View Full Version : Offensive success,causality and myth
03-26-2012, 04:01 AM
I thought about making this a blog, but decided to post it instead.
Over the years we have heard the clanging of the "small ball" bell as well as the merits of the "3 run homer". I decided to take a look at 5 different offenses from 5 great teams over 5 different eras and see what links them together.
the 1927 Yankees-975 runs scored -110 wins .384 OBP led league
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers-955 runs-105 wins .366 OBP led league
the 1975 Big Red Machine- 840 runs scored- 108 wins .353 OBP led league
the 1982 St Louis Cardinals- 747 runs scored-101 wins .334 OBP led league
2001 Seattle Mariners- 927 runs scored-116 wins .360 OBP led league
I picked teams who were not only great teams, but also ran the gauntlet of different types of offense. The Yankees, Mariners and Dodgers played 3 run HR ball and the BRM and Cards played what is called "small ball"
Now , it seems fairly obvious to me, that to score a bunch of runs and win a bunch of games, you need to lead your league in OBP as a team. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference how you choose to do that.
03-29-2012, 01:39 PM
Good thinking but you must have seen Moneyball where this was discussed or read some of Bill James early works where he advocated OBP as the #1 offensive measuring stick.
03-29-2012, 02:13 PM
I read Moneyball a while ago(but this isn't Moneyball, Moneyball is picking up OBP at a value because it wasnt appreciated as of yet). But wanted to put the proof for it out there. That "small ball" is a myth. AND that team OBP is truly the measuring stick of run production
03-31-2012, 01:20 AM
You made an excellent point buddy but I am fairly certain Bill James made the same point before it even became fashionable.
Let me throw my thoughts in here.
First...Bravos, that's some good research. I think it's interesting that they're all linked together by OBP...but I'd also be interested in other factors (like pitching, perhaps). I am curious if there are other good teams out there that have led their league in runs or wins or won world series titles (after leading the world during the regular season) that managed to do it despite not being in the top 5 of the league in OBP.
And Rap...I think I am going to take this opportunity to once again reiterate that you might want to take more time to elaborate your thoughts. I know in the past you've stated that you understand that OBP is, in fact, important...but you're just of the opinion that there is a lot more to offense/scoring runs and winning than just throwing together a crew of on-base machines. Maybe if you better presented that feeling you'd get a much better response out of folks like myself and Bravos. Recently I just noticed that a lot of these really big differences in points of views between yourself and I and others are a matter of people spouting off without really thinking or not explaining themselves thoroughly enough. I'm guilty of it too. But yeah...that's just a thought.
As for Moneyball and OBP....Moneyball isn't completely about OBP. Moneyball is about finding something that the market undervalues, as bravos stated, which happened to be on-base percentage back in the late-90's and early 2000's.
Is it a feasible way to build a winning team? Sure, if you are on a heavily constrained budget such as the A's of the early 2000's and you can't afford to pay for things that other teams overpay for (speed, homeruns, saves, etc).
That said...do I think Moneyball is an efficient way to build a winner with a bigger payroll? Absolutely....if it's done right. As Bravos has noted a lot in the past during these discussions of on-base percentage...the Yankees won their titles in the 90's and early 2000's with guys like Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez, etc. Hardly the Jason Giambi's and the Alex Rodriguez's and the big names they went out and tried to pay for and get their championship. The 2004 Boston Red Sox come to mind. They spent a good deal, I believe...but they spent it wisely on guys who could get on base and do things other guys making similar money couldn't.
Fact of the matter is....on-base percentage is an old tool used to build a ball club now in 2012. Everyone's well aware of what the A's of the early 2000's did...and well aware that sabermetrics was a big part of the Boston Red Sox breaking of the Curse of the Bambino. It's a big reason why the A's aren't as successful now than they were back then.
What this comes down to...is another principal of the infamous "Moneyball" theory. Adapt or die. Teams that aren't fortunate to have $125M+ payrolls must learn to adapt to the changing times....or, well, they're going to lose. The line that Brad Pitt made famous in the movie is so very true. If a poor team tries to play like the Yankees in the war room when they're building their roster...they're going to lose to the Yankees out on the actual field.
Because teams are "on it" in terms of appreciating on-base percentage nowadays...you can't just go sifting through on-base percentage records from year to year and freely build a 25-man roster of "misfit" players that can win 100 games in the year. Those "misfits" are now guys who are appreciated and thus, it's not a market inefficiency anymore.
This is where I, a big believer in on-base percentage being integral in a team's success, take the "Moneyball" idea and apply it's earlier stated concept of "Adapt or Die". Since teams are now scooping up kids that can take a walk...the art of winning the unfair game is going to have to shift again. I think the game is going to shift not only to appreciate the guys who get on base....but it is going to now emphasize (as teams are starting to spend more due to media deals) spending your money on guys who do more than just get on base.
For example...Scott Hatteberg was the big emphasis in the book. Pickin' machine! Yeah. He was a horrible 1B that year...and was still a horrible 1B towards the end. No longer are guys like Hatteberg going to be valuable...especially in the NL. You're going to need to find a guy that's a little more than just an on-base guy. Can he play defense? Can he hit for power? Can he steal bases? He's going to have to bring a hell of a lot more to the table than just his on-base skills. This is why Beane and the A's are just unable to keep up with the league now that everyone sees the value of building around on-base percentage. He's now going to have to get them BEFORE they reach the major leagues and free agency. Draft better, scout the international market better.
It goes beyond just getting on base now. As some have stated in the past...the game is slowly shifting now that the steroid era is behind us. It's shifting back towards a game where the stolen base is going to come back into play. Yes, Bill James and Moneyball make a big deal about not risking outs by stealing bases....but if your guys aren't hitting doubles, triples and homeruns anymore....they are going to have to get to second base somehow...and waiting for the guy behind you to walk isn't very efficient, IMO.
And frankly...I'd like to be one of the first to state that second base is not really "scoring position". I understand it's a general term and state of thinking that a hit SHOULD score that runner, but really second base may no longer by the "scoring position" it once was when all that mattered was your left fielder be able to slug the ball a country mile.
What I want to push onto people is the REAL scoring position is at third base. Where a variety of outcomes of an at-bat can score the runner. A hit definitely scores him. A flyball to the outfield SHOULD score him. A grounder might score him. A pass ball or wild pitch, likewise. The whole idea of offense in baseball should be circled around the idea of doing whatever you have to do....to get a guy to third base with less than two outs. THAT, in my very humble assessment, is the most efficient way to "manufacture" a run. Build a team with 1) guys with speed, 2) guys who can hit doubles, 3) guys who can hit homeruns and I'll probably show you the potential to be the leauge's top offense. The truth lies somewhere between the three...but they all have to be able to get on base. If your top two guys in the lineup can get on and run the bases intelligently...you've got the start to a good offense. If you can follow those guys with doubles/homerun hitters 3-6, that's a great offense. If you can finish it at 7-8 with guys who can handle the bat, not make stupid outs (like strikeouts, double plays, laying down bunts on their own) then you're going to have an elite offense, IMO. A lot easier said than done....but yeah. It's as simple....or not that simple....as that.
Bunting a guy to second and wasting an out means jack nowadays when you aren't guaranteed to score him on a single. Bunting him to third, however, makes all the sense in the world to me....especially if there are no outs and you have one more opportunity to use a plate appearance wisely.
Unfortunately...the game isn't as simple as little league where you'd automatically just steal second base on a catcher who could barely get the ball to second base. This is where my interpretation of Moneyball comes in. The team does need a speed threat. Speed is absolutely overrated...but it does need folks who can press the issue. That doesn't mean we need any old fool who can run a world record 40-yard dash....it means the team needs smart base runners.
Anyway....I've been rambling for a while now. Fact is...my opinion is that building a perfect "moneyball" team now in 2012 is harder than it's ever been. There are no real inefficiencies in the way teams are operating nowadays. The big market clubs are well aware of which players are worth the money and they dish out accordingly. Very seldom are you going to find a diamond in the rough except for in fantasy baseball. For a team like the Atlanta Braves where you are right in the middle of the pack payroll-wise, you are going to have to spend your resources wisely. Maybe not as wisely as a team like the Pirates or Rays...but you are going to have to spend wisely, much more carefully than the Phillies or Red Sox do. Perhaps maybe later I'll do an analysis of where the Braves are currently wasting money (Chipper and Lowe come to mind) and having them off the payroll completely in 2013 should go a long way towards resolving the "waste" issue.
But....under all that....it still remains the simple fact that offense is simplified by the age-old statement of "Get'em on, get'em over, get'em in". The team STILL needs to get on base, first and foremost. You can't get'em over and get'em in if you aren't getting them on base to begin with.
04-01-2012, 01:58 AM
I thought we agreed to disagree but you keep bring this topic up as if we didn't know this S%*@t already.....
Small ball is not a myth, it's the things you do to create possibilities, change the momentum of the game, the pitcher....
That and obp are both two different things, bro....
1) The ability to get on base, whether by hitting or walking is based on the talent of that hitter(including speed, which helps a lot more than you might want to think or admit)
2) Small ball is a part of the game that creates situations where one run makes a difference. Very important when facing top tier pitching and when in the playoffs....
Small ball is not a freakin myth.....you've created this dispute in your head that it's either getting on base, no matter what, even if Verlander is pitching, and nothing else is an option. In this instance, Heyward gets on base with no outs, 6th inn, you need P-nicky to get a base hit or a walk, right?
I say bunt the freakin guy over and play for 1 run....
We all agree that obp is imperative for a teams' success, but it's not going to be there all the time. There will be days when small ball is the right play.
In this instance, Heyward gets on base with no outs, 6th inn, you need P-nicky to get a base hit or a walk, right?
I say bunt the freakin guy over and play for 1 run....
We all agree that obp is imperative for a teams' success, but it's not going to be there all the time. There will be days when small ball is the right play.Since you posted this situation to specify....I'd like to apply what I meant in my post.
I spoke that I don't really like the idea of calling second base "scoring position". While I don't agree with the standard concept of small ball....I agree with the general concept of sparingly using it to better your odds.
As I stated...2nd base flat out requires a hit to score, while third base a number of outcomes can score you the run.
The strategy in this particular situation, to me, is clear. Get Heyward to third base with the one at-bat from Pastornicky anyway you can. This can play out in a number of ways.
If it's the 6th inning....I'm hoping we've had at least a few guys on base. In which case, I'm hoping we probably pushed Verlander to at LEAST attempt a pick off or two.
Having shown us his best move, I'm hoping Heyward (no slouch on the base path) is able to read Verlander and steal second. THEN have Pastornicky lay down a bunt.
Heyward's on third. 1 out.
With the pitcher's spot coming up, I imagine we're pinch hitting and bringing in Hinske to see if he can do anything except strike out. It's a lot easier to hit when you know you don't have to drop a hit in to score, IMO....just make contact in this situation and Heyward likely scores.
Heyward can't get a jump on the first pitch....Pastornicky falls behind and we are forced to just bunt to get it over with.
Heyward's on 2nd...you let the pitcher hit for himself and we don't score.
Pastornicky swings away with Heyward being unable to get a jump and we just take the outcome of the at-bat.
If P-Nicky does anything but get a hit...the pitcher's coming up and we're screwed anyway.
If P-Nicky gets the hit, Heyward's on third with no outs....even better.
If P-Nicky strikes out...well, the pitcher's bunting anyway.
I don't necessarily believe that playing small ball every single day is the optimal way to win ball games and produce a winning team....but as Homer stated, it's a strategic thing. It's like....football. Running a play action only works if you are running the ball. Just the same as a delay is only effective if you are throwing it enough to keep defenses honest.
I sort of feel that small ball works....if you use it sparingly enough. You can't employ it every single inning and expect to win every game. Just the same as you can't just expect to draw walks and wait for a hit or a homerun. There are days where small ball will work...like in the scenario Homer presented...then there are days where getting on base and just letting the merry go round begin will work (like, say, if a lesser pitcher like maybe Joe Blanton is pitching. No offense to Blanton...but he's no Verlander). It really just depends on who you're facing and who's at the dish.
04-01-2012, 02:50 AM
My entire point is not about a single situation.... It's about an offensive philosophy. The Cards of the 1980's and the Big Red Machine were known as small ball teams. They played a lot of get on try and steal, hit and runs, bunts ...etc My argument, is that it doesn't matter what sort of strategy that you try and use as a team. What matters is that leading the league in OBP is what leads to scoring runs. Regardless of the approach.
I am gonna go do the research now as requested by BFH and take those same 5 teams and look at how their pitching ranked. If there is a lot of variety I will then take 5 other teams (and just to ensure randomness, I'm gonna look at the W.S. winning teams from 1926, 1946,1966,1986 and 2006).
Since they didn't have FIP and such back then, I will use team ERA and perhaps k/bb ratio.
04-01-2012, 03:12 AM
All pitching stats are MLB not AL or NL
1927 Yankees- first in team ERA first in Team WHIP (I know I said k/bb ratio... but I can't find it and don't feel like doing the math for every team)
1953 Dodgers- 8th in ERA and 6th in WHIP
1975 Reds- 6th in ERA and 7th in WHIP
1982 Cards- 3rd in ERA and 7th in WHIP
2001 Mariners- 1st in ERA and 1st in WHIP (probably the best team to not win the WS of all time IMO, they were 1st in everything)
well, there is some variety here and the 1953 Dodgers and 200 Mariners didn't win the WS, so I will now post the above mentioned world series winning teams pitching and on base stats)
1926 Cardinals- 7th in MLB OBP, 3rd in NL OBP, 5th in MLB ERA, 3rd in NL ERA, 2nd in MLB and NL WHIP
1946 Cardinals (lol, odd coincidence) 6th in MLB OBP, 2nd in NL OBP, 1st in MLB ERA, 4th in MLB WHIP, 2nd in NL WHIP
1966 Orioles - 3rd in MLB OBP, 1st in AL OBP, 7th in MLB ERA, 4th in AL ERA, 6th in MLB WHIP, 4th in AL WHIP
1986 Mets- 3rd in MLB OBP. 1st in NL OBP, 1st in MLB ERA, 2nd in MLB and NL WHIP
2006 Cardinals (lol again?) 15th in MLB OBP, 6th in NL OBP, 16th in MLB ERA 9th in NL ERA, 12th in MLB WHIP, 6th in NL WHIP
What this shows me is that aside from the modern Cardinals (who were probably one of the worst teams to win the World Series, I wonder if it's a coincidence they are the only team from the wild card era? Maybe I should follow this up with a blog or a post about the wildcard World Series winners? ) Is that if you want to be a great team, be in the top 5 in both OBP and WHIP in you league and at least in the top 10 in all of MLB.
i randomly sampled the 26-2006 years and did not pre-select them due to any bias. I will do this again for any like number of years at your discretion.
That's kind of how I envisioned them panning out pitching-wise.
I've stated for a while now that the game revolves around pitching and hitting more than defense itself. If you can score runs and your pitching can prevent them...then you're going to win a lot. How you score and prevent them are entirely up to you...but you can't win without either of those components. Building a team is rather simple in concept....of course, actually doing it, as I stated in my post, is extremely difficult.
04-01-2012, 04:05 AM
Ok, here is the breakdown of stats for all World Series winners since 1995. I will list the same above stats. Team OBP, ERA and WHIP for comparison to above and to see if there are discrepancies. This may (or may not) point out that in the Wildcard era being the best team in the regular season doesn't mean you have the best chance to win it all (as is obviously the case in my above statistics with the exception of the 1006 Cards, hence this post)
1995 Braves- 24th in MLB OBP, 9th in NL OBP, 1st in MLB ERA, 1st in MLB WHIP
1996- Yankees- 4th in MLB and AL OBP, 18th in MLB ERA, 6th in AL ERA, 17th in MLB WHIP, 4th in AL WHIP
1997 Marlins-7th in MLB OBP, 2nd in NL OBP, 4th in MLB and NL ERA, 11th in MLB WHIP, and 9th in NL WHIP
1998 Yankees- 1st in MLB OBP, 6th in MLB ERA, 1st in AL ERA, 2nd in MLB and AL WHIP
1999 Yankees- 2nd in MLB and AL OBP, 6th in MLB ERA and 2nd in AL ERA, 7th in MLB and 2nd in AL WHIP
2000 Yankees-9th in MLB and 5th in AL OBP, 15th in MLB and 6th in AL ERA, 7th in MLB and 2nd in AL WHIP
2001 DBacks- 8th in MLB and 4th in NL OBP, 4th in MLB and 2nd in NL ERA, 2nd in MLB and 1st in NL WHIP
2002 Angels- 6th in mLB and 4th in AL OBP, 5th in MLB and 2nd in AL ERA, 5th in MLB and 3rd in AL WHIP
2003 Marlins- 14th in MLB and 8th in NL OBP, 11th in MLB and 8th in NL ERA, 13th in mLB and 8th in NL WHIP
2004 Red Sox - 1st in MLB OBP, 11th in MLB and 3rd in AL ERA, 2nd in MLB and 1st in AL WHIP
2005 White Sox- 22nd in MLB and 11th in AL in OBP, 4th in MLb and 2nd in AL in ERA, 5th in MLB and 3rd in AL in WHIP
2006 Cards- 15th in MLB and 6th in NL OBP, 16th in mLB and 9th in NL ERA, 12th in MLB and 6th in NL WHIP
2007 Red Sox-2nd in MLb and AL OBP, 2nd in MLB and 1st in AL ERA, 2nd in MLB and 1st in AL WHIP
2008 Phillies- 16th in MLB and 6th in NL OBP, 6th in MLB and 4th in NL ERA, 13th in MLB and 5th in NL WHIP
2009 Yankees- Ist in MLB OBP, 12th in MLB and 4th in AL ERA, 8th in MLB and 3rd in AL WHIP
2010 Giants- 20th in MLB and 10th in NL OBP, 1st in mLB ERA, 4th in MLB and 3rd in NL WHIP
2011 Cards- 3rd in MLB and 1st in NL OBP, 12th in MLB and 8th in NL ERA, 15th in MLB and 10th in NL WHIP
Well, what do these numbers tell us? They tell us that there is still a premium on having either a monster offense or a monster pitching staff. However, they also tell us that since the wildcard has been in play, that the odd mediocre team can win the world series (2005 White Sox, 2006 Cards, 2003 Marlins, 2000 Yankees). Where every team I looked at from any pre wildcard era was a top 5 in both pitching or hitting in their league (and often both).
Another interesting thing is that with only 4 exceptions in 17 years the team to win the world series since the Wildcard was introduced was in their leagues top 5 in WHIP(yet 6 times the teams that win were outside their leagues top 5 in OBP, and 5 wre outside their leagues top 5 in ERA) Three of these teams were all Wildcard teams (1997 and 2003 Marlins and 2011 Cards). and the fourth was the 2006 Cardinals who were already mentioned as a fairly bad team to win their division (83 wins) and the World Series.
it appears to me that since the wildcard has occurred, balance is required. Sure it's good to be pitch strong, or bat strong, but it appears that , with a few exceptions, that being in your own leagues top 5 in WHIP,OBP and ERA is important.
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