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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:42 am 
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You have a study that can't find a relationship. That is a very differant thing.

Explain gravity.

Oh, wait, no one can. I guess it doesn't exist then.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:50 am 
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ZelieMike wrote:
You have a study that can't find a relationship. That is a very differant thing.

Explain gravity.

Oh, wait, no one can. I guess it doesn't exist then.

ZM


People can demonstrate that objects, regardless of weight, are pulled towards the earth's surface at an acceleration of 9.81 meters per second squared. Even if we don't understand HOW gravity works, we can repeatedly demonstrate its existence. Not so with "game calling skills".

However, you are correct that failure to find evidence of something is not the same as proving it does not exist. BUT, the more something is studied (game calling, global warming, whether GW Bush has a brain) and no evidence is found, it is increasingly likely that it does not exist in any detectable way. And, if game calling can't be measured, how can it be valued? In other words, if you are NH and looking for a catcher, how much offense are you willing to sacrifice to get a good game caller? If it was quantifiable, say, a good game caller is worth +2 wins over an average game caller, and you have two players you are valuing, one of whom was a better hitter, but a worse game caller, you could take the value of "game calling" into consideration. However, since you can't quantify- or even- detect the ability to call a game in any sort of way, how can you value it against other factors?

In other words, I think this is a fine debate for an internet message board, but I don't see how it is useful in building a team.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:08 am 
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Then, apparently, as No. 9 says, Kerrigan must be an idiot. Because he most certainly values those "skills" in his catchers.

And, I disagree with the ability to measure. You can, albeit on a game by game basis. There simply too many variables to accuratly predict repeatability (see Global Warming, Obama - any stated position).

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:18 am 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Then, apparently, as No. 9 says, Kerrigan must be an idiot. Because he most certainly values those "skills" in his catchers.

And, I disagree with the ability to measure. You can, albeit on a game by game basis. There simply too many variables to accuratly predict repeatability (see Global Warming, Obama - any stated position).

ZM



Of course Kerrigan values the "skill" because he doesn't have to look at it in the context of the whole player. From Kerrigan's point of view, Raul Chavez is better than Matt Wieters (actually I have no idea what either's ability to call a game is, my point is that for Kerrigan to look good, his pitchers have to look good).

I'm not saying the skill doesn't exist, I am saying it is impossible to put a value on it, precisely for the reason you mention- it can't be repeatedly and consistently detected. So for a pitching coach to say a catcher is a good game caller is one thing, for a GM to say we traded slugging catcher X for game calling catcher Y is another.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:36 am 
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Ah, so we approach the Ronny Paulino arguement?

Ronny's skills as a game caller were fine, as long as he hit .300. And, that is why he was given leeway his second year, because he had hit AND could call a good game. When he stopped hitting, he was gone.

I agree it is a skill that requires experienced people like Kerrigan or NH, to properly value.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:08 am 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Ah, so we approach the Ronny Paulino arguement?

Ronny's skills as a game caller were fine, as long as he hit .300. And, that is why he was given leeway his second year, because he had hit AND could call a good game. When he stopped hitting, he was gone.

I agree it is a skill that requires experienced people like Kerrigan or NH, to properly value.

ZM


No, that's not what I am saying. I am saying that because we can't properly measure or value a catcher's game calling skills, how can we put it in context of their other skills?

Let's say a catcher is a "good game caller", but hits .240 with minimal power. Now compare him to a catcher who is an average game caller. How much better does he have to hit to be as valuable as a good game caller? .250? .280? .300? The answer is that we don't know because we don't know how to value the game calling skill (the same argument can be used for any intangibles). Therefore, if I am building a team, I am going to build it based on skills and traits that are measureable, defineable, quantifiable, not based on something that you have admitted is not repeatable.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:20 am 
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Oh, I didn't say it wasn't repeatable. That would imply "super pitcher" who did everything the catcher said to do, and then did it exactly as he said.

How do we use the skill? You and I don't. NH and JR and JK do. They obviously feld Doumit's hitting overrode his deficiencies and I assume, that those deficiencies could be addressed and improved.

By your standard, I would think you will begin calling for Diaz very soon, because of his measurable batting statistics. However, it seems that Jaramillo's ability to catch is, subjectively, considered superior.

The human brain is a much better calculator than, well, a calculator.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:01 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Oh, I didn't say it wasn't repeatable. That would imply "super pitcher" who did everything the catcher said to do, and then did it exactly as he said.

How do we use the skill? You and I don't. NH and JR and JK do. They obviously feld Doumit's hitting overrode his deficiencies and I assume, that those deficiencies could be addressed and improved.

By your standard, I would think you will begin calling for Diaz very soon, because of his measurable batting statistics. However, it seems that Jaramillo's ability to catch is, subjectively, considered superior.

The human brain is a much better calculator than, well, a calculator.

ZM


It's really not. The human mind is a notoriously poor collector and analyzer of data. If it weren't, the computer wouldn't have been invented.

Bottom line: if game calling were a skill, it would translate into prevention of runs and hits. And there is absolutely no evidence that it does. Unquestioningly relying on the word of experts who supposedly have some unquantifiable inner knowledge of the game's mystique is exactly the type of thinking that keeps baseball clubs making bad decisions based on nothing.

I don't want the coaches on this board to get me wrong...I don't buy into this false dichotomy of nerds vs. jocks that's developed in the game. Both approaches are invaluable, and for all the advances that baseball statistics have made, there are still things about which they cannot meaningfully comment (things like swinging and throwing mechanics). However, there are some areas in which statistics have been able to debunk conventional wisdom, and this is one of them.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:13 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
The human brain is a much better calculator than, well, a calculator.

ZM

If so, then why do we have calculators?

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:14 pm 
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Willton wrote:
By the way, you're typing while driving? Isn't that dangerous? You'd get pulled over and ticketed for that in NJ.


Other than keeping an eye out for rogue deer, the drive on I-88 from the IA/IL border to my home in Aurora is pretty boring and wide open. Not battling rush hour traffic . . . .

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:23 pm 
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Willton wrote:
No. 9 wrote:
Let's try this another way. Do you believe that effective pitching keeps hitters off balance by mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds?

I'm willing to believe it, yes. Next question.


I'll go now with two questions:
(1) Since you believe (and I wholeheartedly agree with you) that effective pitching involves keeping hitters off balance, mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds, can you tell me what statistic supports this belief?
(2) Does keeping hitters off balance, mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds involve "skill?"

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:39 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Willton wrote:
No. 9 wrote:
Let's try this another way. Do you believe that effective pitching keeps hitters off balance by mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds?

I'm willing to believe it, yes. Next question.


I'll go now with two questions:
(1) Since you believe (and I wholeheartedly agree with you) that effective pitching involves keeping hitters off balance, mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds, can you tell me what statistic supports this belief?
(2) Does keeping hitters off balance, mixing up pitches, working the ball in and out and changing speeds involve "skill?"


(1) None has been developed. This doesn't mean one couldn't exist.
(2) Absolutely. To the extent which a pitcher is successful at doing so will show up in his peripherals. If a pitcher is successful at doing this, he will give up a lower percentage of line drives and other hard hit balls, and most likely his K/9 will go up.

I see where you're going with this...if changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance cannot be quantified, and is definitely a skill, then game calling (which also cannot be quantified) may be a skill as well.

However, even by stipulating that effective speed changing is a skill, it does not necessarily follow that the catcher is responsible for that. You are portraying pitchers as a blank canvas upon which catchers work their masterpieces, and I don't buy it. There has been extensive examination of pitching performance with different catchers, and it doesn't change in any meaningful way. Pitchers are most responsible for their performance, which includes pitch selection.

Does this mean the Pirates (or any team) should completely ignore their coaches when it comes to evaluating the ability of catchers to handle a staff? Probably not. Does it mean that teams should disregard the extremely marginal value of game calling in favor of offensive considerations? Given the considerable difference in offensive output between an elite hitting catcher compared to replacement level catchers, absolutely.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:43 pm 
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Willton wrote:
No. 9 wrote:
That study would barely - if at all - withstand a Daubert analysis (Bucfan, Prince and Willton understand this) and even if it did, its assumptions and methodology are incredibly flawed and it would be the subject of very humorous cross-examination if the author was questioned regarding the limitations of his conclusions.

Then make your motion, counselor. For your benefit, here are the BP articles regarding the study:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... icleid=432
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... icleid=436
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... cleid=1489

And here is the chapter from Baseball Between the Numbers:

http://books.google.com/books?id=uxdvwQ ... #PPA108,M1

I look forward to reading your arguments regarding relevancy and reliability.


Woolner's four assumptions as to what are indicative of "good game calling" are inherently flawed and I don't accept them. There are simply too many variables in the equation that he is purposefully ignoring in an effort to justify his statistical conclusions.
Here's a question for you: Compare Paul Maholm's first three starts. I know that you disagree with the notion that anyone "calls" a game so I'll try to put it into a different context. Assuming that a "game plan" existed before each of Maholm's starts, can you tell me in which game that particular game plan was best executed? If you can, how do you reach that conclusion?

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:56 pm 
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jaybee24 wrote:

It's really not. The human mind is a notoriously poor collector and analyzer of data. If it weren't, the computer wouldn't have been invented...


Really? That would be news to the CMU Robotics guys who have spent their life trying to get AI to come close to matching the human brain's abilities... especially to collect and analyze data for split second decisions.

Don't confuse discipline of the mind (lack of) for a calculator that can mindlessly but consistantly recreat an alogrithm.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:59 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Willton wrote:
No. 9 wrote:
That study would barely - if at all - withstand a Daubert analysis (Bucfan, Prince and Willton understand this) and even if it did, its assumptions and methodology are incredibly flawed and it would be the subject of very humorous cross-examination if the author was questioned regarding the limitations of his conclusions.

Then make your motion, counselor. For your benefit, here are the BP articles regarding the study:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... icleid=432
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... icleid=436
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... cleid=1489

And here is the chapter from Baseball Between the Numbers:

http://books.google.com/books?id=uxdvwQ ... #PPA108,M1

I look forward to reading your arguments regarding relevancy and reliability.


Woolner's four assumptions as to what are indicative of "good game calling" are inherently flawed and I don't accept them. There are simply too many variables in the equation that he is purposefully ignoring in an effort to justify his statistical conclusions.
Here's a question for you: Compare Paul Maholm's first three starts. I know that you disagree with the notion that anyone "calls" a game so I'll try to put it into a different context. Assuming that a "game plan" existed before each of Maholm's starts, can you tell me in which game that particular game plan was best executed? If you can, how do you reach that conclusion?


His four assumptions are as such:

1. Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, walks, etc. I don't see how this is flawed. If good game calling doesn't reduce the other team's offensive output, it is useless.

2. Catchers who handle their staffs well will reduce the number of pitches thrown. I don't really buy this one myself. The catcher can't locate the ball for the pitcher.

3. Catchers who frame pitches well will get more strikes called. This one isn't really pertinent to our discussion, since it involves a catcher's defensive skill more broadly and not his ability to call a game.

4. Some catcher might induce better location from their pitchers. See item 2. I don't buy it.

So that really only leaves the first item for discussion, but it trumps all other considerations. Any skill in baseball should help a team win games, which means preventing runs defensively. And there's far and away enough data to conclusively say that game calling ability does not, simply by comparing the performance of pitchers who use different catchers.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:40 pm 
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jaybee24 wrote:
However, even by stipulating that effective speed changing is a skill, it does not necessarily follow that the catcher is responsible for that. You are portraying pitchers as a blank canvas upon which catchers work their masterpieces, and I don't buy it. There has been extensive examination of pitching performance with different catchers, and it doesn't change in any meaningful way. Pitchers are most responsible for their performance, which includes pitch selection.


Jaybee -
Pitchers are far from a blank canvas and by no means have I ever suggested that. And I've acknowledged numerous times that the ball is thrown by the pitcher and, consequently, the pitcher always has the "last say" or may "trump" the pitch call by either the catcher or, for that matter, from the bench.

Again, the "extensive examination" of pitching performance is incredibly limited by what can and cannot be statistically measured.

There is a strategy to be employed on every hitter in every game. That strategy is situation dependent. For instance, if the score is 2-1 Pirates with a runner on second base and two out in the top of the ninth with Maholm on the mound and Albert Pujols hitting, the approach to pitching him will be markedly different than if the score was 5-1 Pirates. In the first instance, a 4, 5, 6 or 7 pitch walk while calling for no decent pitches to hit is absolutely the correct approach. In the latter instance, you don't want the walk and even a 2 run HR won't kill you so you are far more willing to call for pitches in the strike zone. You seem inclined to believe that the pitcher is the key component to implementing that strategy. I'm arguing that the catcher plays a much bigger role.

And yes, Sub, this has been argued and argued and argued before but Kerrigan's quotes seem to suggest that he agrees with the notion that the catcher needs to call pitches because he is in the best position to see hitter tendencies and implement the game plan and a catcher's development is hindered if someone else calls the pitches (either the bench or from the mound) . . . thus . . . my tongue-in-cheek comment that "Kerrigan must be nuts."

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Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:57 pm 
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jaybee24 wrote:

His four assumptions are as such:

1. Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, walks, etc. I don't see how this is flawed. If good game calling doesn't reduce the other team's offensive output, it is useless.

So that really only leaves the first item for discussion, but it trumps all other considerations. Any skill in baseball should help a team win games, which means preventing runs defensively. And there's far and away enough data to conclusively say that game calling ability does not, simply by comparing the performance of pitchers who use different catchers.


Jaybee -
I'll focus on the first sentence: "Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, walks, etc." Compared to what? What is his baseline? Number of runs, hits, walks given up by a pitcher is variable game-to-game and situation dependent. I'd argue that a good game caller may induce 6 innings out of a pitcher with sub-par stuff on a particular night. There may be 5 runs scored, 8 hits and 2 walks in those 6 innings but the damage allowed was minimized based upon what could have happened. The result may not be pretty but it was marginalized . . .
If you could eliminate the pitcher "variable," situation "variable" and hitter "variable," (ie; pitching machine capable of throwing same fastball, same curveball, same change-up to the same hitter in the same situation), then I would agree that you could simply look at hits, walks, runs . . . in the absence of those controls, Woolner's assumptions are - IMO -hopelessly flawed.

_________________
Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:09 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
jaybee24 wrote:

It's really not. The human mind is a notoriously poor collector and analyzer of data. If it weren't, the computer wouldn't have been invented...


Really? That would be news to the CMU Robotics guys who have spent their life trying to get AI to come close to matching the human brain's abilities... especially to collect and analyze data for split second decisions.

Don't confuse discipline of the mind (lack of) for a calculator that can mindlessly but consistantly recreat an alogrithm.

ZM


Don't confuse the ability to use reason and create independent thought with the ability to collect data and crunch numbers. The human mind is good at the former and horrible at the latter. Pencil and paper are better at recording data than the human mind is.

The mind is such a poor collector/analyzer of data because it is conditioned to recognize patterns, and it does so even when presented with a data set in which no discernible pattern exists. The current discussion topic is an excellent example.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:27 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
jaybee24 wrote:

His four assumptions are as such:

1. Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, walks, etc. I don't see how this is flawed. If good game calling doesn't reduce the other team's offensive output, it is useless.

So that really only leaves the first item for discussion, but it trumps all other considerations. Any skill in baseball should help a team win games, which means preventing runs defensively. And there's far and away enough data to conclusively say that game calling ability does not, simply by comparing the performance of pitchers who use different catchers.


Jaybee -
I'll focus on the first sentence: "Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, walks, etc." Compared to what? What is his baseline? Number of runs, hits, walks given up by a pitcher is variable game-to-game and situation dependent. I'd argue that a good game caller may induce 6 innings out of a pitcher with sub-par stuff on a particular night. There may be 5 runs scored, 8 hits and 2 walks in those 6 innings but the damage allowed was minimized based upon what could have happened. The result may not be pretty but it was marginalized . . .
If you could eliminate the pitcher "variable," situation "variable" and hitter "variable," (ie; pitching machine capable of throwing same fastball, same curveball, same change-up to the same hitter in the same situation), then I would agree that you could simply look at hits, walks, runs . . . in the absence of those controls, Woolner's assumptions are - IMO -hopelessly flawed.


Good game callers will allow fewer runs, hits, and walks compared to poor game callers. We're not comparing catching performance to an absolute standard, we're simply comparing catchers to each other.

In the situation you're talking about, if we replaced the good game caller with a poor game caller, the pitcher may have allowed 8 runs instead of just five, right? So then we should be able to compare the long term performance of a pitcher when he uses different catchers, call them A and B. We'd be using the pitcher as a control. If catcher A were a better game caller than catcher B, he'd have more situations over the long run in which he was inducing better stuff from this particular pitcher than catcher B, and the data will reflect this. Obviously the analysis of just one pitcher is going to have too much variance from which to derive a meaningful conclusion, so we'd have to do it with hundreds. This is exactly what BP did.

If game calling is a skill which only shows up on nights in which a starter is struggling mightily anyway, its value is extremely marginal, and seriously taking it into consideration with as much weight as a catcher's offensive performance will cost a team loads of wins in the long run.


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 Post subject: Re: An interview with Joe Kerrigan
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 2:29 pm 
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jaybee24 wrote:
The mind is such a poor collector/analyzer of data because it is conditioned to recognize patterns, and it does so even when presented with a data set in which no discernible pattern exists. The current discussion topic is an excellent example.


But the "data set" presented is useless.

Let's take catchers out of the equation. If pitchers are the sole determiner of particular pitches, is it fair to describe a particular pitcher a good "game caller?"
Or, put another way, is there such a thing as a "good pitching game strategy?"
Does good "game calling" exist for pitchers?
Can a pitcher have an off night but still make the most out of the "stuff" that he has? Is this related to having a "good game strategy?"
Again, take catchers out of the equation . . . .
If "game calling" doesn't exist in some fashion . . . why do teams waste their time scouting, watching video, charting hitters and developing strategy before a game? It seems to me if there is no attributable value to these efforts then MLB's dugouts are full of idiots who have absolutely no understanding of the game.

_________________
Reflexively, obsessively and tastelessly submitted,
No. 9
Obsessive proponent of situational bunting and 2 strike hitting approaches, reflexively pro-catchers calling good games and tasteless proponent of the value of a RBI.


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