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  1. Very interesting stuff, have you read about swing area? (http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/pitchers-and-swing-area/)
    I would like to see this exact same study about Bartolo Colon

    Comment by chel — November 21, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  2. No. No. No.

    The answer is that Matt Garza is who we (some of us) thought he was. When reality doesn’t match what the model says it should, you might just have a problem with your metric. I am so tired of people on this site claiming to be scientific, justifying their own magical thinking by claiming that those who simply acknowledge events that actually happened in reality are the weak-minded who are simply fooled and create mythologies.

    On a technical note, the big story here that nobody on FG has bothered to analyze is that “true” talent levels need to be regressed significantly and the factor for SO% needs to be adjusted based on a dramatic three year trend upward for starting pitchers. There’s also the small detail that a catcher might just have a lot to do with pitch location on two strike counts. I know, that’s heresy, but I’ll stick to my narrative – doesn’t make much sense to have bruised and bloody knuckles without it.

    Comment by Paul — November 21, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  3. Check the ol’ byline there, chel.

    Comment by marc w — November 21, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  4. Very nice article.

    Comment by e — November 21, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  5. U mad? If you are so tired of the writers, don’t read whats on the site!

    Comment by Keystone Heavy — November 21, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  6. Right. It’s better to just engage people who you agree with on every single thing. The Matt Garza is a bum narrative and counter discussion has been going on a for a while here. Nice try though.

    Comment by Paul — November 21, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  7. No one said Garza is a bum. He had a good year, but people shouldn’t proclaim him as the next Cliff Lee without more data.

    Comment by Dash — November 21, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  8. Paul, who is saying Garza is a bum? You’re exaggerating. The argument is more like he’s a stud – no, he’s almost but not quite a stud. That’s a bit different than saying he’s a bum.

    Comment by t ball — November 21, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  9. The common opinion around here at the time of the trade was that the cubs greatly overpaid for a pitcher who owed much of his success to the defense behind him and the stadium around him

    common sense would tell you the difference between the ALE and the NLC would more than make up for those things.

    Maybe, just maybe the stats this site uses dont give the pitcher enough crefit for his own destiny, and rely way too much on normalizing and rely way too much on defensive metrics

    Comment by mister_rob — November 21, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  10. t ball: Thanks for catching the exaggeration. You clearly didn’t read the entire article. This summation thing is pretty important. And it clearly continued the theme on this site of twisting themselves into knots, not to discredit Matt Garza, but to continue to prop up a set of supposedly predictive metrics that are fatally flawed. In other words, what mister_rob says below.

    Dash: That’s such a great point, because it’s really the heart of this ongoing argument. I didn’t see one person at any point in this entire discussion claim that Matt Garza is the next anything, much less Cliff Lee. We were merely saying that he is what he is, and that he’s much better than normalized metrics say, and that multiple writers on this site have used to claim that he’s actually more like a back end starter, or easily replaceable. And then the cheering in support of a trade that turned out to be a salary dump for a bunch of guys. The entire point all along has been that if you are willing to at least question the theory underlying FIP, Matt Garza is clearly not a replacement level starter.

    Comment by Paul — November 21, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  11. Lol. Nicely done.

    Comment by Peter R — November 21, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  12. Variability in stats, as well as confidence intervals, aren’t given nearly enough due on faux-pas statistical sites. But anyone who says, “maybe the stats this site uses dont give the pitcher enough crefit for his own destiny”…is clearly barking up the wrong tree.

    Comment by Joe — November 21, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  13. No, Paul, I clearly read the entire article, but without the incredibly jaundiced eye you have. Man, what an axe you’re grinding. I prefer to take every article for what it actually says rather than fit it into my personal agenda.

    I see nothing in this article that looks like some sort of metric-propoganda. I do see in your post an angry rant against some of the metrics used but your rant is not supported by any evidence. The writer here references metrics supported by much research. It’s fine to dispute it, but I don’t have to just take your word for it.

    Comment by t ball — November 21, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  14. barking up the wrong tree = looking at actual rates of Garza’s between 2010 and 2011, and coming to the conclusion that he was ONE AND A HALF runs better per 9 innings in 2011

    just way too much reliance on defense in those numbers

    Comment by mister_rob — November 21, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  15. tball: You’re right, I’m a member of Garza’s posse, so I have a personal axe to grind about this.

    That the author wound up in the right place is interesting vis-a-vis Garza. But I frankly couldn’t care less about him. FIP was used to dog him prior to the season, and the prior SO rate was dismissed as an outlier. Now that it fits the narrative, he suddenly has the ability to strike people out. It’s a cover for a metric that may be predictive over a large population, but it did a terrible job of informing us of Matt Garza’s true talent level. And worse for me is that a lot of people use these metrics to tell you that your eyes are fooling you (see, e.g., the entire no-hitter’s are flukes narrative).

    Comment by Paul — November 21, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  16. Interesting points, Paul. I’m still wondering if anyone is ever going to come up with a metric that (somehow) combines the best of stathead metrics with What Actually Happened. I too am tired of advanced sabermetrics becoming so divorced from what happens on the field that they end up clashing with a more intuitive sense of player value; for instance, I have a hard time believing that Dan Haren was a better pitcher (6.4 WAR) to Jered Weaver (5.6 WAR) when the difference in their ERAs is rather significant (Haren 3.17, Weaver 2.41). I know, I know–FIP and BABIP and all that jazz…but what these sophisticated metrics don’t seem to account for is a pitcher’s ability to find ways to prevent runners from scoring that don’t show up in rate stats and percentages, but do show up in ERA (to some extent). In other words, ERA is directly related to results while while WAR tends to be a bit separate from that.

    To illustrate this point, look at two very different pitchers: Tom Glavine and Javier Vazquez. Sabermetricians want to give props to pitchers like Vazquez who put up gaudy rate stats, but seem to ignore the question as to why Vazquez’s ERAs have never come in line with his secondary stats (except for in a couple seasons). In other words, my point is that there is something that Vazquez does that keeps him from being a great pitcher and WAR shouldn’t try to bypass that. Tom Glavine didn’t have the sexy rate stats, and thus never had very high WARs (his highest was 5.7 and he was only above 5 twice) but he knew how to win ball games. That has to account for something and, in the end, made him a better pitcher than Javier Vazquez, even though Vazquez’s best three WAR seasons were higher than anything Glavine ever did.

    In a similar fashion, I find it difficult to swallow the degree to which Fld and BsR can impact WAR. I know that WAR is meant to be a catchall stat, but to be honest I don’t really care all that much about how bad of a baserunner Adrian Gonzalez is — his -8.2 BsR lowers his WAR by almost 1 to 6.6, which doesn’t accurately describe his overall value. A .338/.410/.548 hitter with very good defense is more than a 6.6 WAR player, and certainly shouldn’t be 1.1 WAR lower than Ian Kinsler’s .255/.355/.477 line, even though Kinsler’s defense was excellent and his baserunning very good.

    I could go on, but in short I think we have to remind ourselves that abstract metrics like WAR are just tools and shouldn’t be taken as absolute. Even Grandmaster Cameron has said as much. I would just take it a step further and posit that when we start abstracting too far away from What Actually Happened, I think we lose sight of actual value and start playing a more intellectual version of fantasy baseball. I am wondering if the sweet spot with statistics is going back to stats like Adjusted OPS and Adjusted ERA that actually refer to something actual. I would love to see someone take something like Total Average and contextualize that, like “Adjusted Total Average” and then replace OPS with that and add in seperate rates for defense and baserunning. In other words, make sure the advanced stats refer to actual performance, then contextualize that somewhat for era and park factors and call it a day (although maybe learning to optimize your park’s dimensions is a skill in and of itself?)

    Comment by Angelsjunky — November 21, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  17. Good piece — we need a similar reality check story about Brandon McCarthy.

    Comment by Dan Conley — November 21, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  18. “FIP was used to dog him prior to the season, and the prior SO rate was dismissed as an outlier.”

    His ERA has never been greater either. Most writers here would agree consistently out preforming your FIP raises the possibility something a pitcher is doing results in a lower ERA than FIP. However even assuming that to be the case, nothing Garza showed in the past made what he did in 2011 predictable. His career ERA is still 3.83.

    “It’s better to just engage people who you agree with on every single thing.”

    You may have a different definition of engagement, but generally belittling and insulting are not strategies for informed discourse.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — November 21, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

  19. Would you care if Adrian ran like Reyes? You sure would, so you should care that Adrian is an Anti-Reyes. RThe fact that adrian is one of the esieat guys to get into the front end of a DP matters a ton!

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — November 22, 2011 @ 4:11 am

  20. “Of course it’s possible that the league adjusts in 2012, but there is no reason to dismiss 2011 as a fluke.”

    This was a reality check? Did I misread or was the article not arguing that there are legitimate reasons to believe that Garza’s 2011 success is sustainable? Which people have been arguing here since like May. Sure, there’s a wait-and-see approach but that’s only sensible. How many people really rated Cliff Lee right after he won the Cy Young, in and out of the stat community?

    We don’t all have to agree, everyone. We don’t all have to agree.

    Comment by Daniel — November 22, 2011 @ 5:23 am

  21. I called the crap out of his season…right down to the ERA @ or under 3.5.

    Comment by Jack — December 5, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

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