Mar 12, 2012

No Crying in Baseball

Note: This is gonna be about fantasy baseball. If you aren't a baseball geek or a math geek or a stats geek, then you will probably want to move right along. You have been forewarned.
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A few weeks ago, I floated the idea of a fantasy baseball league here on The Verdant Dude.  I didn't get much positive feedback from the blog-gang, so I then had the bright idea to to re-float the league on our weekly radio show.  And an inspiration was born.

Instead of doing your basic 5X5 Roto league or using the standard fantasy point system, I thought we should come up with something that reflects our current interest in advanced baseball statistics.  Sabermetrics, if you prefer. The idea behind the league is to come as close as possible to replicating the results of two of my favorite advanced statistics, wOBA and FIP.  Why wOBA and FIP? Because they are the two main components used for WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which is a value-driven stat on sites like Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference.  What are they?  Well...

wOBA

wOBA stands for Weighted On-Base Average. It was originally invented by uber-sabermetician Tom Tango*, and it attempts to measure a hitter's overall value by placing weights on each specific offensive event.  Basically, the idea behind it is that doubles are worth more than singles, triples are worth more than doubles and home runs are worth more than triples. Seems obvious, but it's something that is totally missing in both Batting Average and regular old On-Base Percentage.  The weights change each year slightly based upon league averages, but for 2011 the formula for wOBA that FanGraphs uses is:

wOBA = (0.69×uBB + 0.72×HBP + 0.89×1B + 1.26×2B + 1.60×3B +
2.08×HR + 0.25×SB -0.50×CS) / PA

So a single is worth slightly more than an unintentional walk or a hit-by-pitch, and then you see the weights for doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases.  Everything is then divided by plate appearances and you get an average that has a relation to the old OBP.  A player with a .400 wOBA is a top-tier guy.  .370 is great, .340 is above-average, .320 is average, .300 is poor, etc...

The challenge became translating that formula into a point structure.  I think I've accomplished that by assigning positive point values to BB, HBP, H, 2B, 3B, HR and SB.  Then negative point values are assigned for AB (to represent outs created) and CS.  The results pretty closely mirror the wOBA leader-board from last year.  I'm still in the process of tweaking it, and I have a friend helping out.  But I think it's pretty close.

FIP

FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching.  It measures what a pitcher's ERA should look like over a given period of time assuming performance on balls in play and timing were league average.  The idea is that balls in play (calculated as Batting Average on Balls in Play, or BABIP) can swing wildly from one season to another for a given pitcher, and it might not be the fault of the pitcher at all.  Luck and the fielders playing behind him are big reasons for the fluctuations.  So we should try to measure a pitcher's effectiveness by measuring what they can control.  And those things are walks, strikeouts and home runs.  Mostly.  Here's the 2011 formula for FIP on Fangraphs:

FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP-IBB))-(2*K))/IP + constant

So pitchers are penalized, heavily, by the home runs they give up and walks (netted of intentional walks) and how often they hit batters. Then they are given credit for strikeouts and the innings that they pitch (or the outs they get).  The constant at the end changes yearly, and it's for bringing the formula into a more recognizable ERA form.  This one was a little more difficult to translate into a point structure for a league, but I think I came close.  You'll notice that there are no points awarded for Wins, Losses or Earned Runs.  Those are "team" statistics that are often over-valued in the traditional world of baseball statistics.  So we are going to ignore them in this league. I am going to throw a bone to closers by awarding points for Saves, but I'm not happy about it. Saves, as a statistic, suck.  But a concession must be made, so...

So it's going to be a bit more complex, and hopefully rewarding, than your traditional fantasy baseball league.  If the three of you (RW, Paticus and Sybil Law) who were initially interested in joining the league are still interested, I will follow up with you via email.  If this scared you off, well...I understand.  There are going to be a handful of stat geeks in the league, if the folks who download our radio show is any indication.  So it should be competitive. I still want it to be a free league, with maybe a prize of some apple pie moonshine for the winner, but we will discuss that as well.

So exciting!!!  More to follow...

*Tom Tango is actually a pseudonym for either a single man or several baseball analysts.  Not really sure about that.  His site is really interesting, though.  You should check it out.

9 comments:

RW said...

Sabremetrics have always been a logical and relatively "easy" jump for me because I come from a horse racing background, and the over-the-top players will make speed figs (speed figures) for the tracks they play. A speed fig is a numerical rating of a horse's performance of a past race as it relates to the class he ran with and the specific track he ran on. Good speed figs aren't really usable until the meet has been going a few weeks and you have a group of races to reference on that track this season. The trick is that racing forms and track programs publish their own speed figs in the material you buy to pick your horses, but when your speed figs spotlight a big horse where the track speed figs discount him, you may have a winner at good odds.

What were we talking about? You have a horseracing game going on?

B.E. Earl said...

RW - Do you ever play around with that anymore, for either fun or profit? Sounds interesting.

Anyway, I hope you will enjoy this if you still feel like joining. I think it might get some folks interesting on what CAN make a player more valuable based upon things they don't see on the back of a baseball card.

Slyde said...

"baseball" is the one where you have to kick the ball through the little upright sticks, right?

savannah said...

i didn't read this, but we did watch a league of their own this weekend, sugar! ;~D xxoxooxoxo

sybil law said...

Well, it definitely scared me, but hey- so do lots of things! I'm still game. :)

B.E. Earl said...

Slyde - C'mon, that's horseshoes.

Savannah - That counts! In my top 3 baseball flicks of all-time.

Sybil - Okey-dokey. I'll send you out an information packet this week.

RW said...

I don't sit down and make the figures any more like I used to when I lived at the track in the 90's. But since I know the components that go into it I do still do a quick scan when I sit down at the track or OTB nowadays. Without all the details, of course.

Paticus said...

Where are the calculations for grit? Moxie? Stick-to-it-iveness? :)
I think I'm in, but fear I might be horribly overmatched...Much like my beloved Mets...Sigh.

B.E. Earl said...

Paticus - That's the spirit!