The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Friday, February 28, 2003


Reggie Strikes Out

Perhaps jealous of the controversies in which the current Yankees find themselves embroiled, The Straw That Used to Stir the Drink has found his way into the headlines. Reggie Jackson, a special advisor to George Steinbrenner, is unhappy with his limited role and title with the Yanks. According to NY Times writer Jack Curry: "Jackson yearns for a larger role and a more significant title within the organization, and he is baffled that the Yankees have never offered him a full-time position. Jackson, an adviser to Steinbrenner, the principal owner, for 10 of the past 11 seasons, wants a promotion to become more involved with the team he helped to win two World Series titles... Jackson feels that his baseball knowledge is not being maximized in his current job as a spring instructor and troubleshooter."

The news apparently took Yankee GM Brian Cashman by surprise. Cashman said that the team likes Mr. October right where he is, and had held no discussions of expanding his role. Anonymous team officials said that Jackson makes $150,000 a year in his role and that "Jackson's energy, enthusiasm and forceful personality could cause him to lose effectiveness over longer periods." Joe Torre backs that assessment: "I don't think he could keep up the intensity for that long. His enthusiasm gets your attention. Over a period of time, it would wear out."

Translation: we couldn't take having to listen to him more often than we already do.

If Jackson is serious about wanting a larger role in baseball, he should know better than to use the media as a cudgel to pressure the team into giving him one, and he should expand his horizons beyond the Yankees. A successful organization has much less incentive to bring in somebody as high-profile and potentially polarizing as Jackson; quite frankly, they're doing just fine with his limited input.

As for how much more Jackson has to offer, I'm reminded of the saying, "Better to keep quiet and let people think you're ignorant than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Regarding the recent Veterans Committee Hall of Fame vote which threw up a goose egg this week, Reggie took the latter path. Entitled to vote -- as are all living members of the Hall in the reconstitued VC -- Jackson didn't even bother to return his ballot. Mr. October told the Hartford Courant, "I looked at those ballots, and there was no one to put in."

Obviously Reggie's memory is clouded, because the man most responsible for making him a millionaire several times over, union leader Marvin Miller, was on the composite ballot. As executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982, Miller's leadership brought the average annual salary of a major league player from less than $20,000 to over $250,000. In the process Miller unionized the players and fought for arbitration rights, increased pensions, free agency, and the end of the Reserve Clause. Given that Jackson was one of the first big beneficiaries of free agency, his lack of support for Miller is surprising and his sense of entitlement baffling, to say the least. If he can't connect the dots between his own wealth and privelege and Miller's tireless work on baseball's labor front, one has to either a) question his own intelligence, self-awareness, and fitness for a larger front-office role; or b) question his tendency to play political games only when it suits Reginald Martinez Jackson. Clearly, Reggie still cares about his own ass first and foremost. He should know better than to remind people of that every time he opens his mouth.

Thursday, February 27, 2003


Prospectus Pizza Feed

I'm headed to the Baseball Prospectus New York City Pizza Feed tonight. Any readers out there who want to make themselves known to me, just look for the guy wearing the Seattle Pilots retro jersey (#56 for Jim Bouton).

Wednesday, February 26, 2003


Working Through the Winter Blues -- Or Not

Nearly six years ago, a 27-year-old graphic designer (and frustrated writer) washed ashore onto the banks of a New York City educational design studio. The designer's life had recently gone through an upheaval -- a long-overdue breakup with his college-vintage girlfriend, layoff from a failed new media company. Months of 70-hour work weeks and absolutely zero exercise had left him a pale, scrawny, nocturnal creature, but a bit of travel, a brief romance, and a gym membership restored a touch of color to the designer's complexion. The promise of a few paychecks while he figured out What He Really Wanted to Do seemed like the next logical step.

Last Friday, nearly six years later, a 33-year-old graphic designer spent his last day at that educational design studio, solid in the knowledge that he had wrung every bit out of the experience that he could. He's carved a small niche in his chosen profession, putting his work in front of literally millions of people and atop best-seller lists, and his name in every bookstore in America, all without compromising his principles. He's taken a dry, pulpy 336-page kiddie knockoff of a well-known parent brand and turned it into a splashy, colorful, even hip product, and a reasonably profitable venture for his employer to boot. He's healthy, in a happy relationship, and he's found an outlet for his writing, and a small but devoted audience who receives him warmly.

He's going to stop talking about himself in the third person now, because he knows that you've figured out who he is. Frequent readers of this site may have been aware of some job-related drama I've been going through over the past few months. It hasn't been an easy time, and my frustration has occasionally spilled over into this space; sometimes I've mentioned it, while at other times, it's prevented me from writing at all.

But as I reflect on all of this, that sturm und drang was a necessary part of the process. That was me coming to terms with the realization that my needs and interests had outgrown what my job could provide. It's a bittersweet conclusion, but it's one that everybody around me -- my family, my friends, my co-workers, and my boss -- had already reached, and it is with all of their full support that I bring the curtain down on the best job I've ever had. I'm proud of what I accomplished, and I'm fortunate that I happened upon some incredibly talented people who encouraged my creativity, and helped me to realize my potential. But the time has come to move on to new challenges, to seek new horizons.

So now what? On paper, it's generally a risky thing to leave one's job -- especially during tough economic times -- without having another one lined up. But that's what I've done, mostly because I felt that I need some time to relax and refresh myself while charting out a new course. Ideally, I'd like to find a position which combines my love of sports with my design skills, but I realize that may be a difficult fit. I've got a few ideas on combining the two, but at the risk of jinxing myself or turning away some potential employer who's performing his or her due diligence by reading this, I'll keep them to myself for the moment.

Much as I'd love to, I don't have the option to go pro via my website like those fat cats over at Baseball Prospectus (who are rapidly demonstrating that they're going to be worth the price of admission, by the way). And though down the road I might enjoy writing full-time, that's not part of the current plan. But this site still figures prominently in the picture, because with it I've always got something to keep me busy, a place to speak my mind and to report on my travels and travails. Speaking of the former, I've booked myself a five-day trip to the Grapefruit League. I'll be heading down to Tampa on March 19, and I'm slated to see six ballgames in five days, centering around the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Mets. This will be my third trip to spring training, and the first since my family visited Dodgertown back in 1989. Joining me will be girlfriend's brother Aaron, a loyal Brewers fan who's currently freezing his tail off in Milwaukee and is game for any ballgame I can scare up ("I'd settle for Mudville vs. the Indiannapolis Clowns!" he told me via email recently).

Last Monday, I trekked through the city's biggest blizzard in seven years, arriving at work early as I began my final week on the job. My emotions were still churning from all of the recent drama. Seldom had winter seemed so smothering, never had my job seemed more oppressive -- what the hell was I doing at work on a snow day, and a national holiday at that? Amid all of this, I was warmed by the rites of spring, the news of pitchers and catchers arriving in camp, along with the ridiculous reports trickling in from Florida and Arizona. Laughing at thought of Jose Canseco leading the Dade County penal system in home runs. Mourning the retirement of El Guapo, relief pitcher Rich Garces, the fattest butt of jokes the major leagues had to offer. Shuddering at the vision of Rod Beck with a pierced nipple and a shaved head. Unfazed by the news that Rickey Henderson hadn't yet found a suitor. Pulling for David Cone to make the Mets for one hurrah. Fascinated by the fact that Drungo La Rue Hazewood's name was so good I can still remember it 22 years after he racked up his 5 lifetime at-bats.

And I thought to myself: winter be damned, unemployment be damned. Baseball is here; I'm going to be just fine now.

Friday, February 21, 2003


The Score Bard

Denizens of Baseball Primer may recognize the Score Bard, a frequent poster who offers his commentary on baseball matters in verse form. The Bard garnered three separate nominations for a "Best Poetry" Primey this past year, but voters split their decision almost equally among the three, freezing him out of the award. My favorite was his commentary on the fishy Cliff Floyd trade between the Marlins, the Reds, and the Expos:
Who did the Marlins just obtain?
Carl Pavano? Justin Wayne?
Mordecai and Graeme Lloyd?
That's all that they could get for Floyd???
If Karp's a Fish, I won't complain,
But snaring less is just insane!
No matter that this didn't win. The Bard continues to delight, and now he's got his own weblog, The Humbug Journal. His verse is now archived according to category (haikus, sonnets, limericks, music, and other poetry -- this guy is versatile!), and his more recent topical musings are blogged, Clutch Hit-style. Regarding the Padre closer's arm troubles:
On Trevor Hoffman having surgery
The Padres without injured Trevor
Have likely no chance whatsoever.
Without a clear heir,
They don't have a prayer,
Though I guess you should never say never.
The Bard's skill goes beyond pithy verse, however.
On Peter Gammons' writing style
When Gammons hangs up from his phone
And writes all those notes we bemoan,
Try hard not to curse,
For it could be much worse:
Somebody could make a clone.
That last link generates a page of Gammons-esquse prose which changes every time its reloaded, and uncannily resembles the syntax-addled ESPN scribe. Among the best of the ones I generated in a few minutes of playing around:
The Yankees love Raul Mondesi's sense of humor, like the time when he got up and danced with Yogi Bear to "Smooth Shark" by the The Studious Derek.

Ever since the Braves discovered Jason Marquis was flexing his small intestine every time he threw a slideball, he has been virtually unhittable.

Since who is on first, who pays any attention to the syntax of things, we will never wholly swing like Trot Nixon, wholly never be fooled like Theo Epstein while Spring Training is in the world that the Red Sox has a better fate than the wisdom that comes from failure, so do not cry--the gestures of Ramiro Mendoza, the laughter watching the struggles of Tim Wakefield: we write for each other, for baseball is not a paragraph, and losing, I think, is no parenthesis.
I think I'm going to get a tattoo of those last couple of lines (...we write for each other, for baseball is not a paragraph, and losing, I think, is no parenthesis), for they are Sheer Genius. Check out the Primer discussion thread for more reader favorites.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003


Get Your Phil

I've come across a relatively new and promising blog in the past few days. Michael Blake's View from the 700 Level focuses on the Phillies; the title refers to the cheap seats of Veteran's Stadium (wonder what he'll do when they get a new ballpark...). With the signing of Jim Thome and the acquisition of Kevin Millwood, Philly fans have something to be excited about for the first time in awhile; if a giant chihuahua mauls Larry Bowa to death, they might actually have a shot in the NL East this year. Anyway, check out Blake's take on the winter's busiest team.


Burnsed Again

At Bronx Banter, Alex Belth has the second part of his Ken Burns inteview, in which he discusses Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood, and Buck O'Neill with the "Baseball" filmmaker.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003


McCracken Up -- to the Majors

If you have been following my yammerings about Defense Independent Pitching Statistics this winter, you'll recognize the name of Voros McCracken, the man who created DIPS. My recent foray onto the foreboding DIPS tundra was due to the facts that McCracken decided not to publish the numbers this year, and that he gave me his blessing and a bit of instruction to do so myself.

Having plugged and chugged in an attempt to fill the sabermetric void, I can now appreciate the sheer labor-intensity of that task and a man's willingness to let somebody else schlep through the spreadsheets and the formatting and the glaven (or did I mean Glavine?). But McCracken had other reasons for ditching the DIPS-work, and better ones at that. When we corresponded back in November, he couldn't be specific, but he didn't discourage my guess that he'd been hired to work for some team. On Tuesday, he revealed via his website that since October, he's been working as a consultant to baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox. "It's a dream come true and has already been a tremendous experience for me, and I'm thoroughly excited about the team and the nature of my work with them," he wrote. "The upcoming baseball season as undertaken a whole new dimension for me and I can't wait for it to begin."

McCracken is now on-board with Bill James, the Babe.. well, let's just call him the Ted Williams of sabermetrics, since we shouldn't get the Bambino mixed up in this. Also on-board is Theo Epstein, the boy-wonder GM whose own sabermetric influence fueled his precocious rise up the front-office ladder. Plenty about Epstein, James (whose official title is "Senior Baseball Operations Advisor") and the Sox being a laboratory for the application for sabermetric principles has already been hashed and rehashed in a score of threads over at Baseball Primer. Coming this summer, you're likely to see this the theme of a thousand weblogs publishing near you.

What's interesting to me at this moment is the chronology. Rob Neyer first broke the news of James's hiring in the first week of November. Back then, Epstein was still the Assistant GM, under interim GM Mike Port. McCracken coming on in October beats both of them to their current positions. It's probably folly to think that he could have been directly involved in Epstein's hiring. But given that McCracken is the one sabermetrician whose recent work James paid notice to in his New Bill James Historical Abstract, it's plausible that he played a role in that hiring, if only by offering it up as something more than a pipe dream. [Update: Sean Forman of Baseball Primer confirmed as much on a discussion thread: "Voros actually predates the hiring of Bill James. As I understand, he was on a look-see contract starting during the postseason and apparently now has been re-upped. Apparently, he has enough social graces to keep the job."]

Whatever. Anyway, it's going to be a very interesting season to see what the Red Sox do, and how much impact this new regime will have. Congratulations to Voros, and here's wishing him the best in his new endeavor.. no, not the best. Maybe just the Wild Card.

Monday, February 17, 2003


The Wildest Thing

John Eisenberg of the Baltimore Sun has written a lengthy, worthwhile profile of minor-league legend Steve Dalkowski. A gas-throwing hellraiser in the Orioles minor-league system, Dalkowski was the inspiration for the Nuke LaLoosh character played by Tim Robbins in Bull Durham. Many who saw him claimed he was the hardest thrower they'd ever seen. Alas, Nuke's real-life counterpart never made the Show; Dalkowski was never fully able to harness control of either his 100+ MPH fastball or his drinking in time to have a major-league career. On the verge of making the O's in 1963, he injured his arm in spring training and was never the same pitcher again.

Dalkowski put up some eye-popping numbers in the low minors. As frequent Baseball Primer poster Steve Treder put it in a discussion thread: "Suffice to say, for those of you who have never gotten a glimpse of the far endpoints of human performance, Dalkowski's stats are just about as ultimate as it gets. How anyone ever managed to get a hit off him is one of the great questions of history... If I can somehow unearth the book, I will post his stats... But I must warn you: be sitting down when you read them, and have a moistened towel, digitalis, and a phone with '911' speed-dailed in at the ready."

That's not much hyperbole; Eisenberg's article sprinkles a tantalizing helping of stats in with his story:

• "His control was horrendous, resulting in 129 walks and 39 wild pitches in 62 innings. He went 1-8 with an 8.83 ERA. But he also struck out 121 and allowed only 22 hits, which were dominating numbers."

• "Dalkowski still experienced some heady moments, throwing a no-hitter for Aberdeen in 1959 and leading the California League in strikeouts with 262 in 1960. Of course, he also led the league in walks, with 262."

• "His career record was 46-80 with a 5.57 ERA. In 995 innings - all in the minors - he had struck out 1,396 and walked 1,354."

A Sporting News article adds a few more tidbits like these:

• "In a high school game, Dalkowski threw a no-hit, no-run game with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks."

• "At Aberdeen in the Northern League, Dalkowski threw a one-hitter and lost 9-8."

• "In 1960 at Class A Stockton, Dalkowski threw a pitch that broke an umpire's mask in three places, knocking him 18 feet back and sending him to a hospital for three days with a concussion." Cal Ripken Sr. was the catcher at the time.

Wow, call the doctor. Anyway, one manager came close to helping Dalkowski harness his potential -- one of the greatest minds in baseball history. At Elmira in 1962, Earl Weaver convinced the pitcher NOT to throw the ball as hard as he could every single time, and protected him from his own wildness by taking him out when he got into jams. The results were impressive; Dalkowski finished the season only 7-10, but with a 3.04 ERA. According to Weaver, Dalkowski had a 52-inning stretch "where he struck out 104, walked only 11 and allowed one earned run."

The success brought him to the verge of making the O's roster the next spring. In his final exhibition appearance, he'd struck out Roger Maris and Elston Howard, but began experiencing numbness in his hand after the next inning (the Sporting News article says his injury came while fielding a Jim Bouton bunt, but Eisenberg's article says it came after striking out Phil Linz on a slider). He rehabbed and returned to the minors, but had lost something off of his fastball, and never made it back to the majors.

Dalkowski spent the better part of the next 30 years battling alcoholism as his life fell apart -- divorce, homelessness, legal troubles, depression. After several interventions by friends and the Baseball Assistance Team, He finally cleaned up in 1994, and while he lives in a Connecticut nursing home today at the relatively tender age of 64, he's at last able to confront his past in a coherent manner. His tale is more bittersweet than inspiring, but it's still a fascinating one.

Thursday, February 13, 2003


Making a Cone-back

After a couple weeks of publicly hemming and hawing, 40-year-old David Cone has decided he's not ready to hang up his spikes. Cone, who didn't pitch at all last season after an admirable comeback with the Boston Red Sox in 2001, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the New York Mets. Owner Fred Wilpon and fellow pitchers Al Leiter and John Franco have coaxed the man of a hundred arm slots into competing for a slot in the Mets rotation this spring.

It's a page straight out of the Orel Hershiser Story. The best-case scenario has Coney taking the ball every fifth day at the back end of the rotation, giving the Mets some quality innings and notching the seven wins necessary for him to reach 200 for his career. The worst-case scenario has Cone laying all doubts about his remaining ability to rest and retiring in the colors of the team for whom he first became a star (unless, of course, the Mets are wearing those curious orange batting-practice jerseys). From the brash and reckless young punk to the grizzled vet hoping to eke a few more good innings out of his arm, Cone has come full circle.

It remains to be seen whether Cone will still have a job waiting for him at George Steinbrenner's YES network should his comeback attempt fail. Reportedly the Boss is none too pleased that the neophyte broadcaster (Cone worked a few Staten Island Yankees games last season and made cameos during the two Yanks-Mets interleague series) thinks he's still a pitcher. According to the New York Times:
Earlier in the day, Steinbrenner said in an interview that Cone had not contacted him to discuss his future and seemed miffed that Cone would consider pitching for the Mets. Steinbrenner said Cone should continue broadcasting for the Yankees on the YES network and added, "I don't know why he wouldn't want to be an instructor for us" in spring training.
Cone's in good company on King George's ever-growing shitlist, right next to Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi's trainer, Joe Torre's coaching staff, the Yankee front office's dental plan, and innocent litle kittens. Paul O'Neill had better watch himself, too -- slinking off to Ohio to be with family...

Here's wishing Coney the best. Given that I'm contemplating a trip down to Florida for spring training (and let us pause for a moment to join in hearty cheer for the arrival of the holiest day of the year: Pitchers and Catchers), I may just have to check out the Mets and see if the ol' guy has anything left.


Banter with Burns

Alex Belth, a relative newcomer to the blog scene, has been doing a good job covering the Yankees this winter in his Bronx Banter blog. This week, Belth came up with a nice little scoop, interviewing filmmaker Ken Burns, he of the 18 1/2-hour "Baseball -- a Film by Ken Burns"documentary. Belth served as a post-production assistant on Baseball for its final six months in 1994, and still keeps in touch with the filmmaker.

In Part One of the interview, Burns explains to Belth the film's conception, and its link to his other major works:
We had this nice, pleasant, short thing that would be after the "Civil War" on baseball. A celebration of the history of baseball. And it wasn't until we got into it that we suddenly realized, we aren't doing a short history of baseball, we're doing the sequel to the "Civil War"... I began to see, how particularly when you realize that Jackie Robinson was the first real progress in Civil Rights since the Civil War, that "Baseball" was the sequel to that series. During the production of "Baseball," we interviewed Gerald Early who said that when they study our American civilization 2000 years from now the only thing that we'll be known for is The Constitution, Baseball and Jazz. Those are the three most beautiful things that Americans have ever produced. We then realized half way through "Baseball" that we were actually involved in a trilogy that would require us to spend the six and a half years after "Baseball" to complete it by making the history of Jazz.
Elsewhere, Burns discusses the Red Sox (of whom he's a fan), the Yankees, and how improved training methods have raised the quality of the game. Burns also mentions that he may update "Baseball" with a 10th Inning, with a possible focus on the various Yankee dynasties as well as outtakes from the previous nine innings. An interesting prospect, to be sure.

Here's looking forward to the next part of Alex's interview...

Sunday, February 09, 2003


DIPS is Done

Defense Independent Pitching Stats for the 2002 season have been calculated using Voros McCracken's method and are posted at the above link. A discussion thread on Baseball Primer has begun. Enjoy!

Friday, February 07, 2003


Quick Bites for a Lunch Hour

If you played fantasy baseball in an AL league last year, you probably already know about Bobby Kielty, the Twins outfielder who's fighting for at-bats in Ron Gardenhire's lineup. The Twins are awash in talented young hitters, so Kielty was limited to about 350 PA while posting a .405 OBP and a .484 SLG -- a frustrating situation to endure for such a productive hitter. He's not a defensive liability (he serves as Torii Hunter's backup as a CF in addition to platooning in RF) and he's a switch-hitter, so he justifiably should see more playing time in the coming year.

John Bonnes, the Twins Geek, takes a look at some comparisons for Kielty based on Baseball Prospectus' new PECOTA projection system. PECOTA is designed to predict the chances of whether a player will "breakout" or "collapse" based on age and physical comparisons. I've got only passing familiarity with that new system, but it stands to receive a lot of attention as BP rolls out its new book and upgraded, subscription-based website in the coming weeks (about which I'll write soon). Anyway, Bonnes runs some comparisons and notes that a player such as Kielty who has a high number of walks and strikeouts doesn't project as well as a traditional stathead would expect. "It's not clear that low-contact, average-power players will succeed when pitchers start throwing more strikes until they have a lot more at-bats than Kielty has," writes Bonnes. "Kielty had a monster year last year. But to claim with any kind of confidence that he'll repeat that effort, it appears he would need at least 300, and maybe 500, more at-bats." Worth a read.

ESPN's Jayson Stark penned a column this week in which he suggested twenty-five rules changes ranging from the good (adding instant replay, toughening up the save rule) to the bad (adding a designated fielder to the roster, ditching the phantom DP tag -- you want to see a generation of middle infielders ruined by torn ACLs? I didn't think so) to the ugly (penalizing the intentional walk and limiting pickoff throws). In his inimitable style, Mike C. of Mike's Baseball Rants takes apart Stark's list with some handy research regarding intentional walk rates as well as some good old common sense. Check it out.

Not to be out-ranted (did somebody say stark, raving mad?), our friends at Elephants in Oakland have a more bilious take, as well as a few suggestions for Stark.

As for what I'm working on, DIPS 2002 will be up this weekend, and hopefully I'll return to the land of the occasionally original thought soon...

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


Yes Comment

Lee Sinins, who runs the essential Around the Majors mailing list and produces an annual CD-ROM called the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, has a new offering this spring. It's called the ATM Reports Player Comments book, and it contains the kinds of handy statistical analysis on the order of Lee's other products: short blurbs about how productive a player is compared to the league average, numerous charts and statistical studies, lists of where the player fits in on a team's history or on an all-time list, and other interesting facts. Lee has kindly provided me with a review copy of the book (which is available both in a print version and as an electronic PDF), and I'll be giving it a more in-depth look in the near future.

Monday, February 03, 2003


DIPS and Data

With slow news days in the baseball world lately (the Yanks are spending money; an idiot ump is on the loose) and plenty of chaos at my j-o-b, I've been retreating to the serenity of my spreadsheets lately. It looks as though I'll be spending a bit more time there, as I've taken it upon myself to run all of the 2002 Major League pitching statistics through my DIPS 2.0 spreadsheet.

I don't take credit for the DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistic) system. It was invented by a man named Voros McCracken, and he's presented DIPS numbers for the 1999-2001 seasons via his web site while explaining the system on Baseball Primer and Baseball Prospectus. The gist of it is that McCracken did some studies on pitching statistics involving balls in play and concluded that major-league pitchers do not differ greatly in their ability to prevent hits on those balls hit into play (that is, anything that's not a home run, a strikeout, a walk or a hit-by-pitch). The rate at which a pitcher allows hits on balls in play is due more to the defense playing behind him than to his own skill, and can vary greatly from year to year.

This is somewhat counterintuitive, but it's also a very helpful way of looking at pitching stats. DIPS takes the elements of a pitcher's record that are not affected by the defense -- walks, strikeouts, hit-by-pitches, homers -- and places them in a neutral context for park, league and defense. The result is a translated line of Defense Independent Pitching Statistics, including a DIPS ERA; that is, an ERA based on defense-independent pitching performance. An important thing about this DIPS ERA, McCracken found, is that it correlates better with the following season's ERA than the pitcher's actual ERA does.

For one reason or another, Voros decided not to publish DIPS numbers this year, leaving a sizeable void in the sabermetric universe. But he's already published fairly coherent instructions on how to calculate DIPS (and he encouragingly answered questions about some of the less coherent aspects of it), so I built a spreadsheet that would do the job. I used it for a few pieces about the Yankee pitchers and this year's crop of relievers figuring the sheet would give me a jump in the analysis department, but that it was only a matter of time before somebody published complete DIPS for 2002, and more power to them.

Insert sound of crickets chirping.

Nobody's done so, including myself -- mainly because I was never able to get my hands on the raw data in a spreadsheet. But via a rather mundane Primer thread, I managed to find somebody ("mathteamcoach" is his handle) who had most of what I needed. We've joined forces to share the tedium of entering Intentional Base on Balls and Batters Faced Pitching data for EVERY SINGLE PITCHER in the service of this project. It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it, and between the two of us we're about 2/3 done. The results should be finished later this week.


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