Thursday, April 5, 2012

Moving Day

Hi there.

You’ve come here looking for us. And sadly, you won’t find us here. Only the lonely sound of crickets chirping.

Happily, you will find us at our new site on the Bloguin network. We even took all our archived articles over there too. So…yeah, there’s not really any reason you should be here. Maybe you should check out our new digs. We’d love to see you.


The TPA Crew,

TCM, Bill, Jason, Cee, and Chris

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TPA Ottoneu Draft - Monte Pfeffer's Heifers

By Chris St. John

The Platoon Advantage (the site you are reading right now) started an ottoneu league with a few friends and here is my obligatory post about the draft. If I seem to post this begrudgingly, it is because I am. This is a mandatory post and my overlords here would fire me and sue me for all of the millions I am earning with this.

I picked my team name using the baseball-reference random page feature. It led me to a player named Monte Pfeffer with four career plate appearances and I liked the sound of it. I then found a rhyming word with Pfeffer and went with it. There is no historical information to confirm or deny the reports that Monte Pfeffer ever owned a heifer. Play-index bonus: Pfeffer is the only player to ever have a career in which he played in only one game, had four plate appearances, no walks and one hit by pitch.

I had never done an auction draft before, so I was a little worried about being behind in that area. Thankfully, this was a common theme throughout the draft room, which made me feel more comfortable. In order to have a plan of action, I googled "baseball auction draft strategy" and found the idea of nominating expensive players that I didn't really want. This makes other teams spend more money so you are in a better position with the players you really want. This worked with my other strategy of taking really good young players, who turned out to be popular with everyone (imagine that).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What Is a Ground-Ball Pitcher?

Earlier today, Rob Neyer wrote a post about how to define a ground-ball pitcher. His conclusion:
More than 50 percent, and you're a ground-ball pitcher. More than 55 percent and you're an extreme ground-ball pitcher (if not quite Brandon Webb).
Well I wasn't completely convinced, so I decided to do this for myself. I used Baseball Prospectus's ground ball statistics and defined GB% as GB/Batted Ball (as they do). Here is a graph of GB% since 1950:

Click to enlarge

The data from 2000-2002 only show outs, so those years are removed from this analysis. Throughout the 50s and 60s, GB% rose steadily. It held fairly constant until the early 80s, declined through the 90s and has been holding steady again throughout the 2000s. So the definition of a high ground-ball pitcher has changed throughout the years.

Which Free Agents Were Overpaid This Off-season?

By Chris St. John

This post has been in the work for five months. I wanted to see for myself how good each free agent signing was in terms of the market, so throughout the off-season, I kept track of how much money each Major League free agent signed for. I used each player's past three seasons and included an aging curve to estimate how useful he will be to his team for the length of the contract. These are their stories (dun-dun):

I found the average of each player's previous three years WAR from Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus. Then I used an aging curve to determine what a team might be expecting from the player in the future.

I split relief pitchers from all other players because their market is different than everyone else.

Buyouts are included in the guaranteed salary, but options are not. If a player has a 3 million dollar option with a 1 million dollar buyout, only the guaranteed buyout money is included in the average yearly figure. I also tried to exclude non-guaranteed contracts, though some may have slipped through the cracks (I barely caught Casey Blake's).

This isn't meant to be a highly precise representation of how teams valued players. If you read my work for any amount of time, you can tell that I shy away from factoring everything into an analysis. I prefer to do quick and dirty, in the ballpark type of stuff, while acknowledging the limitations of what I have done. So take this for what it is: a simple career average plus aging curve dollar per win graph.


Click to enlarge

The Path to Respectability: Pittsburgh Pirates

by Jason Wojciechowski

You've seen this a couple of times before, so you know how it goes. Today, we examine the mediocre team with the best stadium in the game, the Pittsburgh Pirates. They're not the sad-sacks they used to be, what with some young stars and a well-regarded front office that's causing better things to come, but they're not really going to be competitive this year, either.

The Baseball Prospectus depth charts, the place I start, has the Pirates coming out 72-90 this year, fifth in the tall stack of the N.L. Central. Their lineup of position players doesn't look terrible, with no Jimmy Paredeses hanging around, but the pitching, which features such luminaries as Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, and Charlie Morton, is not impressive. Still, I think we're better off trying to squeeze extra wins out of the position players than the pitchers because the former, at least, have some youth and upside to their credit.

As before, I cheat right off the top: we'll count on five wins of run-distribution luck over the course of the season, leaving us needing to find eleven wins on the roster to get the team to the Holy Grail of Respectability, 88 wins.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Meddler, Part 2: Heyman lets Torii Hunter slander Lew Ford

By The Common Man

Yesterday, as you'll recall from TCM's post this morning, Jon Heyman said some things that were basically untrue.  Today, he opened his laptop again and relayed information that was patently, blatantly false in his post contending the Twins were consistently intimidated by the Yankees in their playoff losses.  Take it away, Jon:
Ex-Twins star Torii Hunter said some Twins players were beaten before they started, which finally confirms what has long been suspected: that the Twins are intimidated by the Yankees....  Hunter recalled one 2004 ALDS game the Twins lost where they had a runner on third with one out, down a run against the great Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, and Twins manager called on a young righty hitters to bat against Rivera, and Hunter recalled that hitter turning down the pinch-hit assignment. "You need a righty hitter against Rivera with his cutter,'' Hunter recalled. But according to Hunter, Ford shook his head no. So Gardenhoire used another kid, Jason Kubel, a lefthanded hitter, who Hunter recalled getting jammed. "Kubel wasn't afraid, but he's a lefty hitter,'' Hunter said.
That's a really compelling story, undone only by the small problem that it never happened.  At least not like Torii Hunter said it did.  Kubel never pinch hit against Rivera in 2004 (his first year in the Majors), and Lew Ford started three of the four games, and in the one he didn't start, Rivera faced six batters, and none of them were (or should have been) pinch hit for.

The Meddler

By The Common Man

It’s not exactly a hatchet job that Jon Heyman did on Ichiro Suzuki yesterday, but it’s close. At least Heyman’s clear that Ichiro works hard and prepares himself well. But other than that, whoo boy. It’s an article that goes out of its way to essentially call Ichiro a meddling prima donna who maneuvers behind the scenes to get coaches reassigned, players he wants inked, and blows off reporters before games (guess which one is probably the reason Heyman wrote this column). However, to make his case that Ichiro is the great Seattle puppet master, Heyman has to stretch and distort facts wildly to fit his narrative, use remarkably vague unnamed sources, and dredge up something that may have been an issue years ago but, by Heyman’s own admission, isn’t a current problem.

Heyman writes that “Ichiro’s ‘absurd’ influence [over Mariners owner Hiroshi Yamauchi] was either unknown, underestimated, or deemed unimportant when Mariners longtime stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner were on the team.” Yet, Griffey was long gone by the time Ichiro debuted in 2001, and Buhner sat out most of the season before coming back and playing 19 games in September. How much influence could these “longtime stars” have had that kept Ichiro in check or allowed him to machinate unnoticed when neither was in the clubhouse? Sure, Griffey came back in 2009 and 2010 for a farewell tour with the Mariners, but that would mean that Ichiro’s influence or lack thereof has been a non-factor for the last three seasons. And if that’s the case, then why is this an issue even worth dredging up?