Leaderboards of Pleasure – 4/30/12


What? It’s just science.

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for this edition of the Leaderboards of Pleasure.

1. A Brief Introduction to This Very Important Thing
2. Team NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard
3. Pitcher NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard

A Brief Introduction to This Very Important Thing
Regarding What Is the Leaderboards of Pleasure
The Leaderboards of Pleasure (past editions of which you can find by clicking here) is a mostly weekly feature of FanGraphs during the season and is composed mostly of the different NERD leaderboards.

Regarding What Is NERD
NERD is the result of an attempt to represent numerically the likely aesthetic appeal of a pitcher, team, game, etc. to the baseball nerd (i.e. you, reading this). It was developed as a response to a challenge issued to the author by Rob Neyer in May of 2010.

Specifically, NERD is a score (on a 0-10 scale) given to pitchers, teams, games, etc. that’s calculated using metrics available here at the site. When pitcher and team scores are combined in game scores (like those that appeared in today’s edition of Daily Notes), it’s possible to approximate, with at least some accuracy, which games might be of greatest (or least) interest to the baseball nerd.

Regarding the History of NERD, Part I
The history of NERD is like an ouroboros, except that way fewer people have tattoos of it.

Regarding the History of NERD, Part II
Discussions of Pitcher and Team NERD can be found here and here, respectively.

Regarding What You’ll Find Below
Wondrous spectacles and mysterious mysteries, predominantly.

Team NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard
Regarding What Team NERD Is
Like other NERD scores, this one is the product of an attempt to assess “watchability” — in this case, of each team.

Regarding the Variables of Team NERD
After much searching — both of souls and for my pants — these are the various and totally infallible inputs for Team NERD:

• Batting Runs Above Average (BAT)
• Park-Adjusted Home Run per Fly Ball Rate (HR/FB)*
• Speed Score (SPD)
• Bullpen xFIP, Where Lower Is Better (BULL)
• Team UZR (UZR)
• Payroll, Where Below Average Is Better (PAY)**
• Batter Age, Where Younger Is Better (AGE)
• Expected Wins, Per WAR, Minus Actual Wins (LUCK)

* Using Jeffrey Gross’s park-factor numbers from last June.
** From data at CBS Sports.

Regarding How Team NERD Is Calculated, Part I
Team NERD — like Pitcher NERD below — relies heavily on z-scores, or the number of standard deviations of a single data point above or below the mean of a larger sample. So, for example, the current league-average HR/FB is 10.4% and the standard deviation of HR/FB is 3.0%. The Rangers, not surprisingly, have the league’s best park-adjusted HR/FB, at 16.2% — which is 1.98 standard deviations above the mean. Hence, the Rangers receive a z-score of 1.98.

All of the variables above, with the exception of LUCK (which is represented merely as the difference of expected wins, per WAR, and actual wins), are rendered as z-scores.

Regarding How Team NERD Is Calculated, Part II
Here’s the actual formula for Team NERD:

zBAT + zHR/FB + zSPD + (zBULL / 2) + (zUZR / 2) + zPAY* + zAGE* + (LUCK / 2)** + Constant

* Only included if above zero.
** Only included if above zero. Any score above 2.0 is rendered as 2.0.

Team NERD Leaderboard
Here’s the current (and sortable) Team NERD leaderboard:


Teams NERD BAT HR/FB SPD BULL UZR PAY AGE LUCK
Cardinals 10 1.67 1.52 0.95 1.24 0.73 0.00 0.00 1.22
Rangers 10 1.71 1.98 0.14 2.19 1.03 0.00 0.00 0.57
Royals 9 0.53 0.32 -0.32 -0.28 1.29 1.01 1.59 2.00
Braves 8 0.57 0.46 1.18 1.21 0.69 0.40 0.64 0.00
Rockies 8 0.25 1.27 2.21 1.67 -1.83 0.54 0.00 0.00
Yankees 8 1.94 1.90 -0.55 0.76 -1.18 0.00 0.00 0.70
Astros 7 0.26 -1.41 1.29 -0.67 0.18 1.02 1.37 1.12
Rays 7 1.27 0.57 0.37 -0.20 0.13 0.92 0.00 0.00
Diamondbacks 6 -0.24 0.57 0.14 0.03 1.41 0.65 0.00 0.57
Brewers 6 0.45 0.25 1.64 0.30 -1.08 0.01 0.00 0.17
Padres 5 -0.94 -1.12 0.60 -0.45 0.99 1.16 0.34 1.15
Giants 6 0.16 -0.02 0.60 0.03 -0.46 0.00 1.08 0.12
Blue Jays 6 -0.02 0.39 -0.09 0.38 -0.09 0.61 0.79 0.00
Orioles 5 0.18 1.34 -1.24 0.11 -0.32 0.45 0.56 0.00
Dodgers 5 0.26 0.55 -0.66 0.45 1.01 0.08 0.00 0.00
White Sox 5 -0.43 0.33 0.03 1.28 0.65 0.03 0.00 0.47
Twins 5 0.52 -0.39 0.03 -0.59 0.17 0.11 0.00 1.10
Indians 4 0.28 -0.16 -0.55 -0.11 -0.98 0.53 0.42 0.00
Red Sox 4 1.02 0.43 -0.89 -0.88 -0.59 0.00 0.00 0.00
Mariners 4 -0.61 -0.36 -0.43 0.53 0.19 0.44 0.42 0.00
Athletics 3 -1.62 -0.95 -0.66 -0.84 0.96 1.16 1.23 0.00
Marlins 3 -1.01 -0.66 1.18 -1.50 -1.03 0.00 0.79 0.35
Phillies 3 -1.16 -1.16 -0.20 -0.24 1.41 0.00 0.00 0.97
Tigers 3 -0.38 0.28 -0.09 -1.15 -1.62 0.00 0.49 0.00
Reds 3 -0.58 -0.50 0.26 0.97 -1.39 0.40 0.00 0.00
Mets 2 0.67 -0.12 -2.04 -0.84 -1.82 0.13 1.30 0.00
Angels 2 -0.99 -0.96 -0.78 -1.15 0.84 0.00 0.00 1.17
Pirates 2 -1.72 -1.40 -1.35 0.41 0.76 0.94 0.79 0.00
Cubs 1 -1.56 -1.75 1.06 -2.46 0.01 0.27 0.05 0.42
Nationals 0 -1.33 -1.21 -1.81 -0.20 -0.27 0.45 0.20 0.00

Pitcher NERD: Current Formula and Leaderboard
Regarding What Pitcher NERD Is
Pitcher NERD is the product of an attempt to represent numerically the “watchability” of a pitcher.

Regarding the Variables of Pitcher NERD
After considerable plumbing — of depths both spiritual and material — these are the various and totally infallible inputs for Pitcher NERD:

• Pitcher xFIP, Where Lower Is Better (xFIP)
• Swinging-Strike Rate (SwStrk)
• Overall Strike Percentage (Strk)
• Fastball Velocity (Velo)
• Pitcher Age, Where Younger Is Better (Age)
• ERA Minus xFIP (Luck)
• Knuckleball Factor — or, Knuckleball Percentage Times Five (KN)

Regarding How Pitcher NERD Is Calculated, Part I
As with Team NERD (above), Pitcher NERD is calculated using mostly z-scores.

Also as with Team NERD, the Luck variable is not a z-score, but (in this case) the difference between a pitcher’s xFIP and ERA.

Regarding How Pitcher NERD Is Calculated, Part II
Here’s the actual formula for Pitcher NERD:

(zxFIP * 2) + (zSwStrk / 2) + (zStrk / 2) + zVelo* + zAge* + (Luck / 2) + KN + Constant

* Only included if above zero.
** Only included if above zero. Any score above 1.0 is rendered as 1.0.

Pitcher NERD Leaderboard
Here’s the current (and sortable) Pitcher NERD leaderboard (of 119 starters with 20-plus innings):


Name NERD xFIP SwStrk Strk Velo Age Luck KN
R.A. Dickey 10 1.00 0.44 1.67 0.00 0.00 0.66 4.10
Stephen Strasburg 10 1.63 0.89 0.86 1.99 1.23 0.00 0.00
Cole Hamels 10 2.25 2.38 1.08 0.07 0.10 0.24 0.00
Jeff Samardzija 10 1.28 1.66 0.79 1.60 0.33 0.60 0.00
Clayton Kershaw 10 1.51 0.94 0.38 0.89 1.00 0.00 0.00
CC Sabathia 9 1.43 1.80 0.63 0.46 0.00 0.88 0.00
Dillon Gee 9 1.23 1.48 1.16 0.00 0.55 0.95 0.00
Edwin Jackson 9 1.10 2.43 0.57 1.17 0.10 0.06 0.00
Ivan Nova 9 0.99 -0.28 0.87 0.89 0.78 1.00 0.00
Gio Gonzalez 9 1.56 0.85 -0.42 0.93 0.55 0.00 0.00

Pitcher NERD Laggardboard
Here’s the current (and sortable) Pitcher NERD laggardboard (of 119 starters with 20-plus innings):


Name NERD xFIP SwStrk Strk Velo Age Luck KN
Jeremy Guthrie 0 -2.74 -0.82 -1.00 0.81 0.00 0.10 0.00
Ubaldo Jimenez 0 -2.13 -1.32 -1.56 0.54 0.10 0.00 0.00
Randy Wolf 0 -2.05 -1.68 -1.44 0.00 0.00 0.97 0.00
Brian Matusz 0 -2.42 -0.55 0.10 0.07 0.78 0.08 0.00
Paul Maholm 0 -1.75 -1.36 -1.09 0.00 0.00 0.59 0.00
Derek Lowe 1 -1.07 -1.50 -0.92 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Jeremy Hellickson 1 -1.66 -0.32 -1.21 0.03 0.78 0.00 0.00
James McDonald 1 -1.01 -0.78 -2.71 0.22 0.33 0.00 0.00
Ted Lilly 1 -1.53 -0.01 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Barry Zito 1 -1.16 -0.73 -0.19 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

31 Responses to “Leaderboards of Pleasure – 4/30/12”

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  1. MikeS says:

    NERD continues to love the Royals more than their own fans do. I’m sure the 9 score is a great consolation for the 0-10 home record.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. gobears says:

    Too bad there’s no prospect component: Nats are zero’s in general, but not with Bryce coming up to the plate….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. vikedawg says:

    This has probably been mentioned, but why isn’t delivery time taken into account for pitching NERD stats? I hate slow pitchers, as do most right thinking people, and that definitely effects watchability for me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Daniel says:

      the tigers…benoit and dotel can’t stand ‘em. gotta work quick like Robbie Ross.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. If the pitchers are slow, I turn the game off, unless I’ve already dozed off.
      Why isn’t Rule 8.04 enforced?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. mbrady16 says:

    This pretty much sums up Ubaldo Jimenez- a couple of years ago I kicked myself for missing starts of his, now it is just painful to see him getting hit around.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    This just illustrates what a weird team the Nationals are. Team NERD of 0, three starting pitchers in the pitching NERD top 10.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shaun Catron says:

      Ian Desmond and Lombardozzi are both -20 NERD.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JCA says:

      With the Nats, you’d think the Schadenfreude factor of having to watch most of their hitters would make them watchable.

      What the heck did he swing at? do you know that you don’t have to swing at every pitch when you leadoff? K looking again? Have you thought of sending out a blood hound to see if it can find traces of your power?

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      • jorgath says:

        Speaking as a Nats fan, it’s more like catharsis. The “Cardiac Nats,” we call them, because they never fail to…well, fail. Except when there’s no way to win unless they succeed. Then it’s 75/25 chance of success. Seriously. Look over the number of two-out, two-strike, 8th/9th inning comebacks the Nats have had already. It’s ridiculous.

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  6. Chris Headley says:

    Wow, the Team NERD stuff is actually pretty impressive, I agree with almost all of them, the only one that I find off is the Nationals, but that is fine when their starting pitchers are most of their excitement. :P

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Wavaw says:

    Since when are the Giants one of the younger teams in baseball?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jack says:

      Since they graduated a ton of players in recent years (Lincecum, Cain, Posey, Belt, Sandoval, Crawford), and actually haven’t been to big on FA acquisitions.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wwavaw is crazy? says:

      since they got rid of beltran and burrell

      romo, casilla, b craw, nate the snake and pill??

      are u smoking?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Dara says:

    I was up in arms about the Nats’ team score of 0, and then I saw that the NL pitching leaderboard boasts 60% of their rotation. Which is, sigh, a pretty good encapsulation of the team.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. dscottncc says:

    Flawed data, and not just because I’m a Cubs fan. Nationals and Angels and Detroit toward the bottom, when those are easily the three most interesting teams this year in baseball. Obviously two of the three aren’t playing to potential, but who doesn’t want to see one of those three teams. Prospects and newly aquired players need to be factored in here.

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    • jorgath says:

      Remember that Team NERD is basically everyone except starting pitchers. Their half of Game NERD includes Pitcher NERD too. I’m a Nats fan, and I love them, but they’re terrible at everything except pitching and defense, except for Adam LaRoche (I know, who’da thunk?), and their bullpen is amazing but shaky.

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  10. Big Daddy V says:

    Question. Last year, wasn’t there a bonus for old pitchers as well as younger ones? Specifically, I’m wondering why Jamie Moyer doesn’t have a 12.9 NERD.

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    • stansonite says:

      Agreed – Jamie Moyer is absolutely one of the most interesting pitchers to watch these days. Perhaps the Age component could start giving credit again at a defined old age (such as 40). Same goes for Velocity – faster is not always better in terms of “watchability.” A 49-year old with an 80 mph fastball who starts in MLB deserves a much better NERD score than a 3.

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  11. Brazen Reader says:

    In addition to “Knuckleball Factor”, how about Knucklehead Factor? Number of Drunk Driving Arrests, Errors, Offensive Tweets, GIDP, Adulterous Affairs, Eightballs of Coke snorted, # of Babymommas Accumulated, etc.

    Current leaders: Delmon Young, Miguel Drunky McDrunk Cabrera & Shin Soo Choo.
    All Timers: Manny, Tony LaRussa, Steve Howe, Claudell Washington
    and my favorite: Elijah Dukes.

    This is not to be confused with Screwball Factor, whose jersey was retired with Ricky Henderson.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Carlos Ruiz says:

    Bueno, vamos a ganar una Serie Mundial.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. RJ says:

    I absolutely love these scores, the only thing I would wish would be that there would be some sort of time per pitch for pitchers. There is nothing worse than watching Clay Buchholz take 35 seconds per pitch

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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