October 29, 2003
BANG FOR THE BUCK MAILBAG
GRADY LITTLE MAILBAG
MAILBAG: Baseball, Basketball, and More
Iíve got to be honest again. Iím tired. I need sleep, so Iím going to be a little lazy in my posting today. Plus, last night was the NBA Opening Night, so I had to watch some hoop action. (BIG Lakers fan, so I had to watch them!) I am going to have another Mailbag posting and let you write todayís entry for me! There have been a few postings of late that have created some responses from you, the readers. That is exciting for me. I love hearing your responses and replying to them. And, I like being able to share your thoughts with others. I mean, you take the time to present clear, well thought-out arguments or comments or questions for me, so Iím going to give you the credit for your thoughts, unedited. I hope you enjoy! So as always, e-mail me anytime!
BANG FOR THE BUCK MAILBAG
On Friday, I wrote a posting called ďBang for the BuckĒ, which took playerís OPS (On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage) divided by their 2003 Salaries. Be sure to look back at it and then read the below readerís comments. When I wrote the post, I knew that it would be controversial. I knew that OPS was really oversimplifying the situation. I knew that it was impossible to compare the Best Bang for the Buck Player, Marcus Giles, who made about $316,000, to the Least Bang for the Buck Alex Rodriguez, who raked in $22 million. So, believe meÖ I have heard plenty of great comments and suggestions about other statistical metrics that I maybe should have used to be more fair, or maybe even more accurate in assessing ďBang for the Buck.Ē Here are some of them.
From Cliff, who writes Cliffordís Big Red Blog:
I'd think it would be fun to do with Win Shares, because that factors in everything and it's cumulative, so playing time factors in as well. Besides, seems to me like Wins are about as bangin' as you can getÖ If you're going to use a single stat, EqA, OPS or Win Shares seem like the best choices.
From Kevin St. John:
Öinteresting stuff. I wonder what it would look like if you only looked at OPS above-average for position, or replacement player. Because there is the marginal value; and that's what you are really paying for.
From Will Carroll, who has his own website, but also writes for Baseball Prospectus wrote:
OPS, especially not park adjusted, is crud. Simple, reasonable, but crud. May I suggest VORP or at the very least something that's park adjusted and won't overstate how good A-Rod and Helton are?
You also see that using salary as a denominator might not be the best - does anyone pick Sanders over Bonds? Worse, does ANYONE take Dunn over Wells?
why not flip the equation and say "VORP per million". VORP's available on the BP stat page and basically shows how many runs (value) over a replacement player a player contributes. You could equally use Lee Sinins' RCAA (Runs Created Against Average). It's very much like Doug's Marginal Value per Win that was the first chapter of Moneyball.
From Rich Lederer of Richís Weekend Baseball Beat:
Re Your "Bang for the Buck" article, I think you need the numerator needs to be a counting number (times on base, total bases, runs created, etc.) rather than a rate stat because a team will get more bang for its buck with a guy who has 500 plate appearances than one who only has 100, yet using rate stats will not reveal that difference.
From Anthony Fox, who writes The Bad Twin:
That was a great article. It seems like a tool that a lot of teams should be using... is it? I don't know. But certainly, it would seem that this is a neat statistic. I'm glad I saw that. It really shows how much of a steal a guy like Pujols is, or how much the Rangers are overpaying A-Rod, even if he is in the top ten of everything (compare his bang to Tejada's - amazing how much more bang the A's are getting). I don't know that this would be a tool that'd be too huge for player development... but to know exactly how much a player's prior performance is worth compared to other players on the market that might be A) cheaper or B) younger seems very useful. At the very least, it shows what front offices are really doing their jobs and what front offices are handing out too high of paychecks.
I was surprised to see a couple of the numbers - Shannon Stewart so low, Rivas so high. I guess Rivas will skyrocket after the year, but it shows how overpaid Stewart will be if we have to re-sign him for $8 mil.
<bleep>, the more I look at it, the more I like it. That's some fantastic analysis, dude. Really. Where'd you get the idea from?
From Jurgen Maas, who writes Some Calzone for Derek:
I'm sure people could steer you to one of many of the very sophisticated and very good metrics being used by Primer or Prospectus, but my suggestion is a little humbler.
It's no more sophisticated than OPS, but James' original Runs Created formula is essentially OPS over a player's total plate appearances:
RC = [(Hits + Walks) * Total Bases] / (At-Bats + Walks)
It has the advantage of factoring playing time into the equation, and it's still easy to calculate to get
a thumbnail sketch of a player's offensive contribution.
I've known about RC for a while (duh), but realising that Pujols more RC this year than Bonds, despite the latter's massive advantage in OPS, opened my eyes to the crucial importance of playing time. (For the record, I think Pujols should win the MVP because of it.)
I'm too lazy to do it myself, but a $ / RC chart would be interesting.
Keep up the good work.
P.S. Congrats on the mention over at Bronx Banter.
Those are just a few of the many comments that I received on the topic. Just so you know, I do plan on updating the Bang for the Buck posting. However, I do work an 8-5 every weekday, before working on this website, so Iíll have to wait for a weekend when I have some time to do more and more research. But, please, be sure to check back frequently as hopefully that project can be done in the next few weeks.
Also, it is always great to be mentioned on other blogs and sites, especially one of the caliber of Bronx Banter. I need to also thank David at the D-Rayís Blog as well for his mention and discussion of this on Oct. 24.
GRADY LITTLE MAILBAG
Yesterday, I wrote about the Boston Red Sox decision to let Grady Little go. I certainly was not in favor of that decision. Well, I got an e-mail from Ben Jacobs with his thoughts on the Grady Little firing. He is definitely happy with the decision. Please check out his posting on the subject today at the Universal Baseball Blog. He goes quite in-depth explaining his reasons why Grady Little should have been fired. Here are the thoughts he shared with me in the e-mail:
The fact is that Little pays almost no attention whatsoever to stats and the Red Sox front office doesn't like that at all (and I'm glad they don't). He makes every single managerial decision based on either his gut or the traditional way of doing things. He doesn't look for better ways, he doesn't think about new answers or ideas, he doesn't do any of that stuff. Even if the Red Sox miss the playoffs next year, I'll be glad Little's gone. The Red Sox can do much better.
This is the beauty of having my own web page. I can write my thoughts and people can disagree with me. I love it! Ben is a huge Red Sox fan, so in my mind, itís very important to hear his commentsÖ especially if they are different than mine. He gets to watch them play every day and can make a far more educated point on the topic. That said, I think itís also fair for us to agree to disagree and for the readers to hear both sides. Although I loved the book Moneyball and many of the concepts within it, I think that the job of the GM is to get the players, and the job of the Manager is to make in-game decisions. After reading Benís posting, his point is that Littleís in-game decision-making was not good. Thatís fair. I know that Theo Epstein and the management team wants a manager who will sit in the dugout with his laptop, looking at the splits for each situation on espn.com. I really, really hope baseball never gets to that.
Why canít it be a little of both? What I would like to see is a situation where a manager would be hired because he understands and appreciates all of the statistical information that is available, yet can also understand that sometimes stats are just that, a representation of what has happened in the past. A manager must also be able to look at who is hitting well at the moment, who has hit a particular pitcher well, which option is most healthy, which batter is hitting the ball best, and a number of other things that go into their gut decision of what the best thing to do at that time, to help their team is.
Can I apply?
Monday I wrote my 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves Preview, and yesterday, I made my 2003-04 NBA Predictions, and you had a few comments to make. Here are a few of them. I would encourage others to send me an e-mail and let me know your thoughts:
From Michael Labuda of ChiSox Daily:
I think your way off on the Bulls. Last year they improved from 21 to 30
wins. The improvement came from the addition of Rose & Marshall, and the
development of Curry, Chandler and Crawford. With those five guys alone I
think you would see at least 35 wins this year. Adding Pippen, as limited
as he may be, puts them in playoff contention in the East.
I don't see any chance of them regressing to 22 wins. This is a team on the
My response - The key to the teamís success is the continued development or Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. But donít forget that Jamal Crawford is not very experienced. Jalen Rose is great and can do a lot of good, but isnít he hurt? Donyell Marshall can be very good. I think Scottie Pippen can add a lot to the team, and really prepare the youngsters for real, fighting-for-the-playoffs type basketball. Same with Kendall Gill. So, if everything goes perfectly, I can see the Bulls winning up to 35 games. I just think that the young players will experience a lot of ups, but a lot of downs too as the opposition adjusts to them. They also donít have much depth. With the injury to Kirk Hinrich, who is their backup point guard? I just think they have a lot of seemingly minor issues that need to be addressed. 22 might be low, but thatís why I love making predictions beforehand, so I can either look smart, or dumbÖ Hopefully Iíll look smart, but for Bulls fans, theyíll hope Iím wrong!
From Brandon Benson:
I really like what the T-Wolves did this offseason. I never liked Anthony Peeler at shooting guard because I don't like shooting guards that can't average double digit points per game, and Latrell Sprewell will score over 10 points per game. I am a big Sam Cassell fan; he is a major league whiner but he is a pest on the floor on offense, and is very good at dribbling around and creating an opening to hit a 15 foot jumper. But Wally's injury, compounded by Troy Hudson's injury, is threatening too much floor time for Fred Hoiberg. I really like Hoiberg as a Steve Kerr lite, but not as a starter. He couldn't even beat out Trenton Hassell in Chicago last year. I really don't like Wally's injury because foot injuries with NBA players are often a very bad thing. But if the T-Wolves can get everybody healthy by the end of the season, with enough time before the playoffs start that they can all get used to playing with one another, they could challenge anyone in the playoffs.
My response - First, I was one of few people in Minnesota who actually didnít mind Anthony Peeler. Sure, he was a very streaky shooter, but when he was on, he was lights-out. When he wasnít, he finally learned to play some tough-nosed defense. And, I think Flip Saunders learned how to better utilize him and was smarter with his playing time. I like Hoiberg. Steve Kerr was one-dimensional. Long-distance jump shooter. Hoiberg played some point guard with the Bulls, he can play some defense. And, he can shoot from long-distance. I think heíll be alright. I agree, I think Sprewell is going to make things very exciting. Tonight, the Wolves start, and I canít wait to see the new team!
From Leslie, out in New Jersey -
Hey, Seth. Here are my predictions on the NBA Season.
Worst Record: Knicks
Best Record: Lakers
Eastern Finals: Nets
Western Finals: Lakers
NBA Finals: Lakers
Coach of the Year: Rick Carlisle
ROY: Carmelo Anthony
6th Man: Lucious Harris
Defensive Player: Kenyon Martin
Most Improved Player: Keith Van Horn
Executive of the Year: R.C. Buford
My response - Kind of hard to argue with many of your picks. Carmelo is certainly the pre-season favorite for rookie of the year. I chose Dwayne Wade of the Heat. Carlisle is a good pick for coach of the year. I didnít have the Pacers finishing as high, so I went to New Orleansí Tim Floyd. I went with Bobby Jackson for 6th man. I will always pick Kevin Garnett for defensive player of the year. And, well, Iím going to disagree with the Keith Van Horn thing. I just donít think heís very good. But, hey, at the end of the year, weíll have something to compare. If anyone else wants to send me their picks for the playoff teams or award winners, itíd be great! Send me an e-mail. Then Leslie went on to ask a question about his favorite NBA team:
Hey, Seth. Big Nets fan here. What's your take on them? I am really excited to see this team this year. I love watching them play. I think this is the year the Nets finally take some big steps to the Title. I think they are getting there and they are only going to get better with the growth of Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. This team can do some great things this year and I am looking forward to it. I expect this team to go to the NBA Finals for the third straight time. I know lot of people are picking Indiana and Detroit to do very good, but I like the Nets chances this year.
My Response - The Nets are a very intriguing team. I completely think that they are, by far, the best team in the East. Granted, Iíve been pretty clear about my thought that the East is incredibly weak! I do think that the Nets are the one team that could compete in the Western Conference. When I say compete, I mean they could compete for a playoff spot. I think theyíd probably rank between 6th and 9th in the West if they played the Western Conference schedule. Jason Kidd is an amazing point guard. His triple-double ability on any night is unlike any other. Kerry Kittles is a solid shooting guard. Richard Jefferson is definitely more than a dunker and I think heíll take a step forward this year. Kenyon Martin improved a lot last year. If he continues to improve, he could be a special player. The key to the team really is Alonzo Mourning. If he can be healthy and be just 75% of what he once was, the Nets should have no problem whatsoever coasting to the NBA Finals. They are better than they have been. I just really canít see them winning a Best-of-7 series against any of the 4 or 5 teams that could represent the Western Conference in the Finals.
OK, I watched the Lakers play the Mavericks last night and was thoroughly impressed in watching them. The Lakers won the game 109-93. The Mavericks played terrible, their new ball hogs looking completely lost together. The Lakers, on the other hand, are going to be incredibly difficult to beat. I love watching them though. It was as if they had played together for so long. Watching Shaq dominate inside and pass so well. Watching Karl Malone hit fade-away jumpers and make incredible pinpoint, accurate passes to cutters is great. Watching Gary Payton lead a fast break and play great defense. Watching Derek Fisher knock down big shots. Watching Devean George knock down shots, play great D, and rebound so well, especially on the offensive end. (Gotta give it up for the MIAC! Check out his Augsburg College webpage here!) He does need to work on his interview skills. He doesnít seem quite as comfortable, but heíll be interviewed a lot this year, so he should get used to it. Bryon Russell shot well and will be a veteran off the bench. Jannero Pargo does well as the backup point guard. Even Luke Walton could contribute a little bit! Oh, and I forgot to mention that Kobe Bryant guy.
Karl Malone - 15 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists.
Gary Payton - 21 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds.
Shaquille OíNeal - 16 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists.
Devean George - 16 points, 7-9 FG, 2-3 3pt, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks.
Derek Fisher - 16 points.
I wonder if the Lakers will play as well, and as unselfishly as the did last night when Kobe deems himself ready to play. My guess is that, at first, they may be, but at some point, Kobe is going to want to play selfishly, and that is when the Lakers could get in some trouble. If Kobe plays unselfishly, the Lakers are unbeatable! I really believe that.
And, I donít even want to write about the Kobe/Shaq quarrel. I think itís dumb. For Kobe to say anything about Shaquille is ridiculous at this point! Kobe made some very good, very fair points. But at this stage, with everything else going on in his life right now, Kobe should just keep quiet for awhile!
So there you have it. I want to thank all of you who contributed to todayís post. I encourage others to send me an e-mail. You never know if it will be put online! Send me an e-mail on sports, or anything youíd like to know. Have a great day!
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