THT: How Much Hope and Faith Is in Major League Baseball?

My chapter in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2017 was published online today, covering competitive balance throughout baseball’s history. The analysis is built off a new metric—the “Hope and Faith Index” (HFI)—that simply but effectively provides a window into how competitive baseball is at any point in time. The piece is up for a 2017 SABR Analytics Conference Research Award for Historical Analysis/Commentary.

I also chatted about the piece earlier this month on The Ringer’s MLB Show; the episode can be found here.


FG: The Link Between Travis d’Arnaud’s Set-Up and Struggles

For FanGraphs today, I examined the relationship between Travis d’Arnaud’s bat wrap and performance in the past two years. His exit velocities and pull rates show a clear disadvantage to his more wrapped set-ups. Check out the article for more details.

FG: Syndergaard’s Stolen-Base Problem and the Postseason

Yesterday for FanGraphs, I analyzed whether Noah Syndergaard’s much-discussed stolen base weakness would be more damaging in the postseason. Conventional wisdom is that come playoff time, stolen bases are more impactful and occur more frequently. Neither of these notions hold up against empirical evidence. Even in the postseason, a pitcher’s vulnerability to the running game is far less important than his performance against hitters. It should come as no surprise that Syndergaard was dominant yesterday.

THT: Ground balls!

I published two articles on ground balls last week at The Hardball Times. The first used boosted trees to assess the impact that pitch and contextual factors have on predicting whether grounders will be hit. The second took a closer look at how pitching inside hardly scares batters into hitting more grounders, even though the Pirates are strong believers and have been a great GB team in the past three full seasons.

THT: Cold Weather and Player Attributes

The second part of my cold-weather series at THT went up today, and so here are the companion charts of each curve’s smoothed 95% confidence bands.  Check out yesterday’s blog post for a few notes on how to evaluate each graph.

Region of Origin

U.S. Cold

Region 3 - US ColdU.S. Average

Region 3 - US AvgU.S. Hot

Region 3 - US HotCaribbean

Region 3 - CaribbeanGreater South America

Region 3 - GSAAging Curve

Early Prime

Age 3 - Early PrimeLater Prime

Age 3 - Later PrimeOld

Age 3 - Old



Weight 3 - LightweightsSlightly Light

Weight 3 - Slightly LightSlightly Heavy

Weight 3 - Slightly HeavyHeavyweights

Weight 3 - Heavyweights

THT: Cold Weather, Positions, and Penalties

This is the appendix to my article today at The Hardball Times.  Below are the smoothed 95% confidence bands of every individual curve shown in the charts you see at THT.  These charts give you an idea of the considerable uncertainty found at five-degree intervals of temperature.  As we would expect, these confidence intervals tighten up between ~60 and ~85 degrees, reflecting the fact that most games are played within this temperature range.  Every five-degree bin is most uncertain at the very cold and very warm temperatures.

I aimed to keep these charts visually similar to those at THT, but there are some differences.  Mainly, you need to watch for different y-axis scales, brought on by samples that are small for some subsets.  One example is the chart below, as there are only so many plate appearances taken by catchers.



Position 3 - CInfielders

Positions 3 - INFOutfielders (no plays made)

Positions 3 - OF (no plays made)Oufielders (made 1+ plays)

Positions 3 - OF (made 1_plus plays)Designated Hitters

Position - DH Revision

Times Through the Order (TTO)