Daily Notes: How Ought FanGraphs Writers Use Their Access?

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. How Ought FanGraphs Writers Use Their Access?
2. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
3. Today’s Game Odds, Translated into Winning Percentages

How Ought FanGraphs Writers Use Their Access?
This offseason, both the present author and Eno Sarris joined Davids Cameron and Laurila among the ranks of FanGraphs authors with membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America. While the BBWAA will certainly have been a source of consternation for some readers for its conduct in award- and Hall of Fame-voting, it also plays an important role in allowing baseball writers to go about their jobs unencumbered.

Laurila’s ongoing Q&A series and, for example, Sarris’s recent discussion with uberhitter Joey Votto regarding the latter’s swing represent cases in which FanGraphs writers have been able to integrate the observations of actual players and coaches into the analytical work being done constantly at the site. (The present author’s own recent conversation with Brewers closer John Axford, on the other hand, represents a different sort of case — one in which, for example, a FanGraphs writer abuses his access to talk about Canada and mustaches.)

What I’d like to ask now, however — with the idea very much of appealing to the collective wisdom of the crowd — is to ask how FanGraphs writers might best use the access having been granted by the BBWAA. Between the PITCHf/x data, assorted DIPS-type metrics, plate-discipline stats, etc., available here at the site, there are a number of objective measures that could be enriched by the personal narratives of actual major-league players. Apart from stats, there are many other questions to be asked of major-league players which might appeal to our readership, but which remain unasked in other publications and at other sites.

Readers are invited, then, to make suggestions in the comments section below as to how this access might best be utilized. Will all these same suggestions be embraced? Oh, absolutely not. (Generally speaking, you people are bananas.) Rather, the idea here is to get a sense of what’s possible, and to let those possibilities serve as the outer bounds of what might be reasonable.

Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
Miami at Washington | 13:05 ET
Very likely baseball’s best starter (Stephen Strasburg) faces very possibly baseball’s worst lineup (in the Marlins).

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Washington Radio.

San Diego at New York NL | 13:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***
San Diego infielder Jedd Gyorko, a rookie-of-the-year favorite according to multiple projection systems, appears likely to make his major-league debut at second base. Otherwise, this game is probably best regarded as a “tough sell” — in light, particularly, of Padres starter Edinson Volquez, who has walked over 13% of batters faced each of the past two seasons.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: New York NL Television.

Seattle at Oakland | 22:05 ET
One quality about a game that might make it appealing is if the opponents are very evenly matched. According to the moneyline odds for today (see below), this game — which features Felix Hernandez versus Brett Anderson — is the closest thing to a 50-50 proposition among all of today’s contests.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Oakland Radio.

Today’s Game Odds, Translated into Winning Percentages
Here — for purposes entirely of entertainment, and not for gambling, which is a Scourge of Propriety — are all of Monday’s opening-day games with moneyline odds (from relatively “sharp” sportsbook Pinnacle Sports) translated into projected winning percentages (and adjusted to account for the vigorish).

Games listed in Pacific Time for reasons that are unclear even to the author and presented in order, first, of National League and then American League and, finally, then interleague play.


Game Teams Starters Line Win%
10:05 AM Miami Marlins Ricky Nolasco 3.32 29.5%
PT Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg 1.39 70.5%
10:10 AM San Diego Padres Edinson Volquez 2.28 43.0%
PT New York Mets Jon Niese 1.72 57.0%
10:35 AM Chicago Cubs Jeff Samardzija 2.13 46.1%
PT Pittsburgh Pirates A.J. Burnett 1.82 53.9%
11:10 AM Colorado Rockies Jhoulys Chacin 2.30 42.6%
PT Milwaukee Brewers Yovani Gallardo 1.71 57.4%
1:10 PM San Francisco Giants Matt Cain 2.41 40.7%
PT Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw 1.65 59.3%
4:10 PM Philadelphia Phillies Cole Hamels 2.13 46.1%
PT Atlanta Braves Tim Hudson 1.82 53.9%
7:10 PM St. Louis Cardinals Adam Wainwright 2.04 48.0%
PT Arizona Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy 1.89 52.0%
10:05 AM Boston Red Sox Jon Lester 2.11 46.5%
PT New York Yankees CC Sabathia 1.83 53.5%
1:10 PM Kansas City Royals James Shields 2.29 42.8%
PT Chicago White Sox Chris Sale 1.71 57.2%
1:10 PM Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander 1.52 64.5%
PT Minnesota Twins Vance Worley 2.76 35.5%
7:05 PM Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez 1.98 49.5%
PT Oakland Athletics Brett Anderson 1.94 50.5%
1:10 PM LAA Angels Jered Weaver 2.03 48.4%
PT Cincinnati Reds Johnny Cueto 1.90 51.6%




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


36 Responses to “Daily Notes: How Ought FanGraphs Writers Use Their Access?”

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  1. Sparkles Peterson says:

    You ought to sucker punch Ryan Braun.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    If one, with gun to head, were forced to choose a game as “most likely to end in pitcher perfection,” one could do worse than Stephen Strasburg vs. 2013 Marlins.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tehzachatak says:

      A corollary: True/False, Stephen Strasburg vs. the Florida Marlins is the SP vs. lineup most likely to result in a perfect game in 2013.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        I believe Justin Verlander may also be pitching against the Marlins this year, since the NL East and AL Central are paired up for interleague matches. Verlander will only have one crack at perfect-gaming them, however, while Strasburg will likely get at least three.

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        • tehzachatak says:

          I should have clarified-

          True/False – Strasburg vs. the Marlins lineup has the highest likelihood of any single matchup in any given game to result in a perfect game.

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        • Leighton says:

          Tigers vs Marlins is the last series of the season. Theoretically, the season would be wrapped up for the Tigers and they wouldn’t need to have the top lineup on the field, not to mention setting the rotation for the ALDS.

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      • James says:

        I’d bet on a pitcher who has seen the 7th inning.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Well-Beered Englishman says:

          2012: five 7.0 IP outings, none 7.1 or longer
          2011: rehabbing, short starts
          2010: two 7.0 IP outings, none 7.1 or longer

          Pitch counts for the 7.0 IP games in 2012: 82, 101, 90, 111, 94

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Monty Herr says:

        How about Felix Hernandez v Houston Astros?

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  3. tehzachatak says:

    When do NERD rankings begin to appear? I forget, and am too lazy to look it up.

    I would like to see a series of pitchers discussing pitch types, and an effort to reconcile/show differences between this and what Pitch F/X shows us. E.g., Trevor Bauer’s claim he has nine different pitches or whatever. That is a bad example as Pitch F/X data for Trevor Bauer isn’t there, but you get my point.

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  4. Ben from LI says:

    I’m all in favor of the Ted Berg line of questioning (also known as any question regarding sandwiches).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Shaun says:

    Discussions of how advance metric statistics play a role in altering a player’s approach, swing, defensive positioning, strategy, etc. How much preparation and thought goes into altering their play based upon observations gleed from the metrics. I like to think they influence players today in ways not seen before. Do players still go with the “see the ball, hit the ball” approach or are they starting to think “well, I can improve my BABIP by trying to hit more line drives and I might be able to do that if I take a little bit off the uppercut in my swing since I had no idea how many fly balls I was hitting.” I’d like to hear more about those stories. For example, how a player started to do something differently based upon certain data points and how that made a positive change in their game or, better yet, why it didn’t work.

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    • Jon L. says:

      I’m also curious how players glee observations from the metrics.

      But seriously, I like these ideas. Some of the best FanGraphs articles have been about stuff like this. At the same time, I’m sure those writers were picking their spots – some players might not have interesting things to say on these topics. I’m curious if players think team chemistry matters, how they cope when they’re demoted to the minors, which teammates and coaches have helped them the most in developing their skills, if young players ever think about whether they might have better opportunities on another team – just to spitball a few ideas for things to ask players if they aren’t into advanced analysis.

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    • rusty says:

      I think we could definitely learn more about defense. As sort of an industrial espionage angle, we know teams have more data than are publicly available, and they presumably share some of it, or analysis based on it, to their players.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. MLB Rainmaker says:

    Re: Using Access

    I’d love to see some interviews with managers discussing how they use fangraphs type data in their management of a team on a daily basis. We know some guys like Joe Maddon embrace the stuff, but it would be interesting to hear how decisions are made in the dugout — in terms of pitch calling, pinch hitting, choosing an RP to warm up, etc.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tahititaco says:

      second. Demystifying the strange managerial decisions that drive everyone off their freaking rockers (Kotsay in CF! Hooray!)

      Also, how does one measure how good a catcher is at pitch calling/ how does that whole operation actually work at the big league level?

      All parts of the larger question: What the hell do all those coaches actually DO all game (besides call on the worst pinch-hitter at the worst possible time) ?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Urban Shocker says:

        There was this fantastic ESPN radio interview (really) with Buck Showalter, where he detailed his in-game thought process that was amazing. Wish I could find the audio-anyway, another vote for more managers/coaches.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Well-Beered Englishman says:

          A new WaPo article today talks about how Davey Johnson notices lots of little things – apparently in spring training he saw that a catcher’s positioning was giving away pickoff attempts. It would be great to find out more about all the minutiae that talented managers observe all over the diamond.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. tahititaco says:

    Asking players why they chose their team and what they think of the town and the fans compared to what they’re used to.

    But mostly, I wonder why people like Miguel Tejada keep grinding in a bench role and play in the minors even though they’ve got a nice mini-legacy. Or a gigantic legacy like Ricky Henderson. Why struggle through this when you’ve already spent 15 years proving yourself? Is it for the team? Just love of the game? Money? Would anyone give any kind of straight answer to any of these questions?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jon L. says:

      Tejada gets paid over $1,000,000 to hang out with 25 guys for six months and do the only thing he really knows how to do. I’m not saying it’s not an interesting question – I think it is – but really, why wouldn’t he?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. tylersnotes says:

    i’d like carson to interview pitchers and hitters of all stripes to determine whether they have any dirty nicknames for plays, pitches, or other players. I would also like to get a sense of how widespread the usage of .gifs is throughout the MLB clubhouse. I assume, for instance, that Charlie Manual spends a lot of time looking at cats playing keyboards.

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  9. El Vigilante says:

    Milkshake reviews. Milkshake consumption contests. Milkshake metrics.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. You should ask players what they think of your wikipedia page.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Neil says:

    Could someone give me updates on the Nationals game? I live in North Carolina, so naturally, I can’t watch them play despite having both cable and MLB.tv. Thanks in advance. I hear Strasburg is good!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. ncb says:

    pretty sure the padres-mets game is not free on mlbtv

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nate says:

      Correct, which means Carson is incorrect.
      Today’s free game of the day (FGOTD) is the Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks.

      Bookmark this page in case Carson is deceived on future FGOTD announcements.

      MLB Media Page

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. bothdakotas says:

    If you could speak to talent evaluators about their process and how organizational decisions are made.

    Also how players develop certain skill sets.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. corkybb says:

    I’d like to know if any MLB teams are calling pitches probabilistically. For example, given that Albert Pujols has a 2-0 count, imagine that analysis indicates that Justin Verlander should throw a low, inside fastball 70% of the time, and a low, outside curveball 30% of the time. One could use a randomizer to generate which pitch will be thrown, and call the pitch accordingly.

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  15. Ian m says:

    fangraphs is the best at discovering statistical anomalies and pursuing an explanation. that’s the approach i think would benefit holistic understanding of player values the most

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Jess says:

    Questions about the place of MLB amongst other sports: on the micro – a players personal gravitation towards baseball opposed to other sports – or on a national/international stage the sport and its narratives as a whole compared to soccer, football, ect.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. JBrasscomb says:

    Don’t all sportsbooks go by Vegas time?

    While Laurila’s, Cameron’s and Sarris’s serious analytical work is great and necessary; Cistulli’s or Perry’s more offbeat conversations aren’t an abuse of their access. Using interactions with players and staff to come up with original and interesting thoughts will continue to separate fangraphs’ content from that of other sources.

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