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Sabersphere 1/17: Rafael Soriano, Paying for Relievers, and Correlations

Today's edition of Sabersphere looks at the Rafael Soriano signing, whether paying for relievers actually helps a team win, some basic hitting year to year correlations, the Hall of Fame, and some sweet graphs from the past.

Patrick McDermott

Grant Brisbee of SB Nation analyzes the Rafael Soriano signing: Who wins with the Rafael Soriano deal?

The Washington Nationals might now be the best baseball team on the planet. I'm not going to get into that argument here -- that's more of a February thing -- but no matter which team you pick, the Nationals should be in the discussion. And we're past the stage where we wonder why they're spending money on anyone. Now we're at the stage where we can justify them spending too much on anyone.

On a similar note, Doug Wachter of The Hardball Times compares the cost of a bullpen to the effectiveness of a bullpen: Paying for the 'pen

I wanted to consider this problem from a more global scale than simply looking at contracts for a single reliever. In this article, I hope to examine whether more expensive bullpens are actually better. Some teams spend huge sums looking for a lockdown 'pen, while others scrape the bottom of the barrel in free agency and rely on pre-arb and arbitration-eligible players to form a much cheaper relief corps.

Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs calculates some year to year correlations for offensive metrics: Basic Hitting Metric Correlation 1955-2012, 2002-2012

The distinction between observed performance and true talent is one that is, in a way, intuitive, yet tends to be elusive. Even the most careful of us can slip from talking of one to talking of the other. Determining the difference for a specific skill or a specific player can be difficult, but the general idea itself is not so hard to understand. Even the most casual fan of baseball understands that pretty much any player can go 0-4 or 4-4 in any given game without thinking that player’s true talent batting average is either .000 or 1.000. That understanding already contains the basic notion of a proper sample size and its relation to true talent.

Kincaid of 3-D Baseball writes a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on the Hall of Fame: Reflecting on Cooperstown's Lost Year

The BBWAA announced the results of their Hall of Fame balloting last Wednesday. No one got in. Barry Bonds didn't get in. Roger Clemens didn't get in. Not Biggio, not Bagwell. Not Jack Morris. Not Piazza, Trammell, Raines, Schilling, Martinez, Walker (either one), or Lofton. Not McGwire or Sosa or Palmeiro. Not even Shawn Green.

If you would like to submit your articles for future editions of Sabersphere, please email Spencer at

In this week's BtB Retro, PWHjort makes some freaking awesome graphics related to hitting for power: What Power Means -- Visualizing the intricacies of power hitters

I looked at all players in 2009 that recorded at least three hundred and eighty four PA's and hit at least one home run (sorry Juan Pierre)--two hundred and eighty three in all--and divided them into three groups: those whose HR/FB was at least one standard deviation lower than the mean, those whose HR/FB was at least one standard deviation higher than the mean, and those within one standard deviation of the mean. Forty six hitters fell into group one, fifty two fell into group two, and one hundred and eighty five fell into group three.