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Sunday, September 20, 2009


There Are Stats, and There Are Useless Stats 


Mark Teixeira 在 9/19 @SEA 這場球九局上半上場打擊時已經有一隻三壘打、一隻全壘打以及一隻一壘打在口袋中,以 M's 的打線的表現來看,他們要在剩下最後半局追上比分讓 Teixeira 有再一次打擊的機會幾乎是零。

只要一隻二壘打就是 hit for the cycle,會進入歷史記錄。

結果 Teixeira 打了一隻全壘打。如果他打了一隻可以跑到三壘的球,像他那隻差點飛出牆外的三壘打一樣,我們大概可以相信他不會跑的像第一局那時候一樣用力,他的隊友也不會有任何怨言。不過球已經飛出牆外了,那麼他也沒有什麼選擇。

全壘打不如二壘打好?沒有這種道理的。我們從這個例子裡面可以看出來 hit for the cycle 雖然是件不錯的事情,畢竟一場球有 10 個 total bases 無論如何不是壞事,但是這並不代表球員的實力也不代表這一場球中打者所能達到的最偉大的貢獻。

換句話說,hit for the cycle 這個數據只是一個沒有什麼用處的數據而已。

棒球裡面類似的東西還有很多,譬如說無安打比賽、完全比賽、三殺,以及許許多多很少出現的事情。由於這些事件跟球員能力或多或少有一些正相關而不是全然獨立事件,所以有時候會造成誤解,認為這些事件可以作為球員能力的證明,事實上是不行的。

再退一步,有一些事件跟球隊勝負和球員能力的相關更高一些,譬如說先發投手的勝投數、救援投手的救援成功數、打者的打點等等,這些數據也長期被當作球員能力的指標,不但在獎項決定過程中有重要的影響力,也會影響到選手的薪資。不過投手的勝投要靠隊友的防守和打擊幫忙,今年 KC 的 Zack Greinke 是 AL 最應該拿到 Cy Young Award 的投手,但是到目前為止他的勝投比 CC Sabathia 少四場,有可能會讓他拿不到這個獎。20 場勝場在 Cy Young Award 投票時常常是個魔術數字,2005 年 Bartolo Colon 雖然投球內容中幾乎所有項目都不如 Johan Santana,但是他是唯一的廿勝投手,而 Santana 只拿到 16 勝,最後 Colon 拿回了應該屬於 Santana 的 Cy Young Award。還不只如此,那一年的投票中連 Mariano Rivera 都排在 Santana 前面,如果不是 Colon 搶了 Santana 的獎,也有可能是 Mo。近年來只有兩次 AL Cy Young Award 的得主沒有拿到 20 勝,但是該年另外有其他投手拿到 20 勝。一個是 2007 年的 CC Sabathia,他比 Beckett 的 20 勝只少一勝,但是多投了 40 局。兩個人都只有 7 敗,同時 ERA 也相近,這是讓投票者比較不至於完全依賴勝投數的組合。另外一次是 Pedro Martinez 於 2000 年拿到 Cy Young Award。他那一年只有 18 勝,另外有 Tim Hudson 和 David Wells 拿到 20 勝。不過那一年 Pedro Martinez 的表現除了勝投數以外稍少外,他的表現是近代棒球中最 dominating 的投手單季表現。再加上他的勝率跟那兩個 20 勝投手相比並不遜色,投球局數也夠多,同時 Wells 在球季後半段有些後繼無力的感覺,也還算是不太容易出錯的情況。

今年投票者會不會犯跟 2005 年同樣的錯誤?如果最後 Sabathia 停在 19 勝,而 Greinke 追上來到 16 勝甚至 17 勝,讓那些記者們沒有太容易的選擇對象,也許他們會選擇正確人選。如果球季到今天結束,KC 的 Greinke 和 SEA 的 Felix Hernandez 應該是 AL CYA 票選前兩名,Sabathia, Halladay, Verlander 和 Lester 這幾個跟在後面,順序可以任意調動沒有太大影響,我自己會把 CC Sabathia 排第三。球季還有兩個星期結束,這些順序還有可能會有少許變化,不過我大概不會再更動前兩名了。今年 AL Cy Young Award 的結果出來後,stat heads 和主流媒體歧見有可能會非常大。

AL MVP 應該是 Mauer 的,不過除非 Twins 最後趕過 Tigers 拿到 AL Central 的冠軍,我們還是會有很大的機會看到棒球記者們投錯票。Mark Teixeira 有一些棒球作家們喜歡的傳統數據,譬如說 RBI, HR 等,不過他在跟 Miguel Cabrera 和 Kevin Youkilis 這兩個位置相同而且同樣帶領球隊進入季後賽的一壘手相比時數據並不特別驚人(我們先假設 Tigers 最後還是進了季後賽),特別是那些 rate stats。這個獎項投票中 stat heads 和真正有選票的記者們差距大概不會像 CYA 一樣大。如果 Twins 最後拿到 AL Central 冠軍,這個獎項可能不會有什麼爭議。

Comments:
From this post it's really hard to believe that you don't watch baseball much lately, ha.
 
I think Pedro won CYA in 97, 99 & 00, but not 98.
 
Oops, that's a typo (or a thinko?). Thanks.
 
Do you think the Yankees should make a run at Aroldis Chapman? He seems like a genuine 21-year-old.
 
It's easier to look like a 21-year-old when you are 26 than to look like a 26 when you are actually 31.

Age is always a big risk to take when signing Cuban players. Frankly, I'm done with those Cuban myths. If I were Brian Cashman, I'll not give him a major league contract nor a contract worth more than $3M.

I have less and less confidence in Cuban products other than cigars. Their polished players wasted too much time on lesser leagues, and raw materials are raw as players from any other countries. There shouldn't be any Cuban premium anymore if we have learned anything from the past experience.
 
Hi, I wrote to ask Jack Curry whether he has evidence about Chapman being 26, and this is his reply:

When I wrote a piece on Chapman in July, an editor took information from an earlier story that a freelancer had written for The Times. In that story, the freelancer suggested that Chapman might be 26. I was disappointed that the editor put this info, which wasn't mine, in my piece. In the last story I wrote about Chapman, I called him 21. Thanks for the email. Jack.
 
Thanks for the info. I respect Jack Curry's work, but the "evidence" of Chapman being 21 seems only that he looks like one. He has the build and the control like a 21 year old rather than someone who's 26.

If that's true, he has a good upside in him, but we all know how that transforms to real performance in the big league. There's no such thing as a pitching prospect.

On the other hand, he could be a real lousy 26-year-old who does not have a bright future in front of him, no matter you ask a scout or a stat-head, the answer would be the same.

Take your pick. I'd say it's still a high risk to take if the biding war drives his price too high.
 
Well, as far as physical evidence is concerned, Chapman possesses his passport after he defected. That's why he is able to establish residency in Andorra within 3 months. SI's Jose Arangue Jr. reported. Arangue used to work for Washington Post so I think he should be trustworthy.

And Baseball America (http://tinyurl.com/ndssw5) said scouts have been continually monitored this kid ever since 2005 Cuba’s Serie Nacional, and his D.O.B. is consistent. Unlike El Duque's case, whose friends immediately burned all of his identification papers after they landed. Furthermore, scouts dug out El Duque's D.O.B from previous tournaments and his divorce papers.

Nevertheless, I think international free agent signing is the least risky method of recruiting talents, in the sense that loss would just be purely monetary. No loss in draft picks, no loss in prospects. However pay him Contreras kind of money is just stupid. If it is just a fifth of that I think it should be ok.
 
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