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 Post subject: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:14 pm 
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Really enjoyed this article. The market inefficiency, currently, is in run prevention over run scoring and it's not surprising that the Pirates, A's, and Rays have exploited it to the greatest extent. Teams are overpaying for offense but underpaying to prevent the other team from scoring....but a 5-4 win and a 3-2 win count just the same.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-pittsburgh-pirates-arent-regressing/#more-132532

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:31 pm 
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It's also not surprising from an age/athleticism/cost perspective. Younger players tend to be faster and more athletic, but lacking in core baseball skills that take time to develop (i.e., plate discipline, consistency, power).

Guys like Marte and Mercer are young, but have the athleticism to be plus defenders. They're also dirt cheap.

Guys like McCutchen and Alvarez and Walker are all just entering their prime years and retain their athleticism. They're a bit more expensive, but not prohibitively so.

It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:20 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:23 pm 
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headh wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.



Maybe you can do that in the American League, but have to think of things differently in the DH less one? Just a thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:33 pm 
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headh wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.


Nah, Moneyball is all about exploiting the market inefficiency and building a winner on minimal budget. Or, in the Pirates' case since they aren't quite as financially hamstrung as the A's and Rays, it's building a winner that allows you maximum flexibility to make a big "missing piece" free agent signing once they hit their window.

Ever since the A's approach came out, teams have been overpaying for OPS and offense. At the time, people took RBI's, runs, avg., etc., at face value and paid for them, rather than the underlying components that lead to them being created, so the A's exploited that. The market corrected, and then they moved on to a different undervalued component (defense).

Right now, the market inefficiency is in saving runs. A run saved is worth the same as a run scored, but teams aren't spending that way. So the A's, Rays, and Pirates are building teams to save runs....not score runs, because they aren't going to be able to build an offensive juggernaut with baseball's current economic structure.

I think the Pirates can eventually get there as the young guys mature, but at this point they aren't in a position to tie up payroll with some big free agent signings, so they're targeting defense and sinkerball pitchers since they can get them for cheaper than a big hitter or high K rate pitcher.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:50 pm 
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Russell Martin is a good example of this as well. Those years hitting .210-.220 put him in the Pirates' price range.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:51 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
It's also not surprising from an age/athleticism/cost perspective. Younger players tend to be faster and more athletic, but lacking in core baseball skills that take time to develop (i.e., plate discipline, consistency, power).

Guys like Marte and Mercer are young, but have the athleticism to be plus defenders. They're also dirt cheap.

Guys like McCutchen and Alvarez and Walker are all just entering their prime years and retain their athleticism. They're a bit more expensive, but not prohibitively so.

It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


Yeah, I think for the most part Marte's issues with discipline are just issues he's always going to have because it's been his MO since the minors. But, he has his ways of compensating so you can live with it, and I do think he's a guy that can push 20 HR's as he matures (another component you mention).

The rest of the plate discipline, IMO, isn't awful. Mercer is around 17%. Tabata is around 15%, tied with Cutch. Polanco has always had exceptional BB/K numbers, and guys like Dickerson and T. Sanchez are pretty solid as well.

Even the veterans aren't totally awful (aside from Jones, Alvarez, Marte, but again, you can live with it from them) as Gaby Sanchez's 18.5% rate is inflated by the late game double switches and also comes with a 14.7% BB rate.

Honestly, I don't know that there's a hard and fast rule for drafting and developing, but I do know that they target one thing....tools. Sometimes it's the hit tool (Josh Bell, Nick Buckner), sometimes it's the whole package of tools (Meadows), sometimes it's the defense (McGuire....who, btw, is 4-4 today in gunning down runners). But they've been pretty consistent in targeting the best tools when possible, and I think that's a good thing. Meadows and JaCoby Jones, for instance, were named the top HS athlete and top college athlete in this year's draft, respectively.

You're likely to develop something out of a toolsy guy, and if you have a good development process, it's all the better. The draft really is a crapshoot, and going with upside is a smart way to go, IMO.

The best way to go, I think, is to fill as many holes as possible with cheap, young, good players whom you developed and then target some big free agents to fill the one or two holes that might be holding you back. Right now I think we need a RF, 1B, and SS for the window (i.e. the 5 years we have Cutch locked up after the veteran contracts expire). I don't necessarily care which of those holes we fill with prospects, but I'd love to find 2 guys we'll control for 5+ years and then throw a ton of money at the position we can't fill. Think it'd be a heck of a team.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:02 pm 
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headh wrote:
The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.

You've obviously never read Moneyball.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:43 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.

Good point.

And players like Barrett Barnes and Josh Bell fit that description as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:01 pm 
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I remember the grief this FO took, from this board and elsewhere, when they rolled out spray charts and moved Nyger to LC rover.

Way ahead of the curve, probably too far ahead since their data were probably too new to use fully correctly. But, they were onto something then.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:13 pm 
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StarlingArcher wrote:
Really enjoyed this article. The market inefficiency, currently, is in run prevention over run scoring and it's not surprising that the Pirates, A's, and Rays have exploited it to the greatest extent. Teams are overpaying for offense but underpaying to prevent the other team from scoring....but a 5-4 win and a 3-2 win count just the same.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-pittsburgh-pirates-arent-regressing/#more-132532

i'm new to the fangraph website but am enjoying it very much, great site, and a number cruncher's dream come true. in fact i've exchanged a few emails with a couple of guys there, and they're always prompt with their replies. for example i wanted a little clarification on the numbers they show on their stats pages (leader pages) given the numbers shown per category (team batting for example: 1b, 2b, ss, 3b, rf, cf, lf, etc.) don't balance to the total (all) numbers, nor do the rf, cf, lf numbers total to the total of numbers. and although i wasn't overly impressed with their explanation as to why these numbers don't balance (they're off by a wide margin), they were great at getting back to me and fielding my questions.

anyway cameron's article (that you've linked to) seems to take the long way home, a lot of print and analysis that ultimately points to the simple reason the pirates are having such success this year: pitching. sure, the bucs woba differential is right up there with the best teams in the league, but why? pitching. and, sure, the bucs run differential is also right up there with the best teams in the league as well, but why? again, pitching. that's usually what happens when your offense ranks 20th in woba yet 1st in defensive woba, go figure. go bucs!


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:27 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
I remember the grief this FO took, from this board and elsewhere, when they rolled out spray charts and moved Nyger to LC rover.

Way ahead of the curve, probably too far ahead since their data were probably too new to use fully correctly. But, they were onto something then.

ZM


It's funny, they were talking about the Pirates on the rundown and they were talking about how hitters actually have very little control over where the ball is hit. Harold Reynolds, of course, was indignant and said batters absolutely can control where they hit the ball, using the counterargument "well then why do teams shift?".

Ummmm, it's because players largely CAN'T control where they hit the ball so you typically don't need to worry about them beating you on it. The Pirates were definitely ahead of the curve in recognizing this, so going to the SABR heavy shifts and decisions in the offseason shouldn't be overly shocking.

Like Brian Kenny said, Barmes and Martin were defensively about as solid an acquisition as any team made from a defensive standpoint in free agency.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:38 pm 
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The Pirates are following the Rays' model to a greater degree than we could have known back in 2011. Specifically:

  • Not overpaying for trade acquisitions at the deadline. I personally cussed out the Rays for not sending decent prospects to the Pirates for Bay in 2008.
  • Avoiding expensive free agents, but finding quality for value in the FA market.
  • Emphasizing defense as a point of focus in players drafted.
  • Building a pitching staff around power arms, both starters and the pen.
  • Defensive shifts.


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:39 pm 
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headh wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.

No, the Moneyball approach is exactly what the Pirates are executing: identifying the undervalued aspects of baseball that help win games, and seek out players that perform well in those aspects. Right now, defense fielding prowes has become very undervalued, and as a result, become very cheap relative to hitting prowess. Seeking out plate discipline and hitting is no longer Moneyball because such qualities have become very expensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:06 pm 
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Thanks for the link!

SO good to read a Pirates-related article with some analysis for a change. FanGraphs really is tops.

Loved the closing lines:

Quote:
It’s time to stop expecting the Pirates to collapse. Their offense is solid, their pitching is pretty good, and their defense is terrific. This formula works.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:19 pm 
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NSMaster56 wrote:
Thanks for the link!

SO good to read a Pirates-related article with some analysis for a change. FanGraphs really is tops.

Loved the closing lines:

Quote:
It’s time to stop expecting the Pirates to collapse. Their offense is solid, their pitching is pretty good, and their defense is terrific. This formula works.

that quote just doesn't make much sense to me... it should read: their pitching is terrific, their defense is solid, and their offense is below average. yet the formula has worked so far. speaking of pitching, how about these stats with runners in scoring position - fewest line drives, most ground balls, second fewest fly balls, third most strikeouts, ninth fewest base on balls, lowest opponent batting average and lowest era:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:21 pm 
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tprothro wrote:
Quote:
It’s time to stop expecting the Pirates to collapse. Their offense is solid, their pitching is pretty good, and their defense is terrific. This formula works.

that quote just doesn't make much sense to me... it should read: their pitching is terrific, their defense is solid, and their offense is below average.


Pravda.

Still, great way to close an article. A nicer way of saying, 'STFU noobs'. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:23 pm 
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tprothro wrote:
NSMaster56 wrote:
Thanks for the link!

SO good to read a Pirates-related article with some analysis for a change. FanGraphs really is tops.

Loved the closing lines:

Quote:
It’s time to stop expecting the Pirates to collapse. Their offense is solid, their pitching is pretty good, and their defense is terrific. This formula works.

that quote just doesn't make much sense to me...

It would make sense if you read the article.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:37 pm 
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headh wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
It appears that the best way to build a good, cheap team is to focus on defense and try to develop some good hitters from that athleticism. The model for the Pirates' future is very similar, with guys like Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson and Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire all profiling as athletic, plus defenders at their respective positions.


The Moneyball approach is essentially the exact opposite of this. The Moneyball approach seeks out plate discipline and hitting regardless of their ability to play defense.

No, you missed the point from Moneyball.

The way to build a good, cheap team is to identify traits that are currently undervalued by major league general managers, then exploit those bargains. At that time, on base skills were vastly undervalued, so that's what the A's went after. Today almost all teams employ clever baseball statisticians who are constantly trying to identify weaknesses in the market to exploit, so it's getting harder and harder to succeed.

Sometimes I think that a GM is only as good as his sabremetrician.

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 Post subject: Re: Good Article; Pirates are for real
PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:40 pm 
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NSMaster56 wrote:
tprothro wrote:
Quote:
It’s time to stop expecting the Pirates to collapse. Their offense is solid, their pitching is pretty good, and their defense is terrific. This formula works.

that quote just doesn't make much sense to me... it should read: their pitching is terrific, their defense is solid, and their offense is below average.


Pravda.

Still, great way to close an article. A nicer way of saying, 'STFU noobs'. :D

agreed! :D


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