Around the SaberSphere 11/1: David Wright's swing tendencies, the history of replacement-level, an interview with Jeff Luhnow

Mike Zarrilli

Thursday's edition of sabermetric links includes David Wright's swings on pitches off of the plate, a history of replacement-level, a look into the Houston Astros organization and more...

Bill Petti of FanGraphs analyzes batters' swings on pitches just off the corners and how it has affected David Wright's performance: David Wright: Swinging Off — But Near — the Black | FanGraphs Baseball

Visually, we can see the biggest difference seems to be on the inside. In 2008 and 2012, Wright’s wDOTB for inside pitches was just .16, compared to .22 from 2009 to 2011. When it came to outside pitches, Wright’s wDOTB was almost identical (.20 vs. .19). When Wright swings at inside pitches, he’s picking the ones that are more easily driven — versus weakly hit (or missed) ones.

Brandon Heipp (Patriot) penned a Baseball Prospectus guest piece that delved into the history of "replacement-level": Baseball Prospectus | Baseball ProGUESTus: A Brief, Incomplete History of Replacement Level

This article does not discuss the various definitions of replacement level, the arguments made for and against its use for various purposes, or any such topic with a practical application. While the title might suggest that it will discuss replacement level through baseball history, it sadly does not do that either. Rather, it attempts to briefly describe the history of replacement level as a sabermetric concept up to the mid-1990s or so, when it came to the forefront of most analytical systems.

Some excerpts from an interview between Brian T. Smith and Astros' general manager Jeff Luhnow give us good insight into Houston's organization: Ultimate Astros » Astros’ Luhnow on brain trust, analytics, early struggles, ‘succeed or die’

We’re starting to see the core of the front-office team here. The linkage is to downstairs, and I don’t want it to feel like a downstairs-upstairs dynamic. Bo’s up here [Monday], he’s going to be up here a lot during the season, we’re going to be down there a lot during the season. … We want everybody in this office to feel like they can go to Bo with anything. We want Bo to walk up here – in fact, I’m debating whether or not to give him a desk up here. Because during the offseason, what’s he doing down there? There’s no one down there. I want him to feel comfortable up here and be able to walk in to Mike Fast and ask him [anything]. That’s the kind of interaction we really want.

Steve S. wrote an interesting a FanGraphs community piece about projecting BABIP: Projecting BABIP Using Batted Ball Data | Community – FanGraphs Baseball

So, we see that overall, perhaps about 10% of the variation in pitchers’ BABIPs in any given year can be predicted by the past BABIPs of those pitchers. How much of that is due to the pitcher, as opposed to their defense, or even where they play, is up for debate. The chart shows how important the sample can be when you’re looking at BABIP, as the pattern is very inconsistent, but definitely real.

Bill Parker writing for Baseball Nation makes an argument for why the American League is still superior:AL vs. NL: The Junior Circuit is still the best - Baseball Nation

Having dropped eight of the 13 World Series matchups from the post-strike year of 1995 through 2007, the NL has won three in a row and four of the past five; likewise, after losing an incredible 12 All-Star Games in a row (with one miserable tie) from 1997 through 2009, the NL has won three straight of those, too.

It's good to be back, folks.. I hope everyone stayed safe through Sandy.

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