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View Full Version : Baseball Prospectus Steals The White Sox


infohawk
11-30-2005, 10:08 PM
You guys aren't going to believe this, but Baseball Prospectus is touting none other than your World Champion Chicago White Sox as having succeeded in part because they followed the sabremetric "moneyball" approach with regard to the bullpen. Here is the title of the article:

Smartball And Moneyball
Sabermetric Innovation Helps Power White Sox' Championship

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4621&sessionstatus=notloggedin

Ironic. The Sox have become "exhibit A" of "why sabremetrics works." Not to mention that they imply that Kenny and Ozzie succeeded where Beane failed when discussing how the bullpen was handled. Funny.

Banix12
11-30-2005, 10:10 PM
The only thing shocking about this is it took them a month to start taking credit for it.

Flight #24
11-30-2005, 10:53 PM
Interesting to see the statheads begin to eat their young. KW turns their half-assed arguments on their head while their deity (Beane) flounders so they windsock.

NardiWasHere
11-30-2005, 11:05 PM
I always thought that Bill James' idea was to bring in your best reliever first (or at least not wait until the ninth)... All the Sox did last year was change closers when Hermy's back got hurt. I don't have a subscription.... does the article go into depth about how this is similar.

I could be wrong, I read that Jamesian bullpen thing in the New Yorker a while back... maybe I am remembering it incorrectly.

Tragg
12-01-2005, 12:27 AM
They certainly are giving the Sox a lot of love, but I think they are misrpresenting the Sox as using a "situational" bullpen unless the situations were a)Shingo started sucking so he had to be replaced; b)Hermanson did fine all year, but his back required him to be replaced with c)Jenks. It's not like we used a different closer every night.
On the other hand, they are correct in that Ozzie slowly brought along relievers and first put them in easier spots (they didn't mention Cotts, but he is a classic case); they are also correct that the Sox don't spend a ton of money on the "Closer", a philosophy I salute.
One other interesting thing was that they say that the Sox wouldn't let Shingo pitch against AL teams in the spring of 2004 because they figured he'd start getting hit once they saw his stuff a few times.

JorgeFabregas
12-01-2005, 12:51 AM
When teams are paying these ridiculous contracts for free agent closers and 8th inning guys I HAVE started to wonder (in a moneyball sense) whether this money wouldn't be spent better elsewhere and what kind of win/loss advantage these $9-10 million/year closers give you over close by committee. Bullpen pitchers have to be the biggest crapshoot in baseball and putting all that money in one not named Mariano Rivera (or perhaps one or two others) seems like a huge gamble. I haven't read the full article, but I also wonder if it mentions the sense of impending doom that great closers seem to provoke in an opposing, losing teams late in games. B&B (I know there aren't many fans here) aptly pointed out that any psychological edge Lidge had was damaged by the Cubs who made him look vulnerable, then shattered by the Cardinals, and he was a completely ineffective in the world series (and before anyone claims otherwise...no, I am not claiming that the Cubs are somehow responsible for the White Sox world series victory :rolleyes:).

Erik The Red
12-01-2005, 01:13 AM
But they only won 88% of the AL Central! It must not have helped enough.

Banix12
12-01-2005, 01:36 AM
I thought the Closer by Committee thing got a bad rep because of that highly publicized boston debacle (Boston? Highly Publicized? Shocking!).

I don't know if what the white sox did is really closer by committee though. Before the season they just acquired a lot of depth in the bullpen in case they would need it and they ended up needing it. I thought when Boston was trying it they were treating each closing opprotunity as a situational pitching situation and then stick in the appropriate pitcher, no matter who it was. Though I could be wrong there.

I think the only real difference between the white sox bullpen and the red sox bullpen of 03 is that the white sox bullpen had much better talent. As well as better talent in the back of the starting rotation that allowed the bullpen to rest.

CLR01
12-01-2005, 03:24 AM
The only thing shocking about this is it took them a month to start taking credit for it.


By their calculations the Sox didn't win the world series until Monday night.

itsnotrequired
12-01-2005, 08:27 AM
By their calculations the Sox didn't win the world series until Monday night.

I thought they still only had a 98.73% chance to win.:redneck

voodoochile
12-01-2005, 09:16 AM
I love how these guys with their goofy theories try to make the facts fit the stats retroactively after saying the exact opposite all year long.

BP:
"Oh see now THAT'S why they won. I told you the stats never lie...":rolleyes:

samram
12-01-2005, 09:21 AM
I love how these guys with their goofy theories try to make the facts fit the stats retroactively after saying the exact opposite all year long.

BP:
"Oh see now THAT'S why they won. I told you the stats never lie...":rolleyes:

Yeah, it's like a twisted version of the old saying "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"- except in this case they're claiming the Sox unknowingly joined their little cabal before they won. Very convenient.

1951Campbell
12-01-2005, 09:26 AM
I thought the Closer by Committee thing got a bad rep because of that highly publicized boston debacle (Boston? Highly Publicized? Shocking!).

I don't know if what the white sox did is really closer by committee though.

I don't think the Sox had a closer by commitee. I feel like their philosophy was to go with just one guy unless he (a) was totally ineffective, or (b) got hurt. Shingo happened to be ineffective; Dusty got hurt, and in came Jenks to the role. This progression could have taken place over 3-4 years, or, as in 2005, it could have happened in just one year.

The Red Sox, it seemed, made a conscious decision not to anoint one guy as the closer until he was hurt or became totally ineffective. It was just "well, who can do it on this particular night versus these particular batters?"

Big difference in bullpen philosophies.

itsnotrequired
12-01-2005, 09:41 AM
I don't think the Sox had a closer by commitee. I feel like their philosophy was to go with just one guy unless he (a) was totally ineffective, or (b) got hurt. Shingo happened to be ineffective; Dusty got hurt, and in came Jenks to the role. This progression could have taken place over 3-4 years, or, as in 2005, it could have happened in just one year.

The Red Sox, it seemed, made a conscious decision not to anoint one guy as the closer until he was hurt or became totally ineffective. It was just "well, who can do it on this particular night versus these particular batters?"

Big difference in bullpen philosophies.

Excellent point. Shingo got his shots day after day and couldn't get it done. He was sent on his way and in came Dustin. Did his job day in and day out until he got hurt. Enter Jenks.

Doesn't seem like a "commitee" to me...

rowand33
12-01-2005, 02:44 PM
it certainly wasn't a committee. when hermy was the closer, there was no question he was the man. when jenks became closer, there was no question he was the man.

look at the breakdown of saves:
Hermanson-34
Takatsu-8
Jenks-6
Marte-4
Politte-1
Hernandez-1

that doesn't seem very committee like. Three guys served as the closer, one for the majority of the season, and when each guy was closing there was no question that they would come out of the pen in the 9th.

The key to our pen was having so much depth. we had like 5 guys that could have closed for other teams. so when hermanson went down, it wasn't a disaster for us like it would have been for another team.

bobowhite
12-01-2005, 03:20 PM
I think when we had Shingo as our closer it dictated a 'closer by committee' approach. Shingo, unlike most flame-throwing stoppers, can't pitch everyday. He relied on the small muscles of his wrist and forearm to impart wacky spins, those muscles recover in a day or two, not overnight. Flame-throwers depend on their big muscles (upper arm, back and legs) and they get stronger the more they throw because those muscles recover overnight. Even during the time Hermanson was the closer, Ozzie gave him more time off than Jenks, a classic flame-thrower, will be getting. Bobby Thigpen frequently came in every night of a series. Hermanson started having back spasms when Ozzie used him three straight nights.

cheeses_h_rice
12-01-2005, 03:21 PM
Can't wait to read FWC's take on this.

:whistle:

Flight #24
12-01-2005, 03:32 PM
Without reading the article (not a subscriber), IIRC the BP philosophy is you use your best reliever in the first late-game tight situation rather than saving them for the save.

Which is pretty much NOT what the Sox did. Throughout most of the season, they had an identified closer (it changed as guys failed and were replaced). That guy was brought in generally in the 9th, although occasionally for a multi-inning save. That guy was NOT brought in in key ABs in the 7th/8th except in the aforementioned multi-inning saves.

What the Sox did do well was ID roles for all of their relievers and to the extent that performance allowed, kept them in those roles. So they had excellent relievers ready for the 7th(Cotts), 8th(Politte), and 9th(Hermie/Jenks).

jabrch
12-01-2005, 07:35 PM
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING...


This team has one of the lowest OBPs in recent times for a WS winning team. It has a terrible Pythagorean W/L record. (By the way, what was Pythagorus' record as a GM?) It ran, bunted, sacrificed, etc. as much as any team has. This team shunned power pitchers, turning mostly to guys who left the ball where it would be put in play. And these dopes are claiming that this team DOES fit their model? Because we had a great bullpen?

AMAZING

Arrogant, hypocritical dopes - that's it

FarWestChicago
12-01-2005, 10:48 PM
Can't wait to read FWC's take on this.

:whistle:LOL!! What is there to say? You can't really even call it pseudo-science. This is just bald faced lying. It's absoutely hysterical. You don't often see spin like this outside the world of politics. :roflmao:

Tragg
12-02-2005, 01:07 AM
Have no fear, BP absolutely loves the Loiza signing. The As are now "stacked" 1-5 and, "counting inflation", Loiza's contract "doesn't look bad at all."

ma-gaga
12-02-2005, 02:38 AM
Well. Since most of you don't need to read the article, here's a small portion of it:



The first is a bullpen stocked with multiple strong talents with a mix of pitch arsenals and deliveries, a polycultural group that can complement each other in getting different kinds of batters out easily.

The second is a team where strong collaborative consciousness takes priority over individual ego. When Hermanson was "demoted" for Phase III, he didn't complain--he acted the good citizen and publically supported the idea that whatever made the team most effective was good enough for him. Williams traces part of the team ethos to a move Guillen and he made in late 2004. When Mike Jackson (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/jacksmi02.shtml) complained about not getting the work he wanted and Guillen called Williams to report on someone whining, Williams interrupted the manager, "Just waive him...don't even tell me who it is...and tell the team I didn't even want to know who it was when I told you that." The Pale Hose deliberately collected a filibuster-proof majority of players who were comfortable being a "we" team, a predominance large enough to drag the waverers along through social pressure.

The third is that this Closer by Situation wasn't an approach inspired by budgetary objectives. This is an important lesson for managers in all fields. While most of the publically-available enthusiasm for applying the model is about how much cheaper it would be to do without a classic high-priced "closer," the White Sox' design and execution of it wasn't about saving money, it was about preventing runs. As in any endeavor, an initiative created with the goal of trimming costs will usually trim short term costs, but it will rarely, and only accidentally have a positive effect on quality. Williams and Guillen had a qualitative goal and they, at least for this season, achieved it. The financial high benefit/cost ratio was merely a side benefit.



It's a very good article. There are a couple of bad, cheesey jokes, throughout, but the point is clear. The standard "closer" style bullpen isn't the optimum way to win games. Ozzie and Kenny figured it out, and it might be a while before other teams successfully copy it. Because of talent, and standard non-thinking 'manage by the book' mindset.

:cool:

Tragg
12-02-2005, 09:01 AM
I didn't know that managers could waive ballplayers.

And what the hell could Jackson possibly had to complain about?

voodoochile
12-02-2005, 09:45 AM
I didn't know that managers could waive ballplayers.

And what the hell could Jackson possibly had to complain about?

"Damnit, Ozzie, the bases were loaded and you didn't put me in! How am I supposed to build on my record of most grand slams surrendered per innings pitched in major league history if you don't give me a chance."

Flight #24
12-02-2005, 10:20 AM
Well. Since most of you don't need to read the article, here's a small portion of it:





It's a very good article. There are a couple of bad, cheesey jokes, throughout, but the point is clear. The standard "closer" style bullpen isn't the optimum way to win games. Ozzie and Kenny figured it out, and it might be a while before other teams successfully copy it. Because of talent, and standard non-thinking 'manage by the book' mindset.

:cool:

Wait a minute.....at least from the portion you quoted, it basically says "The White Sox had a bunch of good relievers, and guys who put the team first". Is THAT the level of analysis in this article? Are they also in favor of motherhood and apple pie?

As noted - the Sox DID create the "closer" style of bullpen, they just didn't stick with guys when they failed at it.

There may well be more to what they're saying, but it's completely unclear from the part you posted.

ma-gaga
12-02-2005, 10:58 AM
Is THAT the level of analysis in this article?
...
There may well be more to what they're saying, but it's completely unclear from the part you posted.

There's quite a bit more than the three paragraphs I posted. There's actual analysis in the meat of the article. Graphs, charts, stupid new situational stats like "clean 9ths", "potential save n sits", "DERA", "WXL, "OOPS". (yes, they used OOPS as a situational stat... :cool: )

I'm not posting the meat of the article for you. It's just interesting to see what the W.Sox did differently last year attempted to be explained. AND that's good, because the majority of BP readers are not W.Sox fans. They have little to no idea what the hell Ozzie did that was so successful. The majority think it was solely 'luck' in one run games. I'm only vaguely aware because I pay very CLOSE attention to this team from afar. In the few games I was able to watch, I could tell that Guillen was a far superior game manager than ANY OTHER manager I've seen in 5 years.

I simply posted a "tease". :gulp: