Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Money Changes Everything

Money changes everything
Money, money changes everything
we think we know what we're doin'
that don't mean a thing
it's all in the past now
money changes everything
The Brains

So I'm feeling good about my Ichiro story, having wound up on another thread - I absolutely would have never thought that anyone would start a thread on a message board specifically about what I wrote, and now its happened three times - when I get an email from BAP Research Team member Richard of Richard Investigates. Richard Investigates has even loftier goals than mine: ask him a question on anything, ANYTHING, and he'll try to find the answer. The most recent entry on the site is in response to my own question: What would happen to us if the Moon exploded? Yes, I do think about things other than sacrifice flies. Long time readers of ES would know that, but if you came this week all you see is BAP this, BAP that.

Anyway, Richard's email says this:

From the diamond mind website, you may find interesting.
Measuring The Impact of Speed, By Tom Tippett, May 2002

As it turns out, Tom Tippett wrote about the very same thing I wrote about yesterday, with the central character being Ichiro, and for the same reasons. Of course the Diamond MInd people are a hell of a lot more organized and professional than Eisenberg Sports, and Tom goes into amazing detail about the very questions I'm asking. The only thing I disagree with is the sentiment in the conclusion. Here are two statements that I find conflicting:

"we can say
that Ichiro probably created 6-12 extra runs with his
speed in ways that are not already measured."

"All things considered, offensive metrics like Runs
Created probably do understate Ichiro's value by a few
runs. (OPS, on the other hand, doesn't include steals
at all, so it can understate the value of someone like
Ichiro by a larger amount.)
That's good to know, but there doesn't appear to be
any evidence to suggest that those measures are
dramatically understating Ichiro's value, or that of
any other speedster, as an offensive player."

I checked, and under Runs Created Ichiro was credited with creating 110 runs, so 6-12 runs is 5-10% of his total value. That strikes me as a significant amount, and they conclude that the difference with OPS is even larger. So what's that - 15 to 20%? I would say that is "dramatically understating Ichiro's value".

Do you know what bugs me about this? The information is out there. Diamond Mind has put its own team of crack researchers on it and come up with answers to the very questions many of us have been raising here, and they're not releasing the data. And they're not trying to incorporate them into a better statistic. They are using the information to create a better product, and that is all.

That sucks, but even worse than that, I'm not getting anything out of it. Ever since someone ran that damn "The Next Voros McCracken?" thread about me I've been thinking "Man, could I someday get a job out of this?" Not that I need a job, but I think the front office fantasy replaces the player fantasy for all of us once we drop out of Little League.

And hey, I think BAP still rocks on a team level. So much research is being done on individuals, and I think that's largely done because of things like fantasy leagues and Hall of Fame votes. Me, I'm driven more by evaluating teams. If Ichiro is losing 6-12 runs in evaluation on his own, what is the difference between a team of quality, aggressive baserunners and a more pedestrian team over the course of a season? 30-50 runs?

The main point of all BAP research has been this: There are bases being accumulated in a baseball game, and we can count them. BAP seems to be doing a fantastic job of evaluating game data. Let the contest continue. See you tomorrow.

Comments or Questions for Dave


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