Thursday, January 31, 2008

Top 10 Sports Blogs/Sites

I've been meaning to do this for some time, but I'm finally getting around to listing and reviewing my 10 favorite sports related sites. Many of them are traditional blogs and a few other are just plain old sports related sites. I tried to pick a mix of different types of sites/blogs, but I tend to enjoy reading statistically oriented sites.
1) Dodger Thoughts
Jon Weisman is the creative genius behind Dodger Thoughts. He created it as his "outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball". Jon is able to combine his proselike writing style with a statistical approach in postulating his thoughts. The hidden (not so much anymore) highlight of the site is the witty, friendly and intelligent community of Dodgers and baseball fans that post almost non-stop at DT (as it is called). A day game chat thread can easily have upwards of 500 to 600 posts. The comment thread from the epic 4+1 2006 game vs the San Diego Padres had quotes that made the bold print of the Sports Illustrated Year in Review edition (yours truly was quoted).
2) FanGraphs
FanGraphs is my favorite baseball statistical site. At FanGraphs you can find wide range of statistics and projections for every player current or retired. The specialize in their graphical representation of stats along with the more sabermetric stats that are difficult to find. My favorite feature is the Live Scoreboard, which allows you to view a game in real-time and keep track of things like the leverage index and win probability.
3) Tango Tiger
Tango Tiger (Tom Tango) has done some great research in the sabermetric community and has co-written a very good book called The Book, Playing The Percentages In Baseball. There are three different sites I am going to recommend for Tango. First off his is wonderful Message Board, where Tango and others discuss many state of the art sabermetric issues at Baseball Fever. Secondly, is The Book Blog where Tango and MGL (co-author) discuss in great detail more cutting edge baseball statistics. Thirdly, is TangoTiger.Net where Tom stores many of his wonderfully researched work in the sabermetric field.
4) Baseball Think Factory
The Baseball Think Factory is where you will find some wonderful articles written by a talented staff of writers often covering the latest transactions in major league baseball. The best part of the site is the pre-season ZIPS Projections that are put out by Dan Szymborski. Each article and list of projections has a comment section that is always worth reading.
5) The Hardball Times
The Hardball Times is a site that draws upon some of the best baseball blog writers and offers a series of daily articles which usually draw upon sabermetrically oriented statistics and a historical perspective. The crew over at Hardball Times also puts out a Baseball Annual that is a must read.
6) Vegas Watch
If you love sports and you love numbers and you like to dabble in gambling a little bit then you will love Vegas Watch just like I do. Vegas Watch often takes a look at how the Vegas Odds Makers see the sports world we live in, whether it be the odds on the Patriots of going undefeated or college basketball or football poll. You can gaurantee that Vegas Watch will have a couple of very interesting articles to read each week.
7) USS Mariner
The USS Mariner is one of the more popular baseball team blogs out there. Blog entries are shared by Dave and DMZ. They have excellent baseball statistical knowledge along the lines of Tango Tiger. I enjoy the way they break down player transactions/trades by taking an indepth look at salaries, service time, wins above replacement etc... It's definitely a viewpoint that you won't get from the mainstream media. One drawback to the site is that the blog owners of USSM can be a little on the snarky side in their comments section. If you don't agree with them or offer a differing opinion or just ask a pertinent question that isn't toeing their line, you will likely get a snarky response, so keep that in mind if you feel like joining one of their discussions in the comment thread.
8) Fantasy Baseball Cafe
If you are the least bit serious about Fantasy Baseball, then the Cafe is a must read. At the Cafe you will be able to keep up on the impact that various baseball transactions/injuries may have on the fantasy value of various baseball players. There are forums to ask specific questions, have your team rated, or participate in a pre-season mock draft. If you are looking for a fantasy baseball advantage this is a site you will need to frequent.
9) Baseball Nooz
The highlight of Baseball Nooz is it's wonderful Blog Jams, where you are basically bombarded with all of the recent blog entries from some of the best baseball blogs on the internet. It's a great way to see what some of these wonderful bloggers are writing about their favorite teams.
10) Jinaz Reds
Justin Jinaz has put together a wonderful Cincinnati Reds blog. Jinaz puts a heavy emphasis on sabermetrics at his site, even offering a wonderful series of articles/primers on sabermetric topics. I am not sure why this site doesn't get more comments, but I know I am a frequent visitor to this site. Keep up the great work!

Special Awards

Best sense of humors
Fire Joe Morgan
Sons of Steve Garvey

Sunday, January 27, 2008

NL East - Winter Rankings

Note: This simulation includes Johan Santana as a Met.

NL East - Winter Rankings

For a description for how these rankings/numbers were created, please see the NL West rankings a few posts below.

NYM NA .5240 .5449 .5632 .5923 .5561
ATL .4760 NA .5247 .5389 .5620 .5299
PHI .4551 .4753 NA .5332 .5517 .5078
WAS .4370 .4611 .4668 NA .5175 .4706
FLA .4288 .4380 .4483 .4825 NA .4494

Skinny: The addition of Johan Santana makes the Mets a rather large favorite to win the NL East. The one factor that could possibly bring the Mets back down a little bit is the health and effectiveness of Pedro Martinez. The Braves have a decent offense and a solid top half of the rotation. The Phillies offense is not potent enough to make up for some questionable pitching and the simulator puts them in third place. The Marlins aren't very good, and the Nationals are a team on the rise, though still a long way off from competing in the NL East.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NL West - Best bullpens

Note: Updated 2/7/08
Time to take a break from our divisional ranking series and take a look at which bullpen in the NL West is the strongest. Once again the simulator comes in handy at this task. The method I will use to rank NL West bullpens is to give each team the same batting lineup and to start each simulated game in the top of the 7th inning with the score tied and the starting pitcher about to be relieved for each team in their opponents half of the 7th inning. This way the only difference between the two teams will be the bullpens. 2000 games are simulated home and away with each team facing each other. Winning percentages are added and then averaged. All games are played in a neutral park environment and of course 2008 ZIPS projections are being used. See the table below for results.

Note: The simulation may output slightly different results if I start in the 6th inning or 8th inning as opposed to the 7th inning. Bullpen depth charts from Rototimes and Yahoo were used in determining bullpen depth chart listings.

Rank Team Total
1 SD .5405
2 SF .5111
3 LAD .4947
4 COL .4797
5 ARI .4739

Skinny: No surprise here with the Padres coming out on top. Surprisingly, the Giants come out a strong 2nd with the Dodgers a solid 3rd. The Rockies and Diamondbacks who have very similar bullpens on paper come out in a statistical tie for 4th/5th place. The Diamondbacks, while one of the strongest teams in the NL West, didn't fair too well.

Bullpen Configurations used:
Closer Hoffman Wilson Saito Corpas Lyon
#1 Setup Bell Hennessey Broxton Fuentes Pena
#2 Setup Meridith Kline Proctor Vizcaino Qualls
Middle Hampton Messenger Beimel Speier Slaten
Middle Cameron Taschner Brazoban Herges Cruz
Long Ledezma Correia Guo Capellan Petit

How can the Diamondbacks possibly rank at the bottom in this study, you ask?

Well, let's start off by taking a look at the top three pitchers in each bullpen in the following table (Yes, I like tables).

SD 229 15 216 196 51 .590 .633 1.166
SF 197 17 191 127 85 .777 .213 1.401
LAD 255 28 222 279 85 .988 .761 1.204
ARI 233 22 225 165 70 .850 .408 1.266
COL 213 21 191 173 79 .887 .441 1.268
Note: All stats adjusted to nuetral park.

How about a look at just the top two relievers from each team.

SD 138 8 124 130 36 .522 .681 1.159
SF 146 12 139 98 60 .671 .260 1.363
LAD 162 12 131 195 46 .605 .920 1.093
ARI 149 12 125 98 44 .725 .362 1.134
COL 142 15 124 118 45 .951 .514 1.190
Note: All stats adjusted to nuetral park.

Team Analysis:

Padres: The Padres top half of the bullpen is by far the strongest of any NL West team. They are stingy giving up the long ball and any hits at all. Only the Dodgers fair better in the strikeout and walk ratio category.

Giants: Steve Kline is listed at #3 in their bullpen depth chart and he brings down the Giants numbers in the strikeout and walk ratio and WHIP categories. The Giants top two relievers do a good job of supressing the homerun. It's very interesting that the Giants come out in second place in this analysis when on paper they look like they should come in anywhere from 3rd to 5th.

Dodgers: The Dodgers have an excellent 1-2 punch in Saito and Broxton, then a large drop off to Proctor. The Dodgers will suffer greatly if either Saito or Broxton gets hurt. The Dodgers are the only 1-2-3 bullpen to average over a K per inning (9.847). Scott Proctor drags the Dodgers down quite a bit in the HR/9 category. The Dodgers would benefit greatly from having a more effective pitcher pitch in high leverage innings than Proctor.

Rockies: The Rockies are hurt mainly by their tendancy to give up the long ball, otherwise they are a middle of the road bullpen. They could also use another hard throwing strike out pitcher in their bullpen and perhaps a little bit more control wouldn't hurt.

Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks bullpen takes a huge hit in the loss/trade of closer Jose Valverde (K/9: 10.91, K-BB/IP: .808). The Diamondbacks bullpen on paper looks very similar to the Rockies bullpen. The Diamondbacks lack an effective southpaw in their bullpen that most of the other teams seem to have. They may suffer in some late game situations if this problem is not remedied. Brandon Lyon, the Diamondbacks new closer does not tend to give up too many homeruns, but he also does not strikeout too many batters either.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Simulation Screenshot

Here is a look at what my simulator GUI looks like. In this one game simulation, the Giants started Tim Lincecum and the Dodgers started Chad Billingsley. Nothing like beating a division rival. :)

If you don't have Superman-vision, you will need to click on the image to enlarge it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

NL Central - Winter Rankings

Hot Off The Press!

NL Central - Winter Rankings

For a description for how these rankings/numbers were created, please see the NL West post below.

CIN NA .5141 .5066 .5006 .5109 .5411 .51466
MIL .4859 NA .5033 .5087 .5183 .5499 .51322
CHC .4934 .4967 NA .5023 .5139 .5474 .51074
HOU .4994 .4913 .4977 NA .5122 .5486 .50984
STL .4891 .4817 .4861 .4878 NA .5185 .49264
PIT .4589 .4501 .4525 .4514 .4815 NA .45888

Skinny: Quite a logjam at the top of this division. Three teams, the Reds, Brewers and Cubs all within the margin of error (.005) of the top spot with the Astros right there behind. Then a significant dropoff to the Cardinals and a huge dropoff to the Pirates. The Reds were bouyed by their good showing against the Brewers, they were the only team to outplay the Brewers head to head. For the Reds Harang was an impressive 4-1 against other #1 starters only suffering a close defeat to Gallardo. Bailey was 5-0 at the #4 spot and Volquez was 5-0 at the #5 spot. The Reds get alot of their strength from the tail end of their rotation. Hill and Sheets were the best #2 pitchers, each going 4-1 in H2H matchups. Ted Lilly dominated the #3 spot with a perfect 5-0.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NL West - Winter Rankings

NL West - Winter Rankings (Updated: 1/28/08)

It's been a busy offseason for most of the teams in the competitive NL West. Using my baseball simulator, I am having each NL West team go head to head against every other NL West team. Each team will play 1000 games, both home and away, against every other team, with their #1 starter facing the other teams #1 starter, with the same being done for the #2, #3, #4 and $5 starters. From this I will get an average winning percentage for each matchup. The totals are then added up and averaged, viewable in the table below, sorted from the top to bottom team. Rosters are still not 100% decided and I had to made some assumptions as to which 5th starter to use on some teams. The sim analysis is not taking into account, pitchers that are injury prone and won't likely make every start for their team, so there is some margin of error. During spring training I will run a more thorough sim test. This will do for now. Please leave comments if you feel like it.

LAD NA .5049 .5256 .5330 .5718 .5338
SD .4951 NA .5035 .5301 .5485 .5193
ARI .4744 .4965 NA .5084 .5550 .5086
COL .4670 .4699 .4914 NA .5263 .4887
SF .4282 .4515 .4450 .4737 NA .4496

Skinny: There is a nice separation between all five teams now that ZIPS projections are in for all 5 NL West teams. The Dodgers and Padres matched up evenly head to head. The Dodgers gained some separation with their better performances against the Diamondbacks and Giants. I did not use Jason Schmidt in this sim study, but I did use Randy Johnson. The Dodgers would get a nice boost from Jason Schmidt, as Loaiza would get kicked to the pen. The Diamondbacks would suffer somewhat with the loss of Randy Johnson. The Rockies come down to earth in this study and will be challenged to repeat last years exeptional season. The Giants are a mess!

Think of each sim game as:
Team A(Starting Pitcher, Bullpen, Offense)
Team B(Starting Pitcher, Bullpen, Offense)