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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Sabermetrics is derived from the acronym SABR used for the Society of American Baseball Research. Sabermetrics is the science that uses baseball data to form statistics allowing baseball people to make objective baseball decisions. In the past most general managers just followed what previous general managers did in making crucial decisions. However, as the amount of money paid to players increased exponentially it became necessary to make important player decisions based on objectivity and not subjectivity. Bill James is credited with beginning these studies in the 1980s. Enter Billy Beane who was a 5-tool high school baseball player who could not make it in the majors and decided to become a baseball scout at the age of 27. All of this is chronicled in the book and movie Moneyball. With the help of Paul Depodesta, Billy Beane the general manager of the small budget Oakland Athletics used sabermetric analysis to lead Oakland to an amazing 20-game winning streak in 2002. His success came from his ability to look for undervalued players who excelled in undervalued statistics. This allowed him to sign players on the cheap who possessed metrics other general managers ignored. Billy Beane’s success at Oakland year after year has led most major league teams to eventually see the light and create their own sports analytic departments to objectively evaluate players.

Today, Billy Beane believes the next frontier of analytics is not about statistics measuring on-field performance but instead on keeping players on the field. In fact Billy Beane, now vice president of baseball operations for Oakland, has been one of the loudest voices touting player injury prevention.

The term PHM (population health management) has now appeared in baseball circles. Healthcare metrics are being introduced to analyze the causes of injuries which will hopefully lead to their prevention. Healthcare data mining and baseball Sabermetrics have more in common than one might think. Both want to notch some big wins and both healthcare and baseball are faced with greatly increased costs which must be controlled.

Neil Kudler, MD, showed how healthcare can learn from Moneyball how to use large amounts of data to make objective decisions on injury prevention. Like baseball, for many years healthcare was dictated by handed-down wisdom of the past without using newer available data. Kudler’s novel approach is to create measurements in a way similar to baseball. In baseball, some of these metrics are OBP (on-base percentage), SLG (slugging percentage), and OPS (on-base plus slugging). Dr Kudler argued that population health management has to be an evidence-based team sport. Some of Kudler’s metrics are POP, AC, RM, and ERR. Below is how Kudler links his health statistics to baseball statistics.

POP is the population health management (PHM) team’s win/loss percentage equal to their total patient population kept under control divided by their total patient population.

The players on a PHM team are the primary care physicians (PCPs). Their statistics are: AC is the PCP's on-base percentage equal to their total number of patients that did not get better or worse (stayed the same) divided by their total number of patients.

RM is the PCP's slugging percentage equal to their total number of patients that got better divided by their total number of patients. ERR is the PCP's error percentage equal to their total number of patients that got worse divided by their total number of patients.

These metrics are applied to two physicians in a PHM group. Dr. Smith handled 250 patients from period 1 to period 2; his AC=146/250 =.584; his RM=44/250=.176; his ERR=60/250=.240.Dr. Jones handles 300 patients from period 1 to period 2; his AC=215/300=.717; his RM=45/300=.150; his ERR=40/300=.133.

The performances of these two doctors can then be compared. Yes, moneyhealth has arrived.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

When it looked like the winter meetings would be a ho hum experience for the Mets, things suddenly changed for the Mets.

The Mets had targeted Ben Zobrist as there must get guy to become their new second baseman. After losing out on Zobrist, it seemed the Mets had no plan B. It became clear that their playoff hero, second baseman Daniel Murphy, was no longer in their plans and they would rely on Dilson Herrera, their 21-year-old prospect, to man second base. But on the day before the meetings would end, things changed dramatically for the best. First, the Mets shipped pitcher Jon Niese to the Pirates in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. In just 24 hours the disappointment in losing out on Zobrist was replaced with the excitement of getting Walker. Hours later, they celebrated again after they signed free-agent Asdrubal Cabrera. Yes, the Mets have a new middle infield.

But where does this leave the Mets middle infield? The answer is in very good shape. Offensively, the combination of the new shortstop Cabrera with the new second baseman Walker are at least as good as the 2015 combination of Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy. The 30-year-old Walker for his seven years with the Pirates had a career .272 batting average along with a career .769 on-base-plus slugging average (OPS), averaging more than 15 home runs a year since 2010. The 30-year-old Cabrera has a .267 career batting average and a .740 OPS in nine seasons averaging over 16 homers a year. He also was a two-time All-Star.

In 2015, Murphy batted .281 with an OPS of .770 and 14 home runs. Walker in 2015 batted .269 with an OPS of .756 and 16 home runs. In 2015. Flores batted .263 with an OPS of .703 and 16 home runs. In 2015, Cabrera batted .265 with an OPS of .744 and 15 home runs. Where the Mets really improve is in fielding, base-running, and experience. Murphy is known to be a poor fielder and poor base-runner. Walker is much better in both categories. Flores has been converted into a shortstop and has limited experience at the position. Cabrera, a converted shortstop, did very well defensively as a second baseman. Considering the combination of offense, defense, and experience, Walker and Cabrera are an upgrade to Flores and Murphy.

The history of failure to get a player followed by success in getting a better player has just repeated for the Mets. In July, they thought they had signed All-Star Carlos Gomez, only to end the deal at the last moment because of health issues with Gomez. Days later, with their season in danger of slipping away, they wound up signing Yoenis Cespedes, whose bat was a major reason for them making the playoffs, leading them to their appearance in the 2015 World Series. Instead of giving a four-year contract to the 35-year-old Zobrist costing them $15 million for the next season, they have spent around $10 million for Walker and Cabrera combined (Walker will earn about $10 million in arbitration, while Niese would have earned about $9 million – effectively a wash.) The math is easy with the Mets coming out $5 million ahead. So not only have the Mets upgraded the middle infield but they have a $5 million dollar bonus to spend on getting a power bat for the outfield. The Mets have given every indication they are not done dealing for players.

Flores will still have a major role with the Mets. The switch-hitting Walker is much better from the left-side which will give Flores at bats replacing Walker. Third baseman David Wright continues to battle spinal stenosis which will give Flores several starts at third base.  

What about the loss of Niese? Well, with their four young aces Harvey, Syndergaard, deGrom, and Matz and the expected return of Wheeler and maybe a new one year contract for Colon, the Mets did not figure on Niese playing a major role in 2016 anyway.

Yes, Mets fans you will see your beloved Mets in the 2016 playoffs. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

This is the time of the year where all the baseball action turns from the players on the field to the players signing new contracts with different teams. At the end of the so called Hot Stove League I will present my thoughts on which teams were winners and which were losers in the signing contests. In the meantime, I will present blogs written by my Quinnipiac University students, currently enrolled in my Baseball and Statistics class. I hope you enjoy reading their personal stories about their relationships with sports.

The first student blog was written by Marissa Defanti. As a New York fan, I always heard how dedicated Philadelphia fans were to their teams. See why Marissa’s blog confirms my belief.

Everyone in the country and maybe even the World knows how important sports are to Philadelphia. When they win, we love our teams; when they lose, we love to hate our teams. At the end of the day, it’s all love. I’ve been a Philadelphia fan my whole life, living only 10 minutes from the city and 30 minutes from the stadiums. Some of my best memories include sitting in the K Lot, eating a hoagie and drinking iced tea with my best friends. The season usually ends in tears or anger, but in 2008, that wasn’t the case. There has been a myth up until this time that the reason our teams weren’t winning was because our City Hall was always meant to be the tallest building in the city, but recently it was not. In 2008, they built a William Penn Statue, Pennsylvania’s founder, and placed him on top of City Hall making it once again, the tallest building in the city, hoping this would end the curse.

I remember being lucky enough to attend the game where the Phillies won the NL East Conference and while I waved my rally towel in the air, I just knew this was going to be the year. The night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, my entire family and all of my friends came over to watch the game. We had snacks and ice cream and were decked out in red clothing and face paint. It was an exciting night and one I’d always remember, win or lose. When Lidge threw that last strike during Game 5 of the Series, we all cheered and screamed in excitement. They finally won the World Series for the first time since 1980! My mom shouted that we had to get in the car to drive down Broad Street so we could celebrate with the rest of the city. We grabbed pots and pans and squeezed into our suburban, driving all the way with windows down and horns honking. It was a cold October night, but that didn’t matter, there was too much excitement and energy. It was so cool to see everyone driving around honking their horns and waving their flags. The entire city erupted in excitement and it really felt like we were all family. Random people would run up to you, giving out high fives and an occasional hug. It was the perfect representation of how we got the nickname, ‘City of Brotherly Love.’

The night ended and we all had school the next day, even though no one could sleep that night. The teachers couldn’t even focus, so we spent the entire day celebrating and talking about how great the game was and what we all did to celebrate. We were given Friday off so anyone who wanted to could attend the parade in Center City. I woke up early Friday morning and drove down to Center City with my two older brothers. I met up with all of my friends and we prepared for the parade to begin. Once again decked out in red, we watched the team carry the trophy around the city. The spirits were especially high that day and the curse had finally ended. 
-by Marissa Defanti


 

 

 
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