Tying Up Loose Ends: Three Unrelated Topics

Negative WAR and the DL

A while back I ran articles on the amount of negative WAR generated by each team and team DL information.

Dan and BN in the comments of the negative WAR article wondered if trips to the DL and negative WAR were related at the team level. As a team has more trips to the DL, they are forced to use below replacement level talent. I went back and looked to see if there was any correlation between the two.

First, I looked at the r-squared value for:

Number of Days Lost to DL vs Total Negative WAR
Number of Days Lost to DL vs Number of Players with Negative WAR
Number of Trips to DL vs Total Negative WAR
Number of Trips to DL vs Number of Players with Negative WAR

In each case, the r-squared value was 0.0. No correlation with this method.

Then, I decided to run a bucket regression to make the process a little simpler. I divided the teams into two halves. Those with the most days lost to the DL and the least days lost to the DL. The teams that had the least days lost to the DL had more negative WAR than the other group. With both methods, I could not find any relationship that more trips a team has to the DL leads to more negative WAR.

Drop in Fastball Speed.

Recently, Dave Cameron ran an article looking at Javier Vazquez and the chances of a pitcher regaining lost speed on his fastball.

I decided to go through and see which pitcher’s fastball speed dropped by at least 1 MPH from 2009 to 2010 and here is the list:

CJ Wilson’s drop can be somewhat explained by the amount of fastball speed drop a pitcher experiences when they go from reliever to starter. The rest of the list has some 2010 disappointments (Bunett and Broxton) along with some pitchers that did quite well (Lincecum).

Bat Speed vs Ball Speed

I was recently asked, “What has more effect on the distance a baseball was hit, bat or pitch speed and what is the difference?” Bat speed was the obvious correct answer, but I had to break out my copy of Robert Adair’s book, The Physics of Baseball to get the numbers. After converting some graphed data in equations, I came up with the following values:

For a 85 MPH pitch a 1 MPH increase in bat speed = 5.6 ft gain in distance
For a 70 MPH bat speed a 1 MPH increase in pitch speed = 0.66 ft gain in distance

Bat speed is much more important than pitch speed when determining batted ball distance.

Well that is it for today and Monday I hope to start rolling out some DL projections.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


20 Responses to “Tying Up Loose Ends: Three Unrelated Topics”

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  1. Synovia says:

    Was there any attempt to adjust for park? I’ve seen quite a few references to Fenway specifically having a bit of a juiced gun, which could explain away a bit of Ramon Ramirez’s drop.

    Also, Tim Lincecum is going to be throwing 65 by the time he hits 35.

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  2. Newcomer says:

    I think that sometimes the teams with the fewest trips to the DL are more willing to let their players play through an injury, which could result in negative WAR from players who are above replacement when healthy. Or, a team with more trips to the DL might have a stronger bench and therefore a greater willingness to place starters on the DL. Obviously these ideas would not be the strongest factor in how many DL trips a team has, since so many injuries don’t leave much room for a choice. I just think that the topic may have a lot of complications that will make it difficult to study.

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    • B N says:

      That’s a very interesting point. I will admit, I’m shocked to see no correlation or negative correlation on that. You’d think that teams that have to bring in replacement players would end up with more sub-replacement play. Very interesting that we don’t see that, actually. You could be onto something. Wonder if there’s any way to infer stats about playing through injury.

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      • Patrick says:

        I think what this speaks to is the robustness of replacement level as a concept, and a bit of a helper effect from bench players, who are hopefully above replacement.

        Firstly, most of your bench players are going to be above replacement – In fact, the vast majority will be. Think of your utility infielders. Generally not replacement level. Those that are, are generally considered particularly odiously bad.

        Secondly, I believe it says the replacement level concept is fairly robust – It’s not hard to find 0 WAR performance. And in fact, in the wiggle room down around there, it doesn’t seem too hard to find slightly above 0 WAR replacement if you’re clever, because that’s a very low baseline.

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  3. ChuckO says:

    I believe that the reason that Lincecum lost some off of his fastball but still remained effective is because of his mechanics. With the way he launches himself forward with that long stride, he uses his legs to generate velocity even more than other pitchers, and I believe that it’s his legs that are betraying him as he ages, not his arm. This will continue to happen with age and, at some point, he will be forced to shorten his stride. How that will affect his ability to pitch well, I wouldn’t even care to guess.

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    • DrBGiantsfan says:

      At least by the guns on TV, Lincecum’s velocity was up and down all season. After the Giants confronted him about his conditioning, they started to climb and he was up 91-94 most of September and in the postseason.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Lincecum’s stride length is 120% of his height. A good goal for most pitchers is 100%.

      His shoulder/hip rotation is so late/extreme there are no other real comparables (Roy Oswaly is close although he’s far more drop and drive).

      Let’s face it, TL55, is young and very reliant on pure ability. In other words, he’s not known as a very hard worker, probably is not in excellent condition, and well, when you’re smoking weed at 9AM, your fitness habits probably are not a top priority.

      In other words, his ups and downs probably have nothing to do with mechanics and more to do with his body’s natural intensity cycling. Simply put, sometimes he’s more tired than he is at other times.

      My concern with him has always been what happens when there’s a groin/oblique injury, and/or loss of flexibility with age, and how that effects his performance since he is the result of his amazing ability to repeat extreme mechanics.

      I think he is going to have to figure out that it is time to get serious about conditioning and stop settling for being the mega-talented “cool kid”.

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  4. Obligatory Sox Fan says:

    Romero, Kershaw, Morrow, Masterson, and Cain all lost 1MPH on their fastball, but also gained some control (at least half a walk per 9 better). I feel like with these guys the loss of speed might be intentional as they’re learning finesse.

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  5. JoeS says:

    Interesting numbers on the bat/pitch speed. Good article.

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  6. Kevin S. says:

    Why would Wilson’s velo drop be explained by moving from the ‘pen to the rotation but not Hughes’ (much smaller) drop?

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  7. grady says:

    a lot of the velocity changes has a lot to do with significantly increased innings pitched, right?

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  8. B N says:

    On a side note, I definitely appreciate these follow up articles. While they don’t necessarily give conclusive info, they raise some very interesting questions at least. Thanks for the follow-up.

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  9. Mitch says:

    RE: Negative WAR and DL trips

    Did you control for expected team WAR prior to the season? For instance, it might be the case that good teams (projected) experience more negative WAR as DL days/trips increase, while poor teams (projected) see little effect.

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  10. jack says:

    i might be dumb, but don’t those #’s suggest pitch speed makes more difference?

    “For a 85 MPH pitch a 1 MPH increase in bat speed = 5.6 ft gain in distance
    For a 70 MPH bat speed a 1 MPH increase in pitch speed = 0.66 ft gain in distance”

    small increase in pitch speed has way more impact according to that.

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