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Archive for the ‘SABR’

SABR 44 Ends With a Flourish: A Fantastic Time at the Ballpark

August 03, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Great Games, SABR

Today was the last day of the SABR convention in Houston. I think this might have been the best one I’ve been to since Boston in 2002, which was my first and therefore special. Every convention has had some outstanding things about it–Jim Bouton’s keynote in Seattle comes to mind–but this one was on a high par in every aspect. I didn’t see a single research presentation that I felt was a dud, and all the panels were top notch, especially since all the panelists were top notch.

But it was all wonderfully topped off today by the Houston Astros themselves. First they invited us into the ballpark for two last amazing panels, one with three former Astros–Alan Ashby, Larry Dierker, and Art Howe–and one with three members of the front office–Sig Medgal, David Stearns, and GM Jeff Luhnow. Those guys really hit it out of the park, figuratively speaking.

But then the actual young Astros hit it out of the park, literally speaking. We saw one of the most entertaining games of baseball imaginable. If you were going to take a person who didn’t know baseball to a game to show them how exciting and nifty it is, this one would have been a good candidate. Here, I made a list of awesome things that we saw in this game: (more…)

SABR 44 Research Presentations: Injuries, Surgery, and Drugs

August 01, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

These SABR researchers are sharp as tacks. Or maybe needles: the first three research presentations today were on surgery, injuries, and drugs. All of these are complex issues and of course each research presentation is only 20 minutes long, so you really only see the very tip of the iceberg on each presenter’s research. I urge anyone reading this who is interested in what you see to contact each researcher individually to find out more.

In this set:
Framing of Experimental Medical Procedures in Baseball, Coral Marshall
Just a Little Bit Outside…, Nicholas Miceli and Tom Bertoncino
Too Much, Too Fast, Too Young: Major League Baseball’s Struggle to Control Its Menacing Drug Problem, Joe Thompson

Under the cut: (more…)

Reid Ryan addresses #SABR44

July 31, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings, SABR

Here are my notes on the SABR 44 keynote by Reid Ryan in Houston. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Ryan you might have thought you were about to hear a speech by a dull front-office wonk. Savvy folks however might have realized that Ryan is a pretty big name in Texas baseball.

Houston Chapter President Bob Dorrill introduced the speaker with a recounting of Reid Ryan’s career and accomplishments, which are significant. Among other things he pitched for the Texas Rangers after graduating from TCU, was the founder of the Round Rock Express minor league team, and of course more recently has taken the job as president of the Houston Astros. He left it to Ryan himself to reveal to anyone not in the know that he also happens to be Nolan Ryan’s son.

What followed was an anecdote-packed recounting of some of Ryan’s favorite memories of the journey through baseball that led him first as a kid following his Dad from major league city to major league city all the way to what he’s trying to accomplish with Houston today. (more…)

SABR 43 Research Presentations

August 04, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings, SABR

After only making it to one research presentation yesterday, I hit three in a row today. I was too fatigued upon waking this morning to make it to the Media Panel. Having made myself rather ill last year by pushing too hard and doing too much (at all conventions, not just SABR’s), I made the decision to go back to sleep and hope that the audio or video of the panel will be online later.

Including yesterday, here are four of the RPs I saw:

* What About Solly Hemus? (Mark Armour)

* Analyzing Batter Performance Against Pitcher Clusters (Vince Gennaro)

* Baseball in the Age of Big Data: Why the Revolution Will Be Televised (Sean Lahman)

* Statistical Predictors of MLB Players’ Proneness to Long Hitting Streaks (Alan Reifman and Trent McCotter)
(more…)

SABR 43 Lunch Keynote with Larry Bowa

August 03, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I couldn’t come up with a good way to transcribe the luncheon keynote and still eat lunch and have room for my computer, so instead I tweeted just some of the choice comments from Larry Bowa and his interviewer Barry Bloom from my phone! Here’s the text of those:

@whyilikebb So we have a pinch hitter for the keynote. The MLB rep (Rob Manfred who was supposed to, I guess is tied up with BioGenesis stuff? So we got Larry Bowa!

@whyilikebb Apparently Barry Bloom will actually be grilling Bowa for the talk. This should be good.

@whyilikebb But first a standing ovation for John Zajc, SABR’s former director, who is here. :-) (more…)

SABR 42 Panels, Morning of Friday August 2

August 02, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Two panels this morning:
* Scouts & Front Office Panel
* Imagining Baseball Panel

Whew! Made it to the SABR Scouts panel! I was 5 minutes late thanks to loooong Starbucks line, but the panel were 5 minutes late starting. Perfect timing. (And the team at Starbucks was really crack, four on the register, including one just on pastry duty, and four baristas working the steam. I now have a Soy Green Tea Latte, Unsweetened, because you know I’m sweet enough.)

Now to the first panel. Here’s my transcript, typed on the fly as it went along:

SCOUTS PANEL

Barry Bloom presiding. Introducing the legendary Roland Hemond (Diamondbacks now, formerlyWhite Sox, etc), Tom Tippett (director of information for the Red Sox), and Ian Levin (who is in analytics for the Mets and now is doing more international stuff with them). Tippett is one of the instrumental figures in building the analytics approach for the Red Sox.

Bloom: Roland, what do you do as Special Assistant for the GM with the Diamondbacks?

Hemond: Well, I get to come to the SABR convention. (*big laugh*) (more…)

SABR 43 Thursday August 1 2013

August 01, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Hello, my baseball-loving friends. I’m at the annual SABR national convention, where the presentations, research, connections, and interests run both wide and deep.

Unlike in some past years, where I’ve literally taken in 5-6 research presentations AND liveblogged the keynotes and panel discussions, this time I’m having to slow down a little. I was so tired this morning I had to sleep through the SABR business meeting and the keynote opening by Phillies CEO David Montgomery. (Fortunately for me, Montgomery’s speech can be heard live on SABR.org. The audio and a recap can be found here: http://sabr.org/latest/sabr-43-listen-phillies-ceo-david-montgomerys-opening-remarks).

The result was I started my day not with a brain-bending dose of stats or an eye-opening look at a sliver of fascinating baseball history, but with a bowl of crawfish ettouffee from Beck’s Cajun stand in the Reading Terminal Market, which is right across the street from the hotel. It was pouring down buckets, but I brought an umbrella with me!

I may have to accept the data that my umbrella-carrying habits are not, in fact, causal to the weather. Usually if I bring an umbrella it doesn’t rain, but if I forget one, we get poured on. This time I brought one and it poured, but the good news is… that meant I had an umbrella in the rain. The ettouffee was delicious and very filling.

Then I saw three presentations:
* RP06: Rube Waddell and the Great Straw Hat Mystery of 1905
* RP12: A Probabilistic Approach to Measuring the Excitement of Baseball Games
* RP14: Markerless Motion Capture Technologies For In-Game Player Performance Assessment
(more…)

SABR42 Day Three

July 02, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

The last three research presentation slots were on Saturday, along with the player panel, the reprise of the Case Competition winners from the Analytics Conference, and a bunch of committee meetings, as well as the Trivia Contest finals. (By all accounts the Trivia Finals were a blast–I followed them on Twitter from my room.) Between trying to sleep off my cold and publications-related meetings, I managed to miss just about everything Saturday except for the research presentations themselves:

Andy Andres: The Effect of Temperature and Humidity on Pitching
Heroes at the Mike: Baseball’s Longest Serving Broadcasters
Michael Humphreys: We Have Underestimated Fielding Value. A Lot.
(more…)

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SABR42: Day Two afternoon presentations

June 30, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I saw five research presentations yesterday, one before lunch and four after, before it was time to walk over to the ballpark. On the slate:

Steve Steinberg: on the crazy end to the 1908 season for the Giants
Alan Nathan: what have we learned about bats (aluminum/wood) in 10 years
Mark Armour: on the history of artificial turf
Benjamin Wiggins: on DNA testing of prospects by MLB teams
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte: on just how much effect did the 1951 Giants spying help them?
(more…)

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SABR42 Day Two: John Thorn’s keynote speech

June 29, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I overdid it yesterday. As I was posting my blog entries last night, my nose started to run and my throat started to hurt. Blame the freezing cold AC in the ballrooms. Blame Neal Traven: he came up to me in the bar last night and said “I have a cold.” More likely, the blame lies with the fact that I’ve been so overworked and underslept in recent months that every time I travel I can’t fight off whatever viruses I come into contact with.

The result was I slept through Terry Ryan’s GM speech this morning in an attempt to make myself functional for the rest of the convention. I got up in time to catch the first research presentation and then the awards luncheon, though. So… here is my writeup of John Thorn’s keynote speech.

John Thorn, who is one of SABR’s most distinguished members, was recently appointed as Official Historian of Major League Baseball, and was asked to give the keynote speech at the awards banquet at the convention. The topic he chose was SABR itself, or perhaps meta-SABR: nerdhood. (Nerddom?) A subject close to my heart, as just as the game of baseball is something more than a bunch of guys running around on grass, SABR is–socially and sociologically–something more than just a bunch of smart people who like numbers and letters.

I did not come close to capturing all of Thorn’s speech. Normally when doing the kind of note taking I do with simultaneous typing, I can capture up to 80% of what someone says. But Thorn is so articulate, and the logical threads of his thoughts carry through so long from paragraph to paragraph, that I would say this represents no more than 50% of it and I may have dropped some important connections. I think audio and/or video of it may be on the SABR website later for those who wish to hear the whole thing more accurately represented.

UPDATE: John has posted the entire “Nerd Manifesto” on his MLB.com blog! Check it out here:
http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/06/29/nerd-is-the-word/

Below I will excerpt just a few of my favorite quotes:

JOHN THORN:
“I like talking off the cuff, but I figured if I did that to you guys AND the lunch was disappointing, that would put the burden too much on the culinary side. So I did prepare a little talk just for you.” (more…)

SABR42 Day One: Afternoon Presentations & Knuckleball movie

June 29, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR42 Day One: Afternoon

I saw three research presentations (out of four possible) this afternoon, and then went to meet up with my fellow panelists for the Women in Baseball panel, which I had the honor of speaking on. I can’t really blog that one since I was on it and couldn’t take notes! So someone else will have to write up what that was all about, haha.

This afternoon I saw:
Vince Gennaro: Value Strategies for Building A Roster
William Spaniel: The Fear of Injury, Explaining the Delay in Contract Extensions
David W. Smith: Shutting Down the Running Game by Limiting Steal Attempts

Here are detailed descriptions on each: (more…)

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SABR 42: Day 1 Morning Research Presentations

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR42 Research Presentations: Day One, morning

Saw four sessions this morning:
-Herm Krabbenhoft on correcting the AL RBI records
-Steven Glassman on how the Hall of Fame selection process has changed
-Tom Harney on how the development of baseball since 1895 in Taiwan related to their national pride and politics
-Rob Fitts on the 1934 Japan tour of Babe Ruth, Moe Berg, and the All American team.

(more…)

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SABR42 Official Scorer’s Panel

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

(I was getting some hot tea since this one is back in the freezing cold ballroom. So I missed the first few sentences of introduction and Stew’s intro. This panel has David Vincent, Stew Thornley, and Gregg Wong, all of whom do scoring for MLB teams.)

Stew Thornley: This year they (MLB) got all the official scorers together in New York, which was great, and it’s all well and good to try to have more consistency. We watched 56 plays together that had been sent to the league office, 18 of them were overturned, and it was great to watch them all together. There was a lot of disagreement among us, which isn’t a surprise. There are a lot of plays out there that even with the push for consistency, there is still subjectivity. That needs to be accepted. There are going to be calls that could go either way. We call them fifty-fifties. We have very qualified people making those decisions. Those are the ones we get paid to make. (more…)

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SABR42 in Minnesota! Dave St. Peter, president of the Twins

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Here I am in Minneapolis for the 42nd annual SABR convention. Let me tell you, I am glad to be liveblogging if for no other reason than my laptop is warm! And these hotel ballrooms are BLOODY FREEZING. I’m already wearing long sleeves AND a wool sweater.

I took copious notes during the business portion of the opening business meeting, but if you want to know what goes on at the annual business meeting of SABR, you will have to join the organization and show up. The one thing that was announced which I will mention here is that SABR has a new partnership with MLB Advanced Media, commonly known as MLBAM (pronounced “em ell bam”), the folks who run MLB.com. There will soon be SABR-branded content on MLB.com and more promotion and coverage of SABR’s annual conference and the Analytics Conference in Arizona in March. (Next one will be March 7-9, 2013)

Brenda Himrich is the current president of the Halsey Hall Chapter (for the next two days anyway), and also the wife of Stu Thornley. Both are longtime SABR members and were among the first two people I ever met at my very first SABR convention back in 2002. (Stu is the official scorer of the Twins and is a fixture in Minnesota SABR circles.) The session opens with her comments:

Brenda: I’ve been waiting for you all to get here for the past four years! What took you so long! (laughter) I look out over the crowd here and I see great intelligence, some of the greatest analytical minds here who can retain incredible amounts of information and trivia. Let’s face it, we’re all geeks, but now it’s cool to be geeks! But I want you to know it’s always been cool the be geeks in Minnesota. We’ve bragged for a long time that all our children in Minn. are above average and the most popular TV show is the Big Bang Theory. So welcome and feel at home!”

Coming up, the president of the Minnesota Twins. (more…)

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SABR 41: Final panel! Tommy Davis & Al Ferrara story time

July 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

The final event of the SABR convention was the player panel with Tommy Davis and Al Ferrara. (Del Crandall was unable to make it, because his wife fell ill.) This was one of the best “story time with former players” I can remember. Each of them had great stories to tell, and was very personable and.

The moderator opened the event by giving each of them the gift of some old scorecards that a SABR member had left for them, in which each of them had hit a home run. Both men were born in Brooklyn in 1938, and both played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (as well as other teams).

Both of them talked fast, and I only got down maybe half of what they said, but they told some great stories. Read on: (more…)

SABR 41: Day 3 research presentations

July 09, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Some strange statistical anomalies show up in my SABR research presentation attendance this year. For example, somehow I ended up seeing everything in the Catalina Room and didn’t see anything in the Pacific Room. I also didn’t see anything on the New York Yankees except Herm Krabbenhoft’s one about correcting the RBI record for Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg. And I didn’t see any stats analysis until the third & last day of presentations, which is also unusual.

But that’s baseball, sometimes it just doesn’t go as expected.

Last night’s game at Dodger Stadium went in some ways exactly as expected For example, everyone was predicting a low-scoring game given that the Dodgers and Padres are both a bit anemic in their lineups this year. The score was 1-0. And that one run took three hits to bring in. And then there are the things no one expects, like the “closer” (Broxton is on the DL) Guerra coming in and loading the bases on a leadoff double and then two consecutive hit-by-pitches… and then wiggling out of the jam with two strikeouts and a line drive caught in center field.

Tonight we’re off to see the Angels and I don’t know whom to root for. My usual policy is to root for the home team whenever I’m not seeing the Yankees on the road, but I like the Mariners and I have never liked the Angels. I suppose I’ll see how I feel when I get there.

I saw four research presentations today. (more…)

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SABR 41: Day two, a panel and more research presentation

July 08, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Friday Morning at SABR 41: The “40 Years of SABR” Panel and research presentations

This morning was taken up with a panel discussion and then three research presentations. I could have seen a fourth as well, but the presenter I wanted to see couldn’t make it and I wasn’t that interested in the pinch-hitter. So I am going to check out the poster presentations and then grab some lunch (since I’m too broke to actually pay for the awards banquet). I’ll hopefully slip into the banquet room when its time for Dennis Gilbert’s speech, and take some notes there.

The morning kicked off with a high-powered panel of experts in which a distinguished historian showed the strength of his convictions and a distinguished player showed that having won several Gold Gloves is no protection against what I can only attempt to charitably describe as embarrassing mental lapses.

Read on. (more…)

SABR 41: Day one research presentations

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I saw five research presentations today at SABR 41 (there were six slots, but I missed one of them while chatting with people, go figure…). I took notes, but am only presenting the gist of each one here. Some of them will have more extensive versions published in SABR publications and other publications in the future.

Herm Krabbenhoft
& Trent McCotter
“Most Runs Batted In: By an Individual Player — During a Single Season — In the American League”

Don’t let this dry title fool you; this presentation is a bombshell. And first thing in the morning on the first day of the convention, too!

I don’t think Trent was here, and Herm gave the presentation. Herm is an old pro at these SABR presentations, and beyond that he is a maniacal researcher. Which is excellent, because his near-obsessive attention to detail may have uncovered one of the most significant errors in the official MLB record books. Herm laid out the details of the RBI records kept for the 1931 Yankees and the 1937 Tigers. He found several games lacking accurate records. In the Tigers alone, 7 players had their records affected, including Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Rudy York, Marv Owen, some that year by as many as +3 or -2. The records were transmitted to the leagues each night by hand-writing the results in a ledger and errors could be introduced. Herm then took us play by play through a specific game in 1937 for which multiple newspaper stories existed (along with newspaper box scores) that attributed one RBI to Greenberg, one to York. However the official day-to-day record of the league records zero for Greenberg, three for York, and seven total for the game when other box scores have only six. There were nine such “RBI-error games” recorded in that year. If this is correct, then Greenberg would have a total of 184 RBI for the year.

Meanwhile in 1931, there are 9 such games for the 1931 Yankees, which if taken into account, would give Lou Gehrig 184 RBI for that season. Thus Greenberg and Gehrig should be considered tied for the record for the most RBI in a single season.

One audience member exclaimed during questions, “This undermines everything in the official record!” Yes, yes it does. (more…)

SABR 41: Media Panel: Baseball media in ten years

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR 41 MEDIA PANEL
“Where we’re going to be getting our baseball information a decade from now?”
moderated by SABR President Andy McCue

Panelists:
Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports, former pres. of Sportvision inventors of K-Zone
Russ Stanton, Editor of the Los Angeles Times
Sean Forman, Founder and Guru of Baseball-Reference.com
Dave Cameron, Managing Editor of FanGraphs.com

Andy (Moderator): 10 years ago I got up the morning and read the LA Times and then looked at the mailbox to see if Baseball America had arrived and when I had a question I would go to the bookshelf and pull down a copy of Total Baseball. Nowadays I still read the LA Times, but then I check on Fangraphs, and if I have a fact to check I probably go to Baseball-Reference, and I’m probably representative of people in this room. It’s changed a lot in the last ten years, what’s it going to be in the next ten years? (more…)

SABR 41: Scott Boras Keynote Speech

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Here I am at the SABR national convention. I wasn’t able to get here early enough last night for the Medical Panel, but am up bright and early for the keynote opening speech by Scott Boras.

At 8:29:40 am, Andy McCue stepped to the microphone to call the first meeting of the morning to order. He delivered us a scouting report on Scott Boras, amusingly starting with his minor league stats (bats right, throws right, etc… a good on-base percentage but not much of a slugger, resulting in an average OPS). Mike Fischlin was his first client, an old friend from high school who needed representation, and then later a minor league teammate, Bill Caudill, for whom he won a large contract that shocked everyone. “He’s been shocking people in the baseball establishment ever since.”

Boras steps up to the mic and proposes a new stat: ORR, owner retention rate. (Making a very topical joke about the McCourt situation with the Dodgers.)

[What follows is more or less a transcript of about 70% of Mr. Boras's remarks. I don't type fast enough to get it all. Disclaimer: I'm posting this more or less raw with only very minimal editing at this point. Corrections on the spellings of people's names would be appreciated. Places where I had to paraphrase I have placed in parentheses.]

We get calls all the time from football players, boxers, golfers, steel companies, you name it, people who want you to represent and negotiate something. I’ve turned them all down. I’ve had people offer to buy my company, and I could have made a lot of money that way. But baseball gave me everything I had. A baseball scholarship put me through school, and baseball is the reason I am where I am. You can run along the beach, and go to a game at Dodger stadium, and lay your head down on your pillow at night and know that baseball is everything.

I was asked to give you some information about my company today (and what we do differently for the game of baseball). (more…)

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