Archive for March, 2005

Now, Do You Understand Economists?

Harvey Mansfield writes on the Larry Summers affair.

The reason why economists are blunt is that words of honey seem to them mere diversion from reason and self-interest, which are the only sure guides in life.

You see, we’re not jerks; we just have a low tolerance for bullshit.

Thanks, to Marginal Revolution for the pointer.

Home Field Advantage

Tom Meagher has an excellent article at The Hardball Times breaking down the cause of home field advantage in MLB. The results are quite shocking. The home/away difference in balls and strikes explains about two-thirds of home field advantage. Why is this?

Are umpires really helping out the home team? Are pitchers more familiar with the pitching mounds at home? Are visiting batters having a harder time seeing the ball or reacting to it? Is fatigue affecting the results?

It may be significant here that the total number of balls in play (bip) per plate appearance (pa) does not differ much – the home/road factor for bip/pa was 1.0079 in the NL and 1.0002 in the AL. That leads me to believe that the major change in walks versus strikeouts is related to judgment of whether a pitch is a ball or strike – either the batter’s poor judgment, induced by lack of familiarity with the hitter’s backdrop, or the umpire’s judgment, giving better calls to the home team.

Interesting stuff here. I expect there is more to come.

THT Bullpen Book

I would like to highly recommend the latest book effort from the guys at The Hardball Times. Studes has just released The Hardball Times Bullpen Book of 2002-2004.



Thanks to Studes, I got an advance review copy, and I am very pleased. What’s in it? Well, everything you need to know about a reliever when he emerges from the bullpen: games, innings pitched, the average importance of innings pitched, FIP ERA, the win probability added over the season, and the win probability added per innings pitched. ERA is such a poor metric for measuring relief pitchers. This book has the stats you need to fill in the gaps to evaluate who’s good and who’s bad. And because relievers can have good and bad years, you have three years of stats to evaluate any reliever.

The book is “couch friendly.” It reports the overall leaders by year, overall team stats, plus team sections with all the pitchers on the team together for easy in-game use. I plan to keep a copy on my end-table for quick access, you should too. It’s only $5 as an e-book. If you can’t afford that, then you shouldn’t be wasting your time reading this blog post. Get back to work!

This book has been needed for a long time, and I am grateful to the guys at THT for this important contribution. Buy a copy and send it to your favorite broadcast crew. At least that will give them something useful to chat about.

I Have A Complaint

The new 2005 Baseball Prospectus has started shipping. Though my copy has not arrived yet, I’m hearing that the Braves section includes a study of Leo Mazzone’s effectiveness as a pitching coach that looks very familiar, yet Sabernomics receives not a mention.



I would chalk this up to an accident, but since BPro actually cited my study on it’s own website, it’s hard to play ignorant. Thanks for nothing guys.