My short bio: I am Andy Andres from Boston University where I teach the popular edX course "Sabermetrics 101" (the science and objective analysis of baseball). I am here today to answer your questions about baseball statistics, the upcoming playoffs, and anything related to baseball. **** (Sorry I have to run now -- I will get the other questions later tonight. Thanks so much for tuning in!)

My Proof: https://twitter.com/BUexperts/status/913130814644326403

Comments: 1245 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

Vilens40362 karma

Hi Andy,

What would you say is the most overrated and overused statistic we hear commonly in baseball broadcasts?

Thanks!

AndyAndresBU582 karma

Overrated stat is probably Wins for pitchers, fielding percentage for fielders, and RBI for hitters. But YMMV (old school internet-ese for Your Milage May Vary!)!

DukeSilverSauce326 karma

Thanks for taking time to do this!

Is there any aspect of players game (hitting/fielding/ or pitching) that is currently not evaluated well by sabermetrics? Is there truly an "x" factor that some players have that sabermetrics does not account well for? if so what is it and do you think there is a way to quantify it?

AndyAndresBU438 karma

This is the Holy Grail question that all team are trying to address in various degrees.

Your idea bumps into "clubhouse chemistry," and how groups in any endeavour (business, academics, etc.) perform best or better. This is a real important area of research and therefore should improve baseball performance.

But is difficult research to do, not-at-all low hanging fruit.

HansMoleman55229 karma

Loved Sabermetrics 101 (I was literally on a job interview yesterday where the interviewer asked about how I learned SQL, and I told him all about your class). When will the new Sabermetrics course be online?

Any career advice for people interested in sports analytics, who have taken your course? Seems there are few entry level jobs available, and it's difficult to know who we'd need to make ourselves visible to for future consideration.

AndyAndresBU191 karma

That is sooo cool about the mention of the course in your interview -- I am very glad to hear this good news about the course. We worked hard to create a place where people could learn sports analytics -- yeah SABR101x!

As far as breaking in -- start. Just start writing, reading, letting your curiosity drive your questions, answer your questions, do something unique and interesting.

But start.

Go.

What are you waiting for? (haha!)

Jacked1703163 karma

Of the probable teams playing who is, sabremetrically, the weakest?

AndyAndresBU338 karma

I would say the Twins are the least likely to win the WS. But I could be wrong!

Jolg163 karma

How do you think the Astros bullpen will fare in the playoffs?

AndyAndresBU239 karma

Very well. By various metrics the Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Angels and Dodgers have had the best bullpens in baseball (one of these things is not like the others -- hah).

So I like the Astros bullpen a lot! They will be just fine in the playoffs!

DetroitDrew44146 karma

Any advice for someone considering a transition into an analytics position? and will analytics in other sports like hockey eventually get to the point baseball is at or is this going to ultimately remain unique to baseball?

AndyAndresBU228 karma

All major sports use analytics extensively -- but I see the largest growth in football (soccer) because there are so many professional opportunities worldwide!!

VAForLovers141 karma

What is the proper way to construct a lineup sabermetrically?

AndyAndresBU237 karma

Probably projected OBP (better yet, OPS) in descending order -- but even the most optimal lineup does not get you too many extra wins. Bill James work in his Manager's Book has a great argument/analysis on this topic.

domyorke131 karma

As a mariners fan, how many more years are we screwed?

AndyAndresBU121 karma

Keep up hope -- I like your analytics staff and your GM.

TK_FourTwoOne108 karma

I took the the Saber 101 course a few years ago and loved it. I swear you mentioned there possibly being a follow up course. Is that still possible?

Also who is your favorite sabermetric writer

AndyAndresBU137 karma

SABR101x will re-run Spring 2018 and be followed shortly thereafter by SABR201x!!!

sonofabutch73 karma

Serious question, even if it sounds like I'm being facetious: Do you think global warming/average temperatures have anything to do with the home run explosion of the last few years?

Maybe it's anecdotal, but baseball wisdom has always been that the "ball travels better" in warm weather, and we've had a lot of warm weather the last few years. And there's no doubt that pitchers get fatigued more quickly on hot, humid days.

Has anyone, to your knowledge, ever done a study between temperature and home run rates?

AndyAndresBU98 karma

This is a great question, and I know of no study that look at this.

So if I am wrong, I would love to hear from the reddit public of they know of any study like this.

Time to break out the old baseball and weather DB I created years ago!

ltralightbeam68 karma

With the NL MVP race having no clear leader, who is your pick to win it? Or your top 3 candidates

AndyAndresBU133 karma

I love Votto, but I think Goldy, Stanton, and Bryant will be top 3.

Votto 4th, which is a shame, he is the guy I would want on my team.

DelverOfSqueakwets62 karma

What is your World Series matchup prediction?

AndyAndresBU227 karma

Dodgers v. Indians

Teb-Tenggeri58 karma

Do you think it's the rise in advanced metrics that has had more of an impact on the home run revival or something else? We see guys retooling their swings into uppercuts, turning low power bats into 30 HR hitters. How do you see this change progressing in the next few years?

AndyAndresBU77 karma

These things have cycles -- but I think this HR rate is not just explained by changing swing planes. First off, that kind of change is very hard to pull off, normally people stick with what worked to get them to the majors.

It is likely many things causing this!

ToddGack56 karma

bwar or fwar?

AndyAndresBU82 karma

Yes!

Seriously, I like them both.

And I am in the camp of too much sturm and drang about their differences, mainly because I am also in the camp that their precision is not what most people think it is.

I hope that helps.

And maybe this answer should be my mantra for this AMA!!!

ThatSluttyPumpkin38 karma

  1. who you got for your AL/NL MVPs?

  2. when evaluating pitchers, do you like bWAR or fWAR more?

  3. is Aaron Judge going to keep this up?

AndyAndresBU77 karma

I like Votto and Trout -- they would be my choices -- but I think Altuve and Bryant will win. But it is historically close for these MVP races!

I like both bWAR and fWAR, sorry to waffle on this.

And I do not think Judge will run away with the HR race the rest of his career. But he will be a great power hitter!

Stankiewicz201637 karma

Wo will win the cinn/mil game today? Please include final score

AndyAndresBU73 karma

Mil wins 6-4!

harDhar35 karma

How far away do you think the Brewers are from a World Series appearance?

AndyAndresBU53 karma

One of my favorite former students works for the Brewers and I have been a huge fan of theirs all year -- but I think they have a 1 in 25 chance of making the playoffs.

But boy-O-boy, I am rooting for them!

nickthecoon35 karma

Who's the most underrated player in baseball currently?

AndyAndresBU108 karma

I would say Rendon on the Nats. A great, great player having a great year, pretty much under the radar.

SpuddMeister33 karma

Let's say I'm a short, old, obese player, with no athleticism whatsoever. But somehow, I have an uncanny knack of hitting the ball away from any fielders, and getting singles.

What does my AVG or OPS needs to be to be a contributing member of a MLB team (as a DH or pinch hitter, I guess)?

MycoJoe107 karma

Is this some kind of dig at Albert Pujols

AndyAndresBU48 karma

No, I was actually thinking of Miggy, Papi, VMart, and Prince Fielder. But I guess Pujols 2017 fits as well.

AndyAndresBU29 karma

If you clog the bases, you hurt the team -- this is a game of speed! But getting singles is also important.

Maybe the best way to answer this is if you have a BA of 400, or an OPS of 1000, you will be playing regularly -- somebody will find a way to get you plate appearances.

I hope that helps.

shouldbeworking2331 karma

Will the Rockies make the playoffs?

AndyAndresBU43 karma

95% chance, so yes, I think they will!

ShoutOutTo_Caboose30 karma

Indians making it to the WS again this year?

AndyAndresBU45 karma

I think so -- they have a great team!

Captain_Stairs29 karma

Which of the wild card contenders do you like to make a deep run?

AndyAndresBU98 karma

DBacks to the NLCS, maybe even the WS.

But these are my guesses, YMMV.

seytonmanning29 karma

Who is your favorite datacaster?

AndyAndresBU206 karma

Me.

sghokie28 karma

Changing my question. Based on the data leading up to the AllStar break, was there a way to predict the playoff teams and wild card teams? Could anyone have predicted Clevelands run?

AndyAndresBU51 karma

There are so many new stats using the STATCAST data from MLB.

Explore this site: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/

It is awesome!

TriggerMeFam27 karma

How accurate is the movie "Moneyball"?

AndyAndresBU80 karma

It is an accurate for 2002, but baseball front offices do not operate that way anymore in 2017.

Loved the movie. And the book!

moosebog24 karma

What got you into sabermetrics?

AndyAndresBU39 karma

Reading Bill James, talking about his work with my buddies on the Tufts Employee softball team (Jumbo's Peanut Surprise).

miden2420 karma

What's your favorite ballpark food?

And srsly, is hotdog a sammich or nah?

AndyAndresBU38 karma

Hotdog is a sandwich and my favorite ballpark food is chicken fingers.

jaxmagicman18 karma

I've always thought the closer role was stupid. What is your opinion on it and are there any good places I can go to get stats that might show it is better to use your best reliever in high leverage situations?

Have you checked out OOTP?

AndyAndresBU20 karma

I dabbled in OOTP, but never got into it.

And there is value in closers, esp the hard to measure value in "I know what my role is going to be", but the more important, "I like getting saves so I can get paid!"

Google the Red Sox experiment at the start of the 2003 season, or any other "closer by committee" articles on the interweb. And you can find various pitching stats that take leverage into account. For example, learn about WPA/LI on fangraphs -- but there are other pitching stats similar to this one.

I hope that helps

_o_aine18 karma

Who did you pick to win the WS at the begining of the 2017 season?

AndyAndresBU53 karma

I had the Indians.

jimmcdermont18 karma

What team do you think will shock everyone in the playoffs (i.e. who do you think will go much further than ppl expect & who do you think will get eliminated much earlier than ppl expect)?

AndyAndresBU56 karma

DBacks are the shock team, I think.

AdmiralChaps17 karma

There's a lot of discussion about the various ways to calculate pitcher WAR (fWAR which uses FIP vs. rWAR which uses RA vs. WARP which uses DRA). What is your opinion about the different methodologies used to calculate them (assuming you have an opinion on it)? Do you have a personal preference for any one of them?

AndyAndresBU20 karma

Great question.

I think the differences are there, and as you describe well, understanding them is important. But I fall in the camp of so what for this -- I think the precision of these WAR numbers is not as good as we would like to see, they offer guidelines of player value -- e.g., putting too much value on the difference between a 4.3 WAR player and 4.5 WAR player is probably a mistake -- these players are essentially the same.

More precision in defensive value, which some teams are doing well, will increase accuracy. This is not the case for BP, BR or fg.

Cosmic_Arcanum11 karma

If you could pick 3 players to build a team around using only sabermetrics, who would you pick?

AndyAndresBU32 karma

For the next year? For the next five years? I'll assume you mean the next five years.

And can I say Trout, Trout, and Trout? (hah)

OK, how about Trout, Kershaw and Harper.

PastorofMuppets10110 karma

I'd love to take this class, but I don't go to BU. Do you know of any classes that are akin to yours at other institutions/online courses that are available, or if I could look into the materials of your course?

AndyAndresBU33 karma

SABR101x is available online for anyone, not just BU students. Google Sabermetrics 101 and edx and you should find it!

Thanks for the question!

syndus10 karma

what did you have for lunch?

AndyAndresBU29 karma

Nothing, I have been at my keyboard since I got to my office.

Are you offering?

DetroitDrew4410 karma

Neil DeGrasse Tyson believes that an exceptional play from a fielder should be banked as a credit and be considered against errors by that player. Any thoughts about this being a serious measurement?

AndyAndresBU27 karma

Modern defensive metrics already do this kind of adjustment, so Tyson was onto something.

But I see no value is doing some adjustment like this to something like fielding percentage (errors), an archaic way to measure defensive value.

GItPirate10 karma

What internal factor could stop the cubs from repeating this year?

AndyAndresBU12 karma

Do not know enough internally about the Cubs to know how ready they are to repeat. I still like the Dodgers though!

coryrenton9 karma

are there any interesting stats showing which players outperform based on their perceived (lack of) fitness level (e.g. powerful slugger but overweight and has trouble running)?

AndyAndresBU17 karma

That is a great question. Among other analyses, if you would do a correlation between BMI and baserunning metrics, I suspect you might find something interesting to study and explore further.

But fitness data is not readily available, and I would not bet my house that BMI metrics available are accurate.

Again, the teams have more precise data for this kind of study (fitness testing, height weight, body fat, etc.) and I would hope some smart analyst with these data is thinking about answering your question!

00goose008 karma

Who is more likely to get upset in the NLDS - Nationals vs Cubs or Dodgers vs Dbacks/Rockies/Brewers?

AndyAndresBU25 karma

I still like the Dodgers for the WS, all other teams (potential or already in) in the NL playoffs have flaws that can easily be exposed.

My underdog pick is the DBacks, I like the cut of their jib! But still a long shot against the Dodgers.

Nats v. Cubs could go either way, I am not sure either winning would be called an upset.

aqqio7 karma

Have you ever played baseball before?

AndyAndresBU6 karma

Yes, and I still do play baseball. Love the game!

aevans3956 karma

Who do you think has the best WAR calculation?

AndyAndresBU18 karma

Public WAR calculations are all useful, but the teams have a much richer dataset to evaluate defense, so the 30 teams have the best WAR calculator (some are better than others, but they should all theoretically be better than fg, BR, BP, or OpenWar)!

But among the publicly available ones, I like them all. And I think Dave Appelman and Sean Foreman are great and serious analysts trying to help educate the baseball public, so it is all good!

somecallmejrush5 karma

Would you tell us about how Derek Jeter is the most overrated fielder of all time?

AndyAndresBU12 karma

His 5 GG Awards are the reason he is likely the most overrated SS of all time (don't have the time to think about other positions). None of the others in the top 10 for most GGs at SS have fielding numbers as bad as Jeter has.

But somebody must like his fielding, he kept getting those Gold Gloves!

TheStabbingHobo5 karma

Who ya got for AL MVP, Judge or Altuve?

Judge is leading in fWAR but Altuve in bWAR.

Also, where do you put the Yankees chances at a WS run?

AndyAndresBU9 karma

Altuve will likely win the MVP, but I would vote Trout.

Judge will do well in the MVP race because the Yankees/Red Sox media helps. But I think he will not win this year.

And I think the Yankees have about a 10% chance of making the WS.

VoidShark4 karma

Who’s your favorite baseball team? And also, what made you decide to go into sabermetrics?

AndyAndresBU8 karma

My favorite team was the Mets as a kid, but I have been a fan of the Red Sox for a while now!

DetroitDrew443 karma

In response to "juiced balls" comments. I recently took BP and played catch at Comerica Park. Haven't played in awhile. It blew my mind how light the baseball was. Maybe I was just used to water-logged balls as kid but... is there any interesting information on a baseball's weight or make up or any interesting effects it would/does have on players and the game if either was to be altered? Is the weight or make up of the baseball even a topic of discussion in the league or just a non-issue.

AndyAndresBU5 karma

First congrats, taking BP in Comerica -- makes me jealous!

By Rule, the ball is a specified weight, so I think it is a non-issue:

" MLB RULES 3.01 (1.09) The Ball The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5¼ ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine nor more than 9¼ inches in circumference."

phrizand3 karma

Does sabermetrics have ways of evaluating managers and their decisions? It seems to me like a well-designed computer program could make most managing decisions based on historical data, real-time pitch data, etc, and be as good or better than a human. Do you agree?

AndyAndresBU5 karma

Manager evaluation is not too popular, compared to other parts of baseball analytics, but it has been done. And just like Deep Blue finally winning at chess at the highest levels, it will take many man years writing a good program to be as good at managing as the current set of great managers in MLB.

CivilBeast2 karma

Honest question, do you think Sabermetrics has made the game less appealing to watch? In a sense that traditional baseball relied more on intuition rather than analysis, so bolder decisions were made, for example, base stealing?

AndyAndresBU1 karma

I am one of those people who love watching baseball -- I have loved it when I was 8 YO, 15 YO, 25 YO, etc.

And I appreciate the scientific approach to the game, being on the nerdier side of the spectrum.

So I am optimistic about the future of the game and I get happy thinking about how analytics and science may improve the appeal of the game for others.

TidalMouse2 karma

I'm still not sold on WAR as a valuable stat and continually find new info in an attempt to understand why so many people seem to love it. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions and lack of understanding about what it actually is, example:

https://www.fangraphs.com/library/war/limitations-war/

What are your feelings about WAR and how effective/valuable do you think it is when evaluating players?

AndyAndresBU8 karma

It is the best, all-encompassing stat (fielding, baserunning, batting together) available to the public.

But as you point out, it is also not without flaws. And I think some people misuse the number, i.e., they do not understand the imprecision inherent in the number.

My mantra today!

gjoeyjoe1 karma

Do you place much value in the discipline stats like o-swing%? I thought it was interesting seeing how great at-bat grinders like votto have great eyes for the zone (i guess that must be a given though ha).

AndyAndresBU2 karma

Yes, various writers have analyzed the value of zone metrics like o-swing%, etc.

I think not making outs is so important (i.e., OBP), so studies on the foundations of strike zone management as it relates to the very important OBP are among my favorites.

herbtarleksblazer0 karma

Who will win the World Series?

AndyAndresBU5 karma

Likely the Indians, closely followed by the Astros and Dodgers. But these are probabilities, so we will see -- that is why they play the games!