Byte Sized: Team Consistency
the 2015 M's viewed thru the BaseballHQ "REL" lens


A quick saber-byte to go with yer coffee.  As y'know, we live to serve :- )  

Bill lives to serve also.  In the public area at Hey Bill this mo'nin':


Hey, Bill, speaking about defense... is common for players to have an off year offensively, because of a prolonged slump or because of playing through an injury. Is the same thing defensively? Is there such a thing like "an off year defensively"? In my mental approach a player is more consistent defensively than offensively... but maybe I haven't been able to figure out defense, but I'm ok with, since I'm not alone
Asked by: jbdominicano
Answered: 1/25/2015
One has to presume that there are true ups and downs of defensive performance which parallel those in hitting and pitching; however, since sudden "lurches" in performance COULD be a result of flaws in our system of measurement, I don't know that my defensive method could resolve that issue to the satisfaction of a skeptic.
I know that Tony Kubek used to talk about "constants" in baseball, saying that some days you would get a hit, some days you wouldn't, some days the pitcher would have his stuff, some days he wouldn't, but the "constants" were the things you could always do; you could always play defense, you could always run the bases (if you could run the bases), you could always play good fundamentals.
I always thought it was nonsense; I doubt that there are any "constants" in the game; rather, those things that we have difficultly measuring, we think about in simplistic terms. Since we don't measure these things well, we don't SEE them going up and down and up and down, so we can assume--if we choose to--that they DON'T go up and down. It seems much more likely to me that they do.
A parallel argument is the argument that "speed doesn't go into a slump." Speed is one of the MOST "slump-prone" things in baseball, because any kind of little injury will effect your ability to run.


This is a point that SABRMatt has underlined for years now, that defense might fluctuate a LOT, due to niggling injuries.  I'm warming to the idea.  The difference between a player's range, at age 31, and his range at age 25, might be vast -- Ken Griffey Jr. was a good CF when he was young, but quickly became abysmal.  

The idea is that 21st-century pro sports occur at blurry-fast speed.  A single step can be, and often is, a game won and a game lost.

Could be that I was basically wrong about Franklin Gutierrez, that a single step's worth of "route efficiency" took him from okay to great.  In any case, those days are done for F-Gut now.  And Dr. D just acknowledged his limitations, so save this article in case anything ever happens to the internet.


Team consistency is something that I used to call "the Z-axis" of the Pythagorean Theorem:  the 2001 Mariners won 116 games in part because they scored consistently and prevented runs consistently.  The idea is that if you average 5.1 runs a night and allow 4.1 runs a night, well, perfect consistency would lead you to a 162-0 record...

One thing that CAN lead  team consistency, on a night-to-night basis, is a great bullpen.  It's been known for 30 years that a great 'pen can allow you to beat Pythag.

Anyway:  James used to run his take on "preseason up and down indicators."  


Things that might FAVOR Mariner team consistency in 2015:

1.  Felix Hernandez' preference for "mega quality starts" ...  in strings of around 15 to 20

2.  Baserunners like Jesus Montero, and every other M besides James Jones, are already tortoise velocity on the bases (so slump-prone speed is NOT a part of the M's game)

3.  The existence of "coin-op" Japanese players in the rotation.  Sweet Lou sez, consistency "putting a starter out there every day you can win with"

4.  Increased BB's and "pro at bats" this year (Seth Smith, Robby, we're lookin at you)

5.  New Sunday third "kits" they're stylin' out there (†)

6.  The concept that an 0.00 ERA, in this bullpen, gets you --- > CUT (yes, really)

7.  9 out of 10 pitchers surveyed, recommend Mike Zunino, for their catchers who chew gum

8.  Fielders like Kyle Seager are already not relying on speed, so hammy tweaks matter less (or so says SABRMatt, so, there y'have it)

9.  The ability to dip into AAA and get back ML quality, especially in the rotation.  Check that, the ability to dip into AAA and get back ML upgrades

10.  If the M's find themselves at 85-32, Jack Zduriencik is unlikely to swap Kyle Seager for two months of David Price

11.  Lloyd McClendon knows how to lose the strike zone but win the rest of the game

12.  Russell Wilson "we been there before" Dept.  (Yeh, fine.  Just don't start bawling, Robby)


Things that might DISFAVOR Mariner team consistency in 2015:

1, 2, 3 ... ... 7, 8, 9.  Approximately every important player they own is young, or "had a great August," or has backups stacked three deep straining at the leash  (Counts 9 bullet points)

10.  Ron Shandler sez, "There could be scenarios in which James Paxton does not win 18 games" (preposterous) 

11.  Tampa Bay sez, "Fernando Rodney"

12.  Whitey Herzog sez "You got to have a shortstop you can count on"

13.  Fangraphs sez, "Nelson Cruz blows chunks"

14.  PGA-Keith sez, "You can't play left field hiding behind a shrub on your face"

15.  M's scouts sez.  Three words:  Ice Cream Sandwiches

16.  Chris Denorfia sez:  Never trust a National League outfielder

17.  DuPont sez:  Plexiglas Principle


I'll go with McClendon and the bullpen,

Dr D

(†) just wanted to see if Matt would bite







I might remind that back in 2007, when the mariners had a great bullpen, but a rotation with three meatballs and horrendous team defense, they beat pythag by a lot, and, at the time, I postulated that there were four statistical ways to do that...consistent offense, inconsistent rotation leading to misleading RD caused by blowout losses, great bullpen winning close games, great manager getting players who perform into high leverage situations.
The mariners' consistent rotation is probably not going to help them beat helps them be consistent and build RD instead (which is the way I'd rather win :-) )...but I think they will be consistently sold/mediocre offensively, bring a great pen, and boast a top notch manager for leveraging his players


...I'm actually wondering if SP consistency cuts in favor of beating pythag in both directions. As you say, if you metronomically allow 2 or 3 runs and score win all the time...


I wish I had said it that way!  :)
But I would still be relieved if Ackley showed up at ST looking a lot less like Stonewall Jackson and a lot more like Yaz or Stan the Man.  They were pretty decent LF'ers.  
Or maybe he will just look like the guy who was the best college hitter of the decade.
But then $.02 Psychology is worth what you pay for it.


Ackley looks at his bushy beard like Samson looked at his Nazirite hair. The trouble is, his beard is not consistently tied to the kind of performance Samson had with his iconic locks. I would LOVE to see Ackley come to spring training primed to realize his potential, and come having demonstrated that renewal by arriving clean shaven. He looks horrid as a Paul Bunyan wannabe. C'mon Dustin, make a clean break, and reacquaint yourself with your razor blade.


Beards are in, man. They are the 'backward cap' of the day.


I was 21:  From New Year's eve, 1978, until the day before I graduated from the University of Oregon in June of '79, I sported a beard.  It got fairly wild.  My girl friend wanted me to grow it.  You know how that goes.  I shaved it off because my dad said he wasn't coming to my graduation if I didn't.  I about 1/2 believed him.
Carried the mustache for more than 20 more years, though.  Thank goodness it eventually went, too.


I had a beard when I met my wife and during the year or so we dated before getting married. A few days before the wedding I decided to shave everything off except a mustache, because I wanted the wedding pictures to better reflect how I knew I would look most of my life. My wife saw me that evening for the first time without a beard. I hadn't told her what I'd done. Fortunately, she still wanted to marry me.
P.S. -- It wasn't too many months before the mustache was gone too.

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