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(Yahoo)   Joe Mauer - good catcher or force enabled jedi super catcher?   ( divider line
    More: Cool, Joe Mauer, catch up to a fastball, backhands, Denard Span, Tim Welke, cannons  
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2242 clicks; posted to Sports » on 10 Jun 2013 at 12:08 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-06-10 03:47:07 PM  
1 vote:

JohnnyCanuck: Just because there is no equation to measure a particular ability or skill does not make it have less of an impact on the game's outcome.

If it can't be measured, it's not important from an organizational standpoint.

You have a hypothesis: Yadier Molina has some ability to call the right pitches, dealing with pitchers' mental states, etc.  That hypothesis, if true, would have a measurable outcome: Pitchers would pitch better with Molina behind the plate, once you control for things Molina directly impacts.  (ERA alone is not a good example, because Molina could be suppressing ERA by preventing steals, blocking pitches, and stealing strikes.)

It turns out that if you look at things Molina can't do directly, but should be influenced by superior "dealing with mental states" skills, there is no measurable difference.  Look at swing-and-miss rates, take rates on out-of-zone pitches, for example.  No gap.  If he's calling "better" pitches, why are batters producing the same results when he's not in the game?  People have looked for this, and the outcome across data sets of reasonable size is: No statistically-significant effect.

It's possible that Molina has this ability.  If so, please describe how it impacts a baseball game and we can look for it.  Create a test for your hypothesis.

The probable reality is that Molina is an excellent catcher, and so people build up a narrative ex post facto that sounds good to them.  Just like how uninformed people tend to think Derek Jeter is a good defensive shortstop.  He's a great hitter who is well-liked, so people want that to be true, and he gets a Gold Glove.  The problem is that by every measurement, he has abysmal range (albeit with good hands) at a crucial position, and the Yankees suffer for it every year as grounders trickle into CF.  (His bat more than makes up for that in general.  But he's a horrible defender.)

JohnnyCanuck: There is no equation that measures ability to be coached.

Of course there is.  You can measure a player's performance against their cohort as a function of age.  Coachable players will improve relative to that cohort over time.  If they improve, and there isn't a confounding variable (injury, player loses playing time, trade to new team, etc.), the player either is self-coaching or responds well to coaching.  Either of those are worth considering during signing.

You can even get specific.  For example, Jeff Francoeur is apparently a very nice man who is dumb as rocks and swings at anything he can physically reach.  He's not very coachable-- his lack of plate discipline has stayed poor over many years.  That should be a coachable skill.  Why isn't he improving?

Put another way, if you can't measure "ability to be coached", it's worthless.  In that scenario, you can't make decisions on it.  You can't look at a guy's minor league history and decide if he's worth keeping in the organization.

By the way, the perspective I'm giving you is the same one that every MBA or Ph.D. goes through.  Mastering it is basically what those degrees mean.  It doesn't matter if your business is baseball or selling burgers.  If you can't measure the effect of something, even crudely, it's not part of your business plan and shouldn't enter your decision process.
2013-06-10 12:22:49 PM  
1 vote:
The first time he did it it was so good no on noticed.

That's right. He's done this twice.
2013-06-10 12:22:37 PM  
1 vote:
That's not the pitch he's looking for.
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