Baseball: Its All in the Data Iowa Actuaries Club February 23, 2007 Not one of these plays was ruled an error Its All in the Data How an actuary got into sports
Case study: fielding the holy grail of baseball statistics Data is Everywhere Baseball data is like any other data Millions of statistics bottomless pit of numbers Our job: mine the nuggets that Are interesting
Are relevant Reveal tendencies Danny Cox 1987 NLCS STATS, Inc. began pitch-by-pitch tracking Danny Cox regular season 1987 First 70 pitches: .268 opponent batting average
Pitch 71+: .345 average Vin Scully mentions this at pitch 70 What Happened?
73rd pitch: line-drive double 74th pitch: long home run to left field 78th pitch: sharp single to right 81st pitch: line single to center 82nd pitch: Vin Scully falls out of the booth The Dream
Strat-O-Matic Baseball Bowie Dewan Statistician for the Chicago White Sox Computerized baseball Information The Michael Jordan Effect - 1993 1992: STATS tracks basketball Fourth Quarter Comebacks (down 15+ points) Bulls win NBA crown beating Portland after trailing by 15 entering 4th
quarter How hard is this? 1992-93 league record: 1-259 (excluding Bulls) The Bulls? Bulls record: 3-3 Jordan leaves Bulls Bulls record: 0-8
Jump ahead to comeback season League record 0-168 (excluding Bulls) Bulls record 1-1 The First Career Started as an actuary after college FSA in 1982
Head of two Actuarial Departments I loved what I did! But sports numbers are more fun than insurance numbers The Decision Bill James Baseball Abstract The dream takes hold Two full-time jobs
The risk Bunting: A Lost Skill? In 2006, Juan Pierre attempted to bunt for a hit 38 times Was he successful? Whats your guess?
9 hits (.237 average) 12 hits (.316) 16 hits (.421) 19 hits (.500) The answer is.
Bunting: A Lost Skill? 19 hits for an amazing .500 average!! The top bunters hit over .500 Here is a list of some of the other top bunters from 2006: Willy Taveras 21 bunt hits Corey Patterson 17 bunt hits Ryan Zimmerman 10 bunt hits (10 tries!)
The Second Career Collect data Develop products we want ourselves Money is not the object Have fun! The Second Career Bedroom Office Key clients: AP, USA Today, ESPN
Growing every year new office every year David vs. Goliath twice! 100+ Full-Time Employees Sale to FOX From The Fielding Bible Best defensive outfielder in 2005? Aaron Rowand, Chicago White Sox Made 15 more plays than an average
center fielder Basic plus/minus +15 Saving 30 bases for the team Enhanced plus/minus +30 The Third Career Five different jobs: Baseball Info Solutions Stat of the Week (WSCR)
The Fielding Bible ACTA Sports (publishing) Camp Dewan
Dewan Foundation & Mission Honduras Be Jolly, Inc. Case Study: Enhanced Fielding Analysis Plus/Minus System (from The Fielding Bible) Defensive Misplays Good Fielding Plays
Advanced Catcher Evaluation Game Charting at BIS Video scouts review every MLB game Every play entered into a computer Sample game scoring screen: BIS Scoring
Software Pixels to Data 28,000 pixels on the screen Location of every batted ball converted: Distance from home plate measured in one-foot increments One of approximately 260 vectors emanating from home plate
Also Chart: Velocity of each batted ball (soft, medium, hard) Type of batted ball (ground ball, line drive, fly ball or popup, bunt) New for 2006: fliner The Fielding Bible
Take a step forward in fielding stats Batting stats What do you think of when I say a player had 40 HRs do you get a visual image? How about 57 stolen bases? Pitching stats 39 Saves tells you something right away 2.41 ERA also tells you something
Fielding what does a .982 fielding percentage mean? Plus/Minus System Vector 17 example for shortstops Softly hit grounders to vector 17 converted to outs by all shortstops 26% of the time
Out made: +.74 (1-.26) Missed ball: -.26 Sum every play made or missed by every shortstop And You Get:
Derek Jeter: -22 in 2006 Adam Everett: +43 best in baseball Former Cub Corey Patterson: +34 Sox 3B Joe Crede: +22 Ichiro: Best outfielder over last three years at +59
Overall Eight of ten best teams in Top Nine Only Yankees and Red Sox made playoffs without a top defense Yanks worst in baseball in 2005 minus 164 as a team! The first two subscribers to our newest defensive service?
Yanks and Red Sox Defensive Misplays Plays that are NOT recorded as errors or passed balls Loss of an opportunity to make an out OR an extra advancement by a runner 54 different types of Defensive Misplays
Defensive Misplays Slow to recover Failing to cover first Cutting off a better positioned fielder Good Fielding Plays Fielder records an out when the play seemed more likely to be a hit
OR a fielder prevents the opportunity for advancement of baserunners. 27 different types of GFPs Good Fielding Plays Robs home run Ground ball out Holds to single
Alfonso Soriano Worst MLB second baseman in 2005 Most Defensive Misplays: 52 Worst NL Plus/Minus: -22 Reluctantly moved to LF in 2006 Some struggles learning the new position third most Defensive Misplays: 26 But . . .
Most Good Fielding Plays: 24 Second best Plus/Minus: +15 Most baserunner kills in MLB: 15 www.StatoftheWeek.com
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