The next few entries at this blog will test replacement level theory, as these are replacement posts. My computer on which the regular posts were stored was done in by a power surge, which apparently is a recurring problem with eMachines systems. Anyway, the disk drive appears alright, but I don’t have access to it at the moment, so it will be some time until I can publish the posts I had already written, and since they are already written, I’m not going to go back and write them again. So the 1876-1881 NL series is on hold, as well as a few other articles.
So one replacement topic will be rate stats. I still intend to finish the rate stat series in which I discuss all of the options for expressing an individual’s run creation performance in a rate form. For now, I just want to talk about the mathematical consequences of a couple approaches, not their theoretical underpinnings.
Jin-AZ at On Baseball and the Reds has been doing a sort of “Player Valuation 101” series that I would recommend to anyone, but particularly novice sabermetricians (in the interest of full disclosure, he liberally cites some of the stuff I have written in his series). Anyway, one thing that he mentioned was the choice between runs per plate appearance and runs per out to calculate individual offensive value above baseline.
Like I said, I don’t want to get into the theoretical underpinnings here, so suffice it to say, R/PA doesn’t cut it. Absolute RC methods do not account for the “inning killer” value of the out (as Tango called it in his series on run creation); this is not a flaw in their design, since they are attempting to measure the number of runs that actually resulted from the batter’s performance. But when discussing his value to a team, the inning killer value of the out must be considered. Absolute RC does not do so, and neither does the denominator of plate appearances.
Runs per out, on the other hand, should not really be directly applied to players (it is the one true rate stat for teams), but by dividing runs by outs it does incorporate the full effect of the out.
Let’s look at some actual numbers to illustrate the point. First, let’s define our RC formula as ERP, with the out values customized for the 2007
Abs RC = .49S + .81D + 1.13T + 1.46 HR + .32W - .09628(AB - H)
BR = .49S + .81D + 1.13T + 1.46HR + .32W - .29083(AB - H)
Let’s use David Ortiz as our example. Big Papi had 140.595 RC and 69.195 BR under these formulas in 660 PA and 367 outs.
One approach to RAA would be to take (R/O - LgR/O)*O. The league R/O was .19455, and so Ortiz was (140.595/367 - .19455)*367 = +69.195. As you can see, this is exactly equal to his Batting Runs. So while R/O may not be the ideal rate stat, using it as the fuel for the RAA figure is equivalent to using Batting Runs.
Switching subjects, during the Breeder’s Cup on Saturday, George Washington was injured in the Classic and had to be destroyed. This lead to a few European racing folks blasting the Breeder’s Cup for being run on dirt.
One of the complaints is that the Breeder’s Cup are subtitled with some variation of “world championships”, and since dirt racing is largely an American phenomenon, this is a misrepresentation. That complaint means nothing to me; if the Euros want to get agitated about the semantics of how the event markets itself, they can knock themselves out. What was obnoxious was the complaint that the event was run on the dirt at all.
Americans have always preferred dirt racing. I prefer dirt racing--it is much more conducive to speed, and speed is exciting in thoroughbred racing.
If European trainers think dirt is too dangerous, or they don’t think their horses will adapt well to the surface, they are free to leave their horses at home. Of course, of the eleven BC races, four are run on the turf, so it’s hardly as if the opportunity is not there. And of course the Europeans have their own high profile meets in which horses run solely on the turf.
George Washington’s connections obviously felt that he should run in the Classic. Perhaps that was a poor decision (although more likely it was a flukish event that couldn’t have been foreseen). It’s not the other Euros’ business.
It is common to see Americans, usually but not always liberal, carp about how Americans are so provincial when it comes to sports. The fact is that people all around the world have similar mindsets. Europeans thumb their nose at dirt racing, which is king in
The fact of the matter is that each individual has their own opinion about what makes good sport (mine are that baseball is easily the best sport with football a close second. Basketball played with college rules is excellent, but the NBA and international games put me to sleep. Hockey is great if played by skilled players and awful at a non-professional or collegiate level. Horse racing on the dirt is better than horse racing on the turf, but turf racing is still interesting. Soccer is the most boring thing mankind has ever invented). From the preferences of individuals rise the preferences of nations viewed as a whole, and regions. I refuse to make apologies for my individual sports preferences, and if some European trainer doesn’t like it, he can jump in a lake. And if Europeans and Africans and Brazilians (or my fellow Americans) want to kick around a checkered ball for 90 minutes, that’s no skin off my back, nor is it an excuse for soccer fans to act morally superior because their sport is played by more people than mine.