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 Post subject: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:13 pm 
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This an attempt to apply Rudy's Risky Pitcher analysis to hitters. The parameters used to establish RISK (ABs and OPS) roughly compare to the pitching parameters (IP and FIP).

For the test, we focused on 2006 and on hitters who had at least 460 ABs (~ 130-140 GP). Hitters who retired/semi-retired the next season for reasons other than injury were removed. This left a total of 142 hitter seasons. We defined ‘miss significant time’ as someone who had fewer than 340 Abs (~ 100 GP) in MLB the next year and ‘measurable decrease in performance’ as a -.100 or more decrease in their OPS (OBP,on base percentage, plus SLG, slugging percentage). If a hitter had fewer than 340 ABs the next year, we ignored their OPS so as not to add insult to injury.
In total, 15 (11%) of the 142 qualified hitter seasons were followed up by seasons of less than 340 ABs and 26 (18%) were followed up with OPS decreases more than -.100. That means that about 29% of hitters either hit significantly less or had a measurable decrease in performance in the following year. The 29% is quite a bit less than the 45% of pitchers, indicating that hitters are less risky than pitchers. However, you will see from the results that nearly EVERY ONE of the 2007 hitters who made this list did not recover near their 2006 performance levels.
Of the 15 who dropped below 340 ABs in 2007, NOT ONE returned to his 2006 ABs. On average, their 2008 ABs were 50% LESS than their 2006 ABs.
Of the 26 who dropped -.100 in their OPS, only two returned to surpass their 2006 OPS. Albert Pujols' 2006 OPS had been a staggering 1.102. So, it was not surprising that he dropped to a near-human .997 in 2007, back up to 1.114 in 2009! Even though he met the parameters for our Risky Hitters, he doesn't really fit the category. Furcal was the only other of the 19, garnering 1.012 in 2008 in only 143 ABs. On average, the 26 altogether fell -19% short of their 2006 OPS in 2008.
Really, unless we are talking about a superstar who dropped -.100 OPS from something above 1.000 or someone with a very small number of ABs, is there any reason to pick even a SINGLE hitter who fell below 340 ABs or dropped -.100 OPS in 2008 for 2009? This is the list of Risky Hitters for 2009. The chances of these guys returning to form is minuscule. (You will have to decide if Ortiz or Pena are Superstars and will return to form as did Pujols.)
PLAYER TEAM POS 08AB
J Bautista* PIT 3B 56
I Rodriguez* DET C 96
R Furcal* LAD SS 143
D Young* WSH 1B 150
J Posada* NYY C 168
S Stewart* OAK OF 175
T Hafner* CLE DH 198
A Hill* TOR 2B 205
E Byrnes* ARI OF 206
T Pena* KC SS 225
M Cuddyer* MIN OF 249
M Loretta* HOU SS 261
J Lugo* BOS SS 261
O Vizquel* SF SS 266
V Martinez* CLE C 266
R Belliard* WSH 2B 296
T Helton* COL 1B 299
J Wilson* PIT SS 305
J Vidro* SEA DH 308
A Kearns* WSH OF 313
R Church* WSH OF 319
J Uribe* CWS SS 324
N Punto* MIN 3B 338

-OPS
D Ortiz* BOS DH .189
C Pena* TB 1B .167
E Renteria* ATL SS .161
K Greene* SD SS .160
M Ordonez* DET OF .159
K Johjima* SEA C .146
A Rowand* PHI OF .140
P Fielder* MIL 1B .134
C Hart* MIL OF .133
J Francoeur* ATL OF .129
R Cano* NYY 2B .126
F Sanchez* PIT 2B .116
G Sheffield* DET DH .115
B Upton* TB OF .110
C Patterson* BAL OF .108
T Tulowitzki* COL SS .106
J Morneau* MIN 1B .106
C Crawford* TB OF .103
A Rodriguez* NYY 3B .102


Last edited by Simply Fred on Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:53 am, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:08 am 
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How does a drop in OPS predict injury risk? Not feeling it...


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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:23 am 
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This is how Rudy described it: "It’s worth noting that throwing 2,000 or less pitches in MLB does not necessarily mean someone was injured - it could also mean their performance decreased to a level that was no longer MLB-worthy and they were demoted. Since these amount to the same thing for a fantasy team owner (bupkus), we did not differentiate." Sean, keep the list. End of season show me who kept and show me how far off I was.


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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:04 am 
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OBP was selected because it represents so many elements of production: AB, H, BB, HBP, SF, TB. An average drop of 19% in production seems pretty significant to me. Better measures of comparative hitter production are welcome!


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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:42 am 
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Interesting stuff, Fred.

While I agree with Sean - that this doesn't touch upon injury-driven riskiness (the key thrust behind risky pitchers in addition with the unsustainability of high %s of breaking ball pitches), it does dovetail nicely with the 'Bounceback' post I did recently. The basic summary of that was "When a pitcher gets injured, don't bet heavy on a return to past performance."

It seems that could be the case for hitters as well. Guys with bad 2008's should be discounted in 2009. The type of injury should play a role in their ability to bounceback (like pitchers). Watch out for guys with bad wrists (saps power - hello D-Lee) and chronic shoulders (Hafner). Hanley and BJ scare me as top picks b/c of their balky shoulders. Watch out for speed guys with leg issues. And beware the power hitter 'back' issue as that seems more chronic and hard to bounceback from (remember when Helton had power).

Anyone else have takeaways? Maybe we can make a post out of this...

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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:45 am 
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Rudy, I was hoping to tweak your interest. My stuff clearly superficial. You quickly pointed out the selective points of interest. If there is anything I can do to help research, let me know.


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 Post subject: Re: Risky Hitters—in the vein of Rudy Gamble's Risky Pitchers
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Just thought I would bring this to the front for a brief glimpse at how these guys are doing. A couple of reviewers were critical that this wasn't a "risky" (as in "injury") list as it hinged, in part, on under-performance (drop in OPS). Well, Rudy's risky pitchers was, in part, on under-performing (per drop in FIP). I just tried to mimick his work for hitters. You decide if the process is a good one for identifying hitters to avoid in subsequent years. (Will bring it back up end of season/prior to next year.)


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