FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. Rate of hit batsmen should have a huge positive effect. Because while it may not be fun, it’s certainly interesting!

    Like, the guy who hits the first three batters then strikes out the next three swinging should definitely be the most interesting man in the world.

    It also feels like Strike% should instead be weighted so that streakiness is ameliorates the negative effect of a lower percentage. A pitcher prone to being locked in for awhile then having a sudden bout of wildness is a lot more interesting than a pitcher with more evenly distributed inability to find the strike zone. In other words: The more balls you throw in one inning, the less negative impact each ball has.

    Comment by OremLK — June 2, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  2. Extra point should go to pitchers who pitch fast (example: Mark Buerle). No one wants to watch 4 hour long games between the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Comment by Joe West — June 2, 2010 @ 9:21 am

  3. Nice. It’s got me thinking about hitter NERD. Since with hitters we usually want to see them rake, perhaps there can be an element of inverse pitching NERD in there. Or does that actually ruin hitter NERD? Is it better to watch the Yankees, for example, go off on the hapless Orioles? Or to see their mighty bats match up with the NERDiness of the Rays pitching staff?

    I guess I just answered my own question. You don’t really need hitter NERD, because good pitching matchups are what make good games, and what makes the late inning raking worth watching. Maybe there should be some element of opposition hitting prowess in pitcher NERD, a dash of park interest, and call it good.

    Comment by MattEthridge — June 2, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  4. Not only should you get bonus points for throwing fast, but there should be bonuses for throwing knuckleballs.

    Comment by Jake — June 2, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  5. Pace, or time between pitches, has gotta be in there somewhere. As someone who’s seen both Halladay and Steve Trachsel pitch in Toronto, the fact that Doc doesn’t pointlessly waste 45 minutes by constantly shaking off the catcher and regrouping makes him a lot more enjoyable to watch.

    Comment by Greg — June 2, 2010 @ 10:06 am

  6. I like the system, but I think you need to do more research into quantifying the interest that stat nerds have in the various “components of pitchers” and weighting them properly based on this. A statistically significant poll of the target audience seems like the best solution. There may also be points of significance you are missing. I find GB% to be a factor of interest.

    I’m hoping you address other factors as you move forward. For example, is a potent lineup from top to bottom vs. a good pitcher better than watching one or two sabermetric superstars in a lineup? Can we ever answer the question, what is the best game to watch?

    Comment by Evan — June 2, 2010 @ 10:09 am

  7. I agree with Jake. Any metric that says it is less interesting to watch a knuckle baller than an ordinary pitcher is flawed. The interest is tied to the high drama produced by utter reliance on a trick pitch that often might not work, but is ruthlessly effective when it does. So many of Wake’s starts are agonizing but a fair number are also things of rare joy and beauty.

    I think going forward, the pitcher NERD should be weighted against both opposing pitcher NERD and an opposing lineup strength NERD. While it is fine to have a pitcher’s duel, it is pretty dull if it is the result of a master hurler owning a light hitting, free-swinging line up. One hitter can be interesting, but the game needs a steady stream of conflict to really draw you in. Wouldn’t Shields and the Rays against Baker and the Twins be more fun than Lincecum’s giants vs Oswalt’s Astros. I think so.

    Anyway, good piece. Very thought provoking.

    Comment by Matt S — June 2, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  8. I agree with this. Wakefield shouldn’t be that low.

    Comment by fightoffyourdemons — June 2, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  9. Commentators have to be factored in… negative point for Joe Buck.

    Comment by Josh — June 2, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  10. Blame can also be placed on ESPN (and all other networks) who sometimes add an extra :30-:60 to each commercial break

    Comment by Complainer — June 2, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  11. You should add something for historical performances (not the individual’s historical performance, but like club / league / MLB records). For instance, Ubaldo now is working on a club record for shutout innings and is only the third pitcher in history to go 10-1 with a sub 1 ERA (one of them being a dead ball era pitcher, the other was Gibson). That to me is even more interesting than a hard luck pitcher trying to get back on track.

    And I agree with some of the other commenters who say that a pitcher’s repertoire should be factored in with knuckleballs and Zito’s massive curves being high and guys that have ‘meh’ arsenals get ranked low.

    Comment by Chris — June 2, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  12. Hate to get even nerdier, but it’s gonna be hard getting a statistically significant poll with a non-random sample. Self selection internet users do not a statistically significant poll make.

    But to the point, probably can’t answer the question but it doesn’t hurt to propose possibilities.

    Comment by danny woytek — June 2, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  13. Colby Lewis is heartbroken, Carson.

    Comment by Joe Tetreault — June 2, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  14. Pitcher’s over 40 with a dozen “different” pitches should also get a bonus.

    Comment by Tree — June 2, 2010 @ 11:51 am

  15. You should definitely take the absolute value of the Z-Scores on cats 1-3 because if there’s one thing that I find entertaining, it’s pitchers getting absolutely lit up. On that note, stolen bases allowed also contributes to my sadistic enjoyment of this game.

    Comment by kris — June 2, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  16. I was thinking that I must not be nerdy enough because I don’t necessarily like to watch regression happen. But I thought about it some more and I *do* like to see whether a pitcher can successfully fight off the powers of regression. I’d just rather that he win the battle than lose it, at least for the start that I’m watching.

    Comment by John Franco — June 2, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  17. Definitely agree with the point about knuckleballers – maybe we could quadruple their NERD or something. But on the whole regression note, I’d far rather watch a player overperforming his xFIP get lit up. I get Nats games because I live in Baltimore and every time Livan takes the hill I watch eagerly and await God’s (read: regression’s) wrath on his soft-tossing ways.

    Comment by tbad — June 2, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

  18. +1. Any game with Vin Scully broadcasting is immediately pegged on the positive watchability scale.

    Comment by John Franco — June 2, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  19. Ultimately, to find the best game, we’d need a GLOBAL NERD formula. This would combine several formulas, including but not limited to:
    - Starting Pitcher NERD
    - Bullpen NERD (to account for bullpen quality after the starter leaves)
    - Batter NERD
    - Team Batting NERD (to account for matchup quality)
    - Something incorporating current winning percentage (possibly to be included with Team NERD numbers)

    More thoughts on Starting Pitcher NERD:
    - Bonus for each Cy Young won (i.e. +0.5)… love seeing highly decorated pitchers
    - Bonus for Complete Game percentage (maybe over last 3 years)
    - Bonus for those among the 10% fastest workers (i.e. Buehrle)
    - Bonus for number of hit batsmen (maybe # of beans * .05)
    - Negative points for those among the 10% slowest pacers
    - Negative sliding scale for those with walk rates over 3

    Other general NERD thoughts:
    - Bonus for player who’s likely a future Hall of Famer
    - Bonus for player in top 5 of a major stat category as of gameday (i.e. BA leader, 3rd in ERA, etc.)

    So many things come to mind once you think about this topic for a little while! Very interesting idea.

    Comment by G-Ballz — June 2, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

  20. I’m going to suggest that there be some type of “hype” component in there. Or at least integrated with with players who are overperforming their xFIP. Basically calculated as the difference between popular opinion and sabermetric opinion x player popularity. I’m also going to have to agree that watching regression “the other way” can be equally intriguing. Personally, I’m looking forward to Carlos Silva’s next start.

    Comment by pressure — June 2, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  21. Any system that doesn’t show Tim Wakefield being one of the most interesting pitchers active is per se badly flawed. He is unpredictable game to game, inning to inning and pitch to pitch. When the knuckler is working, the pitches themselves are fun to watch. It’s fun to watch the batters flail; it’s fun to see them laugh or shake their heads after especially lively knucklers. He is capable of pitching an absolute masterpiece or losing a blow-out. He can win despite giving up huge homers; whenever a runner is on third, there’s the danger of a passed ball. It is so obviously wrong for him to be in the bottom 20 that it should have flagged the fact the the formula was not ready for publication.

    Comment by Jack Marshall — June 2, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  22. There should also be a component to account for pitchers with especially entertaining mechanics, such as the way Lincecum looks like his limbs are all about to fly off in different directions, or how Carlos Marmol nearly falls over toward first base. Maybe a “weirdness” stat that accounts for these things, and trick pitches like the knuckler and the eephus, and oddities like Jimenez’s velocity or Zito’s curve or Rivera’s broken bat rate.

    Comment by Darien — June 2, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  23. BTW, Neyer called you Sparky!!

    Comment by danny woytek — June 2, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  24. So your favorite pitcher is Carlos Marmol then?

    Comment by Reuben — June 2, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

  25. PRARL, or Pitcher Repertoire Above Replacement Level, should certainly be a factor.

    Comment by oPlaiD — June 2, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  26. This. I just knew someone else had to’ve mentioned it first.

    Comment by Newcomer — June 2, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  27. The second iteration will absolutely have a bonus for every player who’s Colby Lewis.

    Comment by Carson Cistulli — June 2, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

  28. This is probably okay because NERD wants the opinions of these self-selectors (nerds), not the general population.

    Comment by edxs — June 2, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  29. I question any list that deems Tim Wakefield unfun to watch… there needs to be some kind of knuckleball quotient…

    that said this is truly an interesting idea. and the list seems to be pretty accurate as to what I would like to see in a pitcher.

    Comment by Swo — June 2, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  30. Love, love the effort that went into this. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision to discount lucky pitchers, though. For example, I’m just waiting for the bubble that Livan Hernandez is floating on to pop. It’s a factor that would draw some interest for me, on a case to case basis-I’m certainly not watching every Nate Robertson start waiting for him to implode.

    Also, obviously, it’s just strange to leave Jimenez off this list.

    But all in all, brilliant work.

    Comment by Bronnt — June 2, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  31. *Snicker*. You tell ‘em, Country Joe.

    Comment by Jason B — June 2, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  32. I just like guys who work at the extremes, be it strikeouts, walks, groundballs, “luck”, age, velocity or orthodoxy of delivery.

    Comment by Jay — June 3, 2010 @ 3:02 am

  33. Seeing that Chris Tillman has no score, how about adding a component for pitchers (or any other player) making their major league debut (or just recently after). I would just use the Baseball America Top 100 list, but you could use the fangraphs Top 10s, etc. Any player involved in the game should get a bonus. And Stephen Strasburg should get an automatic 10.

    Comment by Trev — June 4, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  34. I agree there should be something added in for young starters. Maybe a point if they’re still qualified as a rookie, or a point if they’re 24 or younger. Something along those lines.

    Maybe something for guys on the other end, say a point for anyone starting a game over 40? Always interesting when an old guy turns out a good outing.

    Really neat idea.

    Comment by teejay1324 — June 4, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  35. How long the pitcher lasts ought to affect the watchability. Does he go 5-6 or 8-9?

    Comment by natebracy — June 4, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  36. Any type of article\equation\system\whatever that spawns a negative Steve Trachsel reference is okay with me haha.

    Comment by Jishwa — June 6, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  37. Like Jaime Moyer putting in a complete game like last night…

    Comment by Jishwa — June 6, 2010 @ 9:00 am

  38. Does anyone actually throw an Eephus pitch? I can’t think of anyone…unless you count all of Jaime Moyer’s pitches as Eephus pitches…

    Comment by Jishwa — June 6, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  39. R.J. Swindle throws something eephusy classified by PITCH f/x as ‘curveball’ or ‘unknown’ that he was telegraphing the heck out of against the Mets two years back until David Wright finally decided to take him deep.

    Comment by Jay — June 6, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  40. Morrow, Ely, Carpenter, Masteron, Wells and Haren are 6/8 of my fantasy rotation. Is there some kind of nerd currency I just earned for this feat? Nerd points? I’d like to redeem those nerd points for sortable SwStrk%. It’s literally the only thing I want that this website doesn’t already have.

    Comment by jGreen — June 6, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  41. StatCorner has a sortable leaderboard for 2003-09.

    Comment by Jay — June 7, 2010 @ 12:35 am

  42. The Knuckleball factor. Add 9 to rating.

    Comment by kardo — June 7, 2010 @ 2:12 am

  43. So basically, Dan Haren shouldn’t be as bad as he’s been this season.

    Comment by Ray — June 9, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

  44. A little late, but I must say this absolutely killed me.

    Comment by Tom G — July 7, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

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