Hot Streak Base Ball

I’ve got a guy who emails me five-to-twenty times a day about his fantasy team. I have plenty of people who email me about their fantasy teams, so I don’t want anyone to think I don’t love what I do. But 19 times a day is too much.

I told him so. He got it down to the low double digits.

This same guy also loves asking me about bad players that have been good over the last week. I need to pick up Joaquin Arias, he says. He’s hitting .416 over the past week. I tell him there’s no such thing as a hot streak about once a day. He keeps coming back with this crap. Today I told him that Josh Reddick was a lefty going into the best lefty home run park in the big leagues, against a mediocre righty (Ivan Nova) and that was a perfect matchup. Guess what happened. Every lefty on the A’s hit a home run except for Reddick. I look in my inbox, and he’s berating me for not looking at Reddick’s last week of performance. I told him that if he ever quoted me the last week of a player’s stats, or said the phrase ‘producing now,’ I would stop answering his emails.

It might be the hardest thing to learn in sports, but I believe it’s true. Why would a week’s worth of stats against fifteen different pitchers be a great predictor of how a guy is going to do in his next plate appearance against the next pitcher? Predicting one plate appearance, or one game, is very difficult, and all you can do is look for the platoon matchup, good parks, and bad pitchers. But please don’t look at how a guy did in the last week. Especially if he just came from Colorado and Arizona and is headed to San Diego. The biggest lie in fantasy baseball is the “Last Seven Days” stats filter.

You’ll see for example, when I gave my readers short-term power and speed plays for this week, that I never once mentioned the last week of their stats. It’s all about finding good players in a good position to succeed.

Speaking of which, the Mets have a two-first-baseman problem with Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, and putting Duda in the outfield is not putting him in a position to succeed. So it really wasn’t that surprising when the rumors came out that the Mets would consider moving the beloved (We Like Ike) Davis in the right deal. I investigated what it might take to make a trade a good idea for the Mets, and then I went and tried to find good trade partners for the Mets. I don’t think Mets fans would like the names I came up with, but they are believable. And Ike Davis is a hard player to evaluate, actually, since he’s had great peaks and terrible terrible valleys.

I also wrote some fun stuff this week, but it was pretty nerdy. Ichiro Suzuki filled out a questionnaire in high school and I used it to extrapolate what the notoriously private player was like back in the day — Young Ichiro. A friend of mine wrote an email to a Clayton Kershaw‘s doctor… about his fantasy baseball team. And then I came up with a joke stat (xRBI) that shows how ridiculous the RBI stat is. But don’t evaluate ME from my last week’s performance, it’s just a week! I promise!

I also wrote about evaluating pitchers in-season for Getting Blanked, a blog on The Score in Canada — it looks like just taking strikeouts and subtracting walks and dividing by innings pitched works as well as more complicated ERA estimators. Huh.

And that’s a perfect segue into a great quote I got from a piece I worked on this week. We think we know baseball, but what do we really now. A college hitting coach told me:

“I don’t see too many Hunter Pence Schools of Hitting popping up all over the place, but the Jack Cust Baseball Academy is huge in New Jersey. You figure it out.”

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About enosarris

I write. About baseball, mostly, but also about the anthropology of sports, travel, cooking and sometimes music. But yeah, baseball mostly.
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