Moseying Into Town

"What's this?" You may ask yourself "I've only read one sentence, and I've run into an onslaught of awful grammar and poor sentence structure, this isn't the high quality that I've come to expect from Michael Nicks!" Well, there's a new sheriff in town, and his name is Andrew Grant. Yes, the same sheriff that was running Dodger Math.

For those of you that aren't familiar with my previous work, I'm a computer geek posing as a writer. To do my part to reinforce stereotypes, I'm a huge believer in sabermetric philosophies, and back that up by using more than enough bizarre statistics to make Bill Plaschke think I'm killing baseball. Here are the ones I use most often:

Offense:

OPS: On base percentage + slugging percentage - The most basic offensive stat I use, it's not perfect since it doesn't give enough weight to on base percentage, but its something I can reference quickly to get a general idea of a player?s worth.

VORP: Value Over Replacement Player - How many runs a player contributes the average freely available player. This stat accounts for hitting and running ability, and it is adjusted for position.

BABIP/LD%: The ratio between batting average on balls in play and line drive percentage - Used to determine if a hitter is over performing. Since most line drives fall for hits and most other balls are converted into outs, if a player is putting a lot of balls into play for hits without hitting line drives, they're due to collapse. Generally, if the hitter's line drive percentage + .120 is less than their BABIP, the hitter will eventually regress into a slump.

Pitching:

Peripheral Stats - Strike outs per nine, strike out to walk ratio, and home run ratio - Since pitchers have very little control over batted balls and a pitcher's ERA very dependant on the bullpen and the defense behind him, peripheral stats give us a better idea of the quality of pitcher. If one of these stats is very bad, or several of them are below average (about six K/9, two K/BB, and 1.1 HR/9) then the pitcher isn't very good, and will probably collapse if their ERA is low.

Defense:

Rate2 - The amount of runs a player will save with his glove every 100 games. 100 is the starting point, and that will raise or lower based on performance. If a player ends up over 107 or under 93, they are doing an particularly good or bad job. Rate2 is a modified version of range factor, putouts plus assists, which is adjusted for various things like the ballpark and pitcher. Defensive stats are far from perfect, and I'd use multiple sources if I could, but rate2 is the only good defensive stat that is updated daily and is publicly available.

If that wasn't bad enough, there are a couple stats that I use that are only available here:

Linear Weights: Everything a batter can do will generate a certain amount of runs on average. Linear weights total everything that a player has done, and gives them credit for the average amount of runs, instead of what they actually generated. This serves to remove context from what a player does at the batter's box. A more thorough explanation is here, and I update Linear Weights every Saturday for the Dodgers.

Expected Value: The amount of runs per dollar a player is expected to generate in the future. This is a bit too complex to explain in a blurb, so you can get a full explanation here.

That pretty much covers stats. The one other important thing to know about my philosophy is that I believe "small sample size" covers about two months of production. Anything a player accomplishes in less than 200 plate appearances or 75 innings pitched I generally ignore. For example, Joe Beimel is putting up a pretty decent year, but he stunk in the 280 innings he pitched before he came to the Dodgers, and I'm far more willing to believe those than the 45 innings he's thrown in LA, so I'm all for booting him off the team at the first opportunity. It's not a personal grudge; it's just that when I think a player stinks, it takes a lot to change my mind. See also Martinez, Ramon.

Finally, some of my favorite works from Dodger Math if you want to become more familiar with my work: Some trade analysis, talking about one of my favorite games, some meaty research, and a lot of boring numbers.

As a bonus, the old sheriff will still be in town to do, well, something that we haven't decided yet, but Michael Nicks will still be a contributor to this site.

For those of you who are joining me from Dodger Math, I welcome you to my third new home in the last nine months. For all you newcomers, I hope you pull up a chair and stay a while.

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