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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:30 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
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Here's the thing. You can't take any crap pitcher and turn him into a diamond with defensive shifts and ballpark factors. You can't. Jonathan Sanchez didn't pan out, neither did James McDonald.


And this was noted in the article. In Sanchez' case, he refused to adapt or even try to adapt. In McDonald's case, he seems to be a head case.

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But players with high K/9 rates and fairly low BB/9 rates have much higher CEILINGS when those defensive shifts and ballpark factors are added in. That's why Burnett could provide 3.0 and 4.0 WAR in consecutive seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate -- it was partly due to the defense and the ballpark, sure, but he wouldn't have had a shot at putting up stellar numbers if not for his K/9 and BB/9 rates.


Also addressed in the article, as saying you look for a certain type of player these issues will help. No one is saying you take crap and make it gold. But, you can use these factors to take a former All Star pitcher with a devastating change and good K rate, and restore him to previous production.


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That's why even the most optimistic people on this board about Edinson Volquez are saying that his CEILING is 1.5 WAR. He's just not as good of a pitcher as A.J. Burnett, so the added help from the defense and ballpark (and he pitched in PETCO last year, which is just as extreme a pitchers' park as PNC, mind you) won't be able to turn him into the kind of contributor that A.J. was the last two seasons.


But, San Diego doesn't have the defense or use the shifting. However, no one is saying Volquez will "replace" Burnett, but that he was a Plan, well, C actually after Johnson turned them down and AJ was on Family Hold. And, the question is not would AJ have helped, he would. The question is can Volquez be a solid 4 if it works, because that is what AJ most likely would have been this year.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:40 pm 
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mjdouble wrote:


ZM, first off I believe the impact of defensive shifting is overstated. And there is evidence to support that.
http://hiddenvigorish.com/2013/10/impac ... rstated-2/


Might be, time will tell. My point in the article was not that you go to the Wild Things to find yourself a cheap pitcher because you will fix him into something he is not. The point was that these park factors, etc. are undervalued in how much they help a pitcher.

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Secondly, the Pirates are hardly the only team employing a system of defensive shifting and more and more are implementing it. And it is complete BS to say the Pirates or any other team weren't emphasizing ground balls previously. Now the coaching staff is maybe better at how to identify/instruct how to do it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a prior emphasis. The only thing unique to the Pirates is the field and the individual talent they currently have (both the pitchers and coaching talent).


Sorry,this is setting up a strawman. No one is saying that ground balls weren't emphasized in baseball. No one. What is being said in THIS case, was that they literally changed Burnett's and other pitcher's (Morton) PITCH SELECTION to create more groundballs. So, Burnett changes from a 4-seamer to a 2-seamer. Morton drops to 3/4 and develops a "Roy Halladay" sinker for groundballs. Did the Yankees even BOTHER to ask AJ that?

It is also disingenous to say other teams "are starting to employ" shifts. It means they haven't. I believe the last couple of years, only about 5 or so teams were using defensive shifts based on advanced defensive metrics. MIL, Tampa, CLEV, annnnnnndddddd, I'm thinking...

I am not going to lop the Ted Williams or Willie Stargell shifts into that category. That is mixing apples and oranges.

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As for the soft tossing lefty you mention, there is actually evidence to support they are helped more at PNC than a hard throwing righty. PNC park factors hurt right handed hitters more than any park in baseball. (PNC is 7th for LH hitters). Look at how much better Maholm has been in his career at PNC park than anywhere else. I think one of the biggest things people miss with the Pirates last year was the LH starting pitcher advantage they had. They were the only team in the NL Central with more than 1 LH starter. Most of the teams didn't have even 1 full time LH starter. Conversely there are a lot of LH bats in the division. The Bucs also had two stud LH relievers that were capable of multiple inning relief stints. The Pirates killed the platoon advantage better than any team in the NL last year.


You make valid points here, but what I was talking about was the quality and type of the pitchers selected in the early years you like to cite vis a vis the current regime.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:00 pm 
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Burnett is not worth 14million or more per season in my opinion, however it would have been nice of the Pirates to go out and improve the team this offseason :| The needs on this team are pretty apparent yet nothing was done to address them...

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:42 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
mjdouble wrote:


Secondly, the Pirates are hardly the only team employing a system of defensive shifting and more and more are implementing it. And it is complete BS to say the Pirates or any other team weren't emphasizing ground balls previously. Now the coaching staff is maybe better at how to identify/instruct how to do it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a prior emphasis. The only thing unique to the Pirates is the field and the individual talent they currently have (both the pitchers and coaching talent).


Sorry,this is setting up a strawman. No one is saying that ground balls weren't emphasized in baseball. No one. What is being said in THIS case, was that they literally changed Burnett's and other pitcher's (Morton) PITCH SELECTION to create more groundballs. So, Burnett changes from a 4-seamer to a 2-seamer. Morton drops to 3/4 and develops a "Roy Halladay" sinker for groundballs. Did the Yankees even BOTHER to ask AJ that?

It is also disingenous to say other teams "are starting to employ" shifts. It means they haven't. I believe the last couple of years, only about 5 or so teams were using defensive shifts based on advanced defensive metrics. MIL, Tampa, CLEV, annnnnnndddddd, I'm thinking...

I am not going to lop the Ted Williams or Willie Stargell shifts into that category. That is mixing apples and oranges.


There is nothing disingenuous about the argument. The facts are simple. The Pirates weren't the first team to employ over shifts. They aren't even the team that does it the most. Shifts are increasing industry wide, and more teams have said they intend to increase shifts even further. If there was a competitive advantage being gained by doing it in the past those advantages are eroding. Now teams will do it to not be at a disadvantage. The premise that it is something unique to the pirates and thus means we should "Change the Way We Value Pitchers" is ludicrous.

And I didn't realize the Pirates are the only team pushing pitchers to throw more two seamers. I could pull dozens of links of teams that have urged individual pitchers to throw more two seamers. Again, this not unique to the Pirates. Now perhaps the Pirates have some uniquely talented coaches that are a bit better than others at teaching the philosophy. But that isn't something that can be counted on forever.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:01 pm 
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Ryann wrote:
Burnett is not worth 14million or more per season in my opinion, however it would have been nice of the Pirates to go out and improve the team this offseason :| The needs on this team are pretty apparent yet nothing was done to address them...


This is a great thought. But in reality, look across the league, at every contract signed this offseason, and tell me which of those contracts you would have liked the Pirates to execute.

The one that stands out to me is Josh Johnson, but it's been widely reported that the Pirates were one of 4 or 5 teams to offer more than SD. JJ chose his team based on location, so there wasn't much the Pirates could do with that. I can't say that there were other deals that I thought they should have signed. Yeah, I would have liked Byrd back, but I wouldn't have paid him what the Phils did. I kinda liked Loney as a cheap rental, not a 3 year player. So what RF/1B/SP deal should the Pirates have signed, knowing now what those players required?

Or maybe we should have traded Nick Kingham for Ike Davis? I'm really curious to hear what SHOULD have been done to improve the team.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:47 pm 
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Yeah, Johnson is the only one I was upset they didn't get. At the very least he would have provided a confidence factor for me (and presumably other fans) going into April.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:01 pm 
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I would not give a top prospect for Ike Davis. We have Ike Davis or better now. I thinkGaby is going to get more starts against RH pitching and I think the team feels good about it's starting pitching depth even without Burnett with Locke and Cumpton has shown he can get MLB hitters out. You then have a could more guys knocking not the door. If we can step up the offense a tad and the bullpen doesn't implode, I think we will be right in the middle of it…JMHO 8-) 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:50 pm 
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Ryann wrote:
Burnett is not worth 14million or more per season in my opinion, however it would have been nice of the Pirates to go out and improve the team this offseason :| The needs on this team are pretty apparent yet nothing was done to address them...


I do agree that little has been done to upgrade the team.

I disagree that A.J. is/was worth $14 M/year since stats say he was, but that's a silly moot opinion since he's gone.

My only question, which I ponder myself, is: what needs, outside of 1B, does this team have?

Okay, so Tabata at the third OF isn't great and Volquez doesn't inspire as the fifth SP, but around July we should be seeing GP and Taillon.

Short isn't a strongpoint, but Jordy+Barmes were capable last year and it's not like there's a surplus at the position around the league.

So honestly, it's true that they haven't 'improved', but it's been that kind of offseason around the league. Only the super rich/super dumb were willing to spree on mostly questionable FAs.

The Pirates need to continue to build from within and try to land a 1B if Lambo can't do the job.

It doesn't seem fair to fault the Pirates for not 'gambling' and joining this blackjack table where the house seems to be killing it.

One more conservative year shouldn't torpedo their chances at long-term success.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:31 pm 
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mjdouble wrote:
There is nothing disingenuous about the argument. The facts are simple. The Pirates weren't the first team to employ over shifts. They aren't even the team that does it the most.

I believe you are understating the frequency and importance of the defensive shifts used by the Pirates. This is from an article in July, 2013:

Image

The fact that perhaps 1 team in the major leagues - the like-minded and similarly-cash strapped Rays - started regular shift use, or that other teams use it a bit, is not relevant to the topic. That topic is, "The Pirates use more shifts, to greater efficiency, and with better results, than every team in the major leagues." The data support that statement.

mjdouble wrote:
And I didn't realize the Pirates are the only team pushing pitchers to throw more two seamers. I could pull dozens of links of teams that have urged individual pitchers to throw more two seamers. Again, this not unique to the Pirates. Now perhaps the Pirates have some uniquely talented coaches that are a bit better than others at teaching the philosophy. But that isn't something that can be counted on forever.


Again, your observation is not a legitimate reply. Yes, teams prefer ground balls to fly balls for the simple reason that ground balls are outs a vast majority of the team, and when they are not, they are almost always singles.

But the data prove that the 2013 Pirates don't just "emphasize" ground balls from their pitchers - THEY GET GROUND BALLS AT A HIGHER RATE THAN ANY TEAM IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES SINCE FANGRAPHS STARTED GATHERING THIS DATA IN 2002.

In fact, there has been only one other instance where a team other than the 2013 Pirates had a ground ball rate over 50%, and no other team, ever, since the data were collected is near the Pirates' 2013 rate of 52.5% ground balls.

So, yes, other teams use shifts.

Yes, other teams try to get pitchers to induce ground balls.

But nobody, ever, based on available data did it as well or as consistently as the 2013 Pirates' staff.

So basically, your argument that other teams try to have their players perform these functions is not a counterpoint to Mike's notation, based on the article, that Burnett benefitted substantially from how well the Pirates did these things, and how much the park helped Burnett.

Finally, PNC Park helped Burnett. The park rated as the 7th lowest in runs and the 2nd most difficult to hit HR's for 2013. PNC is a huge pitcher's park.

So, defensive shifts, ground ball approach, good defense, and PNC Park had a very significant positive effect on Burnett.

He will get none of those at Philadelphia.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:30 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
However, no one is saying Volquez will "replace" Burnett, but that he was a Plan, well, C actually after Johnson turned them down and AJ was on Family Hold. And, the question is not would AJ have helped, he would. The question is can Volquez be a solid 4 if it works, because that is what AJ most likely would have been this year.

ZM


Your view that the "question is can Volquez be a solid 4 if it works, because that is what AJ most likely would have been this year" is utterly ridiculous. It doesn't matter where a pitcher pitches in the rotation; it matters how effective a pitcher is. Period. I don't care if A.J. is first or fifth; I care how he performs.

Oh, and Burnett would not have been a "4" with the Pirates this season. At worst, he'd be the third starter behind Liriano and Cole.

Simply put, Burnett's ceiling is far higher than Volquez's ceiling -- that's why the Pirates offered $12 million to Burnett and only $5 million to Volquez. I just wish the Pirates had offered a QO to Burnett so that they could have received some value and protected their asset.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:39 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
mjdouble wrote:
There is nothing disingenuous about the argument. The facts are simple. The Pirates weren't the first team to employ over shifts. They aren't even the team that does it the most.

I believe you are understating the frequency and importance of the defensive shifts used by the Pirates. This is from an article in July, 2013:

Image

The fact that perhaps 1 team in the major leagues - the like-minded and similarly-cash strapped Rays - started regular shift use, or that other teams use it a bit, is not relevant to the topic. That topic is, "The Pirates use more shifts, to greater efficiency, and with better results, than every team in the major leagues." The data support that statement.

mjdouble wrote:
And I didn't realize the Pirates are the only team pushing pitchers to throw more two seamers. I could pull dozens of links of teams that have urged individual pitchers to throw more two seamers. Again, this not unique to the Pirates. Now perhaps the Pirates have some uniquely talented coaches that are a bit better than others at teaching the philosophy. But that isn't something that can be counted on forever.


Again, your observation is not a legitimate reply. Yes, teams prefer ground balls to fly balls for the simple reason that ground balls are outs a vast majority of the team, and when they are not, they are almost always singles.

But the data prove that the 2013 Pirates don't just "emphasize" ground balls from their pitchers - THEY GET GROUND BALLS AT A HIGHER RATE THAN ANY TEAM IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES SINCE FANGRAPHS STARTED GATHERING THIS DATA IN 2002.

In fact, there has been only one other instance where a team other than the 2013 Pirates had a ground ball rate over 50%, and no other team, ever, since the data were collected is near the Pirates' 2013 rate of 52.5% ground balls.

So, yes, other teams use shifts.

Yes, other teams try to get pitchers to induce ground balls.

But nobody, ever, based on available data did it as well or as consistently as the 2013 Pirates' staff.

So basically, your argument that other teams try to have their players perform these functions is not a counterpoint to Mike's notation, based on the article, that Burnett benefitted substantially from how well the Pirates did these things, and how much the park helped Burnett.

Finally, PNC Park helped Burnett. The park rated as the 7th lowest in runs and the 2nd most difficult to hit HR's for 2013. PNC is a huge pitcher's park.

So, defensive shifts, ground ball approach, good defense, and PNC Park had a very significant positive effect on Burnett.

He will get none of those at Philadelphia.


I never said it didn't have an effect. I said the effect was over blown. And I never said anything about Philly. My exact quote was:

I'm just going to say that it is a very dangerous line of thinking when you start devaluing talent by rationalizing they are a creation of the system. No doubt certain other factors have a positive impact. But this team has played in the same ballpark since 2001, had pretty good middle infield defense for much of that time, and keeping the ball down has always been an emphasis of pitchers for as long as I've been watching baseball. Until a year or two ago the pitchers mostly stunk. The organization has learned how to better play at PNC, but mostly pitching is better because they found better talent and found better coaching. The biggest success stories, Burnett and Liriano, weren't stiffs. These were talented pitchers that have showed dominance at other points of their career.

Now to refute your data.

This article from September shows the Pirates as 5th in total shifts
Team Shifts
Orioles 483
Rays 453
Brewers 438
Cubs 415
Pirates 414

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4689 ... z2taxFC6uc
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook


Now on to this false statement you makes "The Pirates use more shifts, to greater efficiency, and with better results, than every team in the major leagues." The data support that statement.

As of july 25th 2013 that statement was not true. The Orioles, Rays, and Red sox all had saved more runs shifting than the Pirates. http://www.billjamesonline.com/whos_shi ... _whos_not/

So just as I said, not only are the Pirates not the leader in shifting, they aren't the most efficient at it either. And all this shifting the Pirates did is greatly overemphasized. The Pirates shifted on only about 7.5% of all plays. It saved them 10-12 runs on the season. The Bucs were 8th in ground ball defensive efficiency. That is good, but again there are a number of teams more efficient at turning ground balls into outs. I'll just reiterate my point one last time to make it clear. Yes, pirate pitchers benefit from the system. But the system is not unique to the Bucs and the benefits are greatly overblown.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:56 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
Simply put, Burnett's ceiling is far higher than Volquez's ceiling -- that's why the Pirates offered $12 million to Burnett and only $5 million to Volquez.


I'm not so sure that Burnett's ceiling is that much higher than Volquez's. They both have the ability; AJ's ability has resulted in good numbers over the past two seasons while Volquez's have not. Ceiling has nothing to do with what they were offered because no competent businessman with limited assets would pay someone based on their ceiling. They'd pay them based on a combination of expected production and the worst case scenario (aka floor). Burnett's floor is perceived to be much higher at this point and THAT is why he was offered more money than Volquez.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:09 pm 
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mjdouble wrote:
As of july 25th 2013 that statement was not true. The Orioles, Rays, and Red sox all had saved more runs shifting than the Pirates. http://www.billjamesonline.com/whos_shi ... _whos_not/

The Pirates' three best defenders - McCutchen, Marte and Martin - are not infielders.

The Pirates middle infielders are not plus defenders. Indeed, some data show that both are below league average. (Mercer -9.4 UZR/150 games, Walker -0.8 UZR/150 games).

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?pl ... osition=SS

The Pirates pitchers threw more ground balls, by far, than any other team in baseball.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?p ... &sort=13,d

And yet the Pirates ranked 6th best in MLB in defensive runs saves overall and 3rd best at DRS due to defensive positioning. How? This way:

What really separates the Pirates from the pack is the scouting and analysis they do before they take the field. The Pirates established a well-earned reputation as one of the shrewdest shifters in the game last season, more than quadrupling their number of shifts from 2012 and ranking third in defensive runs saved to augment their pitching staff.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd ... 2&c_id=mlb

So your subjective opinion that the defensive shifts, ground ball approach and park are overstated as factors helping pitchers is not evidence, and the evidence refutes your subjective opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:59 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
mjdouble wrote:
As of july 25th 2013 that statement was not true. The Orioles, Rays, and Red sox all had saved more runs shifting than the Pirates. http://www.billjamesonline.com/whos_shi ... _whos_not/

The Pirates' three best defenders - McCutchen, Marte and Martin - are not infielders.

The Pirates middle infielders are not plus defenders. Indeed, some data show that both are below league average. (Mercer -9.4 UZR/150 games, Walker -0.8 UZR/150 games).

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?pl ... osition=SS

The Pirates pitchers threw more ground balls, by far, than any other team in baseball.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?p ... &sort=13,d

And yet the Pirates ranked 6th best in MLB in defensive runs saves overall and 3rd best at DRS due to defensive positioning. How? This way:

What really separates the Pirates from the pack is the scouting and analysis they do before they take the field. The Pirates established a well-earned reputation as one of the shrewdest shifters in the game last season, more than quadrupling their number of shifts from 2012 and ranking third in defensive runs saved to augment their pitching staff.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd ... 2&c_id=mlb

So your subjective opinion that the defensive shifts, ground ball approach and park are overstated as factors helping pitchers is not evidence, and the evidence refutes your subjective opinion.


The only evidence is that shifting saved the team 12 total runs for the season. That is straight from baseball info solutions. You can put whatever value on that you want. Does it help? Sure it does. Is that major factor in the staff's success? Hell no. Far and away the number #1 reason the Pirates have been stingier at preventing runs is the talent of the pitchers. You can try to spin it however you like. If you feel all these extra factors warrant devaluing pitchers then I'm not sure what to say to you. And please note what I bolded for you. Who threw more groundballs? It wasn't the manager. It wasn't the GM. It wasn't the SS. It wasn't Dan Fox. It is the talent of the pitchers that makes it all happen.

One more thing. The Pirates defensive efficiency in 2012 was 71.4% in 2013 it was 71.5%. Over the course of season that is about 5 more plays. So how much of factor was that quadrupling of shifts?


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