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Intangibles


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#1 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:39 AM

I was going to post a reply in the, "Pedroia and Leadership" thread but with the general dearth of substance on the main board, I thought I'd throw it into a new thread.

One of the things that has always bugged me about baseball analysis (and this board in particular) is the way that, "immeasurable intangibles," (quoted from a post in that Pedroia thread) are always discounted in any discussion - usually with great aplomb here.

Anyone who follows other major sports (football, soccer, basketball, etc) in any detail understands the role that chemistry and team dynamics play in those sports - it's often the leading reason cited as to why certain teams win consistently and seemingly beyond the sum total of the talent assembled. For New Englanders, this has been especially true in discussions (by the same following as the Red Sox) as to why the Celtics and Patriots success. Why is it discounted in baseball?

Is it because the team dynamics in other sports are more readily apparent in real-time because of the pace of those games (as opposed to baseball's deliberate pace)? Is it overrated in other sports? Is it because stat heads have completely taken over our "understanding" of the game of baseball and there is no room for objective truths in the discussion?

What say we?

#2 jimbotomy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:30 AM

One obvious difference between baseball and the other sports is that individual performances can be isolated. A batter's performance in a given plate appearance is an isolated event and that it would depend a great deal on the people cheering him on from the bench is not something that a lot of people give credence to. There are opportunities for "teamwork", but they are usually reduced to the mundane tasks easily performed by any player at a major league level. For instance, the shortstop throwing a runner out at first base does not require any specific relationship or knowledge between the two. On the other hand, a familiarity between the two styles of basketball players is something that can certainly improve both of their games, and it's that familiarity that is immeasurable.

Put it another way, I think most have confidence that the grand portion of baseball can be reduced to individual performances that we can confidently measure.

#3 Savin Hillbilly


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:11 AM

jimbotomy's post is true and important; however, to say that individual performances are more discrete and less dependent on others' performances in baseball than in most other team sports is not at all the same thing as saying that "intangibles" are less important in baseball than in other sports.

I think we largely discount them when trying to assess players' value precisely because they are, as the Pedroia thread quote said, "immeasurable." And this is true both on the individual and the global level. We can't easily measure either their contribution to winning in general, or the degree to which particular players make that contribution relative to one another. When we try to include them in our evalutions, we step into an entirely subjective realm, and a realm where many (most?) of us are at a great disadvantage relative to baseball professionals, because in order to make useful judgments in that realm you need to have access to people who have played with and against the player, and ideally, to the player himself. All we fans get is a random and unreliable trickle of such information through the media.

So it's not that intangibles are meaningless, it's just that we don't know how to meaningfully combine them with the important things that we know how to measure. We can't say "Shane Victorino adds 2 wins with his bat, one win with his glove and a half a win with his hustle and positive personality." We can only say "Victorino adds 2 wins with his bat and one with his glove, and on top of that, he has a positive personality, which has to be worth something."

#4 mabrowndog


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:07 AM

So it's not that intangibles are meaningless, it's just that we don't know how to meaningfully combine them with the important things that we know how to measure. We can't say "Shane Victorino adds 2 wins with his bat, one win with his glove and a half a win with his hustle and positive personality." We can only say "Victorino adds 2 wins with his bat and one with his glove, and on top of that, he has a positive personality, which has to be worth something."


Agreed. But unfortunately, nobody even says the bold. Only that which can be measured seems to completely usurp and obscure the immeasurable facets when discussion ensues. In most baseball debates, the mere suggestion that elements like leadership, chemistry and camaraderie should be taken into account is dismissed out of hand, often derisively.

As the Sox have filled their holes this off-season, many of the new faces have been lauded by Cherington, Farrell and former teammates & coaches for those "intangibles". We hear how Dempster is laid-back and loose but a hard worker, Gomes is a shitload of fun, Victorino carries boundless positive energy, Ross is a solid mentor, etc. Yet the potential impacts of having personalities like that in the clubhouse, and their ability to rub off on teammates (especially prospects and recent minor league graduates) thereby improving makeup, confidence, focus, swagger and effort, and promoting success rates in untold individual matchups, are discounted. All because we can't point to how exactly many runs were created by Schilling passing out a pile of Why Not Us? t-shirts, Papi singing in the locker room, Millar pulling a practical joke on Tito, or Pedro allowing himself to be duct-taped to a pole.

#5 seantoo


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:33 AM

Agreed. But unfortunately, nobody even says the bold. Only that which can be measured seems to completely usurp and obscure the immeasurable facets when discussion ensues. In most baseball debates, the mere suggestion that elements like leadership, chemistry and camaraderie should be taken into account is dismissed out of hand, often derisively. As the Sox have filled their holes this off-season, many of the new faces have been lauded by Cherington, Farrell and former teammates & coaches for those "intangibles". We hear how Dempster is laid-back and loose but a hard worker, Gomes is a shitload of fun, Victorino carries boundless positive energy, Ross is a solid mentor, etc. Yet the potential impacts of having personalities like that in the clubhouse, and their ability to rub off on teammates (especially prospects and recent minor league graduates) thereby improving makeup, confidence, focus, swagger and effort, and promoting success rates in untold individual matchups, are discounted. All because we can't point to how exactly many runs were created by Schilling passing out a pile of Why Not Us? t-shirts, Papi singing in the locker room, Millar pulling a practical joke on Tito, or Pedro allowing himself to be duct-taped to a pole.



Were talking about professional athletes not highschool games. While I acknowledge some people are influenced by others, many at the top .1% of what they do for a profession are not influenced by others personality on the field. That focus plus talent no doubt allowed them to make it to the top. So for baseball the degree to which is exist, I'm sure it does, is by and large irrelevant.

Edited by seantoo, 22 January 2013 - 10:35 AM.


#6 JimBoSox9


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:38 AM

Were talking about professional athletes not highschool games. While I acknowledge some people are influenced by others, many at the top .1% of what they do for a profession are not influenced by others personality on the field. That focus plus talent no doubt allowed them to make it to the top. So for baseball the degree to which is exist, I'm sure it does, is by and large irrelevant.


How is your stance any less fully based in conjecture than the opposing view?

Also, since we're talking about common board memes, it gets tiring that half the board believes that no experience, lesson, anecdote, or observation about baseball obtained at a non-MLB level can be applied to the point-one-percenters of MLB. It's lazy thinking. And no one even brought it up in this thread anyways.

Edited by JimBoSox9, 22 January 2013 - 10:41 AM.


#7 StupendousMan

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:09 PM

Okay. Let's discuss intangibles. Based on the messages above, it seems likely that we will be talking about "a random and unreliable trickle of such information" which can't be measured quantitatively, nor (apparently) correlated quantitatively with success.

I guess we could provide anecdotes about great individual acts of leadership in the clubhouse. Maybe someone will be able to use the collection of anecdotes to perform some sort of analysis ....

#8 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:20 PM

I think it's a bit of a canard to say that intangibles are wholly discounted here. A repeated theme of this offseason is that the front office seems to be placing some kind of dollar value on clubhouse chemistry, thus helping to explain what some have seen as overpays for the likes of Victorino and Gomes. I think many of us can understand that if the Sox GM values leadership and clubhouse traits then it would make sense for us as fans to value them as well and I know that I, for one, have placed value in interviews on radio with the likes of David Ross, who talks often about how the clubhouse affects winning. And he's pretty clearly an intelligent guy.

However, I think there's a difference between intangibles like work ethic, leadership, a laid-back personality, general intelligence, and the like, and the blanket "will to win" that is often trotted out. I believe in the former as factors that influence victory. I am less likely to be influenced by an argument that one team "wanted it more" when someone is trying to explain why one team succeeded and another didn't. That's where I will get dismissive pretty quickly. I do think extra effort and motivation can have an impact in basketball and football. I think it can actually work against you at times in baseball and I just don't think a hype-you-up pre-game speech has a positive effect there. We've heard often from Tito that he preached a steady approach, never get too high or too low, and that certainly seemed to work for his teams.

#9 JimBoSox9


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:43 PM

Okay. Let's discuss intangibles.


Or, more specifically, let's discuss how intangibles can be discussed.

I guess we could provide anecdotes about great individual acts of leadership in the clubhouse. Maybe someone will be able to use the collection of anecdotes to perform some sort of analysis ....


The problem with this is I think you'll have cause and effect reversed. A shitty team, even if they just have no talent, is more likely to have negative anecdotes asked for and given out than a successful team (and vice versa). No reporters were asking Sox players for amusing camaraderie stories in October 2011. The data set is corrupt.

This debate always comes back to the ultimate chicken and egg debate - does chemistry breed winning or winning breed chemistry? Of course, the answer is somewhere in the middle, so the debate is really towards what end of the spectrum does the answer lie.

I'd start by setting four premises and asking two questions, I think:

P1) The impact of intangibles on winning is somewhere north of 'irrelevant'. That premise may well be wrong (it isn't), but arguing against it doesn't advance the discovery process.

P2) the nature of the relationship between winning and chemistry is not an absolute law; the strength and direction of the relationship for one team may be reversed or weakened when looking at a different situation.

P3) On some level, the impact of intangibles can be measured as an estimate, possibly by expressing projected performance against actual performance.

P4) Because there are many, likely more crucial factors to winning than intangibles, even if a solid hypothesis is produced it is likely to fail in evaluating many situations because we can't control for those factors. For example, the Yankees didn't fail to win the AL East title for the first time in 4 years in 1979 because Thurmon Munson's intangibles were insufficient.

Q1) how many wins can good or bad chemistry be reasonably expected to be worth normally, ignoring what may be 'outlier' situations?

Q2) looking at identified outlier situations where a strong chemistry narrative has emerged (sept '11, chuckstrong, etc), can any commonalities be identified that could be used as predictive? What's the actual vs. expected graph look like for teams who have a prominent member diagnosed with major illness?

It's a bitch of a research project and an ever tougher debate, though.

#10 Pearl Wilson


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:09 PM

You're right VAL - it goes beyond simple disinterest in intangibles. The nature of baseball is such that the data sets are pretty reliable for good sample studies and thought experiments. The results can be predictive and reliable. It's easier to rely on numbers if you want to be right. People enjoy that and they take satisfaction in being right. To the extent that numbers can explain or predict, they are fun and pretty neat.

Randomness exists however. Randomness contains chunks of intangibles in its stools. Intangibles are messy. The portion of randomness that is hermetically sealed inside baseball stats is safe and nontoxic. Discussing the messy intangibles that exist in the wild makes some people crazy uncomfortable.

Edited by Pearl Wilson, 22 January 2013 - 02:10 PM.


#11 sleepyjose03

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:10 PM

I absolutely believe that there is something to be said for the effect of "intangibles" on success. If some players are being whiny, or are subverting authority, that absolutely trickles down to the way other players approach the game. We like to think that such trivialities shouldn't effect the "1%ers" of MLB - but let's be realistic: If part of your office always shows up late, or constantly undermines your boss, or received preferential treatment for one reason or another - does that not affect how you approach your work?

If intangible things like leadership or camaraderie didn't affect attitude - and therefore performance, Corporate America would not be as focused on developing and fostering them as they are.

#12 jimbotomy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:54 PM

I'm going to take a different tack on this discussion. Rather than talk about intangibles as something that affects the win-loss record, I'd like to suggest that intangibles have a far more meaningful impact on the success of the franchise than can be seen in game results.

Let's take two players. One we'll call "Trot", and one we'll call "J.D." Let's suppose for the moment that these players are identical in every single way you can possibly measure them on the field. They have the same OBP, slugging percentage, range, speed, batting average, and such. Let's suppose, though, that the way Trot goes about everything makes it look like he is struggling to achieve these stats, while the way J.D. goes about everything makes it all look easy.

Because the hypothetical is drawn this way, I think you'd be extremely hard pressed to say that the team would win more games with one than the other. Which guy would you rather watch? Which guy would most people rather watch?

(note: this is not to suggest that Trot Nixon and J.D. Drew were equivalent players beyond how they looked. It just strikes me that they provide an extremely sharp contrast.)

#13 seantoo


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:10 PM

How is your stance any less fully based in conjecture than the opposing view?

Also, since we're talking about common board memes, it gets tiring that half the board believes that no experience, lesson, anecdote, or observation about baseball obtained at a non-MLB level can be applied to the point-one-percenters of MLB. It's lazy thinking. And no one even brought it up in this thread anyways.


No-one even brought it up? The 3 previous responses did not. I did. I brought it up because it applies. Why does the other side of the coin think that only they have the "experience, lesson, anecdotes or observations" ability. Of course you can do that but is it relevant as it relates to whether a MLB team beats other teams because of it?
It's my observation that some people want it, intangibles, to be true is because they are romanticing the game you know the way the lazy media spoon fed us our entire life instead of actual observations that can be quantified and proven. I'd say reporters who report that chemistry is why a baseball team won over another is a lazy,romanticed view of ignorance and bliss. Jeter's calming eyes did not help his team-mates no matter how much the 12 year boy baseball view of the world one has. I'll go out on a very thick branch and say it's exactly because they are reporters that they typically are not number savy and therefore refute it. They are better with words and therefore spoon feed their romaticized view of the game. Hell, nearly all of us, myself included, believed that better training and nutrition was responsible, for a while at least, for the numbers put up during the steriod era.
We bring biases to everything we do even when we are trained not to do it. Interviewers even when trained not to make up their mind about a potential candidate during the first thirty seconds still do. If we like someone we overlook, or rationalize, an act that we'd damn someone for if we did not like them. Observations and biases are often flawed and flawed tragically. The courts job realize that eye witness testimony is esentially worthless even as they usually accept it. When we want something to be true you must critically question why.

#14 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:57 PM

I'm not sure the above is in English, but I'll respond.

With this idea of "intangibles," we're talking about more than "chemistry."

Maybe Jeter's calm eyes didn't help his teammates, but if he frequently took time to go over opposing pitcher tendencies, gleaned over 17 years of facing American League pitching, and gave them useful tips that helped them better approach that pitcher, I don't think it's hard to see that as valuable. On the flip side, if a player is known for always keeping to himself and never talking with teammates in the locker room, then it's unlikely any of his experience would be beneficial to other players on the team.

Similarly, the intangible of "preparation." Tek, Schilling, and others have been lauded for their meticulous note-keeping and data-collecting on opposing players, which they then use to create gameplans. Why did those players have long and impressive major league careers when, by any physical standards, there was nothing special that separated them from other players - Tek didn't have a great arm, was an average runner, didn't seem to have an especially quick bat, etc., and yet he was an all-star and generally regarded as one of the best in the game. Schilling didn't throw 99, etc., but chalked up 3,000+ Ks. What made those things happen? Is it impossible that that kind of work ethic and preparation could translate to other players on the team who might look up to them and admire them and want to have similar careers?

How you could discount the possibility that a player's make up might affect the overall team's performance is beyond me. Just because you can't easily quantify it doesn't mean it's not worth discussing or that it's irrelevant to team construction.

As for how to talk about it in a meaningful way, it's not that dissimilar to how we evaluate managers, is it? Sure, we look at them in terms of decision-making in-game, but we also talk about how they perform compared to their pythag or whether the players on their team outperform their projections, etc.

Do players have histories of playing on teams that outperform their pythag? Do players who interact with others regularly - pitchers and their catchers, say - seem to have a positive performance effect (such as CERA, which I know has flaws, but at least is a data point)?

To discard discussion of non-measurable aspects of a player is pretty silly, really. Further, not every discussion needs to have a definitive answer as its end game. Sometimes the discussion is the end itself.

#15 Mack

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

I was going to post a reply in the, "Pedroia and Leadership" thread but with the general dearth of substance on the main board, I thought I'd throw it into a new thread.

One of the things that has always bugged me about baseball analysis (and this board in particular) is the way that, "immeasurable intangibles," (quoted from a post in that Pedroia thread) are always discounted in any discussion - usually with great aplomb here.

Anyone who follows other major sports (football, soccer, basketball, etc) in any detail understands the role that chemistry and team dynamics play in those sports - it's often the leading reason cited as to why certain teams win consistently and seemingly beyond the sum total of the talent assembled. For New Englanders, this has been especially true in discussions (by the same following as the Red Sox) as to why the Celtics and Patriots success. Why is it discounted in baseball?

Is it because the team dynamics in other sports are more readily apparent in real-time because of the pace of those games (as opposed to baseball's deliberate pace)? Is it overrated in other sports? Is it because stat heads have completely taken over our "understanding" of the game of baseball and there is no room for objective truths in the discussion?

What say we?


Maybe a better, (read: more enjoyable) environment gets people to work earlier and staying later. At the margin, that might translate into extra workouts, more hitting sessions, more fielding drills, guys talking about what they are working on, i.e., more time "at the office" implies more time preparing. The sum of the extra preparation might translate into additional wins at the margin.

Edited by Mack, 23 January 2013 - 10:45 AM.


#16 twothousandone

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:56 PM

and on top of that, he has a positive personality, which has to be worth something."

But on a team that starts the season hot, and has a large number of players with a positive personality, it's worth less than on a team that starts slowly, has a few generally negative guys, and many neutral guys. Isn't than an equally fair statement? And then how would one assign value to that something when it is dependent on the broader circumstances?

I'll say that on a team filled with younger players and rookies, a JD Drew personality is probably a very good thing, especially if one of those rookies is a Billy Bean type personality.

#17 HriniakPosterChild

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:13 PM

I'll quote a Bill James interview that I can no longer find on SoSH:

I created a good part of the analytical paradigm that the statistical analysts advocate, and certainly I believe in that paradigm and I advocate it within the Red Sox front office. But at the same time, the real world is too complicated to be explained by that paradigm. It is one thing to build an analytical paradigm that leaves out leadership, hustle, focus, intensity, courage and self-confidence; it is a very, very different thing to say that leadership, hustle, courage and self-confidence do not exist or do not play a role on real-world baseball teams. The people who think that way. . .not to be rude, but they’re children. They may be 40-year-old children, they may be 70-year-old children, but their thinking is immature. Or, to put it in one sentence, if I worried about that @#%$ I would have folded my tent 25 years ago, when my ideas were anathema to the mainstream baseball establishment.



#18 pockmeister

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 06:40 PM

As another alternative view on this debate, might it not be the case that the impact of intangibles is hidden within the data of players and teams?

If we take an average Major League player, and in year 1 he signs for Team A, which has a clubhouse of players who have a general trend towards negative intangibles, and he proceeds to hit .265. In year 2, the same player is then picked up by Team B which has a similar talent level to Team A, but a roster of players with more positive intangibles in the clubhouse. In this different environment, the player hits .285.

Now the question is whether we attribute that .020 improvement in batting average to randomness, good karma, a change in coach, a change in stance, different pitching etc etc. We probably could apply all the analytical tools going and not get to an agreed answer. Which indicates to me that making an argument for intangibles as a potential cause of the improved performance to be every bit as valid as any of the other options

#19 ShaneTrot

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

I think intangibles are important for some players based on the circumstances. Look at Aceves, down the stretch in 2011 he was nails while everyone else fell apart. Last year, he wanted to be a closer, changed his approach and tried to strike out everyone, became more hittable and argued with the manager (who can blame him?). Plus let's face it, he is a little nutty. I have no idea what he will give the Sox in 2013.

#20 seantoo


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:28 PM

I'm not sure the above is in English, but I'll respond.

With this idea of "intangibles," we're talking about more than "chemistry."

Maybe Jeter's calm eyes didn't help his teammates, but if he frequently took time to go over opposing pitcher tendencies, gleaned over 17 years of facing American League pitching, and gave them useful tips that helped them better approach that pitcher, I don't think it's hard to see that as valuable. On the flip side, if a player is known for always keeping to himself and never talking with teammates in the locker room, then it's unlikely any of his experience would be beneficial to other players on the team.

Similarly, the intangible of "preparation." Tek, Schilling, and others have been lauded for their meticulous note-keeping and data-collecting on opposing players, which they then use to create gameplans. Why did those players have long and impressive major league careers when, by any physical standards, there was nothing special that separated them from other players - Tek didn't have a great arm, was an average runner, didn't seem to have an especially quick bat, etc., and yet he was an all-star and generally regarded as one of the best in the game. Schilling didn't throw 99, etc., but chalked up 3,000+ Ks. What made those things happen? Is it impossible that that kind of work ethic and preparation could translate to other players on the team who might look up to them and admire them and want to have similar careers?

How you could discount the possibility that a player's make up might affect the overall team's performance is beyond me. Just because you can't easily quantify it doesn't mean it's not worth discussing or that it's irrelevant to team construction.

As for how to talk about it in a meaningful way, it's not that dissimilar to how we evaluate managers, is it? Sure, we look at them in terms of decision-making in-game, but we also talk about how they perform compared to their pythag or whether the players on their team outperform their projections, etc.

Do players have histories of playing on teams that outperform their pythag? Do players who interact with others regularly - pitchers and their catchers, say - seem to have a positive performance effect (such as CERA, which I know has flaws, but at least is a data point)?

To discard discussion of non-measurable aspects of a player is pretty silly, really. Further, not every discussion needs to have a definitive answer as its end game. Sometimes the discussion is the end itself.


The whole problem of the thread is "intangibles" is not being precisely defined. There is no need to attack. I've seen far worse and never noted it. Apparently intagibles cannot be defined. Preparation and experience either panout statiscally or they do not. Several players do not retire early enough as all the experience and prep in the world cannot help a failing body. Charting games, aka Schilling & Varitek is a form of measurement. I would not include that in intagibles. I refer to presonalties etc. In an average work place it can and does effect others however if it did to a professional MLB player who usually pride themselves in not getting to high or low emotionally for the ensuing marathon of a season, I'd argue with you that they would not last in MLB. I also stated in my original post that I don't deny it has some effect but that it is for a MLB baseball team so small a factor as to be negible. I gave good examples about how we are influenced by mediots to adopt the concept of intangibles to romanticize it as part of the game. That makes it easy for them to praise those they like and attack those they don't. That way they can still claim they are professional even without doing any hard research. It's gossip and hearsay. I gave examples how biases effect even trained professionals to make snap judgements even when trained not to and how our biases cause us to judge the same action of one person we like to be good yet badly of someone we don't. With that in mind how can you even trust reports about players intangibles even if they had a real impact in MLB. It's all bias crap reporting even when they don't have an axe to grind never mind when they do. I further supported my point about how flawed observation (noted by others as a way to judge outside numbers) is, that even the court system knows that eye witness reports are esentially worthless.
Therefore I propose that even if it had a real impact it would be a he said she said scenario becuase of bias observations and opinions rendering it virtuallly meaningless.

#21 SoxLegacy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:01 PM

VAL, I appreciate your breaking this out--there are a lot of excellent thoughts in this thread, and I appreciate all the poster's efforts--I have enjoyed reading and thinking about all the posts. I think, (or perhaps I believe is better) that intangibles do exist and they do have an impact on the game, though how to quantify it is beyond me.

Non baseball case: At some point during the Antietam or Gettysburg Campaigns (exact location and date is questionable) during the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was seen by a pro-Union woman in Maryland. Upon seeing Lee, she is reported to have exclaimed, "Oh, I wish he were ours", meaning fighting for the Northern cause. Lee was revered by friend and foe alike for a variety of reasons--his battlefield skill, his tactical knowledge, his personal bravery (all quantifiable items)as well as his compassion, gentlemanly manner, and chivalry, which are not exactly quantifiable. Clearly Lee had record of battlefield success, but he also had a 'presence' that was a great value to his soldiers--hell, the Army of Northern Virginia was able to remain in the field for as long as they did due to the allegiance of the troops to Lee more than anything else.

Baseball case: 1 July 2004--the Yanks and Red Sox game, with Jeter going into the stands and Nomar sitting on the bench.

Well, not even sure if the above makes much sense, but I hope it does--never thought I'd link my history degree and research with baseball! Whether or not intangibles exist, I am damn glad Pedroia is a member of the Boston Red Sox.

edit: clarity

Edited by SoxLegacy, 22 January 2013 - 09:02 PM.


#22 veritas

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:58 PM

To reiterate what's been said above, baseball is a unique sport in that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed. Almost every play is in isolation and there is no real need for on-field chemistry other than between the catcher and pitcher. This is (rightly) why statistical analysis is so effective and important in the game of baseball.

However, it does differ in that they play twice as many games as any other sport. They play nearly everyday during the season and spend most of their lives with their teammates. I think it's very important that a baseball team be able to get along throughout the season and I do think it has an effect on on-field performance. In general, people who are happy do better at their jobs. It's probably more likely that a few turds in the punchbowl could have a negative effect rather than a few super-leader-do-gooders having a positive effect. I sort of liken it to how a manager can affect a team. A terrible one can ruin a team, but a the value of a great one isn't all that great. It's more about not screwing things up.

#23 SoxLegacy

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:14 PM

I sort of liken it to how a manager can affect a team. A terrible one can ruin a team, but a the value of a great one isn't all that great. It's more about not screwing things up.


Hmm....Valentine in 2012? Would the Sox have been better with a different mamager last year? I would think so.

#24 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

There are some tremendous responses in this thread - lots to make an old man smile on a sub-zero day in the nort' woods.   I think it's not so much that these intangible things are immeasurable - they are there in the numbers and if you dig deep enough, you catch glimpses of them in the noise or in the variation or in the differences between expectation and results.  I think it was pretty apparent in last season's numbers - especially on the offensive side where the numbers of runs scored (prior to the payroll slash) were tremendously skewed beyond the normal relationship between runs scored and wins.   There can and should be an in-depth analysis on that account - perhaps someone with some dead time between now and March could come up with that.  :)

 

I do want to disagree with the notion that a few have espoused that every play or pitch is isolated from every other.  I think this is a perception problem based mainly on the pace of the game.  Every pitch or play is conducted in the context of the ones before it - base/out state, the experiences of earlier pitches/swings, the mental approach of the pitcher/batter/fielders, et cetera.  Think of it maybe as a basketball game or soccer match in ultra slow motion.  This I think is the major flaw in analysis.

 

I think that it is certainly possible through contextual analysis to isolate the gaps between what is and what should be and use that variation (not randomness) to identify the existence of intangible effects.  We might not be able to label the cause empirically, but I think we can apply some qualitative information to help.   I'll try to come up with some examples of that for further discussion later.



#25 JimBoSox9


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:19 PM

To reiterate what's been said above, baseball is a unique sport in that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed. Almost every play is in isolation and there is no real need for on-field chemistry other than between the catcher and pitcher. This is (rightly) why statistical analysis is so effective and important in the game of baseball.
 

This is maybe the most blatantly wrong sentiment I've ever seen expressed on the main board.
 
-Defense: Pre-pitch positioning is teamwork.  In-play responsibilities are teamwork.  Turning double plays are teamwork.  Run-downs are teamwork.  Players are constantly talking and communicating and coordinating.  This is (partly) why statistical analysis of defense in baseball lags so far behind offense in sabermetrics.  Ask Dustin Pedroia sometime about the different tendencies and needs of the various shortstops he's played with; he'll talk you an essay for an hour.  
-Offense: It's crucial for baserunners, especially burners, to know the tendencies of the hitter at the plate.  If a guy with the green light is on first, he damn well better know if the hitter wants to jump on a 2-0 fastball or is probably going to lay off it.  Try to swipe a bag at the wrong time and you can ruin the whole PA.  
 
I'm halfway through the book right now, and I'd pay a cool couple thousand to see you walk up to Tito and say "baseball is a unique sport in that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed. Almost every play is in isolation and there is no real need for on-field chemistry other than between the catcher and pitcher".  You would not emerge with your dignity intact.


Edit: "Far too much" was, in hindsight.....far too much.

Edited by JimBoSox9, 23 January 2013 - 09:36 PM.


#26 JimBoSox9


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

Someone on SONS OF SAM FUCKING HORN said that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed in baseball.  I literally cannot get over it.



#27 SoxJox

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:32 PM

What...this far in and only a single passing reference to Captain Intangibles?



#28 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:41 PM

One of the themes of last year's lost season was communication, and this gets to a further point about intangibles. Even if teamwork doesn't manifest itself on the field (though of course it does), it can also manifest itself in the dugout as the game is happening. Doesn't just have to be a "clubhouse" thing.

 

I think people underestimate the amount of communication that goes on in a well-functioning dugout: What's the curveball look like coming out of the hand? Does he seem to be relying on the change-up when ahead in the count? Does Pedroia notice hitters seeming particularly comfortable at the plate and therefore maybe picking up something in the starter's delivery? Is someone ripe to be picked off the next time he reaches first base?

 

These are all examples of teamwork that can have huge positive impacts on the game if a team is tight and communicating well. By all accounts, last year was a communications disaster. Who are the players that can serve as communication lubricant? Who are the players likely to notice these small things and pass them along? There are very real wins to be had in there.



#29 Rovin Romine

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:10 PM

We could divide this into "personal" intangibles and "extra-personal" intangibles, while acknowledging the two are somewhat related. 

 

Individuals might show strong "good" personal intangible traits, such as a willingness to be coached, to adapt, to take whatever steps they can to improve their own play.    "Bad" traits might be persisting in a sub-optimal approach in one's game, seeking "selfish" stats instead of pursuing wins (such as a closer demanding to notch a second save in a row against a week team when a crucial series begins the next day), coasting on the DL or otherwise mailing it in.

 

As far as the extra-personal (or interpersonal, if you prefer), good traits would include a willingness to set a good example, to take measures to improve their teammates morale and play.  Bad traits would include setting a poor example, messing with your teammates, encouraging rookies to adopt bad habits, etc.

 

In the final analysis intangibles must matter.  Otherwise why would we see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing well while citing that a change of scenery made all the difference?  (Granted, there are many possible reasons, but I think all of us realize that our individual performance in just about anything can be affected by our environment.)



#30 StupendousMan

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

 In the final analysis intangibles must matter.  Otherwise why would we
see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing well while
citing that a change of scenery made all the difference?  (Granted,
there are many possible reasons, but I think all of us realize that our
individual performance in just about anything can be affected by our
environment.)

 

[Devil's advocate]

We see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing well for the same reason that we see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing poorly: random chance.  But, since humans don't like to acknowledge that some things happen for unknown reasons, we try to find reasons to explain the changes.

[/Devil's advocate]

 



#31 SoxLegacy

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:14 PM

To reiterate what's been said above, baseball is a unique sport in that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed. Almost every play is in isolation and there is no real need for on-field chemistry other than between the catcher and pitcher. This is (rightly) why statistical analysis is so effective and important in the game of baseball.
 

While I agree with you in regards to the manager, (as I stated above) I have thought about the first part of your post and respectfully disagree with you here and stand with JimBoSox9--baseball is not an isolated sport at all, and there is teamwork on every play. If there isn't, I've been coaching my kids and rec council teams in the wrong way to play baseball. I think JimBoSox hit some of the most obvious points, but one that jumps out at me from the mess of the 2012 season is Pedroia taking Aceves to task for screwing up either the foul pop where Aceves interfered with Salty as he attempted to catch the ball, or Aceves throwing to second three consecutive times with Pedroia not expecting the third throw. Or maybe Pedey let him hear it over both mistakes. Those plays were not in isolation and they illustrate why teamwork and communication is a key ingredient to on the field success.


Edited by SoxLegacy, 23 January 2013 - 09:15 PM.


#32 DeJesus Built My Hotrod


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

This is maybe the most blatantly wrong sentiment I've ever seen expressed (far too much) on the main board.

 

-Defense: Pre-pitch positioning is teamwork.  In-play responsibilities are teamwork.  Turning double plays are teamwork.  Run-downs are teamwork.  Players are constantly talking and communicating and coordinating.  This is (partly) why statistical analysis of defense in baseball lags so far behind offense in sabermetrics.  Ask Dustin Pedroia sometime about the different tendencies and needs of the various shortstops he's played with; he'll talk you an essay for an hour.  

-Offense: It's crucial for baserunners, especially burners, to know the tendencies of the hitter at the plate.  If a guy with the green light is on first, he damn well better know if the hitter wants to jump on a 2-0 fastball or is probably going to lay off it.  Try to swipe a bag at the wrong time and you can ruin the whole PA.  

 

I'm halfway through the book right now, and I'd pay a cool couple thousand to see you walk up to Tito and say "baseball is a unique sport in that there is an almost complete lack of on-field teamwork needed. Almost every play is in isolation and there is no real need for on-field chemistry other than between the catcher and pitcher".  You would not emerge with your dignity intact.

This is a great post and goes well with VAL's most recent contribution to the thread.  Anyone who has played or coached the sport knows that there are advantages to players being familiar with one another on the field.  Do people really believe that players (especially at first base) don't benefit from knowing how their teammates throw the ball in terms of release and velocity?   Or from having a history of communicating with one another in the field?

 

I have even wondered if the lack of familiarity between Damian Jackson and Johnny Damon contributed to their collision back in the '03 ALDS whether it was due to poor communication or perhaps because each guy was unaware of the other's range.    

 

The problem is, as you and others have stated, that it is next to impossible to measure these factors.



#33 JimBoSox9


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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:31 PM

 
[Devil's advocate]
We see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing well for the same reason that we see guys move on to a new team and suddenly start performing poorly: random chance.  But, since humans don't like to acknowledge that some things happen for unknown reasons, we try to find reasons to explain the changes.
[/Devil's advocate]
 

Obviously, sometimes it's the one and a lot of the time it's the other. The trick is telling the difference. Fortunately, we can tell pretty closely how likely a variance has of being random chance so we have a shot at being savvy about it.

I like the idea of seperating intangibles into the ones that should definitely show up explicitly in a player's stats (such as not running out grounders and losing some hits as a result) and the ones that may only show up in vague unpredictable ways (such as not running out grounders and not getting benched makes everyone else play sad and angry). Any of these intangies would theoretically have a personal and team element, might as well divide them.

One thing the book makes unquestionably clear is that Tito thinks having clubhouse leaders among the players is at or near the very top of his list of important things. Alex Cora's playing time is no longer remotely a mystery, and the binky jokes were probably underselling it. It's self-fulfilling: that element is important because of how Tito manages, and Tito manages that way because of how he thinks of that element. The perfect player mix he thought he had at the end of 2008 might be toxic (hyperbole: talent is obviously an equalizer) for Joe Maddon, who would have liked the '04 Idiots better, or the Wizard of Anaheim, who would have been driven nuts by the baserunning and defense situations.

Where all that took me is here: every intangible has a semi-predictable personal effect. If I cheat my pants off and collapse all the possible team effects into an imaginary Morale score, I can say that every intangible has a predictable effect (positive or negative) on the team. But, depending on the particular team dynamic, the relative weight of the effect on Morale can vary drastically. Something like benching a starter could be a massive deal in Boston but calm waters in Tampa. If we want to even begin to be accurate talking about intangies, we can't try to define things as cause and effect. It's a four-way paradigm of what, where, when, and who. The intangible is the "what", but it has to be defined along all three other axes to be understood. I'd say we can't comprehend intangibles because they're 4th Dimensional, but that's probably just a product of my current state of sobriety.

I sincerely hope the above wasn't the stupidest thing you've ever read. The nature of this thread is to teeter on the abyss.

Edit: Legacy brought up pickoffs and I'm glad he did because those are the fucking worst. 2B pickoffs are like synchronized swimming, there's a quarter-second margin of error and if both don't nail the timing they'll get made by the base coaches. One time I was coaching 1B and let my runner get caught napping by a mediocre lefty move, the head coach shit my head back out two days later. Exactly like a perfect backdoor pass, which all agree is teamwork-driven.

Now I kind of want to make an Intangies Magic clone where Captain Calm Eyes gives you Morale +1000 but costs 189,000,000 mana to play. Hope that's not weird.

Edited by JimBoSox9, 23 January 2013 - 11:52 PM.


#34 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:19 PM

That's a damn fine post.

It's interesting to think of a strong sense of empathy as a majorly important requirement for a GM. Can you both read a player's make-up and the make-up of your clubhouse and make sure they match up?

#35 dbn

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 10:46 PM

Sorry if this has been covered - I looked at every post in the thread just now, but skimmed most of them.  I'll contribute two, brief thoughts.

 

1) One aspect of "chemistry" that matters less in baseball than many other sports is that selfish play tends to be less harmful in baseball.  For example, in basketball a ball-hog can be tremendously detrimental to an offense.  I think a large part of "Ubuntu" was that each player tried to create the team's best shot, as opposed to their best shot.  I'm not sure what would even constitute "selfish" play in baseball.  Maybe swinging for the fences every AB?  

 

2) We all know that mental, as opposed to physical, aspects of an athlete have some effect on their success or failure.  I think that much of that mental ability, or stability, or whatever, is unconscious and affected by "intangibles."  I firmly believe that having good team chemistry can help performance.  What the magnitude of the effect is in baseball, relative to that from more measurable aspects, I have no idea.  I'd guess that it is small, but non negligible and therefor important.



#36 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 25 January 2013 - 06:51 AM

First of all, I want to discount the notion of randomness in baseball analysis. I would prefer the deterministic viewpoint that there is a reason behind everything that happens on a baseball field. They may not be "measurable" through statistical application, but there are underlying and detectable reasons for nearly everything that happens. I think that perhaps the next big breakthrough in technological observation could be something like "swing plane analysis." We have gotten pretty good at mapping pitch trajectories through tools like Pitch FX, but it would be interesting to see that overlain over a map of a hitter's swing plane. We might find out why certain great hitters have a difficult time adapting to certain pitches. We might find that great hitters have highly grooved and repeatable swing planes that are devastating against types of pitches, but also that other types of pitches pass through that swing plane in such a way as to reduce the odds of solid contact noticeably. We might find that certain hitters have more adaptable swing planes that can adjust to those types of pitches. There are other things as well that might be measured - batter reaction time, pitch recognition time, defensive reaction/range measurement, et cetera. There are hundreds of factors that affect the outcome of events that are difficult to measure. Streakiness, mental focus, consistency, happiness, knowledge and training, clutch abilities, et cetera. These must fall into the province of coaching, managing and interplayer communication to overcome. Tools might be developed to assist in this analysis, but in the end those interractions are far too complex for technology. As a former intel guy, I understand the importance of high-quality, well-thought out, predictive analysis. In the real world, however, what ends up being most important is how well you adapt to the inevitable breakdown of those predictions.

#37 MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:08 AM

Sorry if this has been covered - I looked at every post in the thread just now, but skimmed most of them.  I'll contribute two, brief thoughts.

 

1) One aspect of "chemistry" that matters less in baseball than many other sports is that selfish play tends to be less harmful in baseball.  For example, in basketball a ball-hog can be tremendously detrimental to an offense.  I think a large part of "Ubuntu" was that each player tried to create the team's best shot, as opposed to their best shot.  I'm not sure what would even constitute "selfish" play in baseball.  Maybe swinging for the fences every AB?  

Certainly that is an example of selfish play, but there are many that happen pretty often: A man on second with no outs and not being willing to give up an out by rolling one over to the second baseman with two strikes; attempting to steal third with two outs; not listening for the shortstop's or centerfielder's call and going for the pop-up anyway and ramming into someone; outfielders not running to back up bases when they're otherwise out of the play; a lead-off man not taking a couple of pitches after the pitcher labored in the most recent half inning. 

 

I think there are a lot of instances where what's best for the team runs counter to what's best for personal stats or requires more effort than absolutely necessary. Unselfish players can have a substantial positive impact over the course of a full season.



#38 Toe Nash

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:14 PM

I dunno. For the most part the interests of the individual in compiling stats and the team's interests in winning games line up. Sacrifice bunting is an unselfish play but most of the time when it's employed it's not statistically the best play. I guess stealing bases for individual stats is an example, but if you steal too often you're not going to get the go sign, and if you ignore the signs you're going to get benched or chewed out no matter who you are. Part of what I think sabermetrics has contributed to the discussion is that things like productive outs and sac bunts really aren't as important to a team's chance of winning as was commonly thought, and hopefully managers and players (and GMs) can understand that and appreciate what really helps a team win -- which is often the best thing for a player's individual stats and thus, wallet. The whole idea is correctly valuing players' contributions to winning, right?

 

Most of those examples are secondary to the most important objective of each AB -- not getting out. Getting a HR is the best thing a player can do for his own stats and also the best thing he can do for the team. These kind of dwarf the little things like productive outs as only crappy players go up to the plate looking to get a productive out. Maybe twenty years ago when OBP was ignored a guy like JD Drew would get criticized for not driving in runs, but now smart fans and GMs understand that his game is a good one even if he takes a borderline pitch with a guy on third. And in "RBI" situations there's things in place (like sac flies not counting for an AB, and the RBI stat in general -- or sabermetric stuff like WPA) that give credit to the player for doing something good for the team.

 

One exception is probably saves. Guys still get paid as "proven closers" if they have racked up saves, and this stat distorts what's selfish and unselfish. For example, a selfish player would want to go into the game in the 9th with a three run lead to get the save even though he had pitched the previous two days, thus making him unavailable for a tougher situation next game and potentially hurting the team tomorrow. You can't blame the guy given the emphasis on the save stat, but if relievers were compensated based on their real sabermetric value there would be no conflict between a selfish player and an unselfish one (assuming the player is motivated solely by money -- effort is a different question).

 

I buy the personality explanations of chemistry and intangibles a lot more than the "unselfish" stats explanations, I guess.


Edited by Toe Nash, 25 January 2013 - 12:15 PM.


#39 Rovin Romine

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:16 PM

I dunno. For the most part the interests of the individual in compiling stats and the team's interests in winning games line up. Sacrifice bunting is an unselfish play but most of the time when it's employed it's not statistically the best play. I guess stealing bases for individual stats is an example, but if you steal too often you're not going to get the go sign, and if you ignore the signs you're going to get benched or chewed out no matter who you are. Part of what I think sabermetrics has contributed to the discussion is that things like productive outs and sac bunts really aren't as important to a team's chance of winning as was commonly thought, and hopefully managers and players (and GMs) can understand that and appreciate what really helps a team win -- which is often the best thing for a player's individual stats and thus, wallet. The whole idea is correctly valuing players' contributions to winning, right?

 

Most of those examples are secondary to the most important objective of each AB -- not getting out. Getting a HR is the best thing a player can do for his own stats and also the best thing he can do for the team. These kind of dwarf the little things like productive outs as only crappy players go up to the plate looking to get a productive out. Maybe twenty years ago when OBP was ignored a guy like JD Drew would get criticized for not driving in runs, but now smart fans and GMs understand that his game is a good one even if he takes a borderline pitch with a guy on third. And in "RBI" situations there's things in place (like sac flies not counting for an AB, and the RBI stat in general -- or sabermetric stuff like WPA) that give credit to the player for doing something good for the team.

 

One exception is probably saves. Guys still get paid as "proven closers" if they have racked up saves, and this stat distorts what's selfish and unselfish. For example, a selfish player would want to go into the game in the 9th with a three run lead to get the save even though he had pitched the previous two days, thus making him unavailable for a tougher situation next game and potentially hurting the team tomorrow. You can't blame the guy given the emphasis on the save stat, but if relievers were compensated based on their real sabermetric value there would be no conflict between a selfish player and an unselfish one (assuming the player is motivated solely by money -- effort is a different question).

 

I buy the personality explanations of chemistry and intangibles a lot more than the "unselfish" stats explanations, I guess.

I agree somewhat - but as things stand now, players may be tempted to make a choice that potentially benefits "themselves" more than the team.  

 

I think the most common example is not taking pitches and/or preferring a potential hit to a potential walk.  Or to use your example of a HR - just because it's the best potential result for the team does not mean that all players should try to hit a HR in all situations (obviously). 

 

So, I'd say in the "intangibles" context, we can talk about statistical outcomes over the course of a season, but we should also consider in-game choices that might sway the outcome of that particular game, whether or not they make a noticeable impact on the final stats. 

 

I think there are potentially players who make good "overall" tactical decisions and have fine stats, but can lose games by being inflexible (or not 'baseball smart').  On the other hand, there are potentially players who can make good tactical in-game decisions which discounts the likelihood of their individual ("selfish") stats benefiting, against a different decision which might result in a greater chance of winning that particular game.  This probably would apply to batters, baserunning, and fielding throws more than it would to pitching.



#40 Mack

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

VAL said:

 

"I think it's not so much that these intangible things are immeasurable - they are there in the numbers and if you dig deep enough, you catch glimpses of them in the noise or in the variation or in the differences between expectation and results."

 

I made the simple point above that perhaps time spent at the workplace translates into more output, at the margin. I noted that, possibly, more time at the workplace (beyond what is required) translates into more time being put into preparation to produce output, and because more time was put into preparation, the output is of a marginally higher quality. In baseball, for example, this means more time in the cage, more time in the field, and more time studying the opposition. This is plausible, I think. If you want to get better at something, really just about anything, you practice doing it, whether it is mathematics, physics, playing guitar, etc. The more time you spend, the better you get (although the gains might be diminishing). Thus, if the clubhouse environment lends itself to individuals wanting to spend more time there (perhaps because individuals are friendly and funny), then this form of "chemistry" lends itself to potentially marginally greater output. As a practical matter, it is plausible that teams could measure the time spent at team facilities and evaluate the correlation between total time spent at the worksite and output. I am not suggesting in any way, shape, or form, that this is anything more than speculation, but I am trying to respond in a reasoned way to your intuition.



#41 LoweTek

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

"If it can't be measured, it does not exist and has negligible impact on outcomes."

 

Is this pretty much what some of you are trying to say?



#42 JimBoSox9


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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:22 PM

The more fair way of phrasing it would be "if it can't be measured, it is an unknown and not worth giving weight to when planning".



#43 Rovin Romine

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:45 PM

The more fair way of phrasing it would be "if it can't be measured, it is an unknown and not worth giving weight to when planning".

Even so, that's just silly.  Arguably you give more consideration to the stuff you can't objectively quantify.



#44 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:20 PM

Well there is predictive analysis, and then there is after-the-fact analysis of why the predictive analysis wasn't right. The former is sort of the realm of the GM, acquiring players, trying to slot prospects into future lineups, when to re-sign a player, when to let a player go, et cetera. It sets the framework for a season. The latter, though, is more of the realm of the manager and coaches, trying to figure out why guys are under or over performing, trying to set lineups and maximizing matchups, etc. The approaches are quite different. Predictive analysis requires the complex formulae we often see cited here to try to ascertain a players overall value in some high-level, statistically smoothed format. The latter requires more granular analysis, week to week, day to day kinds of stuff that don't necessarily equate to the overall high-level values. More often than not, these sorts of granular nuggets will prompt the staff to apply qualitative analysis to the numbers. For instance, Player X has been in a prolonged slump, what are the possible causes and how do we fix them? Intangibles easily get lost in the high-level predictive analysis. If, for instance, we project Player Y (through the voodoo formulae that constitute things like PECOTA, for instance) to put up an OPS of .825 and he varies significantly from that, there is nothing in those high-level numbers that tell us why. Perhaps the player's performance is linked to team chemistry. Perhaps he is responding one way or another to coaching, or his role on the team, or found a good PED, or any number of other environmental or developmental factors that might affect his performance. The high-level analysis only sees it as variation. There are all sorts of potential sources of granular information that probably give you more useful information on intangibles. Lineup dynamic analysis, performance against certain pitchers/pitches, streak analysis, analysis of contact quality, etc. In my view there is far too little of that on the fan-level, although we might assume that teams are doing more with that sort of work (or not!). So, the, "if it can't be measured, it is an unknown and not worth giving weight to when planning," folks, that only applies to predictive analysis. There are other (potentially more important) ways to measure almost everything, if one is imaginative enough. And as a footnote, the whole OBP thing is very elementary. While it is certainly true that an average player in an average lineup against an average pitcher in an average situation will always be better off taking a walk than putting a ball in play, there is a great deal of variation in any real world situation. It certainly becomes more or less true depending on the variables, and I would venture a guess that there is a tipping point where that basic tenet becomes untrue. (Think Barry Bonds in the first part of the 21st century).




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