Friday, November 2, 2007

Bill James says - Pedroia over Cano

I ran into a article on where Bill James ranks the best young players in the game;

"Who is the best young player in baseball? A deceptively tricky question, in that it requires us to combine two unlike factors -- youth and talent.."

What caught my eye was that he had Dustin Pedroia ranked ahead of Cano. This seemed like complete Red Sox bias to me but I decided to take an objective look.

Ok, so the first area is easy - Pedroia is 11 months younger then Cano. Pedoria wins but not by much.

The second area is talent, a lot more subjective area. Here is how James explains his five part formula;

"First, I eliminated from my study all players who were 29 years old in 2007 or older"

Pedroia 24 Cano 25 - Check

"Second, I figured the runs created by each player ... "

Cano 100, Pedroia 91- -Ok I follow so far.

"Third, I made a "speed adjustment", since speed correlates strongly with defensive value, and defensive value is more difficult to measure. "

Ok Speed adjustment. Hmm, the best speed stats I can think of are SB and triples. So lets go there.

Cano -4sbs, 7 triples, Pedroia 7 sbs, 1 triple. So who wins? I say Cano might becuase of the triples but Pedroria had a better SB percentage so lets call it a push. Let's also look at Range factor since James is using speed here to quatify defense ability (if anyone ever saw Rickey Henderson play the OF they would know there is a lot more to it then speed but anyway)/

Cano 5.14, Pedroia 4.52.

Looks like Cano is faster but what is my adjustement?Lets say the difference is negligible.

Cano 100, Pedroia 91 -No adjustment to make it simple.

"Fourth, I divided that total by the runs scored/runs allowed per game by the player's team, thus building in context adjustments. "

Ok, here is where I get lost. Is james asking for me to divide our number by the result of the Runs Scored/Runs allowed or is there something more complicated going on here he is not telling us? If I am on a winning team won't my Runs Scored/Runs allowed be higher therefore helping my score? I am throwing this out based on lack of information.

"Fifth, I multiplied that by the number of years the player had left before he was 33 years old."

Cano - 100 x8=800, Pedroia 91x9=819

Using what little I know of his formula the rsult is the talent difference between Pedroria and Cano is outwieghed by the 10 month difference in age.

I am missing something here? Can someone explain how Bill James the baseball genius is so light on information for two of the parts of his equation? I want to see hisreasoning but I can't. Also, what is the value of his context adjustments? Is a player any better if his team is better? Is he any worse if his team is worse?

Without answers to the missing pieces of the formula his logic can't be completely rebuked. However, any formula that results in Dustin Pedroia ranking ahead of Robbie Cano is flawed, period.

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