Slices of the Blame Pie

The Needler

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It would be amazing to do similar age curves with statcast data. I'm not sure if 4-5 seasons is enough to do this kind of analysis, but in a few seasons they'll start to have entire cohorts that have entered and left their prime completely within the statcast era.
Five seasons should be plenty. You'd have hundreds of data points for each two-year set.

For fun, I looked at the top 20 of the StatCast sprint leaders from 2017, to see how those with elite speed fared the following two years (this is just a fun exercise; not intended to be representative, and understanding it is a tiny sample):



The overall average speed dropped in both subsequent years. Every player but one (Trea Turner) was unable to maintain his first year speed into his last, and only one player recorded a higher average speed in either year over his first (Harrison Bader).

In terms of speed lost by age, we're obviously working with a super small sample. But here they are, anyway. We have six two-year periods with at least 3 players in the group, and those results are:

Age 21-22 (3 players): -.43 ft/sec (I wouldn't put any stock in this sample, which is skewed by Barreto, who lost a full foot for whatever reason.)

Age 23-24 (4 players): -.175 ft/sec

Age 24-25 (5 players): -.32 ft/sec

Age 25-26 (5 players): -.2 ft/sec

Age 27-28 (3 players): -.233 ft/sec

Age 28-29 (3 players): -.434 ft/sec

While this certainly doesn't prove anything, the mid-20s numbers are right in line with the general observation that on average, a player will lose about .2 ft/second per year at that age, and suggests that the heuristic applies even to elite speedsters.
 

Pitt the Elder

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It turns out you can actually download the CSV files of sprint speed for all players for the last 5 years. This isn't perfect, but if you average sprint speed by age for all players from 2015-2019, here is the breakdown:

AgeSprint SpeedDeltaCount
2028.46-5
2128.230.2315
2227.950.2842
2327.820.1383
2427.800.02164
2527.710.09214
2627.550.16234
2727.340.21239
2827.160.18204
2927.010.15192
3026.720.29153
3126.610.11129
3226.510.10128
3326.250.26106
3426.150.1090
3526.000.1668
3625.630.3743
3725.600.0320
3825.530.0714
3925.020.519
4025.030.004
4123.751.282
4327.80-4.051
4427.100.701
4527.30-0.201

If you discount what is almost certainly Ichiro completely skewing the results for the 43-45 age range (and wow, he really maintained decent speed well into his 40s), it looks like a pretty linear relationship, just like The Needler suggested. It would be more useful to see what the average age curve is for individual players, but you have to imagine it looks pretty similar to this.

Edit: I updated the table

Edit 2: I think it's important to note that this data shows that the *population* of MLB gets slower as age increases. It's not clear that players get slower at the same rate as the population as a whole. A couple of observations and thoughts:
  • I think it's fair to explore how speed/defense as matures as a skill relative to hitting, especially power. A speed/defense-first player is probably at his peak value at a younger age than a hitting/power-first player, which means that they likely enter the league at a younger age. It also means that they probably leave the league at a younger age once that skill begins to erode and they get more expensive. Easier to just replace you with the next speed/defense-first player.
  • The number of players per age cohort peaks in the age 26-27 seasons, which makes sense given that players tend to peak at that age. The question, though, is which type of player survives in the league beyond this point?
  • Without looking at player-specific age curves, it's hard to tease out how much of this is age-related decline and how much of this is survivorship bias.
 
Last edited:

Pitt the Elder

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This isn't a perfect analysis but here is Betts and a few other comps:

Betts:
Age Sprint SpeedHP to 1stBoltsAge Rank% Rank
2328.715590.4
2427.9101975.4
2527.94.2162673.7
2628.14.1862676.4
2727.94.312772.6


McCutchen:
Age Sprint SpeedHP to 1stBoltsAge Rank% Rank
2928.57587.5
3029.19294.6
3128.84.319290.2
3228.74.3213287.9
3328.84.323290.6


Trout:
Age Sprint SpeedHP to 1stBoltsAge Rank% Rank
2429.674298.1
2528.917693.8
2629.34.2522396.3
2729.24.2537394.2
2829.34.2823395


Springer:
Age Sprint SpeedHP to 1stBoltsAge Rank% Rank
2628.816692.2
2728.4151185.7
28284.3141675
2927.74.3141966.2
3028.24.30479.5


First, apart from his rookie season, Mookie was never an *elite* speed guy, though he's always had good speed (aside: my God, is there anything Trout isn't amazing at?). Second, despite the data I included in my previous posts, I don't think it's inevitable that every player gets significantly slower with each passing years. Clearly, some guys can maintain near-peak speed well into their late 20s and early 30s. McCutchen is still among the league's fastest players at age 33, despite his overall game degrading. Also, there is year-over-year variability that is somewhat independent from longer-term trends. For example, Springer had a steady 4-year decline from age 26 through 29, only to bounce back with more apparent speed at age 30. Who knows why this happened (was hurt for part of the season, so maybe he's more rested) but I think we should be careful not to see one-year changes from 2018-2019 for Mookie as a macro age-related decline.
 

The Needler

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Also, as I mentioned before, statcast sprint speed tells only one part of the speed story—one second peak speed. It does not take into account how long it took to get there, or how quickly the player slowed down, i.e., what the player’s two second peak was.

So while the sprint speed numbers might tell you McCutchen hasn’t lost much speed, his home to first numbers are below league average, and his outfield burst numbers are poor, and declining at almost .2 ft/second each year. Unfortunately, Mookie’s first and second 1.5 seconds (reaction and burst) in the OF have declined at an even greater rate in each of the last two years.
 

Plympton91

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what Is the mechanical precision of StatCast in measuring things like foot speed and jumps?

How is something determined to be a “burst”?

Who controls the StatCast data, and what are their financial incentives?
 

The Needler

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Dec 7, 2016
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Burst measures the feet traveled in the second 1.5 seconds after a ball is hit.

I’ll leave others to engage you in your tinfoil hat suggestions if they choose.
 

Plympton91

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Burst measures the feet traveled in the second 1.5 seconds after a ball is hit.

I’ll leave others to engage you in your tinfoil hat suggestions if they choose.
When people are discussing differences of 2 one-hundredths of a second in an exercise requiring the identification of two discrete events to get to that difference requires a “tin foil hat” to ask whether that difference is even within the machine’s tolerance.

Keep in mind, the same people pushing the miracle of this technology simultaneously argue that it is not accurate enough to call balls and strikes.

Those seem incongruous to me, unless there are considerations other than the equipment’s reliability driving the discussions.
 

Max Power

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I think we can assign 100% of the blame to Adrian's Dome. He said anything less than 100 wins was unthinkable. Maybe he has some inside information about the team getting ready to pull off a 33-3 run.
 

bosockboy

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I think we can assign 100% of the blame to Adrian's Dome. He said anything less than 100 wins was unthinkable. Maybe he has some inside information about the team getting ready to pull off a 33-3 run.
I think we can assign 100% of the blame to Adrian's Dome. He said anything less than 100 wins was unthinkable. Maybe he has some inside information about the team getting ready to pull off a 33-3 run.
Yes. I was strung up for suggesting 95 wins was our baseline, which we would gladly take now.
 

BaseballJones

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The everyday lineup featured nine guys with ops+ numbers of 100 or better. The ninth guy was only at 87 but also hit 20 homers and played GG defense.

They'll likely have 3 guys finish with better than .300, 30 hr, and 100 rbi.

Their #1 starter has gone 18-6 with a 3.53 era, 191.1 ip, and a 9.4 k/9.

Their closer posted a 1.94 era, 1.04 whip, and 13.0 k/9.

And they're going to finish 20+ games out of first place.
 

brandonchristensen

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The everyday lineup featured nine guys with ops+ numbers of 100 or better. The ninth guy was only at 87 but also hit 20 homers and played GG defense.

They'll likely have 3 guys finish with better than .300, 30 hr, and 100 rbi.

Their #1 starter has gone 18-6 with a 3.53 era, 191.1 ip, and a 9.4 k/9.

Their closer posted a 1.94 era, 1.04 whip, and 13.0 k/9.

And they're going to finish 20+ games out of first place.
When I look at the Yankees current squad and numbers I get so confused.
 

Rovin Romine

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The everyday lineup featured nine guys with ops+ numbers of 100 or better. The ninth guy was only at 87 but also hit 20 homers and played GG defense.

They'll likely have 3 guys finish with better than .300, 30 hr, and 100 rbi.

Their #1 starter has gone 18-6 with a 3.53 era, 191.1 ip, and a 9.4 k/9.

Their closer posted a 1.94 era, 1.04 whip, and 13.0 k/9.

And they're going to finish 20+ games out of first place.
Don't worry. They'll find a way.

View: https://twitter.com/TomCaron/status/1112506266780344320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1112506266780344320&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcsports.com%2Fboston%2Fred-sox%2Falex-cora-admits-red-sox-lucky-win-one-game-vs-mariners
 

Cesar Crespo

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When I look at the Yankees current squad and numbers I get so confused.
Their offense is amazing and incredibly deep. It's rather depressing because there's quite a few retreads. It's like the Sox of 2003/2004.

Another fun little tidbit, Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden are 18-3 and our top 4 pitchers are 44-34, even with Sale going 6-11. All other starters combined to go 4-15 in 46 games. That includes bullpen starters. The rest of the bullpen was 15-23. So Walden, Workman, EdRod, Price and Porcello are 56-26. The rest of the pitchers are 25-49.
 

reggiecleveland

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Their offense is amazing and incredibly deep. It's rather depressing because there's quite a few retreads. It's like the Sox of 2003/2004.

Another fun little tidbit, Brandon Workman and Marcus Walden are 18-3 and our top 4 pitchers are 44-34, even with Sale going 6-11. All other starters combined to go 4-15 in 46 games. That includes bullpen starters. The rest of the bullpen was 15-23. So Walden, Workman, EdRod, Price and Porcello are 56-26. The rest of the pitchers are 25-49.
This sums up the season about as well as anything.
 

the count

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Sep 20, 2019
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No need to dig deep and over analyze on this question. Its simple: if sale price and eovaldi has been healthy the entire season we would be preparing for the post season. Most other aspects of the team were at least passable
 

BaseballJones

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Price, Porcello, and Sale: 423.0 ip, 424 h, 227 er, 114 bb, 4.83 era, 1.27 whip, 5.1 ip/start

That's, uh, not quite what you want from your presumed top 3 starters.

Here are the era numbers of everyone that's started a game for the Sox, outside of ERod...

31 gs - Porcello: 5.56
25 gs - Sale: 4.40
22 gs - Price: 4.28
11 gs - Eovaldi: 6.03
8 gs - Velazquez: 5.63
7 gs - Johnson: 6.05
6 gs - Cashner: 5.76
4 gs - Chacin: 6.00
3 gs - Weber: 4.85
2 gs - Smith: 5.90
2 gs - Haskins: 4.22
1 gs - Taylor: 3.06
1 gs - Hernandez: 4.45
1 gs - Poyner: 7.36

I mean, that's a whole lotta suck right there.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Price, Porcello, and Sale: 423.0 ip, 424 h, 227 er, 114 bb, 4.83 era, 1.27 whip, 5.1 ip/start

That's, uh, not quite what you want from your presumed top 3 starters.

Here are the era numbers of everyone that's started a game for the Sox, outside of ERod...

31 gs - Porcello: 5.56
25 gs - Sale: 4.40
22 gs - Price: 4.28
11 gs - Eovaldi: 6.03
8 gs - Velazquez: 5.63
7 gs - Johnson: 6.05
6 gs - Cashner: 5.76
4 gs - Chacin: 6.00
3 gs - Weber: 4.85
2 gs - Smith: 5.90
2 gs - Haskins: 4.22
1 gs - Taylor: 3.06
1 gs - Hernandez: 4.45
1 gs - Poyner: 7.36

I mean, that's a whole lotta suck right there.

There is, but part of it is because we need to readjust to the increasing offense again. Just last year the league average era was 4.14, this year it's 4.51. Runs/G is up from 4.45 to 4.85. It's also why having a .900 OPS isn't as great as it used to be. As disappointing as Sale and Price were, they still had ERA+ of 111 and 114 respectively. Hell, you could probably make the argument David Price was pitching about as expected. Obviously can't say the same for Sale.
 

BaseballJones

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There is, but part of it is because we need to readjust to the increasing offense again. Just last year the league average era was 4.14, this year it's 4.51. Runs/G is up from 4.45 to 4.85. It's also why having a .900 OPS isn't as great as it used to be. As disappointing as Sale and Price were, they still had ERA+ of 111 and 114 respectively. Hell, you could probably make the argument David Price was pitching about as expected. Obviously can't say the same for Sale.
I hear you. But Price's career era+ is 124. So an era+ of 114 for a guy making $30 million isn't what you want. His previous three seasons with the Sox had his era+ at 120 combined (112, 135, 124). And he also only gave them 107.1 innings. Not necessarily his fault that he got hurt, but still. Not what you need from a presumed top of the rotation guy.
 

joe dokes

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There is, but part of it is because we need to readjust to the increasing offense again. Just last year the league average era was 4.14, this year it's 4.51. Runs/G is up from 4.45 to 4.85. It's also why having a .900 OPS isn't as great as it used to be. As disappointing as Sale and Price were, they still had ERA+ of 111 and 114 respectively. Hell, you could probably make the argument David Price was pitching about as expected. Obviously can't say the same for Sale.
Good point. But relatedly, they only got 47 starts out of the pair, rather than the 65 or so they "should" have. That brought into play the relative (compared to last year) uselessnes of Johnson and Velazquez at 6 & 7 (and the general uselessness of Eovaldi and Cashner).
In the end, all roads lead to starting pitching as the plurality winner, if not the majority.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Price, Porcello, and Sale: 423.0 ip, 424 h, 227 er, 114 bb, 4.83 era, 1.27 whip, 5.1 ip/start

That's, uh, not quite what you want from your presumed top 3 starters.
Why include Price but not Eovaldi? The numbers are even worse when you look at the expected top 4 instead of the expected top 3.
Both Eovaldi and Price were supposed to be in the rotation, and Eovaldi pitched a lot less and a lot worse.
 

Cesar Crespo

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In the end, all roads lead to starting pitching as the plurality winner, if not the majority.
As the reason this team lost? I agree. Even just looking at the most basic of stats, the starters have a combined record of 48-49. The bullpen is 33-26. I know wins and losses are a flawed stat but I think it sums up the Sox season pretty well. I know some people want to blame the bullpen but I think it was the lack of a 5th starter and the injuries to Sale/Price was the nail in the coffin.

Also Chris Sale only pitched 10.2 more innings this year than last and had 2 more starts. That really depresses me. Price had 8 more starts, 68.2 more innings. They made 57 starts last year, basically in between 47 and 65. 79.1 more innings pitched in those 10 starts though. Definitely significant.

I hear you. But Price's career era+ is 124. So an era+ of 114 for a guy making $30 million isn't what you want. His previous three seasons with the Sox had his era+ at 120 combined (112, 135, 124). And he also only gave them 107.1 innings. Not necessarily his fault that he got hurt, but still. Not what you need from a presumed top of the rotation guy.
Yeah, the injury is obviously huge but up until that point, he was David Price. His FIP is 3.63 which would put him right around a 124 era+. All his advanced stats are pretty much in line with his career except he has a career high K% rate, but that's not shocking given the current environment. The difference between a 114 ERA+ and a 124 ERA+ isn't really that big over the course of just 1 season. It's like 5 runs over 106 innings. I just don't know how anyone can call his performance disappointing unless it's relative to the contract and not his career. The 70 less innings than last year is a pretty huge deal though. He's had an 11 year career, in 6 of those years, his ERA+ was lower than 120. In the other 5 years, he had an ERA+ of 124, an injured/bullpen year of 135 and 3 Cy Young Calibre seasons of 144, 150 and 164. More often than not though, the guy we saw this year is the guy he normally is.

Even for the Sox, he's put up a 112, 135, 124, 114. The 135 is the outlier, and it was done in 74.2 innings. As a starter that season, his line was 11 starts, 3.82 era, 66.0 ip, 62 hits, 22bb/63k. He finished the year in the bullpen in September with 8.2 scoreless innings, 3 hits, 2bb/13k which lowered his era to 3.38, giving him the ERA+ of 135. As a starter, it was around 120.
 

Plympton91

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Price, Porcello, and Sale: 423.0 ip, 424 h, 227 er, 114 bb, 4.83 era, 1.27 whip, 5.1 ip/start

That's, uh, not quite what you want from your presumed top 3 starters.

Here are the era numbers of everyone that's started a game for the Sox, outside of ERod...

31 gs - Porcello: 5.56
25 gs - Sale: 4.40
22 gs - Price: 4.28
11 gs - Eovaldi: 6.03
8 gs - Velazquez: 5.63
7 gs - Johnson: 6.05
6 gs - Cashner: 5.76
4 gs - Chacin: 6.00
3 gs - Weber: 4.85
2 gs - Smith: 5.90
2 gs - Haskins: 4.22
1 gs - Taylor: 3.06
1 gs - Hernandez: 4.45
1 gs - Poyner: 7.36

I mean, that's a whole lotta suck right there.
Who the hell is Haskins and when did he start a game for Boston? Have I been that disconnected?
 

BaseballJones

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Who the hell is Haskins and when did he start a game for Boston? Have I been that disconnected?
Heh two points on that: first, that’s an autocorrect that I didn’t notice, and second, did you ever imagine they’d get 35+ starts from those ten pitchers at the bottom of the list?
 

Plympton91

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Heh two points on that: first, that’s an autocorrect that I didn’t notice, and second, did you ever imagine they’d get 35+ starts from those ten pitchers at the bottom of the list?
I thought I was going even crazier.

No, I didn’t think the Red Sox would need to go the opener route at all. Coming into the season I thought they were 7 deep in the rotation, with Shawayen a potential 8th. It’s been a crazy year of baseball.
 

DeadlySplitter

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This is more of a thought with a lack of a better thread. More than our home/road split, I'm bothered by the following:

With the Rays winning the wraparound series, our slate against teams over .500 ended on Monday.

we went 28-45. over a full season, that's a 62 win pace. conversely, against losing teams we're 55-30 with 4 to go, a plenty good enough record.

that's half a season of putrid baseball, when at worst you gotta break even. (last year was 41-33 and 67-21.)