Sunday, August 5th, 2018



Explaining the Home Run Surge: The Commissioner's Report

Alan Nathan, Peko Hosoi, and Reed MacPhail

A series of short presentations followed by panel discussion from three members of the Commissioner's Committee to investigate the Home Run Surge in MLB.


Hot Takes

Sports Media Panel

Jon Sciambi, Jen McCaffrey, Meg Rowley, & Alex Speier

Have a question for a member of the Sports Media? We assembled four members of the media who work in all areas of 2018 sports journalism: Broadcasting, Print Media, Online Publication, and The Athletic. Remember to begin your question by asking them to 'Talk a little bit about' something.





Stan is not an acronym: Bayesian solutions to Sabermetric shortcomings

Jonah Gabry and Ben Goodrich

A common definition of sabermetrics is the application of statistics to baseball. However, despite clear progress over the past few decades, we argue that sabermetrics has largely ignored the most important statistical principle to baseball: generative modeling. In this talk we discuss several conceptual errors with sabermetrics that preclude optimal decision making. Each of these problems can be overcome using a principled Bayesian approach to inference, which we demonstrate using the Stan statistical software.



Can Adjusting the Strike Zone Change the Time of Game?

Andy Andres

The recent uptick in Time of Game (TOG) has led to a well known set initiatives from the MLB Commissioner to reduce the TOG. This talk will review the impact potential pitch clocks may have on the TOG, by looking at games where they were implemented in the Arizona Fall League, and other minor league games in AA and AAA recently. It will also present data showing how various changes to the strike zone will likely impact the TOG by using various pitch F/X and Statcast data since 2008. In addition, historical strike zone and the relation to TOG will be presented.



Sports Medicine in 2018: Year in Review

Chris Geary

Dr. Chris Geary of Tufts Medical Center provides a reivew of Sports Medicine for the 2018 season. This is my excited face.





Q&A with Red Sox Analyst Greg Rybarczyk

Greg Rybarczyk

Greg Rybarczyk, current Red Sox Senior Analyst, Baseball Research & Development, and former developer of Hit Tracker Online will present some thoughts about baseball and take questions from the audience.



Tough loving on baseball

Fernando Perez

As the former national pastime is under threat, it's time to vocalize the various forces that may be impeding the growth and well being of the game. Everyone is responsible: owners, the league, the union, the players, the fans, the media, & broadcasters. It's the best game on the planet and there's no better time than right now to discuss these issues: with football on the ropes, with basketball in the offseason and with Neymar's diving still fresh in the American sports fan's consciousness.



If Minor League Baseball Were Different, How Different Would It Be?

Jarrett Seidler and Jeffrey Paternostro (Baseball Prospectus)

Fernando Perez's talk last year left us wondering, why do we develop players in the current system?


Player Development

Rescaling the 20-80 scale with Rap Score

Rohan Gupta and Seth Daniels (Rapsodo Baseball)

Traditional scouting of pitchers is subjective or limited analytically. Rapsodo presents a unique opportunity to aggregate all the individual Pitch variables along with a Pitcher's overall arsenal of pitches to comprise a Pitcher's total RapScore. Rapsodo's Pitch Score aims to objectively score individual pitches using velocity, movement and location data to identify performance trends for pitchers and coaches to increase efficiency and remove bias in player evaluation for teams. The remaining RapScore variables are made up from Pitch Matrices (average location, movement, release and velocity) to help visualize the relationship between a pitcher's pitch types and their usage.



A Deep Dive on Speed with Statcast Data

Travis Petersen, Eddie Elliott, Tom Tango, and Mike Petriello (MLB)

Introduced in 2017, Statcast Sprint Speed allows us to quantify the difference between elite speed (30 feet per second), average speed (27 feet per second), and below average speed (23 feet per second). As a number of analysts have found since, Sprint Speed allows us to answer a number of other Sabermetric questions, including how players utilize their speed for performance in different facets of the game. In this presentation we will explain the current methodology, examine the reliability of the metric, and evaluate the implementation of regression to the mean concepts.



Beating the Betting Market with Umpire Tendencies

Brian Mills (University of Florida) and Steve Salaga (University of Georgia)

We use PITCHf/x data to identify strike zone tendencies of MLB umpires and use this information to place profitable bets in the totals market. We estimate the probability of a strike call of all pitches on a daily basis using the past 90 days of strike call locations with a generalized additive model (GAM). We then calculate pitch-level error terms and aggregate them at the individual umpire level over the same lagged 90 day period. This results in a measure of favorability of each umpire toward hitters or pitchers on each upcoming day, which is used to place bets identified as favorable within the MLB totals market. Our betting rule uses this measure to place wagers on games when the umpire is known and when the individual umpire?s favorability is +/- 2 standard deviations (or more) from the league average. This simple strategy results in a return of nearly 10% per bet from 2009 through 2014 on nearly 800 wagers. Our results show that odds makers do not integrate umpire information into their opening lines, and bettors under react to information about umpire assignment during the regular season. We will discuss limits to this strategy in the face of changing run environments, the importance of umpires in determining scoring differences, and identify the most profitable umpires in our sample.





Extending Advanced Defensive Analytics to the Minor Leagues and Japan

Brian Reiff and Joe Rosales (BIS)

Advanced defensive analytics have existed at the Major League level for years and are constantly getting better. New technologies like Statcast have greatly contributed to that improvement. However, in other leagues, there is significantly less publicly available data and a corresponding lack of advanced metrics, particularly on the defensive side. Baseball Info Solutions has developed a methodology that allows us to individually calculate a fielder's positioning, range and throwing runs saved on any given play. Using the data that our video scouts collect, we're able to apply that methodology to these other leagues, like the minors and NPB, to analyze these players' defensive contributions at an unrivaled level of detail. This presentation explores some of the highlights and potential uses of the data.


Abstracts II


On Fence Offense

Tess Kolp

The variety of outfield sizes and shapes is one of the things that makes the game of baseball interesting. It can also be a source of great frustration among fans and players alike. With considerable differences between fences distances existing, no doubt home runs in one park could be easy fly outs in another. This presentation will explore the area between the shortest and longest distances required to be a home run. These distances will be based on a ?home run distance? required which is found by adding the distance to the fence plus the height of the fence at one degree intervals. I will show how the analysis can be applied to totals as well as on a play by play basis.


Predicting Future Player Value using Statcast Batted Ball Data

Daniel Cunningham (University of Chicago)

The advent of Statcast, MLB's state-of-the-art tracking system, has led to some of the most exciting recent developments in baseball research. In this study, batted ball data from Statcast was used to predict each player's future wOBA, a measure of player batting value. The goal of this research is to provide more accurate player projections by looking at raw measurements rather than relying on observed outcomes, which are heavily influenced by luck.


Is an all-or-nothing hitter the most valuable offensive asset?

Cameron Rogers

"Currently in the MLB, the trend with hitters seems to be adjusting their approach at the plate in order to hit more home runs, and I want to discern whether or not that is a good strategy. My goal is to determine if it is more valuable to have a hitter who hits for excellent power with many strikeouts (all-or-nothing) or a more balanced hitter who compensates for less power by putting more balls in play.


Pitch Characteristics Effect on Home Runs

James Barber

"Home run rates have been a popular discussion in baseball lately due to home run totals rising at a record breaking pace in recent years. Although we have seen similar trends throughout the history of baseball, current rates of home runs are at an all-time high. Determining the cause of this increase in home runs will help shape the future of the game.


Leading Off: Is Speed Still Number One?

Jacob Claspille

Baseball fans love debating who is the greatest of all time in various categories. When asking discussing who is the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time, fans traditionally looked to speed and the ability to get on-base. Although teams traditionally valued speed in the lead-of position, the greatest lead-off hitters often were a mix of speed and OBP. In those debates, players such as Rickey Henderson rise to the top of the list because they excel in both speed and OBP. As teams began to delve deeper into line-up optimization, we began to see a shift from a priority on speed to a priority on OBP in the lead-of spot. This presentation will add to the discussion of what characteristics are most important in a lead-off hitter by determining the impact speed on base has on the hitters who come up to bat versus all other at-bats. This research hopes to determine whether speed still has a place at the top of the lineup because it has a direct impact on how players perform offensively when with a speedster on base.


Calculating Wins Above Average for College Baseball

Sierra Doherty (Coastal Carolina University)

The college analytics game is way behind for no good reason. With so many schools using Trackman and eleven schools now sharing their data with Trackman Share, there?s no excuse anymore for the limited way college teams look at numbers. One particular stat that one of my coaches keeps bugging me to look into is WAR. However, since there?s no replacement level for college baseball, it would be better to look just at Wins Above Average. Whether you?re looking at WAR or WAA, the calculation is pretty involved. With access to Trackman Share, a few play-by-plays, and a little tweaking, it?s a doable calculation, especially for a team like Coastal Carolina, who is doing as much as they can to start and expand their analytics department.


The Physics and Timing of the Outfield Bounce Throw

Andrew Dominijanni

Initial simulations comparing throws across the infield indicated that the shorter total path length of a bounced throw may result in a quicker trip from throw to catch for longer throws with slow release speeds, despite the kinetic energy lost in the ball-ground impact. This conclusion is reexamined for outfield throws from longer distances, where higher release speeds are also possible. A physical model of the ball-ground collision is presented, which allows for complete trajectory simulations of thrown baseballs when combined with aerodynamics. These simulations are used to compare flight times for bounced and non-bounced throws to home plate.


Q&A with Red Sox Scouts and Player Development Staff

Sox Scouts and Player Development [TBA]

Prepare your 80 grade questions about prospects, scouting, and player development to a group of individuals with plus-plus knowledge about the game.