

21
222.67
11
13
0.261
0.325
0.414
1.34
3.96

22
217
15
7
0.253
0.337
0.377
1.42
3.77

23
219
15
9
0.233
0.317
0.377
1.31
3.62

As you can see, neither of these starting pitchers are dominant #1 types. Both, however are useful and reasonably effective. But the differences between the pitchers, to the extent differences exist at all, certainly do not reflect the fact that over this entire stretch of four seasons Escobar’s OVR was 77 and O’Neill’s 70.

Without getting really deep into the weeds, here are the ratings that make their way into my system: durability, stamina, control, splits, velocity, GB/FB ratio, and each pitch rating from 1 through 5. Ratings that are excluded have little to no impact I could find on pitcher effectiveness. Some of these ratings - unless “extreme” - affect pitcher performance. Extreme is defined for my purposes is a category rating of 90 or higher.

The three big ratings are exactly as you’d expect, and they apply in this order: control, RH split and LH split. As it turns out, unless a pitcher has AT LEAST a control rating of 50, it’s virtually impossible for the pitcher to realize consistent success, even with ALL other ratings being A+ to extreme. For the splits a COMBINED total rating of a MINIMUM of 120 is required PLUS the minimum RH split rating MUST be 60 or higher. So, a pitcher with an 80 LH split, but a 55 RH split would not make a good ML caliber starting pitcher. (Please note, I am ONLY talking about SP. Relievers have a much different system . . . .)

There are rating levels in these areas that appear to return a premium in terms of effectiveness as measured by WHIP, App BA, SLG and OB. For control, the premiums appear at 70, 80 and 90. AND the premium is cumulative. In my system, a rating of 70 adds a full point to a pitcher’s final SP rating. At both 80 and 90, the pitcher gets an additive of .5 at each level. So a pitcher with a control of 91 has a total control value of 2 added to his total SP rating. At ANYTHING below 50, the pitcher rating is -3. A hit like that makes it nearly impossible to top 2.0 on the final rating.

For splits, I start with a blended rating by simply adding the LH and RH split together. Next I add 15% of the RH split IF it is 60 or above to the total. The first premium worth a full point is at a combined total splits of 140. Then another premium is earned at 180 or above. Like control, the premiums added are cumulative. So if a pitcher has an adjusted combined split of 185, he earns 2 full points added to his SP rating.

Okay - so let’s look at these three rating within the system I use and compare Escobar to O’Neill.


OVR
Con
LH
RH
Con Bonus
Split
Rating
Split
Bonus
Rating So Far
Escobar
77
70
78
65
1
1
0
2
O’Neill
70
51
70
73
0
1
1
2

If we looked exclusively at OVR, Escobar ought to be a better pitcher - by a fair margin. But when we look at these ratings, these two pitchers are virtually indistinguishable. Escobar has much better control (we’ll get into more on that in a moment), but O’Neill has a better set of splits ratings - even thought the sum of their respective splits is identical at 143. Since both at at 140 or better, they get a split bonus. O’Neill gets an additive bonus due to his 70+ versus righthanded hitters. NOTE: the ratio of the bonus EXCEEDS the ratio of RH hitters in the league. However, the data says this is likely a fair bonus.

Now let’s look at the results, and from there we’ll get into the remaining ratings that matter - pitch quality.

Escobar
IP
W
L
OBA
OB%
SL%
WHIP
ERA
20
203.33
10
14
0.254
0.338
0.396
1.43
4.51
21
211.33
9
13
0.260
0.331
0.422
1.34
4.39
22
218.33
12
11
0.241
0.304
0.372
1.22
3.96
23
210
12
9
0.253
0.324
0.398
1.34
3.69
O’Neill
IP
W
L
OBA
OB%
SL%
WHIP
ERA
20
206.67
12
14
0.253
0.331
0.427
1.41
3.92
21
222.67
11
13
0.261
0.325
0.414
1.34
3.96
22
217
15
7
0.253
0.337
0.377
1.42
3.77
23
219
15
9
0.233
0.317
0.377
1.31
3.62

Over this 4-season sample, Escobar is 43-47, and O’Neill is 53-43. Their average records are Escobar 10.75 - 11.75 (.477 winning %), and O’Neill 13.25 - 10.75 (.552 winning %). Over this same 4-year span, the team has a cumulative winning % of .508. There are many ways to look at the value of a pitcher, but one number that is worth looking at is the winning percentage of the pitcher compared to the team. You’d like a top pitcher to make your team better, or expressed another way, good pitchers put their teams in positions to win more often. This type of analysis also bakes out the expected differences between pitchers on excellent teams compared to god pitchers on poor teams. That’s why wins and losses standing alone are NOT good measures of pitcher quality. In my view, it’s how the pitcher’s performance improves his team that is a better perspective. (For example, many experts think Steve Carlton’s 1972 season with the Phillies might be the best single season performance in MLB history.)

Now - I KNOW the sabermatrics of this are wildly complex, and I am radically simplifying things. Sorry. I simply don’t have the type of data needed to calculate WAR for these pitchers. So, I am looking at a very simple comparison of the pitcher’s winning % to the team winning %. I thin this is fair for the following reasons: 800+ innings pitched each, for the same team, same defense, same park and same run support. The sample size is large enough to bake out any anomalies that would occur over one or two season.

But - WHY did O’Neill do so much better? The control and splits appear to even things out between the two pitchers. O’Neill pitched 32.1 more innings over the 4-season span. This is the product of O’Neill’s excellent durability and stamina ratings of 31/91 respectively. Escobar’s ratings are 27/82 - very good, but not as strong as O’Neill’s. While O’Neill’s mediocre control rating of 51 means he has to work harder for outs, the workload of the two pitchers is close with O’Neill holding an 8 inning per season edge. So - I don’t think we can attribute the difference in results to these ratings.
Let’s go to pitch quality, which is where the distinctions become more apparent.

There are 5 possible pitches, but I cannot find ANY correlation at all to the existence or quality of a 5th pitch on predicting starting pitcher performance. Zero. But, there is a difference when SP have a 4th quality pitch. Here’s how the pitch quality works.

SUM of Pitches 1 and 2: if below 140, pitcher has a 2.0 point penalty assed. Yes - 2 full points. These first two pitches are very important! At 140-149 - neutral, 150-169 = .5 increase, and 170+ earns another .5.

Examples: Pitch 1 - 90, pitch 2 - 50 for a sum of 140. NEUTRAL - no penalty and no increase. Next: pitch 1 - 82, pitch 2 - 70 for a sum of 152 earns the pitcher .5 increase.

The magic number for pitch quality is 70. That’s more or less the threshold for ML quality pitch quality.

Next, I go to the combination of pitches 1-3 and 1-4, and YES. this is a cumulative set of additions and penalties. In RL (and the programmers appear to have this pretty well correct) pitchers with 3 quality pitches are generally much better than those with 2, and SP with 4 highend pitches are REALLY good. The pitcher simply has more ways to keep hitters off-balance and guessing, and it appears that this reality is accounted for in the pitching algorithms used in the game engine.
Here’s how the next pitch combinations work:

Sum of 1-3: Below 210 = .5 penalty; 220+ = .5 bonus, AND 240 + = .5 bonus
Sum of 1-4: Below 240 = .5 penalty (note the AVERAGE of the 4 pitches needs to be 60 per pitch. Pitchers with 3 excellent pitches can still be effective starters, but it’s more difficult for them.) 250+ = .5 bonus and 280+ (a 4-pitch average of 70 per pitch) = another .5 bonus.

Here’s how Escobar and O’Neill compare: Escober at 5.0 O’Neill at 5.5. Therefore, based upon my system, O’Neill at OVR 70 is a better pitcher than Escobar at 77 OVR. Do the qualitative numbers support this statement or rating method?

Escobar
AVG
OB
SLG
WHIP
ERA
20
102.36%
96.45%
104.80%
95.10%
94.46%
21
99.23%
98.19%
97.16%
101.49%
96.36%
22
107.88%
96.45%
111.56%
111.48%
107.58%
23
103.16%
100.93%
104.77%
102.24%
115.72%
Cumulative Difference
12.64%
-7.99%
18.29%
10.31%
14.11%

This data represents the comparative difference between Escobar’s actual performance to the National League’s average in each category. Escobar did well compared to the league is 4 of the 5 areas, but was about 8% worse than the league in ob base percentage allowed. The differences in slugging and WHIP are likely attributable to the ball park. (This is why I wish we could view WAR for pitchers in the extended stats!)

O’Neill
AVG
OB
SLG
WHIP
ERA
20
102.77%
98.49%
97.19%
96.45%
108.67%
21
98.85%
100.00%
99.03%
101.49%
106.82%
22
101.58%
95.55%
106.63%
94.37%
108.22%
23
112.02%
103.15%
110.61%
104.58%
117.96%
Cumulative Difference
15.22%
-2.81%
13.46%
-3.11%
41.67%

This table show O’Neill’s performance compared in exactly the same way as Escobar. O’Neill is better than the league over these four seasons in three of four categories and a LOT better in ERA. The below league performance in two categories (on-base and WHIP) are pretty small. Overall, ERA was the biggest driver of the comparative difference in the two pitchers. Otherwise, they end up pretty close, as the 5.0 to 5.5 final rating number would indicate.

That said, two ratings which appear to ONLY affect performance at the VERY highest extreme are velocity and GB/FB. O’Neill’s velocity rating went from 25 to 23 as he aged, and Escobar’s went from 81 to 78. Given the wide gulf in these ratings, IF this rating was a true indicator of results, we’d see Escobar emerging as a better pitcher given the overall closeness of the other ratings. Neither pitcher is a great GB pitcher (Escobar 56 and O’Neill 48). However, in Busch Stadium you don’t HAVE to be a GB pitcher to be effective.

Other Pitchers

Last season there was some discussion about the comparative quality of these two pitchers to pitchers on a playoff opponent.

Boomer Lange rates out in my updated system at 4.9. He has an OVR of 88. The reason he ranks out below both Escobar (only by .1) and O’Neill is pitch quality.

Allan Blackley rates out at 6.9 - a true monster! His OVR is 84. Why so much higher than Escobar, O’Neill and specifically Lange - pitch quality. The advantages Lange enjoys in control and splits is offset by relatively average pitch quality.

Alex Rosa rates out at 4.4 with an OVR at 81. Again - it’s pitch quality.

Would I take ANY of these pitchers? Yes. In a heartbeat. They are all very good. They also each pitched for the best team in the NL last season and arguably the best team over the last 3 seasons. So their rather gaudy win loss record has to be viewed in that context. Each of them throw hard and are GB types, which doesn’t HURT performance, but doesn’t provide a big lift either. But all things being equal, I’d be thrilled to have any of these three pitchers in my rotation!

By comparison, my team ran into three REALLY beastly pitchers in our NLCS win en route to a WS loss: 

Ralph Moseley - OVR 81, 6.4 in my system - monster with very good splits and excellent pitch quality.
Norberto Morales 83 OVR and 7.3 my system - EXTREME control plus excellent pitch quality.
Glen Stokes - 81 OVR and 5.9 in my system - solid splits and outstanding pitch quality.

Conclusion

Control and splits form the basis of deciding if a pitcher will be effective. Once a pitcher passes the threshold for inclusion on an ML roster, the next critical ratings are pitch quality. I’ve seen pitchers with great pitch quality that could not pitch in the ML, and conversely I’ve had and used a few pitchers with GREAT splits, pitches and velocity but poor control that did not pan out at all. The reason O’Neill ends up delivering a bit better results is linked to his superior overall pitch quality.