Thursday, August 10, 2006

Height, Weight

David Gassko checks in with a provocatively-titled essay on player size at THT today. I imagine that where David is headed with this is toward how to incorporate player size in regression analysis to improve player projections (if, indeed, player size can improve projections). However, since he's merely presenting rawer data right now, I have to say that there are some different data slices I would like to see other than what he has presented in part 1.

In part 1, Gassko included statistical averages for players in four categories: short and light, short and heavy, tall and light, tall and heavy. While David is very up-front in discussing the extreme nature of sample bias in this discussion and does a good job of explaining the caveats, there are still two problems with the sample that I can think of. First, the samples seem overly small; by limiting the data to 6'3" and above against 5'10" and below, we're not really looking at the question of whether size matters but rather the general tendencies for the exteme groups. Since apparently Kirby Puckett makes up half of the sample for the short and heavy group, I question how much can be learned from this data presentation. Second, I would imagine that there is a much higher proportion of taller and heavier players from the current epoch, which is of course the highpoint in post-WWII run scoring. Since there isn't, as far as I know, any overwhelming evidence that the increase in run scoring (or OBP/SLG, etc.) is do mainly to increasing player size, this should easily skew the results. I may be wrong, and we may be in the golden age of short and light players and it's just slipped by me, but I imagine that my guess as to the trend in player size is correct.

The solution to both of these problems, if I'm thinking straight, is to analyze player size using standard deviations from the league norm, both for size and for the offensive metrics being considered. I think this probably gives us a better snap shot of the relationship of player size to hitting. I'll readily admit I could be wrong.

David uses Jeff Francoeur (the spelling of which is, to me, immensely more difficult to remember than Saltalamacchia) as an example of a player who should be able to improve because of his hulking size. I don't doubt that that's a reasonable expectation, but it's not as if the primary reason for his struggles is that he's not hitting the ball hard enough. I mean, certainly if Francoeur develops enough strength and bat speed that he's able to crush just consistently crush the ball, his difficulty in strike zone judgement won't matter. But, to look at a very different but nearly as large player, being a big dude hasn't helped Jack Cust become much better than he was at age 22. (That doesn't mean that, were I GM of an AL team out of contention, I wouldn't seriously consider acquiring Cust to determine once and for all whether he can hit major league pitching as half of a DH platoon; I know it's the PCL, but the guy's got a .470 OBP for chrissakes!) I don't know that simply being big is enough to help out a player with strike zone issues as extreme as Francoeur's or, for that matter, Joel Guzman.

And of course, I'm also looking forward to David giving a good picture of how height and weight can help in projecting pitchers.


Post a Comment

<< Home