For some dumb reason I’m writing another post about COOL scores, a metric that has the exact opposite intentions as NERD. A metric that holds almost no merit, and would hold no merit had I not figured out how to calculate z-scores in Excel. And yet, this vacuous metric so resonated with a certain Carson Cistulli that he bought me two beers and offered me the chance to write more dumb things for this dumb website. Dumb dumb dumb.
By way of introducing myself I’ll include a relevant and thoroughly disgusting self-portrait that I snapped in the Verona Public Library, just now.
My jungle de bouche is a bit unkempt, but I believe in leaving room for improvement, especially in terms of kemptness. I’ve previously appeared in the commenting section at NotGraphs, albeit rarely, as user Johnny Hummusbeard; I successfully suggested Iago’s Balls in the Nickname Seeks Player series. I own a Pontiac.
On to COOL scores for pitchers! COOL, or the Coefficient Of On-field Lustre, is a useless number shittily designed to approximate how enjoyable a baseball game might be to someone with no interest in baseball. Do you prefer calling your bff’s “chica” and texting solely with emojis? You might be the target audience for COOL. Are you an orthodox nun? COOL’s for you, babe. Are you an undead wight emerging from the depths of a Hopi burial mound? Feast on some COOL. You’re an avocado? Nice, let’s make guaCOOLmole. Etc.
COOL for pitchers (or pCOOL) is another step toward developing a COOL game score. This way you and I can say, “Hey, come view this spectacle!” and actually deliver said spectacle. Remember that pCOOL has no bearing on a pitcher’s actual skill. In fact, some factors that benefit a pitcher’s pCOOL score are harmful to a pitcher’s career. This makes pitchers with high COOL scores something fleeting and disastrous, yet transfixing, like, say, Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. There are more notes on COOL for pitchers, but I’ll cover those below. Let’s just dive in, like kids in a horror movie skinny dipping, and see how gruesome it gets.
“THIS AGAIN!?” asks the fool. Of course this again. We’re talking COOL, here, not POLYGLOTMENSAWIZARD. However, you’ll notice the rest of the factors in calculating pitcher COOL are actually things that a pitcher does, not just the flavor a pitcher exudes or excretes (in the case of Bartolo Colon, perhaps). Once again I have no good way of calculating attractiveness. Now that I’m a NotGraphs writer I may put in the time to do some crowd sourcing, but exerting that much effort might dilute the gives-not-a-fuck ‘tude that permeates this pointless prose. So for now, once again, to the chagrin of the commenters on my first piece, youth=beauty. I divided zPSEX by 4 to give it the same weight in COOL as a Maraschino cherry in a massive sundae.
Fast things are fun. Felix Baumgartner falling from space was fun. Ned Nederlander drawing pistols was fun. Swatting that fly was fun. Seeing the little velocity box light up in a flaming 98 is fun. This is why Joel Zumaya was a thing, a player with less than 3.0 career WAR and 209.2 IP. He threw 104.8 MPH once!, which is as fast as the top speed of a 1995 3 cylinder Geo Metro plus the approximate top speed of a Segway*. The fastball velocity variable is the z-score of a pitcher’s average fastball velocity as determined by pitch f/x.
Moments of Poignant Wonder
Like I mentioned before, we’re not looking for good pitchers here. We want pitchers that baseball idiots will clap for with vacant smiles. A home run inspires what I like to think of as a Moment of Poignant Wonder. It evokes a “Wow” from the watcher, or at the very least a “Hmm” in the case of a Placido Polanco home run. Assuming no particular affiliation with either team, of course. Conversely, there’s something nauseatingly boring about watching a routine fly ball settle into the glove of an outfielder**. So, pitchers with the highest COOL watchability allow a plethora of home runs but a dearth of fly balls. In other words, a high HR/9, and a low FB%. The WOW variable, then, is the combined z-scores of a pitcher’s HR/9 and FB% divided by the Golden Ratio, or 1.61803398875, because I <3 DaVinci.
There seems to be this idea among people averse to baseball that our favorite pasttime has too much downtime. “Baseball is so boring!” “Nothing happens in baseball!” “I’d rather watch Sharknado again!” Well, being merely human, I’m prone to hoist a quivering middle finger at these folks and proceed to enjoy Bronson Arroyo’s myriad arm slot variations, perhaps, while sipping a hopsy brew, perhaps. But COOL is objective. It knows no bitterness, no passion, no hate. And so, it accounts for pitcher variables that detract from the unwashed masses’ viewing experience. In fact, it values this variable higher than any of its other components. Essentially, this variable, GOGO, penalizes high walk rates, high strikeout rates, and high Pace scores (covered previously by Jeff Sullivan as important even to those who are baseball attuned). GOGO seeks to minimize the time during at-bats and between the pitches of said at-bat. Or, you might say it maximizes the time in which the ball is in play and not being held by the pitcher or catcher. In the comments I’m willing to hear arguments for other factors that could better fine-tune GOGO, such as pitches per plate appearance, contact%, or zone%. I went with BBs and Ks because it seemed to approximate the right mélange of elements.
pCOOL= smokin’! + he threw that FAST! + he hit that FAR! + there’s a lot going on all the time!+let’s conform to the 0-10 standard!
A Rather Large pCOOL Table with All 92 Qualified Pitchers
|Jorge de la Rosa||1.6||-0.77||0.16||-0.18||-3.19|
In all likelihood this table is also useless, but let me lay out a scenario where it’s not. Let’s look at why Wade Miley and Jordan Zimmerman grace the top of the leaderboard. Both are young guys who work incredibly fast (top 5 GOGO scores). Miley excels at giving up home runs when he gives up fly balls, and Zimmerman excels at throwing hard. Say you’re trying to get your Ducati-riding cousin Benny to accompany you to a brewpub and watch a game. A speed maven such as Benny would probably appreciate the vigor with which Zimmerman hurls the ball, but may be unimpressed with the languid home runs that Miley gives up. So you take Benny to watch the Nats face, say, Andrew Cashner and the Padres, and Benny drives home happy, albeit probably too quickly.
OR MAYBE NOT! Because the Nationals and Padres both have abysmal team COOL scores! Zoinks! My first irrelevant metric comes back to haunt me/us! I guuueesssss I’ll just have to actually develop a way to calculate COOL game scores. That way you and cousin Benny can really bond. Maybe he’ll even let you ride that crotch rocket of his. Maybe he’ll let you do even more. This is moving in an unintended direction.
HEY you know who’s just the worst? Barry Zito. What a chump.
*If I were a king or something, like maybe a vice chancellor even, just someone a smidgen autocratic , I would order a 1995 Geo Metro to drive at top speed in the Utah Salt Flats with a long, rigid, board attached to its top. On the board I would drive a Segway full bore, like, balls to the wall 10 MPH blazin’. Then I’d get the crew of that cable show where they film stuff in super slo-mo to capture the exact moment where we pass Joel Zumaya, who at the exact right moment would releases a 104.8 MPH fastball from a raised platform even with the board I’m Segwaying on. The cameras would capture a split second of us travelling at the exact same speed before I reach out and pluck the fastball from the sky. Ignore wind resistance/lift and the fact that Joel Zumaya is irreparably broken and all the other impossibilities. Just dream for a second, guys.
**What’s possibly worse for baseball fans is having someone react as though every ball that leaves the infield is a home run.
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