Author Archive

How Much Luck Is Involved in One-Run Games?

The Orioles shocked the baseball world by making the American League playoffs last season, based largely on a 29-9 record in one-run games. This .763 winning percentage in one-run games was the best in baseball and had every analyst who knew how to calculate a Pythagorean record screaming, “Lucky!”  Was the Orioles record in one-run games lucky? Or, the better question is, how much of it was luck?

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Stan Musial 1920-2013

On Saturday night, baseball lost one of its all-time greats. Stan “The Man” Musial, a Hall-of-Fame inductee who played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, passed away at the age of 92.

I’ll leave the descriptions of Musial’s unique swing and the stories of contributions to the community to writers more eloquent and knowledgeable than I. FanGraphs is all about statistics, so let’s look at Musial’s career though his numbers.

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New Wild Cards and the Playoff-Probability Curve

Some say the new wild card is a gimmick to artificially create drama. Some say it rewards teams for wining their divisions. No matter what you think about the new playoff format, it’s here — and the playoff probability curve we’re used to is suddenly out of date.

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Is There Hope for the Diamondbacks?

The first three months of the season have not been kind to the Diamondbacks. An extra-innings loss on Tuesday brings the defending National League West champions’ record to 33-35, nine games out of first place. However, Arizona is better than their record suggests. They are one busted slump, one injury return, and one trade away from contending for a playoff spot.

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Is Proprietary Information Disappearing?

Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, and Jayson Werth signed large free agent contracts with new teams last offseason, and each were unequivocal disappointments in 2011 with their new club. This phenomenon is not limited to free agents. In recent memory, several highly touted prospects have been traded and not lived up to expectations with their new teams: Justin Smoak, Brett Wallace, and Kyle Drabek, to name a few.

Whenever a player changes teams and fails to live up to expectations, I find myself wondering, “Did his old team see this coming?” In these specific examples, we may never know, but we do know that teams have internal information which creates an advantage in personnel decisions. While this advantage may never completely go away, there is evidence to suggest that it’s starting to disappear.

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A Long-Run Analysis of Salary Inflation

The contracts that baseball players sign are some of the longest contracts in business — not just sports. When handing out nine- or ten-year deals, projecting salary inflation is critical, and yet getting an accurate forecast is nearly impossible.

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Why Did C.J. Wilson Sign for Cheap?

Thursday morning C.J. Wilson, the consensus top free agent starting pitcher, signed a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the Angels. His new contract has an average annual value of $15.5 million, which is only $1 million more than Mark Buehrle’s four-year, $58 million deal signed less than 24 hours earlier.

Wilson is younger — 31 to 32 — and better — career FIP- 83 to 92 — than Buehrle, so why did he sign such a similar deal?

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My Game 7 Experience

Disclaimer: this post will not contain any wOBAs, xFIPs, or UZRs. This is the story of Game 7 from the perspective of one fan — me.

As soon as David Freese’s home run landed in the grass beyond the centerfield wall, ending Game 6, I made up my mind that I was going to the stadium for Game 7. It was an interesting and amazing night, and I thought I’d try to relay that experience.

On Friday in St. Louis everyone seemingly adopted new salutations. Gone were “hello” and “goodbye”, instead, every conversation started with, “Could you believe that game last night?” and ended with, “The Cards have to win tonight.” Everyone at my office spent most of their Friday passing around emails with the best links about Game 6 (the win expectancy graph being one popular option). Cardinals fans are always crazy about their team, and we’ve been in two World Series recently, but I’ve never seen anything like the buzz for Game 7.

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World Series Game Three Chat

Determining the “Value” of “Valuable”

When the FanGraphs staff voted for the major postseason awards, I was the only guy who cast an MVP vote for Justin Upton.

I made my choice after calculating the Diamondbacks’ playoff probability with and without its 24-year-old star outfielder. With Upton, Arizona makes the playoffs 92% of the time. Without him, the figure drops to 30%. The success gap is impressive, and is the largest for any player in the National League.

And that’s why he’s the MVP.

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