plagiarism adoration for The Extrapolater’s latest baseball related idea, Mr. Thursday introduces unto you GoodEnough For Me, 2007 Edition, a sort of unauthorized companion piece to Extrapolater’s Smells Like Pujols.
We’ll let The Extrapolater explain for himself what Smells Like Pujols is:
My feature for the MLB season is called Smells Like Pujols. Jose Alberto Pujols has been the undisputed center of my fantasy baseball team for three years now, and is a consensus first-round (if not #1) pick in most fantasy drafts. He’s pretty good in real life, too. Using his rookie year as the gold standard, I will be tracking the prospects of several MLB newbies this year. At the end of the season, we will truly know who Smells Like Pujols. I’ll update the standings every week, probably on Mondays.
I’m only looking at hitters. I would go crazy trying to figure out how to value closers vs. starters, and pitchers are less likely to do well as rookies. Besides, what would I call it: Feels Like Papelbon?
No, dear sir, you’d call it GoodEnough, because, though it was over 20 years ago, hardly any pitcher has had as good a rookie season as Doc Gooden. And, yes, of course you’d go crazy trying to sort out the dozens of rookie pitchers, but thankfully, Mr. Thursday has got some of that new-fangled statistical razzle-dazzle saved up, and really, was looking for an excuse to watch an extra 1,000 baseball games this summer.
(More after the break)
Now, Smells Like Pujols is using Bill James’ Similarity Scores to rate the various rookie hitters. Similarity Scores rate the approximate similarity, as batters, between two baseball players, and it works, roughly, in the following fashion.
Player A’s statistics are worth 1000 points. To calculate Player B’s similarity to Player A, points are subtracted (from 1000) for lesser stats. To take Extrapolater’s example, if Pujols’ rookie season is worth 1000, Ryan Zimmerman’s excellent rookie season is worth 876. Zimmerman loses points because of a lesser batting average and OBP, among other things, though 876 is still plenty respectable.
We’ll be using, for starting pitchers, Dwight Gooden’s 1984 rookie season. Here are some of the relevant stats, with Justin Verlander’s 2006 stats beneath them for basis of comparison:
Player – W – L – ERA – WHIP – IP – SO – Sim Score
Gooden – 17 – 9 – 2.60 – 1.073 – 218 – 276 – 1000
Verlander – 17 – 9 – 3.63 – 1.328 – 186 – 124 – 941
As you can see, Verlander’s rookie season compares favorably to Gooden’s, with a 943 Sim Score, despite the fact that the onlytruly comparable statistic there is Win-Loss record. Gooden is significantly better in WHIP, Innings Pitched, and Strikeouts. The ERA looks different, but relative to league averages, both pitchers were similar. Ignoring the serious differences in the outlying numbers, Sim Score awards Verlander a 941.
It appears that, despite being a useful tool, Sim Score isn’t exactly what we want here. Plus, since Gooden’s numbers are excellent but not unbeatable (sure, it’s highly unlikely, but it’s possible),we’d like a system that accounts for performance in that, if a player were to surpass Gooden’s 1984 numbers, instead of receiving a lower score due to dissimilarity, our player-in-question would receive a score above 1000. The idea being, the better a player performs, the better the score will be.
We’ll be scouring various baseball websites, and hoping that Rob Neyer and other such statistically minded fellows return our e-mails as we hunt for a method of rating pitchers. If our efforts to find someone else’s formula, we’ll attempt to devise our own (likely flawed) formula with which to measure performance.
Now, since Gooden was a starting pitchers, his numbers are likely to differ significantly from the majority of the rookie pitchers this season. For that reason, we’re going to use separate standards for relievers and starters. Obviously, the starter’s standard is Gooden, but for relievers, we’re going to use Jonathan Papelbon. We were torn, originally between Papelbon and Joel Zumaya, but, although Zumaya’s stats were excellent, Papelbon’s rate stats exceed Zumaya’s in nearly every category. If Papelbon had stayed healthy, Papelbon would have surpassed Zumaya in just about every category, overall, for pitcher, other that “Most Heat on Fastball”, and even there, Papelbon isn’t far behind.
Also, since rookie pitchers frequently only appear for a couple of months toward the end of the year, and often future starters appear in a relief role, we’re going to also keep track of select sophomores. Guys like Matt Cain and Chad Billingsly who impressed at times last year. We’d like to see what they can do with a bit more experience and all that. The sophomore standing will be kept separate from the rookie standings.
So, here’s what we need from you:
1) Any suggestions for sophomore pitchers, starters or relievers.
2) Any suggestions for formulas with which to rate pitchers.
3) Any sources that list any rookies for 2007. Otherwise, we’ll just be checking tons of box scores.