Around the SaberSphere 12/17: Game Theory, Volatility, and Unicorns, oh my!

Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

Today's edition of sabermetric linkage includes the issue of game theory and baseball, the volatility of hitter performance, some unicorns and more...

Matt Swartz of the Hardball Times introduces a series on the relationship between Game Theory and baseball: Game theory and baseball, part 1: concepts--THT

To figure out what the teams will do, we need to figure out what the best response would be to each pick. Let’s be the Dodgers here. If the Giants pick a college draftee, which payoff is higher—choosing a college draftee or a high-school draftee? The payoff of seven for a high-school draftee exceeds the payoff from drafting a college player of five—so the Dodgers would prefer a high-school draftee if the Giants pick a college draftee.

Bill Petti of FanGraphs re-visits the topic of hitter volatility with some awesome leaderboards: (Re) Introducing Hitter Volatility | FanGraphs Baseball

Essentially, the idea is to understand whether there are appreciable differences in how players distribute their daily performances over the course of a season. For example, if you have two hitters that are roughly equal in terms of overall skill (i.e. both are 25% better offensively than the league average) is there a difference in terms of how much each is likely to vary from their overall performance on a game to game basis? Is one hitter more consistent day in and day out, while the other mixes in phenomenal performances with countless 0-4 days?

Russell Carlton of Baseball Prospectus gives us a list of reasons why a fan can always be upset with his/her favorite team's decisions: Baseball Prospectus | Baseball Therapy: There is No Unicorn

There is no way to make a baseball fan happy. There is no unicorn, and even if there were, the fan would try pulling on its horn just to see whether it was real. Since we can't make you happy, and since we at Baseball Prospectus pride ourselves on customer service, I present to you a list of ways to be unhappy about what your team has done this offseason. Consult it when that next big move happens.

Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated discusses the impact of R.A. Dickey's trade to Toronto: R.A. Dickey trade from Mets to Blue Jays would be amazing | Hit and Run - SI.com

The Blue Jays obviously expect that Dickey won’t have too much trouble adapting to the AL East, and they’re said to be enticed by the possibility of Dickey pitching half his games under the roof of the Rogers Centre, where the knuckleballer can work under climate-controlled conditions. While much of the evidence is anecdotal regarding the tradeoff between a knuckleballer avoiding having to pitch in conditions of high wind and his ability to reduce the spin on the ball due to the increased air density via colder outdoor temperatures, one data point stands out: Dickey one-hit the Rays at the Tropicana Dome on June 13, striking out 12. He hasn’t pitched in Toronto since re-emerging as a knuckleballer.

Kincaid of 3-D baseball compares Miguel Cabrera's 2011 to his 2012 season (guess which one was better??): 3-D Baseball: On Miguel Cabrera, Value, and the Triple Crown

And yet, I have a hard time getting excited. It was a great season, sure. A wonderful season at the plate. But the best season I’ve ever seen? Not close. Which means I’ve seen a lot of non-Triple-Crown seasons that were better, because this is the first Triple Crown of my lifetime. You don’t even have to look that hard to find a better season. There’s another one right in front of our noses. I’m talking, of course, about Miguel Cabrera’s 2011 season.

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