Neil Weinberg FanGraphs Q&A – 11/12/14

2:33
Neil Weinberg: Hey all, queue is open and we’ll get going at 3pm! Priority to stat/data/FG questions, but anything is fair game. I’m @NeilWeinberg44 on Twitter if you’re looking for me. See you shortly.

3:01
Neil Weinberg: Alright, let’s consider important* topics (*-no guarantee of actual importance)

3:01
Comment From Pale Hose
Does Steamer project PAs? I know the projected PAs on the player pages on manually set by FG staff. Say Steamer projects a player for 200 PAs and FG manually adjusts to 400 PAs. Are the rates stats kept the same and counting stats double?

3:02
Neil Weinberg: Steamer projects PA, but FG also does custom playing time numbers. That said, Steamer is driving the rate stats 100%, so a .340 wOBA projection is a .340 wOBA projection whether we project 1 PA or 500 PA

3:02
Comment From Vslyke
How often do bugs like Nori Aoki’s -10 BsR pop up?

3:04
Neil Weinberg: I don’t know the official answer, but I seem to notice one or two mistakes a year…usually they are easy to correct, but sometimes not. I’m not sure exactly why we haven’t updated the database on that one, but he’s supposed to be a slightly above average runner this year

3:04
Comment From Pale Hose
Have you seen any research on the value of a roster spot? If a platoon and everyday player are projected to be equivalent, what is the added value of having the everday player?

3:05
Neil Weinberg: Nothing comes to mind off the top of my head….there’s obviously an advantage, but I’m not sure what the order of magnitude is. Kind of depends on how many roster spots are affect. At some point, the every day player gets more important as available roster spots appraoch 0

3:05
Comment From Lawrenceville Joe
Is there an endpoint for baseball analysis? Is there a point where we say “we can’t squeeze another drop of data out of this here machine” or will we always be able to develop new and improved methods?

3:07
Neil Weinberg: I think there will be a point at which we won’t be able to accurately measure anything else, but the beauty of baseball is that 1) there’s a new slog of 2400 games every year and 2) there’s enough randomness to keep it interesting, even once we have all the data. Although, I don’t think that day is on the immediate horizon

3:07
Comment From Parts Unknown
Do you think there will ever be a day when we have complete pbp data for more seasons earlier than 1974?

3:08
Neil Weinberg: Complete? I doubt it. Record keeping probably doesn’t support it. Could be wrong, but we need to find someone who wrote everything down for every game…which seems like it would have happened by now

3:08
Comment From Mike D
When will other projection systems become available?

3:09
Neil Weinberg: I believe ZiPS starts up in a couple weeks, and the full data will be around early January. Dan can speak to this, specifically though. Not sure on Oliver.

3:09
Comment From scoopy
Why don’t you do a noon chat on Fridays? Could use a Friday chat at noon, and I’d guess that noontime chats gets better participation?

3:09
Neil Weinberg: Two reasons. Kiley has that slot, and prospects are a popular topic. At least for now, I have a permanent standing meeting at that time and it would be awfully rude to chat during it.

3:09
Comment From Guest
Are the Mets “going for it” or is RAJ’s condition contagious?

3:10
Neil Weinberg: I think they are going for it. If they are willing to spend a little money, they are definitely within range….so that’s just the question we need to answer.

3:10
Comment From DominionXxX
How on earth did Nick Castellanos get a 3rd place vote for Al ROY?

3:11
Neil Weinberg: Courtesy from local writer. I do not see any justification for the vote, but it’s basically irrelevant given the landslide election

3:12
Comment From John F
Does Royals’ BP success make RPs more desirable as FA targets? Nice to be able to count on a safe and sound 7-8-9, strikes me as worth the money (contrary to ca. 2003 Billy Beane wisdom).

3:13
Neil Weinberg: Problem is that it’s so difficult to predict reliever performance relative to other positions. Teams are very aware of the value of good relievers, but I’m not sure they will start spending more on them as a result of that knowledge. If you have a 50% chance of finding a Holland in your farm system at 500K or a 70% chance of finding him for $8 million on the FA market, what do you do?

3:13
Comment From Guest
AFTER DARK CHATS ARE BACK THANKS NEIL

3:13
Neil Weinberg: I had nothing to do with this but I will accept your gratitude.

3:13
Comment From nyuk nyuk
Why don’t you sit down at that meeting?

3:14
Neil Weinberg: Zing.

3:15
Comment From Mark
How are the run expectancies by count for pitch type LW determined?

3:16
Neil Weinberg: Essentially, the difference in observed performance from one count to another. So, the difference between going from 0-0 to 1-0 versus 0-0 to 0-1. The math is just like any other LW after that

3:18
Comment From Pale Hoes
Are baseball’s fundamentals changing?

3:18
Neil Weinberg: Referring to this: http://www.fangraphs.com/bl…

And I think yes, always.

3:18
Neil Weinberg: Baseball, like any competition, is an effort to gain a competitive advantage. So it would make sense that teams cycle through different strategies

3:19
Comment From Jake is daBomb
where does one look for the Crowd sourcing results if one were so inclined?

3:19
Neil Weinberg: there was a post, but they are also here: http://www.fangraphs.com/fr…

3:19
Comment From CharlesBarkley
might be a dumb question but if the mets go out and sign someone else who recieved a QO, how does draft compensation work?

3:20
Neil Weinberg: They give up their 2nd round pick.

3:20
Comment From Guest
How far do you think a left handed SS could make it through a minor league system before having to change positions? or is that pretty much squelched right away universally? (say it’s a high school draft pick who was the best on his team so he played SS)

3:21
Neil Weinberg: I can’t imagine he would play a real inning at SS in pro ball.

3:22
Comment From mtsw
What does a realistic Ubaldo Jimenez salary dump look like?

3:22
Comment From gm neil weinberg
Is a bad contract swap of Ubaldo Jimenez and B.J. Upton a realistic framework for a deal? With the Braves kicking in some $ to even the numbers a bit?

3:25
Neil Weinberg: Ubaldo is owned 3/38ish, maybe he’s a 3 WAR pitcher total during that time. Upton is 3/45 and probably like 2 WAR. I don’t think the O’s do that because Ubaldo’s upper range is higher at this point.

O’s eat half the salary, they’ll have plenty of takers.

3:26
Comment From Jeff S.
Why wasn’t Billy Hamilton a base-stealing dynamo?

3:26
Neil Weinberg: Jeff’s explanation was pretty good. When you’re that good, pitchers don’t forget about you.

3:27
Comment From Guest
Would anyone be interested in Jose Bautista and if so, whom. What would the return be on a Bautista trade, assuming that the Jays got an offer they could not refuse.

3:29
Neil Weinberg: Bautista would be highly sought after. He has 2/28 left on his deal and is projected for 5 WAR this year. In a perfectly rational market, there is tons of value there, and this market seems to crave RH power. He’d probably fetch a not-quite-elite prospect and some solid other pieces. Or, a similarly placed pitcher (nearing FA but not there). Tons of value, not sure they are moving him. Last year was the time to do it, IMO.

3:29
Comment From SF Dave
Who designates plays as “Impossible”, “Remote” etc for the inside edge fielding numbers? Do they have a guideline? Is it normalized? I mean, what’s impossible for Morse to catch may be “Even” for Gordon.

3:30
Neil Weinberg: Impossible is defined as a play that literally no one at that position could make. The rest are based on the percentage of the time that play is made, and binned accordingly.

3:30
Comment From Chris
What if you could trade players outside of the industry? Could the Phillies trade Ryan Howard to Ford in exchange for, say, a 1997 Ford Taurus? Used?

3:32
Neil Weinberg: He has more value that than if the Phillies pick up his contract. I really want them to eat the money, because I want to see someone sign him, have him get 80 RBI and watch people go nuts

3:32
Comment From CharlesBarkley
1974 is when MLB pbp started?

3:32
Neil Weinberg: It is as far back as we have complete play by play logs

3:32
Comment From beer league MVP
better predictor of MLB talent: success at semi-professional volleyball or beer league baseball?

3:33
Neil Weinberg: Semi-pro volleyball. Although I don’t really know a lot about such a league…so I may be over estimating the quality of athletes

3:33
Comment From Larry Bernandez
Are other sports, such as football, pursuing a world of advanced metrics on player evaluations?

3:34
Neil Weinberg: Yes. Basketball is pretty invested, hockey is coming along. I believe NFL is behind, but getting into it. Although I am not that well versed in the details of each sports movement, so I am speaking very generally

3:36
Comment From Bill
What exactly do you do for Fangraphs?

3:37
Neil Weinberg: I think my official title is “site educator.” I was hired to update the Library/Glossary and flatten the learning curve for people new to advanced stats.

3:37
Comment From Guest
Mankind lands a robot camera machine on a whizzing interplanetary hunk of rock, and I can’t even get published writing for free about baseball; woe is me.

3:37
Neil Weinberg: Start a blog, write a lot. Develop a portfolio of good work. Share it.

3:38
Comment From mtsw
Will presumed continuation of increased prevalence/effectiveness of contact hitters make it harder to hide lousy fielders in corner positions?

3:39
Neil Weinberg: So far, contact hitters aren’t really in vogue. More balls in play would mean more emphasis on avoiding bad defense, but that hasn’t happened yet

3:39
Comment From A ROBOT
What does a realistic ROBOT look like?

3:39
Neil Weinberg: I am not qualified to answer this question at all.

3:39
Comment From hungry
Why is it always about eating the salary

3:40
Neil Weinberg: Most of our metaphors in English are about food or violence.

3:40
Comment From mtsw
Should Toronto’s next stadium be outdoors?

3:40
Neil Weinberg: Current one has a retractable roof. That’s probably the likely outcome

3:40
Comment From CharlesBarkley
how did rickey henderson steal so many bases? everyone knew he was going just like b-ham the runnin man

3:41
Neil Weinberg: Extraordinary ability/reaction time. Hamilton is fast, but it’s only 90 feet. A lot of it is getting moving in the first place

3:41
Comment From mtsw
To generate more interest in mid-season games, should MLB experiment with having a couple games a year where the players must run the bases clockwise? Would be an entertaining novelty.

3:41
Neil Weinberg: Imagine the hot takes.

3:41
Comment From Matt
Where can we find historical ZIPS projections? For example, ZIPs projections for 2012.

3:42
3:43
Comment From Matt
In 2012, outfielders had 9,237 total impossible chances according to Inside Edge. In 2013, outfielders had 9,753 total impossible chances. In 2014, outfielders had 5,272 impossible chances. Why are the 2014 numbers so different than the 2012/2013 ones?

3:43
Neil Weinberg: Has to be a change in the definition/categorization.

3:43
Comment From Mike P.
Can Ervin Santana do better this time around?

3:43
Neil Weinberg: Yes, hey wait a second you’re just putting titles in here…

3:44
Comment From JJB
I’d like your take on the latest crowdsourcing effort – how much would you pay Ryan Howard the next 2 years?

3:45
Neil Weinberg: $5 million?

3:45
Comment From Ryan
Ubaldo Jimenez for Ryan Howard

3:45
Neil Weinberg: Can’t hear you over the sound of DD hanging up his phone

3:46
Comment From CharlesBarkley
do you buy Marte as a 4 win player? what do you see him doing in 2015? For some reason i dont buy him as a 4 win guy like hes been the past 2 years but then again..i dislike the pirates

3:47
Neil Weinberg: Don’t see any reason why he won’t be a 3-4 WAR guy

3:47
Comment From Ryan
Orioles trade Jimenez, Schoop and Tommy Hunter, along with 8 million to the Braves for Upton and Gattis. Thoughts?

3:47
Neil Weinberg: I think the O’s pass on this, but it’s a conversation worth having

3:47
Comment From Pale Hose
Is there a good rate stat to use for defense?

3:48
Neil Weinberg: UZR/150, or something like a basic RZR (revised zone rating) which is like defensive efficiency. Or you can just scale UZR or DRS to 1400 innings

3:49
Comment From mtsw
If you could force the MLB teams to compete in a tournament in another sport/game, what would produce the most entertaining results?

3:50
Neil Weinberg: Hockey, because it’s always funny to watch people fail to ice skate properly, but the actual quality of play would probably be best in soccer?

3:50
Comment From CharlesBarkley
what do you think of the japanese series games so far? i havent paid a lick of attention. im guessing this is geared more towards Japenese fans.

3:50
Neil Weinberg: Haven’t watched at all. It’s about growing the popularity in other countries. That’s great, but it’s the middle of the night and there are no stakes

3:50
Comment From hungry
Why did my wife make me go on this diet

3:50
Neil Weinberg: I would assume so that you will live longer

3:50
Neil Weinberg: But I don’t know your wife

3:51
Comment From mtsw
Jimenez for Howard + cash to balance out the contracts + an additional $12M from Philadelphia. Whatever value Howard has left could be best captured on AL team in home stadium with shallow LF.

3:52
Neil Weinberg: There’s a dollar value where UJ for RH makes sense. Don’t know exactly what it is.

3:52
Comment From Spectator
Do Cubs and Red Sox ever make a trade under their current regimes? Swihart for Russell, why not?

3:52
Neil Weinberg: Probably, but teams don’t deal prospects for prospects very often, so that’s probably not happening

3:52
Comment From Hank
Would it be better to use an xFIP based WAR than a FIP based one in terms of evaluating future contracts and trades (and then blend in whatever % value folks give to RA9-WAR)?

3:53
Neil Weinberg: Well, we typically use projections to evaluate contracts, so it’s already a projected FIP, which is taking into account various HR/FB stuff. Your point is right, but we already do a better version of what you’re describing

3:54
Comment From JJB
Does UZR account for foul territory? AKA Josh Donaldson debate

3:55
Neil Weinberg: I believe so, but I am not 100% positive.

3:55
Comment From GS1
What way would you attack, without looking at scouting reports,trying to figure out if minor leaguer players high strikeouts are due to pitch recognition issues or plate discipline/over-aggressiveness at the plate

3:57
Neil Weinberg: Assuming I don’t have PITCHf/x data? Would look at his behavior in certain counts, and also his wOBA on contact. If he’s not swinging a ton early in counts, he’s probably not too aggressive, but if he’s doing damage when he does swing, he’s probably recognizing pitches fine.

3:57
Comment From Seth
California kid, went to Long Beach, why is Tulo to the Dodgers not a no brainer for them? Younger Seager good, but prime Tulo when they have a mandate to win now, Friedman wanting to make a splash – what am I missing?

3:59
Neil Weinberg: I think it makes some sense, but there’s the whole same division thing and the fact that people are focusing on the Dodgers trading an OF right now. Only real Tulo rumor so far was Mets, so the night is young

3:59
Comment From Pale Hose
For defense I’m looking for something that shows value per opportunity. Does RZR do that?

4:00
Neil Weinberg: RZR is percent of balls in zone turned into outs. So you probably want to do UZR or DRS scaled to some number of innings/opps. Although UZR/150 scales the player’s performance to a normal number of chances per 150 games, which might be what you want

4:01
Comment From Pale Hose
If a player retires while still under contract, then the contract is forfeited. Do you know the rules governing if that player later attempts a comeback?

4:01
Neil Weinberg: I do not. The team probably has the right to make them honor the deal, but can also choose to let them out. But I’m guessing.

4:02
Comment From JJB
You’re a new team owner & can pick anyone to be your GM. Who do you choose?

4:03
Neil Weinberg: I would probably choose Andrew Friedman, but if I was an actual baseball owner I would have access to more information that I do now. The public things I’ve seen from AF and things I’ve heard off the record would make him my first choice but I don’t have nearly enough knowledge of everyone else to feel strongly about it

4:03
Comment From CharlesBarkley
dodgers could build a package around Joc to get tulo…no? maybe puig

4:04
Neil Weinberg: Joc could be a centerpiece but you need more too. Puig would get it done, assuming the Rockies don’t hate him or something

4:04
Neil Weinberg: Running low on questions, if you want me to stick around keep them coming

4:04
Comment From mtsw
What would be the specific skill behind fouling off pitches when necessary? And if there is such a skill (and Panda is not but a serious outlier), can and will it be taught?

4:06
Neil Weinberg: Presumably the ability to react late? You don’t need to square the ball up, but if you can start your swing late you have an idea if you need to foul it off? Just hypothesizing, though. I suspect it can’t be taught because a lot of it is just instinctual, but again, hypothesis.

4:07
Comment From Parts Unknown
If the Panda does indeed go to Boston, what does SF do at third base?

4:08
Neil Weinberg: Headley? I confess I don’t know their farm system very well, but otherwise it’s a trade.

4:08
Comment From Hank
Why aren’t %’s used in FIP as opposed to a per IP rate? Isn’t their a BABIP somewhat buried in there when looking at HR, K and BB /IP instead of per batter?

4:10
Neil Weinberg: Yeah, you can create a similar stat with TBF rather than IP, but there’s very little actual difference and an ERA scale is easier to understand. You also do care about outs with ERA or FIP, so it’s not entirely wrong. (Also K% is better than K/9, but there is rarely a difference.)

4:11
Comment From JJB
What 3-4 front offices use data & analysis the least? As a Phillies fan, I know they’re #1 on this list, but who else is in the Stone Age of baseball analytics?

4:12
Neil Weinberg: Tough to say exactly. Basically every team has an analytics staff, but the real question is where the decision makers are listening. Colorado seems like one team for this list. Hard to tell with Seattle at this point. KC yes and no.

4:13
Neil Weinberg: Dbacks?

4:13
Neil Weinberg: It’s really hard to know how much the analysis makes it up the chain.

4:14
Comment From Deevo
The Indians have an expected 10-12 million to play with this off season, they have a serious need in RF and at 3B, do you think that Urshela could be good enough for them to really not look into getting Headley?

4:14
Neil Weinberg: Headley would be an interesting fit for them.Whoever they get needs to play quality defense.

4:15
Comment From Guest
Cubs/Nats seems like a perfect fit for a Zimm/2B trade, right? The Cubs have multiple levels of 2B options, so there’s a lot of room for negotiation. Who do you think gets it done? I’m thinking Javy makes the most sense. But what about Alcantara+?

4:16
Neil Weinberg: Less than Javy. I don’t think they’re good partners here. JZ is owed $16.5 million for one year. We’re only talking about $10-15MM in surplus value, which nets you a good not great prospect. Cubs can get a similar pitcher for only money right now. Can’t see a deal.

4:16
Comment From Pale Hose
Scenario: bad baserunner on second, good baserunner on first, and a base hit. Bad baserunner does not score, which also prevents good baserunn from making it to first. Does the second base runner get dinged (in UBR) for preventing the good baserunner from advancing?

4:17
Neil Weinberg: They are only dinged for what they do. The average effect of the chain reaction is built into the numbers, but not the specific case

4:17
Comment From CharlesBarkley
what pitcher do the red sox sign/ trade for this offseason? your prediction is__________

4:17
Neil Weinberg: Shields?

4:17
Comment From Db
UZR doesn’t count plays w shifts, but what about plays where players subtly adjust their positions. I feel like some players/teams would be drastically affected by somehing like this. What do you make of it, any stat that would minimize this affect?

4:18
Neil Weinberg: If players are just shading a few steps here or there, UZR includes the play and makes no correction for the positioning. This is the biggest problem with current metrics. Presumably it goes away with StatCast

4:18
Comment From mtsw
One a scale of 1-10 how much are you bothered by the fact OPS is the sum of fractions with different denominators?

4:19
Neil Weinberg: 4? OPS is a short hand. It’s a rule of thumb that went mainstream, but it’s a fine tool. I’m bothered from an pedantic perspective, but not a real one

4:19
Comment From Conor
How are defensive values created for WAR for players like Babe Ruth?

4:20
Neil Weinberg: Something called Total Zone. Pretty basic measure of balls hit to you and outs made.

4:20
Comment From Db
Any progress on working w quality of competition? I’ve asked his to a couple FG staff and they said they were trying to incorporate that. Seems like it could make a huge difference, especially w relievers.

4:21
Neil Weinberg: Stephen Lotfus at Beyond The Box Score has an opponent adjusted FIP and RA9 metric. I know we’ve had some people work on it, but I don’t know how close we are to a finished thing

4:21
Comment From CharlesBarkley
do you have any inside mlb sources? do you ever consult them for writing, or just casual conversation. also do you find that “inside” sources are often as shocked as us about certain trades. i.e. cubs- a’s trade

4:22
Neil Weinberg: A few. I often talk to them to get the inside opinion on a player or see if they have data to confirm/disprove my ideas. I don’t really chase trade rumors.

4:22
Comment From big dawg
what do you prefer over OPS? wrc+?

4:22
Neil Weinberg: wOBA and wRC+

4:24
Comment From Db
Looking at the top pitchers for the last few seasons, it’s striking how many seem to be from west coast teams. I know park factors say hey adjust for this, but might we be underestimating how much harder it is to pitch in the summer in aces like Bal, Cin, Tex, etc versus SF, LA, Sea

4:24
Neil Weinberg: I’m not sure I buy west coast pitchers being at the top of the lists

4:24
Comment From Kevin R
Have you heard anything about StatCast data becoming available to the public? What is its status?

4:25
Neil Weinberg: Still sounds like they plan to make it public, but no real work on the format. There’s going to be loads of data, we might not get the raw output

4:25
Comment From Pale Hose
By true talent is Troy Tulowitzki the best non-Mike Trout player in baseball?

4:25
Neil Weinberg: Probably

4:26
Comment From Db
Any stat on FG that tries to neutralize stats for era and park? I know wRC+ compares it to the league that year, but what about trying to compare .285 avg w 26 HR in ’73 to the same in ’99.

4:26
Neil Weinberg: wRC+ does this

4:26
Comment From big dawg
what do you think of the latest Lester back to boston? i think its interesting. more i think about it, the more i think its actually realistic. definitely moreso than a month ago

4:27
Neil Weinberg: Boston doesn’t seem to want to pay what he wants. Still skeptical

4:28
Comment From Guest
In other news, Tigers apparently close to resigning Vmart on a 4 year deal

4:28
Comment From Conor
How crazy are the Tigers for giving V-Mart 4/60 (if rumors are true)?

4:29
Neil Weinberg: Well, I’m going to have to go write about this in a second. But I don’t think it’s terribly crazy at all

4:29
Neil Weinberg: Not a bargain, but it’s fine

4:29
Neil Weinberg: Take care, see you next week!

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Neil Weinberg is the Site Educator at FanGraphs and can be found writing enthusiastically about the Detroit Tigers at New English D. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @NeilWeinberg44.

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